((Transcript turned journal of how the fight in the clearing went down between Theodora and Nemalu. Mad props to Janderius for bringing this NPC to life. Minimal edits made. Hope yall enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed rping it!))
Its a great pity that I can’t visit here under other circumstances. I love the Banewood, the tall proud pines, but Ardenweald is beautiful.
And it was. Twilight colored flora speckled with starry white bits brought the heavens down to earth in gentle spirals of tree branches and soft clover. Under the boughs of these great trees the cycle of rebirth began again, for those who came under the Winter Queen’s care. The air was fresh and full of life, from the small forest creatures like the leapers that chirped above to the runestags that led herds of doe and faun and the moths as big as the bats of Revendreth, leaving shimmers in their wake.
Nestled here, invisible, still as any ambush predator before the pounce, Theodora Evergreen waited patiently. The green cloak she normally wore was covered in sticks and branches, turning her into part of the underbrush. This was the sixteenth hour of waiting for all the prey to get together, and as she watched her quarry, she estimated the (thieving, bastard, meddling) Templars were likely due back in an hour or so. Setting up her position before anyone arrived in the wee hours of what passed for night here meant the least chance of being noticed and the ability to watch for patterns she could use to her advantage.
Time was running out. She needed to make her move.
Her red eyes took another count of the camp, people and animals alike, and lingering on the main target of today’s lesson: High Feverent Nemalu.
The perfect vehicle, she thought, heart cold and rage hot in her chest, to deliver my message.
The timing would be everything, of course. She was badly outnumbered, and if it went south, a magic user like Nemalu would be… dicey to engage. But surprise and distance were great equivocators, and her spot was nearly four hundred yards away, on a small rise made by the roots of one of those great trees.
Nemalu had sent the Templars out with the voracious gormling several hours ago. The large gathering of visitors at his research outpost had dwindled to its usual numbers following their departure.
During that time, his usual chores and tasks resumed. The outpost consisted of a single organic ‘building’ with several work stations and garden plots scattered around the outdoor area surrounding it. Typical of Ardenweald, all pieces of furniture and equipment had a very organic, living constitution. There were no components that looked out of place within the grove. Several runestags and moths moved freely about the camp and the lands beyond its borders, exhibiting no concern about those who dwelled there.
While the High Fervent busied himself with notes and equipment on his improvised ‘workbench,’ several other eredar milled around the outpost as well. One of them made his way along the line of glowing wildlseeds, inspecting their progress and offering encouragements with offerings of anima where needed. Another was performing more run-of-the-mill chores, sweeping fallen leaves around one of the workstations and moving various supplies to and from the central building. A third visited the pen full of growing gormlings, ensuring that they were properly cared for.
Armored guards were posted at the edges of camp, one to monitor each of the two entryway gaps in the perimeter hedges.
At one point, a sylvar accompanied by an armed escort of his own guards made a brief stop at the outpost. An exchange of some kind was made, speaking directly with Nemalu himself, before the group departed amicably just as the Templars had. It was always easy to pick the High Fervent out among the others, for he was the only one who possessed the large, leathery wings.
Following the brief interruption, they all returned to their tasks as usual.
…Nemalu first. Distract him so he can’t counterattack effectively with magic or heal his allies- knee shot, I think. Knees have so many moving bits they take a second to heal even with magic, they’re painful, he won’t be able to run, and all I need is a few moments to eliminate the others. The guards second. Then the dogsboy, the gorm caretaker, the wild seed tender. They’ll have time to move a little away from their posts so I don’t hit a gorm or a seed. The deer and moths should flee when the shooting starts, if they have any sense. I hope so.
But if they didn’t, she had arrows to spare for them, as well. There could be no flinching from this task, after all. Her mouth settled into a bitter line. After all, you never flinched from doing what you had to, did you, Nadana? Even when it meant betraying everything I thought you stood for…
She inhaled, quietly, and exhaled. Not yet time. The Master said righteous anger was no sin, but a source of strength. But it was not yet time.
Then once the others are down, I will deal with Nemalu. If something goes wrong, they may try to take cover in the building. I can’t let them reach it. I’d have to close distance before I’m ready, and I don’t want to be in a confined space with a magic user if I can help it.
She reached for a vial on her belt, slow movements to avoid drawing the eye, and brought it to her mouth. Red swirled within. Several more, and one larger flask, lay with her pack, gifts from the Master to empower her in her pursuit of justice.
Now she popped the cork with her teeth and drained it, feeling the surge of life and energy flowing through her, new strength to her arms and new focus to her mind.
That was the stuff.
I will wait for him to turn his back. Once I start, there’s no stopping; standing to shoot will give away my position. I’ll have to be fast.
Nemalu’s duties continued with undisturbed concentration. No one took any notice of the threat lurking nearby, though it wouldn’t remain that way forever.
With a sigh, he turned from his workbench and moved towards one of the storage caches in order to retrieve something.
Nightmare came to the orderly little clearing.
Theo rose and dropped the cloak in one smooth practiced motion. One hand reached back for an arrow, touched the right one marked by the small hashes on the shaft, nocked it, drew the string back until it creaked-
Black lightning sprung from her bow, crossed the space between her and Nemalu in the silence between heartbeats, and hit precisely. She didn’t watch him fall, already drawing and aiming again, centered, breath even, remarkably calm. He would; she may have been a smidge off about the knee, but that arrow was a special one designed for maximum damage to the tissue it went through. The regular flat broadheads were perfectly lethal, but this one had four triangular serrated blades, like two broadheads combined at right angles onto a solid metal cylinder, whose tip was cut at right angles into a point. The brutal hammering impact of the tip followed by the serrated damage of the blades was meant to pulverize and mangle anything it went through.
Usually, she used it on creatures such as doomfangs or thirstlurkers.
And then she fired again.
The first guard opened her mouth to yell something. All that came out was a spray of red and grey from the back of her skull as the second black fletched arrow tore through her.
The second turned to look at the direction of the shooter and then dropped limply, a black arrow in his right eye.
Nemalu’s leg gave out beneath him mid-stride, before his body had even registered the pain of the impact. Stumbling forward, he fell upon his opposite knee and glanced down to see the evidence of what had transpired. The serrated arrowhead that had pierced straight through the breadth of his limb and emerged on the other side, spraying blood and viscera outwards while the shaft remained lodged halfway through. A sizeable hole had been created. It only took him a moment to register the unmistakable aesthetic design of the arrow and determine its source.
As he opened his mouth to bellow instructions in his native tongue, the shock wore off enough for the pain to assault his consciousness all at once. His words, though foreign and indecipherable, were strained with a ragged flare of wounded urgency.
With one beat of his great wings, he lurched across the exposed outer area of the outpost. The momentum carried him off the ground and helped him keep the weight off the leg that had been wounded, heading straight for cover.
The other two visibile eredar reacted at the same time, moving swiftly to try and find some cover of their own. The gorm shepherd ducked behind a rock, while the dogsbody sprinted for the central building with a harrowing urgency.
Damn, Theo thought. Clever. Naturally.
The arrow that had been tracking the dogsboy suddenly pointed toward Nemalu, and she loosed. The wings were tempting targets, but it would be more efficient to go for the scapula and the shoulder muscles there to bring him down and maybe even cripple the use of his arm, if she hit it proper. If not, it might tear through the membrane, which would be more painful but less actual damage. Quickly. Quickly. You only bought a few seconds of time there-
That delay was almost enough time for the dogsboy to reach cover.
Her arrow took him in the midback, and he fell.
The wildseed tender ran toward him, yelling something Theo didn’t quite catch and didn’t particularly care about, the cold fury in her bones as merciless as her red eyes in the dark. Red painted the forest floor as her arrow exploded through the tender’s throat.
The arrow did strike true, burying itself into the shoulder muscles to effectively immobilize that wing alltogether. This time, the eredar released a pained howl upon impact, fury rising in his strained cadence. He toppled to one side, crashing hard on the grassy earth and sliding to a halt a few yards shy of the central building’s doorway.
Two additional guards, who had apparently been inside the building, emerged to try and hastily drag the High Fervent the rest of the way inside. He started barking something at them in his native tongue, a frantic command that was seemingly ignored while they continued their attempts to aid him.
Theo drew her venthyr power to her and red swirled as she suddenly moved a hundred yards closer and aimed again, all in the same breath. The gorm keeper poked his head out just a little too far in startled realization of what she was and died with that knowledge, and her arrow, in his head. He fell back, crimson pooling beneath him.
She flickered forward again, flush with the power the vial gave her, now only two hundred yards from Nemalu, the two guards, and the clearing. One of the guards scrambled for his shield, trying to get into a protective position, and even managed to do it before her arrow slammed into the barrier, broke through in a CRACKing splinter of wood and nailed it to his own arm. The scream was brief; when he moved to try and take it out, he exposed his chest, and black feathers sprouted above his heart. He sprayed blood in a horrible choking noise and crumpled.
Six. Distance, one hundred yards and closing, she thought to herself, the world horribly cold and clear through the lens of her fury.
The gorm keeper stumbled backwards as the light left his eyes, his body slumping across the top of the fence in death.
The remaining guard refused to abandon Nemalu, even after his comrade on the other side was so quickly dispatched.
Nemalu would not allow a similar thing to happen.
Still struggling on the ground, the High Fervent raised his palm and unleashed a spell at his one remaining guard from point blank range. With a bright flash of cyan tinted light, the guard was propelled backwards into the shelter of the building by force.
In the aftermath of the spell, Nemalu pushed off the ground with his one good leg and his one good wing, launching himself with a cloud of dust to follow in behind him. He disappeared behind the inner doorway for a moment, taking the briefest window of time to examine his wounds.(edited)
But smart. Obscuring her vision forced her to come the rest of the way on foot. Not like she wouldn’t have done the same. Odds are better now, though. One guard, and Nemalu, with Nemalu hurt.
She slung her bow across her chest, quick and dirty style, as she leaped over the first dead guard with the nimble grace of a deer. Then Theo drew her blades. One was a bone handled hunting knife, almost a dirk in size; the other, a slim menacing rapier. A vengeful wraith closed the distance at speed and hit the dust cloud.
As the murderous venthyr streaked through the dustcloud into the open doorway, a tremendously vicious attack greeted her. The curved blade at the end of the guard’s glaive flashed through the threshold, seeking the assailants stomach with an immense amount of weight and power behind it.
The guard wasn’t out of the fight yet, nor was he to be underestimated.
Only a splitsecond pivot saved her from being gutted, the forward momentum suddenly whirling to the side; as it was, it cut into her the leather-chain-leather layered jerkin she wore in a lateral slash. She parried it aside with the dirk and thrust with her rapier blade, counterattacking.(edited)
The tip of the rapier found its way in between the gaps in the eredar’s armor, piercing straight through his lower torso. In that moment, the eredar clutched hold of the venthyr’s collar with a fanged snarl. “For… the Repentant!”
His huge, horned head tilted back before he slammed it down for a devastating headbutt, taking advantage of his assailant’s temporary immobilization during his own final moments.
In that very same instant, a wall of green-tinted felfire radiated out from within the depths of the structure, washing over the both of them like a wave.
Pain exploded in her face, blood streaming down it from her eyebrows and forehead where the impact busted the skin. The impact carried her down, crumpling her under him, and she let it because she felt the heat on her skin only moments before the fire washed over them both.
He was bigger than she was, beefier by far, and only a hand sticking out, the leather of her boots, and part of her cloak got singed and burned by the green flame. The corpse of the Repentant took the impact.
Well, she thought, laying still a half moment, waiting to see if another wave of flame came. Now that was fun. She licked her lips, tasting her own blood, teeth pink with it. Her hand would hurt later, but it didn’t prevent her from holding the dirk. Theo’s head throbbed in time with the beat of her heart, a pulsing hot undercurrent to the cold anger.
Gathering herself, she kicked the corpse off her and rolled immediately to the left, anticipating an attack. Having executed his final spiteful act, the repentant guard rolled over a charred and lifeless husk, blood spilling from the wound to his stomach more freely once her rapier had been withdrawn.
The source of the felfire spell was revealed to be a female eredar, standing at the back of the chamber with her scepter raised in forced defiance. Hints from her garb and stance indicated that she was not usually one for combat, more of a researcher on most days. In this harrowing moment, she rose to the occasion. But after witnessing her comerade take the brunt of her spell, and the way the assailant remained mostly unharmed, she was left paralyzed with fear. She could only watch the venthyr with widened, tear stricken green eyes as she tried to remember the incantations for another spell.
The moment of indecision would cost her.
Theo sprang up, fast and nimble as a striking snake, her face a mask of blood- red on red on the dark colors of her hunting garb. Blood sprayed off the sword in a semicircular arc as she rushed the woman, using that fatal pause, and slashed her open with a whipping, arcing cut that ran from breast to hip.
“No, I- why are you-?” The woman fell with barely another sound, her question cut short by the huntress’s deadly efficiency. “Who will take care of…”
The horrified fear continued to distort her pretty features as she fell to the ground with a sickening thump.
During the time afforded to him, Nemalu had grabbed the first arrow by its head and forcefully yanked the bolt the rest of the way through his leg. A hasty application of his magic stemmed the bleeding for the time being. The one in his wing would have to wait until later.
A cold sound of unchecked malice echoed throughout the confined room, an uncharacteristic flare of emotion from the High Fervent upon witnessing the girl’s execution. “-NO-.”
Barely a heartbeat after the sound of his protest, a wave of devastating magic washed over the room all at once, emanating from his position and rocking through the confined space with immense kinetic force.
And with that, Nemalu was on his feet again.
Does it hurt? Good. There’s a lesson in this. Your actions don’t just damn you, but the ones around you. You did this to them. You brought this on them. I hope you’re listening- you and Nadana both, traitors that you are- Theo thought, turning toward Nemalu.
And then the world exploded.
She was thrown off her feet with staggering force and slammed into the wall, leaving a bloody streak down it from the injury to her head and cracking it against the stone on impact and when she hit the floor. Her ears rang. Her vision swam. Pain drummed along her nerves, and something hurt when she breathed. A hand scrabbled against the wall for a moment, grip slick, until she could haul herself upright.
Theo turned toward Nemalu, and smiled, a ghastly slash turning up at the edges in the mask of blood. She licked her lips. The sharp teeth were pinker now, a ghoulish smile. Somehow, training had carried her through and she still had her sword and dagger.
She swallowed the blood in her mouth.
“Now, it’s your turn,” she rasped, and reached for a vial of red, popping the cork and chugging it in a fluid motion. Tossing it to the side, she raised her sword. It was time. “But don’t worry. I need you alive.”
And she charged.
She could not even get close.
Nemalu stared her down with the cold, murderous intent at an intensity that he had not shown since his heart still beat in the waking world. His body did not move, fae magic simply swirled around his position, answering his unspoken call.
When Theodora moved close, that repulsive force thundered through the confined chamber once again, this time hammering downwards to force her to the floor. There were no gestures, no words of incantation, only a mysterious power that Nemalu need only think to manifest.
And this time he followed up on it, calling forth vines beneath the earth to encircle and grapple her limbs while he had the advantage. They squeezed and constricted with a monstrous strength. And while he had her like that, the High Fervent crouched down in front of her.
“No matter how many souls your master chooses to waste, we will see the natural order of the Shadowlands protected.” His impassive features warped into a disdainful snarl as he reached out, grasping at the air in front of her as he began forcefully draining the anima from her body. She would immediately feel the weakness in her limbs, the sickness laying waste to the depths of her stomach, and the dizziness rocking her consciousness.
“That is our purpose, and one such as you will not deter us from it!”
The magic threatened to crack her bones, crushing force bearing down on her. She looked up at him. The effort was monumental.
It was, in that moment, a mirror of a time long ago, when different magic held her bound to a stone floor. The effects of his magic swamped her.
His face blurred, into the memory of Nadana: Nadana watching her writhe in pain, sitting in her upholstered chair, cupping her chin, holding the teacup, draping her cloak over her, telling her she was proud of her-
Sudden fury burned in her, twisting the memory. How dare she. How dare he! Theo inhaled, tensed, fought through the distraction and forced the strength back into her limbs, shoving aside the growing sick feeling in her stomach. What was this, next to the lifetimes of pain she had endured?
“Do you think,” she hissed, low and hateful, savage, with that terrible smile again, “I give a single shit what a traitor preaches at me? Take your lies somewhere else.” Nadana lied to me for lifetimes. If he thinks I’m just going to sit here and let these craven bastards defile the work Revendreth does with thier treachery-!
Power built behind her eyes, in the painful drumbeat of her head, as Theo grit her teeth against the tide of red-
Then roared, pure anger, and red suddenly pulsed from her. The magic sucked it off, but it kept coming, the contents of the vial fueling her as she used her venthyr abilities to get her sword arm free of the vines, red anima swirling around it and then reforming it outside thier grip. She stabbed at him, a sweeping low cut that could break some of the vines holding her and slash across the back of his legs. Her struggling began anew, enhanced, with vines creaking and straining under the pressure she exerted on them as well. It hurt, but it hurt good, a cleansing pain, like before, and she used that to help fuel her struggle as well, slashing and hacking at the vines that held her and whatever parts of him she could reach.
The slash connected, leaving a wide lasceration along the side of one of his legs. The depth gouged a visible indentation in his limb, and the flowing blood of the severed artery thrummed rhythmically in time with his pulse.
The corners of the eredar’s mouth pulled tight in a disdainful hiss the moment the blade made contact.
A short hop backwards on his one good leg gave him all the space he needed. Additional vines shot up from the floor, seeking to assist in restraining her with increased vigor.
His fist clenched around the empty air, drawing more and more anima from her spiteful body in the process. He redirected it immediately, using its power to close and mend the wound that she had just opened in his leg.
“We are all made weaker by your master’s failings.” The stolen anima swirled around his person, visibly rushing to his shoulderblade to force the embedded arrow bolt out from his wing. “He’s as great of a disappointment to the Shadowlands as you are a disappointment to him.”
At his cutting words, the vines tightened and something popped in her side, his crushing will incarnate. The pain and anger mixed, old friends to her, and she could barely think through the white hot emotions in her veins, coiling like snakes in her chest. The cool fury of before was entirely gone.
(He was wrong, lying traitor that he was, how dare he lecture her on disappointment, what did he know of it, nothing, nothing, she was the Master’s most loyal vessel and she took pride in that, how dare he, how. Dare. He-)
She drew it all inward, the pain and the rage alike, the power of the vial, and her own ironclad refusal to die here, before her mission was complete. She felt thee magic in her, being sapped but growing exponentially with her own force of will. She would not yield, not now, not to this traitor, not ever!
“The- only- disappointment- here- is- that- I- really- do- need- you- alive!” she said through gritted teeth, and bucked, writhing, lunging forward-
Red swirled around her whole body and suddenly the vines grasped empty air. She appeared in front of him, suddenly, a full bodied tackle that took him and her both flying at speed and force through the woven branches and glass of the window on the opposite wall. It wasn’t assisted by anima, but for momentum. She was just that strong, and when they landed she kicked out and away from him, disengaging. It took her flipping backwards in a high acrobatic tumble.
And it gave her time to, midair, sheath her sword, twist, reach for an arrow, and nock. Blood sprayed from a glass cut on her shoulder as she did, ruby droplets seeming to nearly freeze in the time it took her to aim and fire.
Everything hurt, breathing hurt as it came in heavy gasps, but her body obeyed the practice of mortal centuries working through pain. The black arrow streaked toward him. She let the flip carry her, drew another, fired again at the apex of her arc and landed on leaves slick with the blood, already moving to try and keep ahead of his magic.
Nemalu was not quick enough to prepare a counter for her sudden phasing and subsequent launching.
A heavy grunt rolled out after they crashed through the glass, taking the brunt of the impact through his wings and sustaining a series of lacerations from all the glass shards in the process.
No small amount of fel-tainted blood spilled on the soil outside as the two of them were propelled out of the building. Following the kick, he spread his wings to stabilize himself, feeling the fresh wounds get stretched and aggravated in the process.
FMMMP. F-FMMMP FMMMMP.
One such wing was curled in front of himself, acting as a barrier to keep the arrows away from his vital organs. The bolts embedded deep into the muscle tissues and membranes, drawing forth another ragged hiss from the pain the eredar endured.
More and more blood dripped from his shredded wings. He lowered them after taking the hits again, and extended the tip of his staff to launch a volley of vibrant projectile spells, persuing the impossibly slippery target. Each time one of his launched orbs made contact with the terrain, a loud explosion of energy erupted from the point of impact. Space itself was distorted by his magic, and the deep frequencies of the sounds involved were unpleasant on the eardrums.
Her arrows peppered his wings, and she grinned a she-wolf’s smile even though she missed the deeper wounds she sought. Wing injuries had to hurt, Nadana was always very careful with hers after all-
Magic spewed like angry hornets from his staff, seeking her, and she sped up, circling wider around him. Dodging took all her concentration. One slip, and those bolts of magic would warp and twist her flesh like the air around them. She barely slowed when a stray glass shard sliced through her boot into her foot. Death exploded behind her, close enough to singe the back of her legs.
But it was just pain, and now she felt the exhilaration of the hunt in her as well. Later would be miserable, assuming she lived, but now-
-now Theo janked behind the cart. It exploded into splinters behind her, and a heavy piece of wood cracked her in the face, adding to the bloody mess there. She staggered, and the next bolt of magic grazed her side in retaliation for the delay, leaving a magefire burn through her armor and blackening it away where it touched.
Theo snarled, feral, and went for her arrows again. A jump let her clear one of the wildseeds, leaving it untouched, and midair she fired again.
When her feet left the ground, he was ready for it, and slung another wave of massive kinetic force outwards in her direction.
It caught her out of the air, launching her a great distance with no other resistance to slow her momentum down.
However, in doing so, he left himself open for the incoming shot.
Another attempt was made to shield himself with his wing, but the injuries slowed that action down, and his reaction time wasn’t quick enough to make up for it. The arrow embedded itself deep in his shoulder, in a much more crippling fashion than any of the others. He faltered to one knee, and was grateful that his spell afforded him a few extra precious seconds to deal with the problem.
The wave hit her like an axe across the chest and threw her into one of the trees nearby, cracking it. Everything went numb and buzzy; Theo fell to the ground and spasmed painfully for nearly ten seconds before she was still, half curled in a fetal position.
Then, her red eyes opened, pits of wrath and ruin and hate, and the face twisted. In a red flash of anima, she teleported sideways and reappeared upright, taking cover behind another tree to fire at him.
By the time Theo glanced towards the camp again, she would see Nemalu standing over the bodies of two of his slain comrades, with his palm extended. The unmistakable blue glow of anima was siphoned directly from their lifeless corpses, reinvigorating him in a continuous channel.
The bleeding on his wings seemed to slow, and when the next arrow struck the side of his neck, he didn’t seem to notice the impact at all.
Spitting blood and venom, only one of them figurative, Theo narrowed her eyes and shot.
But this arrow had a blueish stripe on it, and landed at his feet- where it exploded into ice, seeking to freeze his feet to the floor. Another followed, this one normal and pure black, and two more after, as Theo fired agian and again and again. The time he took to try and heal was more time for her to put arrows in the air, and it was a race to see if she could do enough damage to him to outpace the rate at which he was absorbing anima.
If that was the way she wanted to play it, he would answer her challenge and count on her quiver running empty before his body did.
He raised both palms in the air, drawing more anima from additional sources as new streams appeared from the other eredar corpses farther away. The indications of his siphoning even traveled from inside the building, reaching to empower him further.
It pained him to use the memories of his fallen brethren in such a way, but his hand had been forced. The loss of life was a waste beyond compare, and he would not allow it to go any further.
His teeth clenched as one arrow after another pelted his empowered figure. The searing pain compounded as he felt the connective tissues of his body and soul being strained in different directions.
Suddenly, the great moths circling overhead dropped out of the air, lifeless, and their streams of anima joined the others to fuel him. The same happened to the runestags grazing nearby.
Theo’s arrow faltered a moment, as the animals fell. It turned into more anger when she realized what was happening. I left them out of this on PURPOSE, dammit!
The next two arrows were manglers, the worst she had. The third was thicker than all the rest, more fragile, and on impact would explode into black tarry goop. The fourth…
…The fourth took a measure of her anima and the metal tip glowed cherry hot as she knocked it. Theo ducked and dashed for cover closer to him, firing halfway through.
Nemalu had been preparing a large scale release of all the anima and magic he’d been building up.
He set his stance and turned his shoulders, bringing both of his glowing hands together behind him. The glow seemed to build in intensity, getting larger and brighter with each passing second. The air around them distorted with the massive shift of power going on.
And this time, when she fired, his wing was quick enough to block the incoming barrage. Again though, the pain seared through his senses, threatening to interrupt the attack he was preparing.
His eyes blazed with a felfire that soon erupted around his entire form, another indication of his empowerment and resolve.
And then he put his hands together and thrust them forward with a roar, unleashing a devastating beam of concentrated anima that tore a massive hole through the ground where it met the earth. He aimed it right at Theo, intending to utterly atomize her with all the power he had remaining.
He didn’t account for her dash though.
It was the only thing that saved her.
The tree she took cover behind was thick- ancient, large, with roots as tick as her arms about the base. She almost hated to use it so callously, but it didn’t stop her from throwing herself to the ground as close as she could get. The trunk was nearly six feet from edge to edge, and hid her if she curled inward slightly. The beam hit the ground and followed her only a moment behind. Sod flew, grass scorched, the smell of fire and brimstone filled the clearing for a moment, and blinding light and heat engulfed her senses.
The tree atomized above her.
A scant three inches above where the bloodmatted hood stuck to her bloodmatted hair, the tree simply did not exist anymore.
Close. Almost too close, she thought, remarkably distant. Nadana would call that sloppy.
She kept out of sight for a moment more, breathing heavily through the blood coating her face, utterly still, gathering strength to move. Then, exhaling in a grunt of effort that sprayed blood from where it dripped down her nose, she stood, still somehow fucking alive, and fired again.
And this time, he had nothing left to save him from it. The arrow landed, buring itself in his thigh, and he faltered forward.
The light from his spell was extinguished, even though the earth still seemed to tremble in the aftermath of that ludicrous release.
He breathed heavily, all energy sapped from his system, and clutched at his staff as he defiantly struggled to stand again.
Theo smiled. She drew her sword and dagger again, slowly.
“Time to teach my lesson.”
She bull-rushed him in an anima infused charge. He tried to call on magic and block her with his staff, but the spell sapped his reserves, and his wounds sapped his physical strength. Theo linebacker-style drove him back until he hit the nearest tree. A flicker of anima drew a piece of paper from her pocket and in a swift single motion-
She nailed the parchment to his hand with the blade, pinning note and Nemalu alike to the trunk. With her rapier she slashed at him, blows to cripple but not kill: hamstring, shoulder, wings, and a final piercing one in the chest, carefully calculated for pain.
The venthyr yanked the blade free, steel slicked with red, flush with pain and triumph. Then she grabbed his chin and forced him to look at her.
“You will deliver this message to Nadana. That is the reason you’re still alive. Don’t worry. The injuries won’t kill you. Probably. After all, your Templar friends,” and she spat the words, ”will be back soon. Stay there till then.” She dropped her grip, exhaled, and rolled her shoulders.
…Damn. Everything hurt. She needed to get out of here and find a place to patch herself up.(edited)
The fel flames still burned in Nemalu’s eyes as he endured the viscious onslaught of the raging venthyr getting past his defenses.
His blood stained the soil once again.
There was very little he could do without any more anima to draw upon. Attempts were made to drain her the way he had before, but she didn’t allow him the time or space to channel effectively.
In the end, he was left pinned to the tree, defeated, and bleeding out.
The blood finally stained his own teeth as it trailed from his lips. The tint of his eyes returned to a pale blue hue as the evidence of fel left him again.
“In time…” He choked, realizing how much effort it took him just to speak from that position. “You will come to regret the vile horrors… you have unleashed upon my dear brothers and sisters… you will realize how much you have wronged us… and how feeble your reasons were…”
He released a choked cough, spraying droplets of blood outwards. “And when your time comes to atone… you will find no place among the Repentant.”
She turned her back to him, flicking the blood from her sword, gathering a few arrows that hadn’t broken yet.
“Be that as it may,” Theodora Evergreen said flatly, and walked away into the wilds of Ardenweald.