Carpathia III: Episode 132: Condition Blue
Exhausted and resigned to their fate, none of the group moved as Wishmaster drew near, though Ryuu and Keast still attempted to distract him. Ryuu's fireballs had little effect on Wishmaster and he ignored all of Keast's attempts to draw away his attention. Wishmaster grinned in such a way that one would when one's prey had given up. He was clearly savoring the moment.
Kaoru: I hope Ryuu goes back and warns the villagers.
With the mention of Ryuu's name, the others glanced at him and were surprised to discover that he no longer seemed focused on Wishmaster, but instead was gesturing frantically at something else. As soon as the others realized this, they turned to look just in time to see Blue land with a resounding thud nearby.
Wishmaster noticed as well and he immediately backed away several steps with a look of genuine concern on his face. Blue leaned forward, arcing his back into a perfect curve extending all the way through his tail and let forth a deafening roar. Wishmaster managed to recover from his shock and sneered at Blue with narrowed eyes.
Wishmaster: I see you're still alive.
Blue: And much stronger than I was when we last met.
Before the others could witness any more banter between Wishmaster and Blue, Ryuu suddenly swooped in and began tugging at Kaoru's shirt.
Ryuu: Come on, Kaoru! This is your story now!
Kaoru staggered forth as he struggled against Ryuu's strength.
Kaoru: Me? What can I do?
Ryuu: He's a blue dragon and he needs ammunition! The rest of you need to cover him!
Ryuu dragged Kaoru to the edge of the lake while the others followed. So far, the lull in the battle continued as Wishmaster and Blue continued to trade barbs.
Kaoru: So what do I do?
Ryuu: Start throwing water into the air. Blue will know what to do with it.
Kaoru glanced around at Blue, Ryuu, and everyone else, hoping that any of them might be able to give some guidance. Even Ryuu didn't seem entirely sure beyond what he just told him. Finally, Kaoru decided to take Ryuu's instructions as literally as possible. With several swift and fluid motions, Kaoru made a vortex in the water and started drawing it upward like a potter making a vase.
Wishmaster, focused on Blue, didn't seem to notice the growing vortex and Kaoru couldn't tell if Blue noticed either. This question was definitively answered, however, when Blue suddenly stepped forward and shot a cold blast across the lake, turning the vortex into hundreds of speedy ice daggers which hurtled toward Wishmaster.
Ryuu: That's good! You and Blue can find your rhythm.
Ryuu flapped his wings and took off to resume his attempts to connect with Wishmaster and drain his power. In the meantime, the ice daggers were nearly upon Wishmaster and, displaying an acrobatic fortitude that they did not expect from such a large creature, dodged most of them. Several of them found a mark, scratching and scraping Wishmaster's skin sending little tufts of fur flying all around.
Adell and Kagurain responded in kind, finding a second wind from the exhausting first battle, as they hurled rocks and lightning bolts at Wishmaster while Azrael remained ready to shield all of them from danger.
So strong and violent was the blast from Blue that the ice daggers continued far past Wishmaster and several struck the Nekramentia tower far in the distance, shattering glass and causing small steam eruptions throughout the facility.
As the battle raged, there was no opportunity for even the slightest distraction. Wishmaster and Blue devoted most of their time dealing with each other with Kaoru's assistance. Blue hurled everything he could muster, ice daggers, ice spears, huge ice boulders, and anything else one could imagine created with ice. Wishmaster responded with a wide variety of attacks, fireballs, lightning, stone boulders, and even a few water attacks of his own. Minor damage to both Blue and Wishmaster started adding up as the fray continued.
Just as Ryuu said, Blue and Kaoru found a rhythm, as Kaoru started to learn Blue's attack methods and also learned to watch Wishmaster so that he could position the water in the most effective way. Kaoru found it unnerving, however, that Wishmaster kept a side-eye on him as well, occasionally launching a fireball or a rock in his direction.
Keast, Adell, Kagurain, and Azrael were ineffective for the most part. They did their best trying to distract Wishmaster, but nothing they did caused any damage. Blue seemed to be the only one who could injure him. The only other nuisance to Wishmaster was Ryuu, and he is the one who gave Blue the most openings. Ryuu continuously flew in close and Wishmaster had to swat him away, giving Blue a very brief window of attack.
The battle raged in this manner for a long time. Stray projectiles frequently slammed into the Nekramentia tower until a massive explosion of flame and steam erupted from its base. Even Blue and Wishmaster were stunned enough to take a brief moment to glance as the tower slowly toppled into the courtyard. Incensed, Wishmaster sped up his attacks, though he was beginning to appear tired. Everyone was tired, though nobody dared slow their pace.
Kaoru noticed that Blue seemed to alter his strategy. Little by little, Blue inched closer to Wishmaster and Kaoru adjusted accordingly, using the water to pair light attacks and heavy attacks, eschewing the moderate ones, in the hopes that Blue could distract with a light attack and follow with a heavy attack more easily.
This was not Blue's strategy, however. The closer they came together, the faster and more furious the battle became, until Blue, to everyone's surprise, leaped into the air and pounced on Wishmaster like a tiger on its prey. There was little Kaoru could do now as he and everyone else watched as Blue and Wishmaster clawed, bit, and tore at each other, sending blood, fur, and scales hurtling in every imaginable direction.
If the sight of the two beasts battling was difficult to watch, the sound was even worse to hear. The ear-shattering shrieks and growls from Blue and Wishmaster were nearly impossible to bear. Everyone tried to cover their ears, but this helped little. Nevertheless, the others remained transfixed on the battle, knowing that at any moment, the outcome of all of their efforts would be known.
That outcome became evident when Wishmaster sunk his claws into Blue's shoulder and sank his teeth into his neck. Blue unleashed a sickening, deathly howl as Wishmaster heaved Blue away from him. Blue flew several yards away and landed in a crumpled heap nearby while Wishmaster, bloodied and bruised, missing several patches of fur and armor, staggered to his feet.
Wishmaster: Time to end this.
Leaving almost no time to react, Wishmaster launched a fireball at Keast, who dodged it barely. He did not dodge the second, however, and dropped to the ground as it hit him square in the chest. Keast writhed on the ground until he managed to put out the flames and then remained where he was, clutching his chest. Next, he turned his attention to Azrael, who he dispatched with several large stones. Wishmaster did the same to Adell, who put up a brave, if doomed, effort to block the stones with some of his own. Finally, he sent a bolt of lightning at Kagurain, felling him instantly. The only one he couldn't seem to hit was Ryuu, who dodged all of Wishmaster's attacks deftly.
All were alive, though none were in any condition to fight. Artemis, being nearest to Adell, ran to him first to begin healing and wondered what would become of Kaoru. Instead, to Artemis's horror, Wishmaster turned his gaze to him as he held his hands on Adell's chest.
Wishmaster: Heal up your friends, little one. I want everyone to see what happens to those who defy me.
Adell groaned as the green light faded from Artemis's hands.
Artemis: Try not to move. You're going to need a few days of rest if we manage to get out of here.
Turning his attention back to Wishmaster, Artemis could now see that he was stalking Kaoru, who was desperately running around like a frightened rabbit. Wishmaster, however, was faster and finally snatched Kaoru from the ground with a single swipe of his paw. Kaoru struggled against Wishmaster's grip, but could do little more than flop his head from side to side. With little else he could do, Artemis cried out.
Artemis: Kaoru! No!
Wishmaster paid him no mind as he addressed Kaoru directly.
Wishmaster: Besides the dragon, you have been the most troublesome little insect. Let's see how well your skills work without your arms.
Relaxing his grip only slightly, Wishmaster released Kaoru's right arm and grabbed it tightly with his other paw. With one swift jerk, he tore Kaoru's arm from his shoulder and crushed it in his paws, throwing it away like a rotten piece of meat, leaving Kaoru shrieking in agony.
Artemis pounded his fists on the ground, continuing to shout out of pure helplessness.
Artemis: Stop it!
Again paying him no heed, Wishmaster reached for Kaoru's left arm.
Wishmaster: And now the other one.
Artemis dug his fingers into the dirt, tears running down his face and dripping on the ground below.
The ground at Artmeis's fingers suddenly split and a tiny mound formed. As though the ground were unzipping in front of him, the crack shot straight from Artemis's fingers toward Wishmaster. Artemis watched, not knowing what to expect until the crack reached Wishmaster's feet and a thorny vine shot straight up from the ground and wrapped itself around his leg.
Wishmaster suddenly stopped focusing on Kaoru and tried to pull his leg free, but the vine held tight. Artemis wasted no time trying to repeate what he'd just done and sent another vine through the dirt. It too hurtled toward Wishmaster with astonishing speed and sprung from the ground, this time attaching itself to Wishmaster's arm.
Wishmaster dropped Kaoru and he fell limply to the ground. As Kaoru slowly started dragging himself away, Artemis sent yet another vine out to Wishmaster and this one latched onto his other arm, pulling him down to the ground where he landed with a hard thud.
Wishmaster: What is this?!
Ryuu saw his opportunity and took it, diving fast toward Wishmaster's head, pulling up at the last moment to land next to him. Ryuu slapped his paws on Wishmaster's head while he continued to struggle against the vines roaring loudly. As Wishmaster started breaking free of the vines, he swatted at Ryuu, narrowly missing him. Artemis sent more vines after him, keeping him tied down, so that Ryuu could do his work.
Artemis: Get him, Ryuu! I'll keep him tied up!
Focused as he was on Wishmaster, Artemis nearly lost all concentration when he heard a conspicuous sniff behind his ear. Turning, he came face to face with a razorbear, likely from the forest in the northwest. The razorbear made no move against him. Instead, it licked Artemis lovingly in the face and grunted. Artemis only needed a few seconds to mull before he decided to capitalize on a hunch and pointed at Wishmaster.
Artemis: Go get him!
The razorbear flicked its ears and held its head high, following Artemis's finger, before taking off in a hard charge at Wishmaster. It was followed by two others that Artemis hadn't noticed before. In short order, Wishmaster was fighting the vines, three razorbears, and Ryuu. Every time Ryuu managed to touch Wishmaster's head, he tipped his head back and roared as though he were in excruciating pain.
With Wishmaster tied down, Artemis ran closer so that he could send out new vines more quickly. He was only able to manage a few steps before Wishmaster broke his bonds and Artemis had to dive to the ground and send out more. The entire scene looked as though nature itself was rebelling against an abomination.
Finally, Wishmaster's luck turned. Again, he freed his arm and swiped at Ryuu, this time connecting. Ryuu hurtled away and landed hard on the ground, one of his wings now folded at an unnatural angle. Without Ryuu to worry about, Wishmaster was able to focus entirely on the vines and razorbears. Freeing himself from the vines, he swatted the razorbears away as well, though his blows seemed far less powerful than they once were.
Bruised, battered, and bloody, Wishmaster struggled to stand as several bits of his red armor on his left side shed from his body. He took the time for one, final sneering glance at Artemis before he ran back toward the ruins of the crumbled Nekramentia tower.
Without a thought of pursuing Wishmaster, Artemis ran as fast as he could to Kaoru.
All city pictures from SimCity 4