~Lightning and Wind~ Chapter Seven
It wasn’t pleasant, and no sane person truly liked it. Yet, no matter what, it always came back. A reoccurring hell, that transcended time, buried in the hearts of man. A serious battle between multiple magicians wasn’t considered a conflict.
It was a small scale war.
Dawn-Colored Sunlight had a reputation for doing whatever it took to accomplish their goal—even professional magicians found it difficult to swallow the number of corpses they left in their wake. The sad thing was, they weren’t even the worst Golden-style cabal.
But that darkness was the world of magicians.
“This is the only warning I’ll give you,” Birdway said, her voice echoed across the mile long stretch of land, using a spiritual tool. “Surrender!” she bellowed, not that she expected them to do so. She was just putting on an illusion of fair play.
At the rear of the Kapua army, which numbered over a thousand, a male magician with a mechanical like voice responded. “That sound like a joke coming from the one with the worse odds. I, Kiak, boast the power to command this mighty army. Why should I surrender to traitors that saved the Monster of Science?”
“We simply acted in our own interest,” she responded. “The line between Science and Magic are arbitrary at best, the two sides may even be considered black and white, but some day they will merge and it will become an even grayer area. But GREMLIN has jumped into the gray area too hastily, and you must be stopped before you overturn the world before we can take over it.”
“Hm,” the mechanical voice spoke, “so those are the words of an overambitious child. I am not impressed. You should leave this to the adults and run play with dolls.”
A snapping sound was heard from Birdway.
He’s going to pay for that, Mark Space thought, dressed in his formal suit and scarf. She won’t let that go.
The Dawn-Colored Sunlight boasted over a thousand cloaked members, but they rarely all met at once. Otherwise they would be vulnerable to attacks from other factions. Her current forces consisted of a hundred magicians. They faced a force of more than ten times their numbers, consisting of Pokaku, Pupu, Lau, and Ahi—Flame—Kupua, along with about a dozen enemy magicians.
“You think you low-level goons are going to stop us?” Birdway asked the enemy magicians. She then looked at the small army of a hundred behind her. “These things aren’t even worth wiping the dirt off my boots. Obliterate them!” she ordered, not even considering the magicians human anymore. The cloaked magicians charged towards the Kapua.
“Kill them all!” the magician Kiak—which was short for Ki’i Haku or Doll Master—yelled.
The war began.
The odds were never great when one force was outnumbered Ten-to-One. Occasionally, you would hear tales of the smaller numbers triumphing, putting everything on the line and walking back home as heroes. History had shown that this was possible.
This wasn’t one of those times.
The Dawn-Colored Sunlight was used to performing rituals and ceremonies that called down Telesma. But that process required time, which was scare on the battlefield. Instead, they fought with hastily made spiritual items called String Cutters, which were designed to sever both the connection to the magician and stop their autonomous functions, based on the data they received in the attack yesterday, hoping it would have prepared them for the battle against such a number of golems.
Things may have gone differently, if Kiak weren’t there. He had modified his body into that of a golem in order control this many at once. As long as he could refine his life force into magical energy, the body didn’t matter. Using a method of bypassing their altered spiritual items, the members of Dawn-Colored Sunlight were forced them to rely on their backups instead.
One man tried to fend off a Pokaku, only to be smashed into a stain on the ground that was a mixture of red and purple. Three women worked in tandem to destroy several Ahi by sealing them in an air bubble and then ripping the oxygen out, leaving nothing to burn, before compressing the air until cores were destroyed. They were quickly mutilated by several dozen Lau leaves, which were as sharp as blades, and bled out.
The Pupu Kapua donned spiral shell lances, which they swept from side to side, knocking several magicians down, before they skewered them. They usually followed up by constantly impaling the magician until there were more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. The lances were then withdrawn, dragging slush the consisted of the innards, and aimed at the next target.
The enemy magicians were just as brutal. While the members of the Dawn-Colored Sunlight were struggling with the Kapua, they picked them off from behind. One member had a spell blast through her throat, narrowly—or rather deliberately—missing her spine. Instead of dying instantly, she suffered. Another two were bound in place, watching in terror as they were helplessly watched an Ahi Kapua get closer and closer, the heat slowly burning them, until they were charcoal.
One of the greatest cabals in England, falling so easily, Kiak thought. His forces were dominating; soon their numbers would be less than half. He then noticed Birdway watching her forces being slaughtered along with Mark Space, who had been ordered to not interfere, and decided to strike them in a moment of arrogance.
Using over a hundred feathers as cores, he mixed them with the dirt in the ground, and nearly a hundred birds, made of hardened soil and feathers, flew high into the air and targeted Birdway, going into a dive. Before they could reach her, a staff was in Birdway’s hand. She covered her mouth as she yawned, aiming the end of the staff at the aerial Kapua.
“Summon Explosion: Hundred Bullets,” Birdway muttered. Wielding a red staff—the color symbolized the Archangel Michael and the staff was the symbolic weapon of modern western Golden-style magic—Leivinia Birdway manipulated Telesma, which belonged to the angels, rather than mana to create one hundred small, sphere clusters.
Pulling the trigger of a flintlock in her mind, the spheres flew through the air. On impact with the birds, the small clusters, which had roughly a radius of five inches, swelled into domes that had a twelve foot radius, drawing a line of dome shaped explosions in the air.
“You went so far to modify your body, and you’re only able to control this many?” she said in a mocking tone. “I think I might cry.”
Birdway was ruthless in execution.
She was unreasonable to both allies and enemies, even when begged for mercy—she didn’t even treat others as human beings—barring a few exceptions. She possessed power and skill that were overwhelming. She was a magician who could fight evenly with Saints, who were born with a body similar to the Son of God.
She was just a twelve year old. Who planned to rule over society, swallowing Science and Magic alike in the process. In other words, she was the ideal magician. Only a magic god would garner more attention in her presence.
“This is pathetic,” Birdway said, as she watched her forces get overwhelmed by numbers. Ceremonial magic were the most used magic of Golden-style cabals. But they required more time and work to set up, only Birdway and Mark Space could use them effectively in active combat.
“Mark, end this in five minutes,” she told her direct subordinate. “And bring me that guy’s head.”
Mark Space sighed and headed into the chaos below.
Mark Space was a man dyed with European colors, fully immersed in its culture. He had his own since of morality. He was a refined English gentleman, who wielded minor arcana tarot cards—specializing in the sword suit, which fit his alignment with wind—which left him with fourteen different spells.
As he slowly walked onto the battlefield, he made note of the most problematic Kapua, and the magicians who were causing them so much trouble. Five minutes was a bit unreasonable, even for him. He wasn’t a monster at the level of Saints like Birdway.
Nevertheless, he drew a card from the deck holder on his hip.
With a sleight of hand, that seemingly one card became ten. He threw the cards, which were all the Knight of Swords—Birdway ensured he had multiple copies of the sword suit—and they cut through the troublesome Kupua—penetrating their cores and demolishing them with little effort—and the enemy magician’s defenses like hot knives through butter, scoring a kill. Since the Knight of Swords represented Direct Aggression, the wind rode on the cards and became razor sharp gales.
So, he’s her direct subordinate, Kiak thought. He needs to be dealt with, along with the rest.
A fifty-foot Pokaku—made of solid stone that was far beneath the ground—rose from the land, smashing its foot down and crushing three members of the Dawn Colored Sunlight, leaving them as sticky stains on its right foot. Many of the surviving members tried to destroy it with their spiritual items, but they did no real damage.
That was when Mark Space jumped, filling the tarot card in his hand with power, and told them to retreat—which they instantly complied with, even fleeing just past Birdway—but close enough to defend her. They knew what was coming. And they were scared.
He swung the Three of Swords card, and the air itself was cut by a gale that collided with the giant Pokaku. When air met earth, the chain reaction created an explosion that bombarded a wide area with large stones that flew at high speeds, demolishing over a hundred of the Kapua army and throwing up a cloud of dust and dirt. This was only the beginning.
Using the lack of visibility a shroud, he commanded all the remaining Ahi Kapua to concentrate their fire on Birdway. Flames were launched like bullets at Birdway, who didn’t bother to try to move, as a One of Swords card landed near her feet. In a flash, Mark Space had returned to her side, as if he teleported. With the Eight of Swords in hand, a spiraling shield of air blocked that attack and scattering the flame bullets in all directions, due to the rotation. He reversed the card and the shield became a saw that was launched forward at a horizontal angle.
The wind saw tore through the Ahi, and several dozen more Kupua, before dissipating. Kiak moved him straight to the top of the “must kill immediately” list, as Mark Space teleported back to the other One of Swords card he left beforehand—both of the cards now left unusable.
Using invisible threads of magical energy, he turned the bones of the fallen magicians into cores. The sounds the skeletons made as they ripped away at their own flesh were sickening. They kept at it until they were literally walking skeletons.
“Ka-poe-kina-lwi,” the magician announced their new identities, no longer magicians. “Kill him.”
The Lwi Kapua howled, ripping the sharp bones off their rib cages to use as blades. They surrounded Mark Space in all directions, closing in on him. He would surely be killed…If he didn’t have the Reversed Nine of Swords tarot card in his hand, filled with magical energy.
The Nine of Swords, in a reversed position, gave him premonitions of his painful death on the battlefield, only a split second before they occurred, and only for a limited time of one minute. That was all he needed. He nonchalantly avoided every attack that came his way, leaving several Seven of Swords tarot card attached to the Lwi like stickers, before the effects wore off and he left the card on the ground.
With a snap of his fingers, the Seven of Swords cards activated, and the Lwi tilted their heads, before attacking everything around them, which were the rest of the Kupua. Just as planned. After all, the Seven of Swords was one of betrayal. Mark Space was safely floating in the air, with the Four of Swords card he activated.
The card lost its effect rather quickly, but he was high enough to make his next move anyway. He then pulled out a King of Swords, which commanded power over the wind. Filling it to the brim with magical energy, the card became shrouded in wind and created a mile long sword of air.
He swung it down and the sword ruptured, sending a massive hurricane force wave of air to the right and left of it. The waves of air carried millions of invisible swords that tore through everything that was caught by it. The number of Kapua left wasn’t even in the triple digits.
Awestruck and afraid, Kiak used the absolute limit of his ability and sent hundreds of invisible threads all over, everything the touched became a core, which recreated the Kapua army he once held. He could only control up to 1,200 Golems at once, that was the limit even with the artificial body, and he could no longer craft them either.
But there’s no way that he could destroy them all again, Kiak thought, coughing up the fluid that kept his artificial body moving. It was made from the reproduced scraps of the collect Academy City technology harvested after the appearance of the Golden Hands during the war, and his mind and soul were transferred using a ritual.
“Mark,” Birdway called. “One minute.”
He silently drew a card, the Six of Swords, which represented passage. He flung the card forward and it left a trail of spiraling wind, a tunnel in the center. The passage tunnel carried him forward, as if he was being pushed by a giant fan, protected by the walls of air on the outside.
The table is set, Mark Space thought. Time to end this, he concluded, landing in the center of the new army. The tarot cards he left scattered around began glowing.
Mark Space did not discard his tarot cards, only scattering them, turning the land they had fought on into a table for the cards. This was a ritual, where the Dawn-Colored Sunlight specialized in. He raised the Ten of Swords and called out to an Archangel.
“Archangel Uriel, he who commands wind! Shine your divine light of punishment on those who oppose us!” Mark Space pronounced to the heavens, as if it was a decree.
The sound of trumpets came from nowhere, and a beautiful golden light parted the stormy clouds with a radiant force so great, the members of the Dawn-Colored Sunlight couldn’t help but fall to their knees and cry as they stared up into the sky. A golden twister touched down, and drew all the Kapua into it, where they were grinded, by countless golden blades, into particles and scattered into the air. It looked as though golden snow was falling to earth.
This was the power and style of Birdway’s head subordinate, the Ace—second only to Birdway herself.
Kiak reasonably decided to flee at this point. Like a terrified monkey. Mark Space had less than 30 seconds, so he drew one last card.
He flung the One of Swords card towards the magician. It emitted a soft glow, and Mark Space’s body vanished, only to reappear when the card landed in front of the magician, who he struck with a whip-like upwards kick to the jaw. The head was ripped away from the artificial body.
“Not so mighty now, are you?” Birdway asked the bodiless puppet master. “Are you prepared?”
“Do your worst,” he told her in defiance, “I feel no pain.”
“Like I haven’t heard that before,” she rolled her eyes. “So, with you out of the way, that’s the last we’ll see the last of these golems, right?”
“In the end, I was just one of ten who became like this,” Kiak explained in arrogance, as he revealed just enough information in hopes of throwing them into despair. “The other nine, will command an army nine times the size of this. You’re forces have dwindled. Even with the Monster of Science, you can’t win.”
“So, even the puppet master is a puppet to someone else?” she muttered. “We left a couple of specialist behind at the hotel, didn’t we, Mark?” she asked.
“Yes,” he responded.
“Good,” Birdway put on a smile that terrified them all, the smile of a true sadist. “Then let’s see if we can’t get some nerves attached to his head. I’m interested in seeing how much agony this puppet can handle. And set up a room with silencing spells. We don’t want to keep the rest of the hotel up for the next few days, while I play with my new toy.”
Kiak’s face twisted in terror. Mark Space pulled out the Two of Swords, which represented the separation of mind and body, and Kiak fell unconscious.
“The rest of you,” she yelled to the survivors, “clean up here.”
The mutilated corpses and remains didn’t faze her. This sort of nightmarish scene was common place in a battle between magicians; being born into this world meant getting used to it. Of all of the magicians there, Mark Space was the only one who had such a sad look on his face.
“If it makes you feel better, you can make a list and notify their next of kin,” she told her subordinate. “At least then someone will grieve for them.”
That was the only bit of kindness she showed. So the deaths would not be completely wiped away and hidden in the darkness. So that someone would remember them.
Before anyone could move, a white figure landed in with a force that cracked the ground, staring at Birdway.
“What the hell happened here?”
“Mark,” Patricia called. “Can I see one of your cards?”
Well, she has no ability to use magic, so it’s probably fine, he thought. He handed her the Queen of Swords.
Patricia took the card and crushed it in her hand. “PERSONA!” she yelled, but nothing happened. “Aww, I wanted a Persona like I saw in that anime and game.”
“Miss Patricia, that doesn’t work in real life,” he told her. At least not with the minor arcana, he thought. Truthfully, her sister had already spent a huge sum of money and other resources to get a working system going after playing the first three games.
Now if only it didn’t require so much Telesma…
- Yep, that was pretty dark stuff…welcome to the world of magicians, where cannon fodder die in horrible ways…I should have given them all names ad backgrounds so the readers could sympathize with them.
- Lwi means bones, think Spartoi from Greek mythology.
- I got some material from the SP Volume on Stiyl and Mark Space chapters. The reason the Ten of Swords activated a different effect is because he set the table with different cards.
- Sorry about the mood whiplash between the chapter and omake, but you know you thought Persona when Mark pulled out a Tarot card. I do plan on having more Omakes when I package it in the PDF and in a section on the site.
- Telesma is downright poisonous to humans if used. Only Sasha got away with it and she couldn’t have children anymore as a result. Acqua got knocked from Superman to Badass Normal when he tried. Birdway and Mark use it by storing it in their tools, although Birdway can do much more.
- Next chapter, all the forces have gathered and Mikoto meets Accelerator.
Remember to leave comments on how I’m doing or anything else.