Bad Blood Runs Black - chapter 46 part 3 of 3 by John "Basileus Ioannis"
Dusk had fallen over the southern Elven city of Gyneyshehir. Evening meal time had come and gone, and life was winding down for the night. The merchants had closed their shops, traffic had left the avenues and boulevards, and only scatterings of younger High Elves darted this way and that to various entertainment venues and taverns.
Atop the tallest tower, in the command center of the city, a handful of mature elves maintained their vigilance. But sensors detected no threats, and the pair of lookouts scanning the night sky failed to notice some stars briefly wink out before reilluminating a moment later. If anything, it was quiet, for even the night birds seemed to be asleep.
Ten thousand feet above the city, Viturhimin loomed over several console operators, each wearing the ubiquitous white masks. “Have they detected our presence?” he asked, looking at their glowing consoles. The circular displays appeared to show Darkvision scans of the cityscape.
“Negative, Serrasqer Bashal,” said one technician, “nothing airborne, and surface activity seems normal for this time of night. We appear to have caught them totally by surprise.”
“Good,” the consul grunted. “Do you have the target in sight?”
Another console operator spoke with a female voice from under her mask. “Yes, Serrasqer Bashal, the dorsal lift port is in sight and in range.”
“Outstanding. Open the Lumina Pools.”
Off the east coast of Albi Aula, Vatishehir was making headway, with both rows of paddle wheels furiously beating the waves of the western ocean. Mundhelm and Fugle’rede were standing inside the bridge, as the sea air had turned chill after sunset. A navigator came out of Flag Plot and approached the leaders. “Serrasqer Bashal, Skibsfoorer Bashal, we have reached the edge of the dampening field!”
The two turned to face the junior officer. The consul said to the shipmaster, “Excellent! Let us call the Vindbrugere, we must take flight as soon as possible.”
Fugle’rede put his fingers up to his ear-bubble. “Skibsfoorer to Furste Maskinmeester, we are at the edge of the Anti-Planar Travel field, how soon will we be able to fly?”
The chief engineer’s gruff voice was heard. “I have nothing yet, Skibsfoorer Bashal...wait...yes, YES, the plant is coming alive! We will have flight capability in one minute!”
The shipmaster turned to Mundhelm, and said with a smile, “One minute, Serrasqer Bashal.”
“Fantastic! Get all non-essential personnel indoors, prepare for flying mode!”
“Yes, Serrasqer Bashal. It might take some time to retract the paddle wheels...”
“Can the crew accomplish that as we fly?”
“It shall be done, although I recommend sub-sonic flight until they are fully stowed.”
“Make it so, Skibsfoorer.” Mundhelm gripped the brass railing in front of him with both hands and gritted his teeth. Viturhimin, we come for you!
Pana and her friends had gone back to their room after the dinner meeting. Resuming their own debate about the enemy consul, they were chatting when the crystal set next to the door broadcast the message about the impending flight. The High Priestess turned to Haergrim and asked, “Should we go back up to the bridge?”
“Nay child,” said the elfin ranger, “it would be best if we stayed in our staterooms until summoned. They will be very busy up there, especially after we catch up to the Quzayshehir.”
“Awww, I’d love to see us ram that traitor’s ship-city,” grumbled Chawinda.
“Huh,” said Pana, raising her eyebrows. “I thought you’d be afraid of aerial combat, after that time we flew with Eewon and those Eff...er, bird steeds!”
“Oh no,” said the bodyguard with a big grin. “Missy, this is REVENGE. A dish best served cold...see, we Dark Elves relish nothing quite as much as kicking a deserving ass!”
Gemma giggled. “Even more than huggles? I thought that was on top of the list.” Pana blushed.
The Drow held up two fingers. “A close second, junior missy, a close second! If it only were number one, we’d probably spend less time offing each other and more time doing one another!”
As the three women laughed out loud, Haergrim loudly cleared his throat. “How do you say it, child, Tee Em Eye? Were it the other way around, the Underworld would be teeming with the dark ones.”
Chawinda elbowed the High Elf with a wink. “Who said it ain’t?” She stuck out her tongue and began making fun of the ranger with chants of “Ooo, babies, babies everywhere! Muahaha!”
Suddenly there was a loud whining sound throughout Vatishehir, and the room lurched. Everyone gripped the beds they were sitting on. The room lurched again, and they could feel a pulling towards the back of the room. “Yay, I think we’re flying again!” cheered Pana, as Gemma joined in and Chawinda flopped back on her bed with a moan.
Haergrim let out a sigh. Whether it was relief that the ship-city was finally airborne, or that it silenced the mockery of the dusky bodyguard, was for him to know alone.
On the rocky underside of Quzayshehir, six circular holes had materialized as hatches slid aside. The moonlight appeared as wavering spots of dim light on the city below. The spots began moving, coming closer and closer together, towards what looked like a large squat chimney directly behind the tallest tower in Gyneyshehir.
The lookouts at the control center noticed the faint beams immediately. “Is that moonlight?” said one spotter to the other, pointing at a pale circle playing on the roofs of the buildings below.
“Looks like it,” said the other observer, “if we had six moons.” She swiveled her head, pointing at five other identical spots of white luminosity. She pressed the bubble on the side of her helmet. “Lookout to bridge. Six beams of what appear to be moonlight are shining down on the city from above. We are unable to identify the source.”
The deck officer in the bridge got up and walked over to a window. A spot several hundred feet across was indeed shining on the rooftops of the sleepy city. As he watched, the spot began moving towards the bridge and began shrinking in diameter. “Lookouts, can you see the source? What does it look like?”
Both observers cranked their heads back, squinting at the light coming from the night sky. “It looks like six moons above us, in a ring. I see the real moon as well, to one side. So seven moons above, with the first six shining beams down upon us.” As they stared, the six moonbeams became brighter and brighter, making it impossible to look at. “The beams...they are intensifying!”
As the circles converged on the tower, the beams began taking on the appearance of spotlights, then arc lights. The deck officer squinted at the reflected light, and shouted, “Sound the alarm! Scramble the owl squadron, find whatever that is!”
But before the order had even reached the giant owl crews in the hangars by the grassy park, the beams converged on the chimney and turned into one pillar of intense light. As the solitary beam continued to focus tighter and tighter, it became so bright that it lit up the entire city. Magic Mouth spells sounded like horns, followed by loud voices repeating, “Owl Squadron, scramble! We are under attack!” The massive hangar doors rolled open lazily as elves ran to their battle stations.
A deep rumble could be heard as the ground shook beneath their feet. The tall tower swayed, causing everyone on the bridge to grab hold of consoles and walls to avoid falling. Suddenly a rainbow colored flash of light spewed out of the chimney, straight up into the night sky, lighting up the terrain for miles around. The ground began breaking up and flying upwards. Buildings crumbled from the quake, the rubble being hurled like toys into the air. People screamed. Then with a deafening roar, the entire central district of Gyneyshehir erupted, then collapsed into a tremendous cloud of dust.
The six beams of light now diverged and widened, becoming dimmer, illuminating the toroidal remains of the city. In the sky above, Quzayshehir had descended to just a few hundred feet above, as spellfire and fire bombs rained down on the hapless denizens of the southern Skibbyen. The conflagrations soon merged together into terrible firestorms sweeping through every district. A few spells managed to fly upwards towards the attacker, but fizzled against its anti-magic shielding.
Guard sergeant Raythelbodur scrambled out of a city wall tower, and was horrified by what he saw. The entire city was either a smoking crater or burning fiercely. Elves fleeing the inferno streamed in the rubble-strewn streets. He waved, motioning towards the nearest city gate. “This way! Evacuate the city, hurry!” More guards joined him in guiding the citizens towards the portal.
As the evacuees poured out of the city gate, the elves in the front suddenly screamed as they were cut down by unseen assailants. The civilians bunched up from the attack, and Raythelbodur had to push his way forward. Suddenly he caught a projectile on his pauldron which penetrated his shoulder armor, injuring him. He hissed and looked at the offending missile. “Hand crossbow bolt! Who...” As he drew his service longsword, the backlight from the burning city betrayed numerous hostiles in black armor, their faces concealed by similarly colored masks, with red pupils glowing within round eye holes.
“No escape for ye, surface dwellin’ buggers!” croaked a scratchy voice, in a dialect of Elvish that the sergeant knew all too well.
“Night skins! Were you responsible for all this?” He lunged at the Drow, sword raised to strike. But he never reached them, as he was peppered by a dozen bolts. The other guards tried to reach their sergeant through the crowd of panicked civilians, but more dark-clad warriors set upon them. Raythelbodur fell, bleeding from his multiple wounds.
The line of Drow charged into the screaming High Elves with blades out. One stopped over the moaning sergeant and removed her mask, revealing a comely sable face with blood red eyes and stark silver-white hair. She sneered, then spat on his back. “Ye’ve got it easy, ye get ta die now...da rest of ye buggers will join ye soon enough!” She took her short sword and stabbed the prostrated High Elf in the back of his neck, his body going limp. She reached up to the side of her helmet, and pressed her forefinger on a bubble on its side. “Shobhana to Maan Jahaaj, we are in.” Replacing her mask, she bolted in the graceful yet spindly way of the Dark Elves to rejoin her surging compatriots.
Now hovering over the dying city, Quzayshehir ceased its bombardment. Aboard the ship-city, Viturhimin had returned to his Flag Plot, as technicians busily updated the glowing table map as calls came in. One of the communicators, wearing the bubble-helmet and white mask the others wore, gave an update. “Serrasqer Bashal, ground elements have cut off all the city gates and are now entering Gyneyshehir.”
The consul inhaled through his nostrils with satisfaction. “Good. Plot course for Doushehir in the east. We have a busy night ahead of us.”
--- to be continued ---
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©2016-2017 BasileusIoannisMature Content
even as the Vatishehir struggles to become airborne again, its evil twin Quzayshehir has arrived over Gyneyshehir, the southern High Elf city. how will Viturhimin do his dastardly deed upon the unsuspecting metropolis? and does the genocidal maniac have help?
mature filter for combat death and harsh language
forward to chapter 47 part 1 of 4
back to chapter 46 part 2 of 3
mature filter for combat death and harsh language
forward to chapter 47 part 1 of 4
back to chapter 46 part 2 of 3