Ancient Aura of Delphi
Preface: This tale takes place fairly deep in medias res, a quick jotted scene for the purpose of getting my ideas down but where it might make little sense to explain details mid-narrative, so I will provide them here. Haddick Orion, a loud and noble lad in his mid-twenties, is the leader of the Sunflower Host, a group brought about aimed at justice for his family and the world via the overthrowing of his Great-Grandfather, Oberon. Haddick wields a trident- Tumult, with a grappling cable from the prongs to the hilt- and Abrasion, a scimitar. He also has the ability to travel anywhere he can see within 8 seconds, and can stretch his legs at will. Vigor Vainglory is a troubled lad who believed himself to be a normal human of advanced skill, come to find in his recent days that he was a member of that same family under Oberon, and an Ersatz, a synthetically born human made up of and capable of controlling an energy source in all beings called Growth, of various different colors, forms, and origins that can be manipulated to form different sorts of growth-matter(ice, light, clouds, fire, lightning, blood) and to grow anything with which it comes in contact into anything the user can conceptualize. Coming to terms with this new power, he finds he is rather adept in its use, but still struggles to find purpose in a world that used to be so clear to him, and that lack of clarity manifests in malice and an unwavering pride. He wields Majesty, a whip consisting of a chain of detachable butterfly knives that can be used to grapple as well as a newly born scythe, Hopelessness, forged from the skull of a crow he chased for taunting him with his inhumanity. Then comes Valor, son of Phaest, challenged by his father to combat him upon sight his whole life long, thus dooming him to an eternal quest for strength. He comes equipped with his Family Stone, a blade worn as a ring given to him by Phaest with the ability to channel growth through its skeleton in order to enhance its size immensely. All three seek to obtain the Shimmer left by the oracle Delphi, an everlasting concentration of growth. In his determination Valor calls upon his razier, a sword made of an Ersatz’s soul that boosts that body’s power but allows them only to think and feel what they had at the time of summoning it, something that can cause problems.
tl;dr Haddick Orion: wields a trident and a scimitar, can go anywhere in 8 seconds, Mr. Fantastic legs
Vigor Vainglory: a scythe and magic black ice and smoke powers
Valor: a sword on his ring that grows on command
Haddick attempted to shake off the rampant sense of bloodlust, but found no matter the focus he gave to his perishing beloved, the air remained tinged with a hidden hatred. But he had come so far and, though his guard remained held, he could not waver from his mission. Stepping softly through the jungle, he found his gaze falling upon a maw, burst deep into the side of the temple he was certain he had sought and, without a second thought, he picked a perch and zoomed at full speed through the air to a brick ledge, onlooking the interior of an ancient fane overridden with vines and various brush.
Wiping sweat from his brow, he peeked down below at what appeared to be sunlight originating beneath his feet- and he knew his target. He shoved his trident into the mossy brick and, gripping the handle tight, slowly loosened the cord connecting it to lower himself to the chasm below. When he found himself feet from the blinding beams, he could practically taste the wicked intent pursuing him, giving him all the more reason to press onward. Hastened up the shambled steps, Haddick positioned his hand between his eyes and a small altar eminating the unbearably luminous energy, while slowly and suspensefully reaching with the other hand, until…
Orion grabbed it. He quickly glanced about himself, eyes wide in anticipation, but found no response. Not even a booby trap. He let out a sigh of relief. The glow of the shimmer felt golden in his grasp, a feeling he could not describe except to share it. But this was only to be shared with Palétte, and he wasn’t about to let himself become a target, standing there too long. Hoping to leave as quick as could be, he gripped Tumult’s handle forcefully, beginning to ascend. It wasn’t until he was halfway up that he recognized that, while the prongs rested firmly within the brick, the brick was propelled into the air at a moment’s notice, and he was in freefall, staring up in horror at a grinning shadow of a figure, gone in a flash. The enemy.
Orion accelerated his fall through focus, landing in a graceful crouch on another nearby ledge and charging his legs for a moonjump, his eyes darting about the room. Airborne, he looked to his left just in time to miss a boot to his face from his right, and was sent sprawling to the earth in a tumbling mess of mass. The shimmer danced away from his now open palm and he cursed his buttery fingers.
“Looks like it got away from you, there,” a voice cackled from above him, as he sprang to his feet.
“Where are you?! SHOW YOURSELF, DAMMIT!” Haddick drew his scimitar and wielded it with both hands before him threateningly, knowing all too well he could only point it one direction. He heard the wind warp above him, and another raspy cackle.
“You know, I never thought I’d scare you so bad. You’d think you’d seen…” Haddick turned to face the sound, sweat dripping from his forehead voraciously. He swung his blade recklessly in anticipation, eyes closing as he did so-
“A ghost.” His eyes opened to a grinning spectre with scythe in hand, slicing his scimitar hand at the wrist. Haddick cried out in pain and zipped backward aimlessly, crashing into the temple wall behind him. The scythe spun skillfully within the silhouette’s hands, coming to rest upon his shoulder as his opposite hand lifted over his head. Haddick blurrily stared up just in time to notice a massive, black, jagged star of an icicle form in it before being chucked effortlessly his way, and it was all Orion could do to reach the open floor beneath the hovering spectre. His black cloak fanned out as his arms spread and he cackled yet again, descending to face his foe on the overgrowth of the temple floor.
“You… you’re the government snitch!” Called Haddick breathlessly, with a cough. “What’s your name again? It’s something stupid, I know.”
His enemy’s eyes widened in fury. “Cocky as ever, eh, Haddick Orion? We’ll silence that tongue before long. This is Hopelessness,” he cooed, telekinetically twirling his blade once more with the flick of his wrist, “much like the feeling you must know NOW!”
In a moment he flashed before him, a slash decimating the earth at Orion’s feet. With his last bit of strength, he zoomed to the ceiling above his enemy and charged it with growth lightning, collapsing the chamber upon him. Haddick bounded away a few feet beside the wreckage, and wiped indigo from the side of his mouth. “That ought to teach you… Wait, what?!”
As the smoke cleared, he noticed a lingering black smog, brushed away to reveal a matching jagged black ice sculpture. The scythe blade burst from the surface and struck Haddick’s right shoulder, digging in deeper with his painful yelps. The blade retracted, dragging him along with it, and suddenly the ice reverted to smoke and the foe bolted forth with a kick to Orion’s temple; he went careening down the steps. The figure landed gracefully and took patient yet malicious steps ever closer to Haddick’s battered body.
“That’s right…” Orion coughed out, “… Vigor.”
Vigor sneered at the recognition- he did so love to have his work admired. “A fan, eh? I’m flattered you know of me.” He dipped his head in a snicker and brushed his hair back with his free hand to grin at the moonlight sneaking through the shattered ceiling. His blade flashed before his eyes. “It’s a shame, truly, to have to cut down someone with such good taste.”
“You can rot in hell for all I care, you’ve got no admirers here!” Haddick struggled to his feet, stumbling to and fro. “I’ll gut you for getting in my way!” Orion zipped at him, fist drawn to slug him, but Vigor need only extend a knee to catch him in his belly. Haddick had the wind knocked from him, sputtering, and with a jumping spin Vigor connected his heel to his cheek and sent the man flying.
“Tch. All bark and no bite. That’s no fun at all.” Vigor settled to the earth gracefully and stepped slowly toward his opponent… but was stopped in his tracks, by a broadsword blade extended from the heavens. He glanced upward just in time to see a hulking body tackle him into the steps before the altar.
“You there! Where is the ancient light? I will not be thwarted by the likes of you! MY QUEST IS A NOBLE ONE!” Valor came to face the crumpled boy as his blade slunk back to his middle ring finger, and Vigor glared up at him with renewed animosity.
“No one cares for your quest,” hissed the shadow that rose from the steps, and a league of smoke-bats burst from within him in a swarm around the knight. Valor, arms folded, did not bat an eye.
“I am not frightened by your fuzzy night-birds! Begone!” Fists primed, Valor proceeded to punch to figments each bat as it approached, deflating them into a whispering fog around him. With a grunt he struck again, but retracted in pain with a cry- his target had turned to a sharp frost, and crimson blood fell from his fist now. The smog grew stronger, and now Vigor dwelled just above this conjured bubble, arms folded.
“I grow bored of this. I believe it’s time you left us.” And with a flick of his forefinger, Vigor gave the order, and spikes formed of ice came from every angle at the warrior, who cried out from within the smoky mass. Vigor chuckled to himself- but gasped as he saw the cloud split, a massive broadsword bringing an end to the trap. Before he could react, the blade reached him and stabbed him from shoulder to stomach, and Vigor collapsed once more upon the steps, coughing and wide-eyed.
“My Family Stone will not be underestimated!” Valor roared as a lion, and leapt before the boy once more. The blood wrapped around his fist, augmenting his ring blade in an electric growth charge, and granting it immense girth. He charged it into his fallen foe once more, but Vigor’s wound closed with spiked icicles, catching the sword as Vigor’s malice grew in size. He snarled at Valor,
“You are but an ant. I will not fall to you.” As the spikes turned outward from his wound, they were propelled by a cyclone of black blood, six pikes catching Valor in his abdomen and thrusting him through the air against the wall opposite Vigor. The hall echoed with Valor’s cries, his mouth agape and his body spewing growth all over the temple wall. With wide, wicked eyes, Vigor’s hand raised and pushed the man through the brick, twirling wordlessly into the jungle beyond.
Vigor helped himself to his feet shakily, his wounds slowly regenerating. He turned his attention behind him, to locate the shimmer, and found Haddick just placing his hand upon the light. “NO! IT IS MINE!” Vigor rushed the fallen man, who turned with a smirk and aimed the light at the phantom. “Rot in hell, you freaky prick.”
The beam struck Vigor before he could feel it, and he was suddenly on a similar trajectory to his friend Valor, crashing amongst the monstrous trees and concussing upon a branch, where he struggled to raise himself, and fell once more. His eyes split just in time to see Orion’s figure phasing just above him, only to be slapped from the sky by the broad end of the Family Stone.
“Guwahh!” Haddick croaked, gripping tight to the shimmer as he crashed upon a nearby limb. Valor soon landed before him, blade extended. “I’ve said before, I will not fail in my mission. You will hand the ancient light to me.”
“Heh… Over your dead body, pal.” Haddick managed to kneel, holding himself between the light and his enemy. “I’m not about to let some bozo like you take MY only light away from me!”
Valor’s gaze softened. “I can see in your eyes that your cause, too, is a noble one. Nonetheless, I AM NOT TO BE DEFEATED!”
“YOU’RE OBNOXIOUS AS HELL!” The Family Stone extended from Valor’s knuckle to be deflected by Orion’s brandished scimitar, and once more from the reverse side. Orion charged his opponent, and held his blade above him to catch his arcing swing before tucking and rolling into growing his foot right into Valor’s face, who held strong and charged his fist with crimson flames. The punch drilled into the trunk behind him and various whip-branches assaulted Orion from all sides, knocking him to a lower limb. Valor stepped to seek him out below, but could not find him- only to locate Haddick’s foot connecting with his face. Valor was heaved to a nearby tree with a crash, as the mighty timber split in two and fell to the jungle floor below.
Haddick panted and pointed his way. “That’s what you get.” He turned to leave once more, but a chorus of electric fury began below him and he let loose an exasperated sigh. He turned to see Valor engulfed in massive flames, a second blade drawn to match the Family Stone in his opposite hand and his eyes burning in mindless fury. He had drawn his razier, and it was all Haddick could do to raise Abrasion to block the cross strike of the two blades sending his own flying into the wooded abyss below. The mere force of a swipe knocked Orion to his back again, his fingers releasing the shimmer to the air and his opponent’s grasp. Valor’s witless visage turned to a grin, as the light fell into his possession, but he found he could not stop himself from finishing his earliest thought: “Kill the interloper.”
The Family Stone worked its way through Haddick’s abdomen, like a knife through butter, while the razier trained on his chest and pierced his breastplate with hissing steam and Haddick’s own choked groans. Orion almost sounded as if he was laughing as the sword plunged into him again and again, painting the whole tree indigo. And just when he was certain he’d hit the point from which he’d be unable to regenerate, and Valor neared satisfaction in his slaying, a searing splash struck the brute’s face, followed by the gong of a cauldron full-on to the skull. Valor fell like the tree before him, and Haddick struggled to make out the image of… Yes! Scald’s tiny frame stood before him, securing his cauldron upon his back once more. Gumption and Plummet were beside him, and helped him slowly to his feet.
“What are… you doing… here? I told you… it’s too… dangerous…” Haddick wheezed, before coughing and pushing more blue to the floor below him with each convulsion.
“Shut your trap. You’d be dead without us.” Haddick had to give him that one, as much as he hated to.
“We had to come save you, big bro!” Gumption said with a grin. Orion put his arm over the shoulders of the boys to steady himself.
“Hold on tight, it’s gonna be a buuumpy ride!” Plummet had returned with Orion’s sword, and fastened the three of them to her pack, pulling the strap- and yanking the four of them high into the air by way of her chute. As they billowed away, Orion glanced down at the figure of Valor escaping into the mist of the jungle.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” Asked Gumption.
“… Nope. Looks like… I’ll need to find another way to find to save Palétte.”
Below, Vigor’s body slowly but surely mended itself, as his unconscious heap of flesh slipped silently from its perch down into the murky depths.