Episode 17: The Antoran Assault – Pt. 3

Sweat dripped from Iliera’s forehead, down her cheek, mixing with the blood from the deep cut on her face, and continuing down to run off her chin. The ground beneath her rumbled, but unlike the broken rocks of Argus, this metal flooring was polished and unscratched. It didn’t crack or crumble, but instead vibrated and hummed.

Just In front of her, the powerful titan of Argus stood. His body towered over all that was left of the Academy assault team. He stared down at them with a blank face, one that troubled her more than any she had faced so far. This being had suffered at the hands of the Legion, tortured and twisted into this deadly monstrosity. He hadn’t chosen this fate, nor did he attack them with ferocity of someone that hates. He was a wounded and broken creature lashing out at them with the destructive force of a celestial being trapped in a corner with no where to go.

He had to be put down.

It was tragic.

Iliera felt burdened by this, but that didn’t change the situation. The titan’s blade had already cut down a handful of Academy members. He was weak, but he was not defeated.

While the other titans gathered the strength to aid them, time was not on their side.

“Okay everyone,” she started. “Stack on—”

Argus’ scythe caught Iliera directly against her shield. She went airborne, and may well have flown into the depths of the twisting nether, if not for the saving catch from Barrus the priest.

She hit the ground with a crash and pain shot up through her body. Her arm was limp in the shield straps, and the shield itself was cracked and broken. She looked up from her injury just in time to see blue and red fire erupting from the Titan.

“End it ALL!” Argus yelled.

Then, it was over.

She was dead.

They all were.

——

In Silithus, Sionis Sepher cast another fireball and two demons dropped from the spell.

“Word from Dalaran!” Macksyn shouted from behind the mage. “Three more enemy ships have shown up in the Broken Isles. They think they’re attempting to reopen the portal in the tomb.”

“Can they send anyone else?” Sionis asked.

“They’re calling for everyone,” Macksyn replied. “We need to help them.”

Out over the dry desert, two demon ships had arrived shortly after Sionis teleported the Academy members here. They had been locked in combat ever since.

But it didn’t make any sense.

Why here?

Sionis had felt an energy, a pulsing darkness, like an ominous threat that had threaded itself through space and time. He had assumed it was the demons, but three ships weren’t that destructive. There had to be something else happening here. After all, he wasn’t a fool. He knew there was a different kind of tomb here in Silithus, but he assumed the dark creature beneath the ground had been quelled years ago. Could it be that the demons were up to something else?

Why would they be interested—

A sudden and terrible feeling swept over Sionis. It hit him so hard that he stumbled backward. Macksyn caught him as he fell and carefully lowered him to the ground.

“Sionis?” he asked. “Are you okay?”

“She’s…gone.”

“What?”

“Iliera. She just…”

He didn’t speak. He couldn’t. Macksyn knew what he was saying, and if it was true, that meant the Burning Legion had won.

If that was the case, time was short. He forced himself to stand, focused his energy on one of the demon’s ships in the air, and instantly teleported inside.

When he materialized on the ship, he had already allowed all of his arcane power to manifest itself as fire within him. His flaming body went to work on destroying anyone and everyone within his reach.

Explosions ripped through the enemy ship as he unleashed wave after wave of attacks. Without Iliera, the Legion would destroy Azeroth. He would die this day. They would all die today. So, he wanted to make sure he took as many of these demons with him as he could.

——

Here in the darkness of death, Iliera was left with one nagging feeling.

She had failed everyone.

Would Azeroth burn? Would the Legion destroy it all?

Quietly she pondered, but then, like an echo in the darkness, she heard a faint voice.

“No! After all we have endured… it must not end this way!”

There was a spark of light in the darkness.

“Hope is not lost, Highfather.” Eonar spoke. “The spark of life still flickers within these mortals.”

The light grew brighter. It changed from a yellow glow to a green one. Iliera felt a vine wrapping around her shattered arm. As it touched her skin, it sent warm pulses of energy through her. She felt empowered by it. Her strength returned to her. Her mind cleared. The darkness began to retreat from her and the room came back into view.

She was alive!

She looked around and saw the others. All of them. They stood tall with her and held their weapons as though confirming to one another that this had just happened.

Eonar’s voice boomed aloud. “Arise Champions! Fight to save your world!”

Iliera smiled. Here they were, refreshed and alive. The Academy of Hope stood once more.

The Titan, Argus, raised his blade once more, not ready to surrender.

“Together,” she said aloud. “Let’s end this!”

They charged at the Titan, swiping their blades and bringing down all their mightiest spells. The air crackled and fizzed with the raw Arcane power. Holy Light and Void magic sparked and exploded in bright flashes as they collided with the Titan’s body.

Iliera ducked and rolled, passing between the Titan and Juggz, swapping patterns to keep their foe distracted. When Argus dared to turn away from either of them, he paid the price with a slash of claws or the teeth of a jagged blade.

No one was wasting this second chance.

——

Fire ripped through the enemy ship as it crashed to the surface.

Sionis had teleported back to safety just before the whole thing had gone critical and exploded into fel-flames that would no doubt scar the surface of the world.

While he had been fighting in the ship, he had felt Iliera’s return.

She was gone… then she wasn’t. He didn’t know how to explain it, but he knew in his heart that she had died and then returned to life.

Macksyn looked worried when he briefly tried to explain it, but he didn’t object.

“So, what’s the game plan?” he asked. “It was mighty impressive bringing down a whole ship by yourself, but I imagine that’s a one time deal?”

He was right. Sionis had expended all of his energy in that assault. Had he not felt Iliera’s life return, he would have likely died in his attempt to take down the second ship.

“I don’t know,” he replied, honestly.

“We should go to the Broken Isles,” Macksyn suggested. “If the demons are trying to open the portal we need to keep it shut. We worked hard to close that gateway. I don’t want it to be opened again.”

“Something is happening here,” Sionis assured him. “I can’t leave yet.”

“At least send a few of us,” Macksyn pressed. “This is a desert. We don’t need to defend this place from anything.”

Sionis thought of resisting, but the monk was right. “Fine. Get some people and let’s get you to the Broken Isles. I’ll stay here with the rest of the members and we will figure out what the demons have planned here.”

Macksyn nodded firmly. “Thank you, Sionis.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” the mage replied with a grin.

——

Fÿnn’s shield cracked under the pressure of the last hit, but Ailyn was safe. The warlock thanked him and quickly rushed back to get a better vantage. Iliera and Juggz were both wounded, but the druid stood his ground, blood spilling at his feet.

They wouldn’t make it much longer.

Despite everything they had thrown at this titan, he continued to stand.

Fÿnn decided he had to do something.

“I have an idea!” he shouted.

Iliera stopped and looked at him. “What?”

“I’m going to distract him.”

“That’s not a good idea.”

“It’s our only chance!” he shouted.

She would have said no to his plan, so he didn’t bother explaining. Instead, he just rushed forward, pulling all of his power and calling upon the Light to protect him in this darkest moment.

Iliera moved to counter his attack, but Fÿnn wasn’t planning to finish his charge. Instead, he stopped short and called to Argus.

“Hey! Titan!”

Even with the battle raging on all around them, Argus seemed to hear and understand who had just called him, turning from the others and looking right at the paladin.

“Oh wow,” Fÿnn said. “You look really terrifying.”

The Titan stepped toward him.

Fÿnn planted his feet as best he could and lifted his glowing sword into the air. He was prepared to protect himself. One big bubble to deflect the titan. It wouldn’t last long, but it would be enough to stop one direct blow… maybe.

It would be up to the others to take advantage of that window.

“Come on!” Fÿnn shouted again. “You smell funny!”

“Death!” Argus shouted. “End you!”

The scythe was pulled back. Fÿnn saw his life flash before his eyes, and then he called upon the Light. He pulled everything from within, the hope, the power, and the desperation.

The scythe came down with the force of one hundred men. It slammed against Fÿnn’s protective barrier, and in that brief moment, both the weapon and the shield shattered.

Fÿnn’s and Argus, both completely oblivious of what to do next, froze in place.

It was just a moment, a brief second of hesitation, but that was all they needed.

Juggs’ mighty jaws clamped on the titan’s hamstring and locked there. Iliera leapt into the air, bounced off the druid’s back, and brought down her pointed crystal hammer on the titan’s spine, right at the base of his neck.

Argus’ eyes went wide.

“All… life… ends,” he said, his mouth slowing with each word.

Then, after long moment of uncertainty, the Titan fell.

Silence filled the room.

Fÿnn, finally ready to move, went to work on the wounded. The others took a moment to actually breathe. Around them arcane energy still fizzled in the air, void magic was withering back into the darkness. A few people collapsed. Others just lowered their weapons. A few didn’t even do that. They stood ready… waiting… not ready to believe the fight was done.

Meanwhile,  Iliera’s eyes fell upon the other Titans of the pantheon. They too looked tired, or at least as tired as a celestial being of creation might be, and Aman’Thul was stepping their way…

TO BE CONTINUED…

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