[10:31] <Minaplo> WEEK SEVEN: Disaster in Thule
[10:48] <Minaplo> The grim iron citadel was one of the many that jutted like teeth from the defensive rings around Thule's inner sanctum. This one, however, like many others yet not enough, had gone silent. Where once fascist dwarves- their faces masked with iron hammered into the shape of the perfect Aryan visage over a gasmask- patrolled the corridors with rifles at shoulder and the steady echo of steel boots, where the trolls had manned the walls with cannons, shouting crude taunts and childish obscenities below, where once red banners of terror flew, there was now the quiet murmur of clear voices, the fluttering of fae wings, and the gentle steps of patrolling Elf warriors. Guns had given way to spears and bows.
[10:49] <Minaplo> The citadel bore fresh the scars of battle. The Elves were quiet in occupation but the battle had been another matter entirely. Walls were in ruins, great breaches wrought by powerful magic or by the fire and fury of dragons.
[10:52] <Minaplo> The garrison was a strong one. The host of Avalon had learned well that taking a citadel from Thule would provoke a swift and brutal reaction, and the fae who held the edifice were numerous, well-armed and battle ready. Any attack that struck it would be blunted, enough for reinforcements to come from other citadels or from the line of retreat. And then Thule, its forces depleted, would be ripe for a counter-offensive, and another citadel would be besieged and would fall. With each victory, Thule's sorties became weaker.
[10:52] <Minaplo> And so the Oberon who now ruled the garrison was confident, as were his soldiers.
[10:54] <Minaplo> The citadel would hold. That was the expectation, a reasonable one that was, in the end, wrong.
[10:54] <Minaplo>
[10:58] <Minaplo> Prince Idraceyl eyed the survivor, one of only a handful. A pixie, mad with terror; two elven spearmen who stared outward with dead eyes, and shook their heads when one tried to speak to them; and a dying Leanan Sidhe who murmured only something about black robes and a sword of fire.
[10:23] <Minaplo> "Perhaps this is a new and secret devilry wrought by the Reich's wizards?" Asked Lord Percir, a black-haired Elven noble.
[10:24] <Minaplo> "Or help from an ally." Said Prince Idraceyl. "Although whom? I had thought Thule entirely isolated. Who would risk our wrath in this way…?"
[10:30] <Minaplo> Lord Percir and Prince Idraceyl stared past the ramparts into the courtyard, where soldiers were enxamping. An Elf warrior was wooing a Dullahan by presenting her with the severed head of a xenophobic valkyrie. The Dullahan gingerly touched it; a moment later, the severed head's eyes opened and a blush crept across its face.
[10:31] <Minaplo> "Shall I call them to arms, my Lord?" Asked Lord Percir.
[10:32] <Minaplo> But Prince Idraceyl was already leaving. "No. I will investigate this on my own."
[10:32] <Minaplo>
[10:32] <Minaplo> Not entirely alone.
[10:35] <Minaplo> Prince Idraceyl surveyed Citadel F3x from the back of his mighty dragon, which soared through the skies with ease. In earlier days, such brazen flying would have attracted the attention of valkyries, wyrms and other flying foes, but the area covered by the Reich's air force was small indeed.
[10:36] <Minaplo> From the outside, the citadel looked unchanged. Prince Idraceyl gently tilted his heard forward; the dragon swooped gracefully downward toward a great breach in the wall.
[10:37] <Minaplo> It was silent in the citadel.
[10:37] <Minaplo> Prince Idraceyl leapt off his dragon, landing gently within. He lifted his staff, light emitting from the gem within.
[10:39] <Minaplo> Blood slicked the walls and floor. Shadows faded but the remains such as this would remain, especially in a realm so steeped in blood and death.
[10:40] <Minaplo> In fact, early in the war, Shadows that died here became corpses, staying and rotting, a most unnatural process.
[10:40] <Minaplo> But as the war had turned in Avalon's favour, the natural order had exerted itself, and Shadow bodies, for the most part, faded.
[10:41] <Minaplo> It was cold in the citadel, thought Prince Idraceyl. Wintry cold, a cold that pierced the skin of his soul.
[10:41] <Minaplo> And quiet. A void that made sounds seem lifeless and faint.
[10:43] <Minaplo> And so it was that Idraceyl came to the great hall of the citadel. What he saw forced a gasp from the pit of his chest.
[10:45] <Minaplo> A pile of corpses, fae corpses, stripped naked, wings and ears slashed away, a pile ten metres high and covered in a faint rime. Many had been stabbed, some burned, others crushed.
[10:46] <Minaplo> Then he felt it.
The chill in his essence deepening. An unnatural process. The light of his staff dimmed. The Shadows grew longer.
[10:46] <Minaplo> Out of the gloomy alcoves and halls came four shapes.
[10:48] <Minaplo> Tall humanoid shapes, robed in black from head to toe. Their hands were covered in baroque gauntlets of cold steel, and their feet were shod in the same.
[10:49] <Minaplo> They drew swords in unison, antique blades, edged in fear and pain.
[10:49] <Minaplo> Prince Idraceyl glimpsed the faces beneath the hoods, for a moment: old, gaunt, dignified in arrogance.
[10:49] <Minaplo> Then he saw that the hoods were empty.
[10:50] <Minaplo> You should not have come here, Elf-lord. Hissed one.
[10:51] <Minaplo> "You have me at a disadvantage. Would you be willing to give me your full names, by any chance?"
[10:52] <Minaplo> They shrieked. A piercing wailing screech and chilled Idraceyl to the bone.
[10:52] <Minaplo> The four figures advanced on him, swords raised.
[10:54] <Minaplo> "Not even a word. Perhaps I should give you mine?" Said Prince Idraceyl. He raised his hand.
[10:57] <Minaplo> "In the name of My Lady, the Fairy Queen, Protector of Avalon, Mother of the Qualinesti, Paramount Queen of the Eledhel, Everqueen of Ulthuan, Lady of Lorien, the Dream of Midsummer, Empress of the Summerset Isles, and Lady of the Courts of Seelie and Unseelie, I come as her champion and conqueror." Arcane winds swirled around him, rainbow colours meeting in his hand to create a pure, combined light.
"I am Prince Idraceyl, the Flowerlord, bearer of the Black Staff and master of high magic."
[10:59] <Minaplo> The light exploded outwards, striking the nearest shape with fire. It shrieked.
[11:01] <Minaplo> Then a second later, it turned to ice, then lightning, then wind. Psychic forces buffeted it's hood, forcing its gaunt face back into view. Raw nuclear force threw it off its feet. Black curses ripped at it ineffectively,- before turning to holy beams of light.
The shape burned, shrieking, in the light.
[11:01] <Minaplo> They froze in place, suddenly uncertain.
[11:05] <Minaplo> One of them lunged at him, but a shield of force was already erecting around him; the sword bounced off.
Another raises a hand, a black dart generating between its fingertips. But before it could fire at Prince Idraceyl, the cursed energy was snatched away into the vortex swirling around his hand.
[11:05] <Minaplo> Another blast of light struck a second creature, burning it through. The remaining two reeled, then turned and ran, shrieking, into the gloom.
[11:06] <Minaplo> The coldness receded from him. He sighed in suppressed relief, letting warmth fill his tingling body.
[11:09] <Minaplo> Replaced suddenly, immediately by a crushing, suppressive, suffocating sense of presence in and all around him. A sound from behind, a rattling press of air-
[11:10] <Minaplo> "Most impressive, your highness," said a deep voice from behind him. "But I am more than a match for the power of your queen."
[11:10] <Minaplo> He turned.
[11:11] <Minaplo> Robes of black, a burning sword-
[11:11] <Minaplo>


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