a girl went tripping falling begging down spewing black and red and gutted even as she stabbed up into
Kasoria had seen chaos, and he had seen this. Far, far more often, he had seen this.
shrieking woman saws through a throat before three spears skewer her and she's still cutting still slicing still screaming
This wasn't chaos. This was horror. This was slaughter. This was violence and wrath and hatred and all things that needed sentient minds to and hands and wills to bring into. Every mind now was an engine for massacre; every pair of hands a means to add to.. to...
ripped apart as they fled by monsters abominations freaks traitors magic crackling and blackening flesh and arrows and axes and still fighting roaring bleeding
This was raw, unrestrained, annihilation. A battle underneath a sunless day, where eve the heavens hid their eyes and let mutants and cultists and free men and monsters (not all on opposing sides, either) paint those yellow sands red wherever you cared to look. Where innocents were slaughtered, butchered, hewn and hacked and even devoured as they fled. Brave men dragged down and bellowing their oaths of hatred and loyalty and worship and damnation. This was terror and judgement and horror in its most savage, final form, and this-
one arm a stump crawling back searching for his arm sword shadow over him bleeding eyed cultist raising sword and screaming praise
-until his head is struck from his shoulders, strike smooth but cut ragged. The one-armed Blackjack gapes up in horror as head falls back and body falls forward... then his jaw fully drops when he sees-
This is something Kasoria knows very well.
"Geddup!" He kicked a sword over. Any sword. There's plenty around. "Geddup an' FIGHT!"
There's no time for more inspiration than that. A blink later the blood-splattered little monster is dashing off, a blur of black and silver and red-
-gladius chopping through the torso of one Web Guard before his own sword could fall, karambit hacking open the man's throat even as his chest yawned open, wet and ripe and scarlet. Another came in from the right and Kasoria's swinging arm angled up, incercepting the mace-
-by getting under the swing, karambit carving open the man's arm lengthways from wrist to elbow. The Web Guard shrieked as his uniform turned crimson and the snarling Raggedy Manjammed the gladius through his throat, quick and savage as a silver tongue, bounding on, and repeat, and again-
Kasoria let the momentum of his strikes propel him around: not allowing his body to stop, always moving and unable to be pinned down. The Web Guard weren't breaking anymore. This was the core of them, anywhere from a few score to a few hundred of diehard fanatics who did not care that their country, their city, their people, their species had been manipulated from arcs ago by the creature they now served. Manipulated and almost destroyed. They did not care, as traitors throughout history cared not for the atrocities their selfishness bred.
Then again, a fair few weren't even from Etzos, like the-
Thing that was snipping and slicing its way through a cluster of Etzori, shrieking in outrage and a guttural tongue Kasoria did not recognize. Torso extended in a truly disgusting manner, a pair of forearm-sized pincers lashed out over and over, clack-clacking hard enough to break bones and sever limbs as the sword and hatchet she... no, it wielded hacked at the Etzori.
Not Tower Guard, either. Not Blackjack. Not resistance or gangers or anything else. Kasoria scanned them for a half-heartbeat and knew them for what they were.
Folk. People. Citizens. Shoving their woman and children to the back and planting their bodies before the monsters, until they were dead or dying and the women stepped up to finish the job. Fear dripping from their features. Mingled and warring with rage and a sheer, ageless desire to protect kin and home.
Kasoria blinked. He remembered Rhakros. Smoky streets and impossible caverns. Simple mortals, not touched by magic or marks or destiny or even greatness. Hurling themselves as terrors that would send anyone else running. He remembered how militia had brought down Lisirra's monstrosities with nothing but spears and maces. He remembered how they'd died in droves and willingly, for the protection of their people, for the vengeance of the dead.
He remembered how it steeled him, to see his people fight so. Like it did right now.
His Sparks growled and hissed in protest as he sent a fresh command to his Abrogation, new layers of Replicative armor, sprouting into existence around him. However Oberan was doing... whatever it was, he could feel it bouying up his endurance, his speed, reflexes, muscles... and that included his Spark. But of them all, that would run dry fast, and his parasitic "siblings" knew that even better than him.
Not yet. Just a bit longer. Until it's done.
Kasoria swore, until he died, he heard voices in that moment. Speaking atop each other, distinct but distant, like your own name shouted across a canyon.
Until the end.
Kasoria grinned and charged the monster killing his people, bellowing as he did-
"Oi?! See me 'ere, you cunt!"
-as Sintra's Exalted turned to him with a snap of malformed vertebrae, drooling venom and hatred-
Make it convincing.
Kasoria reared back with his gladius, roaring as he aimed a huge, overhand blow at the four-armed monster, which-
-throw up its own hatchet and sword to block him, pincers already punching out, opened wide, eager to snip this irritating heretic in two and bring his head to its Mistress-
Kasoria ground his teeth as a pair of superhuman blows slammed into his barriers-
-and the Backlash energy broke one of those pincers clean in half, denting the other one, agony of the redirected energy making the Exalted rear back for a brief second in agony-
Pincers destroyed or useless. Mundane weapons still held high and blocking his feint.
Both of them. Whereas Kasoria still had-
-the karambit that punched into the monster's groin, and the Raggedy Man rose from a crouch to his full height, bringing the weapon with it-
-drinking in every moment, every ounce of disbelieving horror as the Exalted felt and then saw itself torn upun vertically, from its cunny to his throat-
-then saw all those very essential, very mortal organs spill out from a body it hard willingly deformed for the glory of Sintra. Its arms went limp. Its pincers dropped. But its stinger still twitched-
-until Kasoria lashed out with a straight left, breaking her nose, slamming her head back-
-leaving her open for the fonal, chopping, horizontal blow that took her head off.
"Get the bairns the fuck off outta it," he bit out in ragged breaths to the clutch of Etzori, looking at him in awe and horror. "Rest a' yuhs, gotta stay an'... an'..."
A shadow loomed over him. Completely. Totally. Impossible. Because nothing was so large in the Arena that he hadn't already... seen...?
Kasoria turned around, and saw a spider the side of a small cottage glaring down at him.
He didn't even try to stand his ground. He just fucking ran.
Which was all well and good, because with an eardrum-shattering roar, the spider came after him a moment later. Ground shaking and bouncing under his feet, the Raggedy Man fled, brging his way through the battlefield, taking every dram of speed Oberan's Thrill could lend him. Behind him he could hear Sintra loyalists and brave Etzori getting mulched by indifferent arachnid legs, focused solely on him until-
-one armored leg swept out and took his legs from under him like in mid-run. With a curse he went flying forwards and as he landed on his back he saw jaws like plowing shears come down at him-
-rolled to his side, sand where he'd been impaled two feet deep, hideous, multi-eyed head coming out and glaring at him with intelligence both its own and belonging to its master. Rearing up anc clacking those awful, glistening mandibles together as it sprang forwards-
-Kasoria still scooting as fast as he could, until he realized there was sand under his feet and he sent a pulse of Transmutation into it-
-wall of sand rising up in the path of the huge spider, hardening a moment later, and its bought him a whole three seconds to get back to his feet before-
-the sheer bulk of the monstrosity smashed through it, unimpressed and impatient, but for a moment unknowing of where he was, lost in the cloud of dust-
Kasoria's eyes snapped to a pair of brawling figures. Both bareheaded now, bleeding freely, so torn and battered that he could barely tell who was friend or foe-
He didn't have time to ask. He grabbed the nearest one by the back of the shirt, hearing a curious "uh?" as he grabbed him by the belt at the small of his back with his other hand, yanking him round to face the monster-
-before throwing him in the path of those lunging jaws.
A meal was a meal, to a hungry beast, or a vindictive one. From mere feet away, Kasoria watched those jaws chew and crunch and pullp and impale, all at once. A feeding frenzy that natural spiders would have been incapable of. But it was the wrong prey, and now it was blinded by hunger and the sweet tang of meat being gorged upon, and three of its' eyes swiveled to him too late-
This better fucking work.
-lunging towards it, gladius held almost like a spear, thrusting out around the dead shoulder of the man speared onto its jaws-
-and the giant spider screeched as the gladius turned two of those eyes to bleeding, spewing, reeking ruin. Buried into the skull of the thing deep enough that when it reared back in pain, the sword stuck fast-
-and Kasoria held on with a curse at himself above all others-
-letting the upward momentum toss him high, high up-
-and onto the back of the monster.
The moment he slammed onto the glossy abdomen of, Kasoria jammed his Traitor's Claw deep into its skin. It barely anchored him. The monster bucked right away, but he ground his teeth, spitting curses, fumbling for his other dagger... and then slammed that into another spot. Now anchored with both hands, Kasoria bore the nauseating ride as the giant spider rampaged around the Arena, bowling over fighters, demolishing pillars or just banging into them, eyes spewing out steaming fluid and rage at being unable to strike the bastard on its back-
But he wasn't alone. The huge Familiar was now covered in other spiders, some hand-sized, some tiny. All of them in thrall to Sintra, and not happy with the stowaway on their gigantic cousin. He felt venom crackle into him with a sick sting, Replicative fields finally waning. Instantly his vision started to swim, but with a growl he beat it back. He'd not die from a minnow's nip when he had a shark on his blade. He rose as shakily as he could, peering around the top of the spider's head, until he saw-
-Flaxo, and the Tower Guard, stalwart and implacable in its way. They'd formed a phalanx in front of it, shield down, spears leveled, and Kort was shouting himself hoarse with demands for bravery, for excellence, for courage as strong as the warhammer he held-
Shit. This'll work even less.
"Kort?!" Kasoria would always treasure the look of shock on the taciturn champion's face, as he saw the fucking Raggedy Man riding the giant. "Toss me the hammer!" Confusion. Shock. Surely he;d misheard. "No questions, jus' fuckin' do it!"
Kort did. Because the moment called for it. Because the times were as crazy as the plans and thus the risl were downright insane. He didn't question, just gave a silent prayer to the Fates and hurled the heavy-headed weapoin up-
-as Kasoria let go his hand weapons, just as the spider came to a halt-
Time stopped. There was no order in the chaos, but there was this stolen stillness. Beling unmoored from ground and gravity seemed to make it so. The Tower Guard gaped at the sight of the slight, bleeding, bearded man springing from the monster's back. Leaping into the air, hands outstretched for the hammer-
-fingers wrapping around it and the instant they did, a pulse of blue-white Transmutation energy went into the weapon. Commands rushed from Kasoria's brain to his Spark and then through his grip fast as thought. Transmuting the weight of ancient stones into the weapon. Doubling, tripling, exponentially increasing its weight even as he spun in mid-air-
-spider finally spotting him, lunging as the bastard human fell in front of it, jaws outstretched-
Kasoria slammed the warhammer into the skull of the spider, now weighing as much as a half-cartload of quarry stone. The head of the weapon pulped chitin and destroyed fleshy eyes and quivering jaws like a sword would paper. It kept going until the whole head was smashed away, weapon continuing down to rip out the bottom jaw of the beast-
-then bury itself into the ground as Kasoria landed-
-badly, rolling and staggering away all at once. Coming to a stop in the great gout of dust as the headless spider collapsed, sending up a fog bank of confusion all around them. People vanished. Fighting continued. All the more desperate now, blind and insane and fuck, what about Sintra?! Kasoria cursed his own lack of vision and hauled himself upright. That was the only fight that mattered. Pausing only to loot an ax from some dead hand - again, friend or foe, living or dead, it didn't much matter to him - he started walking through the morass. He could see someone finally, something kneeling down and-
What the hells is that red stuff on the-
“This is my Zone of Truth! And the Truth of this circle is that all who enter are the enemy! You will stay out, or you will regret it!”
Kasoria took a step forwards, so Oberan could see him for who he was. A dirty and bastardly as ever, only now coated in as much spider guts as he was viscera and blood. Bearing an ax fit for a barbarian warlord, and working a set of... sadly familiar brass knuckles onto his left hand. The Raggedy Man spat blood and looked past the Mortalborn.
To the stage. Where Sintra raged in fury and dismay even as she held the leader of the city hostage.
"We need t'move, boy. Shite ends wiv' her, or it fuckin' don't."