Valtharn lowered to the ground and looked around at the people, Mortals, Mortalborn, and Immortal alike, around her. Cassion and Daia were as shocked as the rest, but while Cassion was starting to prepare for a fight, Daia just looked confused. Valtharn, however, didn't make a single aggressive move. She didn't taunt anyone, or gloat about her triumph, or start showing off her power. Instead, she worked her neck like she had a kink in it, then shook her shoulders like she had to resettle her armor. "Oh, that's a whole new feelin'. I can see why Kata let it make so bloody stupid, with how much of a rush all that power is." she said, her tone more thoughtful than anything else.
Then she looked at Varlum as he hauled himself to his feet with his shield and his familiars and made his declaration about protecting Idalos, then roared out his defiance against any attack she might make. "Ow. Do you have to be so loud?" she asked, holding a hand to her head, before she shook herself slightly. "Nice declaration, by the way. I mean, it's very brave and all, but I'm not doin' anything to threaten Idalos. World destruction seems a might stupid, bein' that I live here too, and I haven't made a single attempt at world domination under my own power. I mean, yeah, I've worked for people who want to conquer the world, but they payed me well for it." she said, shrugging slightly as she spoke. "Of course, I guess I'm rather beyond the mercenary life now. I'll have to find somethin' new to do now." she said, before she looked the advancing Ithecal directly in the eye, her expression suddenly turning serious. "But you killed Kata. You gave me the chance to claim her power." she said, before bowing slightly to the injured Ithecal. "Thank you, Varlum Onarmus, for what you've done today. We may be enemies, but I owe you my rise, and I respect your courage even outside that." she said, her tone completely sincere. Valtharn was many, many things, but ungrateful was not one of them.
Then she looked at Cad as he bowed to her and gave her a little speech that was very long on praise and very short on accuracy. "I appreciate the compliment, but I've spent a long time making sure I don't fall prey to arrogance. I don't intend to throw that out the window because I got a power boost. I'm not Queen of the Immortals, I'm just a very powerful one now. And I only had a hand in killing one of the Immortals here. Oram and Nir'wei killed Syroa, Zoro killed Audrae, Kata killed Mastes, Aelig, and Belaera, Varlum killed Kata, and you and I killed Faldrun." she said, her laughing slightly as she spoke. Then she looked at Oram as he tried to get the axe away from Cad, after having given Varlum some berries she assumed healing powers. "I mean, I don't really have any reason or desire to fight any of you, you know. I don't hold grudges, and it's not like any of you have ever done anythin' to me regardless." she said, her tone clearly amused. Then she looked at Cail, and gave her a slightly apologetic smile. "There's some nerves there that take out the legs when hit right. It'll wear off in a few bits, no lastin' damage." she said, her tone sincere.
That was all she had time for, however, because then Nir'wei and Zoro had attacked. Falkia had started to, but then she had seen Faldrun's corpse and had collapsed as if she had been taken out at the knees. The Champion of Faldrun was mostly unharmed, but she was openly weeping at the site of her Lord's lifeless body. When he had needed her most, needed her to defend him, she had utterly failed him. Nir'wei and Zoro, however, were not incapacitated. Zoro's rallying cry got Cassion and Daia back into action, and they charged alongside the pair, both still ready for a fight. They were unable to wrest power from her, anymore than Varlum was able to claim his father's power by just reaching for it, even with his Remnants Domain. Meanwhile Nir'wei loosed his wolves and his Zephyrus and even Sage while arming himself with Brightgleam weapons and armor.
However, there was several key differences between Valtharn and the Immortals they had fought before. Neither Syroa nor Audrae had been direct fighters, and while Kata had been a capable warrior, she had spent centuries acting from the background. This had left all three of them with less than optimal condition for a direct fight. Valtharn had been a career soldier from a young age, and even after leaving the Empire, she had kept up the lifestyle as a mercenary. She was at her best in a direct fight. Moreover, she had the mindset of a soldier, and it showed in how she dealt with their attacks. Syroa, Audrae, and even Kata had all relied primarily on what amounted to displays of raw Immortal power to deal with attacks against them. Shapeshifting nonsense, pure healing ability, big waves of darkness to hide in, and raw physical strength to crush wolves and damage even the hardest natural armor.
Valtharn had spent decades without any such defenses, and she relied on a simpler, more practical defense. As they closed with her, she sharply jerked her head forwards and downwards, snapping the visor of her helmet shut as the first attacks met her preferred means of dealing hostile attacks: 4 millimeters of mastercrafted Malorite plate armor that been disguised by the black paint she had covered it with. Now their attacks scraped away that black paint, revealing the starlight metal beneath it. Malorite was proof against all but the most severe attacks, and what they had was enough to merely lightly scratch Valtharn's armor. In addition, while Nir'wei was an Exalted of Karem, Valtharn had faced Karem herself, a Karem intent on her death, and walked away fairly unscathed. She knew how to deal with the Velduris wolves.
Rather than try to shake them off, she used her left hand, her sword hand, to draw a long knife from her belt. Reversing her grip, she drove it into Kin's chest, right into the wolf's heart. Kin vanished on the spot and she reversed her grip on the blade, making a narrow cut across her body that opened up Vabina's belly and drove the blade into Myrth's spine before dropping it into her offhand as she lowered her swordhand to the hilt of her sword and pulled it from her scabbard. Valtharn's scabbard was a special design, with an open slit on the top that ran most of the length of scabbard, allowing her to free the weapon faster and bring into effect sooner, in this case striking Greyhide's back feet at the hocks and cutting through the muscle and tendons. His hind feet weren't severed, but he wasn't going to be able to stand on them until he recovered.
Now Valtharn was fully armed and had taken out Kin, Myrth, Vabina, and Greyhide in the span of a few seconds at most. Daia and Cassion both paused, shocked by the sheer efficiency of the new Immortal. Fortunately, they weren't the only Immortals now, and Karem grabbed Nir'wei as he approached Valtharn. "Back off!" she said, her tone a sharp command as she pulled him away from the Immortal of Ruin. The reason for her command became clear as a new combatant joined the fight. Raskalarn was wearing full plate armor now and the greatsword she wielded crashed against her daughter's shoulder as she started to pursue the retreating Karem. Valtharn hissed in anger under her helmet and thrust her knife at the eye sockets of Raskalarn's helmet. Raskalarn deflected it easily, knocking the knife from Valtharn's hands and taking another swing at her daughter. Valtharn dodged and the Empress's sword, with was glowing the power of her Devastation Domain, smashed into the pedestal of the Ascension.
The pedestal, which is what Valtharn had been holding, hadn't been affected by Zoro's cutlass, was shorn clean in two by Raskalarn's strike. Valtharn took a swing at her mother, but Raskalarn deflected the blade with some difficulty and took another swing at Valtharn. The Immortal of Ruin dodged, grabbing the shorn off part of the Ascension before she abruptly lept away from the Ascension, landing next to Cad Revel. "Sorry, I'm not dumb enough to risk this fight when there's nothin' here for me to gain." she said, her tone cheery. Raskalarn pursued her daughter and Karem raised her crossbow to fire, but Valtharn opened a portal into Emea, then tossed the pedestal part through it. Karem's fired at her and Raskalarn started to swing, but Valtharn grabbed Cad and pulled him through the portal with her, Mastes corpse just barely not making it in time before she closed the portal, Karem's arrow and Raskalarn's blade passing harmlessly through the space where she had been.
Raskalarn swore violently as Valtharn vanished, then turned to look at the Ascension as it started to crack open, the cracks emitting a bright white light. Then the seven corpses of the Immortals started to do the same. "Time to go, now!" she said, nodding at the others. Karem, Daia, and Cassion all nodded and started moving. Cassion grabbed Oram and Cail before teleporting out with them, Daia did the same for Varlum and Falkia, while Karem collected Nir'wei and Zoro. Meanwhile, Raskalarn teleported back to her legions, who she and Karem had gone ahead of to try and stop Valtharn. Saoire, who had helped them get the legions to Anox's Folly so fast, had stayed behind and after a quick word from Raskalarn, opened a massive gateway that send the legions back to the Northern Reaches Fortress while she and Raskalarn joined the others.
Mere seconds after they vanished, the Ascension and the seven dead Immortals all Fractured, their collective destructions melding into a single force that violently tore open the fabric between Idalos and Emea in a new Grand Fracture that rapidly consumed the whole of what had been Anox's folly.
Cad's Manor, Almund
Valtharn and Cad appeared back in Cad's manor, in the very room that Faldrun had taken him from at the start of the adventure. Now, as they returned, Valtharn hissed in pain and rolled her shoulder, before she took off her helmet and set it on a table in the room. "You all right, there? Sorry for the abrupt exit, but I somehow doubt those folks would have been all that keen on your presence. Also sorry we had to leave your new thrall behind, but that's gonna Fracture any minute now." she said, looking out a window as she spoke. A few seconds later, the sky stopped cracking and returned to usual coloration, now absent of cracks. "Yeah, that checks out. Emea looks to be unbuggered now as well." she said, working her shoulder as she spoke.
Then she turned and picked up the piece of the Ascension she had thrown into the portal ahead of them and sheathed her sword. "Well, that was fun. Pretty rewardin' as well." she said, before she grinned at Cad. "Ah, but I'm gettin' ahead of myself. I believe you're owed triple what Faldrun promised you, as well as a bounty for killin' Faldrun, yes? Sure, you killed him, but I see no reason why you shouldn't get paid for the work you did. After all," she said, chuckling slightly. "You did help ensure that Kata won't be threatenin' anyone goin' forward." she said, taking a seat in a chair without asking. After all, what was Cad gonna do, threaten her? "Now, I'll see that your money is sent to you shortly. I don't have access to Faldrun's funds, so I'll have to pool it together myself, which'll take a few days. But we have another business matter to discuss." she said, grinning at Cad.
"You do good work, mister Revel. Good enough, in fact, that I have a proposition for you." she said, her grin widening. "You're an evil sort, Cad, and don't try to hide it from me. You and I are above tryin' to make excuses for what we are. So, how would you like to work for me on a more permanent basis? I can fund you quite well, and on top of that, I can give you power. After all, I'm an Immortal now and I do need people to give my Blessin' too." she said, her tone cheerful as she waited for his answer. Then she glanced at his chalkboard and frowned slightly in confusion. "I get the ferrets and the maid disguise, but what do you need that much latex for?" she asked, her tone genuinely curious.
Imperial Palace, Korlasir
The room they all arrived in was made of black stone, but despite that, it was well lit and comfortable, with windows opening out over the city below them and many comfortable chairs. All in all, it appeared to be an informal meeting room. Just after they all arrived, Varlum having been shrunk down to his normal size by Daia's touch, the sky outside returned to it's usual color. Just a second later, Raskalarn and Saoire joined them, the former looking out the window. "Looks like the Fracturing at Anox's Folly relieved the strain it put on Emea. We'll have to look into it later to see what happened." she said, getting a nod from the other four Immortals.
Cassion patted Karem on the shoulder, grinning slightly at the younger Immortal. "Good timing on that arrival. Valtharn would have killed someone if you two hadn't shown up." he said, his boisterous voice only somewhat subdued. Karem, however, just looked at him coldly for a moment before she went to go sit next to Daia and Nir'wei, the former of whom was looking rather distressed. "Still mad at me about the pup thing..." Cassion muttered, frowning slightly before he shrugged. "Well, at least she didn't yell at me this time." he said, before going over to sit next Saoire. Shortly after, Qylios, Ethelynda, U'frek, and Ilaren all arrived. Ilaren took a moment to frown at Falkia, who had buried her head in her hands, still crying silently, then shrugged at the presence of her greatest enemies Champion before going over to stand next to Raskalarn. Ethelynda sat next to Varlum, her expression clearly worried when she looked at the battered Ithecal, while Qylios went to sit next to Zoro and Oram, and U'frek sat next to Cassion and Saoire. "What happened?" Ethelynda asked, her tone somber. "Why does Faldrun's Champion look...broken, why is Daia trying not to have a breakdown, and what happened the other Immortals?" she asked, her tone serious.
Raskalarn, who was standing near the window shook her head. "My daughter in an Immortal now, with Kata's power. That's all I know." she said, before she looked at the Mortals and Mortalborn who had been fighting that day. "Would you all please explain what happened as best you can?" she asked, her tone as non-imperious as she could make it. Which, to be fair, still made it sound like she's having to make an effort not to give everyone there orders. Cassion nodded at the Mortals and Mortalborn, evidently choosing to save his part in things for later, while Daia barely looked up at all the talking, getting a concerned look from both Ethelynda and Karem.