Blood Oath

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The Jade Behemoth

As Nuve sits on his cushioned chair in the middle of the cottage at the edge of the Sliver Bay castle wall, his eyes dart back and forth from Row to Corvic as they talk nonchalantly about their intentions. “So…” he tries to interrupt them.

“So?” Row turns her attention toward him finally.

“So, why is your brother here?” he asks the question he has been dying to know since waking up to find the cottage occupied by one more guest.

“Am I to understand that the attacks Jauntess was working so hard to stop were caused by him?” Minto sees her chance to interrupt as well.

“I needed sustenance to maintain my form,” Corvic responds unapologetically.

“You feel no regret for the people you harmed?” Minto crosses her arms angrily.

“Should I?” Corvic pretends to yawn.

“This is why I hate bloodsuckers,” Minto grumbles. Seamus is immediately reminded of what Row said to him just before they encountered Corvic. Despite how much she seems to care for both Nuve and Minto now, neither one of them has realized how offensive their blunt statements about bloodsuckers are.

He does not say anything to Minto though. He is has been sitting quietly in the corner since he woke up that morning after passing out in the street the day before. Minto was able to bandage his hand properly after it failed to heal on its own, due to the fact that Wan’s power had been siphoned by Corvic.

“Back to matters of importance, have you met with Lord Louwits to arrange your marriage?” Corvic is not concerned about Minto’s statement at all.

Row glances at Seamus shyly before looking down at her feet with a guilty expression. “Actually, brother, I don’t think I'm going to go through with the engagement,” she mutters in an almost inaudible voice.

Corvic stifles a laugh before realizing she is serious. His face darkens as he adopts a grim expression. “Am I going to have to beat some obedience into you, little sister?” He flexes his fists menacingly. “What could have possibly caused you to make such a decision on your own? It is not wise to renege on me or Lord Louwits.”

“I sent word to Glass Gate but I could not find you,” she argues. “What exactly happened with Turok?”

“I don’t know.” He grits his teeth as he thinks back to his embarrassing defeat at the bell tower. He is almost positive that the sorcerer who beat him was not a normal human.

“Where is Turok now?” Nuve interrupts them again. “Will he not try to follow you?”

“It’s not as if he knows where I would go,” Corvic brushes off the thought. “Besides, he would not be welcome here.”

“I doubt Lord Louwits would be any better at keeping him out than Lord Glasstien was,” Nuve argues.

“You certainly love to praise demigods, don’t you?” Seamus grumbles from his corner. He knows how much his mistress despises Turok and does not want her to have to hear his vassal bragging about his abilities.

“It’s not about praise,” Nuve argues. “Turok was disliked by both Wan and Husk, the two demigods I revere more than any others. In fact, practically all of the remaining nine have abandoned him. I would be surprised if his two closest allies, Ardine and Maumolla, were not also enemies of his now.”

“Ardine and Maumolla are allies of Turok’s?” Seamus’s eyes bulge. “Does that mean they will seek vengeance for his death after Corvic retakes Iron Grove?”

“I don’t know.” Nuve shakes his head. “Wan explained their relationship to me once but he wasn’t very clear. Apparently the three of them were an unstoppable team almost ten years ago.”

“Ah, that’ll be my fault, I'm afraid,” Corvic laughs. “I once challenged Ardine and Turok to a duel, two on one. I nearly destroyed them both that night.”

“You’re joking.” Nuve stares at him in disbelief. “Forgoing whatever Turok can do, Ardine is said to hold power over the weather. She never fights one on one, choosing to use a great metal bow known as Arma Kalo.”

“Exaggerations; every word,” Corvic scoffs. “The bow controlled the weather and all it could do was call down lightning or summon fog like… like that.” He points out the window. Immediately everyone turns to look at a strange white mist that has encompassed the entire city.

“What is going on?” Nuve gasps in awe. “You don’t suppose Ardine is here right now, do you?” he gulps.

“Don’t be foolish,” Corvic growls. “This mist is unnatural. It was clearly summoned by a water mage wishing to use it as cover to sneak into the city.” As soon as the words leave Corvic’s mouth, the color drains from his face. “Turok,” he whispers in a terrified voice.

“I told you!” Nuve snaps at him. “You led him straight to us.”

“But how?” Corvic grabs the sides of his head in panic. “He can't have known where I was going.”

“It doesn’t matter now.” Seamus pokes his head through the window of the cottage, trying to see through the mist. “I can hear horses approaching the castle. If you are right, Turok has just arrived.”

“Everyone, grab a weapon.” Corvic is still panicking, which only serves to unnerve everyone else. Having only fought him halfheartedly once, they are unaware of the royal bloodsucker’s true strength. All they know is that he should be at least more powerful than their own royal bloodsucker, Row. If this demigod frightens him, then what chance do they stand at all?

Seamus instinctively reaches for Arma Scov, but flinches when he sees the bandage on his hand. The memory of the cuts it gave him make it hard to actually want to hold it again. Instead he picks up Arma Sorn, which is sitting next to it on the weapon rack. Nuve flexes his new shiny arm before picking up a strong metal bow given to him by Nordila Bulkere when he visited her shop after waking up the previous day.

“Halt!” the booming voice of a man can be heard outside. It is quickly followed by the sound of horses whinnying as they skid to a stop in front of the gate.

“Who goes there?” one of the guards shouts down from the wall above.

Slowly the mist starts to clear, revealing a coach with a man clad in dark green standing atop the driver’s bench. “I am Lord Turok of Iron Grove!” he bellows proudly. “I seek an audience with Lord Louwits.”

“Lord Louwits sees no one unannounced,” the guard answers confidently. “Be gone with you.”

“I think it is in his lordship’s best interest to reconsider,” Turok responds in a threatening voice. “I would hate to have to return with an army to storm the castle by force.”

“Are you declaring war on Sliver Bay?” the guard growls angrily.

“I am asking politely for an audience with the lord of your castle,” Turok is not convincing in the slightest.

“You beasts of gods, always doing whatever you please and trampling over people like insects. Bring your army from Iron Grove. We shall destroy it,” the guard remains confident.

“This is great,” Corvic is practically laughing. “Maybe Louwits will end up fighting Turok without us having to do anything.”

“Do you feel no shame?” Nuve demands angrily. “You brought this menace to his lordship’s door; take responsibility.”

“Who cares,” Minto gives an exaggerated yawn. “Louwits is nothing more than a filthy bloodsucker. There is no reason for us to get involved.”

“Exactly.” Corvic claps his hands together happily.

“What turned you into such a coward,” Nuve growls at him.

“Are you seriously trying to goad us into fighting Turok?” Row asks in a fearful voice. “Do you have any idea how powerful he is?”

“All the more reason to stop him now before he retrieves an entire army from Iron Grove,” Nuve spouts. “We’ll have the entire support of Sliver Bay behind us if we attack him now. We won't get a chance like this again.”

“I think he’s right,” Seamus finally speaks up. “If we end Turok here then we won’t need to go through with your engagement either.”

“I told you I already called that off.” Her face turns red. She knows full well why Seamus is so desperate to prevent her marriage from even being a possibility.

“I wish I had a man who cared that much about me,” Minto continues to whine.

“Shut up and take one of your potions.” Nuve shoves one of her clear vials into her face. “I can't have you distracting me at all so you’ll need to look after yourself.”

“Yes sir.” She pretends to lift an imaginary visor like a knight would when greeting a superior. Nuve is used to dealing with her sarcastic behavior and simply ignores her.

Corvic watches as Seamus and Nuve leap out the open window of the cottage and sprint toward Turok’s coach. Though he is still afraid to face the demigod again, he knows they have a point. He will be much harder to defeat if he manages to return to Iron Grove and amass an army.

“I will give you one last chance to grant me safe passage!” Turok is still shouting at the gate when Seamus and Nuve reach his coach. He is caught off guard by a sudden slew of arrows from the metal armed ghoul hunter and his new fancy bow. Each one of the projectiles is tethered with a pouch of black powder ready to explode on impact. “Ha, interesting,” Turok laughs as he snatches four of the arrows out of the air and lets the other three sail past harmlessly.

The explosion that follows them hitting the ground behind the coach surprises him but he is not angered or scared, only impressed. “Who may I ask is brave or stupid enough to attack a demigod?” He snaps all four caught arrows in half like twigs.

“How did he see them?” Nuve’s eyes are wide in disbelief.

“I'll ask again, who are you, brave idiot?” Turok is losing his patience. The only answer he receives is the dark shadow of Arma Sorn cast over the coach in its entirety. “Run!” he shouts while leaping from the vehicle. Two other figures tumble out of the back before the gigantic mace crushes it into splinters. “I liked that coach,” Turok growls angrily while pulling himself back onto his feet.

One of the other two people to have escaped the vehicle is wearing a black hooded robe and twirling a large tree branch staff, which seems to be controlling the mist. Suddenly several icicles begin to form around both Nuve and Seamus, all pointing at their faces and chests. “Surrender,” the sorcerer gives them one chance.

Seamus yanks on the chain to Arma Sorn. The icicles surrounding him shatter as the massive metal ball returns to its owner, shrinking down in the process. Nuve on the other hand uses more black powder to destroy his prison of ice. “Where did you get that weapon?” Turok demands while pointing his axe at Seamus. “What has become of the Bronze Cognition?”

“That would be me,” Seamus growls menacingly. Though he has never met Turok before, he knows that this demigod is the source of much of his mistress’s pain.

“I see.” Turok shakes his head solemnly. “I can't say I am sorry. I do not know if Wan or Husk planned to stand against me but you have saved me the trouble of finding out. For that I will give you the chance to redeem yourself. You now hold the power of a demigod and the right to inherit his place amongst the nine. What say you?”

“Are you serious?” Seamus’s eyes bulge. “Are you trying to buy my loyalty?”

“I'm simply stating a fact,” Turok assures him. “You have inherited the rapture. You have a duty to serve as one of the nine.”

“A duty to protect humans from bloodsuckers?” Seamus asks cautiously.

“That’s it. You catch on quick. What do you say? I'll teach you everything I know, young demigod. You shall be the new Bronze Cognition.”

“Who said that was the only power I inherited?” Seamus laughs as his eyes turn bright yellow.

Turok nearly falls backwards in shock. “Lodar?” he whimpers in a terrified voice.

“You have performed actions unbecoming of one of the nine, Turok!” Seamus’s voice deepens as he allows the Golden Clairvoyant to posses him for the first time in a while.”

“You don’t understand, Lodar. I found something in Iron Grove; a new breed of bloodsucker…”

“I know,” Lodar cuts him off. “You think that gives you the right to usurp royalty?”

“What do you know?” Turok raises his voice to hide his fear. “You have allowed yourself to be killed by this human of all things. You have aided him in the destruction of Husk and Wan.”

“So what?” Seamus’s eyes flare angrily. “I care not what this boy does in my name. I have already left this life. I care only about stopping you.”

Turok’s arm drop to his sides as Arma Venture protrudes from Seamus’s forehead like usual. “You can't control me!” he grunts as he struggles to break free.

“You always were the weakest of us all,” Seamus scoffs in Lodar’s deep voice.

“That’s not true!” Turok growls while taking a thundering step forward. “I'm the strongest now that you’re dead. I will be the last of the demigods standing, just you watch.”

“You wouldn’t last ten minutes against Genlock’s successor,” Lodar laughs. “I should know, I nearly died at his hand.”

“So you’ve met Brand finally, have you?” Turok sneers at him. “I wish he had ended you.”

Seamus is just about to raise Arma Sorn again when a blade of ice forms in front of his throat, slicing it open and unleashing a torrent of blood. The yellow in his eyes flickers and fades and is soon replaced by silver. The wound on his throat closes up as quickly as possible but he still seems shaken.

“What was that?” Kalina gasps. “He should be dead.”

“He’s carrying three of the nine,” Turok whispers to himself. “What exactly is this boy?”

“That hurt!” Seamus growls as his throat finally closes completely. His eyes are focused entirely on Kalina now. He crouches down on the ground, taking the form of a large dog with Wan’s power, and charges forward on all fours.

Kalina is too startled to react. She screams just as Seamus reaches her. The other person to escape the coach however blocks the snarling dog’s path though. It is Token, now looking much healthier after being rescued from Corvic’s dungeon. He slices at Seamus with his sword, opening wounds on his face and paws but nothing seems to faze him. In fact, all of the cuts seem to fade almost immediately. He is in complete control of his shape shifting ability.

“He’s a monster,” Token shouts as he is knocked over by the dog, which promptly bites his leg, incapacitating him. He will not be able to intervene at all anymore.

Kalina has managed to recompose herself and is already chasing the wild animal around with more blades of ice. Every once in a while she manages to cut him but once again he is barely affected. The sorcerer is starting to share Token’s opinion of him. He is most definitely a monster.

Turok is unable to help his vassal though as he is too busy avoiding being shot by more of Nuve’s exploding arrows. He always seems to know exactly where they will hit though. It is almost as if he can see the future. “Do you like my power?” he taunts Nuve proudly. “I have a faster reaction time than anyone in the world. I can even see where that filthy bloodsucker Corvic is going to be.”

Back inside the cottage Corvic is still staring out the window. Turok’s statement startles him terribly. He had no idea what the demigod’s power was until just now. Apparently it is one that renders his most prominent talent completely useless. It is no wonder he was able to predict his location and nearly hit him with Arma Tua multiple times during their last encounter.

Row looks equally as terrified. Their mother Lady Owleen had prided herself on being fast enough to run directly up walls after feeding. How she was defeated by Turok five years ago is now apparent. He didn’t even have to move from the center of the room as she ran in circles around him. All he had to do was wait for her to get too close and it was over.

“Are you sure you can see me though?” Nuve resorts to taunting the proud demigod. “I can be pretty fast when I want to be.”

“You are a slug compared to Corvic,” he laughs. Nuve launches another arrow at him from the left before pivoting on his right foot and launching another one from the complete opposite direction. “Pointless,” Turok cackles as he leans backwards, allowing them both to collide in the air directly in front of his face.

Normally it would be enough considering how small the explosions have been so far. This time however, the cloud of black smoke that follows encompasses a three meter area, knocking Turok backwards off his feet. “Don’t get complacent,” Nuve warns him.

Turok digs the handle of his axe into the ground to stop himself from sliding. His face is covered in burn marks and dirt when he finally manages to stand back up. “I don’t normally kill humans,” he spits angrily while marching towards the ghoul hunter.

“That would have killed any normal man,” Nuve sighs as he starts to run backwards, barely keeping his distance from the Jade Behemoth.

Following Turok’s small tumble, Kalina is too distracted to keep up her barrage of ice blades, giving Seamus the opening he needs. He leaps toward her face, nearly biting her nose just before transforming back into a human. Instinctively she raises her arms in defense, bringing her staff with her. Seamus promptly snatches the tree branch from her and snaps it over his knee.

Kalina stumbles backwards, tripping over her own robe and tumbling into a small rut in the grassy field outside the castle gate. Seamus steps on her chest and leans down so his face is barely an inch away from hers. “You are human?” he asks as his eyes flicker back and forth from silver to emerald.

“Yes,” she sputters while nodding. “Please, I'm only doing my master’s bidding. I'm just a vassal in Turok’s service.”

“Why don’t you quit,” Seamus suggests in a mocking tone.

“Trust me, I would if I could. I care not for Turok’s plans to rule as a lord. I care only for my life and that of my beloved.” She jerks her head toward Token who is still cradling his injured leg in pain.

Seamus rears back, stepping off of the sputtering sorcerer and allowing her to crawl along the ground toward Token, who she promptly begins to heal with a spell that causes her hands to glow bright green. He is shocked by his own reaction to learning that the two of them are in fact in a romantic relationship. It has reminded him of his feelings for Row. He does not want to be responsible for tearing the pair apart, even if they serve his enemy.

“What are you doing?” Turok shouts from across the field. “Don’t waste time healing that useless excuse for a guard captain. Finish the damn Bronze Cognition!”

Kalina glares at her master with spiteful blue eyes. “Do not insult him!” she screams as the braids in her hair untangled themselves, allowing her brown locks to blow freely in the wind and mist.

“What are you doing?” Turok’s eyes widen. “You can't go back on your oath. You are my vassal from now until you die.”

“Not anymore!” Kalina’s voice is shrill. Her eyes are all but glowing as she tries to severe her connection to the demigod the only way she knows how, through magic.

“I'm warning you, it can't be done.” Turok is quivering in fear. “If you stress the bond much more, you’ll weaken us both.”

“I don’t care!” she shrieks. “I’ve had enough of following your orders. I'm sick of being your personal slave. Do you know how many times you would have died if not for me? Do you know how many vassals have died to preserve your pathetic life? I hope you perish without me.”

Her words are enough to prove her intention to severe her contract with Turok. A sudden flash of light knocks both of them backwards to the ground. Their connection has been broken. Kalina’s servitude to Turok has ended. “You worthless little wench!” he growls while rising to his feet. Another slew of arrows from Nuve is easily blocked by a wave of his massive axe as he marches toward his former vassal with a menacing look in his eyes. He is fully intent of killing her for her insubordination.

Seamus takes a stance to protect the sorcerer, who is still too stunned by the severance to move. He raises the chain of Arma Sorn to protect himself but Arma Tua passes right through it. Seamus’s eyes widen as the powerful axe slices into his face splitting his head completely in two. He stumbles backwards with a look of sheer terror in his eyes as the wound quickly closes up. He had completely forgotten about Arma Tua’s power. No amount of armor will help him. There is no way he can defend against it.

Turok’s green eyes are wild and crazy as he slices at Seamus continuously, ignoring Arma Sorn like it is not even there. He is not even allowing time for each wound to heal before he creates a new one. “How do you like that, pretend Bronze Cognition? You should have accepted my offer; it would have been less painful for you. How long can your stamina hold out? I bet you’re already growing tired.”

“Enough!” Seamus punches Turok in stomach causing him to keel over. He then wraps the chain of Arma Sorn around his neck and pulls, cutting off the demigod’s air supply. “It hurts goddamn it. Keep that bloody axe away from me.”

Turok twists his arm around awkwardly and slices off Seamus’s hand, relieving the pressure on his neck. “Nice try,” he gasps as he chops off Seamus’s other arm as well. Arma Sorn lands in the grass with a slight thump along with its owner’s severed limb. “I guess this is it.” Turok’s green eyes are wide and terrifying. He looks practically insane.

Just as he is about to bring his axe down on Seamus’s head one final time, he stops mid-swing. “Can it be?” he turns around to stare at the field behind him. There is a new figure standing in the grass. She is a tall woman with a broad and slightly muscular body that shows despite the fact that she is wearing strong black enamel armor over purple vestments. A white ceramic mask hides her face while a blonde calf length braid blows in the wind behind her.

“Maumolla?” Turok takes a shaky step towards her, to which she responds by drawing a bladed staff from her back, held there by two loops on her belt. “No,” he whispers. “It’s not you.” There is a look of anger in his eyes. “You would never raise your hand against me.”

“Turok of the demigods, I hereby pass judgment upon you… guilty,” her voice is muffled behind her ceramic mask but her words are clear. Turok is almost too shocked to move. He steps back just as the blade of the staff sinks into the ground where he stood. In less than a second she had propelled herself forward almost three whole meters.

“As strong as ever I see,” he laughs nervously. “You always were a handful, Maumolla. I'm in the middle of something right now though. Perhaps we could do this later.”

“We’ll do this now!” she shouts while bringing the blade up out of the ground, splattering dirt in his face and nicking his chin. No blood leaves the shallow cut on his face though, despite the exaggerated look of pain in his eyes.

Seamus, who is busy trying to reattach his severed limbs, is reminded of Arma Vec’s stamina siphoning power. Even such a small scratch must be taking a desolate toll on Turok. Why this new arrival has chosen to attack her fellow demigod is beyond him. He is in no position to question it though. He takes this chance to flee back to where Nuve is standing with his bow string drawn, waiting for the opportune moment to shoot Turok without hitting Maumolla.

“Is that another demigod?” Nuve asks. “Do you just attract these people?” Seamus has no idea how to respond. Sometimes he wonders if the demigod powers he has amassed do in fact draw other members of the nine to him.

“Maumolla, what are you even doing here?” Turok asks while stumbling around dizzily. The wound on his chin did more damage than he originally thought.

“I have been following you ever since that pointless summit of yours months ago,” she admits. “I have been waiting for you to leave the comfort of your captured fort and step into the open.”

“Well now I'm here.” He rubs his sore chin.

“And here is where I shall end you,” she mutters ominously.

Turok swings his axe in a large circle over her head as she ducks underneath it. He then turns it in the opposite direction, swinging at her torso, only to miss as she kicks off the ground, leaping over it like a frog. “You always were nimble,” he growls while slicing straight down, trying to split her head the same way he split Seamus’s.

“Just because you can see how fast I am, doesn’t mean you can keep up,” she mocks him as she side steps, letting the edge of her staff touch Arma Tua before it hits the ground.

Immediately he pulls the large axe back up and quickly checks to make sure it is not chipped. “What did you do?” he demands.

“Are you worried Arma Vec will damage your precious weapon?” she continues to mock him. “Don’t worry, I won't destroy it. I need it in one piece.”

“What was that?” Seamus’s jaw is hanging down in awe. “Can Arma Vec harm Arma Tua?”

“What do you know about Arma Vec?” Nuve asks.

“Not much. I know it takes a toll on the user’s stamina. That is why it suits Maumolla’s power of infinite endurance perfectly.”

“It also can extend to any length,” Nuve informs him while pointing at the staff just as Maumolla twirls it around her shoulders. It very nearly slices Turok’s neck but he manages to back away in time. Suddenly the blade stretches, poking him in the cheek if only slightly.

“How can it do that?” Seamus is shocked.

“I doesn’t have a definite size,” Nuve explains. At that moment Maumolla jabs at Turok’s chest, only to have him slide sideways and chop the staff in two. Maumolla lunges to catch the second piece of her weapon before it even touches the ground. It is apparent that her unlimited stamina can be used to enhance her agility and speed. Turok is quickly forced to block a slew of strikes as she uses the two halves of her weapon as separate knives. Again he escapes with only nicks and cuts.

“She’s not doing any real damage,” Seamus is disappointed.

“She’s slowly killing him,” Nuve is much more confident.

Seamus jerks his head at him in annoyance. He does not like not knowing things. Nuve grabs his chin and redirects his gaze back to Maumolla as she touches the two ends of her broken staff together. Slowly one of them starts to shrink while the other one grows back to its proper length. “What was that?” Seamus is once again confused.

“I told you, it doesn’t have a definite size. It can be as short as a knife or as long as a sword. Sometimes it can even be two separate staffs at the same time.”

“But she’s creating metal out of nothing,” Seamus argues.

“No, she’s simply transferring its location,” Nuve corrects him. “She absorbed the broken half in order to repair the other piece.”

“But two staffs would…”

“Two staffs would require a different source of metal,” Nuve answers before he has even asked. “Why do you think Turok doesn’t want her touching Arma Tua with it?”

“Are you saying she can absorb other weapons?” Seamus’s eyes bulge as he tries to follow the fight. Turok is still on defense, doing his best not to let the apparently cursed blade of Arma Vec touch him.

“It’s not just weapons.” Nuve is smirking. “Do you know what happens when she touches flesh with that monstrous thing?”

“Come to think of it, Turok’s not bleeding from any of those shallow cuts.” Seamus’s stomach lurches.

“She absorbed the iron right out of his blood,” Nuve tells him something he already realized. The thought is making him sick. Arma Vec is practically a bloodsucker in the form of a weapon.

“Is he going to lose?” Seamus asks in a slightly scared voice.

“He’s going to die,” Nuve’s response is blunt.

From the window of the cottage, Corvic and Row are watching in complete disbelieve. They have both seen Turok in action and know he is practically impossible to beat. Somehow he is losing to this new demigod far too easily. Neither one of them can imagine what they will do if she decides to turn her frightful weapon on either of them after she has dispatched of her opponent.

“Can you please tell me what this is all about?” Turok is bordering on begging as he continues avoiding being skewered by Arma Vec, just barely. “We both want the same thing, don’t we, Maumolla? We agreed the lords were abusing their power. The nine are more qualified to rule.”

“Is that what she said to you?” Maumolla mutters as she slices one of his signature braids, causing the hair it was pinning back to fall down over his right eye.

“She?” Turok is confused. “Are you saying you are not Maumolla? But your hair; your shimmering golden white braid. I’d recognize it anywhere. You have been growing it for over twenty years.”

“Is that how long it took?” Maumolla shrugs. “She was dedicated to say the least.”

“She was my friend!” Turok shouts while charging at her. She is caught off guard and barely manages to avoid getting split in half. The axe still makes contact with her torso though, passing through her armor and digging into the flesh beneath. She stifles a yelp while back flipping to distance herself from him before he can attack again.

“I don’t understand. Is that not Maumolla?” Seamus is just as confused as Turok now.

“I don’t know. I’ve never actually seen her in person before,” Nuve admits.

“She was the most beautiful woman I ever laid eyes on. What did you do to her?” Turok’s rage is only increasing. With her ceramic mask hiding her face, it is unclear if Maumolla is afraid of him or not. Turok is no longer concerned with keeping his distance from Arma Vec. All he wants is to chop this imposter to pieces with his monstrous axe. His movement is almost too erratic to predict, but somehow Maumolla manages to continue dodging him. She has no choice as blocking Arma Tua is impossible.

She finally sees her chance to go on the offensive again when Turok stumbles over his own feet. She springs herself forward with her stamina imbued legs, swinging her staff at his torso horizontally. Turok reveals a white toothed grin as his entire body appears to flicker from view for a moment, allowing the blade to slide past without touching him. Even behind her mask, Maumolla’s shock is obvious.

“How do you like that trick?” Turok is laughing maniacally. “I don’t just see your attacks before they happen, I can literally slow down time when I want to!” he bellows madly. “Every time you attack me I feel like I have minutes to react. Isn't that wonderful?”

“Mom never stood a chance,” Row gasps in horror.

“I never stood a chance,” Corvic gulps.

“Even if you can slow the passage of time for yourself, your body should not be able to react that fast,” Maumolla argues.

“It took me years to perfect that little trick,” Turok continues to laugh. “After nearly dying at the hands of a royal bloodsucker who was faster than even you, I swore I would never be outdone in terms of speed ever again.”

“Shall we put it to the test then?” Maumolla twirls her staff around her wrist without even holding it. The inertia is more than enough to keep it pressed to her arm. Turok takes a stance as she practically vanishes from sight, much like Corvic’s favorite move. She is merely running in a circle around him though, making sure to stay out of Arma Tua’s reach.

Suddenly Turok jerks his head as Arma Vec pokes him in the side of his cheek. He swipes at Maumolla with his Axe only to leave himself open for the staff, which seems to have grown in length again. This time it slices into his face, leaving a long gash from his nose to his ear and eliciting a shriek of pain in response. “Speed is everything,” Maumolla mocks him.

Again the wound on Turok’s face is barely even bleeding. The color of his skin is almost that of ash. She must have been able to siphon a good portion of the iron in his blood. His green eyes are burning with rage again. Her next attempt to cut him fails as his entire body flickers again, allowing the staff to pass right through. “Cheap tricks will not save you,” she continues to taunt him.

“He’s not going to win.” Seamus is shaking his head. “He can only avoid getting killed while waiting for her to tire herself out but…”

“She never will,” Nuve finishes his sentence. “She’s going to keep circling him until she has pecked him to death like a vulture. We should leave while we can.” Seamus shakes his head slowly. “What possible reason could you have for staying?” Nuve demands. “As soon as she has destroyed this wayward demigod, she’s going to come after you.”

“She doesn’t know that Row is a bloodsucker,” Seamus argues. “She has no reason to attack her.”

“It’s not her I'm worried about.” Nuve shakes him by the shoulders. “If she has judged Turok as guilty then imagine what she thinks of you? You have stolen the powers of three demigods already. She’s not just going to let you live.”

“Exactly why I need to wait,” Seamus mutters without taking his eyes off of the fighting demigods.

Nuve’s eyes bulge as he realizes what Seamus intends to do. “You’re joking right? Can you really handle a fourth one?”

“I have no choice,” Seamus gulps nervously while flexing his fingers, which are still slightly numb after having his arm chopped off by Arma Tua. He seems like he is preparing for the perfect time to interrupt Maumolla and finish Turok off himself. Nuve simply stares at him in stunned silence. Seamus is by far the most reckless person he has ever met, and he is currently indentured to him as a vassal.

After pricking Turok several more times, Maumolla finds another opening to stab at his torso. Again the Jade Behemoth flickers, letting the blade swish through the space he occupies. Suddenly Maumolla stops running. She darts toward the spot where Turok is about to reappear, leaving the blade of her staff in place while the handle shrinks in her hand. The missing metal reemerges from the end in the form of a dozen new blades, all facing different directions like the pedals of a flower.

Turok is smiling when he reappears but it quickly fades. The mass of blades is already imbedded in his torso. He blinks at Maumolla in disbelief while lurching forward. He coughs up a stream of blood, only to have it dissipate as the iron from it is absorbed into Arma Vec before his very eyes. He reaches out toward her with his free arm, knocking the ceramic mask from her head. “Who… are you?” he groans as he stares at an unfamiliar face.

“I'm Maumolla,” she answers sternly as he collapses to the ground, creating new wounds as the dozens blades of Arma Vec slash through him. There is not a single drop of blood adorning the staff as she returns it to the loops on her belt. It has absorbed everything that touched it without leaving a trace. As she kneels down to retrieve her mask, she is knocked off her feet by Seamus as he swings Arma Sorn in front of her. She somersaults backwards into a stance while kicking her mask away from him so she might retrieve it later.

Seamus glances down at the strange woman before him. She has short brown hair and twinkling purple eyes that almost entrance him. “What are you?” He turns to look at her mask, which still has the long golden-white braid attached to it via dozens of tiny holes adorning the edge of the ceramic piece. The hair has been woven into a proper back to the mask to hide her brown hair from view when she wears it. He is almost sick as he realizes that it was once the hair of a living person; the previous Maumolla.

“Step away from there, boy,” she warns him. The tone of her voice is not quite that of fear. “That power is not meant for you.”

Seamus refuses to listen. He holds Arma Sorn up in front of him as a threat, just in case she decides to try and stop him. She shakes her head solemnly as a sudden column of green light shoots down from the sky, enveloping Turok’s body and eventually Seamus. Time seems to slow for him as the green glow from the deceased demigod’s eyes transfers to him. His head starts to hurt as he is once again accosted by the memories of yet another demigod.

“Seamus!” Row shouts to him from the cottage window, drawing Maumolla’s attention for a moment. Her gaze quickly returns to the sight in front of her. Seamus is holding his head, which feels like it is about to split open. As the green light recedes into the sky, his vision blurs. He is just about to pass out when he notices Maumolla crawling along the ground towards Turok’s body.

“Stop!” He blocks her path with the dangling chain of Arma Sorn.

“You took the Jade Behemoth, I get his weapon,” she offers him a split trade.

“Not happening.” He knocks Arma Tua out of her reach with the ball of his mace.

“I need it.” She lunges for the weapon, dodging another swing from Arma Sorn in the process.

“I need it in case I ever run into the Red Warrior again,” Seamus shouts.

“I need it to ensure the demigods remain uncorrupt,” she sputters while somersaulting underneath his dangling mace, picking up the axe in the process. “This will keep new demigods like Brand from making the same mistakes Turok did.”

“It seems we have the same idea.” Seamus lunges at her, but is easily dodged. He is still extremely dizzy from the rapture. “That axe is the only thing that can defeat the Red Warrior.”

“Exactly,” Maumolla agrees with him.

“You have to give it to me.” Seamus’s eyes are flickering from dim to bright while remaining emerald green.

“You’ve stolen too many Armas and too many powers.” She shakes her head. “I should strike you down where you stand but you have saved me the trouble of judging them myself.”

“I don’t understand. Are you killing other demigods?” Seamus spreads his stance to keep from falling over as his vision continues to fade.

“I will pass judgment on all who would call themselves demigod… including you,” she adds after a moment. “Do you swear not to abuse your powers for fear of facing my wrath?” Seamus has to struggle to keep himself from laughing. If not for what he just saw her do, he would think it impossible for her to defeat him with all of his powers at once. “Well?” she is growing impatient. The wound on her torso has started to bleed through her armor, staining her purple outfit dark red.

“I can not answer your question honestly; for I do not know the answer myself,” he admits. “I do not enjoy killing or destruction. I do only what I must to survive.”

“Then I judge you pure… for now,” her statement seems forced. Her breathing has increased and she seems desperate to depart and begin her recovery. Perhaps she will return to judge him properly when she is able to fight again.

“Wait,” Seamus calls after her as she rises to her feet unsteadily. “Who are you?” he repeats Turok’s final question.

“No one of your concern,” she refuses to answer.

“I need to know.” His eyes flash yellow as Arma Venture protrudes from his forehead.

“Go ahead and read my mind,” she laughs. “If you want to know who Maumolla is, then by all means...”

Just as Seamus attempts to probe her mind with the Golden Clairvoyance, a sudden flash of white light blinds him, knocking backwards off his feet. Whatever is contained within her memories is more than he can handle at the moment. His fatigue from absorbing the Jade Behemoth has finally caught up to him. Slowly he drifts off to sleep as the sound of Maumolla laughing fills his ears.
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