The Warmth of the Hearth

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A Storm Brews

Claire steadies herself with her arm on the floor, her mind in a dizzying haze. She feels herself shake, an immense pain on her left shoulder. A tremendous amount of pressure fills her chest as fear slowly creeps its way into her. Blood continues spilling from her wound, as she desperately tries to keep it together. She looks at Carson, ugly wounds carved on his back, a huge gash over his eyebrow. Claire was terrified, and she could feel Death’s presence nearing bit by bit.

The young Blaise looks up above her, staring at the three figures still towering over them. She can’t hear anything, her vision blurring slowly. She attempts to get herself up, a weak blue flame hovers around her remaining hand. There was nowhere to go, desperation was now her only motivation. Tears stream down her face, as she gathers all of her remaining strength and attempts one final blow. She screams, holding her palm in front of her. However, no flame appears from her attempt. Instead, the blue glow in her crimson eyes fade, and she falls to the ground unconscious.

Eleanor Fjord notices Elizabeth in the background, subdued by the Ripper. A black smoke engulfs Elizabeth and a second later, she was now on the platform with them. She approaches the now unconscious Elizabeth, laid out on the floor in front of her. The Ripper speaks, his voice making Eleanor flinch. “Be grateful human. If it weren’t for the Bond, you would be choking on your own blood right now.” Eleanor looks at Loft, who raises a hand to the Ripper. The demon goes silent and disappears, leaving nothing but a trail of black smoke.

“Eleanor, we have company.” Loft’s eyes grow a bright white, and a faint trail of visible wind flows around her arms. Eleanor looks at the two unconscious students, now being carried by masked men. In front of them, Kayden Blaise glares with an intimidating presence. He speaks, his deep voice bellowing over the entire vicinity. “You filthy mongrels! You’ll die for touching my children!” Eleanor sees a violent crimson glow erupt from the lord’s body; his eyes were nothing but a bright red. The masked men vacate the area with the kids, leaving Kayden Blaise alone with the two of them.

Loft knew that they could not handle Blaise, even if it was two against one. The Ripper could not risk to fight as well, with such an unstable vessel. She faces Eleanor, who seemed to be uncomfortable with Blaise’s reaction. “Eleanor.” Eleanor Fjord snaps out of her daze and looks at her. Loft continues to speak, giving orders in a calm and measured manner. “You must warn the other houses. The time has come for us to move, or everything will be for naught.” The ground trembles as cracks appear on the floor around Kayden, travelling to the walls around them.

“What about you?” Eleanor asks, uncertain about the decisions made by Loft.

Loft continues to look at Kayden, unfazed by the intimidating amount of manna overwhelming them. “I shall follow you in a moment. I do not expect to defeat Blaise. Rather, I merely aim to buy you the time you need. Now go.”

Eleanor nods, taking Elizabeth with her as she leaves the area without hesitation. She doesn’t look back as an immense wave of heat hits them. A loud explosion erupts inches away from Eleanor’s back, as she turns around to see molten rocks levitating in the air. She rushes, leaving Loft behind to fend off the onslaught of attacks.

Loft flicks her wrist, throwing the huge flaming rocks back towards Kayden. It swiftly travels to the air, carried by the wind. Before it reaches its target, a huge pillar of magma erupts from the floor, melting the projectiles. Numerous pillars follow, as Kayden screams a war cry that is enough to send any normal person fleeing. Loft, however, only retaliates with strikes of condensed wind, sharp enough to cut through steel. Kayden dodges each blade, agile despite his age.

Magma and wind clash, as both sides try to land a key blow. Kayden continues to approach Loft, using his pillars to boost himself through the air at an enormous rate. He sees Loft step back, her attacks slowly ceasing. Kayden sees this as an opportunity and he dashes in, swerving in the air to avoid Loft’s attacks. As he nears her, a thick black mist appears in front of him, slamming him to the ground. He gasps for air as he gets the wind knocked out of him. Kayden stands up, a huge crater forming on where he landed. He looks at Loft, now surrounded by dark purple wind, patches of black marks present all over her body. “This is madness! You Bonded with that demon?! Have you lost your mind woman?!”

Loft doesn’t answer, a black mist now engulfs her as she removes herself from the fight. She sees a ball of magma approaching her location and the black mist simply absorbs it before it could reach her. The cold hits her, and in a moment, she finds herself in a brightly lit room with Eleanor, the Ripper and the other heads of the upper houses. She speaks, the glow in her eyes no longer visible. “Prepare yourselves…” Everybody has their eyes fixated on her, listening to what she has to say. “We shall commence tomorrow. As planned, we will hit the capital, and we will hit it significantly.” She pauses, looking at the people in front of her. “For Ezicion.”

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