The Citadel

The entry to the Golden Age (24) [part 2]

We won.

A day later, we reached Priscus’s fortress, Stahlwerk, and were shocked at what we found. Slabi working to make machines, being paid two silver pieces a day. Men being taught how to use machines that fired pellets with explosive force, which Priscus called “muskets”, a production line of weapons, and armor, and these newly made weapons. It was a true achievement, and I was stunned at how he had accomplished it.

But I did not have time to gape in wonder. I had a duty. We needed a new Revered Maiden if we won this war, and I had to find some evidence of how to do it in the 300+ documents that Ulfgar had managed to gather from the archives. There were multiple armies that Priscus had called for, and we had our fair share of time before they arrived. It was my only opportunity. My days in the fortress were spent reading and re-reading, with few breaks for eating, sleeping, or even bathing.

While I was partaking in these activities, however, apparently Julius snuck up on Laelis and killed her. Because of her bind with WAR, he was killed as well. The other Slayers grabbed Julius and tied him up, with Ulfgar spilling his “undead wine” over his mouth (which has had over half a year to “ferment”). Thankfully, there was an extremely powerful Wizard from another plane that Priscus had somehow come into contact with. As easily as if he were changing the direction of water, this Wizard took the life-energy from Julius and transferred it into Laelis. Because of the bond, WAR was revived as well. After Julius was killed, a litter of baby hamster-like creatures exploded out of his stomach. Because of their rarity, the group made a fortune off of selling them.

That’s right.

This was when I, myself, barged in. Having just discovered the solution. It was an ugly one, however. For the Revered Maiden to be made, the body had to be properly prepared to host a Spirit. It took years, and most girls did not survive it. The host needed to be human, and needed to be female. No other creature even stood a chance, and as said previously even human girls had a small chance. Laelis was our only hope, but she had not been prepared. The Wizard gave each of the Slayers a gift, WAR was given wings, Zayn was given the ability to breathe fire, and Gonsun…was given a second set of genitalia.

…However, Laelis gained the ability to become the Revered Maiden, though it took almost all of the mage’s power to do so.
But this was not the only part of the process. For one Revered Maiden to be made, four other willing souls had to be sacrificed. This naturally presented a problem for the Slayers, who now noticed that in addition to Laelis there were four of them. The uncomfortable thought was dropped.

Over the next few days, the armies of the elves, the dwarves, the fey, the silver dragons, the united orc tribes, and Svatyne arrived. The most surprising however was the arrival of a group of Slabi in gold-colored armor, the soldiers of the unnamed city…and Kridon was amongst them. He told us that the city was spectacular, and that it was a hidden place just for Slabi, however, it was secret, and most of them had only heard of it in rumors. The sword that he had taken from the cottage had been a key and a guide to reach it.

Among the strangest of allies was a young Mind-Flayer, whose name I cannot put into letters. The creature was terrifying, but seemed to be willing to help, so we allowed it to fight alongside us. After all, we were taking all the allies we could get.

Once all the armies were gathered, they set off for the battle. There was no reason not to be confident in our victory. It was the entirety of Zverak versus a single corrupted Citadel. There was no chance. We were prepared. I followed the main army in the background. I could not fight, but I refused to miss this.

When we reached The Citadel, a great horn sounded out, and Tainted soldiers came from outside. Thankfully, what they didn’t know is that Priscus’s secret tunnel through the earth allowed us to flank the main force. A secondary, smaller force with Priscus leading them was sent through the tunnel. None of those who had previously been my slayers were amongst them, and I can only recall the portions of the battle that I saw.

Schem Grevhton stood atop one of The Citadel’s towers, ordering his men to retaliate, but they simply did not stand a chance. The massive, united army swept over them, and suffered casualties, but destroyed them via it’s sheer numbers. It was practically over before it had even begun.

Grevhton saw this, and as his troops were being slaughtered did the unthinkable. He grabbed things from the air…Spirits, I saw him do it, and shoved them into his mouth. Even from as far away as I was, I could see his jaw stretching open unnaturally, his hands and face mutilated with the effort. The energy flowed into him, and tendrils of darkness exploded from his spine. All of the sudden the tables had turned. I saw musketeers have the upper halves of their bodies torn from them, dragons crushed, members of the army from all sides become so tainted that they crumbled into black dust. The whole time everything looked distorted. Spirits had been destroyed, and existence itself was shifting.

But in the confusion a single Silver Dragon charged the creature’s still human body, with the last slayers riding atop it. Some of them were knocked off and nearly fell to their deaths, but they kept fighting, and eventually noticed large black bulbs on the ends of some of Grevhton’s tendrils. When they destroyed them he became human and vulnerable, and they used this to finish him.

The tendrils were destroyed, and Grevhton fell, twitching and declaring that he had still won, simply because the humans and Spirits were now working together against him. The war was over and humanity was safe. WAR killed him, and absorbed his soul.

With this, the battle was pretty much over. Tainted soldiers were chased down and killed. Priscus’s strategy of flanking the main force had been extremely successful, and The Citadel was reclaimed. The only question was: who was going to sacrifice themselves to make the new Maiden? One of the volunteers was Shanara, the fey of the forest who had befriended the group, reasoning that if she could not be a human, at least she could die like one. Surprisingly, the second volunteer was Schem Grevhton, apologizing for all that he had done wrong. As his soul still existed inside WAR, it was possible for him to do this. Kridon and I also volunteered…admittedly I was terrified, but also honored. However, two retired Slayers who had served Schem Grevhton stopped us, and told us that it would be better if they did it, and that it was the only way they could possibly restore their honor.

We went to the tenth ring and performed the appropriate ritual…which I will not describe here…and I was in awe as it seemed as if all the energy of the room flowed into Laelis, who was now no longer herself, but instead the Revered Maiden.

Ulfgar and Zayn became High Bogatyrs, and I became the leader of the High Priests. Gonsun became the leader of the clergy. WAR went to Majak and supposedly destroyed all possibility for a human to ever be able to destroy Spirits again, and then disappeared. It is rumored that an avatar of the Spirit of war wanders the land, but I have never seen it, and frankly I am too busy getting the Citadel up and running. We are currently recruiting Slabi, Elves, Dwarves, whoever is willing to serve us. We are no longer a human organization, as there are simply no longer enough humans for this to work, and instead we welcome all willing to fight for us. Not that there is as much need for fighting anymore. The Spirits no longer hate humanity, and no longer send horrible things simply to destroy us. We have some sort of peace with them, though I do not know if it will last. I will not look a gift horse in the mouth.

All in all, The Citadel is entering a golden age. Our plans involve the Slayers becoming more of a military, and expanding outward as Svatyne did. Yes, the old Citadel is gone, and all who represented it are dead, but it has been replaced by something greater. I do not know what the future holds, but for now we are safe, and that is something that I have never been able to say before.

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