“Dannie can I have an ice cream? Please!” Asked the young, excited voice of Sarah as she, Dannie and her mother Laura walked by an ice cream van parked beside an entrance to a nearby park.
Dannie looked to her partner who seemed to nod approvingly.
“Sure thing, which one do you want?” Dannie asked, looking down at the smiling little girl looking back up at her.
Sarah walked up to the ice cream truck as Dannie dug out the wallet she kept in the left pocket of her jeans.
Sarah picked a soft-scoop ice cream held, at least in part by a thin, wafer cone. The swirl of white, vanilla ice cream itself was drizzled with crushed nuts and chocolate sauce.
The trio walked away happily towards the park, Sarah quietly eating her ice cream as they went. The gate to the park opened with a familiar metallic whine. Sarah rushed off to play with the other children, but Laura grabbed her arm before she could get away.
“Finish your ice cream before you go and play,” she said in a friendly but stern way.
“Yes mum,” Sarah replied with a sigh as she continued to follow behind her mother and Dannie who started to walk over to a grassy hill.
“Can I go now mum?” Sarah asked a few minutes later, having finished her ice cream.
“In a second; come here,” Laura replied, taking a tissue from inside a bag she had brought with her.
Sarah sighed again as she approached her mother, who then began to wipe the ice cream and chocolate smears from around her mouth away.
“Okay, now you can go play,” Laura said to her daughter, who let out an excited squeal and rushed off towards a group of other children she knew from school.
Laura reclined a little against Dannie, it had been a while since all three of them had gone to the park like this.
“I’m sorry,” Laura said sadly to her girlfriend.
“For what?” Dannie asked as she continued to watch her partner’s young child go off to play.
“That she doesn’t call you mummy yet, I know how much that gets you down,” Laura said, trying to console her girlfriend.
“It’s okay, it’ll come in time I hope. Not like I’m going anywhere,” Dannie responded playfully, looking back into Laura’s loving eyes.
Nemesis got back on her feet, a tear welling in the corner of her jet black eye as she thought of the happier times, with Laura and her daughter Sarah, before her brother came to blight her life anew, before her incarceration in the depths of hell.
“This battle is pointless demon,” snarled Varg, standing on the lip of the crater that her and Nemesis’ last altercation had created, “you just aren’t strong enough to fight me.”
“I am no demon,” Nemesis responded from within the depths of the pit, “what I am is a woman with nothing more to lose and the lives of my loved ones to avenge. I will use every ounce of strength I can muster to ensure that their murderer pays for what he did, and woe betide any who stand in my way.”
“Bold wor-” Varg began to say in response, but before she could finish Nemesis zoomed forward and swung her demon blade.
Confidently Varg brought her large, sinuous arm up to block the incoming attack.
As blade met fur and flesh Varg let loose an anguished howl as Nemesis’ blade cut deeply into her forearm.
Varg quickly kicked Nemesis away with one of her powerful legs, hoping to dislodge the demonic sword from her arm.
As Nemesis was sent reeling Varg clutched her arm, blood pouring from the wound, soaking her black fur.
‘Her last attack was more than twice the strength of all her others so far! Where did she get that strength!? Was she toying with me all this time? My hubris almost cost me my arm! I will not underestimate her again,’ Varg thought to herself with an angry snarl and she continued to wince from the searing pain in her arm.
Tar’el glided forward at speed, his vast wings causing him to cast an immense shadow on the clearing in the forest that his fight with the Arcane Division member of Kappa Squad; Glacialis and his comrade Siphon had wrought.
The angel gracefully weaved between the jagged pillars of ice that had erupted from the floor of the forest below, his aim, to reach Glacialis who continued to harass him from the now near end of the icy slalom.
“Frozen Tomb!” Glacialis extolled as soon as he judged that the angel was close enough, putting one of his ice dusted hands to the ground.
There was a great and sudden drop in the temperature of the area, in what seemed like an instant Glacialis created a mountain of ice that sought to entrap his angelic opponent.
The icy sorcerer walked through the solid icy structure as if it weren’t there at all, emerging from the closest side and looking back upon his creation. The ice that had formed was almost perfectly clear, some may even describe it as beautiful, as the sun’s light passed through. Glacialis however had not noticed how pleasing to the eye the results of his spell looked, all he scanned the mountain of ice for was the frozen body of his foe and find it he did.
Glacialis huffed unsatisfactorily as he looked over Tar’el’s serene, frozen form, captured in the icy prison the Kappa Squad member had conjured.
Siphon walked over and came to stand beside his squad-mate.
“Do you think we should go help the captain now?” Siphon asked.
“She does hate to have her fights interrupted,” Glacialis admitted, “besides, if the strength of my opponent was any indication of hers then she is fine.”
“Never drop your guard against an angel of heaven,” Tar’el stated, appearing between Glacialis and his slow witted cohort.
Glacialis looked back to the icy peak he had conjured and saw the Tar’el trapped within begin to glow intensely with white light for a moment before fading away to nothing.
“Impos-” Glacialis began to say before being struck on the left side of his face, sending him some meters away to the ground.
The enraged mage sat back up and looked to his left, expecting to see his angelic opponent mounting another assault, but instead all he saw was Siphon, his fist extended as if he had recently struck something.
“Siphon!?” Glacialis exclaimed as he felt the painful ache that Siphon’s touch caused.
“I’m sorry Glacial, I tried to hit the guy but then he just vanished,” Siphon said apologetically.
“I told you to stay out of my way!” Glacialis screamed as he flung a razor-sharp blade of ice at his comrade with a wide, sweeping motion of his robed arm.
Siphon was quick to dodge the blade, causing it to continue on, slicing through a tree before suddenly shattering and falling to the cold earth below.
“Geez man, I was only trying to help,” Siphon muttered to himself.
“Where are you angel!?” Glacial shouted loudly, “too scared to face me? I’ll freeze this entire forest if I have to!”
Glacialis formed a dozen foci with his hands in quick succession, breathing life into a powerful spell he nurtured between his palms.
“White-out!” The Arcane Division member of Kappa Squad yelled, releasing the spell.
A great spray of icy magic bathed the forest in an ever widening cone ahead of the incensed sorcerer. Everything his magic touched it froze in an instant.
Tar’el saw that as the White-out spell of the Kappa-Squad mage ended he seemed visibly drained, it was as Tar’el suspected.
“Blades of Light!” Tar’el exclaimed, though both Glacialis and Siphon had no idea where he was.
Glacialis grunted in frustration as he began to hear the shattering of the delicate sculptures he had turned the trees of this nearby part of the forest into, eight swords of golden light bursting forth from the retreating tree line all around him.
The first blade Glacialis managed to dodge by leaping aside into a roll that got him onto his knees, but in less than a single breath’s time another sword struck him, the blade narrowly halted by the ice mage’s frozen shield, piercing it with a loud, icy crack.
As the blade of light faded away to nothing Glacialis’ shaking eyes refocused, he saw three more golden swords all soon upon him. He knew his nearly shattered frozen armour spell wouldn’t be enough to stop a single blade, let alone three so quickly Glacialis began to cast another spell, his hands feverishly forming new shapes, the foci for his icy barrier.
“Pillar of Ice!” Glacialis exclaimed putting two, frost covered hands to the rime covered ground.
In a flash of blue light a great pillar of ice formed instantly around Glacialis to protect him, reaching high into the sky.
Tar’el’s six remaining swords of light all plunged into the base of the immense pillar of ice, each with a frosty crack.
Tar’el looked upon the solid pillar of ice from the relative safety of the dense, frozen forest.
“This boy has terrifying power, I am lucky he has little experience and even less self control,” Tar’el admitted to himself as he sped forward.
Glacialis walked out of the great cylinder of ice.
“You okay bro?” Siphon asked in the lazy, ponderous tone of voice he always spoke in.
“Of course I’m not okay, you simpering moron! Every time I think I’ve swatted this guy like the fly that he is he comes back!” Glacialis complained between deep breaths.
“Maybe he’s too strong for us?” Siphon asked, looking around to see if he could see Tar’el among the trees.
“What!?” Glacialis said angrily, “too strong? For me!? I am one of the most powerful members of the Arcane Division! I make every other member of this squad, apart from Captain Varg look like a joke! No angel or demon scum I’ve ever come up against before has lasted more than two minutes against me!”
“Wow, chill out bro,” Siphon said lackadaisically to his incensed partner.
“Quite ironic that a sorcerer that wields such powerful ice magic has such a short, fiery temper,” Tar’el said, perched on a nearby frozen tree branch, overlooking the two bickering Kappa members.
“Your mine!” Glacialis exclaimed, firing a spear of ice at the onlooking angel.
As the spear neared Tar’el seemed to vanish, so fast were his movements, dropping down from his perch and rushing towards Glacialis who was now unable to keep up with the angel’s incredible speed.
With one powerful slash Tar’el shattered the ice mage’s frozen shell that had not yet returned to full strength and then went on to slice through Glacialis’ robes and light armour plating and cutting into his chest.
The angel’s sword swing carried with it enough force to blow the wincing sorcerer backwards, sending him crashing first into his comrade Siphon and then sending them both tumbling away in a heap.
When Glacialis’ eyes opened again he could feel his strength waning, being drained away by Siphon who laid upon him.
“Get off me you fool!” Glacialis exclaimed angrily as he fought to toss his useless squad-mate aside.
“Sorry man,” Siphon said, hastily getting himself off of his comrade.
“Sorry!?” Glacialis shouted angrily, “I’ll make sure you’re never sorry again you useless, bumbling oaf!”
The enraged ice mage wove the foci for his most powerful form of ice spell.
“Permafrost!” Glacialis roared, silver, glittering ice blasting from his palms, swiftly enveloping Siphon.
As Glacialis ended the channelling Tar’el saw the gangly Siphon suspended in a vast rippling cone of silver ice.
Glacialis turned to his angelic foe, “that is Permafrost, my most powerful kind of ice, the ice doesn’t melt unless I either want it to, or I get several miles away.”
“It amazes me, the power you humans possess at your young age,” Tar’el admitted.
“Well I hope that amazement sustains you in the afterlife angel! Here is where it ends!” Glacialis shouted manically, “White-out!”
A cone of frozen magic energy blasted out from between Glacialis’ cupped hands, freezing all before him, all that is, except for Tar’el who merely slowly walked towards the gravely injured Arcane Division member of Kappa-Squad.
“You’re right; it is over, over for you,” Tar’el stated as he continued to wade through the icy gale towards its caster.
“No, no, no! You will die here angel! I am one of the strongest of the Institute’s Arcane Division! Tutored by the great Magnus himself! I cannot lose, not to the likes of you!” Glacialis screamed desperately as he saw that his magic no longer had any effect on the angel who continued to draw nearer.
“Siphon! Curse you Siphon! If you hadn’t have stolen the last of my power I could have swept this interloper away!” Glacialis blasted, angrily looking back at Siphon in his glittering, silver prison.
“No, this fight was over as soon as I got the measure of you. True the power Siphon inadvertently took from you didn’t help, but in truth you were beaten the moment you began to throw your weight around, freezing vast swathes of the forest when I was your only opponent,” Tar’el explained, “had you focused your magic, instead of spreading it so thinly, perhaps you could have bested me. You are used to quick victories against beings whose power is bound by rules beyond your understanding, you overwhelm your weak and restricted foes with enough power to flatten city blocks, but against an enemy without restrictions you waste your power frivolously on flashy but ultimately ineffectual attacks until your power is finally spent.”
As Tar’el finished speaking he reached out of the jet of icy magic and grasped Glacialis by the greater half of the collar of his uniform and pulled him forwards.
“Now; to finish this,” Tar’el said, dropping Glacialis to his tired knees before raising his angelic blade into the air and swinging, blood splattering the hard, frost covered ground beside them.
Elsewhere the fight between Nemesis, still fuelled by pain and fury and Varg the monstrous she-wolf raged on.
The two clashed again, demon-sword against toughened flesh and iron fur.
Varg roared as she struggled against Nemesis’ recently discovered might.
Varg leaped backwards, clinging midway up a tree, hanging on with her great claws dug into the bark. The captain of Kappa-Squad growled as she looked down at her prey.
The two sized each other up for another moment before leaping at the other, with sword ready to strike and great clawed arm raised.
With a thunder-like clap the two met, Varg roared as Nemesis’ blade dug into her left arm, but just as Nemesis’ blade cut into Varg’s toughened flesh Varg’s immense claw batted Nemesis away like a toy, her inhuman strength sending the demon-steel clad warrior plummeting like a meteor from the heavens.
Nemesis returned to earth with a heavy, metal crash, scattering earth for meters around with the force of the impact. Varg roared as she too descended, planting her massive, clawed feet into Nemesis’ gut, sending out another shock wave that threw more dirty and loose debris into the air.
Nemesis cried out in pain , coughing up blood as she did.
Varg repositioned herself so that she was standing over the midriff of her prone opponent and began to raise and throw her massive, black fur covered fists down, punching again and again, with such speed that Nemesis could have been forgiven for thinking she was caught in a falling rock storm.
The force of Varg’s assault was such that with each volley of blows rained down upon Nemesis the ground around them split and splintered more and more, the shallow crater created by Nemesis’ swift descent to earth deepening with every half dozen of Varg’s pitiless attacks.
After fifteen seconds or so Varg ceased her frenzied assault and looked down at Nemesis’ face, now cut and bloodied. The great she-wolf reached down and picked Nemesis up off of the ground by the collar of her breastplate.
Varg tore the demonic blade that Nemesis somehow continued to grip tightly, despite the thrashing Varg had just dealt her from her hand and flung it carelessly away.
The great she-wolf tossed Nemesis up in the air slightly and drew back both of her massive, powerful arms.
As Nemesis fell Varg catapulted both of her arms forward, striking Nemesis’ gut once again as she fell lifelessly.
With an explosion of force Nemesis thundered away, crashing through the trunk of a old, tall tree that collapsed with a loud, sorrowful wooden whine.
Varg chuckled to herself, licking the blood from her wolf-like muzzle as she began to walk forward, to find her broken prey.
Nemesis crawled towards another nearby tree, blood dripping from her chin that streamed steadily down from her mouth and other parts of her face. The pain raging throughout her body was intense, it took all the anger and hate Nemesis’ held onto so tightly for her brother and his despicable acts to keep from laying still and succumbing to the pain of her numerous injuries.
As Nemesis continued to crawl she heard the snapping of twigs, the crunching of leaves underfoot some way off, she knew that Varg was not finished with her, yet she could not manage to get to her feet unaided, she would have to hurry.
“Let me help you,” asked a familiar yet terrifying voice from deep within Nemesis’ mind.
“No,” Nemesis grunted between clenched teeth as she painfully dragged herself closer towards the closest tree she could find, “I don’t need you, I can do this on my own.”
“Very well human,” the dark, demonic voice replied, sensing Nemesis’ resolve in this matter.
As Nemesis neared the tree she painfully reached out and dug her gauntlet encased hand into the bark of the tree, yanking herself closer before beginning to pull herself back up.
Varg stepped over the snapped trunk of the great tree that Nemesis broke through not minutes before and looked down to the leaf covered plateau below, there she spied Nemesis, dragging herself to her feet.
As Varg’s predatory eyes found Nemesis she smiled gleefully before howling loudly to announce her presence, her roar sending out a wave of power that washed over Nemesis and the forest, causing all critters and small animals who heard it to flee in abject terror.
“Looks like this hunt is almost over. A pity, I had hoped it would go on a little longer, I do like to savour the thrill of a good hunt and I must admit, you’ve been one of the best I’ve ever had!” Varg roared as she bounded from the splintered tree trunk, down the sloping hill on which the proud tree once stood.
“There’s still some fight left in me yet,” Nemesis exclaimed, reaching her right arm out towards where she and the she-wolf had done battle before, a montage of images flitting through her mind of her love Laura and her sweet daughter that Nemesis hoped would one day call her mummy too, images of people she knew were cruelly taken from her, people she knew she would avenge and nothing in this world, or any other would stop her.
As if in answer to her unholy beckoning Nemesis’ demon blade seemed to almost fly from where it lay, smashing through a section of the grand, felled tree that barred its way and finding its way into Nemesis’ furious, iron grip.
With sword back in hand Nemesis swung mightily, Varg brought her arms up to defend.
With another enraged howl Nemesis’ blade cut into Varg’s flesh.
Varg struck out at Nemesis with her right, unhindered arm, striking Nemesis on the left side of her face with a sickening, pounding thud.
Nemesis spit up yet more blood and then took one hand from the hilt of her blade and struck Varg’s muzzle with one of her own super-powered punches.
Varg lurched backwards from the strength of Nemesis’ blow, yet her left arm was still snagged on the vicious serrated barbs of Nemesis’ blade.
Nemesis quickly followed up with a stern, armoured kick to Varg’s midsection, payment in kind for Varg’s earlier attack.
Varg tumbled away, her arm ripped from the blade with a painful howl.
The immense she-wolf quickly got to her wolf-like feet and snarled angrily, she clutched her arm, a massive gash now torn in her forearm.
Nemesis charged at the wary and waiting werewolf, sword held fast and firmly to her right.
Nemesis swung her demon-blade as she drew close, an attack Varg was quick to avoid then counter with a jumping, overhead kick which sent Nemesis crashing down into the ground.
Varg then followed up immediately with a swift and vicious swipe, sure to slice the back of her adversary’s skull wide open.
As Varg’s mighty clawed hand neared Nemesis threw herself away from the incoming attack so that it merely tore at the earth.
Nemesis quickly made it back to her feet and looked to her foe.
Varg stood tall, grasping her profusely bleeding arm, a look of savage anger etched upon her wolf-like features.
“It’s time we ended this,” Varg snarled.
Nemesis said nothing in reply, instead she merely held up her demonic blade, pointing the tip of her sword at her enormous foe.
Varg howled and rushed forward, leading with her uninjured right arm, ready to bring this confrontation to a bloody conclusion.
Varg leaped forward, bringing her right arm down in a great arcing swipe.
Nemesis blocked the she-wolf’s attack with a echoing clash that sounded almost like a demonic scream.
Both Nemesis and Varg exchanged blows, blocking and countering as best they could, but fairly quickly it became clear who was coming out ahead as Varg sustained cut after cut, wound after wound with few successful attacks to show for it.
Varg fully understood the predicament she faced, she decided that she would go for an all or nothing attack that would be her salvation or hasten her demise.
The great she-wolf’s raised both of her massive, muscular arms into the air after knocking Nemesis off kilter with a previous swipe.
“Brother, forgive me, forgive my weakness” Varg thought to herself as she brought her colossal arms down for her final attack.
The forest was rocked once more with the force of the attack unleashed, the immense thundering crash was followed by a far more muted, wet squelching of cleaved flesh.
Varg stood stooped over, her massive arms resting on the forest floor that was now wet with blood that continued to slowly spread.
For a few moments there was stillness in the forest that had played host to two savage battles, until finally Varg’s body was leaned to one side until it toppled over, revealing Nemesis, a bloody rend torn down her battered face stretching from the left side of her temple down through her eye, ending at the left side of her chin.
Nemesis stumbled forward, her sight partially obscured by the blood streaming down the left side of her face.
“I have to find Tar’el,” Nemesis said to herself as she fought to ignore the pain of her injuries, continuing to lumber unsteadily back into the forest to find Tar’el and the stolen Felicia.
Deep in the crimson reaches of hell, inside an impossible fortress, suspended in the roiling sky sat Neroth, awaiting the arrival of a demon he had sent for.
“My lord,” whimpered one of Neroth’s attendants.
“Send him in at once, or find yourself cast into the soul fires for all eternity,” Neroth snapped impatiently.
The small, robed impish demon shook nervously for a moment before rushing to the door of his master’s sanctum and opening it.
A large demon stepped through the threshold into Neroth’s great sanctum.
“You beckoned me master?” The demon asked, walking up to the great black altar like table Neroth sat behind and kneeling before his lord.
“Rise Locar, I have a task for you. You are to go to the human world of Earth and retrieve something for me,” Neroth said, tapping his skeletal fingers against the black stone of the table before him.
“What am I to retrieve my lord?” Locar asked humbly.
“Nemesis,” Neroth said in answer.
“Yes, my master. Alive or dead?” Locar asked, dearly hoping Neroth would give him permission to finally put that unworthy human scum in her place.
“It must be alive Locar, I know of your distaste for her but I do not care for your feelings, bring her back to me alive or do not return at all,” Neroth said threateningly.
“Yes, my master,” Locar responded, “I shall return as soon as I have recaptured Nemesis.”
“Then be gone, bring her back to me at any cost, I do not care about the Accord or its rules. I don’t care if you have to bring entire cities to ruin! Just bring Nemesis back to me!” Neroth said angrily, rising from his seat as he ranted.
“Yes master,” Locar replied finally and stood, turning and leaving Neroth’s black hall, he had a few preparations to make and spells to prepare before he was truly ready to begin his hunt for Nemesis. A hunt he had waited for, for far, far too long.