~The fourth consideration to become Immortal and wield Blue Magic is this: If the loss of one life would save ten thousand, would you offer yourself without hesitation?~
“Is everything in order, kupo?” Makar inquired, fussing around Seraph while he ensured he was properly equipped for his next task. As he made his preparations, he meditated upon the words revealed through the Testimony. Beware the Beast With The Crimson Eye. This could only mean Raubahn. A strange message, to be certain. If the Testimonies revealed ancient information, passed down from Blue Mage to Blue Mage among the Mamool Ja, how long has he been around? Perhaps more starkly, what makes the Immortal commander dangerous enough to note outside the obvious?
“I think this is all I’ll need, my friend” said the Elvaan. He handed much of his bag over to his Moogle caretaker. Much like the mog houses the MHMU maintained, temporary lodging was made available for adventurers in most every major city. Homes away from home, this allowed adventurers to still access item stores from afar. In this case, Seraph had emptied out much of his on-hand items. Makar returned to Seraph’s home via a Warp corridor, organized the items in storage as needed, and returned. Makar pondered Seraph’s remaining load out “My… you’re leaving a lot here. What’s going on?”
“I’m just heading out on a mission.”
Makar tilted his head quizzically. “Kupo? Just a mission? And you’re not taking anything with you?”
“I’m only the back-up” Seraph said, trying to comfort his friends’ concern.
“You’re the one who always says to be prepared…” Makar said, unconvinced.
Seraph sighed. “It will just be Raubahn and I. If it took more than two people he has the clout to pull in more. I think we will be fine. At the very least I think my training will see me through.” Seraph hugged his diminuative friend, packed up, and left the rented room making a beeline for the palace. This left leaving Makar to absentmindedly fiddle with the linkshell pearl he’d been left. “But you’re the person who told me to be careful in this place, kupo…”
The attendants of the palace had been most kind once more. Upon Seraph’s return they had informed him that Raubahn had already set off. The Elvaan Blue Mage was most eager to catch up with the Immortal commander, but did not know the path to the Jade Sepulcher. Showing his Blue Mages’ Testimony caused those tasked with helping him to move urgently. Arrangements had been made to carry Seraph along and once in place, he was magically vaulted out to the entry hall to the Sepulcher.
The area he settled in was pitch black, save for the strong torchlight of braziers near a metal door. The layer of moss left this place feeling older than it was, the scent of it immediately reminiscent. He was back in Mamook.
“Beweare the Beast with The Crimson Eye” were the words of wisdom that shown from the Testimony. During his preparations and as he tried to soothe Makar, Seraph had couldn’t shake the warning. And now, at the precipice of his mission he ran through his inventory. Uncertain why so little was needed, he simply followed the order given to him. He leaned against metal doors that he found at the tunnels’ end. He wondered if he had beat Raubahn to this place.
“You arrived as swiftly as I had hoped” came Raubahn’s voice from behind a a veil of shadow. The vibrations broke the paling down, and the Immortal leader could be seen ever stoic facing the door. Ordinarily such a ploy would evoke a knee jerk retraction, but Seraph had grown accustomed to the parlor trick. In addition, it is one he had occasionally made use of. None the less, Seraph stood on his own.
“I take it by your arrival you are fully ready for this mission?” Raubahn inquired. “It is not one to be borne lightly.”
Seraph removed his swords from their places at his hips. “I am prepared as I can be. Is there anything particular I should know?”
Raubahn remained silent but shook his head. The gold that hung from his keffiyeh, identical to Seraph’s in every way, rang with small chimes as they struck each other. “No… That you are here is enough. I will seal this place after I enter. Your use of the Testimony will be required from that point on. Follow in a few moments’ time.” With that, Raubahn entered the Jade Sepulcher on his own.
The metal doors closed with a certainty. A palpable pressure formed, a binding power. Raubahn claimed this area as Seraph had Zi’Tah and other Immortals did at Staging Points. Apparently Raubahn was taking the situation seriously. To extend that level of power was no small task. Feeling that he had given Raubahn the time he asked for he held his testimony to the door. As had happened once before words appeared, scarcely visible, before the eyes of the Elvaan.
“One, Yet Many. One strong soul overcomes many lives. Despair not. Live.”
Sounds of combat echoed mightily and the scent of fresh blood inhuman in origin permeated the air. In a panic Seraph rushed forward, a dense miasma of raw energy forcing him to a slower pace. Once he exited the tunnel he found himself inside a large council chamber. It looked to be comprised of at least two tiers, hewn from the cavern itself. Scattered about were Mamool Ja of various orders. A grisly testament of carnage as most seemed to be on the very edges of life. Looking more intently, Seraph found no life within the bodies, just reactions of soulless masses of flesh. In the middle stood Raubahn, power relaxed and saturating the area. Seraph sheathed his blades. “It seems my assistance was not needed at all.”
Raubahn turned toward Seraph. More intensely than ever did his crimson left eye burn, bearing upon his subordinate Blue Mage. “You still think this is about the Mamool Ja?”
Raubahn, in an action wholly foreign to Seraph, laughed.
“No Seraph,” came the Elvaan’s name. Not spat, but said in a way that curdled the blood. “More than this assemblage of our enemy, you are a greater threat. Look at you. You command a power that senior members of the Immortals, those I have hand-reared myself, do not possess.” Raubahn closed his eyes, growing distant for the briefest of moments. “You have done all this alone, or next to it. You have even escaped the scars that I myself have managed to suffer.” When Raubahn opened his eyes, a hawks’ gaze falling onto Seraph, the miasma felt earlier reared up and poured off Raubahn, pushing the Elvaan back. “You are a threat to yourself, the Immortals, and the Empress.” Rolling his shoulders, Raubahn drew his blade. “As is the way of the Immortals, I will contend with this problem. You have proven that you deserve no less than that privilege, and perhaps I am the only one capable enough to bring the end upon you.”
Seraph could feel all the souls he had drawn within himself pulsing with a killer instinct. The miasma flooding off Raubahn was weakening Seraph greatly, but he endured. Seraph withdrew his blades, preparing to defend himself. However, his left arm would not keep a solid grip on the handle.
Raubahn scoffed. “The ways of Blue Mages are long and illustrious. It is well known that no Blue Mage uses two weapons. Your heretical tactics are sealed here. The Mamool Ja here were powerless, just as you are now. You face me on my terms, Boy.”
Clenching his fist and eyes shut, Seraph ordered his thoughts, emotions, and magical power. In his other hand he readied his blade. He had prepared for an assault, not an ambush. Raubahn held the upper hand. Seraph was left with no choice. Opening his eyes, one sparked with small bolts of blue-tinged electricity.
A smile from behind Raubahn’s veiled face reached his eyes, his crimson eye shining in opposition to Seraph’s azure eye.
“Very good… Show me the power of Blue Magic you wield.” Raubahn lifted his hand, charged with electricity of his own, and aimed for Seraph’s frame. While only responding to the threat, the Elvaan understudy was swifter in his casting. The two Immortals met one another with the same spell, akin to how Seraph and the Mamool Ja Blue Mage had for a long while. The effects cancelled out. This was no game to Raubahn, and he was swift to follow up, his blade on the tail end of the statics’ burst. Seraph managed to deflect what would have been a killing blow aimed at his throat, however it connected with his chest rather than being turned aside. While keeping the magic wrested from his enemies held within the enchanted cloth did little against a physical weapon.
As Seraph fell to his knees Raubahn, reaching out once more, encased Seraph in a prison of ice. The surrounding mass soon broke to pieces. Seraph attempted to rise again to oppose his aggressor but the spell, the same Seraph acquired from Zi’Tah’s Golems, had the unfortunate consequence of binding an opponent to the spot. Wordless and ruthless, Raubahn stood well outside of Seraph’s reach, throwing spell after spell. Attempting to return the favors in kind, Seraph found himself unable. The wound he had suffered could not be healed under the assault, and he could not summon the will to focus on attacking with another spell.
Once the binding diminished and the Elvaan ran forward, throwing himself at the Hume Immortal. Raubahn was caught unawares, perhaps expecting his prey to be frozen in place for a great length of time. Using what means he had remaining, Seraph unleashed his anger in four terrible strokes. Desperately following up before his foe could recover, Seraph channeled the ability for sword to resonate with spell. He called forth an attack stolen from the dreaded Lamiae. These Beastwomen were a joining of woman and snake, another act of ancient Aht Urhgan alchemists, and resided with their undead thralls in Arrapago Reef. When their weapons ware stripped away, they would flail in hysteria. Five times did this energy lash out. The resulting attack chained together and Raubahn was sundered with a cyclone of rushing air.
Battered, bloody, but undaunted, Raubahn was not above a sense of irony. Beastmen which could be called the cousins of the Lamiae, the Merrow, would use their tails to halt an opponents’ attack. As Raubahn did so, he knocked Seraph off his feet. Spent, the Blue Mage was unable to find the energy to gain purchase. He was beaten.
Breathing heavily, Raubahn approached. “Just as I meant… Few are the Immortals, even those seeing constant battle, that know the ability to bring their attacks into union. And you, a stripling, have learned to do so on your own without hesitation.” Raubahn’s blade was suddenly alight, and he ran it through Seraph, connecting the young Elvaan with the ground. “At least, in the end, you have retained my respect.” Another magic, a singular cleaving stroke, used the last of Seraph’s resolve. Raubahn, showing a deftness in his technique, brought the energies of Earth and Darkness together upon his foe. Seraph, could feel nothing else but the entombing pressure, welcoming as the grave. Raubahn’s crimson eye flashed, unseen by Seraph. In his being, the Blue Mage heard the Immortal commander speak. “You once said that if offering your life would save ten thousand, you would do so without hesitation. I ask you to remain true to your word. Die now, Seraph.”
~“If the loss of one life would save ten thousand, would you offer yourself without hesitation?”~
~“But of course.” ~