If you would become Immortal and wield Blue Magic, see yourself through this eighth consideration: A loved one is afflicted with a terrible illness and has little time left to live. You are asked to end that life by your own hand.
Raubhan had returned to the Jade Sepulcher frequently since his failure, lamenting his actions.
He felt the attunement of a Warp spell. The energies belonged to Galadar, the hotheaded Flameserpent General. He thought he may have been sent by the Empress. Raubahn had not risked returning to her with the news of the Potential having escaped, not when he poses so high a threat. Raubahn was not one predisposed to brooding, but he had no inkling of where the Elvaan hailed from. San d’Oria was a certain bet, but even in disgrace Raubahn had neither the jurisdiction to chase quarry to the Middle Lands, nor would it do to leave the Empress for that long. He’d returned to the palace, but refrained from drawing her attention.
Once Raubahn had ascertained that i wasn’t Galadar, he had to think upon who it was. After a short while, he was certain it was another Immortal who had been the focus of the Warp spell. But who? Yasfel was told not to come here. No one else knew of this meeting. No one would know to come here in order to find him.
Was it the Potential?
Raubahn could not be sure. What madness would drive him to return, having been beaten before? Often, as it was his way to be unnoticed, he was privy to idle gossip from many. Guards, other Immortals, and occasional statements even from the Serpent Generals themselves. Many were made uneasy by his presence. Some even went to say that the air around him was rank with the power he contained. He could never tell what they meant.
Raubahn could tangibly feel the energy coming to him from the one that he perceived. The Potential had been gone for a time, but not that long. The rate of growth had been charted as multiplicative, not exponential. But what then was this roiling energy?
‘There’ thought Raubahn. A small wane in the stream of power. A break in absolute Immortality to reveal the heart of the Child of Altana. Raubahn’s eyes widened in shock.
“Colossus and Rider…” said Raubahn in a seldom used prayer.
It was the Potential.
He had come back.
The power began flowing again. At this intensity he could not even compare it to the being he had fought before. A laugh came to Raubahn’s ears. The laughter soon turned into a bestial roar the likes of which the leader of the Immortals had never heard, let alone from one of his own.
‘A challenge… for the first in a long time…’ Raubahn sighed. Challenge or no, he was servant to the Empress. Through her grace at her keeping him as her right hand, with his might, he will crush this would be Immortal.
A shadow moved up the hallway. ‘He comes’ Raubahn thought. Though the footfalls sounded of man, the shadow walked hunched like a Beast.
A howl had possessed Seraph. He walked toward the arena. The path was straightforward, not allowing for deviation. Holding his arms out, the tip of his blade drug against the wall. Arcs of energy from his magic seeped out and would leap to scorch the other side of the hall. The need to fight tooth and nail was apparent. The blade would be his nails. Let the spells be his teeth, of which he bore many rows.
Though Seraph was awash in the might of his magic, his foe stood ready. The Hume began his attack as soon as the Elvaan was in sight. The sheer force of Raubahn’s spell knocked Seraph back down the passageway
“Foolish Boy” echoed Raubahn’s voice, resounding down the tunnel. Most would have shuddered with such a force following them into a closed space. Seraph was too angry to be allowed such flights of sanity. Having baited the trap, Seraph now set it to spring. As subtly as he could he again gathered the force of a breath attack, one trumping the intensity of that he mustered for all the Serpent Generals combined.
When Raubahn’s audacity and cockiness reached its peak he was standing over a still floored Seraph. “I am sorry. The path of Immortality is walked by so few. It pains me to strip it from you. As you did for your unknown Brother, so I must do to you. It is always the ones with most promise…”
“…that end up causing the most pain” Seraph finished. He arose with a smile and his mouth swelling with fire. He ripped the veil of his keffiyeh aside. Nothing stood between Raubahn and the unleashed gout of flame. What naturally would have fanned out over an area was contained within the confines of the tunnel. The wall was as difficult to overcome as a wave from the ocean. Empowered by the last vestiges retained from Galadar’s magical essence the fires melted portions of the wall. It oozed down the sides and dripped with molten fury, cooling quickly into stalactites. It carried Raubahn off his feet, out of the tunnel and felled him onto his original portion of the arena.
Reattaching the veil, Seraph called out. “She was our Sister!” and hastened after his quarry. “Tell me something Raubahn” Seraph said, taking his turn to gloat. “Who is more foolish? The fool… or the fool who follows him?”
Raubahn’s magics kept him alive, helping him recover, though he was still grounded on his back. His attempts to stand were soon met with success, however shaky that success was.
“I’m not foolish enough to fall for any such trick. Get up Raubahn. I’m not done with you yet.”
“I… would disagree” he said, ragged. “The arrogance of your people lends to a vanity in battle. Composed though you are, you are worse off than I. I will win this fight as I did the last, though your efforts were valiant.”
Seraph had earlier arranged the items in his bag. An elixir, hideously flavored and vile as could be, rested on top. One of Onyx’s gift, its lack of flavor was made up for with its fast acting potency. Seraph removed the cap and downed the draught in a single swallow, never taking his eyes off Raubahn. “That should help” Seraph said. “That selfsame ‘vanity’ doesn’t allow me such crutches such as potions” Seraph verbally cast back, and the bottle towards his opponent. “You’ve offended me enough to necessitate casting aside my pride, Raubahn. Feel accomplished of yourself for that, but be wary. You’ll pay for doing so. I will end you.”
Raubahn was taken by a small laugh.
This was shortlived, as Seraph was inclined to wait no longer and charged. As Seraph had expected, Raubahn’s disshevelment was more theater than not. His blade fell into a ready position behind him, and Seraph knew what was coming. Seraph waited for this moment to tilt his hand, and forced into alignment his sword with his spells. Seraph had a slight edge atop that. The spell hastening his actions was still in effect. He allowed himself to be just in step behind Raubahn as he leaped into the air. As Raubahn reached the apex of his climb, Seraph took to the skies faster than Raubahn expected, outstripping him in rate of movement. Though unable to match Raubahn’s technique, Seraph could combine his experiences to rival the Immortal leader. Raubahn had not expected a counter to be formed so quickly. Seraph was now eye to eye with him and let his blade fly in a wide arc towards Raubahn’s head. Swords crossed, the Immortals stalemated in midair.
“What is this?!” screamed Raubahn, maintaining his defense as much as he could.
“I was ready this time. It didn’t seem fitting that the Seraph could not fight in the heavens. I wouldn’t be much of a Blue Mage if I couldn’t manage jumping after fighting side by side with a Dragoon.”
Their upward momentum began to give out. Raubahn had played right into Seraph’s hands with his defense, placing his once free hand onto the backside of his blade to block the sudden, unexpected attack. Applying as much force as he could muster Seraph forced Raubahn’s blade aside just enough to smash their heads together. Overcome as he was with his own power, Seraph could not tell how much of his head butt was physical and just how much came from his learned magics.
He was at one with his power, unafraid to use his body as the perfectly honed conduit.
Raubahn fell, the force of Seraph’s attack adding to his downward momentum, and preventing him from landing squarely. Seraph raised his left hand high and aimed a concentration of cobalt energy downwards. It grew longer, entwining with his still raised sword. Time stopped for an instant in Seraph’s perception. His pose reflected that of a Dragoon as they so often took to the air. In his reflection on his blade Seraph could have sworn he saw Saint smiling back at him, edging him forward in the fight. When time returned to Seraph he came straight down. Raubahn, though still stunned, was already on the move.
Focusing power down the blade, Seraph thrust it into the ground, burying it nearly up to the hilt, power spilling out over the ground and keeping Raubahn off balance. However, the master of the Immortals was not to be taken lightly. He let fly a spell, but it only succeeded in breaking Seraph’s concentration enough to have to begin casting his next spell once more. Buried as it was, Seraph had to leave his sword and resort to his fists to finish his fight. Having no weapons did not matter as still Seraph’s blade sang, resonating with the power from the airborne assault. Seraph responded to Raubahn in kind, attacking the commander using the same spell that had stripped his own offense. Although connecting fully with him the commander charged at his subordinate undaunted. Trying to move aside Seraph found he was too badly battered, and his normal litheness was bound by this place. Aiming for what would have been a killing blow Raubahn was unexpectedly thwarted. Seraph’s Grimoire appeared from nowhere, surprising both Blue Mages, causing Raubahn to struggle with the augmented volume. The Grimoire moved with the attempts to extract the sword. Raubahn found his curved blade to be caught fast. Once the Grimoire disappeared, it took the sword with it, the only physical weapon Raubahn held.
Seraph staggered behind this exchange and tried to remain standing. The Immortal commander was right, Seraph was running on fumes too. Even so he closed the distance, gleefully committed to taking Raubahn down with his bare hands. The Immortal fired off another spell in an attempt to drive the Blue Mage back. Seraph, resorting to the tactic that helped bring down Yasfel, caught Raubahn by the collar of his jubbah. While Seraph was being pushed back by Raubahn’s spell, the commander could not escape the rouge mages’ grasp. Raubahn was pulled backwards with him. Using strength fueled by nature, magic, and unbridled fury, Seraph hefted Raubahn off the ground.
It was then Seraph felt it. Seraph’s magical attacks hadn’t slowed his opponent but had synchronized with his sword attack nonetheless. The combination of power began drawing away most of the magical tension in the air. For a moment, it grew darker.
Raubahn looked around in a panic, then tried to break away from Seraph. The Elvaan stared straight through his would-be master.
The world of Vana’diel is comprised of elements. In their most ample and familiar form, these take the shapes of crystals aligned with each element. For the powers of the children of Altana, the Terrestrial Avatars are the pinnacle of might, the physical deification of forces of Nature, Destruction, and Creation themselves. Weapon techniques commonly used by adventurers are able to focus these elements. In this way, even those who are not traditionally considered “magically inclined” are formidable. For a pair or group of companions to harness one element was the simplest expression. To cause rhythm from two aligned forces was considered skilled, especially when they sang as one.
Combining four resonate elements could bring forth the powers of Light and Darkness themselves.
It was the former that was being brought to bear upon Raubahn. As it is darkest before dawn, so too was it dark as Light was drawn from all around before it was focused, searing the Immortal commander. Had Raubahn not forced Seraph back, the Elvaan would not be standing at the epicenter of his own attack. Had Seraph not caught the Immortal, Raubahn would have been less vulnerable as he would have been further removed from the epicenter. Instead, Raubahn lay right in the midst of the explosion of pure Light energy. A power Seraph could not suffer from, as it was of his own making.
Be it skill or luck, the result was devestating.
A scream, loud and terrible, came out from the center of the blast. Light screamed forth, filling the area. The moving air ripping at all within, fueling fires that burned and raged wild, lightning streaming in crackling fury throughout. At it’s midst, a demon with a singular crimson eye, swathed in blue energy, shape twisted and barbarous, writhed to escape the clutches of its captor. Time was the source of all cruelty, and meant nothing in this place. Absolutely, the time was short. Truth lay in perception, and thus the agony was eternal. The Crimson Eyed Beast sought freedom, but had no foothold upon which to begin escape. Its captor, amidst this hell storm of Creation’s enmity, could only be seen as blue fire bound by six wings. The latter flashed a dark smile, drawing the focused ire of the demon.
The gazes of these two terrible creatures met…
…and Raubahn found himself in an unknown wood. He was dressed as Waoud, hood down and glasses removed.
“Welcome to The Sanctuary of Zi’Tah Raubahn.”
Wheeling around, the Immortal commander looked at the other Blue Mage. Dressed more simply, Seraph seemed at peace in this place.
“…that is what I would say. I suppose this place is as much Zi’Tah as the place in your mind is Arrapago.”
Raubahn breathed deep. All of his senses were engaed. The air was damp, the soil was spongy, everything crackled with life. “This is an impressive construct. You have grown quickly. Too quickly.” One reason why Staging Points were safe were because the Immortals there knew these places as they knew themselves. For Seraph to already have such a safe harbor was further testament to his skill. For good and for ill.
The souls of many monsters played about in Seraph’s world. Raubahn looked on in wonder. “I never imagined…”
Seraph continued to look at Raubahn, anger relenting into something else.
Raubahn laughed. “You are at peace. What are you, Child, that what corrupts all others fulfills you?”
“How long have you resided in the Empire, Raubahn?” Seraph asked rhetorically. “I have seen the world. Traveled. Met all kinds of people. I have been a Blue Mage for only a short while, but it has taken me corners of the world I didn’t know existed. I may live a short life due to Blue Magic. But it will be a full life.”
Raubahn stood silent.
Seraph stood silent.
The sounds of Zi’Tah echoed on their own.
Raubahn began humming. His thoughts drifted, and the tune began to sound as though from a music box.
Seraph began singing, words that came to him while he and Clearite rested in the wood.
For the smallest of moments, both men were simple souls that knew the same struggle.
“You are a formidable one Seraph” Raubahn said. It was not only and admission of fact, but relenting to the result of their contest. You do not control the Beast. You are not the Beast. You… If you were the first Blue Mage, you’d be an impossible standard. But you are so far down the line that you are the heretic.”
“We are made better by our experiences” Raubahn continued. “I must see my duties though, even into death. I can no longer behold what fate has in store for you. In fact, I never could. Make a new trail. And, perhaps, give hope to those who have none. You have done well. I could ask for no more of a fitting end to a worthy… successor.”
Seraph smiled, flushed with all his experiences.
Raubahn bowed low.
When he stood back up, both he and Seraph were again garbed as Immortals.
The sun began to set, and the world darkened.
The scream of the demon gave way to the pained howling of a man. The sound diminshed to a whimper. Then the only sound were the aggressive elements.
And then the Light faded. Seraph allowed Raubahn, unconscious, to fall from his hands.
…a Beast to kill a Beast…
Seraph stood triumphant.
~“A loved one is afflicted with a terrible illness and has little time left to live. You are asked to end that life by your own hand.”
Seraph shook his head at such a horrible consideration.
“I would have to seek a cure. Through love my friend would understand.”~