587 Fake Scars Part Two
The woman eschewed the use of her helmet, as if her rank of Scarmother placed her above her country's military doctrine. Everyone wore helmets, from rank-and-file Munifices to the Pilus Priori in charge.
Tycondrius wore a helmet! He was the gods-damned Commander of an army!
The audacity made his blood boil.
He reached his gauntleted hand forward, gripping the sides of the so-called Scarmother's face.
"And what use are your fake scars, WHELP?!" He shouted in her ear, "Can they protect you from ME?!"
"Wh-what are you doing?!" One of her helmeted Munifices shouted.
Tycon rolled his eyes, still squeezing the woman's face as she struggled. What did it look like he was doing?
"Unhand her, you fiend!" "Heretic!" "Let go of her!"
"Out of the GOODNESS of my heart!" Tycon roared at her subordinates, "I'm showing your fool of a Scarmother how USEFUL a helmet can be!"
"Y-you're hurting me!" The woman shrieked, cowardice and fear dripping from her words.
Tycon leaned forward... whispering sweetly into her ear... "I know."
Groaning in pain, the Scarmother reached her hands up-- and Tycon swayed his head back, reflexively, to dodge. Instead, she grabbed onto his forearm.
It grew hot... impossibly hot. Red and gold flames rose from her hands... ever-burning.
It hurt. He was a rank above the woman, but still, the skin underneath his metal armguards blistered and boiled. Tycon placed his opposite hand on his forward arm, concentrating... circulating more mana to empower his straining muscles.
« System, analysis: The Scarmother. »
⟬ System response: Iron-Rank Human Dragonfire Adept. ⟭
What kind of CLASS was that?!?!
He. WOULD. NOT. TOLERATE. ITS EXISTENCE!!!!!
"GRRRAHHHHHH!!" Tycon screamed.
Something crunched, wet and meaty. The pressure in his hand was relieved.
He'd broken the woman's skull. Blood spilled down her nostrils and from her still-wide eyes.
He shoved her back, her lifeless body falling to the road.
The other Sons of Qotal watched it all happen, awe or horror in their eyes, their mouths agape like frightened children.
Their surprise... their fear... it did nothing to diminish Tycon's rage.
He breathed in... and exhaled... slowly. He needed calm. He needed focus.
Tycon was a Gold-Rank Warlord wearing Arcanite-alloy armor... but he was mortal. He was surrounded by enemies... not just Bronze-Ranks, but Iron, as well.
If he made a mistake, their weapons would fall upon him... and he would die.
The time for civil discussion had ended. He needed to be fast... efficient... and merciless.
Tycon grabbed his sword on his waist, "⌈Iron Warlord REND!!!⌋"
Drawing his blade, he slashed it at the ground. The road tore open in a deep pit, sending stones and dirt flying all around-- but, most importantly, cleaving the immediate area in two.
Dust obscured the humans' vision. The attack was loud, deafening. The men and women beside him were covering their ears-- some even crouching down in panic.
Weak! Hearts not of steel, but of brittle bone!
These were supposed to be Tyrions, unfaltering in their faith. Yet with only burst eardrums and the breaking of a single woman's skull, they turned into sniveling wretches, one and all!
He grabbed the nearest man's arm and sank his sword into their throat.
"Die. in. SHAME!!!" He twisted the blade for good measure, kicking the body in the chest.
Turning around, he hacked his weapon into the side of another man's neck. Their eyes shot open, knowing their death was inevitable.
"ROT in the seven hells!!" He slammed his sword's side with his metal-covered palm, half-decapitating the fellow.
A third came, their weapon raised to strike downward.
Tycon grabbed their falling wrist, then wrenched it around, breaking or dislocating it.
He hacked his sword onto the screaming man's shoulder. And again. The third time cleaved the arm off in its entirety, a gout of blood erupting onto their companions.
The blood loss would lead to shock, then death.
He spat on the corpse.
"DIE HERETIIIIIC!!!" A lithe, Iron-Rank Legionnaire charged with shield and flaming spear.
Tycon swayed to the side, then swung the severed arm at the Legionnaire's jaw. The angle was perfect. The amount of force was more than was necessary. The Legionnaire's head violently snapped to the side-- turning too far, too quickly.
That would do.
He battered the arm he was wielding into a woman's shield, then into her unguarded chest. As she staggered back, Tycon hopped forward and stabbed his sword just-above her solar plexus.
"I hear her voice!!" A man screamed. He'd shot his arms out to the side and spheres of fire were roiling in his palms.
Tycon pulled his sword out, charging it with mana to segment it into a bladed whip. Swinging it at the fire mage, his weapon constricted around their throat.
"You hear naught but LIES!" Tycon shouted. He pulled his hilt, interrupting the mage's spell and tossing him into a group of his allies.
With a loud boom a short ways away, a whirling cyclone of fire burnt the dust, sending a blast of flame towards the heavens. When it dissipated, a thick-muscled helmed Son of Qotal was revealed, the base of his halberd slammed against the dirt.
He pointed his weapon at Tycon, roaring flames enveloping his person, "The Sons and Daughters of Qotal are the dragon's chosen!"
⟬ Iron-Rank Human Burning Halberdier. ⟭
Another Iron-Rank! Another hybrid martial-caster! The strength of the Sons of Qotal was absurd! He would die! ALL OF THEM WOULD DIE!!
"Dragons!" Tycon shouted. He dropped his blade-whip and summoned his curved blade and scabbard in hand.
"Don't!" He grabbed the hilt, his mana rushing through his weak, useless, Gold-Rank body like a storming ocean against a river dam.
Tycon unsheathed his blade, releasing eight massive, golden snakes-- all born of his hatred! One bit into the Halberdier's torso, its head as tall as its prey. The snake then twisted violently to the side, breaking the fool's spine.
The other snakes surged forward, each enveloping more cultists-- devouring them, leaving nothing behind but ash and dust.
"⌈Taste the Hydra Blade,⌋" Tycon growled...
The cultists, they screamed in fear. The mortals, they wailed in desperation.
"Forgive us!" They pleaded.
"Dragon save me!!" They cried.
Tycon raised his arms, willing the hydra heads to heed his command... and he thrust his hands downward with the force and fury of the heavens crashing to the Realm.
"What the F*CK DID I JUST SAY?!?!?"
Tycon hopped over the small crevasse with a mana-empowered leap, back to where his companions were waiting. Korr and Zenon had handily defeated the cultists that were separated from their main group, strewn about haphazardly with charred corpses, the air still heavy with static electricity.
An echoey whistle came out of Zenon's helmet, "[Remind me not to piss you off, Optio... Did you beat like... three people to death with some guy's arm?]"
"Two or three-- I lost count," Tycon shrugged. "The Sons of Qotal are snake cultists, by the way."
Korr tilted her head up, then nodded in understanding.
"[Makes sense,]" Zenon inclined his head. "[Told you they reeked of heresy.]"
"WELL, WELLLLLLL, WELLLLLLLLLL!!!!!" A familiar voice shouted.
Over a dozen gouts of flame erupted from the ground, each unveiling another Son of Qotal. All of them Iron-Rank... steam wisping off of their armor plates.
They stood in a half-circle around Tycon and his companions... and at their center was an arrogant, rough-shaven bastard, sneering in arrogance.
"It seems you found out our LITTLE SECRET!! Hurr hurr hurr!!" Cleric Occam cackled.
Tycon sighed in annoyance. Occam was one of the Stormbrands, the treacherous guild that took advantage of the Brazen Guard Collective to recover a snake cult artifact in the Halls of the Dead Serpent.
As a Divine Class, he was one of the greatest enablers for the snake cult's current dominance in Caeruleum.
"[It's... you...]" Zenon growled.
Korr straightened her back and cracked her knuckles.
"[Stand down!]" Zenon shouted in his dark, echoing voice, "[We've already defeated your Branded, Occam!]"
"HARR HARR HARR!!" Occam laughed, sweeping back his dark-silver hair. He had foregone his Cleric robes and was dressed in Heavy Legionnaire plate. However, he still retained his slovenly appearance, as it was covered in blood glops of ash and dirt.
"So you've sided with those filthy non-humans!! Hurr hurr..." Occam chuckled. "Well, you might have defeated that slut, Cipriana, but you'll find that--"
Tycon drew his hand-crosssbow and fired.
Occam swung his heavy warscythe, a trail of wicked greenish energies following the sharpened blade.
...He smirked, spinning the weapon until the haft was behind his back, the scythe head downward, "HARR HARR HARR... Hrr hrr... hrr..."
The Cleric collapsed, the metal of his armor thunking on the stones. The poison from the bolt in his neck seemed to have spread quickly enough.
Tycon tilted his head, slightly surprised. That fellow was notoriously robust, so he was fairly certain that his poison's effect would be largely muted.
...Just to be certain, he threw his short sword with moderate force. It pierced into Occam's neck and into the road.
The other Branded looked on, their faces twisted. Tycon recognized some of their number-- more former Stormbrands.
Ah. Branded. Stormbrands. He felt foolish for not realizing the link sooner.
Zenon slowly turned his head towards him, "[Usual plan, Optio?]"
"Usual plan," Tycon nodded.
Ever silent, ever loyal, Korr drew her two-handed blackblade and charged.
"[Face my HATRED!!!]" Zenon shouted, crimson bolts of lightning arcing from his hands.
"Death to the enemies of Sol Invictus," Tycon groaned as he knelt down to pick up a dropped pilum.