613 Apollonia Part One
Hades lifted his heavy forearm... then violently clenched his fist shut, "⌈Quit it.⌋"
With two mundane words, what was left of the snake god's heart turned black with rot... and a gaseous burst rent it into pieces.
Tycon pursed his lips...
He'd just witnessed the god of his people die.
It seemed... terribly mundane.
But then again... a literal god performed the deed. It shouldn't have been as surprising as it was.
"I uh... thank you," Tycon smiled with chagrin.
"No problem, man. That's what friends are for, right?"
...Tycon tilted his head, "May I ask why you're grinning?"
"Ehehe... I took the god essence, too," Hades chuckled, "You can call dibs on the next one."
"Nonetheless... I am in your debt," Tycon inclined his head in respect, "Hades, god of death and the dead."
The towering orc shrugged, "Don't actually remember who owes who, at this point in time. Don't worry about it, Tyrael."
Tycon reached his hand out, "I go by Tycondrius now-- it seems. I ask that my friends call me Tycon."
Hades shook his hand, clasping at the wrist, the Tyrion way, "Good to go! Tycon, it is! ...Wanna go get a beer?"
Taking a deep breath, Tycon shook his head, "I'm in the middle of something, Brother-Hades. Forgive me."
"Whaaaat?!" Hades opened his arms, "Come on! Whatever it is can wait! Haven't seen you in epochs, man!"
Tycon shrugged, "I need to ensure my forces escape the city of Caeruleum... and then we need to reduce the number of survivors to prevent word from spreading."
"Ah, yeah. I get it," The orc grinned toothily, "Big battle-- you're pretty good at that."
Tycon raised his hand, prepared to order his System to shut down the Reality Marble... but he hesitated.
"Was there something else, old friend?"
"Since you probably killed a lot of guys already... It'd probably be pretty easy for me to take form in The Real."
"Can you avoid killing my current living companions?" Tycon pursed his lips.
"Most of 'em. You want me to raise ghouls? Banshees? Ooh, I know you like those superpowered Nemayan-style uber-zombies."
"I have fire slimes burning the city," Tycon offered.
"Flaming skeletons!!" The orc cackled. "This is gonna be good!!"
Tycon scoffed, "I would greatly appreciate your assistance, Brother-Hades."
"Ehehehe..." The orc chuckled, wringing his hands in anticipation, "And then we'll get smashed after, yeah?"
"I'd like that," Tycon nodded.
"Bring the horse."
⟬ Six suns later. ⟭
Caeruleum fell, as Tycon knew it would.
An entire city had fallen to swarths of monsters. The dead rose, human and not, and their flesh burst into flames, leaving blackened bone.
If that wasn't terrifying enough, they followed the command of a handsome Tactician... and an orc as tall as a small building, whose manic cackling could be heard for malms around.
With the number of troops in and allied to Letalis Serpentia, rumors were certain to surface.
The Church made an official declaration concerning the city... that it was subject to Exterminatus. Any Tyrion who dared to speak the ingenuous truth would be lawfully imprisoned... or also condemned to a torturous death.
Unbeknownst to Athena, certain members of Guild Letalis were under order to permanently silence any persons who worked against them. Tycon had asked them to only act if there existed evidence beyond reasonable doubt... but as he had appointed each agent personally, he kept faith in their judgments.
In other news... Tycon wrote a missive to be delivered to his sister, Cass. He could not know for certain how much his actual sister resembled the one he met in Zehr's Reality Marble... but he hoped the gesture could be appreciated.
In the missive, he assured Cass that he was well... but it would still be a while longer before his return to the Free Nation.
He had completed two of the three quests given to him by Rylania, the Queen of Stone... with the third and final one being in Vralkek, near his home territory of Charm.
However, Tycon needed to report to High Oracle Troia in Cersei's Rest... and to return the Hero he 'borrowed,' as per a previous agreement.
The Titanblood, Cillian, would deliver Tycon's missive-- and was also granted a letter lauding his service, for when he returned to Prince Dragan.
He seemed rather appreciative of it... as useless as it was to him. It was likely that his War Prince would skim the message's contents, discern it contained nothing of value, then immediately discard it.
With Sorina's recommendation, Athena chose to rebuild the Vanzano estate in a small, developing city named Apollonia... one of many cities with the same name.
Her reason for fighting was to remain in Ezyria, the land where she and her brother were raised. Once the battle was concluded... she openly wept tears of joy.
Isidor's Mountain Faction were within a week's travel of that place, should Athena ever require their assistance for materials, mercenaries, and the occasional karaoke night.
It seemed the innocent young lady made many friends amongst them.
She was good at that.
Both Bannok of Kasydon and his Elven wife, Ariadne, survived the battle-- which was slightly surprising. They politely declined joining Athena's guild... but agreed to settle in the Apollonian hills.
Tycon did not know what that meant... but it was beneficial to Athena to have two friendly Gold-Ranks within a few bells' travel.
One of Letalis' most powerful allies, Kanbrai the cat, disappeared amidst the chaos. He left a written message informing Tycon that the debt has been paid.
Tycon was not insulted, as Kanbrai seemed to be a shy fellow. He did, however, ponder overlong on how a cat without opposable thumbs penned him a letter.
Zenon Skyreaper returned to the Church, also opting to work in Apollonia. With so much experience gained and having amassed so much power, Tycon was certain the Librarian would serve the rest of his contract well... without his honor and integrity questioned.
Else... the mountains would bleed.
Tanamar was counseled for insubordination. They went out for training... and it was more than either of them bargained for.
The harder the youth pushed himself, so too was Tycon forced to keep the pressure.
They sparred, they climbed vertical cliffs, they sprinted on the rocky beaches... and even coordinated to defeat an Adamantine-Rank sea giant. After a full sun, Tycon finally felt confident in tacitly communicating what he needed to be understood.
Respect and trust.
Afterward, both Tycon and the Holy Lancer required bed rest for exhaustion and moderate injuries.
Tycon decided that if he were ever to meet another person as stubborn as Tanamar... he would just kill him to avoid the trouble.