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6/19 Power at a Cost

JWaldman Jun 25th, 2019 (edited) 36 Never
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  1. There he is.
  2.  
  3. It was a rarity to see Lich King's work in any environment that would resemble publicity, but this time, it was needed; for so many years, he served this city as its Adjudicator, protector, researcher and much more than that - and now, it was time he were to ask something in return. Something valuable, something that could change the fate of events in the future.
  4.  
  5. The servants of the Lich King wandered the city, gathering the magi to the statue. Ushers and whispers would claim that it was his personal request, one of fairly great importance, and one that shouldn't be ignored - to every house out there, to every available magi, a simple sentence was told.
  6.  
  7. 'Arrive to the Statue at behest of Arthur Rowan.'
  8.  
  9. There was also more than that. There were slaves- dozens, then more, up to a hundred, hundreds. All of these people, worn out, skinny and thoroughly exhausted, seeing the light for the first time in so many years, barely moving with their atrophied muscles and chained by the Undead Legion that was dragging them along. Somewhere in the back, more undead were hurrying along - their job was to carry the pedestal with thoroughly advanced runes upon it, so complicated and intricate that even masters would have difficulty telling what it really is.
  10.  
  11. For that was the true language of Divines. The knowledge that allowed Arthur to even unseal an Angel at some point.
  12.  
  13. "Begin gathering everyone as soon as you can."
  14.  
  15. A single word to one of the officers in Undead Legion, and Arthur already began preparations. He knew that the Statue possessed a relic of its own, one that enhanced powers of Necromancy- combined with the one he wears at all times, the effect should be much greater, especially when literal Divinity is sacrificed for this purpose.
  16.  
  17. The first wave of energy pierced his long dead, skeletal body. He felt the surge, one that he missed for so many years before; still, his eyes gazed around the area, expecting more and more people to arrive.
  18.  
  19. This was it. Everything or nothing.
  20. Now, he waited for arrivals.
  21. (Arthur Rowan)
  22. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  23.  
  24. The call of the necromancer couldn't be ignored.
  25.  
  26. Approached by an undead at the request of the great lord, he nods. Walking towards the angelic statue and seeing the others coming. Regular citizens in large crowds watching from afar while the magi stood close. He stands with his own.
  27.  
  28. "Lord Rowan making an announcement..."
  29.  
  30. He looks about with a curious gaze. The citizens continue coming. Undead move about with their orders. And then he hears the faint ringing of shackles in the distance, along with hundreds of footsteps. Looking.
  31.  
  32. Slaves being pushed forward by undead. Undead carrying an artifact adorned with masterfully placed runes. Whispers filling the air as the regular citizens watch as everything unfolds, curiously as he.
  33.  
  34. Something extraordinary is happening.
  35. (Feth Vishkar)
  36. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  37.  Ser Artaghh had been doing what he usually did at times like these in Dawn, casually leaning against the lamp while puffing away idly at his corn cob pipe to pass the time in the lazy square of his beloved city. He perhaps could have spent this entire day doing nothing at all, one eye hanging upon the distant horizon without any sort of productive movement.
  38.  
  39. But his king had called him to service.
  40.  
  41. The knight commander was uncertain why Arthur had request this gathering by the fabled statue of Dawn, but it only took but a moment for him to answer the call. If there was something his magic could do that would aid in granting Dawn any kind of boon; anything that could preserve this place he'd come to love as his home, then Ser Artaghh was willing to do anything that was requested off him.
  42.  
  43. Bowing his head to King Rowan as he arrived at the grass stretch before the statue, he'd cross his burn scarred, bandaged arms over the black plate of his cuirass ashe settled in besided his fellow gathered magi, a tired, curious expression set upon the worn lines of his face.
  44. (Artaghh)
  45. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  46.  Ardith shivers and shudders and shakes all the way into the gathering of magi. She mumbles as she does so and her eyes flick wildly about.
  47. (Ardith)
  48.  
  49. And so the Dawn heard his call.
  50.  
  51. It was pleasant to know. Surely, he could still try and attempt this even alone, but... knowing just how much of a bother transferring this much lifeforce would be, he realized that he could really use a little extra set of hands - just to make sure that the things go smooth. Precisely for that reason, this crowd of magi was called to the ritual.
  52.  
  53. As for what they carried?
  54.  
  55. The pedestal was placed right infront of Arthur; a cut out tile, with runes imbued by nothing less other than Divine energy. Even unarmed and unknowing eye could tell of vast investment in this - decades of worth mana coming to the ritual circle by draining the said prisoners, and now with ephemeral prized possession that many would gladly take, if they could.
  56.  
  57. A feather of Fallen Angel in the middle.
  58.  
  59. Though, it's time. There's little doubt in his mind that at the very least half of the people here would be willing to assist him, but it's better to be safe than sorry. With how shaky things had been in Dawn lately, and considering all things...
  60.  
  61. "Good day, people of Dawn."
  62.  
  63. "I'm sure you have many questions. I called you here to assist me with an important ritual - a ritual that may as well break the limits of mortality, and allow final transcendence to something more."
  64.  
  65. A pause.
  66.  
  67. "For many decades, I served this city as Adjudicator, as defender, as council member, as its researcher, as Necromancer that blessed countless Undead to give them a second, proper life - even to those that tried my hand at some point, such as Astaria."
  68.  
  69. "But I have a favour to ask in return."
  70.  
  71. "I will need your assistance with the ritual. Each and every of you, provided you're willing to lend a helping hand, will have to channel your own extent of mana until your upper limit. You will have to contribute to the ritual with your own strength, until you have nothing else to give without sacrificing yourself."
  72.  
  73. At least, he didn't ask for their lives... but merely assistance in the ritual; still, his gloved hand raised, pointing towards hundreds of slaves that were herded around like livestock by the Undead Legion.
  74.  
  75. "These people."
  76.  
  77. "They belong to Huangzhou and Gehenna, back in the day when three Chieftains were young, and when Zeriel was still young Shogun. They are my prize, my bounty - they were captured for resisting the carnage that my army brought about to Agartha."
  78.  
  79. "But we were never meant to be about carnage only. It's about time we invested something in our progress too."
  80.  
  81. "As result, these people? They will die. They will bleed before me, and you will assist in this ritual to transfer the energy of their whole being."
  82.  
  83. Another pause.
  84.  
  85. "If you wish to leave now, it's timeyou go. But if you wish to remain..."
  86.  
  87. "Are you willing to put your effort in for progress, Dawn?"
  88. (Arthur Rowan)
  89. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  90. Ser Artaghh would listen with grim patience to the lich king's words, nodding idly as he looked about the gathered crowd with his remaining eye with an idle puff of his corn cob pipe. He'd wondered why such a ragtag assembly had been brought forth, as he doubted this was the day Arthur Rowan was going to take a sudden career path shift as an entertainer.
  91.  
  92. Sacrifice. That made more sense.
  93.  
  94. The knight's gaze would trail from disheveled prisoner to prisoner with a steady nod, lips pursed as he would uncurl his arms as his black armored frame ignited forth with the dense, rich mana of the spirit realm, his palms open and ready to give all he had for Dawn. They were long past the point of talk, the war and its aftermath had bled their home dry. Things had been bleak, and even Artaghh had occasionally found it difficult to keep his spirit.
  95.  
  96. But anything was worth it for their home.
  97.  
  98. "Fer king an' country, my energy is yours Lord Rowan. For the dawn."
  99.  
  100.  
  101.  
  102. (Artaghh)
  103. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  104.  "I am."
  105.  
  106. The boy would voice his support and take a step forward without hesitation. His leylines beginning to glow a faint green in activity. Assisting them at this time would mean more than anything yet.
  107.  
  108. A feather of a fallen angel which seemed familiar. Slaves of the other nations standing without the will to resist anymore in their broken states. All of the others willing to give their aid nearby. Civilians watching their example.
  109.  
  110. Rieka enshrouds his person as the others step up to ready their mana. His on full display for the others to see. Bright and full of vitality in it's current form. Waiting to give.
  111.  
  112. And though he knows that this would be for a meaningful cause, he's curious of what they'd all exactly be used for. Wondering what progress would be made.
  113. (Feth Vishkar)
  114. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  115.  
  116.  It's a wonder she's able to hear the Adjudicator over all the other noise, but somehow his voice stands above the tide of paradoxical ear-shattering murmurs.
  117.  
  118. The first place she looks to, other than the King, is towards Artaghh. He's a source of guiding influence in this time of relative uncertainty, though her oath was very, very clear.
  119.  
  120. Everything for Dawn, in life and after. The bald knight echoes this and she does her best to follow suit.
  121.  
  122. She focuses, for all she's worth, but all the ceaseless muttering that fills her ears only makes it difficult. Her eyes screw shut and Ardith channels her mana as best as she knows how.
  123.  
  124. A vortex of wind begins to shift around her, the currents and gusts tainted a sickly purple. The mutter is louder and louder; she's so sure her ears are going to bleed, but she keeps it up anyway, offering all she has for the command.
  125.  
  126. Ardith can hardly go backing out of her oath this soon.
  127.  
  128. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  129.  Then it's time to begin.
  130.  
  131. Seeing the agreement of majority- if not all- magi that he was capable of pulling here for the ritual, he was pleased; if he had lips to smile, he would - but beneath that mask with golden lines upon it, there was nothing. There was only a skull, a reminder to how much Arthur personally sacrificed to grant the second chance to many undead in Dawn.
  132.  
  133. Perhaps, getting this favour in return for his own suffering wasn't so selfish even.
  134.  
  135. A signal is given to the Undead Legion, and the first, short-lived yelp is heard amidst the crowd; the eyes of Lich King remain upon so many slaves, seeing into their lifeforce, their very souls with the powerful artefact that he retrieved, a mask that he wears, and his hand extends out. To onlookers? The crimson energy of lifeforce began to drip away from the body of the first slain slave, slowly moving closer to the ritual circle.
  136.  
  137. "Very well."
  138.  
  139. "Begin executing every slave."
  140.  
  141. The Undead Legion began to push every slave closer and closer to the center; one after another, a stab from sword, or spear, or even a dagger, and they began to die one after another. By dozens- just mere moments passed, and almost hundred already died. They were swift about it, disallowing the slaves to potentially escape - to some degree, panic broke out amidst those people, and they tried to flee. But to no avail.
  142.  
  143. The Legion was brutal, ruthless, without mercy.
  144.  
  145. One after another was slain, and the crimson, blood-like energy continued to flood towards ritual circle; Arthur kept his hand outstretched the entire time, no doubt gathering the energy. But... even after this Blood Harvest, there would be still plenty to do on top of that anyway- his eyes turned to the collaborators.
  146.  
  147. "Join in, then."
  148.  
  149. "Begin by channelling your energy into the circle. Follow my lead, and hold the crimson energy that makes it to the circle. Allow none to suddenly drip away."
  150.  
  151. A cacophony of death broke out. Cornered, pushed around as they were dying like flies in the summer, the slaves were butchered amidst the Undead Legion. None were allowed to escape, and none were allowed to live.
  152.  
  153. But for the gathered magi?
  154. Their job was to harvest.
  155. (Arthur Rowan)
  156. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  157.  
  158.  Ser Artaghh would watch the slaughter of the undead legion without a blink, refusing to look away from the grim necessity and cost of the preservation of their city. The knight had grown numb to it after so many years in Dawn, and yet he knew it would be cowardly and unrighteous still to look away. In a manner, these who sacrificed their lives to preserve Dawn's integrity were doing their own, unwilling service to the people. Paying the ultimate price to ensure another fresh dawn comes to their home.
  159.  
  160. They would be remembered.
  161.  
  162. The commander would nod firmly to his king's commander, placing his left marred palm over his right arm as he began to concentrate the flow of mystic mana through the fingers tips of his chosen conduit out with ethereal swiftness towards the ritual circle, joining his dense blue energy to the ceremony as he followed the instruction's of Arthur, making use of all his proficiency as an energy magi to aid in ensuring no drips, drops, or slivers of life juice could get away from their grasp.
  163.  
  164. Every last bit was required.
  165.  
  166. Beads of sweat would run down Ser Artaghh's forehead as he grit his teeth, exerting all of his trained reserves forth to not allow those slaves that had given their lifeblood to outshow his commitment to his city. He was a master energy magi, and no unnecessary ounce of his own lifeforce would be left behind. The knight had drained himself for far worse reasons, this was the least he owed to his city, and those who would preserve it.
  167. (Artaghh)
  168. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  169.  It begins.
  170.  
  171. The ferocious undead begin their slaughter at the order of their king. Commotion caused in the cries of the imprisoned and bloodthirsty yells of citizens. Blood is shed and with it comes their essence to take. He'd watch without confliction in his eyes.
  172.  
  173. They were deaths that'd further the cause of his people.
  174.  
  175. He focuses on the flow of the enery coming from his body. Rieka channeled towards the circle as instructed to do. Crimson energy attracted to the ritual being kept inside while also giving his own. Pushing out his magical essence without restraint.
  176.  
  177. It causes the aura around him to begin to dim. Slowly drained by usage. Bright and lively before, it becomes hollow and without much form as times goes on. A slightly strained look on his face too. It took much from him, recently injured and all.
  178.  
  179. But he wouldn't stop. He wants to help to make up for his disappointment of before. Something he personally held in his mind.
  180.  
  181. The circle is fed with the Statue of Azrael watching over the process and those involved.
  182. (Feth Vishkar)
  183. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  184.  
  185.  She'd been warned. She'd been warned that the gathered people were going to be sacrifices, yet somehow seeing it is so vastly different from just being told what was about to happen.
  186.  
  187. Much like the voice of the King, the first piercing death wail cuts through the murmuring with brutal and terrifying clarity. The worst she'd ever witnessed was the butchering of chickens. This butchering was of an order of magnitude that was unfathomably greater.
  188.  
  189. Almost immediately she feels ill, more ill then initially, and she dry heaves as she channels her mana; but try as she might she can't look away, like a macabre train wreck right before her eyes.
  190.  
  191. The oath, that all important oath, keeps her from bringing up her lunch and turning tail the moment bodies start falling. People with families, loved ones, that led lives all their own...Her head feels as if it's going to split wide open from pressure.
  192.  
  193. Her oath keepsher bound in place, channeling mana until she can feel her head swim. When she grows dizzy she swears, almost swears she can finally hear something more distinct on the edge of her hearing, something other than gibberish. It gives her a new reason to concentrate on the decidedly dark and nefarious ritual.
  194. (Ardith)
  195. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  196.  Just having lifeforce of these people wouldn't be enough.
  197.  
  198. There was also necessity of absolute mastery and knowledge, which is where his own work would begin; eventually, once the Lich King organizes flow of lifeforce stable enough to the runic circle, he knew that he could move in - still, his eyes traced the flow of everything, peering upon it through the Azraelite relic he had acquired before, the Morning's Facade.
  199.  
  200. It would take much, but such was the price.
  201.  
  202. Almost by habit, he inhaled to non-existent lungs, but that only served him the reminder of how much he should try no matter what. The hands of Arthur were raised ahead, drawing upon the pedestal for additional runes that would empower the runic circle even further; the runes that were meant to ensure that the ritual is completed properly once he steps onto pedestal, that the energy would not go in vain. As such...
  203.  
  204. 'Cruor - the Purpose of Bloodshed, of Life-liquid.'
  205. 'Ecfigies - the Purpose of Absolute, of Perfection.'
  206. 'Sanctidor - the Purpose of Purity, of Health.'
  207. 'Cursus - the Purpose of Flow, of Transfer.'
  208. 'Signum - the Purpose of Seal, of Bind.'
  209.  
  210. The excellence of the runes was apparent. This was no ordinary master working before them, but the man that thoroughly knew the language of Divines to create something much greater than most could ever dream of - the living proof of such was the fact there was a Fallen Angel on the loose, and the Statue right behind them.
  211.  
  212. As well as other wonders that Arthur created during his life-time.
  213.  
  214. Yet, the last of the slaves were almost slain. Another hand was re-directed to the flow of lifeforce- he knew that he had to ensure this goes directly as planned, and he voiced further directives to the rest of Dawn.
  215.  
  216. "Continue with the flow."
  217.  
  218. "Begin to slowly shift from supporting the flow to locking the energy in a seal, right in the runic circle. This is almost complete."
  219.  
  220. The runes were humming.
  221. Something was happening.
  222. (Arthur Rowan)
  223. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  224.  Ser Artaghh's dense aura of spirit energy would wax and wane with steady fluxuation as he continued to gather from both the spirit realm and mundane, only to immediately flow it forth not into his own reserves, but into the ritualistic circle of sacrifice that Lord Rowan had conjured. The knight stared grimly forth as the burn scarred skin of his right arm strained and bulged with continued channeling, continuing to strain his reserves as his muscle fibers ached and panged at the overstress of the action.
  225.  
  226. The knight was a man of his word. He'd give everything short of dying himself from the transfer.
  227.  
  228. Gritting his teeth with a light heave of breath from his rot scarred lungs, the commander would take a reinforcing puff from his corn cob pipe, savoring the burn of the minty smoke within his lungs to keep him centered as he continued to be drained, forcing the dense mana of his transfer now towards supplementing Arthur's own masterful runic seal, committing all his reserves as a mystic to the lich king's efforts.
  229.  
  230. For Dawn.
  231. (Artaghh)
  232. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  233.  More? More is asked of her? Her head spins and she can't see straight. Maybe it's a mercy, given the sights that can be beheld. Corpses, the living dead performing their puppets as skeletal marionettes to their masters will.
  234.  
  235. She takes a knee, she has too. There's no way she's going to be able to stay aloft. Ardith's eyes narrowly remain on the proverbial prize.
  236.  
  237. The more she uses the mana at her disposal, the clearer the voices become, another impetus to play her part in the ritual. More and more and more. It's then that she hears it.
  238.  
  239. Whatever it is precisely that she hears makes her go sheet-white and retch again, but thankfully nothing comes up. It encourages one last push of precious mana to the rituals foul ends. Unless she wants to join the lifeless husks, she can give not more.
  240. (Ardith)
  241. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  242.  He continues as told.
  243.  
  244. The aura around him wanes with the exertion of his mana. Continuing to steadily flow into the ritual, but changed in usage. As told he focuses on the energy already there.
  245.  
  246. Pushing it towards a specific rune of sealing, 'Signum'.
  247.  
  248. His fist clench as he continues, straining his circuits nearly more than ever before. It hurt to force himself so much. But the others doing the same kept him going.
  249.  
  250. For Dawn.
  251. (Feth Vishkar)
  252. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  253.  
  254. The dream of his life. The work of his life. Right within his grasp.
  255.  
  256. The runes were stabilized, and so was the energy and lifeforce that flowed within the circle; with the last of slaves being killed as sacrifice, he knew that this was his queue - it was now or never. A single signal was given to the Undead Legion, all to make sure that they stand ready for whatever is about to happen.
  257.  
  258. Because he never knew what the outcome would actually be.
  259.  
  260. In a sense, this reminded him the time he actually became the Lich. The very same time, when it took about a year before the effects began to settle in- when he began to suddenly rot away, and no medicine or treatment really helped him at all. If anything, he could only hope that this won't backfire. But...
  261.  
  262. "It's done." - a loud exclamation.
  263.  
  264. "Now, observe."
  265.  
  266. A step closer. A single step for Arthur, and perhaps the great leap for Dawn as a whole; he stood upon the pedestal, allowing the runes to latch upon him, to bind themselves to his body and swallow him whole - in a moment, the entirety of the Lich was engulfed in what seems to be an unholy energy of so many lives taken, intending to warp him to the very core.
  267.  
  268. A scream. And this time, it didn't belong to any slave.
  269.  
  270. Painful process, no doubt... but such was the price. Arthur stood there as the life-force of over four hundred people flowed into him, combined with the mightiest runes and the part of Fallen Angel's magic. It burned into him, reminding him of what dying would feel like, if he were to ever repeat the process.
  271.  
  272. And yet, the Undead Legion gestured others away, should they try to intervene.
  273.  
  274. It lasted for a good minute. Burning, searing Arthur inside as the overwhelming energy of so many magi and the life-force of hundreds was imbued in his essence and pattern; for a moment, it might've looked like ritual was, for all intents and purposes, a failure - one with very unfortunate outcome.
  275.  
  276. "Finally..."
  277.  
  278. Steaming, he stepped out. The light of all runes dimmed behind him, clearly having been consumed by the Lich King; their power was vibrating, prompting to even give Arthur uncontrollable shakes, but the Undead servants were there to support his stand. A pause, and finally he adjusted himself.
  279.  
  280. "...I'm thankful for your efforts, Dawn."
  281.  
  282. "Now, we can only wait and pray that this ritual will be success. Much like my ritual for Lichdom, I expect this to set in within next one to two years."
  283.  
  284. "I will emerge different. For better or worse... we shall see."
  285. (Arthur Rowan)
  286. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  287. Ser Artaghh would fall to one knee as he continued to drain out his reserves, the toll upon his own life force meaningless in exchange to watching the pinnacle of skeletondom shine bright amongst this crowd before the statue. The knight would maintain his one eyed gaze upon the lich king until at last the blinding radiance of the runic circle steadily dulled. Their king had given their thanks, the ceremony was complete.
  288.  
  289. The knight commander would crack out a missing toothed, exhausted grin in spite of his depleted reserves, planting his great, black blade into the soil beneath his sabatons as a point of support before steadily forcing his armored frame back to a standing position. His legs were a bit shaky from the drain, but nothing a bit of good old fashioned mountainous meditation couldn't handle. More importantly, as the mithril paladin's gaze trailed across the crowd of willing aides to Lord Rowan, the knight would bark out in cheer as he saw their committed efforts.
  290.  
  291. In spite of all that had befallen their city, they had faith and hope in their king.
  292.  
  293. "Anythin' fer Dawn, King Arthur. It was our honor'ta serve."
  294.  
  295. (Artaghh)
  296. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  297.  It's over? It's done?
  298.  
  299. In the aftermath she's far from stately, regal, or even soldier-ly. She sits right down on the cobblestones and hugs herself, rocking back and forth.
  300.  
  301. It's almost as if she witnessed a mass murder and was part of an incredibly taxing profane ritual...
  302.  
  303. Oh. Wait...
  304. (Ardith)
  305. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  306.  It's done.
  307.  
  308. Now, observe.
  309.  
  310. The flow of his rieka is reined in as their declaration is heard. Exhausted and with the need to recover his mana, he looks to the Lich King with a weary look. Observing as they step onto the pedestal and the runes glow with a light brighter than any. Holding the lives of four hundred.
  311.  
  312. Runes which slowly ascend to cling to their person and become one with their person. Extraordinary levels of power coming from their person. Unholy essence of the deceased and the magi standing nearby joining them. And then comes a scream from the mask.
  313.  
  314. His eyebrows furrow in concern. This was a first for him to do. Suspicious of failure his fist clench. And then comes another sound from behind the mask.
  315.  
  316. Finally...
  317.  
  318. The runes in him still radiate untold of amounts of power and stabilized in joining him. Applause rings out in the square as an uproar starts from the citizen. Such that he joins in with a look of awe on his face, hands meeting to applaud them. They'd succeeded in giving their power.
  319.  
  320. "For King Rowan. For Dawn. For Azrael."
  321. (Feth Vishkar)
  322. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  323. A few hours later...
  324.  
  325. Ser Artaghh would dredge his life force drained husk of a half metal body slowly but steadily to the lakeside of Dawn, each aching step a significant effort on the part of Arthur's dread ritual. The knight would give anything for the safety of his people and his family, but even an energy magi didn't have limitless reserves. The commander felt as if he hadn't slept in a long, long time, his half lidded eyes barely fighting against falling asleep standing up right then and there.
  326.  
  327. Yet passing out in the wilderness, even a safe coastline like that, was dangerous. It was a fool's errand of nostalgia to sit about there when the mountains provided a far safer harbor for rest and rehabilitation. Yet, sitting amongst the shore where he and the merry fellows of the Daylight Hall had once camped thirty years past, it perhaps left a bit of unreplicable energy in the air about the place. Of infallible sunlight, warmth, and brightness amongst the great lengths of dimness that had overcome Ser Artaghh over the years. No matter how much he had to endure, he would always have those cheerful memories of the best time of his life.
  328.  
  329. Crossing his legs upon the muddy, western shore of the blooming forest outside Dawn in a meditative pose, the knight would, perhaps from simple drain or a node of nostalgia, not choose to levitate above the ground as he began to meditate. The damp soil might cling to the black plate of his greaves, but it was nice not having to expend the extra willpower for stabilized flight. Steadily, the mystic would begin gathering energy from the spirit realm to replenish his ravaged lifeforce from Arthur's grim ritual of ascension. Even as he shut his eyes and cleared his head, the dull ache within his right arm panged idly from his over strained circuits. He had given everything he could for Dawn, it was fitting that a sacrificial ritual to save it caused him physical pain to match the mental torment of his long service.
  330.  
  331. Yet, as his reserves of ethereal energy steadily rose amidst the subtle hums of nature that surrounded the lake shore, the knight commander's thoughts dwelled upon his son standing beside him as they did what they could for the king. Though young, Feth had already become a fearless defender of his city, willing to give as much as a teenager as Artaghh had from rank and command. His son was growing to be a fine Dawnsman, a swordsman rivaling his old man, and his youthful vigor and fire had brought a bit of fresh joy to the tired, old knight. His mind would trail to the visualized circuitry of his right arm, the strained muscle fibers from forcing all of his energy through the substitute conduit of flesh. He was sure there were safer, more reasonable ways to have done it as a master energy magi, but then, Ser Artaghh didn't join the legion for safety.
  332.  
  333. Dwelling upon the minutia of the ritual, the runing and gathered mana infused upon a single point, that of the lich king, Ser Artaghh's mind fell to his right arm's musculature once more. Channeling all that energy into his arm had overcharged his circuits with certainty, even if the only purpose of it was to give as much of his energy as he could to Lord Rowan's ceremony. Yet, though it pained him idly, the sensation was nothing to the torturous prodding of his burns, the dull ache of his rotted lungs. If Ser Artaghh could gather all of that energy in his arm....but not release it at all, put all he had into the musculature of his appendage, he could put all of his might into a cataclysmic blow. Power with sacrifice seemed to be a mantra within Dawn, and yet in this the knight could see the sense of it.
  334.  
  335. Nothing came without a cost.
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