Leroy's Cloud-Parter slammed down over Lindow's head but collided with a much stronger object. Lindow had shielded himself with a dome of black ice, sturdy enough to withstand the force of Leroy's attack. Lindow remained in his dome for a few seconds longer, verbally counting down to an unknown event.
"...four," Lindow said. Christina had lodged her spiked gauntlets into the dome of black ice. She was feeding fire into the ice.
"Three." Jared pierced the dome with Susanoo, trying to break it.
"Two." Amaris was absorbing energy from Riku. He planned to use it against Lindow's cover.
"One." Lindow expanded the ice dome outward rapidly with spikes protruding from all sides. Christina's shoulder was impaled and a spike was lodged in Jared's left calf just as he tried to propel away. The dome shattered and sent black icicles streaming across the Superdome.
Several icicles were on a direct collision course for Mia, who had then just accepted her fate. Fortunately for Mia, Amaris was not ready to resign from battle. Though his and Riku's plan was foiled, he managed to intercept the icicles meant for Mia with his shield at the ready. "I got your back," Amaris declared as he kneeled in front of Mia, with his shield held up. The panging of icicles shattering against his shield told Amaris that he was doing something right.
"Thank you," Mia sighed. She quickly found her resolve as Riku huddled behind her. "We need to get through and put him down," Mia said to Riku.
Amaris spoke loudly over his shoulder. "But how?" A constant barrage of icicles was still bombarding every angle of the Superdome.
Riku placed a hand on Mia's shoulder and leaned in so that she and Amaris could hear him. "I have an idea."
Christina had taken shelter behind the concrete stairs that led to the stands. She had managed to cauterize her wound but she didn't dare poke her head out to face the deadly ice coming her way. Christina angrily stomped the ground, trying to think of an opening. But she was a close-range fighter; even if she tried to skate around the icicles coming her way, she could easily get hit again.
From her last encounter with the black ice, Christina knew her flames weren't strong enough to melt through it. Taking Lindow head on was not an option. She slid down to her knees with her back braced against the concrete wall. Christina was stuck for now.
Jared was holed up close to one of the two ground level entrances for football teams, on the west side of the bottom level. It was a shallow, narrow entrance, and he could feel the cold of the black icicles whizzing by him every second.
He knew full well that trying to take the ice on directly would result in his death. He wasn't fast enough to get through all of them. He would have to wait for now.
Leroy fashioned a wall of wind, defending Destiny's corpse from Lindow's storm of ice. Between the force of Leroy's wind wall and the speed and strength of Lindow's black icicles, the ice was deflected in varying directions depending on where they struck the wall.
The fact that Lindow took no respect for the already deceased Destiny and would defile her corpse with black ice, enraged Leroy. He began to push the wind wall forward, pressing against Lindow's attack. Out of the corner of his eye, Leroy could see Amaris, Mia, and Riku also pushing forward against Lindow, but at a much faster pace.
"Amaris, you can still use Thanatos, can't you?" Riku asked.
"Can you utilize it completely? Can you use the shadows the way Destiny did?" Riku continued.
"I'm not sure, but I can try. But how will you defend yourselves? If I wield Thanatos, I won't be able to use my shield," Amaris said quickly.
"That's where Mia comes in," Riku replied. "Mia, you're gonna have to do your thing. Your Broken Fayth thing. I'll duck behind your invulnerable skin and continue to pursue."
"I can do that," Mia said proudly. "Let's go."
Amaris began to push forward and a helmet formed over his face. "Tsukuyomi," Amaris said, his voice echoing. As Amaris' armor began to form around him, Mia backed off slightly behind him.
"Thoth," she said with a boom in her voice. Mia's flesh turned to steel and Riku used her for protection. "Go, go!" Mia said behind Amaris.
Amaris took a bead from his waist and summoned Thanatos to his hands.
"The shadows. Go for Lindow's shadows!" Riku said. "Charge him!"
Amaris charged through the black ice as it dinged against his armor. "Thanatos!" he cried out as he pointed the heavy two-handed sword at Lindow through the storm.
"You really want to die so quickly!?" Lindow said as he turned to face Amaris. "If she couldn't use the shadows against me, what makes you think you can!?" Lindow barked.
"You never know until you try!" Amaris said as he closed the gap.
"Then you can join Destiny in the afterlife!" Lindow declared. He stretched his frozen black hand outward and a wave of shadows cascaded into the air. Amaris halted in his tracks as he was about to be swallowed by the darkness.
"Checkmate," Riku said behind Mia.
A few moments ago...
"I'm willing to bet he hasn't completely mastered both shadows and ice," Riku said behind Mia, trying to avoid the icicles. "If we can bait him into switching abilities, we can create an opening for everyone at once."
"How the hell do we do that?" Amaris asked, still shielding his friends from the storm.
"We'll bait him. Mia tried to use the shadows and failed. Let's try to use the shadows again. As cocky as Lindow is, he's bound to fall for it," Riku summarized.
"Mia, amp me!" Riku said as he sprinted alongside Mia now. Riku split himself in two and sent his copy to Mia's opposite side. They formed a three-person link and sprinted toward Lindow.
Mia duplicated Riku's power from his original self and his clone. Mia found herself surging with power, as did Riku. This symbolized a new resonating Fayth between them, as their Fayth powers fell into perfect synchronization. Now, a feedback loop had been created in Mia's body, causing her to expel Riku's power back out to him.
In that instance, Riku and his copy leaped into the air and broke the link, but maintained the absorbed power. At once, they both unleashed a beam of light so wide, and so bright, that it shattered the wave of shadows coming toward them and blasted Lindow away.
He was thrown into the stands of the stadium, skidding up through the stairs and crashing into a concrete wall.
"That felt good," Riku admitted as he glared angrily at Lindow who was now clambering to his feet. "I knew it wouldn't kill him, but--"
There was a clatter to their left and Riku, Amaris, and Mia turned their attention to Leroy. He had stopped dead on his feet, facing Destiny's corpse. He had dropped his Fayth weapon which had drawn their eyes.
Christina and Jared emerged from their hiding spots and now approached Leroy.
"Leroy?" Mia called.
Leroy began sprinting toward Destiny and slid beside her. "Des!" he screamed.
Destiny awoke with a harsh gasp for air. Coughing and spitting, her eyes stinging and dry, her body numb. Leroy noticed her first, having stopped and turned around to face her. Being alive again felt so strange after seeing the things that she saw. Her first reaction was to blink. Then, she touched a hand to the hole in her chest. It had been sealed by a sticky black ichor and the feeling repulsed her.
She slowly sat up and looked around. Her hearing hadn't yet returned, but she could see Lindow being swept off of his feet behind Leroy.
She blinked again and finally tried to speak. "...Leroy?"
He dropped his halberd in disbelief. "Destiny," he said softly, his voice breaking.
Slowly, sound started to return to Destiny. "Help me," she said finally, almost whispering.
"Des!" Leroy screamed as he ran to her side. He came to a sliding halt at Destiny's side and tightly embraced her. He began to weep into Destiny's shoulder as the other survivors approached. "I'm so sorry. This is all my fault," Leroy moaned.
Destiny hugged Leroy back, still in total shock. "I... I died," she said, confirming the numbing sensation running through her. "But, he brought me back."
Leroy sat up and wiped tears from his face. "I lost you. But... how are you--what's going on?" Leroy asked.
The other survivors gathered in a semi-circle around Destiny and tried to help her to her feet. "It was Thanatos. He revived me. He said I would never have to fear death again," Destiny explained. "It was so... terrifying being in that place. I--ow!" Destiny slapped her left forearm with her right hand. Something stung her.
"Destiny? What happened to your wound?" Mia interrupted, pointing out the black goo on Destiny's chest.
"I'm not sure. It was like that on the other side too--ow! Damn it!" Destiny said as she looked down at her right forearm now. "What is... what is that!?" she screeched.
A black, inky spike protruded from Destiny's skin and moved along her arm like a snake.
"Des?" Leroy said.
"Ow! Gah!" Destiny shoved Leroy away and stumbled backward. The black spikes beneath her skin were multiplying, rapidly piercing her flesh. "It... hurts! AHH!"
Destiny began clawing and scratching at her skin, her arms breaking out in welts of these tiny black spikes. They began to form on her palms now, and she could feel her back breaking out too. The black ichor on her chest began to bubble, and soon, Destiny was on the ground, curled into a ball, shrieking with pure, unbridled terror. "IT HURTS!!" she screamed.
The back of her blouse had been ripped to shreds by the hundreds upon hundreds of spikes in Destiny's back. Leroy jerked forward but was snatched backward by Christina. "Destiny!" he called to her.
"Stay away from her! You don't know what's happening!" Christina said.
"We have to help her!" Leroy said desperately.
"How!?" Christina asked.
Leroy stopped and looked on in horror.
"You can't help her," Lindow said behind the survivors. They turned around with their weapons at the ready. Lindow chuckled, folding his arms. "Don't you see it? This is the final stage for her. Destiny is about to reveal the monster she's always been. The shadows have her now."
There was a shrill, blood-curdling scream and the survivors turned around to face Destiny.
BGM: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
Destiny was covered head to toe in the black ichor. The only visible part of her was her eyes and mouth. She slowly, desperately crawled toward the survivors, dripping the ichor onto the floor. "Leroy..." she whispered raspily.
Leroy reached out for Destiny again but was stopped by the survivors once again.
"Get away," Destiny said as she collapsed forward onto her knees.
"What? What did you--"
"GET AWAY!" Destiny screamed.
Destiny was wrenched upright as the ichor on her back stretched out and grasped the concrete floor. there, she was suspended as the black ichor then crawled and expanded from her torso, up her neck, and began to climb into her mouth. Her eyes were sealed shut, and Destiny could be heard gasping for air as the ichor choked the life out of her. She grasped at the air for something to hold onto, trying to cling to life once more.
Mia clasped her hand over her mouth. Riku turned away. Jared stared in aww. Amaris clenched his fist. Christina closed her eyes. Leroy screamed.
Destiny fell forward once again, now lifeless on the floor once more.
"Destiny! DESTINY!!" Leroy cried.
The ichor was still swimming over Destiny's body, creepily as though it were alive and she was not. It began to spread out from her body over the stadium, inching forward and threatening to consume the other survivors. Destiny was propped up by the ichor, her arms and legs spread wide as she was pulled into the air. The ichor became increasingly denser and from the rapidly growing pool of murky, black goo, a hand ten times Destiny's size formed from the ichor.
It grasped her body tightly and five smaller black hands sprouted from the pool below. The survivors began to back away quickly.
One at a time, the hands began to grab hold of Destiny, latching onto her arms and legs while she screamed in agony. She had been strung up by these shadow hands as though she were being crucified alive. The fifth and final hand writhed beneath Destiny, seemingly with no purpose. At last, the remaining shadow hand sank beneath the ground, causing the ichor above it to bubble.
From beneath the shadows, a tomb began to emerge, held by the remaining hand of shadow. Made up of a black stone, it stretched more than two hundred feet and was more than twenty feet deep. As the tomb cleared the surface of the ground, the hand of shadow beneath it was crushed, relenting its grip.
Now, Destiny's screaming was suddenly silenced. Her desperation to break free of these binding hands was stopped. She had become deathly still, and the largest of the hands of shadow which had bound her had set her free, held only by her limbs and still suspended in the air. It slinked back into the ichor from which it emerged and disappeared.
"What the hell is happening?" Mia asked softly, aloud.
The heavy stone seal over the tomb hissed, and smoke billowed from inside as the seal began to slide away on its own.
Destiny's limbs began to bulge and twist as the tomb opened, reacting to the presence of whatever it was that was inside. Her head jerked violently back and forth until her neck spun around and cracked, breaking itself, then righting itself on her shoulders.
Slowly, Destiny was being transformed. Her left leg was covered in the black ichor by the hand of shadow as it slid away from her. Her leg began to grow to incredible size, and the ichor began to harden rapidly. Her right leg followed suit, covered in a now quickly hardening black goo. Her torso grew to be much too big for her body but was replaced by the steeled ichor as her body began to sink to the ground.
Now, Destiny's arms were also molded in the black ichor. Destiny finally touched solid ground again, where she miraculously raised her head. She could feel the ichor peeling away from her face. Able to see once again, Destiny's eyes settled on the tomb before her. The ichor then began to harden around her face like a mask, with a cell of shadow over her eyes. She stretched her mouth wide and was able to let out one final scream.
The hardened ichor over Destiny began to take shape as Destiny finally stood. Now, at more than twelve feet tall, Destiny dawned the armor of death, as the hard ichor became a suit of impenetrable black steel over her. Her hands were molded in clawed gauntlets, and a horned helmet dawned her face. From her back, a tail made of shadow protruded just beneath her tailbone and whipped about wildly. Destiny took a step forward and caused the ground to tremble.
For a moment, she took her eyes off of the tomb and stared back at her allies. She couldn't feel anything, even at the look of horror on their faces.
She turned back to the tomb and stomped toward it. Reaching one enormous hand inside of it, Destiny withdrew a weapon she was familiar with: the two-handed Thanatos. Its hilt was adorned with curved horns and a blinking red eye in its center. Destiny gripped the weapon tightly and felt a surge of strength rushing through her.
She threw her head back and roared at the night sky, shattering the black ice over the top of the Superdome. Ver voice trembled with power and echoed into the darkness.
This was Destiny's Broken Fayth: Embodiment of Death.
And now her eyes were set on Lindow. Her first task was one of revenge.
"Get back! Get back!" Mia yelled as the survivors began to scramble away from Destiny.
Lindow stood still, staring on at the revived Destiny, having finally reached her peak. "Magnificent," he whispered to himself. Lindow took a few steps forward. "Destiny!" he called over her guttural roars. In an instant, she was silent. The tall, horned black creature stood still, only moving its head to look in the direction of the voice that called it.
"How you managed this, I'll never really understand," Lindow said with a grin beneath his mask. "But you've done the impossible. You've defied death." Lindow carefully walked toward Destiny, his weapons at the ready. "Don't you see?" Lindow asked. "This is the power that has the course to change Earth--past and future--for the better," Lindow said as he entered Destiny's striking range.
"So. Will you force me to kill you again? Or will you work with me to secure a better future for this world?" Lindow asked.
Lindow's answer came in the form of a lengthy tail wrapping around his torso and tightening around his body, squeezing him with incredible force. Destiny raised an armored hand and balled a fist, stretching out only a single finger. She pointed it at Lindow's forehead, and as the finger grew closer to him, shadows began to swirl from the ground to the tip of Destiny's finger.
Lindow could feel the darkness around his body weakening. All form of shadow was out of his control.
Destiny whispered in another tongue, the words of a simple spell: "Ekleípo̱."
Lindow sighed, slightly groaning with pain. "If that's how you want to do this," Lindow said as he readied his black hand. He attempted to block Destiny's attack by calling upon shadows of his own. However, they would not obey his command. "What!?" he thought to himself as the shadows swirling around Destiny's finger began to form a pea-sized ball. With no other tricks up his sleeve, Lindow grew desperate.
He tensed his body and began to wrap himself in several layers of clear ice hoping to absorb whatever it was that Destiny was about to use against him. The ice caused Destiny to loosen her grip, but not before the ball of concentrated darkness touched the ice. The ice shattered instantly and the resulting impact caused Lindow to be launched outward into the stadium walls. His body was twisted and mangled. His arms bent in ways that they were not meant to bend. His legs and knees were separated at the joint, with his left leg being completely crushed. Lindow's neck had been twisted around and his face was a ghostly white.
Destiny roared, declaring herself triumphant. However, she had spoken too soon.
"You know," Lindow said as he slipped from the wall and onto his collapsed chest, now on the stadium floor. "That should've killed me, I think." Lindow snapped his neck back into place with a sudden jerk of his upper body and shoulders. "C'mon man, pull yourself together."
"What on earth... are you? Lindow, how are you alive?" Mia questioned, disgusted at what she was seeing. Lindow's limbs were repairing themselves slowly. His legs began to unfold. His arms slipped back into their sockets.
"But, I think," Lindow continued. "That because you didn't kill me completely, and I had just a scrap of life left in me," Lindow finished as he was now standing back to his feet. He rolled his neck and stretched as though he had just finished a casual workout. "That Loki isn't done with me yet. So, I guess I'm all warmed up now."
"I told you not to call me that," it whispered in Lindow's head.
Destiny roared at Lindow, angered that he would defy her will. The will of Death. She raised Thanatos in her hands and charged at Lindow. Each of her massive footsteps shook the earth as she barreled toward her foe. Lindow, however, was unfazed. He lunged back at Destiny, covering himself with ice as he raced forward.
She swung Thanatos overhead, bringing it down to the ground with earth-shattering force. Shadows erupted from the ground in great spikes, chasing Lindow. He weaved through the spikes with ease, using speed to his advantage. As he gained ground, Lindow drew back his only working arm and prepared a spell.
"Glacial Tomb," he whispered. A bright cascade of ice blocks erupted around Destiny as Lindow stretched forth his arm. Out of his palm, a dagger made of ice was formed and gripped tightly.
The blocks of ice pinned Destiny, weighing her down and stopping her movements, and interrupting her magic. This allowed Lindow to get closer. "Go back to hell!" he screamed as he leaped over the ice blocks.
Mia gasped as she watched Lindow plunge the ice dagger into Destiny's helmet, and a spurt of black ichor spat forth onto him as he thrust the dagger into Destiny's skull.
Lindow held tight to the dagger, twisting it into Destiny's head. "Loki." The dagger began to expand, flourishing out and becoming a replica of Loki's original, dual bladed form. Both pointed ends of Loki pierced through Destiny's skull, splitting it open.
"Pathetic," he mumbled. "All this power and you're just a big brute. Slow and stupid."
Lindow snatched Loki back from Destiny's skull and stood atop the ice blocks peering down into the helm which adorned her head. It had not dissipated. Lindow frowned and drew back Loki once more. "Die goddammit!" he screamed.
Lindow's arm was caught and snapped like a twig. He hollered out in pain as one of Destiny's enormous arms lifted him up by his now broken limb. A piercing red eye glowed from beneath Destiny's helmet, and Lindow could see her skull pulling itself back together. A look of disgust and fear ran across Lindow's face as he desperately tried to wriggle free. "What the fuck!?" he hollered.
"You cannot kill death!" Thanatos bellowed. Destiny's own voice had become lost in Thanatos' echo. Lindow was tossed lazily into the air and time seemed to slow around him. Thanatos raised its own blade and swatted Lindow away with its broadside, smashing him into the ground like a fly.
Thanatos then drove the pointed end of its blade into Lindow's back with a sickening crunch. Thanatos ripped the blade from Lindow's now still body and drew the weapon back once more. At Thanatos' feet, however, Lindow was somehow still alive.
"I get it now," Lindow said through a mouthful of blood. His body was reattaching itself slowly as cold swept over Lindow. "Destiny's not there anymore. Is she?" Lindow asked.
Thanatos swung its blade down over Lindow's neck and severed his head from his body, causing his regeneration process to stop abruptly. It lifted Lindow's head up, revealing a twisted smile on the young man's face. "No." It finally answered.
Edited by Dad, 16 December 2018 - 11:04 AM.