HotM: Conclusion

Created: 13 July 2021, 20:20:11 EDT
Last updated: 25 January 2022, 16:06:25 EST

Sparkle by BrowbirdConclusionSparkle by Browbird

It was a perilous fight.

Those most skilled in physical combat used their brawn to crush any ice beasts they could reach, their weapons clashing against the icy construct with a repeated force that battered and chipped away layers from its frosted form. Its gradually weakening defenses provided the perfect opening for mages to make use of their spells, various incantations and evocations working in combination to melt away and manipulate any residual ice that could not be broken by force. The same went for any foes who dared to stand in the group’s way - enemies once formidable found themselves rooted, blasted, and smashed in the wake of the joint effort.

This wasn't to say the battle was easy. Even when the tides had clearly turned, there were a large number who'd found themselves over ambitious during the fray and in need of aid. Adventurers who preferred to take more support based roles were quick to assist, sticking to the sidelines as they helped get anyone injured in the conflict out of the way and tended to in a safe location.

At the head of it all stood Vinta, eyes burning with determination as they called out orders amidst casting powerful spells of their own. Barriers of pure arcane energy rose to protect those on the front lines, while powerful jets of fire and bolts of arcane followed to blast the automaton. To anyone observing the Archmage, it was an impressive display of composure and prowess that clearly showed why they had such a title.

After what felt like an eternity, the large and towering construct began to slow down, the foreboding glow of its eyes flickering and fading as its form began to crumble. It swayed, limbs groaning loudly until they began to fall to the ground with enough force to shake the room. Soon it's body followed, collapsing with a thud that echoed throughout the cavern. There was a collective tension as the events unfolded before the group, eyes wandering up to the ceiling in hopes that no stray stalagtites would follow their enemy to the floor. When it was clear none would fall, shared sighs of relief filled the room before an overwhelming feeling of joy.

A few began to shout and cheer, raising their arms and pumping up the crowd with their unbridled excitement in a manner that was impossible for others to ignore. Laughs and cheers now filled the space that had only moments before been consumed by the sound of battle, the knowledge now sinking in that they had, truly, come out victorious. And, much to Vinta's relief, the group was largely unscathed. There were a few with 'substantial' injuries, but even then it appeared the worst of those were broken bones. Those with such injuries were already being tended to, now on a swift road to recovery in the hands of caring medics.

With everything calming down, Vinta is quick to begin a headcount to make sure none had somehow gone missing during the fight. It was a quick process, and once complete they attempt to speak but find themself unable to do more than mumble. They stagger forward, their legs promptly giving out beneath them and a loud, sudden sound of surprise escaping their lips as they felt themself plummeting to the floor. They closed their eyes, fully expecting to collide with the ground when a strong hand catches them and slowly lifts them back to their feet. There is a moment of silence as they realize someone is looking them over, the same hand that caught them, moving to grip their shoulder in an attempt to steady them on their feet and keep them from fainting in front of the group.

 

 

It is clear Vinta is still feeling a little lightheaded, but they slowly turn to see that the person standing before them is Aventus. In a rare display, he gives the Archmage a very slight smile, and that smile is returned with one that shares a similar sentiment, albeit filled with exhaustion. As quickly as it appeared it fades, however, Vinta now mulling over some thoughts before opening their mouth in another attempt to speak. Unfortunately, words fail them yet again, and they find themselves clearing their throat an awkward amount of times before forcing themselves to stand up straighter. Aventus remains as stoic (and tall) as ever, peering down at his colleague as he patiently waits for their words not to fail them.

When Vinta's words did finally ring clear, their expression became more serious, tone shifting back to it’s usual cadence to match.

 

Sparkle by BrowbirdVinta

normal by Browbird

"Professor. While I do not wish to doubt your intentions, nor would I want to imply any doubt towards the Headmaster’s choices, I cannot stay my curious nature given the position that I just was, and am currently, in. I would like to… inquire. About the reasoning behind your continued passive behavior during our endeavors on this mission. At each challenge that we all faced, you simply remained by the sidelines and observed rather than aiding us, even if we required urgent assistance in combat. I assure you I mean no disrespect, but from what I understand, you are someone who was hand picked by the headmaster herself to work at Aldebast, and I have yet to glimpse what sort of powers or abilities such a highly regarded status is worthy of..."

 

Sparkle by BrowbirdVinta

okay by Browbird

"Er… which is to say… why have you not helped at all?”

 

There was a moment of silence where Aventus did nothing but raise a hand to his chin, almost as if he was having to think up some kind of answer to what he had been asked. Many gathered around and leaned in closer, just as curious (if not moreso) than Vinta to hear just what the other was going to say.

 

Sparkle by BrowbirdAventus

thinking by Browbird

“Ah. It is an understandable question, Archmage, and one I am sure is on the minds of many who have made this journey with us,”

 

A pause as he looked to the group leaning closer, all of whom suddenly scrambled to move back slightly as if they weren’t desperate to know the answer.

 

Sparkle by BrowbirdAventus

??? by Browbird

“The answer may not satisfy you, but it is the only one I have to give."

 

 

 

Sparkle by BrowbirdAventus

neutral by Browbird

"There are two reasons."

 

Sparkle by BrowbirdAventus

speaking by Browbird

"The first reason is that this was, ultimately, a test of your abilities and the abilities of each participant here today. I wanted to see what all of you were truly capable of on your own and when working together. This would be a fitting course for any teacher, correct? I had only intended to step in if it had ever seemed as if something catastrophic would happen, or an event that would result in an unrecoverable loss such as death. It goes without saying that there were several close calls, but the moment that would provoke my intervention never arose. You all performed at a level that far exceeded my expectations, and there are many of you that I have witnessed a clear improvement from on this journey alone.”

 

As he speaks, there is a distinct air of pride in his tone. He continues to look over everyone, another very rare, very slight smile now directed towards the group.

 

Sparkle by BrowbirdAventus

serious by Browbird

“The second reason... Hm. Perhaps you will understand once we begin the construction of the Void Wing.”

 

It was clear Vinta was not satisfied with the half answer, but they did not want to push the matter further due to their own energy now being at a critical low. They make a small disgruntled sound of acknowledgement, slowly stepping away from Aventus to take a seat on a nearby stone in an attempt to take a breather and think over what to do next. After a couple of minutes they lift their head, addressing everyone again with new directions.

 

The first order of business under Vinta’s direction is for everyone to take a well-deserved break, allowing time to recover, warm up, and eat if needed. Those who are already raring to go are given the task of clearing out the aftermath of the battle, the room strewn with the lifeless forms of shattered ice creatures. There is also plenty of debris left behind by the fight needing to be cleared out of the area so that construction can begin.

Still, there seems to be a good number of beasts still lurking about. Vinta sends a group to deal with any that may still be around, though they seem to wonder just where all of these things are coming from. A smaller group is sent in search of the core, hoping to uncover more information about exactly what and how it works, and if there’s any correlation between it and the ice creatures.

Which path will you choose?

I want to deal with the lingering ice creatures. I want to learn more about the Core. I’ll stay behind at the camp to help out.

 

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