There had to be hundreds of these things! The paladin was doing well though, he took out three of the undead for every one she did. And was it her imagination, or did his ax have some kind of spell on it that made it a little stronger with every fallen undead? That was all pushed to the back of her mind as a figure in red armor moved into view at the top of the nearby mountain just as the paladin met her.
"Nice to meet you. I'm Artix! Slaying undead is my hobby, obsession, and profession!" the paladin said as he bisected a skeleton unlucky enough not to have a helmet.
Twilight knocked the head off another while answering, "I'm Twilight Sparkle, I study magic, but I seem to be a natural swordsman and I've gained experience at it while fighting monsters." That last bit applied to both magic and swordsmanship. She pointed at the figure while ducking under the swing of another skeleton. "By the way, who's that?" she asked.
"Oh, that's Sepulchre, he's the undead guy in charge of the rest of these undead, and he's got this whole nation of undead and necromancers behind him. He's always starting wars to try and take over Lore. This is the biggest invasion yet though." he said, serious for a moment, before grinning widely. "It's like my birthday or something!"
Twilight sighed, it was like Pinkie with an ax and an obsession with slaying the undead. ...That thought was going to give her nightmares.
"So if we take him out, then we stop this invasion?" she asked, literally kicking the legs out from under a skeleton.
"Well, we'll have to take care of some of them, we can't have an army of undead running around without a leader to keep them from trying to kill everything that moves." Artix said, slicing through several more skeletons. Yes, his ax definitely got stronger with each fallen undead, she just didn't know how or by what amount.
Sepulchre raised a hand as the volcano erupted behind him and an enormous undead dragon carrying a castle rose up. She stared at it while absentmindedly skewering a skeleton. "You don't see that sort of thing every day." she commented.
"I do. We in the hero business get used to it." Artix said, practically vibrating at the chance to fight such a huge undead.
Sepulchre waved his massive blade at them. It was red like his armor, pulsed with dark energy at regular intervals, and had a skull in the hilt. As he waved it, a wave of undead poured down the hill, including a Darkness dragon.
Sepulchre rode another dragon to the fortress, leaving the undead to deal with them. Apparently he either thought they didn't warrant his personal attention, or had more important things to worry about. Probably the latter, since Artix was a legendary Paladin who had slain countless undead and helped fight dozens of wars against the forces of darkness and evil.
However, about two-thirds of the group went past them, towards Battleon. They dealt with the group engaging and defeating them as quickly as they could, then followed the undead.
They found the minions attacking a tower nearby. There was a girl outside the tower dressed in furs and boots with blue hair and a gold headpiece. The undead paid her little attention, as she was clearly in no condition to fight. She had several semi-serious wounds, not debilitating individually, but together...
Twilight quickly applied her new healing spell on the downed girl a few times. The girl stood. "Thank you! My name's Meryth, and I need your help! Sepulchre's minions are trying to destroy my tower!" she said.
"Alright." Twilight and Artix said at the same time.
"Take care of the ones outside before you go after the dragon. You healed me, but I'm still exhausted from fighting them before. I might not look it, but I know some decent offensive magic." Meryth said.
They soon had the skeletons outside the tower cleared out. "There's a teleportation circle inside the tower, it'll take you to the top." Meryth said.
"Alright, I'll take any undead in there, you go after the dragon." Artix said.
Twilight nodded her agreement.
She and Artix went inside the tower. After taking care of the skeletons on the ground floor, Artix started up the stairs, while Twilight took the teleportation circle to the top, and started clearing out the undead on that floor, while avoiding the dragon's breath attacks until she could focus solely on it.
Artix showed up just as she slew the second-to-last one. "Alright! One left!" he said, before smashing into the skeleton, and carrying them both out of the tower through the hole the dragon had made.
After making sure that Artix was alright, she turned her attention to the dragon. It felt weird to be fighting a dragon considering one of her friends was a dragon, but she had to. This dragon was clearly malicious and lacking in higher intellectual functions. Since dragons here were normally intelligent beings, like in Equestria, this was probably because of Sepulchre. Either a spell or his influence.
She dodged it's breath attacks as best she could, and slashed at it while casting a few light spells to take advantage of the advantages of using an opposing element on such beings. She could probably have taken this thing at level 10, before anyone told her about Enhancements, special spells that could be placed on her equipment that added to her performance. At level 15 and with Enhancements, it was childsplay. She felt sorry for it though, it had been enslaved to a necromancer's will and robbed of it's own.
Artix got back up to the top by taking the stairs. "Stairs and armor do not mix well." he said breathing heavily.
"Why didn't you take the teleportation circle? Also, don't you think it's strange that he sent this group to attack this tower? It's not a strategic location, it could only have served as..." her eyes widened. "... a distraction! He wanted to keep you out of the fight with all those undead!" Twilight exclaimed in epiphany, inwardly berating herself at not having realized it sooner.
Sepulchre hadn't encountered her, and she hadn't done anything to warrant his notice, so she was almost certainly not his target. Artix, on the other hand, was a well-known Paladin who not only liked slaying undead to the point of obsession, but was very, very good at it. Of course Sepulchre would want him out of the way.
Artix gasped. "All those undead!" He suddenly stopped sniffing. "...Do you smell something burning?" he asked before getting up, his eyes widened. "Oh." he said simply.
Twilight turned around and gasped. She'd had her view blocked by the dragon before, but now that she had a clear view, she saw the city of Swordhaven burning. Swordhaven was the city that King Alteon the Good ruled from, essentially the yang to Sepulchre's yin. If Sepulchre wanted to take out the forces of good, he'd need to take out their stronghold.
"So that's where the rest of the undead went." Artix said, his face serious again. "Come as soon as you can, we'll need your help." he jumped down from the hole. Twilight teleported down. She quickly explained what was going on to Meryth, and started through the forest towards the town.
She stopped at BattleOn just long enough to take advantage of reaching level 16 after defeating the dragon by grabbing some better Enhancements and equipment, then hurried off towards Swordhaven.
She had to deal with large numbers of undead still pouring in the direction of the city, but used the more powerful spells she couldn't use in close quarters before at risk of hurting herself or Artix. Larger blasts like those would likely render her unconcious if she was caught in them. She couldn't afford any such delays.
[center]*** Meanwhile with Artix in Swordhaven ***[/center]
Artix was not having as good a time slaying undead as usual. Oh, he looked like it to someone that didn't know him well enough to tell, but he was aware that even he couldn't take down this many on his own, and the knights were ill-equiped to deal with this titanic an outnumbering force. They weren't helpless, but they weren't used to being and fighting surrounded like Artix was. What was worse, any fallen knight was turned into an undead soldier, causing their losses to only swell the ranks of the enemy.
Still, the undead reinforcements had thinned-out slightly, probably the handiwork of their own allies.
"Sir Artix!" a messenger of the Rogue class ran over to him, dealing some light damage to a few undead in his path and making a few holes in their ranks that allowed the few remaining knights to break out of their entrapments.
"Yeah?" Artix asked, slicing through four undead at once. He was bringing his A-game to the fight.
"The castle's been breached, but we managed to raise the drawbridge before too many got in." He glanced at his surroundings. "Of course, too many is relative to the rest of this horde." he said, dispatching a skeleton with an expert thrust.
"It was worse about an hour ago." Artix said. What was taking Twilight so long?
[center]*** With Twilight ***[/center]
"Undead people, undead dragons, undead mammals, darkness dragons. So. Many. Enemies!" she cried out in exasperation as she spelled, slashed, and kicked her way through the increasing number of enemies. The groups of Sepulchre's forces had started to turn on her when it became clear she was a threat to them. On the bright side, she was almost to Swordhaven.
She arrived to find a priestess and a surviving knight were just barely managing to stay alive as they were assaulted by at least thirty undead, including a new type that threw fireballs from their staves. She quickly dispatched the undead, and healed the knight and the priestess.
"Are you two alright?" Twilight asked them.
"Yes, we'll be fine, thank you for dealing with these undead, unfortunately, we're too fatigued to fight any longer." the knight said.
"One of the undead dropped the key to open the gate into Swordhaven, we'll let you in." the priestess said.
"Thanks." Twilight said, as they opened the gates. Twilight slew the few undead that turned their attention to them, then quickly closed the gates behind her. Those two had said themselves they were too exhausted to fight. Letting the undead get to them was tantamount to killing them.
Twilight found Artix to be standing on a pile of fallen undead, even as he enlarged the pile by felling even more undead.
"Hey Twilight! If you could take out like a hundered of these guys it'd be great!" Artix called, slicing through a pair of undead as Twilight blasted one out of existence.
Twilight stared at him incredulously for a moment, then she realized he didn't mean all at once. Why had she thought he had? She nodded affirmatively, then rushed off to the eastern side of town, and cast a few spells that blasted large holes into the slowly advancing main body of the army. The ones she and Artix had been fighting inside the city so far were probably merely meant to soften up the defenses of the town. The citizens were holed up in their houses, on their roofs, or presumably in their attics. The undead had already broken into many homes, but didn't seem to have reached the second floor of any buildings yet.
She had a slightly horrible feeling when she noticed there weren't any of the city's defenders around. She had the distinct impression that they'd been 'absorbed' into the ranks of the undead. After destroying the large number of undead, she noticed the advance halted as they tried to close ranks. Satisfied that their advance had been halted for the moment, Twilight ran past Artix to the west side, other than the pizzeria, it was almost the same as the east had been.
After she punched holes in this side too, she reached level 17. She hurried back over to Artix, and he said "Great job! There's a Boss skeleton in front of the gates to the castle. He's trying to break down the gates. We're the only ones left outside the castle who can keep the defenses from being breached." Artix said, somewhat less cheerily than before.
"Be careful." Twilight said.
"Heh, don't worry. I can take care of the ones out here, you go protect the king!" Artix said. smiling brightly.
Twilight nodded at him, a small smile tugging at her lips. This was a grim situation, but a tiny part of her was enjoying the fighting and the camaraderie between her and her fellow defender was certainly a very much appreciated side effect. She fought her way to the castle, and took care of the giant skeleton with relative ease. She got them to lower the drawbridge, which was immediately closed behind her. Twilight put a shield spell over it just in case.
The inside of the castle was a melee. Knights and a stronger version of the skeletal soldiers were in conflict all over the castle.
A girl in green who was using a bow and arrow, and had taken out a sizeable number of undead, if the arrows sticking out of their fallen forms were her handiwork, who could only be Robina Hood, was fighting with the knights. Twilight took out several of the undead, and got within speaking distance of Robina. "I'll help you clear out the undead, how many are there in the castle?" she asked, slicing through one, and blasting another two out of existence.
Fourty more." Robina answered after shooting an arrow through the head of another.
Working with Robina and the knights, Twilight helped clear the castle of undead in minutes.
"We'll stay here and delay Sepulchre when he arrives, you go meet my... I mean the king. I would appreciate if you helped in defending him from Sepulchre." Robina said.
"Of course, though I don't know how much help I'll be." Twilight said. She was kind of curious as to what Robina had been about to say before she corrected herself, but pushed it aside. Now was most definitely not the time.
Twilight entered the throne room, and immediately knelt before the king. She realized that they were in an invasion, but she wasn't going to just abandon civilized practices completely.
"Ah, you must be the one Artix mentioned to a scout before the undead overran our defenses to the point where the messengers couldn't get through." King Alteon said. The king was covered in golden armor and had a golden crown that with a draconic sword. His beard and hair were brown.
"Yes, that's me." Twilight said, placing a barrier over the door. It wouldn't stop Sepulchre if he was able to raise a necromantic army of this size, but it [b]would[/b] slow him down.
"Sepulchre will soon be here. We'll have to talk later." Alteon said. Twilight felt a massive attack shatter the shield she'd put over the drawbridge. She reinforced the remaining shield on the door behind her as best she could. Sepulchre was capable of smashing through that first shield like it was nothing, but she was determined to at least slow him down with this one.
There was a pause of about thirty seconds, then several more massive attacks smashed into the shield she'd made over the door, causing it to disintegrate. Three slashes that glowed red at the edges followed, before the door exploded, sending several fallen knights flying into the room. The two knights in the room rushed Sepulchre, one was knocked out by suddenly being smashed into by a giant skull that shot out of the floor. The other was killed as Sepulchre almost negligently overloaded his body with necrotic energy, causing his armor to fall apart as not even bones remained to keep it together. The undead servant he'd brought with him laughed.
Twilight sent a fireball at him, then dodged behind a pillar as he sent a blast of dark magic at her, before raising a dozen undead he directed to attack her. Twilight was forced to focus on them, while Alteon dealt with Sepulchre, Twilight made short work of the undead, and watched the battle in earnest. These two were dealing and shrugging off blows that she was certain would have knocked her out or killed her outright. For example, that last clash had sent them into the walls on either side of the room with enough force to crater the solid stone.
"Let's finish this." Alteon said, readying himself for one last assault.
"Agreed, this will be the final blow." Sepulchre said, speaking for the first time she'd heard.
[b]"YES! Let's finish him!"[/b] the sword Sepulchre carried spoke.
... This place was weird. Hey wait, what was that, I'm-going-to-die feeling that she'd gotten all of a sudden. It seemed to be coming from behind her. She looked behind her, and saw a figure cloaked in shadows with bat-like wings, a purple slitted eye in the middle of his chest, and eyes that glowed orange, shot up from the ground, and smashed into the castle in an explosion of chaotic energy that had small miniature versions of the eye in the figure's chest.
Alteon and Sepulchre stopped fighting as they sized up the newcomer. He had an enormous purple sword with a stone hilt and some stone bleeding over, for lack of a better phrase, onto the actual weapon. The shadows covering his face faded, revealing a teenager with black hair, and a seemingly permanent scowl.
Alteon and Sepulchre both cried out in surprise. "Drakath?!"
Her eyes widened. "Drakath? But he's supposed to be dead!" she said, voicing her surprise. He had apparently died after turning himself into an undead dragon.
The skeleton that Sepulchre came in with laughed, and the shadows over Drakath returned. Suddenly, the laughing skeleton stopped laughing and fell apart for no obvious reason.
Drakath raised the massive purple blade he'd been carrying, and smashed both Alteon and Sepulchre into the walls of the room.
There were smaller purple eyes all over their bodies, connected by tiny black tendrils.
"...What!?" Alteon struggled out. His confusion was understandable, she'd only believed it was Drakath who had done that because his sword was in a different position than before, she hadn't been able to see him move. That would have been terrifying on it's own, but the fact that he had done such immense damage to both of the champions here only made him more intimidating.
Twilight prepared the strongest spell she knew that wouldn't kill everybody in the room, and fired it at him, only to barely scratch his armor. His attention turned to her. He paused, then appeared next to her and raked her with his clawed gauntlet, sending her flying. That single attack left her on her last legs. Drakath seemed to be surprised.
"Odd, the Chaos didn't infect you." he said as placidly as if he were giving directions.
Sepulchre stood back up. "How arrogant, acting as though I were already cannot kill an undead entity of my level with an attack like that. Fool." Sepulchre seemed more irritated than seriously injured.
"My mistake." Drakath nodded, moving over to Sepulchre as little more than a blur. "I'll correct it momentarily." He said, reaching into a strange purple portal right in front of Sepulchre with that same clawed gauntlet. He pulled out a small red light, Sepulchre's soul. She didn't know [b]how[/b] she knew, but she was certain that was Sepulchre's soul.
Though there was now a gaping hole in both his armor and body, it was to Sepulchre's credit that he managed to stay standing as he declared. "I [b]AM[/b] Darkness! I [b]AM[/b] Doom..." He was slowly raising his sword. "No force on this world can destroy what I am! LONG UNLIVE THE SHADOWSCYTHE!" Sepulchre roared, raising his sword in preparation for what would likely be a suicidal charge in his current state.
Drakath casually crushed Sepulchre's soul, which was still in his grip. Sepulchre's armor collapsed with it's owner's body vanished alongside their soul. A massive blast of necrotic energy was directed upwards from the armor.
Twilight heard a scream from the direction of the dracolich oustide. It sounded like, "Father, no!"
She and Drakath both looked over at the source. Though Twilight was only able to move her eyes from her position on the floor, whereas Drakath actually moved over to look. It was a girl with red hair that almost hid the gold circlet on her head, but most striking was the red armor that appeared to be a feminine version of Sepulchre's. Twilight and Drakath immediately came to the conclusion that this was Sepulchre's daughter, whether she was adopted or whatever else was largely irrelevant.
As soon as Sepulchre's daughter saw Drakath, her expression shifted to surprise briefly, before becoming rage that left her shaking.
"Hm, Sepulchre has a daughter? ...How amusing." Drakath said. Twilight felt a surge of anger at that. How dare he treat a familial relationship as an amusement!
His gauntlet glowed purple as a ball of purple flame formed in front of it. Twilight's body was too battered to move, but her magic was fine. She jammed every last bit of magic she could into a shield spell, and placed it in between Drakath and the dracolich just as he fired the spell. She was left exhausted, but stopped the first attack.
"Well, perhaps you'll be entertaining." Drakath remarked at her, before sending a second attack that destroyed the remnant of her shield and struck the dragon in an explosion of purple energy and more of those strange eyes.
The gigantic dragon's tail and small amounts of the mountain fell of as it crashed into a nearby mountain range.
Drakath lowered the gauntleted hand and said, "The battle between Good and Evil is over. Now begins, THE AGE OF CHAOS!"
Alteon looked haggard and struggled to ask, "What is happening to me?! Drakath... what have you done?"
Drakath turned to him and answered. "Heh. Not feeling yourself, King? Well, I suppose that's only to be expected. Ironic that Chaos could be expected to do something. You and this pathetic Hero can't hope to stop what I'm going to do to the world. You'll have no choice but to watch as the 13 Lords of Chaos destroy everything you love. Don't worry, I'll save you two for last. Enjoy the show!" he chuckled evilly, then took flight.
Twilight was starting to lose consciousness when Artix arrived. "What the heck happened in here?!" he yelled, accompanied by startled exclamations from a wounded, but in no imminent danger of death, party that consisted of Robina and a half-dozen knights.
"Drakath... he did something to Alteon and crushed... Sepulchre's soul. He sent the ... dracolich crashing down into the mountains." she managed, before pain and exhaustion overcame her and she lost consciousness. Her last thought was 'It looks like I'll have to put going home on hold for now.'