Snakes & Vultures

She remembered the jötnar, the tremulous thunder of their footsteps, the horror of their presence; the memory was dim, yet she recalled them, remembered the old conflicts amidst the frozen wastes, the debt she was told she owed to such beings, though she could not now recall who had told her this. Standing in the shadows of the warehouse, darkness obscuring her from those who clashed swords within, Yodonna realised, with no small displeasure, that this summoned creature was not of the jötnar. Instead, this thing was bred from another power, some darkness that flowed outside of the stream of Yodonheim, yet helped strengthen its bounds nonetheless.

From behind the fringe of silver hair, she watched the clash with interest, men dressed in what she had first mistaken for Crystalian armour, each one brandishing his blade in service of some cause that she could not guess at. It didn't matter. On her wrist, the weight of the Yodon Charger seemed unnaturally heavy, as if the conduit through which she communicated with the Emperor could somehow sense this new dark energy but could properly account for it.

Should she intervene, she asked herself; should she place herself between the thing that she had mistaken for a frost giant, or turn back the blows of the shadow as it battled against the other creature present? Her free hand twitched, her other tightened its grasp upon her crop. If defeated, would she be able to extract the power that these swordsmen fought with, would she be able to bring the snow creature and the devil that appeared to be its master into the service of the Emperor? No, she thought, this was a fool's errand.

On too many worlds had she seen bitter infighting between factions that she had sought to exploit, to turn to Yodonheim's cause, only to have both sides resent her and put aside their petty differences in the combined effort of attempting to resist her. All of them had fallen in the end, yet it was time consuming to crush such foes, especially when they were more than content to kill one another without any help from her.

She nodded to herself, convinced that inactivity was the right course of action. Once one side had fallen, then she would deal with the victors; swordsmen or beasts, it mattered not to her which.

"My lady," came a soft, subservient voice at her side, full of doubt, full of worry.

She glanced back over her shoulder to see Hayami Sena, or rather the doubt and loathing that had once dwelt within Hayami Sena, now given free reign by merit of Yodonna's own magic.

"What is it?" she demanded.

Her servant wore the same armour she had always worn, emerald green Crystalian plate and stone, and yet as her inherent Kiramentality diminished and she was considered no longer worthy of the armour, so cracks of obsidian appeared in the design, the Kiramai Changer on her wrist drawing more and more upon the same dark energy that fuelled Yodonna's own transformation device—the energy that surrounded the yeti-creature as it lashed out again and again at the armoured knight before it.

"You are needed," Sena #5 said, her voice tremulous. "There are further reports of those rogue Jamenshi defectors you have been seeking. Your guidance is requested."

Her lips twitched as she recalled her meeting with Yakyu Kamen on the side of the mountain, recalled his warning to her. Before her, the swordsman held by ice, something erupted from the chest of the giant, a book of some kind. She found her attention momentarily drawn to it, the sense of evil that exuded from it alluring and appealing, drawing her unconsciously to it—and then, in a flash, the ice had shattered and the knight in the dragon's guise was free, his blade tearing through the book, shredding its pages and burning up the source of energy forever.

The abominable thing staggered back, clutching its chest, a woman manifested upon the damp ground, and the devil looked incredulously upon his two enemies, and Yodonna found that she no longer had an interest in what unfolded here.

"Fine," she said, "we depart."

Turning, she drew her cloak up, folding it over the two of them, feeling the warmth of Sena #5's body as she drew her close with one arm, and brought the cloak down with the other. The shadows shifted, congealed, the space around them warped, and then, in an instant, they were gone, leaving only the swordsmen and their adversaries to complete their bitter battle, none the wiser that either woman had ever been present.