Notes: This isn't done. It's not even close to done. I wrote it on a lark, and now I want to make it more. If I can't play Exalted much, I'll write stories for it. My writing technique needs work. Ikselam sent me some good commentary on this, since my grammar for writing fiction is a bit rusty. Once I am in a more stable situation, I will put up a new, "more-betterer" version. :) -- DaveFayram
Even in the fur tent, next to a crackling fire, the air was bitterly cold. Dyne's breath curled out around him, mixing with the clouds of the other two in the tent, mixing with the pale smoke of the meager dry firewood that was prepared. Right now, a personal fire was a luxury only a God-General could afford.
"So then, Dyne, what is your business here?" Yurgen asked. Dyne couldn't help but again analyze the man, his dissapointment welling up. He had expected more than this, a slightly tired looking old man. His bearing was regal, to be sure, but... still.
"My business lies with my colleage, Samea. I've come to speak with a fellow Sorceress. She and I have something in common." Dyne's voice was level, even, almost soothing. He knew his appearance, spotless despite the terrible blizzard outside, was making an impression. He LOOKED the part, even if he felt chilled to the bone.
"What do you want with me? What could we have in common, besides our caste?" Samea's voice carried a note of suspicion. He could barely see her face, she was so bundled in furs.
"Merely to discuss, and to learn from one another. One does not find fellow initiates of the Solar Circle readily in these times."
"Ahh. You're seeking power then." The Bull of the North suddenly seemed more receptive. Such motivations he could understand. "So are we, perhaps we could be of mutual assistance."
"Yurgen! This is my Business. Do not presume to speak for me." She scolded him sharply. Dyne did his best to hide his surprise. He thought that Samea was the subordinate here. Perhaps it went further. "I would not share such secrets lightly. They are mine, by all rights, and I would not simply give them away."
"Oh, of course. I have a few bargaining chips myself." Dyne did indeed. He had mastered the final circle almost four months prior, and had already found three spells, each of them stunning in power and scope.
"I didn't mean that. I mean I wouldn't give you such power unless I were sure you were an ally, not a threat." The Samea-shaped bundle of fur seemed to raise itself up almost indigantly.
"But.. we're both Twilight.." Dyne began, genuinely surprised.
"That means nothing to me." Samea cut in sharply. "What matters is that you are our ally, and that you work for our cause."
Dyne struggled not to respond sharply in turn, barely mastering himself. Surely, he deserved more respect than this!
"Very well, what would you have me do as proof of my good faith?" Dyne asked, his voice betraying a slight amount of irritation.
Yurgen and Samea both looked at each other, then back at Dyne. He suspected they were hoping he'd ask this. "You, are Dyne Fairskies, the Demon Army King. Take your demon army and give us time. The Tepet legions close on us rapidly, and we're simply not ready for them right now. This slowstorm is only buying us time."
Dyne sighed. Everywhere he went, he ran into that name. Demon army, indeed. Painted faces and fierce cries became demonic visages and deafening roars. "I'm afriad that aspect of my reputaton is a bit overblown, but I can try. Let me see a map, and we will council on this."
And so they did. Dyne left, promising only to halt the army in two days time at Valley of Snow and Roses, near the Rose River's headwaters. He left that evening, taking no assistant, nor any beast of burden. Only enough rations for himself for four days march. The guards that saw him leave, bundled in pure white furs, say that the fierce snow seemed to part for him out of respect, never even settling on his shoulders.
The Bull of the North, as he was called, sat in his tent, stroking his beard thoughtfully. "Can we trust him, Samea? Can he really do such a thing, alone?"
"Perhaps. I have heard many disturbing rumors about that man. Seeing him in person worries me even more. He is... a frightening person." Samea had shed her furs, appearing totally at ease with the cold. The furs and the appearance of ill health were merely an image she protrayed, and a veil to hide her emotions behind.
"He is an intense person, and very confident. If he really does buy us the time we need, then he's a valuable resource. He certainly believes he can do it." Yurgen stood up, likewise untroubled by the cold. "We will continue to move south, he should slow them, if not break their backs. We only need a day, and if he really can turn them to the south near the Ice Plains..."
"Then we can massacre the entire legion, before they even realize it." Samea stood as well.
Dyne smiled as the wind carried their words to him. This was the kind of reputation he preferred to have. Samea didn't seem to know such spells existed. Maybe she wasn't as great as the rumors said. In any event, smashing the advance guard of the legions would grant him more allies, if nothing else.
"Only a day?" He chuckled outloud to the storm. "I'll give them all the time they need. I'll smash that army before it even realizes what's happening."
"They're late." Dyne muttered impatiently to Hanpan, who was huddling inside his robes. The poor Wind Rat wasn't used to such cold climates, and standing on a bank exposed full to the wind drove a fierce cold evne through Dyne's thick white furs.
He had been waiting too long already, the Unconquered Sun was already beginning drift lower in the sky, and the brief break in the snow looked nearly at an end.
Dyne had hidden from the scouts and prepared his plan, choosing his ideal position and going over the spells and charms he would need in his head. His quiver was full, his powerbow was polished, and his clothing was of a respendant blue-trimmed-with-gold fashion. He looked the part. Now all he needed were people to scare.
Hanpan chittered and gestured. His ears were sharper than mine, but my eyes, enhanced with essence, immediately saw what he must have been hearing. Dim shapes, probably dull thuds. Men-like shapes began to appear as well. One legion seemed to be acting as an advance party for the other three. Dyne had been hoping for two legions, but as they moved into view, he could see only enough troops and movement to account for one.
"Well, shall we get started, Hanpan?" Dyne smiled. "Bundle up, we may have to run in a hurry. Hanpan dove into his small pocket and waited.
Down below in the Valey of Snow and Roses, the wind bit less sharply, but the sun didn't fall nearly as much, the snow was much thicker there, and in many places frozen with ice. Snow always lingered here. Yet behind the hill where Dyne stood, a natural hotspring had formed a large lake, near boiling at the bottom and tepid near the top, that ran almost all year round. Foraging was good here, even in the thickest winters, so it was an ideal place to control and replenish supplies from.
Dyne began to chant, his voice suddenly growing deeper and resonant, echoing off the snowy walls of the valley as his anima resonated around him, forming the runes of the spell. His anima hadn't shown, yet. Of course, the 20ft tall giant of Solar Fire he was forming to speak with the Legion below would give away his position just as well.
"Infidels!" Dyne began. Hanpan rolled his eyes, but Dyne continued undiscouraged. "Foolish Dragon Blooded! Foolish Mortals! This is MY Valley, and in the name of the Bull of the North, flee now or perish within it!" The giant of flame echoed his words, bouncing them off and about the valley, triggering small avalanches and terrifying those below. "Flee! Flee or Perish!"
Dyne let the spell end, the giant dissolved into hundreds of harmless golden embers which blew away upon the wind. Dyne was out of arrow range, but... he decided to begin chanting his next spell anyways. He knew how they'd react. Indeed, he could hear shouts as the army began to get into position, and archers scrambled to their lines. The Warstriders were moving up too, five of them seemed to be ready. That would be problematic.
Again, Dyne chanted, only this time there was no small reaction from his anima. Even has his hearthstone bled power into the spell, his anima resonated, great runes and a column of flickering blue and gold light wrapping around him. This was the critical phase. If there were any Chosen of the Maidens who could get away with countermagic at this point... His spell began to wind to completion as the warstriders approached the hill.
Behind Dyne's hill, hidden from view by the light, snow, and earth, a wall of water was rising. Water from the bottom of the lake, steaming in the cold air, had formed a huge wall, parting only directly behind him, and was rising. Dyne finally uttered the last word of power, looking concerned as he saw some of the swifter dragon blooded already reaching the slopes of his hill.
"No matter, they won't reach here yet." he thought as he tied off the last part of the spell, and with a gesture of his hand, the wave behind him began to move ponderously forwards.
It hit the snowy hill with a titanic roar, breaking over it and spilling tepid and boiling water over the edge, past Dyne, in a muddy torrent. A deafening hiss rose as the water hit the snow, melting it almost instantly, rushing down into the valley like a thing possessed, blowing back the forerunners of the army and down into the formation proper, throwing them aside like rag dolls. The noise was deafening, the roar of water, the screams of the dying, the hiss of steam. The Valley of Snow and Roses became a cauldron of water, steam, icy snow, and bodies.
As the spell began to withdraw, Dyne raised his hand high. The spell, locked in his newest hearthstone, vibrated and pulsed, almost as if it sensed its time was coming. He released it, and a spotlight of wicked yellow light shot from his hand, burning through him with it's power and glory, sweeping across the now melted snow and ice of the valley, working horrible magic upon it.
The Valley of Snow and Roses began to burn. Every drop of water within it suddenly burst into wicked flame, lighting late afternoon sky with golden radiance that could be seen for miles, burning into the survivors of the watery assult. The roar of water before dissapeared, only to be replaced by the hungry roar of fire. Hundreds died in the initial wave, but thousands met their end to the fire that clung to them, and that none could quench.
The warstriders had withstood the initial wave, still at the foot of the slopes to Dyne's vantage point. They waded up the firey slopes towards the shining sorcerer above. Each one nearly mad with fear and righteous fury.
Dyne's Anima roiled around him now, there would be no hiding from them. With deliberate purpose, he unslung the beautiful golden bow he carried carried across his body, nearly as tall as he was and made from orichalcum and behemoth horns and rare woods. He gently touched the armlet he had fashioned himself, to give him strength for tasks such as this, and it began to feel warm about his left arm, strength flowing into him.
Dyne drew an arrow, wicked and sharp, with three needle-like barbs on it. He drew, and as he drew the arrow began to glow with roaring gold power, and his anima leapt even higher, joyously. The steam, the wind, the noise, none of it mattered. His target, the flashing arrow drawn across his golden bow, that is what his mind set itself upon.
He loosed, the arrow screaming through the steam, evaporating it almost instantly with yet another voice in the symphony of destruction raging. The first warstrider, blinded by light and steam, had no warning. The arrow shattered the breastplate of the warstrider, wickedly seeking, exploding within. One warstrider fell, its armor cracked.
Again Dyne drew, and his anima began to finally manifest. Nine golden wings, laced with deep blue veins reminicient of dragonfly wings, formed around him, silloueting him even against the brilliant fires below. Again, his anima lept high, and again, an arrow leap from his great golden bow. This one was expected somewhat more, but the pilot of the second could not defend himself, his motions slow and confused. Another warstrider fell into the flaming tide running down the hill, wounded pilot dying instantly as the flames rushed hungrily into the cockpit.
Dyne's essence was nearly expended, and his efforts had him nearly utterly exhausted, but he could bend his bow again if need be. But, as the golden wings behind him faded, the two remaining warstriders fled, and began to try and save those that they could, glowing almost cherry red with heat as their magic warded off the flames.
Dyne shouldered his bow and turned, walking away from the carnage which lit up the sky, putting a shame even to the sunset he turned to walk to.
Yurgen and Samea both stared at the ominous golden glow that lit up the northern horizon. Even after the sun set, it persisted for nearly an hour. Everyone of the barbarian tribes swore it was an omen of good fortune. Some said the extra hour of near daylight was a blessing of the Bull of the North, a gift to his armies. Others wondered about the other Sun-Touched that came to visit two days prior.
Samea and Yurgen felt it was auspicious too, but they did not tell their followers what it truly was.