Rebirth And Second Chances - novelonlinefull.com
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If not for the [Diadem of Focus] I would have been susceptible to his glamour's. I watched with interest as he ignored target after target, weaving his way through the press of bodies. His movements went unnoticed by everyone else, even the Morrigu had lost track of him. Most of that was because of his abilities, but some of the reason he was ignored was that I had unleashed my people.
Monsters and bogymen of Seelie and Unseelie alike, they watched in horror as the Slaugh swarmed the room, tentacles grasping irrespective of faction. The maw of teeth buzzing in a circular motion tearing through flesh and bone as they reveled in battle. They were like aerial Kraken, and wherever their tentacles reached, the screaming horror of prey, of Sidhe that would be silenced as they were decapitated, floundered. People scrambling to get out of range of those deadly tentacles or banding together to fend off a relentless tide of destruction.
It was the sound that was most frightening; I thought. The teeth grinding and hawing through flesh and bone. The sounds of slurping as the bone was cracked open, only to be sucked dry of marrow. The sounds of feeding as the Slaugh slowed their relentless march across the room as they paused to take time feed on whatever person they had just slaughtered.
But even as ferocious and unrelenting as their attacks were, it was the Selkie that were doing the most damage. Liotonis and her people had for too long been hunted by both Seelie and Unseelie. Her ability to raise those that had drowned from near-death somehow transformed from what should have been a balm to a bane. She was cursed and vilified for saving lives. For using magic and ritual to s.n.a.t.c.h back souls that had left bodies.
She and her people were alive, even if they had been greatly transformed. But the Sidhe considered them tainted. Those she restored to life a horrific parody of Frankenstein's monster. The Unseelie who boasted about accepting any that would join their faction, ignored those boasts when it came to Princess Liotonis and her people.
But the Tuatha de Danaan Pantheon had not turned their back on them, those Liotonis was able to restore were still considered Sidhe and children of Danu. If the Selkie did bear a resemblance to Frankenstein, it was when he was first created. An ideal man of beauty and culture that only became the monster when those ignorant attacked and forged a creature of evil and hate by their own actions.
The Sidhe forgot that nature was about the cycle of life. Birth, growth, death, and rebirth. An unending progression of inevitability, that domain of nature. Rising from the ashes of death to be reborn was simply a fact. The Selkie were as close to that truism as anything the G.o.ds had created. They were born, grew, died, and were reborn. A baptism of magics that gave them shape and graced them with the blessings of the G.o.d Lir. His was the hand that created and shaped the seas and oceans. That gave Danu a mult.i.tude of life that could sustain her world. It was his hand that stretched forth and blessed the ritual that Liotonis had crafted raising and creating the Selkie.
The Selkie's power over the ocean's water was una.s.sailable. Even for those Sidhe that had similar domains, the Selkie were able to control the ocean depths because they were children of Lir. Even in a Sithern so far from those waters, the Selkie were able to unleash the intense pressures that could only be found in the deepest reaches and vast underwater trenches on the ocean's floor.
Some Seelie and Unseelie had natural counters to the Selkie. I had already found that fire and ice were water's bane. But for those that couldn't counter the magics the Selkie wielded, they could only gasp in frenzied desperation as their lungs were crushed and they were drowned in the murky waters of an ocean they had never visited. Waters that answered the Selkie call no matter the distance. Even the pocket dimension the Sithern was located in could not stop those waters from heeding the call of the children of Lir.
As Puck stalked me, moving with caution and stealth to get in range, I refused to engage in a battle of weapons skills, instead, I began casting spells to disrupt and confuse. If he would use glamour to his advantage, I would use fire and ice to mine. I had made excessive use of the Ring of Hidden Depths to understand my magical abilities and decided to use a few spells that I had created.
One of the more interesting spells I'd named [Concussion]. A globe of fire that contained an ice core, when it hit a target, the fire and ice mixed explosively. The detonation could be controlled depending on the ratio of ice to fire I'd used. It worked not only as a damage spell but as a control type spell. Those within the radius of the explosion were usually knocked off their feet and stunned. Their hearing and balance destroyed from the concussive force of the explosion.
I wasn't taking sides in the Seelie-Unseelie byplay that was happening, of the long-simmering enmity that had broken out. Long repressed resentments that had boiled over on both sides, allowing people to use this venue as an excuse to retaliate. Instead, I targeted groups where one faction was being overwhelmed. This gave more support to the Unseelie simply by dint of numbers, but the occasional Seelie got an a.s.sist when needed.
I was using [Concussion] to sow confusion, to keep both sides off balance. My vengeance and fury over the treatment of my Va.s.sals was not against a people. My anger was narrow and focused. Mab, Lugh, Puck had much to answer for.
Lugh and Mab were holding their own against the three Unseelie Monarchs, while Puck had used deception and glamour to escape all battles. It was a stratagem that they were familiar with, one they used often. Mab and Lugh would have to increase the intensity of their attacks and defenses in order to hold the attention of the opposing forces. By splitting their forces, they allowed Puck to use his stealth and guile to even the odds or change the tide of battle.
I have no idea what triggered the Sithern response to the ongoing hostilities, perhaps enough blood had flowed to awake defensive protocols, but the most amazing occurrence took place when the Sithern began taking action. Floors and walls moving to separate and quarantine factions, the throne room transformed from Court to Arena. Those I had brought with me, those that supported the Seelie or Unseelie Monarchs found themselves banished to an enclosed balcony where they could look down on the Arena that had been created but could not intervene with what would be.
Everyone fighting had been sequestered, only the Monarchs for each faction remained. The Seelie and Unseelie Monarchs were ignored as the Sithern took action. Puck who had been stealthily approaching realized too late that the Sithern was acting and launched an attack on me. I enjoyed the look of surprise on his face as I easily side-stepped the dagger he had hoped to plunge into my heart.
The look of pain on his face was much more satisfying when I returned the favor, forming an ice spike that barely missed his heart as he twisted desperately to escape my attack. The wound while not superficial was easily ignored. His regenerative and healing abilities were easily the equal of my own and would restore him to full health in seconds.
It was now that System weapon skills became useful. Puck had lived hundreds of thousands of years and had gained battle and weapon experience over those years. The System leveled the field. His skills were capped at the Mastercla.s.s level the same as mine. But there was a difference between gaining skills and earning them. I was a newly Ranked King and if System hadn't rewarded me with equitable abilities, he would have been able to kill me easily.
I was too new to my powers and abilities, even with time compression and the Ring of Hidden Depths to practice with, I was at a disadvantage. Real-world experience and life and death battle allowed a person to refine and process lessons of technique that simply couldn't be obtained with training dummies or sparring sessions.
Puck was a master of stealth and misdirection, but that didn't mean he was unable to dodge attacks or devise defenses when faced with a frontal attack. His abilities lay more in his agility than his strength. He had incorporated [Acrobatics], [Dodge], and [Sleight of Hand] to bolster those abilities allowing him to antic.i.p.ate and react almost as quickly as Lugh was able to use his powers of foresight.
The only reason I had been able to wound him so easily earlier was that he had come to rely on his glamour and [Look Away] spell. It had been so long since anyone had been able to pierce the veil of his illusions that he had become sloppy; foregoing and ignoring countermeasures in the event he was discovered, his stealth countered.
It was a problem endemic to all the Sidhe that had lived so long. They became trapped, their ability for new thinking and techniques lost, they simply saw no point in employing them because the skills they had mastered served their purpose. Why bother to upgrade new skill sets when you were already invincible with the skills you had learned and perfect.
I began showering Puck with a storm of ice lances. An unending stream of weapons formed from water frozen with temperatures that could only be found in the far reaches of the abyss. As the number of lances, I conjured and cast increased; ten, fifty, a hundred, Puck showcased how nimble he was. He was able to dodge, to antic.i.p.ate exactly where the ice spikes would land no matter how many I sent at once.
He was quicksilver. A fleeting wisp of movement. A technique of the Aziza that allowed them to escape if discovered. Part movement technique, part blink spell, he was able to stay one step ahead of my attacks.
He was also strategic. During the course of dodging all the ice spears I threw at him, he managed to position himself so that with his next dodge, the mult.i.tude of the spear's that I released targeted the fight between the Morrigu, Mab, and Lugh.
Bodb, who was focused on attacking Mab, hadn't expected to be attacked by long-range missiles. She was aware of Puck's tricks so had expanded battle senses enough to detect if he struck up from behind. But I was an unknown quant.i.ty. She wasn't expecting a spear to target her, but her expectations were secondary. She was part of a triumvirate of fighters that had earned, through countless battles, the t.i.tle 'The Carrion'. Battle elites that left only death and despair in their path. A trio of women that picked through the fields of broken bodies after the battle for spoils of war. Macabre trophies of flesh and blood that they would add to their collection.
Bodb was not the least of the Morrigu, so she was able to deflect the spears before they struck. A flurry of steel and blade that acted as her defense. The spear of ice stood no chance against that onslaught, chips of ice reduced to individual snowflakes. The effect was visually stunning. Her wall of steel creating a vortex of ice and snow that became part of her defense.
I hadn't meant to engage the Morrigu, but I had to admit that Puck had outmaneuvered me. And as Bodb broke off her attack against Mab, leaving her and Lugh to the others, I knew I had to devise a new strategy.
Puck and Bodb attacking in tandem, was not something I'd hoped for. I knew when I decided I would personally free my people that this was a possible outcome. No matter how well I schemed and maneuvered, I was a novice using childish tricks from games of tic-tac-toe against the finest strategic minds on the planet.