The courtyards of the Abyssal Fortress brimmed with a second army of immortals. Aenaria overlooked the assembly from the hundred stair that zig-zagged from the inner sanctums of the palace and into the skies. The chamber of the infinite and her master’s throne vault loomed over her as if the shadow of an incomprehensibly large mountain. The golden spires transformed into limestone peaks that glittered in the sun. That jutted from the throne chamber as if the points of a magnificent crown.
Hundreds of Guardians arrayed themselves in formation beside their mortal worshippers. Together, they proved a glorious spectacle in all of their furled wings, infernal armor, and lavish robes. The angelic host presented golden shields, interlocked into an impregnable wall while their demonic weapons rested upon their shoulders. The mortals could only bear one weapon, such was befitting of their status. None would ever hold the sacred shield unless proven in battle, endurance, and faith.
An ancient pride burst in Aenaria’s heart at the sight of her kin rallied and ready for war. For one fleeting moment, she had almost forgotten about Tazaryn and his dire prophecy. Strange enough, her thoughts became more concerned with the Raven Prophet’s plight with every passing hour. What task had Nyst bestowed upon Mirathir? What mission could be so important as to warrant an invasion into the mortal plane?
Despite her centuries of wisdom and experience on grim battlefields, Aenaria had only seen the Forlorn City embark upon one venture into the mortal world. Unfortunately, she had not been there to witness Bazariah’s fall. Aenaria had heard the stories, however, and knew the fighting had been gruesome and chaotic.
The Greater Demons beneath Bazariah’s heel were a different breed altogether from the angelic guardians. Nothing less than cunning beasts. Whatever vision of hell they were spawned from, Aenaria knew not. Bazariah was always known as a secretive creationist and breeder.
Aenaria hawked and spat. “Good riddance.” She could only hope that Nyst would discover some treacherous flaw in Tazaryn’s prophecy. If that proved to be the case, Aenaria would be the one to plant her spear through his all-seeing-eye.
A great clamor arose from beyond the fortress walls. Aenaria snapped herself from her reverie and looked to the heavenly palace gates as they were thrown open. The Demoness emerged from a crowd of vaunted voices and weapons being clashed on shields. In spite of the hero’s welcome, Nyst looked far from pleased, and stormed across the courtyard toward the hundred stair. Nyst’s pristine armor was marred completely with the blood and viscera of her foes. Even so, joy resounded in Aenaria’s heart to discover that the four demon-relic swords remained whole and intact.
Even a Demoness could perish by those swords. Aenaria thought. Such weapons were forged for true Gods, not the puppets that rule in their stead.
“Greetings, master.” Aenaria banished the thought as Nyst began her climb up the hundred stair. “I have conversed with our mysterious ambassador as you requested.”
“Not here.” Nyst shook her head. The uncountable fangs in her maw were bared in a vicious snarl. “Walk with me back into the chamber of the infinite.”
Nyst replied once they reached the throne vault. Her voice became caustic poison upon Aenaria’s ears. “How is she alive?”
Aenaria shrugged. “Tazaryn mentioned that Bazariah resides somewhere in the Crystal Labyrinth. She regains her strength and an army at her back whilst we spend our own fighting off a petty invasion.”
“Interesting.” Nyst muttered as the throne doors closed shut behind them. “The Crystalline Labyrinth? I have served the Great Changer, many centuries ago, before I realized that creating your own destiny is so much more fun than having someone else doing it for you. I witnessed her premature fall into ruin, myself. She was always masterful in her use of sorcery, she used her spells to utterly decimate any that stood before her. Can you believe what felled her in the end? A simple overcharge of the immaterium. When she channeled her last spell – crack! Her body was immolated in a blinding flash, but she was too tough. Not even that had ended her reign. In the end, I was forced to eliminate her escape route. I rescued Mirathir from the claws of death and ended an entire invasion by myself.”
Aenaria could not conceal the shame written on her face. “Very heroic, your majesty.”
Nyst clucked her tongue empathetically. She gave Aenaria a sideward gaze that hinted of slyness. “Still reprimanding yourself because you were not there? My loyal little angel, you can never be everywhere at once.” She sighed irritably. “What is the matter now?”
“Demoness,” Aenaria fell onto one knee, a fist clashed against her blood-caked breastplate. “I beg you, should you desire to fight Bazariah, I would be by your side. Do not send me away on the eve of the most pivotal battle in our realm’s history.”
Nyst approached her throne and perched herself upon it. The four relic swords were thrust into their scabbards carved into the arm rests. The Demoness planted one hand firmly on her knee and the other three on the hilts of her blades. “You and Mirathir are of one mind in your stubbornness. Once your mind focuses one aspect of something you deem important, you grow this peculiar and humorous obsession. Even in my infinite wisdom, I can only reveal the other paths that you cannot discover.” Nyst’s lips curved into a genuine, pleased smile. “I admire your obsession, it shall not only serve my ambitions, but fuel your own.”
Nyst continued. “Bazariah will not become intimidated by an army of Guardians. She understands how you will fight and more importantly, your weaknesses. Mirathir could use your talents to a greater effect. Have you ever raided in the mortal plane?”
“No.” Aenaria said.
“Hah!” Nyst barked. “What mortal world is safe from our reach? Can you name a Greater Demon that has never spilled the blood of the alien? Leave my sight, Aenaria, and do not return until you bring news of victory. Do not concern yourself too much with my wellbeing, I have no intention of fighting Bazariah.”