The great weapon was drawn, nocked, and ready to loose. Argi saw this, struggling to rise to even a single knee. He saw it, and for a moment, let go,
Then Gozen came crashing down from the heavens, his foot lit with fire to match his passion, and driving the weapon down into splinters beneath his heel. Then Gozen leapt across the field of battle, drawing away from the enemy, and towards his fallen ally. Then Gozen took the form of a dragon - yet another, and different still from all those Argi had come to witness in these last few weeks - encircling his fallen comrade in a sea of flame to keep back a foe that, however mighty it might make its host, was still flesh, and thus, wary of the dance of fire.
Argi saw this, and felt ashamed.
He had led them here. All of them, on this folly of his making. A reckless man from the mountains that knew nothing of the outside world. Stepped into some conflict that could determine the fate of the continent, and dared to say to them that they should fight for it.
Peldun's foot found the floor, and pushed upward.
He owed it to them. To ensure that his folly didn't become theirs. That the efforts they had made were not for nought. If the likes of Gozen was still willing to fight, then so should he, to repay what they - Gozen, and all the others - had expended on his behalf.
Peldun's other foot, having risen, came down, driving with force as to propel the automaton into the air, and atop the great dragon's back.
"FLY!" Argi urged as much as he might have commanded, finding strength he did not entirely know himself to possess - and truthfully, that he did not, a faint black glow flashing upon his figure and that of Peldun - so as to wrench the hand of Peldun free of the bolt that had pinned it, and then, grab the weapon itself for the construct's own end. It came free from the chest, forcing a gasp as it drew wind from the Menjen. But while there was a hole in Peldun, there was none in Argi, and thus he recovered quickly.
"Higher, higher!" He urged Gozen onward, before flipping the bolt that had flew from the giant crossbow, and tossed it himself towards another such weapon that sought to fire upon the dragon. He had already lost one, he need not lose another.
Suddenly, a rush of wind formed behind them. Strange, given its lack of direction in any way to directly affect the battle. For a moment, Argi's view was towards the granary. They had rushed, and they had separated. He needed to re-gather what he could, for this final push. Given as well Gozen's newly revealed scale and speed...
"Whoever that is, get them! Then, we fight!" Argi yelled to Gozen through Peldun, turned towards the seeming source of the gale hoping they could spare a few moments more, for whatever was coming.
The lanced knight's reaction to witnessing an explosion at the point of his weapon's contact was one of amusement, vocalised by a boisterous laughter. When the spears of light flung forth to fill the gap left as Shishi retreated to gather her bearings, the knight's answer to was to swing his weapon in a set of wide arcs to meet them. The results were... quite mixed. At times, the constructs simply explode, yes, collapsing in on themselves until the density grew too great, and they erupted outward. Sometimes, they fell apart in totally the opposite fashion; unwound like clothing on which one has pulled a string for too long. Others still simply shifted direction in flight, and one... turned to iron outright, though at a distinctly smaller size than what the equivalent in light had been - barely bigger than a pencil, at that.
No doubt about it, the assessment of Ercaniron was correct.
But her response was most certainly a risky one, of that she had to know. The knight, not at all unfamiliar with the weapon, leapt in, taking those precious seconds in which Shishi would take to enchant her attack, to simply attack itself. The creature that held itself to the knight perhaps thought it knew, in turn, what would would come if it should place the tip of its weapon to the barrel of Shishi's. Chaos upon chaos. Doubtless, then, the result would be more chaos.
It did not understand that sometimes, sheer improbability could still be in one's favour. One bullet exploded in the barrel, to be sure, and would be not at all a fun time for anyone involved. But... there was another before it. One that had unwound, like a string upon clothing, into so tiny pricks of light. Arcing ways they would most likely not have. Carried still by the enchantment that, by most conventional odds, would have been broken by this stage. Against all odds, reforming right at the nape of the neck, when the eye of a beast could look and wonder:
Before it was crushed into pulp by the projectile, and the so the knight and his lance fell to the floor, though the tip had itself been broken away by the blast.
The knight of the frozen fist made a curious sound as they saw, where their hit had otherwise landed true and began to freeze the Mistress' flesh, an eruption of molten rock to fight the frigid air. Seeming to recognise what would come of this, the knight threw across their other hand, clenched too, to meet the Mistress' response. Where their fists met each other, a burst of steam erupted, alongside the force that sent the two of them flying. With her immediate visage obscured, the Mistress and her blade nevertheless did well to strike the airborne bolas, cutting and swatting them aside before returning to its wielder's side. Or, so it would seem. What occurred would be somewhat confusing, for having apparently not caught the last pair of bolas at just the right angle, the projects had, rather than be sliced apart - for the blade had not truly sliced across the weapon - coiled around it instead. So while it travelled still to its master's side, it came in a little... high, at risk at taking more than an inch off the top, to put it in terms familiar to a barbershop. Given this then, one might have thought her opponent to seize the moment.
Something Dauner did got a reaction.
It wasn't the seeming touch of his blade through the nape of the swordsman, or the peculiar nature of the attack with which he had, in a sense, cut the knight with the bolas, who was indeed struck by the attack, and sent flying for it, their legs outstretched before them while their torso itself stretched back. No, it was most certainly where he had aimed his blade after that, cutting through the flesh that clung to the ceiling and floor above him. The instant - the immediate moment - after the strike, there was a screech, vocal and mental, that might well have been heard, in some fashion or another, in every corner of the realm. Pain. It wasn't even so much that specific thought, as it was the very experience of the sensation, and the reaction to it, echoing out all at once. Then... like there was an open window into this creature's soul, or perhaps an open wound through which its feelings and thoughts bled out - certainly, at this proximity - there was... realisation. That it had been... deceived. Distracted. That the challenge it rose to was to draw its attention away from the little things. The bipeds, scurrying about, challenging it not as a power and order of its own, or their own in turn, but as creatures of flesh and blood and the blade. That sought to... to...
To kill it.
The river rose, its mass swelling with the anger - the indignation - that swelled from its new master. Hapless, lesser beings pleaded to forces that dared not listen as they found themselves caught in or before this mass, which then surged towards the granary. Above the garrison, over the walls, down them too, and then with the rage of the flood, against the building in its path. Glass creaked, cracked, and shattered, exploding out briefly only to itself be swept away in the deluge that in filled the hall. This mass, hard and sharp and fast, was most clearly aimed at the young swordsman himself, but the others would be threatened by it too - such as the knight of the shield who bore much of the brunt - and would need to act accordingly. Indeed, between this, and what had been done by a certain swordsman moments prior - his weapon severing support from the weight it was meant to carry - that corner of the building would shudder, moan, and then begin to slip, dragging down a great institution of the once great city of Dougton. For those that escaped the immediate carnage, whether by fleeing far enough to another corner, from the building entirely, or some other means available through their particular abilities, they would, once the great cloud of dust and debris cleared, behold their enemy.
It was as Elizabeth had foreseen.
The centaur was of such a size that only a building as the great store of the granary might have hidden it from view. Even then, it could easily be seen that within the store's walls, there was a pit. A pit in which this foul thing had hidden itself, desecrating the corpse it now inhabited until it had subsumed not only the flesh or the mind, but the very essence of it as well. Where others would feel that presence, the great sensation that would strike the Mistress was one of disgust; all the souls inside of her saw their kin defiled, and their instinctive reaction was to reject it. Were it within their power, then from reality itself. Alas, such was not.
Thankfully, this was also true of the Aleth entity as yet, though there was a mounting pressure.
More water rushed from the river, gathering at the giant creature's raised palm. For a moment, the water seemed as though it would weave around the fingertips in some fashion. But there was... a twitch, and the water that had descended to do so fell loose and free.
"We're not done." Dauner would hear from behind, wherever he had settled. The knight with the nigh-invisible blade - the one that Dauner had perhaps thought vanquished in putting a sword through his neck - came from on high, hilt placed in such a way that made obvious his blade was beneath it, aimed in a plunging attack down on the young swordsman's head. Even if the weapon did not make its mark, he would extend hand to reach for the young man, see if he might simply strike their fist across their face.
There was, in fact, a thin trail of blood running down the back of their neck. Dauner had made its mark, but... perhaps too precisely, at least for the moment.
Meanwhile, the knight of the frozen fist - really, of dlarun - returned to the fray, having protected himself by punching some of the oncoming water, freezing an immediate wall around them. Once Aleth had drawn it away, they rushed for the Mistress, seeking to finish what they had started, though only their left hand remained usable, their right limp by their side, and blackened by the prior blast, the gauntlet it had once held... elsewhere. Free to be found, as was as the knight of the shield, who lay limp on the ground, as did the scattered balls of the bolas, which... floated here and there. Nith did that, after all.
Emile had made his way into the base, and somewhat miraculously, avoided too much notice for it. Then again, having fallen aside a rider dragon and something akin to a golem, with the latter then rescued by an even greater dragon, perhaps he should not have been too surprised that he should slip by. The base was... perhaps unsurprisingly, largely occupied. Its garrison had emptied out, whether to fight to take the city, or save whatever might be left of it. So too, he would find, they had rather stripped the armour bare, of almost weapon from a meagre sword, to the great ballistae that had brought the soldier down from the heavens in the first place, and the fullerine missiles that had been flung their way. All that remained was... a lonely figure. One not entirely unlike Peldun, in its way; one might almost figure it a descendant, if these were things of flesh and blood, and not... well, one was a military design, at least.
The last that Emile might have previously seen of the GL-17RX was... either in a textbook, or a museum. If anywhere on the continent still had these machines, it was because either someone had very passionately argued for their retention in particular instances, even knowing they could never be replaced thereafter, or... they were like this.
It was pathetic. Little more than a skeleton and a shell encasing the chest. It had no grenades with which to counter magic or psionic abilities. No crossbow upon the right arm with which to fling the King's might upon his enemies. Damn thing didn't even had a head, just an empty gap between its raised collar.
But there was... something.
A faint green glow, settled inside the cavity of the chest. A humming sound, pulsing almost like a heartbeat. The cavity around the chest had been forced to an extent, wires ripped from inside and left dangling, but... whoever had done it, had hesitated. Whether out of remorse, or for fear of what they risked in such an affair. The work, whatever it was, left unfinished. And so it remained, along with a few scattered tools.
The shapeless shadows... greeted Aya, maybe, but their words were garbled, as their image was, which only vaguely shifted in response to her.
"She's a nice lady!" The little centaur chirped up to them as if its smile was reflected in another. "She helped me find... find..."
Yet his smile as quickly faded, the creature's energy and enthusiasm drained away from its face as it looked around, somewhat befuddled. The surroundings - the woodland, with its trees of fluorescent bark and wavelike ascension - had vanished, reduced once more to the infinite void, white as snow, black as night. The little one's head rocked to and fro as they saw and tried to make sense of this, ignoring their companion as they trotted off...
Only to emerge immediately behind her, now of equal stature, and of a greater, visible age. Something that, were he human, might have been in the late teens.
"Excuse me, miss, would you be lost?" Their voice had deepened accordingly, as the centaur tilted their head of blonde hair, which sat just above the shoulder. The wings had grown in completely, full to the brim of fine feathers that-
No, they were but bare bone.
"...Wait, I know you, don't I?" He wondered suddenly as he got a better view of the priestess, circling about her. "We met a moment ago, when I was... a child..."
Again, he quickly grew drained and befuddled, but now locked his gaze upon Aya, eyes wide, at once astonished, intrigued, and to some extent horrified by what her presence suggested. Such he questioned openly, asking, "What are you? Who are you how are you he-AH?!"
He screamed as though he had been stabbed, and clutched at his head, fingers digging deep against the flesh, as if to tear it away. Several seconds were spent drawing in air - whether or not such actually existed here - before the figure looked to Aya once more, a dreadful certainty in his eye.
"I... I shouldn't be here." He realised, a breathless sigh escaping his lip. "I... I have not passed. Yet I am not in the flesh? Why? What has happened to me?"