Darkest Star, Brightest Shadow

There are some times in life where even the brightest of stars can become so dark and corrupt, that they are unstoppable. It is at this time of peril that a nobody, an insignificant little shadow, must step up to face the enemy. Umbra. Umbra must step up, and become the brightest of all shadows...

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21. Dark angels

 Carnelian stopped them when they were almost there. Umbra's mind was filled with visions of dark angels knifing him, slaughtering him in his sleep, freely beheading him. The blood felt so real already, and he wasn't even there.

"You are worried, but you forget the power of your friends. Anyone tries to kill you, and we will help you." Zephyr had told him. But Umbra was still nervous. The closer they got, the more miserable Thorn seemed to become. She seemed on edge, and, well, unexplainably different. Umbra didn't know why, but if the dark angels unsettled Thorn, then he deffinately did not want to walk into a place where they walked around the streets and tried to murder everyone. Not Umbra's idea of fun. Even if he was the Protector.

"You have to be careful." Carnelian said. "The last time I saw the dwarven prophet, she told me where I'd find the dark angel we need. It's in a fairly populated area, so I might go in alone and try to draw him out. But then, you'd probably follow me to make sure I wasn't killed." This last comment brought a smile from the prince's face, then Carnelian continiued. "We're probably going to go into the area surrounded by a forcefield of fire and air - I'll leave Zephyr and Inferno to that. Blizzard is in charge of freezing any who get to close. Sundance, you'll stick with Blizzard and make sure she doesn't get outnumbered. We grab the non-corrupt dark angel, then we leave. Deal?" Carnelian said to them. Everyone - including their mounts - nodded in agreement. Carnelian gave them all a reassuring smile. His golden eyes were reflected by the sinking sun. Already a day had passed since leaving Elteras. At first, a few gaurds had tried to follow, but with mounts as fast as these, there was no being caught.

"If things get out of hand, I'll call some skeletons out to help us." Carnelian assured them as they took off. Umbra looked to the land of dark angels, and fear ran through him. What was it about this place that worried Thorn? Umbra wasn't quite sure why, but he felt like there was a connection between the assassin and the land of the merciless killers. He just didn't know why...

 

Nearing the gates that seperated the land of the dark angels from the other races of the kingdoms, Umbra could see that the gates - and the wall that stretched right across their reign - were made outof skulls, bricks, and bones. The wall would not stop dark angels - or anyone with a flying mount - from getting inside the gates. But the dark angels, for some reason, never passed the gates or the wall. Nobody knew why. And other people, elves, humans, dwarves, fearys and goblins alike, usually avoided the place. And here they were, about to fly over the gates. The skulls, with their empty eyes, seemed to stare up at him. It was if they were reminding Umbra of the death that awaited him.

"Hoped I'd never see those gates again." Thorn muttered, barely hearable. But Umbra had heard. What did she mean by 'again'? He shivered as Inferno, who was taking the lead with Carnelian, passed over the gate, keeping a careful eye out for dark angels. The rest followed, anxious to just hurry up, get the dark angel and leave. The land was descolate; with dried, cracked ground, and, in the distance, what looked like a small town.

"It's the settlement after this that we have to find the dark angel. Avoid the town." Carnelian called out, veering to the left to make sure that they wouldn't pass over the town. Umbra took a deep breath. His archery test had seemed like so long ago. So very long ago... Yet it had been less than a month. The smell of death hung in the air, making sure that Umbra didn't forget that he was going to die very soon. The town was nearing, and, as they got further, it seemed to be on their left rather than in front of them. Each of the mounts flew swiftly, trying to make sure that they left as fast as possible. Umbra glanced nervously to the left, where the town was. He couldn't see the buildings, but a few shadows, constantly bashing at each other, came towards them. Fear gripped Umbra like steel as he realised they were dark angels.

"Dark angels!" he yelled, his voice higher pitched with horror. The shadows seemed to be nearing, and, as they got closer, it was clear they were fighting each other. Corrupt. Evil. Suddenly, they became even more real.

"Don't worry!" Carnelian called out to his team. "We can beat them easily!" How did he sound so confident? Umbra, trembling, readied his bow, notching an arrow. Thorn was drawing knives, and the others were all prepearing their bows as well. As the shadows came into shooting distance, Umbra could make out their features, black wings as dark as the night sky, eyes like bottomless pits of evil. Long, sharp blades that looked seriously mean and deadly. They were slashing at each other as they flew, trying to draw blood from each other. Umbra aimed carefully, and shot. With a blood-curdling scream, one fell lifeless to the floor. Three more arrows followed Umbra's, slaughtering three more within one arrow. No mercy - the dark angels would give none. They were extremely fast flyers, approaching swifter than Umbra thought they could. Now, they were within Thorn's range. She launched knives at them, killing about three as Umbra killed one more with an arrow. And then, as if they were vultures preying on mice, the dark angels were upon them. Umbra was swallowed by a swarm of feathers, and, although they had no powers over air or lightning, Zephyr couldn't kill them all. Umbra sliced at them with his sword, slaughtering them as they neared. Bloody feathers rained down on them as Lazarus swooped in from above, slicing the dark angels to pieces. Finding his own voice lost in the sea of screaming foes, Umbra continiued to fight. Suddenly, a dark angel dived at Thorn. This dark angel had a scar over his left eye, which was still swollen, though the scar was still old. The assassin's eyes widened and she froze. The dark angel smashed into Thorn, pushing her off Zephyr's back. Thorn plummeted through the sky, completely unable to help. Zephyr couldn't catch her with a tornado right now; the storm phoenix was busy fighting his own battles. Umbra reached out a hand to Thorn, knowing that it would not do anything. Suddenly, her body stopped falling, as if it had been grabbed by an invisible fist of... air. Umbra looked carefully at his hand, realising slowly what he had done. He had... controlled air? A small smile broke onto his face as he lifted his hand. The assassin moved up through the air, but the one-eyed dark angel was diving at her again.

"Put me down!" Thorn called up. For a second, Umbra didn't realise what she'd said. The fact that he was controlling air was still getting into his mind. Finally, his brain processed what she'd said, and he lifted her gently to the ground. Zephyr and Aquila were desperately trying to keep the dark angels off him while he helped Thorn; Blizzard was blasting the creatures with icy breath and Zephyr was shooting them with lightning. Confidence rushed into Umbra as the assassin dropped lightly to the floor, unsheathing her ninjato and preparing to fight. The single-eyed dark angel swooped in with his blades, ready to attack. Umbra, knowing that she could handle this fight, turned back to the battle. Cautious at first with his new power, Umbra pushed his hand forwards, aiming at a dark angel. A powerful blast of air shot out of his palm, sending the dark angel smashing down into the ground. A grin broke onto Umbra's face as he realised how powerful Zephyr's element was. He was child of the elements. And his first element was just shining through. Umbra aimed his open hand at another dark angel, then clenched his fist. A hand made of air closed around the dark angel, instantly crushing it. The Protector, now shooting blasts of air out of his very hands, suddenly heard entrancing words, spoken by Carnelian. They rang in his ears, echoing around his mind and blocking all other thoughts.

"Skeletons of the earth, I summon you to my aid! Come forth, undead warriors!" the prince's friend called out, his eyes fierce and his hair stained with blood. Umbra glanced below him, seeing Thorn still fighting the one- eyed angel, only dark angels were surrounding her and trying to tear her apart, not caring if they were to live or die. Umbra gasped as a skeletal hand rose from the ground, joined by many more skulls and hands. Melting from the hard ground, skeletons started to appear, obeying the words of Carnelian. At first, they moved slowly, their joints clicking as they headed towards Thorn with silver blades and spears. Umbra watched, amazed, as the skeletons engaged the dark angels in combats, fighting pretty well for a load of old bones. Turning back to his own fighting, Umbra noticed Lazarus swinging his blade like a maniac, slaughtering any who approached him or Sundance. Umbra slashed his blade as a dark angel came down to try and slice at the storm phoenix's wing. He heard Carnelian calling out,

"Umbra, see if you can get them all in one place with a whirlwind! Zephyr, help him. Aquila and Blizzard protect them, and Inferno and Sundance, shoot flames into the whirlwind." Carnelian called out, ducking under a knife. Umbra nodded, and Zephyr swooped forwards, beating his wings and summoning a whirlwind. Umbra channeled energy into the whirlwind, feeding it. The unlimited power flowed through him as Zephyr sent the whirlwind forwards.

 

I feel the power flowing through Umbra. He has indeed grown strong. I send the whirlwind forwards, swallowing dark angels in the powerful wind force. Blizzard blasts any who evade the whirlwind, and they fall to the floor, frozen in ice. That wolf is a truly powerful ally. She has power. The second our whirlwind takes all the dark angels, Inferno and Sundance blast flames into it, scorching the foes with intense heat. Seconds later, their ashes fall to the floor. Every one of us is injured, some of us less wounded than others. As I look at the assassin, after fighting the one-eyed dark angel, I decide that there is certainly a connection between her and the dark angels. But what is it?

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