The Three Hammers- Part 2

Once again, just practising

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1. Jasper VS Lance

The world shattered around them as swords clashed and fire flew into the air. The sky burned red with fire, smoke enveloping everyone, turning bodies into mystical figures, shadows cast across the burning grass. Jasper lifted himself from the ground, his gloves digging into the dirt, and he stared around him at the marvel of the battlefield. Quoskul against Quoskul, energy flying in all different directions. A soldier ran at Jasper, a sword high in the air, one hand out in front, preparing to throw an attack. Jasper lifted his hand, firing an icicle straight into the oncoming attackers skull, and the soldier fell to the ground, his sword clattering towards Jasper. He ignored the weapon, preferring to have both hands available. Lance ran from the smoke, an excited look on his face, ash smeared across his gleaming bones.
"Sir, the attack is going well. If we keep pushing like this-" Lance said, before the ground erupted upwards. Dirt landed all around them, little pellets of brown and green scattering. Jasper looked up as he saw more shells flying towards them. The enemy had managed to get themselves a mortar. This was unexpected, it didn't just throw a spanner into the works, it completely obliterated the works. Jasper began to worry as all around them, his men died, some shattered into a million pieces, others simply fell to the ground, defeated, the light in their eyes dimming before going out entirely. Lance grabbed Jasper's arm, trying to spin him around.
"Sir, we have to go! Call a retreat and end this, we can regroup and form a different plan of attack!" Lance shouted at him, but Jasper couldn't do this. Failure wasn't an option.
"My father will never forgive me if this doesn't work. Tell the men to retreat from the mortar, and flank to their left. I'll begin the barrage from here!" Jasper shouted back at him, pushing him roughly in the chest. Lance was the only one Jasper could really trust here, but he couldn't let this end. Not right now. Slowly, his army began to disappear, leaving the mortar shells to land on open ground, smoke billowing up from the burning craters. 
"Okay, lets do this." Jasper whispered to himself. He unclipped his gloves, the heavy metal falling to the ground with a crash. Fire erupted from his left hand, as mist started to fall from his right hand, ice crystals growing over his bones. He held his left hand out and started to burn anything in sight, pushing everyone away from where he was. If he could push them away, his army would have an edge, and he could jump in for the final attack. Except that already, he could feel himself becoming unstable. The fire flew in directions he willed it not too, and now where the mist fell to the ground, sharp pieces of ice grew instantly from the floor, threatening to impale Jasper. Lance ran at him again, noticing he was no longer wearing his gloves and grabbing his shoulder roughly. From ahead of them, shouts began to fill the air. Pained and triumphant screams drowning the sound of the fire around them. Jasper couldn't tell which screams belonged to who, but he wasn't hopeful.
"What are you doing, you idiot! Put those gloves back on right now." Lance looked around for the gloves, spotting them a few feet away, grabbing them from the ground. 
"No, this is the only way. My power is too limited with them on." Jasper said, still throwing his flames into the smokey mass.
"You're power isn't limited, it is directed. Stop being a fool and get them on, now!" Lance screamed. Jasper turned to him, anger flaring in his mind. He was about to order Lance to stand down and leave him, until a hoard of skeletons rushed from the smoke, flying towards them. Jasper noticed the red armbands of the enemy, and he lost all hope. Lance grabbed him, tried to pull him along, but no, there was no going back. Jasper screamed, a blood curdling roar that caused some of the oncoming soldiers to pause. Jasper threw his hands around, firing balls of fire and shards of ice in different directions, not caring who he hit. He could feel his power throbbing, threatening with each new attack to unleash itself. His hands were glowing now, and yet he didn't stop. In the distance, he heard Lance shouting, but he ignored this too. Just one more, just one more, just one.
The world disappeared. A blinding flash of mixed colours was all Jasper could see. No sound except a deafening buzz, and soon, Jasper's vision turned to black.

Jasper woke on a hospital bed, a crisp white sheet thrown carelessly over him. His gloves lay next to the bed, mangled and blackened, destroyed by the blast.
The blast he had created.
He stood, slowly, on shaky legs, trying to gather himself. Once he could balance without holding on to anything, he left the confines of the tent. Smoke still rose into the air, but it wasn't as thick as it had been, nor was it being used to hide a massacre. Somebody rushed up to him, a look of hurt in their eyes. Jasper couldn't say anything, he couldn't even begin to apologise, and neither could they. They simply touched his arm and began to lead him to a different tent. They had to traverse the maze of tents, medical tents, armory tents and living quarters. Each and every person they passed stared at him with disgust and revulsion, some even panicking, grabbing fresh injuries. Jasper burned with guilt, but said nothing and continued to follow. Finally, they came to a tent that looked brand new, it had been erected perfectly, and Jasper wondered for a moment if his father was inside, an urge to run or kill himself there and then overtook him. Until he realised that this was a medical tent. Slowly, he pulled the flaps aside and entered, the dark interior illuminated only by a single candle. A figure layed on a bed, his face covered by shadow. Jasper grabbed both flaps and moved to throw them over, letting in the bright sunlight. As the face came into focus, Jasper stumbled, his breath coming in short pants, tears threatening to break free.
Lance lay on the bed, except it couldn't be Lance. Lance was a strong warrior, damn near invincible, as Jasper had witnessed. This thing that lay on the bed was not his friend. 
"He has lost an arm and a leg, which we couldn't recover in time. He suffered from several cracks across his body, three of which were in very severe parts. He hasn't woken up since, and we aren't sure he is going to." The doctor told him, a sneer evident in his tone. The doctor made to leave, but as he got to the opening in the tent, he turned.
"You were always an idiot. Now its so obvious, even your own father can't ignore it. See you around, Prince Jasper." The doctor spat, before hurrying away. Jasper did nothing but grab Lance's hand, the only hand he had left. He was cold, even now, he made no movement. Jasper could have mistaken him for dead, entirely. Silence filled the room as he began to sob, uncontrollably, into his friends hand, trying to mutter his apologies as best he could.

***

Jasper walked into the cave, his feet smacking against the wet rock as he moved. The moon shone through cracks in the ceiling, illuminating a pitiful living place. A rag lay on the floor, with a mound of leaves at its head. Some books and remnants of food lay scattered across the place. Jasper could tell this was where Lance was hiding, and more, Jasper knew this was a trap. He didn't care, though. He deserved what was going to happen, for what he had done, to his own men. Fate had just caught up to him, and he welcomed it with open arms. The moon disappeared behind the clouds, throwing the cave into darkness. Jasper felt the air shift a second before he was forced to the ground by invisible hands. He tried to move his arms, tried to spark a flame, but it didn't work. The moon reemerged from the clouds, and in the light stood Lance. His Eldritchian armor covered him from head to toe, the illumination from the blue veins spreading across his body caught Jasper in the eye, and he had to turn his face away to save himself from being blinded.
"You knew this was coming, and yet you came anyway. You really are an imbecile." Lance croaked, moving forward. "You look at me, Jasper. Look at me now." His voice bounced off the cave walls, deafening Jasper. Lance truly was an attack on all the senses, but Jasper didn't raise his eyes. He couldn't bare too look at his friend, once the most important person in his life. He couldn't look at his own creation. 
"I said, LOOK AT ME!" Lance screamed, and Jasper's head was jerked forward by the invisible hands. Lance was in full view, impossibly bright. "You did this to me. I was happy, so happy, under your command. I'd have done anything for you, and you destroy me. You turn me into this... this freak, and then you run away, disappearing for years, leaving us all behind in the ashes of your destruction." He spoke. He kicked a book and it flew towards Jasper, landing just under his chin. The title of the book stared up at Jasper, "The Final War", and Jasper felt tears prickle his eyes. "You remember it, don't you? You would read it every night, you would steal the words inside and then use them as your own, to give us all courage." Lance stepped forward, grabbing the book. He threw it, and it flew through the cracks in the ceiling.
"Lance, please. I am sorry for everything I did to you. No amount of time can ease the pain, I know that. You feel betrayed, and only blood can satisfy your desire for revenge. Trust me, I know those thoughts, I've had those thoughts, but it isn't true." Jasper begged. His voice caught, and the emotions he had tried to hide for so long finally broke through. 
"How dare you pretend to know how I feel. You have failed, time and time again, and yet the universe decides to reward you, over and over. What about me? What about the others, who have served people like you without hesitation, and end up dead? Or worse, end up like me?"
"Listen to me. I understand. I know it is wrong for me to pretend to know exactly how you feel, and that isn't what I'm trying to do. All I'm saying is there is more than just revenge. What about when I'm dead. You'll be caught, you know either Arkston or Scarlett will get to you eventually."
"Then they will die."
"But they won't. I'd like to see you go up against Arkston and Scarlett, especially after you've killed me."
"I see. You're telling me that revenge isn't the answer, that if I spare you, I will be redeemed. Yet you claim your friends will do exactly as I'm doing to you, and you endorse this behavior?" Lance bellowed. He threw his arm wide, and Jasper felt himself fly through the room, his back smacking against the cave wall. He fell to the floor, his arms still immobile. "I will kill you right here, right now, and watch your silly little team of tools chase me. I'll kill you all, then finally, my mind can rest!" Lance drew his sword, and threw it. Jasper closed his eyes, squeezing them shut, waiting for his end.
A large bang echoed through out the room.
He waited. 
He waited some more.
Jasper inched his eyes open, slowly, to see Lance looking at the remains of his sword on the other side of the room. Arkston stood in the entrance of the cave, his shotgun aimed at Lance, smoke still streaming from the barrel.
"I swear to God, all I ever do is save your life." Arkston growled, his head turned slightly towards Jasper, his eyes still trained securely on Lance. Scarlett entered the room, inching round Arkston, her eyes also focused entirely on Lance. She held her hand out towards Jasper, and he took it, hauling himself up. 
"Jasper, we told you not to come here." She scolded, finally looking into his face.
"Can we save the reprimanding until we've arrested him, you know?" Jasper said, flexing his fingers. His arms weren't paralysed anymore, and he could feel the magic in his hands. 
"Always having other people save you. What, are these people your lapdogs as well?" Lance sneered, staring at Arkston's gun. 
"I'm not anybody's lapdog. I am my own man, and I'd have let him die if it were anyone else here, but seeing as its you, I thought I'd ruin your day." Arkston grumbled, his gun unwavering. "Now I'm going to throw you some cuffs, and you're going to put them on like a good boy. We'll take you back to the UGC, and they can finish you off there." Arkston produced the cuffs from his coat, and threw them on the ground at Lance's feet. Lance stared at them, his hands staying limp by his side. 
"I'll go quietly." Lance muttered. He bent down to pick the cuffs up from the floor, and Jasper noticed his hands a second too late.
"Watch-" Jasper began to shout, but Lance's hands had already turned in the air, and Arkston flew backwards, through the entrance to the cave. Within a second, Lance had turned to Scarlett and Jasper and had them both floating in the air. Scarlett had her gun out and aimed, but the lack of gravity caused her to turn in mid air, unable to find a shot. Jasper found the wall with his feet, and kicked off, exiting the anti gravity bubble. As he fell to the ground, he shifted, the Eldritch armor forming over him, and by the time he hit the ground, he was fully protected. Lance ran at him, aiming a kick at his head, but Jasper grabbed his foot and flipped him upwards. Lance landed on the ceiling and ran along it, dodging the shots fired at him by Arkston. He disappeared behind a stalactite, but never reemerged. Jasper slowly inched round the formation, looking for any sign of his enemy, until a foot smashed into his face, throwing him backwards. He heard Scarlett scream and Arkston roar from behind him, and he rolled onto his front, pushing himself up. Scarlett was in a losing fistfight with Lance, his armor causing serious damage, whilst Arkston tried to roll himself round in mid air. Jasper ran to Arkston, avoiding the effects of the anti gravity, and pulled him out. As they turned back to Lance and Scarlett, they saw her in his grasp. He had her by the neck, and though she was struggling, his grip was too tight.
"Looks like we're at a stand-off." Lance said, pain edging into his voice. 
"No, a stand-off would imply I can't shoot you." Arkston grumbled. He raised his metal arm, the cannon shifting and rising to the top of his forearm, aiming at Lance. "This aims for me, you know. I can hit you without worrying about her." 
"Oh, but would you really risk that? I know machines can't always save you. Now lower your arm, or I'll snap her neck." Lance seethed. Arkston didn't move, his arm staying steady. Jasper looked from one to the other, panic clouding his mind. 
"Forget this." Jasper muttered. He turned to Arkston. "Lower the arm, buddy." Arkston turned his head slightly to Jasper, his arm unwavering still.
"What are you talking about?" Arkston muttered.
"He's here to kill me, so fine. Me and him, one on one, you two can watch. Sound good to you, Lance?" Jasper turned to his enemy, who still had a tight hold on Scarlett.
"Shut up, Jasper. Let me deal with this." Arkston took a step back, the cannon clicking as it loaded itself.
"No, you know Scarlett could get hurt, and I don't want that to happen." Jasper went to touch Arkston, but he pulled away, his arm lowering, the cannon sinking back into the arm.
"Well, he didn't know I wasn't going to shoot until you said that." Arkston said. Lance released Scarlett, who stumbled, rubbing her neck.
"Jasper, don't do this!" She wheezed, but Arkston grabbed her and pulled her to the side of the cave. Lance and Jasper circled each other, slowly putting one foot in front of the other, never taking their eyes off each other. This was the moment Jasper was terrified of, him versus his friend. He didn't want to hurt Lance, he knew this was all his fault, but he had too. Lance had hurt other people now, and Jasper couldn't let that go unpunished. 
"No Eldritch Knight, no powers." Lance said, still staring into Jasper's eyes. "We fight with our fists and our magic. Like Quoskul." All Jasper could do was nod, though he knew without the Eldritch Knight, he was severely limited. 
Lance stepped forward quickly, taking Jasper by surprise, and punched him in the ribs. Jasper flew backwards, landing roughly on the ground, flipping over himself. Lance didn't hesitate, he rushed forward, ready to stamp down on Jasper's skull, but Jasper moved, the foot landing where he had been a second before. Jasper grabbed the foot and pulled, turning his body so Lance landed next to him. Jasper pushed himself up, but Lance had a hold on his arm, pulling him back down, rolling over and lying on top of him, fist raised. He punched Jasper in the head, over and over, stunning him into silence. Jasper closed his eyes and let his hand erupt into flames, smacking it into Lance's back as hard as he could. Lance grunted and pulled himself away, but Jasper wouldn't let him. He threw his hand at Lance, again and again, as fireballs smashed into his armor, sizzling out with each hit. Jasper threw yet another attack, but Lance was ready- he smacked the fire away with his hand and hit the ground, which bounced under Jasper's feet, causing him to stumble, and Lance to run forward, punching him in the face once again. Mist began to fall from Jasper's other hand as he pressed it into Lance's side, letting the ice flow and freeze Lance's ribs. The ice cracked as Lance simply moved his position to avoid the ice, and Jasper knew that was it, he couldn't fight anymore. Lance flipped him to the ground, smashing his fist into his face, never relenting. Jasper let it happen, he didn't fight back, he would just wait for it to be over.
"This is your end." Lance hissed into his face, raising his fist high above his head. "The grand finale." Lance lowered the fist- and missed Jasper's head. His body was fitting, unintelligible noises coming from his mouth. Jasper threw him off, standing and watching him writhe on the floor. He turned to Arkston, who had his arm raised once again, the wires of the taser stretching back to him.
"Took you long enough." Jasper gasped, his body a temple of pain.
"I like to watch you get beaten up." Arkston said simply, before turning back to Scarlett, who looked confused.
"What just happened?" She said simply. Arkston smiled at her, fixing the wires so they were once again spooled in his arm. 
"Me and Arkston had this conversation once before. The code word was buddy." Jasper said, kneeling in front of Scarlett, who still looked confused. "I told him that if I ever said buddy, it means back off, wait, and jump in when they least expect it." Jasper turned to Arkston, who had finished reeling the wire up and had picked Lance up, holding him on his shoulder in a fireman's lift. "Thank you, by the way."
"No problem, Skeleton boy." Arkston grumbled again, his voice echoing around the cave. "Now lets get this dirt bag back to the UGC, they can deal with him there."

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