The Swarm

AgataDarius stands on the prow of Fimbulvinter as it powers towards the defense of a trailing air boat. Under assault by demons, already he can see hot air venting into the cold skies where they have torn huge gashes into its airbag. Yelling back, he urges their captain, the mysterious Volla Verne, to push the ship harder. Already assisted by the magical gale force their thaumaturge has summoned, the vessels wood and wicker structure creaks and groans under the strain. Without their aid however, the ambushed vessel will no doubt soon suffer catastrophic damage, costing the lives of all its crew.

As soon as they come within range, three of the assaulting demons break towards them. Appearing as crystalline wasps, they move with an otherworldly grace, unsettling and distracting to all who observe. The northern sun is reflected in brilliant displays of color off their barbed carapace, with each edge appearing as though carved by the finest tradesman.

Already the Tempest Guard have readied their weapons and taken position. Archers setup farther back, protected on the front and flanks by those armed with great swords. Though mortal, Darius has given them intense training, and their prowess reflects it. Leaving the incoming threat to them and others aboard Fimbulvinter, he springs into action.

After a short running start, Darius reaches out for the rope he instinctively knows will be there and uses the momentum to swing himself towards the damaged ship. Briefly, the world slows as the ground disappears under him. Over eight hundred feet down, and with fifty feet between vessels; he feels as though he is flying. Eyes fixated on the deck, once again he reaches out an instinctively knows the rigging will be there for him to catch. Swinging his body around, he gracefully slides down the ropes and lands firmly on deck. He nods to Kaheila Highwind, captain of the vessel. Though her dragon-blooded cheeks are pale and partially obscured by goggles, he can see a faint blush, one he is sure to regret causing in the future.

Calling out in Old Realm, he draws the attention of the three remaining crystal wasps. Each are as beautiful as the others, distracting and compulsive in ways they should not be. Darius unsheathes his daiklave, its weight light in his hand despite its size. As the weapon is drawn, protective blue and gold essence erupts down the orichalcum blade.

The demons are fast, and without hesitation they are on him. Claws, mandibles and stingers lash out, and each time they are deflected. Focusing on two of them, his massive weapon swings four times, leaving essence flame in its wake. The first takes two cuts to the abdomen and shatters into a fine dust. Barely escaping the same fate, the second is left suffering grievous wounds. Again the demons attack and again they are no match for the Dawn caste Solar. His defense becomes calculated and precise, which each attack only serving to betray more of their style to him.

Chancing a look over his shoulder, he notes that Fimbulvinter is faring well. His new companions are skilled beyond what they initially seemed. Neve, the barbarian, wields some manner of powerful bow, Volla has her dark blade drawn, and even the bookish Saffuran appears to know martial arts.

Returning his attention to the attackers, he grabs one of them just above the stinger, hauling himself up to a more advantageous angle so he can dispatch it with a single powerful thrust. Though his vision is clouded by the ensuing colorful dust, he manages to turn his blade and finish off the wounded demon; its dying breath spent cursing him in its native Malfean-dialect.

Despite the requests of Kaheila to remain aboard, Darius returns to the Fimbulvinter.

After all, they have a race to win.

The Swarm

Exalted: Northern Skies rpowell138