A Storm More Foul, A Land Less Fair

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The last King of Hy-Brasil stood on the docks of his kingdom, which had been reduced to nothing more than a village.

The last King of Hy-Brasil stood on the docks of his kingdom, which had been reduced to nothing more than a village. A storm had come to Hy-Brasil, thunder and lightning like the fury of a god. Delbáeth was a humble man, who wanted his legacy to be one of gradual rebirth for a land that had its very heart ripped out of it. This had been his hope, the focus of his entire reign.

But in front of him stood the monster that had killed his father, his uncle, his cousin, and his home. It had died five years ago and here it was again, twice the size as it had been in the past. The thing towered so tall that its head lay in the storm clouds, out of sight. It was an ugly thing - too many arms and not enough tentacles, a wretch of parts that rightfully belonged to a myriad of beasts.

By all means, a righteous world would not have permitted it to live, and yet here it was nonetheless, devoid of reason and devoid of right.

He had been away from Hy-Brasil when the first bane of Hy-Brasil had destroyed the island - that was how he survived - but he was here now, ready to die with his people. The rest of the world had already collapsed into fire and ruin, brought upon by wretched krakens that had flooded out of some Foundation site in Japan. Hy-Brasil was lucky, for it avoided the majority of the beasts, but even the greatest of places will fall in time.

The monster was too big to swim in the ocean, so it had toppled onto its tentacles and was crawling towards the city. It was making a path that would take it right by Delbáeth, as he stood watching the progress of the titan with disgust. Nothing about it was right, and his third eye screamed in his head how hideous it was. He did his best to ignore the cries, so he could watch the death of his homeland.

The beast crawled right by him, and Delbáeth looked it in one of its five eyes, trying to stare deep into the soul. His third eye pierced the mind of the beast, and found nothing at all. The kraken - all of the krakens - was nothing more than an animal, a creature of habit and a mindless beast. Nothing but instinct drove this abomination. Armageddon was nothing more than a way of life for it.

There were many magical wards on Hy-Brasil, far too many. They had done nothing but make the island a target for the first beast, and now the swarm of successors would follow suit. They hunted by magic, and they mistook magic for a food source. Perhaps it was? Perhaps they preyed upon magic itself? Stranger things have happened. But in any case, they would come to Hy-Brasil and find nothing to kill, only a city to destroy.

In another world, perhaps, this would not be happening. In another world, Delbáeth might be more fortunate. He might have been able to form a pact to safeguard the world against monsters like this, and he might have had the chance to rebuild the ruins of Hy-Brasil. But it is not prudent to let one become distracted with the fates of other worlds, for the one that exists is all that matters. In this world, this wretched world, there were thousands of monsters and not enough men to kill them.

The rest of the world had hardly fared any better at all, falling to the beasts when they poured from the sea. America had damned itself with their own nuclear missiles. True, the only way to destroy one of the beasts was with nuclear weaponry, but the fools had pointed their weapons at themselves and pulled the trigger. Yes, their atomic fire vaporized the monster attacking New York, but what had happened to New York in the process?

Other nations - those with the option, at least - were then left with a devil's choice. Did they want to die at the five hands of abominations that did not belong in this world, or at the old familiar fears they had always thought would be their end? They justified their choice by saying that they weren't actively killing themselves, only allowing the end to wash over them.

Delbáeth gripped the spear in his hands tighter, as the beast dragged itself towards the heart of Hy-Brasil. He ripped his sword out of its sheath and it began to glow with a brilliant light. Together, they were half of the Four Treasures of Tuatha Dé Danann, the last remnants of his people's culture. The spear had belonged to Lug and the sword to Nuada Airgetlám I, the namesake of Delbáeth's uncle, king before him.

They were weapons clouded in myth and mist. It was said that no battle held against the spear would be lost, and no foe could escape the sword. If the legends held true, Delbáeth, having armed himself with both, stood unassailable on the rocky coast of Hy-Brasil. Clutched in his hands were the mightiest of weapons ever forged, weapons of great and terrible power.

King Delbáeth, Lord of the Tuatha Dé Danann, Sovereign of the Kingdom of Hy-Brasil, Master of Fair Folk, holding the weapons used to anoint him as royalty, standing in front of a kraken, felt like he was nothing more than a child pretending to be a royal.

From what he understood, the sword and the spear had been wielded during the first attack upon Hy-Brasil. The first bane of Hy-Brasil had fallen in that battle, which did speak well for the power of the sword, but the fool that had grabbed the spear to fight with it had died as well. The beast had rampaged for another hour, and in that hour the heart of Hy-Brasil was torn out.

Delbáeth looked up to the stormy skies, letting the rain hit his face. The wards that had controlled the weather of Hy-Brasil had broken when the rest of the island died, and it was subject to the same atmosphere as the rest of the world. He had been raised in a beautiful land of luck and light, and now it was his time to die in a broken land of darkness and decay.

The Coalition had come in full force before, bombarding and attacking the first beast. But there was no sign of them this time. Delbáeth did not know if they were busy elsewhere, trying to save the last remnants of civilization that still existed, or if they had already fallen with the rest of the world. But the reason why they were not here was of no importance, only their absence was. They were not here, and nothing would change that.

The last king of Hy-Brasil turned to the beast. He thought of his uncle, his father, and all his family who had died in Hy-Brasil all those years ago. They had died in the rain as well, but they had not been expecting it. He, however, was ready. He steeled himself for what would come next, and turned his gaze to the monster eating his city.

Delbáeth screamed. Many of the women in his lineage had become banshees after they passed away, and he channeled them to make his voice a chorus. He cried for the death of his kingdom, for the death of his legacy, for the death of his people, for the death of the world. The wail echoed throughout the city, the last cry of Hy-Brasil.

Tears streaming down his face, Delbáeth glanced at his weapons and realized just how worthless they truly were. The Tuatha Dé Danann were a literal people and their magic followed suit. If not used exactly as intended, the enchantments on the weapons would have no effect. It would find any loophole and exploit it.

The sword prevented escape, and of what help would that be? Any blow from the sword would be nothing more than a prick to the beast, one that would heal within seconds. It did not want to run from the sword and so the sword would be of no use whatsoever. That magic was strong against mortal men faced with Fair Folk raiders, but this attack would have no similarities to that. The sword slayed men, not monsters.

The spear would be equally worthless. A fly daring to bite a god is not a battle and it is barely even an attack. The Coalition's assault on the kraken had been a battle, for they had brought weapons to rival the power of the beast. But the Coalition was nowhere to be found and the only weapons that Delbáeth had to his name were two useless artifacts that he was barely trained to wield. The Coalition hunted gods and Delbáeth hunted deer.

The kraken lifted itself on the ground and its head went back into the clouds for just a moment, before coming back down to release a deluge of flame. The city ignited, just as it had before, but this time there would be no deliverance. These fires were final, for all the valiant men in the rest of the world were already gone, and the last remnants of Hy-Brasil had already left.

It was now the time for action, whether it be to flee or to fight. He had the resources to try and find one of the last vestiges of humanity or to flee this world for another plane, like the Wanderer's Library. This would not be the end, unless he wanted it to be. But as he watched the aquatic dragon burn his city, a fire of his own began to burn, deep inside.

He put his sword back into the sheath and braced the spear in his two hands. He knew some spellcasting, and worked it around himself, filling in the gaps with the natural magic of his people. He was not prepared for battle, but he would never be. He was, however, prepared to make a statement. Nobody was around to hear it, but that was of no consequence. He wasn't making it for anyone but himself.

Delbáeth charged.

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