Staring across the scorched battlefield, Ceara watches her blue-cloaked foe with faint amazement. "She bested a Balor... I know not what else this staff can do, but I have yet to truly best her in combat and she has disarmed me... Devils damn this wretched staff!"
Ceara peers at the artifact searchingly, analyzing the runes, running her fingers over them. As she grazes one, the ground under Robin begins to reach up, stony arms grasping at her to drag her down. Countless arms and mouths form around her, trying to drag her into down into the depths of the Earth.
Her armor cracking under the stony grasp, Robin spies Ceara fingering the staff, conjuring some of her own golems to tear at the arms around her, Robin manages to struggle free. "Okay... that staff is really getting to be a problem!"
A momentary slump reminding her of how much power she had used already, Robin conjures her own weapon to hold herself up. "Dammit! I have to finish this quickly before she works out any more tricks with that thing..."
"I must have this staff obey me; it seems to fight with each spell I cast... I have not even the knowledge of what source the source of its strength truly is... That cursed old man directed the elemental to me no doubt. It's too late I must in the least get my blades back!" Ceara mutters to herself, turning to charge at Robin, the staff held forth as her fingers continue to probe and rub the runes, desperate to trigger some effect. Despite all the staff's power, Ceara can still only rely on herself, to fight for her life.
"Demon... give it up..." Walking towards Ceara, Robin uses her spear to support her for a moment, as if it were a walking stick. "Your own weapons are in the eyes of a demon I've left in a void dimension, you cannot control that staff and without your precious blades your fighting style is lacking..."
Coming to a stop, Ceara fingers another of the runes and it covers her in a black mantle, resembling half-plate armor but lighter than air. Ceara growls at the elemental's cocky attitude. "I shall not give up; you would have to pull this staff from my cold dead hands. I am not limited to fighting with blades..." Ceara takes a defensive pose and holds the staff in both hands like a quarterstaff to keep the magi at distance.
The stiffness leaving her limbs as the posturing allows her some time to recover, Robin smiles, taunting the demoness as she raises her own spear across her body. "Nice armor... staff against staff though, you must be pretty desperate to face me with my preferred weapon."
"If you are so confident in facing me I shall simply summon the Balor once again!" Ceara traces a finger on the rune she believes to be correct, much to her dismay the ground opens up only to reveal her daggers. She quickly snatches both of them up in one hand while grasping the staff in her other.
"Huh... looks like the power of the staff is finite after all, once used, that summon spell couldn't do something as dramatic as summoning your chunky friend back again, so..." lunging forward, Robin aims for the hand the demoness holds both daggers in, trying to dislodge the tenuous grip she must have holding both, all the while, finishing that sentence inside her head. "I just have to keep forcing her back onto the defensive and that staff will be about as much use as a lump of wood eventually."
"Even if it is finite I have not yet used all the staff's runes, if it has enough power in one to summon a Balor I can most definitely defeat you!" Ceara smacks the elemental in the face with the staff as she charges towards her, knocking her to the ground in desperation. She listens to the staff murmuring inside her head, its whispers corrupted by the dark energies Ceara had forced through it.
Lurching to her feet, Robin sways slightly, the energy she had exerted taking its toll, pressing herself onwards, ignoring the patches of ice that begin to form on her bare skin, that start to crackle through her hair. Reaching deeper she draws on whatever power she can grasp, the hoarfrost on her flesh growing faster as she does. "I... cannot... let her... abuse such... power!" Raising her spear, Robin explodes the end into icy needles, each rushing towards Ceara.
The ice needles impact the shadowy armor Ceara had formed around her, dissolving without a trace of harm. A dark purple glow emerges from her eyes, spreading over her whole body; Ceara speaks in her abyssal tongue, one that causes Robin's ears to ring in pain. "You may have bested all I threw against you so far, but I know you cannot defeat the one creature even I have not killed... A SOLAR ANGEL!"
Coughing, Robin sprays bloody frost at the ground for a few moments before turning back to Ceara. "I've faced celestials... but that won't matter if I take you out first!" Shifting her grip on what's left of the spear in her grasp, Robin shifts it to water, whipping Ceara repeatedly with the stream, trying to break through her armor with sheer blunt trauma.
The dark armor blocks every one of Robin's attacks as Ceara's body lets out a low rumble. She grows taller as her demonic wings unfold, a second pair of black feathered wings, growing out just below them. Ceara's skin turns a gray metallic hue, growing black with corruption and cracks splintering across it, Red light shining forth from the holes in her new body.
Towering over Robin at nine feet tall, what remains of Ceara's armor tears off and slumps in a pile beneath her, a growl rattling Robin's bones. "You are not facing a mere angel; what you see before you is a fallen angel imbued with my Demonic essence!" Ceara cackles as she takes the second dagger from her left hand, easily holds it in the same now-larger hand as the staff.
Blinking, Robin takes half a step back. "Okay... maybe that is a problem..." Shifting her spear into a shield, Robin takes a defensive stance, trying to stall long enough to regain some of her energies, even that small manipulation causing the frost to encroach further onto her face, hair, and places where she could no longer sustain her armor.
"It seems your true form is coming forth as you try to resist my power elemental..." Ceara barks out maniac, gleeful laughter as she pounds away at the shield. She begins to draw upon the knowledge the power of the abyss grants her, as much buying time to find a way of ending the elemental once and for all as trying to break the shield it holds to defend itself.
Rocked back by the blows, Robin digs in, cracks forming throughout her shield and the remnants of her armor, force beginning to transfer to the flesh beneath. Desperate, Robin digs deeper, trying to draw upon the power needed to replenish herself, to hold on.
Pushed backwards by a vicious kick crushing her shield, Robin sways in place, raising one hand to her cheek her eyes widen as she finally notices the bone-chilling cold... the cold her powers normally shield her from, the demon's words spoken in ignorance but still too close to truth for comfort... "No... No. No, no, no-Nonono. NO!" Holding her hand in front of her face, Robin shakes as ice begins to creep over it too. "Not here... not now..."
Ceara reaches down and grasps Robin by her neck, lifting her up off the ground to speak eye to eye. "I know now the true power of this weapon
I will summon all the powers of the Abyss to take over and corrupt you elemental! I will rape your mind and have you serve me; I shall make you the Harbinger of this world's doom!" Ceara yells to the heavens as she touches the last rune.
Glimpses of demons of all shapes and sizes echo inside Robin's mind, the forces of hell itself trying to seep into her consciousness, figures of all the Demon Lords and their spawn... clawing at her to get inside and infect her soul. Ceara's eyes glow a dark purple hue as the grip on Robin's head get tighter. "You will bow down before you new mistress!"
A sudden sickening lurch and Ceara finds herself... displaced once more. Alone in that familiar desolate ocean, her form no longer resembles the solar angel she had shape-changed into, instead based on how she sees herself, her own perfect succubus form, ruined armor shed to display her beauty, thought it seems shaping reality in this place.
The staff however remains in her grasp, it's peculiar nature transcending the rules of astral transferal and possession, the power of its final rune twisting the nature of magic itself to allow such power to be within her grasp still when... elsewhere...
"You send me back to your home plane to save yourself elemental? I shall simply finish the spell; I will extend the reach of my lord Graz'zt to this realm before returning to take over your adopted home as well!" Ceara rubs the final rune again, eager to see her High Father, hoping he is proud of her for what she is about to do... curious as to why the elemental did not bring herself here as well, where the nature of such a place would surely be on her side.
Slowly, the waters beneath Ceara begin to swirl... the other tides and eddies ceasing, the icebergs beginning to sink, as the waters spin faster, something... someone rises from the center, her white dress untouched by the water, her bare feet stepping lightly upon the waves as it they were stone, her long black hair tied intricately, the patterns forming like that of the ocean waves, she looks... like the elemental, similar but different, her face older, harshly lined, and something else, a difference that goes beyond mere appearances
Stopping below Ceara, a pillar of water rises to bring her to the demoness' eye level, standing atop this gently-gushing stream, the woman speaks; her voice akin to the whisper of a stream. "Why do you invade this one's spirit daemon kin?"
"She... you... IT sent me here! Why should I explain myself to you? You would kill me like every other being, just for being the child of man and demon. I don't know why I'm here a second time or why this elemental pursues me so. Send me back or I will have no choice but to destroy you!" Ceara aims the head of the staff at the woman and examines the runes, contemplating which to activate as warning.
Staring at the staff with mild interest, the woman's voice becomes sad. "I wish I could offer you some consolation... but I am merely a remnant of something else... part of the being whose soul you now invade that she tries so hard to keep hidden, that she feels she has to distance from herself, lie that it isn't part of her and hope she can keep contained."
The woman steps forward, a new pillar of water rising to reach her feet, her placid voice unsettling, almost unreal. "But you are bringing 'me' to the surface, the fight you both have waged has forced her to dig deeper than she would normally dare, down to the crushing depths. She would warn you away, say that you are unleashing something you cannot contain, cannot control... but myself? I yearn to be free... So what will you do, I wonder..." The woman or whatever it is looks at Ceara with distant interest.
"That depends apparition; would you try to kill me like all the others? Put another demon out of its misery and champion goodness and the glory of all that is holy? I desire to be rid of this half-human burden and to please my High Father... you seem a being of power. I am sure we can arrange a deal of sorts..." Ceara's tail flickers about in interest, her wings rustling as well in her true form, unsure what to make of this woman, she tests her. "If I free you, then you are in MY debt spirit."
"I'm afraid you misunderstand..." waving her hand at Ceara dismissively, the woman never loses her aggravatingly steady tone."I am not a being of gifts and trades, I am merely a mask that the owner of this spirit puts over something deeper, and I could not help you if I even had the will to care..."
Giving Ceara one of her increasingly unnerving calm smiles the ... thing continues. "you are not relevant to me, if I were free I would not attempt to kill you... but the point might well become moot all the same... you will either leave, or you will do something dramatic that frees me, I have no means of influencing which."
"I know not how to leave this place; the last time I was here I was drawn back, not of my own doing... If you cannot help me then why should I free you? Even a simple djinn grants a wish to those that free it, however corrupt they may be in its fulfillment... I do only that which would benefit me, if I can leave without freeing you then you must persuade me to do so." Ceara hisses back at the spirit, growing angry as it toys with her, plays games of words.
Shrugging, the woman observes Ceara with something almost like amusement. "I do not know the means by which you came... if the being whose soul plane we inhabit could manifest here, she might know of a way... perhaps that trinket can be of assistance, I know not. But you still do not grasp the nature of this place do you? So long as you inhabit this plane, the walls that contain me will crumble... the entity you fight will chip away at them, desperate for that little bit of power needed to throw you out, and defeat your corporal self."
Looking down, the woman's voice comes the closest it has so far to showing an emotion, almost eager. "The icy ruins... bars to my cage already sink and shatter... what say you? Shall you depart, or bring the end that much sooner?"
A long moment passes; Ceara looks back at the woman, determined. "I will free you, I was imprisoned once as well... and I make humankind pay for every day I was tortured! I shall grant us both passage out of this plane..." Ceara fingers the final rune, that with which she had intended to summon the hordes of the Abyss, driven to free this creature that in some ways reminds her of her younger self... longing to be free from its prison. Ceara concentrates; trying to awaken the staff's power for perhaps a final time.
"This shall be interesting then... I'd advise you return to your own form if you wish to survive..." Turning away, the strange entity surveys Ceara contemplatively. "You may also want to attain a safe distance; my manifestation might not be what you seem to assume it will be..."
"My own... survive?" Ceara takes a few steps back as instructed, puzzled. She fingers the rune again, attempting to turn it on; concentrating on her corporeal body, whatever it is this spirit means. "I hope this works spirit and that you keep to your word you will not kill me once we leave..."
"I will try not to..." dissolving into mist, the spirit speaks as if it were discussing the weather, its voice becoming distant. the plane around Ceara becoming hazy, melting away as the demoness is wrenched back to reality, her Solar-Angel form beginning to melt away, the shape-shifting energies reverting without the focus to maintain them, her hands still clutching Robin, holding her up off the ground.
Blinking, Robin stares at Ceara, worried that the creature had gone blank-eyed when having her caught. Suddenly, pain wrenches through Robin, bloody slush spilling past her lips to splatter on the ground. "W-what have you done... daemon?"
"I have freed the being you kept locked away; back in your home plane or wherever it was you had sent me. You will pay for locking her away, just as all mortals shall pay for imprisoning me in a false body and a false church for too much of my life!"
"You..." racking coughs spraying bloody ice at Ceara, Robin drops to the ground as Ceara instinctively lets go, struggling to her feet, Robin stares at Ceara in terror, her breath ragged."Did what? There is no being inside me... you idiot! That which I was host to... so long ago is departed, you spoke with an echo!"
"Then how would it be an echo can respond to my queries elemental? You have possessed a young woman and stolen her shape, just as demons are so accused of! I shall free her from your grasp and send you back from whence you came!" Ceara's eyes burn with wrathful fire, turning the staff around and thrusting its pointed tip through the elemental's chest, impaling her with ease, the end not coming though the other side, looking like a parlor trick as the staff sinks halfway up its length into her. Ceara spits and snarls. "You will release that young woman from within you now abomination!"
Releasing a labored breath, Robin whispers. "A boundless fool... at least this will end you..." the ice suddenly surges outwards, creeping rapidly up the staff's length, coating Robin in a perfectly smooth opaque layer, crackling with every movement, she tilts her head back, a cry of lamentation, piercing, an echo of power. Her head rolls back down, water begins to spew from her mouth, endless, it freezes into sculptures as it hits the concrete, suddenly vaporizing to rain down and freeze once more, it spreads, everything it touches incorporated into its endless cycle. Immobile Robin's statue-like form rises on a pillar of ice, pure power flowing from her, no mind or sentience, no rhyme or reason, just raw energy spreading outwards, creating more of the material it dances with endlessly.
Ceara steps back, realizing this is what the spirit woman meant when she said her entrance is not what would be expected. She watches as the elemental purges itself of all of its power and magic, gushing out to return the woman to her original body and banish the creature that has taken host of her, the tableau both amazing and terrifying in its complexity and raw power.
The tide continues endlessly, spreading itself outwards, it becomes clear that it needs to be stopped, lest it spread to more populated areas, lest it overtake the city. The heavy weight of magic in the air doesn't seem to weaken in the slightest, water and power surging forth as if floodgates had truly been opened. Reaching Ceara, the ice, water and vapors begin licking at her feet, driving her further back.
Ceara growls to herself as her wings open and she soars to meet the magi. "The creature inside it tricked me... IT TRICKED ME!" Ceara races towards the endless stream of ice magic, determined to retrieve the staff from the frost laden corpse to combat the growing cold.
The closer Ceara gets to the center, the colder it becomes, frost soon forming on her body, random bursts of steam searing her, surges of water buffeting her back, each seemingly untargeted, simply the result of straying into the dangerous zone, a whispery voice echoing throughout the car-park, a mix of the spirit-woman, and Robin's own. "You unleashed the old powers... the wellspring this entity is connected to, two becomes one and the endless sea pours through the gateway formed into this world... you have only yourself to blame..."
"You tricked me creature, I care not of this world or the fools living in it, but I extinguish any threat to me and you are very much a threat!" Ceara grits her teeth and flies towards the staff impaled body, her resistance helping against some of the harm but her will alone driving her to accomplish this more than any of the abilities her demonic roots grant.
A whispery sigh, like waves upon the shore reaches Ceara. "The half of this being that spoke with you deceived you not, it told you it was only a shell, a phantasm created by the spirit to isolate the self, to hide the deeper power, separate it from the whole, you simply could not comprehend..." The cold, heat and force of the waters mounts still, not from any resistance or attack against her, but simply because she draws closer to ground zero, where the icy statue lies. "There is no threat, the power simply must be released, it simply is..."
"That power is what you tricked me with! You said you had nothing to give, you give death trickster. I am no fool; I will remove you from this world, lock you back in your cage. I gave you mercy and you repay me with nothing." Ceara flaps her wings harder, both to shake the ice forming on them off and to gain speed. She wraps her tail around her leg to try and keep warm as she relentlessly pursues the staff.
"The power will flow... it simply is..." With that, the entity ceases talking, forcing as much power as possible through Robin's form, the cold growing still more deathly, to impossible levels, the water leaping about like a merry dancer, hurling itself onto Ceara for a moment before freezing it and her with it before vaporizing the water in an instant, the split-second cycle leaving Ceara stiff and seared.
"I must not...." Ceara outstretches her hand, calling to the staff, hoping enough of her demonic influence was channeled through it that she can call it back to her from the icy storm. Struggling to fly, Ceara realizes she will either need to retreat or simply perish in the blizzard.
Shifting slightly in Robin's chest, the staff seems to crackle amidst the ice. Almost as if it wants to remove itself from the magical catastrophe it was unwillingly part to.
"Come to me staff! We must stop this storm and you MUST return your power to me!" Ceara yells out, her voice muffled by the writhing storm. "Even if you will not be mine remove yourself from that body!"
Juddering outwards, the staff splinters the ice inch by inch, the gemmed head twisting to stare at Ceara, somehow managing to convey an air of grudging acceptance.
Ceara continues to try flying closer to the staff, the storm pushing her back almost as much as she presses onward, the staff responding to her desire, but still fighting on its own terms. "Come to me or you shall never again feel the magic of another!"
Ripping itself free from the hole in Robin's chest, the staff whips by Ceara, spinning end over end to embed itself in a nearby icy spire, and with that, the raging storm stops, vapors drift away, water falls to the concrete, ice beginning to slowly melt in the midsummer night's heat. In the center of it all, atop the pillar of ice... the ice-clad woman stands, silent, unmoving, the whole area now deathly calm and quiet.
Ceara flies over to examine it, floating around and observing it from all angles. "Elemental... If you can hear me... this is something I thought I would never tell another living soul but... I'm sorry. I did not mean to create such a maelstrom by releasing your prisoner. I am giving you mercy by not smashing you to pieces... do the same and end your pursuit of me as well." Ceara flies away, almost uncaring if the woman is still alive but somehow still hoping she had heard and will respect what she had just done.
The coating of ice covering her slowly melting, Robin's body lurches forwards as with a tinkle of shattering frost, the shell breaks, not yet breathing again, she draws her shaking limbs inwards, the gaping hole in her chest sluggishly healing as she curls up atop a great spire of ice, Robin drifts in and out of consciousness, one thought repeating in her head, countless times, hundreds of phrasings, chanted like a mantra.
"No chance in hell, bitch."
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