The two words sounded scarier to Tiamat than any devil ever could. Any legendary mage’s semiplane acted as a prison for their greatest enemies, and within it those mages wielded terrifying power. There was no escape once one was caught within, and soul torture was only the start of one’s worries. The body itself could be distorted by the power of laws within the semiplane amongst many other equally frightening outcomes.
Tiamat herself had heard that it was best to start enjoying the pain if one was caught in a legendary mage’s semiplane; that was the only way to remain even nominally sane. To make matters worse, Sharon was one on a comprehensive list of the most powerful mages in existence.
“NO, DON’T DO THIS TO ME! I’LL COMPENSATE YOU, I’LL GET YOU A NEW DEEPBLUE! NO, TWO DEEPBLUES, I’LL GIVE YOU TWO!” The dragon roared with all her might as she scrambled, but Sharon was unfazed and continued to work on the portal. She managed to get away for a moment, but no matter how quickly she flapped her wings the legendary mage caught her by the tail and didn’t move an inch. No matter how the so-called Prime Evil struggled, she couldn’t break away.
It only took a few moments for the portal to be complete, the light on the other end signifying despair. Sharon snorted as she dragged Tiamat in tail-first, the dragon almost looking like a random object being pulled in.
Given the thrifty nature of the legendary mage, the portal wasn’t large enough for Tiamat to fit through. The dragon got caught once it came up to the torso, but back in her semiplane Sharon grunted and pulled harder, yanking a good section of the body towards her. She repeated the tugs a few more times until only the head was outside, front paws desperately grabbing onto the edge of the portal as an earth-shattering roar filled the Deepblue, “NO, LET ME—”
The roar came to an abrupt halt as the last of Tiamat was pulled in, a single claw barely hanging on to the entrance. With a final tug, this claw disappeared as well and the portal leading to the semiplane was closed. Floe Bay grew tranquil once more, beginning to recover from the chaos of the night.
Not many witnessed this scene, but every single one was left in shock. Still protected by the blue bubble of energy around him, Ensio shuddered at the thought of what fate would befall Tiamat now that she was captured. He knew of the Prime Evil and had encountered her before, although they had never actually fought. This was a truly powerful legendary being that was left begging for her life; even if he was in that place, he would be no different.
He tried hard to erase the scary premonitions from his head, growing tranquil as he floated in the blue bubble and enjoyed the surges of healing mana. However, his attention was drawn to another ripple of power as space ripped apart above, a man in a black coat being thrown out while curled into a ball. Following him was a purple-eyed woman who stepped out casually.
Apeiron grabbed a strand of timeforce and frowned, “We wasted so much time… Looks like the laws of spacetime in Norland are more powerful than I expected, I need to master them.”
“Your Majesty?” Julian looked confused, “Do you wish to bow your head to that shameless old dragon?”
The Empress sneered, “Heh, of course not! I don’t need the dragon’s help to master the laws of spacetime. He’s just a face for the power of time, not time itself.”
Julian heaved a sigh of relief, “That’s good, I was worried that you…”
“Never!” Apeiron said firmly before pointing down at the still-burning Deepblue, “Go take a look at the situation, remember not to provoke Sharon. I’ll look for Tiamat, can’t sense the dragon anywhere.”
“As you wish,” Julian made a turn and flew towards the Deepblue. In the meanwhile, the sky flickered with afterimages as Apeiron searched everything within a hundred kilometres.
A few minutes later, the Empress started to frown. She had already searched all the places nearby, but still couldn’t tell where the dragon was. As someone who could track opponents based on their disturbances to the fabric of spacetime, a massive creature like Tiamat should have been easy for her to track regardless of most stealth spells. However, all she could find was small traces of the dragon’s presence around what looked like a tiny portal that couldn’t possibly have fit.
Unfortunately, time was less her specialty than space; she didn’t possess the ability to look into the past. Frowning, she waited for Julian to fly back up and report, “Your Majesty, Her Excellency Sharon already woke up and engaged in a battle with Tiamat. It hasn’t been long since the two disappeared somewhere.”
“Sharon’s awake?” Apeiron asked with a slight bit of oddity to her tone, but she quickly regained her calm, “And?”
“I saw Ensio as well, he’s recovering from serious injuries in a bubble made by Sharon. I didn’t want to do anything rash, so I didn’t move close. There were people speaking of Voidbones having been present as well, but right now there aren’t any tracks. The people are putting out the fires right now, they seem to think they’ve already won.”
“Of course they’ve already won, Sharon’s awake. Let’s wait here, she’ll show up eventually.”
“What about the dragon, Your Majesty? The meat will be great for your wounds.”
“Of course we’re taking it.”
“But Her Excellency…”
Apeiron flashed a cryptic smile, “It just so happens that I haven’t seen her in many years. I wonder how she’s changed, if…”
“If?” Julian asked curiously. He was never one to speculate on Apeiron’s emotions and thoughts; he only expressed his own mind and did whatever she told him to. This was one of the reasons why she valued him so greatly; the simple loyalty was something that suited her quite well. It was why she had braved several dangerous battles to keep him alive when they were first banished to the Outlands.
Apeiron opened her mouth to speak but closed it once more. She hesitated for a long time before eventually saying, “I just hope she doesn’t disappoint me. A worthy opponent will give me a reason to go on; if she can’t satisfy me, I’ll have to find others in Norland until I find meaning in life again. If Norland doesn’t make the cut, I’ll take a look in Klandor or Lithgalen.”
“Your Majesty…” Julian’s voice quivered. He knew exactly how scary such battles were. Luck always played a part in battles between those of equal power; there were bound to be times when the Empress ended up on the losing end. Such behaviour was also a declaration that every epic being on the plane was her enemy; it was a deathwish!
He breathed deeply to collect himself, deciding to try and curb this suicidal behaviour for a bit, “Your Majesty, I heard that Sharon was seriously injured and that was why she went into hibernation. Is it not a little undignified to engage her in battle now? Maybe you should give her some time to recuperate.”
“Haha, you don’t understand Sharon and her race.” Apeiron shook her head, refusing to say any more. Floating in mid-air, she closed her eyes to rest. Julian took his place by her side and waited in silence. In a place like the Outlands where the concept of time itself was distorted, a single wait could last a moment or a few years. Everyone who spent a significant portion of their lives there was extremely patient.
Eventually, Julian turned his head and looked into the distance at three wyverns flying on the horizon, “He didn’t take long.”
Apeiron nodded, “He’s exhausted at least two of his wyverns.”
“Hehe, do you want to play with them? Richard and the sword girl look strong.”
“Don’t complicate matters.”
“As you wish,” Julian bowed.
The three wyverns in the air seemed to be on the verge of death, barely managing to fly forward. It was clear that they were being pushed on by magic, their bodies lit aglow, but that also made it clear that they would drop dead soon. Atop the leading one, Richard calmly waited for the descent; with a battle to the death ahead of him, he had to conserve every last bit of his strength. He hadn’t concealed his presence at all, so any powerhouse in the area would have noticed the challenge in his aura by now.
He turned slightly towards Nasia, “I hope your ability is as strong as you say it is.”
“My ability is no problem,” Nasia responded, “If we can’t beat a legend, you’re just too weak.”