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Book 7, Chapter 73 - Two On One

 Dawn and Selene pulled their eyes away from one another long enough to recognize the young man running toward them.

This was Zephon Allgood?

The Apostle had a head of wild hair and a face twisted from madness. He flung a spiked ball wrapped in purple light into the air, which quickly spat out a thick purple mist. In no time it swallowed up half the chamber.

"Stupid women. Your conceit has sealed your fate!" The crazed man disappeared into the choking fog.

"You worthless little shit. See what real power looks like!" Dawn's armor blazed like a star.

She drew back, ready to charge into the mist and trample the idiot to death. But Selene called out to stop her. "No, don't rush in. This isn't a normal fog. Look closely."

Dawn obliged. What she noticed was that, like water dripping on a sponge, the fog seemed to seep into the stone floor. Those stones then turned a sickly black hue, softened and then started to squirm like living diseased flesh. As she watched hideous growths started to swell in uneven patches.

If she ran headlong into the mist she would be similarly infected. Zephon's power wasn't restricted to just contaminating living things, but inanimate objects and energy as well.

Selene was cautious and meticulous by nature. She wouldn't risk betting her constitution against this strange power. "We don't know how this Zephon managed to capture the Temple, but he did. He shouldn't be underestimated."

"This fucking coward can only win by underhanded means." Dawn was annoyed by his craven tactics. "You think this bullshit will stop me? I'll tear him to fuckin' pieces. Don't get in my way!"

Dawn was certain she was unstoppable. What was there to be afraid of? She had her Dawnbreaker armor, improved by Cloudhawk himself! It was an unbreakable defensive relic that was further strengthened by the Abyssal Scale. She could shrug off any attack. What did this pissant's little smoke bomb matter?

But as she was getting ready to enter the fog a host of figures could be seen moving toward them from the hallways. It was a huge mob, perhaps hundreds of infected clergy. Beneath their saintly clothes or glittering armor were undulating growths of black flesh. They were so thick that hardly any human features were visible anymore. Like unstable sacks they shambled forward, ready to blow at any moment.

"More of these corpses? If this attack was of any use it would have killed us earlier." Dawn scowled at the scene. "Can't this asshole be more creative? This is getting boring."

Hideous cries from contaminated throats closed in from all sides. Although they no longer had the power of thought, they were still quick. Like insects they scrambled along the walls and ceiling toward the two women.

As Dawn readied herself to defend she noticed that, in fact, they weren't running at her. Instead they were running past them, into the mists where Zephon lurked.

"The fuck?"

"His power is spreading fast. His mental energy is about the same as ours and he's using it to contaminate everything, even the air. We're going to get swallowed up." Selene utilized the power of her Eye to survey the situation. "Dawn - stop the corpses from entering the mist. Don't let them near Zephon."

"Easy! Watch this." Dawn held Terrangelica high and shoved it into the ground. The floor around them collapsed. Under the weight of immense gravitation power, stone cracked and compressed. For a thousand meters in all directions, gravity increased a hundred fold.

The waves of shambling corpses hit the ground. Most were pinned and couldn't move, but a handful managed to pass into the mist.

"AAARRGGHH!!" A hideous, inhuman cry emerged from the darkness. From within they could see glimpses of some nightmarish creature looming five or six meters tall. Its body was a mass of tumors, cysts and boils. Extra limbs and several heads flopped impotently at odd angles like some monstrosity stitched together from a dozen bodies.

Selene's eye gleamed with silver light. She'd seen this coming. "He's able to gather corrupted energy around himself. If we let him absorb the other corpses there's no way we'll stop him."

"Then we just get rid of them!"

Dawn heaved and pushed Terrangelica deeper into the ground. Gravity increased to ten thousand times, causing the entire floor to sink several inches. Even the strongest martial warriors would be crushed, if caught off guard. These infected bodies were weak already, so they burst like ripe tomatoes run over by a truck.

"Is that all of them?" Dawn looked around. None of the bodies were rising.

There was another flash from Selene's eye. "No, not yet. Watch out!"

A keen light blasted from her and caught Zephon's transformed body at the waist. She was too fast, giving him no opportunity to dodge.

As she did, the bodies Dawn had squished seeped into the ground. They drained through the cracks, leaving behind a gory mess that carpeted the entire chamber in carnage.

"You can not defeat me!"

Zephon had become a monster of limbs and heads. It stood among the chamber of putrid flesh with its feet buried in the muck. All of the corrupted energy was being gathered and siphoned through its legs.

Luckily Selene's attack had cut him in half. Although Zephon could not be killed by an attack like this while in this form, it did temporarily stop him from gathering any more energy.

"What the actual fuck is this?"

Dawn tread on the blanket of squishy, sick flesh beneath her feet. Tentacles grew from it and groped at her, looking for gaps in her armor. Luckily Dawnbreaker was completely sealed, allowing no purchase for them to hold. Foiled, they instead slapped and pawed at her, hoping to corrode the relic.

Zephon's power filled the entire area, a repulsive influence that exemplified death. Even a relic like Dawn's would not resist forever. Eventually even it would fall to corruption.

Her hands were still wrapped around Terrangelica, shoved deep into the ground. Black tentacles reached up to her waist and her armor had begun to sizzle.

Selene continued her onslaught. Using the power of her Eye and her superior speed, she cut into Zephon's body unceasingly. Each attack carved away some of the power he'd gathered and with each second he was losing ground.

But it was merely appearances!

Everything around them was corrupted now. It was like they were caught in the belly of a giant creature and Zephon was in control of it all. He was master of this ghastly domain. There was no end to the tools at his disposal.

Here, he was unkillable. The world of gore and pestilence steadily fed him power. Meanwhile Dawn's defenses were under assault, and Selene's powers were being tested. As strong as these two women were, they had met the wrong foe in the wrong terrain. They were caught in Zephon's deadly grasp.

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