A tale of artists, intrigue, and the magical renaissance

4.07 – Nequit Immobilis {Unstoppable, Unmovable}

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One of the most powerful combat Stormtouched that Elena knew stood motionless, his head tilted slightly to one side, staring at an enemy he had every desire to kill. She knew that Master Apollo was aware of how little time they had. At any moment, the guards would come back with Stormtouched fighters, who could tip the scales of this standoff, no matter what was making Apollo stall. At any moment, Fulvio would arrive.

Elena glanced around at the crowd, well out of arms reach of the group who so brazenly brandished weapons, but close enough to be dangerous if Fulvio suddenly inhabited their minds. There were enough of them that the body-stealing Twisted could leap from person to person in the crowd, dropping into each for only seconds. A crowd of weapons, inflicting damage but leaving Elena and Apollo seconds to decide whether or not to fight back, potentially harming the innocent.

The thought made Elena’s stomach lurch as she watched the crowd watch Apollo, and with all of the tension in the situation, she was hardly in the mood to trust intuition. She thrust the mallet to one side, suddenly, and it passed through the finely dressed man.

“It’s so good to finally put a face to all of these stories I’ve heard of you. I’ll forgive you trying to put a hammer through my chest,” the Echo flashed her a wide smile, taking a step closer and watching Apollo and Marsillo stare each other down, as if the two of them were fast friends watching an event together. “Besides, even if you could harm me-”

“I could tell Ele to punch you in the mouth,” Elena said flatly, “I’ll bet that would hurt you.”

“Even if you could gain anything from harming me,” the Echo said patiently, “does it really matter what you or I do here? No, the real significance is what’s happening here.”

He gestured toward the two men. At just that moment, Master Apollo shifted his footing and let the rapier in his hand slip slightly so that he held it in a different grip. Almost in unison with him, Marsillo moved the silver quarterstaff from one hand to the other, letting it rest in the crook of his elbow. It was a relaxed movement, but the way it rested made clear that he could whip the staff around in a split-second.

“It’s a strange sort of majesty, isn’t it?” Marsillo’s Echo said dreamily, “the quintessential problem, the immovable object encountering an unstoppable force.”

“I don’t know what you mean, and I’m not interested in talking to you,” Elena said. She raised her voice, “Master Apollo?”

“Wait, Elena. Please,” Master Apollo waved at her again, “this is more complicated than it looks.”

“Not interested in talking to me? That’s a shame,” Marsillo’s Echo said, “I’d always hoped that you would settle in Vennechi so that we could spend time together. Despite the road that has separated you and my Stormtouched, I hold you no ill will, and after you’re dead I think I’ll be quite sad.”

“Immovable object and unstoppable force, what did you mean by that?” Ele asked.

Marsillo suddenly moved, letting his staff slip until its end tapped against the stone with a metallic ring and bending into a crouch. Apollo whipped his rapier around, extended out and behind him, and waited.

“Master Apollo, of the disgraced Eye of the Storm,” Marsillo’s Echo said, “armed with a Storm that shows him a second or so of the future. Marsillo Del Favero, head of the Del Favero family, whose Storm guides each muscle along a perfect path to his desires. We’re very privileged, seeing two such powerful Lanisti, both of whom have leveraged their Storms into so much more. This is the sort of matching that children argue over, and we get to see firsthand how such a matching resolves.”

Elena took a few experimental steps, making a wide circle around the pair of Stormtouched, and in perfect sync, Marsillo carefully shifted his right foot, presumably altering his stance to match what small threat she showed.

“Well,” Marsillo’s Echo added lightly, “we would be able to see how such a matching resolves. More likely, we’ll see the pair continue fighting each other in their minds like this until reinforcements arrive for one side or the other. I hate to break it to you, my dear, but I think we both know for whom those reinforcements will arrive. You can run now, if you like. I don’t think any of us will think less of you for it.”

Elena grit her teeth, but the Echo was right. It didn’t matter that the pair were legendary Lanisiti warriors, as long as they were evenly matched, the scales of the fight would soon shift, dramatically and disastrously.

“I’ve been watching Lanisti fight ever since the studios of Milia,” Elena snarled, “and the one thing they all have in common is that they’re boring.”

She didn’t let herself think. The longer she thought, the more warning Marsillo’s Storm would give him. Instead she gripped her mallet tight and charged, letting her own Storm slip information into her fingertips, thrilling in the split-second of the air whipping past her ears.

“Elena, no!” Master Apollo shouted. At the same time, Marsillo moved.

Elena had watched Ripple fight, during her brief few months in Studio DaRose. She had watched Master Artemis fighting in the smuggling base in Milia. She had been expecting Marsillo to slip away like those Lanisti, to melt away with a spin and a twirl to strike at her from an unexpected direction. Her Storm helped her heft the mallet in her hand, aiming not for where he was, but for where he would be after twirling away.

Marsillo instead stood planted like a stone, only moving to turn and face her. For a split-second Elena faltered, but her momentum was too much to overcome in that split-second. In the moment of horrible falling, Marsillo rotated his silver staff upward in an effortless motion, landing a blow in the crook between her arm and ribs.

The thump sounded so muted, but Elena felt it through her whole body. At first there was no pain, just a shuddering shock that rippled through her, buzzing as if the quarterstaff had sent the Storm itself flowing through her. Her entire arm went numb, the mallet dropped from her suddenly stiff and useless fingers, but before she could registered the sensation, the pain hit.

Elena’s legs crumpled under her for the last few steps of her suddenly-aborted charge, and it was all she could do to land on her left side so as not to jostle the shoulder which she was sure had been shattered by the blow.

“Elena, are you okay? Elena!” Ele dropped to his knees by her side, but Elena could barely focus through the pain enough to look at him, let alone speak. Everything that wasn’t the tingling or the pain seemed fuzzy around the edges, and she simultaneously wanted to curl in on herself and not move for fear of making it worse. She settled for the compromise of clutching her bashed arm to her body, even though she couldn’t feel the arm itself, and trying to stay conscious.

“You can hardly say you weren’t warned,” Marsillo’s Echo said from his spot by the bench, “I’m not sure what part of ‘unstoppable force’ was unclear to you.”

Elena tried to answer, and the effort made the world swim and her stomach lurch.

“They’ve gone back to their stand-off.” Ele was so close that he could murmur under his breath, and Elena focused on his voice over the pain.

How does it hurt so much, the thought floated through Elena’s head, disconnected from the two Masters looming so close to her yet utterly focused on each other. I’ve had my arm sliced open, I’ve had my hand set on fire, none of it hurt this bad.

“Elena, focus,” Ele spoke even quieter, so softly that she could barely hear him where he sat inches away from her, “the stand-off is going to end in Marsillo’s favor.”

“Hurts,” Elena gasped, “how…so much…hurt?”

“Because his Storm guides him into swinging in the perfect way to achieve his goal, and his goal was to hurt you,” Ele said, still too softly for anyone to say, “he swings perfectly, Elena, so his Storm only works when he’s expecting you.”

Elena blinked, trying to focus her vision. Marsillo’s attention was on Master Apollo now, he had dismissed her just as completely as he had dismissed the Mortalis guards a little while ago. Her mallet lay just a scant few feet away. Moving by inches, Elena reached out for it…and almost vomited at the fresh wave of pain that even that small motion set off.

“C..can’t…” she breathed.

“You can,” Ele whispered. “Do it for Belloza.”

Elena’s arm was still numb, but the waves of agony from her shoulder felt like they would overwhelm her if she moved. She clenched her teeth, then clenched her eyes closed for good measure, and reached out for the mallet with her other hand.

As soon as she started moving she knew she only had a few seconds of consciousness left. As the pain enveloped her completely and the ground swung around in a circle, Elena gripped the mallet and swung as hard as she could.

***

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***

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5 responses

  1. Gnibbles

    I thought lanisti didn’t have echoes?

    Like

    2016-10-25 at 5:45 pm

    • :D I wondered if anyone would catch that, I didn’t think someone would catch it within an hour!

      Like

      2016-10-25 at 5:56 pm

      • Bart

        Then he’s something else, just like Elena is something else. I would guess that all Twisted are not quite cut in the same mold as everyone else.

        Like

        2016-10-25 at 9:35 pm

  2. Bart

    I don’t quite understand what’s happening. Is she swinging her weapon, hoping that it’ll give Apollo something extra in the area to play off of, to force the guy into it? Is she hoping to get into her former inadvertent “I killed her but I didn’t know that I was killing her” state of mind? Is she even within reach/range of him or is she just swinging wildly?

    Like

    2016-10-25 at 9:38 pm

    • Kunama

      I think she’s trying to tip the scales in Apollo’s favour. Her ally can see the future. The opponent is apparently no longer expecting her to get in the way. I’m not sure the ploy would work, since surely one of those desires would be to stay alive.

      Like

      2016-11-02 at 9:33 am

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