***Ondaric Enclaves Short Story***
Atannis the Radiant One soared above the panoply of battle, voltaic spear in hand, upon the back of his ferocious Fangmora Eel, Daithrun. The ethersea billowed at their backs, carrying them forth on a gale of magic that mimicked the very seas themselves. Keening cries from the Depth-Dwellers’ Shoal Phalanx pierced the horrific cacophony of warfare as Atannis lifted his mighty spear; the signal to descend upon the foe.
“Warriors of Ondaric,” Atannis’ shout rippled through the ethersea like a thunderclap. “Precious little is the time for words! Precious little is the time for eminent action! If we must perish in the clutches of our myriad foes, then let it be in the enclave’s defense! Charge, charge, and show them no merciful quarter!”
Too impatient to witness his orders followed, Atannis always preferred to lead by exemplary example. He spurred Daithrun into a spiraling descent that crashed into the thick of battle. A flurry of wicked knives lashed from out of the flying blood and choking dust toward him. Atannis rumbled a thunderous cry, his bio-voltaic spear exploding with blinding bolts of energy.
Blood and gore showered Atannis from the clutch of Witch Aelves slain from his mighty spear. Daithrun caught the scent of blood on the wind, then lashed and writhed with his ferocious maw. Wives of Khaine wisely pranced and danced around the great eel, but those too cumbersome found themselves crushed between Daithrun’s fangs before they could eke out a scream.
A shadow leapt from the blood-soaked earth, knives sweeping to cut Atannis’ heart in pieces. Several witches had already encircled him from every conceivable direction, edging nearer for the kill. From leagues in the distance, Atannis spied slithering mutants facing his direction as they formed ranks. They nocked their arrows and aimed to pierce Atannis’ noble heart.
For a brief moment, Atannis accepted that death had come far too soon…
Then the Akhelians of the Ondaric Enclave descended upon the Daughters of Khaine with the force of a hurricane. A hundred bolts from the bio-voltaic spears gouged through entire ranks of Witches. Deepsea beasts swept into the midst of the foe with scythed fins and gnashing teeth.
Volleys of heart-seeker arrows descended upon the Akhelians like rainfall. Mighty defenders of the Ondaric Enclave toppled from their mounts; their last breaths already drawn. Wicked glaives lanced out from the hordes of witch aelves to pierce the flesh of mighty sea beasts.
The maelstrom of battle raged around Atannis, too lightning paced for even him to keep track of. As casualties began to mount and collect on the volcanic slopes of the Crimson Peaks, he honed his mind upon those who stood before him. He caught a wretched Melusai in her death mask with a broad sweep of his shield. The glaive-wielding serpent reeled from the blow, only to slither around for a momentous lunge. Atannis proved a step ahead, already twisted in his saddle to thrust his spear through the mutant’s flesh.
Atannis struck true, his mighty spear crumpling the Melusai’s light breast plate with one thrust. The half-aelf eked out a blood-spitting groan before she slumped lifelessly onto the haft of his spear. Daithrun shrieked and plunged headlong into another throng of the prodding serpents. The spear tore free from the victim’s flesh without effort.
Sundia’s magenta speckled fangmora crossed over Daithrun’s head, her spear couched to punch through several melusai at once. Six she slayed without effort, before a heart-seeker pierced her back. Atannis roared defiantly and watched her fly off from her mount into the volcanic ash below.
Shadows circled overhead and cast barbed javelins from on high into the melee. The death rattle of many undersea beasts and shattered Akhelians fanned Atannis’ rage until it scolded him from within.
“Valuir!” Atannis cried over the cries of thousands of others. “An oath of kinship you swore to me on the hour of our induction into the Akhelian Phalanx! Do you remain my most trusted!?”
“My prince!” Valuir shouted from somewhere out of the chaos, shrouded with too many bodies. “Your command is my oath! I shall see it done!”
No sooner than Valuir made his declaration, did scores of mounted Akhelains from the Ishlaen Guard ascend back into the skies to combat the winged harpies that harried the entire phalanx. Javelins fell upon them by the dozen, but the Ishlaens channeled their bio-voltaic energy into their shields with power enough to deflect blows. Circling formations of Khinerai detached from the greater aerial force, intent on intercepting the Ishlaens and hewing them down.
A grim smile flashed on Atannis’ lips as he shifted his focus onto the battle raging before him.
“Enough of this!” Atannis cried. “Qalphin, sound the horn! Fall back for another charge! Let the tide break their corpses upon rock!”
“As you will, my prince!” A wicked spear flashed by Atannis’ helmed features. Qalphin thrust his spear into the face of a Melusai fresh from her triumph over Fendri, the bladed tip shattering teeth and tongue. With his other hand, Qalphin lifted a conch to his lips that produced a keening shrill as he blew into it.
Almost in unison, the Depth-Dwellers’ Shoal lifted themselves out of the melee and back into the skies for a rapid reform. In their hundreds, they left the Namarti to fight and die to the last breath, for none of them would be left standing by the time Atannis could reorganize another charge.
“Damn them,” Yenli hawked and spat in the direction of the Khainite hordes below them. “Do their numbers not end? I’ve seen lesser charges break the backs of other armies!”
“If only our Namarti could fare so well.” Runai grimaced and cursed. “Useless cretins!”
Atannis rumbled back into his personal unit, the Defenders of Mor’Khaine. “Do not give into despair, kindred. We are far from defeated…”
“Far from defeated,” An authoritative voice repeated Atannis’ words with incredulity. “Ever nearer to the victory that Theronall cautioned you of!”
“Who dares?” Atannis deflected a wayward javelin with a flick of his shield. “Would you like your throat slit and your corpse left to bloat in the ash?”
Atannis searched for the source of the defiant words, and found his own guttered in the pit of his stomach. Amassed before him was a War Host of thousands of Akhelians, their heraldry and banners too numerous and varied to hone them down to any one Akhelian House. Anchored in their midst were a score of ancient leviadons that dwarfed many of the surrounding mountains themselves. Countless Akhelians mounted on Fangmora Eels and Allopexes swarmed around the mighty Deepsea beasts in numbers that Atannis had never seen within the three-century span of his life.
At the fore of their number, two Akhelian Kings perched themselves on the backs of the most elegant and beautiful deep mares, prized treasures only fit for Kings of the Idoneth Deepkin.
“Noo… it cannot be!” Atannis reared his mount until it slithered in place. “Fendriach, the Benighted Prince. Ellion’draich, the Banishing Blade… amongst your ranks I see warriors from House Ennel’nar to Qannir to Theronhall… you cannot expect me to believe that you’re all that remains of Ondaric!”
“Not all that remains…” Ellion’draich replied in somber tones. “We bring but a host of shadows, Atannis, Radiant One, no longer fit to bask in the light of Ondaric…”
“You’ve handled yourself honorably, Attanis…” Fendriach lifted a hand to silence his younger brother. “You should feel no shame when I say that I’m assuming control of this conflict. When I command your Phalanx to charge into the heart of the Khainite Hordes, know that I forbid your death. Claim the heart of this Slaughter Queen Nashela. Bring me her severed head and that of each one of her disciples. Prove yourself and I’ll deem you worthy of leading your own house.”
Atannis narrowed his eyes and spat, his defiance renewed. “Oh no, Exiled Brother! You won’t send my phalanx alone into the clutches of those cursed Avatars that are murdering everything standing before them!”
“Radiant One,” A knowing smile flashed across Fendriach’s placid features. “No one said you’d be going alone. You swore oaths to me in the past, that we’d be brothers bound, even if not by blood. Will you still fight beside me?”
“Ha!” Atannis’ smile visibly became more frenzied. “I have only lust for vengeance in my heart! You keep that Avatar from hewing me down, then I’ll gladly collect every Khainite Disciples head on this gods forsaken battlefield! Let us waste no more time! I long to see if your skill is as sharpened as Theronhall suggests!”
“Then no time shall be wasted!” Fendriach nodded, satisfied. “Ellion’draich, sound our advance… Ondaric enters the battlefield!”