Hakaril observed with a smug grin the enthusiasm with which Shakti flung herself into combat. He had a certain fondness for people who appreciated a good fight. The crude, raging bloodlusts of thugs like these were beneath him, or so he would like to think, but a battle was almost as much an intellectual exercise as a physical one. Rapid calculations and judgments made during combat were a product of honed instincts and tactical expertise, and Hakaril considered himself to be highly competent in both areas. While a brawl against a dozen men was different from an intense magical duel, both types of combat had their perks.
Shakti's idea to cast a protective spell to reinforce her tattered clothing was an excellent plan, but Hakaril felt that his version of a similar spell would be infinitely more impressive if he cast it while the enemy was watching.
Hakaril's hands and fingers fluidly played through the air as he combed the invisible mana flow surrounding his body. A sharp and palpable current of energy emanated from his body as a set of glowing threads of multicolored light began to coalesce around him, the now-visible strands of force wrapping his body in a protective field. As the iridescent web rapidly solidified around his figure, the mage concluded his spell with the final words of a powerful invocation.
"My will is my weapon and my soul is my shield! ASTRAL ARMOR!"
A shockwave rippled forth from Hakaril's aura as his newly formed protective field settled into place. His former black garb was now covered by a semi-transparent suit of polychromatic plate mail surrounded in a swirling cloud of lustrous powder like the sheddings of a moth. The mage grinned.
"I need nothing other than my own desire to kill you punks!" shouted the mage as a group of four men advanced on him with flashing blades. "Come and get me!"
The first of the men to charge beat his companions to the point by a few seconds, giving him time to swing an enormous two-handed sword at the General with more than sufficient strength to cleave a man in two. Hakaril made no attempt to parry the strike.
A split second later, the thug was tightly gripping a hilt attached to slightly less than half of his former weapon. The other charging foes stopped dead in their tracks. Physics had seen fit to deposit the broken blade of the sword on the floor a few feet away from Hakaril, where it clattered and skidded to a halt. To the complete surprise of his attacker, Hakaril's shimmering armor had not only completely stopped the attack, but the effect was comparable to striking a solid stone wall.
"That was a nice sword," commented the General with a smirk. "Of Baronian make, I'd guess. A highlander's claymore. On the plus side, you can use it with one hand now if you really want." The man assaulting the mage took a step backwards and stared at his now-useless weapon with an expression of utter disbelief. His three companions all wore similarly dumbfounded faces.
"Now...die!" spat Hakaril as he raised a hand toward the face of the disarmed brute. Panicking, the man brought his sword arm and the broken hilt up to the level of his eyes, as though attempting to shield himself from his impending death. Hakaril snapped his fingers, and the man's three comrades suddenly exploded in a blindingly colorful pyrotechnic shower, bits of astral shrapnel scattering in all directions. Each of the three men quickly became more acquainted with the warehouse floor.
The leader of the pack fell to his knees, muscles shaking violently as he dropped the remains of his weapon. His will had been broken. Once, he was a strong man, or so he had thought. His victims always begged for mercy before he killed them, usually after he had forcefully taken whatever he had wanted. He had "conquered" many unsuspecting maidens. He had recieved many spontaneous "donations" straight from the coin purses of many back alley travellers. He had been a man endowed with great virility and the associated might to take whatever he pleased. His "triumphs" had always left him feeling superhuman, and now he was in a position typical of one of his victims.
"You're all alike," admonished Hakaril. "You have so much confidence, so much belief in your own might. You think you're entitled to whatever you want because you can take it from whoever you want. But you're wrong!" The mage was shouting now, his voice battering the ears of his enemy like a mallet against a drum. "You are nothing but a common murderer who preys on the weak and defenseless! You are not strong, you are exploitative! You are a bully and a coward! You are begging me for your life, and so I shall let you have it. But from now on, you will live in a manner much more suitable to your temperment."
The thug's eyes widened as Hakaril's aura pulsed with energies that even his magic-dead body could feel resonating through the air. A brilliant blue glow surrounded the thug. He shivered as a sudden coldness came over his body. Every pore on his body forced his hair to stand at attention as an unbearable itchiness overwhelmed his sense of touch. The man writhed on the floor as grey fur began to erupt from every inch on his body. The world around him, especially the General's glaring eyes, grew smaller as they drew farther away from his rapidly shrinking form. His face began to elongate abruptly, coming to a very narrow point as long, white whiskers burst from his stretching cheeks.
Soon, the transformation was complete. The thug had become a rat.
"Now your form suits your personality," Hakaril stated, voice dripping with contempt. "But you should still have your mind. Go crawl into a filthy tunnel somewhere and scavenge for scraps. You've been doing it all your life. It should be a familiar activity."
Edited by: [url=http://p068.ezboard.com/brpgww60462.showUserPublicProfile?gid=archmage144>Archmage144</A] at: 8/24/06 12:16