Hey all.,

So, this is just a bit of my WIP that I'm writing atm. Curious to see what you think of these set of chapters.

They are semi-climactic fight set pieces in the middle of the story, and contain some plot, some character stuff, details of the power system and so on.

I'd like everything critiqued. I've run this through Grammarly at least 20 times,so if there's any SPAG you spot, please let me know.

Critique: Literally everything.

I'll also post a google doc with the same info in the comments if you prefer to use gdocs to critique, just lmk because it has to be reformatted for some reason:

Introduction:

Power system in brief:

Godspark: Mutation like superpower. Grants a variety of physical abilities, one per person.

Rune Knights: Powered by mana implants, can only be used by rune knights.

Working blurb:

Derek and the Dawn group's journey for the Arche is about to get a lot more straightforward. The path to the True Map has been made clear, and all they need to do is retrieve it, but a barrage of challenges will whittle down their trust in themselves, and each other.

As Simon's self-doubt, Rachel's newfound shiftiness and Zeke's deadly past begin to take their toll, Douglas West begins to wonder if he and Derek will be better off without the rest of the team.

The Nephilim Jason has spent his life cultivating ties to the darkest part of the underworld, now he will use all that power to tear Dawn apart as he extracts his pound of flesh.

As bounty hunters, Rune Knights and the Nephilim himself launch an assault of biblical proportions on Dawn, they will be overrun and besieged on all fronts.

Facing their first real challenge, the team will have to pull together or be torn apart.

The story so far:

In essence, my protagonists are a group of travellers on a quest. Long story short, they managed to piss off the law of the land, get into a skirmish, and get themselves captured by a chapter of this world's military known as the Rune Knights led by someone with a personal grudge against one of our heroes. One of the Rune Knights defected and helped to free our heroes, and they're scrambling to escape the castle. They are confronted by two of the Rune Knight adjutants in the process. Simon and Alex (the defect Rune Knight) chase down Olivia, while Douglas holds Brook back.

The Story continues…


Chapter 25 – Rule Maker

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Chapter 25 – Law

Battle of Knights.

Simon, Alex and Olivia.

Alex and Simon chased after Olivia, their feet pounding the floors of the castle as she ran from them.

“She’s leading us somewhere,” Alex said, “Let’s leave her and go help the rest of your friends.”

“No.” Simon stayed focused, “If we leave her be, she’ll come cause trouble for us afterwards. We can’t afford any disruption. We need to keep them out of commission until we finish our escape.”

Alex didn’t disagree with his logic, he just wondered how much of that decision was down to being saved by Douglas after having being rendered useless at the hands of Brook. He buried his concerns as they crossed a threshold, immediately he felt a strange tingle hit his body. Before he could back out, a wall of mana sprung up, separating them from the rest of the castle. There was a corresponding one at the far end of the room they were in. Olivia stood just inside of it.

He glanced around, runescript laced the walls.

“What’s going on,” asked Simon, “I didn’t know you could do something like this with Runes?”

“You can’t,” Alex replied, “This is a conditional rune, it means that we need to satisfy a condition embedded into the logic of the runes before we can leave this space. It’s very powerful magic.”

“That is correct.” Olivia affirmed, as she shaped her mana into a crossbow on her wrist, “To be more precise, there are two rules here in play here, as there are actually two rune boundaries.”

Alex’s eyes snapped open as he searched the walls again and then he spotted the second runescript, just beyond the solid mana barrier. It formed another field around them. Simon didn’t understand why he was panicked just yet.

“Hey Simon,” Alex whispered, fear tainting his voice, “Can you summon your armour?”

“Yeah, sure.” Simon concentrated, willing Hephaestus to form around him. Nothing happened. He tried again. it felt like trying to move an arm that was no longer there, he simply couldn’t feel it.

“What’s going on?” Simon said, “This usually works…”

“Rule Maker.” Olivia interrupted him, “I have placed two rules here. Two absolute rules that cannot be violated. The first, I’m sure you figured out. Until one of us is defeated, neither shall enter nor leave this bounded field. The second, within the bounded field— no godsparks may activate.”

Simon fell to his knees in shock. With her first move of the fight, Olivia had removed him from play, rendering him useless once more.

“Air Force Simon. Poison Prince Alex. Without your godsparks, the two of you can surrender to the Rune Knights right now, or I will be forced to kill you both.” Olivia said, “Don’t try to fight. You’ll lose.”

Alex was confident in his ability to fight on par with Olivia, but Simon was neutered without his armour. With his earlier crisis of confidence, he would surely have lost the will to fight. Simon’s expression changed, he stood up and smirked. As he did so, he grabbed a knife from his pocket. Alex had underestimated him somewhat.

“That’s ok,” Simon said to Olivia. Then he raced towards her, “Before I was ‘Air Force’, I was a capable bounty hunter myself. Hand to hand combat is nothing new for me.”

A crossbow bolt tore through his leg. He stumbled, then jumped away as two more flew past his head. Olivia was firing rapidly. Simon finally fell to the ground, his leg giving way underneath him. He cursed himself as he realised he was going to lose the fight, Olivia turned her bolt towards him and fired again only to have it clang off Alex who had hardened himself.

“You’ve got guts to go up against a Rune Knight without your godspark,” Alex said as he looked back at him for a brief moment, “So I’ll back you up. You take the lead, and I promise you, we’ll take her down together.”

He snapped back as Olivia expelled a tremendous amount of mana at that point, Simon couldn’t detect it directly, but he saw the air shake and quiver behind her in reaction to the energy she was currently outputting, her crossbow vanished.

“She’s doing something,” He said,”What is she doing?”

“Shut up. Stay focused. Don’t worry about that.” Alex said. “I’ll worry about the mana, you give it your best.” His voice dropped, “Remember the rules. That’s our key to victory!”

His own mana poured into his arm, Alex’s bow was out at the ready. There would be no poison tipped arrowheads this time, just a battle of Knight skills. Fair enough, he liked it that way too.

Olivia leapt first, Simon followed to meet her in the middle. The duo began to slash and swing at each other as they clashed. For someone who relied on his godspark powers in battle, Alex noticed that he was surprisingly versatile without them. The cowardly Simon he had almost captured earlier had all but disappeared. Olivia swung first, a broadsword, her weapon of choice. Simon didn’t fall back, but pressed forward, grabbing her swinging hand. His knife lanced at her neck.

Alex sighed. He had no chance after all.

The knife shattered on Olivia’s neck as the Rune: Harden spell took effect. She had fast reflexes. Her knee found solace in Simon’s belly, he doubled over. Before he could recover, another kick sent him flying away.

Alex fired then, Olivia deflected the bolt, her eye flickered to him, disgust showing. “Traitorous scum, will you bring more shame to our order of knights?”

“I thought we agreed there was no more talking between us,” Alex fired again, two arrows this time. She deflected them both back towards him and leapt for Simon who rolled just out of the way as her blade cleaved the ground where his neck had lain. He still rushed at her, to his credit. He wasn’t wilting back, he pressed forward again. He had been disarmed twice, and yet he still fought.

That was admirable in a person, despite their allegiances.

Olivia thought so too, dropping her blade, she rushed towards SImon., meeting him on his own terms. He swung at her again, but she countered, smashing his forearm away. Her rune martial arts weren’t as good as Brook’s, but far above average. A blow to his shoulder stopped his next swing, a blow to his ribs cracked them. Two to the neck stopped him from thinking, a final blow dropped him to the ground, his eyes open yet unseeing as he passed out.

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“I thought you were going to back him up, ” She turned towards Alex. “Or are we not the only ones you betray?”

“He looked like he was having so much fun, I couldn’t help but just let him do his thing”, He fired three arrows this time. She dodged, summoning her crossbow this time. Alex stood no chance, just like Simon before him. He too relied on his godspark, he too would fall shortly. The ground below her feet cracked, as an arrow embedded itself there. Alex fired again, she deflected it with her own bolt. Planting her hand on the ground, she attacked.

Rune: Split.

Alex leapt into the air as the ground under his feet began to shift, crumble and split apart. It was unfortunate for him — a bolt from Olivia’s bow slammed into him. The harden spell was still on his body, but it didn’t stop some of her attacks from getting through.

Alex, the expert archer, the shaper knight, would fall to her today. She swore it.

Rune Shape: Gastraphetes

A giant crossbow formed above her head, its shape as elegant as it was menacing. It was Sandra’s bow. Her unique rune weapon. Rumour had it that one shot from it had split apart a building, killing the dangerous criminal – Adan the‘Jailer’.

Alex began to move to avoid it, then he saw Simon. He stopped, and moved backwards drawing her attention away from his fallen partner.

“What good would that do? I’ll just get to him after I’m done with you,” Olivia wondered out loud.

“Just bring it on,” Alex yelled, “I’ll take you on.”

“Desperation doesn’t look good on you, Alex.” She prepared her attack, and then she fired.

Alex saw it as if in slow motion, the bolt formed out of mana, a wickedly long thing. Rivets adorned its side so it would spin through the air as it flew. It would drill through whatever it hit. That was Sandra’s intent, at least.

Gastraphetes: Piercing Shot

The bolt shot through the air, distorting space as it flew fast and furious. Alex put all his mana towards strengthing his harden spell but came up short.

The bolt tore through his defences, tore through his flesh, and slammed him into the wall before it dissipated back into mana. He coughed blood as he struggled to stand, then fell again on his face.

With that, he could no longer fight. He laughed to himself. Despite his bravado, he too had been rendered useless once his power was stripped from him. Olivia’s anger was understandable, he was a traitor, but he had come to believe that there were things more important than the Rune Knights. No, he had always known that, he had just forgotten. Now he was betting his life on being right.

“I’m impressed you didn’t let it drill through you in its entirety. That said,I am truly sorry Alex, ” Olivia said, “I had really hoped to avoid this, but you forced my hand. There are consequences for your actions. Please as you pass on, rest assured, your juniors will know not to follow your willful behaviour.”

“No, it’s fine Olivia,” Alex said, as blood dripped from his lips. “This is your victory, you’ve defeated us. You’ve won this round. You defeated us both.”

As the full implications of what Alex said began to sink in, she snapped her head around,searching for Simon. He was just outside the mana field which had dissipated once she defeated Alex. Simon had been a non-combatant since she had disarmed and defeated him. Alex had moved her attention from him just as he had regained consciousness, and Simon had known exactly what to do.

Blue and silver steel flowed around him as his godspark activated, he looked up, staring through his helmet’s visor at her.

She raced towards him, hardening her skin with runes and enhancing her speed to reach him, but it was too late.

Simon focused his single strongest weapon on her in an instant and fired.

Hephaestus: Burning Plasma Cannon!

A bright red beam erupted from Simon’s gauntlets, striking her dead centre. She managed to resist, sinking her feet into the ground and using it as leverage to keep herself from moving. It was all for nought, the searing heat from the burn burned her insides, breaking her concentration and dispelling the runes. She had resisted briefly, but now she has blown away, slamming into the far end of the castle walls.

"I heard you, Alex." Simon panted. "I remembered."


Chapter 26 – Steel and Amour

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Chapter 26 – Steel

“Are you ok?” Simon was trying to prop up Alex as the latter struggled to stand.

“I’ve been better,” Alex said, “Rune Knights can heal themselves to a degree, I’m performing first aid right now, though I don’t think I can be of much use as a fighter going forward.”

“That’s ok. You’ve done enough. I’m the same way.”

“You didn’t fall back, that’s the only reason I relied on you. Why is that?” Alex asked as they left the hallway.

“I already wilted back on Chassier and let Zeke and the rest of Dawn get captured. I’m not doing that again.”

“I see,” Alex said. Simon shouldn’t have been able to walk either, he observed, he had deactivated the rest of his armour, but he kept his legs active to force himself to move. He had turned his guilt into motivation. Good for him.

“Thank you.”

Battle of the Martial Artists.

Douglas and Brook.

A battle of attrition then? Alright. I’ll whittle you down bit by bit. Until you kneel before the Rune Knights.

A shockwave rippled through the open hall as Douglas and Brook clashed again. Brook’s gauntlets were taking the brunt of Douglas’ attacks. The man was skilled at close quarters combat and fast enough to overcome his Cheetah attacks.

Douglas struck out with a kick, causing Brook to dodge and fall under his leg. Balancing himself on a hand, he swept Douglas off his feet — or tried to. Douglas leapt into the air, avoiding the armoured leg, only to meet another kick aimed at his torso. He felt his face vibrate violently as the blow connected.

Rune Arts: Armoured shock

Another explosive shockwave from the kick sent him violently towards the wall. Another hole in it, next to the few he had already made.

Douglas wiped his mouth as Brook ambled towards him, hands dangling at his side.

“I’m a master of the Rune Knights fighting arts — as you’ve no doubt already realised.” Brook said, “Short of the Rune Lords or the Four Holy Knights, I don’t believe there’s anyone more skilled than I am in this area. It has always been my dream to fight with you, ‘Invincible’ Douglas.”

Douglas inwardly cringed. His reputation had made people like this guy want to fight him just so they could prove they could take on and defeat the man who had been hailed as invincible. Douglas would often win a one on one match, keeping his reputation intact, but the area around Pesque had been noticeably devoid of powerful martial artists and fighters, who had bound themselves to the Rune Knights, Nephilim or more powerful bounty hunter guilds deeper into the continent.

All that said, this man reminded him of his opponent in Karn County, Richard. He could take powerful hits without flinching. The difference was, this one actually knew how to fight. The Rune Martial arts form for barehanded fighters was robust. From what he could tell, he also wasn’t using a godspark. He wore surprisingly flexible armour which had been laced in runes. Another layer of runes glowed on his skin. The harden rune, applied twice would quadruple the number of hits he could take. The shock rune, which turned his blows into powerful shockwaves.

This would not be easy.

“I’m so glad to make you happy,” Douglas rolled up from the wall where he had landed.

“Your regular styles; the Cheetah style and the Butterfly style. Your trump cards, the Southern Crane, Tiger and Dragon styles. I’ve committed them all to memory,” Brook said, “To bring you in for the crimes you committed. I’ll beat your martial arts, your invincible godspark and then I’ll take you down once more.”

“I helped save Karn County from the Nephilim. We — all of us in Dawn— we did that. You are working for the Nephilim who you — in case you’ve forgotten — are supposed to oppose,” Douglas replied, “Or did your Rune Knights ignore the plight of the people while wrapped in your flag of self-righteousness?”

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“You saved Karn County? That’s amazing. How about all the people the Marauders killed? Or those you injured personally as a thug? Or the Rune Knights you’ve attacked before?” Brook asked, “Do you think you should get absolution just because you did a good thing once?”

Douglas made to interrupt, but Brook was in front of him, a kick to his face sent him flying away.

“Don’t defend yourself. There’s nothing you can say. The Arche is a fairy tale and a myth, and even if it weren’t.” He paused, “It’s in the Rune Knights best interest to ensure that you don’t find it. Either way, you’re not getting out of this alive.”

The two men stood staring at each other. Then the fight continued.

Butterfly Style: Guillotine.

Douglas’ kick lanced out, aimed at Brook’s neck. He deflected it, grabbing Douglas’ leg with such casualness one would almost assume it had been moving in slow motion and slamming him into the ground. Douglas was stunned, but then his eyes caught a flash of silver, he dodged as Brook pieced the ground, his barehanded knife hand thrust easily cutting through stone and rock like it was paper.

The man was fast, and as he began to consider the plight of his friends, Douglas decided he couldn’t afford to fight with anything less than his best. He leapt forward.

Southern Crane Style: Swaying Heavenly Strike.

He swayed downwards under Brook, and then shot up, transferring the energy from his rapid movement into Brook’s armour. The shockwave spread outwards, blowing debris from behind them. A small trickle of blood fell from the Knights mouth as his armour cracked, but just a little. Not enough.

Leaping above with Brook as leverage, Douglas brought his palms down, torquing his body mid-air to adorn the necessary stance.

Southern Crane Style: Abyss Breaker.

The ground below him cracked, but Brook resisted the attack. His body felt like solid steel. No, tougher Douglas realised. He was actively reflowing his mana wherever Douglas would hit, toughening up his defences in an instant. Like Alex had said (And Brook reiterated), he was one of the expert hand to hand combatants.

But Douglas had no choice, he had to defeat him here, or risk his friends being killed before they escaped the castle. He dashed towards Brook, with all the power he could muster, and was blown back as the latter kneed him in the stomach. Before he could reach the ground, Brook hovered just above him, his arm appeared to flicker, and the Douglas slammed into the ground as the Knight’s attack hit him full force.

Rune Martial Arts: Shock Bore!

The shockwave that had erupted from the gauntlet had crushed him into the ground, embedding him into it. Brook followed up, and Douglas attempted to block. The shockwave penetrated regardless. Douglas was pushed further into the ground as his insides continued to bounce around.

“Good. Like the criminal that you are, I‘ll bury you.” Brook continue pounding at his crossed forearms, each shockwave sending him deeper and deeper into the ground. A final mighty blow and he had dug enough space for several coffins with his own body.

His vision blurred briefly, sharpening just in time to see Brook leap into the air and towards him. Douglas leapt out, the ground beneath him shattering with the force of his movement, just barely skimming past Brook as he moved in the opposite direction.

Recovering his balance, Brook quickly followed, and they exchanged a few blows in the air. Brook took a blow to the torso, Douglas to the head. Brook to the chest. Douglas to the leg. Brook to the chest again. Douglas two in the neck. Should they have been watched by spectators, the series of blows would have been nigh invisible. Upon touching the ground, they disengaged, leaping into opposite corners. Brook leapt at him again, this time, both palms extended.

Rune Arts: Stun Cleaver!

He struck Douglas twice, the shockwave threatening to rupture his internal organs, but not quite. He had to admit his godspark came in handy for moments like this.

Brook had attacked, he was still open, his body leaning into the blow. Douglas would be finishing the fight the same way he had beaten Richard. The tiger’s bite would crush the Knight, and leave him victorious.

Entering the Tiger’s stance, he dashed towards Brook who regarded him with a sense of odd calm, the latter made no move to dodge or otherwise avoid the attack.

Very well then, the wounded Douglas thought to himself.

Tiger Style: Tiger’s Bite!

The attack was launched, but his opponent was ready. He grabbed both of Douglas’ hands just before the attack could land, gripping them rightly. Not enough to crack bone, he couldn’t do that, but enough to stop him from actually landing an attack. The runes provided enough force to counterbalance the attack.

Brook looked into Douglas’ eyes, finding despair.

“I expected better from you, ‘Invincible’.” He shoved him back, spinning around as he did so, his fist picking up momentum, “Now I know just how tough you are.”

Rune Martial Arts: Crushing Shock!

Once more, the shockwave ripped through Douglas’ body. He felt his insides tremble, and his bones vibrate.

The ground under him cracked and was ripped apart as blocks of concrete were torn apart by the shockwave. As for Douglas, he was once more on the cusp of darkness.

Dammit. I really deserve this, don’t I? I’ve been parading alongside them like I’m some kind of hero, but all of this is really my fault. I could have enlisted in the Knights, worked things the legal way, the right way, and made a positive difference. Instead, I served my ego.

As blood fell to the ground, his vision began to fade into black. It’s only right that I die here. That’s the only way I can pay for all the things I’ve done.

“Thank you.”

A voice echoed in his head. The Nirthis thanking him. Max, though he had died later on. For a moment he had been happy. The people of Karn Count, cheering. Derek. Derek needed him.

A small smile cracked on his lips as the attack finished.

“You guys are right,” Douglas’s feet wobbled as he grabbed onto Brook’s shoulders, “It would be terrible if I died, wouldn’t it?”

“You’re holding on to me for support? That’s pathetic,” Brook chastised him as he tried to shake him off, “Just die a dignified death, ‘Invincible’.”

Douglas did not fall, he stood and gripped Brook tighter, his fingers digging into the metal of the shoulder pads as he struggled to catch his breath. The latter quickly realised he wasn’t moving and began to yank and yank harder.

“I am not letting go of you,” Douglas said as Brook began to hit him in the head. The Knight had used up nearly all of his mana in that last offensive attacks. His attacks didn’t pack quite the punch. Still, he had enough to gouge away at his sturdy flesh. Deep cuts, light grazes. Douglas had experienced worse. He worked through the pain. A body blow sent Brook backwards, stunning him for a second. Just a second. But that was enough.

Douglas shifted into his dragon style, and Brook felt a shiver run down his spine.

Dragon Style: Twin Jackhammer!

Brook barely put up his hands, receiving a multitude of blows in what felt like the longest instant of his life. Each blow delivered with Douglas’s full weight behind it. His mana depleted, forced to rely on his reserves, Brook could only resist for a moment before his runes were shattered and he was sent crashing across the courtyard, unconscious.

Bones that would not break, joints that would never wear out, muscles that had no limit, Douglas’s godspark was worthy of the term invincible.

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