Vault of The Starborn Machine

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Chapter 2: The Sea of Margr

Part 3: Strong as Azure Steel

(This correlates Ellomyer Update #7)​​
A purple haired woman was slumped unconscious at the foot of a large stone in the Valley of Sin. She had been detected and caught alone by a 9-foot bipedal creature with features reminiscent of a black goat, and a sense of charm reminiscent of a knife to the gut. There had been a brief struggle, a natural conclusion, and now the came the costs of her mistakes. The beast, known as a margr, had taken two of her most valuable possessions, one of which being the tentacle that it had cut off from her neck. The more immediate concern however, where the three much smaller margr that were crowding around her each placing claim to the rest of her body parts. One in particular, was in the middle of trying to scoop out an eyeball with the tip of its spear.

That’s when the miracle happened.

Deep, rich, and booming like thunder, a voice rang out from the heavens above, “STOP RIGHT THERE!”

The three margr froze. It wasn’t every day that one heard the voice of a god.

A moment passed.

The three creatures slowly began to raise their heads. They saw nothing but the open sky. Among them, a single one’s mind was blown. Perhaps it was a god, it wondered. But why here? Why now?

As their companion tussled with the most profound thoughts it had ever experienced, the two others continued to search the sky for the source of the sound. It was the one on the right side of the woman that spotted it first. “The sun,” it rasped. “It in the sun!”

The middle goat-person drew its spear away from the woman’s eye socket and squinted into the sunlight. Too late, it saw a caped figure at the sun’s center plummeting towards it with a bead of raging plasma held within its metal grasp.

With a cry of, “STAR IMPACT!” Hiero, the metal figure, tore down from the heavens like a meteor. Reaching out with a star in his palm, he caught the middle margr’s face, and hit the ground with a force normally reserved for leveling buildings. The mechanical knight had landed in a stone-breaking, three-point stance with his right hand planted on the earth above where the middle margr’s body now lie. An impressive scorch mark and a boiling blood splatter were most of what remained of the monster’s skull.

The two remaining margr leapt back in horror.

Meanwhile, the mechanical knight began to rise up from the ground, head bowed, cape billowing, and hand crackling with lightning. “When hope is all but lost, and evil reigns unopposed. Look to the horizon, and there you’ll find me.” He clutched a fist before his chest, “A star shining like the rising dawn; my heart burns with the faith of all humanity.” Hiero suddenly lifted his head, “Villany!-” His speech was interrupted by the sight of a knife plummeting down towards his neck. Metal arms braced against the attack, but the hero found the weight behind the knife still driving him to his knees.

A nine-foot black margr gave the machine hero a sadistic grin. “So, the metal man thinks itself a hero for the little humans.” It snarled as it towered over the six-foot knight, “You don’t look so big to me.”

Hiero glared into the beast’s eyes and repeated himself, “Villany,” Arms still crossed, the hero dipped low and slipped beneath the giant margr’s arms, “Know and fear my name!” Flaps opened along the automaton’s back, and tongues of flame roared out. Hiero broke into a charge, mechanized feet pounding at the earth. “For so long as there is but even one to hope against the night, I, Hiero Sol, Guardian of Humanity, shall be there to bring forth the light!”

Caught off guard, the margr could do little but pound its knife against the machine’s back as it was scooped up and driven backwards ten, twenty, fifty feet. Suddenly, it felt its ribs crunch as it was smashed into a cliffside. The black margr growled in pain, not noticing the rumbling as the knight leapt away.

“And with that light.” Hiero said, raising a hand with unnecessary flair to the giant margr, and the large unstable cliff it was standing in front of. “Thy day of reckoning! PROMINENCE BLAZE” A burst of starlight erupted from his palm. The margr braced itself against the attack, but still found itself being smashed once more into the rock. This time it noticed the rumbling above it. It was too slow. Stone tumbled down and buried unceremoniously.

Hiero whipped around in the flashiest manner possible, “Burials free of charge!” He winked back at the rock pile, “Try not to take it for granite.” He sassed.

Looking back towards the woman, Hiero found the two smaller margr trying to salvage body parts from her while he was distracted. “EGADS! What do you think you’re doing to her?”

The margr that was preparing to slice off a finger looked petrified. It then slowly lowered the knife, and gave the goat equivalent of a nervous smile. “I do know not?”

Hiero warmed his thrusters to jet back to the stone the woman was by, “Well it ‘looks’ like you’re either a terrible manicurist, or about to cut off that poor old lady’s finger as a trophy.”

The goat-headed monster’s mind tumbled over the word ‘manicurist’ for a moment before realizing that a metallic grim reaper was revving up to come over and kill it. In a moment of panic, and torn between its bloodlust and terror, it shanked the woman in the flank, and turned to bolt.

A surge of worry and rage washed through Hiero’s mind, “You honorless cur!” said the knight as he hurled a bolt of lightning. The energy forked wide, missing its target, but cutting off its escape all the same.

With nowhere to go, the abhuman looked back at the woman. She was the perfect hostage. It raised its knife.

Meanwhile, an explosion of plasma sounded out from the back and boots of the robotic knight. Hiero hurtled across the distance in one jet propelled leap. His metal foot smashed into the stone above the woman’s head just as the margr lunged.

The goat-man wished it hadn’t.

Pivoting with a thruster, the knight snatched the creature out of the air with an electrified hand. Then, he twisted, and used his own weight as a counter balance to swing the monster like an oversize bola toward the other margr nearby. The other goat-beast was struck in the back as it turned to run, and the two fell to the ground convulsing with electricity. Hiero lanced them with a follow up bolt for good measure.

Hiero folded his arms, “Haha! They say that, ‘thyran of a feather that flock together, fall together!’ It turns out it’s that same for featherless goats as well.” The knight mentally admitted that he was reaching with that one.

With the danger passed, Hiero allowed himself to relax. Until just recently, this had been a rather bad day. After, his humiliation at the hands of over a dozen evil ghosts earlier, he had desperately needed this victory. It was unfortunate that only the woman was here to witness his heroics, but it wasn’t too important. What mattered was that after a flawless victory, he was no longer feeling like a failure of a hero. He glanced at the newest wound in the woman’s side. He was ‘mostly’ not a failure.

Pushing aside his guilty conscience, he strode in front of the woman, and struck a pose. “You have no need to fear any longer, for your savior has arrived and defeated the evil fiends.” Hiero’s eyes went wide, “Oh my word, you’ve already fainted at the mere sight of my heroics!” He folded his arms, and shook his head. “Curse my own charismatic nature. It seems like people are always swooning into unconsciousness whenever I arrive.” A small, often-ignored part of his mind suggested that it was likely due more to the head trauma. The rest of his mind was too busy remembering the woman explicitly calling out his name as she cheered him on during the fight.

A groan came from the knight’s side. He looked over to find the two margr still alive. “Still kicking I see. You’re a little sturdier that the average goat-demon aren’t you?” He strode over to the two bodies as one was in the middle of rising to its feet.

Had the margr’s eyes widened any further in terror it might have been able to look into the future, and see its own impending demise. “I was joke! I just kidding.” It begged.

“I believe you.”

The margr that had previously stabbed the unconscious woman gave the most surprised look a goat head would allow, and stood back upright.

The knight raised a hand, and a pulse of plasma blew the monster back to the ground, dead. He looked down at the other margr. “It was joke. I just kidding.” He said with a bit of a growl at the end.

With a notably more human face, the terror on this margr was easy to see.

“How about another joke? Knock, Knock.”

The goat was silent.

“Go ahead, ask who’s there.”

The creature swallowed. “Who there?”

“JUSTICE!” A fist of blazing plasma rocketed down towards the creature. It stopped an inch from the monster’s head. Hiero leaned back up, and took a step away. “Stand up.”

The margr, who had just today begun delving into the study of theology, had been too overwhelmed with questions on whether Hiero should be counted as an angry god or a vengeful demon to act much during the fight. It had finally made up its mind. This machine was definitely a demon, and could not be trusted. Halfway onto its feet, it stopped. “Why?”

Hiero mentally cursed.

Hearing no response, the margr collapsed once more to the ground, and looked up with a mixture of fear, defiance, and nervous excitement.

“Why you little-” The knight reached out as if to strangle the creature. “Stand up right now and die like a man…goat…thing.” Monster or no, it didn’t feel very heroic to kill something that was defeated, and lying on the ground like a rug.

The margr shook its head, and made a face.

Hiero was starting to get over his reservations. “Now listen here you cretin. I’m trying to give you an honorable death, but I- DON’T YOU CRAWL AWAY FROM ME!”

Eyes locked with the knight, the creature had begun crawling backwards away from the scene. It smiled with gleeful malice.

The knight was positive it was also adding extra swagger into its wiggling its hindquarters as it crawled. “Oh, you go ahead and keep that up. I’m about to mistake you for a bug.”

The margr suddenly stopped.

“Finally saw reason, did you? Good. Now, why don’t you stand up, and we can both move on from this encounter in our own respective ways.”

The creature covered its head.

A child’s voice rang out from the automaton’s side. “Look out, Hiero!”
Before he turned or anything else happened, a thought suddenly clicked in the knight's mechanical mind. He remembered that bad days were called bad days for a reason. They rarely stopped halfway through. When they seemed to, it was often just because the day was just winding up the next punch.