Arrows shattered against the low, road-side wall that sheltered Fen Telum. Arcane chanting rolled towards her from across the urban street, carrying with it a powerful wave of magical pressure. Fen cursed. She couldn't deal with the mages while the archers were shooting at her, and she couldn't eliminate the archers while her powers were busy deflecting that of the mages. What should have been a simple morning job had become a pointedly irritating afternoon.
Fen quickly scanned through her options, considering her adversaries, her surroundings, and her own abilities. With a scowl, she realized she was going to have to use the sword. She’d have maybe ten minutes before it rendered her unconscious. In that time, she would have to neutralize two dozen archers and five mages. Fen grinned. Even though the decision she’d just made guaranteed her a week of painful recovery, Fen couldn’t help but feel a vicious joy at how much worse it was going to be for her foes.
The magical pressure battered against her shield of spells, seeking to do little more than keeping her powers occupied and on the defensive. Arrows rained down at shifting angles as the archers slowly circled, splitting into two groups so as to round the wall on both ends and catch Fen between them. The mages began a cautious walk forward as the archers neared the wall’s openings.
Fen felt the fingers of her right hand clench the sword’s hilt with such force that hairline fractures crawled through her knuckles. She grimaced at the pain yet to come and drew the fabled Blade of Vi Scelerata. Agony swept through her body, muscles spasming until it felt as if her bones would shatter. A sound that only denizens of the deepest depths of hell would call music filled her head as the blade battled her for control; demanding, with the arrogance of the inanimate, that she become an extension of its will.
Both groups of archers rounded the wall at the same time and immediately loosed a barrage of arrows at the seemingly immobilized sorcerous. As the arrows flew, the mages dropped their barrage of magic and switched to independently cast, more specific, sorceries of destruction. Energy, in all its forms, tore through the air between the five mages and the small section of wall that hid Fen from them.
Past the thunder of the blade’s song, Fen saw the arrows and sensed the spells. She drew power from the blade, just a trickle. It wasn’t enough to cede her self-control, but that was ultimately inconsequential to the sword. Even more than a living vessel, the weapon sought to be used. It had only one purpose: to destroy with overwhelming force. Lore held that it had been crafted in a time when magical skill and might far surpassed what even the greatest were capable of now and that the final requirement for the sword’s creation had been its consecration in the lifeblood of an entire continent. The Island of Desolation fit the location and description provided in the old scrolls, though it had apparently been called Paradisum at the time.
All this flashed through Fen’s head, along with the rest of the blade’s ruinous history, as the tiniest trickle of its vast power entered her veins. Small fractures spread throughout her bones, even as the same force destroying her kept the injuries from slowing her. Her mind and throat screamed with the agony of it, and, as always, the pain brought on a fury within her that was a match for anything, even the fabled Blade of Vi Scelerata.
The sword cut forward, slamming into the brick wall with monstrous force. Debris flew outward from the massive cloud of dust that arose, even as both arrow and spell closed on their target and disappeared within the cloud. The mages cast quick protective spells, or dove for cover, to avoid the onslaught of flying wreckage. The archers, clear of the blast, had redrawn their bows and stood ready to fire the instant they saw form or movement.
Fen darted from the cloud, sword held before her as she charged towards the mages. Two were cut down before the rest realized the futility of their defenses. Magic was no barrier to the Blade of Vi Scelerata, not any that could be cast by those of modern times, at least. Three violent spells lashed out towards Fen as the second mage died. She spun, letting the instincts of the blade take charge, opening that trickle of power just a little bit more, and feeling indescribable agony as her body tried to tear itself apart, but couldn’t.
The blade darted forward, slashing in a diagonal cut that intersected with the spells as they neared Fen. When spell met sword, there was an explosive impact. A brilliant, multihued cone of energy erupted from the collision, staggering Fen backward and obliterating everything in front of her for a good fifty feet. Behind her, the archers had taken cover on the other side of the wall where they could fire from relative safety.
Arrows flew towards Fen’s staggering form. The bones in her right arm shattered as the blade whipped around to slash the air between her and the incoming projectiles. A wedge of visible force launched from the sword’s cut, destroying the arrows and smashing into the wall. Shattered arrows, fragments of brick; all tore into the archers, slaughtering them in an instant. The entire wall was destroyed, and the structures behind it showed considerable damage.
Fen fought through the haze of pain that was her body and forced the fingers of her right hand to slowly loosen their grip on the sword, unclenching the broken digits one by one. As her last finger relaxed, the sword dropped to the street and Fen let out a gasp as the force that had been sustaining her fled; leaving her huddled in a broken heap, struggling desperately to remain conscious through waves of overwhelming agony.
With a supreme effort, born of pain-induced fury and indomitable will, Fen formed a sequence of runes with her left hand, and gasped out the trigger word to accompany them. A gentle haze of light descended upon her, blanketing her broken body until she faded from sight and nothing remained of her presence there except for the shattered bodies of her enemies and the ruined structures around them.