From below the clouds looked grey and unwelcoming. From inside they did nothing to change that. Lisbeth was buffeted from all sides with strong winds, making flight difficult. She had lost her bearing immediately upon entering the clouds, she wasn’t sure if it was an attribute of the clouds or just the confusing winds. She did know that the higher she got the worse it would get, eventually she would no longer be able to continue up. That was an attribute of this place, there wasn’t all that much ‘up’ to be had here. Lisbeth tried to go in a straight line to gain some distance from her pursuers, or her best approximation of a straight line.
After a distance she shifted her trajectory and angled down, just a little bit. It was easy enough to find down, just fall. She broke cloud cover moving fast, she didn’t know how to tell exactly how fast in the kind of terms she thought in tho. Magic didn’t think in terms of km, it thought in terms of mass. She would tell how much mass she was passing, and how dense it was, if she tried but right now it wasn’t worth the effort. Right now she had to focus on avoiding her hunter. If she was lucky he wouldn’t have seen her break could cover.
She wasn’t lucky.
The pure beam of white fire burned past her scorching her hair. Odd, she should have felt something when it passed by her arm. Lisbeth looked back at herself, her left arm was gone, her side a charred ruin. Then she felt it, the pain. There wasn’t any pain from where her arm should have been, or even on her charred skin. There weren’t enough nerves left to tell her she was injured there. The pain came from just below her injured skin, it burned telling her just how hot the white fire had been. Through the pain Lisbeth saw another beam of white fire coming at her, originating from just inside the cloud cover.
Lisbeth hastily wove a barrier and pumped it with as much power as she had to spare. It was enough, but just barely. The circular shield was invisible to the naked eye, but did distort light around it, just slightly. The fire crashed into the shield and bounced back or pushed past the edges of it. The blast had been sustained, and it started eroding away at the edges of the shield. The fire never reached Lisbeth, but it did superheat the air around her, to almost unbearable levels. Getting partially cooked didn’t hurt quite as much as Lisbeth would have expected, or maybe she was just getting desensitized.
The stream of fire let up about the same time she leveled off near the roof of the castle. This section appeared to be made of intricacy worked canvas. The stream was immediately replaced by a precision attack. A single beam of fire barely a millimeter in diameter, it cut through the shield like a skilled executioners axe through a necks of the condemned. Lisbeth only had the moment her shield was pierced as warning before it struck her. She managed to dodge and avoid being bisected by the precision strike, it still caught her on the knees. Too much pain, it made flight impossible.
She didn’t drop like a brick, way too much forward momentum for that. She did however drop like a brick, that had been thrown hard, very hard. She actually skipped off the top of one roof, then rolled up another one. She made contact with the ground in a large training yard, three times before skidding to a stop. The training yard had been filled with about twenty five young angels, who had been learning to throw their own fire. Now it was filled with about twenty five very concerned young angels. That were distracted to the point they most certainly wouldn’t be able to throw any fire.
Lisbeth found it in herself to forgive them, after shutting off her nerves. She did look quite the mess, no legs, one arm, and plenty of black burnt blistered flesh. Healing spells were energy intensive, or at least the good ones were, these sets of injuries would take more energy than Lisbeth had available at a given moment. She instead opted for a slower regeneration setup, less power, but it would take longer. Atreus landed in the training yard about the same time She finished weaving the architecture. He walked over and looked down at her.
“I don’t get you.”
“What’s not to get?”
“You should have completely wiped the floor with me, but you didn’t. I shouldn’t be able to so much as scratch your shields, let alone break them. Why are you insisting on trying to fight without your wings?”
“Maybe you’re just a better fighter than me.”
“I know I am, I’ve been fighting for the last two decades. You didn’t answer my question.”
“Because my shields are sloppy, now or when I unfurl my wings. To become better I need to fight people my powerful than myself, because right now all I have is a handful of okish spells and enough power to make them strong.”
“Fine, we’re done for the day.”
Atreus stalked off, he looked stressed. He barked orders at the trainees to stop gawking and get back to practice. Lisbeth didn’t feel like trying to fly, walking was of course completely out of the question. Well she did have more type of power, time to abuse it. She pointed with her one remaining hand, at one of the trainees.
“You, get over here.”
The angel trainee ran over to her side. He looked old to Lisbeth, but he probably wasn’t out of his teens; she still found him mildly attractive. He was wearing the white backless training uniform. It was simpler to not have any kind of back on the uniforms, otherwise they would need constant replacing, young angels didn’t quite have the control of their wings to not damage cloth.
The trainee obliged without question, he had been trained well in that. He did look a little freaked out, his hands were shaking just a bit. Lisbeth also felt a little bad about her blood on his uniform, but that was easily fixed. He didn’t know were they were going, but she did and in the castle that was enough. He was a little freaked out by her door, something she had gotten over in her first year. The trainee tried to put her down on her bed before she pointed to the door leading to her bathroom. He was clearly impressed when they entered, as far as Lisbeth knew all the trainees had were communal showers. After placing her in the bath, she had regenerated up to her heels by now, he made some polite excuses, and promptly fled the room.
“Why do they always run so fast?”