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The Keeper

“You’d have us believe that… Others are amassing an army north of the Wall?” Was the incredulous response I got.

I rolled my eyes as Balthazar’s scales receded back to my right arm. I clenched my right fist. Ser Barristan had done more damage than I’d care to admit.

“I don’t give a rat’s arse what you believe.” I smirked as she bristled at the crass language. “I’m telling you what is currently happening, nothing more. If you choose to disbelieve my words, then that’s your prerogative.”

I turned to leave.

I almost got to the large doorway before Daenerys finally reacted.

“W-Where are you going?” She shouted.

I sighed to myself and rubbed at my forehead, before turning to face her once more.

“Look, I was told to approach you by men who seem to believe that you’ll be the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.” I said bluntly, watching her eyes widen in curiosity. “They convinced me to seek you out, determine for myself the worth of the Mother of Dragons.” She almost flinched at the mocking tone.

I spat to the side; a universal show of disgust.

“I’d rather have able bodied soldiers, instead.” I turned to walk away once more, before the ground began to shake.

“What…” I said before the tremors increased in intensity and made me lose my footing. I stumbled a few steps forward and heard a multitude of thuds as the many guards who were still standing fell down.

I used my weirwood staff as a crutch to weather the shaking ground and wait for the tremors to stop.

But they did not.

They increased in intensity, once more.

“What is the meaning of this!?” Daenerys sounded both angry and fearful, and her newly awakened power lashed out at a nearby Unsullied guard who had somehow retained his footing, sending him flying down the stairs in a crumpled, lightly burned heap. Daenerys gasped as she stared at what she’d done to her loyal subject.

“How—what—” She was at a loss for words as the soldier slowly tried to get up.

Overwhelmed by the current situation and her own awakened powers.. No one could blame her for losing focus of everything. I would have done the same.

Nonetheless, I still scoffed. Some unflappable Queen this was.

“Your Grace!” Selmy broke her out of her stupor by grabbing her shoulders in a surprising show of vehemence. “We must find the cause of these tremors!”

“I-Ser Barristan?” Her eyes slowly focused on the old man.

“Yes, your Grace. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted!” His tone was almost beseeching.

The shaking lessened slightly, enough for me to begin scanning my surroundings. Tendrils of Lightning exited through my body, tasting at the air around me.

“Whatever it is, it is in the direction of the Red Temple.” I muttered to myself. “The Dothraki can’t be capable of this. They’re just mounted soldiers.”

§Perhaps Hestia is the cause?§ Balthazar hissed to me.

“Hestia is incapable of such levels of power.” I shook my head.

And neither am I, I didn’t dare say out loud. What the hell was going on?

This is beyond our calculations.” Erebus stated in a monotone. His blade writhed within his sheath.

I felt trepidation and grudging admiration rolling off the sword.

“The Red Priests did this?” I said a little louder, unaware that it was catching the attention of all in the room.

Their power has somehow inconceivably increased exponentially.” Erebus said calmly, none of the anxious feelings coming through his speech. “It is almost akin to when you made use of your attack from the clouds.”

He was talking about Kirin. My blood went cold.

Incredible amounts of power, condensed into a singular, small form.” Erebus said. “You know as well as I the implications.”

Denser energy; it would increase the construct’s physical abilities tremendously, as well as its magical abilities. It was like a focused blade, able to cut through anything compared to the large stick which could only batter and bludgeon.

“What could the shadow fire god scrounge up from the Earth.. Oh, no.” I said, realization slowly dawning on me.

Yes. What is lava and magma, if not another form of the fire element hidden deep within the darkness of the Earth?” Erebus said.

“R’hllor can even bend the lava to his will…?” I said, my eyes darting left and right as I tried to make sense of the situation.

Likely the shaking we are feeling is some kind of underground volcano exploding.” Erebus mused. “These Red Priests must have coaxed it into erupting.”

“Of all the- don’t they have any thought of what might happen if they were wrong? Even the slightest miscalculation-” I stopped myself.

The slightest miscalculation would send us into a fiery doom.

§Fire worshippers. If they made a mistake and died, the whole city would be sacrificed to their god.§ Balthazar reasoned.

I let out a long suffering sigh, and turned back to the Queen.

“Do you believe me about the Red Priests, now?” I asked.

She glared at me from her throne-bench, fire swirling around her but not harming anyone. Instinctive control, not even ten minutes after her own awakening? Maybe she wasn’t all talk, after all.

“And why should I believe you?” She retorted, visibly reining in her power. “For all I know, this could be an elaborate deception concocted by you.”

I bit off an angry retort, and took a deep breath, instead.

“Very well. Goodbye, Mother of Dragons.” My tone was distant and clipped as I gave her my final words.

I leapt to the nearest window, before jumping off. I stifled an amused snort at her loud gasp at my ‘suicide’ as wings of Lightning burst forth from my back, angled in such a way I would be gliding to the Red Temple.

As soon as I got clear of the large pyramid, I saw what the total effect of the earthquake was. The Red Temple was now a large crater with magma and lava bursting from its epicenter. Stranger still, it was flying around, spiraling around a mass to the side.

Coalescing into something.

A construct made out of molten rock?

Its power was increasing. I noted the fleeing Dothraki as well as Unsullied and winced. How many of them had died in this effort? Was Bronn all right?

Bah, the guy wasn’t suicidal; he was probably in the outskirts of it. Hell, he could have snuck out to a brothel.

A screech from above got my attention.

I looked up to see Hestia and Daenerys’ three dragons, still battling it out. Flapping my wings sent me soaring upwards. The four dragons looked weary from battling so constantly, but it seemed as if Daenerys’ dragons were overpowering my Hestia thanks to their numbers and pack instinct.

I grinned as I got to Hestia and floated next to her.

§Father!§ She hissed gladly as she slammed her tail into the smallest dragon, sending him flying down and giving her room to breathe.

§These runts bothering you?§ I asked in amusement as the other two dragons, the red and black one, as well as the cream and golden one. §I’ll take the one on the left, you get the one on the right.§

§No fair, I want the biggest one!§ She whined, but obeyed regardless, flying headlong into the cream colored dragon.

The red/black one tried to flank her, only to be struck in the eye with a bolt of Lightning.

§Where do you think you’re going, whelp?§ I smirked as it snarled at me, opening its maw wide and sending a large stream of flame at me.

I twisted my body in midair and allowed myself to fall clear of the flames, my wings allowing me to glide under its body. My staff was already in my right hand, a swirling drill of Lightning already at its tip.

Edge!” I drove the staff into the dragon’s underbelly, hearing a loud screech as the energy strove to pierce through its scales. I suppressed a wince as the dragon roared in defiance, and then pain.

This attack could even pierce Hestia. A younger, weaker dragon stood no chance. I pulled the staff out and flew back, watching as the black dragon struggled to stay afloat while trying to stem the flow of its blood.

Eying me with hateful eyes, the dragon gave up on its fight with me, just in time for the green one to make its reappearance. It was directly below me, and moving straight at me.

I lazily drifted forward, feeling the rush of air as the dragon completely missed its mark, its wings furiously batting as it turned around to try and kill me the same way its larger brother did.

It got a staff-enhanced Breakdown Fist right in its snout for its trouble. I felt its jaw shatter from the impact as it was sent flying downwards.

I winced. I hadn’t watched my strength.

With no hesitation, I dove after it, pulling out my wand and casting the same spell Dumbledore had cast on me a few years ago.

Arresto Momentum!” The green dragon slowed down, but not fast enough to be unharmed by the impact. Its pained shrieks filled the air as I stared down at its broken form.

It was alive, its mother would nurse it back to health.

And the third one was- SMASH– I heard a smash off to the side and turned my head to see Hestia flying away from a pile of rubble. Looks like she was done, as well.

§Nice work!§ I praised the She-Dragon, before adopting a serious expression on my face. §But that was only the beginning.§

§What do you mean, Father?§ Hestia asked in confusion. §There are more dragons to fight? I thought you said these are the only ones.§

I shook my head and pointed to where I felt the horrid black and fiery energy. §You’re right; these are the only dragons. We have bigger, different problems right now.§

§What could possibly be stronger than-§ Hestia stopped her reply short as she turned her head abruptly to the direction of the vile energy coalescing near us.

“Do you feel that, Erebus?” I said, landing on a pile of rubble below me and retracting my wings. Hestia landed with a loud thump next to me.

Yes.” Was all that Erebus replied with.

§Even I feel it.§ Balthazar interjected.

By my estimate, it has more magical power than all of us combined, five times over.” Erebus added in. “Not that Hestia could damage it. It is fire incarnate. Fire is of no use here.”

“So, what do we do?”

Run, preferably.” Erebus replied as a gaggle of Dothraki rode to us, running away from the creature which was still slowly forming together and moving around in a different neighborhood. Not close enough to be an immediate danger, but not far enough to be written off.

“Khal Harry!” They shouted in Dothraki. “There is an unnatural beast!”

I nodded. “I know it’s here. I felt its power building.”

That seemed to throw them for a loop, but I kept going. “What happened? Were any of you there when it formed?”

“This one was.” Said one of the men in the back. I nodded and waved him over.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Gakho.” He said promptly.

“Tell me what happened, Gakho.” I ordered, and he complied.

“We stormed the pathetic temple as you said, leaving the slave-children to escape and killing the foul priests.” He began. “They threw themselves at our weapons, fearlessly. Foolishly, we thought. What man does not stand fighting?”

He looked down, his face shadowed but still showing almost insane fear.

“We were the fools. That creature, it was spawned with their blood.” He finished, shaking what I would imagine to be horrible memories off.

“How many of our men have perished?” I asked bluntly.

“I do not know.” Gakho said unsurely. “Thousands. This I know.”

I felt the rumbling of the ground increase in intensity. The creature was getting near. The other men picked up on it, as every single one, both my Unsullied and Dothraki, went white with fear. Something even the mentally conditioned Unsullied were afraid of?

“Go, safeguard our comrades.” I ordered the men and walked past them, in the direction of the monster. “I’ll obliterate this abomination.”

“Yes, my Khal.” Gakho and the other bowed for a moment, before charging off with their signature screams.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” I swore at their backs. “STOP SCREAMING!”

They didn’t reply. My eye twitched. Were these fuckers ignoring me!?

§Some things you just can’t change, I suppose.§ Balthazar offered.

I rubbed at the bridge of my nose, and smiled. I needed that bit of levity. We weren’t even at a hundred percent, and we were about to face the strongest being in this world, to date.

“Hestia.” I addressed her. “I—Wait, are you shaking?”

§N-no, father. I-I-§ She tried to hiss back at me, but couldn’t form the words.

She was scared? No, she wasn’t just scared; she was terrified.

And, why shouldn’t she be?

This was a creature being controlled by another demonic entity, thousands of years old.

Hestia was, what? Less than six months old, at this point?

Dragons were prideful, but they were in no way, arrogant, or stupid.

This was the natural reaction. They had a fight, or flight instinct like every other animal.

I closed my eyes for a moment to collect myself and opened them again.

“Hestia.” I smiled at her and beckoned her to me. She approached me, shaking all the while, even as I gently placed my hand over her snout. Not even my touch could calm her. “It’s all right, little one. You’ve done your part. I want you to get out of the city, as fast as you can.”

§B-but, father!§ She tried to protest, tried to fight against her very instincts. §I can’t leave you here! I want to help! Even if-§ She stopped short.

§Even if it kills you?§ I finished for her. §That’s what you wanted to say. I want you to stay alive. You can’t hurt this thing. Only Erebus, Balthazar, and I have any sort of chance against it.§

Wait… An idea came to mind.

Hestia couldn’t directly damage it, but…

“Heh. Hehehe…” I grinned suddenly. “You can still help me, Hestia.”

§I can?§ She replied.

“Yes.” I took a deep breath, feeling confidence once more. “You’ll still have to get out of the city, but here’s what you’ll do, instead.” I relayed my plan to her, as well as Erebus and Balthazar.

That… could work.” Erebus said, sounding like he was grudgingly impressed.

§Best chance we got.§ Balthazar agreed.

§All right, Father. You can count on me!§ Hestia hissed before taking to the air with her typical chirp.

“There she goes.” I smiled. “That should get her out of the way and give us a fighting chance against the creature.”

Whatever little chance we ha—here it comes.” Erebus was saying, before interrupting himself. “Prepare yourself!”

The ground shook with each step this creature took, though it was not yet in sight.

Even so, I could see the effects of its presence. The air became sweltering for a moment, before Erebus counteracted its effects with his own aura. A reddish glow was emanating from the street corner ahead of me. With another rumble, I saw it emerge.

It was a storey tall, surrounded by hellfire and turning the ground beneath it into lava. Its exterior was cracked and craggy, its cracks burning white from an inner fire which had to be thousands of degrees hot.

It took note of my presence, and roared, sending a wave of fire in all directions, setting the entire neighborhood ablaze. With a fluid draw, I cut through the wave with Erebus, sending a wave of Darkness crashing against the creature’s legs, the energy hissing as it came into contact with the molten rock and the flames.

And, yet, the creature—I had to give it a name, didn’t I?—moved forward, implacably.

Erebus’ Darkness had had no effect on it. I dashed backwards, avoiding its almost negligent stomp on my former positing, sending earth and lava flying up high in the air. With another swing of my black sword, I turned the flying magma into cold rock as I continued to retreat from its form.

Analysis time.

“It is powerful enough to withstand a Dark Stream, an attack supposed to be its direct elemental opposite, and shrug it off like nothing.” I muttered as I flanked it and sent another Dark Stream, this time right in its face. Again, it did not even seem to notice.

I narrowly avoided its arm as it tried to swat me away like a fly. I felt its tremendous flash of heat as the arm flew by, bits of magma and lava flying at me. I winced as a few pieces landed on my left arm and right cheek, feeling the flesh sizzle before I shook the pieces off.

“It is not completely solid. Part of it is in a fluid state? No, it’s more like the state between solid and fluid. And intermediary stage.” I suppressed another wince as I quickly put some burn salve on my cheek and arm, not even taking the time to be gentle.

I gained some more distance, before pointing my right palm at it.

“Balthazar?”

The hole in my palm opened and shot a spray of corrosive venom at the creature. I heard the liquid sizzle as it made contact—was it working? But, the creature kept moving towards me, likely not even feeling the effects of the venom.

“Possibly incapable of feeling pain.” I noted grimly as I ran towards it, spraying it with Balthazar’s venom at point blank range. I just had enough time to sidestep an enraged kick and dash behind it as it attempted to simply drop its massive body on top of mine. It crashed into the ground, turning it into a crater filled with lava.

I took a deep breath as I watched it slowly get back to its feet and make its way to me again. That was close. A bit too close for comfort, actually.

“The venom does not last long enough to damage it in any meaningful way.” I added, noting what I saw when I had doused it the second time. “Likely, its flames burn so hot that the liquid is instantly evaporated. So, using venom is a waste of Balthazar’s skills.”

§Thanks for the vote of confidence.§ The viper hissed wryly.

“Quiet, analyzing this thing.” I admonished. “So, what do we know?”

Extremely strong, but slow. If we get hit even once, we’re dead.” Erebus laid it out for me. “Both my Dark Stream and the annoyance’s venom are useless. It seems Hestia is our only chance, here.

Putting your faith in a creature of flame to defeat me? How simple-minded…”The creature spoke in mirth, shocking me.

“You can talk!?” I said, before shaking my head incredulously. Of course it could talk. No being with that kind of power would be a mindless drone. “I assume you are R’hllor, then?”

In a way, puny mortal.” The creature said haughtily. “I am the fire deep within the darkness and the Earth. His might is with me. You shall be yet another sacrifice to further His greatness.

So this was a servant.

Of course an insane megalomaniac of a Demon would have servants.

“What’s your name, then?” I said, trying to stall for time. Make it talk. “I’d like to know who it is I bear the honor of fighting.”

The powerful creature rumbled as it slammed both arms into the ground, sending a wave of lava flying in all directions. Another swing of Erebus cut right through the wave, keeping me safe.

You survived? Impressive.” It praised, before addressing me. “I am called Xaphan. The Keeper of R’hllor’s deep furnaces.”

“The keeper of the furnaces.” I repeated idly. “I’ll call you Keeper. Xaphan sounds too ridiculous.”

It matters not what name you bestow upon me, mortal.” Keeper replied dismissively as it began to charge me once more. “You too shall soon join the rest of the sacrifices and take your rightful place among them.

My lip curled as I forced down the snarl threatening to appear on my face. Wings of Lightning erupted from my back as I drew the weirwood staff and held it at the ready. If Erebus or Balthazar were of no aid, then I only had my Lightning to draw on.

“Erebus, Balthazar—”

Counteracting his heat.” Erebus replied as an aura of cold formed around me.

§Maximum armor.§ I felt the scales cover my entire body once more.

The demonic entity stopped to stare at me in curiosity.

“Keeper of the Furnaces.” I addressed the foul creature. “I am the Lightning Dragonslayer—though, perhaps today I shall gain the title of Demonslayer?”

It rumbled a few times; I realized it was laughing at me.

We shall see, mortal. We shall see.” It said, before leaping high in to the air, condensing itself into a large ball of molten rock and falling towards me with worrying speed.

I took to the air, dodging its physical form and feeling its terrifying heat clash with Erebus’ aura. It slammed into the ground, sinking the entire district below me in a huge wave of lava.

“It-it wiped out dozens of buildings in a single hit!” I was about to say something further, but was forced to swerve to the right as it regained its initial form and spat out large amounts of lava at me. With a twist and a slash, Lightning erupted from the weirwood staff, cutting right through the lava and impacting against the Keeper’s rocky body, sending it stumbling back with a groan of exertion.

I had cut it!

So, you have a bit of power, then?” It acknowledged as the cut I made closed up instantly. I suppressed a face palm. It was part liquid. Physical attacks would be useless, wouldn’t they? “But you will never defeat me with such an attack.”

This fucker can shit-talk with the best of them, huh?

But he didn’t understand what this meant. I could hurt him. I’d thought his energy was so condensed that mine would have no effect. After Erebus’ Darkness had no effect, I made the mistake of assuming my own power would have no effect, either.

The problem with that logic was that Erebus’ Dark Stream could not be shape manipulated in any form. It was a stream of pure Darkness, meant to overrun any lesser creatures and consume their essence. My Lightning, on the other hand, was susceptible to shape manipulation.

If the monster was a regular human’s size, then I would have had no chances, whatsoever. Did he pick this form out of arrogance? Just so he could be taller than the “puny mortals”?

Thank R’hllor for idiotic servants, then!

“Condense the power…” I muttered as my Lightning collected at the tip of the weirwood staff, shaping itself into a vibrating axe blade. With a wild grin, I flew towards the Keeper, dodging past its swipe and cleaving its arm off at the elbow.

I didn’t wait to watch its reaction, as I created a foothold in mid-air, and used it to launch myself above it, driving the staff downward with all of my strength.

Sever!” I roared as I cut the creature vertically in half, flying away before its body hit the gigantic pool of lava, sending it splashing high in the air.

I panted as I fell to a knee. That last attack took a lot more out of me than I thought it would.

§You got it!§ Balthazar celebrated.

You fool!” Erebus chided the viper. “Can you not feel its power? It is still there.”

§He cut it in half! How can it still be alive?§ Balthazar argued.

Ha ha ha ha!” Its laugh was as slow as it was, but it was also deliberate. Its severed parts melted into the pool of lava, before its form rose up from the lava’s surface, looking completely unharmed. “I commend you for your effort, human.”

Oh, fuck me. I thought to myself. Can this thing even be killed?

Yes, it can.” Erebus re-assured me, his confidence bleeding through the blade and bolstering my own. “I have been monitoring its energy levels. Your slash forced it to expend a fifth of its energy to regenerate its parts.”

A fifth was good. I just had to land four more slashes and I’d win. No, I shook my head. This wasn’t some run of the mill moron. I doubted the same trick would work twice.

But you shall not be able to touch me again.” It promised as it sent out waves of lava everywhere, trying to hit me. I cut through wave after wave, feeling my energy levels lessen with every attack dodged, every wave cut and thrown aside.

Any time it seemed I was getting close to the Keeper, it would laugh and sink into the pool of lava below it, completely merging with it and making it immune to all attacks. I could not hit it fast enough before it de-materialized.

How annoying.

My reserves had become so low, that I could slash it again just one more time.

I wished I’d had time to rest from my fight with Ser Barristan.

It seems you have reached your limit, mortal.” The Keeper bragged as it resurfaced from the molten lava. “What will you do, now? Will you continue to fight in a pointless struggle against the might of R’hllor? Will you wield that abominable sword, once more? Or… Will you run?”

I rushed at it, intent on cleaving it in half again; but this time, it was prepared. I had a split second to react as the ground beneath me erupted in a huge splash of lava. I escaped, unharmed, but my staff…

And so you lost your most valuable weapon, turning your situation even more hopeless than it already was.” The Keeper taunted as it stayed in the pool of lava. “You did not think I could not force myself through the Earth to strike at you? How foolish. Though, I commend you once more for somehow escaping my attack unharmed.”

I stared at the burning remains of the weirwood staff in silence, before turning to face the molten creature. My hand edged towards Erebus as I looked up to the sky in a mixture of calm and despair.

How predictably dull.” The Keeper sounded almost disappointed. “Even if you get close enough with the blade, I will force the ground below you to erupt. Nothing has changed. Cease your resistance, mortal. Join our Great Lord R’hllor; he shall eradicate the Great Other and lead us all towards a world of Light and Fire.”

I stared back at the demon, as if I was seriously considering its answer, before taking my hand off Erebus’ sheath, and reaching to grab my wand, instead.

Given the circumstances, this was probably the only thing I could do to damage it. With a simple jab, I shouted “Aguamenti Maxima!”

What came out was a veritable torrent of water which collided with the large demon, sizzling as clouds of steam billowed up into the sky. I heard it scream in pain as I kept feeding as much power as I could to the spell, ignoring the searing heat of the steam clashing against Erebus’ aura—and winning, leaving slight burns all over my body.

A minute later, I was finally forced to stop channeling the spell, having almost completely exhausted my reserves. Hopefully that did some damage. The steam finally cleared, after half a minute of waiting; the previously red-hot lava had been cooled down and turned a shiny black.

“Obsidian.” I muttered. “I turned it into-” But that was as far as I got, before the obsidian cracked, bright white glowing through the fissures.

With a mighty roar, the obsidian flew everywhere, slicing through and scratching up whatever was left standing in the fight between myself and the Keeper— including me. Balthazar’s scales managed to deflect all of the shards, though the blunt force impact did its own damage to me. I knew I would have at least ten new bruises if I got to walk away from this fight.

Key word: if.

Did you think you could get rid of me so easily, mortal?” the Keeper taunted as it rose from the lava. “Your use of water was certainly unexpected, but ultimately a futile effort. You were only able to transform the very outer layer of molten rock into obsidian. The rest was kept safe.”

I stared at the monster, saying nothing in return, my head slowly bowing in what seemed to be defeat.

No answer? Has your spirit been broken, then?” The large creature rumbled in thought as it slowly made its way toward me. “Very well. I see no reason to toy with you any further. Have you any last words? Choose them carefully, mortal. You may even be allowed to convert to being His follower.”

Thunder roared above, but the demon paid it no heed as it stood before me in all its might.

“There is one word that comes to mind.” I looked up at it, forcing myself to keep my face straight.

And, what would that be? Mercy?” The Keeper asked mockingly.

My hand sparked, sending a bolt of Lightning up towards the heavy clouds above which had been forming ever since this fight started. The Demon looked up, curiously wondering why I blew the last of my reserves to shoot a bolt into the sky.

I brought my hand down, guiding the Lightning of the storm clouds down.

Kirin!”

The resulting roar would be heard for miles around, I thought as I watched the world explode in a blinding flash of light.

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