Written by MonMarty While other groups across the city fought to capture, some would seek locations important to them to protect or hold from the inevitable attacks by the Vampires. Many among the Vampires knew full well that the end was coming, and that to punish Regalia for winning would be the true pyrrhic victory that Regalia hoped to avoid. One such locations would be the Temple of the All-Beacon of Unionism, the greatest of Unionist Temples and the largest in the Empire, where God-Emperor Theomar was buried and his Cloister was located. The priests inside the Temple had long barricaded themselves in the Cloister, relying on the Temple’s own labyrinthine catacombs to confuse and scare off any Vampires for fear of being ambushed by the Helerian guard within. Yet, these technicalities could not prevent a whole host of Vampires from breaking in when they were no longer distracted with trying to prevent the resistance from retaking the city. These Vampires had abandoned Greygate and the outlying districts to apply a final blow to Regalian morale before they would flee, and so funneled to the Temple. Astride a ghostly pale green horse was Kopec, the first to lead the charge, with Selmaar, the Holy Blade of Theomar in hand. Even though it was night and the lack of streetlights that had been sabotaged filled the streets with darkness, the light of Selmaar shone brightly, turning night to day wherever Kopec marched. A series of barricades had been hastily assembled around the market square, though they would prove no match as Kopec charged his steed straight through, clearing a path for the others who followed in his wake. Kopec dismounted on the square, continuing to command his steed to make circles and knock over defensive structures, while he marched onto the steps of the Temple of the All-Beacon, the light from Selmaar pulsing like a heartbeat as it drew closer to the hands of its wielder buried in the tomb below. A group of Vampires charged forth to try and overwhelm Kopec, though he did not even stand to strike, clasping both hands onto the hilt and holding it in front of him in prayer. When the Hymn of Faith answered him, the sword felt empowered, and he slashed a wave of golden light with a chorus at the Vampires, all struck and disintegrating into purified ash on the steps of the Temple. Tim Borros, Leopold von Schwarzkrau and Titos Markellis marched up to the base of the staircase to take up formation, letting the other non-combatants pass. Dorothios Spathous, Atum Morathes, Mother Alexi, Abelhard Latimer, and a duo of Vultarin priests and other dogmatic Unionist priests marched on by hurriedly, and kneeled in front of the great doors of the Temple in communion, with their backs to the market square. Kopec thrust his sword into the stonework at the base, acting as their last line of defense. Galinthios Diakos, Paris Spathous, Natalia Cendre Nee, Valentino Solisti, Auridian Luxvenia, Elizaire du Caerwyn and Celeste Venphine took up positions after, guarding the rear, joining up with the first three to stand guard. As everyone had taken position, the first sign of the actual Vampiric mob could been approaching from the same hole Kopec had made in the barricade, led by a group of Vampiric Karamatees. These Demon summoners drew their circles in blood, the guardians of the Temple standing their ground meanwhile, both sides prepared for the fight to come. The Demon summoners spawned forth hordes of crawling creatures, beasts made of shadow and undulating black vapor, dragging itself across the ground in an unnatural and alien manner. By command, the horde was sent forth to charge at the defenders, before crashing into the first line. Tim Borros started immediately swinging his greatsword from side to side, catching one of these creatures with each swing, but quickly being overwhelmed by the sheer number of them that continued to spawn from the summoning circles. Leopold von Schwarzkrau braced his shield and intercepted one as it leapt on him, pushing it over his shield, toppling it, and then bashing in its skull with a mace, causing the shadows to dissipate, before turning to face the next charger. Titos Markellis swung his flail around, bashing the first, the second, and the third, before the flail got entangled in the jaws of one of these creatures, dragging him along until he smashed his shield to push it away. Galintios Diakos then raised his shield to prevent another creature from goring Titos Markellis from behind, followed by a wild charge into the creatures to try and push them back. The tide seemed endless, a fact which Mother Alexi took note of, and requested Kopec to ask for the protections of Theomar. Kopec kneeled by his sword, with Mother Alexi stepping up and reciting the Hymn of Faith of Theomar, while holding Kopec’s shoulder. When Mother Alexi finished the Hymn, Kopec reached for the sword and turned it counter clockwise inside the stone, as if the stone was made of butter, and ther sword started seeping a glowing gold liquid that quickly ran down the stairs of the Temple, pooling and forming lines like veins or tree roots around the base of the stairs, a line which these creatures made of shadow could seemingly not cross. They barked in their contorted ways, lashing out, but unable to cross the holy divide. Dorothios Spathous rushed down the stairs out of his prayer to help Galinthios Diakos back up, while Atum Morathes did the same for Tim Borros. With the lines reforming and all the Celates returning to the circle of communion by the door, the Vampires would show their next move. The Demon summoners seemed to be beyond their senses, their toys and tools having been denied their feasting, and the other Vampires drew their weapons, believing it was now their time to strike. Before long, a sea of grayed faces and red eyes charged forward, the defensive line exchanging positions to keep the winded soldiers further back and send in the fresher faces. Paris Spathous was first to face them, using his Castling Light emanating from a fist holding prayer beads, while the claymore was swung when the Vampires were distracted just enough by the blinding light not to see the attack coming. While Paris was drawing all the attention with the light and his large sword, Natalia danced around the first line of the Vampires to get behind them, slicing at the spines of the Vampires that they could get behind. They kept using their agility to stay clear of the Vampires, noticing along the way that the Vampires seemed deprived of their terrifying powers while standing on and near the glowing golden liquid, evening the playing field, however their numbers were still severe. Valentino Solisti had climbed up the scaffolding of one of the towers of the Temple to act as lookout, occasionally throwing some bricks down at the Vampires below, but he quickly alerted the group that the Vampires just kept coming and that this was unsustainable. The Celates and faithful at the door, all from the major denominations of Unionism, had been attempting to commune in conclave, each in their own way, to ask permission to enter Holy Ground. The doors of the Temple of the All Beacon had always had a mind of their own, there were many legends where the doors had closed on those with evil in their hearts, or opened in the middle of night to offer shelter to those in need. The priests prayed for a sign, and a sign was given when the Mother of Forgiveness, Empress Ness appeared, speaking in her dated 2nd century Common, to grant permission to enter. And so the doors swung open, and the retreating party went into the Temple, hoping that the narrow gallery of pillars would offer an easier battleground to push back the Vampires. Valentino used an Engineering device to rapidly descend down to the ground, so as not to be left behind on the scaffolding where he would get picked off by the Vampires. Celeste and Elizaire held the back line as the others helped each other and the wounded inside. Elizaire fought with vigor, charging the Vampires back several times and swinging her greatsword in all directions, while Celeste took a more cautious approach, using alchemy to brew together concoctions. A slippery floor here, where Elizaire could cut the Vampires to pieces as they slid along, and a trapping foam there, where Elizaire could dispatch them without too much trouble, but eventually even the vanguard was overwhelmed, and it was back up to the change of the guard to pick up the fight again. Auridian wove through the pillar gallery, placing a well-aimed stab, begging forgiveness of Ness each time for spilling blood on the gilded marble floors of the Holy Ground, before disappearing behind a pillar again, Leutz fencing sword held in anticipation of the next stab. Natalia mirrored the moves on the other side, back against the pillars for cover before sallying forth when Tim Borros was at it again with his ferocious sword swinging, the clattering and grunting of which was quite obvious and easily heard in the echoing halls. Kopec slew an occasional Vampire that dared to approach the Celates who had retreated to the entrance of the Cloister, where the priests who had holed up inside came forth, emaciated and weak, having fasted for so long and being only able to drink Holy Water from the well. Atum Morathes and Mother Alexi, being the only medic and healer, offered aid where necessary to the oldest and infirm of the priests, while the other Celates chose to stand their ground by the entrance to come face what may, praying that the attacks across the city were being won, and that Demetrius’s defeat would scare the Vampires enough to retreat. Leopold and Galinthios had gotten caught fighting near the shrines in the side, Leopold accidentally knocking over a statue of a Hero of Unionism while profusely apologizing, before grabbing the broken marble head and bashing it into a Vampire, profusely apologizing again. Titos and Paris had meanwhile barricaded one of the side entrances with benches from the nearby seating area, Titos bashing some Vampiric arm that would occasionally stick out through the barricade, while Paris thrust his sword through, occasionally impaling one. It was then however, that the moment that was prayed for had come. The warriors and priests had held their ground just long enough for the Vampires to be delayed from entering the Cloister and defiling the tomb of Theomar the Prophet. All along the galleries, the stained glass windows of the God Emperors and Empresses lit up from the flares that shot up in the skies around the city. Empress Ness bathed in red light from the flares at the armory, Emperor Juvin in blue from the flares at the government offices, Almar in green from the flares at the Harbor district battles, white flares from the bridge to the Imperial Palace where the Imperial Guard had sallied out lighting up the windows of Allest. Elia’s windows were bathed in bright pink, as the adjacent Eronidas district had risen up, the Eronidas forming pike and shield formations to eradicate Vampires across the streets, and Vess’s windows lit up yellow as the business districts were flushed. Emperor Theomar’s windows remained dark, until they too bathed in purple, the flares of victory overall and the defeat of Demetrius. Demetrius’s final death woes proved too great for Vampiric morale, and the whole lot of them fled from the Temple, with the faithful on their heels, slaying those that resisted, and entrapping those that did not, pending their forgiveness to be cured by the Lady of Salvation. Theomar’s tomb had been saved, with remarkable little casualties, and while saving also all the priests inside from starvation and imminent death.