Tales of Agora - Alive Again p.2
Greetings Paragon Community,
It’s been humbling to see the reception to Part 1 of our “Alive Again” story and our Paragon Lore Team would like to extend a sincere thank you for all the feedback and comments. We are taking the feedback and desire for more back to the teams and are working on how we can regularly share more lore with you in the future.
Today, we are excited to share Part 2 of “Alive Again”. If you just can’t get enough Countess, her Mega Bundle is available through September 19. Get your hands on every Countess cosmetic, including the Carnivale skin and “Naughty Naughty” emote!
We hope you enjoy part two of..
BY: THE PARAGON LORE TEAM
Countess fell onto familiar polished tiles, tumbling across the floor and bleeding from her many wounds.
Near the golden window, Baron Vitali stared at her, aghast. Countess crawled toward him, and he backed away. She caught his foot and pulled herself up to him, snarling. He desperately pushed her away, but her need was too great. Her cheek pressed against his as her teeth found his neck.
His life coursed into her, filling her with new energy. She could not stop. When his feeble writhing faded, she let him collapse at her feet. The life had gone from his eyes, but a gentle look remained—that of a man who had witnessed the terrifying beauty of an angel.
Her wounds closed and her bones knitted themselves together. But it wasn’t enough. She was still weak.
She sank onto the sofa next to the corpses of the two young noblewomen, weighing her options. Terra would surely be searching for her, and the way she’d spotted Countess atop the roof in the square suggested that she may have had some sort of charm to help her. It had been centuries since Countess was in a fight like that, and she was about to be in another.
It was exhilarating.
But why did Terra hesitate? she thought. She could have finished me. She mentally reconstructed the moment, trying to find the answer. Terra standing over her, axe raised high, Countess scrambling over the fallen guardsman—
The guardsman. If Terra had swung that axe….
Her thoughts were interrupted by the smell of fear. There was someone else in the room. That was good news, for if she was to survive the upcoming fight, she needed a plan, and she needed more blood.
The thought of facing Terra again made her heart beat faster with anticipation.
She stood and followed the fear across the room, past the dining table to a large cabinet. Inside, the page cowered, eyes screwed shut.
“Silly boy,” she murmured. She bent down and cradled him in her arms. Her bloodstained lips moved against his shock of brown hair. “Do not worry. You will serve your Countess tonight, and that is surely the highest calling to which your young life could aspire.”
Countess leaned against the ancient stone sill of Velikov’s bell tower, studying the street below. The tower was the highest point in her city and provided the perfect vantage to watch Terra approach, glancing periodically at the charm she held.
High marks for preparation, Countess thought, but it will not help. When they had last met, she’d been caught off-guard by the woman’s ferocity, but now she was back in control. Weakened and hurting, perhaps, but in control.
She decided to let the woman climb the many flights to the top before revealing herself. Let the oaf be out of breath when I kill her, she thought.
Down below, she could hear Terra’s axe splintering the bell tower’s door.
Countess strolled to the railing, looking down to watch the massive woman stomp up the stairs. On a whim, she took a pebble from the floor and tossed it at the wall near Terra. The stone made a sharp clacking sound against the tower wall, and the warrior’s response was instant. She thrust her shield into the darkness at the source of the sound, impacting the wall. The entire tower shuddered from the blow, and Countess laughed.
Terra growled and doubled her pace. In a moment, she topped the stairs and stood on the landing, glowering into the darkness.
“Enough hiding,” the warrior bellowed. “I know you are here!”
“Oh Terra,” Countess said, striding into the light. “I am not hiding. I’m simply savoring the moment.”
“You’re afraid, Countess. In the square, you were eager for the fight, but now you hesitate.”
“In the square, my dear, I was bored. Now that we’re friends, I think this should be far more entertaining.”
Terra slammed her axe into her shield, and the shockwave blasted outward again, rattling the tower—but this time Countess was ready, leaping to the rafters and back down onto the warrior, slicing a gash along the woman’s face. She slipped back into the darkness an instant before the warrior jerked back into the wall.
The ancient tower creaked, stones rattling.
Countess crouched in the shadows, watching Terra pace the belfry, axe at the ready. She was confident, but still had to find a way to get her blades—or teeth—past Terra’s armor. It would not be easy.
Good, she thought.
“Haven’t you lived long enough?” Terra called out. “Let me put you out of your misery.”
“To be honest, darling, if you had arrived yesterday, I might have taken you up on that,” Countess said, projecting her voice. “But you’ve given me new purpose, and for that, I am grateful.” The moment was perfect. Now.
She launched herself at the warrior with such force that they both crashed into the wall, causing the tower to shake and sway. She was inside the woman’s guard, her teeth finding flesh. Terra bellowed as Countess ripped and tore, blood spraying across her face.
Something struck Countess’s head and her gaze went white. In desperation, she let go, staggering. When her vision cleared, she saw Terra before her—a heavy visor covering her face. It had slammed down to save the warrior’s life.
Reeling from the blow to her head, she again thought death was seconds away.
But the warrior staggered as well, blood dripping through the seams in her armor. Countess had injured her so deeply that they were now each at the other’s mercy.
Stones and rafters fell around them and the great bell began to ring.
Perhaps we’ll die together, Countess thought. How droll.
Terra shook off her dizziness and lurched toward her, axe dragging behind her.
Countess decided it was time to end this contest. She used the last of her energy to reach into the darkness, retrieving a very special bargaining chip.
A rift opened above her and the young page tumbled into her arms—unconscious but alive.
Terra hesitated, swaying.
“Oh yes,” Countess said. “You’ve won, Terra, because I must resort to the basest tactic I have: bargaining.”
“Even for you—” she choked out.
“Come now, you spared me once to save the life of a guardsman. Would you do any less for an innocent boy?”
“And leave him in your tender care?” Terra shook her head. “He’ll die either way.”
Countess leaned against the windowsill to hide the trembling in her legs, gazing down at Terra. “Which brings us to the bargain. If you depart Velikov immediately and never return, I shall spare this boy, and all the children of my city. This I swear. So I ask you—how many lives is your father worth?”
Terra’s visor slid back to reveal stricken eyes.
Countess leaned down, letting her teeth graze the boy’s throat.
“Think quickly, Terra dear. I’m getting hungry.”
Terra lowered her axe and stepped back, looking up at the swinging bell that was beginning to unhinge itself from its cradle. With gritted teeth, she looked back down at her foe.
“If you ever leave this city,” she growled “I will find you. I will—”
“I know, Terra. I would expect no less. Now run along, before that bell squashes us both.”
Terra turned and stomped to the nearly ruined stairs. Falling rubble bounced off her armor as she descended, disappearing from view.
“See you soon!” Countess called. When she was sure the woman was gone, she slumped in pain, letting her weakness show.
She looked out the window, found the nearest rooftop, and used the darkness to bring herself and the boy there just as the floor gave way beneath them.
The page lay in a bed of straw, pale and sickly, but breathing steadily. Countess tousled his brown hair affectionately.
“You were useful to me tonight, boy,” she said. “In return, I shall grant you and three generations of your family immunity from my attentions.”
She stood, stepping over the body of the unfortunate seamstress whose house she’d escaped to, and vaulted out the window, back up onto the roof. She looked out over her city. Velikov’s skyline appeared different without the bell tower—but change was good.
It had been hers for so long, and that was why she’d grown bored.
Her gaze moved past the city to the horizon and the lands beyond. Yes, change can be good.
Countess smiled. There were reasons to feel alive again.