"Who goes there?"
"We are the Seven."
"Thou know us, Avatar. We hath been thine dearest companions since thou first became the Avatar."
"Who art thou??"
"We are embodiments of Virtue, more than thou couldst ever be."
"What do you seek of me?"
"Thou shalt know. Soon, thou shalt know."
I woke up. Damnit, another vision. But what did this mean?
I looked about. Trammel and Felucca stared down at me from the night sky. My companions slept upon the bone skiff around me. We sailed north, towards Jhelom. With any luck, we couldst land at the Shrine of Valor without Vasjux being alerted of our presence.
Tseramed also sat up. We stared up into the heavens.
"The Guardian invade thy mind again, (AV)?"
"Thou know me well, Tseramed, but twas another this time."
"Indeed?" The ranger smiled. "Thou know many a powerful, evil being, my friend."
"Nay, (AV), I shouldst not make humor of these events. We fight for the very fate of Britannia, and we shalt have to renew our strength in all the Virtues. Sacrifice…"
"What troubles thee, Tseramed?"
"I know not, (AV). We face impossible odds, yet we have before. We have always triumphed, but never without a sacrifice. What will it be upon this quest? Our lives? We hath little else to give?"
I remained silent for a moment.
"I hath no idea, Tseramed. I wouldst not hesitate to give my life for Britannia, but I truly do not know what awaits."
I lay back down, pondering the conversation.
"We will die, (AV)!"
I looked back at Tseramed. Tears welled up in his eyes, but not of grief. Tears of pity, pity towards myself, my companions, Trevor, the most innocent of those who journeyed with me.
"Then so be it, old friend. We shalt die, but we shalt die for Britannia."
I rubbed my eyes wearily as the sun shone down upon me and the guls called through the sky. Mortegro raced up towards me.
"Several dozen ships approach, (AV)!"
"I see no ships."
"Here. Peer into a gem!"
In the murky mists of the magical gem, I saw our skiff from miles above. An armada made its way from the north towards us. The vision faded away.
"Damnit! Turn the skiff around!" I called to Gorn and Inlor-Om.
Already the ships appeared in the distance. I knew whom commanded then.
It was too late. We wert surrounded. A tall Daemon stood atop the lead ship.
"Vasjux, it seems we meet again."
The Lord of Selfishness smiled. "Aye, Avatar. How ironic that it seems I will be thy executioner."
"How didst thou find me, Daemon?"
We sat in the ruins of the barracks of Jhelom. My companions and I hadst been stripped of our weapons and armour and chained up by the Daemon's skeletal servants. Vasjux smiled back mockingly at me.
"The Guardian wields more power than the Time Lord himself, Avatar. There is naught he doth not see."
"I take it thou hast more in store for me than a simple death. It seems I continue to live on because of this arrogance in my captors."
"If thou'rt planning escape, I think not. Thine skiff hast already been destroyed. Twas a tainted object, used by thou and thy anti-Virtues."
"Then kill me here and now and end it!"
"He wouldst not, Avatar. We yet hath need for thee."
From behind Vasjux a black-robed liche appeared.
"Aye. I hath followed thee since you killed Saduj. I alerted Lord Vasjux of thine arrival herein."
"Damn thee! But no matter. The blame falls upon me, for I shouldst hath killed thee before at the Shrine of Justice."
"Indeed. Tis good to see thee give in to thine fate, Avatar. But come, thy next task awaits."
We wert led down a decaying bridge to the southern-most island of the Valorian
Archipelago. We stood in front of the Shrine of Valor. Atop the central
pedestal sat a beautiful two-handed sword, it's blade pure white. Carved
onto the hilt was an oval shape, forming an ankh with the rest of the weapon.
"Shortly before the Slasher of the Veils met his death at thy hand, this sword appeared upon the shrine. It appears the most powerful weapon I hath ever set my eyes upon. However, I hath not been able to claim it yet, Avatar. Allow me to demonstrate."
Vasjux signaled to a skeleton, who proudly marched towards the shrine. As he passed through the monoliths, a red aura surrounded the undead figure. He broke apart and dispersed into the Ether.
"So you see, Avatar, I hath no way of reaching this magnificent weapon. However, prehaps thou, the so-called Avatar of Virtue, might be able to bring me the Mystic Sword."
"And if I refuse, Daemon?"
"Then thy companions shalt be ripped to pieces one by one while you watch."
There wast no decision necessary. I knew what I had to do.
Slowly, I approached the Shrine of Valor. I stood within inches of the
"Go on!" Vashux bellowed. "Or art thou a coward?"
Closing my eyes, I reached my hands through between the monoliths. I inched my way forward. Silence surrounded me. After what seemed like hours, I opened my eyes. I stood at the other side of the monoliths. I hadst succeeded in entering the shrine.
Vasjux appeared pleased. "Good. Now take the Sword."
As I stood at the pedestal, I felt Virtue engulf me. I grasped the sword in both hands.
"Bring me the Sword, Avatar." Vasjux spoke.
Give me strength, Virtue…
"Bring me the Sword!"
Give me strength…
"The Sword, Avatar, or thy companions die!"
"VASJUX!!!!!!!!!!! I SHALT END THY EVIL HERE!!!!!!!!!!!"
Wielding the blade of Virtue, I charged from the shrine towards the Lord of Selfishness. The Daemon dodged my blow expertly, slashing his claws across my stomach.
I felt my life essence leave me. The Daemon's blow knocked me back several feet. The Mystic Sword fell from my hands. Blood poured from my massive wound.
"AVATAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Inlor-Om cried.
Vasjux calmly picked up the Mystic Sword and wiped my blood from it.
"A mortal blow, Avatar. Thou wilt die before sundown. Come! Let us leave this 'Champion of Virtue!' "
My vision blurred. I saw Vasjux and Vasculio lead their legions and my companions away. The light dimmed around me. I fell into darkness…
My vision began to return. I remained at the Shrine of Valor. The sky to
the west was filled with the red of sunset. Blood continued to trickle
from my wound, no having formed a large puddle next to me.
I tried to move. I saw two figures in front of me. A young mage garbed in robes of white, yet with more wisdom than any I had known. Beside him was a young girl in her teens, whose innocence and pity for the world touched my heart.
"Control thyself, Avatar!" The man spoke to me. "Temper thy Passion with Diligence."
I tried to speak, but it was no use. I knew who they were.
"Avatar, I have only pity for thee, for thou wert used just as I was long ago." The man continued. "My father was a man of great power. He ruled over much of great Sosaria. Yet a Voice spoke to me from within, promising more than he ever could. I killed my father and banished my elder brother, all for this Voice which I so ferverently served.
"But I realized the evil I did. The Voice wanted my father's gem. It wanted to enter our Sosaria, to make the realm bow down to him. I tried to stop him. I used my magical powers to infuse the gem with energy enough to make me immortal, to make me powerful enough to destroy the Voice. But to do it, all of Sosaria would have to be sacrificed.
"I do not blame thee for what happened, Avatar. The Voice summoned you to Sosaria, tricking you with the same promises as it had me, promising you to become the Savior of the world.
"You killed me, just before my gem couldst give me power enough to destroy the Voice. Thus all Sosaria now faces the Voice once more, yet it hast gained more power.
"The day I died fortold thy destiny, Avatar. The Multiverse is truly served by Balance. For every evil deed, a good one must also be comitted.
"My apprentice died by thee as well, Avatar. Once again thou wert tricked by the Voice. Still you had yet to make up for this evil.
"As the years progressed, you comitted many deeds of both good and evil. But never have you fully redeemed yourself for these first two deaths, Avatar. Worse, you have yet to avenge the world of Pagan.
"Now the time has finally come to redeem thyself, Avatar! The time has come to save not Britannia, but the entire Multiverse from Tir-Mordreth, the Guardian of Falsehood! Thou art the only hope left, the only possible Savior for us."
Mondain, son of Wolfgang, fell silent. From his robes, he through an object down to me.
"The Red Stone of Valor, the last of the Virtue Stones. Use it well. Remember that Balance is more important than either good or evil. Ponder why thou wert chosen to become the Avatar, when others may hold more Virtue than thou. Save the Multiverse, Avatar. Save us all…"
"Who are the Seven?!!" I called as the figures began to disappear. The woman looked back at me with pity.
"You shall know…"
I know not how long passed. I do not remember leaving the shrine. All I
remember is stumbling across the isle, clutching the Red Stone to my breast.
The night sky appeared above me. Both moons were large. A double full moon
would occur in a few days.
I do not remember crossing the bridge. I remember the creaking of planks under my feet, the exhaustion of each step.
I remember Vasculio floating above me, shooting flame down upon me. Yet I felt no pain. I felt as the liche weakened, engulfed in his own Hatred. I stumbled onwards as he cried out in anguish behind me. I didst not look back as the dark liche crumbled away, his death caused by the aura of Ethereal protection I felt about myself.
I remember standing at the other side of the bridge. Opposite me stood Vasjux, wielding the Blade of Valor.
"So, it seems this battle was inevitable." The Daemon spoke.
The Daemonic lord charged towards me with the weapon of Virtue. I knew
I couldst not defeat him.
Ever closer the Daemon approached, charging at an incredible pace.
I pressed the Red Stone to my chest, feeling it's power coarse through me.
Vasjux was directly in front of me now. He raised the Mystic Blade with lightning speed.
As the blow sped down towards me, I raised forth the Stone of Valor.
I felt a red aura circling around me, so powerful that even Mundanes couldst see it. I felt the Mystic Sword slow and stop just inches from cleaving through my forehead.
I saw the red flames of Valor rise and spout around me. I heard the Lord of Selfishness cry out in anguish. I saw as the skin bubbled and melted away from the Daemon. I saw as Vasjux's horned skull crumbled and decayed. I watched as the Guardian's lieutenant exploded in a burst of light.
I grasped the Mystic Sword in one hand, the Red Stone in the other. I saw as the Shard of Selfishness disappeared, becoming one with the Sword of Chaos.
So be it, Tir-Mordreth. Thou grow stronger, but so do I. So do I…
I felt my gaping wound slowly close and my skin stich itself back together. I felt healthier than ever before in my life, the powers of Ether coarsing through me.
I saw the legion's of undead approach me, numbering in the dozens.
I raised the Mystic Sword in my hands and shouted forth the Mantra of Valor. I charged at the undead warriors…
I turned to look at Gorn, feeling the Ether leave me. I looked around. I stood near a massive heap of bones. My other companions stood about me, already having found their supplies.
"What hast happened?" I asked.
"Thou fought like a man possesed and killed Vasjux's entire army, Avatar!" Trevor spoke with awe.
Ether. My powers grew greater and greater. I looked up into the night sky. I knew that Mondain and Minax stared down upon me.
"Thank thee…" I whispered.
"Sometink vrong, (AV)?" Gorn spoke up.
"Nay, I'm fine, old friend. Come, I'll get my supplies. Let us find another skiff and leave this isle."
In the Mystic Belt I now held all eight Virtue Stones. I wouldst need all
to defeat the Guardian this final time.
Our skiff sailed north up the Cape of Heros towards the Shrine of Honor, where we wouldst find another piece of the Mystic Arms.
We landed the skiff right next to the shrine. Other than this small patch of shore, the shrine was surrounded entirley by murky swamps and tall mountains.
A massive army awaited us there. In the center of the shrine stood the Klep-Summ, garbed in a full suit of bone armour.
"Draw thy sword, Avatar. Now we finish this."
An end, or merely a beginning?
Onward to the Next Book
Back to Book Eleven
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