And that damned voice.
"So, Avatar! You have bested one of my Generals! Impressive, but it will not aid thee. I shall still win."
"Nay, foul Daemon! I shall triumph over thee and save Britannia!"
"Thou shalt die a deluded fool, Avatar. You know you cannot stop me. Thy little friend Sentri gathered a whole army and couldn’t stop me. Before him, your foolish liege called to arms all of Britannia and still he could not best me! What truly makes thou think you have a chance, Avatar?"
"And besides, my other lords on Britannia are more powerful than the gluttonous Uman-cor. You heard of the Bal Lem, did you not? He shall destroy you in a manner more painful than even I can imagine."
"Sleep well, Avatar. Soon you will breathe your last…"
I woke up with a start. Damnit. He’s taunting me again, like he did during
my quest to destroy the Black Gate.
I looked around. Everything was normal. Dupre, Trevor, and I were camped out for the night. By tomorrow we wouldst reach what was left of Cove.
"Something wrong, (AV)?"
"Dupre! Thou’rt awake?"
"Aye, though doubtless the reason thou art." The immortal knight’s everlasting grin faded into a look of sympathy. "The Red Titan’s invading thy dreams again, eh?"
"Thou’rt sharper than I remember, Dupre. Mayhaps thine lack of ale does thee good."
Dupre laughed. "Nay, (AV), do not tell me I shouldst grow sober! I’ve been looking forward to seeing what casks of drink were buried beneath Cove 'fore it ‘twas sacked!"
I sighed. "Assuming that the city is not swarming with hoards of creatures."
"Twill be no problem. The three of us wilt only have to take out ten thousand soldiers apiece."
‘Twas no use trying to overshadow Dupre’s wit with my pessimism.
"Sleep well, Dupre. Tomorrow we shalt reach Cove."
"The same to thee, (AV)."
Next morning we reached Cove. Thankfully, the city had been deserted by
the Guardian’s armies.
"Trevor! Dupre! See if you canst salvage any supplies. I’ll be in Rudyom’s house."
While I did not expect to find much elsewhere in the city (Cove was not a militaristic towne), the house of an Archmage wouldst prove promising. Magic (if it hadst not once more been negated) was essential to survival in the wilderness of Britannia, and of the party I alone had magical prowess. With any luck, there wouldst be some spellbooks or reagents about this abode.
The light of dawn crept through holes in the ceiling. Cobwebs and debris littered the house, reminding me all too much of Windmere.
I searched about but found little. Then I saw Rudyom’s crystal ball. Peering into it, I saw a magnificent scene. Huge ships manned by skeletons sailed through the seas. Standing upon the docks, a shrouded figure cast a mighty incantation. At the end of his words, the ships sank back into the waves and their undead crews crumbled away. Then the mage fell dead as well. His body crumbled into dust. Behind him lay a prosperous city. At the end of his words, every last citizen fell dead as well. All that was left wert the unchanged buildings and a cold, ghostly wind blowing across the ruin.
What hadst I just seen? Was it a clue of some sort? The city couldst not be Cove. All the buildings in my vision were left unmarked, while here they lay in ruins. Where was this mysterious city? Did it hold the key to destroying the Guardian?
Dupre and Trevor were approaching. Ah well, I couldst not ponder over this question forever.
"We found nothing." Trevor stated. "The city has been completely sacked. How about thee?"
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an object lying amidst debris on the ground. It was the Yellow Stone.
"One of the Virtue Stones. Rudyom must have aqquired it after I left Britannia."
"Couldst it be of use to us?" Trevor asked.
"Not now, for none of us have a spell book or reagents, but it couldst be useful later. Come, let us head west. There is naught else to be found in this desolate town."
Britain was still heavily fortified by the Guardian’s forces, so we journeyed
north up the coast. Eventually we wouldst circle around to the western
coast, where we couldst construct a skiff and explore the area where once
It was sunset, the day after we left Cove. We’d already passed the northern-most part of Serpent’s Spine, and were making our way northwest through the Deep Forest.
"We’re being watched, (AV)." Dupre whispered to me.
"Oh?" I whispered back. "How many?"
"About a dozen. They’re beginning to circle about us. An ambush, I’ll wager."
"What sizes? How do they move?"
"All humanoid. Most a bit larger than humans. Trolls, maybe. Orcs and Goblins wouldn’t surprise me."
"And their movement?"
"It lacks the grace or stealth of humans or any equally intelligent species. I’d stick with my earlier guess."
"Patience, Dupre. They emerge."
Stepping out from the trees around us were two Trolls, five Orcs, a Goblin,
two Cyclops, and three Headless.
"Thirteen, Dupre." I grinned. "Thou miscounted. You’ll have to kill the other one yourself."
"With pleasure, (AV)." Dupre laughed.
"Halt humans!" The lead Troll cried. "Give we your food and supplies or die!" He pointed to Dupre. "We want shiny one’s armour too!"
Ah well, twas a long time since Dupre and I fought large numbers of monsters together. Prehaps it would prove an interesting passtime. Besides, ‘twould give me another chance to see Trevor in action, now without his crossbow.
"I’m afraid we don’t want to give you are supplies, noble sirs." I mocked.
"We serve greatest warlord in all Deep Forest!" The Troll shouted. "He kill you if you harm me!"
"Oh, so you think you can’t fight the three of us by yourselves?"
"Kill!!!!!!" The enraged Troll charged at me, brandishing a warhammer. I dodged his blow, and stabbed him through the kidney.
Around me, battle cries broke out. Trevor and Dupre drew their weapons and charged into the melee. In a single swift motion, Dupre cut two Orcs and a Headless in half with his Magebanes. The swords were even more powerful than I remembered. At the other side of the battlefield, Trevor impaled an Orc through with his shortsword.
A Cyclops charged at me with his bare hands. A single thrust from my longsword killed him, his body shaking the ground in its impact. Another Orc fell to Dupre. Trevor dueled with the second Troll and stabbed him through the shoulder.
"You’re their leader, are you not? I challenge thee!"
The Goblin approached me. He wore scale mail, an open-faced horned helm, gauntlets, and plate boots. He wielded a longsword in his right hand. He clearly possesed intelligence equaling that of a human, and seemed to carry even a scrap of dignity with him.
As our swords clashed, I felt a pain through my right arm. In his left hand, the Goblin had drawn a mourning star, and was wielding it expertly. He showed no signs of difficulty at using two vastly different weapons at the same time.
A second blow came from his longsword, clanging off my curved heater. I raised my longsword, but his mourning star wrapped about the blade, blocking my attack.
As we grappled with our weapons, Dupre was engaged in battle with the two remaining Headlesses, and Trevor was surrounded by two Orcs and the Troll he had injured.
A Headless fell to Dupre, but he failed to notice the second Cyclops charging at him from behind. With a violent effort, Trevor threw his shortsword, piercing straight through the throat of one Orc and into the back of the Cyclops. Both creatures fell dead, but Trevor was now unarmed against the remaining Orc and Troll. In a swift motion, Dupre cleaved the last Headless in two and rushed to Trevor’s aid.
The Goblin released his grip upon my sword and drew back his mourning star. He then smiled. "You’ve won, then. We shall continue this fight later."
The first Troll was miraculously still alive, and was helped to his feet by the Orc. The Trolls, Orc, and Goblin were the only survivors on their side.
"Twas a good battle, Dupre." I sighed. "Though a bit too large for my tastes."
"Indeed, I found it quite fun after years as a deity, (AV)." Dupre helped Trevor up. "Thou fought very well there, young lad. I must thank thee for thine assistance against that Cyclops. Thou’rt skilled with the sword."
Trevor pulled his shortsword from the back of the dead Cyclops. "In Stonegate, weapons were scarce. None were trained to favor a certain weapon, for we’d have to use what we couldst find. Besides, my skill does not even compare to that of Mikael’s."
"I am sorry about his death, Trevor," I replied, "as I am about all the deaths at Stonegate and Minoc. But we must concentrate on the future now, not the past."
"Agreed, Avatar. Where to now?"
"Tis late. Let us set camp for the night. I believe we’ve frightened off the locals for today. Still, take the first watch, Dupre. I’ll relieve you at midnight."
The next few days passed without event. Yet something was clearly wrong.
I just felt it in the air. I knew something was going to happen.
Three days after the battle, the feeling climaxed. Something was going to happen. But what? That was the most chilling question. Neither Dupre, Trevor, nor I saw or heard any signs of hostility. Yet this only added to the feeling of paranoia.
That night, Trevor took the first watch. Around midnight, I replaced him. As the sky began to lighten, I heard something. But there was nothing. Not a sound. What was this? Ether? Alerting me of danger? I must not take chances.
"Dupre! Trevor!" I whispered with urgency.
"Buy ‘im another drink, Shamino…" Dupre muttered. "He’s still sober…"
"Wake up Trevor and pack your things! We need to get out of here!"
Dupre yawned and sat up with all the strength he could muster at the moment, which was not much. Likewise, Trevor wearily rubbed his eyes.
It was too late. A huge swarm of winged, humanoid creatures flapped about us.
"Mongbats!" I cried. "Protect yourselves!"
Roused from their sleep, Dupre and Trevor shielded their faces and went for their weapons. But there was no need. The Mongbats flew on, oblivious to us.
"What…?" Dupre uttered.
It was not over. In fact, it was just beginning.
"Oh shit…" Few things could have scared away a whole flock of Mongbats like that.
"Run! Douse the campfire!"
Once again, my warning was too late. The sound of horses grew louder and louder until I could see what approached through the trees.
An army of hundreds, possibly thousands of inhuman creatures charged towards us. Most rode horses. Orcs, Trolls, Goblins, Headless, Cyclops. All were massed into that army. And all of the army’s attention was focused on my companions and myself.
Within an instant, we were surrounded. The three of us looked around, dumbstruck. That we were doomed was obvious.
"Quite a few more than a dozen, eh Dupre?" I broke the silence.
Atop the lead horse sat the most shocking sight of all: an Ettin. These creatures had been extinct since the days of the Gargish War. They were some of the most powerful humanoid monsters. At his right sat the first Troll, who grinned malevolently at me.
"Haff-Brans!" The Ettin shouted. "You have defied us and shall suffer as you deserve! I shall bring you before the lord of the Fuhl-Brans, who shall decide on your manner of execution!"
Dupre, Trevor, and I were eached locked inside a separate wooden crate.
We were then painfully carried back to wherever the Ettin’s camp was. During
that time, I had little to do but think. The Ettins strange words puzzled
me until I realized they were variations on "half brain" and "full brain."
Heh. It was only natural that the Ettins would grow to think of humans
as diseased because they only had one head.
At last I was released and brought before the head Ettin. At his side stood the other Ettin and the first Troll. Several other important-looking creatures stood about the cavern (their entire fortress was a maze of caves probably formed centuries earlier).
The Troll, whose middle was wrapped in bandages, gazed at me with malice and fury. The head Ettin (whom was simply called Lord Fuhl-Bran) alone sat in a makeshift chair. He spoke.
"Haff-Bran! You dared kill and resist my Haff-Bran and Noh-Bran servants?! Already your accomplices have been tried and sentenced; you alone remain! As leader, your punishment shall be the most dire!"
Noh-Brans? Headless of course.
"Let us boil him alive!" The Troll suggested.
"Nay, first we shouldst torture him!" The other Ettin interjected.
"Humans are so rare! We shouldst open him up and see if his insides are like ours!" The Troll reconsidered.
"I have an idea!" A voice spoke up. It was the Goblin I dueled with.
"Let us throw him in the Bee Cave! There he shall never escape from the Giant Bees! They shall deal death towards him in more painful ways than we can!"
"An excellent idea!" Lord Fuhl-Bran clapped. "Take the human to the Bee Cave! His death shall be one of unparalleled horrror and misery!"
Once again I was locked within the crate. After a short journey, I was
let out in another cavern. Before I had time to move, a huge stone door
crashed behind me, locking me in the Bee Caves.
Damnit. I was trapped in here. There were no other exits to the caverns. The last time I’d been inside this cave, the Giant Bees appeared docile unless provoked. This time, I suspected that they had grown more hostile.
I made my way north. If I remembered correctly, two refugees from Britannian society had made a small camp here. That was thirty years ago, so they’d probably be dead by now. Still, it was a possible shelter from the Giant Bees.
Yes, it was deserted. The remains of two bedrolls were still there, but all else had decayed.
Strange. Ash from a campfire still littered the center of the cavern. It would have dispersed by now.
From behind, a filthy barbarian jumped at me, unleashing an animal cry. He was dressed in rags and wielded a badly worn dagger. His brown-black hair hung down to his waist. A thin beard sprouted from his face. Having no weapons or armour, I decided to negotiate with him.
"I mean no harm to thee."
He seemed incapable of even speaking. Was this how low humans of Britannia had sunk? I would have to use tones and expressions.
"I will not hurt you. No. I am a friend. Friend!"
It was like speaking to a dog. Slowly, the man lowered his dagger. He stared at me, pondering my face. He tried to speak.
At last he fell to his knees and uttered a single word in a hoarse whisper.
What? Did this barbarian know me? I stared into his face and memories struck me from a thousand directions.
My companion continued to struggle, barely understandable.
"S… thee… lit… oo… ma… speak…"
"What hast happened to thee, old friend? How didst thou become like this?"
"Yew… dead… left… must…" He gasped for breath. "Avatar… help… avenge… dead… exit…"
"An exit? Where??"
He pointed north. "Nic… house… mage… all… dead… avenge… join… help…"
"Thou wouldst join me?" I asked. Tseramed nodded. Twould be wrong to leave him here even if he wert unwilling. "Why didst thou not escape earlier?"
"Dead… all… purpose… avenge… cannot…
"Avatar… I… fight… thee… alongside…"
"Aye, Tseramed. Thou’rt a skilled fighter. Many a creature we shall destroy together."
As we spoke, we made our way through the twisting passages northward. At last we saw light. We’d entered into the back yard of Nicodemus’ house. The door hung off its hinges. The house caved in at the center. We stumbled through the rest of the city, and found it all the same; all in ruins.
But the town was not deserted. Outside Empath Abbey, we saw a figure garbed in yellow robes. His head and face were shaved bare.
"Welcome, travelers! The Brotherhood of Loyalty greets thee in thy journey to Yew!"
"Brotherhood of what? Isn’t Yew deserted? How didst thou survive the war?"
Question upon question erupted from my mouth, but the man merely smiled and motioned me to be silent.
"We didst not move here until after the war. We call ourselves the Brotherhood of Loyalty for we are the last subjects loyal to the one, true king of Britannia. Come inside, thou must be weary from thy travels."
The Abbey was filled with about a dozen different monks, each with a shaven head and a yellow robe. Tseramed and I were escorted to the quarters of the Abbot. The Abbot was slightly plumper than the other monks and had a bristly beard. Otherwise, he appears identical. At a single motion of his hand, we were brought fruit and water. We sat at a table across from the Abbot.
"I am pleased to see other humans here. Travelers are very rare. When they do come, most decide to settle down and join the Brotherhood. Don’t worry though, I won’t pressure you to join. I understand that few would want the monotonous life we live here. We simply grow enough food to eat and try to find inner peace so as to escape from these troubled times. I’m sorry if either of you prefer meat, but we have no livestock here. Stay here as long as you like. It's always pleasurable to have guests."
I asked the Abbot a few questions and he replied cheerfully. Despite the Abbot’s modesty, I found the meal excellent; having not ate fresh food since my return to Britannia.
At last our hunger was quenched, and we were escorted to guest rooms. The next day, we would leave in search of Dupre and Trevor.
I slept well that night, in a comfortable bed on a full stomach. But I
would soon regret coming here to the Abbey.
At eleven, four monks burst into my room. Before I could act, I was chained and shackled.
The monk who I’d first met smiled at me. "We serve the one true ruler of Britannia. We serve the Lost King, who was dethroned by the Pretender British. Before the Pretender renamed this castle, it was the Lost King’s fortress. As travelers come here, we sacrifice them to the Lost King. Three more are required to resurrect him so that he may save Britannia. We saw the inhuman creations of Mondain and Minax throw a crate into the sea. We recovered it and found a man inside. He mentioned two companions. Now those two have come and the three of you shall be sacrificed to bring about the return of our savior!"
I was locked down in the basement, along with Tseramed and Trevor (who’d been the man mentioned by the monk). At midnight, we would be sacrificed.
"Trevor! How didst thou—"
"The monks saved me, but then they locked me up in here. They are insane, Avatar. Did you here of their plans? By the way, who is this fellow here? Do you know him?"
"That’s Tseramed. One of my old companions. Tseramed, this is Trevor."
"I’m pleased to meet thee, young warrior." Tseramed had been practicing speaking all day, and could now articulate full sentences, though his voice still sounded rather unnatural.
"Tis a pity it should end like this." Trevor muttered.
"Mayhaps we could bash the door down. Hast thou a weapon?"
"Nay, the Ettin's servants took all my supplies. How about thee, Tseramed?"
"I have a dagger, but it canst do little against a door that size."
"The monks probably have a guard by the door, anyways." I put in.
"Still, they’re not many of them, and they’re weak. We couldst easily best them in battle." Trevor stated.
"Ah, but that follows the asumption that we canst escape, which we canst not." I replied. "For now, it seems we have naught to do but wait the hour until midnight."
At midnight, the three of us were brought before the throne room of the
Abbey. All the monks were assembled there. Upon an altar in front of the
throne was the Green Virtue Stone, the Stone of Justice.
"To end like this…" Tseramed muttered. "After all those years of hopelessness, I meet thee once again, (AV), and then my death at last comes."
"Nay, Tseramed." I replied. "Somehow we shalt escape from this."
The Abbot stood before the altar, his face alight with ecstasy. He smile fadded the slightest as he saw us.
"I am so, so sorry about the deception, my friends." The Abbot replied. "But it was necessary to keep thee from escaping. Do not think we hate thee. We are eternally grateful for you coming here to selflessly sacrifice yourselves. With your deaths, Britannia will be saved. Would not you gladly light yourselves on fire to save Britannia?"
"If thou’rt so selfless," I replied "then why didn’t thou sacrifice thyselves to the Lost King?"
The Abbot chuckled. "My child, we are requied to preform the ceremonies. We are too invaluable to die. Now, let us proceed with the ritual."
Raising the Green Stone, the Abbot chanted strange words. Tseramed, Trevor, and I were pushed onto our knees before the Lost King’s throne.
The chanting grew louder, for all the monks were reciting the mystic words. As the incantation continued, I felt weaker and weaker. Before me, I could feel more and more power emanating from the throne.
Twas too late. I shalt die. Prehaps it is no loss. Prehaps the Lost King truly will save Britannia. I have naught left but to resign myself to my fate.
And then I heard a chuckle.
Neither my companions nor the monks heard the chuckle. Yet I instantly recognized the voice. I tried to cry out, but it was no use. With an effort, I concentrated all my strength on the Ether.
Ether. Only the power of Ether couldst stop this.
The shackles binding my hands broke apart, leaving me free. The Guardian’s chuckle was raising to a maniacle laugh, but still none else heard it. The Abbot had no time to react as grabbed the Green Stone from his hand. In that same instant, the laughter reached its loudest. In an instant, I heard huge explosion. I looked up and saw that Trevor, Tseramed, and I were outside the Abbey, which was engulfed in flames. The Guardian’s laughter filled the air.
"Well done, Avatar! I must thank thee for leading me to those monks! I’d been trying to find them for quite some time now."
"Daemon! Thou killed them all, didst thou not?"
"Thou shouldst be thankful, Avatar! I saved thy life! Of course, I’d been intending to kill thee as well, but that Virtue Stone saved you and your miserable companions!"
"I thought thou wouldst let the monks kill me!"
"Hahahah! Of course not, Avatar! The Lost King was more powerful than Lord British ever were! He was a direct descendant of Zog! If he merged with your essence, I would not stand a chance! As it is, I have now pervented his resurrection and thus accomplished something today. Besides, I would not let those monks deprive me of the fun of killing you myself, Avatar! We shall meet again!"
For what seemed like hours, Trevor, Tseramed, and I just stood there, watching
as Empath Abbey burned down. No survivors emerged. By mourning, naught
of the entire Abbey was left standing.
As the sun began to rise, I broke the silence. "Well, we have now but to find Dupre, our supplies, and get out of this hellish forest."
"Dupre?" Tseramed asked. "He yet lives?"
"Aye. But now we have no way to find him."
"Wait, Avatar!" Trevor cried. "I couldst lead us to their fortress! There we shall at least find our supplies?"
"How dost thou know where it is? Wert thou not locked in a crate during your captivity as well?"
"Aye, Avatar, but twas filled with cracks and holes. I believe I could reconstruct the route they took."
"Marvelous! Only the barbarian Gorn couldst match thee in tracking ability!" I clapped. "Lead onward!"
I proved far too optimistic, however. Trevor’s recollection of the paths
was extremely hazy, and I was constantly surprised that more brigands didn’t
attack us. Yet as we proceeded, I began to get a certain feeling inside
my head. When Trevor led us down a path, I just knew whether it
was the right one or not. Invariably, my intuition proved right. Gradually,
I began leading Trevor rather than the other way around. With each fork
we reached, the feeling grew stronger. Trevor would point one way, I would
either agree or point in the other way. Soon, Trevor stopped even making
suggestions. I was leading him and Tseramed to a place I had never found
my way to before, and I was succeeding at it.
Around noon, we saw mountains looming in the distance. We’d been heading southwest, and I recognized the caves as the Spider Caverns I had traveled through during the Gargish War. We stood only a few hundred yards away.
"Wait!" I cried. "It will be heavily guarded! Follow me, there’s a back entrance."
How had I known that? There had not been another entrance to these caves when last I explored them. Another opening could have formed, but how would I know of it? Yet Trevor and Tseramed followed me unquestioningly, for neither had explored these caverns before.
Two Goblins guarded the back entrance. While we outnumbered them, one wielded a mace and the other a club. Tseramed alone carried a weapon among us, and it was only a dagger.
"We’ll have to take them by surprise." I whispered. "Tseramed, get the one with the mace. Trevor, you’ll go after the one with the club along with me. Understand?"
"Aye, (AV)." Tseramed replied.
In an instant, Tseramed’s dagger buried itself into the first Goblin. I jumped at the second and threw a swift punch to the jaw, knocking it back.
The Goblin struggled to his feet as Trevor fought him. Tseramed threw the mace from the dead Goblin to me, and I joined the battle. In a single swipe, I crushed the Goblin’s head with the mace. Trevor armed himself with its club.
Slowly, we made our way down the twisting passageways of the caverns. Forks were few and far between, but I always knew which path to travel.
At last we came to a large cavern. Several dead animals were piled up to form a bed. On the bed slept Fuhl-Bran, the Ettin lord. At the opposite end of the room, a passage led to a treasure chamber.
"Quickly!" I whispered. "We must sneak around him! If he awakens, he’ll call his servants!"
Fuhl-Bran stirred. Quietly, we tiptoed across the room. We were almost at the exit when the other Ettin and the Troll entered through another passage.
"What?" The Ettin exclaimed.
"Intruders! They must die!"
Fuhl-Bran awoke. "What is this? Kill the Haff-Brans!"
The Troll drew a longsword and the Ettin produced two maces. Both wore
full suits of armour, whereas my companions and I had none.
I dueled against the Troll as Trevor and Tseramed fought the Ettin, but it was no use. We were too weakly armed. A blow from the Troll’s sword severed my worn mace in two.
I was pushed back against the cavern wall. With a single thrust, the Troll’s sword pierced through my abdomen. I collapsed to be knees in pain.
Thinking me dead, the Troll rushed towards Tseramed and Trevor to score another kill. Even Fuhl-Bran drew a scimitar and joined the fray.
My vision blurred. I felt the blood draining from me. I had lost. It was a foolish idea, attacking these creatures when so poorly armed. Too late to regret it now. I was dying. A pity. If only I could have died at Empath Abbey instead. It would not have changed this fate, yet it might have offered Britannia hope.
Am I truly beaten? Is this the end? No, it cannot be! I’ve triumphed over creatures of far more power than these! How can they be my final executioners?
Ether. That was it. Ether. That was how I would succeed. These monsters have no chance. I am Ether. The power courses through me! I am Ether!
Concentrate. Concentrate! A spell. To destroy them… Concentrate! My companions could die without my intervention! Concentrate!
Ether. The power fuels me. The power enables me to do what I must. Ether! I am Ether!
"VAS JUX LOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Screams errupted from the monsters as I rose to my feet. The pain was fading. I was becoming oblivious to pain. Tseramed and Trevor stared in dumb amazement as the creatures clutched their faces and moaned in pain. Letting forth unearthly screams, they fell dead, one by one. Their eyes had been burned to ash.
I tried to walk forward, but the pain returned. I still could not channel the Ether except under stress. Blood dripped from the open wound as I fell to the ground once more. The world spinned into blackness…
I awoke in the same cavern. Dupre, Trevor, and Tseramed stood about me.
"Dupre?! How did—"
"We freed him from the dungeon while thou wert still unconscious." Trevor put in. "They were still trying to get his weapons and armour."
"These things are gifts from the Serpents" Dupre stated. "They cannot be stolen from me even by magic means. Like thy Black Sword, Avatar."
"Whatever happened to that blasted thing after I was trapped in Pagan anyways?"
"It resides not on Serpent Isle or in the Ethereal Void. That is all I can say."
I heard shouts and screams coming from down the various passageways.
"What is that?"
"Freeing Dupre did cause a bit of an uproar." Tseramed explained. "We’ve got them trapped, though. The only problem is we have no escape route."
"I see. Dupre’s still armed, but what about the rest of thee? Didst thou find our supplies?"
"We were just about to check the treasure chamber when thou woke up, (AV)." Trevor stated.
"Very well then. Let us arm ourselves."
In the treasure chamber we did, indeed, find our weapons, armour, and supplies, not to mention other items. I found leather armour an open-faced, horned helm, and a broadsword for myself. Dupre readied scale arm guards. Trevor found a bronze helm, gauntlets, and plate boots. Tseramed armed himself with a longbow, chain coif, leather armour, chain arm guards, leather gloves, chain leggings, and leather boots. We also split up our food and other supplies with him.
"Now what, (AV)?" Dupre asked. "Shall we fight our way out and bravely slaughter all several thousand of them?"
"Nay, my friend. I have a plan. Let them in."
"What?!" My companions exclaimed. Even amiable Dupre was at a loss.
"Art thou mad, Avatar? They’ll—"
"Do it, Dupre."
The immortal knight sighed, then smiled. "As thou dost wish, (AV)."
At the entrance to the cavern, the passage was blocked by several wood bars. Slowly, Dupre removed the first bar. Then the second. I raised the Green Virtue Stone.
It worked in Empath Abbey. Will it work here?
The knight flung down the last wooden bars, and a mass of countless creatures surged forward, engulfed in its own rage. I began to chant the Mantra of Justice.
"Beh… beh… beh… beh…"
In a flash of light, my companions and I disappeared. We reappeared outside the Spider Caves. It had worked.
"Quickly!" I cried. "They’ll find us if we don’t run!"
I turned to the path, but a Goblin stood in front of me, smiling. He wore an open-faced, horned helm, scale mail, plate bots, and gauntlets. He wielded a longsword in his right hand and a mourning star in his right.
"Shall we continue our duel now?"
Drawing my longsword, I faced the Goblin. I motioned my companions back.
This time, it would be one on one.
In an instant, our swords clashed. Another blow came. I raised my curved heater to block. Instead, the mourning star hit my wrist, and I dropped my shield.
The Goblin stepped back, twirling his mourning star. Still the smile fused into his face. Neither mocking, neither idolizing. It merely existed.
Ether. With a wave of my hand, I could destroy him. No, I couldn’t. I couldn’t let magic dominate me, making me unable to fight a simple duel without it.
Again our swords clashed. This time, I was slowly pushed back. With my free left hand, I punched the Goblin in the jaw. He stumbled back, blood trickling from his mouth. He licked it off and drew his mourning star forward.
In an instant, the Goblin let forth five, six, a dozen different attacks with the mourning star before I had a chance to blink. I found myself disarmed and on my knees. I dove for my fallen sword, but the Goblin’s foot crashed down upon my hand.
"I win. Humans aren’t as superior as they think. All species have a right to dominate, to murder, to commit genocide, just as humans do. I was sent by the Guardian to kill you, 'Avatar.' But you are not a murdering bigot; merely a spoiled child who has not yet experienced the real world. Remember that."
In a swift motion, the Goblin slit his own throat and fell to the ground, dead. My companions and I stared speachlessly at his dead body for quite some time before moving on.
The rest of my days in the Deep Forest are a blur. Countless times the
four of us were attacked, but always we survived. At first, the inhuman
servants of Fuhl-Bran hunted us, but without leadership they soon broke
upart from within. My only vivid memory of the Deep Forest I have not yet
told of came several days after my duel with the Goblin. We were heading
south now, nearly parallel to Skara Brae.
"Look!" Dupre cried. "Just off the path! Tis Iolo’s hut!"
Since his resurrection, I had not seen Dupre so excited. The four of us rushed to the house, certain to see the old bard greet us as he had done countless times before.
Yet the house was deserted. In front of it lay two graves.
Iolo Fritzowen the Bard
Who Died a Natural Death
In the Year 377
Forever He Shall Be Remembered
For Songs and Stories
For Quests and Adventures
For the Cold Plains of Wiltshire
By the People of Britannia
Wife to Iolo the Bard
Who Died in Battle Near Britain
In the Year 379
Countless Men Risked Their Lives
To Bring Her Body Here
And Bury Her Beside
Her Beloved Husband
We stared at the graves of two of my great companions for quite some time.
Suddenly, a realization struck me.
I ran to the stable. Inside was a wasted away horse. Yet an air of recognition entered his face as he saw me.
"Hey, False Prophet! You know, Ephemeridies can forge you the Concave Lens from a Glass Sword."
Nothing truly comes to an end, it simply begins anew.
-The Abbot of Empath Abbey
I know what you're thinking: That was way too short. Book Two didn't
even introduce Bordermarch even though I'd talked about it at the end of
Book One. Well, I'll say that Book One was considerably longer than the
other books will be. While this will mean less per book, it also means
the books will be finished faster. And no, I'm not cutting anything to
reach deadlines. I don't have deadlines. I don't even know if anyone's
reading this. Regardless, I swear Bordermarch will appear in Book Three.
Til then, I hope you did enjoy this! Send all questions/comments/insults
Onward to the Next Book
Back to the Library
Back to Book One