By: EM Drosselmeyer
“You don’t actually think this is going to work, do you?” Anon scoffed at King Blackthorn’s suggestion.
“Well if you don’t think you have the ability to do it, I guess you can continue to be known as the second best mage of the realm…”
Anon slammed a hand down on the table, causing Dupre to give him a glare from his seat. “I still am afraid I don’t understand…why are we not simply destroying the source of these?”
“Because we cannot without condemning untold numbers of lives. Anon and I have come to the conclusion that Minax used the shard of the gem of immortality she’d stolen to open up tears in the Ether to another world…a Sosaria conquered by brigands and outlaws. To destroy the connection might destroy one or both of the worlds. Instead…Anon came up with a plan that’s somewhat similar to what Nystul once did…”
“It’s completely different! We aren’t destroying an entire way of life and the source of our strength!”
The King raised his hand and Anon reluctantly went quiet. “Alright. We can cast the spell, but we’re going to have to be uninterrupted…and unfortunately, Minax and this…Shanty you told us of will be on the watch now. Anon is the only one of us who can cast it…and I’ll need to assist him.”
“Shanty’s enchanted blade is powerful…it’s one of those ancient blades that we’d thought were all lost. I don’t have anything that can stand up to it.”
The King pulled on a bellpull and Heckles entered, with an object wrapped in cloth. “It took some time, but I was able to find an object in my collection that may be able to help you against him, Sir Dupre.”
As Heckles approached, he unwrapped it and held the sheathed blade out to Sir Dupre, and he drew it…to show a brilliantly gleaming black longsword, with magical runes engraved along it’s length. The balance was impeccable, and it felt as if it had the perfect weight…He gave a small swing of it’s blade, and saw the same motes of magical energy as Shanty’s Sharkbite had cast. In a deft motion he sheathed it perfectly, and gave the King a nod.
“Then let us do this for the realm…and for Minax’s defeat.”
Anon’s preparations were complete and he’d taken a score or more of obscure reagents from the depths of Blackthorn’s vaults; Dupre had replaced his shield with a heavier version and had the squire that saved him paint Blackthorn’s crest atop it in place of his own. He’d replaced the broken pauldrons and it gleamed brightly compared to the rest of his well worn armor. Anon had donned his usual llamahair outfit, but he was also now wearing a hat provided him by the King, also adorned with Blackthorn’s crest. The King opened a gate and they stepped through the shimmering blue portal one after another.
The scene was chaotic before them; Guards, adventurers, explorers, and volunteers swarmed the streets, fighting the marauders and their monsters. Blood spotted and stained the streets of the city of Vesper as battles raged across the islands, the bridges barely holding up to the fury of the fighting. Anon quickly started chanting, and in moments he was teleporting with flashes of light from spot to spot.
Dupre shouted after him “Damn it, Anon, we have to do this together! Let’s go!” He spared a glance to make sure the King was behind him, and they charged after the mage across the splintered wooden bridges. A satyr rose up in front of him, and Dupre drew the black blade out into a diagonal slash, and hacked the creature in half without facing any resistance. Dryad and Cu sidhe rose up to face him, and each one was dispatched with haste, leaving dismembered monsters behind them like a wake while they bolted towards the lighthouse.
Anon had already dispatched most of the creatures in the area, and was beginning his setup. Dupre swore underneath his helmet…Damned Grandstander…the King approached Anon and they began to speak, as Dupre shouted over to them. “I’m going to secure the area, and see if I can’t get any of these volunteers to help us keep the bridges locked down.”
Anon waved him off. “I don’t care! Just stay out of my way, you nonce!”
The King gave him a nod as he departed, before turning to Anon. “And you’re sure you can alter these tears?”
“Of course I can! Though we still have the other option if it won’t work.”
“Oh, look! How cute…it seems the Kings found himself a new court jester! Was Heckles not enough of a fool for you, so you’ve replaced him with Anon now?” The taunting voice came across from a nearby rooftop, even as a crack split the air and a multitude of lightning bolts destroyed several of Anon’s carefully placed reagents. “Oh I’m sorry…were those important, little mage? You know, Nystul never needed…”
“I AM MORE POWERFUL THAN THAT PRETENDER EVER WAS! HE WAS JEALOUS OF ME, OF ME!” Anon roared back with fury at her even as he began to cast.
“No, Councilor, we need to…” The King quickly tried to get Anon’s attention, but the mage was beyond hearing.
“I NEED TO DESTROY HER!” And with that, Anon was gone, reappearing next to Minax in a bare moment. Pillars of flame exploded around him in an arcanic burst of fury, setting the entire roof ablaze…but Minax had already leapt down, and her whip flashed out, gripping Anon’s ankle and yanking him from his feet. Anon screamed in his rage as he cast explosions out towards her, but she raised up a great wall of stone to block them.
King Blackthorn turned back to the task at hand, looking at the ruined reagents…their original plan couldn’t be finished now, especially with Anon indisposed. He spared a glance back to the two, and then turned to the task at hand…and began to cast himself.
Anon was still struggling with the Enchantress, but neither of them seemed to be able to gain a true advantage…until Minax led the fighting back towards a certain spot. From Anon’s angle he couldn’t see, but Blackthorn shouted out a warning that went unheeded by the furious mage.
Shanty rose out of his hiding place with an evil grin, and his cutlass swung up. Anon shrieked out in surprise, a sudden panicked casting of teleport looking like he’d completely avoided it…but as he reappeared a few steps back blood was starting to stain his robe. Shanty stepped forward as Anon coughed wetly, trying to cast a healing spell…when Dupre ran from the alley Shanty had appeared from and slammed into the corsair, casting him to the ground.
Minax snorted with irritation, beginning to cast at the knight, only for a wall of stone to rise up between them and protect him. Shanty turned with a laugh as he rose. “Wanna lose another piece o’ yerself, eh? Shanty’ll oblige yer!” As Dupre’s longsword clashed with Sharkbite, they smashed into each other powerfully, their enchantments fighting for supremacy.
The fight continued to rage as Blackthorn focused all his efforts into the casting. He’d never get Anon back to what he needed to be doing, and Dupre couldn’t help him here. He felt the mana being channeled through his body as he tried to cast the spell Anon had created…but he couldn’t reach the threshold without the reagents. He heard a shouted warning and noticed one of the marauders coming across the bridge to aid Minax…and he no longer had time to worry.
Drawing on his own area of expertise that he’d used against Exodus, and the feel of the crystal he’d brought with him in his pocket, mana surged and flowed through him powerfully. The words of power came out effortlessly, as if he’d done this a million times before; An orb of light started to expand from around him, slowly engulfing him…and the King was gone.
As the light expanded and touched, it left the buildings behind…but as it touched Anon and Dupre, they vanished as well, as did the marauders and their minions. In moments all that was left was an empty Vesper, the explorers, the adventurers, Shanty and the Enchantress. Outnumbered vastly, the two fled in a burst of magical energy rather than face the wrath of their victims.
“WHAT DID YOU DO?!” Anon shouted as he realized the extent of it, his voice echoing in the cavernous area.
“I did what I could…because you abandoned your post.” The King said calmly, looking to the irate mage and hoping this wouldn’t end in conflict.
“This isn’t what we agreed on, Blackthorn!”
“I’ll still honor your price, Anon….but this was the only option left.”
“No it wasn’t! We could’ve killed them bo…” Anon’s shouts were cut off as he clutched at his chest and fell to a knee, his wound lancing pain through his chest. The King helped him up, even as Anon’s next words were more arguing.
Sparing Anon’s wound a glance to see that it wasn’t mortal, Dupre sheathed the black longsword with an air of finality. As the mages walked away, he looked down the vast hallway…their argument was unimportant, as far as he was concerned. Ahead were tiny glimpses of what seemed to be each of the cities he was so familiar with. Then he turned and followed the two mages, walking out of Blackthorns Dungeon and Vaults.