Wizardquest Chapter 20: The Final Battle Pt.2

You start breathing a little heavily.

Oh this was not good at all. You thought maybe they’d be able to hold out until you got here, but this was almost the worst case scenario. Your eyes flicker to Veronica, lying motionless in the snow and you quickly perform a <fast scan>.

It… It wasn’t good. She had a massive wound in her abdomen where Third’s almost comically oversized claw had pierced right through her, and she was fading fast. You’ve never encountered a wound this bad before, it didn’t even seem possible that you could fix that kind of damage, even with a health potion, but… Damnit.

“You will not avert your gaze from the Lady!” Shouts Tolosh, stepping forward, her hair writhing. She makes to attack when third lifts and arm and blocks her path, causing the High Priestess to glare at the chimera.

Valinthia, the Monster Lady, most powerful of the dragons rolls her eyes. She was tall, slim, well proportioned, and beautiful. It was odd though, her monstrous features seemed almost delicate compared to most you’ve met, her arms more in human proportion, her claws small and finger-like. The scales on her body seemed to blend in well with her skin, almost overshadowed by it in places. Hell, if it weren’t for the tail, and wings, she could probably pass for human with the right clothes.

Dragonlady

As it was, she wore little more than a loincloth, her scales somehow managing to cover her breasts as she sighs. “No Tolosh, I let Third handle the trash, since they came all this way out here.”

Tolosh looks to you and frowns before bowing to Valinithia. “Of course, my lady. Shall I deal with the others then?”

“No, I believe we shall converse as they die, and you will explain to me where you have been.”

Tolosh looks down before nodding her head. “Of course, my lady.”

They turn to go but you quickly hold up a hand. “Wait!”

The dragon turns her head, giving you a sub-zero glare. She doesn’t say anything, merely tries to psychologically destroy you, and it was working really, really well. But you couldn’t afford to just sit here, you needed to do something, get a better position. You notice out of the corner of your eye that Blake and company had moved to Veronica, and had wrapped a bandage around her, but from the sound of things…

“Your Highness, please give me a moment of your time…”

“No.”

You pause, caught off guard. Uh… W…what?

“The fool of a man over there tried his pretty words earlier, and the woman paid the price. I have no interest in the squabblings of humanity, the sounds of the weak as they desperately mewl for succor from the strong.” She turns again, snapping her fingers,

“You will be the first to fall in the end of humanity.”

“H…hey now, easy there. Let’s just talk this over. Say, are you part goat there? Maybe a little dragon, no? You’re quite strong and although usually it’s Hala who gets hurt…”

She seems to blur before your eyes and then appear in front of you, one claw raised to strike.

“FUCKING SHIT!” You scream, diving backward as the arm comes down, narrowly missing you. You roll back, a difficult prospect with Delilah on your belt, and quickly form a [Shield circle], casting it out before you as Third seems to float in the air toward you.

She raises a mighty claw and slams at the shield, and you feel if fracture under the intense power. With a grunt you gesture to Saya and Harmony. “Go, go, go!”

They don’t hesitate to run toward the rest of the group as you scurry backward, gaining more ground while Third delivers another blow to the shield, shattering it into aetherial particles, sending a jolt of fatigue through you as your will is sapped in blowback.

You quickly thrust your hand into your [Pocket dimension] and devour a heated bread pouch, the flavor of sausage and herbs giving you the strength to erect another shield as you continue to flee backward.

Third, apparently not concerned, smashes this barrier as well, plodding along slowly as you retreat, and you are forced to eat another pouch and once more cover yourself.

This continues perhaps two more times before you reach the others, putting your back to them as you erect a more powerful shield. Third slams her fist against this one, but it holds, at least for now, and she stares at you with a flat expression.

Not wasting the chance, you hurriedly dive into your bag and pick out a handful of health potions, tossing them at Hala before returning your attention to Third.

“Hurry! Pour them on the wound, give them by mouth, whatever! Just hurry!”

You hold the shield high, refueling with heated bread pouches, filling yourself with more and more energy as you keep the shield going. You felt your very core brimming with power as you do so, although you grab one that begins to shine oddly and you hurriedly toss it, dropping your shield for an instant as it sails out.

The pocket slaps Third in the face and she pays it now mind as if slowly dribbles down her naked chest. She gently takes it one taloned hand as the light shines even brighter, and a inside her palm a sound of thunder peals. She looks down at her hand, and opens it, finding it covered in a gooey, cheesy mess.

“Ha! Take that!” You say, obviously not feeling it.

“W…wizard, it’s not working! She’s not breathing!” Hala calls, afraid.

You grit your teeth. “Damnit… We don’t have a choice then, we’ll have to fight without her.”

“Wizard…” Says Blake, still stunned.

“DAMNIT BLAKE GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME AND FIGHT!” You shout, clenching your fists before eating another heated bread pouch. You could feel your body reacting to them, your beard tingling with every bite. “Veronica is dead, but we’re still alive!”

Third cocks her head and then slams at the barrier again, but you hold on, staring the monster in the eye.

“You made a resolution to fight, right? To be a leader? Well then lead!”

Blake bows his head before standing and walking to your side. He nods at you, raising his battered shield and gleaming sword. You notice Tabitha and Hala walk up beside you as well, their blades gleaming in the moonlight.

“Harmony, gather your electricity. Saya, stay next to her” You say softly as Third’s blows become more and more furious against your shield. It wouldn’t last long now.

Harmony cocks her head and then looks down before kneeling. She hear the soft sounded of sparks around her as energy begins to build up in her frame. Saya stands over her, knife at the ready as her eye shifts to the arachnid.

“Alright.” You say, eating a final bread pouch, feeling fit to burst as you faintly begin to glow with excess energy, your beard seeming nigh golden in the night. “Let’s kill us a temple guardian.”

Third puts her two hands together and goes to smash your shield when you suddenly drop it, causing her to over balance and drift forward. Seeing this opportunity, you quickly cast [Ice] toward her followed by a shotgun of [Fire] and [Lightning bolt]. Certainly not the true [Tri-disaster] but with the power you currently carried, it didn’t much matter.

The magic smashed into Third, and she quickly drifts backward, her impassive face now one of annoyance as she staggers from the magical onslaught. Before she can recover however, Hala leaps upon her, ripping at her with her claws and both Blake and Tabitha flank the monster, their blades flashing.

You take the moment to have Bubs drop out of your pocket, and hurriedly transform him into dire mode. This time, you fed energy directly into the little guy, and he positively seethes with power as he roars with his might.

You look back to see Blake pierce Third’s side with Lionsedge, the blade cleanly cutting into the flesh before third bellows out and smacks him aside before reaching for Hala, who quickly disengages by leaping backward off the chimera and landing in a crouched position.

Tabitha, her blade flashing, made multiple slashes across Third’s leg, but unfortunately her blade was too weak to do more than superficial damage and her quarry suddenly blurs behind her, picking her up with one massive hand and squeezes.

You hear a popping sound as Tabitha shrieks before Bubs hits the chimera with the force of a wall and pushes her to the ground for the first time, the impact causing her to drop Tabitha, who writhed in pain on the floor.

Bubs’s eyes flash with golden light as you channel your rage through him, magic coursing in his body. Third looks up to him to grab the rat, but he quickly slams his now massive claws into her shoulders and vomits a stream of electricity into her mouth and face, channeling your magic through him.

Third lets out a fierce lion’s roar as her face is awash in the smoking energy of lightning and you increase the intensity, seeking to burn her from the inside out. You flare in might, shouting as you walk forward, Bub’s massive rodent tail wagging in the air.

You have a moment’s warning before you feel something bubble up from Third, and Bubs is hurled backward with such force that he collides into the stone guard rail, shattering it into shards of stone before he quickly goes unconscious and shrinks back to his old self.

You look back at Third who rises slowly back into the air, her face blackened and scorched, her mouth dribbling blood and static. Still, she only looks mildly annoyed though as rears her head back and vomits a stream of electricity right back at you.

Jumping, you hurriedly slap on a [Counter circle] and deflect the energy as she vomits this, her eyes burning a cool purple. To your surprise then, her expression becomes suddenly furious and you see her outstretch her arms, where two orbs of purple lighting form at the hands. She lets out a distinctly different cry now, sounded nothing so much like the bleating of a goat.

The sheer magnitude of power in those orbs is a little frightening, and you briefly wonder if part of her is attuned to such energies as she seems to blur even faster, running a circle around you, forcing you to spin and track her as she leaves after images, dodging the spells you sling toward her of all varieties, their energies detonating against the walls of the keep, causing the entire structure to shudder in response.

“Just! Stay! Still!” You shout, furious as your throw more and more power at her, your body seething in an almost abnormal rage.

As if to oblige you, after a particularly powerful [Fireball] sails past, she suddenly flows toward you, one hand lifted in the air, the violet power shining in the cold night as she came toward you faster than you could react.

All you could do was put a hand up, and try to blast her, when out of the corner of your eye something flashes silver and a moment later, a burst of light fills the observation flat.

You stagger backward, clearing your vision as the sound of a thousand goats screaming fills your ears and you look up to see the form of Blake standing before Third, his sword coated in a thin sheen of blood. She floated in the air, clutching at her right hand, severed at the wrist, bleating in pain as her eyes flared in purple rage.

On the ground before you sat the smoking remains of the hand, the fingers curled up and smoking, the energies carried within them obviously discharging and detonating as it was separated from the body.

“Thanks for the save.” You say to Blake, readying yourself to cast more magic. Third didn’t seem to notice the fight as she clutched her wrist, and now you and an access to her very bloodstream from the multiple wounds and now this stump. Plagamancy would be child’s play at this point!

“Delilah, give me some assistance here if you can, anything would be nice.” You say to the head, channeling energy into Chaika, preparing to assault Third with extreme prejudice. The Dullahan nods, and then frowns before looking up at you.

“Uh.. Wizard, I don’t think you should…”

You raise the staff and go to cast, but as you do, a crippling pain flashes through you and you stagger backward, dropping to one knee as you put a hand or your stomach, panting.

Gods, it was like a swarm of bees was trying to rip apart your very intestines. You could feel indigestion ripping into you as your magical energy seemed to form up there. Damnit, you knew there had to be a side effect to all of those heated bread pouches, but you didn’t think it would hit this soon! And not right now damnit!

“Wizard, a little support here!” Shouts Blake, holding his sword high as Third begins to stare back at you, her purple eyes subtly changing to a deep yellow as smoke begins to flow from her nostrils.

“I… Oh… Oh gods.” You say before you double over and begin to vomit a stream of cheese, sauce, and green, glowing fluid, the mixture burning your throat and straining your senses.

Third lets out a reptilian growl as she straightens her posture, gritting her teeth. She begins to breath hard before doing something utterly unexpected.

She opens her mouth and says in an imperious, yet pained voice, “You will not lay a finger on her.”

You look up at Third, panting as you wipe your chin, slowly rising to your feet. You weren’t fixed, far from it, as you intestines roiled, magical gasses flowing up through you. But you didn’t have the time for this, and you quickly concentrate, pulling yourself together.

Third raises her remaining hand and rises into the sky. From her palm appears a ball of brilliant red flame that lights the deck with burning light. You felt the furious heat around you as the fire grew more and more intense, prompting you to hurriedly look around at the others.

“Get close! Hurry! Hurry!”

Blake dashes toward you, Hala in tow with the now unconscious Tabitha. You sigh in relief as Saya dashes up with Bubs, holding the little rat in her hands. You quickly slam Chaika down onto the stone and quickly cast a shield around you, forming a dome of protective energy, preparing to whether the blast.

“Where’s Harmony!” Hala shouts as she leans in close and you realize that the construct isn’t inside the barrier. Your eyes go wide as you see her, still kneeling as a cloud of electricity swarms around her, but she doesn’t move.

“HARMONY!” You scream as the hellstorm begins.

Third unleashes the ball of fire, and it bursts into a spray of fireballs, raining down in cataclysmic destruction, throwing up furrows of stone all around you, detonating across the the shield and forcing you to slide to your knees as you did your best to keep the shield up while not shitting your pants or vomiting once again. You watch as the section of stone where Veronica’s body sits crumbles and slides from the side of the keep, tumbling down the mountains before.

You close your eyes, weathering the blows as you silently weep for Harmony and Veronica when you hear in the distance,

“Overcharge operation complete. Initiating avenger protocol.”

A brilliant flash of light shines from near you as the Firestorm rains down and you open your eyes to witness Harmony standing against the flames, a corona of electricity playing against her, deflecting the fire. Your eyes grow wide as you see panels shift on her back and brilliant purple wings of power appear, flowing out from her in aetheric arcs. She crouches for a moment before leaping into the air, through the storm of fire and slams into Third.

An explosion appears in the sky and you watch as a Third and harmony dance in the sky, trading blows between each other. The larger and more powerful Third swipes with her fist, spouting gouts of fire as the smaller and more agile Harmony dodges between the blows, throwing bolts of electricity into her chest and delivering crippling blows with her fists.

You cheer, dropping your shield as the two duel in the air. Your cheers are cut short when Third delivers a massive backhand, connecting with Harmony and sending her spiraling, the chimera taking the opportunity to dash toward the falling construct.

However, it was all a ruse. As soon as Third reached her, Harmony flipped in the air, put her hands together and delivered and electricity charged two handed blow straight to the neck.

Third dropped like a rock, slamming into the ground with the force of a meteor, sending up stone and dust everywhere as she cratered. A moment later, Harmony hurtled down as well, feet first into the downed chimera, sending up a shower of sparks and eliciting a sickening crunch of impact.

You lower your arm from all the dust and watch as Harmony steps out from the crater, walking toward you as the corona of power begins to dissipate. Her movements appear a little jerky as she steps to your side and you put a hand on her shoulder, pulling it back as a jolt of static electricity flows between you.

“I got her.” The construct says flatly, apparently drained of energy.

You smile and place a hand on her chest giving her some of your power as you channel electricity through her. It doesn’t seem to do terribly much, but it helps as she seems to move a little smoother.

You take a deep breath, controlling your roiling stomach and fatigue, hoping you could stomach a few more heated bread pouches, or… Something. This was only the beginning but you had avenged Veronica at least. You’d figure out the rest, somehow.

You step forward, and look to Tabitha, performing a <fast scan> as Hala fed her one of the [Health potions]. Her body was bruised and beaten, nothing too dangerous for the most part, but the concerning thing was her back. There were obvious signs of extreme damage from when Third had crushed her. You close your eyes before looking back to the Valinitha, sheltered from the ruin by the overhanging of the keep, basked in warm light.

She wasn’t even looking at you, instead prodding Tolosh in the chest with one of her clawed fingers, seeming angry about something.

You grit your teeth at the disrespect. You and your party just killed her most powerful guardian, and she was ignoring you! What the fuck! Selene was right, she really was a fucking bitch!

You growl as the others form up behind you. “Valinitha!” You shout, voice echoing in the mountains.

She doesn’t even seem to notice.

“Okay, fine.” You say, handing Chaika to Harmony before putting your thumbs through your belt loops. You narrow your eyes, weaving a simple [amplify] spell before you take a deep breath and shout,

“Monster Lady Valinthia? I am Wizard.”

The words strike like daggers across the keep and boom through the mountains, causing snow to Avalanche and and rocks to fall. Whatever.

You watch as the Monster Lady’s red tail flicks once before she turns around, a look of utter and pure annoyance on her face.

“What is this? Mother didn’t kill you?”

Mother? The… Wait what the hell did she just say?

You hear a shifting of stone before you and a large, clawed hand reaches out of the pit where Third fell, and the broken, bloody, battered form of the Chimera slowly pulls herself to the edge in her belly. Her face was a complete ruin, the beautiful yet impassive skin charred and bloody, but her eyes, glowing yellow in the night were still whole, and you realize now that they were exactly the same as Valinthia’s.

“What the fuck is this…” You say, pointing at Third, who was fumbling feebly at the stone. “What the fuck do you mean that’s your mother!”

The Lady sighs and waves a hand, “Oh stop it, you’re embarrassing yourself Mother.”

Third looks back to Valinthia and croaks out, “I… Won’t let them…. Hurt you.”

“As if they could.” The dragon says, waving a hand. “Honestly though, I fused you with that fool of a baphomet and that lion so you’d stop being such an embarrassment, but look at yourself. Beaten by a pack of mongrels.” Her lips lift up from her teeth. “You’ve always been too weak. That’s why you married that fool of a man.”

The chimera seems to falter at these words before coughing up a small amount of blood. Her mouth works without producing sound for a moment before she whispers, “I love you…”

“Shut up.”

Third’s head drifts down and she slowly sinks back into the pit, her hand following last.

You look up at Valinitha in horror as she sighs. “Well, this is unfortunate, but you have at least gotten my attention anyway. If that damned Selene was here I’d have her destroy all of you, but I suppose Tolosh will have to do.”

The High Priestess seems surprised, her hair moving hesitantly as she walks forward. “My Lady?”

“You’ve done your job out in the field, your duty to the grand plan is admirable, but as it stands you’re not where you need to be to destroy these weaklings.”

“My lady, you haven’t even explained the full plan to me…”

“Take it as a matter of faith.” She says, patting Tolosh on the cheek. “You will relish in the new world I will bring about with your help, but first… You must die.”

Tolosh begins to say something, but her words are cut off as the Monster Lady slashes out the throat of the High Priestess of Dollora with a single swipe of her claws, red blood matching with the scales.

Tolosh staggers and falls to her knees, clutching at her throat as her lifeblood flows out of her. She moves her mouth wordlessly as she stares up at Valinithia who smiles widely,

“Good… Pray to Dollora for deliverance, pray to her for power. You are her chosen daughter, and she will not abandon you.”

Tolosh’s eyes seem to go out of focus for a moment before her hair moves madly, swarming around her and forming a sort of cocoon.

“What are you playing at?” Blake asks, stepping forward.

“Know your place!” Shouts Valinitha as she watches the hair writhe before her. “It has begun.”

You feel in the pit of your stomach and overwhelming sense of despair. Maybe indigestion too, but you were pretty sure it was despair, as a slow, dark power took hold of the cocoon, and it grew, larger and larger, seemingly becoming far larger than there could possibly have been hair.

You quickly [Manifest], but it can only do so much to take off the edge as the cocoon rises into the air before exploding outward, darkness spreading out in all directions as a shape seems to take form in the haze and hair, causing you to step back, and narrow your eyes.

Floating in the air before you was the shape of a tall, gorgeous woman, who’s face and naked body was similar to that of Tolosh’s but only half of it. The other side was winged and covered in scales and fur across the face, breasts, arms, and legs, a massive tail and a mismatched set of wings sprouting from the back. Her long hair floated gingerly in the breeze, writhing with the same intensity as they did before, but seeming to glow with an inner purple light.

The thing that was Tolosh looks at you and you feel your [Inner Guardian] be the only thing that saves any of you from falling into a hole of pure sorrow.

Despite this, Hala weeps openly as she says softly, “It… It’s Dollora. I don’t know how I know it, but I do.”

Valinthia shrugs. “Close enough. It is her Avatar anyway, born from the blood of her chosen daughter in her visage.” She smiles and slides her hand across one of the avatar’s arms. “And she’s under my commands.”

The Monster lady swings out and arm and shouts, “Now go! Remove these heretics!”

The avatar of Dollora flies in the air before you, darkness pouring from her body as she cries out, suffocating you with her might.

You reach for your [Pocket dimension] and stop as a roil of pain hits your stomach and you double over. Blake puts a hand on your shoulder, squeezing it.

“Wizard, stand strong. We’ll defeat this!”

You could tell he wasn’t as confident as he sounded, but only because you knew him, had been with him for so long. You knew that he wasn’t sure he could beat this without, and you didn’t think so either. Maybe it was the effect of the misery aura it seemed to give off, you don’t know, but maybe it was just the truth.

“Wizard…” Delilah says from your side. “I may serve death, but you cannot go meekly into the dark! You have within you the pain of disease, the realm of Nerg! Use it!”

You look down at the head and nod before grabbing Blake’s hand and standing up. Harmony hands you your staff and you wipe your mouth, looking at the avatar of a god herself.

“I don’t know if I can, but I know that I can’t just stay here and die. If the gods are looking out for us, then this is the time.” You raise Chaika, and channel magic as best you can into her. “But if they’re not, well… So be it.”

The Avatar gathers darkness around her hands when a piercing light shines through the dark, dispelling her power and sending the Avatar staggering back, shielding her face as a warm, gentle power settles over your back.

You turn around and shield your own eyes as you squint, staring into the force of the sun itself, eclipsing that of your [Inner Guardian]. As if burns, it seems to fade until a singular shape emerges in the light. A woman, strong of features and wearing shining gold armor with beautiful blonde hair flowing behind her raises up a shining mace that burns with a yellow light. Behind her, feathered wings of pure light shine and you feel a wave of hope and invigoration flow through you.

“Veronica…” Blake whispers, and you immediately recognize the features and armor, transformed into a beacon of light that cuts into the night. It was her, yet… It wasn’t, the same as back in the Carnival.

“Where darkness settles, so it shall be banished by the light!” Shouts Veronica, her eyes glowing pure yellow light. “Though this one’s form is battered and broken, Solos does not betray the faithful in times of night!” She swings her mace toward the Avatar of Dollora and shouts,

“Have at thee, spawn of the dark!”

Valinitha groans and rubs at her forehead. “Just what I needed. Typical.”

Veronica, or the thing that was currently inhabiting her body, flies forward in a burst of radiant light and strikes the Avatar with her gleaming mace, sending a shower of brilliant flame dancing across your eyes.

You take a step backward as the Avatar howls in pain, sending a psychic shockwave through the ruined observation flat, causing the rest of you to stumble momentarily as the wave hit you. You look up and see that the two had pulled apart, the Angel… Which seemed rather appropriate to call her at the moment, all things considered. She flicks black, burning goo off her mace, which quickly evaporates.

A smoking hole was burning in a section of hair on the Avatar, but before your very eyes it fused back together, healing as it the damage was never done. She sets herself back into a neutral expression, as if she was some kind of statue, and then opens her mouth,

“The power of Solos is great in you, daughter of the great mother.”

Her voice was a discordant mash of breathtaking elegance and the snarl of an enraged beast, speaking together in unison. The sound of it made your ears twitch a little, but it was quickly answered by the Angel, who once more pointed her mace at the creature.

“Do not so simply speak of the betrayer of the light. She broke faith with Solos out offer own jealousy!”

This was a good moment to regroup, because you didn’t want to be anywhere near the a simulated battle of the hoofs. You take the opportunity to dash over to Tabitha, Hala standing over her and you try to get the attention of the wolf who was just staring at the two, weeping.

You groan and slap the wolf, who reels back before blinking and then looking at you, confused,

“W…wizard, what?” She asks, dazed

“Move her, now!” You shout, dashing over to a section of destroyed stone that had piled up into a little makeshift barricade. You hear the sound of the others chasing after you as the Avatar laughs.

“Is that what you think? The power of your own God fueling you and you still believe that lie?”

In her open palms, two orbs of purple fire appear as her hair writhes like caged beasts, ready to be unleashed. Her expression becomes suddenly serious as she snarls,

“Return to your master that he may waste away in the heavens with his harlot while we rule the earth!”

The balls of purple light grow rapidly in size and then explode outward into multiple strands of power that blast forth, each seeking the Angel as they seek to destroy her.

The Angel flies backward and then upward as the streaks flow toward her, then follow up, causing her to twist and weave about, dodging the strikes as they home in on her, crashing into the side of the already ruined stonework, smashing into the mountain, or spiraling out of control to detonate into a spray of fine, purple mist.

The Angel barrel rolls through the cloud of destruction toward the Avatar, screaming as she drives in for a flurry of blows, which are countered by a wave of glowing hair.

You raise you head as the explosions cease and then suck back down, seeing that the two were occupied. You look around at your rag tag little group. No one looked particularly good, it had taken much and more to kill Third, and she was merely the underling of the Lady, her daughter…

The thought of it made you sick inside and you grunt, looking at Blake.

Blake sat with his back to the stone, same as you, Lionsedge in his hands as he breathes heavily, shaking.

“Veronica… She’s alive.”

You sigh and move over to Tabitha, who was being looked after by Saya and Hala, both of whom seemed a little shaken. “Sort of, it’s probably the spirit in her armor or whatever. Saint Celestine, was it?”

Blake nods as you start looking over Tabitha again. Damn, she was alive, and probably not in danger of dying, but her back… You hurriedly fumble for a [Health Potion], but find there is none to be had. You look around desperately when Saya holds up a vial.

You smile and take the vial, hurriedly pouring some down the lizardman’s throat. You hear her swallow and then cough, her breathing a little better in mere moments, and her eyes flutter open, looking at you.

“H…huh? Wizard? Wha.. Why can’t I feel my legs?”

Your eyes widen and you mouth works without sound as Tabitha struggles to rise, failing to do so and looking about confused for a moment before looking at her legs dumbly. “Oh.”

Hala puts a furred paw on her shoulder as a blast of sound shakes your little barricade, and you see the Angel fly backward, hitting the stone a few feet away from you before rising, her light blazing back into being and dashing forward once more into the fray with a shout.

“Was that Veronica?” Tabitha asks in a hollow voice, suddenly looking drained.

“Uh… Yeah.” You say, biting your lip. “Tabitha… Are you… Alright?”

She looks down, then up at you then back down again. “Is the chimera dead?”

“Yeah, we got her.” Hala says, wiping the tears off her cheeks.

Tabitha sighs and lays back. “Good.”

Another blast of energy hits the barricade behind you and crouch down as chips of stone rains upon you. You look to Blake and shout, “Hero! What’s the plan!”

Blake tears his eyes from Tabitha and seems to search as another spark of light washes over you. “I… I’m not certain, this is… This is…”

You punch Blake in the face. Not like you hated him, not like you were even angry, but you felt that it was the only thing that would get through to him right now. Besides, you owed him for Cair anyway.

He stares at you, shock on his face for only a moment before he smirks and nods in grim determination. “Right, you’re right wizard. Damn it, this is exactly what heroes do.”

You look over the barricade and watch as the Angel drives the mace into the Avatar’s chest, only be to picked up and thrown into the air, a blast of dark energy surrounding and exploding around her, causing the Angel to tumble in the air before catching her fall and swooping back to attack again, her light flickering only briefly.

You also notice behind them that Valinitha seems to not be interested in the fight in the slightest, instead she seems to be standing over something, moving her hands about in rhythmic manners… Some kind of ritual?

You pull back and hunker down as Blake nods his head. “Alright… Our options are limited, but this may be the opportunity we require to finish this. Veronica is fighting her to a standstill for now, so we have the opportunity to strike at Lady herself.”

You hear the Angel scream and Blake looks over the ridge before cursing. He looks to you, and then nods.

“Wizard, do you think you can kill a god?”

“Uh… What?” You say, confused.

“We can’t get in the middle of that, we’d be killed instantly, but with magic… I think you can pull it off.”

“I’m… Kind of in a bad place at the moment.” You say, feeling another wave of pain flow through you.

Blake grasps your shoulder, squeezing hard. “Wizard, I’m counting on you for this. I know that sometimes we’ve had our differences, and that I always knew you never had any intention of defeating the Monster Lady, but when you came back for us…” He shakes his head. “You’re a true friend wizard, and it’s only because of you that we have this opportunity.”

“Blake, don’t be an idiot, we have to do this together or…”

He holds up a hand. “I know, but she’s distracted, thinks less of us. If we surprise her, we can end this. Besides, Veronica… The saint needs help.” He stares into your eyes. “Can you do this?”

You look down and nod. “What are you going to do?”

“Hala and I will skirt around the fight, hopefully they ignore us, and attack the lady.”

Hala nods but you shake your head, “Just the two of you? Blake that’s suicidal.”

He shrugs, “I’m not spoiled for choice here, Veronica is out there and Tabitha…” He shakes his head. “Harmony doesn’t look like she can really fight, and I wouldn’t ask this of Saya…”

“No, I’ll do it.”

All of you look to Saya, who stares at Blake resolutely. “I’ll go with you Mr. Boudreaux. I… I want to help.”

“Saya, you will not!” You say forcefully as terror rises within you.

“Daddy, stop it!” She says, her spider eye glinting. “There’s no one else who can help, not until Harmony recharges, and he’s right, you need to fight that thing out there.”

“Saya, please…” You whisper, a different pain in your chest.

“I may not have been brought into this world in the form I am but recently, but I am not merely a child to sit back and watch as her father and friends fight and die around her.” She looks up at you with tear filled eyes. “Dad, let me do this.”

You clench your fists and look down, terrified of anything befalling Saya.

{Hey…come on… She’s a big girl.}

You look down at Bubs, who lay weakly next to Tabitha. He had awoken and rolled onto his side, looking up at you despite being so weak. At least he wasn’t injured badly, thank the gods, he was just drained of power. You’d give him a bubsy snack but given that they were infused with wizard power, probably not the best idea.

You close your eyes and sigh. {For you…}

{Heh, even now making jokes.} He closes his eyes. {Wake me up when the battle is over, okay?}

You nod and look back up to Saya before gripping her in a tight hug. She reciprocates it, holding you very tightly. “I love you Daddy.”

“I love you too…” You whisper before letting her go and kissing her on the forehead. She takes a deep breath and stands back, drawing her knife. She nods to Blake and Hala who prepare to go.

“Ah, wait!” You say quickly, looking over at Harmony. “Do you still have those balls I gave you?”

Blake cocks his head, thinking before he nods. “We used the Ice and Fire ones before on third, to little effect, but the Lightning balls…”

“Great, give them here.” You say, and they produce the balls, which you quickly hand to Harmony who immediately seems to perk up some as you feel the power flow out of them and into her construct form.

“Alright…” You sigh, looking up at the trio. “You better kill you a dragon this time.”

Blake nods gravely before looking up over the barricade and then gesturing for the others to go with him, leaving you alone with the sleeping Bubs, the quiet Tabitha, and the bodiless Delilah. Oh and Chaika too. Her.

You feel a wave of pain flow through you and you grunt as you hold your abdomen.

“Great… I said I’d kill the avatar of a fucking God, but how the fuck am I supposed to accomplish that like this?”

“Well, maybe you should listen to me for once in your miserable existence.” Delilah says, a hint of reproach in her voice.

You groan, “You said, use the pain, but what the fuck does that mean?”

“Come on wizard, you know Plagamancy and copromancy, and you can’t figure this out? Use your head, because clearly you aren’t using mine.”

You think about it carefully. Copromancy was a beautiful conduit to Plagamancy, but for that you needed feces. True, you still had your [Sack of shit], but you also had something far fresher, something laced with pure magical energy.

“You’re not seriously suggesting that I?…”

“Better hurry, unless you think you can cast something else.”

You look down and grunt before looking up to Tabitha and Harmony. “Hey, I need you two to close your eyes.”

“Why?” Tabitha says, not looking at you.

“You’re not going to want to see this.”

She takes in a deep breath, and then closes her eyes, breathing out in annoyance. Harmony merely turns around, still recharging.

You as well take a deep breath before dropping your pants and bending down. Of all the stupid things you’ve ever done, perhaps taking a dump in a place where avatars of the gods dueled and the ruler of monsters lay within sight was maybe not the smartest of moves.

Well, what did you have to lose?

You squeeze and press within yourself, compressing the power out of you, forcing the processed waste of food and magic to flow out. Thankfully you had the presence of mind to actively use Copromancy to gather it up as it came out, because you didn’t want any more run ins with no ghosts.

As the feces flow fitfully forth from frightening fields, Delilah mutters to herself, watching it as you gather it before yourself. She seems utterly unperturbed by the whole spectacle and you find that mildly disturbing, but at the time time a wave of relief comes from you. Its almost as if releasing it forth in this way is restoring some sort of balance within you and you feel yourself grow more in synch with… Something.

“Ah, good, you feel it, right?” Delilah says, looking up at you. Her face is lit an unworldly light playing off your ball of magical shit, glowing a soft green light. “You feel the hand of Nerg guiding you?”

“I…” You begin, shaking your head. “I feel something, but what stake does Nerg have in all of this anyway? Being the God to the dead… Wouldn’t he rather the lady kill people?”

She smiles somberly, “In certain circumstances, yes. That plague for instance would have been a joy for him, but now, now that it was foiled, I hear his whispers, his fears of something changing in the winds.”

“Above all else, he seeks a balance, and the balance is about to be changed.”

You frown, “What does that mean?”

She shakes herself, “Don’t worry about it, if we act quickly, it will be nothing. Now then, go and use this weapon to strike forth at this false avatar!”

{Sure, you could do that, and you could also die trying.} Chaika says, seeming a little distant.

{What?} you send, concerned, {Chaika, why have you been so silent anyway? Normally you’ve yelled at me by now…}

{It’s because of that damn bitch Tolosh. When she beat me back out of her, it shocked me bad. You don’t try to infest someone’s consciousness without risks!} She mentally sighs. {Look, you have the power to hurt this thing, but you won’t be able to actually do so unless you break her aura.}

{Uh, what?} you send, confused. {What aura?}

{The aura of darkness surrounding her. The damn light Creature can pierce it with her holy weapon, but you won’t be able to, even with the backing of Nerg,}

{I have some Holy water…} you begin, but are cut off.

{Bah, that would inconvenience her at best, you’d either need some kind of holy relic, or the same kind if power she wields.}

You think about it for a moment, biting your lip. {Wait… Chaika, you wield darkness magic, right?}

{Yes but you’ve never let me…}

{Do it.}

She pauses, quiet for a moment as she asks, {Are you sure?}

You nod your head. {You’re an evil, manipulative, spirit of a psycho snake bitch, but… I trust you.}

You wait as she begins to giggle, before moving into a full blown laugh. {Very well Wizard, for you, and you alone, I will strike down the Avatar of my own Goddess!}

You smile and then grab up the knife stick in one hand and hold the feces floating in the air with another. Taking a deep breath, you leap over the barricade…

And land right into the warzone.

A blast of dark magic smashes into the right not 5 feet to the right of you and you feel a spray of snow and stone splash across your face as you charge forward. You see that Blake and co had managed to leapfrog through the craters in the field, and we’re past the avatar, but were still making their approach slowly. You grit your teeth as another wave of darkness flows past, but you shoulder on.

“Look at yourself!” Shouts the Angel, dancing past a blade of darkness zooming by, “The visage Solos gave the gods, the beauty and the strength! Tainted and twisted by your hatred and jealousy!”

“Again, you spout these words, and again you know nothing! Dollora speaks through me, and she weeps with the sorrow and the outrage of her betrayal by Solos, not the other way around!”

“Lies! She tried to destroy Phallia!”

The Avatar’s eyes flare as her magic flows up strongly around her. “You DARE speak her name to ME?” She raises forth both her hands and with a crackle of power, two massive tendrils of power whip toward the Angel.

She dodges the first one nimbly, the whip crashing and creating a massive furrow in the ground, shaking the structure. Unfortunately the second one clipped the Angel, and she tumbled to the ground with a cry, hitting with such force that her light began to flicker in and out as she pants.

“Now… Return to your God and let him know that Dollora still remembers and will always remember.” She lifts the whip of power again to bring it down

You raise Chaika and yell, coursing aeromancy and Plagamancy through her. A howl of wind rips into the night air as blades of feces slice into the dark magic, causing it to evaporate, and slicing into her hair, causing pieces to fall off and fade into black nothingness as they seemingly evaporated.

But it didn’t end there, for as soon as the blades of shit, this [Shitstorm] contacte her, , you squeeze your hand and they detonate into glowing green clouds of gas, sparkling with the dew of [Holy water], swarming before her, choking her face and clouding her vision as the darkness around her burned and seethed in agony.

She screams and you run over to the Angel, kneeling down as you look her over. Her light as fading, and fast, and you hold onto her hand, looking into the eyes of Veronica as the yellow flickered in and out.

“Veronica? Veronica, stay with me here.” You say, looking her over. Blood began to slowly seep from her abdomen and you quickly begin to [mend], doing your best to close the wound as Delilah watches the Avatar.

Veronica looks at you, her eyes seeming a little sunken. “This one is weak and only sustained by the power of Solos and my spirit.”

“Yeah, I know that, so maybe give me a hand and help save her life!” You shout, pouring more magic into her. Damnit, did she really have to keep bleeding like that?

“This one is strong willed, and filled with selflessness. Even as she was dying, her regret was that she could not help that man.”

“Hey, be quiet here, you need your strength.” Fuck it, you apply some fucking fire to cauterize this shit, you couldn’t heal it fast enough, you just weren’t the High hospitalier.

She doesn’t flinch as you do so, merely smiling. “When this one dies, she will be given a place beside me in the halls of Solos. It is the least she deserves.”

“I swear to Solos, don’t you dare talk about dying!” You say, your fear forcing you to pump magic directly into her, screaming as you overcharge your [Mend], doing the best you can to close her wounds. Why the fuck did you give Away all the health potions?!

“You’re a good man wizard. Whatever else, you’re a good man.” The light flickers out and Veronica closes her eyes, head rolling to the side.

You take in a deep breath and quickly <fast scan> her to see that she’s still alive, but before you can do much else, Delilah shouts

“Wizard, she’s attacking!”

You stand up and watch as the Avatar of Dollora floats before you, her visage pocked with spots of smoking green as the holy water and magicked filth eat away at her. Still, as you watch, the wounds heal up before you and you grit your teeth, raising the cloud of feces.

Her eyes light purple as she growls, “Wizard…. You are nothing before this might.”

You shake your head, chuckling. “True. I alone cannot fight a god. But that’s why I have a little help.”

Slowly, you form the shit around Chaika, raising it into the air as you forms a larger, more complete spear around it. As it takes form, you begin to freeze it, shaping it into a massive ballista bolt rather than a mere spear.

“What do you think you’re doing?” The avatar says, confused.

“Using the blessings of Nerg to restore the balance.” You say, finishing the massive spear, it’s icy radiance glinting in the night.

“Tell him I said hi.”

You throw the [Plague Reaper] at the Avatar, screaming and using all your magical might to propel it like an arrow loosed from a bow. It sails forward and crashes into the Avatar, who screams as the bolt contacts a barrier of darkness, halting its progress.

You grit your teeth as she laughs. “Fool! Nerg and his blessings are nothing compared to me! You will die!”

Tendrils of dark energy spring to life around her and she raises her arms, ready to toss power at you as you grit your teeth and push at her, keeping the [Plague Reaper] focused at the Avatar.

She laughs louder and prepares to fire her magic when you feel something pull at your soul and you hear Chaika shout, {Remember me, bitch?!}

You drop to one knee as magic is leeched out of you and into Chaika, who flares into brilliant purple light, causing the already green and frozen weapon to ignite with dazzling colors before the shroud of darkness explodes around the Avatar, her power detonating around her, obscuring your vision and causing you to look away momentarrly.

As you look back, you see the Avatar on the ground, with Chaika protruding from her chest, filth and water running down her voluptuous chest as disease began to set in. The avatar gurgles as her skin begins to boil and rot, pustules forming and popping as decay and devastation wrack her corporeal form.

You hear Delilah cackling from your belt as the Avatar tries to scream before she bends forward, and with a rush of wind, dissipates, leaving a broken and abused Tolosh staring blankly at the ground.

You pant and drag yourself up, feeling the power within you that Chaika stole seething like an open wound. It didn’t feel bad though, it felt kind of… Nice. Which was the scary part of it. You take a heated bread pouch from your bag and chew on it, feeling some of your power restored as you walk up to Tolosh.

Her hair lays limply on the ground as she stares into nothingness and you kneel down before her, staring into her eyes, which were filled with tears and disbelief.

“The power of Dollora… Defeated… H…how?”

You sigh and put a hand on Chaika, pulling her out of the chest of the High Priestess, causing her to suck in air before coughing violently.

“You put too much stock in faith. The gods are mighty, but they aren’t infallible. None of us are.”

Her eyes flutter as she whispers, “M…my lady….”

She falls to ground, dead. You look at her for a moment before Chaika says smugly, {Bitch got what she deserved.}

You roll your eyes and then suddenly remember Blake and company, looking over to the covered area. Saya wasn’t in sight, as usual, but Hala stalked behind Blake as he came up on the Lady slowly, his sword raised in the air. Without making a sound he throws a vicious slice at her, intending to end this once and for all, heroics be damned.

The moment the blade goes to connect, Valinthia turns about and grabs the blade in her scaled hand, and stares down at the Hero, impassivity on her face.

Blake struggles to make the weapon move but under her grip, it does little more than wiggle in her unmoving Palm, drawing tiny rivulets of blood. Valinitha turns and looks at her palm before her eyes go wide, staring at the blood. She quickly looks at Blake and her expression becomes furious beyond anything you’ve seen before.

In a quick succession she slams her other claw into Blake’s shield while pulling Lionsedge from his hand and then tail slapping him onto the ground. Hala leaps forward to jump on the Lady, but she before she can, she swings Lionsedge like a bat, the flat of the blade smashing into Hala’s face and sending her flying across the room into the wall.

She snarls and leaps into the air, landing on Blake’s chest with her clawed feet, enough force to crack his breastplate as she growls. She flips Lionsedge in her hand and raises it to deliver a savage blow to the hero when Saya leaps in and intercepts the blow as she did before on the tunnels.

You mentally cheer her on as Lionsedge contacts her flesh, and begins to sizzle, the corrosive nature of her body trying to melt the steel of the blade.

But the magicked blade, made to kill the mightiest of monster, passes right through, not even harmed. You watch in horror as Saya looks utterly confused and the Lady, snarling in rage slashes at Saya over and over, each strike destroying bones, crushing and shattering them until Saya begins to collapse into her true form, a pile of goo that tries to escape by crawling away from the assault.

But Valinitha would not let it rest and she casually walks over to Saya, tossing Lionsedge away as smoke begins to flare in her mouth.

Oh gods no. She was going to…

“SAYA!” You shout, full of rage and terror, knowing that even as you gathered your will to cast a spell, it would be too late to save her.

A blur passes from the staircase and a shape sails through the night to land before the lady, arms spread wide, nine tails forming a barrier between Saya and Valinthia. Your eyes go wide and your concentration shatters as you witness Selene protecting Saya, her eyes locked upon the Dragon who was her master.

Valinitha blinks and steps back, smoke dissipating as she breathes out, “What do you think you’re doing?”

Selene slowly lowers her arms before looking down. “My lady, please….”

Valinitha steps up and grabs Selene by the throat. “First you vanish for months, then you fail to kill this pest of a wizard in the tunnels, and now you defy me here?” She snarls, eyes flaring with rage. “You swore an oath to me!”

Selene coughs and Valinitha drops her before stalking back, kicking Blake and making him grunt in pain. She looks over at you and lifts her lips, growling, “Oh and the Avatar is gone too. Useless, all of you are useless to me! Too weak to even properly protect your lady!”

Selene picks herself up before asking quietly, “Was Third… Was she truly made of your mother, Ophelia?”

The Lady throws a hand up, not looking at Selene. “Who cares? She’s gone now.”

Selene says, more insistently, “Is this what happened to Mango, the baphomet? Third’s predecessor?”

Valinitha shakes, her voice roiling with anger. “She was too weak willed to do her duty. A product of the old guard. She needed to be removed, and fortunately so did my mother and the voice of the dissenters, Nalya.”

Selene bows her head. “My lady, why are you tapping into the Groodle Tether?”

Valinitha pauses and then slowly turns around to glare at Selene. “You’ve always been too clever. Loyal, but clever.” She looks up before sniffing and walking over to the hole from before and with a flick of her wrist, a vortex of magic begins to pour forth from it. She puts her wounded hand into it and it slowly heals, and as you watch, the scales become more defined, the claws sharper and more dangerous.

“Well, since Tolosh, who would likely have been removed soon anyway, gratefully opened the access to this somehow, I suppose I might as well tell you, my oh so faithful Guardian.” She sighs, admiring the changes to her arm, the scales now reaching all the way up to her shoulder. “It is the duty of the Lady to advance the interests of Monsterkind, to bring them to the best they can be, lead them away from want.”

“Of course…” Says Selene. “It is for this purpose that I became a temple guardian.”

Valinitha continues, walking around the stream of magic, a direct conduit and control to the damn nexus itself.

“In the past, this took the form of Invasions, killing humans, taking land… But in the end, the goal was always really to forage for men with which to drain for their seed.” She clutches her claw. “Sometimes even LOVING the weak creatures.”

She turns and looks to Selene, utterly ignoring you. “But these days we have grown complacent, some even marrying humans and living amongst them, making themselves weak, creating ever more docile and pathetic monsters. Is this in the best interest for our people?”

Selene frowns, “I don’t think…”

“No!” Valinitha shouts, slamming her claw into a wall, causing the stone to split and fracture. “No, it is the death of us. But I will return us to the way we should be, to the way we must be before we were betrayed, given these forms and emotions.”

Your eyes go wide in time with Selene’s as she mutters, “You can’t be serious.”

“Oh yes.” Valinitha begins before stepping fully into the magic vortex, her voice growing deeper and more monstrous as her body begins to swell.

“I WILL REVERSE THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION!”

 

Valinitha was changing.

Your tired brain came up with that all on its own, and you were quite proud of it to be honest, but on a more serious note she was CHANGING.

The dragon rose slowly into the air, supported by aetherial currents which flowed and coiled all over her body, flickering a multitude of colors that seemed to be ever shifting and changing. You watch in fascination as she grows in size, slowly at first, but then rapidly, her scales rapidly spreading over her body as her limbs swell and twist, her very bones twisting and reforming as she cries out in pain and exultation at her ascension.

You shake yourself and run toward Selene and Saya, but stumble as the ground below you seems to shake, and you look up to see the massive form of Valinitha, still completing her ritual, push up through the stone overhang, demolishing it with her rapidly expanding bulk.

You keep your balance with your staff as stone and debris fall everywhere before you make it to the two, sliding down to a crouch before putting a hand on Selene’s shoulder and shaking her.

“Selene! We need to move!”

She just stares blankly at the Dragon, who was becoming more monstrous every moment, and you’re forced to shake her hard enough that one of her tails instinctively wraps around your neck, choking you.

“S…sele…ghurk.” You manage to say as the pressure increases on your windpipe. She slowly moves her head to look at you before she blinks, apparently just noticing you were there. The tail loosens on your neck and she shakes herself, putting a hand to her head.

“I’m sorry, I just… This is so unexpected, to think she’d…” She starts saying, still seeming a little dazed. You feel a little shaken yourself seeing her like this. You’ve seen her vulnerable but this was… Different.

“Yeah no time for that love, we have to move back before she crushes us.” You say, trying to take hold of the situation. You look over to the blob of black goo that is your daughter and shout, “Saya! Pumpkin, can you move?”

The blob jiggles for a moment in what you assume is a sort of affirmative before you nod back, “Go on, get back to Harmony, now!”

She hesitates before doing so, sliding with more speed than you figured she should be able to. As she moved, she shed pieces of bone, apparently deciding to leave them instead of just dissolving them in some kind of morbid funeral for her lost form.

As you look back, a massive foot the side of a tree trunk slams into the ground not 10 feet away, sending a shower of stone chips toward you, forcing you to shield your face before looking back in horror to truly appreciate what was before you.

The glow of magic had faded away, and before you stood a dragon. Yes, before that she was a dragon, but this was a DRAGON. Something fabled and joked about in Eastern Theatre, but the depictions didn’t give it JUSTICE to just how massive Valinitha was.

She stood easily 30 feet tall, taller if you considered that her neck ended forward a good 10 feet, ending in a long, reptilian head with two sets of long, black horns, sharp teeth and the same yellow eyes as her previous form, glittering with malevolence. She stood on four legs, ending in claws each larger than your chest, and had a long, muscular tail which smashed through the wall behind her with ease. She spreads her massive wings before leaning down, extending her neck, and letting loose a roar that shook the very stones beneath you.

You stare in horror as she slowly turns her neck toward you, third eyelids slowly lifting up and then down as she takes you and Selene in.

{Ahhhhh. That fear in your eyes, wizard. You understand, feel my power and know despair. It is beautiful…}

You put a hand to your head, hearing Valinitha’s voice, deeper and more grating that before, speaking directly into your mind. Your grit your teeth as a chuckle echoes around.

{You shall be my first meal! Rejoice as your bones will nourish me as I begin that which will liberate all monsters!}

Your eyes go wide as Valinitha roars again and snaps her head toward you, massive jaws easily able to snap you in half blurring toward you.

You put your arms up in reaction, but you feel yourself suddenly jerked backward, the jaws of the beast snapping down where you stood before pulling back and roaring in annoyance. You look over your shoulder and see that Selene is carrying you in one of her tails toward the others, Blake held in another fluffy tail to your right.

She drops you both and Harmony immediately moves to Blake, checking on him as you survey the situation. You see that Valinitha had destroyed the overhang with her bulk, opening the platform to the elements as she roars out into the night. You scan about, and notice that in a corner, covered in stone and dust, Hala is rising, her hand on her mouth as she shakes her head she seems to notice something though, somehow ignoring the massive before her.

You shout to Hala, voice lost in a sudden blast of frozen wind as Valinitha snaps her gaze to the wolfgirl, and smoke begins to pour form her nostrils. Hala looks up at the dragon before her eyes go wide and she begins to run, not toward you, but toward Valinthia!

“Damnit Hala no!” You shout as Valinitha points her mouth at Hala and lets loose a torrent of flames at the wolf. Your eyes go wide then as moments before the fire is key loose, Hala leaps into the air, jumping past the flames and onto the back of the dragon, who shakes and roars in annoyance, ruining the wolf’s balance and sending her tumbling off the back, landing on the other side in a heap.

Valinitha stomps down on Hala, who rolls out of the way and up to her feet before snagging up something and then crouching and springing toward you and away from the Dragon as fast as she could. Valinitha throws another gout of flame toward her and you quickly throw up a shield that protects the wolf as she slides in before you, panting and cut up, blood smeared all over her mouth a paws.

You kneel down to her as she hands you what she picked up, and you realize that It was Lionsedge. You take it from her slowly, laying it on the ground and she smiles, forcing you to gasp as you see that her mouth as a bloody mess, her teeth shattered and broken.

You gulp before putting a hand on her shoulder and she looks down, suddenly seeming incredibly tired. She looks over at Blake and Harmony nods her head, the man groaning and pushing himself up slowly.

You look back to Valinitha who seems mildly perturbed that Hala and you escaped her, so instead of chasing she turns about and starts destroying more of the walls, her little rampage blocking the hole which lead to the nexus. You wonder if this was intentional or if her mind was starting to be altered by her changed form.

Shaking your head, you kneel down to Selene, who sat there, staring at Valinitha.

“Selene, come on, I need you here, we have to fight her.”

Selene shakes her head, “She’s my lady, I can’t…”

“Selene, damnit, she’s not even a lady anymore, she’s a god monster… Or well, look you know what I mean.” You grit your teeth. “She betrayed you, her goddess, and she seeks to betray all of the monsters. Is that something a lady would do? Is that what you swore to uphold?”

You stare her in the eyes, a ferocity in your that makes her pull back slightly. “Selene. I need you.”

She bites her lip before looking at Valinitha, the massive red dragon turning about, exuding an aura of menacing rage. Selene’s ears twitch down and she grips her paws before looking back up at you, her eyes flaring with pain, rage, and determination.

“You’re right. She is not longer my lady. She is now just a beast that needs to be put down.”

You smile and hug her before helping her up and holding out Chaika as Valinitha stomps down a foot, smoke boiling from her nostrils. She walks toward you, growling as she approaches.

{Et tu Selene? Your race could return to its former glory, you could have let go of your pain. But now I must destroy you.} She gives a reptilian smile. {I will enjoy this.}

She roars and begins to flap her massive wings, sending blasts of cold air toward you, and you grit your teeth as she rises into the air, immediately putting herself in a position of power above you.

“Well shit.” You say, looking into the sky. “That complicates things.”

“Why?” Says Selene, pointing a finger up at Valinitha. It seems or grow for a moment before a snap of flashing light appears from her finger and cuts through the air toward the dragon.

You can feel the pure power in that simple magical gesture, and it floors up, almost creating a sort of physical wave against your senses. You look up, expecting to see utter devastation, wondering if this was merely child’s play to Selene as a blast of colorful light appears where the beam hits.

Valinitha roars, but seems utterly unfazed by the power, glimmers of a magical shield seeming to vanish in the air around her.

“Well shit.” Selene says, frowning.

“Of course it wouldn’t be that easy.” You grumble, preparing your defenses. “We need a plan and fast, or she’s going to roast us alive. Or step on us, either would be effective.”

“It’s those wings, we need to ground her before we can realistically do anything.” Selene mutters, biting a nail as she considers.

“Dragons were said to be magically resistant before, and coupled with the fact that Valinitha was a powerful witch, attacking her from a distance might be difficult. I’m not certain even a plasma blast would work, she’d probably stop the the magic before it could connect.”

“So what? We have to get in close and rip her wings off or something?” You say, preparing your shield as you watch Valinitha fly in a circle for a moment before leveling out and flapping her wings, roaring as fire seemed to gather in her mouth.

“Cause she’s about to do something and I don’t think I can fly up there and Harmony doesn’t have the juice left.”

Harmony nods and walks over to you. “I’m afraid that is the case. I believe I could do something if I could reach her but…”

Flames pour down upon you from Valinitha. You raise your shield in a half dome to cover you, but the heat is so intense that you’re forced to supplement with [Ice] to try and cool down or be cooked alive in your shell, the effort hurting you and driving you to one knee before Valinitha relents, swooping back away.

Harmony puts a hand on your shoulder and you shake your head before reaching for a heated bread pouch, eating it slowly as not to upset yourself.

Selene’s eyes sparkle with mischief. She puts a hand on Harmony’s shoulder and winks. “You want to try flying again?”

Harmony cocks her head, seeming confused, “I don’t have the power reserves to…”

She’s cut off as Selene wraps three tails around her waist and stares at the dragon in the air, sizing up something with her thumb. She nods and then smiles.

“Alright time to fly like a bird!”

You shout in confusion as Selene steps forward and flings Harmony at Valinitha, the force of which sends up a cloud of snow and dust as the adamantium construct hurtles through the air.

The dragon had very little warning, and she juked to the side to avoid a direct hit, but this allowed Harmony to clap onto one of her wings, wrapping around and slamming into the back of the beast, causing her to roar in anger.

You cheer as Harmony holds on Valinitha doing a barrel roll in the air to try and dislodge her passenger. To Harmony’s credit, she stays on firmly, her metallic fingers digging into the weaker membrane of the wing. As Valinitha levels out, she raises a fist, glowing with purple power, and drives it into the wing, holding it in place as electricity flows through it.

Valinitha’s response was immediate as she twists and spirals in the air, losing altitude rapidly. You realize that perhaps Selene didn’t think this through very well and your heart hammers in your chest as the dragon and its rider hit the stone like a meteor, sending up massive clouds of dust and smoke.

You quickly cast [razor wind] to disperse the obstructive particles and see that one of Valinitha’s wings, the left one was ripped and torn, the bone obviously broken in one place from the impact as she slowly rises, growling.

You search desperately around for Harmony and see her standing up, her body seeming to twitch as you notice her left arm is cracked. You shout at her to return but as she does, Valinithia raises a massive claw and swipes the poor construct.

She flies through the air and smashes into your barricade of stone, throwing debris all over Veronica and Tabitha. You look over to see Harmony lying her, her body twitching and sending up random electrical static. Her chest piece was crushed in and you notice that her left arm was just one. The head twitched back and forth and you gasp as seems to shut down.

Thankfully you can sense the energy in her core still alive, but… Her body…

“Gods damnit, you bitch!” You shout, stepping forward, your magical power surging as the heated bread pouch suffused you. Selene puts a hand on your shoulder and shakes her head,

“We can’t just attack her like this, we need to take out her senses, wear her down, and finish her.”

You takes a deep breath and nod. “Alright, let’s….”

{I CAN HEAR YOU, YOU WRETCHES!}

You stagger as Valinitha projects her will into your mind with great force. You look up as she starts charging across the ground, her long, reptilian stride more like a bound than actually moving. The ground shakes under her and you whip around to see that if she continues, she’ll charge into your wounded, crushing them.

So, you do the only thing you can: run at her.

Or, well, you run in a diagonal, throwing bursts of magic at her and she quickly changes her momentum to chase you, claws scraping across the stone in large furrows. You look behind you to see Selene running as well, and the two of you dash madly as Valinthia jumps and lands in front of you, roaring as she goes to slam her foot down on you.

You feel Selene grab you across the chest with her arms and you accelerate quickly, her tails pushing off the ground, throwing you past the foot as it comes crashing down behind you, missing you by hairs.

The two of you tumble on the other side of her and she trundles about, snarling.

“Hearing, huh?” You say, raising Chaika.

“That sounds good!” Selene shouts, raising a hand to create a wall of glittering magic that absorbs an equally large wall of flame.

You look around, thinking about how to do this. If you could get to her ears, you could probably blow them out with your [Irate Frog Song], but how?

{Big guy? What’s happening?} Bubs sends over your link.

{Not now Bubs, I need to blow out her hearing, you just rest.}

{Can’t you just sing at her?}

{I’ve got to be right there, I’m trying to think how…}

{I can do it.}

You pause, flinching as Selene makes a barrier of light that blocks a swing of Valinitha’s claws, the dragon pulling back and snarling.

{Bubs, no, you’ve done enough and..}

{Damnit Big guy, let me do this!}

You grit your teeth as the dragon slams again and again at the shield, Selene gritting and bending down as her shield was being destroyed.

{Fine.} you send. {Get up there and I’ll… I’m not certain if I can, but we’ll do something.}

{Got it boss!}

You watch as a small, grey form skitters across the battlefield, and you quickly turn back to see Selene’s shield break, causing her to scream and fall backward. You dash up and catch her, pulling backward as you throw [Lightning Bolts] to keep the dragon distracted as you gain ground. It doesn’t do anything, but Selene is able to get her bearings again and spirits you away as Valinitha launches a burst of fire.

You search about for Bubs and feel him upon the dragon, his small form utterly unnoticed by the larger creature. He was able to move quickly upon her body and was on her neck in a moment. Of course, this is when she pulled back to rear her head toward you.

You feel her begin to channel some kind of magic, but you were more focused on Bubs who hung precariously onto her, somehow holding on with his teeth by a loose scale from her earlier fall. You sigh in relief as Selene shouts, “Get back!”

You snap to Valinitha who suddenly flares her eyes as you’re pushed out of the way, and the ground where you stood just evaporates into nothing as an explosion of power tears it apart.

You stare, dumbfounded as Selene slaps your face, saying something, but you just… Can’t hear it for some reason. You blink, blundering about when you hear from Bubs, clear as day,

{Do it!}

This snaps you into focus and, raising a hand, you weave a [Privacy Barrier] around the dragon’s head followed by a quick [Amplify] through Bubs. You close your eyes, feeling yourself become in synch with Bubs as you channel through him, and you open your mouths in a single voice to sing the [Irate Frog Song].

You couldn’t hear the massive blast of power through Bubs, but you did see the results.

Valinthia roars and thrashes about madly, dropping to the floor and smashing her head against the ground as her ear drums are exploded from the shear force of the blast. You feel your magic weaving seep away into nothing as the dragon thrashes, and you feel Bubs’s link flicker and shift.

He was just a rat.

You raise a hand and run forward, but Selene dashes out before you, jumping past and landing on Valinithia’s head. The dragon stares at her with pure, furious rage but Selene smiles wickedly and her tails raise in unison before blurring before your very eyes, jamming into the dragon’s eyes and gouging them.

This time Valinithia didn’t roar. She didn’t cry out, she didn’t thrash. Instead, she merely stood up, Selene still tearing at her weak ocular organs, and with deliberate motion, sent out a single burst of power.

Selene saw it before it came, and she leaped off the face of the blind dragon, flipping backward off her and toward you. The lance of magic Valinithia sent forward sped forward into the sky, exploding harmlessly. Unfortunately, Valinitha seemed to have planned this, and with sharp, seemingly pre-natural ease, moved her head to snap down on one of Selene’s tails.

You watch as Selene’s eyes grow wide and she cries out in pain, her momentum suddenly thrown downward as she was arrested by her tooth prison. She looks up at Valinitha who growls and starts to lift her head to try and devour the former Temple Guard whole.

You don’t even remember getting up, but you find yourself running toward the dragon, hand thrust into your [Pocket dimension], your heart pounding furiously in your chest. You watch as Selene tries to tear at the throat of the dragon, her blades bouncing harmlessly off the scales. She screams and you feel her begin to channel magic as Valinithia finishes moving her head up.

You pull from your bag a heated bread pouch, and look down to find it glowing. Your eyes grow wide and in a burst of desperation, you throw it at the Dragon.

Valinitha opens her jaws wide, tongue wrapping around Selene as the heated bread pouch sails through the air. You cry out, pulling up your magic as Selene seems to burst into incandescence, apparently willing to utterly annihilate herself in order to destroy her former Lady than be eaten.

But before she can do so, the heated bread pouch, sped forward by an act of desperation, lands inside the mouth of the dragon and detonates.

Selene is flung out of the mouth as cheese and magic swirl together into an explosion of magical flavor, and the burning taste of power tears apart the tongue of the beast while releasing your love to sail through the air before twirling and landing gracefully on her feet next to you, panting.

You look over at her and see her face, locked in fury as she seethes magical energy, the remnants of what she was about to blast into Valinitha. Her tails swung back and forth, like a nest of vipers, ready to destroy whatever came close, and you gulp as you see the eight of them bristle in anger.

Wait, eight?

“Selene, your tail!” You shout, alarmed. She looks over her shoulder and then curses before screaming in rage. She stands up, furiously exuding her rage, her face red as her green eyes danced with fury.

She raises a hand, and fire, burning hotter than you could believe dances upon it. She snarls, seeming almost bestial herself as she gathers her might.

Valinitha roars, cheese and blood falling form her mouth as her sight, sound, and taste are obliterated, her smell probably gone in the explosion as well. She was unable to see that which was to come for her, but you knew the fight wasn’t yet out of her, her essence strong and powerful still. You grip Chaika and feel Delilah bounce on your leg as you prepare to finish this when you see a lone figure walk out before you.

You pause, seeing as Blake, the Hero of the Order calmly walks forward, the snow whipping around him and fires blazing on the ground illuminating his glinting sword, Lionsedge. As he approaches Valinitha, you put a hand on Selene’s shoulder and she pants, realizing what is happening, her energy powering down.

Valinitha thrashed, mentally screaming at all of you, her blows seeming to strike randomly, but Blake merely pushed forward, his blade held out at the side. Flames poured at him and he held his shield up, crouching down as they washed around him, his hair and clothes becoming scorched, but he didn’t stop moving. Her flames done, her head hit the ground next to him and he didn’t even flinch as he walks up to her chest, lifts his sword, and plunges it into her chest, around where her heart should be.

She pauses, breathing heavily before stumbling and slipping to the ground as Blake removes his sword, her blood flowing out of her. He steps back, looks at the dragon, and then scoops up the tiny form of Bubs, who shivered in the crook arm before the hero walks away.

Valinitha thrashed, mentally screaming at all of you, her blows seeming to strike randomly, but Blake merely pushed forward, his blade held out at the side. Flames poured at him and he held his shield up, crouching down as they washed around him, his hair and clothes becoming scorched, but he didn’t stop moving. Her flames done, her head hit the ground next to him and he didn’t even flinch as he walks up to her chest, lifts his sword, and plunges it into her chest, around where her heart should be.

She pauses, breathing heavily before stumbling and slipping to the ground as Blake removes his sword, her blood flowing out of her. He steps back, looks at the dragon, and then scoops up the tiny form of Bubs, who shivered in the crook arm before the hero walks away.

As he reaches you, he pauses and hands you the rat, who was alive, thanks the gods, but was cut up horribly, one of his little legs swollen to all get out. You gently [mend] some of his wounds before placing him in your pocket and staring at Blake. He nods before sighing.

“Is she dead?”

You do a <fast scan> and shake your head. “Not yet.”

Blake sighs and turns around when you raise your hand. “No, I got this.”

You channel your will, focusing on the wound in her chest as your entry point, her weakened body strong, but unable to fully resist your power, you utterly imbalance her humours.

And then you cast [Fester].

She shudders and shakes, violently as her humours are filled with all manner of disease, and rupture, ripping her apart from the inside out. You feel her start to come apart as her scales start to slough and her body begins of betray her. She roars out feebly, collapsing utterly as she rots and is destroyed by your magic, strongest of the Plagamancy, the most beloved of Nerg’s spells.

You don’t feel joy at doing it. It was not a good way to go. But it had to be done. You watch as she turns her head, not even close to being near you and, projecting out a soft, final whisper

{This isn’t over.}

“Yes. It is.” You say, turning and walking toward the others! who are too weary to cheer for your victory, but you can see the glint of joy in their eyes. You sigh and look back around as you feel one final pulse of effort from Vallinitha before her life fades away. Whatever it was, it died with her.

You take in a deep breath before you feel Selene’s arms wrap around you, her warm body pressed against your robes, her heat flowing through them into your numb body. You were drained, exhausted, both physically and mentally, and the touch of her was a comfort you thought you would never feel again.

You turn to face her, your heads touched together as she whispers, “It’s finished. You did it.”

You smile wanly, “No, we did it.”

She chuckles lightly before moving in to kiss you when suddenly you and she whip about to stare at a sudden spike of energy coming from the side. You both watch as the debris over the nexus point suddenly shoots up as magic pulses in the air in a massive torrent of energy.

You feel it coursing in the air, being channeled somehow, and Valinithia’s final words ring in your head, forcing you to whip back to look at her rotten corpse. You stare in horror then it the magic washes over it, suffusing the body. Then, with terrifying shudders, the corpse begins to shift.

You watch as Valinitha, no life at all in her body or her ruined eyes, begins to glow with a soft, blue malevolence. That last burst she had made, she was sending out a final control to the nexus, knowing she was done for. She had used the magic to raise her as nothing less than a zombie dragon.

“Impossible…” Delilah hisses at your belt. “She cannot defy Nerg in this way, that’s just not…” She looks up at both of you. “You must destroy her, utterly and irrevocably, now!”

The two of you look down at Delilah, then to zombie Valinitha, her form being filled with the magic of undeath. You both look into each other’s eyes, held close to each other and you nod your heads slowly, knowing what has to be done.

A zombie dragon did not have the magical protection of a living one.

“I’ll bring the heat.” She whispers, holding out a hand, power gathering there.

“I’ve got the thunder.” You reply, raising Chaika, channeling your will into the staff.

“I love you.” She whispers, the zombie dragon beginning to lumber toward you, death dripping from it’s mouth as a toxic sludge.

“You say it like it’s goodbye.” You reply, your other hand slipping to your belt and pulling out a heated bread pouch, leaving the [Pocket Dimension] open while savoring the magical flavor. Ah, spicy sausage and cheese, perfect.

She smiles and then kisses you lightly on the cheek before she looks firmly at the charging creature. You both gather your energy for a few moments longer, your powers coming into sync with each other. Then, in the same, fluid motion, the two of you release your wills.

A twin bolt of fire and lightning swirl together in the air, the heat bursting with the current in the electricity, becoming the devastating power of the [Twin plasma].

Valinitha, the stone around her, the conduit to the lower level, the side of the mountain, the entire observation flat merely ceased to be. The detonation of power engulfs outward, annihilating all before it in a torrent of plasma, unmaking it into its constituent particles as a hole half a mile wide is left in a massive sphere form where it connected.

You, Selene, your party, all of them were gone, caught in a shining sphere of light that swept you and the ground you stood upon away into nothingness.

You open your eyes sometime later to see three, triangle shaped Suns staring down at you, basking you in golden light. You look around, narrowing your eyes at the landscape, seeing the ruins of the keep before you, spread across the ground and you companions lay on the rapidly melting snow covered stone that stood in stark contrast to the green and glorious field you now found yourself in.

You see trees sway in a warm breeze as the sound of babbling brook, filled with glittering green water which rushes across rocks that seem flaky and delicious. Bushes grow upon them pastries of all shapes and sizes, glistening in the unnatural light.

You blink and look down to see Selene laying next to you, her face looking ragged as she slept peacefully, chest slowly rising and and sinking as she breathes the breath of sleep. You go to rise when you hear the voice of an older man which seems of reverberate in your very soul, your body tingling in reaction as it gently calls to you.

“Ah… It has been too long since one of my faithful has traveled these hallowed lands. Welcome, wizard. Welcome to El Dorito.”

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