Wizardquest Part 12: Death Race


Chapter 105

Once more, silence descends upon the wagon, and you’re okay with that.

Hala sits up front with Blake, occasionally glancing back, while Tabitha rests quietly across from you, sword held in the crook of her arm. Only Veronica seems to be okay despite her outward appearance, looking around at the rest of the group. She becomes more and more restless until about an hour later she can’t help but sigh in exasperation

“Okay, what in the name of Solos happened back there?”

You turn your head and shrug, “She got the drop on us and I had to kill her.”

“And that has everyone in a hissy because…?”

“Because the fool of a Wizard let himself get goaded into using his anger to blow her up.” Replies Tabitha in a monotone, her eyes still closed, cap over her face.

Both you and Veronica blink toward her for the very… blunt answer. Veronica looks back at you and cocks her head. “You… blew her up? With your magic?”

“Yeah, a [Firebomb] to the chest.” You reply, nonchalant.

Veronica considers this for a moment before shrugging. “Sounds like she deserved it. I don’t see all the fuss.”

“Veronica, that’s not how we do things in the Order, not anymore.” Says Blake, eyes ahead on the road.

She frowns in consternation, “Maybe that isn’t what the Heroes do, but the Chantry would rejoice at hearing one of the greatest Monster generals is dead. I praise Solos that none of us were injured and that we have triumphed this day.”

“Hey, speaking of injured,” begins Hala, looking back at Veronica, “Weren’t you in a coma or something?”

Veronica looks back to Hala before wiping some sweat from her forehead. “I suppose. After those things got ahold of me I…” She blushes before shaking her head and gritting her teeth. “Anyway, I’m fine now. Don’t worry about it.”

“Ooookaaaaayyy.” Says Hala before snuggling Blake. Veronica looks at the Wolf Girl with a mix of displeasure and… jealousy? You figured it was present beforehand, but she kept it a little more under control before. It doesn’t escape your notice that her hand drifts towards her thigh before she catches herself and jerks back to wipe sweat from her forehead.

“Look, we’ll talk about all of this later. Let’s get out of this swamp, okay?” Says Blake as he drives the horses. No one argues the point, so you let yourself slip into sleep as the wagon crunches down on the damp earth.

————————————————————————————–

{Hey… hey…}

You open your eyes to find yourself standing in a dark room, light shining above in a circle from somewhere you can’t see. You look around and see nothing but the one patch of light in the dark, and just sort of accept it. Probably should be freaking out or something, but honestly you seem perfectly fine here. Everything is fine.

“No, everything is not fine.”

You turn about to see Harmony, or at least Harmonius, standing behind you, wings folded at her side. Despite seeing her this way before, this is the first time you’ve really gotten a good look at the Thunderbird.

She’s striking, with a slender body and brilliant blue and gold plumage that gently crackles with electricity, just as you imagined. Her face is the picture of nobility and serenity and she wears a beautifully intricate tiara that only magnifies her grace. When she opens her eyes, they are crystal blue and sparkle along with her sleek, golden hair.

“Oh. This is inside my head, huh?” You ask, putting your hands in your pockets.

“In a way. At the very least you’re asleep.”

“Huh. I mean, I guessed I didn’t have much going on in here, but geez, this is really kind of sad.”

“Wizard…”

You turn back to her and give a wan smile, “Yeah, yeah I know, you wouldn’t be here like this if you didn’t have something important to say.”

She closes her eyes again and takes a slow breath, causing her adequate chest to rise and fall. “You really hurt me today.”

You reel back as if you were slapped in the face. While you expected something like this, it still stings to hear it. You’re quiet for a long time before you reply, softly, “I’m sorry.”

She opens her eyes and stares at you. Despite your height difference, she makes you feel small and inconsequential. “You don’t even know what you’re apologizing for.”

“It’s… Because I gave into my anger, and didn’t heed your warning?” You watch her expression, but it doesn’t change. You cough into your hand, “R…right?”

“Wrong.”

This time you are taken aback. You honestly thought that was what she was upset over! Floundering about, you make random hand gestures as you feel your feet metaphorically taken out from under you.

“What was it then? Look Harmony, it was never my intention to-” She just keeps giving that imperious stare and you stop talking, licking your lips as you think things through.

Okay, so she isn’t angry that you annihilated a captive enemy, which makes sense, as she had no qualms killing a Sahaguin and, hells, she annihilated an entire army once. So why would she be angry? You look at her again and see just a hint of sadness in her expression.

Oh… Oh it can’t be…

“You… you’re angry that I didn’t try talking with you. That I used you as some kind of tool against your will, aren’t you?”

She nods her head slowly and shifts her stance. “Yes. In the end I am nothing more than a tool created to enhance the power of magic practitioners, but after you asked me before to work with you, to fight together, and then be relegated back into the role of merely an object…” She shivers and wraps her wings about herself. “It’s just like Gregory, he used and abused me, and when you did that I… I felt so violated. I felt afraid that you’d become just like he was and… And I know I’m not living but…”

The spirit in the staff, Harmony, begins to cry, tears staining her otherwise gorgeous face. You feel a pang of anguish in your heart at the sight. To treat her like a person and then suddenly rip that all away… By the Gods, no wonder she didn’t want to talk with you. She was afraid.

You watch her try futilely to wipe at her tears, unable to succeed with her feathers. Before you can comprehend the full situation, you walk forward and wipe her tears aside with your thumb, gently moving over her cheek, and her eyes go wide in response.

“I’m truly sorry Harmony. You deserve better than what I did. I promise you, it won’t happen again.”

She sniffles and tries to put her normal, regal face on but fails, settling instead to embrace you. As she does, you feel a tingling sensation run across your body, like electricity. It’s strange, but this mental construct feels so warm, and you feel comfortable holding her like this. It wasn’t so long ago that you would have dropped noodles everywhere if a woman was this close to you. Maybe it’s because she’s just a figment of your imagination, but you don’t feel any unease.

Slowly, she releases you and nods her head, a warm smile on her face, and you smile in return. “Better?”

“Yup.” She sniffles again before taking in a deep breath. “Okay… right. Glad we got that resolved. Just talk with me, okay? I want to work with you, Wizard.”

You nod your head. “Yeah, me too.”

She smirks before she seems to remember something, and her expression becomes worried, “Oh, and when you opened your bag earlier, you felt something, didn’t you? Some kind of… dark sensation?”

“Yeah, I guess. I thought it was my imagination. I mean, I have some really bad stuff in that bag.”

“Hmm… I suppose. Just… keep an eye on that. I’ve been… Sensing something, something sliding about. When you got attacked by those Swamp Horrors it started shifting more. I don’t know, maybe it’s nothing.” She shrugs and then looks off to the side, annoyed.

“Ugh, the vermin is trying to get in our little talk. I’m just going to wake you up instead.”

“Aww, but what if he has a really cool astral form?”

She sniffs, “I don’t care to deal with such trash.”

You laugh and raise your hands, “Alright, alright, point made. You two are going to have to get along someday you know.”

“Perhaps, perhaps not. Well, happy awakening Wizard.”

“You too, I guess.” You pause for a moment and then a goofy smile breaks over your face. “Oh, and Harmony, you have some lovely… plumage.”

Her face goes bright red and she looks away, swinging a wing in a wide arc and suddenly your eyes fly open to the waking world to find Bubs right in front of your face.

 

Chapter 106

 

{Big guyyyyyyy, come onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!}

You jump as the rat scurries off your chest to look back at you. {Aww come on, I wanted to get in on that too! No fair that the stupid bird gets to get into your head for secret talking times and I’m just chopped liver.}

Harmony seems smug in the crook of your arm, but when you focus on her she grows rather embarrassed.

You look around and see that the sun is starting to set in the distance. Blake’s managed to get the wagon out of the swamp, for the most part anyway. The vegetation is becoming sparser and the sky more open in the distance.

Veronica stares at you with an odd expression while Hala snickers at you. Guess she’s back to her normal self, the dumb bitch.

“You okay there Wizard?” Asks Veronica.

“Yeah… yeah just a little startled is all. What’s going on?”

“Blake thinks we should camp. Traveling the roads is pretty dangerous at night and finding this plaguebearer might be difficult anyway. Besides, everyone’s a little on edge and beat up I think.”

“While I think we can agree that we are tired and maybe a little sore.” You stare at Blake for a pointed second before continuing, “But we can’t afford to lose time on this. We need to track down this man before he reaches Cair.”

Your party looks among themselves with worried expressions. You can tell that they understand the danger, but it’s well known that traveling at night invites Monsters to attack. Despite your position of having some powerful fighters, it would still be dangerous.

Sighing, you shake your head, “Look, I know we’re all still shaken up from the swamp, I get that, I really, really do. I’m sure we all have choice words for each other about it.” You lean forward, looking everyone in the eyes, “But can you really sleep knowing THAT is out there?”

That seems to really strike a chord and even Hala’s resolve is hardened. Blake studies your expression one more time before he exhales and snaps the reins, spurring the horses onward as the sun begins to slip down below the horizon, heralding the oncoming night.

You lean forward and think about task before you. The man can’t have gotten too far, depending on where Victoria left him, and he’s likely scared and tired, unless the plague managed to give him super strength and vitality or something.

No, no it probably won’t be too hard to catch up to him, assuming he doesn’t find some sort of transportation. The hardest part will be finding him, especially in the dark. Chances are good he’ll use the road as he looks for help, but if he needs to rest then using one of the nearby hedges or something could be smart. It’s also possible that Victoria may have threatened him to run from people matching your description. Of course, that’s unlikely since Victoria probably never even considered dying- she probably just let him loose because she wanted to take her time with you, the sick bitch that she was.

So that means… you needed some eyes ahead of you. You can probably sense the plague with your [Mage Sight] but you’ll want to have a jump on him beforehand. It’s times like these that you wish your [Remote Sentry] could work further than 100 feet, but that also begs the question of how you’d even get it somewhere else since you’re in motion.

Pondering this thought, you reach into your [Sack of Holding +1] to take out your [Pipe] and some [Green leaf]. As you replace the excess leaves, you notice the third pouch, the [Sack of Shit], and a brilliant idea comes to you. Of course, it’s ingenious!

You eagerly stuff your [Pipe] and light it up, forming in your mind how you’ll do this. Veronica looks at you oddly while Tabitha keeps up that “sleeping but not sleeping” thing she’s doing. You take a few puffs, and then clench the stem in your teeth, smiling like an idiot.

“What the hells are you doing?” Asks Veronica, unable to contain herself any longer.

“I’ve got an idea for a new spell to help with this.”

“Does it involve shit?”

“I may involve shit, yes.”

“Here we go.” Bemoans Blake.

You wave your hand, “Oh cry me a river, this shit has saved your life many times.”

“Doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.” He relents, eyes forward on the road.

“What’s his deal?” Veronica asks, looking back at Blake.

You shrug and open your bag again, “He’s just mad about something some Ghosts did to him once.” Veronica opens her mouth to question it, then thinks better and becomes quiet, a look of bewilderment on her face.

You just let it slide and go back to the [Sack of Holding +1] when that familiar, yet filthy feeling slides over you again. Bubs shudders and awakens at the feeling, becoming restless in your pocket.

{Woah, Big guy, what’s in your bag? Something feels… dark.}

“Yeah…” You mutter, looking through the bag carefully. Your samples of plague and Swamp Horror are tightly sealed, and your [Matango Spores] are also well preserved with none of this feeling to them. [Victoria’s Head] is fine, your other equipment is good, and this piece of bone is-

Your eyes go wide and you quickly drop the bone, closing the sack shut as you choke on your [Pipe]. Your heart beats quickly and both Harmony and Bubs start frantically worrying in your head. You look up and see Tabitha peering at you with one eye under the cap and you gulp, then take a shuddering breath before calming yourself, or at least appearing to. Giving Tabitha a weak smile, you take a slow puff of your pipe, and she narrows the eye before tipping her cap back down.

Shit. Shit shit shit. You thought that Selene destroyed all of the [Lamia Tail Bones] but one is left! No wonder you felt such dark energy from the bag. You’re concerned that it managed to hide for so long. Thinking back desperately to the night when Selene destroyed the bones, you remember scooping them out of the bag, and… and one falling back in.

You don’t know how you had forgotten that, but now that you think on it, it’s clear as day. You saw it fall into the bag, and you just… forgot about it. It makes your spine crawl as you come to the only conclusion.

Chakrandas’s spirit made you forget.

But why show itself in such an overt way now? It’s almost like it’s begging for your attention, like it’s trying to get you to use it again. It should know that you’ll just destroy it, be done with the snake and her dark magics for good.

And yet…

{Harmony,} you hiss mentally to the staff. She immediately comes to attention, {is something trying to influence my thoughts?}

The staff seems to frown in concentration, {No, I don’t think so? But that bone, it’s not right. Why do you have that? I feel some malign force in it and it’s scary.}

{Fuck me, you kept part of that damn snake?} Asks Bubs, butting in on the conversation. {I thought you got rid of her!}

{Snake? What snake?} Asks Harmony, concerned.

You mentally sigh, {I took some vertebrate from a Lamia named Chakrandas that we slew before we met. She was a Monster witch with powerful dark magic.}

{By the Gods…} Whispers Harmony mentally. {You should know that powerful creatures can leave residual energy in their bodies, especially if they’re magic users!}

{Wait… are you saying that Victoria’s head might be-?}

{Probably not since she didn’t use magic, but I wouldn’t rule it out.} She quickly goes back on subject, {Anyway, please, don’t mess with that bone, just destroy it. You don’t know what it could do.}

{Would you protect me again if it tries to get into my head?} You ask of Harmony. She seems to inwardly blush.

{W-well, of course I would! I’d do anything for you.}

You close your eyes and take a deep breath before you pull some feces out of your [Sack of Shit]. {Thank you Harmony. Look, we’ll leave it alone for now, and… deal with it later. We have bigger things to do.}

{Whatever you say big guy…} Sends Bubs, clearly skeptical.

You clench the stem of your [Pipe] harder in your teeth before looking at the shit hovering over your hand. Darn rat and his… well placed caution. Shaking your head, you focus on the task at hand.

Breathing out a wreath of smoke, you form the shit into a large disk. Then, with deliberate care, you cast a thick layer of [Ice] over it, making a nice, hard surface that hovers in the air. Nodding, you then cast [Remote Sentry].

One of the small, magical constructs appears on the disk and you tap into its sight, seeing yourself. You nod and then move it around the wagon. Veronica seems startled, but then glares at you as it comes her way. It drifts into the front of the wagon and Hala raises an eye brow before going to touch it. Blake slaps her furred hand as she does and she pouts, looking away and mumbling about no fun.

Good, it looks like it’s working well enough and doesn’t seem to slide off, which is perfect. Okay, let’s send it out then! With a gesture, you move the device outward, devoting some of your mind to controlling the magic and the other to seeing through the spell. Looks like you’ve made a mobile remote sentry! You think you’ll call it the [Unidentified Flying Turd,] or [UFT] for short.

It’s probably best you don’t tell the others that name.

You quickly come to appreciate the added height you can get my moving the [UFT] upward. It really helps see wide swathes of land and, despite the darkness, you can get a good picture of things ahead of you.

“There’s a copse of trees farther ahead. He might have hidden in there for shelter.” You say. Blake looks back at you, skeptical.

“How do you know?”

“Magic.” You say, taking a puff from your [Pipe].

“I see. We’ll keep a lookout then.”

“You do that. Oh, and when we find him, wear this [Plague Doctor Mask]. Don’t want to catch this thing.”

“Aww, do I have to?” Asks Hala, pouting as she looks at the mask you pull from your bag. “It looks like it’ll irritate my ears.”

“Yes Hala, you have to.” She probably doesn’t have to based on how you understand this plague, but it’s fun to bully her at times. Besides, you have yet to invoke your holy revenge on her. Can’t keep that piece of shit Jackor waiting forever.

She groans and then lays down in Blake’s lap, huffing. You briefly wonder if she’s ever sucking the man off when she lays down like that. The answer is “probably,” but you actually don’t want to know, although seeing Veronica get into a tizzy about it might be amusing.

Looking over at the Aspirant, you see her fidgeting again as she watches the two. Her hand rests uncomfortably close to her crotch and you see her holding back with her other hand, restraining it. What an odd time to start showing pent-up lust, but you’ve come to learn that women are just strange.

You return to scanning through your construct and you see very little of value beyond a Kitsune or two, the dumb one tailed ones, and a squirrel. Just a normal, non-monstrous squirrel. No boobs in sight, which is starting to seem like a rarity these days.

As you start to ponder if sleeping wouldn’t be a better use of your time, you notice something in the periphery of your mind. A slight movement in the trees catches your attention, so you send the [UFT] to investigate and see a vaguely human-shaped figure shuffle through the trees. It stops and turns back to look straight into your device. You can make out what looks like a man with short hair plastered to his head with sweat. He stares at your device before cursing and running back into the trees.

You sit up straight and everyone comes to attention.

“I found him.”

 

Chapter 107

 

Everyone nods and puts their masks on, even Hala. She complains about it the whole time but does so anyway. As you approach the trees, you send your device into them further, but can’t see anything much of value. You frown deeply and look to Bubs, who nods.

{I think I can track him down boss.}

{Works for me!} You look at the rest of the party and nod. “Veronica, stay here while we go into the woods, alright?”

She grimaces, “I can fight too!”

Blake shakes his head. “No, your armor makes too much noise and we need someone to guard the wagon.”

She pauses, perhaps about to comment on Blake’s chainmail, but relents, taking her mace into her hand and siting up at the front of the wagon. The rest of the party disembarks and you head into the trees.

It’s a small copse, not too thick, but it provides adequate protection for this man. Bubs quickly catches onto his scent however and leads you down a path toward him.

You rush through the trees, staff at the ready as Hala bounds forward, her hunter’s spirit coming into full force. She dashes out of sight, clearly having heard the man despite her mask, and you hear a muffled curse from ahead of you. You, Blake, and Tabitha pick up the pace and run after her through the thinning trees as you reach the edge of the copse.

{Big guy…} Sends Bubs, hesitating as if listening for something. {Do you hear that? It sounds like… hoofbeats?}

Try as you might, you can’t hear anything through your mask. You’re about to ask Bubs what he means when you crash out of the trees and find yourself in a large field of grass, open to the expanse of the night sky. Star and moonlight twinkle down over you and you see Hala siting on the man, pushing his face into the dirt. You bet she’s smiling like an idiot under her mask.

“Caught him!” She yells as you approach. You quickly scan with your [Mage Sight] and find him to be riddled with this plague. Beyond being out of breath, he looks fine otherwise. Sure, his humors are filled with plague, but they aren’t out of balance enough to cause any outward disease. Does this plague really not hurt men? Or has it just not been long enough in his system? Is it possible that you can remove it from him?

You take a step toward him when Bubs starts trying to get your attention frantically. When you go to look down at the rat, you hear something muffled in your mask. A faint “clip clop” that increases in intensity as it approaches. You turn to look at the source of the sound when Hala jumps and pushes both you and Blake down to the ground. As you fall, you see a shining blur split the air in a line.

Gasping, you roll to your feet, staring where what had to have been a blade just missed you. The man pulls himself up from the ground but your eyes are locked onto the form before you, which is slowly turning around after its charge. Despite the darkness, in the light of the moon you can make out a humanoid figure on a tall, black horse. The horse rears its front legs up into the sky and lets out a furious neigh as the rider leans into it and stares directly at you.

It takes you a moment, but you adjust to see that it’s a woman, clad in black, baroque armor with accents of red and silver. In one hand she carries a large scythe, which must be the source of the glinting in the dark you saw earlier. As the horse rears up, she let go of the reins and put a hand to her head. When the horse comes back down however, you are shocked to see that the head is no longer connected to her neck.

“By the Gods…” Mutters Blake. “It’s a Dullahan.”

The Dullahan drives her horse forward again, this time at a slow trot, and she comes to rest in front of your party. Her body holds her head in her hand and it moves the severed body part about, staring at all of you. Now that she’s this close, you can clearly see that she has a beautiful face with sharp features and flowing, golden blond hair. In fact, you’d never have guessed she was a Monster until she took her head off. Oh, and her glowing red eyes and black sclera, but that’s a minor detail.

The head looks about and then focuses on you. “Ah. A kindred spirit of death. I see you seek this bearer as well.”

You fumble for words. “Uh, what?”

She looks at you with disappointment before reattaching her head to her body with a sick, squelching sound, then looking back at the man. During the scene he’d tried to crawl away, but her scythe comes down before him and he freezes, muttering prayers to Solos in his terror.

“W-wait, you’re going to kill him?” You ask, confused.

She shakes her head, “No, I have come for him to fulfill his purpose. If you are true to your calling, you will give me no grief.”

“Like the hells we won’t give you grief!” Shouts Hala as she comes to a crouch, ready to spring. The Dullahan ignores her and adjusts the scythe in her other hand before reaching down and grabbing the man, pulling him up onto the saddle with little effort. As she does, Hala jumps at her.

You don’t even see the scythe move, but the next thing you know, Hala is thrown to the ground, clutching at her abdomen as a trail of blood begins to flow from her. You curse and start to raise Harmony, but the Dullahan stares at you and you feel… nauseous. It feels as if you can see your own death before you and it makes you sick to your stomach.

You stagger, mind reeling, and barely register as Tabitha moves to engage the Monster while Blake protects her flank. There is a furious clash of blades before the Dullahan makes an annoyed sound and raises her free hand, firing a jet of darkness at both your companions.

The Lizardman catches the power on her blade but is pushed away while Blake manages disperse the attack with his shield, though not in time to protect himself from the Dullahan’s horse slamming its hooves down on him. They catch the shield, not injuring him, but the blow knocks him to the ground.

You shiver and try to shoot out a [Fireball] with Harmony as you come to your senses, but the Dullahan is already in motion, barreling away from you into the darkness. Shuddering, you fall to your knees as Harmony tries to calm you down. But you can’t be calm, because a specter of death has just taken a man riddled with a virulent plague.

And she’s heading straight towards Cair.

 

Chapter 108

 

“By the gods, Hala!” Shouts Blake as he runs over to the injured Wolf Girl. You stare off as the Dullahan fades into the distance on her horse, a faint cry of terror echoing from the man on the back.

You put a hand to your head and try to slow things down. What the hells just? It was so quick, and that stare…that Gods damned stare! It still makes your bones shiver in your skin thinking about it. It was just pure, unadulterated terror.

{Wizard, are you okay?} Asks Harmony, concerned. {I felt something pierce your mind and couldn’t do anything, it was so quick.}

“It’s… it’s fine.” You reply, slowly picking yourself up. “She caught us all by surprise.”

{I guess…} Replies Harmony, not convinced.

“Damnit, Wizard! I need you!” Shouts Blake. You jolt your feet into responsiveness, jogging over to the recumbent Wolf Girl.

There’s a fair amount of blood staining her clothing but as you look her over, you notice the wound is wide, but shallow over her abdomen. You quickly place Harmony over her and cast [Soothe], sealing up the wound. The Wolf Girl squirms before settling back down, her eyes flickering open.

“Owwww, owwww, owwwwwww.

Blake sighs in relief before offering a prayer to the Gods. “Thanks be Wizard, I was afraid there-“

“No time for that, we have to catch that Dullahan, now.” You say, standing back up and turning back to the trees.

“How do you plan to accomplish that? We are not as swift as she.” Interjects Tabitha, sheathing her sword as she snarls off in the distance.

“It’s a good point she has Wizard…”

You sigh in exasperation. “We have two horses of our own, but if you keep talking we’ll never catch her.”

Blake and Tabitha look between each other and nod before the Hero helps Hala off the ground. She grunts in pain, but gets back to her feet in short order. He starts to move with her under his arm, but you hold up a hand.

“Didn’t you hear me? We don’t have time for that!” You point to Tabitha. “You can take her, the Hero and I need to hurry.” To emphasize the point, you start jogging through the woods.

A few seconds later you hear the heavy footfalls of your local Hero, easily catching up to you. He looks into your eyes and you nod in unison before increasing the pace despite how hard it is to breath in these masks. It doesn’t take long to arrive back at the wagon, and you both beeline for your horses, unhitching them from the cart.

You barely notice Veronica’s squeak of surprise and you spare a moment to look, seeing her inside the back of the wagon instead of the front. Even through your mask you hear rustling of cloth and metal as she pushes her head out of the front of the wagon, face flushed.

“Wh-what’s going on, are we under attack?”

“The plaguebearer got away, we have to chase him down.” Says Blake as he finishes saddling his horse. He hurriedly starts helping you with Mr. Ed, not paying attention to the Aspirant who is hurriedly rubbing her mace with a cloth.

“Where are the others? Did something-“

“On their way back!” You shout finishing with the tack. Quickly swinging into the saddle as Blake does the same, you kick in your heels, sending Mr. Ed jolting forward with a loud neigh.

“Onward Galahad!” Cries Blake as he spurs his horse into action as well. You both bolt out into the night towards Cair and the Dullahan. You’d have had little chance at catching her, but you have the benefit of being on a road and, compared to the grass, your horses are able to transverse the terrain with much more ease than the field.

“Wizard!” Shouts Blake as he rides closer to you, trying to shout over the wind. “When we get close, I’ll harry her flanks, I need to you stop her magic!”

“Uh…y-yeah.” You say, a little flabbergasted by the sudden demand. You have no idea how to combat her. Maybe Harmony could be prepared to shield you from her mental attacks now, but that dark magic is just out of your league. As you have this thought however, your [Sack of Holding +1] pulses with another wave of that dark feeling.

You spare a glance to the bag and your eyes go wide. Wait a second. You don’t know how to deal with dark magic, but perhaps…

{Wizard… Wizard what are you thinking? Don’t do this!} Pleads Harmony, pulsing concern from the staff.

You bite your lip and think it over. It could be a mistake to reach out to Chakrandas’s spirit, but at the same time, you can’t let that Dullahan reach the city. If you remember your obscure stories on the communion matrix’s more spooky matrices, then these Monsters appear when someone’s death is approaching. You never figured a Dullahan would go and actively bring death though, which either means she in collusion with Victoria before she died or-

The prospect of so much death demands intervention.

You shudder. No, no you can’t let this happen. You’ve already done some dirty, but necessary things recently. What’s one more?

“Sorry Selene…” You whisper as you reach in and grab the [Lamia Tail Bone].

Everything seems to pulse for a moment and your vision goes purple as an echo of laughter flushes through your mind, heralding a mocking, imperious voice.

{Hora hora, I knew you’d be back.}

You grit your teeth and push back against the force in your mind. The feeling recedes, restoring your vision, and you quickly steer Mr. Ed back into position, seeing that you had drifted a little. You shake your head and nod to Harmony who pulses with you, determined, but disappointed.

{Hello, Chaika.}

{It’s Chakrandas you fool.}

{No, you’re just the vague memory of the living being known as Chakrandas.} Says Harmony, echoing in your mind. {You’re now Chaika.}

You get the sensation of a sneer. {Don’t you dare presume to speak with me about who or what I am.}

{I’m a talking magic staff, I think I can talk about this perfectly rationally you insipid twat.}

{Girls, you’re both pretty animate objects.} Bubs chimes in. {But stop bickering, the Wizard has shit to say.}

{Of course…} Sends Chaika, clearly unamused. {Whatever could have brought my dead murderer to seek my help after so cruelly denying me beforehand?}

{First off, Blake was the one that killed you, second off, you’re a crazy bitch.}

{True, but here we are, no?} She grows smug. {You wish to know how to resist dark magic attacks, hmm? Oh it’s not so hard, I’m sure that even in this ridiculous state I could protect you.}

{There’s a catch to this, isn’t there?} You think, gritting your teeth.

{How darling, you and I will get along so very well. Yes, I do demand a price: your semen and an interment in a new body, I’m sure you can figure something out.}

{How about, you help me and I don’t crush you into bone powder?}

{Hora, hora, you drive a hard bargain. Fine, for now I will deign you to carry me about as an implement like this…} She seems to search for words, {Stick.}

{Just destroy her Wizard, I’ll annihilate her, it will be easy.} Pushes Harmony, almost staining to remove the wicked bone.

“Wizard!” Shouts back Blake as he points off in the distance. You see backlit by the moonlight the shape of a figure dashing forward on horseback. Damnit, time is up.

You growl and send. {Fine. Whatever, just help us out here.}

A distinct sense of smugness washes over you, as if this was the only logical conclusion to the negotiation. {So it is, so it shall be.}

You return your attention to the road ahead. Both you and Blake begin to veer your horses off into the grass in an intercept angle to the headless horsewoman. You push Mr. Ed forward, and he responds, his muscles straining as he works up a good lather. Despite your edging on though, Blake manages to outrace you, his expert skills in horsemanship coming to play.

As you approach, the Dullahan places a hand to her head and spins it about 180 degrees. Your stomach groans at the grotesque display, but you keep forward as she increases the pace of her own horse. The extra burst of speed keeps Blake from immediately catching her and you grit your teeth, raising Harmony and pointing in front of your prey’s horse.

It’s some effort to do while riding Mr. Ed, but you cast [Vine Whip] in a burst before the charging horse. While there is little vegetation, the spell forms the grass into a block, designed to make the horse stumble and fall. Just as your spell takes effect however, the Dullahan quickly evades, either anticipating the spell, or judging where it would fall.

You cast more and more, but the Dullahan quickly and accurately guides her horse through the veritable minefield of vegetation, forcing you to growl in anger. In sync with Harmony, you push more energy out and form a solid, two-foot-tall wall from a patch of nearby bushes.

As the Dullahan approaches full speed towards the barrier, you prepare to watch her hit and be flung out into the field. The Dullahans tense and then effortlessly drives her horse to jump clear over the obstruction, sailing in the air and landing softly before continuing without breaking stride.

You blink and then realize that the wall is quickly approaching you. Blake clears it without issue, but you panic. The thought flashes in your mind to pull on Mr. Ed’s reins and stop him, but it would end with you sprawled on the ground, possibly with a broken neck. So that means…

Oh Gods, here it goes then!

You drive Mr. Ed faster and crouch low into him, closing your eyes and nearly willing the horse to clear the obstacle. He lets loose a furious neigh and you feel yourself pushed tightly onto the horse as everything becomes weightless for a moment before you feel a jarring sensation and slip off the saddle.

 

Chapter 109

 

You shout out in panic and watch as you tumble out of the stirrup on one side. You feel everything shift to the left, where your hand is gripping tightly, your other hand bone white on Harmony. You feel your weight pulling on Mr. Ed and he protests while running, deviating to the side.

{Wizard! Use me!} Harmony shouts in your mind.

Your eyes snap to her and then to the saddle horn. With a swift effort, you swing Harmony about and latch her behind the saddle horn, arresting your fall. You breathe in relief as your terror starts to subside and you quickly pull yourself up back into the saddle.

{Oh my, that was amusing.} Sends Chaika. {Can you do that again? Your terror was delicious.}

You ignore her and push Mr. Ed forward as you survey the situation. Blake has gained ground but is still behind her and doing his best to keep pace. Thinking of what to do to stop her, you judge distance and realize she’s still within the range of your spells. Looks like you still have a trick up your sleeve.

A disk of stool forms from your [Sack of Shit] and you freeze it, making its edges sharp. You raise the disk to spin it over and over again, then fire it forward. The disk shoots toward the Dullahan, quicker than you expected and, as it approaches her body, she turns and readies her scythe to deflect it. But you’re ready for this. With a quick effort, you throw it down low, avoiding the scythe blade and zipping ahead of the horse.

She barely has time to respond before you pull it back, slashing at the legs of her horse. You hear a snarl ahead of you as the Dullahan pulls her horse quickly to the right to avoid it, but her effort to do so gives Blake plenty of time to catch up to her.

She whirls about, her head twisting in strange ways, and she barely parries Blake’s sword. He fights with both sword and shield, driving Galahad forward with only his legs while keeping pace with her. As she slashes with her scythe, he swings in close and stops her swing cold on his shield, then delivers a blow to her midsection.

Lionsedge glows bright and you see pieces of black armor explode into the night before an earsplitting cry of pain comes from her horse. Both mount and rider spill to the ground in a heap, sliding across the earth in a series of jarring bounces and cracks of bone.

The man on the back of the horse is tossed out into the dirt as well and he rolls forward, landing in an unmoving heap. You briefly wonder if he’s dead.

Blake does circles about the crashed horse, looking for signs of movement. The horse is clearly dead, with fragments of armor embedded into its neck and multiple broken legs. You’re glad it was a fast death because it was certainly messy.

Looking over to the Dullahan, you see her head about ten feet away, lying on its side, staring off with an expression of annoyance despite being scratched by its slide through the dirt. The body lays in a heap, the torso covered in multiple lacerations and shards of metal covering an indecent set of undergarments which keep a sizable bust from slipping out into the cold night air.

You ride close to the head and point your staff down at it, growling, “It’s over.”

She rolls her eyes before giving you a flat stare “So you say. You have certainly stopped my advance, for now. But why?”

“Why what?”

“Why try and stop me? He carries with him death in concentrated form. So many bodies, such plague. With little effort, thousands will die and he will be pleased.”

“He? Who are you talking about? Wait, never mind, are you in league with Victoria?”

“I am in league with none but death itself, and though you may not know of him, he knows of you.” She blinks dispassionately. “And he’s disappointed.”

“I don’t-“

“Enough. If you will not help me, then I suppose I will just send you to him personally.”

You hear a cry of alarm from behind you and you turn to see the torso drag itself up from the ground in a swift, fluid motion and slash at Blake with the scythe. The poor man is caught off guard, and the weapon bites into his armor, digging in and dragging him forcefully from his saddle while tearing his shield away from his body.

You whip about to see the eyes of the head glow bright red and another wave of terror strikes towards you. Before the sickening effects come over you though, you feel two forces slide before it, one raw and powerful as a thunderstorm, the other dark as night. The psychic attack is rebuffed and the head raises an eyebrow.

“Interesting. You’ve learned, although not enough.”

A hand grabs you and forcefully drag you from your saddle. You cry out in alarm as you hit the dirt, hard. Groaning, you watch in horror as the headless body straddles you as her undergarments slide off, revealing an attractive, if maimed, torso backlit by the moon.

You clench your teeth as one hand slams into your shoulder, pinning you in place as the other raises the scythe high into the air, poised to strike you down. Nothing happens immediately, though you feel the body shudder, as if resisting the effort before the scythe finally comes down toward you.

In reflex, you close your eyes and tense, feeling a whoosh of air and then the sound of the ground being pierced next to your ear. You blink and look over to see the scythe impaled into the dirt next to your head, before the Dullahan’s hand grabs your other shoulder and picks you up, pulling you into a tight embrace against her buxom chest. One powerful arm crushes your back while the other tears at your clothes.

“Mmmm, apparently my body has taken a liking to you. That or it needs to replenish its energy. Annoying, but perhaps necessary.” A tinge of color comes to her unnaturally pale cheeks. “A temporary setback.”

You get the impression of Chaika making a wicked smile within you for some reason as she tries to get your attention.

The Dullahan’s body is doing a lousy job of getting you in the mood, unless by mood it means, “crush your ribs.” If that’s the case, then golly, it’s the sexiest thing on the planet.

You struggle fruitlessly while Chaika needles you. {Hehehehe, oh Wizard! She’s killing you! Hahaha!}

{Not…helping…} You think as another spike of pain goes through you. A gasp escapes your lips as you realize that she’s removed one of her arms from your torso and is now fumbling at your pants, trying to force them off your waist.

{Hora hora, I know just the thing to help in this situation.} Chaika goads, delighting in seeing you squirm.

{Well fuck, why don’t you do it already.} You counter, fear leading to anger.

{Oh but I’m but a weak little bone right now. Give me some of your energy and I’ll-}

{Fuck off snake! I don’t need your help that bad!} You reply as you fumble toward your [Sack of Holding +1]. Damnit there has to be something in here you can use, if only you could reach-

The Dullahan’s head watches as you fumble for your bag and she rolls her eyes again. “Please, do be more careful and not allow him access to his tools.”

The body stops tearing your undergarments off and grabs your bag, sending it tumbling away into the grass. You give a small cry of alarm before she pushes you back down to the ground and finishes her dark work. You gasp as your lower half is suddenly exposed to the evening air, your flag at full mast. The Dullahan’s body immediately seizes upon it and begins to delicately stroke you.

{Should have taken my offer Wizard. Ah well, maybe this Dullahan will be more accommodating to me.} Mocks Chaika softly, as if from a great distance.

“Just give in. Your little struggling is amusing, but futile. Release and submit so that this can…” The head trails off for some reason before letting out a disgusted sound. “The other one is stirring… hmph, he should have been out for longer considering that fall. Finish quickly!”

The torso leans onto you, pressing her full breasts together against your shaft with her hands. Their firm warmth sends a shiver up your spine which wasn’t just because you can now see the cross-section of her neck. This isn’t good, not at- wait a second.

In her hurry to finish you off, which is working, oh ho ho, is it working, she freed your other arm. Quickly seizing the opportunity, you point at the torso and cast [Lightning Bolt].

 

Chapter 110

 

Now, some would say this isn’t a smart move. Some would say you would be caught in the blast too, be electrocuted and die or something. But that’s not how magic works you see, magic works by-

Oh who you kidding, doing that hurts like the fucking hells, and you feel your body seize in pain as the power you discharged runs up you as well as the Dullahan. Both of you seize and you feel your jaw clench together, keeping you from letting loose the scream that boiled up from within. The Dullahan, on the other hand, twists and writhes, falling off you as it squirms in the dirt, its impulses firing off.

“D-damn y-you.” Stutters the head, one eye twitching from the pain. “I was c-careless.”

Great, you have the Dullahan off you and you didn’t blow your load, although to be fair you dribbled a little from the sudden electrical stimulation. Not that it matters, no, you need to get Harmony or something to help finish this wench off, because there’s no way you’re doing that with magic on your own. Of course, that’s easier said than done, as moving seems quite beyond you at the moment. Gasping for air while trying to get yourself moving, you notice something in your peripheral vision.

The damn plaguebearer is slowly getting to his feet as he rubs at his head, looking about the scene. His eyes lock onto the half-naked Dullahan, then to you and he gulps, staggering before sluggishly beginning to move away, once again toward Cair.

Groaning, you do your best to roll over, which seems to take all your effort, and you lay there, panting, the effort more difficult thanks to your mask. Laying next to you is your [Sack of Holding +1] and you painfully drag your body forward, grass furrowing under your hand as you pull yourself.

“A-after the Wizard!” The Dullahan head screams. You hear the body start to slowly scrape against the ground in a similar fashion after you.

Panic gives you wings and you scramble desperately. The bag is only a foot away from you and with every handful of grass, you feel yourself closer to freedom. One more handful and you’ll-

You feel a hand grab your leg and you curse, knowing that the body caught up to you. The additional weight upon you is too much and you collapse, breathing heavily as you stare at the bag. Damnit, it’s right there! You can hear Chaika’s mocking laughter as your fingers are mere inches away!

“Ha…again, another temporary setback, but I’ll recover shortly and catch the bearer. Thank you for providing me with a new mount however, I will take care of him well.”

Aww naw.

Aww hells naw. Did she just threaten to take Mr. Ed? Did she just threaten to take your horse?

You’re not certain why, but that burst of anger gives you the strength to reach out and grab your [Sack of Holding +1] and pull it close to you. The head shouts out an order, but you quickly open up the sack and pull out the first thing your hand grabs, the [Wightbane].

You twist around in agony and breathe out, clutching the intricately carved handle, “A temporary setback? No… this is a permanent one!”

You slam the blade into the arm of the Dullahan and immediately a spider web of black veins appears, coursing through the body. The body writhes in agony as you twist the dagger, its arms flailing. The blackness creeps up the arm and into the body, slowly destroying the undead.

The head lets out an ear-piercing scream, one that shakes your very bones despite your mask as it attempts to peel the very fabric of reality apart by its power. You gasp and try to cover your ears, but you fail miserably as your strength leaves you and blood begins to trickle down your ears. The plaguebearer collapses, vomiting, and you feel your vision begin to slip before the noise suddenly cuts off.

Eyes filled with tears, you look up and see Blake. The man is panting heavily and holding his hand to his shoulder, his boot planted firmly on the head of the Dullahan. He growls,

“Shut… up.”

With a shake of your head, you drive the stupor out as the Dullahan’s death scream still echoes in your mind. Guh… You turn and look to find the Monster’s body half dissolved into blackened goo, organs sloughing as the flesh breaks down. The body has stopped moving, and you are certain it isn’t going to do so ever again.

“My damn head…” Mumbles Blake as he reaches down to pick up the Dullahan’s head by the hair, staring into its eyes. You can’t tell if it’s devoid of life or just unconscious, but regardless, it isn’t moving and you don’t think it will be anytime soon, if ever.

“A- a little help here?” You ask of Blake. Looks down to you and blinks, as if noticing you for the first time before nodding. He stoops down and picks you up, grunting at the effort. You wobble on your feet and sway on Blake’s shoulder before stabilizing yourself. He grips your shoulder and you groan. “What the hells was that?”

“Death scream. Some undead Monsters will try to take others with them when they go by letting loose a howl that rips into the Hells. Not really certain what happens if you cut if off mid-scream though…” He shakes his head and taps his [Plague Doctor Mask]. “Regardless, it’s thanks to your masks here that we weren’t killed outright.”

“Is-is that so?” You say before slowly picking up Harmony, who is just fluttering up a storm in your head. You retrieve your bag as well, pulling your pants up as you realize they happen to still be down.

Resting on Harmony for a moment, you look over to Blake and see him staring off at the unconscious man in the field. At least, you think he’s unconscious. He walks up to him cautiously and pokes the man with his sword before grimacing. “He’s dead. Didn’t get far enough away before the scream went out, and he was too weak to resist it.”

Sighing, you scan the body with your [Mage Sight]. Sure enough, he’s still infected, although Blake is clean, thankfully. You rub at your head and then gently lift yourself off your staff, your balance wavering as you point Harmony at the body.

“We need to burn the corpse, to make certain the infection dies with him.”

Blake looks back at you, anger flashing in his eyes before he looks down. “I’d hoped… Maybe we could save him after…” He sighs and rubs at his head. “Why does it have to be this way?”

“Because Blake, that’s how this fucked up world works, alright? Sometimes innocent people die.” You start to channel flames through your staff, Harmony attuning the flames into a purifying lance of power. Blake hangs his head and steps back.

“Sometimes.” You say, words clear despite your mask. “Sometimes we have to do distasteful things. Maybe there are better ways, in fact I’m sure there are. But none of us are perfect. We just do what we can, and accept the consequences.”

You let loose the flames and the body alights, illuminating the night in brilliant red flames. Both you Blake watch the body burn, silently contemplating the events which lead up this. As you watch, your fatigue, mental and physical, finally catches up to you, but you keep yourself standing, for no other reason than to send this unknown man off to Nerg’s halls.

Blake sighs and picks up the head of the Dullahan before looking to you and frowning. He hesitates before sighing and placing the head under his arm. As he walks toward his horse, he calls to you, “Come on Wizard, we should make for Cair. We can rest and recover for the journey ahead.”

Pushing yourself up, you give one last look to the burning man and soundlessly turn to fetch your own mount. You’ve had your fill of death for now. Unfortunately, you feel that fate isn’t going to oblige you as you ride back to the wagon, and off to Cair.

16 votes, average: 4.56 out of 516 votes, average: 4.56 out of 516 votes, average: 4.56 out of 516 votes, average: 4.56 out of 516 votes, average: 4.56 out of 5 (16 votes, average: 4.56 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...
39690 Views

One thought on “Wizardquest Part 12: Death Race

Leave a Reply