Chapter 38:

Chase's End


February 20, 2023 AD. Sunview University, California, USA, Earth

“And as the Sunviewers push open the door, let’s take a quick break,” Cam said. He pushed his seat away from the table and took a large gulp of water as the players rose, chatting excitedly. He was more tired than he usually was after DMing for a couple hours. It was possible that he was just out of practice, but Cam thought he could feel a certain tension in the air. There was a sense of anticipation in the way the girls snuck sidelong looks at him as he described the action, in Dinah’s impatient drumming on the table, and in the almost frantic way Ella paced the room during this break. Little things, but it built up the tension of anticipating fighting the final enemy.

As Cam double-checked his notes, Jordan sat down next to him, also drinking a large bottle of water. “Really? Peaking behind the DM’s screen at a time like this?” Cam said sarcastically.

“Nope. Just honest, unsarcastic encouragement.” He casually blocked a pillow flying through the air, tossed by an overexcited Ella at no particular target. “I know for a fact that whatever choice you make to end this whole thing will be a good one. Go for it. You know what I mean, right?"

"I think so."

"Great." Jordan clapped him on the shoulder, moving back to his seat.

Cam said “if you guys are finished, let’s get started again.” The girls each excitedly took their seats again as Cam began to narrate the next room they entered.

Remembrance Moon 6, AS 632. The Marble Fortress, Pocket Dimension, The Sundered World

The Sunviewers opened the black metal door to a room that was blindingly illuminated compared to the previous cavern, although there was no obvious light source. This room appeared to be a perfect hemisphere made of pure black marble with a radius of hundreds of feet. They emerged from one of the walls with a door that sealed behind them; if they didn’t know where to look the door would have been imperceptible.

While the walls, floor, and ceiling in this room were of black marble, they were not unblemished. All over the place, they were covered with what seemed to be random white splotches in no particular pattern. Upon looking closer, however, it became clear that the white splotches were actually patches of extremely tiny runes, unclear from a distance but shockingly detailed when examined closely. “So many,” Descartes said in wonder as the scale of the project became apparent.

“It took quite some time to create,” a voice echoed across the room. The Sunviewers were instantly on their guard. Standing in the middle of the room was an old man with flowing white hair dressed in a white robe. He calmly sat cross-legged on the floor of the hemisphere, directly in the center of the room. “Now then,” he said cheerfully, as if he were inviting them for tea, “I take you are here to kill me?”

“If you are willing to negotiate, we don’t have to fight,” called back Rachel.

The man chuckled. Although they were over 50 feet away from him, the sound echoed eerily throughout the room. “I rather doubt that, but some talk before the slaughter sounds like a lovely diversion. It’s been so long since I could speak with another living being. The undead are wonderful in many ways, but they make such uninspired conversation partners.” He waved his hand. Out of nowhere, a small table with an umbrella appeared, holding a teapot and plates of cookies. He serenely poured himself a cup of tea before sitting down in a lawn chair that also appeared from nowhere. “What shall we talk about, then?”

As the group still hung back, Descartes spoke. “Are you the one controlling the undead attacks on the city?”

“I am.”

“And did you assassinate the king of Farrus and the Archmage Ruler of Sulmon?”

“I commanded one of my servants to do so. Excellent job defeating him, by the way. I was so sure he could kill all of you.”

This time, Cyton said “why did you do this?”

“To cause a war, naturally.” With a permanently serene smile, he took another sip of his tea. “As you’ve probably guessed, I intend to ascend to godhood, replacing the long dead Shitabii as the new god of Death and Magic. I need a lot of deaths over a short period of time to power the ritual. Starting a war between two major nations seemed a good option. I did consider using my undead horde to massacre a few cities, but that would invite retaliation.”

As he continued his little explanation, the Sunviewers tightened their grips on their weapons. When he finished, Appraiser grimly said “why tell us all this?”

“I did say I was willing to negotiate, after all. But rest assured, my telling you my master plan makes no difference. If you kill me here, which you already intended to do, knowing my plan changes nothing. If I kill you, which I intend to do, you knowing my plan doesn’t matter. And you can’t flee to and take this information elsewhere. The front door is sealed and will not open until I die or will it open, and even if you somehow forced it, you would have to march through my 17,549 zombies now clogging the halls of this fortress to get there. It goes without saying that this entire fortress is warded against teleportation or planar travel in or out, too, so no escape that way.” He took another sip of tea. “But the real reason I was willing to tell you all this, of course, was to stall, giving my horde more time to kill that fiendblood preventing them from reinforcing me.”

Rachel tried one more time. “You said you wanted to negotiate. What are your terms?”

“Surrender now, and I’ll make your deaths quick and painless.” In response, Cyton, Erenata, and Appraiser brandished their weapons, preparing to charge, while Descartes and Rachel each cast an enhancement spell on Cyton and Erenata, respectively.

The old man smiled. As he stood up, the table and chair disappeared like they had never existed. He gently began floating upward as if flight was as natural as standing up. “Shall we begin?”

The melee fighters charged, spreading out. Descartes lobbed a massive blast of fire at the man. He deflected it with a casual wave of his hand. With another wave, hideous monsters began to materialize just like the table and chair, but Descartes waved her hand, casting an anti-spell that caused the materialization to fail. “Interesting,” the man said, casually floating, shooting blasts of green energy at random Sunviewers, causing a little damage each time one hit.

On the ground, Cyton gave Erenata a boost to jump up to attack the floating mage. With her own jumping skills aided by Rachel’s enhancement, she jumped impossibly high, meaning that she was level with the man for a split second. That was enough opportunity for her ignite her Flameblade and swing so rapidly that it became a blur of reddish-orange light, cutting into the man repeatedly. When she fell to the ground, landing flawlessly, his robes were cut to shreds and he was bleeding and smoking.

Realizing the danger Erenata posed, the man flew as high as possible and away from the half-elf. He again waved his hands, once more attempting to conjure monsters, but once again Descartes swished her wand, negating the casting before it could be complete. She and Cyton followed that with a burst of small bolts of fire that didn’t cause significant damage but clearly annoyed him. “You want to duel, little wizard?” he called down Descartes. His voice was still perfectly level and pleasant, but his expression was curled into a snarl. “POWER WORD: ****” The rest of the part heard him say ‘power word’ and watched his mouth move after. They could even recognize that he was making some kind of sound. But their brains simply could not process whatever word he said.

After uttering his phrase, for a split second nothing seemed to happen. Then Descartes collapsed like a puppet with its strings cut, blood leaking from her mouth.

February 20, 2023 AD. Sunview University, California, USA, Earth

“Oh no, Dinah!” said Bekah after Cam finished narrating her collapse. To Cam, she said “I run over to help her up.”

Heart pounding at the fight, Cam said “unfortunately, you find that Dinah has no pulse. She is dead.”

The table immediately broke out in excitement and horror at the one-shot kill, with Appraiser correctly speculating that this was such a high-level spell that the enemy could not cast it again during the fight.

All the while, Dinah looked at Cam with something resembling hope. “I know Cyton will protect me,” she muttered, seemingly to herself. The look in her eyes reminded him of that time five months ago when he had promised to tutor her. The memory and the look made his heart flutter. He wanted nothing more than to fulfill that look, narrating some convenient reason why the spell actually hadn’t killed her. Anything to save and protect that look.

I can’t, he told himself. I’m the DM. I can’t go around solving the players’ problems. That defeats the purpose of the game. This is the players’ game. The DM just facilitates. But should I not have used the instant kill spell?

“Does it work?” Bekah was saying.

“Sorry, what?” Cam asked.

“I said, I want to cast my resurrection spell on Descartes. Does it work?”

“Uh right. Yes! As the holy energy flows into Descartes, you hear her breathing sharply begin again…”

Remembrance Moon 6, AS 632. The Marble Fortress, Pocket Dimension, The Sundered World

Descartes’ breathing started up again, hacking and coughing. Rachel, Cyton, and Erenata, who happened to be nearby, sighed with relief.

“You’ll pay for that one, bastard!” shouted Rachel. She pointed her finger at Erenata and yelled “Enlarge!” Instantly, Erenata grew double her height. She was now tall enough that even if the man flew to the top of the room, he was in range of her weapons.

Erenata grinned. “This beist, as they say, sweet!” She began using her Flameblade to swat at the evil mage like he was an annoying bug. He executed a series of complex flips and evasions attempting to dodge the blows, but he was struck several times. As he flew, he fired a series of green energy blasts at Giant Erenata. All of his found their mark, and although she seemed tougher in this form, their combined force knocked her back.

Descartes used the opening to launch a massive ball of fire at the enemy. This time, it caught him off guard enough that he couldn’t dispel it before it began. The enormous fiery explosion caused a wave of heat to wash over the combatants on the ground, which Cyton used as a signal to fire his own, slightly smaller, fireball at the same target. The two bursts knocked the wizard out of the air, slamming him into the ground near Rachel.

Seeing the man temporarily stunned, Rachel tapped his leg, casting a dispelling spell. When he leaped to his feat and attempted to jump back into the air, he fell to the ground—Rachel had disabled his flying ability.

Cyton and Erenata used the opportunity to perform a flanking attack, both striking at the wizard. Predicably, he was not very skilled in close combat, although he hastily conjured a shimmering green shield to deflect most of the blows. But it was enough; the shield gave him enough time to focus a bundle of crackling electrical energy into his right hand. “Chain Lighting!” he cried, pointing at Erenata and releasing the crackling energy.

A bolt of lighting erupted from his grasp. When it struck Erenata, it split off from her, jumping to Cyton as if it had a mind of its own. From Cyton, the bolt blasted to Rachel, and from her, with the end of its strength, the bolt hit Descartes. Everyone struck by the bolt of lighting flew back, smoking. All of them slowly stood up to see the wizard laughing maniacally, all trace of civility gone, beginning the process of conjuring another fist of lighting.

Desperately, Rachel called out “Major Healing!” at the same time the foe yelled “Chain lighting!” A split second before being electrocuted again, everyone was bathed with Rachel’s holy energy, reviving and refreshing them enough to just barely survive the second chain lightning. Still, it was enough to knock everyone it struck to their knees.

Panting, burned and bloodied, but still standing, the white-haired wizard grinned insanely. “I am going to become a god! Did you really think you would be victorious?”

From behind him came a blunt “yes.” Becoming visible as the invisibility spell she had cast on herself ended, standing just behind the back of the enemy, was Appraiser. Hovering in front of her was her entire collection of over thirty daggers, all suspended mid-air by her own peculiar spell that was only supposed to hold a handful. She must have cast the spell over and over without releasing it, building up this final result. With a nod of her head, the several dozen blades flew the short distance through the air, impaling the unprepared wizard in the back. “Arcane sneak attack,” she said in a satisfied voice.

February 20, 2023 AD. Sunview University, California, USA, Earth

“Critical hit,” Annette said, showing the requisite number. She grinned as the rest of the table exploded in cheers. “I’m gonna need more dice,” she said, smiling from ear to ear.

She needed to borrow practically every single six-sided die owned by anyone at the table, but she finally got enough dice to roll her sneak attack plus critical hit. As the dice clattered across the surface, Cam felt his hopes for a really challenging fight clatter with them. He calculated that the resulting damage was more than half of the boss’s starting HP.

Remembrance Moon 6, AS 632. The Marble Fortress, Pocket Dimension, The Sundered World

With his back resembling a pincushion, the enemy mage fell to his knees. Blood poured from the numerous wounds in his back plus the many injuries he had sustained throughout the rest of the fight. He coughed, blood coming form inside his mouth, too.

The Sunviewers fared little better. Other than Appraiser, who had been invisible the whole time and thus not a target, each of them had suffered significant magical wounds over the course of the battle. Still, they were all standing, proving that they had indeed won over the enemy.

As they limped closer to finish off the mage, he suddenly grinned. His entire body began glowing red-hot from the inside. He laughed calmly, sounding back to his affable self. “Die.” Condensing all of the heat into one place, he turned himself into a living magical bomb and exploded.

Realizing what was going to happen a moment before it did, Descartes yelled “Absorb Elements!” A weak shimmering magical field surrounded her as she sprinted forward. She tackled the enemy wizard, lying on top of him, using her body to block most of the blast.

Cyton had just enough time to reach out his hand and say “Descartes no—” before everything went white. The enormous rush of energy slammed every member of the Sunviewers into the wall. The noise was so loud that it felt like there was no noise at all as the waves of heat exploded outward from the human bomb.