Chapter 39:



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

Cyton wasn’t sure how long he had been out when he slowly reopened his eyes. Attempting to sit up was painful, so he lay on his back and surveyed the destruction. The blast from the wizard had completely obliterated all traces of him, scorching the ebon marble and rendering most of the tiny runes in the room totally unreadable. Lying on his side, Cyton could see a body softly breathing, but not who it was. “That’s right,” he muttered. “we survived because of” he sat bolt upright. “Descartes!”

Sitting upward sent pain spasming through him. He coughed, forced to lie back down. There seemed to be a wound on his stomach. He touched himself there, muttered “minor healing,” and, just like Rachel had taught him, focused his limited magical energy to heal himself. It worked a little: he was able to sit up, although all the aches and pains were far from gone. Surveying the area, he counted off Erenata, Rachel, and Appraiser, all unconscious but seemingly stable.

“Where is Descartes?” he feverishly said, scanning the room. It wasn’t until he looked up slightly that he saw her. Descartes was in the wall, implanted a few inches deep from the force of the blast; it had also knocked her upward, so she was about four feet high. Most frighteningly, she had a gaping hole in the center of her body that was totally cauterized, giving it a strange alien blackness. She was intact—probably due to her Absorb Elements spell—but she was still grievously hurt. “Descartes,” he muttered, attempting to walk toward the figure, but promptly collapsing. He may have repaired the wound in his stomach, but his feet were still mangled hunks that wouldn’t support his weight.

Cyton tried again, but again to no avail. Giving up on walking, he crawled forward, pulling himself onward with his forearms alone. It was slow, agonizing work, but he finally reached the section of wall containing Descartes. Very, very painfully, he pulled himself up, using the wall as a crutch, until his eyes were level with Descartes’. Only then did he realize that she was still breathing, faintly.

Almost unaware of what was going on, Cyton smiled. He dug around in her bag absentmindedly until he found what he was looking for: a small glass bottle containing a reddish potion. He uncorked it and trickled the liquid down her throat. “We brought this all the way from the goblin,” he muttered as the potion closed the gaping hole in her torso and her eyes fluttered open. “Right, Dinah?”

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

“I remember,” Dinah said quietly. At that moment, it was hard to tell if she was playing Descartes or speaking as herself. “All these fun times we’ve spent together.”

“So much has changed,” Cam said, staring deep into her eyes. Dinah stared back.

“My feelings haven’t changed,” Dinah said.

Dimly, a corner of Cam’s brain recognized that Jordan was herding everyone else up and out of the room while saying something about privacy. The much more important party, however, was focused here, on Dinah’s eyes and on his own thumping heart. He wanted to take her hand, but hesitated, not sure if it was the right thing. What would Cyton do?

Cam already knew the answer to that: Cyton had already done it. He would do anything to be with the person he cared about. Cam took his better half’s advice and took Dinah’s hand. She gasped softly, turning red, but didn’t pull away. With her soft, small hand in his, Cam became sure of the feelings that he had known for a long time but hadn’t had the confidence to face. “Dinah. I know how you feel about me, and for a long time…I’ve felt that way about you. I didn’t trust myself before, and I didn’t know how to say it before, but I’m done making this more complicated than it should be.” He took a deep breath. “Dinah, I love you.”

They embraced each other for a long, long moment. Cam wanted that hug to last forever, but it was cut off by a man clearing his throat very loudly. “I don’t want to bother your personal time,” Jordan said, standing by the door, “but it’s getting late. Maybe we can finish the game?”

Cam and Dinah broke apart, both blushing furiously and unable to look at each other. “Yes, all right, get the whole audience in here,” Cam said, staring at the ceiling. He jerked his thumb at Jordan. “Not much of ‘privacy’ if you all peek through the blinds.” Dinah glared fiercely at the three set of eyes very conspicuously looking through the window. They all disappeared as soon as Cam said that, and moments later the remaining three walked in the door. Cam was tactful enough to ignore that Bekah was sobbing openly, and Ella had tears leaking from her eyes, and even Annette looked like she might break down at any moment.

Bekah said, almost apologetically, “I-if you didn’t know before, I l-l-l-l-l-ove Cam.”

Annette laughed. “Oh, we all knew. It was very, very obvious.” She slapped Cam on the back extremely hard. “Congrats landing a chick, my man! But hey, if things don’t work out, at least you’ve got backups, right?”

Bekah said through her tears “It doesn’t feel like it, but this must be what God wants for you both.”

Ella also said “But this doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for training! Or writing!”

As Cam overlooked the five of his friends, talking, laughing, and crying, he couldn’t help but smiling. Meeting eyes with Dinah again, Cam felt hopeful, like the sun was rising on a new part of his life. He cleared his throat. “Sorry for the delay, everyone. Now, getting back to the adventures of the Sunviewers…”

Remembrance Moon 7, AS 632. Wasteland, Sulmon Magocracy, The Sundered World

The breeze blew cool in the wasteland. Cyton and Descartes sat hand-in-hand, watching the sparse wildlife run its course in the early morning. Somehow, they had spent all night in the pocket dimension fortress; Descartes had hypothesized that time moved differently inside.

After Cyton woke up Descartes, the rest of the Sunviewers had gradually come to. Thanks to Descartes using her body to shield them, none of them had suffered serious injuries that required the use of healing magic.

After leaving the hemisphere room, the party had found Joram, also unconscious and covered from head to toe in wounds, but still alive. The monsters, it seemed, had stopped moving when the wizard had died, since they all lay still with the rune in or on their heads burned out.

Joram had apparently held the chokepoint the entire time without letting a single zombie or skeleton get through. His battleax was stuck in a pile of zombies, and by the looks of it, he had been fighting with his bare hands at the end. The pile of mangled corpses and bone structures surrounding him was staggering. Appraiser said she counted 131 defeated undead.

Fortunately, Rachel could use her final burst of healing magic to cure the worst of Joram’s wounds. He was still unconscious, but she assured them that he was in no danger. Getting out of the exit through the stinking, closely packed piles of former undead proved more difficult, but Erenata had summoned some inner reservoir of strength and burst through.

Now, the entire party sat outside, mostly too tired to do anything. Cyton and Descartes sat in silence until she said “I guess this is it for the Sunviewers.”

“What do you mean?” Cyton asked, looking into the distance.

“We’re all done. We accomplished what we set out to do from the beginning. This is the end of our story.”

Cyton laughed. It the loudest noise any of them had made since entering the fortress; he surprised himself with it.

“You don’t have to make fun of me,” pouted Descartes.

“Sorry, sorry,” he said. “But the end of our story? We still need to visit Erenata’s home, to see if everyone there talks like that or if she’s just weird. And what is Appraiser’s real name? And why do all the members of clan Jormungandr look the same? And whatever happened to Solnia IV? And,” he said, squeezing her hand, “what of the tale of the two of us? The story of the Sunviewers is just getting started.” Hand in hand, the two stood up. They returned to their friends with the light of the rising sun at their back.