Chapter 39:

Chapter 39


Jester's body exploded, ripped to shreds of absolute carnage. Portions of flesh and bone separated into their own entities. Thousands of mouths emerged from his body, all equipped with thousands of rigid and jagged teeth. Hundreds of tongues, thin and slender, sprouted from the skin. The pieces whipped, strangled, and lacerated the party. Sticky saliva coated their bodies, restricting their movement even further.

"This is totally disgusting!" Vera shouted, trying her best to burn, freeze, and shock the homunculus mass of flesh. Isaac hacked and slashed, Elizabeth sawed and cut, but none of them could even touch the mimic. Each tendril was lined with dozens of eyes, eyes that watched, studied, and predicted every move.

"Jester please!" Elizabeth begged. Jester called back his flesh, quickly commanding it to spin around in a devastating razor ring that beat back the party.

"Win or lose, live or die, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, the world keeps spinning. So why try to trade one helpless situation for another? Why trade prisons if the cell remains the same?"

"What the hell is he talking about?" Isaac grunted. Jester's body snapped back to normal. Two scythes formed in his hands.

"Human nature is fascinating. As much as I mimic, I will never understand. But maybe living a lie will get me closer to the truth."

"This guy is talking nonsense." Vera said.

"Never mind what he says! He's trying to kill us, focus on the fight before we start deconstructing his psyche!" Isaac commanded. "He's going hand to hand, that's my style. I'll keep him busy while you two strategize how to beat him." Isaac charged his body with the arcane. A blade of light manifested from his hilt. He charged at Jester. Jester spun his scythes. The blades clashed and the two engaged in a fierce exchange of slashes. Every blow Isaac blocked with his shield. Every strike Jester morphed his body to dodge any fatalities.

"He forced me to study them, all of them. But it was never enough. No amount of pretending will change the fact that I'm not what society wants."

"Who gives a damn about what society wants!?" Jester changed his body into a gelatinous mass. He opened up his abdomen to swallow the knight in a sea of green slime. Isaac tried to move through the slime, but it was too thick. Through the transparency, he noticed something, something terrible. In a panic, he tried to fight harder and harder. The blade of light glowed brighter. Isaac dragged it through the mimic to burn through the slime. Once the goo was heated and sufficiently thinned, Isaac popped his head out from Jester's back. "Look out behind you!" He shouted. Elizabeth and Vera perked their heads up and turned around. There, standing behind them, axe raised to the heavens.

"Van Helsing..." Elizabeth whispered. The monster hunter threw down his axe. The two girls jumped out of the way just before the blade split the floor.

"I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die." Helsing remarked, digging his axe out from rock and stone. Isaac slumped out of the gelatin and landed on the floor.

"Damnit, how is he still alive?" Before he could move to help, a large wooden club struck his chest and kicked him up into the air and across the room. Isaac dragged his hands and feet, slowing his sliding momentum. Standing just in front of him was Ronin. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me." The samurai drew his blades and rushed at the knight. The heroes fought tooth and nail against the resurrected corpses of their unrelenting fallen foes.

"There's too much at stake for me not care about society, Isaac." Jester said, his flesh once again splitting into a cacophony of mouths. "Persecution is what awaits my people. Unless we learn how to blend in with shadows, we won't ever get to see the light of life." He ravaged the throne room. He sliced open the party's skin. Elizabeth running from Van Helsing. Vera trying to slow him down with ice and ropes. Isaac struggling to hold his ground against Ronin. All of them being cut open from head to toe. Their blood dripped down to the floor, creating a macabre paint trail of their misfortunes. "I got to live because either I was just human enough or I was just monster enough. My very existence is a curse. But I will bear that cross and stand as a sacrifice for other's salvation."

"These guys don't seem to get tired!"

"I don't even know if we're hurting them!"

"How'd they even get here?! We watched them die, and Jester was the only one in the room!" Vera question. Just then, Elizabeth's eyes lit up.

"Because they're not real." She softly announced. She took out her scalpel. Elizabeth knelt on the floor while Isaac and Vera continued to hold off their ghastly assailants. She plunged the small knife into a crack in the stone. Jester, Helsing, and Ronin all seemed to jolt with pain, shouting out in shock. "They're all connected through a mycelium like structure! It's still just Jester!"

"You people are such a pain! Just die and let me be a martyr in peace!" The two false bodies exploded out in a similar whipping symphony of toothed tentacles. They tried to get in one last laceration before coming back to Jester. The mimic burst with range and morphed his body one final time.

"Isaac! Tag out!" Elizabeth called. The knight ran back, and Vera swapped in, standing in front of the changing beast. Elizabeth explained the plan as Vera readied her staff. Jester changed into a bear-like creature. Metal plates emerged from his fur.

"Sorry Jester. It's you or us." He roared and lunged forward. Vera stepped back to avoid the swipe. Claws dug into stone. He reeled back, creating sparks, before striking again. Vera continued to dance around Jester, nearly avoiding his rampage. Steel scraped haphazardly against rock, creating blinding arcs. The mimic grew wilder, faster, more frantic than ever. He desperately tried to hit Vera. Tears streamed down his snout, making his sloppy movements even sloppier. Then finally, as Jester tripped over his own panic, Vera casted a blast of force. It knocked Jester back. He stumbled as his amalgamated body transformed back to normal. He stopped to catch his breath. He moved to restart his assault, but something made him halt. A blade. Lodged into his back.

"I'm sorry Jester, but this has to end." Isaac lamented.

"You think this is over? Have you learned nothing?! I'm a mimic! I'll just morph out of this! This fight will end only when you three finally give out!"

"I don't think so Jester." Jester scowled and tried to move his body. But he couldn't. He couldn't move anything. He couldn't change forms. He couldn't rearrange his organs. He couldn't even lift his arms.

"W-What is this?! Why can't I move?! What did you do?!"

"The end of his hilt, I coated it in poison." Elizabeth explained. "Your muscles, your cells, their paralyzed."

"This is it Jester, we're sorry." Vera charged her staff.

"W-Wait!! Don't do this! Please!"

"It'll be okay Jester." Elizabeth tried to reassure. "Your sacrifice will not be in vain. Your efforts will not go unrecognized. And despite your actions, we will make sure history remembers you as a hero, not a monster. When we stop Grimwald, we will make sure your people are free." Jester's eyes trembled. His body relaxed.

"Do you promise?" His voice was soft and shallow.

"We promise." Jester closed his eyes.

"Then let your actions wash away my sins." Vera looked away. She fired a strong beam of magical energy from her staff. It hit and engulfed Jester's body. Isaac hid behind the mimic as his body crumbled away to dust. His screams echoed across the castle's walls. Every cell reduced to ash. Jester, the greatest performer, the strongest mimic, disintegrated into nothing. The slave to circumstance had his soul released. A prisoner in life, held captive from king to usurper, may finally earn his freedom in death. And as Vera's beam faded, as Isaac collapsed to the ground, the curtain calls on Jester of Ethros.