Chapter 40:

Chapter 40


Stomping through puddles. Sprinting through the drizzle of rain. Shoving through the whipping wind. The heroes of Ethros ran across the kingdom. The knell of bells rang out over the blackened sky. A flash of lightning. A crack of thunder. The caws of crows and ravens. The scurrying of rats and fleas. The hustle and bustle of a confused city, dozens of concerned citizens peeking out from behind their doors. The final hour was upon them. The end is nigh. Ethros will be saved.

They burst through the doors of the church. Old, rotted wood splintered and showered the floor. The party stood in the lobby. Dusty. Moldy. Calm, yet eerie. They stepped over spilt blood and slain priests. They approached the doors to the nave. The black sludge covered every inch of wood and stone surrounding the frames, creeping into the room just beyond. Isaac and Vera placed their hands upon the oak doors.

"Let's try this again, for real this time." Isaac said.

"It's time we saved our kingdom." Vera smiled. Elizabeth quickly ran up and hugged both of them.

"I'm going to miss you guys." She said through shaky breath and stifled tears. The two of them patted her on the back. They took Elizabeth's hand and placed it on the door with them.

"Relax doc, we're not going anywhere." Isaac tried to reassure. The three of them slowly began pushing open the doors.

"I know..." Elizabeth whispered softly. Once the doors finally slid open, their jaws dropped. Staring up towards the rafters of the church, Grimwald's body suspended. Hundreds of tentacles and tendrils of the black plague sprouted from his body, sticking to the walls like web. He controlled them, using them to slowly lower his body to the ground. Isaac and Vera steeled their nerves. They stepped forward, ready to challenge. Elizabeth tried to retreat but the two pushed her up with them.

"So, you four finally made it?" Grimwald announced.

"Four?" Vera whispered.

"It's honestly no surprise you made it through my trials, all my attempts at assassination. I should've just done the dirty work myself instead of relying on those fools. Whatever. Knowledge for next time."

"Oh no, there won't be a next time!" Isaac proudly announced. "We're here to stop you Grimwald and put an end to your reign of-" Issac was cut off. Grimwald raised his arm, sending black mold towards the heroes. The tentacles wrapped around their necks and bodies, dragging Isaac and Vera away, leaving Elizabeth mortified.

"I have no time for heroics. Do us all a favor and keep your speeches to a minimum. Besides, I'm not concerned with the small fry." Grimwald locked eyes with Elizabeth. "I'm here for the main course!" Elizabeth's legs buckled. Her whole body locked up. "You should've killed yourself when I gave you the chance!" Elizabeth tried to run away, but one of the tentacles grabbed her ankle. She got pulled to the floor.

"NO! NO! NO NO NO PLEASE!" She begged, being dragged towards Grimwald.

"What's wrong? I thought you wanted this. Fighting me, killing me, that's what you wanted right?" Elizabeth tried to grip the ground, but the pull was too strong. Isaac and Vera continued to choke. Grimwald grabbed Elizabeth's leg. He pulled out a large dagger and climbed on top of her. He raised the dagger to the sky. Elizabeth looked up at her tormentor. The emotionless mask couldn't hide the deranged red glint of his eyes. Elizabeth desperately threw a punch. Grimwald grabbed her wrist and plunged the dagger into her shoulder. Elizabeth screamed. Grimwald ripped out the knife. He raised it again. A bolt of light hit his back. Grimwald turned around to see that Vera had just barely freed herself. He sighed. He got up off of Elizabeth and began to approach Vera and Isaac. "So eager to die." He retracted the tendrils. Isaac and Vera got to their feet.

"We're not scared of you." Vera claimed.

"Then you're both fools." Isaac rushed towards Grimwald; blade of light drawn. Grimwald calmly walked forward. He called upon the plague. Black tentacles came up and bound Isaac's hands. They forced them up, leaving the knight exposed. Grimwald stuck his blade into Isaac's side. He dragged the dagger through the armor, pulling it out before stabbing it back into his shoulder. The tentacles dissipated. Grimwald planted his foot on Isaac's chest and kicked him back, ripping out the knife. Vera quickly readied her staff. She charged a spell, but Grimwald just as quickly took it from her hands. Disarmed, all Vera could do was defend and pray. Grimwald sprang forward. He kept his dagger low. He aimed for her stomach. Vera stepped out of the way. Grimwald swiftly recovered for his missed attack, now slashing at Vera. The blade swung close to her face. Vera threw up her arm to block. The knife sliced open her forearm and her cheek. She stumbled back. Grimwald thrusted again at her gut. Vera tried to catch the blade. He cut open her palm, her fingers, and just barely pricked her stomach. Vera pushed him back. Grimwald prepared to attack again but Isaac came up from behind and put him in a chokehold. The two struggled and fought each other. Grimwald elbowed Isaac's abdomen. The knight released the plague doctor. Grimwald quickly whipped around, slashing his dagger across Isaac's throat. Elizabeth ran up and tried to stab Grimwald, but he just kicked her back. He closed the gap between them and began ruthlessly and repeatedly shanking her belly. A small burst of flame interrupted his fury. Grimwald cast the plague over to Vera. The tentacles chained her neck and slammed her against the floor. He followed up with the same for the others. There they laid, the heroes of Ethros reduced to puddles of tears and blood on the church ground. "How do you possibly hope to best me? You sinful lot of rejects and failures. You three are the pinnacle of humanity and the poster children of my cleanse. Your wrath and pride guide you. Your envy and greed consume you. You're slothful, lustful, and don't even get me started on your so-called leader's glutinous body. Pathetic. You all deserve to be purged. You and the rest of humanity. Once I'm done with Ethros, I will continue my retribution, and soon nothing will exist but rot."

"I won't let you!" Elizabeth screamed, jumping at Grimwald, scalpel in hand. Grimwald turned and grabbed her with the plague. He held her high above the ground and stared into her eyes.

"You cannot kill me in a way that matters." He threw her back, propelling her with the plague. She tried to free herself from her bounds, but briefly glanced back. Elizabeth's eyes widened. Her back slammed into the cross hanging at the front of the church. Her hands were pierced by old rusty nails. Grimwald called back the plague. Elizabeth screamed out in agony from atop the crucifix. Torturous wails and cries filled the church, as Elizabeth of Ethros had just been crucified.