The end of the Lorath arc! To be honest, I wish I could extend this further. I may have gotten impatient.
Quest 15 – The Last Survivor of Lorath
Quest: Survive Lorath!
–Tower of the Old Ones–
Recommended Level: 35
Party leader: Brier
Brier [Bard] lv. 30
Title: Dark Bard
Familiar: Arco [Winged Iguana] lv. 15
Coleen [Mage] lv. 36
Title: Seeker of Shadows
Avery [Alchemist] lv. 46
Title: Blood Brother
(Caden) [Hex Wizard] lv. 115
Title: Dark General, the Necromancer
Brier: Here comes another wave!
Coleen: Give me time to recover! I can’t keep this up, even with your songs!
Avery: I wish we had the time to look for any leftover Spirit Stones. Oh, well.
Avery reached into his pouch belt and pulled two blue capsules out. He threw one of them at the approaching group of Revenants, freezing them solid.
Avery: Ice bombs. Brier, use one on the next wave that comes your way. It should hold off further waves long enough for Coleen to recover her strength naturally. Relying too much on your songs will only make her useless in the long run.
Brier: Got it.
Brier did as told and froze the next wave of Revenants. Avery reloaded his Tri-Loader.
Brier: That’s not going to be any help.
Avery: If you hit one in the right place on the knee, they’ll slow to a crawl. It’s Arco I’m worried about. His poisons won’t have any effect.
Brier: Arco needs the experience. I’m going to be counting on him when it really matters.
Coleen: Do you have any spare knives? I can at least throw them at a distance.
Brier: Why don’t you create some spectral daggers?
Coleen: Create? What, with magic? Sorry, but I’m not a Magic Knight.
Brier: Magic Knight? What’s that? Just cast a spell that creates magic weapons.
Coleen: And I’m telling you, only a Magic Knight is capable of that!
Brier: No, it’s easy! Like… use a Stone Missile spell, and instead of hurling it at an enemy, you pick it up and use it like a lance. It’s basically the same thing, right?
Coleen: Are you sure?
Brier: Trust me, it works.
Coleen: Then… a small Icicle Storm might work…
Coleen created an Icicle Storm, causing dozens of ice daggers to fall to the ground. She picked two and sprinted to Brier’s side.
Coleen: Okay, that just extended the time we need to stall.
Brier: Not a problem. We need you to be at your peak for when these waves stop.
Coleen: Why? What happens then?
Brier: What do you think? We have to face Duvall. And we have no hope of winning.
Coleen: Have more faith in our team, Brier.
Avery: He’s right. The power of the Dead Ash is immense. If he taps into that reservoir for his own use, as a Lorathian, he’ll be unstoppable. We could deliver a fatal wound, and not only would he survive, he would begin regenerating from the wound while we’re still attacking him. That’s the kind of power we’re talking about.
Brier: And that’s if he even allows us to hurt him.
Coleen knew that Duvall wasn’t using a fraction of his power when he regenerated from cutting himself. What they were saying sounded possible. But as frightening a thought as that was, she was determined to survive.
Coleen: So… We can’t win.
Brier: That’s right.
Coleen: But you still want me to put up a fight.
Brier: Not a fight. The best possible fight you’re capable of right now. Nothing less is going to save us.
Avery: I wish I could be as optimistic as Brier right about now.
Coleen: Then… Well, there’s no other choice, is there?
Brier: Exactly. So don’t push yourself.
The next wave arrived and attacked the ice barrier in their path. Avery and Brier used what weapons they had to fend the wave off from behind the barriers to maintain those walls of ice for as long as possible.
Brier: Don’t you have any extra ice bombs?
Avery: Of course I do. But we’re not going to waste them. We have to use every last second to their fullest. Once Coleen is fully rested, I want her to only use one spell at a time on your side. I’ll use my remaining ice bombs on my side until the forces on your side are completely exhausted.
Brier: I’m all for that plan.
Avery and Brier continued fending off their waves as best they could. Coleen helped, but her icicles were quickly used up. Once Brier’s barrier had been broken through, Coleen unleashed a Flame Cutter spell, incinerating the entire mob.
Coleen: I can’t believe how mindless they are. All of them crowding around the same small space like that…
Avery: It’s to our advantage. Brier, keep trying your best to slow them down. Coleen mustn’t use her spells too rapidly.
Brier: Let’s hope this one works!
Brier began strumming a new melody. Wrathful Winneas was both a tribute and a warning often accompanied by a slow and powerful drumbeat. Although Winneas was often a trickster, when things didn’t go his way, he didn’t hesitate to show that he was called a god for a reason, and his bolts of lightning would cause the boldest of men to drop to their knees.
Under the influence of Wrathful Winneas, Brier’s party is capable of knocking any foe down with every melee attack. With Arco’s tiny but swift body, he kept the waves on Brier’s side at bay long enough for Coleen to recharge after every casting. The Revenants stopped coming from that some time after Avery ran out of ice bombs. Arco and Coleen moved to Avery’s side and continued the tactic there successfully.
Avery: I think… I think that’s the last of them.
Brier: Well, almost.
Coleen: Do you guys feel that too?
Brier: Yeah, not good. Away from the center!
The center of the tower roof gave way as the giant root encased below it broke through, with Duvall, staff in hand, riding its tip.
Duvall: Such insolence! To think, a mere three would challenge me in my domain and dare to deny all of Rym the rebirth it so sorely needs? Hmm… The girl I met. But the other two… Say, you look familiar, Bard.
Brier: The name’s Brier.
Duvall: Oh? Wait, it couldn’t be… Ha ha ha! To think, you came back to me of your own accord. But still as annoying as ever. And the other one…
Avery: We’ve never met. But all the same, I’d like to see you dead.
Duvall: And I would like to see you try.
Coleen: Flame Cutter!
An arcing blade of fire cut through Duvall, who didn’t flinch and instantly regenerated.
Duvall: You’re capable of more, aren’t you? But I’d rather play with you. I want to see you helpless again, girl. I have blood to spare, so let this be my sacrifice! Let Silence fall upon thee!
Avery: Let this blood be my sacrifice, and end thy contract! Hex Cancel!
Avery: I can’t afford for Coleen to go silent after all the work we’ve been through.
Duvall: But that skill… You’re Lorathian?
Avery: Only by blood. I renounce the name. I am a child of Rym, no more, no less.
Duvall: Well, no matter. Alive or dead, you’re all the same. I have no need for another living Lorathian. I welcome the challenge. You’ll run out of blood far before I do!
Avery: I don’t plan on canceling hexes all day. A caster without a throat is no threat!
Avery fired three bolts into Duvall’s neck.
Coleen: But that won’t…
Brier: Coleen, listen to me closely because I need to talk fast. Duvall is controlling the Dead Ash to augment his own power, but take that away and we’ve got a chance. He’s doing it by making use of Lorath. Lorath itself is a magic circuit. But making one adjustment isn’t going to stop it. We’ve got to demolish the entire circuit. All of it.
Coleen: A magic circuit? Like a glyph?
Brier: Exactly like a glyph!
Coleen: All of Lorath? But something like that requires…
Brier: You know what you need to do.
Duvall pulled the bolts out of his neck and regenerated.
Duvall: You won’t surprise me like that again. Soul Blast!
From Duvall’s wand, a pale blue-green glow erupted into Avery, who was knocked away and crashed into the barricade at the edge of the tower.
Duvall: You may be Lorathian, but you are far from my equal, for there is none.
Coleen: Spirits of water, your master commands thee!
Duvall: What…? Stop that right now!
Brier: She’s in a Trance right now. Even if she could hear you, she couldn’t stop casting if she wanted to.
Coleen: Drench this land with unceasing torrents!
Duvall: Then I’ll make her stop!
Brier: Arco, paralysis bite!
Arco leapt up at Duvall and slashed his throat with its fangs.
Duvall: Ahh… Stupid creature…. Even poison is nothing to me….
Duvall’s throat wound closed up quickly, but it took him a second longer to shake off the effects of the poison.
Coleen: Submerge everything until nothing remains!
Duvall: You won’t strike me twice!
Arco leapt again, but Duvall was ready and struck him away with his staff.
Duvall: Let this blood be a sacrifice! Let Silence fall upon thee!
Brier jumped into the path of Duvall’s curse.
Coleen: Let thy fury spare nothing. I command the Cataclysm of Water upon thee!
Duvall: Were you so eager for me to curse you again, Balken?
Brier: Lucky me, I have so many curses, my body rejects all the others.
Coleen: ETERNAL FLOOD!
Duvall: Damn…. Damn, damn, DAMN IT ALL! NOT AGAIN!!!
And so, once more a Spell of Cataclysm rained down upon Lorath. A sudden and violent storm buffeted Lorath with rain and hail. Within seconds, the city was flooded, and whirlpools tore the lower buildings apart.
Duvall: Lorath… You idiots! You’re not safe from this spell either! The torrent will tear this tower down too, and you’ll all drown!
Coleen: Brier…. Brier, I can’t stop it… I… You were right!
Tears streamed down Coleen’s face, but her body remained in casting position.
Coleen: I don’t want us to die like this!
Brier: We won’t.
Coleen let out a cough, and blood began streaming from her mouth.
Coleen: Why… Why do I feel so good?
Brier: Spell of Cataclysm. No turning back. Welcome to the dark side, Coleen.
Coleen: Make it stop, Brier! I don’t…. I DON’T WANT THIS!
Brier: Don’t disappoint me, Coleen.
Brier punched her hard in the stomach, making her double over and faint.
Brier: You’re just exhausted. It’ll get easier next time.
Duvall: So, this is how it ends. Balken finally meets his ultimate end in Lorath. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Brier wiped some of the blood from Coleen’s mouth and moved his finger to Arco. The familiar understood his wishes and licked his finger.
Brier: Temporary contract transference has begun. Arco, for five minutes, I bestow all claim of ownership of you from Balken of Aria to Coleen Eiric.
Arco: Gao!! Grr…. GRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHH!!!
Arco transformed from its winged lizard form to that of a giant black dragon.
Duvall: A dragon? You plan to escape?
Brier: Of course. I told you, I’m not dying here.
Duvall: But your magic is sealed!
Brier: Luckily, Coleen’s isn’t. Plus, with your magic circuit destroyed, there’s energy to spare. The Eternal Flood is currently suppressing it, which is the only reason we haven’t been wiped out by an explosion of magic. I look forward to seeing you caught up in that blast though.
The bard loaded the bodies of Coleen and Avery on Arco’s back, then rode the faithful dragon away from the tower.
Brier: I’m not your master right now, but Coleen did say she was going to accompany us to Harl.
Arco flapped his wings and carried the three to the west. A sudden, deafening boom marked the complete destruction of Lorath.
Caden: Hmph. I can’t believe it. You really do cling to life stubbornly, don’t you?
Brier: Look who’s talking.
Caden: I do no such thing. I would embrace death if it actually existed. But I don’t have much longer either.
Brier: What do you mean?
Caden: That Soul Blast that hit Avery… it damaged the soul binding sigil I placed on this body. The longer I stay in control, the faster it will fade.
Brier: Well… that’s good for Avery, then.
Caden: I fear I won’t accomplish my goals in the time I have left. From now on, I’ll only take over when it’s an emergency.
Brier: Lorath’s done for. We’re not going back. What could you possibly have left to do?
Caden: It’s not as if that was the only root.
Brier: There are more? But-
Brier: What in the-
A Soul Blast from Duvall’s staff narrowly missed the fleeing party. Brier and Caden looked behind them to find Duvall in fast pursuit.
Brier: Is that… Is that a freaking SKELETON DRAGON?
Caden: HOW IS IT FLYING?!
Brier: Do something!
Caden: Death…. Death is all around us somewhere…. anywhere…. Let me hear you…. Damn. Well, it’s better than nothing. Carrion Swarm!
Caden controlled the carcasses of thousands of insects and ordered them to attack Duvall. The only effect it had was hindering the Lorathian’s vision. He couldn’t muster more, however, and to save himself, he went away to leave the still-unconscious Avery in control.
Duvall: The end comes only at my hands! Deadly Breath!
Skeleton Dragon: RRRRRROOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!
The Skeleton Dragon opened its mouth, and a black fire billowed forth towards Arco. The familiar flapped its wings and rose in altitude to evade the attack, but Duvall expected that maneuver and released another Soul Blast, directly striking Arco’s rear.
Brier: Ugh! NO! COLEEN! AVERY!
Coleen and Avery’s bodies were forced off Arco’s back and fell.
Brier: Arco! Down!
Arco dove after the two, but Duvall’s Skeleton Dragon continued its attack, forcing Arco off his course.
Brier: Damn it…
To his surprise, the falling bodies were caught by two unexpected flying beasts.
Brier: What was that?
Coleen was caught by a swift red Phoenix, and Avery by a fearsome blue Dragon. Accompanying Avery on the blue Dragon’s back was a strange woman with voluminous unkempt red hair and a flashy white dress worn and torn at the hems and utterly filthy all over. She was the wild beauty known as Chelsea the Feral.
Chelsea: Hey, black Dragon! Long time, yeah? These your friends? We help you!
Chelsea’s beasts, Riona the Torrential Dragon and Susan the Phoenix, returned the two to Arco’s back.
Brier: Wha? Why…?
Chelsea: Saw Dragons while hunt, yeah? Riona like black Dragon better. Skeleton Dragon no good, no meat.
Duvall: Chelsea, what are you doing in my domain?
Chelsea: Forest my domain! You go Scar’s Tear, or you dinner!
Brier: Arco, I think we should lay lower now.
Chelsea: You come by later, we fight! Wanting fight Dark Lord again long time!
Brier: I’ll think about it! (Thought about it. Nope.)
Duvall: You’re making a mistake, Chelsea.
Chelsea: I hearing that many times. Not caring! Want fight?
Duvall: Come to Lorath and we’ll fight.
Chelsea: No like Scar’s Tear. We fight here or no fight.
Duvall: Then no fight.
Chelsea: Boring old man.
Duvall: It’s been ten years, Chelsea. Learn the language!
Arco began his descent and skimmed just above the forest canopy. As the sight of the snowfields west of the Rhean forest came into view, Arco’s transformation ran out of time, and the four of them dropped out of the sky and into the cold snowy ground.
Next time, on Bardass! The lonely ruler of the forest kingdom Verdant rules his domain the way he lived for years. Like a survivor. Once Kruseid’s closest friend, the tension between them in their new roles invites a new tragedy. Break 3 – Roegen the Survivalist.