We stare in shock as the bombs fall over the Bronx and the mobs rush across the East River. Wiest appears in the sky, raining her fire that is not fire down upon them. Clouds of luminous gas billows out from the dead. Klyce’s shout for us to DO Something! breaks our spell, and Gerhard takes most of us to Police Plaza. I rise immediately into the sky, bringing up a Storm of Vengeance upon the third line of faithful crossing the river. Gerhard and Maribeth join Wiest above the first and second waves. Dalish starts rallying the troops and giving orders below, sending Remy to the north with an army at his heels to take on the fourth wave. Behind us, Nat and Klyce take care of the airship, sending it into the bay before Klyce turns into Dragon and brings Nat in on red wings to join the fight at the river.
My storm keeps raging, far longer than it should, as I remember what it felt like those years ago in the Wrathbone mine, to Be the Green Witch. When it falters, I take control of the winds, to keep Dalish and Police Plaza safe while he commands the troops. Maribeth turns most of the river into a rocky mirage, slowing the troops, but not stopping them as Gerhard runs out of fire, and Wiest abandons the field of battle. Dalish and I head for the riverbed where he raises thousands of the dead and turns them back on the faithful.
Nat says we have to get to the church, we have to get to the source, so we stop fighting in the river and fly across to Brooklyn. Gathering above the temple, mana is redistributed and we take a breath, but not a break. We cannot wait, people are dying in the streets. Golden gas is coming up from the sewers. Only half of Pendleton’s men made it out of the Bronx.
Gerhard teleports us down to the workroom we all remembered so well from the time bubble. Nat could not see in there, but it was not protected against teleport. We land safely, and see that it has been used as some sort of ritual room. An altar in an alcove to the side, and all the benches and lockers gone. Everything s coated in a sickly pink flesh.
Klyce goes to the iron doors, back in his demon form now, to rip them open. Shadows in the corner ripple, and the Black and Red knights step out, with Aranea. The king has decided the city is worth saving. As we walk, Aranea fixes the weakness Nat’s last wish has caused her, allowing her to again wield her new sword. Klyce tells the Black Knight that he will fix his arm if we all survive, but the knight just shrugs. The tunnel is dark, but the brightness ahead grows quickly as we descend into the chamber with the severed head of the giant worm, still trapped in its bubble.
The flesh here covers every inch of floor, wall, ceiling, and machinery. It is also beginning to cover the time bubble in the center of the pit. There are body parts here, too, but far too many. Arms, legs, eyes, mouths, floating in the fleshy goo. The flight I have gifted everyone is still working, so only the knights dare step in it. The Archdeacon Wood is here, and dares ask if we have reconsidered.
No more than you, Archdeacon, it’s time to end this.
Wood rises up into the air, but Gerhard counters whatever it was he wanted to do. I cast out a chain lightning, but it does not reach him. Remy’s bullets, however, do. Aranea tries a different magic, but it is stopped as well. The Black Knight heads for the pit and the Red Knight rockets up to the machinery to begin burning away the flesh. Dalish calls up an illusory dragon to burn the flesh from the time bubble, and Maribeth follows suit. Nat tries to curse Wood, but it just falls away. Klyce begins chanting to his sword about being vengeance, and this many being most worthy of it and flies right up to Wood and throws him to the ground. Wood begins laughing joyously, that Klyce is giving in to his power here, at the source of his god, but we don’t have time to do anything else. Remy shouts for us all to do the same.
Nat, calling upon his godly power, manages to pull a few spells off of Wood, and I call up some holy lightning. The others begin pulling harder on their power to burn the flesh, and Klyce stays on Wood, dragging him down to the ground again and again, as he calls upon the flesh of the room to punish us all. I see pain in the faces of my friends, and some mana escapes from Nat is a blue puff, but they seem mostly alright, and I didn’t feel a thing.
Remy attempts to wish our that this room work like a machine, draining our divinity back into us. The room warps and the machinery changes and we are suddenly all connected in that agonizing way that only a mana machine can do. Wood is exstatic> “Exactly as you foresaw! Yes!” Klyce grabs him and they disappear down into the pit. The Red Knight ditches the fight and the Black Knight is nowhere to be seen. At Remy’s urging, we all try to take back our power while continuing to burn the flesh as we can. Aranea casts spells to assist us, but the fight is hard, for even unthinking, Garion’s will is strong.
Nat, using her sword as a focus, manages to pull the Dawnmother’s essence out, but Gerhard falls to the ground. Aranea continues to help and heal, but we struggle. Wood reappears at the top just as Dalish reabsorbs the Stoneman’s essence. Nat stabs the flesh one more time, and the flesh goes limp all around us and her soul-eating sword shatters. Wood tries to call up his own wish, but we counter him. Remy floats down to Gerhard and pulls his soul back into him with his own Wish. I toss lightning down at Wood, and Maribeth sends in a mental attack. Klyce stabs him through the heart and incinerates every inch of his body.
As Klyce turns to us, still seething with rage, Remy calls out to him to stay his vengeance. It is clear that it takes a great force of will, but he releases his power and lands among us. The Black Knight reappears, standing directly behind Klyce and sheathes his sword. Remy passes out from the strain of the fight. I send up to Pendleton that the Garion flesh is dead and the Archdeacon is down. He replies that the mist is gone, and the cultists have come to their senses. Dalish commands his zombie horde to stop fighting. The Black Knight bids us rest and then meet him and the King at The Door. I shout Deal! before anyone else can answer, and he and Aranea disappear into the shadows again.
Dalish offers the rest of us help getting our essences back later, but for now it is time to rest. We head back, Nat taking it slow, to heal anyone she can along the way. Dalish has his zombies round up the dead. Klyce tells Philomena the whole story. I simply collapse into bed and sleep, exhausted by the day’s events, but excited to meet the Prince.
In the morning, we gather for breakfast, sitting by Maribeth and both our brothers come home. I scold mine for having left, and he takes it with a smile at his lady. Porter and Julian look haggard, but well enough. Then the sendings start coming in from every corner, with reports and request for information and orders. Klyce wants everyone to get the bodies taken care of, search and rescue to be mobilized, and fresh water brought into the city in as large of quantities as can be mustered. They all need things to do while we finish cleaning up our own mess.
When everyone has eaten, stowed their magical gear, and replied to their sendings, I teleport us up to the throne room of the old palace. The door behind the throne stands open, and while magic is still suppressed beyond it, the feeling is a familiar one by now, and Dalish is able to descend with us this time. The world goes black and white as we climb, and down in the chamber, the King, the Black Knight, and Aranea are waiting. Dalish asks why Rictus’ son is not with them, and the Black Knight says that this does not concern him. The king apologizes for not trusting us and asks if we have any questions.
Dalish asks how he knew about the door. It’s an old family legend, he tells us. His family are descendants of the Green Witch herself, and their blood is needed to open the way. His great grandfather found it was here when he came to this continent, and built their home above and around it. Dalish asks if he knows what it holds. Yes, he and the Clever Prince shared the last seventeen years in the void together. The Prince helped him keep his sanity in nothingness, and he intends to open the door and free him.
Klyce asks if he knows what will happen then. Freedom. Maribeth asks what that means, and if it will do the things we hoped to fix. The king is not sure, but he knows none of that can be done until it is opened. Dalish asks what he intends to do after, and he says that will be in our hands. We all agree the mageocracy was a failure. He is willing to take back leadership if that is the will of the people, but mostly, he just wants to spend time with his son. That is his priority after missing the last seventeen years with him. Remy offers to take him south, but he does not wish to rule them either.
Klyce asks if we are all in agreement. If anyone objects to opening the door. Nat, Maribeth, Dalish and I immediately agree. Remy is his usual annoying pendantic self. Gerhard is reluctant, but will not vote against it. Klyce agrees and we are unanimous. Then six other voices ring out WE OBJECT, and six luminous figures descend into the cave. The Black Knight and the King freeze in time, as the Gods appear before us.
We all stare for a moment as the Gods look down upon us. They look tired, angry, sad, but determined. Remy, always Remy, breaks the silence by asking why. The Eternal Mind answers for them all, he talked more than Remy, but it went something like: Because it will make things so much worse. You have seen suffering and you think that anything must be better than this. That is how we felt, and the end of this road will take you right back to the beginning and the Clever Prince shall walk as a god, and set his vengeance against this plane of existence. And oh he went on and on and on… Something about our mana being the bones of the fae and havoc and chaos.
When he ran out of steam, Dalish asked why they left these bones, the mana, in the earth in the first place, when the separated the worlds.
The Stoneman answered that the bones belong in the earth, and is not for us to remove them. The fae realm was of the earth. Everything continues, they merely fractured it.
The Vengeance cut in then, saying that the Fae wrought horrors upon the earth. He wants to open the door and end the Prince, and the fae, forever!
There is some back and forth then. Remy calling out that vengeance is this god, and not the Prince, he wouldn’t seek vengeance. And The Vengeance calling him a monster. Then Klyce stepping in and saying that Vengeance is just as bad, or worse. That he just wants to destroy everything. The Green Witch enters the fray, with the tale of the frog and the scorpion. The Clever Prince is a scorpion, she says, he can do nothing but strike, poison, and destroy.
Dalish calls out what they have done, that it was wrong, and has wrought destruction in return. Klyce suggests that the fae follow their own rules, and perhaps we could make a deal with the Prince. Remy says the war needed stopping in their time, and they did their best, but men always find new ways to make war, and that the damage they have caused will only quicken our decay as we fight over the mana.
The Stoneman says that removing the mana would rupture the earth. The Tempest says they should have take it all away. The Eternal Mind does not agree, and is concerned that the Tempest does. The Vengeance says that the bones of our enemies belong in the ground. Remy asked if magic existed before the breaking. The Eternal Mind said of course it did, that’s where their power came from, and the fae made it possible. Dalish explains what locking the fae away has caused and the machines that have brought the fae back into our world. The Dawnmother says that the fae cannot be trusted but they must also not be destroyed.
I jump in at this point, having barely recovered from their appearance, but I am frustrated and angry. Your essences coming back into the world have caused this chaos, the deaths of thousands. We have to fix what you have done before more of the world is destroyed. Nat agrees with me, their mistakes caused this, let us open the door and we will deal with the consequences. The Vengeance is eager for this. Klyce steps in, You all failed. You had your chance and you missed. Be done with all of this? Aren’t you lonely and tired? Let it all go. Just let it go, you are only echoes of what you used to be. It is Our World now. You don’t live here, you quit. We’re still here, it’s our decision now.
The Stoneman shows us what had happened in their time. The chaos and destruction caused by the Prince and the fae. When it is over, Dalish nearly laughs. So, he is as big an ass as those we have already fought. The Stoneman relents that he is what he is. The Vengeance puts in another bid to kill him. Maribeth insists that the only way forward is releasing him and restoring the balance. That they had no right to destroy the fae world as they have done.
The Stoneman looks at us all thoughtfully, glancing at Klyce. In your tirade, one thing moved me. I am lonely. We exist from the power we took, born of the earth. It did not stop without us. I have one last wish, to slumber, to return to the earth. He then lays a hand on Dalish, and the last vestiges of his power flowed out and into him. The Stoneman was gone, and the Green Witch wailed in pain.
The Tempest looks at Gerhard. I would almost agree, but you seem to not be having any more fun than me these years. Nat steps in to defend our quiet friend, saying he has his fun in his lab, with his alchemical works.
Klyce steps forward. I doubt this was in your plan, but what is your endgame here? I step up with him, looking at the Green Witch. Your descendent is here, ready to open that door as is his familial duty. Ready to give his blood. It is time. Klyce picks up the line. The world has moved on. Let this be the end of it. You have stuck around long enough. It is over and if you cannot change then there are only scorpions here.
The Tempest, still frowning at Gerhard. I don’t think you are wrong. And gives his last bit of power to Gerhard.
Then Klyce turns to Vengeance. How about you just leave? I want no part of you. The Vengeance replies, You are too week to carry my mantle. Klyce scoffs, That’s some toxic B.S. You never look at your own self. Only everyone else’s sins. How many lives are on your hands? And they fight, and Klyce defeats him handily, but when he takes his essence in, it changes. Even his sword becomes a shining light.
The Dawnmother has been watching quiestly and steps forward, looking hard at me. I set my descendents to watch this door. It is true, that I am tired. If it is truly time, and this is to be the fate of the world. I must not stand in its way. If it is time, then it is time. And she places a hand on Nat’s head and gives herself over.
The Green Witch looks at me, clearly upset that all her friends are leaving her one by one. Even more upset that we are freeing her erstwhile lover. I would look upon his face one last time. And pass along the memories, and the pain, and the joy. Then she melds into me, but I can still feel here, looking out of my eyes. The Eternal Mind looks at us. He wanted to be the last one. He doesn’t even like his chosen. He says Maribeth never even figured out how to use the library properly. He goes on for a little while, and tells her to enjoy watcing everyone around her be stupid. Then he sighs, almost happily. At least now, I don’t know what’s next.
Time resumes, as the King cuts open his hand and anoints the door. Color creeps back into the room, and the door becomes living wood. He turns back to us. It is done, it is upon you to open the door and deal with the consequences. I will see my friend, and then go.
We all step forward, our minds made up, and open the door. Music pours forth as the Clever Price struts free into the chamber, a slow, sweet jazzy number, full of joy and promise. It’s been a long time, friends. Not for us. It’s good to see you again, he says, looking almost through my eyes. I answer for us both, that I’m not sure I can say the same. What would you have of me? Dalish explains what has happened and that we would like him to fix it.
He thinks it was all a great trick, and then that we would need to bring back his father. Klyce says no, that he is the King now, and it is time for him to grow up. He asks for his powers back, that we took from him. We agree, but Remy insists that the games must stop. Klyce says his distructive ways led to this. And Dalish threatens to separate the worlds permanently if he cannot control himself. Alock begins speaking through Remy to explain the damage to the Fea Realm, and the Prince waves a hand, pulling him out and giving him back his own body. The Prince enjoys his games and is sad we don’t want him to play. Klyce points out that it’s a bigger challenge to play games that don’t kill people. The Prince seems to be catching on, that games are more fun if people can keep playing and if they want to play them. He agrees to our deal.
I ask the Green Witch if she is ready to return to him, to watch over him, and she is, returning to be with him forever. The others all give up their godly essences, though Nat is most reluctant. That feels good again. We have made him whole again, and perhaps our influences on his essence will give him something to think on. He promises to make things as they were, and to have fun games. He will see us all again. Remy asks what of the mana, and he says it will just be dirt now. He is late to a party, so he takes Aranea and Alock and disappears back to his world. Remy tries to eradicate the machines with a wish, but they are irrelevant now. The King takes his leave with Sir Hector, and we warn them to be wary of Wiest, for she may still be on the warpath for her father’s death.
There is much to do, and we head out of the old palace to begin the work. To guide, explore, and discover this new world we are creating.
I must find my parents, and then, I must go back to the Fae. There is so much to learn there, and someone has to keep an eye on The Prince.