The Final Battle
Brizanthimus, Gia Sojourner, Belenus, Nigel, and the survivors of the Bornheim Fight Club go into the clock tower. There are two people in the room waiting for them, Tazeed and the Bellador. They escort the group down the stairs, taking care of several traps and ambushes Charles left behind to slow them down. They explain that Charles is going to sacrifice [[peopleÆlfric. The sacrifice will draw in the spirit of everyone that believes in the crown. This massive sacrifice will open a hole large enough for Charles and Hugo to leave this prison.
At the bottom of the stairs is a ledge skirting a giant pit. This is as far as Tazeed and the Bellador can go. They are forbidden from interfering unless Korlin can complete his final wish. Everyone can see the Place of Permanence on one side of the pit with Korlin tied to a chair his mouth open mid-sentence. On the other side is a rough hewn room with the would-be King on an alter. A large pendulum on a rotating gimbal holds three daggers, all of them already bloody from cutting Ælfric.
Hugo comes to the ledge and bars passage inside. Belenus and the Fight Club immediately bring Hugo to battle, allowing Nigel to slither his way past the fallen angel. Nigel is able to disrupt the pendulum as hold off Charles from continuing with the ceremony personally. Charles finally gains the upper hand and throws Nigel across the room, smacking his head against the stone. Charles pulls out a small cross and prepares to sacrifice Ælfric himself.
Briz and Gia have been distracting Hugo allowing Belenus to land some hard hits, but not enough to slow the angel down. As long as Hugo is in the battle they cannot concentrate on Charles. Belenus calls on his patron, Cadmarel. The Laughing Spirit appears in the real world – forever trapping him here, but the battle is worthy and the cost small if Charles can be defeated. With Cadmarel in the battle the tide turns against Hugo.
Along with Cadmarel came a weakening of the barrier surrounding this place. Gia feels the anger of the storm and earth spirits as they battle for control. She calls for the earth spirits from the pit and sends them howling up and into Hugo. The angel pushes himself away from over the pit. Seeing the first opening Doofis, the strongest of the Fight Club leaps unto Hugo’s back. He pins the angel’s wings and starts pounding his fist into his head.
Gia brings all of the earth spirits she can together and drives them into Hugo’s body. Stones jut out of his skin and he writhes in pain. Hugo staggers close enough that Belenus charges forward and drives the holy blade into his chest. Hugo turns to stone then falls into the pit. Doofis nearly follows him until Gia can call forth enough earth spirits to carry him to safety.
This frees up Briz who rushes to the aid of Nigel who is increasingly having a difficult time even slowing Charles down. Incar wraps himself around Briz’s left arm amplifying his magic. A wave of pure chaotic magic flows from his arm, breaking the alter, shattering the pendulum, throwing Charles against the wall, and send Briz flying backwards into the wall. Briz cracks his head on the stone and falls unconscious.
As Charles staggers to his feet, missing most of his right arm from Briz’s attack – Nigel cuts Ælfric free and carries him from the room. Charles drags Briz by the head and slams him unto the remains of the alter. He tries to force Briz to open himself to Corvis but the minstrel does not awaken.
With Ælfric has been dragged up the stairs and Belenus circling him, Charles’ plans have fallen to ash. His one chance is to go into the Place of Permanence and wait for another opportunity. He gets one foot inside when Belenus charges into his blades first. The two [[wp>obsidian blades piece his chest and the momentum carries them both into the forever.
Instead of being trapped forever they are carried into Korlin. The tip of the blades sticking out of Charles are driven into Korlin’s chest. As the elf’s lifeblood drains from him he stands on death’s door and can speak freely. He wishes only to be killed. Tazeed who has been waiting on the stairs rushes forward and steps into the Permanence. With that last wish he claims Korlin’s life and his own freedom. With Korlin killed Charles has failed in his contract from which all of his contracts since them have been built upon.
Charles watches his power go up in smoke and feels his body on this world shattering. He tries to flee back to the Infernal Realms, but the Permanence binds him here. With a most satisfied smile Belenus destroys the demon utterly.
Gia, Brizanthimus, Belenus, and the Fight Club climb up the stairs. Nigel is following behind carrying Ælfric. When they reach the top the storm clouds are breaking up and the rain slowing. Several men who stood the wall and fought back the Reavers in the city are in the market square, along with priests from the Temple of Light. They see the heroes emerge from the clock tower after saving the young king.
With the Bloodstaff destroyed the Reavers have broken and fled. This is the first time in history the Reavers have not fought to their final breath. Those who fought in this epic war are heroes who will be remembered through the ages.
Nigel does not care for heroics, just saving his sister. He asks the priests to save Dae as he has saved Ælfric. They return to the cathedral and try their best, but Dae does not want to live. Tears pour down Nigel’s face for the first time he can remember.
Cadmarel appears at his side, along with the spirit of his sister. Everyone looks on as two white short spears, crackling with lightning, appear in her hands. Cadmarel smiles and intones that Dae has become and intercessor for Vayne and Defender of Karash. Dae thanks Nigel for all that he has done. She forgives him of all his past sins and hopes that one day he will forgive himself. She will stay on in Bornheim, learning from Cadmarel.
Briz flops to the ground outside the clock tower while the city rejoices. The bracer fashioned from the Incar tarnishes and crumbles to dust. The horror of what happens sickens him until he realizes he can still feel their presence. When Charles tried to force open the portal Incar gave its own life to protect him. Briz had opened the portal and Charles would have escaped, but the soul metal sacrificed itself in that moment. It went through the gate to Corvis and closed it behind him.
Some of Incar stayed behind with him, living inside of his body. He could feel Incar within him slowly repairing his broken body, eventually settling in his left eye – which has turned completely silver. Incar who left for Corvis knew that Briz would come and save him and join once again with Incar. The was his last thought has he finally had time to mourn Gloria Hölzer.
The spirits were still far more active that Gia had dealt with before, but they were returning to their truth. There was still a question remained – one unanswered. A question left unasked during the battle beneath the clock tower. It was an important question but one she still had no desire to ask or answer, at least not truthfully. For now this land could return to slice of normalcy.
There were still places in this land to explore. So many spirits had lived her for so long they must have stories nobody has ever heard. This was unusual, fascinating, and exhilarating at the same time. She turned from her one time companions and walked out of the city. On the outskirts she was met by Tazeed. He would be returning home when the sun rose, but wanted to walk for his remaining time with her. Gia was glad for the companionship.
It would be weeks before Belenus would be free of even what Permanence remained. The Bellador stayed with him bringing him food and drink. The food he crushed and fed to him while the drink he drank in front of him – sometimes giving him a wee dram just to taunt the Krandryian. When Belenus was finally free he drank himself into a stupor – accepting the accolades of the Lord Marshall, who declared himself for Young Ælfric.
King Ælfric declared the city of Bornheim the first of his kingdom. He raised his banner and declared his sister Queen Aurora I and usurper to his rightful claim. When he sat upon the Dakarian throne the entire Rakarian Valley would be declared a free land. King Ælfric tried to convince Belenus to join his forces, possibly even command his army or at least serve as his most trusted bodyguard. He also tried bribes and even half-hearted threats.
Belenus just wanted to put some dust on his boots. He spent far too much time in the city and outside those walls is where adventure would be found – not worrying about royal politics. He had yet to master the obsidian blades and they were not meant to stay sheathed or ceremonial.
Oswald had saved many of his people and brought them to shelter in Borulli, along with some treasure the Lords of Water no longer needed. It is not stealing when you take it from thieves, it is simply changing rightful hands. He planned to use most of the treasure to rebuild the trading town, but set himself up as mayor and co-owner of the craftsmen. Oswald had learned the real path to wealth and power was to part own a bunch of things. A hundred business each paying you a tenth was better than full control of a single business.
It would not be long before he could return to the home islands with a mating price sufficient to attract the attention of the most revered women.
Xarth would always be remembered as a hero and the glass fountain and eternal flame would stand as a testament. To honor him in their own way the Bornheim Fight Club commissioned a silver and bronze plaque and hung it in the Shining Blade. In the fighting ring glazed tiles were laid down in the visage of a Shoag breathing fire. Before each fight each fighter would honor their founder by touching the visage hoping Xarth’s spirit would grant them victory.
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