The Mage Rises Part 2 . Part 2 of final chapter . Continued from Part 1…
Nya enters the Throne room with an irate haste. Her anger is obvious in her strides and physiognomy. She stands in the middle of the room and shouts.
Nya: “Change of plans! I want you to head up to the roofs! Find the mage and kill him! You understand? He has to die!”
Goblin Chief: “Yesss Godesss!”
ampiri Warrior: “With all due respect milady, Lord Vlad explicitly ordered us not to hurt the mage.”
Nya: “Do not question my orders! Head on up and…”
There is a loud bang on the other side of the throne room door. The Vampiri, demons, goblins and nobles look over to the closed gate.
Vampiri Warrior: “What the…”
The door shatters into thousands of splinters as armored dwarves, Imperial Guardsmen and Asparuh’s party rush in.
Asparuh: “For Leon!”
A massive melee ensues. Vampiri, demons, and goblins lock blades with Guards, heroes and dwarves. Loki stands at the center of the hall and shoots off her Elven arrows with deadly precision. “Him” fires off spells that strike the invaders and incinerate them.
At the front of the charge Sir Asparuh, Prince Jason and King Vanek slash through flesh and armor and push the invaders back. The nobles flee the chaotic scene.
Vanek: “Take that you good for nothin’ pests! Oh, you want some too? Yargh! Down you go!”
Asparuh: “Emperor Leopold! Where’s the Emperor! Jason, watch out!”
Jason: “Got him! Yarghhh! Father!!! Where are you?!”
The invaders are cut down and the remaining goblins flee for their lives. Nya and a few Vampiri hold the center of the room. As she slashes and kills the advancing dwarves, she locks blades with Jason.
Jason: “Where’s my father you undead hag?!”
Nya: “He’ll be with your brother soon enough! (She looks towards Adrian’s body)
Jason: “Adrian! NOOO! (He kicks Nya down, and runs over to his brother’s lifeless form)
Nya: (Getting up) “Cruel world huh Prince?”
As Prince Jason screams out in anguish at the realization, Nya raises her blade and brings it down with incredible speed and ferocity towards his neck. Inches above the Prince’s exposed flesh, Nya’s sword flies out of her hand, deflected by an Elven arrow. As she looks up with feverish hatred a second arrow buries itself in her chest. Nya glances across the room and sees Loki’s hawk-like gaze taking aim once again. As Nya lets out a blood-curdling screech, Loki releases another arrow which strikes the vampire maiden in the heart and sinks in. Nya falls to the floor, dead.
Loki: “That’s for my Elven brothers.”
The dwarves and Guardsmen cheer as the party members look around at the casualties.
Prince Jason sobs over his brother’s body. Loki approaches him and puts a hand on his shoulder. Prince Jason stands up and takes her in his arms. Loki’s surprise turns into gentle sympathy. She embraces him and whispers.
Loki: “We’ll avenge him Jason. We’ll make it all right. Now come on, we have to save your father!”
Jason: “Oh Loki! I don’t know what to say! You saved me! I… I… I love you!”
Him: “Snap out of it boy, you want to save your father it’s time to move now!”
Asparuh: “Lady Windshire says Vlad took the Emperor up to the rooftops! It’s time we meet this demon face to face!”
Jason: “Follow me! I’ll cut him to bits!” (He runs up a stairwell)
Vanek: “Poor boy... The pressure is getting to him. Asparuh, my dwarves will search the palace and root out any remaining invaders. I’m coming along for your run in with Vlad, if you’ll have me.
Asparuh: “I would be honored Vanek… I just pray we’re not too late! General Tervel, shelp the dwarves secure the palace!”
eneral Tervel: “Yes Asparuh.”
Him: “Come on you two! Jason’s three floors up already! Move your short legs Vanek!”
(They run up the steps following Jason)
The rooftop of the Imperial palace, an intricate metropolis of towers, rooflines, sharpener spires, battlements, and stained glass rises over the city of Preslaff with daunting superiority. It is the highest point in the entire capital, and from its perch on top of the world it overlooks the great conflagration that engulfs the city below.
The streets and houses beneath burn with bright orange flames, as thick smoke rises and fills the air. The castle is centuries old and far removed from the modern architecture of the lower palace; only ancient masonry and battle-hardened towers adorn its facade.
Great banners dance in the boiling air; symbols of an Imperial glory that is now quite absent from the world. In effect, the merry dance of the great standards seems to mock the desperate state of the Imperial city. It is in this scene of archaic glory and contemporary horror that Vlad the necromancer and Emperor Leopold find themselves after stepping out into the sunlight of the day. As Vlad proudly steps towards the edge of the nearest battlement he surveys the city and turns to his captive with a despicable grin. The Emperor doubles down, and nearly collapses at the gastly sight of his burning city.
Vlad: “My, oh my! Look how the horde has carved your city Leopold! The meticulous fashion in which they’ve cut it up forces my mind to conjure up images of animal slaughter! How many dead do you reckon Leopold? A few thousand at the very least, and just think of how that number will rise once my hell-spawn descend on the city! Now look Leopold! Gaze at it! See the end of your kingdom with your own eyes!”
Emperor Leopold: “You ghastly leech! You cursed coward! You feel greatness as you slaughter innocents!? You are nothing but a terror upon the earth! Curse you to eternity! Hell is too good a place for the likes of you!”
Vlad: “You think I care about greatness? Hahaha! Oh Leopold, I don’t so much as see you mortals as worthy of the time it takes to exterminate you! When I am finished with this world there won’t be a single city left for humanity! I will hunt your kind down to the very last cowering maggot, and I will cast your ashes into Erebus and strike your very existence from the pages of history! When the last human head rolls, and all the races of this world fall in line and bend to my will, then I will feel a sense of accomplishment.”
Emperor Leopold: “Oh gods divine! Please hear my call! Stop this monster before he devours the world of men!”
Vlad: “The gods are not here today Leopold. Now, kneel before me and relinquish your crown! Before you die you will feel the shame of a man with no power!”
Emperor Leopold: “You must be three times the fool you seem if you believe me weak enough to fear death. That you will kill me I have no doubt, but I would rather die a thousand painful deaths than spend an instant granting you what you want!”
Vlad: “That can be arranged!”
Emperor Leopold: “To hell with you!”
Vlad: “Perhaps you wish to bow in pieces?”
As Vlad approaches the Emperor and threatens to stab him with his sword, a door flies open with a great bang. Vlad takes his eyes off of the monarch, and turns to face the direction of the noise. He finds himself staring down a party of armed warriors. Asparuh, Jason, Vanek, Loki and “Him” step onto the roof.
Vlad: “Asparuh! The loyal Imperial lapdog! I was wondering when you would show up! And it looks like you’ve brought the riffraff of the world along. How ironic isn’t it? Last time we crossed swords we were at the high towers of Zagora; just how much have the tables turned!”
Asparuh: “I killed you once at Zagora demon, and I will kill you again! Come and face me!”
Emperor Leopold: “Jason, get away from this thing! Run my son!”
Vlad: “Ah, the last and youngest son! Your last heir isn’t he Leopold? Why it appears that your foolish servants have just given me a chance to end the dynasty, here and now!”
Vanek: “Oh you’ve got things very wrong in your mind you bleedin’ abomination! You face your end at the hands of us five; have no doubt about it!”
Him: “Nowhere to run Vlad! It’s time to end your madness!”
Vlad: “You lowly fools; how misguided you are! Leopold, I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going to strike you down just yet. You’ve already seen me kill your firstborn; once these fools are cut down I will have you witness the death of your youngest as well. I’d hate to rush things along, but you see I grow bored with these antics. Come on Leopold.”
He grabs the Emperor and drags him with inhuman strength up towards the higher towers.
As Asparuh and his party step forward in pursuit, Vlad turns around and throws a fireball at his assailants. They duck to avoid the debris, and Vlad raises his sword and in a demonic voice utters a chant.
Him: “Oh dammit no!”
Asparuh: “What is it? What’s he doing??”
Him: “He’s summoned a drag…”
Before “Him” manages to finish his sentence a gigantic figure descends on the tower and announces its arrival with a stomach wrenching screech. Gigantic wings and claws gleam in the simmering air and a great yellow reptilian eye overlooks the advancing party. Vlad makes his way up the stairs, dragging the Emperor by his mantle towards the high towers. The dragon blocks the way and the party find themselves facing the formidable beast on the tight battlements above a burning city. It roars and belches fire.
Asparuh: “By the gods! Look at the size of that thing!”
Him: “No time waste! Go get Vlad, save the Emperor; we’ll take care of it!”
Jason: “I’m coming too!”
Asparuh: “Categorically no! Now help me up onto the roof!”
“Him” blasts a lightning bolt towards the beast, and it focuses its eyes on him. The dragon belches hire, but “Him” puts up a protective ward in time to deflect it.
Him: “Now! Before it belches again!”
Jason lifts Asparuh and pushes him onto the roofs. The old warrior curses under his breath as his cape catches the spiky ornamental stonework.
Him: “I’ve got it in a daze with a calming spell but it won’t last for long! Go Asparuh!”
Asparuh musters all of his strength to pull himself up and over the battlements. He lands on the second level, facing Vlad.
Vlad: “We seem to have an uncanny habit of crossing swords on high places Asparuh. I’ve waited a very long time to do this!”
Asparuh: “Your majesty, are you all right?!”
Emperor: “Never mind me Asparuh; kill this abomination!”
Vlad: “I see you’re not interested in the semantics of the meeting. Pity, I was looking forward to pointing out some ironic parallels, but I suppose it’s the difference between you and me; I like to savor the little things. But I can’t watch you and this old fool simultaneously… My apologies Leopold; it looks like it’s the end of the road for you.”
He turns and stabs the Emperor through the gut. Asparuh shouts out in alarm, and Leopold collapses.
Asparuh: “You maggot! I’ll be cursed to Erebus if I don’t send you back there this very day!”
Vlad: “Yes! I like your Anger pitiful knight! Come at me!”
Asparuh swings wildly, but Vlad parries and shifts out of the way. With each successive strike Asparuh becomes more and more exhausted. The weight of the journey begins to buckle his knees, and yet his opponent simply continues to parry and evade with a maniacal laughter.
Vlad: “Looks like you’ve gotten old Asparuh! You don’t have the strength and speed you once did! And I am stronger and faster! You seem to be in a dire predicament!”
Asparuh: “You are a curse upon the earth! If I am to die this day, it will be only after I kill you!””
Vlad: “ You can’t kill me mortal fool. I control the way in and out! No matter what you do, I win this fight! Now die!”
On the east side of the palace roofs, Kaloyan the Mage and Roger emerge into the chaotic scene that now dominates the high towers.
Roger: “Here we are Ser, just as I remember it! Take the stairs here and you should get to the old keeper’s tower! What is that screeching Ser?! You don’t suppose…”
Kaloyan: “The dragon! Curse it!”
Roger: “What are you going to do Ser!?”
Kaloyan: “I’m going to go and look for allies Roger! I’ll force Vlad down, and I’ll release Ispolin! It’s the only way!”
Roger: “Let’s go then!”
Kaloyan: “No Roger… This is it for you! I’m going it alone!”
Roger: “Nonsense Ser! This is the part where you need me most! I must come along!”
Kaloyan: “Roger, you’ve served me fatefully all my life. You’ve been with me on every step of this journey. You were willing to go to the farthest reaches of hell for me, and are the only person on this earth I trust. You’re not just my servant; you’re my best and only friend. Now I command you; not as a master but as a friend, to go. Leave this place, and let me do what I have to!”
Roger: “Oh Ser! I am beyond words! But I cannot leave you like this!”
Kaloyan: “I’ve made my choices Roger; now it’s time I faced the consequences. Now go! Live your own life! Be free! Remember that you answer to no man! Farewell my friend!”
(Kaloyan rushes up the steps)
As Kaloyan runs up the stone stairwell, Asparuh’s battle with Vlad is turning into an impossible nightmare. Still trapped by the dragon at the lower levels, Asparuh’s party is unable to join the fight. The old warrior is beginning to slow down, every block and deflected blow of Vlad’s sword bearing down on him like the fury of Titans. He loses his fighting stance, and is caught unaware by a sweeping blow that disarms him, and forces him to stumble backwards. Vlad quickly exploits the opening and swing’s at Asparuh’s unarmed side. His blade penetrates beneath the armor, and Asparuh shouts out in pain, falling and clutching at his side.
Vlad: “So ends the tale of the foolish old man…”
As Vlad approaches the fallen warrior with intend to kill, a booming thunder reverberates through the rooftops, as a lightning bolt strikes Vlad’s back. The stunner vampire turns around and finds himself looking into the angry eyes of Kaloyan, staff of power pointed at him.
Vlad: “Well, well. What have we here? A foolish young pup with a death wish.
Kaloyan: “I’ve been underestimated my whole life. It never did anyone any good, and it certainly won’t help you now. I found the scroll. I’m sending you and your minions back to Erebus!”
Vlad: “Be careful boy!”
Kaloyan: “Lower your blade! If you strike me you’re stranded here, and your bloody invasion ends!”
Vlad: “You think I won’t strike you down?! There are other ways into Erebus! It will take longer, but I will find a portal! And you; you will be dead by then!”
Vlad charges Kaloyan with his sword raised. Kaloyan jumps out of the way and casts a lightning spell once again. Vlad’s fury begins to show as he makes unsuccessful sweeps at the mage. Kaloyan moves with tact and precision, firing spell after spell.
Vlad: “Enough of this!”
He disappears into a cloud of smoke. Kaloyan pauses his advances, breathing heavily. He hears footsteps behind him, and turns with incredible fury. Standing behind him, still clutching at his side is the old warrior Asparuh. He holds a sword towards Kaloyan.
Asparuh: “You!? What in the name of the gods is going on? I thought you led this invasion here? Now you fight the demon, and you save my life?! Explain yourself!”
Kaloyan: “If you want a sliver of hope of defeating that abomination, you’ll listen to me! I know how to banish him to Erebus! We need to take him down together!”
Asparuh: “Gods know he’s too strong for me to take him on! If you think your plan will work I’ll help you, but you best be right! Where is he??”
Kaloyan: “I know I’m right.” (He looks up at the tower) “I found him.”
As Asparuh and Kaloyan look up, Vlad’s figure materializes on top of the tower. He looks down, and with an angry cry begins to run on its vertical surface in utter defiance of gravity. He spirals down its side, his form shifting between that of the vampire, and a much more unstable demonic shape.
As the combatants track his movements, the rest of Asparuh’s party is still engaging the dragon on the level below. The beast does not seem to move an inch, and “Him’s” magic reserves are reaching their limits.
Him: “Enough of this!” (He stuns the dragon with a spell and runs towards it)
Grabbing it by its enormous fangs “Him” climbs onto its massive head.
Jason: “Is he insane!? “
“Him” stands on top of the creature’s head as it slowly shakes off his stun. The Orc utters a powerful chant and brings his staff with all his strength onto the beast’s armored head.
Him: “Farewell scaly.”
The magical charge stored in the staff detonates and implodes the dragon’s skull. The beast screeches and shakes furiously, with “him” barely holding on. It tries to fly away, but collapses backwards, taking its assailant down along with it. “Him” and the massive body of the dragon fall from the roofs down towards the pavements below.
As the dragon falls, Vlad begins to run vertically towards Asparuh and Kaloyan.
Kaloyan fires off spells which miss the quickly-moving figure, as Vlad lands before the two defenders.
Vlad: “I’ll take you both on! You can’t defeat me! I’ve spent half a century preparing this plan! It will not go awry because of the meddling of an aging warrior and an arrogant boy!”
Kaloyan: “Like hell it won’t! You’ve been defeated Vlad! Your legion is no more! Your minions will be banished and your skull will decorate the gates of hell when Ispolin gets a hold of you!”
You can’t physically kill me mage! You haven’t got the strength! I will fight you here all day! Your mortal body will tire, and then I will strike you both down!”
Kaloyan: “I don’t need to kill you. That’s the job of higher powers than I! Now come on Vlad! Let’s face my demons!”
Kaloyan runs directly at Vlad. The vampire is confused by the move, and backs away.
Kaloyan jumps at him with all of his might. Vlad ducks, but the mage captures the corner of his tunic. As Kaloyan flies over the battlements, over the edge of the castle, he snags Vlad along. The vampire screams as he is pulled over the battlements.
Vlad: “You fool!”
Kaloyan holds onto Vlad tighter, unrelentingly clinging onto his armor. The two fall down towards the burning city. The sensation of speed and cold air chill Kaloyan’s spine, as he prepares to meet the quickly approaching ground below. Vlad screams and wrestles for control, managing to turn on his side. He changes into his demonic form, and a pair of bat-like wings emerges from his back. Kaloyan grabs onto his neck, as Vlad attempts to steer away from the ground. The two of them half-fall-half-glide onto the pavement.
Kaloyan: “Uh… damn..”
As Kaloyan rises up he looks for his staff. He finds it, lying nearby. He surveys the area, realizing it is the palace entrance. He quickly turns and sees the hell-gate nearby. From behind him comes a chilling cry.
Vlad: “Yargh!!! Damn it mage! Why did you have to meddle? You didn’t you just run away!”
Kaloyan: “I’ve come to my senses demon. It’s time we end this waking nightmare!”
Vlad: “How weak! How incredibly weak you are!”
Vlad swings his sword, and Kaloyan dodges the blows. He runs towards the hell-gate.
Kaloyan: “By the ancient pact that binds this spirit to this vessel, I Kaloyan the Mage release the soul of Ispolin into the world…”
Kaloyan stabs the hell-gate with the staff.
Kaloyan: “To the plains of Erebus return, guardian of the realm of wake… Upon these words I set you free! Ne-Rod-Mus-Za-Oti-Ok-Vuv-Dar-Giz-Ot!!!”
The mage’s words resonate throughout the square. As he finishes the last syllable of the ancient spell, a powerful inner light emanates from the staff. It pulsates and glows. Before Vlad can react an immense figure escapes from the crystal, and transforms into a human-sized warrior. It is dressed in ancient demonic armor, and it’s piercing blue eyes scan the plaza where it has emerged. The demon looks down at his hands, now free from binds. It looks up and sees Vlad. With a mighty swing of its fists, the emerged demon strikes the sword out of Vlad’s hand, knocking him backwards.
Vlad gets to his feet and attempts to run away from the demon.
The demon takes Vlad’s sword, which fits right into its hand.
Ispolin: “My sword… It’s been millennia.” (He looks towards Vlad) “You aren’t going anywhere.”
Chains fly out of Ispolin’s hands, and wrap around Vlad’s body like snakes.
Ispolin: “Did you set me free mage?
Kaloyan: “I did.”
Ispolin: “ Then you must come along. Judgement will be passed only after this deviant is dealt with. The order must be restored. Will you compoly, or must I restrain you as well?”
Kaloyan: “I will comply, gate keeper.”
Ispolin toiuches Kaloyan’s wrists, and demonic chains bind him as well.
Ispolin: “Erebus awaits. Don’t be long.”
Kaloyan: “I will follow closely.”
As Ispolin dissapears into the portal, Kaloyan stands and takes one last look at the blue sky above.
Kaloyan: “I hope you’re proud master Edrin.”
The Mage of the West steps into the hell-gate. It’s liquid energy washes over his ankles, then his knees, and then he disappears from view. The staff of power slowly sinks below the waves, and with a pulsating light and a great thunderous sound the gate closes, leaving only a barren crater in the empty Imperial plaza.
Above the city, on the rooftops of the Imperial palace Asparuh’s part finally reach him. The old warrior tends to his injured Emperor.
Emperor Leopold: (with great strain) “Jason… Jason my boy! Come here!”
Jason: “Father! You are hurt! I am so sorry! We weren’t fast enough!”
Emperor Leopold: “Hush Jason… No matter… You… You did great my boy. You made your father proud…”
Jason: “We have to get him to the infirmary!”
Emperor Leopold: “No… This is.. this is the end for me. Let me enjoy the view… Jason… Be a better ruler than I was… (coughs)… I implore you son! Do not make the mistakes… the mistakes I made…”
Jason: “I won’t father…”
Emperor Leopold: “I am proud of you son… I’m proud of you…” (he gasps and dies)
Jason: “Father? Father? Oh by the gods!”
As Jason mourns his father’s loss, Loki comforts him. Asparuh and Vanek step towards the battlements and look into the distance.
Vanek: “It’s done then? We saw the mage land below. He closed the gate and disappeared. Vlad too.”
Asparuh: “Then I suppose it is done. What happened to “Him”?”
Vanek: “He took a plunge with the dragon. He saved us all.”
Asparuh: “Do you mean he is…”
Vanek: “I would not count on it. He’s a resilient old bugger!”
Asparuh: “That he is… No time to waste, I suppose… there’s a fire the whole city over that needs putting out. What a mess!”
Vanek: “What do you make of the mage? He helped you?”
Asparuh: “Perhaps he was looking for redemption. Perhaps he came to his senses. Either way, he saved us all… But we haven’t got time to talk now.”
End of Chapter 11: Stay tuned for Epilogue