Chapter Six

We met inside of our war room. Shadow soon arrived too, ready to join us in the fight against his longtime enemy, Tabber. We planned it the whole night. Shadow had a stone that would take us through a magical gateway, right to where Tabber and the Dragon now were: the same underground temple where the Dragon had been released. They had a whole army gathered there; Orcs, Nikrits, and worse things. I decided that only some of us should face the god himself; the rest could deal with his numerous minions. We formed two teams. The first was Estienne, Latheric, Gaspar, Shadow, and myself. We would fight the Darkness Dragon and Tabber’s elite, banishing them forever from this world. The second team was led by Thane, and contained Osborne, Sovellis, Janko and Beshba. They would battle the army of minions that awaited. The second team was given use of Persalor’s weapons: and while Sovellis wielded the fiery quiver, the mighty Javelin was given to a summoned fire elemental, who could not be harmed by its explosions. Our spellcasters prepared their spells, our warriors sharpened their blades, our clerics said their prayers. I spent the night atop the castle battlements, practicing my dance of death, the great and nearly magical styles I had learned burning into my mind. I perfected a final maneuver that I knew I had to use: an attack that drew upon the power in my own soul, the faith of this world’s people, a banishing strike that would send the Darkness Dragon screaming back to its own dimension. nnThe next morning we were ready; strong, brave, shining with magical protection. We went in. There, the same immense room stretched before us, a new tunnel to the south opening up into a great sea. Here, darkness supreme reigned. Few could see anything, for dominating the whole room was the shadowy body of the Darkness Dragon himself. Tabber was here, along with another lich buddy I dub with the title ‘Gravitron’, and the two twin sorceresses that Soveliss had met with. Our battle began in full! nnWith my true sight I could see it, floating grotesquely all round me-undulating, writhing, the great body of the Darkness Dragon! Five heads there were, of shadow and death; coils of darkness winding up into the shapes of faces; where eyes of dark flame burned hellishly and maws of nothingness awaited to swallow the unfortunate. It was huge; larger than all of us, it seemed, larger perhaps than even the room itself. But I drew my blade and readied my katas, for I knew that in fact it was small, small compared to the fire in my heart, tiny compared to the great power behind my blows; the power of all the world’s people, all the faithful who had ever read my memoirs and realized that they too could do such things. That thought was with me as the battle began. I picked up my portable hole and tossed it across the room to where Jacob Tabber was. Gaspar and his minions leapt out from it, pouncing like predators onto the lich. We began fighting the horrors here, as group two ran south to the beaches to battle the advancing armies. Gaspar’s battle with Tabber was a brief but dramatic one, the two undead struggling with one another a dozen seconds before Gaspar finally pulled his blade out and slew the lich. He tossed Tabber’s staff into the hole, his quest complete, his vengeance done. Latheric immediately killed the sorceresses, scaring them to death with some kind of illusion. They fell dead, grasping their hearts in shock and horror. Gravitron tried trapping us in a gravity-reversing spell, but failed miserably as we resisted the effect, and Shadow ran up to him with swords drawn. The lich transformed himself into a great titan, but was surprised when the Drow still used his magical blades to chop his limbs off and finally decapitate him. I battled the Dragon itself, going immediately for its great central head, larger and more powerful than the rest. Latheric and Estienne were able to summon beasts that distracted the remaining heads from me, while I practiced my ‘two and half handed style’, using the single sword as if it were two. I sliced into the Dragon until the head vanished. By then, the magic-users’ pets had been slain, and the remaining heads rushed me in a deadly assault. I was able to dodge most of the blows, but those that hit, hit hard; draining away my life so rapidly that only a true master could heal me. Fortunately, Estienne was there with her miracles, and my wounds didn’t last long. The Darkness Dragon brought forth minions as well: beings of shadowy evil and vampires most vile. My companions took care of those things, while I continued to battle the big boss, dodging between attacks while I struck at its vitals. Gaspar and his minions, the now fiendish Griddles and an animated Xrith, attacked one of the heads, and Shadow battled another. Both fought well and hard, but while they were capable warriors and great men, neither could withstand the fury of a draconic god. In that battle, Gaspar of the Pomarj died, torn to pieces in less than a second by the Darkness Dragon. Hopefully, he died in peace, having defeated Jacob Tabber, his longtime nemesis. May he be happy, wherever he now rests. Shadow died later on, a victim of the same fierce tactics that brought his fellow vampire down. Both died brave, heroic deaths. Their sacrifices allowed me to bring down every one of the Dragon’s heads, until there was only one left. Some people say that this head was stronger than the others, some say that it slew both myself and Latheric, bringing us down easily. Those people are wrong. nnIt came down to the last head. The darkness Dragon was beaten, and it knew it. It was striking harder and faster, but its defense was growing weaker. It was desperate. I saw Latheric looking at it intently, and by our telepathic bond I knew what he was doing. He closed his eyes in disbelief of the thing, and I jumped forward, focusing my energy, gathering my strength for the mega-banishing strike, as my blade glowed with all the force of all the plane’s power. I flew at the dragon, careening forth like a harpoon, knowing with surety that I had won. As I struck the thing, it fell to pieces like paper, like the fake reality it had been. The room around shattered. Reality shattered. I found myself in a different place: featureless, gray, empty. Latheric was here as well. I felt different…not superior, exactly, but on a new level. I knew that the battle was over. We looked below to see Estienne and Shadow battling what they thought was the Darkness Dragon…real to them, but to us an illusion. We saw them see us killed, devoured. We saw Shadow fall, dead from false damage he believed real. Estienne made one final prayer, and the bodies of the dead disappeared as she teleported all of them outside that terrible place, thinking the battle lost. nnYet I know that I did not lose. The Darkness Dragon plagues you no more. Tabber’s sad cult lies in ruins, his body smashed and his phylactery held hostage. Thane, Osborne, Janko and Sovellis won their battle, though Beshba died just as Shadow did. They are all great heroes now, survivors of a battle with a god, or noble folks who died for what they believed in, despite evil or undead origins. The world is now a free place. I know these things because I have seen them. I am not dead. I am very far from dead…perhaps the very opposite of being dead. I am more alive than I have ever been before, and all the time I can feel myself growing stronger and stronger. In conquering the Darkness Dragon, I discovered something within myself, something greater, stronger, higher. I found the inner god that had been with me all along, which is the destiny of every mortal born in this world. I found it and unleashed it. Now I watch over you all, seeing the world below as if it were merely a plaything. But it is no such thing. From what I have seen, the world has a purpose, your mortal lives have a purpose. Every man and woman was meant for something better, if they merely have the courage to strive for it, to reach out and take it. You were all meant to join me and Latheric in the vast heavens, the great outer planes, to join us in eternal life and eternal divinity. If you wish, that great destiny can be yours. The path to godhood is a difficult one, to be sure; yet everything worth doing is so. In the future, we need not have heroes like myself or my companions, because everyone will be his or her own hero. All I ask of you is to read these memoirs, spread them around the world so that all people may have hope. Believe in me. Believe in yourselves. Know that the cruel and chaotic world you live in is simply a womb; a forge, designed to make you better, stronger, wiser and more able. It is designed to take the greatest of mortals and make them into gods. Thus, I challenge you, reader: follow in my footsteps and ascend from this plane. Walk your own path and you will find yourself beside me in eternity. Your journey will be a long and hard one. You will suffer, you will feel pain, you will despair. But you will not fail, because you are not alone. In your darkest hour, hero, I will watch over you and aid you in your striving.

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