Part 95: Return of the Past
Chapter 70 - Return of the Past
Music - "Demona's Run"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
Video: The Invasion of Aleroth (and Boss fight)
I headed inside Aleroth. There were orcs everywhere, especially around Mardaneus' house.
I wasn't going to be merciful, no matter what. But without any potions at hand, I also had to be careful not to tire myself out.
Mardaneus's house was locked with a brand new and out of place device, glowing with strange runes. I couldn't tell if Mardaneus was even inside, and I was loathe to touch the device, even though I could see a slot which might fit a key.
Is anyone out there? Help! You must help me! They locked me in here!
What about the escape route through the cellar?
No good! They smashed the stairs, and did something. I can't cast any of my magic!
Is that what the device is for?
Don't worry! I'll get you out in no time!
The sun slipped behind the mountains. Somewhere in here was the witch behind this invasion. This wasn't a big town, so it wasn't going to take long to find her. And it didn't.
As I continued massacring the orcs in Aleroth, an unfamiliar woman came out of Lanilor's house.
Look over here, m'lady!
I zapped at her with a lightning bolt, but she was faster and put up a magical shield.
Aha! The Marked One took the bait!
What? Bait? ME?
Yes, YOU, Jeremiah Edwin Liro of Idfrennia; son of Jacob and Elizabeth Liro, and brother of Jenna Emily Liro.
There was something about the... the knowing way she said that which caught my interest.
How do you know that? What did you do to my sister?
She laughed coldly.
As much as I would love to torture her, I didn't need to. I already know everything about your family, and I will see it utterly destroyed before I take my last breath! Do you think it was just bad luck that we chose your sister? It was my idea!
She was giving me answers, but I had been pushed too far to care. I lashed out at her with more lightning. It smashed harmlessly against her shield.
Oh, please. Try not to tire yourself out. You have no hope of breaking the barrier as long as I'm putting all my energy into it. I want my memory of your death to be that of me crushing a mighty mage, not a gasping fool.
The red-haired witch had a shield like that. But she was attacking me, so it couldn't protect her fully. I can't afford to waste my energy.
WHY?! Why are you targeting us? What did we ever do to you?
She grinned demonically. "How's your father?" she asked maliciously.
Who are you?!
She stopped grinning. Her next words came out cold and bitter, all trace of the gloating was gone. "Your father took everything from me. Everything. ... and you don't even know my name? I am Demona, daughter of Drakthorn! "
The name sounded naggingly familiar, but I couldn't place it. I wracked my brain... and then I remembered.
4 Febirium 1218 22 O'clock
"I don't... have the plague," my father said. "It's some kind of magical curse."
Up until that moment, I'd been convinced that I was going to save him... that everything would be alright again, somehow.
"I told you that back in my mercenary days; I killed many evil wizards. But one of them - Drakthorn... it turns out that he had a daughter. About a month ago, she showed up... and told me... told me... that now my children would know what it's like to have their father stolen from them."
"My Gods..." I didn't know what else to say. "Who was she? I'll track her down and make her undo what she did!"
"No! Don't... she's too powerful. She didn't give her name, just her father's. ... I don't think that there is a way to undo it... not... with the time I have left... I even asked that elf wizard friend of yours to help... but he couldn't..."
"Father... don't give up. Please! There must be something we can do!"
"There might be... but unfortunately... I don't think there's any more time. Jenna... Jeremiah... look after each other..."
My father's eyes closed.
As the recognition spread across my face, Demona's grin returned.
You... you killed my father?!
The last thing I told him was that now HIS children would know what it's like to have their parents taken from them. But then again, it wasn't the same. Your father was still alive and there for you and your sister were growing up. But after I joined the Black Ring, who came waltzing right into Ferol but your sister?
You should be thanking me, Marked One. Iona wanted to simply kill her until I explained my reasons. Enough of this! Your sister is going to die scared and alone, and there's NOTHING you can do to stop us, because you'll be long dead. ATTAAACK! Kill him!
Demona moved to the attack, and so did I.
I blasted an Orc who was trying to sneak up, but that merely allowed Demona to strike at my back with a nasty dagger.
I tried to get some distance, but that was pointless.
It was now a battle of attrition. Could I kill her before I got exhausted? Now that she was fighting, the fireballs were somewhat effective, but not good enough, especially with her healing herself. I changed tactics.
Let's see how well your fancy shield holds up when it's being hit a few dozen times a second!
I started casting Hell Spikes.
Stay and meet your just death, coward!
She hadn't left any obvious means to remove the device from Mardaneus' house. But I remembered that she was in Lanilor's house.
On top of Lanilor's bookcase was a key. I'm pretty sure it wasn't Lanilor's, given that it was made of obsidian and had purple runes on it.
I went back to Mardaneus' house. The key opened the device with a click, and it fell off the door.
Well, after Lanilor, Joram, Otho, and Goemoe left for Rivertown, I started researching why the Source has ceased to function as it should. I foolishly thought I would be safe here... Then today, that woman came here, with her army of orcs. She somehow blocked my magic and locked me up. I though I'd never get out of here!
Where did the orcs come from?
Richard and I were returning from gathering herbs, when they charged out of the underbrush. He got between me and them and told me to run. After that I don't know what happened to him.
He... he didn...
I couldn't finish the sentence. I didn't really need to.
I'm sorry. Did you know him well?
Not really. He is... he was my brother-in-law.
Mardaneus looked confused, but he decided not to ask.
The orcs marched right through the front gate! I'm afraid the humans are losing this war, my friend. The army just can't hold back the orc warbands, and good people are being killed everywhere... even here in pacifist Aleroth. I have failed! My life's work, trying to bring the Seven Races together, has become a mockery.
I didn't really know what to say to that. I too, was losing my hope. But I summoned what I had remaining.
Times are bad indeed, but there is still hope.
What can I do for you?
All the recent chaos and hatred in the world is the work of the Black Ring. Zandalor and I think that we can counter them by reuniting the Council of Seven.
That would be wonderful indeed, but what has this to do with me?
I have visited the ancient gathering place of the League of Seven: they who fought against chaos and destruction generations ago. That place is still a nexus point for magic. There it was revealed to me that you must represent the human race in the newly formed council. Come help me restore the Council of Seven. With your help we can still defeat these bastards!
I have many more questions to ask, but first things first. What do you want me to do?
Go join the Council of Seven. You can use a magic power word to teleport you there. It is 'XXBZPTRL'.
Mardaneus teleported to the Council of Seven. I followed immediately after. There was nothing more to be done here.
I'm sorry Richard. I wish I had the time to spare to bury you properly, but if I don't hurry up and stop them, how many more graves will need to be dug?
I needed to find out what happened to Goemoe, quickly.
I must find out where this house is! I must rescue Goemoe!
I shall do as you suggest, Zandalor.
Since I was here, I decided once more to scry on the Imp. To my surprise and relief, it was finally working.
Hmm... This Imp seems to be in an inn somewhere. Well, at least he looks like he's having fun.
I know where the Ducal Inn is.
Goemoe was the one in immediate peril, so finding the Imp would have to wait. I replenished my supplies and then teleported to Verdistis.
It was late, but hopefully, Trevor would still be here.
Did you rent a house to a warlock some time back?
I am afraid information like that is private, even to Guild members. Why do you ask?
I don't have time for silly rules or politeness.
The warlock kidnapped an innocent lizard and I wish to free him. Now tell me where the house is!
The urgency in my voice seemed to convince him that I was serious.
Lizard! Kidnapped? I... I... very well! I rented a house to a person named Cornelius. He was an elf who appeared to be a powerful magician. The house is nearby. I shall mark the location on your map.
Very well. Thank you for the information. And next time, be mindful to whom you rent your property out to.
I left before he could respond to that.
Just outside the house Trevor marked, I paused and prepared for battle.
Video - Not a perfect rescue
Did Cornelius tell you what happened to the last humans who tried to stop me? Don't answer that, I'll show you instead.
With the gang of thugs suitably re-arranged, I refreshed my protection and headed down the hatch. A familiar robed figure was waiting for me. He'd probably heard all the commotion from upstairs.
What did you do to Goemoe!?
Murharhahahar! You liked the polymorph spell! I put on that annoying, do-gooding lizard?
Give me the means to negate the polymorph spell, or I'll take it from you!
Oh, so that's why you came. What a noble deed, and for one that is not even of your race! Your childish heroics amuse me. I think I'll keep your heart as a keepsake.
I thought I was prepared, but his freeze spell blew right through my defenses without losing a bit of potency.
Cornelius laughed at me one more time, and then left, leaving me completely helpless.
Next Time: The Garden at the Edge of Nowhere
Behind the Scenes
It's actually possible to NOT rescue Mardaneus from the grips of madness. I in fact, did a speed-run with a character I cheated up to level 30 so I can show that off. It's not much different, actually.
In a fake update a while ago, there was a slick merchant. He name-dropped Mardaneus.
WHAT!? Oh, I'm so sorry. I was tricked myself, my friend - truth to tell, I paid twice as much for that item than I asked you for it - so we're both in the same boat... if you get my drift. Look, I'll tell you what: I'll make it up to you by giving you an option on some of my prize stock. These are the things I meant to keep back for the great mage Mardaneus in Aleroth, but just to maintain my good reputation for never disappointing a customer, you can have first dibs on these much sought after goods.
After you get Mardaneus to the Council, you can talk to him.
Do you know a merchant known as Carlo?
Here's a bit of gossip from Verdistis.
What's fake in this update?
- I decided to add this twist in to give Demona a bit more impact. Really, she just shows up out of nowhere, has this one very easy battle with you, and isn't seen again until later. She's not very interesting or memorable, so I figured, "Why not?"
- Once again, the boss music in the first video was added in by me.