V.O Artist: Seraphim
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I Killed the Immortal
By: Oro Prizyvaushiy
…Another time, another place.
It was taking a lot of effort not to laugh. All the furnishing—high walls decorated with a striped pattern, vaulted windows through which the sun rays brazenly shone onto the stone floor, crests, and tapestries. It reeked of arrogance and pomposity.
But the final blow was from the inscription on the central crest—a proud name of the glorious order that I have gathered here today:
No, really. The members of the order were firmly sure that it meant—of course, in the lost language of the ancient
nation—“The Order of Fighters for All Good Against All Bad.” I… I already regretted giving them that false
translation. Now I had to put in far more effort not to laugh.
I had to not laugh. Nope, I hadn’t spent half of the past year building up their confidence in me just to expose myself with an untimely chuckle. There was one good thing though—they couldn’t see my face under the mask. A magical spell had completely changed it, though it couldn’t do anything about my actual expression.
I sighed and started my speech.
“Old friends from distant lands,” I was speaking quietly and confidently. “And our new allies. I’ve gathered all of you here to decide how we should respond to the threat of Vissarion.”
Everyone was silent. By their expressions, I could tell they were waiting for a revelation from me. Well, I did have something for them:
“Our lands—all of our lands—are on the verge of destruction.” I continued with a solemn, commanding voice. “Every nation has its own destiny, but this is our common fate, and none of you can avoid it. We will either unite or die.”
I deftly took the crystal ball from under the cloak and placed it in the centre of the table.
“It took a lot of effort to acquire this,” I said, turning on the ball’s recording feature with a finger snap.
“Look. And don’t say that you haven’t seen this face.”
All five of the ‘suicides’ stepped forward and huddled around the crystal. It was magically showing the same picture to everyone, no matter where they were looking at it from. There was Vissarion. His black robes and old face, all of his unmistakable features.
A skeleton in full dress appeared next to him. The undead bowed and held out a tray with some scroll to his master. Vissarion slowly and calmly took the scroll in his hands, opened it—and suddenly started wildly laughing with his head thrown back.
The magical recording stopped. Everyone was silent and looking at each other.
“S-so that’s… real?” One of them murmured inquisitively.
“Yes,” I sat down on an armchair. “The vile warlock Vissarion is getting ready to strike. I feel the clouds gathering over the world. Our time is running out. You all know that this monster will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.”
Yeah. I wonder how surprised these pretentious overachievers would be if they found out what was really being shown in that video.
It was my first attempt to kill Vissarion. Jeez! Look at how much he had laughed when he realized I tried to deliver a poison-soaked scroll through the skeleton with the words “Surprise, you’re poisoned!” scrawled over it.
Nevertheless, for these guys, everything was serious. Their faces were reflecting terror, despair, and most of all the willingness to fight ‘til their dying breath. One of them—a mage in a white robe with a runny beard—stood up, took a wooden smoking pipe to his mouth and inhaled deeply.
“It is like this,” he stated in a trembling voice. “I had a vision in a dream of mine with a similar outcome: the Darkness covered the skies in the East… but a small light was shining in the West. The curse of the Immortal has returned, and the hour of the final battle is coming.”
I nodded with a serious look while listening to him. Of course, I was the one sending him those dreams. Although, if he continued smoking what he had in that pipe, he might begin hallucinating enough to render my ‘visions’ useless.
“What was on that paper? The one that the nasty servant gave the warlock?” The only girl in the room asked sharply. She was dressed in a black leather suit and wearing daggers like Christmas ornaments.
“I’m still looking into it,” I was speaking quieter than I needed to, so everyone had to strain their ears. “But… you’ve seen for yourself. That laughter can mean only one thing. His plan that he’s cherished for years is now close to its realization. Every time I close my eyes, I see what destruction it will cause: dead land, eternal night descended on our kingdoms, and endless armies of the undead spreading further and further until there is nothing good left in this world.”
“Armies of the undead…” A young guy said, looking like a village goof and dressed in linen garb. “He doesn’t just raise them by himself. He seeks generals, the strongest of the undead, that will lead the armies. He practices the darkest rituals on them, improves them… makes them almost unbeatable.”
“How can a simple peasant like you know of this?” The girl with the daggers glanced at him unfriendly.
“He is not a simple peasant!” A boy two years younger than the peasant, adorned with expensive clothes embroidered with silver, retorted. “Luke is the only known person in all the kingdoms who have been in Vissarion’s castle and returned with his life.”
“He managed to keep his handsome face while he was in the castle,” the red-bearded man chuckled contemptuously, toying with the handle of his heavy battle-axe; his grin briefly revealed an ugly scar previously hidden under his moustache.
“Everyone remembers how my father died, and with him fifteen of his best generals. But I am the only one here who has seen it in person. The hurricane was uprooting the trees. The rain of blood and acid was falling. The bones of the dead were banging…”
But, of course, Vissarion himself was only indirectly related to the storm that killed the father of the red-haired king and his friends. None other than the king himself was to blame for the fact that he decided to take a shortcut through the warlock’s favourite meditation garden, inadvertently setting off Vissarion’s state-of-the-art security system.
“We got it, we got it!” Luke glared at him. “Listen. You’re a king, and I’m just a simple guy, but if Vissarion wins, he won’t care about who has a crown and who doesn’t. That maniac will leave no one alive. Women, children, old people… I heard him talking about this stuff. I… I once heard how he talked to his student. It truly was a conversation between two vile monsters!”
I was silent. Why even bother if people do everything for you? The more they wound themselves up, the less I needed to make up.
It was even simpler with Luke, Vissarion’s old servant. He had been tasked with grunt work at the Tower: dreadful work, which even the skeletons were uneager to do. I just needed to regularly show him some ‘special effects—it’s not like such a simple guy needed much to be impressed—then arrange a miraculous escape from Vissarion’s tower and dub him with the title of “Chosen One.”
Why did I need him at all? That’s the most interesting part. The guy truly was the Chosen One or something like that; Vissarion pointed it out to me himself. Some kind of blessing or aura gave him divine luck… It did not, however, give him intelligence, and I preferred it that way.
“I try to keep such people close. Let his luck help him clean the floor neatly,” Vissarion had remarked.
As for the mage, by that time he couldn’t even tell where he was. He wasn’t foaming at the mouth, but he was shivering as if he had a seizure.
“The light was dazzling through the clouds…” He mumbled, shaking his goatee. I couldn’t say for sure if he was a part of the conversation or if he was talking to himself. “But it was dying out… it was becoming smaller and smaller.”
“We need to just go and kill Vissarion!” The red-bearded man banged his fist on the table, cracking it. “The power of my nation was barely enough to keep him at bay! The Black Tower is protected by the undead and the sleepless evil is always watching!”
Keep at bay? I think it was quite the opposite. If the stories are true, then it was them who were invading Vissarion over a land feud, and then ran away as soon as he cast some kind of purple lightning to frighten them.
“Evil!” The mage echoed, his hands were trembling as if from arthritis. “Darkness! Chaos! Ruined lands where the demon has an unmatched power. Arid desert, devastated with fire, covered with ashes. Air itself is saturated with poison there. Even if we had ten thousand warriors, we wouldn’t succeed.”
I slowly exhaled, trying to stay calm. The mage did well; he perfectly parroted the quote I had been feeding into him for the last few weeks.
“But we don’t need to fight his armies!” Luke shouted in excitement. “We just need to kill Vissarion! We are many, but he’s alone!”
“He is immortal!” The red-bearded man snorted.
“We’ll kill him as many times as we need!” The girl with the daggers declared without changing her contemptuous expression.
“Yeah?” The red-bearded king got angry. “And who’s gonna do it? You, the demon huntress? Or you, the country shepherd?”
The silence reigned over the table, broken only by the heavy breathing of the debaters. The crystal was silently dazzling, still lying in the middle of the table.
It was time.
“You are fools,” I said sharply, standing up and towering over the table. “You do not understand the main thing: the more time we spend quarrelling amongst each other, the stronger the Enemy gets. Doom is inevitable,” I was trying to make my words sound heavy, like in an ancient prophecy.
“Everyone will be destroyed. Your houses will fall. Your people will turn to ashes, feeding the tyrant’s ambitions. I have gathered all of you here not to quarrel, but to unite and to face the Enemy together!”
Everyone was silent.
“…There are more and more overpopulated cemeteries in my kingdom,” the red-haired king exhaled somberly. As if someone let the air out from him; he deflated, suddenly losing all his courage and completely overwhelmed by the heavyweight on his shoulders. “The undead goes to Vissarion’s castle as we speak, and no one dares to stand in their way. The villages located next to the border are long destroyed.”
“I’ve seen them too,” the mage agreed. “In my dreams…the prophetic dreams about the dead have been tormenting me for a long time already… and it’s becoming more and more difficult to distinguish them from reality after every night.”
The villages located next to the border were indeed destroyed. Not because of the skeletons—which were props of mine, added to create an ‘atmosphere’—but because the red-bearded king had no idea how to run a kingdom properly. Hunger and constant taxes ‘for the army’s needs’ would kill off any small village. In fact, most of the villagers who reportedly died escaped to Vissarion’s lands and are living much happier lives.
“I’ll go there,” the peasant squinted. “With you or without, but I’ll return to the castle, even though it’s the last place I want to be. I’m not sure if I can win, but I’d rather die trying.”
“I will go with you,” the mage nodded, trying to stop trembling. “You will need protection to get to that place, and my guidance will keep us clear of any traps.”
“Me too,” the red-bearded king shook his axe menacingly in the air. “My army will clear the way, and I need to lead it. For my father! The axe hungers for blood!”
“I will never leave my friends,” the guy in the silvered clothing stood up as well. “Besides, you are not the only ones who lost something because of that Tyrant. I swore an oath to avenge my fiancé, even if I die in the process.”
“Well, and if not, I’ll avenge both her and all of you at once,” the girl smiled. “Vissarion taught me well how to bury companions.”
I was silent. Without anyone else noticing, I cast a simple spell to make the clouds turn black, making the mood darker. Somewhere far away, the first thunder of the approaching storm struck.
“Then,” I declared, looking around at everyone, “we must not hesitate. We need to go, before time runs out.”
Attempt number… ah, hell if I know.
Of course, there is nothing more helpless, irresponsible and vicious than gathering a ragtag squad of warriors to kill a dark mage. But still, it was worth a shot.
“Let’s get this done before month’s end,” I concluded.