Editors: Queen of Hearts & Marshy
V.O Artist: Seraphim
Listen to this Chapter.
I Killed the Immortal
By: Oro Prizyvaushiy
My eyes swung open sharply, my heart pounding.
“My name is Arthur Gottfried…” As per usual, I went down my list. I had to distract myself from that dream, even if it was just for a while.
“Arthur Gottfried. Emphasis on the “A.” Male. Twenty-one years old.”
Well, that’s how old I was the day I died. Now I’m… far older. Though I can’t say for sure how much I’ve aged, because some time ago I stopped counting days, or even years.
For that, I am “grateful” to only one being—my teacher. Although why drag things out: to be honest, I hate him. And for good reason—he’s turned my life into a living hell.
And no, the fact that he snatched me from the clutches of Death, calling me back into this world and giving me some semblance of life, does not excuse him.
Why semblance, you ask? Because Death never let me go and has always stood, looming behind my back. I was reminded of that every night. I have seen my final hours in this world again and again. Sometimes, I was able to control my dreams and tried to change something… but it was useless.
The dream always ended the same way as before. However, after all these bloody years, as my body transformed more, it did not evoke the same horror in me… but instead remained only a rooted memory.
Pulling myself out of that stream of thoughts, I looked at my watch. I overslept, and I only had five minutes left. Basically, I might not have time to go anywhere at all. I’m a believer that everything will happen by itself at the right time. But when you’ve been walking toward a single goal for decades, you want everything to look perfect. And rightly so. I hastily started to get dressed.
In my experience and the experience of my predecessors, the only way to successfully kill the Immortal is to “go beyond.” There is almost no chance to get around the Immortal in experience, skill, or strength. No weapons in the world, no poison, and no trap will take down the one who subjugated the Darkness and has already lived for a thousand years.
What? This attempt is the best I’ve ever done. And it’s going to work.
I know it.
But first things first:
As someone who keeps the whole world at bay, Vissarion was quite a competent teacher. He goes by many names: legendary Immortal Archimag, commander of countless armies of the dead; Pontiff of Darkness, magician so powerful that in this world, he has no serious competitor and, therefore, is not a man thinking about morality or decency. He also wasn’t one who would shoot himself in the foot. He wasn’t an evil person, but rather, Vissarion simply met his goals by any means available. If it was easier and more profitable to commit evil, he committed it.
Although in fact, I have never seen him be the initiator of conflicts or wars. That role fell to me as his apprentice. Not against the world, no—but against the Immortal himself.
And there were reasons that Vissarion himself gave me.
There are only two rules.
Rule one: Try to kill him at least once a month.
Rule two: Familiarize myself with the attempts of past applicants and not repeat their mistakes – neither their own nor others.
In everything else, I was… free to do as I pleased. In fact, yes—as long as I’ve been following these rules. If it has been a month, and there’s no assassination attempt? Next month will be spent on bread and water, surrounded by four stone walls. Repeated? Likewise.
The rest of the time, I was not limited to anything. I had access to all the premises in his abode, where I could get myself. Dead servants are not the best company to communicate with, like those terrified living people who did part of the work, but I was free to go out into the world and do whatever I wanted.
I was even free to try to escape—of course, if it didn’t break the number one rule. That’s just the point of it. In trying to do this, one of my predecessors made it to a neighboring continent. But as soon as the month ended, Archimag brought him back home.
The only way to get out was to escape to another world. And the entrance to another world…
“As long as I’m alive,” Vissarion repeated with a smile, “you will not return home. Kill me.”
His usual story. As a mockery, as a reminder that I will not return home without fulfilling his will. He teased me that I had a chance to go back on the day I died and fix it. He promised me that as a reward.
Well, he didn’t even have any intention of making fun of me—he just thought I shouldn’t forget about it.
He was generally willing to talk to me. I, myself… not that I’m very eager to do this. But when you’re already trying to kill Archimag, and all the more or less apparent options are already tried by those who were before you, you quickly come to the same conclusion.
You need knowledge. And their best source is him.
Vissarion didn’t force me to study. But I put the situation in such a way that I had to make learning my only goal in life. After all, I will not have a chance, and without a chance to win, I am useless to him.
He played this game a long time ago, in my homeworld. Back when there was no Internet, nor had a steam engine been invented yet—and he has already called students here. The one job they all got was “kill me if you can.”
To the main question—why Vissarion needed it at all—Archimag invariably answered only one thing:
– Kill me. And you will find out.
– Well, I tried.
By the end of the first year, I knew all 12,548 failed attempts to kill Vissarion by my predecessors. Fortunately, he wrote it all down.
For the next three years, I devoted myself to developing the physical body and energy channels. Vissarion was three meters tall, and I was even afraid to think how many kilograms of weight. Against the background of such a tyrant, an ordinary person like me, looks like a spikelet of wheat; It’s foolish to even start plotting with such a difference in weight categories.
Then, it took seven years to master the theory of magic. All the knowledge that Vissarion has accumulated over thousands of years of life, he passed on to me. All I had to do was learn—in between the notoriously failed assassination attempts.
It is clear that compared to the millennial experience of Archimag, all I could learn in such a time was just a drop in the sea. However, I started with all sorts of banality and slightly modified attempts of past students of Vissarion.
Of course, to no avail. Nevertheless, it allowed me to cut off at once a pile of notoriously false options, hone my skills and become (not that I boast) the second most powerful in this world after Vissarion.
But as I said earlier, to kill the immortal, you have to go beyond. What I had and I’ve been doing for years. I turned the world against my teacher, and the world lost.
Well, that wasn’t enough. I turned to even more. And this attempt is special.
Standing under the door of his office for another minute, I waited for the minute hand to reach the desired division and knocked.
“Yes?” It came out of the office. When I took the door on myself, I walked in.
“Teacher,” I said with a short nod. “I have news for you.”
Sitting in his usual seat at the table, Vissarion looked up at me.
Archmage’s face looked old but certainly not at his actual age—a strong man, just retired. The long hair with a thick beard only highlighted the powerful impression that gave him an almost comical, three-meter body. I don’t know if this figure was the result of years of exposure to magic, but I’ve never seen him in the gym, I’ll tell you for sure.
“Go ahead, Arthur.” He nodded. There was no annoyance in his voice that I interrupted him, no anger. I guess… there was curiosity. When you’ve been playing this game for so many years, you wonder what the next apprentice will come up with. Sometimes, it seemed to me that the Archimage was deliberately falling into traps to see how they worked.
And, of course, he has always survived.
But not this time.
“Omae wa mo shindeiru,” I said.
“What?” the old man raised an eyebrow in surprise.
It would have been foolish to expect him to say ‘nani.’
“I said you are already dead,” I clarified.
He sat there for a second, bewildered, with a raised eyebrow, trying to understand what I was thinking… and then his gaze turned glassy. The titanic figure of Archimage collapsed on its side, taking a dozen notes and bottles of ink on the table.
I didn’t move from my seat. If Archimage fell, it didn’t mean I’d succeeded; maybe he was just putting on a show to prove the futility of my method. I had to be careful.
And yet something inside me was delighted… and shocked. I paid a lot for the opportunity to say that phrase; what I had done twenty-four hours ago to make it work was beyond anything I could imagine.
My final option.
Slowly going around the table in a semi-circle, I approached the body, ready for the dead man to take my hand at any second and say, “Now, apprentice. Let’s sort out your mistakes.”
But the dead man showed no sign of life.
Could Vissarion fake no pulse…? I gingerly took his strong wrist. Of course he could. The other question was, why would he do it? There are far less complicated ways of telling me I’ve failed.
So did I manage…?
I still couldn’t fully believe it. But… everything pointed to it. The mage wasn’t breathing, nor was he moving. The body wasn’t even cold yet.
No. If he were alive, he would indeed have asked some questions first. Vissarion would have wanted to know what I meant by ‘You are already dead.’
But Archimag was silent.
Not a sound. Complete silence, broken only by my anxious breathing. Had… had I finally made it? Twenty years of trying, and finally…
And then—before I could express my delight in any kind of frantic shouting—a rumble outside the office. I almost jumped on the spot with surprise; in two jumps, I reached the door and looked out.
There was a skeleton lying on the floor, clad in armor—one of the dead guards of Vissarion, the one who guarded the castle. He now looked more like a pile of bones plus a pile of scrap metal.
The other dead man stood beside him, unsure of how to react to his fellow man’s fall—a suitable reaction was clearly not in him. I hadn’t had time to do anything when he suddenly shuddered and collapsed with the first.
By the time the rumble of hundreds of falling bones echoed through the castle, I had realized what was happening.
I did it. Vissarion is dead, and this is the best proof of that. When the Archmage dies, one by one, all the spells he supported are destroyed.
Including the tower itself, which stood not so much by the laws of physics as by the will of my master and his magic. So time was running out before it all collapsed here.
I snapped my fingers.
My hand mechanically clenched into a fist. In it materialized the sword, obtained in preparation for one of Vissarion’s assassination attempts.
I squinted my eyes, as usual, to keep the weapon’s reddish glow from blinding me, and in three long strides, I returned to Vissarion’s body and severed his head in one fell swoop. I could use that still… Now up, and fast.
Running through the cracking corridors at the seams, I heard another unpleasant sound somewhere behind me. I knew that sound all too well—that’s how rifts open. Well, the persistent smell of sulfur told me who the culprit was. Demons.
Oh, yeah… I almost forgot.
“ARTHUR GOTTFRIED.” Came a low voice, sounding as if it were from another world. Which makes sense since the speaker could not have entered this world, unlike his henchmen. “THE TERMS OF OUR BARGAIN WERE BROKEN. WHAT DID YOU DO?”
I grimaced slightly guiltily and raised an eyebrow, trying to figure out where it would be more polite to look when speaking to a voice coming from literally everywhere.
“What did I do?” I shrugged. “I ditched you.”
No sooner had the smirk left my face than another portal, smoldering fiery red, burst open five meters away from me. The demon, face distorted with rage, lunged for me…
Alas, I was too busy getting home to pay my debts.
I hummed and snapped my fingers. The chandelier that had fallen from the ceiling right on top of the demon’s head began wrapping its wrought iron chains around him. It stared at me for a second, gawking and gaping, then screamed so loudly that bricks began falling from the weakened walls. I grimaced, and a second chandelier fell on the demon, saddling it entirely and even clamping its mouth shut. It wouldn’t last long, but by the time a butterfly hatched from this cocoon, I’d be long gone.
More demons were climbing out of the rifts; only I didn’t have time to deal with them. I hoped the ceiling would collapse on their heads without my help. At any rate, within the last three floors, I was already running almost through the air—everything around me was shaking and disintegrating.
The devil had made Vissarion leave that portal on the open roof. On the other hand, if it had been in the basement, I would have been swamped by now.
The portal glowed softly, as usual, with a yellow light. It seemed unaffected by the general destruction; it remained the same as ever—a cluster of patterns on the floor. No more, no less.
Switching from running to a measured step, I headed towards the center of the portal. Magic needed to give proof that the condition was met—the Archimage was dead.
And I tossed the severed head of my teacher precisely into the center of the knot of runes; it landed right there, facing me. For a second, I thought that the teacher’s eyes were looking directly at me, and he was about to blink… But no. I just imagined it.
That was it: no magic words, no extra action. As soon as the dead head touched the lines of the portal, it glowed three times brighter, coming into action.
“ARTHUR GOTTFRIED, YOU DON’T THINK IT’S GOING TO BE THAT EASY, DO YOU?” The same familiar voice came from behind me.
We’ll see about that. I smirked.
I’ll be back on my wedding day. The moment it all came crashing down. I’ll be able to make it right.