The story of how terraria went from great empires with happy people, to ruin and desolation in mere months. And how, in the midst of all that, some people retained hope. Nah, I'm just messing with yah. It's not a sop story, of course not, it's about terraria. 1/8 of the bosses are dead, go team! Enjoy from here. Chapter 5: its seems that in some places bad stuff starts immediately PrologueDying Ashes and Dead Cinders. Korvak hoisted his war axe over his shoulder. The party of survivors he was leading had plenty of torches, but there was no point in wasting them, they weren’t needed. It wasn’t a full moon, thank goodness for that, but it WAS a blood moon, so everyone was awake enough to be alert, you didn’t spend a blood moon outside unless you were stupid, very well equipped with lots of friends, or had no choice. They fell into all but the second, but surprisingly, no one had died- yet. Even with the half-moon light, the fires illuminated the landscape, even from this mountaintop miles away it was easy to see the horrible events manifest. Shadow Holme, a city built to turn back to corruption, successfully, and the capital of the Empire of Night’s Edge, like every other capital in the world Korvak thought, had fallen. One of the men whimpered as another fireball shook the ground. “Was wondering how long it would take for that gunpowder store of yours to go Trenton.” One of the man said, trying to lighten the mood. The gunsmith smiled, “Don’t worry Mordek, I left them a little surprise.” At that moment an even bigger blast tore up through the sky, brighter than lightning in a storm, consuming close to a fifth of the city in one massive fireball. Korvak grunted, “Cthulhu's gaze Trenton, how much did you spend on that bomb?” Trenton laughed, it was a grim laugh, the only kind anyone could muster anymore, Trenton’s black leather jacket blew in the breeze, he seemed defeated now though, a slouch to his shoulders where just days before he had been confident and ready to take on the world. “Bulin rigged it up for me before he left town, it was obvious even then what was coming, although I doubt ANYONE anticipated it being anywhere near this bad.” Korvak grunted again, shaggy beard catching the embers blowing in the wind generated by the mass of fires, “Well, unless we want a pack of those things finding us again, we should start moving, I doubt we’ll make it as it is, and the longer we stay here, the less likely we live. There’s nothing holding us down here anymore, it’s all gone,” another massive gout of flames punctuated his statement, “Bulin and Trenton’s bombs have made sure of that. We all need to move on, see if we can find some place to settle down before we all die.” Korvak turned and walked off, the dead grass, killed by the corruption that had been thought destroyed so long ago, crunching beneath his iron boots. Despite having just made the longest speech of his life, Korvak realized that he no longer cared, he had spent his entire life going on living in spite of what happened, and now he saw no point. Korvak walked away without waiting to see if the others followed him, he walked away from all that had been, the greatness that would never be seen again. It glared in everyone’s faces, and none of them wanted to admit it, but there was no more hiding from it. The world had up and ended on them. ************ Alrick sliced off the head of another zombie as he made his way away from the epicenter of destruction, the great hall of the jungle guard was long gone, and the forest had all been burned away by the monstrosities now hunting the few remaining survivors of Treeharbor. Melvis blasted another regiment of skeletons with a lightning bolt, but it wasn’t enough, they were all going to die. Aerendella wielded her new sword with growing confidence, unique among the dryads, she now led the last of her kind into a realm they had long ago forsworn. The art of war. Aerendella cried out as a demon eye darted out and killed another treeling. Alrick called out, “We should have gotten married before.” Aerendella glared, “And who’s fault is that?” Alrick was about to make a witty comeback, but possessed armor can be quite distracting. Another dryad fell. They were all worn out, the fighting had continued for two days straight now, they were all exhausted, they weren’t going to make it. A cry of despair went up from among their party as a screech came from above, “Wait a second,” said Melvis in his wizened old voice, “that’s no demon, that’s..” Alrick cried in relief, “Help! We’re rescued!” Men on demonic wings armed with mini sharks and shotguns fell from the sky, raining down bullets on the mass of undead assaulting them. One landed, Thom. “Grab on! One to a flier! We have to leave! There’s a horde of wraiths coming and we don’t have any mage ore weapons!” Alrick nodded, everyone took up positions and started hurling whatever they had, Alrick pulled out his repeater and fired shot after shot into the roiling mass of monsters. They took off, shooting off the ground abruptly leaving dead zombies in their wake, the flew, but the wraiths were right behind them. Alrick swore and reloaded his repeater. “That thing cobalt Alrick?” “Yeah, what I wouldn’t do for my old mythril one though.” Each arrow took down yet another wraith, but it wasn’t enough, by the time they had cleared the forest, close to three fourths of the fliers, and their riders, were gone, including Melvis. But there was no time for grieving, Allison had set a meeting point, they had to get there before world finished dying. ************ Jezebel cursed, letting off another shot into the harpies as they swarmed around the mountaintop. The harpies hadn’t let up since the end had come, she could see the fires coming from Treeharbor even here, and doubtless it was just as bad in the other capitals. One thing to be grateful for, at least the Eyes hadn’t come yet. Jezebel cursed again, her bangs flying in her face as another meteorite touched down onto the side of the mountain. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw James barrelroll just as a falling star sheared through three harpies and right into where he had been standing. Unlike the other places, the monsters had been what defeated the sky kingdoms. It had been the meteorites and stars. Once the source of the sky realm’s wealth, the self same materials wanted by all that landed most often on the high peaks and floating islands now fell so heavily that they had destroyed sky bridges, leveled mountains. There, a few miles over, another island fell from the sky down miles onto the ground below. “We can’t keep this up!” James yelled, slicing a harpy in half. “Oh yeah? Looks like we’re out of options!” Jezebel planted an arrow in a wyvern’s snout. “We could always run!” James deflected a flurry of harpy feathers. “And what would we come back to?” Jezebel cursed as she narrowly avoided being thrown off the ledge by a wyvern, and repaid it by slicing it’s stomach open, by this point Jezebel wasn’t concerned about her clothes, they were already ruined. “Do you honestly think that there will be anything to come back TO?” Jezebel stopped, planted an arrow in another harpy’s head and nodded, “Tell the other’s to be ready to leave in fifteen minutes! We have to get out of here, those meteorites will hit us eventually!” Besides, they needed to reach the rendezvous with Allison. ************ Godfrey swung his molten broadsword and sheared the bone serpent in half. The hellstone monarchy had held out better than those above, being untouched by the spirits of light and night, that is, until the lava waves had come. The lava lakes and oceans in the underworld had been docile until the cataclysm had started, and then they had become tsunamis of magma. Not a single town or village was left below the cavern layer, Godfrey was leading the last group of survivors to the only hellevator not demolished by the shaking earth, lava waves, and monsters. The underground bunkers had all fallen already, it seemed the Allison’s plan was all there was left. Godfrey whirled as a shriek came up. Oh no, not here, not now! The demons had caught them again. And this time Godfrey was out of holy water. Godfrey muttered a prayer, “Oh god, if you exist, please forgive me for what I’m about to do.” Jethson snorted, “There can’t be a god. If he existed, would something like this happen?” The demons tore into the survivors, a few hopelessly loosing arrows at the monsters. Delilah opened the door to the hellevator, “Come on Godfrey, they’re doomed, at least we can do something up top, and leave the elevator on, the demons won’t leave, maybe some of the others will make it up.” Godfrey climbed in, and turned to look at the carnage. He hated it, he had been the most devoted of all the holy paladins, and his god had failed him. The world was as good as dead. If it wasn’t already. ************ Allison landed, her hallowed armor rattling with the sound. The clatter of her fellows landing, and the sobs of relief from the rescued as the tumbled out of the tarps didn’t help her mood. Allison leaped to the top of a tree, the world was burning. From the top of one of the highest peaks in the world, she could see the world taking its last breaths. North, to the Empire of Night’s Edge, a smoke of demon fire hung above the now-purple landscape, they had performed valiantly, but the shadow guard had fallen to the new dangers, and the corruption had spread through areas that had consistently blocked it’s passing for millennia, and now eaters of souls, devourers, world feeders, and corruptors, and even worse roamed the once-powerful kingdom. East, the jungle kingdom was alight, one big forest fire. No one knew what had happened, or how, or why, but something had set the jungle alight. Undead swarmed it from age-old crypts beneath the ground, not to mention the extensive dungeon tunnels beneath it. The home of the dryads, once the model of peacefulness and tranquility would be nothing but a pile of ash once this was over, the great trees burnt to a crisp, the dryads dead. West, the Sky Kingdoms. The massive star and meteorite falls had devastated them to an immense extent, with their watch posts gone and their cities smashed on the desert miles below, she could the see the explosions and impacts from here. They would fight as best they could, but in the end, the Sky Kingdoms would leave even less of a trace than the other empires once the monsters took over. Not visible, but down there, the Hellstone Monarchy was gone, as if it had never existed. Destroyed by the magma tsunamis caused by the restlessness of the earth and its twisting and turning in agony. The molten warriors gone, killed by the same lava which had been the source of their prospering. The underground bunkers they had built had fallen to giant worms, and slimes leaking through the ceilings through impossibly small cracks, the aboveground had become strewn with volcanic debris and pieces of old castles, a dead landscape of lava and broken stones. And the worst of them all. Allison forced herself to look south, to the worst loss out of all the lost battles in the entire hopeless war. The Hallowed Halls had proven corrupt, had been the instigators of this destruction, too late had their faithful servants found out of their evil. The entire kingdom had been consumed by the hallow, which would undoubtedly clash with the corruption mere weeks from now. The city itself was alight, she saw lights shining, sources of hope, being quenched one by one by the great destroyer, the mastermind behind it all. Skeletron Prime. He had seen to the destruction of Hallow City himself. Allison sat down and, in despair, did something she hadn’t done in years. She cried. Jacob sat down next to her, “Horrible, I know, but we have to make the rendezvous, its our only chance for survival.” Allison nodded. She looked up. dying ashes from the empires of old. Nothing left of them but death, death and cinders. Cinders completely burned out. Dead cinders. She stood. “This represents the people who did this.” she said, taking off her helmet, throwing it on the ground, letting her long blonde hair, singed and burned, whip in the wind. The fires were so strong the winds could even be felt here. Allison and Jacob walked back down to the survivors to make plans. The helmet thudded to the ground, a helmet of the protectors of old. Betrayed, fallen, honorless. Gone. The helmet no longer shone with the luster it had when Allison put it on. As the world died within vantage of that very hilltop, the spirit of light died. The helmet laid there to be buried alone, by the ash of the dying world that had brought down the morals it stood for with it. Chapter OneFirst Warnings Mordek pulled another sack of grain off the cart. Mordek was a young man, almost eighteen, only a week until the date, but until then he was helping his father unload grain off the merchant’s caravan. One of the workers looked taken aback as Mordek helped him lift a large bundle of wood that had been giving him trouble. “You’re pretty strong kid, you a blacksmith?” Mordek nodded as they set down the bundle, “Yep, or at least an apprentice. My father runs the inn, and wanted me to help out.” The man grunted as they lifted down a bed- ordered by granny May, whose old bed had broken after years without being properly checked up on- “Nice town here, reminds me of when I was a kid. Always nice to get down to your roots. Say, want to get a drink when the stuff’s all unloaded?” Mordek laughed, “I’m not going to be able to get anything more than light ale, I’m seventeen for another week still, and my parents aren’t letting me get drunk until my coming-of-age party.” “Well, that’s a shame then. Guess we should know each other’s names. I’m Laerick.” The large man said. “My name’s Mordek. Nice to meet you. You guys seem a lot less, well, gruff than most caravan guards.” Laerick laughed, “There’s a reason for that. Jaleth doesn’t trust the gruff kind, although he’s tight enough with his purse strings that I’m sure he’s had an experience to give him reason enough to be worried.” Mordek raised an eyebrow as they lifted another load of wood, “How much does he pay you guys?” “Wait, he’s supposed to pay us?” Mordek laughed, “I honestly haven’t heard of a merchant that was THAT stingy yet, you have to get wares somehow.” Laerick paused, “Oh yeah, I guess I HAVE seen him spend money, although we were at a tavern at the time. I think it was right before he lost his purse.” Mordek laughed again, “I’ll buy you that first drink, your jokes are good enough to deserve that.” “How do you think I can afford to go drinking?” “Well, that’s the last of them, unless the merchant expects us to bring down his wardrobe too.” Laerick looked at him quizzically, “You need more practice friend, you aren’t ready-” A cold wind tore through the village, a horse screamed and broke out of it’s harness, bolting off out down the road out of town. A flock of ravens shot up from the trees outside of town, cawing all together in fright. People around the square shivered and a crash sounded from somewhere further into town. Mordek shivered, “What was that?” Laerick looked disturbed, “I don’t know. Its the middle of summer, we shouldn’t be having winds like that.” Another shriek sounded from out in the woods where the horse had run off to, like it had run into something that liked to eat horses. A murmur went up throughout the crowd and people came out of buildings to see what had happened to cause all the ruckus. Old Huey ran down the street with his limping run, “Someone come help! The awning on the baker’s shop fell Mavis!” Mordek didn’t stop to think, he just rushed off towards where the crash had emanated from. Someone needed help, and Mordek could provide it. It was the right thing to do. ************ Jezebel looked up as the shop bell jingled. “Hello Jess.” “James. You coming in for some skyberry jam, or is it another lame attempt to get a date?” James glared at her, “Excuse me? I’m not the one who dropped a sword on your foot.” Jezebel rolled her eyes, James was always like this. “Well, it’s working hours still, you can wait another twenty minutes till the shop closes.” James shook his head, “That’s why I’m here, there’s a town gathering, seems like we got a message from the dryads.” Jezebel cleaned off her hands, “Well, I guess I can close early, not likely to be any more customers anyway.” Jezebel untied her apron and came out from behind the counter, “Well, are we going or not?” James blushed, and Jezebel walked outside down towards the town square. It was a clear day, the sun was bright, but up here on the mountaintops of the Sky Kingdoms it never got too hot. The view was amazing, if you looked in one direction, the floating islands dotting the amazing cloudscape took your breath away, but there was always that one place where you saw through to the reason the people had taken to the sky. The rivers had run dry close to two thousand years ago now, and magic had lifted up floating islands before the devastation took hold. The mountains had been untouched, and the Sky Kingdoms had grown wealthy when they realized that they could use skybridges to harvest large amounts of meteorite and fallen stars with ease. A sudden gust of wind made Jezebel shudder. It felt evil, malevolent, like it hated everything. A skybird squawked in alarm, and somewhere something collapsed. Jezebel had a gut feeling that something terrible had started, and the last time she had ignored her gut her sister had gotten killed because of it. ************ “Cthulhu’s teeth Godfrey! Can’t you do just ONE tour of the Molten Hierarchy without waking up a batch of imps? This is getting tiring!” Godfrey grimaced as his commander chewed him out. Godfrey was of the Order of the Golden Paladins, and, as his superior said, was very good at getting into trouble. He had a knack for finding demon nests, he also had a knack for doing it unexpectedly, the last batch of imps had torched a merchant caravan, and the paladins had had to reimburse them. “I am sorry sir, it was an accident.” His officer sighed, “It always is Godfrey, it always is. I don’t know how, but they found a monster hunter without knowing it. I’m going to have to relocate you to a station where you can learn to control that uncanny sense of yours, you just aren’t good enough at fighting to make up for the incidents it causes.” “I will try bett-” “Godfrey, don’t. You’re a good enough soldier, but you need different training from what I can give you. Your orders for relocation will come tomorrow. You have the day off.” Godfrey closed the door, descended the stairs, and came out onto the streets. Unlike other kingdoms, the Hellstone Monarchy was lit and warmed by the lava veins that made up most of the underworld. It was eery when you first visited, but you got used to it. A sudden chill took him by surprise, it didn’t bode well, they were underground, why would there be wind? That line of thought trailed off as he heard crashing.Godfrey looked up, and jumped out of the way of a chunk of falling rock smashed into the pavement where he had been. The ceiling was reinforced! A scream cut off THAT line of thought. Godfrey whirled, his sense of foreboding evil warning him of the nearby monster. A massive serpentine skull burst out of the pavement in front of him. Bone Serpent, the most dreaded of all the underworld’s terrors. Godfrey pulled out his sword and charged. ************ Korvak turned, Shadow Holme was safe still, but the recent unseasonal attack of zombies was unnerving, something was happening, something bad. A sudden chill took Korvak by surprise. As his companions whirled, fearing some sort of monster, Korvak went stiff. He and Aerendella had feared this day would come. The monsters were going to return. Korvak whirled around to face his men. One of them asked him shakily, “What was that, what does it mean?” Korvak answered softly for his mass of muscle, “I don’t know what it was, but I know what it means. It means we’re going to be needed at home.” With those words of foreboding, the party turned and marched off back to Shadow Holme. Chapter 2A New Evil Mordek wheezed, after the freak wind had torn through the town, thing after thing had gone wrong, after the awning had collapsed, the stable doors had broken simultaneously, and the horses had bolted, still spooked by the wind. Just as they had finished cleaning up THAT mess the inn had caught fire, and the merchant’s caravan had burned along with it. By that point everyone was just as spooked by the events as the lost horses had been. Mordek stood up straight, the bad streak had finished, and even with ten minutes of free time, that was the most they’d gotten since the wind. An unnerving moan floated out through the darkness, startling another flock of ravens into flight. Laerick turned pale, as did several of the other guards. “No, it can’t be. This can’t happen so far south!” Mordek turned to his new friend, “What, what? Is there something out there? Is it what scared the horses?” Laerick shook his head shakily, “No, if it had been that, they would have been here already, but I am sure the wind and these things are very closely related, they are of the same evil.” Mordek laughed nervously, “That sounds like a camp story. What is this terrifying creature? Zombies?” Laerick nodded, stifling Mordek’s laughter, Laerick was serious, dead serious. Mordek could see it in his eyes, as well as in the way the merchant ran outside cursing, and the caravan guards were drawing swords. “Some things that many believe to be myth once walked the land unchecked, until the five great kingdoms arose. I don’t know about anything else, but green and blue slimes wander the Shadow Lands during the day, just a passive predator. But zombies, they only come during a blood moon! Go, run. Find a weapon and try to get the others to do the same, we’ll be fighting flesh eating undead in no time.” Mordek turned pale, started shaking, and ran off to do as told. Mordek’s father was staring off into the distance, suddenly shaking as if waking up as Mordek approached. “Father? Laerick says to...” “Son,” his father knelt down and put his hands on Mordek’s shoulders, “I know, now go down to the blacksmith, the Stevenson’s should be handing out weapons and anything else on hand to use that way. We’ll need as much help as we can get if we want to survive the night.” Mordek nodded, even more shakily this time, to have a story told dead seriously by Laerick, and seemingly supported by the moans, which were growing louder, and then verified by his dad? For the first time in his life, Mordek was terrified. He hadn’t been half as scared when he had nearly drowned in the pond a short distance into the woods. Mordek reached the smithy, and his father was right, people were crowding around to get weapons, sometimes a hastily made shortsword, sometimes a pounded out hoe, sometimes a sharpened scythe, and then heading out to a place somewhere in town. Jak saw Mordek and waved him over, “Here boy, your father will want you to have this, it used to be his, but I doubt he’s in enough shape to use a proper shortsword anymore. Use it well, and if you’re wounded, don’t be afraid to hand it off to someone else.” Mordek took the shining copper shortsword, it was an unfamiliar weight, despite his training with wooden training swords since he was fourteen, but he would still be able to use it. He’d never thought he would need those skills. If only he’d been right. Mordek took up a position next Laerick, out in the town square as the bone chilling moans drew closer and closer. “Laerick? How do you know about fighting zombies?” Laerick gazed off into the distance, alert, “When one grows up on the edge of the Shadow Lands, one learns to use a sword very quickly. Even if zombies are rare, they are still dangerous.” “But.” Mordek was cut off as sharp rustling from the underbrush in the forest gave way to a single shambling form. It raised it’s head, it had chunks of rotting flesh falling away, a piece of its jaw hanging loose, and it had hatred in its eyes, despite having the oh so disconcerting glaze that came over someone’s eyes once they died. It took two stumbling steps forward and- -fell backwards with an arrow thudded into its forehead. “Hold positions!” It was Mordek’s father, wielding a bow, even with his injured leg, he looked right leading the townspeople. Mordek had no time to ponder on that, as the sounds of more zombies came from the woods. Two came out, and were quickly dropped, then five making it a few steps before falling with arrows in the head. Ten came, and one made it a quarter of the way. Then twenty came, and made it half the distance. Soon, there were too many zombies to count, and those who were wielding bows were dropping them as fast as possible. And then the zombies were on top of them. Mordek thrust, then blocked a swipe from one shambling figure, an uppercut took another one. Whirled as a sharp grip landed on his shoulder as Laerick sliced its head in half, Mordek returned the favor by smashing the short sword into a zombie about to take Laerick in the neck. As Mordek turned back to the mass he saw Seth Harvek crumple with a smashed skull, and another man, one Mordek didn’t know, get dragged screaming into the mass of zombies. “Fall back!” Mordek’s father yelled, and as they did, Mordek got a glimpse of Jaleth slicing down three zombies trying to kill one of the caravan guards with one knife swipe. Jaleth then whipped another knife out and protected a group of three wounded men until another group of townspeople helped him bring them back to the just-finished fortifications. From the crude stone wall it was much easier to fight of the zombies. Mordek turned, suddenly realizing that Laerick was gone. There he was, up on the pedestal, talking to Mordek’s father. His father nodded, and then took out another arrow and then- lit it on fire. The flaming arrow flew over the zombies and back into the pile of dead zombies left before the woods, and a burst of fire shot up. Laerick grinned as he charged back, taking off the head of a zombie trying to climb over the wall, “Zombies are highly combustible, we should get a few minutes to rest until the fire burns out.” Mordek turned to look at his dad nodding to two others and then- -something slammed into the man, throwing him from the pedestal with a sickening crunch. Mordek turned back to the forest and saw a small swarm of black shapes flying out of the woods at them. Laerick paled even more than he had at the zombie moan, “Archers! Shoot down the demon eyes! We can handle the zombies down here! But the zombies will destroy our positions if they swarm us!” The fighting became more difficult as the archers turned to shooting down the shadows that Laerick claimed were demon eyes. Mordek jumped back as a shape, indeed shaped like an eye with an arrow where it’s pupil had been, thudded to the ground in front of him. He heard voices as he fought and fought, keeping zombies out of the town, “Dang it! It cracked his skull, what do we do now Laerick?” “We keep fighting, this man obviously grew up in the Shadow Lands, but so did I. We survive until sunrise. Assuming that I’m not alive come sunrise, get the people out of here. Make Jareth stay with you until you reach a town or a city, he’s the best fighter here other than me. The zombies aren’t too hard to kill, even with their numbers. They don’t have much strength due to their muscles rotting off, but they can still kill. You’ll want to be in a town soon, as the next blood moon is three days away, and that will mean you’d get swamped. Now get back out there, we still have a few hours to go, and with demon eyes to deal with too, this will be a close fight even though they only outnumber us ten to one.” “Got it, wait, Ten to one?” “Like I said, still easy. A group of ten trained men can take on a thousand zombies if they have place they can hole up in, if they push us to the center of town, take up position in the buildings, as by that point there won’t be anyone who’ll have to worry about the zombies attacking from behind at that point. Being in a building makes fighting zombies almost as easy as a bunny shoot. Now go!” ************ It had been a long night, Laerick had expressed surprise at how few zombies there had been when they held back. But even still, many people had died, people were getting tired, and the archers had run out of arrows about half an hour ago, and everyone had fallen back to the center of town as fast as the assaulting zombies and demon eyes allowed. The plaza was alarmingly empty, at least four fifths of the town must have been gone by that point. Mordek saw Jaleth whipping daggers into the air, downing demon eyes, while a few of the Flynn’s were busy making makeshift arrows to try and keep a few archers firing at demon eyes, but regardless, about half of the melee combatants were fighting off the carnivorous eyes at any given moment, Mordek had killed seven. Laerick had killed at least a hundred. “Fall back! Get into the town hall! We can hold them off there no problem!” Laerick pushed Mordek back towards where the townspeople were running, “Go! You aren’t good enough to be with the last ones in! I can handle it!” Mordek nodded, and ran up the steps into the town hall as the other survivors backed in, slicing down demon eyes. Mordek turned in the inner hallway as screams went up, the side door had been left open, the people still outside were cut off. Mordek ran back towards the opening, “Don’t let the ones outside get flanked! They don’t know that there a zombies inside!” A few men looked at the youth, stunned, and then nodded, and rushed in behind him to help kick the zombies back out of the building. ************ They fought and fought, killing zombies, Mordek fought with the memory of his father, falling to a demon eye smashing in his skull, and every time the image gave him renewed strength from the surge of anger. How DARE they kill his father! Suddenly, the zombies turned and fled. Mordek looked out the window, and the demon eyes were already gone. “What happened, Laerick didn’t say that they’d run away.” Mordek stepped outside the side door, the sun was rising. “It seems they’re afraid of sunlight, thank goodness.” A thought struck him, and he rushed back around to the front of the town hall. There was a mass of dead zombies and demon eyes, hundreds, more than they had any right to have killed in one hour, probably more than had been killed in any three hours of the fighting before. But that didn’t register until after the shock passed. The first thing Mordek saw was Laerick, his chest a mass of bloody scrapes and smashed bones, his heart ripped out and laying on the ground beside him, his sword still in his hand. Mordek stumbled over to the body and saw on the ground, scribbled in blood, “Take my sword, I’m sorry I failed you, I did my best, you will need my broadsword in the days to come, your father and me were friends, but I don’t have time to go in-” the words trailed off, obviously unfinished, it seemed that what Mordek had seemed followed through, the zombies would leave someone alone once they were downed until there were no more fighters in the area. It seemed they had been too late. Mordek knelt, and cried for the man that had befriended him in one day, his father’s friend. Mordek didn’t know how bad the casualties would be in the weeks to come. After a while, Mordek didn’t know how long, he stood up. The townspeople and guards had all come into the square. He could see Jareth, grim faced, picking over the corpses of monsters trying to recover his knives. One of the men looked at him, “What do we do now?” Mordek turned, it was still early morning, he had only been crying for a little while, it had felt like hours, “Grab anything you can, pack light, we’re heading for Melthwatch at noon or when everyone’s ready, whichever comes first. We’ll be traveling hard, we need to be there in three days.” Chapter 3When Looks Kill Korvak pulled his axe out of the zombie’s head. They had been attacked by slimes, SLIMES of all things, as soon as they had turned at the passing of the ominous wind. They had covered lots of ground that day, and were already near Shadow Holme. The zombies had attacked as soon as the sun had gone down, but what was worse, so had the demon eyes. Those you couldn’t find outside of the ash flats, a massive flat of ash where the heart of the corruption had once been, until now. “Come on men! We’ve fought zombies before, and most of you have been to the ash flats before!” The men fought with renewed strength, killing zombies quickly and efficiently with flails, spears, bows, swords, and in a few cases hamaxes. Soon they were moving quickly again, progressing up the hill, slicing through the horde of zombies like a mythril chainsaw through green slime. Soon they reached the crest of the hill. The bottom of the walls of Shadow Holme were completely obscured by an army of zombies resembling an anthill after you kicked it, trying to swarm up its sides, and being blasted away by intense fire from minisharks, pistols, muskets, bows, and whatever else was available that wouldn’t damage the heavily reinforced stone brick wall. And they had to get through it all. Korvak was not very excited about it. “Alright men!” Korvak said in a gruff voice. “We’re gonna use almost all the good stuff getting through that mess. Bulin, how much dynamite you got?” The short man chuckled, “You need to ask? We can get through. The tricky part will be leaving the city wall intact.” Korvak grinned. Bulin had been on the team when Korvak had joined. He was the only person from then that hadn’t transferred, died, or done both, so naturally, the two were close friends. “Well then, we’d better get started.” Soon they had a plan laid out. Korvak would run ahead with the dynamite Bulin had given him, and plant it in key places. In the meantime, Bulin would ready a fireworks display, zombies were attracted to fire, something to do with having been ingrained the knowledge that humans liked fire. The zombies would turn in large enough numbers that once the explosive charges were set off, they would be able to get to the gates. It was a rash, stupid, and uninformed plan. In other words, perfect for a hero like Korvak and Bulin. Korvak charged out, wielding the war axe of night he had won in a duel so long ago, slicing through zombies attempting to waylay him, setting down explosive pack after explosive pack. Soon he had placed them all, and he rushed back to his team’s position on the hilltop. He ran up and immediately green, red, and yellow fireworks shot into the sky. The zombies looked stunned for a moment. And suddenly the entire mass of zombies against the wall surged towards their hill. Bulin groaned, “Up until now we’ve always had trouble with our plans not working well enough. We’ve forgotten to remember that it can work too well!” Korvak shouldered his axe. “Set off the charges, we’ll still be able to cut through, it’ll just be a bit harder.” “If you say so.” Bulin pressed the detonator and a massive row of flowering flames blossomed into the night air, consuming a good nine tenths of the massive horde. Korvak looked over at Bulin, “We need to get you more of those.” and then charged down the slope, leading the troop. They smashed into the swarm of undead, swords swinging, heads flying, grenades exploding, eyes dropping, and before long they broke out the other side. They had run not five yards when arrows rained down on the horde behind them, dropping zombies fast enough to keep them slowed and behind them. Korvak looked up, “Good old Benji.” They charged up to the walls. A shout went out from above, “Let them in! Korvak’s out there!” and the gate opened almost as soon as the cry went out. Korvak and his men ran in and the gates slammed shut with a sense of finality. The zombies weren’t getting in. Even if it WAS the worst horde in living memory. Benji strode up to Korvak as he climbed the stairs to the top of the wall, “Well done Korvak, you and Bulin just obliterated the vast majority of the zombies in about five minutes, how many men you lose tonight?” “Three, with one who has a nasty bite wound and another who has a shattered rib from the demon eyes.” The dark skinned man nodded, “Those blasted eyes just about took out all our manpower at the beginning of the night. Glad to have you back Korvak.” Suddenly an angry roar shot up from out in the woods. A massive shadow flew out of the trees with crashes of snapped trees and the groans of tortured stone. The shape was round, and already men were turning from the approaching horde to loose arrows at the enormous shape. The arrows and bullets did nothing to slow it down, and Korvak barely had enough time to register the shape as it slammed into the wall section in front of him, the place where both the gate and Benji had been. A gigantic eye. Bulin wrestled a bow from an archer turned, fastened a stick of dynamite, and as the monstrous eye turned around to smash out another gate, fired into the iris. The eye spun, reeling into a building, sending up a shower of stone chips, it roared in pain, and then flew off down away from the battle. Down on the ground the fighting was intense. Somehow the zombies sensed the weakness and made straight for it, and the ground below was a bloody melee. Bulin staggered over to Korvak, “What was that thing?” Korvak growled,” Whatever it was, it killed Benji.” and with a roar of anger, Korvak flew into the midst of the massive battle. Chapter 4Eye of Terror The day had gone wrong from that wind onward. The crashing had been her brother Trenton’s house collapsing. Luckily he had been at his gun shop at the time, but he was still complaining about his personal arsenal of specialized ammo that had been in there. Next a piece of the mountain had collapsed, giving way completely and tumbling, housing and all, down to the ground nearly two miles below. Then the biggest rainstorm in decades had washed all the sediment off down on the side of the mountain where all the farmland was, causing a massive landslide that took out a chunk of the skybridge to boot. It felt ominous to Jezebel. Especially since her gut feeling hadn’t gone away. That meant there was worse to come. Far worse. That scared Jezebel, and she had never before been scared by anything in her life. It showed, James was quiet, shaken that his older sister, usually so confident and self-assured, was now jumping at shadows. Ariel, Jezebel’s best friend and the best archer in the Sky Kingdoms, was unsettled too. “Jezie, if you’re worried about something, it's something big. Always is, every time. Without fail. So tell us what has got you so aggravated.” Jezebel shook her head, “That’s the problem, I don’t know yet. That’s what scares me most.” Ariel fell silent. An ear-piercing SHRIEK pierced the evening sky, alarming, making everyone jump. Arrows flew out of the sky, impaling a few people, Ariel ducked behind a barrel and nocked an arrow, Trenton slipped into an alley and unholstered his flintlock, James slid underneath a table, clutching his shoulder, bleeding, he had taken one of the arrows... Ariel swore an oath that would have made a soldier blush, “Harpies?! I thought that was just a story!” James had a big, blue feather planted an inch into his shoulder, like the stories about harpies, the feathery avians that used to hunt adventurers on the floating islands and higher mountains. And like all the other stories, were dismissed as myth. Jezebel should have known better, she knew personally that cobalt was real, she had a pair of repeaters made of the stuff back at her place. “Jezie! What are you doing!?” Ariel hissed as Jezebel rushed off towards her house. “Getting my own stuff!” “Jezie! Is it worth getting yourself ki-” Ariel was cut off as two winged shapes dropped down out the sky, flinging feathers at her. Jezebel stuck to corners and was at her house in less than ten minutes, but by that time the entire town had already deteriorated into a melee between the people and the harpies. Jezebel darted inside and closed the door just as three feathers slammed into the wood. The situation was impossible, but Jezebel ignored that, as thinking about that would probably get her killed. She ran into her hidden back room, open her safe and pulled out her personal arsenal. Three months earlier the museum had dug up an old warground and had announced that they would be putting them on display. Realizing that she would never get another chance to have weapons that good, Jezebel had stolen the best of them, and had trained herself in secret, and was now quite skilled with all of them, except the megashark. She STILL hadn’t found time to hand that over to Trenton. Well, now was her opportunity. The weapons: two cobalt repeaters, small bows, one could be held in each hand, and by bundling together groups of up to fifteen arrows, you could keep up continuous fire for hours. To go with was three quivers full of intensely hot cursed arrows, four of explosive hellstone arrows, and one special quiver she had saved for just such an emergency, hallowed arrows caused stars to fall, but she had no idea if it was possible to obtain them anywhere outside of the Hallowed Empire, and possibly not even there. Then she had the dark lance, long, but incredibly light and easy to move quickly, it was sharp enough to pierce stone, she had found that out on accident. It was also poisonous, her rabbit had found that out. The megashark was a massive minigun even more powerful with a greater rate of fire than the minishark. It also had ten times the recoil, and Jezebel dropped minisharks, and would never get the hang of a megashark. The crystal bullets ricocheted off of stone and other solid walls, and splintered upon impact too, her brother would greatly enjoy the gift. And finally, a small blue sword. She had found it referenced in history books as Murmasa. It was light, and swung incredibly easily. It was almost as sharp as the dark lance too. She was ready for the fight, time to go join it. Jezebel ran outside, and immediately ducked as arrows thudded into the door. Two quick shots (wooden arrows, save the good stuff for when its needed) took out the harpies. One arrow thudded THROUGH the neck and planted itself in another harpy’s head. Jezebel ran down the streets back to the square where she had been when the attack started, shooting arrows off into the harpies as she did. Soon she was nearing the square where her friends were. Heroes as they were, they had gathered a group of people around them. James had his shoulder bandaged and was sniping harpies with his musket. Trenton was spewing out ammo through his minishark into the flock of vicious avians. Ariel was downing them faster than the other two together, she was the best archer in the world. Jezebel shot down all the remaining harpies in three minutes, Ariel may be a good shot, but she didn’t have repeaters and hellstone arrows. James looked at her, wide eyed, “YOU’RE the one that stole the weapons?” Jezebel tossed an overjoyed Trenton his new megashark, and tossed Ariel two quivers of cursed arrows, and two of hellstone. She rolled her eyes, “Who else here has the skill and the will to do something like that?” “But why?” She rolled her eyes again, dropping three more harpies, “Why do you think, what, why would I pass up weaponry like this so it can rot in some musty old back room in an unkempt museum?” The sun finished setting, and suddenly there were eyes. Evil eyes, the sort of thing you imagined in nightmares. They shot down out of the night sky, slamming into people with crunching signifying the breaking of bones. Trenton nodded, unspoken words passing between the group, and he turned his gun to the demon eyes silently screaming down towards the plaza. Each shot took down another eye, smashing it into a fine red mist, so the things weren’t very strong. Good to know. They fought for hours, bullet after bullet arrow after arrow, and still the monsters attacked. The survivors were dwindling in number, the monsters were not. A great roar stopped the fighting, the harpies shrieked in terror and flew away, the demon eyes suddenly doubling their efforts as soon as the harpies left. A massive shadow flew overhead, and then the moonlight illuminated it. It was a massive eye. Ariel turned pale, “The eye. The eye.” Trenton snapped out of his daze and pointed the megashark straight upwards and opened fire, no holding back to aim, just pouring bullets into the massive beast high above. It stood to reason, if the harpies could be real, then the Eye of Cthulhu could destroy the city just as easily. The eye swiveled, not moving an inch aside from the rotating, and its murderous gaze fell upon the square where they were standing. Trenton went pale and lowered his gun, “Bad idea, bad idea. BAD IDEA!!!” They scattered out of the square as the eye smashed into the ground, sending up shards of rock and woods, raising a dust cloud around it. Ariel crouched down beside Jezebel’s hiding place, “We need a plan, if that monster of a gun Trenton was carrying didn’t take it out, raw firepower won’t do the trick.” A metaphorical torch lit over Jezebel’s head. “Ariel, we need a good vantage point, grab dynamite, we’ll need it. Since we can’t shoot it down, we’ll just blow it up. ************ An hour later Ariel and Jezebel stood on the old guard tower, the highest point in the city, looking down at the fighting going on. The demon eyes seemed to gravitate towards fighting, and none of them had attacked the two girls since they had reached the hill. “Got a good shot Ariel?” “I can make it.” Ariel tied a stick of dynamite to her best arrow, lit it, nocked it, pulled back the string, and let go. The arrow whizzed off into the night. Nothing happened. “Guess we need to try a-” A fireball exploded out the side of the eye, which roared in pain. Suddenly, it flew out of the ground, as was surrounded by smaller shadows. Ariel hastily nocked another explosive arrow, “Its making its own demon eyes.” She let of a shot, it exploded nearly twenty yards away. The eye swiveled towards them. Ariel fired again, this time it exploded fifty yards away. The eye charged towards them. Ariel fired again, the arrow almost made it, time slowed to a trickle, as if it were made of syrup, the eye was right on top of them and more and more demon eyes were flowing out of its pupil. Ariel calmly lit the entire batch of dynamite, Jezebel tried to scream, but nothing came out. Ariel shoved her off the edge of the tower, and Jezebel watched in horror as the eye slammed into Ariel and the top of tower... and exploded. A massive blast of heat as the eye screamed, a massive chunk of flesh- the pupil!- slammed to ground two yard away from Jezebel, and the eye slammed into the peak of the mount half a mile away. Jezebel roared with rage. She picked up the last bundle of dynamite and charged off towards the eye. Trenton ran up the hill, “NO! JEZIE!” The nickname her brother had gotten from her best friend enraged her even more. She whipped out her repeaters, nocked a bundle of arrows and fired. The holy arrow slammed into the great eye demon, and a star slammed into it too. It leapt up in rage, sensing the holy energy, Jezebel charged towards it, firing shot after shot into the massive beast. It swiveled, where its pupil had been was a massive jaw, full of large yellow teeth the size of a man, resembling spikes. Jezebel didn’t even hesitate, she loaded a massive bundle and fired as fast as she could. The monster charged, bobbing up and down as it tried to counteract the slamming of the holy stars from the arrows. Jezebel loaded to quivers, and then held the triggers, both bundles were gone in half a second. A maelstrom of stars slammed into the eye all at once, sending it crashing into the ground. It rebounded, Jezebel ducked under the eye as it started to right itself, slammed the dark lance into it, and flipped up as it whirled, trying to find her. She held the dark lance with one hand, and drew murmasa. The eye roared and swiveled, slamming into the ground, trying to shake her, but Jezebel had a grip like steel. She slashed and hacked at the eye, leaving massive gouges that didn’t bleed, crevices in the demonic flesh. The eye’s roar turned to shriek, and with a violent jerk, dislodged both the dark lance and Jezebel. Jezebel landed, hair disheveled, eyes vengeful. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Trenton, astonished and obviously worried at what his sister had achieved in the two minutes before. The eye pulled itself off the ground and charged, Jezebel smiled, and hurled the dynamite at it. The eye didn’t even pause. Jezebel loaded a hellstone arrow, and fired right into the massive demon charging straight at her. Knowing that this stunt had probably just doomed her. A small flash of light in the massive gaping maw that was slowly consuming her vision. A flair of red and yellow burst out of the mouth, and then in all directions. The eye started a bloodcurdling shriek, but was cut off as it was consumed completely by the fire ball. Jezebel smiled deliriously and the shockwave knocked her backwards fifty feet into the air. “How’d you like dessert demon?” Jezebel had blacked out by the time James caught her just before she flew off the edge of the mountain. ************ Trenton shook his head. The infirmary had, thankfully, avoided damage from the Eye of Cthulhu. Jezebel would live, but she wouldn’t be in fighting condition for weeks unless he could get a hold of some healing potions. James stood worriedly over Jezebel’s body. She had saved the city, but nearly killed herself. Reports were coming in from all over the Sky Kingdoms of the harpies and demon eyes. And the nearby floating islands had sent messengers to see if they needed any help as soon as the sun had risen. The demon eyes had left off, and most of the harpies had too, but many people had died after the sun rose before they’d realized that the harpies were only less common during the day, not gone. “What now Trenton? We lost Ariel, and we need help, we don’t have the kind of weaponry to hold off the harpies outside of the capital, and even then, not enough star guard to protect even all the major cities, let alone the outposts.” “I don’t know James. What I do know is that tomorrow, you, me, and Jezie here are taking a little trip down to the council hall. I have a feeling that a hero’s meeting has been called. I doubt that the Shadow Lands would have let a demon like that get past them unless they were too occupied to stop it. I doubt it destroyed one of their keeps, there was no way it had the time for something like that. Come get me when my little sister wakes up would you? I have some business that needs immediate attention.” Chapter 5Cave-in A wind? Underground? Jethson stood stock still as he heard a raspy growl, he drew his small sword, something that was useful in case of bandits, he had picked it up a couple of years ago in an old mine shaft. It had come in handy a few times, but had been tempted to sell it. He was now glad he hadn't. “Its nothing.” he told himself. “Just my imagination.” He heard a low, guttural snarl behind him and whirled, pointing his gold shortsword. It made him pee himself. Right in front of him, straight out of children’s stories, was a real, live, a small part of him thought- actually dead really- , skeleton. It dashed toward him with another snarl, and he whipped up his sword, knocking its skull off. Or at least aiming to. The skeleton took the swipe to the head well, with the only sign of damage being a scratch on the skull, and its head jerked up, and it stumbled backwards. Jethson heard a scream from elsewhere, “Crap, I gotta get outta here.” Jethson jumped at the skeleton and shoved it off of a ledge, and heard the snap of bones smashing against rocks far below. He shuddered, and ran off to find his way out. Billy, Ted, and Lucy ran up from a side tunnel. Lucy shivered uncontrollably, “The things, Oh my, those things, no eyes. No eyes” Ted looked shaken as well, “The skeletons tore Danny to shreds in seconds, and there are new slimes, not just greens and blues. Red and yellow, some black. They’re all evil! They’ve killed more people than the skeletons!” Billy, was unmoved. He never was. Not even when his girlfriend died in an accidental lava seam. “We can make it, We know how to use our weapons.” A screech from the darkness sent Ted to the ground, pulling Lucy with him. Jethson dove down too. Billy scoffed at them, “Its just bats you wimps. What can bats d-” He didn’t finish. His head was torn off by a bat bigger than a man’s head, and an entire cloud of them flew through the tunnel, right over their heads, swarming Billy’s body and eating it, like flies on rotten fruit. Ted motioned to Jethson, and the three of them crawled out of the tunnel. Lucy had shaken herself out of her stupor. “We have to get out of here!” Ted grabbed her, “Yes! We do! Alive! So cover us! You are the only one of us three who know how to use a bow!” Lucy nodded and he backed away. They ran to the exit. Dodging slimes with Lucy shooting down bats. “We’re almost there!” Ted’s words of joy were cut off as a massive worm jumped out of the wall and obliterated his body when it slammed into him. Lucy turned to Jethson wide-eyed, and the two ran towards the exit, fleeing the terrors that had overtaken the mine. They got to the shaft and jumped in the cab. The lights went out. When they came back on, a skeleton, wearing a robe and wizard’s hat, was standing at the far end. It blasted Lucy with a blast of blue energy, Jethson jumped forward and smashed its skull in. He turned. Lucy was lying limp on the ground. The elevator jolted, and the power went off again. Jethson lifted up off of the elevator’s floor, falling, he heard crashing from outside, and blacked out.