Hero the Escape
Copyright© 2019 by Shaddoth
I walked through the near empty predawn streets of the capitol leading the Betrayer by a heavy two meter chain mithril leash. The lich bone enchanted collar that she wore prevented mana recovery and any form of magical identification but unfortunately had the side effect of negating any other magic that would be applied to the wearer. Because of who she was, I had to be careful that this particular woman could not be recognized, an iron mask and normal peasant clothes completed the disguise. Even her famous holy tattoos were of no use. We received a few curious glances but my magical transformation as a renown slave trader was enough to keep the gawkers at bay. When we entered the temple district she perked up but was unable to do anything besides helplessly follow since she was hobbled, gagged, blindfolded and defended by the muffs. Her body shook in tears when we passed the Temple of Aune, Goddess of Health and Home; High Priestess Anna’s home for two decades before she and her retinue joined me the Companions for the final battle against the Dragon Queen.
Most of us would have lived if she and the Paladins of Hearth hadn’t attacked the light mages and prevented them from healing The Companions. I was too busy at the time keeping the Dragon Queen’s attention on me, freeing the rest of our group from the enraged monarch to notice the betrayal until too late. The seven holy knights of Aune stayed in a defensive formation until the last of my friends and allies dropped seconds before I delivered the final death blow to the millennia old dragon monarch. The seven remaining ‘good aligned members’ then cast the Forbidden Soul Death spell upon me, only to have it fail because of the gift of my only real friend Gar, an artifact of Baal which was destroyed by their spell granting me thirty seconds of Holy class spell invulnerability. That alone was enough time for me to sacrifice my last Tear and recover half of my mana pool and kill the remaining four Paladins of the Hearth and render the Betrayer Priestess unconscious. Shocked at the spell failure to obliterate me and unable to respond her protectors’ demise, all Priestess Anna could do was watch in horror as their final betrayal failed. The High Priestess of Aune never experienced true combat nor true violence, her subdual capture was too easy for a living avatar of a Goddess. My rage almost compelled me to kill her many times over the following two days.
The mountain of gold and treasure hoarded by the Dragon Queen all those millennia were melted into slag and would take miners and craftsmen centuries to separate if I planned on letting them have access to it. As planned, the Queen’s fight caused the formally dormant volcano to become active. With my aid Her lair filled with magma which eroded the mountain side and caused a minor eruption and a major lava flow that should last months, destroying the bodies and the loot that the allied kingdoms hoped to confiscate. I even had a copy of the treaty from one of the dead noble’s trusted aids. Of the twenty six individuals that entered the Lair, only myself and the Betrayer exited, her presence was masked, both magically and physically. Mine too for a lesser extent and duration. My making would only last a few more days. I didn’t have much time left to make my escape.
In my guise as the renown slave merchant soul mage Ander, I mercilessly dragged my captive onto the Evil God of Destruction’s grounds and into the temple proper. Stopping at the entrance my ‘donation’ and I waited until an acolyte approached. I handed him a bone coin and asked if the High Priest Garjol Dem would receive me. The acolyte gasped in shock feeling the power from the coin burning a permanent imprint of the Baal’s Face into her palm, after his initial shock the young man ran to get his superior. The coin was one of the thirteen pieces of the lost artifact of Baal God of Destruction. It was probably beyond the acolyte’s imagination that the one who gave me the Coin was his High Priest himself. Allowing access in case of an emergency.
The Betrayer was screaming into her gag the whole time inside the temple but no one paid any attention to it. This was my first time in the main hall in years, Gar and I always met in seclusion to do our business and relax. We had found friendship early and kept it hidden for the last two decades. Over that time a strong trust had built, Gar was even one of the four that attended my and Marnie’s wedding. It took almost a dozen years, but she finally understood why he and I could be such close friends despite the gap in our goals. Hell, fifty of my worst Death Curses were removed by him. I still had twelve of the lesser ones active. The three main ones we didn’t dare removing so not to let my adversaries spur to harsher methods. NOT that a Soul Chain was light by any means. Nor was the Curse of Unyielding or the Curse of Subjugation. Though since they were so broad in scope I had plenty of room to maneuver around them, usually. Since the death of the Queen, the Curse of Unyielding broke which alerted King Edward to Her Death and since the Curse of Subjugation was still active he knew I had lived. The Soul Chain was a desperate measure by the Assassin’s Guildmaster to prevent me from killing him. He never thought that I would plant him in the heart of the World Tree encased in a shell of amethyst rendering him in a state of permanent stasis. Never aging, never dying, never changing as long as the World Tree lived. Not until I die or the curse is broken by the Gods themselves...
I didn’t have to wait long before Gar himself came and greeted me pleasantly before leading me dragging my Gift, who was still thrashing and whimpering into his personal sanctum. No sign of the acolyte nor did I expect to see one, or anyone else see him, ever. Gar locked and warded the chamber before casting Baal’s Domain as an added precaution.
He poured two tall scotch’s, “To Marnie, may she find happiness in the next Existence.” ‘To Marnie’, I replied and we touched our glasses before each taking a healthy swallow. Neither of us said anything for the next five minutes only remembering the good times completely ignoring the pitiful wretch chained to an anchor in the corner.
I was the first to break the silence, “I brought you a gift.” I pointed at the Betrayer and removed her Iron mask to enjoy the delighted gasp from my longtime friend. Her telltale holy Tattoos adorned each cheek, wrist, breast, thigh and ankle. The sunrise over a small cottage was known throughout the world and only the Chosen one could adorn it. No one else would be able to have these marks until Priestess Anna’s Death. She was still blindfolded, gagged and deafened and most importantly collared. Baal didn’t have Chosen Ones, He wanted competition.
Gar took her from the anchor and affixed her to the floor behind his desk. Then had me go over the battle in detail. In length. It was painful, I broke down many times. I had put my emotions on the back burner for too long. I couldn’t stop crying. My wife, my allies, my companions all dead. I had been betrayed too many times in this world to stay here without becoming a monster from the constant reminders. There wasn’t a nation on this half of the world that would not try and kill me. Nor was there one that I wouldn’t destroy. I had nowhere left to go and no one to go with.
Three hours later after we finished the bottle of scotch and my composure somewhat returned. I stated what I ultimately wanted and needed. “I request Baal’s Boon.” Gar caught off guard glanced at Anna, but I waved him off saying that that was a personal matter. This was a professional one.
“What do you have to offer to satisfy Our Lord?” he responded in a formal intonation. From my Inventory, I removed a plain wooden box wrapped in a garish green silk ribbon dripping blood from its tips and withdrew the Phylactery of Lucille the Demigod Lich who has ruled and dominated the southwestern continent for the last two thousand years. Gar looked at it not understanding what it was I had.
“Lord Baal will this suffice?” Gar called out to his God.
The temple shook with his response. “Accepted Former Hero. Destroy The Vessel Of A Demigod Then Name Thy BOON.” little did I know that the voice echoed over the temple and into the capitol. With my last jar of holy water, I submerged the Phylactery into it and then stomped destroying both leaving a permanent blood stain etched on the marble floor of Gar’s chamber. Which he didn’t look particularly pleased about.
“Destroy my Name Lord Baal.” Gar sucked his breath in hard in shock. A Booming laugh again shook the city and His Temple. Followed by a large violet lightning bolt from the heavens piercing the roof of the temple into Gar’s office and into me Obliterating my Name, My Blessings and my Curses restoring my senses, my health and my vigor. And my hair. I can have hair again and my scars will fade for the first time in decades.
“I Am Well Pleased. Your Service Is Always Welcome.” with His last words Baal’s presence vanished from the city.
Gar just dusted off his robes and gave me a dirty look. “Next time at least do something like this outside and not in my office please.” I laughed for the first time in months. Gave Gar a brotherly hug. “It’s time for me to go, you can say that the former me no longer exists. Good luck and Enjoy your new present.”
“Oh, one last thing,” I called out before I entered a small gate. “Take a vacation. I hear that there is a festival in Durrand, if you hurry you can still get fresh sticky buns. You wouldn’t want to miss them, I hear that they get sold out in less than an hour.”
And stepped through to a cavern directly under the King’s treasury room, one hundred meters below ignoring Gar’s shocked exclamation at my dire warning. Quickly I placed a giant Iced Soul Gem in the center heptagram followed by the nine smaller ones at the points.
I had an hour before King Ethas would discover that the Curse of Subjugation had been broken. Plenty of time for my summoning. The next thirty minutes I rechecked the summoning circle for any imperfections or modifications since I had been absent from it for two years. Finding none I sat and had a tense meal trying to calm myself. It wasn’t every day that I summoned a Vice Lord of a plane.
The scroll after reading it for the thousandth time was still the same. My greatest masterpiece, too bad it is for ruination. The summoning phrases I completed in heartbeats. The Great Fire Lord Visermount appeared in the center, a singular violet flame the size of a hundred year old oak tree. I felt its attention as it consumed the base sacrificial Gem.
“Great Lord, with my gifts here. I want you to consume all within five hundred meters. For that I gift you the surrounding nine additional Gems.” I proclaimed loudly.
“Four twenty fourths of a revolution freedom additional.” The Being countered.
“One twenty fourth if you prioritize artificial structures.”
“Agreed Nameless Summoner.” I felt the mocking laughter of the Fire Elemental Demi God.
I modified the open contract that I had prepared and signed it with blood before passing it through the barrio to Vice Lord Visermount which flashed into flame. I withstood the first thirty seconds of His flame before consuming a Phoenix egg and activating a Singular Device: Gate-Orinon vanishing from Elrith forever. Time to make a new life for me on a new younger world.