I've finally got round to writing the latest and final part of the epic roleplay story I have been creating with Adurj over at Le Bard Connection. The Everquest 2 based story finishes off the tale of Merecraft and Udrath as they try to stop Carinus Dhrak's diabolical plan. You can read it below or find it along with all the previous chapters on the Roleplay Stories page.
Merecraft stared sullenly at the untouched ale on the table in front of him, oblivious to the sound of the raucous tavern patrons. A dark mood had been on him ever since the initial delight of escaping Carinus' trap had left. He didn't even look up when Udrath sat down opposite him.
"Look lad, moping around here isn't going to achieve anything."
Merecraft continued to glower, seemingly lost in his own thoughts. The dwarf leaned forwards and whispered conspiratorially, glancing briefly over his shoulder at Viota who sat on her own a few tables away.
"Besides, I have a plan as to how we can finally put an end to Carinus Dhrak."
At that Merecraft looked up at his old friend.
"A plan?" he asked.
"Well yes lad, but... you're not going to like it one bit."
As the old dwarf continued to whisper to the warden Merecraft grew paler and his mouth opened in shock at the dwarf's audacious idea.
The air was hung heavy and humid in the sweltering heat of the Feerrott clearing. Flies the size of a fist buzzed angrily around the fire that Merecraft had set beneath the old ruined archway. The half-elf and the dwarf stood side by side, staring into the flames that burned with a sickly green hue as they consumed the wood. Killzum sat on a nearby rock, sharpening his blades with a brown whetstone, the shrieking metal the only sound other than the incessant buzz.
"You're sure this is the right place?" Merecraft asked the dwarf.
Udrath nodded. "Aye lad," he answered with a nod at the ruined arch then to the overgrown and broken walls to one side. "This is where the temple stood, back before the Shattering."
"Best get started then," the half-elf said reluctantly.
He took a pouch out from his belt, reached into it and tossed the contents onto the flames, which rose in response, taking on a violet colour.
Suddenly there was a loud thud, followed by a crash as Killzum fell forwards off his rock, stunned. A familiar taunting laugh filled the clearing.
"You two will never learn will you?" Carinus Dhrak said, smirking as he strode into the firelight. Behind him Viota Bovich lurked in the shadows.
Merecraft and Udrath looked silently at each other and drew their weapons. The shadowknight continued on regardless.
"You know, I couldn't quite believe it when your daughter told me of the plan Oakenheart".
He paused by the fire, his hands behind his back as though he had no care in the world.
"I know my own aims are quite unbelievable; to commune with and replace the Avater of Innoruuk on Norrath, but you have to aim high right? But when Viota told me what you two fools were contemplating..." he broke off into a mirthless chuckle. Merecraft and Udrath said nothing.
"The idea of a warden of Tunare and one of Brell's chosen trying to commune with Innoruuk and strike a deal... really what were you thinking? Did you really believe that would work?"
"No," muttered Merecraft, looking at his old enemy at last. "I know it will work... it has already worked."
The merest flicker of confusion passed over the Teir'Dal's face.
"The deal's already been done lad," Udrath said. "We allowed viota to learn our plan, knowing that she would bring you here to stop us. But it's too late. We communed with Innoruuk last week. She has only brought you to your doom instead."
With that the dwarf threw his axe into the flames which roared even higher, and as if in answer to the signal the winded picked up and the ground beneath them began to writhe. The earth began to break apart and skeletal figures started to rise from the ground, surrounding the fire and the adventurers in a circle.
"You see," Merecraft said quietly, "I too thought Uddy's plan was crazy. To make a deal with the enemy of my God, to strike an agreement with the Deceiver himself. We have already contacted Innoruuk through his temple in Freeport, already warned him of your plans to usurp his Avatar, and now we have brought you within his grasp."
He smiled grimly. "Using evil to defeat evil has a certain ironic sense of balance don't you think?"
"And now it is time to honour our agreement Dhrak," Udrath said, suddenly leaping forwards and pushing the shadowknight into the flames.
Whilst Merecraft and Udrath has been talking the purple glow of the fire had grown even more intense. It had begun to take on form, like a leering demonic face. Tendrils of violet flame wrapped around Carinus' torso and he screamed.
"No!" came Viota's cry as she leaped through the circle of undead, a spell of force blasting from the palm of her outstretched hand. The flames flickered and the face dissipated briefly, and in that moment Carinus Dhrak jumped free. The skeletal guardsmen reacted swiftly, surging over Viota.
"Oh no you don't laddie!" shouted Udrath, grabbing Carinus around the waist and hoisting him back into the fire.
Meanwhile Merecraft was trying to drag his daughter free from the attacks of the skeletons, his hammer swinging left and right, breaking bones like dry plaster.
Carinus tried to free himself from the dwarf's grasp, but Udrath only held on tighter, stepping into the flames himself to stop Carinus escaping.
"You idiot dwarf!" Carinus screamed as the fires took a hold of his clothing. "You'll be killed too!"
Udrath grinned back at him, his beard starting to smoulder.
"I'm dying anyway lad. I thought you knew."
The flames danced higher and hotter and began to consume them, the fiery face growing and leering over them both.
Merecraft knocked the skull from the last skeleton and bent down to his daughter, now a bloodied mess on the floor.
"I'm sorry Viota," he whispered through his tears.
He turned round to see Carinus and Udrath fighting each other in the flames, the shadowknight trying to free himself from the dwarf's iron grasp. the dark elf was screaming in agony.
"No, Uddy!" Merecraft shouted, leaping forwards to try and rescue his oldest friend. A large arm wrapped around him, halting his movement.
"Youz can't 'elp im nowz," Killzum growled. "Iz too late".
"Udrath!" Merecraft bellowed again, struggling helplessly.
Over the screams of the dying shadowknight came the strong tones of the dwarf in response, gasping at the pain but still steady.
"No lad... must do this... only way to be sure... don't cry for me... I'm going to see Megan again... here I come, my love..."
The fire suddenly expanded, exploding outwards, then went out in an instant, plunging the clearing into the darkness of night.
Merecraft and Killzum raced forwards but there was no sign of either the dwarf or the dark elf.
"IT IS DONE" a disembodied voice offered from the darkness. "THE DEAL IS HONOURED. THE PRICE IS PAID".
It was several months later and Merecraft sat under his tree, quietly humming an old song to himself. He sighed and stood up, stretching. he was still finding it hard to sleep, even after all this time. He had made a new home for himself deep in the Faydark, far from any town, hoping the solitude would bring him some peace.
He bent down to pick up the book he had been reading when a crack echoed through the trees.
"Who's there?" he asked boldly, picking up his hammer instead of the book.
From around a tree an old dwarf stepped. For a brief moment Merecraft thought it was his old friend, but now saw the newcomer was quite different. He wore the robes of a priest.
"Are you Merecraft Oakenheart?" the dwarf asked.
"Thank Brell for that," the dwarf said. "I've been searching for you for bloody weeks! My name is Father Needeep and I've a message for you".
Merecraft stood silently, waiting and wary.
"It's from Udrath Stormhammer. He is not at peace with his wife. he is trapped on the Plane of Hate, and his message is simple."
Needeep paused for a moment.
The hammer fell from Merecraft's hand.
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