The Tomb

The battle across streets and buildings still raged. Midori couldn't afford to do more than just passively do what he could to direct the flow of traffic even as Damala's heir sent skeletons into the fray. He couldn't afford to ignore how coordinated they were, or that even though their magical units only knew one spell, they seemed terrifyingly inventive with it.

He could not afford to ignore the magi hurling witch-fire into his formations. Nor could he ignore the spiders that seemed intent on crisscrossing as much territory as their legs could cover with silk thread.

There was a moment where an ogre under his command lifted up a braided silk cable, leaving Midori to wonder what its purpose was, as it hadn't been placed to trip or entangle. If anything it had been placed to avoid these things happening.

Such ponderances were set aside, for Midori could not ignore, above all else,

The skeleton in his basement.

He saw Bonehead step out of the simple coffin that served as his spawner and look about the nearly pitch black room.

"Hello?" Bonehead called out. "Anyone else down here?"

A few murmurs from others that had been recently infected. Those damniable automita and armors that detonated themselves rather than turn mid-battle. All of them sat, huddled in small clusters. Trying to let their minds drift empty and formless, to buy themselves more time before they were fully under Midori's command.

What got their attention was Bonehead smashing his spawner to splinters. This drew Midori's attention more fully, having been unaware that creatures could do this.

One of the armors turned its head as disbelief rang through its hollow voice, "I... what? We can do that?"

"Well, I just did." Bonehead stated as he looked about. "Alright. I have a half-idea. Maybe a quarter thought really. We're all dead anyway."

That got several nods. Then a goblin spoke. The speaker was hairless and wore a work smock of rough fabric. "Whatcha got in mind?"

Bonehead gave a low chuckle. "We must proceed as if we are being watched. So understand that any retaliation will be swift."

As he said this Midori expended mana to rebuild his spawner. Which promptly got smashed again.

"That proves it. Midori. You are watching. You are listening." Bonehead's voice was calm. I want you to do both very carefully."

That i was addressed directly got the attention of others. Bonehead spoke again. "I need the majority of you with me at the door. Four or five of you need to stay to keep smashing spawners, and get any new arrivals on board. Then when you get replacements you join us."

Join? Midori's laughter reverberated through the room, echoing against high vaulted ceilings.

Bonehead joined in the laughter for a time. Even as more creatures appeared. Even as spawners were being smashed and remade. Midori's confusion grew. Why was this creature laughing?

"Genlemen. Ladies. Those that ascribe to neither." Bonehead's voice was calm even as Midori spent mana to try silencing him. Instead only causing his left hand to tremble slightly.

"We are all Dead. If not by what I am about to do, then by the thing that is eating away at our minds, eroding our will. Leaving us prisoners in our own bodies." He punctuated the statement by drawing his blade and slicing through a goblin's spawner.

"I have memories of being in this situation before." Again, Midori's attempt at making him stop were only rewarded by a tremor. "Oh the details weren't the same, and technically I failed because ..."

The skeletal archer waved a hand dismissively.

Midori tried to take control of one of the suits of armor, one of the big ones. There was a tremor as it stepped towards Bonehead. Then another step. There wasn't enough growth there for complete control.

"Point is," Bonehead looked directly at the armor being puppeted, as if he were looking at Midori himself. "I know what this is. this is you thinking you've won. I'm in your carefully lain out trap, in a box with a poison that will kill me."

Several others, skeleton, elf, dwarf, and even another armor, got between the armor that was moving and Bonehead.

"Now here is the neat part." Bonehead bounced on his feet, clapping his hands together while walking towards the door. At a glance it looked like a solid metal door wit ha tiny barred window. He rapped a bony knuckle against it. peered through the window, and made a show of pulling at the bars.

The armor Midori had tried puppeting slumped. Next Midori attempted to take control of a goblin. This ended with a pair of armors picking the goblin up and holding it off the ground.

Bonehead nodded at the pair and smiled to the creature Midori took control of. "Yep that's a nice solid door. It's leading out into a hallway of Death the likes that would make even a kaizo mario run look like a walk in the park."

The Goblin sagged, and a skeleton grabbed Bonehead's shoulder. Midori spoke then. "Even if you could open that door, which you can't. It's been tested against the best thieves and picks. Let's say you can. You're still stuck here. Give up. You had your little victory by smashing the spawners."

That point was punctuated by more spawners being smashed in. This time by an Ogre. The giant's head was bowed, its shoulders slumped. Yet it had set about to ensuring death for everyone here would be final.

Laughter. It didn't come from Bonehead, who merely looked into the Skeleton's eye sockets. The laughter came from another there.

Shinji spoke then as he got to his feet. "Twice now have I died following this man. Once to a thing that wanted to eat and remake Creation in its own image. Now to a petty tyrant wanting to tie strings and make us dance to its tune."

Gently, almost tenderly, Shinji's skeletal fingers pulled the hand off of Bonehead's shoulder. "Sir. It's OK."

Bonehead tilted his head down, shoulders slumped. For that moment he could not meet Shinji's gaze. "Still. I'm sorry. You're my friend You'd been there to help me hold things together."

"I know," SHinji clasped forearms with Bonehead. "Let me do that here at the last. Do what you need to."

He glanced to the wider room before looking back to Bonehead. "I've got this."

A deep breath from Bonehead as he squared his shoulders. Vaguely in the background he could hear Shinji. Yet he could not afford to pay it any more attention than that. Nor could he pay attention to Midori's continued attempts at sending others to stop him. Shinji had his back, and Midori could not control everyone. Those that were not being directly controlled stopped those that were.

He pulled from his quiver an arrow. Most of his were plain affairs. Bleached wood polished to look like bone fletched with crow feathers with a variety of tips that varied from blunt to bodkin, though personally he preferred the simple elegance of the broadhead.

This arrow was gifted to him just before he fell, just after Lutz attacked him. It was a declaration of trust then. That she had trusted that nothing would ever make him use that arrow to hurt her or their friends.

Now, as he nocked the star-metal shaft, it was a promise. He could feel power gather. From where he could not say. From Her? No. There was no directionality to the tug. From himself? How? In the gifting did it decide he was its rightful holder?

In his hand was power Building. It was Waiting.

Unknown to him Midori's attempt to stop him intensified.

Unknown to him this caused Midori's advance on the library to falter, to allow allies space to breath and act.

His mind was focused on the singular point of infinity building in his hand. A swirling infinity that was yoked and shaped by will. He had all the magical potential of a stone. Yet, as Midori was the latest to find out, Will was something he had an overflowing abundance of.

"Here me now." His voice was a soft whisper. Something one would whisper in the ear of a lover.

"I have been made a liar." He breathed slow. Letting the roar of what was behind him fade away.

"I will die far from home surrounded by enemies." His stance widened as he took careful aim.

From somewhere. There was screaming. It was an unearthly wail that came from everywhere all at once. Perhaps it was the result of the power Bonehead held in his hand. Perhaps it was an attempt at taking the nerve from him or making his aim unsteady.

He did not notice as light was drunken by the arrow in his hand, its shaft turning from brilliant gleaming to vantablack dark.

Dimly Bonehead was aware of Shinji shouting to the others that when it was clear, go for Midori's spawners. Fan out. Cause as much mayhem as possible.

"I entrust everything to you now." Bonehead's eyes wouldh ave closed were he able to. "As I send forward my Black Lance."

The arrow loosed. Power that had been stored there released and was shaped by willpower. There was no sound.

The door vanished. Gone. The traps. Gone. The shaped charge of all consuming destruction burrowed deeply into Midori's sanctum fortress. The core of his holdings.

As Bonehead steadied himself. The horrors from Midori's tomb boiled out into his very heart.

As Bonehead began hunting for his quarry he could hear Shinji's laughter. "Come oe you Apes! Do you want to live forever?"


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