Bonehead watched as the hordes of the captured, dispossessed, and Damned boiled out of the hole Midori had thrown them in. He hid in shadow provided by architecture and blown out torches as he surveyed the damage wrought by his friend's last gift to him.

The Devastation was, in his opinion, magnificent. Yet it was not enough on its own.

The murder-hall and the stone slabs that had meant to drop at the far end to keep everything contained as a last measure were thoroughly destroyed. Several rooms were split in two, allowing impromptu access to what looked like an armory, a barracks, and several other rooms he could not clearly see for the chaos that was unfolding.

Around him, he heard orders shouted. Shinji directed traffic and impromptu structure organized within the mob as they split off into groups of four as they fanned out.

Bonehead himself stuck to the shadows, staying at the edges of rooms, sticking to corners. He saw Opposition. Great ruddy monstrosities that might have been Ogre, Mud-Golem, or some other something at one stage. All were covered in fungal growths. None had eyes.

One of them shrieked just before its head turned to him, and was rewarded with an arrow thorugh the throat.

Bonehead frowned when he noticed it hadn't gone clean through and the monster charged. He took a breath as he fired again, this time at the spot between where its eyes should be. Then his Bow was discarded for his sword.

It clearly out-massed him and had strength advantages over him. Yet its swings were wild and wide. All ferocity and no finesse. He danced and darted, yet his blade only sliced the fungal armor.

A quartet of his companions set upon the great beast. A goblin, Armor, and two skeletons announced their presence by way of shield between Bonehead and the monstrosity. He didn't need to hear one of them shriek for him to run as he had already taken his bow, and ran.

This story played out again and again. Stealth broken by clicks and snarls of the creatures of this place. Each time Bonehead surviving not through brute strength, but skill and speed.

Yet each time his movements slowed just a little. His mind grew fuzzy.

"Give up." He heard whispered by a spider-like thing. All twisty limbs and too-pale flesh. "Lay your sword down."

He responded by slicing its legs apart and moving on. There was no breath in him for wit, or charm.

Where would he put his core in a place like this?

He heard a guttural howl, and saw the ragged hairless form of a lupine before him. Milky white eyes now had too-pale growths covering them. His scabbard empty, and there was more black crisscrossing his body than not.

It snatched his arrow out of the air with its teeth and shattered the shaft. "My pack is gone. I cannot smell them anymore."

Bonehead brought his sword up to guard as it charged him.

"I cannot hear their song anymore." The beast whined as it attempted to rake its clawed hand against Bonehead's chest, only managing to shred part of his coat.

Bonehead stabbed it in the chest. Yet the creature did not die. Instead, it tore the gauntlet from Bonehead's hand and laughed.

"I am already dead, for my Pack is gone." Its voice bitter as more of Bonehead's coat was shredded. "Yet I am not allowed to die."

It leapt again, pinning Bonehead to the ground. Though his remaining gauntlet was shredded through, Bonehead kept the snapping jaws at bay as the pair wrestled. His left hand reached, pulling at the hilt of his blade.

The creature twisted, causing the blade to snap. Its laughter cut short as the stump of Bonehead's blade was rammed into its throat. Once it fell back, dissolving,

Bonehead bowed his head. He lacked the strength to speak. Yet even though this was the creature that had taken his friend from him. He could not hold hate in his heart.

"Requiescat in pace, canis fidelis. Proximus herus tua fide dignus sit."

One last glance to where his enemy fell, and the pieces to his sword lay. Then he walked forward. He could feel it now. Words were less heard and more felt. Yet it gave him a direction.

'End this.' One voice screamed.

'We are Endless!' another shrieked.

He saw Shinji there at the thick of it in a great hall. His men lay around him dead and fading. He had a short spear in one hand, a buckler on his other arm, and three opponents. None of whom were able to land a single blow as he practically danced through their ranks.

For a moment he looked to Bonehead, then with a tilt of his head gestured to the mounded mass before him.

Bonehead limped more than walked into the room. His head bowed. His shoulders were slumped as Shinji and others came to him.

A pair of armors began slicing open the mass and everyone in the room to recoil be they truly alive, undead, automita it mattered not. The smell alone would have killed, or at the least left delvers on the floor heaving.

Yet here was the root of it all. An orb the size of a soccer ball covered in growths that even now attempted to cling to it jealously.

Bonehead nodded weakly, not caring for whomever had the supposed 'honor' of destroying it. Yet none there could leave a mark on its surface. All those who lay hands to smash it, steal its essence, or make any other harm could not.

There was laughter. A mad giggle.

"You rebel. You fight. Yet you are one and all Mine. You cannot harm me."

The growths renewed their efforts to seal the orb away. Then one of the goblins tried attacking Shinji. Then an automiton.

Bonehead slumped to the floor, too tired to stand. How long would it take for reinforcements to get here?

'Rest now, my warrior.' The words now were soft, almost tender. It was hard to ignore. He was so bloody tired.

There, though, he saw others come. Both ally and enemy. Then ally became enemy as his head drooped. He could feel himself being drug. Weakly he tried to push them away.

"I have an idea man." Shinji's voice. "You aren't going to like it, but maybe it has to be you."

Bonehead stared blankly at his second in command. His empty eye sockets met Shinji's.

"We might all be its minions now," Shinji elaborated as he drug Bonehead towards the core, "But you've got a connection to another core none of us have."

"I'm just memories spun out into a new body," Bonehead protested weakly even as Shinji used his shield to block a dagger aimed at his head.

"It has to be more than that, or we're all dead and it'll win anyway." Shinji lifted, picking Bonehead up by his armpits.

Bonehead saw the sword, tried to move.

Instead Shinji pushed him out of the way even as the hairles lupine was cut to ribbons by two suits of armor.

Bonehead saw Shinji dissolve even as he started crawling up the fungal mass surrounding Midori's core.

This couldn't be how it ends.

Again, the voice spoke. It was almost tender almost gentle as it sang to him. 'Rest now. Your hardship is over.'

It would have been easy to do. Just tell himself that he had done all he could, his friends had gained the breathing room they needed. They would finish this. That thought. The turning over in his head of his friends was that initial spark of defiance.

'Wake up.' Another voice. He wasn't sure if it was real. Her voice.

He started to move as other voices joined in. No grand speeches. No motivational words. Just those two words. Some pleading. Others demanding. 'Wake up!'

'Listen carefully. This will be my last order to you.' Another voice. His voice, but not his own speaking to him now.

Bonehead rolled onto his stomach as Lonely Hill spoke to him. ' Wake up. Get up.'

He groaned weakly in protest as his arms twitched at his sides. "I cannot... I have no strength in my legs. My arms won't work."

'I know your body is wrecked, but you must move.' Lonely Hill's voice was soft. Encouraging, yet there was an underlying desperation to that command. 'Even if you cannot stand, you must move.'

Bonehead crawled forward. One hand reaching, then pulling. Then the other hand.

'Go now.'

There was no power there. No upwell of strength. Bonehead simply moved. Even when a hammer blow smashed his left leg. he continued to crawl until his hand felt something smooth. Warm. At this point he could not see, but he knew what it was.

"Got you." The play of light from the room, witchfire being thrown about, and Midori's own glow made it seem for one last time that Bonehead smiled.

Thought shaped by Willpower. That is what it took for Cronos to breech Lonely Hill's core. He opened himself up even as he focused on piercing through the armor between Here and There.

When his eyes opened he was there, inside whatever world Midori had constructed for himself. Here he was flesh and blood. Here he again was strong.

As he started running, reaching for the blade he knew would be at his side one thought propelled him forward.

'I am Coming'


Dungeon Corps Main Story Index

Book Two Index



Go Home