Mary concentrated hard, wielding her magic to replenish Knight Orso’s missing blood. The old man coughed painfully, but a healthy glow arose in his cheeks as Mary healed his withered body.
“Cough, thank-you Master Mary,” Orso bowed as best he could.
“Pay it no mind Knight Commander,” Mary said seriously, “We need all the sword-arms we can right now.”
Orso let out a wheeze of laughter as Mary helped him up. All around them, priests and healers were running around, using their magic to heal every wounded person. Mary and her adventurers were in mostly good shape, though many had been injured by the demon princes. Orso and his coalition, on the other hand, hand many seriously wounded and were all very fatigued.
Grecian walked over from where he had been tending to Fred, “Mary, everyone here has gathered around the great tree to pray to Yore. Only the defenders are here know.”
“Good, that leaves them enough time to run if we start to fall,” Mary sighed, “How are my pupils?”
“Mary is sleeping,” Grecian reported, “Fred will tend to her once he finishes healing. Rowen on the other hand . . . he’ll need more time.”
Healing magic was powerful, but it wasn’t a cure-all. It could sooth the symptoms of poison and illness, but it couldn’t remove or cure the causes. It was because of this limitation that alchemy was a successful business, creating potions that could remedy the sick. Rowen, who had his flesh torn and his organs damaged, could only hold on while the poison was worked out of him.
“If may sound harsh, but don’t focus the healers on him,” Mary ordered Grecian, “we need to heal up the men first and foremost. Just keep him alive to be cured later.”
“Understood Mary,” Grecian bowed and left.
“They’re coming, they’re coming!” A lookout cried out.
Mary cursed under her breath, “Healers, take the wounded to the tree! Anyone who can wield a blade or spell stand with me here!”
All around her, men and women gathers: adventurers, soldiers, mages, priests, hunters, alchemists, workers, miners, and merchants. The entire town united against their great enemy.
In the distance, Mary could see the demons crawling over the palisade, killing the men who had volunteered to hold the line there. Orso bit his lips until his mouth dripped with blood; many of his knights had stayed behind.
“May the gods bless you passing my brothers,” he prayed, “I will join you soon, but not without taking many with me.”
“Well said sir,” Jonas stepped up next to the knight, his body aglow with his flames, “Nat, care to join me for one last round?”
Nat slapped Jonas on the butt and laughed, “Don’t go running us off just yet! After all, I’m going to need you for more than your pretty-face after this is through!”
Jonas gave Nat a curious look. Nat rolled her eyes.
“You doof, you haven’t proposed yet! I expect a nice little ceremony when this is all over!” Nat scolded.
“I’m not sure this is how it’s supposed to work,” Jonas muttered.
“Tough,” Fiora said as she appeared, giving him no sympathy, “You need to man up Jonas. Do you know what Nic would have done to you if he was here and found out you were ‘seeing’ his sister with proposing?”
“Ugh,” Jonas paled.
The other adventurers joined in the laughter, pelting Jonas with taunts and advice. The mood lightened considerably, and everyone felt a bit better as they watched the army swarm toward them.
Priest Horace and Priest Henry appeared next to Mary and Orso.
“While we cannot compare to Father Jonas in terms of strength, we will offer as much support as we can,” Horace vowed.
Forcus and Stevins also appeared, each holding weapons as they glared at the demons.
“How dare they use Helen like that,” Forcus said angrily.
“As our rival and friend, it is our duty to get justice for her,” Stevins agreed.
“Come on lads!” Hamish the miner raised his pickaxe, “Little Milly did her best, know it’s our turn to protect her!” Behind him, Henry, Johan, and the other patrons of the tavern raised their warcrys.
The demon army spread out across the roads, ruining the elvin homes as they rampaged. Mary and her group were lined up in front of the celebratory square, directly in front of the great tree. The townspeople were all gather on the other side, facing the forest exit.
“Raise your weapons!” Mary called out. Behind her, the receptionists each changed back into massive blood swords. Everyone prepared to fight.
“Wait,” Priest Henry said suddenly, his eyes wide, “I’m receiving a . . . divine message!”
“I am as well,” Horace announced, equally startled. He folded his hands in prayer and concentrated.
“Yore, goddess of the woods . . . we must retreat to the tree!” the two priests announced.
Everyone looked to Mary. Mary pursued her lips, “Alright, everyone retreat! If there is a miracle coming, we’d best be there to witness it!”
The army quickly folded back and ran toward the great tree, the demon and fleshling army right behind them.
“Faster lads!” Hamish called, “the beasties are gaining on us!”
“Mary, we won’t make it at this rate,” Orso warned, eyeing the retreating army.
“The gods will provide,” Horace said solemnly.
Right behind them, the ground glowed white, and a mass of slimes came into being. They rushed back, engaging the demons in a surprising counter attack. The infernal slimes cut their way through their lines, giving time for the humans and elves to retreat.
“The dungeon?” Orso asked incredulously.
“Don’t question it, just keep going!” Mary ordered.
Doc watched the adventurers retreat, and nodded to himself.
“We’ve done our part,” he murmured, turning his attention back to the army. Doc metaphysically cracked his knuckles, “Alright, let’s see if I can unlock some new slimes.”
The army made it to the front of the holy tree, the townspeople also having moved there under the orders of the priests protecting them.
“Anything from the gods?” Mary asked Horace.
And the entire holy tree erupted in white light.
A doorway appeared, covering the entire trunk’s bottom. It opened, revealing an old friend.
“People of Nehatra!” Father Jonas cried out, “Hurry, this way!”
With cries and tears of joy, the townspeople ran into the door of light.
“Father Jonas, you made it!” Mary cried out.
“Barely, but by the grace of the gods I did,” Jonas nodded, “However, this doorway is fading fast. Once the mother tree dies, then so does the magic that connects it to the elves’ tree. We must hurry.”
Mary whistled and called out, “Hurry up, the door is fading!”
The adventurers helped carry the wounded into the light, including the rescued generals and Prince James.
“Let’s go Milly,” Fred said to his awoken daughter.
“Where’s Rowen?” Milly asked suddenly.
Mary heard her and turned, but the boy was no where to be found.
“Rowen!” Milly cried out.
Father Jonas glanced up at the door. The light was quickly starting to fade. Almost everyone had entered the door.
“Master Mary,” he warned.
“Rowen!” Milly lit up, spying her friend approaching. Her face quickly sank as she saw the state he was in.
Rowen’s body had not been properly healed. His gut appeared hollow, and it stank of decay as the poison consumed his flesh. The young boy shook his head.
“Sorry Milly, but it looks like this is the end,” he said sadly.
“No! Come with us, there are healers on the other side!” Milly pleaded.
“I’m only conscious now thanks to my magic,” Rowen said ruefully, “and my undead magic only works on dead bodies. Do you understand?”
“No,” Milly whispered.
Mary closed her eyes.
“Hey, don’t cry,” Rowen comforted her, “Remember, even if I pass here, I won’t be gone long. My special connection after all.”
“But, we were supposed to be engaged,” Milly whispered. Fred twitched at this sudden bit of news, but forced himself to relax. He picked Milly up and bowed to Rowen.
“Little Rowen, it has been a pleasure. Thank-you for coming into our lives,” Fred said seriously.
“Thanks for lessons Fred. You too Mary. If you pass on my thanks to Master Ganus as well,” Rowen asked.
“I will,” Mary nodded, “Take care, you and Anadine.” She walked through the barrier with Father Jonas, leaving only the trio behind.
“I’ll come find you,” Milly promised, “I’ll find a way to free you!”
Fred shook his head and began walking toward the fading light.
“Rowen, do you hear me!” Milly screamed, tears streaming down her face, “You belong to me and me alone! I won’t let anything else have you!”
“I’ll be waiting,” Rowen smiled. As the two final humans disappeared from the town, Rowen closed his eyes. He released his magic, and collapsed on the ground. The poison moved swiftly, leaving only a pile of bones facing the withered tree.