Argrave had been preparing for—and loathing—the possibility of a confrontation with the Lord of Silver, Quarrus.

One of Quarrus’ attacks had been sufficient to completely destroy a B-rank ward, and even left a hole in the silver wall beyond it. Argrave was confident in his enchanted armor… but he couldn’t deny his heart was beating the fastest it ever had. He pulled his duster’s hood over his head, drawing it tight as he watched the Lord at the stairs.

The title of ‘Lord’ wasn’t one fabricated by the minds of men—it was a seat bestowed by Fellhorn. The Vessel’s non-physical forms took on some qualities of the metal they were named after. The liquid was denser, packing a harder punch while simultaneously offering better defense. Those qualities were dangerous enough… yet the true issue lay in the fact that the metallic veneer obscured the Vessel’s heart—their infant body.

Argrave had a plan. All of his companions knew it, even Garm. The setting—a room in Argent—was precisely as Argrave expected. They had all they needed to bring this plan to fruition. Yet the fact remained this: they were facing a force vastly more powerful than they were.

“Galamon,” Argrave called out, keeping his eyes locked on the Lord of Silver ahead. “A minute left ‘til the cork comes back on. Use the egg—stall, please.”

“I’ll do my duty,” Galamon said before Argrave had even finished speaking.

Argrave felt guilt and relief twinned when Galamon stepped forth, Ebonice axe in hand. Argrave stepped back with Anneliese, heading towards the center of the back of the room, opposite Quarrus.

The rings on the Lord of Silver’s hands clattered to the ground. His earrings phased through his ear, passing through his now-liquid body. His necklace, bracelets—they all fell, scattering down the stairs as Quarrus’ flesh faded in way of his silvery water.

“I need to spend my time readying the eels to capitalize on the opening we’ll make. I’ll trust you to lead me,” he told Anneliese bluntly as used the C-rank [Electric Eel], summoning sparking constructs. “The Brumesingers will help Galamon.”

“Right,” she nodded, not taking her eyes off the opponent ahead.

Argrave cast a druidic spell—a subset of the spell [Pack Leader]—and his small foxlike druidic bonds clambered down, bunching near his feet. He had given them an order to protect. They raised their heads and sung, their howls like windchimes. Mist started to rise out from their gray fur like steam, spreading across the room.

Quarrus’ liquid form steadily surged outwards, clinging to the walls so as to surround their party. The already silver walls were replaced by liquid, almost as though they’d turned to mercury. The water left by the deceased Vessels flowed towards his form, subsumed into the Lord of Silver’s Vessel. The windows were shrouded, and all sunlight ceased—the only thing keeping the place lit was the electric eels dancing above Argrave’s head, bathing the room in an eerie blue light.

The room’s reflections had been bad enough before, but as the silver occupied all of the walls, their reflections stretched on infinitely. Argrave saw himself, the breeder slaves, Galamon, Anneliese, and Garm, each and all reflected without end. The complete inability to stop Quarrus’ advance gave Argrave a sense of dread and powerlessness—not panic, though.

Spread out as he was, Quarrus could attack them from all directions. The tradeoff for spreading himself thin meant weaker attacks. ‘Weaker’ meant he was still strong enough to cut through flesh like butter, though.

Argrave had been counting on Quarrus doing this.

Galamon raised up his hand, holding a black object with an egg-like shape. It had purple runes on its surface. He tossed it on the ground forcefully…

And the room became black at once.

Galamon had used one of the southron elves’ war relics. Black sand spiraled out, a great winding tornado shrouding the room in chaos. The sand battered at Argrave from every direction, disorienting him yet further. The only thing visible was Galamon standing in the center—the sand was least dense there.

Argrave didn’t know much about the Vessels’ anatomy, but he knew they still needed to see, just as any human or elf. Already, Quarrus sent attacks at the elven vampire. The Brumesingers’ mist warriors appeared at Galamon’s side, drawing attention and causing the Lord of Silver to aim poorly.

Anneliese led Argrave away, seeking cover behind furniture in the grandiose room. Without sight, Quarrus sent out his attacks randomly. Metal creaked loudly when attacks missed, and screams echoed out from the breeder slaves, both rising above the din of the chaos. All the while, Argrave readied his eels ever diligently.

Twenty or so seconds passed, but they felt like an eternity. As the sandstorm thinned, Quarrus’ aim became better. He ignored the mist warriors, focusing only on Galamon.

With near forty eels in the air, Argrave shouted, “Ready!”

His words were met by a deadly barrage of silver from the lord surrounding them. Anneliese conjured a ward as she led Argrave along. The Lord of Silver’s attacks, though spread-out and ostensibly weaker, still pierced the B-rank ward. Argrave took hits in the shoulder. The enchantments on his armor protected him, yet it felt like a mule had kicked him.

Galamon reached into a satchel, retrieving a cube. He was about to press something on its surface, but Quarrus diverted all of his attention to the elf. Numerous jets of silver shot out from the wall, forcing the vampire to dodge. The dodge had been anticipated, though—more attacks followed, a thick volley striking Galamon just below the shoulder.

Argrave barely processed what was soaring through the air until it landed a few feet from Argrave. Galamon’s arm had been severed cleanly, the cube still clenched in its hand. The vampire’s cry of agony split the air, reminiscent of the guttural roar of a demon.

The assault did not relent there. Quarrus sought to finish Galamon, striking from all angles. The vampire moved differently than he had before, dodging more like animal than something intelligent. It proved effective—Galamon dodged the next wave of silver spikes, then ran, path unpredictable. The sight of Galamon’s movements brought back repressed memories, and Argrave felt fear as he recalled Barden.

Quarrus hounded Galamon relentlessly. The elven vampire ran with speed unmatched, blood pouring from his arm. He headed for the back of the room. There, the breeder slaves sought refuge. Galamon seized many of the slaves, screaming, and overturned a bed, hiding himself beneath it. Quarrus hesitated in the attack, as though fearing to damage the slaves nearby.

Argrave felt repulsion, guilt, horror, as he knew what Galamon was surely doing. With blood, Galamon would regenerate. In his frenzied state, many would surely die. At the same time, beneath all the guilt was a twisted relief that his companion would not die.

Anneliese crawled out, grabbing Galamon’s arm and sliding it over to Argrave. Realizing her intent, Argrave kneeled, pulling at Galamon’s gauntleted fingers. His grip proved tenacious, but Argrave freed the cube.

“Galamon!” Argrave shouted, the southron elf war relic in hand. “The arrowheads!”

Yet his voice was returned with nothing. Quarrus devoted his attention to attacking Argrave and Anneliese, evidently unwilling to damage his valuable breeding stock to kill Galamon. It was a symptom of arrogance—the Vessel did not believe his life was threatened.

“Galamon!” Argrave shouted, conjuring a ward with his ring to block a barrage of silver liquid. He could feel the magic in the ring diminishing—he was running out of wards to conjure. Four, maybe more.

“The arrowheads!” Argrave shouted once more, his voice joined in chorus with Anneliese.

Another voice broke through the chaos. “Hold me up!” Garm shouted.

Anneliese looked down to Garm in her hands.

“Trust in me!” the head shouted.

Argrave nodded vigorously, and Anneliese raised Garm without a second’s delay. A spell matrix conjured before his eyes, and then a black and red wave scattered about the room. He heard another guttural howl—Galamon’s, undoubtedly.

“Throw the arrowheads!” Garm shouted, voice enhanced by a strange magic.

The Lord of Silver attacked once more, foregoing small rapid attacks in favor of a single strong one. It proved effective, this time—it broke past Argrave’s ward, taking him in the leg. Argrave fell to the ground, screaming. As he lay there, a bag landed beside his head, black arrowheads spilling out.

Argrave pushed past the pain, grabbing the bag of arrowheads. He pushed an indent in the cube, and it lit up with purple runes. He loaded the spilled arrowheads into the bag, then cast the cube inside, giving the bag a shake.

In no position to manage a good throw, Argrave held the bag out to Anneliese. She understood what he wanted, taking the bag in hand. She tossed it to the center of the room. As it bounced before coming to a stop, Argrave feared the bag would open, and the cube would slide out… yet it did not.

Argrave took cover behind a bed, bringing Anneliese along with him. Purple light exploded outwards from the bag. Argrave felt small fragments batter his body and lost all hearing—all sound was replaced by a constant ringing.

The Ebonice arrowheads had been caught in the center of the war relic’s explosion, fragmenting and scattering about the room. Once even the smallest shard of fragmented Ebonice met with the Vessel’s body, they would dispel his power vested in him by Fellhorn. It was but a moment… but that moment was enough to expose Quarrus’ heart.

Argrave spotted Quarrus’ true form at once, newborn form suspended in the center of the room as it clung to the ceiling. Though the Ebonice fragments had struck some of Argrave’s electric eels, dispelling them, enough remained—four. He willed them towards Quarrus’ infantile form. The Vessel saw its coming doom and tried to relocate its body, but it was split apart too severely to flee.

The electric eels struck home, sparking. Argrave saw something fall. He couldn’t distinguish it at first, but he realized Quarrus had severed his connection with the water to avoid being hit. The Vessel’s infant body landed atop one of the breeder slave’s beds. It cried loudly, like any infant might.

Argrave sat up in panic, causing another wave of blood to pour from his leg. He raised his hand, ready to dispatch it with a final spell. One of the slaves stood, running across the room. He feared the woman intended to protect the child. She reached her hands out, and Argrave steeled himself to finish things as his hearing returned.

Yet he did not have to. The Lord of Silver’s slave dealt the finishing blow, screaming out in rage and sorrow. Silence followed, and time seemed to freeze. Then, all of the water in the room turned black, then exploded outwards, surging out the windows and the freshly-made holes in the wall.

Argrave collapsed backwards, barely able to keep his head above the rushing tide. Anneliese pulled him atop one of the beds.

“You are bleeding. Stay still,” she directed, setting Garm aside. “I will heal you.”

“Just the leg,” Argrave shook his head, teeth clenched tight. “Just enough to walk. Then… check if Galamon is fine. Physically… and otherwise. We have to hurry. Not much further yet.”

“I live,” cut in a cold growl, and Galamon moved across the room. He held his helmet in hand. His mouth and neck were covered with blood. The stump where his arm once was already twitching and writhing. It grew, reconstituting.

Argrave tensed as Galamon approached, fearing the vampire. Galamon strode up to Argrave’s bedside and grabbed Garm by the hair.

“What did you do?” Galamon demanded of Garm.

“Saved everyone,” said the head.

“The hunger… it’s afraid. Afraid of you,” Galamon insisted.

“It’s necromancy. Obviously,” Garm spat.

“Galamon…” Argrave raised his hand up. “Let go of him. It’s over.”

Galamon looked down at Argrave. It wasn’t rage in his eyes, nor bloodlust. It was something else. Argrave couldn’t place it. But eventually the vampire acquiesced, setting Garm down gently. Argrave’s Brumesingers jumped up to the bed, sitting beside his stomach.

“I… will watch the stairs,” Galamon said, putting his helmet on. He grabbed his arm off the ground, then moved away.

Argrave looked to Anneliese, seeking her insight.

She shook her head. “He isn’t fine. But he can get through this.”

Argrave nodded, stifling his uncertainties. He knew the spell Garm had cast. He wasn’t worried about Galamon’s condition. The spell, [Voice of the Corrupt], merely terrified the spirits of the undead—Argrave supposed Garm had used it to bring Galamon back to his senses.

But that spell was B-rank, meaning Garm was capable of using spells of that rank. That, alone, was alarming enough… yet the spell used fragments of souls. Typically, a necromancer would use sacrifices to fuel it.

Failing that, one’s own soul would degrade.

Argrave stared at Garm, complicated thoughts disturbing his brain.

No time for the third degree, not now. He’s an ally—even if I can’t trust him, his life is tied to ours, and I know he wants to live. The Wraith’s Heart is close at hand… and after that, the Lord of Copper. Argrave lifted his head, feeling the soothing healing magic from Anneliese seize his leg.

“Let’s end this well,” Argrave said aloud, looking up at Anneliese.

She met his gaze, then gave a determined nod.


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  • Buried on a hill overlooking a little river with pinecones all around
  • Esquire

Bio: Author of the #1 'Heroes of Berendar' fan-fiction. Vicar of Crust. President of the Richie Aprile fan-club.

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