It's been years...man I miss this place sometimes. We had a great community guys. Here is the rest of Demon Tide (chapters 21, 22, 23, and 24). There was supposed to be a 25th, but I figured 24 ends as conclusively as it's going to get. For those still out there, enjoy. :D
Chapter Twenty One
The moments rolled by swiftly as they darted from cavern to cavern. Finway observed that they were no longer sticking to the main tunnels, but instead were going off on random side tangents that seemed to complicate the entire ordeal.
“Would it be beneficial to split up?” he suggested.
“Of course not!” Jhallan had quickly refuted him. “Since we must fight both Lucien as well as Zemouregal, we will both need to be there to slay them!”
“Slay them!” the adventurer stopped to exclaim. “They are Mahjarrat! I am a mere mortal! How is that possible?”
“As powerful as we are, we are still mortal, remember that!” Jhallan responded harshly.
“I saw their powers - your powers - at the Demon Tide! There is no way I could hope to contend with a Mahjarrat, not in a hundred thousand lifetimes!”
“You are forgetting what we are here for!” Jhallan, growing angry, growled as he, too, halted. “The Stone of Jas, which we now know to be in these caves, is an artifact of unspeakable powers! Do you expect Lucien would normally have been able to slay Azzanadra? Never! Not in a thousand of his own lifetimes could he expect to do so!” the ferocity of the Mahjarrat’s speech began to frighten Finway, but he knew that the demon was right. “It was fortunate for him that Azzanadra was so greatly weakened and that he himself had come across the Stone!”
Once again speechless, Finway’s eyes were wide. He was both impressed with Jhallan’s defense of Zaros’ greatest hero, as well as terrified of the power behind his voice, the power of experience. Jhallan had known these Mahjarrat of whom he spoke for thousands of years, and had witnessed all that they could do.
“The Stone of Jas has the ability to grant unimaginable powers to those in its proximity. If we reach it before Lucien and Zemouregal, we will obtain those powers. With them, we will slay them both, but I still need you.”
“Can’t you slay them both at the same time, if the Stone is as powerful as you say?” Finway asked.
“We are wasting time, but if you must know, I will answer. Yes, I will be capable of such a feat. However, I know the two traitors will not be lined up waiting for their slaughter!”
Confused, the adventurer was about to ask more when Jhallan again spoke.
“You have informed me that they have been blinded by Sliske, albeit temporarily. As a result, they will undoubtedly split up to increase their chances of stumbling upon the stone randomly. While I am slaying one of the two, the other may well find the Stone, and will be prepared to slay me upon my return.”
Finway nodded in understanding. “So I must kill the other before he arrives at the stone.”
Jhallan nodded. “Now we must go! My path may seem chaotic, but my mind is attempting to sort out the fastest route to the source of power which I can see…” With that, he began at his previous pace, and Finway was once again forced to keep up.
Despite the urgent pressure of the moment, Finway was able to set aside all anxiety in his mind to focus on Abigail once more. His thoughts turned to resolve, and he swore to himself that he would see her again. The circumstances around him were far more pressing than any other he had ever undergone, but his determination soared in spite of it.
There were no Varrockian mages and priests to back him up, as there had been when he slew Delrith; no armies of Misthalin standing behind him, such as there had been during all of his diplomatic missions. Almost laughing, he realized that even if all of the mages of Varrock or knights of Misthalin were with him in these caves, they would be utterly powerless against the Mahjarrat that were stumbling through.
Once more, Jhallan’s pace ground to a standstill.
“Zemouregal and Lucien have entered the cave, and are not far off,” he stated, as if he was witnessing a battle and describing it to a blind man.
“Are they going to reach the stone?” Finway hastily asked.
“They are farther from it than we are, and they have split up, as I predicted before.”
“Does Sliske’s spell still affect them?” he questioned the Mahjarrat again. “I mean, can you detect as much?”
“I cannot see if his curse still clouds their senses, but they are both traveling in oblique paths, thankfully, and that affords us a small portion of time. We must not lose it, so let us be off once more!”
They started off again, but questions continued to flow into Finway’s mind from this new revelation. Then a more dreadful vision sank his heart.
“Where is Saraboam? Is he in safety?” he said quickly, knowing Jhallan was growing tired of the questions. However, he needed assurance as to the wellbeing of his companion, the only other human this far north in the world.
“That I cannot answer. He seems to be in the same tunnel as one of the two - either Zemouregal or Lucien, I cannot tell, but it does not matter. If he encounters either of them, he will surely perish.” With that, Jhallan continued racing forward, Finway darting along just behind him.
His spirit, which had just been somewhat renewed through his newfound determination, again faced a crippling blow. Saraboam was his friend, his guide, and one who had taught him much of the world. He had learned more through his experience with the mage than all his schooling in Varrock or missions throughout Misthalin combined. Despite its elegance, his homeland made him feel sheltered. This quest he was venturing forward in was reality - the very fate of the world rested upon his actions. The sheer weight and meaning of that reality hit him with two waves: one of anxiety, the other of fear. He prayed for Saraboam’s safety, offering an ambiguous offering of words to any god who truly had control of such a situation.
The magnitude of the task at hand refocused his thoughts once more. He concentrated on what he had to do. In the back of his mind, he could picture Abigail, waiting for him with open arms in her home in Varrock. They would build a new mansion, he thought, for the two of them They would raise a family. They would remain in love. While his body was poised and prepared for the race they were going through, his mind instilled the motivation that allowed him to do so.
He simply could not envision a Varrock under control by Lucien or Zemouregal. In his mind, Misthalin would remain completely free from the Mahjarrat who wished to oppress it. A slight smile curled upon his lips as Finway swore that this image of his homeland would remain intact. As they rushed through the icy cavern, the walls began glowing brighter and brighter. The reflected light seemed to be coming from straight ahead of them.
“We are getting nearer,” spoke Jhallan. His voice interrupted Finway’s stream of consciousness, and his mind snapped back to reality.
“Is Saraboam still…alive?” he managed to ask.
“That he is,” the Mahjarrat responded without looking back. “Neither Zemouregal nor Lucien are near him. However, they are growing closer and closer to us.” Their pace did not slacken at all during the slight exchange of words.
Jhallan’s news both relieved and reinvigorated the young Varrockian noble. Saraboam was still alive, and that ended much of the anxiety Finway had been facing. Some god of fate had answered his prayer, and he grinned. Their goal had never been clearer, and he could clearly imagine it: they would find the stone, their powers would increase dramatically, and they would slay Lucien and Zemouregal before they reached the stone.
A massive tremor shook the entire cave. Crystalline ice and sparkling rune essence fell from the ceiling and walls of the large tunnel.
“They are using magic to blast their way there,” Jhallan exclaimed. “It is Lucien, I believe. Sliske’s spell is wearing off.”
“We have to keep going!” Finway stated desperately. He began running once more, but another earthquake knocked him upon his knees.
“No!” Jhallan stated.
“No?” the adventurer inquired. “No? We have to! Azzanadra would have died for nothing! We can’t give up now!”
A slight grin now appeared upon the countenance of the demon. “We have no need to. Lucien knows how close we are, and that is why he is using such desperate measures.” With that, Jhallan stretched out his arms. Another tremor shook, and this one was so powerful that Finway was forced to crouch in order to avoid falling over. His right arm violently flared up and down, and his elbow struck a rock with enough force to cause him to cry out in pain. When he again glanced up at his newfound companion, he saw that in between the pale, skeletal hands of the Mahjarrat was a glowing white ball of energy.
“What is this?” Finway asked. He got up and examined his arm. His sleeves had torn, there was a bruise from his fall, and it hurt agonizingly upon touch.
“We are very near,” Jhallan stated. He lifted up his arms, and the luminous incantation remained between his extended white fingers. Then he slammed it down with enough power to cause an earth-shattering explosion. Ice flew everywhere, but Jhallan must have expected and prevented its displacement, for none reached either of the two.
Finway, still in pain, looked up at where the explosion had taken place. There was a massive hole in the wall of ice. Water was dripping from the edges. Then he looked into the hole and saw: the Stone of Jas was before him.
Chapter Twenty Two
Finway got up; Jhallan was already in the chamber. The walls were coated with ice, as they had been before, but this area was much larger, both in width and in height. The floor was not slippery as before, and there were several steps that lead towards the Stone, forming a concentric, layered altar upon which the divine boulder rested. There was no ice on the walls, ceiling, or floor; in its place, only sparkling, pure rune essence that reflected the light of the magical object.
The stone itself appeared as legendary as Finway could have possibly imagined it. The silver coloring was interrupted by hexagon-shaped cracks that threw bright yellow rays into the massive chamber around it. As Finway observed, he felt his feet move as he drew closer. Jhallan did the same as he slowly approached the ancient relic.
“The power of the greatest gods…here, in this stone!” the Mahjarrat cried out. Had he been human, Finway thought, he would be speechless in the awe of the situation. In fact, Finway himself felt like it was an obvious reaction. “I feel more alive than I ever have…I feel…strong!”
Finway’s fingers were tingling, but as he nudged them against his side he observed that the sensation only increased. His entire essence was changing: his blood was flowing faster, it seemed, and his heart was racing. He raised his hands to observe, and it appeared that the glow was attaching itself to him. The very act of moving his arms became meaningful and significant. Not just to me, he thought, but to the entire world. This newfound strength could shape history. If it was used to bring down Lucien, it surely would.
“Do you feel it?” Jhallan asked. His pale, otherworldly skin shown more supernatural than ever before. He stretched out is hand as he placed it on the Stone of Jas. The aura around him became even more noticeable. He turned towards the young lord so far from his home, a grin of sheer ecstasy upon the demonic being’s countenance. “Touch it.”
Finway reached out and let his fingers scrape the stone. The effects were immediate, and the sensation was exacerbated as he pushed his palm against it. The Stone seemed to fill his entire being with a power he had never dreamed of. Being in the presence of the object was an experience that could compare to nothing else, but what he was experiencing was unlike anything a mortal man could dream of. In addition to the power and significance he felt with his movements, it was like pure energy flowing through his veins.
Curiousity suddenly took a hold of him, and he examined his elbow that he had recently bruised. Other than the ripped sleeve, there was no sign of an injury. Amazed, he looked back at the stone and starred directly into the bright light that seemingly illuminated it from the inside.
He closed his eyes and pictured Azzanadra, and every spell he had seen the Mahjarrat cast: against Lucien, against the Dragonkin, against any obstacle or problem before him. That same energy which was dazzling to Finway before now seemed mundane. He had to look at the stone again to make sure it was real; he glanced to Jhallan, but the Mahjarrat himself was too absorbed in the newfound power to acknowledge Finway at that point. The young adventurer felt the need to speak in order to express his emotions, but there were no words to describe it.
He observed the ground and the walls, the entire chamber tightly packed with the rune essence that had unlocked magical powers for humanity years before. His left hand still pressed against the Stone, he squatted down and touched the ground. He did not know what to think of to cast a spell, so he thought of the fiery obliteration the Dragonkin had unleashed upon them what seemed like years ago. No sooner had his fingers touched the runestone floor when a wave of golden flames shot from all angles, spreading out over the exposed, sparkling surface of the entire chamber.
Finway didn’t even jump when the flames encompassed his legs. He could not feel the pain, but it wasn’t just that. He lost himself in amazement. I can’t feel pain at all, he realized. A smile of amazement and wild excitement beamed from his face.
The fire had gone out, not even catching Jhallan’s attention. “We are but gods with this power,” he exclaimed, and began laughing. It was a maniacal roar, and the adventurer knew that he normally would dread such a bellowing cry, but at this point he could not fear it, just as he could not fear pain. Fear was nonexistent to him.
The power surging through him also brought an odd sense of contentment. It was confirmation of his task at hand, affirmation that he was doing the right thing. Without pain or fear, he knew he could do whatever he wanted while this effect lasted, but he knew that this mission was exactly what he wanted to do. For his entire life he had lived by others’ expectations: those of his family, of his society, of his city and of his king. In that moment, however, they all were but dim images in his imaginations. He cherished his home and those he loved, but he then understood that he was the pinnacle of it all. And now, in this penultimate moment, he knew it would be his task to save them all. Funny, he mused, how they might never even know.
The Stone of Jas strengthened his will as well. Resolve tightened up in Finway’s mind, knowing no mortal being could counter his power. The resolution to live was no just present in his head, but in his entire being as well. I will see Abigail again, he told himself, I will see Varrock, and I will see vengeance for Azzanadra.
“Jhallan,” he said calmly. By this time, his face was awash in the divine, golden light. His skin shown brighter than ever, and his blonde hair reflected the blinding rays as well. The aura even surrounded his clothing, or rather shown through it.
“Finway,” the Mahjarrat grinned back, “we will annihilate Lucien, as well as his pet follower, Zemouregal.”
Lucien, Finway thought. He stretched out his mind to try and feel the demons presence. The magic of the Stone gave his very perception another dimension where he could sense and almost feel everything around him in his mind. Upon discovering this, he encountered the two malicious beings nearby, both of whom were nearing their destination.
“I feel them…” he began, “…no…I see them.”
“It is the same with myself,” his Zarosian companion – no longer a superior to Finway since they both were basking in the same glorious power. “I sense them as well.”
“I will kill Lucien,” Finway exclaimed with confidence he couldn’t have dreamed of before. He knew Lucien was a far more potent threat than his weaker cousin, Zemouregal, and both were still elevated in power from the ritual of rejuvenation. But he could not deny this power – a power that told him he had to kill Lucien. The urge was present, and it was not one that Finway could readily deny. This was what he had to do.
Jhallan, musing Finway’s choice, slowly nodded and acknowledged it. “And I, Zemouregal.”
Finway half grinned at Jhallan, and then flexed his body in an attempt to feel the newfound strength which he had acquired. Every bone now tingled as his fingers had before, but it was not the uncontrolled, numbing sensation he was used to. He had power over it, over his entire being, and he would use it to conquer the evil at hand.
His heart pounded, his fists curled, and he looked forward. His legs felt it as well. Immediately, he launched himself through the tunnels with a speed unknown to any human before. He now understood when Azzanadra and other Mahjarrat could simply feel the presence of life forms around them. He knew where Lucien was, and he rushed through the pathways of ice and runestone as they twisted and turned and wound around the glacial caves.
Not only could he feel where Lucien was, but he could detect the frantic state of the opposing Mahjarrat. Sliske’s spell was long gone, but he was aware of Jhallan and Finway’s encounter with the stone. Zemouregal, he could easily tell, felt a similar dread, but on top of that Finway could detect Lucien’s disappointment: since two other beings were now in a godlike as a result of the Stone of Jas, they could annihilate him and his own ambitions of divine glory.
He was sprinting at a pace he wouldn’t have thought possible just an hour before, when he had not yet reached the Stone. He could feel Lucien’s fear in his own mind, the dread of one about to be defeated – one who knew that his fate was sealed. Finway could detect the potent Staff of Armadyl which Lucien carried with him: it was this object that allowed him to store the power gained from the Stone of Jas and a weapon capable of killing gods. He knew he would still have to be warry of it. Finway tried to imagine a life where he felt this powerful at every waking moment, but his musing was cut short. He rounded one final icy corner of the cavern before he saw the dark mass of a black robed Mahjarrat, a golden, emerald-embedded staff in hand and a worried expression on its Liche form’s face.
Chapter Twenty Three
The demon’s gaze was posed and solemn. Lucien’s staff was clutched tightly, and the green gemstone at the tip – the emerald relic of Armadyl – illuminated the icy walls around the Mahjarrat.
“You are the human, then,” he stated, his countenance unchanged, “the one Azzanadra brought to the Demon Tide. The one Zemouregal told me about.”
Finway was surprised at first, but realized that Lucien and the others of his race could have easily detected him if they tried. Although he and Saraboam had been several dozen feet away from the fighting, only Azzanadra’s spell had protected them from being noticed. Once he died, that spell had faded. Fortunately, Sliske had stepped up in time to effectively blind the two traitors, Zemouregal and Lucien. Had it not been for that, Finway thought, Saraboam and I would be dead.
“You are a fool if you think you can stand up against my wrath,” Lucien’s face twisted into one of disgust. “I am a Mahjarrat, and I have been rejuvenated at the ritual. My powers are beyond any of my own race, and yet you, a human, dare to challenge me.”
If he was truly as strong as he claims, Finway mused, I would already be dead.
“You don’t have the Stone of Jas. Sliske’s spell cut off your connection.”
The Mahjarrat’s face lifted with delight, and he let out a short laugh. “You are powerful because you touched it,” he stated, “but I basked in it for ages. I know its full potential…I understand the Stone’s power in a way that you could never understand.” He raised the Staff of Armadyl. “I have the most powerful weapon in the world in my hands. You know nothing of power!” The words came out slow and deliberate.
Before Finway could speak, Lucien laughed once more, this time more drawn out than before. “You know nothing!” The demon raised his staff and slammed it against the ground. There was a crashing sound louder than anything Finway had ever heard, and then he felt like the very earth around him was falling rapidly.
Immediately, Finway’s surroundings changed and he found himself standing on solid, dark stone, not the ice of the chamber. Inertia pushed him downwards, into a crouch from his rapid descent. Fire surrounded him – not fire, but molten lava, flowing on all sides of his rocky outcrop. He was facing a tunnel, the only outlet from the magma around him. Before Finway could make anything of his situation, he heard a roar.
Two giant figures emerged from the dark cavern. They looked the same, one slightly taller than the other, both bearing the red face of a demon with the twisted horns of the species. Finway recalled how he had slain Delrith several years before, but these creatures were much bigger. They each stood a dozen feet tall while hunched over. Neither had wings, but they had metallic coverings over their shoulders, arms and chest. What’s more, their armor was on fire. One of the beasts snarled ferociously as he bent down to examine his target.
A pit I lost Silverlight, Finway wondered. He quickly unsheathed his runite blade and gripped it with both hands, pointing it towards the beast. He felt the power flowing through him, the power of the Stone, and it made him invincible. He did not have any assistance with this battle, but he knew he would win.
Both he and the demon struck at the same time. The monstrosity raised its right claw and brought it down on the empowered human, but Finway had attempted a downward strike with his blade. The glowing runite metal cleaved into the hand and wrist of the demon, and it let out a howl of pain and it temporarily shied away from its opponent.
The second creature, which was slightly larger than his demonic companion, leapt and tried to grab Finway. He jumped back and made a side swipe at the beast’s left arm. Although he missed, he carried the momentum through, turned completely around and slashed at the demon’s knee. A gush of blood sizzled from the wound, steaming as it met the air. Immediately, Finway took two steps towards the other beast and thrust his sword into its belly before it could anticipate his move.
The demon howled in sheer pain. Almost by instinct, he cleaved the creature upward and scraped against the enflamed metal protection. It was thick, but the runite was sharp and Finway’s superhuman strength allowed him to shear through it. Within seconds, a wound from the naval to the throat of the monster was gushing thick, crimson blood. While the second demon regained his own composure, the adventurer took a step back to marvel at his heightened abilities. Had this been regular combat, not even the best warrior could slash through metal like that – not even with a runite blade.
The second demon attempted to get up, but was fumbling and moving slowly due to the excruciating cut to the knee Finway had delivered seconds before. With three giant steps forward, he leapt off his feet and grabbed the beast’s twisted horns while it was bent over in pain. He swung around, sword in hand, and plunged his saber into its back, piercing through both metal and flesh before screeching through the front armor. He slid off the beast as it collapsed onto the ground. Despite the fire which had engulfed the demon’s metal protection, Finway felt nothing. He looked at his hands and did not notice any burns, and his clothing was dirty from his travels, but otherwise unscathed.
The other monstrosity was left gasping on the ground, its large red muscles attempting to push itself up. The creature opened its mouth as if to roar, but only a hollow whine escaped its throat. It looked straight forward, several feet away from the lava flowing nearby. Finway approached from the side, lifted his blade, and with a mighty downward blow cleaved the head off the creature. With both lying on the ground, he let the blade fall to his side once more, held tightly in his right hand.
The cyan color was still vibrant on the blade, and it appeared that the demons blood had not soiled it whatsoever. It was as bright as it had been when he was in the chamber with Jhallan. Odd, he wondered, it only glows in the presence of rune essence. Before he could think further on the matter, another realization struck him: the air was still cold. Despite the molten rock flowing on both sides of him and the two dead demons, he felt a chill in the air, the same chill that he had noticed when in the glacial caverns.
Finway smiled. “Lucien, your illusions mean nothing!” he cried out, and he forced his mind to stretch out. He closed his eyes for a moment, and once more felt the Mahjarrat’s presence before him. When he opened them, his eyes beheld the same chamber as before, with ice and glowing runestones surrounding him. His opponent was still gazing towards him, and it was exactly as if nothing – the fall, the lava, and the demons – had changed in the last minute. His grin grew wider; it had all been a trick. Lucien seemed surprised that Finway had survived the ordeal, but his eyes narrowed, preparing to strike again.
The young Varrockian lord brought his runite blade back up in front of him, the metal just inches away from his nose. Still smiling with confidence, Finway began slowly pacing towards Lucien. The powerful Mahjarrat’s face remained poised and prepared, but the adventurer could also notice a change in his eyes as he drew nearer, a slight flicker of fear in them. Could Lucien be doubting his own abilities?
Finway halted after he was only several paces away from his nemesis. The bright, shining sword gave off light that seemed to partially illuminated his ememy’s face. “Azzanadra was right.” Finway’s grin faded as he prepared for the final battle. “You will die this day.”
Lucien acted first. With a yell, he pointed the Staff of Armadyl forward, and green orb of energy pusled through the emerald relic towards Finway. To parry it, the adventurer let his instinct take hold of him. With the exact same move he had witnessed Azzanadra perform to parry the Dragonkin’s assault, he raised his blade and cut through the magic blast. He let his voice cry out as he did so, and the sound of his voice seemed to frighten Lucien. The Mahjarrat stepped back, furrowed with frustration.
With another cry, he thrust his staff further into the air, letting an even faster stream of energy flow through the deadly weapon. Before Finway could react, a blast of emerald fire exploded at his chest, hurling him backwards a dozen feet against the tunnel walls. Runestone and ice met his spine with a thud as he slid down. Finway’s outer clothing was burned through, and his chainmail underneath was shredded from the blow, exposing his skin to the frosty air.
Despite the impact, his flesh was intact. Such a blast would have annihilated another human. He felt the soreness immediately, but the adrenaline prevented him from focusing on it. His left hand slid back and pushed against the wall behind him to prop himself up once more.
The demons mouth opened wide, letting out an even louder ear piercing cry as he pointed the staff at Finway once more. Green energy pent up inside the powerful object was released once more, this time forming a steady stream at the Mahjarrat’s opponent. Once against recalling the magical tactics Azzanadra had used in his battles, Finway’s mind rushed to create a powerful, supernatural shield around his body. Less than a second after Lucien’s assault had commenced, a light blue aura encircled Finway, an orb of energy that kept him completely unscathed by the attack.
The Mahjarrat roared, and Finway hoped it was at least partially out of frustration. Lucien raised his staff yet again, but this time flames erupted from it, encircling Finway and forming a whirlwind of blue and green fire. The flames first were several feet away, but then the circle shrunk around him. Finway felt the bite of the heat through his worn clothing – it was incredibly hot, but he still felt resistant to it due to his enhanced powers.
He swung his sword at the flames that ensnared him, hoping he would be able to magically push it outwards and away from his feet. It was partially successful, but the fire came back to lick at his body. The heat seemed to increase. He swung again and again, each time knocking the flame back slightly more, but each time it crawled back.
Frenzied, Finway held his blade back and then swung diagonally into the fire, letting the momentum of the strike carry through before raising the weapon and swinging it again. Slowly but surely, the flames were pushed away as he continued to swing. Despite his success, he knew that the power of the Stone was leaving him, and it was only a matter of time before Lucien could easily overpower him once more. With a final yell, he slashed the runite sword at the flame, and it crawled back into the icy wall before sizzling out.
The ground around Finway’s feet was scorched, and when he looked up at his mahjarrat opponent, the demon laughed just as loudly as before. His thoughts raced. How can he keep this up without any connection to the Stone? Sliske had severed that through his spell, and Lucien should not have been able to draw any more energy from it until he once again had the Stone in his possession. Worry crept up, and for a second Finway Minarch doubted he would survive.
Then, inside the adventurer’s mind, it clicked. Azzanadra had mentioned before that the Staff of Armadyl’s power came from its ability to refocus or store power, meaning that Lucien must have amassed an insane amount of it from his time in its presence. He realized that every spell had flown from the emerald at the end, just as the four diamonds on Azzanadra’s sword had shown brightly when he used magic.
It’s the gem, he thought, eyebrows furrowed. If I can only separate it from the rest of the staff…
To do so, he knew that he would have to engage Lucien in physical combat. He hoped runite metal was strong enough for the task. While Lucien seemed to be finishing off with his maniacal laughter, Finway raced towards his foe. Lucien’s face froze from its chuckle, and he cast another spell of green energy, similar to the first one he had used in the encounter.
Finway attempted to slash the spell as it came, the same maneuver he had performed earlier. It was mostly successful, but the force of the blow swung him around, and Lucien lunged at him with the staff, the sharpened emerald end coming far too close to his right oblique. Utilizing his heightened reflexes, he quickly parried the attack with his blade, knocking it just hard enough so that it missed his body. Despite the desperation of the situation, Finway knew that Lucien was falling for his trap: through physical combat, he finally had a chance to remove Lucien’s source of power.
The Mahjarrat swung his weapon again, and Finway ducked, raising his sword up to ensure his safety. However, he realized that Lucien wasn’t the real enemy at this point. Instead, the adventurer’s foe was the gemstone, the weapon not even his godlike powers could save him from. That very object had slain gods before. He had to destroy it to defeat Lucien.
The demon held the staff back, then swung it through in an uppercut. Finway grabbed his blade with boths hands to successfully block the attack, but it was so powerful that he slid back on the icy floor until his leather boots caught some traction on a patch of rune essence. Lucien’s face seemed poised and focused, like a dancer that knew all the moves in a performance. Finway mused on his opponent’s impressive knowledge of combat, but only for a second since the demon rushed towards him in two quick leaps to dance once more.
Lucien then launched two strikes in rapid sucession, each one diagnoly coming down towards Finway’s left shoulder. He parried the first, and then pushed off his right foot to leap to his side, allowing the second blow to fall onto the shining floor. For half a moment, the Staff of Armadyl was exposed to Finway’s right side.
This is my chance, his mind cried out. His power had faded somewhat in the last few moments, and the ongoing battle was taking its toll on the human. This was his chance to end it all. Before Lucien could withdraw his weapon from its vulnerable position to attack once more, Finway raised his runite sword and struck. The blade crashed down with superhuman force and perfect accuracy, striking right where the gemstone was encrusted onto the golden staff.
With a bright green flash and crashing, thunderous noise, the emerald detached itself from the rest of the staff, singing a high pitched ring as it struck the hard, cold floor beneath it. Lucien took the moment in, attempting to grasp how his defeat had just panned out. Once he realized the significance of it all, he threw himself downwards in an attempt to grasp the powerful gem.
Before the Mahjarrat could reclaim the mighty relic, Finway quickly placed his foot over the sparkling green stone and half kick, half rolled it behind him on the floor. It slid along the icy ground, distancing itself from both of the combatants. In a display of his reinvigorated prowess, Finway leaned backwards, one foot firmly planted while the other pressed against Lucien’s chest as he lunged for the precious jewel. The demon flew backwards several yards until he slammed against ice and stone.
Lucien was utterly defeated, his connection to the Stone of Jas long gone and his powerful Staff of Armadyl broken before him. All that was left was for him to die.
Finway pointed his runite blade at Lucien and began steadily approaching him, ready to slay the treacherous fiend. As he took the first step, he opened his mouth to speak. “The Stone of Jas is powerful...”
Lucien backed up, terrified, and he began looking around for a possible escape. If Mahjarrat in Liche form could sweat with fear, Lucien would surely have done so. After a brief moment he attempted to slam down what was left of the staff in order to activate some spell, but Finway could detect exactly what he was doing. A dark blue haze began from his feet and crept up his body, an obvious sign of teleportation. For a second, Lucien was relieved, but Finway let his newfound magical powers flow through him.
“…but its powers are not meant for us mortals.”
Closing his eyes momentarily, he reached out and grabbed a hold of Lucien in his mind, keeping him in place and inhibiting him from teleporting. He doubted humans could ever do such a thing on their own, even after years of training. With excitement he wondered what Saraboam would think of this ordeal. The dark blue telekinetic spell disappated, leaving a petrified Mahjarrat at Finway’s mercy.
A horrid shriek rang through the caverns, and Lucien’s head darted sideways with panic. Somewhere, in the chambers nearby, Jhallan had run down Zemouregal. The Zarosian, empowered by the Stone of Jas, would easily triumph in the encounter. Zemouregal had no great weapons on his side as Lucien had. His heart racing with excitement at the victory that was so close at hand, Finway wanted to make Lucien acknowledge it, but he knew that the treacherous Mahjarrat could detect it as well. With another step forward, his lips moved again. “You are not powerful, Lucien, and neither am I. It is the Stone that empowers us. You had no place sacrificing Azzanadra. And now you are paying the price.”
Lucien attempted to recompose himself. He stood up tall, outstretched his arms, and several teleportation orbs appeared. Half a dozen red demons emerged from the spell, tiny creatures compared to the illusions Lucien had summoned before. Finway raised his blade and struck the first one down, before simply elbowing another with enough force to send it flying into the cold chamber wall.
The strength of the gods, he thought, in my own body. Although the Stone’s effects were fading, his superhuman abilities were still present. He cleaved through two more of the creatures in rapid succession before either of them realized what was happening. He stabbed another, noting there was only one left. They were so small that they didn’t even possess the horns of their larger cousins. The last demon began to flee in terror darting away to Lucien’s left. Remembering how Azzanadra had used his sword for magic as well, Finway attempted it by pointing the light blue blade at the fleeing creature. An arrow-shaped dart of energy flew from the weapon to the beast’s back, killing it instantly. He turned once more towards Lucien.
He was near enough to physically engage the demonic being, but the Mahjarrat struck first out of fear. He lunged at Finway with the remnants of his ancient weapon, but Finway knocked it away with his runite sword with a force no human had ever achieved. Finway’s right foot lifted and fell as he took the next step. The fight was coming to a close, and both the combatants knew who held the upper hand. Not the upper hand, he thought, but the victory. In his head, Finway conjured up images of those he wished to protect, as well as those who had died in order for him to reach this moment.
For Varrock, his mind cried out as he raised his sword and let it come smashing down on Lucien. The fearful demon used what magic he had left to lessen the incredible power of Finway. Still, the adventurer felt as energized as ever before when his blade struck the rod.
For Saraboam, he thought. Although his last blow had been powerful, he felt that his following upper cut was even greater. The strike threw his opponent off guard as the Mahjarrat struggled to block it with his pathetic weapon. Finway paused momentarily, thinking of the boy who had set him off on this adventure.
For Jamal, his mind seemed to speak the words as they rang through in his head. He delivered three blows in quick succession, from the right, upp above, and then the left. The first two Lucien managed to parry, but the final one tore into Lucien’s right arm and shoulder. His grip on the staff weakened. The Mahjarrat let out a cry of pain and he tumbled back, one arm propping himself up against the runestone floor.
For Abigail. Finway raised his runite weapon once more, and Lucien held the staff up to parry the oncoming blow. It rang down and smashed against the ruined relic so powerfully that the demon dropped the weapon. Finway used his right foot to nudge it, and Lucien’s last defence rolled away along the ice.
Terror completely seized the Mahjarrat as he stared up at his human conqueror. The second dragged on, adrenaline pulsing through Finway’s body and excitement beating in his mind. Lucien was now all but completely reduced in power. Even with just his physical strength, Azzanadra had been a vastly more potent being. He was the greatest, the strongest, the most noble of them all. He should not have died. Finway starred down his otherworldly foe. The moment lasted forever, and Finway smiled knowing that he had complete control over it.
“For Azzanadra,” Finway half whispered into the air. He pointed his runite blade at Lucien’s chest, looking directly into his green, fear-filled eyes before plunging the sword through his heart.
It seemed as if all the energy in the world began pouring into Lucien’s wound. A bright green light began shining from the inside of the demon, reflecting off all the ice and runestone in the glacial chamber. An incredible gush of wind rushed through the tunnel, strong enough to knock Finway down had he not been so empowered. The once menacing gaze loosened as Lucien’s eyes widened before he let out a final breath.
Then Lucien’s body dissipated as his soul entered the void.
Chapter Twenty Four
It was over.
Finway glanced at the brokenness around him: first the remains of the demons Lucien had summoned, then the black robes which the Mahjarrat had donned for the ritual, and then the Staff of Armadyl, a broken relic of ancient times lying in two pieces on the ground. The rod was resting off near the wall of the icy tunnel, but the gemstone was glowing vibrantly from the middle where he had kicked it. The brightness of the rune essence present was the catalyst for its shining, and the light served to contrast the charred ground where the whirlwind of fire had encircled him earlier.
His senses – although heightened – were slowly declining to their natural level. He glanced at his hands for a moment, wondering if his incredible strength remained. It’s fading, he thought with a sigh. However, his abilities had not yet completely left him: he could feel Jhallan’s presence nearby, and Saraboam was not far away. Zemouregal was gone, just like the fallen Lucien before him. He closed his eyes in order to reflect on what just happened, thankful that the fight was over, yet still grateful that he had experienced it all.
The sound of foodsteps jarred Finway from his meditation. He heard a heavy pacing in one of the corridors nearby, still detecting that it was his Mahjarrat ally. He turned quickly towards his right, from the tunnel where he himself had emerged to find Lucien. Jhallan appeared, his robes red and his liche form just as terrifying as before. This time, however, Finway was not afraid.
“Just as I sensed,” the Zarosian seemed almost too joyful for a demon, “Lucien is dead.”
“As is Zemouregal,” Finway remarked. He glanced at Lucien’s empty robes, and a questioned jolted in his mind. “Does this make me the first human to kill a Mahjarrat?”
“Perhaps,” Jhallan stated with some hesitation. “Don’t make a habit of it.”
The comment took the adventurer by surprise. He had seen many emotions in the Mahjarrat race – sadness, anger, happiness, and fear – but this newfound tone of humor took him completely by surprise. He smiled and chucked to himself. Jhallan’s face was bearing a slight grin, which still seemd out of place.
“Your friend is nearby,” the Mahjarrat spoke, changing the subject.
“Yes, I can sense him, too.” Finway shrugged his shoulders as he started to realize how sore he was. No longer empowered by the Stone of Jas, his back began to cry out in pain from one of Lucien’s first blows during their fight. “My powers are wearing off though.”
“Yes, as are mine.” Jhallan paused, then laughed a characteristic, demonic chuckle, similar to before. “You should have sought out Zemouregal. It was I who should have fought Lucien.”
In hindsight, Finway knew he was right. An empowered Mahjarrat would have defeated Lucien much more easily, an opponent far more challenging than his cousin Zemouregal.
“It felt oddly…right, as if I was meant to fight Lucien,” Finway remarked. “I knew he would be the stronger of the two – that you were a much better match for him – but I thought it had to me that killed him.”
“Perhaps a fate greater than either of us is behind you,” Jhallan commented. “How did you defeat him?”
“First, he conjured a spell – one of illusion,” the adventurer explained. “I fought two summoned demons before I saw through it. After that, I barely managed to survive his assault until I realized his power stemmed from what he had stored up in the Staff of Armadyl.” He pointed with his runite blade towards the broken rod on the ground. Realizing he no longer had any need for it, he sheathed the powerful sword, the light blue metal still aglow from the sparkling environment.
Jhallan seemed slightly perplexed by Finway’s explanation before his gaze loosened once more. “He stored his power in the Staff, you say?”
“Yes,” Finway replied. “During the battle, I speculated that the emerald that was on the end had transferred power from the Stone of Jas to itself, so even without a connection to it Lucien could still wield some of its power.”
“A fascinating concept,” the Mahjarrat said. “It is known that great power can be moved by the staff – that is how Zamorak managed to defeat the Empty Lord.”
The reference to Zaros seemed to deepen the situation. With such a potent weapon at hand, Lucien was indeed a threat. His demise was best not just for any cause in particular, but rather for the entire world.
“However, you did not answer my question,” Jhallan commented. “How did you defeat him?”
“I managed to cut off the gemstone from the rest of the staff, crippling Lucien by removing his source of power. After that, the battle turned in my favor.” Finway straightened himself, despite the sharp pain in his back. “He attempted to teleport, but I managed to stop it. He then summoned several more demons, but he did not attack with the same energy as before. It was only a matter of time before I won the fight.”
“Indeed, but it was still the Stone of Jas that claimed you the victor,” Jhallan remarked. “No human could defeat a Mahjarrat, even one as weak as Lucien.”
The words made Finway seem truly powerless against such demons. Still, he knew that it was unlikely a Mahjarrat would even disturb him for the rest of his life, with Lucien’s treacherous faction removed from the picture. Suddenly, the sound of footsteps removed Finway from his thoughts as he beheld the orange robed Saraboam, walking along the icy path around the corner to his left. He was weaving crookedly, preferring to step on the hard rune essence surface rather than the patches of ice that dotted the cavern floor. The old mage was using his wooden staff for support, but other than a slight limp he seemed fine. Finway still noticed his slow pace.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“I slipped on the ice several minutes ago when I attempted to run through,” he replied. “I have some pain in my hip, but other than that I should be alright.” No sooner had he rounded the corner when he beheld the Mahjarrat just behind his young friend. His eyes widened with alarm as he held up his staff. “Finway, look out!”
“No, we are safe!” Finway exclaimed, a grin appearing once more on his face.
“I am Jhallan, and your companion mentioned that he had heard of me before. I understand you to be his traveling companion?”
“Yes,” Saraboam slowly lowered his weapon from its aggressive position. “I am Saraboam, a mage. I recall Jamal’s notes briefly discussed your…existence.”
“Yes, I knew Jamal. Finway and I discussed it already,” Jhallan hastily shot back, uncomfortable with the topic of his now deceased savior. “I understand that you follow the ways of the Empty Lord?”
“I am a follower of the true god of power and fate, and I am at the mercy of the Cause.”
“With Lucien and his treacherous conspirers gone, we have greatly furthered the Cause,” Jhallan said. “I understand that you played a part in that, as well. If you wish, I can fix the pain in your side.”
Saraboam, eyes still widened at the situation, slowly nodded. The Mahjarrat closed his eyes, and without any incantation his hands glowed brightly as he aimed them at the old man. Saraboam let out a short yet audible gasp before feeling his hip. Once Jhallan opened his eyes again, the mage started moving his leg around.
“It feels as well as before.”
“How does your body feel,” Jhallan turned to Finway, “after defeating Lucien? Does it match your spirit?”
“Defeating Lucien?” Saraboam cried out. “You certainly have some explaining to do, Finway!”
The adventurer smiled at his human companion before responding to Jhallan’s inquiry. “I have some pain in my back, but I’ll be alright,” he lied. The suffering was intense, but he felt like he needed it. The agony would help remind him that he was human. In his mind, the entire ordeal with Lucien had only reinforced the notion that a man should never overstep himself. Knowledge of his own mortality was crucial for him to live a normal life hereafter.
“I will explain, soon enough,” Finway stated to Saraboam. “I’ve only just finished recounting it to Jhallan.”
Being able to say a Mahjarrat’s name in their presence held a certain power to it which Finway greatly appreciated. He felt content and safe knowing he was protected by such powerful friends. Turning towards Jhallan the adventurer spoke once more. “I have questions.”
“What happens now, with the Stone of Jas?” Finway asked.
Jhallan paused and closed his eyes, as if meditating on his response.
“It seems as if an object of such power is not safe anywhere.”
He still did not answer. The three stood in an awkward silence, Finway unsure of what was occurring.
“Forgive me,” Jhallan finally spoke, opening his eyes. “Your inquiry reminded me of what I had to do. I just contacted Sliske in my mind, informing him that Lucien and Zemouregal are dead. As for the Stone, it will have to be protected by those of us who remain loyal to our Empty Lord.”
“If I may be so bold,” Saraboam spoke up, noticing the friendly tone of Jhallan towards Finway, “who in particular will see it through? I would have suspected Azzanadra to be behind such an undertaking, but as I’m sure you know he has since passed onto the void.”
A much shorter paused ensued. “Azzanadra indeed would have done such a thing,” Jhallan sighed, “and we must remember his loyalty. Yet we cannot absorb ourself in the past. Sliske is the most powerful of our number who remained loyal to Zaros. That slippery shade will have to lead us. Until the Cause can be completed, and Zaros returned to power.”
Saraboam nodded. Finway understood that these details were important to him, a human Zarosian. In his heart, the adventurer wished that he had beliefs that were as strong as the old mage’s. In the middle of his thought, a sparkling green light struck his eye. He turned towards it, remembering the gemstone that had adorned the Staff of Armadyl before he had removed it from the ancient weapon.
After taking several paces towards the center of the room, he crouched towards the charred stone floor and picked up the powerful jewel. Looking up, he realized both Saraboam and Jhallan had their eyes fixed on him. “This was the gemstone Lucien had used to store the Stone’s power.”
“And not just Lucien had used such a stone,” Jhallan added with a strong hint of disgust in his words.
“This jewel…” he looked over the emerald, wondering at its capabilities, “…it seems similar to those of Azzanadra, the one’s he had encrusted onto his sword.”
“Yes,” Jhallan remarked, “such rarities are often used to store power. Azzanadra’s diamonds were incredibly useful for such a task, but even together they paled in comparison to what you have in your hands.”
Finway’s eyes furrowed in amazement. “What is to be done with it, then?”
“I do not know,” the Mahjarrat admitted.
“Would it be alright if I kept it?”
The question took both the Zarosian’s by surprise.
“I do not know what use you would have for it,” Jhallan’s gaze narrowed in on him.
“Finway, a weapon of that magnitude has no use in the hands of humans. It is best left to more…competent beings.”
“Perhaps,” the adventurer grinned. “But perhaps it could even out the battlefield, if one ever exists. Saraboam, you are a Zarosian and have the protection of Sliske, Jhallan, and whatever other beings professes that faith. As for me, I am left defenseless against the powers we’ve witnessed today.”
After a brief moment of silence, Jhallan laughed, but Finway could detect the nervousness behind it, even without his senses heightened. “I do not see any major issue with you keeping it, so long as you swear to never use it against the Cause.”
“You have my word that I will never use this against a Zarosian, whether he may be a friend or foe to me or my country.”
The conversation paused again, and the Mahjarrat nodded. “I will have to inform Sliske and the others who profess our faith that you possess it. Is that clear?”
“Consider it your reward for dealing with Lucien,” Jhallan explained.
With a smile, Finway turned towards Saraboam as he stood up. “You were right about this quest. I’ve gained much – “he held the gemstone in his right hand “ – and not just this...jewel. This experience has taught me much more about the world, about your Cause,” he paused, taking in a deep breath, “and about myself. I know now what I want.”
“And what is that?” the old mage inquired, a smile manifesting itself upon his lips.
“To settle down. To be done with this life of commissions and quests. To live peacefully with those that I love in the realm that I helped to protect.”
“Indeed, that is a life many mortals wish to live,” Jhallan remarked, “and I am glad that you can achieve such a thing.”
“This adventurer isn’t just your greatest adventurer, but mine as well,” Saraboam said. “I haven’t defeated any great demons, but I am content knowing that I have furthered the Cause of Zaros. Additionally, I’ve gained some valuable insight into the theory of magic…of runes…” The old man reached over and scrapped his hands against the icy, runestone wall. He withdrew an air rune from his satchel, and compared the two.
“Would you care to explain it?” Finway asked. Jhallan, too seemed interested.
“Your magical talents, although a jest in the eyes of my kind, are nonetheless impressive,” the Mahjarrat spoke. “Few mortal races ever uncover the hidden power beneath the surface of the world. Tell us more.”
“Contact with the Stone of Jas changes the landscape around it into purified rune essence, a stone which transmits magical properties. These runestones can be enchanted into more specific stones which allow for humanity to cast any spell at all.” The old man was smiling with excitement, and Finway had never seen him so happy before. “In my time at the Wizard’s Tower of Misthalin, there were writings that hypothesized a connection with an artifact such as the Stone of Jas, but none were taken too seriously. This journey has confirmed them for me.”
“Impressive,” Finway acknowledged. Perhaps once I leave the king’s commission, he thought, I’d have adequate time to study such things.
“What’s more,” the mage continued, “is that your runite sword has been glowing since we entered these caves.” Finway unsheathed the blade. He had nearly forgotten about it, and his curiousity sparked once more.
“What is the explanation for that?”
“Perhaps if the runestones are created when rock comes into contact with the Stone of Jas, then runite is formed when metal comes into contact with it. There’s only one way to confirm this, however.”
Finway’s attention was soaring. “How so?” he inquired.
“Take out your Symbol of Saradomin.”
Finway was taken aback. “For what?” he asked. Jhallan was equally attentive. The adventurer slowly reached back and opened his small bag of belongings. Inside was the necklace, and the Mahjarrat seemed uncomfortable around the relic. However, one thing was obviously different: the once silver amulet was now light blue, the chain and pendant both formed of incredibly strong runite.
“Incredible,” he spoke. “This also explains why runite ore is so rarely unearthed and only then in such difficult-to-reach locations.
“I’ll have to write a treatise on it yet, but it could lead to something.”
“Indeed,” Jhallan stated, “you humans are a very curious race, and I hope that no ill befalls either of you in you. However, I believe the time for you to depart is at hand.”
“What will you do?” Finway asked the Mahjarrat.
“I’ll serve Zaros. Sliske has always been independent, and I doubt that will change, even if he does lead our faction.”
“What of the Zamorakian Mahjarrat? I know that Lucien and Zemouregal are no longer a threat, but what of Hazeel and Khazard?” Finway asked. He knew there were others, but he could not recall the names.
“Hazeel, Khazard…as well as Enakhra,” Jhallan added.
“So the Zarosian loyalists outnumber the Zamorakians?”
The Mahjarrat nodded. “Yes, but it is not that simple. Hazeel is very powerful, and I know that he has been gathering power in the west for some time. Bilrach will surely attempt to join their side, so he may have to be hunted down before he can reunite with Zamorak. Zemouregal probably swayed him towards Lucien – he never had the strongest willpower amongst us.”
Finway nodded, and Saraboam gazed solemnly.
“However, as I said before, it is probably best that we part ways.”
“Can we teleport?” Finway asked Saraboam.
“Yes, I believe so,” the mage replied.
“Goodbye, Jhallan. I am grateful I encountered you when I did – Zemouregal and Lucien would surely have slain me if I was forced to fight both.” Finway almost felt a need to hold out his arm for a handshake, but realized that Mahjarrat probably saw nothing of importance in a merely physical gesture.
“I, too, am grateful, and I am proud to have met another follower of the Cause.”
Jhallan simply nodded. “I hope your lives make you content and fulfilled, humans.”
Saraboam withdrew several law runes, as well as handful of fire and air runes. “This spell should teleport us just north of Varrock,” he explained. Finway knew that certain runes could designate certain areas. He wondered if that, too, was affected by the Stone of Jas. He thought it best not to ask.
A blue aura surrounded them. It seemed to go all around both of their bodies, but then immediately dissipated.
“What just happened?” he asked, confused.
“The teleportation spell didn’t work,” Saraboam concluded.
Jhallan musked a low growl and Finway took it to be a sigh of some sort.
“Yes, that’s right,” the Mahjarrat mused. “Since the Demon Tide was established, humans have been prevented from teleporting when nearby. It’s a means of safeguarding our kind against the wayward affects of…less competent races.” He paced towards them. “Here, I should be able to teleport you safely.” Jhallan stopped when he was an arm’s length from the pair. “Where would you like to go?”
“Somewhere in the wilderness north of Varrock,” Saraboam stated.
“I’ll need a more precise location,” the Mahjarrat admitted.
An idea struck Finway’s mind. He had ventured into the wilderness several times before in the service of Varrock and King Roald. “Jhallan, there are ruins several miles west of the chaos temple…they are distinguished by a very sharp rock formation facing their eastward side. Do you know them?”
“I have long forgotten what they are called,” he admitted, “but yes, I can teleport you there. Is this the location you would prefer?”
Saraboam and Finway glanced at eachother. “Yes,” the adventurer stated.
“Very well. Farewell, humans!”
In a purple haze, the two mortals’ world shifted. When the teleportation spell lifted just a few seconds later, they were greeted with the sun shining lightly between two clouds in an otherwise overcast day. The ground was wet as if it had just fallen, and they landed on brown soil with no sign of grass. A small set of stone ruins, just as Finway had stated, were at their backs, a small cliff of stone on one side of the ruined tower.
“We’re just a few days north of Varrock,” Finway explained. His thoughts were racing, excited to be home and very much pleased with the adventure he had just endured. No, not endured, he thought, triumphed throughout. The experience was one to which nothing else would ever comprehend.
“So, you found the Stone of Jas and brought down Lucien singlehandedly?” Saraboam inquired with a wide smile upon his aging countenance. “I believe you owe me an explanation. I want full details.”
Finway grinned. “I’ve explained this story once so far, but I suppose I’ll give it another try.”