Roderick was confused. Was Lightshadow or Darkshadow his most trusted friend. Both of them said that the other one was an imposter, and that they were the original, but that just didn’t compute.
Something was wrong about those statements.
He tried to show Darkshadow how valiantly he destroyed the fearsome fire-throwing mimic that was disguised as a simple torch, but when he turned around, Lightshadow was standing there. He wanted to slay that imposter for killing his most trusted friend Darkshadow again, but then Roderick was disarmed by the statement that maybe neither of them are the original, but that they have signed a truce.
It didn’t help matters that Lightshadow somehow managed to find himself a fiendish frog demon of the abyss as a pet after giving him some cookies and showering the creature with poems of his mischievous greatness.
Unlike the others who were naive, Roderick saw past the friendly guise of the creature, and he was keeping an eye on it, but he didn’t cut it down immediately, for the others would be distraught by such action due to the creature’s demonic charm.
It was homever not enough that Roderick had to think about a treacherous frog and the two Shadows, but his greatest friend Magizor somehow found four of his identical twins in the dungeon.
And Lady Clary was crying, Roderick found it strange that her tears didn’t wash away any of the colours around her eyes, but then he thought about it and it made sense.
Clerics are the representatives of their gods in this realm, and thus they have to look the part. No god would want to have their representative be some filthy peasant with rotten teeth, that’s bad marketing and the god would gain no worshippers. So they probably use their divine powers to bestow their followers with divine make-up.
“Yeah, that’s the only explanation.” Roderick thought to himself.
Once he sorted his mind about the value of make-up in the socio-economic structure of clerical work, Roderick realized that hours had passed and the party was just setting camp in an small safe room where the treacherous frog had led them.
This happened to Roderick quite often, his mind would wander somewhere for hours as he found something intriguing to think about, fortunately his body worked quite well even without his mind, as his code of honour and valour was based on one’s heart and instinct rather than mind.
He said that he would keep watch while the others slept, as he was not tired and had things to think about.
And think he did:
“Why is this called an abandoned ruin if it is so densely populated?” “I have a hunch that this quest for a quest shall end soon, so how come that Clary had no development of character, heroes are supposed to have those no, Otherwise it is not an epic tale is it? Is it because she had angered the Game Master? My character didn’t really change either here, but mine is already exquisitely developed. I’ve heard that these epic tales of heroes have the so called “comedy reliefs”. She must certainly be that.”
As Roderick was thinking about where he fit in the structure of his heroic epic, the Game Master was setting the stage for a finale.
However, the omnipotent deity had to fight the great demon Noitanitsarcorp, a force to be reckoned with that plagues many a god, and thus the heroic epic of the champions was not yet written in the annals of the future, and the Game Master had to shape the present without preparation.
And so the group awoke to a rumbling as of yet unheard, that came from the corridor ahead. Recognizing that sound as the steps of a mighty foe, Roderick realized that this was his time for glory. Each time he encountered a worthy foe in this ruin, circumstances denied him the opportunity of an honourable melee combat, he would be denied no more. He sprinted towards the source of the sound and soon he found himself in a massive chamber of cobblestone riddled with silver and gold coins and; and also a substantial red dragon wyrmling standing atop the equipment of other unfortunate adventurers.
“Oh my god, he just ran in.” Gasped Clary in the meantime as she watched Roderick charging into the unknown”
“Save him!” Said Lightshadow without hesitation and he ran after the chivalrous blood knight
“Stick to the plan.” Shouted Magizor, but no one listened to him and he had to follow suit and run towards danger, ready to kill Roderick himself for his stupidity.
When the other members of the group caught up with Roderick, he was just holding the hilt of his sword, the only remaining part at that point and was advancing towards the dragon through his dooming fire breath with a raised shield.
Roderick noticed his companions arriving, he knew he could count on them, and with a smile he continued pushing forward through the unbearable heat.
Seeing this happening, the others joined the fray and did what they could to slay this great foe in front of them.
Magizor was lamenting the loss of his powers, as an opponent such as this would normally do him no problems, but with his only attacking spells being those of fire, he decided that for the first time ever, he would use a spell to aid another. After the magical incantation was pronounced, an identical image of Roderick was now approaching the dragon from a different angle, diverting the dragon’s attention and taking the heat of the noble warrior.
“Your father was a hamster and your mother smelled of elderberries.” Were the cutting words that Lightshadow had thrown at the Dragon, and despite the bizarreness of it, this effort seemed to hurt the wyrm on both body and mind. When Lightshadow’s voice no longer seemed to have an effect on the dragonling, his body turned into the roguish and dark knave Darkshadow, who seemed to disappear in the shadows, only to appear in a blink of an eye to wound the whelp, and then immediately retreat again.
Clary knew that the Game Master would offer her no more powers after their disagreement, and upon first seeing the dragon, and realizing that such a foe is far beyond their level, she thought that the Game Master was keen on wiping them out and she fell into despair.
But then it came to her, she wouldn’t be brought down by the whims such a god, and despite her lack of powers, she decided that she would wipe the smirk of the deity’s face.
Taking her arsenal of numbered four sided caltrops, she started throwing them at the dragon, annoying him to an extreme. She also still had the powers from her fey heritage and through some devilish chance, she managed to make the dragon asleep for a while using just her fairy magic.
But even though everything was going well, every attack seemed to count, and every caltrop found its target, the group was losing their ground, and the enemy still quite some fight left.
Roderick knew that this fight had to be ended quickly, he had to find a weapon in the pile under him and finish the enemy once and for all. It was then that he noticed a mighty blade right next to him that had to be the work of destiny.
He threw away his shield, as the sword looked too heavy to wield with one hand alone and he grabbed the hilt of the sword. But the sword couldn’t be lifted.
It was then that time around Roderick stopped and he found himself in a metal chamber of steel, weapons and strange alien lutes.
The room contained four large thrones of steel upon which sat four bare-chested warriors of obviously immense power and renown.
One of the stood up, showing his entire colossal stature and he spoke to Roderick.
“You wish to wield our blade warrior?”
Roderick answered: “I just need it to slay a powerful dragon that threatens to destroy my companions.”
“A worthy goal, but are you worthy, are you a true warrior of steel?”
“I have lived my entire life by my heart, I never retreated, when there was a fight I stood and fought. And I will stand and fight for every battle that is to come, even if this were to be the last one. I am not afraid to die.
“You speak good, but what proof do you have.”
“I am not the one to pray nor beg. It seems that valour pleases you, so grant me one request, grant me the chance to prove my valour by actions. And if you do not listen…then to hells with you!”
Upon hearing these words, the gods of metal spoke in unison;
“You warrior were truly born with the heart of steel, our blade is yours.”
And thus Roderick awakened lying on the pile of gold, holding the blade of metal in his hand, and he saw that the dragon was in front of Clary, ready to unleash its full wrath against her gentle body. Remembering the words of the metal warriors he knew there was just one thing to do.
He jumped into the fire to protect Clary. His entire body felt the heat of the thousand suns that came from the dragon’s lungs and Roderick could see that this was not a wound to be healed. But although his body was consumed by fire, he felt no pain, and he could feel immense strength building in his sword arm. While being burned alive he managed to use this strength for one final attack, and using his whole weight…he severed the wyrm’s head from its body.
Clary grabbed Roderick’s body and tried her best to heal him. Darkshadow was watching him from the shadows, hiding the tears forming in his cold unfeeling eyes.
Magizor stood over Roderick, knowing that his injuries were too grave and being with him to his final moments.
They were talking and trying to help, but Roderick could not hear them, he was happy. He died protecting his greatest friends…his only friends.
And with a smile on his Roderick gave his final words: “Give my stuff to my brother Roderick II.”
Magizor closed Roderick’s warm happy eyes and was ready to heed his friend’s last request, but upon trying to grasp the sword of metal, he realized he was not good even for that.
“I’m sorry Roderick.” he said, and for the first time in his life, Magizor truly meant that.
The champions were victorious, but their achievement brought only sadness and not even the spoils managed to fix that.
The tavern where the group was supposed to receive their quest was found miniaturized in the dragon’s treasure and thus the party was just one step away from finishing their task, but such was their sadness that they decided to wait until their grief passes, for entering the inn where it all started would prove to be too much.
Weeks have passed, but finally the Champions decided to finish what had been started and they entered the old familiar tavern once more.
Before asking the barkeep for information about any quests in the area, the trio sat themselves at their old table and remembered in nostalgic silence. A few moments passed, and the companions were to deep in thoughts to notice a stranger entering the tavern.
They paid no heed to the clanking of his armour, nor the shadow that appeared over them as the stranger approached their table. But all of them awoke with shock upon hearing his voice.
“I greet thee noble people, would thou mind me joining thy table. I am the most valorous Roderick II. and I am in need of companions for a chivalrous quest and my good intuition tells me that you are of trustworthy and of good repute.”
All stared in shock at this ghost of Roderick that was unrecognizable from the original, and although they all wanted to say something, they were unable to.
“Ah… I see that your group is complete now…splendid.” Said the barkeeper who went to their table as quickly as possible once he saw Roderick II. standing over them.
“Now I believe that you all are in search of a quest… Have you ever heard of the Emerald Sword?”