For his third attempt, Mammon had elected to behave more prudently.
Shroud observed him circling the castle, protected by his diamond skin and followed by cameras. After his failure to teleport inside his stronghold, the monster had elected to remain as far as possible from the main entrance. After his defeat at Violet’s hand, he must have been eager to look for an alternative entrance.
The fact the Midnight King hadn’t cast his time-acceleration boost did intrigue the watcher. Mammon had no reason not to make himself stronger; could it be that his magic worked on a finite power reserve while in the artificial world?
No, now that he thought of it, how did non-Magik users cast spells? How did they learn them?
Mammon finally stopped in front of a wall on the opposite side of the castle, raising a hand at the stone. “Dissolve,” he spoke with a strong word of power, an orange glow surrounding his palm.
On contact, the stone melted into orange particles, the entire wall collapsing on itself and leaving a gaping hole for Mammon to go through. The Midnight King didn’t step into the darkness immediately, though. “Golems, rise!” he said with a booming, dramatic voice, shining with orange light as he slammed his tentacles to the ground. “Reinforce.”
From the mud and stone below rose vaguely humanoid animated statues, four misshapen piles of rocks animated by orange light. Each towered over Mammon himself, who raised an arm.
Mammon could use both Violet and Orange, two opposing colors. Perhaps the odd combination explained his Lock’s strange power. So far his Violet spells mostly focused on time magic and his Orange magic on matter manipulation. “At my command, golems, on the move! Clear the path and come back to me.”
Shroud knew where this would go before Mammon sent his silent minions into the new tunnel. His creatures would trigger traps and clear the path. Ulysses had used a similar tactic during their Dungeons & Dragons sessions, sending summoned creatures as cannon fodder. He took a peek at the creatures’ stats.
Level 30 Flux-Powered Reinforced Stone Golem
– Reinforced (Damage taken diminished by 90 percent)
– Finite Lifespan (will collapse within one hour of existence)
– Ailment Immunity (Mental Effects, Poison, Paralysis, Petrification, Bleed)
So they wouldn’t last forever. Good. One hour would give them enough time to make progress, however.
In spite of the lava having taken over most of the first floor, Mammon’s bypass gave him quick access to floor two, a maze of dead-ends tunnels inhabited by goblins and serpentfolk. The king’s own invulnerability meant the floor’s monsters couldn’t possibly strike back, even if they killed the golems. They were condemned.
“Retreat,” he ordered his minions, as he watched the golems spread through a crossroad of tunnels, moving far faster than their size and mass would indicate. “Do not engage.”
Most of his minions spread deeper into the tunnels, but the golems caught a few stragglers. Shroud watched the rock piles smash and grind the bones of his snakefolk minions with their bare “hands” into paste. The sheer power of their blows made the floor tremble.
Shroud wondered if Mammon could see through his minions, which may prove problematic.
Most of the tunnels were dead ends, but one golem had found the right path, finding brick stairs at the end of a long, serpentine cavity. The golem climbed them to the third floor, ending up in a circular room, covered with ancient mosaics and murals. The only other door, shaped like a green demon’s mouth, revealed stairs leading to thick darkness.
Ignoring the murals, the golem walked through the stairs.
One second later, he got sucked into the void and died.
DEATH! (Flux-Powered Reinforced Stone Golem 0/1880).
Shroud couldn’t help but smile every time someone triggered that trap. A homage to a horrible dungeon that traumatized him from his childhood, he had hidden a giant black orb in the middle of the stairs, obscured by darkness.
Everything that touched it died instantly. Even Mammon’s Reload spell wouldn’t save him.
There was a chest containing a medal hidden behind the sphere, to bait uncareful treasure hunters, and reward those smart enough to find a way around the obstacle. If Mammon was as greedy as his name implied, he would probably try to grab it as he did with the level’s other prizes, consequences be damned.
However, as Shroud noticed the golems return to their master after encountering dead-ends, he realized Mammon wouldn’t fall for the same trick twice. The only other trap that could defeat the king, the petrification rune on the door to his own throne room, Mammon could negate with a well-placed Reload. Too high a gamble to let him get this far.
There had to be a flaw in his magical protections that he had overlooked.
… an idea crossed his mind.
When Mammon had reappeared at a checkpoint after his previous death by incineration, he hadn’t kept his invulnerability skin on. A reset disabled his buffs.
Which meant that he was briefly vulnerable during a very short window of time, between his reappearance at a save point and him casting his protective spells.
Shroud glanced at the Annihilation Sphere. Death by the device would send the victim back at the room right before, where the secret passage to the floors above awaited for those who deciphered the murals’ puzzle.
“Goblins,” he told his weakest, smallest minions, a gang of four critters that would hardly threaten Mammon in a straight fight, “take poisoned weapons and position yourselves at the room before the sphere.”
The critters moved into the tunnels, while the three remaining golems returned to Mammon. “Where is the fourth?” he asked, the golems remaining silent. The Midnight King turned to his cameras. “It seems great danger lies ahead! I can’t wait to see where it goes!”
Me too, Shroud thought.
Mammon crawled into the tunnels, his golems forming a personal guard around him. They moved into the crossroads where Mammon’s minions separated. “Where did the fourth go?” The golems pointed at a tunnel. “Onward, all three of you before me.”
By then, the goblins had started climbing the walls of the mural room, hiding in the dark corners of the ceiling, readying daggers. “Wait for it now,” Shroud ordered. “Wait for the chest to teleport at the room’s center, and attack him.”
He hoped Mammon would take the bait, or else this would be a huge waste of time and resources.
The Midnight King and his troops soon climbed the stairs to the room. Mammon immediately glanced around the room, as if expecting lava to fall on him.
Stealth vs perception check…
Shroud crossed his fingers.
Perception check failed.
The sorcerer breathed in relief. Thank the gods goblins had stealth bonuses.
“I failed a perception check,” Mammon said, making Shroud freeze. “Which means there is a trick here which the King cannot see. Golems, check the walls for traps.”
The stone automatons touched every inch of the murals, while Mammon glanced at the green demon archway. “Mammon senses a treasure nearby… but the King knows better than to let his greed run rampant.”
Shroud trembled in impotent frustration.
After his golems finished searching for traps, the Midnight Market’s ruler checked the puzzle on the mural. “Perish now, anathema, for you will find naught but a proud enemy beyond this door. Sounds like a puzzle, or a warning.”
The key was to type on specific letters in order to write “path open,” so the true gate would open. Shroud had worded it to mislead players into thinking a powerful foe laid beyond the open archway.
“Also, viewers, remember to call our Midnight Market number for the chance to gain your own fabulous, gold-plated spaceship!” Mammon told the camera, taking a break from dungeon crawling for a commercial break, “Just answer this question! What is the name of this game? A: Orpheon, or B: Fantazia! You only have five minutes!”
Shroud had a feeling telecommunications for the call would be vastly overpriced.
After careful consideration, Mammon focused his attention on the green demon archway. “You there,” he told a golem. “Clear the path and come back to me.”
The stone automaton obeyed, climbing the stairs and vanishing into darkness, away from Mammon’s sight.
DEATH! (Flux-Powered Reinforced Stone Golem 0/1880).
Mammon waited five minutes for the golem to come back to him, unaware it had been destroyed. It appeared the king had no mental collection to his animated minions. “It appears a strong foe waits ahead,” Mammon told the camera. “Let us see. Formless.”
Mammon extended his hand into the archway, unaware of the trap ahead; perhaps he expected only sending his hand into the passage to preserve him. His fingers scrambled about the stairs, slowly approaching the dark, invisible orb in the path.
The king’s index finger found death.
DEATH! (Mammon, 0/6666).
Mammon disintegrated on the spot, reappearing at the center of the room, his protections dropped. “Now!” Shroud ordered, his minions attacking before he even finished his word.
Falling from the ceiling like vultures, wielding poisoned daggers, four goblins landed on Mammon and slashed him from all directions.
Negligible damage! -1, Poisoned!
“What?” Mammon said, still reeling from his sudden death beforehand and barely feeling any damage. The golem closest to Mammon moved to grab a goblin, crushing it with a single blow. Not that it stopped the rest from grazing Mammon’s flesh.
Negligible damage! -1, Poisoned!
“Gorgon Gaze!” Mammon unleashed a blinding flash, turning his assailants and his own golems into gold statues. The Midnight King tossed the petrified goblins to the ground, looking at their weapons and noticing the drops of poison at their tip.
Regeneration, +300; Poison – 66 (Mammon, 6666/6666)
“No, no, no, not again!” The Midnight King snarled in anger, now down to his last life. He glanced in all directions, then turned to the ceiling. “Wait, I still have time!”
He extended his arms to the ceiling, his hands coated in an orange glow. “Dissolve!” His fingers went through the stone like butter and kept extending through the fourth floor.
Mammon’s breakthrough stopped when he reached the area’s highest point, a stone bridge leading to a massive black door, battered by the winds.
Shroud himself hid right beyond those gates.
“You know what people?” Mammon told the camera, as the glow around his hands vanished. His fingers grabbed stone, to lift him up. “Screw the exploration, let’s go straight for the kill!”
Regeneration +300; Venom – 134 (Mammon, 6666/6666)
Realizing that Mammon intended to bypass the whole dungeon, Shroud sent a message to all his remaining minions. “Gather before the throne room’s door and stop the intruder!”
His hands firmly anchored to the pathway above, Mammon reduced the length of his arms, turning his motion into a lift to the above.
Mammon let out a snarl as he started taking damage, reaching the stone bridge and landing on it safely, the cameras all focusing on him. He was welcomed by a rain of arrows, turning his skin to diamond before they could hit.
Error, failure to inflict damage!
While the minibosses remained limited to their areas, all remaining troops in the castle had arrived; nearly three dozen reptilian warriors, goblins, and other critters made their way to the bridge, trapping Mammon between them and the door.
Regeneration + 300; Venom – 268 (Mammon, 6666/6666)
Shroud’s troops nailed Mammon with spears and arrows, which harmlessly bounced off of him. The Midnight King ignored them, bolting towards the gates.
Using One with the Land, Shroud summoned strong gusts of wind to slow him down before he could reach the door, allowing his troops to catch up to Mammon. “Push him off the bridge!” Shroud ordered.
His troops grabbed Mammon with their tiny hands, trying to drag the beast off into the void below.
“Out of my way! Gorgon Gaze!” Mammon snarled, unleashing a blinding flash around him. Dozens of his minions turned to gold, but not all of them; lucky ones avoided the deadly light by hiding behind their own teammates.
Regeneration + 300; Venom – 536 (Mammon, 6430/6666)
Shrugging off the golden statues around him, Mammon quickly extended his arms, tossing the surviving minions off the bridge with a whipping motion. Goblins went crashing onto the ground into a bloody paste or vanished screaming into the hole Mammon had made.
Now in front of the door, Mammon raised a fist and propelled it through the gates. Shroud only had the time to dive to the ground, the arm punching through his throne and demolishing it.
Regeneration + 300; Venom – 1072 (Mammon 5658/6666)
Door trap activated! Petrification rune triggered!
“Rel—” Mammon ran out of time before finishing, the spell trap on the door turning him to stone.
Shroud let out a sigh of relief upon rising back to his feet, he and his remaining minions looking at Mammon’s statue. If the King remained petrified for ten seconds—and the ailment lasted far longer—he would get a game over, and Shroud would win automatically.
A purple glow surrounding Mammon dashed his hopes.
Shit, the King was using his time sorcery to reduce the petrification length and escape before the ten second game over mark!
Think, Shroud. As long as he survived long enough, the poison would kill Mammon. “Keep him busy,” he told his remaining minions, knowing they were doomed.
He hoped all those points in agility weren’t for show.
Running past Mammon and to the bridge, Shroud, full of adrenaline, relied on the secret technique that had so far always ensured his survival.
With all the momentum he could muster, Shroud leaped over the edge just as Mammon broke out of the petrification, smashing through his remaining minions. The Midnight King locked eyes with his foe, astonished, as he tried his hand at angel jumping.
Regeneration + 300; Venom – 2144 (Mammon 3814/6666)
As he fell, the wind brushing against his face, Shroud noticed the damage and regeneration appearing as numbers above Mammon’s head. Another round of poison damage and that would be it.
“Coward! Get back here!” Mammon snarled, as he prepared to jump over the edge too.
With inhuman agility only a video game character could muster, Shroud managed to run over the stone walls, before making a ‘soft’ landing on the grass outside the castle.
-1000 fall damage! Mathias Martel (820/1820)
Thank the game designers that falling damage was capped at one thousand.
It still hurt like hell.
He barely had the time to get back to his feet and run away, as Mammon launched himself from above. “Sizeshift!” the Midnight King shouted, shining with orange light.
As he flew towards Shroud, Mammon quickly increased in size, getting past the twenty feet tall mark within seconds and continuing to grow.
Putting all he had in a final sprint, Shroud ran as fast as he could to escape Mammon’s shadow, before the giant could squash him under his immense body. Mammon’s size peeked at eighty feet tall, a flying chest that put buildings to shame.
Shroud accelerated, finding himself struggling for breath. His own camera followed him like a horrible bird, zooming on his face for the audience’s delight.
But he made it.
He escaped Mammon’s deadly shadow two seconds before the giant hit the ground, sending debris flying and making the ground shake; the shockwave propelled Shroud a few meters forward, making him roll on the side on the grass.
– Regeneration + 300; Venom – 4288 (Mammon 0/6666)
The giant Mammon snarled, as a strange sound, not unlike Magik Online’s notifications, echoed through the game world. The Midnight King didn’t collapse like the other times, but the giant fumed with anger. Doubly since it had been a close call; Shroud had been two seconds away from becoming a puddle of blood underneath his chest.
Still panting and laying on the grass, Shroud raised his fist with a victorious roar, “I did it!”
He had designed a game so hard, not even all-powerful wizards could finish it! Take that, Atlus!
Mammon didn’t share his enthusiasm, his eyes blinking in quick succession. It seemed he couldn’t even register that he had lost yet.
“Cut!” Due to his size, his voice boomed stronger than thunder; the stage’s cameras going offline. “Ace, Ace, AAACEEE!”
“Yes, Your Majesty?” his assistant’s voice answered through the cameras.
“How are the ratings?”
“Through the roof, Your Majesty. I took the liberty to add a commercial break right before your life points hit zero, to heighten the suspense. Best cliffhanger of the season yet.”
“A commercial break? The King plushies?”
“The King plushies.”
“Good job, Ace. Add the new spaceship limited-collection right afterward.”
As Mammon discussed money with his assistant, Shroud rose back up and glanced around himself. Mammon’s landing had devastated the marsh and most of the nearby castle’s walls, but the level didn’t look as if it would collapse anytime, making him frown.
At least his friends were safe and sound.
“You stress me, Mathias.”
Before Shroud could react, moving at a speed one wouldn’t suspect from his immense size, Mammon’s giant fist smashed him.
-9999 smash damage! (Mathias Martel 1/1820).
“That one was for free,” Mammon said.
Shroud would have answered if he could do more than lay on the ground; the blow should have turned him into paste and shattered his bones, but while it hurt like hell, he was still in one piece and able to move. His eyes shifted to his status screen.
The rules of the artificial world still applied… he would live as long he had one lifepoint remaining… why did he keep one after such a blow?
Mammon’s hand grabbed Shroud like a doll, bringing him up right in front of the Midnight King’s humanoid face. “I swear to my Dark Father,” Mammon said. “Few have been such a pain in my bottom. If I had known a small fry like you would prove so troublesome, I would have read that game’s stupid rules with more attention.”
“You can only blame yourself…” Shroud replied, catching his breath. “For your overconfidence.”
“True. I would say congrats for pushing me this far, but you will live just long enough to regret it.”
The fiend’s icy tone made Shroud wince, as much as his voice’s volume. “I won the wager fair and square,” he replied.
“Oh, I will keep my word. King Mammon is no deal breaker.” The sorcerer noticed a few gems in Mammon’s hoard, whose size had shifted to match his, had turned white and empty. “But you will all die, you and your little gang. I will kill every single one of you and shower in your gold.”
The sorcerer glared at the giant. “You said you would let us go.”
“No, no, no,” Mammon waved his finger. “I said I would release your friends if you won four rounds. I never said I would not kill them, nor you for that matter.”
“I assumed that was part of the package.”
“You assumed wrong. I cannot allow a human to make a fool out of me on my own show. So, you will give me a fifth chance, and I will win this time. Or else I will kill you all. You will still be free, just dead.”
Wait, why did he even need his consent? Unless… unless…
Shroud erupted in laughter, taking the Midnight King back. “You need me to agree,” the sorcerer figured out. “That was why you did not kill me. You can’t. You have to obey the game’s rules! Since you exhausted your four tries, you can no longer kill me!”
Mammon’s countless eyes turned crueler. “You would be surprised what mortals can live through.”
“But I have to consent for your Lock to accept a change of rules,” Shroud guessed. “If I say no, it ends right there and now. And you will have lost in public.”
“Oh, so cute, you think you can bargain with Mammon?” the Midnight King cackled with contempt. “I will have this show edited to undo my defeat. No one will know.”
“No one,” Shroud replied, modulating his tone to sound smug and condescending, “but you.”
The Midnight King’s silence told him he had hit right at home.
“You may hide it from everyone else, but deep down, you will always remember that a human without your godlike power beat you! Outwitted you! That you are no invincible King of Games!”
Mammon tried to crush Shroud within his fist. This time though, it didn’t hurt; Shroud felt nothing.
FAILURE TO INFLICT DAMAGE!
Mammon sighed in annoyance. Shroud kept glaring back at the petty tyrant.
Unfortunately, while ending the game would hurt Mammon right in his enormous ego, Shroud would default on his, and his friends’ life. The Midnight King remained nigh invincible in a fight; the current confrontation had just driven the point home.
Shroud had to turn this mutual defeat into a victory. “If I agree to a fifth round, and I lose,” he began, drawing Mammon’s full attention. “You still release my friends and allow them to leave unharmed. You will not kill them.”
“But you will be dead,” Mammon already seemed to relish the thought, caressing every word.
Shroud bit his lip. “But I will be dead. I will even make a good face on camera if needed.” As long as his friends got out of this mess alive, he would accept his fate.
“Good, good. I agree— ”
“I’m not done. If I win, we all leave safe and unharmed, myself included. You will not take revenge on me for tonight’s events, whether directly or indirectly. And no sixth round. This is the final one, and we both abide by the results. No last minute change. You will only be allowed to use the spells you used during your fourth try, so no stopping time.”
“And why would I ever agree to that?” Mammon let out a maniacal laugh. “You think you are so smart because you got the better of me once? I know where your friends on Earth live, Mathias Martel.”
It took all his willpower for Mathias not to break his mask.
“Pretty Persephone and little Ulysses, and their sweet mother, too. Trying to rebuild their life after you destroyed yours. Do you think they are safe in Concordian territory? Booz could only trade in Evermarsh because I allowed it. A word from me, and they will be dead before the next sunrise. I will mail them to you, one body part at a time.”
Mathias would have folded.
Shroud knew better than let that asshole sink his hands into him. “Sure.”
Mammon paused. He hadn’t expected that answer.
“Go ahead,” Shroud bluffed, his voice as cold as winter. “Kill them, I don’t care. They served their purpose.”
“You think that by lying, you will protect them from me?”
“If this is the best threat you can come up with, then this negotiation is over,” Shroud bluffed. Without Network activating, he had no idea if Mammon believed him or not. For the first time in a long while, he could only hope without relying on his social cheat code.
But Shroud had gained a certain insight into others in the last month, and he could see Mammon hesitating. Would he truly take the risk of being wrong? He had the feeling Mammon valued his pride too much for that.
“I could torture consent out of you,” the Midnight King said, dropping the Werner card for a more personal threat. “I have all the time in the world.”
No way around it then. Shroud looked at him dead where his head’s two eyes should have been. “I do not think you understand who you are talking to.”
“Pain, sacrifice, humiliation, none of this matter to me. There is only one thought, always in my mind. Victory, for me and my team. And there is nothing I will not do, nor endure,” he said, his tone cold and threatening, “to win.”
He really, really hoped all those years of role-playing villains would pay off today. Or else, he and his team faced a fate worse than death itself.
Mammon and he faced one another in tense silence for several seconds then an agonizing minute. Each unwilling to give the other an inch.
Then, Mammon started laughing.
Shroud remained as straight-laced as ice, as the monster kept cackling higher, and higher, holding his ribs with his free hand. “Oh my… I haven’t laughed so hard since… since forever!”
Eventually, the Midnight King calmed himself. “Congratulations, Mathias, you have earned my respect.”
… Shroud didn’t let any surprise show on his face.
“I thought you were a man, but deep down you have a fiend’s, black heart!” There was something deeply shameful in being congratulated by Mammon. “You will make such a terrific Malebranche!”
Mammon’s mood-swing creeped Shroud out, doubly so when he added, “I’ve changed my mind, a final round will not be necessary. I will allow you and your ‘team’ to live a little longer. I have a far, far better idea!”
Before Shroud could reply, Mammon put him back on his place, before turning his giant face towards the inactive cameras. Shroud didn’t allow himself a sigh of relief, just in case this was a trick of some sort.
“And we are back online, viewers!” Mammon cackled, as the cameras put themselves on again. “Yes, it happened. I, Mammon, your beloved champion, has been defeated!”
Tearful music echoed through the level, which made Shroud sick. This chest bully embodied all he hated about oppressors and their hypocrisy, presenting a nice image to hide the rot underneath.
“It seems this season will be a turning point! A darker shift, as the games grow more dangerous, and enemies more fearsome! For the first time in my immortal life, I will have to train… to sweat… to win! So stay tuned for next episode!”
Shroud, almost expecting a trick, began to count the time.
Three. Mammon hadn’t moved.
Two. The violet and orange colors around the level intensified.
One. The false world was swallowed by light.
For a moment, Shroud couldn’t see anything, as the entire dimension collapsed on itself. He wondered if Mammon had cast a spell on him, turning his victory into a sudden, cruel defeat. That would have been a twist worthy of an intergalactic show.
Yet, when the light died out, revealing a silent casino and a still stunned audience, Shroud allowed himself a breath of relief.
For a long, long moment that felt like an hour, nobody dared say anything nor break the silence, for fear of upsetting Mammon.
Then someone dared to clap.
Like everyone else, Shroud glanced at the suicidal daredevil. Lugh. “I owe you one, Ace,” the Arcadian Reaver spoke, ignoring Mammon’s malevolent glare.
Then others started clapping, the strange being called Graff and the blonde woman; the first clapped strongly, the other slower, but with more firmness.
Nobody else dared though. Ace gave a discreet wink at Shroud, but that was it.
Mammon’s eyes glanced at his defiers, then at Shroud himself. However, instead of venom and hate, the Midnight King seemed strangely enthusiastic. “Congratulations on surviving your job interview, Mathias.”
Shroud blinked behind his helmet. “Excuse me?”
“You are now one of my game viziers!” Mammon’s showmanship was almost painful to listen to. “You will organize our next Crimson Epoch’s challenges and ordeals, with the same skills you displayed against me!”
“So this was all a test?” someone called in the assistance.
“Of course,” Mammon spoke with apparent sincerity. “The King only accepts games that can challenge him as fair for his contestants.”
— The King could not allow himself to look weak. For his power to remain, his court must believe him infallible —
No. That wasn’t a test, just a last minute improvisation of a PR-addict desperate to save face. Shroud was taken aback, noticing Ace making signs in the background.
— Why wasn’t that idiot taking the miraculous golden exit? Either Mammon saved face with his lie, or his fury would know no bounds… the King was fickle in his moods. —
Yes, better not to anger the near-invincible time-controlling mimic.
Shroud nodded to Mammon, thankful his helmet for hiding his disgust. “A pleasure to serve.” He couldn’t fully tone down the sarcasm in his voice, no matter how hard he tried.
It seemed that a few recognized the scene as the farce it was, but no one dared to call the bluff. Well, Lugh held his chest in laughter, but everyone ignored him. So the lie became the truth.
“Congratulations on your new job.” “Nice work!” “Can’t wait to see what comes next.” “A human organizer? Interesting!” “Best King’s Conquest episode of the season by far.”
Mammon graciously extended his hand over the table, which Shroud shook. He could feel the pressure threatening to crush his bones. “The King expects great things from you, Shroud. I will not lose next time.” He spoke that part with good cheer, like any spirited contestant, yet the sorcerer could sense the cold malevolence.
Shroud had made an unpleasant new enemy.
Although, as he saw the spell on Kari, Maggie and Sol dispel, and Mur’s birdcage open, he allowed himself a smile.
Side Quest: Mammon’s Revenge, Fulfilled!
Your Network Lock has started upgrading (⅓)
Whatever threat laid ahead, they would beat it.
Voting for Magik: Voting button
First, an enormous, thankful nod to my real-life sponsors on Patron: Dex, BlissForgotten, Johnathan, Marc Claude Louis Durand, Rhodri Thornber, Drekin, Bald Guy Dennis, Floodtalon, Dax, Karolus, Daniel Zogbi. As per their will, the quest chapter for 34 is “Get Smashed!”
Friends and I opened a Youtube channel yesterday on fiction, where we publish both analysis and reviews of web serials/comics (those will come in May). Our first video actually adapts one of the articles on this very website about protagonists. You can check it out there if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyEOn160UmM