Chapter 54: Coordinators

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“Level Two is awesome!”

From above one of the frightened monsters’ pens, Shroud looked on with amusement as Maggie practiced her newly obtained Lightningrod spell. 


Affinity: Red
Dot: 2
Price: 10
Activation: Passive, Thought.

The caster can perceive, control, and absorb electricity; while they cannot generate it, they can absorb it within their body for eventual release with no ill effect. All electricity within one meter of the caster is immediately redirected towards them.

Combined with her Thunderling Hack, it had turned her into a living thunderstorm. Literally. His friend’s features had become almost impossible to distinguish past the torrent of blinding electricity her body generated. Shroud wondered which other spells she would purchase. She had already stockpiled a nice reserve of Spellcoins, even before receiving the influx from the latest Quest. 

Of course, her reaction was nothing compared to Mur’s. 

“Formless!” the fiend toyed with extending his arms, before casting another spell. “Reload!” He returned to normal in a bright flash of violet, glancing at his flank as if expecting an attack. 

The impish magpie had hoarded his Spellcoins like a dragon hoarded his gold, and cashed in with his new level. However, Shroud noticed that he mostly purchased spells that Mammon had used in the past. Was the imp intentionally attempting to mimic the Midnight King’s fighting style? 

— “Those were the old ways, but now we must learn from our enemies and steal what makes them strong,” the shadow of the Maleking whispered. “Their technology, their sorcery, their knowledge… and by blood and steel we shall have them. Until you learn to learn, you will never rise above your meager station.” — 

The Network flash made him freeze on place. Did Mur answer to the Maleking?

Shroud knew peeking into his ally’s mind was a breach of privacy, but the risk of infiltration was too great not to verify… especially after what happened with Melusine and the Administrator’s warnings. 

— “Is Murmur…”

“Murmur is banished, yes. I will have you exiled on another world, far from home, far from my sight.” — 

The Blue Sorcerer sighed in relief. It appeared the imp had indeed served the Maleking once, but been relieved of service. Shroud identified with the Administrator a bit more. Even if he had grown to like Mur, if he had threatened the rest of the group… he probably would have acted the same as the Administrator did with him. 

But on the subject of the Maleking…

“Me, calling me,” Shroud contacted the clones through Network.

“Hell there, number one,” Number Two replied, managing papers and keeping notes in an unknown desk room. His clones had wisely decided to safeguard information outside of the Palace of Shadows. A pity they didn’t register on Magik Online’s chat system. “How are things going on your end?”

“Fine. I believe we should clear the Lair in two days, give it or take. I also gained enough Spellcoins to purchase the Call spell.”

“Ah yes, Team Two researched the subject in depth,” Number Two replied, “I will have them dispelled so you can receive their gathered knowledge and summon new Doppelgangers. They found quite a few Outsiders whom Beastmaster will affect.”

“Dispel Team Five as well,” Shroud said. That team had focused on combat training, especially hand to hand, and he now just had the right spell to put it to use available. “Anything else to report?”

“Reavers aren’t going to retaliate against us for Lugh’s death, according to Team Seven’s intel,” Number Two said. “They are focusing on preparing for the arrival of their patriarch, Lord Revel. So I have assigned them to investigate Mammon and the Epoch. Investigations on the matter are… troubling.”

“He is preparing for war,” Shroud guessed.

“He’s accumulating a lot of weapons and mercenaries, that we know,” Number Two replied. “But what’s more worrying is the prize for the Epoch. Mammon will remain tight-lipped about it until the Epoch’s grand opening, but we heard rumors of one of his owned planets vanishing without a trace.”

Shroud paused. “How can you ‘vanish’ a planet?”

“It was in the sky, and then in a blink, it was gone. I do not believe this is a coincidence.”

No. No, neither did he. “Not even Ace knows the prize.” Shroud had checked. “Keep looking. What about Melusine?” 

Number Two shrugged. Another dead end. “The other research?”

“Ongoing. The name of ‘Malacoda’ is associated with a demon from Dante’s Inferno, the leader of the Malebranche demons guarding the Eighth Circle of Hell, Malebolge, which is right before the deepest and final circle, Cocytus.” 

The Malebranche were the name of the Maleking’s cult, and from what Shroud had gathered from glimpses of Network, Cocytus was a place of great significance to them. “Is he given a personality, or is it just a mention?”

“He is portrayed in the poem as a military leader, superficially polite and reasonable, but a deceiver who tricks Dante on the wrong path. As for the idol he used to communicate with Mammon, Sol will probably give you better details than what we came up with. We need time to come back with more.”

“I will wait, then,” Shroud replied, ending the communication there.

He didn’t have to wait more than twenty minutes before a flood of new memories rushed to his brain, the memories of his Doppelgangers’ Team Two and Team Five merging back with him. Pictures of days spent examining Worlds of Power, researching books and documents on Outsiders, and paying for expensive classes in hand to hand combat with troll mercenaries.

Unlike what he expected, the new memories did not conflict with his previous ones; Premium Thoughts allowed him to organize them, like folders inside his brain. I can’t ever turn that spell into a Hack, Shroud thought, too useful. He made a note to purchase Accel and boost it further once he had more Spellcoins to invest. 

So far, Shroud’s group had gathered most of the non-combat oriented emblems. The Dog had visited the group soon after the Rat trial, speaking of his master visiting him in dream to tell him of Matsumoto’s ‘exceptional devotion,’ satisfying him into granting her the emblem.

If the Goat had been right—and while he clearly withheld some information, most of what he spoke of turned out to be true—then Ox, Horse and Tiger wouldn’t give their emblems without a fight, and they couldn’t obtain the Rooster’s emblem without dealing with those three first. This left only the Dragon’s location as a major mystery. 

He would focus on purchasing tracking or information gathering abilities after the hostile Zodiacs were dealt with. For now, he would focus on obtaining more firepower.

Shroud opened his spell compendium, considering his options. The Call spell, which he had researched extensively and meshed best with Network, he purchased without a second thought. He had enough funds to purchase one Blue spell, or one belonging to his allied colors, and considering the applications of Network, one option stood above the rest.


Affinity: Green
Dot: 2
Price: 8
Activation: Passive, App Switch.

The user’s physical abilities and physiological processes are supernaturally multiplied beyond the natural limits of their species. In general, the caster’s strength and senses are increased by a factor of ten.

Superpowered army, anyone?

He purchased the spell and cast it on himself. For a split second, the world became too much for him. His vision sharpened like that of an eagle, allowing him to see the hidden eyes of the trees around the island, the ants under the grass; and he could hear them, even those on the other shore. Faint scents and smells filled his nose, that of Ace’s perfume and the herbs in Kaguya’s elixirs, and the terrible stench Stitch covered up; and his tongue identified a new taste in his mouth. His sense of touch sharpened, allowing him to sense every small impurity in the glass armor he wore. 

His body quickly adjusted to Powersurge’s effect, and he flexed his muscles. If he could lift up to his usual weight normally, and if it was multiplied by ten… He just needed a cape and a chest symbol, and he could call himself a superhero. 

Shroud decided to take some time to test the spells, especially to check if they could trigger a Hack by merging with his other spells. 


A purple light spread through every inch of his glass armor, the surface undulating to reflect dozens of alien realities, some covered entirely in water, others screaming, burning hellscapes.

New Hack Created!

Master Mirror

Dot: 3
Components: Glass Field + Call
Activation: Active, Thought.

You can summon magical mirrors binding the Planes of existence together within two meters of yourself – this is a teleportation effect. The mirrors allow you to connect to a Plane of your choosing, whom you can observe through the reflection; you can allow Outsiders to pass through the reflection and into the material universe, although you cannot yourself travel to other Planes nor send anything through from your side of the mirror. Outsiders who cross a mirror are bound to the reflection, and can be recalled back into it with a thought.

Unfortunately, Shroud suddenly realized that he could no longer control his glass armor with the same degree as with Glass Field, nearly falling into the lake below. He barely had the time to create an armor of solid light with Lightbringer to compensate and regain control of his flight.

All around him, his lightshards turned inert without the power of Glass Field, dropping on the island.

Not good. 

Shroud could sense his armor through Master Mirror, raising his palm in front of his eyes. His glass gauntlet reflected a shadowy world, cast in darkness. With a mere thought, he tuned the portal to another plane, one covered with shifting, multicolored sand.

However, when he commanded the glass take another shape, he didn’t receive a sensory feedback.

Argh, he could control the gateway part of the mirror, but couldn’t reshape the material the way he did with Glass Field. This limited his range, and he could no longer use lightshards. Neither could he channel Lightbringer through the mirror. 

Discard a card, and draw another, Shroud thought. The loss of Glass Field affected him more than his other spells. That was the very first Hack he ever triggered, and which served him since the beginning of his career.

I cannot be so nostalgic, he thought. Master Mirror was an upgrade, and would synergize with Network. And perhaps he could upgrade it with new colors, all the way to Dot 5.

Happier with the results, Shroud descended, finding Sol practicing the Encode spell a bit farther from the others. “Mathias,” Solomon nodded at him. “Your armor changed.”

“It upgraded,” Shroud responded. Due to relying on Lightbringer for flight and the portals embedded in the glass plates, the Sorcerer now appeared to be wrapped in a suit of stars. “But I will be less effective in direct combat now.”

“You were always better suited for organizing us from the rear and providing us with cover fire,” Sol said, “Leave the vanguard to us.”

“You haven’t leveled up, unlike Mur and Maggie.” The knight shook his head. “Until your sidequest is completed, you will remain at level one.”

“There is more than one way to apply strength,” Solomon replied. “You could combine weaker spells into stronger ones, can you not?”

Yes, but Sol had so far struggled to trigger a Hack, unlike everyone else but Stitch. Shroud guessed his friend wasn’t very good with Magik’s focus on innovation. He vowed to help him practice. “I have come for your counsel. As a priest.”

“Do you have a sin to confess?” Sol arched an eyebrow behind his armor’s visor. 

“Sort of. I spied on Mammon with Network, and I confirmed he is in cahoots with the Maleking,” Shroud told him, drawing a vague stretch of the demon’s statue in the dirt. “The latter used this idol to contact Mammon, and since you’re a priest…”

“I studied demonology,” Solomon confirmed.

Shroud blinked. “You did?”

“Two years ago, I met a man who made me realize I knew less about the world than I thought, and I set to correct that.” The priest’s eyebrows deeply furrowed as Shroud finished this sketch. 

“You recognize it.”

“‘Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names,’” Sol quoted. “‘And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?’’”

“The Book of Revelation?”

“Yes, Mathias. This idol is an image of the Beast of the End Times. One of the two. ‘And I saw another beast rising out of the earth, and it had two horns like a lamb, and it was speaking like a dragon.’” Sol’s frown deepened. “Our recent experiences taught me myths are often true, they may not be accurate. Keep that in mind.”

Shroud nodded, remembering how the Maleking appeared to him in dreams. A lamb who spoke like a dragon… “What if there is only one Beast of the End Times, except it takes various shapes?”

“Two enemies… merciless order, and cruel chaos,” Sol mused. “Concordia brought magic back to earth, and with it, hostile forces long banished.”

Yes. This very space station proved magical entities once thought extinct remained, and that they had a heavy interest in influencing Earth. Malacoda probably sought to return home after eons of exile. 

But what did the Beast of the Apocalypse want with their old planet? Especially one which had already went through one end of the world already? 

A shiver went down Shroud’s spine, as he came up with the most likely explanation. 

To finish the job.

Thanks to the Guild’s newest blessing, stepping inside the Vermillion Bird’s Engine in the early morning had become no more bothersome than enjoying a walk in Evermarsh. 

Shroud stepped into the area, flying over the corpse of a bisected giant worm. Mur and Sol had thoroughly cleaned up this part of the Lair. “Are you sure about our plan of attack?” Ace questioned him, as she stepped out of the teleporter, alongside every Dragonslayer but one. “We leave our flank exposed to Baihu if we try to conquer the south first.”

“And we risk an undead attack interrupting our takeover of the Western Area if we do not deal with the problem first. I can always oversee Baihu’s movements as long as Network functions on him, but the spirits are unpredictable.” Considering that taking over Baihu’s fortress would probably be their toughest challenge, he would rather avoid jeopardizing this one. “Also, solving the undead problem will grant us more Spellcoins and bring Stitch one Quest closer to Level Two, which will boost our firepower further.”

“Although I have purchased a spell which I hope will prove helpful,” Stitch said, ever polite, even though he regretted not bringing his larvae with him. Shroud wanted to keep them in reserve for Concordia. “I would prefer to invest in non-combat powers, especially sensory abilities.”

“Everyone fights,” Mur insisted, Shroud agreeing with him, “Even you, Doc.”

“I understand,” the doctor nodded politely, “I simply say I will help more with other tasks. To each their own niche.”

“Sensory powers can have combat application,” Kari stated, “Like my old Killer Sense.”

“Especially if combined with a boost from Powersurge,” Shroud butted in, “Which I will assign you since your knowledge compensates for the Heal spell.”

“You should have purchased Peak,” Kari said. “With Powersurge.”

After a quick check on her account, Shroud confirmed she had purchased that spell herself. “That sounded redundant,” Shroud replied, “One increases your physical abilities to perfection, the other multiply them.”

“An Olympic boxer made ten times stronger will prevail over a bookworm ten times stronger,” Kari pointed out. “Five hundred kilos multiplied by ten is better than fifty by ten.”

“I can lift more than fifty kilos naturally,” Shroud defended himself, wounded by the implication he didn’t keep himself in shape. “Also, I’m broke.”

Ace didn’t let go of her reservations. “We are one member short,” she pointed out. 

Unfortunately. They had to leave Maggie behind at the base, due to her headband making her a liability in case of a direct confrontation; until she had gotten rid of it—and even Stitch hadn’t found a method to safely remove it—she would remain benched.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t willing to wait further for Maggie to unlock that headband, not with the Baihu deadline approaching. A few more days and Shroud could no longer watch him. 

If anything, being forced to sit out of the battle had hit her enough to focus on her trial; Bai Suzhen promised to help her with meditation, even asking Shroud to assign Maggie Premium Thoughts so she could focus more. Shroud hoped her coaching would show results. Being deprived of a good fighter was one thing, Maggie losing her self-esteem and confidence was another. 

“We will manage,” Shroud replied firmly. “Sol? Please lead the way to the Ox and the Horse.”

“With pleasure,” the priest replied. 

Although the temperature could no longer harm him, it applied pressure on his Mirror Armor, heating it up. He hoped none of his friends’ clothes wouldn’t catch fire. 

Since Sol and Mur had already cleaned most of the level on their own, no monsters bothered them on the way to the Zodiac. In fact, to Shroud’s surprise, most of the locals simply observed the group from afar; a giant beast which the Sorcerer mistook for a lava shark circled around them as they moved from one metal platform to another, but remained distant and dived back under the lava when Mur threatened them. 

When Shroud noticed a group of reptilian, humanoid beasts watching from afar on another shore of the molten lava river, he received a Network flash that clarified the situation. 

— “The Players will come to challenge us,” Ox-Head told the magamen, “Stay out of their way, and leave them to us.” — 

The wardens of this area expected a visit. “Guys, prepare for battle,” Shroud told the group, as he modified the various assigned spells. “Mur, Sol, I am assigning you Powersurge. Ace, you get Heal. Remember the plan of attack. If Bai Suzhen’s information is correct, we need to break them up in order to secure a quick victory.”

“Danger ahead,” Kari warned, summoning the light of Oversoul. The various Dragonslayers cast their buffing spells if they hadn’t already. 

The Ox and the Horse came into sight, waiting for them near the pit they guarded, standing on a platform surrounded by molten steel. The space around had the shape of a dome, large enough to fit a football stadium, and giving Shroud and Sol space to fly. 

Ox Head and Horse Face, minibosses of Taiyougami.

The second the group stepped on the arena’s floor, the two Zodiacs raised their weapons. An armor of stones and bricks materialized around every patch of the Ox’s fur, covering him entirely except for his eyes, and he ran at the Sorcerers with uncanny speed; while the Horse summoned flames around his mace, waving it with the grace of a dancer.  

Without a word, the Dragonslayers dispersed as per the planned formation, the Ox’s trident impaling only air. Shroud and Sol took flight and aimed for the Horse, Ace summoned the rain, Kari and Stitch circled the Ox, and Mur fired with his minigun at the latter. 

The bullets, even if reinforced, failed to fully pierce the stone armor. Shroud suspected the Ox had cast Reinforce on his armor or increased the stone’s density to improve its resistance to damage.

Seeing the uselessness of his minigun, Mur tossed it away and swung his hammer, aiming for a melee duel. Kari, red, ethereal hands manifesting around her, circumvented the Ox and prepared to backstab him. The Zodiac, surrounded from all sides, cast off parts of his armor, stone bullets moving on their own and firing from all sides. Mur shielded himself with his arms, the metal plates of Adamant pushing back some of the projectiles but letting others pierce his exposed stomach, while Kari’s protective hands deflected everything. 

Meanwhile, Horse-Face, swinging his weapon, unleashed a volley of bluish flames at the Dragonslayers, the projectiles bouncing back against Sol’s armor, and while they hit Shroud himself, not only did he not feel them, they quickly extinguished on their own. Hino-Kagutsuchi’s blessing protecting him. 

Sol, the fastest of the two fliers, assaulted the Horse Zodiac with his shining blade, while Shroud supported him with solid light projectiles. The Horse parried Sol’s blade with his own weapon, but thanks to Powersurge’s strength boost stacking with his own enhancements and armor, the knight pushed the giant horse back. The Zodiac summoned a cloak of flames around himself, trying to incinerate the knight. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the team struggled with the Ox, who had identified Kari as the most pressing threat and attempted to smash her into a bloody paste; autonomous stone projectiles kept Mur pinned down, piercing his legs. The imp’s enhanced body caused them to bounce back off him.

Ace had summoned heavy rain clouds in spite of the temperature, but the droplets turned into steam before they could hit the ground. So instead of teleporting, she had to run on foot to reach Mur. She repeatedly cast the Heal spell on him, helping him regenerate from his wounds until his Lock could fully complete his transformation. 

Stitch, who had invested in multiple sensory spell such as Intuimotion, and enhanced by Powersurge, moved with an uncanny agility. He dodged every projectile and grabbed scalpels hidden under his sleeves; his movements may have lacked Kari’s grace, he improved quickly. Once he ‘danced’ all the way up to the Ox, he launched his weapons at his eyes, the only exposed vulnerabilities. With the sheer strength behind the attack, the weapons flew through the air faster than arrows. 

The stones making up the Ox’s armor rearranged to cover his eyes, shielding them from the attack, but leaving the giant warrior briefly blinded. Kari immediately seized the opportunity to close the gap between her and him, her Hands of Slaughter smashing the Ox’s left knee with enough force to breach the stone armor. The warrior fell, unable to move. 

Horse, finally understanding he couldn’t overcome the group’s fire immunity, switched tactics. He detonated a fireball right in front of Sol’s face, the detonation forcefully pushing both fighters backward. He attempted to rush to his friend’s side, but Sol intercepted him first, keeping the duo separated. 

By now, the steam covered the battlefield, reducing visibility for the various fighters… except for the one who could see through everyone’s eyes. 

Shroud remembered Bai Suzhen’s intel. Horse could mentally control fire, and Ox earth. Ox focused on offense and Horse on defense. Excellent teamwork honed through centuries. The Dragonslayers needed to isolate them to prevail. 

Watching their abilities, Shroud realized they didn’t use sorcery. The Sorcerer couldn’t put a finger on why, but he couldn’t recognize these abilities as the same as Dirt Call or Immolator. They were primitive, ancient, unrefined. 

Shroud hid himself in a blanket of steam, the entire reason he had Ace summon the rain, and activated Mirror Master by opening his palm towards the Horse Zodiac. “Come to me, Androsphinx!”

A purple flash erupted from his hand, the small shape of a winged, golden lion flying out of an endless desert and into the arena. The creature quickly grew to an elephant’s size, extending its wings and revealing shining eyes and sharp diamond fangs. The majestic beast roared in bloodlust, its primal intellect subsumed by Shroud’s Beastmaster. 

Sphinx counted as fairy beasts. Go figure. 

Shroud created a double of himself on the summoned beast’s back, to serve as a decoy. Thankfully, although the armor lacked the portals embedded in the mirrors, the double also shared Hino-Kagutsuchi’s fire blessing. Shroud noted that particularity for future use. 

The double rode the sphinx down to attack the Horse, while Shroud watched through his and Sol’s eyes. Although bearing an inhuman face, the Horse Zodiac’s eyes betrayed his surprise at the new attacker, mistaking the clone for the real Shroud. Once again swinging his fiery mace, he attempted to push the rider back but found himself struggling against both the beast and Sol at once. 

Shroud, while unable to get a direct vision of the battle, had enough visual information thanks to Network. Enough to calculate an angle of attack. 

Materializing a sword of light, Shroud aimed, and threw it. 

The blade flew through the steam, broke past the surprised Horse’s guard, and grazed the fur just below the chin without drawing blood. 

If he had wanted, he could have sliced the Horse’s head off, but purposefully missed by a few centimeters. The Horse’s head jerked towards the cloud of steam, understanding the not-so-subtle message. 

If we wanted you dead, you would be right now.

But it was Mur who gave the coup de grace, surging out of the steam fully metamorphosed into a titan of metal and leaping at the Ox, whom Stitch and Kari kept pinned in place. “Reinforce!” the iron fiend snarled while high on his own sorcery, enhancing his weapon one last time. The Ox, fast, raised his trident to parry and unleashed a volley of stone bullets. 

The bullets bounced off Mur’s metal body, the fiend’s hammer smashed the other weapon like a twig and stomped the Ox’s head. 

The sheer force of the impact unleashed a shockwave so powerful, it blasted all the steam around and made the ground tremble. Ox-Head’s stone helmet shattered into tiny pieces, his left horn cracked under the pressure, and the titan hit the floor with a loud crash while Mur laughed.

He didn’t rise up, lying inert on the ground. 

“Enough,” Horse-Face suddenly spoke up. His voice was low-pitched, enough to surprise Shroud. “You win.”

To punctuate his words, he tossed his weapon into the lava. “Stop!” Shroud ordered, and the Dragonslayers and his double stopped moving. Well, except Mur, who kept laughing in triumph. “Ace, please heal the wounded.”

The Violet Sorceress moved to the Ox’s side, casting spells on him. Shroud landed on the floor, pleased with the results. 

The plan had worked so much better than expected! Even Ace looked at him with an amazed expression. “See?” Shroud told her. “Flawless victory.”

“Yes, braggart, but that’s not why I’m surprised.” Ace looked up at the sorcerer’s double riding the sphinx, then at Mur. “I just realized how truly overpowered your Lock is if applied right.”

The Horse Zodiac moved to help his compatriot back to his feet. “Are you well, comrade?”

“It hurt,” the Ox replied, his voice gruff and groggy. He clearly couldn’t stand straight without help yet, even after repeated use of the Heal spell. “This fiend, gave me a new battle scar, but I will live.”

“They are stronger than expected, comrade.”

“Agreed,” Ox-Head replied, looking at the team. “You fight as one. This is what we wanted, needed to see.”

“Individual power can achieve a great many things, sometimes it can even change the world,” his fellow explained. “But it cannot buy lasting peace. Our masters could not fight as one, and it cost them the world. Even now, they bicker.” 

“You could have tested our teamwork without unleashing an undead army on the space station,” Ace condemned them. 

“We did not,” Ox-Head said, sheepish. “Not truly.”

“Our power has been waning since the reaping ten years ago,” Horse-Face said. “Your natural magic weakens as your sorcery grows stronger. 

“Knowing of our Master’s decision to invite challengers, we sought to economize our reserves so we might put you to test in the right conditions,” his fellow continued. “The power we displayed today, will never shine as brightly again. But we will return to our duties, knowing that the future is in your good hands.”

Shroud frowned. “You are all getting weaker,” he guessed, piecing the puzzle together, “Not just you. The entire Zodiac.”

Horse-Face confirmed with a nod. “Bai Suzhen’s cultivation process slowed down, needing pills to continue; Baihu feels his power wane and it scares him; we all waste away.”

“The power you call Flux is not natural, and neither is the sorcery it powers,” Ox-Head said. “They are an intrusive force seeping into the universe, slowly displacing what came before, rewriting the laws of the world in their favor. Both have been siphoning our original, natural powers, as humans cut through forests to fuel their forges. The Godwar halted the inevitable, but the process began anew when the towers rose.”

“In time, we either lose our powers and wither away, or rarely, embrace the machines’ power as Rat did. Once, all of mankind could achieve immortality through cultivation, see the future in the stars, or delve into the higher mysteries; now, there is only Sorcery. What it cannot assimilate, it devours.”

“Progress Mur says,” the fiend declared. “Power is power, no matter where it comes from.”

“Perhaps,” Horse-Head said. “But power with a will of its own is never truly yours.”

“You proved yourself worthy of it, and our emblems,” Ox-Face said. “We shall return to our duty.”

“Return us the soul gems you gathered,” Horse-Head said. “We will return them to the pit and Naraka, and the cycle will begin again. Properly, this time.”

Shroud nodded in agreement, a familiar message notifying him of the reward for this service. 

Quest: the Restful Dead, fulfilled!

Each Dragonslayer except Sharpshoot earned fifteen Spellcoins!

Maggie wouldn’t like it. 

Still, with the spirit problem solved, not only could they rest at night, they could claim the Rooster’s emblem, leaving only the Tiger, the Dragon, and the Goat. 

Time to conquer the last area. 

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