Murphy’s Quest Ch 13: Existential Risk
The first battle is a rout.
Surrounded by a dedicated defensive squad, I pummel the enemy with gigantic balls of death. Negative FTH Heal deals an entirely new category of damage, completely bypassing Damage Reduction. I call it my Bubble of Doom.
After the battle, we track the trails of my orbs for thousands of feet. Crimson Inquisitor swords, chimes and robes scatter across the ground in long rows. Entire platoon vaporized in place, their equipment laid out in neat, legible squares.
Some of the robes are fitted for children.
The reality of the carnage has yet to hit me.
“This place is a graveyard.”
Nyra touches my hand, “As it should be. This is the Valley of the Dead, after all.”
She’s still working on the whole comforting thing.
The enemy beats a hasty retreat, and we pounce.
The One-Eyed Raven scouts out group after group of isolated enemies left behind by the larger force.
At my insistence, Nyra sends each group a final message: one chance to surrender.
The idiots never take it.
According to doctrine, if they surrender they will be executed and banished to Hell. This way at least, the Goddess will grant their loyal souls mercy in Heaven.
I send them there graciously.
What is it that Oppenheimer said?
I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.
The Inquisition pulls out all the stops. We face a new enemy: a Phoenix Rider.
One Final Boss-level Cleric rides the flaming bird, raining Holy Fire upon us from far above. He flies too fast to hit with Bubble of Doom.
“We’re taking too much damage!”
“We have to retreat!”
The army of the dead holes up in the old fort, waiting for an opportunity.
On the distant hilltops, well out of my range, the enemy sets up a ring of camps. They slowly begin to cast Consecrated Ground. The ring of light shrinks around us like a tightening noose.
The Phoenix Rider continues to take pot shots from on high. He begins to show frustration.
“Come out, cowards!”
The One-Eyed Raven is our only hope. Searching for a weakness.
If I have to eat any more consumables I’ll puke.
The enemy camps creep down into the valley, and Consecrated Ground surrounds us on all sides.
Even at midnight, it’s bright as day outside. Not as if the Dead need sleep.
Mencius orders me to switch into defensive gear.
Nyra unclasps her necklace and hands it to me. It’s a pink heart that opens up to show a tiny painting of a little girl.
“Keep this on until the day you die, and you will be reborn as Undead.”
When the Phoenix Rider rests,
When the Inquisition sleeps,
When the One-Eyed Raven finds the Grand Inquisitor’s camp,
The Dead will make their final charge.
The Phoenix Rider missteps. He flies back to camp, leading us straight to their central command.
The One-Eyed Raven spies the Grand Inquisitor watching over the Phoenix Rider as he sleeps.
Mencius says he’s a boy my age.
We make the final preparations.
Our plan is to re-use the strategy I employed to protect Nyra through Consecrated Ground.
Nyra forces a massive Potion of Greater Extended Duration down my throat.
I cast a Bubble of Doom.
Fifteen stories high, the purple ball blocks out the Sun, barrelling forward.
“The Living will fear the Dead!”
The army of the dead charges forward into the Bubble. Inside, damage taken by the Undead is immediately restored.
A lump of coal sits in my stomach.
In three waves, the army of the dead fill out three giant Heal orbs, running at a breakneck speed towards the enemy camp.
I don my INT gear and follow behind as quickly as I can.
The enemy doesn’t expect us.
We cleave through the startled guards, reaching the Grand Inquisitor’s tent in a matter of minutes.
The lump of coal grows hotter. Hotter than it’s ever been.
A whole war is decided in five minutes.
The army of the dead, practically invincible enveloped in my Bubbles of Doom, cut through unprepared enemies like knives through warm butter.
Their spells and arrows shoot out from within the Bubbles, taking down everything in their way.
The Grand Inquisitor and the Phoenix Rider emerge from their tent just in time to be vaporized.
Within each Bubble, the relief is palpable.
The enemy ranks scatter.
Did we win?
My stomach is screaming.
I check the time.
“Get out of the orbs!”
The army of the dead is too far away to hear my screams.
They continue the wild charge towards the fleeing Inquisition.
Time slows to a crawl.
I fall to my knees.
I’m sorry, Nyra.
I’m sorry, Mencius.
I didn’t think of everything.
Purple turns to gold.
Bones to ash.
With them, my dreams.
Murphy, sometimes things just go wrong and it’s nobody’s fault.