Chapter 6: Dance with the Devil

From Robert's Marcana friends, who specialize in reading auras, you've been able to narrow down the location of Edwin—he's holding himself in a building on the outskirts of Illudo territory. As you approach the building, you see a swirl of dark clouds looming over the place. It's like even nature knows what's going on. You recite the Spell of Illumination in your head, almost like a mantra to keep you going. You feel Chester rumble around in your rucksack; even with one less leg, he is still active and raring to go.

"We can do this, Chester," you try to say reassuringly. Perhaps more to yourself than to Chester.

Unlike the past months, you don't have Alice or Robert to guide you along. Robert is still out of commission after teleporting you to safety, with Alice taking care of him. So... you are on your own for this. You have to go and finally live up to the Mark of Merlin.

"I see you have found me again," Edwin greets as you reach the roof of the building. He is standing at the opposite end, trained on your movements. His whole demeanor seems different, darker. The skin around his eyes has turned black, making his stare more piercing and lifeless. You see sparks of lightning jumping erratically off his hands. His real half of the amulet swinging around his neck, taunting you.

"I'm here to stop you, Contoso!" You announce with a level of bravado, "You are going to destroy the world! And even if you can bring your wife back, she's still not going to be the same person! I've seen what this magic does to people." You hope to maybe reason with Edwin while you still can.

"Don't talk about her!" He roars out. You feel a few faint tendrils of lightning hit your arms as he lashes out in anger. It feels strikingly cold, like the lightning is the essence of pure decay. You worry about what a full blast of that lightning would do.

"Okay…" You whisper to yourself, "Let's do this the hard way then." A rumble at your back signals your plan being sent into motion.

"Edwin! It doesn't have to be like this! I don't want to hurt you!" You hear a cackle in response.

"Hurt me? Shouldn't you be worrying more about yourself?!"

You phase shift out of the way of a stray lightning bolt. You feel grateful for having spent enough time around Robert to figure out teleportation.

"You've told me how to defeat you! Why would I be worrying about myself?!"

"Because you don't have the other piece of the amulet, the spell is useless without it and you know it!"

I just need to kill a little more time. You sneak a quick glance at Chester, whom you've managed to put an Illuden cloaking device on. It's fairly subpar, having to cobble it together in a very short time, but it should work for what you need.

You look back at Edwin just in time to dodge another bolt of lightning. That was close. You don't know how reliably you can keep jumping out of the way—and you have nothing to help a serious wound from one of his blasts.

"I don't need the amulet to stop you; I have learned more than enough from the Marcana and Illuden," you try to taunt in between catching your breath.

"Hah… like what?!"

You stand up a bit straighter. "Like the number one rule of being an ace Illuden…" You spot a glimmer of Chester on Edwin's shoulder. "…The value of a good distraction. Now, Chester!"

You see Chester rip off the necklace from around Edwin's neck and shoot back over to you, with an unnaturally fast speed that you can only attribute to some magical force. That being said, Chester has always been special from day one—just like you, you figure. As Chester lands on your hand, his cloaking is fully dissipated, and a brilliant gemstone is now in your possession. Hastily, you jam all of the amulet pieces in your possession together in the hopes the right two will morph together.

"ENLIGHTENMENT!" You shout, thrusting the fully formed amulet in front of you. You attempt to force your will and all magic you can muster at Edwin. Please work. Please work. Please work.

A fantastical beam of light shoots from the amulet, a combination of all colors in the rainbow and then some, and hits Edwin square in the chest. An unnatural scream, not even sounding human, comes from the target of your spell. The beam becomes so bright, you can't even see Edwin...or anything else to be quite honest.

You jam your eyes shut, trying not to blind yourself, but continue to hold the amulet in front of your body. When you no longer feel a shooting force coming from the amulet, you tentatively open your eyes. Everything in the room looks destroyed and a lifeless Edwin sagging against the floor. You frown. Chester flops onto the floor next to your feet in exhaustion.

"I'm sorry Edwin. I didn't want it to end like this." You take out a familiar coin from what seems like a lifetime ago and flip it.

Behind you, doors burst open. You see Alice and Robert rush in. Robert quickly crushes you in a hug while Alice hangs slightly behind, taking in the area.

"You did it!" Robert cheers. You feel the tension loosen from your body as you hug him back. You even feel Chester trying to join in on the group hug.

"Yeah... you did it," Alice echoes, albeit less enthusiastically. A pang of guilt hits you. You release yourself from the group hug to turn to face Alice.

"I'm really sorry, Alice."

She looks directly at you. Her eyes convey a mix of sadness and righteous pride. "It was the right thing to do," She nods to herself and adds, sincerely, "You saved the world."

"Yeah. Yeah, I guess I did."

You pause before adding.

"Let's go home."