Chapter 10: Battle of the Soul
"The afterlife sucks ass." thought General Dylan as he absentmindedly plucked a fallen leaf off his breastplate.
The leaf had fluttered down from the massive oak tree he was currently lounging against, the shade providing a quantum of solace from the heat that occupied the rest of the spirit realm. The temperature had risen slightly every day since his arrival there, and he had since linked the event to the absence of Willdog. With no god to rule it, the spirit realm was slowly losing order. Entropy was taking its toll, and soon, where once there had been paradise, there would be only anarchy and hellfyre.
That is if Willdog doesn't hurry his holy ass up and defeat Elias. The General thought with a twinge of bitterness.
He'd wondered since his arrival why his lord hadn't resurrected him. He assumed it meant he was to serve some other purpose in the name of Willdog, and he was willing to wait for his god to return and explain himself, but lately the General had grown bored and impatient. The Spirit Realm was too... perfect, there were no battles to wage in the name of his lord. There was too much time to dwell on past mistakes...
Now it seemed that unless his lord returned soon, the realm would be full of battles far worse than the General ever wished to see. That left Dylan between a rock and a hard place. Either there was too little to do or far too much to worry about.
The ultimate paradox. General Dylan realized while letting out a long sigh.
Suddenly, there was a pop from around the other side of the oak. General Dylan had spent enough time in paradise by know to know it meant yet another soul had left the Land to take its place in the afterlife. This particular soul must have possessed some great purpose, however. Otherwise, it would have materialized in one of the common areas and not by the Oak of Ages.
The General sighed again and clambered to his feet. He supposed he'd have to welcome whoever this VIP was to their new home.
VIP? More like SOB for making me get up, the General thought with delight at his own wit. He rounded the tree to meet his new soulmate. As soon as he laid eyes on the new arrival, Dylan froze.
"You," he said, his voice low with aggression. It had been years since he had lain eyes on Elias, but that man's face would be permanently burned onto his brain for as long as Dylan lived.
"Yes..." said the Evil Lord Elias uncertainly.
"Why are you in paradise? This is a place for a soul that has dedicated itself to Willdog, not for the scum of the Land." Dylan was practically seething upon finding his worst enemy desecrating such a sacred place.
"Well... eh, it was relatively simple really. Without a god to judge it was easy to sneak in here instead of where I was supposed to go," he said with a shudder. "Say!" he said, brightening. "You don't by chance know where I could find my army do ye?"
"No..." the General said slowly as comprehension dawned on him. Suddenly his lord's purpose leaving him in the afterlife became clear. "Can't say that I do."
Dylan took a step forward and laid a hand casually on his sword. Elias's eyes darted downward at the movement and he took a hasty step backward.
"W-What are you doing?" The Evil Lord stuttered.
"Hmmm well right now I'm stalking you, in a minute I'll be dicing you into pieces and a minute after that I'll be bathing in your blood." General Dylan said conversationally. While drawing his sword slowly. "Schhhhhhhhhhing" said the sword as it was drawn.
Elias reached down to his waist for a sword, but he was unarmed. Weapons didn't cross from one plane to another, they had to be reforged, and that meant the SOB was SOL.
"B-b-but, I'm just, p-p-p-poor st-st-stuttering E-evil Lord Elias." Elias said in a panicked voice. He continued backing away until, without warning, he spun on his heel and ran away from the General.
Dylan licked his lips as though eying a particularly delicious looking meal before lunging at the fleeing Evil Lord. He sent his sword straight through the small of Elias's back, the tip poking out of his navel on the other side.
The Evil Lord screamed long and loud: a blood curdling sound that seemed to shatter the very core of the spirit realm. Then he fell to the ground, sliding off of Dylan's sword. His wail of pain softened and became a repeated sob as the man saw his plans come crashing down around him.
"Why?" he asked the General. "Why do you throw your allegiance to Willdog? A god who cares nothing for us mortals? Why do you side with him and not to a man? One of your own kind!" his sobs had morphed again and now the Evil Lord was laughing a horrible laugh. It seemed that somewhere his blackened soul had found irony in their situation.
Dylan's face twisted into a mask of disgust.
"Dogs get worshipped. Men get put down."
He slashed his sword downward and delivered the killing blow to the Evil Lord, banishing his soul to HFIL, and ending the reign of Elias once and for all.
The men women and children of the Land were all gather'd 'round the courtyard of the castle of Willton, where Willdog stood alone. All attention was focused on him. The entirety of his army had remained to see him off and help rebuild Willton. The citizens of the fine city—having evacuated before it was razed by Elias, had returned to their homes. Although their shock and tears had been great, their joy upon finding their lord return'd and themselves avenged was greater. Many others had flocked to Willton when the ravens had arrived proclaiming the Evil Lord's defeat, and only the citizens of the faraway cities of Alonzo and Las Respite had remained home.
The Mad-God surveyed all assembled and let a bittersweet smile creep across his face. It had been good to return to the adulation of the mortals once again, and the war waged by Elias had offered a distraction from the mundane life of a god for a time. But now he had to return to the spirit world, his time on the mortal plane having come to an end.
Willdog took a deep breath and began his farewell address.
"Friends, landers, countrymen, lend me ye ears. The Evil Lord Elias hath finally been vanquished and it is time for me to depart this land. Though I know you would wish to see me stay, I must return to the spirit world and watch over ye from afar.
"It is important that we all remember those who made our victory today possible. First and foremost we ought to think of General Dylan. We ought to think of he who proudly gave his life in order to deliver the ultimate coup de gras to the Evil Lord, and who now waits for me in the spirit realm.
"Next we ought to think of Duke Patrick. We shalt recognize him as he is: a great tactician and leader of men. A man who commanded our forces through countless battles including the one we waged here not so long ago. He shall remain in the Land as a fair and just ruler of Notlliw.
"Next we ought to think of Specialist Stephanie. Though her role in the final battle was not needed as the Evil Lord revealed himself, and we did not have to trampoline her through the window of the castle tower in order for her to gain entry to open the door for us, she played her role well. She will serve as the fine leader of this fine town in the days of rebuilding and nuturing to come.
"Next we ought to think of Technician TJ. Though he may not have been the most visible leader in the legend we have forged, has always been regarded as my biggest supporter. I sense he will have bigger roles to play in the future, and he will make a fine ruler for the people of Cyrus.
"Finally we ought to think of all the citizens of the land, all the rest of you gather'd here today, without whom, I would not feel compelled to save this fine land, without whom I would not feel welcome on this fine land, and without whom this fine land would not be fine. I thank ye and bless ye, and it is with great sadness I must now depart thee. Farewell to you all."
Willdog said it all in a single breath. An aura seemed to form and sparkle around him, flashing faster and faster before finally, with a blinding flash of light, Willdog returned to his rightful place in the spirit realm. There he would remain, watching over it and the Land of mortals until the day that he was needed once more...
End of Part 1