Nak woke up.
He sat by the glow of the bonfire contemplating, preparing. Today would be the day he would ring the Bell of Awakening. He was so close. He just had to get through the Bell Gargoyle… and his friend, the other Bell Gargoyle.
Nak thought: you know what, fuck it.
Nak went downstairs, past Andrei (who possessed an inhuman ability to work every waking and unwaking hour of the day) and into the chamber beyond.
The room was cavernous, and its roof had not collapsed despite that its floor was littered with the remains of its supporting columns. At the very back of the room, a hulking form held itself up on one arm, and it turned its faceless gaze upon Nak. It began channeling energy into its staff.
Nak had been here once before: this was the point where he had backed out of the room and returned to the Parish. That time, he had yet to contend with anything more sorcerous than firebombs and self-animating skeletons, and he had no intention of rushing into such an encounter. But, now that he thought about it, he was undead, and he had little to lose by dying so close to the bonfire he would inevitably return to.
Nak stepped down into the room and rolled under and around the first golden bolt of energy. He sidestepped some debris, rolled under another bolt, and launched himself forward, lifting his bastard sword…
The result was a bit disheartening. The demon really was made of animated stone, and while it clearly felt the impact of the blow, it had slowed him little, and it would clearly be a long battle.
It would be a long several battles, actually. After deflecting a few blows with his heater shield and countering with a swing of his own, Nak was dismayed to discover how far backward and how quickly the demon could leap, despite clearly missing one of its legs. He was also dismayed to find how easily it could overpower his defenses with a single flying, overhead blow of its stony trident.
So Nak died. And again, and again, and again. But fortunately for Nak, he was armed with undeath and steely determination, unlike the demon, which was banished forever when it finally fell under Nak’s blade.
Behind it, Nak was to find a place of wonder, beauty, and tears: the Darkroot Garden.
He stepped cautiously into the gloom with his shield up and padded forward on the weedy undergrowth until the first enemies emerged from the tangled path. With some help from those who came before him (“Enemy ahead,” “Beware of right,” though he never did make use of “Weakness: fire” owing to his limited supply of firebombs), he forged deeper, deeper into the garden. His only opposition: the plant monsters with whipping vine arms, and the stone guardians with slow and predictable attacks and a very manageable spell (“Beware of Sorcery”).
Nak reached the top of a broken stone turret and stepped through the ominous white mist. He stood on a thin wall, its ramparts either worn by the long passage of time or beaten down. The mist closed in behind him, and the mist blocked his passage at the other end of the wall.
The mournful notes of a distant soprano, accompanied by a gentle harp, floated to his ears.
The moonlight butterfly lofted overhead, an image of grace and beauty, eclipsing even the looming moon itself. Nak stared.
The moonlight butterfly drifted over Nak… and shot spears of shimmering light in all directions. Nak dodged. It drifted backward, and thrust sorcerous beam across the ramparts. Nak dodged. It flew overhead, and cast toward Nak a frayed ball of rainbow energy. Nak missed his footing. Nak died.
Nak woke up, bewildered. After a while, he got up and began his long march back to the Bell Gargoyles. At least they were ugly. And, more importantly, they came close enough for Nak to stab them.
Nak killed the Bell Gargoyles and rang the Bell of Awakening.
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