“And That’s a Crit…”

The ceiling collapsed, raining down rubble on the Zealots of Evolving Evil. Sunlight shone down through the hole in the pyramid.

Outside, on the temple slope, Uuco turned to the pick-wielding laborers and raised his thumb.

 

“Good job, whippersnappers!” He declared. “You darn well might have saved the world!” He tapped the clay tablet belted to his back. “As repayment, your names will live on forever in my annals of history!”

 

The young Nobble who’d led the demolition efforts folded his sunburnt arms. “That’s all fine, geezer,” he said, “but could you also repay us with shells? The overseers will dock our wages for this…”

 

“Oh dear,” Uuco exclaimed, looking down through the hole in the pyramid. “My friends need me! Farewell!”

 

Uuco leapt into the pit. The work gang gathered around the hole, listening to the crackling of shattered ice, shrill screams, and sounds of ringing metal.

 

“Well,” one of the laborers remarked. “At least our names will live on. In his annals of history and all that.”

 

The young Nobble frowned in thought. “Wait,” he said. “The old geezer never asked us for our names.”

 

The gathered laborers mulled on that in silence.

 

“Hidden Gods,” one of them cursed.

 

%%%

 

“Surprise!” Uuco the Witness declared as he fell, brandishing his stolen scepter. “Sorry for dropping in!”

 

Ira groaned.

 

Corax gathered a light blast at the back of his throat.

 

V’vendy drew another arrow.

 

The Priestess looked up from her fortifications of ice. Her face twisted into a rictus of fury.

 

“That’s my scepter!” She cried.

 

Uuco pointed his scepter at the gaggle of Red-Robed Zealots. Blue-tinged lightning crackled along the scepters, then leapt downward, arcing from enemy to enemy, charring their flesh and sending them into spasms.

 

More lightning gathered around Uuco as he plummeted face first towards the ground. Just before you could splatter himself all over the inner chambers of the Infinite Temple, he vanished in a burst of light.

 

The Priestess glanced from darkened corner to darkened corner, her Evolving Eye smoldering in fury. “Where is he?”

 

In a flash of light, with a peal of thunder, Uuco appeared in the middle of the Red-Robed Zealots. “HA!” He shouted, stamping his foot on the ground. A shockwave echoed outwards, sending Zealots flying back.

 

Corax hissed and charged, firing blasts of light from his mouths, burning the few Zealots still standing. Ira pulled more Seeking Stones from her belt pouch and tossed them into the air. The stone flew towards the enemy, bouncing off one of the teetering pillars of ice and blasting it into splinters.

 

Ice shards scattered through the air, keen narrow spikes that continued to plummet towards the Lady Ira.

 

“Oh dear,” Ira muttered.

 

Suddenly, the Lady Ira felt a hand seize her shoulder. “Don’t breath,” V’vendy the Deathweaver mumbled, wind and dust swirling around her brow.

 

An immense breeze picked up Ira and V’vendy, flinging them out of the way of the falling ice. Midflight, V’vendy sent arrow after arrow twirling towards the exposed Priestess.

 

The Priestess turned and glared. Hissing serpents made of ash and flame squeezed their way out from her eye socket, catching the arrows between their teeth and snapping them in half.

 

“Enough is enough!” The Priestess snarled, glowering face veiled by the flame serpents that wriggled and swayed from her eye. “Roarer!” She shouted. “Burn everything!”

 

The Roarer swayed from side to side, bound like a puppet to the living dagger driven into his skull. Purple mana leaked from the corners of his mouth, mana that started to smolder as it turned into embers.

 

“Fool!” Corax shouted, sprinting desperately towards the enslaved Roarer, sickle blade raised above his head. “He’ll burn you too!”

 

The floor started melting under the Roarer’s, stone warping into simmering glass that spread outward–

 

–And then a sling stone whistled through the air from shadows, a stone flung from an angle the Priestess couldn’t see. It flashed past her ear…and struck the Roarer’s brow.

 

The Roarer grunted silently as the sling stone struck, a faint wheeze that almost carried a sense of relief.

 

Then the Roarer’s head exploded in a shower of blood and mana. The Leech Knife spun out from the ruined skull, clattering across the stone tiles. The building inferno flickered and faded.

 

The Priestess stared at the ruins of her weapon in blank dismay. The mass of fiery serpents withdrew back into her evolving eye. “You–“ she stammered. “You…”

 

Rintha the Roar-Hunter strode out of the shadows, leather sling dangling from his left hand. His clay-colored face was calm, resolute and just a little sad.

 

“Walk on to a better life, poor Roarer,” he said softly.

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