After the Evil
Gallo-note: Well, another QFG4 fic. This is set at the end of the game, so spoilers aren't too abundant. Enjoy!
Ad Avis's final scream of pain and frustration still echoed in the Hero's ears as he left the cave of the Dark One. He could feel the anguish of his enemy's defeat penetrate the already stale air in the Essence Room, sense the plans of domination dissapear as Erana's staff ripped through his vampiric flesh.
But the biggest surprise of all was Erana herself. Her spirit was all that prevented Avoozl from coming into the world. Not only that, she used all her power to send him back to his own Dark World and trap him there. Her wish to stop Avoozl had been fulfilled.
But now what?
The hero walked outside the cavern. Already the signs of evil were vanishing. The caves' teeth- like stalagtites and stalagmites were gone, the monster-like appearance returned to normal. The reason was obvious: without Avoozl's influence, the darkness that had kept the valley of Mordavia in so much turmoil was gone. The ancient stone arch crumbled into dust right before the hero's eyes, and sunlight broke through the once thick fog.
But there would be time for that later. The hero felt his wounds, the cuts, bruises, and magical burns that he had suffered during his ordeal. He had lost quite a bit of blood, and his healing potions were smashed during the battle with Ad Avis and...
She really did love him. So did Erana. Strange, thought the hero. How could two people, so opposite in power, possibly love the same person? Maybe Katrina knew her end was near. Maybe Erana knew that this hero would save Mordavia. He had no true answers.
The hero slowly began his slow march back to the town.
After quite a while of walking, the hero reached the town gates. They were wide open, and the familiar smell of garlic filled the air. No doubt the villagers were cooking breakfast. Or maybe the farm was giving off that blasted smell again.
Whatever it was, the hero was in too much pain to care. His clothes were stained in blood, and it was a challenge to even walk. Struggling against the pain, he reached the town center.
The entire town was gathered around the entrance, all with faces full of confusion. The hero knew where this came from: for years, they had been trapped in a world of nightmares and evil. They had grown so accustomed to it, they were able to sense its dissapearance the instant it happened. Or maybe it was the look of the hero. The bloodstains. The wounds. The cuts. Anyone, even poor people trapped in a nightmare world would be shocked at these injuries. Little Tanya clung closely to her mother. The sight of Erana's staff in the hero's hands reminded her of Toby's sacrifice. The other villagers were too busy looking at the hero.
Suddenly, the wounds became too much to bear. With a loud sigh, the hero collapsed to the ground, a look of pain on his face.
When the hero awoke again, he was lying on a bed in the inn. The entire town was cramped into this small room, with many trying in vain to get a better view. In front was, of course, the Burgomeister.
"Huh?" muttered the hero as he tried to regain a sense of what was going on. "Wh-where am I?"
"Calm down," said the Burgomeister. "You seemed to have quite a faint. Dr. Cranium said you were nearly gone."
Dr. Cranium walked slowly forward, an empty vial in hand. "Thank goodness for this improved healing potion I created shortly before you returned. With this new formula, mankind can finally defeat pain and suffering!"
That is, thought the hero, if Dr. Cranium doesn't forget the formula again.
"But," intruded Hanz, shouting from the back of the room, "what happened to ya?"
"Yeah," included Franz, who, like always, was standing between Hanz and Ivan. "You were burned up more than a baking accident!"
"Come on," said Ivan, finishing the trio's conversation. "Tell us a story. Ya might have something important to say for once."
And so the hero related the happenings of the castle dungeon, the Dark One's Cave, and the battle with the dark masters Katrina and Ad Avis. He left out a few points, like using the Ultimate Joke to distract his adversary and how Erana's staff changed into a spear to destroy the vampire, but with such supersticious people listining, he thought it wise to edit the story.
After he finished (about an hour later), he studied the faces of his friends. Their mouths were gapping open, and their eyes looked like they were about to explode. Well, except for the good doctor, who simply shook his head, trying in vain to come with a comeback for this "poppycock".
"Well," said the Burgomeister, barely able to speak. "I suppose you will need your rest. Everyone, leave now!". The entire town walked out of the room, muttering about the hero. The only one who didn't leave was the Burgomeister.
"While you were in that cave, a storm of the worst kind went through the town. Roofs were blown off the tops of houses, windows were destroyed like paper, and the old oak was blown to the ground! We all thought the end had come. Then, the storm ended as quickly as it began. Naturally, the townspeople were very agitated and scared, and gathered around the town square to discover what was going on. You arrived shortly after that."
"Well," said the hero, thoughtfully, "that doesn't explain the cooking smell...forget it. This whole adventure has taught me some things are best left unanswered, and I think this is one of those moments."
"Anyway," said the Burgomeister, "rest well. We'll be needing your help in repairing the town." With that, the portly man left the room, closing the door behind him.
After he left, the hero felt his wounds. Most were gone, and the pain had stopped, but the burns were still there. Apparantly Dr. Cranium still refused to believe in magical power. Oh well, thought the hero. I guess some people never change.
The hero rested for about a whole day before returning to the land of the living. Apparantly you can't keep a good adventurer down, he thought. After a hearty meal (complete with lots of garlic), the hero began to help with the repairs. Much damage was done to the town. Dr. Cranium's rooftop equipment was badly damaged, the shop had lost its roof, and the old Adventurers' Guild was nearly blown to the grown. Furthermore, Igor's gravestone supply was nearly destroyed.
First to be fixed was the shop. The amount of monsters had dropped dramatically, and the townspeople were able to venture into the forest unafraid for the first time in years. Of course, the hero doubted many would go out at night, since there was no telling what was still out there, but at least something was improving.
Now able to enter the forest, the town was able to gather fresh supplies of wood. The hero had never handled an axe before, preferring the sword and shield when combat came, but the Burgomeister was a complete natural at it, and enough wood was soon gathered to start repairs. Also, the gypsies, with the leadership of the friendly Davy and Fortuneteller, came to aid in the repairs. By day, of course (the gypsies were still quite fond of shapeshifting), but any and all help was welcome.
After a few days, the shop was finally fixed. After that came Dr. Cranium's house. Repairs were minimal, however, as Dr. Cranium decided to stop experimenting temporarily due to the nature of things. The hero was certain that the rest of town felt the urge to dance in victory at hearing this.
The Adventurers' Guild, however, was quite a challange. First, the hero salvaged what he could from the remains. He was only able to retrieve a few guide books, the log, some trophies, and the weights (the excersise machine was pretty much broken). After this, the remains of the building were taken and used for the planned rebuilding of the guild. However, Autumn was approaching rapidally, and rebuilding would have to be postponed until the weather warmed up again.
Oh well, thought the hero. With the swamp blocking the pass, there's no hope of me ever leaving here. I have all the time in the world.
A month passed by, and much in the town had returned to normal. The hero, now ready to settle down, began to seek out some land for a farm of his own. He knew it would be a while before he planted anything-the harvest season was over, and it was too late to plant crops before the next season. Still, with the swamp blocking all access in and out of the valley, he would be here for quite a while.
The Burgomeister often visited the hero, stopping by the inn every now and then to share some tales of adventures he once had hunting in the forest, about how he resisted the Rusulka (tough when you consider she didn't wear any clothes), his constant run-ins with the Leshy, and the Wraith he once saw. The hero just listened to the conversation, too absorbed in what he was going to do. He was obviously trapped in the valley, and there seemed to be no way to leave. Well, at least I will get some rest, he often thought to himself.
Suddenly, exactly one month after his encounter in the Dark One's Cave, Davy rushed into the inn, a look of surprise and panic in his face.
"Mr. Burgomeister! The swamp! It's drying up!"
The Burgomeister and the hero immediately rushed toward the swamp. The zombied arms no longer reached out, and most of the land was dry. The pass was nearly open!
Their celebration was halted, however, by a richly-dressed man on horseback. He simply road through the pass (no one could walk on foot yet), dismounted his horse by the hero, and calmly said, "Ah, Mr. Dmitri. It's been a while, hasn't it?"
The Burgomeister looked at him strangly. "How did you know my name?" "I will explain later. Now, let's go to the town!"
The stranger stayed for about a month. He spent much time with the Burgomeister, occasionally talking to the hero and the townspeople. At the end of the month, he simply left. No explaination was given for his hasty departure. The shock, however, was soon broken with the Burgomeister's booming voice.
"To Castle Borgov! I call a feast!"
The once empty castle was soon filled with laughter and joy. The gypsies had a successful hunt, and brought stew, deer meat, and fresh berries. The Burgomeister and the hero also had a successful hunt, and brought boar, hawk, and fish. The entire main hall was filled with food. Everyone in Mordavia was invited, including the gypsies and Igor. Yes, joy was very much neccessary after times of darkness, especially with what this town had gone through.
Finally, after several hours of eating, the Burgomeister shouted, "Your attention, please!" All other conversation stopped immediately.
The Burgomeister continued. "So even as we speak, the swamp is drying up. Soon the pass will open, and we will be able to trade with the outside world."
"Nafta nafta because we have ta," said Hanz, "we can finally sell our produce to others!"
"Yeah," agreed Franz, "we can export garlic to all parts of the world! Everybody will be stinky!"
Ivan quickly continued. "We can even import an elephant or two, just for old times sake." The hero knew immediately that Ivan was thinking back to his days as an elephant herder.
The Burgomeister resumed. "We have gathered together to thank this hero. He has rid Mordavia of the Shadows of Darkness! Our land will once again be the peaceful land of our forefathers."
Everyone took turns thanking the hero, with each one being followed by an enormous shout. The hero finally felt ready to settle down...
Then the voices came.
"There now. I think this crystal ball is finally working. Do you see anything, Fenris?"
It can't be, thought the hero.
"Yeah, I see him. He's with a bunch of people. It's either a reward ceremony or a lynch mob."
Erasmus and Fenris!
"What? Let me see. It's a reward ceremony, of course. He's done some great deed, as usual."
"So now what?"
Yes, thought the hero, now what?
"Well, seeing that his adventure in Mordavia is over, we bring him to Silmaria, of course."
"Suppose he doesn't want to come here?"
"You forget, Fenris, he is a hero. Silmaria needs a hero right now. And everyone knows that a hero has to go where a hero has to go."
"Let's hope he knows that. Just use the right spell to teleport him. The last time you tried this you brought the clothes and left the person behind!"
"This time, for sure!"
Suddenly, everything became bright. When the townspeople looked again, the hero was gone.