“Muradin’s rusty blunt warhammer,” swore Gigas. “Sorry, that’s what Johnny says.”
He and Tiva were staring at a cloud of crackling black energy. It was as big as a horse and exactly where Gigas left it, all those years ago.
“No. Okay. No.” Gigas was practically foaming at the mouth. He’d entered that state of controlled rage usually reserved for mortal combat. “We’ve got to do something about this. We have to fix it NOW.” Without waiting for advice, he cast his most powerful Positive Energy spell at the cloud. The resulting reaction blew him 5 feet straight back, and did nothing to help get rid of the evil, cloying mass of Negative Energy.
The succubus helped him back to his feet. “That’s not going to work.”
“Okay, what? Antimagic field?” suggested Gigas, instantly going for his bag of holding and rummaging around for a scroll. Tiva grabbed his arm.
“No. This isn’t some spell that you can just undo.”
“Okay, what then?” shouted Gigas. He felt about to explode.
Tiva was maddeningly calm as she circled the cloud, looking at it from all angles. Some angles she looked at twice. Finally, just before Gigas was about to try some other stupid thing, she spoke.
“It’s got to be closed from the other side.”
Gigas stopped. “What? You mean…”
“You were right. The fabric of our world is weak here. This isn’t just Negative Energy that’s been brought into our world. It’s a part of the Negative Energy Plane itself. A link to the world of undeath. You could walk through this thing and, if you survived, come out on the other side. And there’s something beyond here, forcing the link to stay open.”
It took him three seconds to make up his mind. “All right. I’m going, then.”
“To the Negative Energy Plane. A dimension literally made out of unlife.”
“Yes,” said Gigas. “My mind’s made up. I have wards against Negative Energy, Hazel’s given me…”
“It’s also the realm of the Nightshades,” interrupted the succubus, urgently. “Superpowerful undead. You remember the unspeakable horror that walked the streets of this very town, the night the zombies came? That. Except there’s more of them. Not to mention whatever insane being is keeping this portal open. It may not be easy to track down, let alone defeat.
“I’m powerful enough now. And I’ve trained for so long to fight the undead. It’s about time to put that to use, don’t you think?
“I have to do this, Tiva,” he said, interrupting her before she could speak again. He looked at her seriously. “Listen. Do you know what I told myself, after… after this?” he pointed at the black cloud. “I did nothing for four weeks after that little escapade of mine, and then everything was destroyed. I told myself that I would never again let people come to harm because I didn’t care. I would care. I would save them. And I’ve stuck to that. I’ve gone from place to place, saving various groups of people from unconnected things. And every time, every blasted time, it gets bogged down in politics. I’ve had to deal with the Magellan assembly, with the Sane revolutionaries… and somehow, I became a king of Shoran.” He shook his head. “To the Nine Hells with Shoran. I never wanted to be a king.”
“What did you want to be?” asked Tiva, honestly curious.
“Home,” admitted Gigas. “I wanted to be home. Hard to believe, isn’t it? I used to imagine achieving greatness, not as an adventurer, but as a protector. I imagined myself as the hero, the defender of Hobbitania… ha. I failed before I began.” He shook his head ruefully. “So then I thought, well, if I can’t have Hobbitania, I’ll have no home at all. I’ll wander around, saving people wherever I find them. But like I said, it’s not so easy to be a simple hero. Not in this world. Politics always gets in the way.
“Not this time, though. See this miasma? This blight on our world, this doorway to the Negative Energy Plane? It’s proof that there is evil in this universe. Pure evil. And I am going to stop it. Plain and simple.”
Tiva nodded slowly. There was obviously no talking him out of it. “Will you be able to come back?”
“I have a scroll with the Plane Shift spell on it. I’ll use it to get out of the Negative Energy Plane when I’m done.”
“Out of that dimension, right. But will you come back home, Gigas? To our world?”
Gigas around, at the desolation that was Hobbitania. He looked at Tiva the demoness. This wasn’t her home. And it wasn’t his either. “Of course I will,” he lied.
“Mr. Bashsweckler! Oh good, you’re all healed up!”
“Sure am. The cuthbarned armor’s still dented, though.”
Gigas stood up to walk around to look at the paladin’s back. Sure enough, there was a tiny dent in his full plate.
The three adventurers stood side by side, smiling at Gigas. They were standing on the same street where Zookle had nearly incinerated the young halfling with an errant fireball a couple of days ago.
Xanathia spoke up. “We just wanted to say thank you for helping us.”
“Ah, think nothing of it,” Gigas said magnanimously. “I’m always happy to help, and/or more or less do your mission for you.” Hup stuck his tongue out at them from his usual perch on Gigas’ shoulder.
Zookle chuckled. “Actually,” said the gnome, “we wanted to ask you about that. How would you like to help us some more?”
“What, you mean…”
“Come with us, of course,” said Xanathia the elf, smiling. “Our party’s a bit short right now. You’re a great sorcerer. We could use you.”
“Wow. Uh, thanks,” said Gigas, trying to sound dispassionate, and failing. The pleasure was written all over his face. “I’m… I’m really honored! But I don’t know.”
“Heirnabbit, I knew he’d say that,” grumbled Bashsweckler. “Why wouldn’t you come, in pandation?”
“Because,” Gigas explained patiently, “I’m sort of apprenticed to a dragon who’s teaching me how to craft wondrous things, like the magic belt and the slippers. And I’m still practicing my magic. I… I can’t just get up and go.”
The three adventurers looked disappointed. Xanathia spoke up. “Well, you are a bit young. We understand.”
“We do?” Bashsweckler asked.
“It’s a big thing, leaving home to make your way in the world,” Xanathia went on. “But listen. Just because you leave home doesn’t mean you’ll never see it again, Gigas. We’ll be back this way for supplies in six weeks. If you feel like you’re ready by then, you let us know.”
“Okay!” said Gigas, happy again.
“All right then!” said Zookle. He waved wildly. “Good bye!”
“Good bye, Zookle! Xanathia! Mr. Bashsweckler!” Gigas waved back, smiling at Xanathia and Bashsweckler in turn. “I’ll see you soon! Six weeks!”
He grinned as they walked away. Yes, he decided, the elf was right. In six weeks’ time, he would go away from here, looking for adventure… and then come back home.
“Come on, Hup.” He patted the familiar lizard on his shoulder. “That illusion spell worked pretty well last time. Let’s go play a prank on the cooper.”
Goodbye, I‘m Going Adventuring Somewhere…
If you read Gigas’ Tale, I’m eager to know what you thought of it. Even if you don’t have any strong opinions one way or the other, just a quick comment saying that you read the thing would make my day. Thanks! -Aaron