The Last ArtifactMature

The Five could go where they pleased, but regardless of that fact, they very rarely came down to the Cellar. In fact, this was the very first time Bruhog had ever done so.

Bruhog was a walking suit of ornate full plate armor, dark as soot yet reflective as polished steel. He was a massive creature, only half of him fit in the doorway as he bent over to see inside. His helmet was of the ancient Greek style, with a Y shaped opening. At the bottom of the cheek guards on either side, upward pointed bones protruded from the faceplate, like the husks of a boar. If you were to peer inside the helmet you would see nothing but shadows contrasted by the blazing spheres of his eyes. Bruhog, like Love Monk, had lost almost the entirety of his body. It was said that only bone and a barely pumping muscle resembling a heart remained hidden within the shadows beneath the armor. Slinky sacrificed some of his sanity for more powerful magic, whereas Bruhog traded his body willingly for an exchange of physical power to bolster the magical abilities he inherently had. He carried with him a huge war hammer named Retribution. It’s striking face was octagonal in shape, and it tapered down to a sharp spike at the rear. His voice thundered beneath the low ceiling in a deep groan. “Bluemonster. You’re wanted upstairs.”

Blue nodded and rose from the table. “I’ll see you guys later.” He made his way to the doorway where Bruhog squeezed his one shoulder back out. “How come you didn’t send Kanuval or… I don’t know… Someone.”

“Why?” He asked, his voice inconceivably deep.

“You guy’s don’t often come down here. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time you’ve ever been on this level.”

“Not true, I was here when we built the Cellar for the Heavies and associates.”

“Alright, well that was ages ago.”

“Seems that way doesn’t it. In any case, I was in the mood to take a walk.”

“So what’s been going on with you guys lately? Seems like everyone’s a little depressed or something.”

Bruhog turned to Blue as they walked to the elevator, the flames fluttered out of the opening of his helmet. “There is a disturbance.”

“What like… in the city?”

“No, in the force.”

“What?”

Bruhog laughed, it was like a jackhammer. “Ah Blue, it’s a joke.”

“Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.”

“No, you’re paying too much attention. You need to lighten up.”

“It’s hard to when I have a gut feeling that something’s wrong.”

“Something is wrong, I wasn’t completely joking about the disturbance. You know we’ve been collecting artifacts right?”

“Yeah, for what reason I’m not quite sure.” Blue said, hitting the button to call the elevator.

“Fiend is convinced that the legends are true. He has been speaking with Syn more often than anyone has in as long as we can tell, and she’s apparently giving him orders to collect the artifacts.” They moved into the elevator and Bruhog’s giant finger depressed the top floor button, which was conveniently larger than the others. “He’s sure that if we can get all the shards we can actually resurrect Syn and somehow end the fighting. More importantly, we may be able to save ourselves.”

Blue didn’t ask for an elaboration, he knew Bruhog meant that Fiend was hoping to save the Five; to return their humanity. “So is that why we’re going upstairs? To talk about artifacts?”

“Specifically the one you gave to the boatman today.”

“I had no choice.” Blue said as the doors to the elevator opened on the Mezzanine floor. “If I didn’t give it to him I wouldn’t have been able to retrieve our men.”

“We know, we’re not concerned about the artifact itself, but how it got there.”

“It was inside a creature.” he said. They moved to the conference table where Fiend Slinky and Love Monk where already seated. Love Monk was the simplest looking of the Five, he looked like the stereotypical Grim Reaper, although he did not carry a scythe. His relic was an iron mask. No one was quite sure what it was capable of.

Bruhog took a seat in his chair. “We need to know what these creatures were like.”

Blue shrugged, “Dwim said he’d seen them before, that they climb through from the void when reality is weak.” Blue looked around, confusion slid across his face. “Where’s Rotor?”

“Busy.” Fiend said, leaning Anguish against the table.

Everyone at the table turned as the elevator bell rang. The doors slid open and all three Goodfellows walked out. Kanuval, Rommel and Flatline were relatively regular looking men, although they all had the flaming gaze of magic users who had a constant flow of energy bursting from their souls.

“Sorry we’re late.” Said Flatline, “Rotor needed a hand. What’s Bluemonster doing here?”

“We’re just questioning him on the last artifact.”

“Woaw, what do you mean by the last artifact? You don’t mean the ‘LAST’ artifact, do you?”

Slinky leaned forward on his marotte like an elderly man. “Unfortunately.” He said, his voice always sounding as if he was about to burst into laughter. “Yes, we do. Heh..hmm.. We’ve located every fragment, except for two.”

“Two?” Blue asked.

Rommel sat down next to him. “One is the one you gave to the boatman today, and the other doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the city.”

“We think.” Slinky continued. “That it’s in the void… heh.”

“It’s bound to surface again the way it did, through a being that breaks through a weak point.” Bruhog added.

“Is that why Rotor’s out there?”

Kanuval shook his head. “No. Rotor’s meeting with someone from Balthazar’s district. We’re trying to negotiate with him. He has a large portion of the artifacts.”

“So where exactly are they all?”

Fiend looked at the others.

“Go on, it’s not like we have trust issues with Blue.” Said Bruhog.

“There are a few scattered around the city with different fanatic groups, you’ll be dealing with them in the very near future. The rest are here or with Balthazar.”

“So you’re trying to get the artifacts that Balthazar has without a hostile incursion?”

Slinky nodded. “Precisely… Heheh.”

“Tough luck.” Blue added.

Fiend nodded. “We’re aware of the tension.”

“Tension? I’d say the line snapped a long time ago.”

“Doesn’t… heh, mean it can’t be tied once again.” Slinky said, his shoulders jostling as he held back laughter.

Fiend rose. “Thank you Blue for coming up. You can leave now, you gave us all the information we needed.”

“Really? I barely said a word.”

“Knowing that the creatures had come from the void is all we wanted to hear. It helps clarify a theory we’ve been contemplating for some time.”

“Glad I could help.”

Rommel got up so that Blue could pass by him. “Talk to you later man.”

“Yeah, have a good.. meeting or whatever it is you’re having.”

“We’re going to play monopoly actually.” Bruhog said.

Everyone at the table turned to him.

“Come on, that was funny.”

Rommel shook his head. “I just can’t take you seriously when your voice is deep enough to shake loose phlegm from the walls of my lungs.”

“See, I wasn’t going to say anything.” Kanuval added, “But yeah, that’s totally true. I mean, even Slinky isn‘t laughing. That‘s just… sad, really.”

“I’ll um, see you guys later.” Blue said, trying to avoid the awkward conversation. He slid into the elevator and hit B2.

The End

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