If you haven't read Part I or wish to refresh your memory, please click here to read.
The God Wars dungeon. Everyone has heard of it, while only a few have been there. The stories are terrifying, speaking of ancient creatures more ferocious than anything ever described in books. Creatures with wings and razor-sharp claws, gigantic ogres fully equipped with weapons designed especially to be used against humans ourselves. Some were so strong and agile that no adventurer had ever managed to come back to tell the tale.
The men around me were all thinking the same thing. I saw fear and anxiety in their eyes, the gleam of their armor somewhat lessened, and for sure, the hundred brave hearts sunk into their boots. Still, we trudged on through the darkness - the impenetrable Shadow leaving a sort of road for us to follow. Just as the other ninety-nine soldiers were, I was silent, all their concentration and mine bent on trying to gather our courage.
After several hours, the Shadow had led us to a sheer cliff wall. We halted, and the men around me, all equal in the face of doom, looked at the wall with quizzical eyes. Just as I was about to have the warrior next to me test about this dead end, we witnessed something rather magical. Of course, living in Varrock, none of us were particularly foreign to magic and wizards, but it still caught me unawares.
The Shadow itself caved in from around us, but not in an attempt to attack (although some of the men grabbed their sword hilts). It steadily formed a long foggy winding staircase up the cliff. It then suddenly solidified and the message was clear - follow the stairs.
So we did. As we climbed the weather got steadily harsher and colder. As the others, I grabbed at the collars of my tunic and tried to shield myself from the icy winds and freezing cold. A thought struck me though, which I quickly shared with the man next to me. "Are the Shadow Warriors so afraid of our strength, that they need to weaken us with this hail first?" This was an encouraging thought and it soon spread around the rest of the troop. I already noticed their pace, just as mine, quickened and became stronger.
The entrance to the dungeon was at the top of the cliff. It was a symmetrical columnar structure, of which only little had remained - clearly due to the weather. We halted and none of us dared to continue. I turned to them and said, "This is likely to be the entrance to the God Wars dungeon. We may encounter horrors of all kind in there, so I ask you to harden your hearts and steady your souls. I fear our strength will be put to test as soon as we enter. Draw your weapons! And fear no darkness!"
The men, seemingly steadied by my speech, unsheathed their swords and steeled their looks. In truth, I was as scared as any of these men, but that feeling was suppressed as I started to believe my own words. We entered and darkness engulfed us.
The tunnel that followed the entrance did not go on for long, and soon we found ourselves in the icy heart of the dungeon—a huge hall of beautiful pillars and majestic walls. It must have looked magnificent in its time of glory, but now it was a crumbling wreck of icicles and ruined embellishments. At the end of the hall I saw something that made my heart contract in sudden fear.
Darkness. But not vague and swirling as you might imagine. No, this darkness had shapes. Shapes of pitch-black soldiers, with grimly gleaming spears, swords, axes and shields—all seemingly made of darkness itself. The mass of Shadow opposite us was exactly the same size as our own troop. We were matched, man for man.
"So, that's them then..." I muttered. The men of Varrock were all looking at me expectantly, as if I knew what to do now. Suddenly their eyes quickly snapped back to the Shadow Army, and for good reason - they had started marching towards us.
They were silent. Not a single footstep could be heard, but our hearts were beating to their steps and our hands raised what weapons we held. They marched, and as if it had given us courage, we started marching against them. As the two battalions neared each other, we broke into a run - a desperate charge to feed us what audacity we could muster. They responded with a cold calculated charge of their own.
The two armies clashed with incredible force and both flesh and shadow alike were pierced with cold steel. I lost my helmet immediately, as a Shadow Warrior knocked it off with a shield. I fell to the ground and slid between the envoys of darkness. Dazed of the impact and having no idea of the whereabouts of anything, I quickly hid behind my shield.
I was not trained to be a combatant, although I did have some skill with a blade. I had the basic knowledge of parrying and counter-attacks, so I decided to rely on those. Standing up, I saw that I was flung deep into the enemy lines. Men of Varrock behind me had been stunned hard by the initial impact and many had already lost their lives. My stomach clenched seeing their unmistakable shapes on the paved floor.
My head suddenly cleared and I was overtaken by a feeling I've never felt before - rage. It gave me strength, and with that strength I started hacking down on the closest Shadow Warrior. The glimmering steel cut through them as it would through any normal being and encouraged me to think we might actually stand a chance.
Soon enough, many of the enemy lay slain around me, as I attempted to hack my way back to my men. My parries were always successful and my counters seemed to be guided by luck itself. At some point a thrown spear passed my left ear very narrowly, and urged by that incredible escape, I fought with increased determination. Raising my head for a moment I saw my men—their situation seemed grim. They had been pushed back considerably, and although many of the Shadow Warriors had found their end, there were more of Varrock's men scattered across the battlefield.
"Give them no ground!" I yelled when I reached our troop, and they did not yield. As if truly empowered by my rallying cry, they fought with renewed strength, renewed determination and renewed skill. Slowly, but surely the battle turned against the Shadow and its warriors were slain in greater numbers than ours. Casualties increased on both sides until, after what seemed like days of combat, I found myself surrounded by 15 weary men, scrapes and scratches all over their armor and faces, all facing only a handful of relentless Shadows.
"Now!" I shouted, and the men of Varrock lunged fearlessly at the Shadow Warriors. In a flurry of blows, and with considerable luck, we managed to defeat the rest of the enemy in that quick exchange. The men had no strength to cheer any more, but a triumphant smile played on their lips never-the-less.
That smile was wiped from their faces, though, when we heard an otherworldly voice announce, "You have fought bravely, humans, and you have won. I consider your side of the Bargain held and in turn I will do my part. The Shadow will recede and your lands will be returned to you. Your people will be safe again. However, your lives will be claimed." I looked at my warriors, my friends who had fought valiantly and shown real bravery. I knew it was coming, though. We had to die. I didn't even worry about my own life, but knowing that these worthy men would have to perish crushed my heart. A tear gathered in the corner of my eye. A tear for all who had fallen in the battle. A tear for those men who looked at me and knew they had to die now, too. They looked at me and I saw in their eyes the same respect I held for them. And the feeling of joy for having the chance to fight beside them.
The otherworldly voice only said, "This is the end." and total darkness engulfed us. I could not hear anything, nor see anything—it was as if nothing existed any more. I wondered whether this was the afterlife and whether death really was so gentle. But this feeling did not endure.
Suddenly the ruined hall came back into view and the silence was pierced by a bone-chilling screech. "Nooooooo!" it echoed through the battlefield. "I... cannot... do... this!!! My... power! No! How could... this... be true!? How... did he... do it!? Impossible!" The voice wailed through the icy air, leaving me stunned. What exactly was going on?
With an earth-shattering smash something exploded in the hall, but the source could not be found. The shockwave of the blast knocked me to the ground. Then everything was quiet.
I stood up and went to check the remaining men. They seemed alright, albeit confused and frightened just as I was. Something didn't seem right, and I had a strange feeling the Ancient Bargain had gone wrong. But for good or bad? I didn't know.
I urged my men to follow me and took them outside the dungeon into the freezing snow. Leaving my men there, I rushed to the cliff and glanced over the lands before me. They were clear, clear as ever. I could see the wide ranges of north Asgarnia and Misthalin in front of me and the unmistakable speck of Varrock on the horizon. The Shadow was gone. It was no more, and we were the victors. The remnants of the men of Varrock gathered around me and saw the vast expanse of Gielinor, awed by its beauty.
"Men, I think it's time for home." And we set off.
"He defeated the Shadow!? But how could a simple human do that?"
"That we don't know, but we must keep our eye on him. He may yet hinder us. We need to double our efforts. That artifact must be acquired if we wish to ascend!"
"Yes. I will demand a report from our spies in Misthalin immediately. The crown will not stay hidden for long..."