Wild Card Wednesday is a challenge between us. Each will provide a prompt to the other. That prompt will allow us 1000 words or so to complete the challenge. Today Steve Beaulieu prompted me with: roll that d20.
The Last Ones Alive?
The knight grunted as he swung his claymore sword with both hands. He aimed right for the demon’s head. The blade cut through with ease, decapitating the demon. The blood steamed and boiled as it spurted into the air. Some of it splashed across the knight’s impeccably kept silver armor, running down the golden lion emblazoned on the chest piece.
“Nice one, knight!” the young man behind him yelled.
“Shut up, kid.”
The knight didn’t know how old the young man was. Maybe twelve, maybe sixteen, it didn’t matter. He was a bit of an idiot, either way.
Another demon emerged from the fog. It was beautiful for a moment, smiling as it noticed them. Then the human flesh melted from its face, revealing a red skeletal face beneath. A sickening roar emanated from deep within as it charged. The knight raised his sword and readied himself for the fight.
“Spinning blade attack!” the young man shouted. “I get to roll the d20 with this one!”
The knight glanced over at the young man and rolled his eyes as he watched him pick up a set of dice.
“I said shut up,” the knight said.
The young man rolled a handful of dice, then consulted a sheet of paper full of statistics and numbers. After a second he raised his arms in victory and shouted.
The knight realized he was distracted, looking back just as the demon was upon him. He spun out of the way of the attack, then brought his blade back around, slicing deep into the back of the demon. It fell to the ground, then began to convulse wildly. Hot blood shot from the wound.
“My character sheet!” the young man yelled, quickly gathering his things and scooting away from the dying demon.
The knight approached. He raised his blade high, then plunged it through the demon’s back, right into its heart. It stopped convulsing, and as the knight pulled the blade back out he sighed heavily. He’d been fighting for some time, and was ready for a break.
“Check them for loot,” the young man said.
Ignoring the young man, the knight sat down on the charred and broken ground. He unhooked his breastplate and allowed it to fall away, freeing him to take a deep breath for the first time in hours.
“What are you doing?” the young man asked. “We gotta collect the loot.”
“They’re demons, kid, they don’t have any loot.”
“All monsters have loot, that’s how the game works!”
It was more or less the only conversation they’d ever had.
“Hell on earth is no game,” the knight said, suddenly feeling weary.
The young man picked up his character sheet and his dice and held them so the knight could see them.
“That’s exactly what it is! A game. This is all just a game. You even did the exact attack I told you to do.”
The knight was hoping he hadn’t noticed. The spin attack was a necessity at that point, not a choice. He would’ve preferred to use any other attack, anything that wouldn’t feed into the young man’s theory.
“It’s a miracle you’re not dead yet,” the knight said. “If you don’t wake up soon and do something other than play with your dice you’re gonna join the rest of the human race in eternal damnation.”
“Ha. Only if I roll a one.”
The knight laid on the ground and closed his eyes. Nothing he said got through, yet for some reason he still tried. He was almost asleep when something occurred to him, an argument he hadn’t used yet.
“If this is just a game, where are your friends? Who’s controlling all these other characters?”
The young man was busy marking things and tallying up numbers on his character sheet.
“We haven’t seen any other characters. You’re my character, and everyone else has been an npc.”
“I’m no one’s character!” the knight said, barely holding his anger in check.
The young man chuckled.
“I took short tempered as a character flaw, but don’t worry, we got great cleave in return. Totally worth it.”
The knight sat up. This kid needed a healthy dose of the truth, and now was the time to give it to him.
“Maybe the reason we haven’t run into anything other than demons is because everyone else is already dead, you ever think about that? Maybe we’re the only people out here because we’re the last ones alive.”
The young man actually looked up from his character sheet for a moment.
“Look around kid, the world’s gone. I think everyone’s dead.”
For a moment, the young man did as he was told. He slowly looked around at the scorched earth, at the smoldering ruins of the city. Everywhere they’d traveled looked the exact same as this. The only things they’d ever found alive were demons.
The young man was interrupted as the ground began to quake violently beneath them. The knight quickly gathered his armor and snapped it back into place, then stood. The young man laid atop his precious character sheet and dice, protecting them.
The ground broke open a few hundred yards away from them. The thing that climbed out wore no beautiful disguise. It was almost too disgusting to view. Scorpions crawled across all exposed skin, endlessly stinging. Blood and puss oozed from its pores, and a twisted smile revealed thousands of black, razor sharp teeth. As it emerged fully and stood it was over twenty feet tall.
“Oh, God,” the young man said.
The knight picked up his sword, then slowly shook his head.
“That ain’t God.”
The young man started to quietly weep as the giant demon took a step toward them.
“What do I do?” the young man cried, locking eyes with the knight.
“Do you pray?”
The young man shook his head quickly.
“I don’t know how.”
The knight glanced at the approaching demon, then back at the young man. He tightened his grip on his sword and prepared to charge.
“Well then, roll that d20.”