The Dead King glossed over his failed attempt on Zinya’s life and moved on.
"Mom, Dad, I hope you are watching. I’ll show you that you chose the wrong son. You shouldn’t have favored that monster over me. By doing that, you have created another monster that will take away from you as much as you have taken from me.
"Today you could have been sitting at my table, enjoying the riches and the safety of the Dead King of the Undead Courts. Now, instead, you’ll tremble in fear of my reckoning inside your pathetic little home just like the rest of this wretched Kingdom.
"That’s why I never sent you a card. I plan to leave you for last and savor your screams after I destroy every single thing that you have built upon my misery!"
’Enough ranting!’ Night warned him. ’Someone is coming and in your current state, they are too powerful even for Moonlight.’
Orpal hung up the projection and reached for Manohar’s equipment to take them as his spoils of war. Yet the figure of living light that until that moment had stood there listening to his speech, took them away while slow-clapping him.
"No one touches my stuff!" Manohar disappeared along the horizon in his final act of defiance, leaving the Dead King empty-handed.
Orpal cursed his bad luck and escaped via a Warp Steps that Night had weaved for him. The Royals alternated opening their Warp Steps, moving to the farthest coordinate they could see, but once they arrived, only Manohar’s corpse was left.
The Dead King had left in such a rush that he had had only the time to engrave with magic the word "Past" on Manohar’s back. Aside from that and the missing head, the corpse was intact.
"Dammit!" Sylpha roared, emitting a burst of bright violet energy that made the people in Zeska tremble, fearing that the Dead King was coming for them. "Manohar wasn’t just one of our strongest mages.
"He was the greatest Healer we ever had. Without him, a single plague can decimate our forces, leaving the Undead Courts unscathed and tipping the balance in their favor. How could we let this happen?"
"We didn’t." Meron embraced her, forcing her to calm down. "Our enemy hid in the darkest place of the Kingdom like a cockroach and attacked only when he was sure to win. We did everything we could, it just wasn’t enough.
"Now, however, we know his name and the source of his powers. Orpal may have taken Manohar from us, but he has also lost his greatest advantage, anonymity. I promise you that it’s a mistake that buffoon will pay dearly."
At the same time, dozens of kilometers away, Manohar could feel his Avatar of Light growing weaker so he took his communication amulet. He noticed the disappearance of his mother’s rune and even though he no longer had a heart he could still feel his chest tighten.
"I’m sorry, Mom." He sighed as golden sparks trickled from his eyes. "At least you have all the time in the world to scold me once I join you. Before that, I’ve still got a few things to do."
He pressed the contact rune of Zogar Vastor, the most mediocre, arrogant, and stubborn man that the god of healing had ever known. Yet he was also the man that he considered to be his only rival and his friend.
"Manohar, thank the gods! That loser in the sky pulled a good stunt, but I knew that you were alive. Your rune-"
"As usual, you’re wrong, Zogar." Manohar cut him short. "I’m dead and I don’t have much time left so as usual, shut up and listen to your better."
The Master choked on his retort as he noticed that there was nothing inside the golden construct.
"Good. I never understood why you chose to study Arthan’s Madness or to become the so-called Master. I wish I had the time to hear your explanation and see if there’s something salvageable in your research, but I don’t.
"I just want to tell you that I forgive you for what you have done, but only if you stop with that nonsense and give that crazy-ass woman who proposed to you a good life."
"You knew?" Vastor asked in shock.
"Of course I knew." Manohar replied with a scoff. "I would have been a really crappy god of healing if I failed to notice such major change in a man that I knew for decades."
"Then why didn’t you ever say anything and why didn’t you expose me to the Royals?" Hearing the screams and seeing the hologram disappear from the sky of Essagor, Zinya entered the room.
"How could I do that? You are the author of my favorite books as a child. You have been my childhood hero. Until I joined the academy, knew you in person, and surpassed you in one year, of course, but that’s beyond the point." Even as a construct, the smug grin of the god of healing was as insufferable as ever.
Yet Vastor didn’t feel rage nor envy when Manohar called the books of magic that he had written as children’s books. Only a deep sadness.
"Even though you didn’t like me, you have been a great teacher first, then a good colleague, and then you have been my only rival. You had no more chances to reach my level than anyone else, but while the rest of Mogar gave up, you never stopped chasing me.
"I never felt threatened by you, but you always inspired and stimulated me to do my best. I may not like your methods, but I couldn’t resent you for them because everything you did, you did it for me.
"On the contrary, you made my final years interesting. Thanks for never being boring, Zogar." Manohar said.
"Please, come here to Essagor." Vastor clenched his Yggdrasill staff until the wood creaked.
His voice was firm, but tears streamed like rivers from his eyes and a black-violet aura burst out at regular intervals from his body, making the lights of the house flicker and the ground quake.
Only when Zinya embraced him from behind did Vastor manage to calm down. The fear of hurting her eclipsed even the fury he felt.
"It’s not over yet. If you can speak, reason and your amulet still has your imprint, it means that your life force and mana core have yet to disappear. It’s all I need to turn you into an Abomination.
"I don’t care how many lives I have to sacrifice. I can give you a stable body, turn you into a hybrid, whatever you want! I’ll do everything I can to bring you fully back to life along with my children.
"Please, don’t make your death pointless, and don’t let that asshole of Meln win. You never lose, remember?" The Master begged.
"Thanks, but I’m not interested in eternity. I knew that one day I would die and that’s the reason I wanted every moment of my life to be interesting and funny. That day has come and I have no regrets.
"I had a good life and I wish you one as well.. Please, keep an eye on Lith for me and kick Orpal’s ass."