The last time we saw our bearded adventurers, the Wizard had battled with the Enchantress through the ages and dimensions but found himself overpowered by the Enchantress and the Time Changer crystal. The Wizard and Enchantress reappear back in Franklin, in the midst of battle that was going poorly for the rest of our heroes. Despite their heroic efforts, the undead horde was too great. The battle ceased as both the heroes and the necromantic warriors turned to observe the Enchantress strike the final blow. Only the Gunslinger was able to shake himself out of his stupor and with only one bullet left in the chamber, the Gunslinger fires a prayer.
The Enchantress is so focused on casting the massive spell, putting an end to the Wizard’s meddling in her affairs, that she doesn’t even see the Gunslinger. The .45 caliber bullet exits the barrel, twisting tightly as it flies through the air. The bullet whistles as it spirals toward the Enchantress. The Enchantress hears the whistling and turns but it is too late. The bullet smashes into the crystal on the Enchantress’ scepter. The bullet mushrooms into itself… and bounces off the crystal with not as much as a scratch left on it.
The ball of magic energy dims briefly as the Enchantress loses focus on casting the spell and stares down the Gunslinger, a blank expression on her face. The expression curdles into pure fury as the Enchantress turns her attention to the heroes. The spell begins to glow with renewed intensity. Undiscernable to anyone, a hairline fracture forms in the crystal.
The Enchantress raises the scepter ready to rain down the spell upon the heroes. She howls as she targets the heroes. The crystal’s crack begins to spiderweb. *TINKLE, TINKLE, TINKLE* The Enchantress casts the spell, but just as she unleashes the magic energy, the crystal explodes unable to channel the vast energy called upon by the Enchantress. The magic energy swirls around the Enchantress, raging out of control. The Enchantress feels the magic pulling her apart at the molecular level.
“AHHHHHH,” screams the Enchantress in terror.
The Wizard, seeing his chance stands, raising his staff high. He begins muttering magical words and suddenly the magic energy begins flowing into the Wizard’s staff crystal, like smoke being pulled into a vent. The Enchantress is also pulled toward the crystal, her body distorting and wafting into the crystal, similar to how the magic behaved being pulled into the crystal affixed to the Wizard’s staff.
“NOOOOOO,” screams the Enchantress as she disappears into the Wizard’s staff.
With the absence of the Enchantress, the undead soldiers begin to stir, growling and moaning, growing more aggressive. The large cloud of cosmic energy continues to funnel into the Wizard’s staff and his eyes begin to glow bright blue. As the last traces of magic energy trickle into the Wizard's staff, the Wizard cries out straining to channel the energy. Suddenly he drives his staff into the ground, sending out a magic shockwave that blows by the heroes. The shockwave, charged with cosmic energy slams into the undead horde surrounding the heroes, their corrupted bodies disintegrating a blowing away like ash in the wind.
The heroes look around at the aftermath, stunned at what just unfolded right before their eyes. The Hero falls to his knees, exhausted by the extended conflict. He rolls onto his back staring up at the crisp blue sky. The Gunslinger drops to his haunches, leaning up against the Inventor’s crushed exoskeleton, resting his still smoking revolvers propped up on his knees. Captain Crimson drops to a knee, chest heaving with sweat running down his forehead. He allows his sword to drop from his grip falling to the ground beside him as he himself falls down in total exhaustion. The Barkeep sits nearby with the Inventor. The pair laugh, overjoyed by the fact they will get to see another sunrise.
The Distiller and Dr. Wolf stand over the Scribe. In the midst of the battle, the Scribe took a blade to his side. The thrill of the fight caused him to be oblivious, but now in the aftermath, the Scribe is painfully aware of the wound. Dr. Wolf works on the Scribe purposefully but is not frantic. While the wound may be painful, it is not fatal.
“Hold still Scribe,” scolds Dr. Wolf, his brow furrowed in concentration, “Tis but a flesh wound.”
Dr. Wolf has stopped the bleeding and is working on stitching up the wound. The Distiller produces a flask from the folds in his robe. He unscrews the lid and pours a few sips of bourbon into the Scribe’s mouth.
The Marksman slowly walks towards the Wizard, his cloak tattered, baring several cuts and gashes. The sleeve of the Marksman’s tunic is torn open and a shallow cut stretches across the Marksman’s bicep. The Marksman's hair is disheveled and he walks with a slight limp. He strides over to the Wizard, staring at him in wonder.
“We won,” laughs the Marksman with a mixture of relief, disbelief, and fatigue, “We won.”
A new day shines on Franklin. Smoke still drifts through the air, generated by the buildings still smoldering from the nightmare that hung over the town. The newly liberated townspeople are working together to reunite families and rebuild. The heroes have been treated to the greatest hospitality the recently occupied town can muster, being given the finest rooms in the Franklin Inn (the finest rooms untouched by the Enchantress’ savage attacks, that is). The heroes’ work is not finished, however. Most of them have kicked in one way or another. The Barkeep and the Inventor have helped rebuild some of the homes and major establishments in the town. Dr. Wolf has attended to the medical needs of the patients. The Hero, the Marksman, Captain Crimson, and the Distiller have traveled to several nearby towns asking for provisions for Franklin in their time of need. The Wizard stands on the sidewalk, puffing on his pipe, watching the town of Franklin rise from the ashes. The Gunslinger approaches.
“They’re resilient, should have this town back in shape in, what would you say, maybe a month?” asks the Wizard, half-joking.
“What some of them have lost you couldn’t replace in a lifetime, but they’ll be okay,” replies the Gunslinger gruffly. “Thank you, Wizard, without you everything would have been lost.”
The Gunslinger drops his head, a look of guilt flashes across his face.
“You can’t blame yourself,” the Wizard chides sympathetically, “the universes deemed this power could not stay hidden. It would have found a way out into someone’s hands one way or another.”
“But it was my selfish desire to see my family that ultimately brought this destruction here,” explains the Gunslinger.
“No, Gunslinger, evil brought destruction here. There will always be evil,” replies the Wizard. His gaze looks out at the heroes around the town. The Barkeep helping raise a storefront. A newly returned Hero is playing with children as a heavily bandaged Scribe recounts the tales of their latest adventures.
“That’s why it’s so important for heroes like you to rise up against it,” finishes the Wizard thoughtfully. He snaps back to attention, “Now about your family.”
“Any chance I had of seeing them again is gone since I smashed the stone,” the Gunslinger answers, accepting the harsh truth.
“No no my dear Gunslinger,” replies the Wizard gleefully, “My staff absorbed the immense power from the Time Changer crystal. While I do have it’s power at my disposal, the ephod back on the island had the proper spells cast upon it. It may take me a while to find and learn them but once I do, you’ll see your family again.”
The Gunslinger looks at the Wizard unsure if he can believe what he heard. The look of awe turns to a smile of gratitude as the Gunslinger slaps the Wizard on the back in appreciation. It’s a new day, a new start for everyone.
“But in the meantime…” begins the Wizard. The stone on his staff begins to glow bright blue. The Gunslinger looks down in astonishment as the Time-Travel wristband begins to glow the same blue hue…
I hope you enjoyed these Fables as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them for you. As I wrap up this first arc of stories I just wanted to thank you for reading and engaging with these stories. I also want to thank the kind words I’ve received from readers. I look forward to bringing you more great adventures with a wide variety of new characters.
Narrated by Brandon Warner