"You've traveled across countless stars, climbed the tallest mountains, and allied yourself with the most unlikely of allies in your quest. All this, for justice? Or for revenge?"
"For each other."
- The Mad King - Celestial Male (Woodland Male Host); formally known as King Tyrannus; Immortal Protector of Imperium, Lord of the Infinite Legion
- Commander Vindican - Human Astral Male; commander of the Blood Knights; General of Imperium
- Farghast - Human Astral Male; head adviser for The Mad King
- Cannonwalker - Human Mountain Male; resurrected hero
- Ned Edgewalker - Human Moors Male; resurrected hero
- Samuel Darkwalker - Human Woodland Male; resurrected hero
- Zoomer - Human Oceanic Male; resurrected hero
- Captain Screwtape - Human Highland Male; captain of the Frontier
- Earnest - Human Highland Male; first mate of the Frontier, friend of Screwtape
- Derpules - Celestial Male; The Daft King of Nevermine
- Archibon von Oedifex - Human Woodland Male; former Lord Protector of Aragon; treasurer of Imperium
Prologue - Endless, Nameless
The Mad King, adorned head to toe in centuries-old red and black battle armor, had been pacing back and forth in his grand throne room for hours, his three advisers never daring to speak one word out of turn in fear of invoking his fiery wrath. They had all seen his power firsthand; watched him cut down a legion of rebels using only his blade like a reaper through a field of wheat, call down great storms from the sky to ravage entire cities, and crush a king's morale with one simple sentence.
"M-my lord, perhaps we should... call off this search. Surely, these mere... anarchists, are of no threat to a supreme being such as yourself..."
Three months had passed since the rumored resurfacing of the four heroes, a small band of rebels that The Mad King slayed with his own hand, and yet somehow managed to cheat death. Reports of sightings of the highly dangerous outlaws Notch and Herobrine also persisted, both of them nearly being caught on numerous occasions yet somehow always managing to slip through the fingers of The Mad King's Infinite Legion.
"I do not respond well to those who question my forecasts," the King said, never breaking his movement patterns. "And certainly not well to sychopants." His voice sounded almost modulated, its raw tones still apparent though somewhat masked by the inner workings of his signature battle helm, a piece of armor which he refused to be seen without, even when in the presence of his most trusted subservients.
"Forgive me, my lord. I am only concerned that your hunt for these fugitives has interfered with other pressing projects. There have been whisperings of an uprising in the Aragon sector, and the rebel leader Makrozoia is still at large in the Svistys continent."
"I care little for rumors and petty gossip. I need only trust my instincts in these matters. And my instincts say that these fugitives must be captured and brought to me. Alive. Do I make myself clear?"
"As crystal, divine leader. We shall double our efforts. Rest assured, these dissenters will be found and brought to justice. Glory to The Immortal Protector of Imperium!"
"Glory to the Immortal Protector of Imperium!" the rest of the advisers echoed as they vacated the throne room, leaving The Mad King to his lonesome. As they exited, the mortified advisers swore they could hear him whispering the same haunting phrase over and over again on verbatim with unending abject disdain.
"Kill them all. Kill them all. Kill them all."
Chapter I - A Dream of Empire
As their air pressed up against his face, Cannonwalker strugged to see more than two feet in front of him, even with the whole world seemingly in view. It was bright as day, the sky lined with high dwelling white puffy clouds, though even as he strained his eyes, he could not make out the ground below him, if there even was one. To both of his sides, he heard the all too familiar symphony of terrified screams as the four of them plummeted towards their certain doom.
From below, a faint yelling could be heard, less so terrified and more urgent. As he picked up speed, Cannon shut his eyes in desperation, hoping for a quick and perhaps even painless death. To his great surprise, however, mere moments later his descent began to slow dramatically. At first, it felt as if he had been suspended in mid air, much as he did seemingly years before, but upon opening his eyes he found himself instead drifting harmlessly down to the deck of a ship, crafted from a strange type of dark wood he'd never laid eyes on before.
"Hoist 'em down, easy now! Tie 'em to the mast and be sure they don't make off!"
Cannon awoke with his arms crudely tied to the mast of a ship, still consumed by the overwhelming vertigo from only moments before. The sun glew from high above, its rays harshly beating down on him as he began to take in his surroundings. "Smee, notify the cap'n while I tend to our guests," a man said, towering over Cannon and handing out orders without so much as turning his head.
The man's features were blurry, but distinct. He wore a grungy red overcoat with golden trim, decorated with numerous medals. His hair was dark brown and his skin a light shade of olive. It was an odd mix - in fact, everything about the man seemed alien, even his strange accent.
"It's not often we catch sky-travelers 'round these parts," the man said, arms behind him and he inspected the four of them. "So spill the beans. How did you end up in Crown-controlled skies? Who sent you? Who dropped you down here?" None of them offering answers, the man slapped Zoomer across the face. "I don't like your face, boyo. Where ya from? Dongville? Hepdongles? Dongsettes? Not from around here, that's for sure," he said. He raised his hand to strike again, but before his hand could meet Zoomer's face, a voice halted him from afar.
"That's quite enough, Earnest," the voice said. The red-coated man, or Earnest as he was called, jumped to attention, stepping away from the suspended prisoners. "Cap'n Screwtape," he said with a respectful nod. The Captain, sporting a flashy teal coat and oddly natural looking blue hair, strided casually toward the mast. Taking only a moment to observe all four of them, he kneeled down to eye-level with Ned, just low enough for him to speak quitely and still be heard.
"Name's Screwtape. You heard of me?"
Ned shook his head, only just now beginning to clear his mind.
"Scourge of the Seven Skies? Commander of the Scorned Fleet? Terror of Cardongle?"
"I have no idea... who you are," Ned said.
Screwtape shook his head and rose, turning back to his intrigued crew. "You see what I mean, Earnest? First sightings of ships made of limestone, then purple beacons in the distance, now this. It's enough to wake Old Man Jenny," he said, pacing around the prisoners with a concerned look about his face. Earnest shook his head. "You can't be serious. It's just paranoia, captain. There's no need to bring... him, into this. It's just not worth it. Besides, you know how excited he gets when this sort of thing happens," Earnest said.
"Earnest, you're starting to sound as daft as him, and no one is dafter than The Daft King. No, this is out of our hands. We need to make for Brutus. It's up to Derpules and his slimey adviser now," Screwtape said. Earnest cocked his head, silently begging please. "I know you're concerned, Earnest," Screwtape said, placing a hand on his shoulder. "But it's better he take the heat than us. I'm not putting you-ah, the crew, in danger again."
Captain Screwtape gave a reassuring to Earnest and quickly turned back to the crew. "Smee, where the hell are you? Oh, there you are. Get the rest of those gutter trash up. Set a course for Brutus. We've got business with The Daft King!" he exclaimed, striding back into his cabin. "Oh, and make our guests comfortable below, if you can," turning his head back for a moment before continuing.
Earnest untied the group from the mast and motioned for them to follow him below deck. "I'm sorry you had to get involved in this. But the captain is very... protective. Besides, I'm sure The Daft King will be fair with ye," he said. Cannon rose to his feet and attempted to ask Earnest a question, but almost keeled over when he looked overboard, not seeing the urgent rush of the ocean below them, but instead only the sky. The ship was flying through the air!
"What the... where are we?" Ned asked, looking overboard. Earnest laughed. "Nevermine, of course! Where else?" he asked. "Uh... Kilran? Shouldn't you be, I don't know, hiding in a cellar right now? On account of that whole 'The Mad King is back and razing the entire world,' thing?" Zoomer asked. Earnest cocked his head. "Where did you say you were from? Nevermind, doesn't matter. We're an hour or so away from Brutus, so make yourselves comfortable below. And don't try to go above, someone will probably try to shoot you."
"May I present King Tyrannus, Immortal Protector of Imperium and Lord of Kilran and the Outlands. Bow like withered wheat."
Two Blood Knights adorned head to toe in exquisite battle armor escorted the prisoner into the throne room; the prisoner no longer dressed in royal garments of the East and instead clasped in irons and rags soaked in bleach. The Knights dropped the shivering prisoner to his knees 10 feet from the base of the throne situated at the very end of the rectangular room.
"I was forced to vacate my palace in Imperium to tend to you, prisoner. You better be worth my time."
"Please, sire... you can't do this! I've been faithful ever since you came to Kilran! I've paid my dues and served you tirelessly - I even executed those rebels in the western sector! Have mercy!"
"QUIET!" a Blood Knight yelled from the back of the room. "Let the ruling proceed."
To the end of the room was The Mad King, basking regally in the sunlight being let into the extravagant throne room built into the side of a great mountain overlooking the massive port city below. The right wall was made of mountain stone, but the left was made entirely of crystal clear glass, effectively a grand window The Mad King routinely used to look out into the city and his legions of soldiers. To either side of the throne was a massive beast that seemed like a primal starved Enderman, both chained to walls and looking as if they might lash out at any moment. The King petted them affectionately as he spoke.
"Archibon Von Oedfex the Third, Lord Protector of Aragon, you are charged with high treason against the Crown of Imperium."
"On what grounds?!"
"You were seen giving two female Oceanics shelter inside your own palace two nights ago. Giving shelter to those subhumans is one of the highest crimes in the land. Surely you know this."
"But, sire... they're my children. I couldn't abandon them!"
"So you admit to bedding one as well? I had no idea you were such a parasite, Lord Protector."
"Sire, no! They're uh, they're adopted! This is all just one mistunderstanding, I was leading them into the kitchens that night to begin their hard labor! Surely there is no fault in that!"
"No, perhaps not. But there is indeed fault in lying to me. I expected better from you, Oedifex. Now you've betrayed my trust."
"I'm afraid you've forced my hand," The Mad King said. "Dinnertime, my lovelies," he said devilishly to his two barbaric pets, slowly pushing a hidden button on the throne to release their chains. The two beasts rushed forward and instantly began to devour the fat and juicy former Lord Protector, savoring every single bone and sucking him dry of all his blood and various bodily fluids.
The sound of torturous death rang throughout the palace, forcing one of the royal advisers to run into the other room to barf. The Mad King snapped his fingers to one of the servants that had wandered near the throne room on her cleaning route. "Please, see to it that this mess is taken care of. And be sure that Adviser Farghast is well - we can't have him getting sick just yet."
Chapter II - I Found My Friends
"So wait, are we honored guests or prisoners?" Ned asked. After being untied, the group was taken below decks to a room that they assumed was directly underneath the cabin. It wasn't exactly a a guest room, but it looked as if they could walk right out if they desired. Perhaps that wasn't the best option. "Good question," Cannon said. "Where did they say they were taking us?" he asked.
"Brutus, I think."
"Like the poet?"
"Like the poet."
The four of them shifted around uncomfortably, not accustomed to the alien-like rocking of air travel. It was, for all intents and purposes, very similar to sailing in that they constantly bobbed around, but given that there was no water, what exactly was causing them to bob? The disorientation was too much for Sam, and he began to feel sick to his stomach. "Okay, I'm not just gonna sit here and wait for them to take us to Brutish. We need to get off this ship," Sam said, rising from his chair.
"And where exactly do you think we're going to go?" Zoomer asked. "I don't exactly see any friendly port towns around here. And I'm not particularly scared of this Derpules person." Ned shook his head. "This is exactly the kind of thing that ends with us lying on the ground choking on our own blood. And I don't think we have anymore imprisoned Gods on our side," he said.
"You're a strange lot," said a voice from just outside the door. Captain Screwtape strided in, arms crossed on his chest as he stood to address his guests. "I don't really know who you are or where you came from. You're a bunch of mysteries, and I can't allow that," he said as he closed the door behind him.
"Uh... you're not gonna kill us or anything, right?" Sam asked cautiously.
"When you fell, you had something on you. Some kind of weapon. What was it?"
"Guys, he didn't say no."
Screwtape facepalmed. "I'm not going to kill you, I promise," he said, taking a seat on an unoccupied chair. "I just need some information. My uh, employer, has been a bit on edge lately considering all of these strange happenings. We haven't had someone fall from the sky for a few years or more, and the last person, well, you'll meet him. But we've seen other things too - airships flying in restricted zones like they just warped in, people disappearing in the night, and now you lot. It's just odd, and my employer wants to get on top of it, so to say."
"It's just a bow," Sam said. "I made it myself a while back. I've had it for a while." Screwtape nodded. "It didn't have any arrows with it. Where have they all gone?" he asked. "I just lost them. It was a long fall," Sam said with a shrug. Screwtape rose from his seat. "I know an Infinity Bow when I see one, boyo. I have no idea how you got one, unless you're Derpules' lost nephew, which I doubt."
"Who is this Derpules anyway, if I may ask?" Cannon inquired. Screwtape cocked his head. "Have you been living under a rock? Derpules is a God, the first in centuries to appear. Everyone flocked to him once he began his bid for power, not because he was a force to be reckoned with, but because he's easy to play. Not to mention he's got a lot of gold lying around, which makes a privateer like me a very happy man."
"So you're just in it for the gold?"
"No, I'm in it because-" Screwtape paused for a moment, his pupils widening and cheeks flaring red.
"Yeah. The gold. That's all," he said, turning away for a moment. "Where did you say you were from again?"
"Kilran, what about you?"
"Kilran, are you deaf?"
"I must be, because Kilran doesn't exist. And believe me, I've been sailing all my life. No such place."
"Okay, then where are you from?"
"Case and point."
"Wait, what?" Ned said. Soon, the entire room was full of perplexed individuals, all of them spouting out random geographical locations with Screwtape having no idea what they were talking about. "This is impossible," Screwtape said. "You must have hit your heads on the way down because I've no clue what you're on about. You're Derpules' problem now."
With that, the captain vacated the room, shutting the door behind him. The group relaxed once more, now only with more questions. "Well, that went well," Zoomer said. Cannon remained dumbfounded. "Guys, you don't think we-" Cannon said before being interrupted. "Pissed off into another dimension when we jumped over? It seems pretty likely," Ned said. Cannon shook his head. "But we couldn't have. It doesn't make sense, unless they..." Ned noticed his hesitation. "Unless who what?" he asked. "Nevermind," Cannon said.
"Oui," Earnest said, opening the room's door. "We're about to arrive at Brutus. Be on deck in five minutes," he instructed. Cannon attempted to inquire before he left, but the skyrate was gone in a flash. "So... Brutus," Cannon said. "What do you think it'll be like?" he asked. "Probably really, really nauseating," Ned said. Zoomer nodded in agreement.
As instructed, the four of them arrived on the deck of the airship within the next few minutes, now slightly more accustomed to the strange feeling associated with sky-sailing. Sure enough, out in the distance a collection of shapes began to come into view, upon closer inspection revealing themselves to be mountains that stretched miles up into the sky, their earthly source nowhere in sight with such high elevation. Each mountain was topped with a mass of beautifully crafted buildings comprised of quartz and dark spruce-like wood. On the centermost mountain was a massive palace that stretched high into the sky, its central spire the highest point in the entire visible skyline.
"Welcome to Brutus. Be sure to mind the gaps."
The captain emerged from his cabin once more, joining the group as they stared in awe at the mountain city before them. Each moment, they drew nearer, the airship slowly losing speed as they neared their destination. The airship seemed to be bound for the central mountain's port, where Cannon assumed Derpules was waiting patiently for them. He wondered what the man would be like - if he could be called a man.
Finally, the airship docked at the centermost pier extending from the mountain. "Watch your step," Earnest said as he escorted them off the deck of the ship and on to dry land. The feeling was both liberating and a bit nauseating. The skyrates seemed to be on a tight shedule however, allowing them no time to lollygag around.
Screwtape, Earnest, and four other skyrates formed an escort convoy for the group, leading them out of the docks and towards the center of the mountain - the grand palace, even more beautiful up close. The top of the mountain was crowded with hordes of people, all of them being held back from entering by the extensive security force surrounding the palace.
"Please, sir! Let me in, I just have to see him! He's so dreamy!"
"Back off schoolgirl, Derpules wants nothing to do with you. He likes the older ladies."
"Ma'am, please, don't assault anyone. Do you even have an appointment?"
Cannon and the others had to fight to push through the ever growing crowd of fangirls, their way being waved by their skyrate escort. Finally, the group arrived at the security line. "Papers, please?" one of the men said, clearly tired from a day of fending off ravenous tourists. Screwtape fumbled around in his pocket for a moment before pulling out an official looking document. The guard nodded and unlocked a fence gate beside him, leading directly into the courtyard of the palace. "Please step this way, and make sure not to wander from the path. Please."
"Hey, why do THEY get to go in? I've been here for three days!"
The group rushed in urgently to avoid being stampeded. Cannon had never seen anything like it - who even were all these people? All of them looked eerily different from what he'd seen before. There certainly weren't any Nords among them. The captain led the group through the courtyard with subtle haste, he himself showing signs of concern for being violently crushed.
Within a minute, the group arrived at the grand entrance to the palace, made of ornately crafted dark wood. A guard dressed in polished bronze armor nodded as they approached, slowly pushing open the massive door and motioning for them to step inside. "The Highest Higness will be waiting for you in the throne room. Welcome back, Mr. Screwtape."
"Okay Ffon, be honest, on a scale of one to ten how much do you like these shoes?"
"At least an eleven, sire."
"Oh, you're so good to me, Ffon. What's this? Ah, yes... our guests from the east. Come on inside, the water's great."
"Just kidding, there's no water... yet. Let me get a closer look at you," Derpules said as he rose from his throne, leaving Ffon in the dust. "Ah, is that who I think it is? Screwtape you devilishly handsome rogue, how have you been?" Derpules exclaimed, running up and hugging him. "Still have the hots for Earnest? I don't blame you, just look at that bastard, it's like he could catch fire at any moment..."
Screwtape coughed, a subtle signal that he was very, very embarrassed. Zoomer couldn't help but chuckle, prompting Derpules to turn his attention to Screwtape's guests. "So these are the people you told me about, Screw? Let's see if they're all they've been hyped up to be."
Derpules motioned for the four of them to join him as he gazed out a massive window to the grand city below. "How do you like my city, friends? Isn't it marvelous?" he asked, not bothering to look at his guests. Cannon cleared his throat. "It is very pretty, but I was wondering if-" Derpules had no intention of listening to Cannonwalker speak at the moment, instead continuing to marvel about the city. "I'm glad you think so. Unbelievable how quickly these people work. Just a few days ago one of my advisers suggested I invest in a giant arch made of bedrock on the western island - genius! It'll be finished in just a few days, I believe," he said turning back to the interior.
"But that's not why you're here, is it? My friend here says you fell from the sky, is that true?" Derpules asked intently. Cannon opened his mouth to speak, but his words were taken out of his mouth the moment his eyes drifted to Derpules' belt. Lazily hanging off of it was a marvelous golden blade, longer than it was wide by a longshot, and adorned with numerous jewels on its hilt. The realization hit him like a rock to a face - how could he have been to stupid?
Just before he could answer and comment on his blade, Derpules turned his head to the commotion just outside the door. "Oh, that must be my adviser. You know, the one who wanted to build a arch? He'll be taking care of you from here on out. I'm afraid I have much more pressing matters to attend to. They don't call me the King for nothing!" he said, casually walking back to his throne.
"But wait-sir, please, just one more-"
From behind them, a stranger attempted to get their attention. Cannonwalker turned back, almost annoyed, only to be shocked the moment he laid eyes on the adviser. Dressed in tattered clothes head to toe with a brown shirt, green pants, and an off putting bone mask with red streaks - he was sure of it, the man standing before them was Lithium. His arms were crossed expectantly, voice muffled slightly by his mask.
"Don't worry your Highness, I'll see to it that our guests are comfortable. This way, if you please."
Lithium motioned for them to follow him to a private room in the next wing of the palace, closing the door behind him. Cannon coughed. "Lith... is that you?" he asked cautiously. Lithium chuckled. "Of course it's me, Cannon. I should be asking if that's you. Perhaps I have some... explaining to do. Tea?"
Chapter III - Chasing Yesterday
"Right-o, now that you're all settled in, let's have a quick chat."
Lithium unfastened the straps of his mask and set it on a small table near the door, rubbing his face for a moment. "Never liked that thing. Don't know why I even bother carrying it around," Lith said, taking a seat around the table. "Well, don't just stand there, take a seat," he said to the four of them. Cannon was the first to do so, sitting closest to Lithium.
"It's a damn bloody mess out there lately. People falling out of the sky, gaining positions of immense political power within days, building secret armies of mass destruction - it's a wonder the whole city hasn't blown up by now," he said. Cannon put his teacup down. "I don't understand, how exactly did you get here?" he asked. Lith smiled. "How exactly did you you get here, if I may ask?"
"Well, remember that whole Herobrine business you helped us out with a few weeks ago? Long story short, killing him attracted the attention of his pissy father, he tries to kill us, succeeds, then we're resurrected by Notch who also convinces us to revive Herobrine to defeat their dad, then we tried leaping off the edge of the End to get back home and we landed on a pirate ship."
Lith paused for a moment, now intently listening. "Tell me everything you can about this father figure." Ned shifted in his seat. "There's not much more to say. Their father - The Mad King - he's ravaging all of Kilran and Svistys by now, and we have no idea where Notch and Herobrine are. There's no telling what he might do if he's allowed to roam free across the Overworld. We need to get home," Ned said.
Lith sighed. "Precisely what I was worried about," he said. "A long time ago, before I came to Corvus, Herobrine told me that something was coming - something that could destroy both him and the entire world as we know it - and that we had to prepare. When I heard he was out and about again, I didn't know what to do. Choose my friends or choose my old master. Arcifex was pretty spent on the latter, and I wasn't so sure. We went our seperate ways and haven't spoken since. Speaking of which, you didn't happen to see him on your travels, did you?"
"Uh, no, no we haven't, sorry Lith," Ned said. Zoomer nodded. "Yep, haven't seen him in ages. No clue where he's off to." Sam shrugged. "Who are we talking about again?" he asked. Lithium sighed, ready to offer a solemn response, but was interrupted by Cannon. "Lith... the truth is, we have seen him."
"Really? Is he alright?"
"Cannon, I swear..."
"We killed him."
"YOU DID WHAT?"
The room fell deathly silent, no one daring to interrupt Lithium. "Talk. Now," he demanded to Cannon. "It was The Mad King's fault, without him we wouldn't have gone anywhere close to him. He lied to us, told us that Arcifex had something we needed to revive Notch and restore balance to the land. We had no choice. He attacked us with something dark and ancient and nearly killed us. I'm... sorry, Lith."
Lith sat back down, his rage replaced with despair. "He'd cleaned his act up. I knew Herobrine was corrupting him, twisting him to his cause. He was a good friend who threw in with the wrong people. Listen, I... I don't blame you. There was no way you could've known."
Ned slid closer to Lithium. "How did you say you came here again?" he asked. "I came here looking for this Mad King of yours. Herobrine had been preparing for his arrival for years, but was never able to cement his death because you killed him. So I found the closest stronghold to Corvus there was and made the leap and ended up here. Herobrine mentioned something about his father traveling between the dimensions, hunting down all of his alternate selves to steal their power. It wasn't hard to find his alternate personality in Nevermine. He had something he would use to travel across worlds, some kind of weapon that Herobrine stole from him years ago and could only entrust with his most faithful servant. I think I know who that faithful servant was now," Lith explained.
"Arcifex had it, yeah," Cannon said. "When he died, The Mad King stole the weapon - the Invidere I think it was called."
"Where is the Invidere now?"
"The Mad King still has it."
"Then we're in graver danger than I thought," Lith said. "When I came here, Derpules, the fool he is, made me a noble and a bit of poitical power. It was the perfect opportunity for me to get back home. I commisioned a massive arc to be built not far from here. At least that's what The Daft King thought it was - an arc. In truth, it's a portal, being built to be exact specifications. If the contractors don't blunder it, I believe it will take us back to Kilran. That's been my goal ever since I got here. And it's nearly complete."
"Who taught you how to build a portal?" Zoomer asked.
Cannon chimed in. "About that, if Derpules is really the alternate version of The Mad King, then it stands to reason he has the Invidere, or at least this world's equivalent. Couldn't we just use that to get back home?" he proposed. Lith shook his head. "Unless we only plan on sending one of us back home, then that isn't an option. The blade's power only responds to its wielder at the time. I haven't found any loopholes to that problem, not yet at least. Thus... big giant bedrock portal," Lith said.
"And you're certain this thing will work?" Ned asked.
"Brutian contractors work quickly, and I gave them precise requirements for the arc. Everything should be in order."
"One more thing," Cannon said. "When get out of here, will you give us a hand in, well, killing a Titan?"
Lith paused for a moment and chuckled. "For old times' sake, yes. I'll join your little party and see what I can do."
"It's good to have you back, Lith," Ned said.
"Arcifex would have done the same. I'm doing this for him," Lith said.
Chapter IV - Invasion