Illustrated Version available on AO3


Unending pain.

So much pain it made her numb to it. It wasn't physical in a sense, but Marika felt it coursing through her entire body. Ripping away at her soul as she was being used as a resource.

Stop... Stop... No more...

No amount of movement could free her from these restraints. Anything she tried only made her bindings tighter, a form of punishment made after some of her people tried to escape.

So here she was, atop a stake among her people, Empyreans like her that were captured for one single purpose.

Binding for the Dragon Order's Elden Ring. Securing it to avoid its collapse. A desperate last-ditch attempt for the dragons to hold their power over their world.

Marika was one of the last ones staked to an idol, an idol connected to the earth that connects to the Elden Ring. It was funny to Marika in a way, she was fulfilling her purpose to another outer god, but by force rather than eagerness.

Eagerness. Becoming the vessel and master of an Elden Ring was her goal all her life since she was chosen as a candidate. But now?

How she wished she could take it back.

How she wished she never left home.

If she didn't, he would still be alive.

"Sorry... I'm so... Sorry..."

The event replayed in her mind like a loop. Watching Seriph cut him down terrified her constantly. She couldn't escape from it, not even from her own memories. It was because of her that he met his end.

"Sorry... Rags... Sorry... Oh... Gods... Sorry..."

He couldn't have survived. Not without the blessing of Grace. Not without aid that needed to be immediate. She had last seen Rags atop the Dragon she rode, crawling towards them with fatal wounds and a missing arm. No one could have survived that.

But Marika held on, believing in some miracle that maybe, just maybe, he would appear. Come to save her from this waking nightmare, like he always did in their travels.

That was... A year ago. When she finally realized no one was coming.

"St... Stop... Stop..."

She starts a plea again within her mind, hoping someone or something would answer. She prayed to the Greater Will, to show her the way, to send its stars to rescue her and take her to its endless heavens.

"Please... Ple... Please... No more... No..."

She prayed to the other Outer Gods, bitterly asking for relief or salvation under their hands if the Greater Will did not answer. Heresy was not on her mind when performing those prayers.

"Let me... Go... Just let ... Me... Go..."

She also prayed for luck. Perhaps the stake holding her would be weak enough to break by itself.

"Just... Make it... Stop... Stop..."

She even prays for someone to hear her, anyone. Someone kind enough to deliver a mercy kill.

"Kill me... Someone... Please... Kill me..."

And lastly, Marika prayed for death. A final death from this stake. She had seen the Numens used by the Elden Ring, their final fate was simply to become a hollowed-out body after the last of their power is depleted.

How long would that be for her? She did not know. And how long was she on the stake already? Marika lost track of the time almost a year ago.

"Just... Let... Go... Let me... Die... Die..."


All she was answered with was nothing. Her fate was effectively sealed the moment she set foot outside of the Lands of Numen.

Marika wanted to cry and scream out in despair, grief, regret, anger, and frustration all at once. But found no strength to even shed a tear. She couldn't even open her eyes to see what was around her area.

Nothing... There's nothing... There was always... Nothing...

And so Marika waits for the end to come. And she thinks of home, her brother who died in battle and left a piece of his soul to her, her mother who died from sickness, her father whom she never met, and of Rags, who she has lost forever.

There's... Nothing... Mariketh... I... Nothing...

And just like all the Empyreans the Greater Will had chosen, She was nothing in the end. Just another failed vessel that did not even start.

" Mar-... rik-... Ka-...? "

Wha... Huh?

Marika hears someone calling her name, close to her, below her, more likely as she was hoisted up. She could not make out the voice of this man but sounded too familiar.

"Who... Ple... Stop it... Kill... Me..."

She begged weakly for a mercy killing, be it if the person below was a friend or foe. A movement came from behind her, and Marika braced for the end.

It did not come. Instead, her stake was moving, like someone was trying to tip it over. This action triggers a response from the stake's enchantment, prompting more pain to be inflicted on Marika as an attempt to remove her from the stake was carried out.

"Uhhhh... Arghhhh... Ahhhh..! GAHHHH...!"

Marika feels herself being ripped apart from the action, prompting her to scream softly from the sensation. It stops immediately as the stake ceases all movements. Removing her from being binding to the Elden Ring was impossible and would mean a very painful death if she was ripped from it.

"Argh... Please... Just...! Kill...! ME..."

She hears footsteps of the person walking away, prompting some panic that she would be left here again. Marika opens her eye to try and see who it was that tried to remove her stake.

All she saw was a blurred figure that resembles someone she knows. It was too familiar for her not to notice.

What... What...?

The unknown walks away in the direction of the center. Marika hangs her head low in despair again as the last chance to die quickly was dashed away in a few moments.

It... Was... Too good... To be...

Marika closed her eyes and awaited her slow death, predicting it will take more years for it to happen.


A loud sound rings in the air, deafening the entire area around the field, so strong it vibrates the fields. It was enough to awaken Marika to look up at the source.


The sound happens again, this time much louder. It was like metal hitting against another, only on a larger scale to shake the earth upon impact.




A scream of anger and hate was heard this time. And it sounded so familiar to Marika. Like she had only heard it once before.

Who... is...?







The screams of fury only grew from each impact, like it was causing someone great pain and misery.


For some unknown reason, Marika feels herself starting to come free. Like the Bindings of the Elden Ring was getting weaker with each slam. The change made Marika regain some strength, enough for her to gain some clarity.

"Rag... Rags...?"



A final slam creates bright light and erupts everything in her view. And for Marika, her entire world fades into black.

Marika felt light.

Like she was being lifted.

She feels her hands-free, no longer bound by the restraints.

And most importantly, the pain was gone.

She was weak and couldn't have a clear understanding of what was happening at the moment. All she knew was that she was off the stake after so long.

"Wh...? What...? What is...?"

Was she dead? She didn't know. Was she alive? She hoped so. She tried to move and only manages to move her fingers and head, leaving the rest unresponsive.

"Where...? Who?"


Someone calls her name, closely to her. It was the one that was carrying her. And she stops her thoughts at the sound of his voice.

"I... I... You...? "

She opens her eyes and looked at who it was.

It broke her instantly.


"R… Rag… R-Rags…? You… you…?"

She musters all her strength and reaches to touch his face, not believing he was even real. She touches it and could feel the warmth she was so familiar with, even after a long time away from him.

Her eyes begin to well up upon contact as she begins breaking down, tears falling uncontrollably.

"You... Sav-Saved... Me? You... You..."

All she did on that stake was helplessly pray, pray for a rescue, pray for an end.

But no God answered. No Demon or devil came. No one hears her pleas.

No one but him.

Rags. Who had somehow come back from the dead itself to save her.

"Oh... Rags... Oh, gods... Thank you... Thank you... Oh... Rags..."

She leans into his chest and cries against it, it was a mixture of relief, joy, sorrow, and anguish. It was unshed tears that she waited a long time time to release, and she was unable to hold them back anymore despite her weakened state.

He doesn't respond to her tears for a moment and simply allows her to cry against his chest. He soon pulls her closer and hugs her, comforting her from the trauma she experienced.

"I'm sorry... For taking so long... I'm taking us... Home..."

Marika nods from her state of anguish and was lifted off once again. Rags walk forth without a word, gently and carefully avoiding the debris and bodies around him. Walking through the wastes in the aftermath of a great calamity.

Marika watches him as he walks with her in his arms, looking forward the entire time. Her head feels heavy and light, her vision becoming darker with each passing blink.

A part of her still thinks this isn't real, a cruel joke before she dies. But she allowed herself to fall for it nonetheless. Her vision becomes darker and she felt herself fading away.

She was dying. She suspected it. Making this the last chance for her to tell him the truth. To give him herself, even in death.

"Rags... Rags... I... I..."

Her vision blacks out completely, and Marika utters her final words.

"I... Love... You..."

"I love you too, Marika..."



"Nagggrhhhh... Argh..."

Lordan tosses and turns in his lying position. The influence of the alcohol he consumed was affecting his head, making it hurt and dizzy without end.

"Arghh... Fuck... Me... Sideways..."

His vision was blurry as he looked around at where he was. It was the stables of Redmane Castle that he awakens in, with his armor scattered around the sides. He was dressed down to his inner gambeson and it was stained with a mixture of alcohol and water, and potentially something else.

"Meeeeehhh... What happened...? Eh...?"

Lordan supports himself against the walls of the stables and picks himself up to stand, walking around wobbly as he attempted to exit the stables. He makes his way out with his items and sees the castle around him filled with people all in their slumber, all under the influence of alcohol and with some resting in questionable places and positions.

"Ngrhhhh... Now. That... Was a party..."

His stomach growled and Lordan rushes to the side, immediately puking his guts out without restraint. He expelled the last of his contents before sitting down against the wall, shifting to the side slightly as he realized he was sitting too close to his own vomit.

"Fuckkkkk... I gonna take some... Coffee...? Do they even have that here...?"

Godwyn reappears in front of him with a frown, crossing his arms while looking down at a hungover Lordan. He sighs and shakes his head at the sight. Being a witness to last night's events made him aware of how Lordan got into this state.

" Well... You are finished, right? Can you move? "

"Go away... Godwyn... Just let... Just let me... Rest..."

" You have done plenty of that already, last I checked. On your feet, the Roundtable Hold awaits your return. "

The answer from Lordan was simply him falling sideways, drifting in between being awake and aware, to asleep or confused.

"Ask Gideon... To fuck... Off...? Those damned fingers... What the fuck...? Huh?"

Godwyn was now getting annoyed and makes his way to Lordan's face. He squats down to his level and tries to awaken Lordan despite not having the physical form.

" Enough of this foolishness... Lordan, get up. Now. "

"No... I don't wanna..."

" You have a quest to complete, and you are halfway there. Get to your feet and move on. NOW. "

Godwyn's constant attempts to wake Lordan cause him to turn away to face the wall, trying to rest away from the phantom Demi-god. "I already beat Radahn... Now... I can just take some... Resssstttt..."

" Lordan. Get up. No stacking off when you are so close. Come on. "

"Nghhh... You sound like Vargram..." Some sense came to Lordan and he manages to pick himself up to lie against the wall once again. "What... The hells happen yesterday anyway...?"

" Do you truly wish to know? "

"Lay it on me... Come on..."

He looks to Godwyn as the answer came. Godwyn only rolled his eyes and sighs in frustration over thinking of the events.

" Fine. Well, first. You celebrated as normal. Harmless drinks, dance, and singing. Then the feast got more hectic as a drinking competition was in play. You won, barely. And things went downhill when your jar friend brought in a dozen more caskets of mead. "

" The three of you drank to your heart's content like everyone else. Then you all got drunk. That's when the trouble starts. "

" Naturally, the drinks run out. And all the Tarnished start getting into brawls, then it was the Tarnished and Redmanes throwing hands, then Redmanes start fighting one another. Then it devolved into an all-out brawl. Anything goes. "

" Then, the fights somehow, by some miracle, ended when everyone started dancing. And eventually, puking. "

" Then there was you. In all your drunkard wisdom, decided to climb to the highest point of the Castle to jump to your demise. This happened at least a dozen times before you came to your senses and decided that falling to your death was pretty boring. "

" And there was you and your wolf friend. Who decided to use the Carian waygates to open a portal to one of the manor's rises, specifically to that cunt Seluvius. Then, the both of you shoved shit into the portal. Actual shit you found outside the grounds to throw at his face. That was the only action I approved of, really."

"Then you drank some more and more, and then some. You both get separated and you started thinking everyone you saw was Blaidd. Then, the both of you find one another and started slapping each other in turns. It ended when the jar joined in and slapped the both of you out cold, once. Thus, you ended up there in that shit hole of a stable."

He takes a moment to try and remember if he misses any details of Lordan day, shrugging once he could think of any. " Yes... That sums up everything. Now we can- Lordan? "

He looks down to see Lordan completely motionless, meaning that he was asleep the whole time during Godwyn's explanation of the previous day's events.

" Lordan? Did you hear a single word I said?! "

"Ngrhhhh... No...? But yes...?" The only response Lordan could give before falling forward, he was completely out of it at that point.

" Enough of this! Get up! " He tried to get Lordan to up, but to no avail as Godwyn could not physically touch him. " On your feet! Dammit! "

"Just go... Away..."

" Not when everything is at stake! Lordan! "

"I already... Saw... Fia... Nepheli... Millicent... Naked... I can die a happy man..."

" Lordan! On your feet! "

"Then again... I didn't see Melina... Roderika... Rya... And Sellen... Her robes were... Pretty tight..."


"Alright...! Alright...! Geez... Just... Take my body... And bring me to... The fucking hold... If you wanna..."

Lordan stops talking and falls back asleep. This time more soundly as he was completely knocked out. Godwyn groans in frustration and moves to take over. Within a moment, Lordan's hair changes to his golden color, and Godwyn uses Lordan's body to get to his feet, the effects of the alcohol not affecting him one bit.

"Gods... Your breath. Damn you, Lordan. For making me babysit you."

Godwyn takes his items and equipment to return Lordan back to his original state. He moves quickly through the castle and makes a quiet exit, using the guise of Lordan to move past everyone easily. He reaches the site of grace and reaches out to re-enter the Round Table hold, where he would release control back to Lordan.

"Hmmmm... How did you do this again?" It takes Godwyn a moment to test how Grace would take him to the hold and he eventually finds the way, turning him into a blue mist to enter the hold. He and Lordan fade into nothing and disappears from Caelid.


"Hmmm... He is rather late." Gideon paces in the hall while awaiting Lordan's arrival. He had received news of his victory in Caelid and had just been informed by the Two Fingers to bring Lordan to them.

So he waits, estimating that lordan would have been here by now. And nothing happened thus far as a few hours passed by his predicted timing. "This is a waste of time..."

Gideon turns to return to his study but was stopped as the sounds of a person coming in be heard. He turned and sees Lordan coming into view from the grace in the Great Hall. "Finally. Now, boy, there is much to discuss-"

Only to be caught off guard as Lordan falls back and hits the ground hard. The effects of alcohol consumption kicks back in when Godwyn releases his control, making Lordan just as drunk as before.

"Mmmmmmm... That... Kinda... Hurt..." He returns to slumber and completely misses Gideon's presence in the Great Hall. Gideon walks over and examines the now knocked-out Lordan, shaking his head at the sight with disdain.

"This is the boy that will become Elden Lord? Gods... They do have a sense of humor."

"Gideon...? Fuck off... I don't wanna... Be... Your Son-in-law..."

Gideon simply signs and orders some men to bring Lordan to his quarters.

Two days pass in the Roundtable Hold and Lordan finally wakes up sober. His face was red with embarrassment as he passed by the residents of the hold, remembering some of the things he said while drunk.

Why the fuck did I drink so much?

He looks into Fia's room and sees her there, still sitting on her bed. She waves at him with a small smile while he strolls away in an awkward fashion, remembering the exact sentence he said to her while drunk.

"I would sleep with you anytime." Lordan. What the fuck?

He gives his friends in the hold an apology for his behavior. Specifically to Roderika and Hewg as they were the ones watching over him the most, and thus had experienced the most comments by his confused state.

The Great Hall was where Lordan moves to and he see the doors to the Throne Room open to await his arrival. Gideon had passed instructions for him to visit the Two Finger as he wakes. Not really his liking to do, Lordan continues anyway for the sake of his quest.

Wonder where Melina went? He notes Melina's absence after he awakens, but didn't bother that much as he understands she needed her own time when required. It wasn't his place to question her actions when she knew much more than him.

Hmmm... She will turn up later. He moves to enter the throne room and looks to the side to see Ensia still watching him silently. Making him wonder if Gideon wanted him to spy for his sake. Creepy guy...

Lordan ignores the skull helmet knight and moves on, he had more important things to do than care about an eavesdropping attempt.

The Throne Room of the hold remains unlid like before, but Lordan was able to navigate it safely. He hangs a lantern on his belt for a better view and sees the Two Fingers once again before him, moving in anticipation of his arrival.

"My, my. I had my doubts,, look at you. Only once before have I seen two Great Runes together." Enia speaks from the side once again and greets Lordan on the Fingers behalf. "Well done, Wolf. Much better than we expected. The Great General Radahn was the strongest among Marika's children, equal only by his sister, Princess Malenia."

"Well... I had help. But it's done, right?" The required amount of Great Runes to mend the Elden Ring was two, and Lordan now had that amount to show for it. His journey was near completion after almost two years in the lands between.

Finally... Light at the end, eh?

"Yes, indeed. Your journey is at its turning point. Now, the fingers speak of your path." Enia's words trigger movements of the Fingers as they start to communicate with her. "Look there. The Fingers shudder with exuberance."

It begins its words and moves to create gestures for Enia to translate. Her body language becomes a little confused as the Fingers start creating new gestures that she did not expect. The Fingers stop and Lordan looks to Enia for the answer, only to be met with silence as she debated the meaning of its new words from the Greater Will.

"Well? What did it say?" His question received no answer as Enia remains deep in debate of the Fingers words. "It can be that bad. Right?"

"Unfortunately. There are complications that require... More than what was expected..."

"More?" The outcome of the Fingers words creates anxiety in Lordan. His efforts to become Elden Lord and mend the Elden Ring hinge on his current progress. But now? There's more to be done. "What... What the fuck does that mean? More?"

"Hear the words, Wolf."

Fine work, Wolf. The Greater Will is pleased. You have earned the right to become Elden Lord.

But, the Elden Ring is fractured. Beyond Repair.

Without all the Runes, it cannot be mended nor held together.

Seek them all. All of her kin. Put them to the sword and crush them, like the unworthy gods they failed to be.

Two you have within. Six more you must seek.

Go forth. It is the only path left for you now.

The words ended, and Lordan was left without words, only a mouth fully open in shock and disbelief. Soon to be replaced by anger and frustration.

Six. Six. More? Six. FUCKING. MORE?!

Six more Great Runes for him to claim. Six more Demi-gods with unknown power and dangers that he didn't account for.

All his efforts to come to this point suddenly seemed so...


"Despair will only hinder you, Wolf. Go forth. The Great Runes awaits. Gideon will assist, no doubt. Do not delay. The lands call for its repair."

Without a word, Lordan turns and leaves. Slamming the door of the Throne Room in the process. All his pending anger and frustration all surface in one single moment.


He lets out a scream that echoes throughout the entire hall and the hold itself. Everyone in the hold hears his cry of anger but Lordan did not care. It was high time he let out some of his pent-up anger on something like screaming. It was the least he could do.

"After all that... After everything! MORE?!"

He starts punching the hall's roundtable downwards, breaking some of the parts in the process. Without thinking, Lordan starts trying to lift the table itself.

Not controlling his enhanced strength from the imbuing of Runes, Lordan lifts it almost effortlessly and flips it. It crashes into the fireplace and creates a mess in the hall, breaking the table in half.


He calms down from the outburst of anger, giving himself a short break by breathing as slowly to control his mind. He collapsed onto the side in a defeated and tired state.

"Why... Why the fuck... Must this continue..."

He hears footsteps from the right side of the hall and sees Roderika peeking her head out to see the events that transpired, a little afraid of Lordan after his display. He gets to his feet and signals her over. "It's fine... Roderika. Just..."

She doesn't judge him and simply walks over to his side. "Lordan... It's alright. Whatever you are going through. We are all here for you." Roderika simply hugs Lordan, which he allows, not knowing what to do besides that. He returns the gesture but let go quickly as he didn't want to bother her.

"Thanks... Roderika. But... I should be alone for a while."

"Of course. Just... Tell us if you need anything."

He nods for Roderika to leave him to settle down, walking away while looking at him with a worried face. Lordan was soon left alone in the hall and he takes a seat on one of the unbroken chairs left.

He was soon joined by Godwyn, who reappeared with the same look as Roderika, having heard the news as well from Lordan's perspective. He carefully sits opposite of Lordan on the ground, hoping to provide some counsel on the news given by the Two Fingers.

" Well... Shit. It looks like we aren't done just yet. "

"You don't say..." Lordan catches his own tone towards Godwyn and found it too harsh to what he originally wanted. He sighs as taking out his frustration on others was something he didn't want to do. "Sorry... I'm just a little peachy right now."

" It's no bother, Lordan. But we must continue. If we stop now- "

"We will never to rid of this quest..." He finishes for Godwyn and both of them resigned to their fate. The road to the Erdtree was not going to be easy from here on out, especially if they needed to hunt down the remaining Great Runes, from some unknown and some known demi-gods.

"Let's have a thought of what we know. The Great Runes with a known location are from Rykard, Morgott, and Ranni naturally. And ones we know nothing about are of the lord of blood's, Miquella, and Malenia. "

"Yeah... That's about right." The mention of his siblings Runes made Lordan curious about why Godwyn didn't know where they were. "And Miquella and Malenia's location isn't known by you or anyone?"

" No. The last I saw them was in the capital. The day they left. " Some bitterness can be heard in his tone upon mentioning that. " She didn't even try to stop them... Both of them didn't... Mother was complicated. "

"Well... Let's start with something we know then, Ranni."

" Yes. I suspect she will only be open to sharing once our task is completed. And speaking of Runes, let's talk about how you used one. "His tone changes to be more serious, as Lordan's last usage of a Great Rune was special, even for him.

"Oh? I used it to get a chance on Radahn. I almost didn-"

" Lordan. The Great Rune you used to fight Radahn in the final battle wasn't mine. "

"Wasn't?" It confused Lordan right away. Godwyn's Great Rune was the only active one in his body, so how could he have used another? "Then whose is it? I didn't kill Radahn yet at the time."

His question makes Godwyn pause as he thinks of an answer, or in this case, a theory. " A little thought I had. As you slay the Demi-Gods, you grant their power in form of Great Runes. But to achieve that, you gain strength from runes in your journey, yes? "

"Yeah. Melina helps me imbue them to my body's attributes."

" Which leads to my next theory. The runes that power you and the Great Runes you collected are forming into your own Great Rune. "

"My own Great Rune?" It was hard for Lordan to understand that. Himself having a Great Rune was not possible. "But how? I'm not a Demi-God."

" Yet. But as you gain power and strength from the Runes, it puts you on our level, eventually."

"But... How? I'm just... A man."

Godwyn only lets out a short laugh at his words, much to Lordan's annoyance. " A man that faced down the strongest Demi-god of the Shattering and lived. Even heard of the term? You keep what you kill? "

"Kind of. But that's not how we say it where I come from."

" True. Besides, we gods aren't that much different from you mortals. We only live longer, fight better, and fuck harder than the rest of you. "

"Sure..." Lordan stands up and chooses to move on despite the news that created some doubts, with his first intention of consulting with Gideon. "Well... Let's get to it then."

" Let's. And for the record, Lordan. I am following you willingly, not because of my captivity here, but because I genuinely believe you have what it takes. And besides... You may make for an interesting Elden Lord. "

"Uhhhh... Thanks? I guess?" A compliment from the Demi-god within him was something Lordan didn't expect. He anticipates a comeback from Godwyn but nothing came. It was but a friendly gesture. "Alright, Gideon it is. Best if you stay in my head. I'm not really sure if he can see you as I do."

" Of course. And do ask him about Radahn's Great Rune. It may be useful. "

With his final advice for the day, Godwyn faded back into his mind and allowed Lordan to carry on. He makes his way to the study of the hold, in a better mood than previously.

Argh... There's always something...

As usual, Lordan finds Gideon at his table, reading another book closer to obsessively study its details. He purposefully makes his entrance noisy as a way to attract Gideon's attention, making the older man annoyed, much to Lordan's delight.

"Hmmm... There you are. Judging by your need to redecorate the Great Hall, I assume the news wasn't good?"

"You have no idea." He moves to lean on the bookshelf, sighing loudly as he needed to ask for help from Gideon again. "Long story short. Two Great Runes aren't enough. I need six more and I don't even have an idea of how to get almost half of these."

"And as I said before, as a member of the Roundtable Hold, you have access to whatever means to it provides to aid your journey. And as your senior, I will render aid despite our constant disagreements." Gideon pulls open a large scroll that was a map of the Lands Between. The map contains the notes that Gideon had compiled specifically for the purpose of mapping the locations of Shard bearers.

"Now. To make things simple. We start off with the ones we know of first. And then the ones that we have no direct information about. First, Lunar Princess Ranni. You have made contact with her, yes?"

It was an open secret at this point that Lordan is in work with Ranni, so hiding that fact was pointless. "Yeah. I just did her a favor as a way of apologizing. Turns out attacking Rennala pissed everyone off in the region."

"And by falling Radahn, you have done her the service required for her ascension. And your possession of her Bethroned's Great Rune will make her most interested in you."

You have no idea... The existence of Godwyn within his body was what Ranni was more interested in than Lordan himself.

Gideon noted down some new information about Ranni, correlating them to Lordan. "You are at an advantage, so use it. Ask her to assist you in claiming her Great Rune. It was cast aside by her, so she might be inclined to give it to a most deserving champion."

"Right. I will look into that." Lordan noted down within his own journal, seeing the letter to Sellen from Ranni still undelivered. Hmmm... I need to get to that. He marks down the task to deliver the letter as he was currently late on it.

"Next, Rykard. He is last seen and reported in Volcano Manor to the North. He commands a league of Tarnished that strays from the path of grace, and that's your ticket in."

"Let me guess? Join their ranks, huh?" He suddenly remembered the letter from Rya, prompting him to reach into his bag to show Gideon. "Would this help?"

"An invite? Well, you are surprisingly efficient sometimes." Another note was written down by Gideon from Lordan's reveal. "Joining the Reclusants requires a test. And getting to the Manor itself fits that bill."

"So that leaves Morgott... Any idea how to get to him?"

"That's the problem. You can't."

Gideon's response raises Lordan's brown, not expecting such an answer. "I can't?"

"You can't. Not without an army at your back. Leyndell currently holds a force of at least two hundred thousand. All of them are defending the city from all invaders. Especially the Tarnished. There is no possible way for you to enter the capital, much less stand before the Erdtree to mend the Elden Ring."

That number instantly made Lordan seem small. Greeting Morgott's Great Rune was now an almost unsolvable problem with at least two hundred thousand enemies in his way. "So what do we do? Sneak in and assassinate him? Seems difficult..."

"You take the capital."

That answer instantly stops Lordan's thoughts on the matter.


"You invade Leyndell and take the capital. You have already taken the first step with your lordship of Limgrave. And now the path is open to you to raise enough men to lay siege to the capital."

"But where in the hells I am going to find two hundred thou-" Lordan stops midway as he starts to think of that fact.

He does the math. Limgrave would have thirty thousand, give or take.

The Carians were mostly neutral in the war and have the most to spare. Seventy thousand, at least, based on what Blaidd used to say.

The Redmanes are scattered and disorganized until recently. Estimating them to be fifteen thousand left in total.

And factor in the other forces that Lordan could think of, he could add up an additional forty thousand if they follow him fully.

Meaning a force with enough manpower to take on Leyndell is, technically possible.

"That could... Work." Another note in his journal was made. It would have to be an ongoing effort, as raising an army was not a priority yet. "And the rest?"

"The rest... Now that's a matter that I myself have looked heavily into." Gideon focused in on the notes about the three unknown Great Runes, where information was mostly vague and speculative. "The easiest of the three is the Lord of Blood. His Bloody fingers have been roaming the Lands Between and have been hunting down any Tarnished of renown and value. Which applies to you now."

"How so?"

"You are much more popular now. Especially to Morgott for some reason." Gideon hands over a worn note found by one of his scouts. "This is a bounty note with your head on it. Five million Runes for you alone."

"Five million?" The note showed a faintly drawn inscription of Lordan and his name. "Tsk. Fucking cheap skates..." He rips the note in half due to its ugly drawing of him. "And Malenia and Miquella? Any leads?"

"I may have a lead on Malenia, but Miquella is tricky... He is the only Demi-god that doesn't make sense."

"Right... So that's that then." With a plan in mind, Lordan moves to leave. He stops before turning as he remembers Radahn's Great Rune. "Oh. And I have Radahn's Great Rune. Where do I-"

"Activate it? Here." Gideon points to the region of Caelid, toward to marker for another Divine Tower. "This tower was damaged in the war of the Shattering so your best bet is to climb it, carefully. The Redmanes have a detachment station there, so you should expect no dangers near the tower."

With the information in hand, a destination was set for Lordan. He turns to leave but is called out by Gideon.

"Lordan. Wait. Another thing."

Gideon throws a chain necklace to Lordan, prompting him to catch it in midair. He looks at the necklace to see a small inscribed metal plate with his name on it in northern language, with another plate showing a wolven design. "What's this?"

"A gift, from Nepheli. She had spent her free time making it. Silly girl."

"Nepheli? Where is she anyway?" The absence of Nepheli was something Lordan still remembered, considering that she left his service temporarily to do Gideon's bidding.

"Busy. That is all you need to know."

Why does someone like Nepheli have a cunt for a father? Lordan examined the necklace again and put them on. "Give her my thanks. What are these anyway?"

Gideon perks up in interest to his question. "That's something unique only to Radegan's army. They are called Dog Tags. A little plate of metal with a chain to show the wearer's name. Each one of the Raging Wolves has one made for them, in the event, they fall in battle. This way, their names are remembered even if no body is found. Seeing that you are one of them by indirect connections, it's fitting that you should have one, in her opinion."

"Hm. Interesting idea." He keeps the chain around his neck and leaves the study. A loud noise makes Lordan turn to his left, seeing the source coming from behind a closed door.

"The hells?" The noises cease and Lordan simply shrugs and walked away. But a part of him felt uneasy about the door from that as if something vile and twisted was behind. "Hmmm... Probably check in later."

With nothing left to do here at the study, he decides to pay Hewg a visit. Some of his equipment is due for repair and conditioning.

He walks through the corridors, swiftly avoiding looking into Fia's room to avoid feeling embarrassed. Some sounds of Hewg working his weapons can be heard but slightly different than usual.

"Ok. One more time."

"Be careful, girl. Tuning weapons is different from spirits."

"I know... Just... Let me try."

The voices of Roderika and Hewg can be heard as Lordan turns into the corner. He catches a glimpse of Roderika at work near Hewg's forge, using her tools for tuning on a simple sword. Without an explanation, Roderika scattered some ashes on the blade and strikes it gently with a metal prong. It starts heating up, glowing brightly before becoming normal.

"Oh... Oh, my gods, it works... It works! Master Hewg! I did it!"

Her success makes her do a little twirl and dance in happiness as Lordan watches, letting out a silent laugh at her display. She immediately stops upon seeing him, her face becoming red as he had seen her acting a little silly. "Ah...! Lordan! I... Um... That was so embarrassing..."

"No. Keep going. It was fun to watch." He walked over to the forge and examined the blade, curious at what Roderika did. "Hm... What's new with this sword, then?"

"You should ask the girl. She is remarkable with her skills. Better than I expected." Hewg simply talks while still working on his weapons. "I just provided the means to test something new."

"Don't be soon humble, Master Hewg. I owe all this to you." Roderika turns her attention to Lordan, still holding the sword, and points to one of the Hold's banners. "Lordan. Slash that banner at the lower portion. As little of it as you can."

"Sure..." He didn't understand her reason for that but followed along. With the sword in hand, Lordan performs a simple slash with one hand. Much to his surprise, the blade cuts through the banner without any resistance, and burn marks can be seen from its points of separation.

"Huh. Through like butter. What did you do?"

His question immediately makes Roderika eager to explain. "Weapon Tuning, the application of elements on a weapon by means of magics. I spend time reading on it once I found out it was similar to the workings of spirits. So I... Pushed myself to figure it out. I need to help everyone in any way I can."

"You are helping, Roderika. Thank you." Her face reddens again from Lordan's thanks. He simply shakes his head with a smile and retrieved some weapons for Roderika to work on. "Maybe these ones first? With... Fire, like the test." His dual swords set was the first thing on his mind, as he uses the pair more often.

"Of course! Please wait. I may take some time." Roderika takes the weapons and hurries back to her workspace, working on the swords to tune them to Lordan's preference.

"She's doing well, huh?"

"Mostly thanks to you, lad. I..." Hewg stops his words and sighs. Knowing the words he needed to say even if it wasn't his way. "Thank you, Lordan. I am grateful you have brought her spirits back up from when she first came. With her around... My work isn't so boring anymore."

"You're welcome, Hewg." Lordan then unequipped his armor and places it in front of Hewg's forge. "Yeah... It's uhhhh... Bad."

The condition of his armour was examined by Hewg, and he shakes his head from the broken torso. "Hells, Lordan. Did a horse run you down or something? This set is almost beyond repair."

"Yeah... Kind of... Does General Radahn ring any bells?"

"Ah. That explains much." Hewg sighs and takes out the additional tools to start his work. "Just like the girl, I need time."

"Sure. I won't disturb you then." He leaves Hewg to his work and waves goodbye to Roderika while making his way to his quarters in the Roundtable Hold.

As Lordan leaves, he noticed Rogier in one of the Hold's many rooms, laying his head on the desk in slumber above a pile of papers of research and notes. He thinks of speaking to him, as Rogier did mention wanting to talk, but decides against waking him up.

"Another time then..." He walks away while looking at the wheelchair Rogier sat on, wondering if he would even walk again.

Lordan reaches his quarters and sits upon his bed, once again enticed by the softness of the bed. He laid out on it fully and felt his eyelids starting to close as weeks of fatigue starts crashing down in a single moment. He closes his eyes fully and begins to fall into a deep slumber.

"Mmmmmm... This is nice..."


Someone in his quarters calls out his name and causes Lordlan to jerk up immediately to see. It was Melina, appearing out of a blue mist as usual. Her appearance made him calm immediately, sighing softly in relief at her reappearance.

"Oh. There you are."

"Yes. Forgive my sudden absence, Lordan. There were... Things for me to do." Melina moves over to his position and sat by the bedside. "But it is done, for now."

"It's fine. Just give me a heads up if possible, hm?" She nods at his request and Lordan lays back in his bed, resting while they converse. "Well... I got some bad news. Getting to the Erdtree is going to be... A great effort. Between us and where you need to go lies an army. So, I'm gonna have to match them with one."

"I see..." He tries to gauge Melina's reaction but fails to tell what she was thinking as her poker face was near perfect. "Very well. We will have to make do with the circumstances."

"Yeah... We gotta..." Lordan leans further into his pillow upon thinking of the amount of work that he needed to do. "Six more Runes... Six more Demi-gods to hunt. Damn..."

"Is it stressful?" A concerned Melina asks as Lordan was rubbing his brows at the thought of that. "Please know that you aren't alone in this journey. All of us are here for you."

"I know. I know. I just..." He was grateful for everything given and done for him so far. But the cost of that help was sometimes too high.

Memories of the battle with Radahn looped in his mind, the times when he helplessly saw Blaidd cut down, or Alexander shattered into a thousand pieces into nothing. Seeing his friends die constantly was a nightmare, especially when he needed to end himself to save them, reverting that timeline back to before they fought Radadhn with the sight of Grace.

"I... I want this to be over. Is that too much to ask for?"

"No. It isn't." Melina gives him some comfort by stroking his hair, letting him feel the softness and rough patches of her palm upon his skull. "We often don't get to choose the path ahead. But we can choose how to go forward, and how to feel about it. And in some cases, that is enough."

"I guess so..." His eyes feel heavy again as his body demands sleep. "But... I struggle. I struggled for a long time... With just... Surviving, before all this began. Now that I have something to fight for... I just... Feel so tired about it."

"Then, rest. Don't worry about it now. Just rest."

Melina's words instinctively signal his body to shut down, and Lordan begins to doze off. Movements on the bed can be felt by Lordan as Melina begins to move. He opened his eyes for a while and sees Melina taking the space beside him, both of them sharing the single-sized bed.

Without her asking, Lordan shifts himself to give her more space and was too tired to care for any awkwardness between them. What he failed to anticipate was Melina coming close to him, leaning into his arms.

"Melina? I-"

"Rest. I will be here. I won't leave you."

With her last words, Lordan soon falls into his slumber. The words that Melina told him in that field still looped in his mind without end. As if haunting him with its constant warning.

You won't fall in love with me.

"I can't... I... Can't... Do it..."

He mumbled in his sleep as Melina observed him with worry, not knowing what was causing his distress. All she did was comfort him the best she could, ensuring that his sleep would be peaceful to the best she can.

You won't fall in love with me.

"Please... Don't... Make me... I can't... I... Can't..."

A few moments pass, and Lordan passes out fully, leaving a confused and worried Melina with his vague meanings and words. She rests her head on his chest and tries to sleep as well, wondering what he was dreaming of that distresses him.

"It's all right... Everything's going to be all right, Lordan."

Soon sleep comes for her as well. And both of them slumbered in each other's arms.



"Just... Make it... Stop... Stop..."

"Kill me... Someone... Please... Kill me..."

Rags looks up in both relief and horror at the sight of Marika upon the stake. His goal after two years of endless running, pursuing, and fighting led up to this point.

He finally found her.

And by the looks of it, he was almost too late.

He looks upon her current state, weakened and yet remaining. Judging by the degradation of her clothes, which offered her little protection from the elements and covered her modesty very poorly, Marika had been up there for most of the time since her capture.

"Hang on... I'm cutting you down from there."

His words offered no response, and Rags moves to try and free her. He looks around the stake's base, trying to see if there was a way for him to climb the stake and bring her down.

"Who... Ple... Stop it... Kill... Me..."

Marika mumbles her words as Rags check for his means to rescue her. With nothing he could use to climb up to her level, Rags decided to try and tip over the stake.

He holds on to the base of the stake and begins pulling up with all his might. Grunting in a great effort as he pulls on the stake that almost didn't move an inch.

"Naggghhhhh... Come on."

The stake moves by an inch, and engravings on its surface glow out, activating the enchantment that keeps the person in place for its purpose.

"Uhhhh... Arghhhh... Ahhhh..! GAHHHH...!"

Marika's cries stops him immediately and he looks up in a panic at her reaction. The engravings soon cease it's glow at the same time Rags stops pulling the stake up. Clearly, it was not allowing her to be removed that easily.

"Argh... Please... Just...! Kill...! ME..."

The pain causes Marika to speak out her desperate pleas, wanting an end to the torture that was being inflicted on her. Rags looks helplessly as he didn't want to hurt Marika in the process of freeing her.


The beast speaks before he even tried to attempt pulling again.

Stop?! Why?!





He ceases his attempts to remove the stake from the ground, choosing to believe the beast as Marika did show signs of being in complete agony if he tries that. His mind raced with possible solutions.

Then what do I do?! Leave her there?!





You fucking! Marika groans in pain and discomfort from above, and more desperation was created in his mind. Freeing her was now his main focus and he wasn't going to let the beast talk him down, even in his own mind.

How do I free her?! HOW?!




Silence fills the void between them as the beast considered his answer.




A direction is given to Rags, and he turns to the center of the field, where a small stone hill lies and glows in the middle. Something in that direction calls out to him, within his mind without explanation.

Something was telling Rags to go towards it.


And without thinking, Rags begins to walk towards to center, leaving Marika for a time as he works to save her.

And so he walks, ignoring all the sudden feeling of weakness as he gets closer to the center.

Rags climbs up the hill and reach the top. The weakness overwhelmed him and he falls forward to the ground. He coughs out some blood and it also bleeds out from his nose and ears. Being too close to the proximity of the Elden Ring was effectively a death sentence.

But for Rags, the beast heals his body constantly. Allowing him to continue after a short rest.

"Fuck... Argh..."

He gets to his feet and resists the feeling of fatigue, carrying on as he persistently forces himself to move.

The sounds of chanting can be heard ahead, a combined prayer in the language of the Dragons. Rags keeps the Godslayer ready on his back as he moves into view of the source of the prayer.

He finds a group of people in the midst of combined prayer. All of them looked sickly and worn out, with their hair and skin falling out of place. The Elden Ring had affected their health as well, but their devotion to it kept them alive, even if some of them in the praying position were dead.

With nothing of threat to him, Rags ignores the group's chanting and starts walking towards them. His presence was soon made known as one of the devotees in the group hears him.

"By Placidusax! It's- it's him!"

The entire group rose to alert and cowers in at his appearance. All of them fearful of his intentions, whatever they may be.

"What- what are you doing here?" The leader of the group, who was a priest, was the only one to show some courage. Rags simply walk forth as the devotees around him clear off from his way. Only the priest takes a knife from the altar they prayed to and stood in the Rags's way.

"Your grace! You cannot! Stay out of his way!"

"No! I won't let you do this! The Elden Ring! We need it! Without that...! We won't survive!"

The priest stands in his way and Rags does not move to his threats. He simply stares with a deathly gaze, not fazed by his threats as the priest poses no danger to him at all.

"Get the fuck out of my way."

"No! Stay back! I won't let you!"

The priest remains in his way with fear, but does not move an inch and simply points the knife as a warning. With no way for Rags to make him move willingly, Rags simply walks forward straight at him.

"Don't! Don't come any closer!"

Rags reaches within range of his knife and he lunges forward with a poorly executed attack that allows Rags to catch his hand easily. He disarms the priest and jams the knife firmly into his head, killing him instantly.


His body was tossed aside as Rags stares all around at the remaining group of devotees, all cowering at the sight of his last act.

"Yo- You fucking animal!"

"Shut up! Don't anger him!"

They were all terrorized by his presence and responded with screams and cries of fear with every move he makes.

"Run. Get lost..."

With his command, all of them immediately ran for their lives. Screaming out words of terror as they feared what he would do, and were helpless to stop him.

"Gods! He's going to kill us all!"



With them out of his way, Rags continues on, ignoring the dead priest and everything else around him. His only focus was the center of this hill, where a stone platform awaited him with a brilliant glow in the middle.

And so Rags goes forth, his eyes looking at the endless shine in front of him. Calling to him by its intoxication.

What... Is that?


With each step he took, the presence of the ring made him weaker. His steps were laborious, painful, and tiring.

But Rags pushes and pushes. Not letting up a single time.

"Arghhh... Ahhh... Damn it all..."

Walking became so difficult, he had to use the Godslayer as came, stabbing the ground and pulling himself forward with each step.

The glow in the center became fainter as he approaches. And eventually, the source of the glow came into view, a simple stone anvil with glowing cracks on its surface.

And upon that surface was a line of energy. Constantly vibrating from its endless flow of energy. A line arc that

A few more steps Rags took and he was directly in front of the anvil. Making his entire body erupt in pain and weakness. It was like something was slowly ripping away at his life.

But the beast heals him from the internal damage constantly. A normal person would have probably died in the Elden Ring's presence as soon they see it.



Rags pulls himself together and stands in front of the anvil. He barely hangs on as he looks upon the arc.

And for the first time since its creation.

A man lays eyes upon the most powerful object in the world.





The arc seems infinite in its glow. It's lines that spread through the anvil and connects to the ground, creating the link between the Numens used as binding.

"What... What the hells...?"


A single rune? Holding... All of this?





He uses his false hand to reach out to the arc line of light, touching it. His metal fingers heated up to light up the metal from the Ring's infinite energy.

"What... Is... This?"







The words of the beast confused Rags as he doesn't know what he was doing there. Perhaps the ring had the means to free Marika?

"What... Is it for...?"




He was prompted by the beast and looks up. Seeing the sky above him in a thunderous condition, for the power of the ring was affecting the space around it.

"What... Do I... Need to do?"




The beast asks him a question to challenge his will. What was he willing to do to save Marika?

"Any... Anything."




His attention was redirected to the arc on the anvil, as it was obvious that his focus was to be on it. Rags look at it with wonder and awe, not understanding its purpose, but was somehow attracted to it. Calling him like a moth towards the light.


The beast gives him a task and it catches him off guard. Somehow, breaking the ring was not something he anticipated.





Its words were convincing, as if it knew exactly what to do, but Rags didn't. Something about this felt wrong. Every fiber of his being was giving him the signal to stop and turn around.

"I... How...?"



The mention of the Godslayer prompts him to draw his sword from his back, holding it with both hands. His body moves almost automatically, and positions the blade to the arc as if he wasn't in complete control.

What am I... Doing?




Gods! He's going to kill us all!



The shouts and screams of the group he encountered echo in his mind. Like a warning sign that told him something was wrong.

Was this the right call?

Rags remain motionless as the Godslayer was above him. He was in the position to strike against the arc but didn't move. For his instincts were telling him to stop.

What... Is... Wrong...?

This is... Wrong?

I... Don't...?




That was a good question, even if Rags didn't understand why he was hesitant.






His mouth twitches as he was beginning to lose his nerve. His mind switches between two choices. And one was something that he felt wrong about.




He shakes not with fear but with confusion. Something in his mind was pulling him back from just swinging the Godslayer down on the arc.

Isn't this the right choice?

Isn't saving Marika all he wanted?

Then, why couldn't he move?





His reasoning begins to lose, and Rags's grip on the Godslayer became even tighter.

I... NEED... TO...





He begins to think insidious thoughts. The things that he imagined them doing to Marika when they placed her on that stake as a sacrifice.

Choosing themselves over her.

And something deep in Rags takes over, throwing all his reason, doubt, and logic out of his mind.

It was rage.

Unbridled Rage.








Rags bring up the Godslayer and with his combined strength, he swings down on the arc of the Elden Ring.


The first strike hits, and a shockwave knocks him back violently, sending him falling back a few meters.

Rags leans up and felt pain. He looks to the source and sees his left arm completely broken, damaged by the shockwave of his first hit.


His arm starts to heal and he returns to his feet. He walks to the anvil again, fighting through the pain and weakness stubbornly to continue.

He take the position again with a firmer stance and prepared for the hit. Knowing that the shockwave would come from another hit, Rags screams from his next strike.



The second hit creates the same result. Rags does not fall over this time as he braces for the force. The second shockwave almost breaks him completely as his ribs were shattered from within.

He coughs out blood on his side and staggers back from the impact. His wounds heal once again and Rags gets back to his position.



His arm once again breaks, and Rags was forced to his knees. More of his internal body breaks from within, making him puke out blood like water.

"Argh! GAHHHH!"

His wounds heal once more and Rags stands again. He takes up his position and holds the Godslayer weakly as he feels the weakness becoming stronger. His body and its healing abilities was overworked between healing him and resisting the Elden Ring's dangerous aura.

He stands firm again and is prepared to strike again. This time, he was going to force himself to push multiple strikes.



With each strike he made.


The more his body buckles under the pressure.


It was a contest between the Elden Ring and him.


Which one will be broken first?


The unstoppable force?


Or the immovable object?


Rags fall forward and rests his head on the anvil. The Godslayer vibrates in his hand. His body was heavily injured from the simple act of being too close to the impact of the Godslayer colliding with the arc.

More blood was coughed out as Rags was overwhelmed with the damage striking the arc was causing. His vision blurs significantly as his healing process slows down to almost a halt.

He was on his last legs.

"I can... I can do this... I gonna... Do this..."

But still, he persists.

He was doing this all for her.

After a moment of rest, Rags stands again, but this time not fully healed. His body screams to him for an end to his efforts, but he did not intend to stop.

For the arc on the anvil was heavily cracked, and so was the Godslayer in his hands.

It was about to give way. And Rags just needed to strike it once more.

One more strike to end this.

He raises his sword once again, shaking it above his head as it was getting heavier than usual. He loses a bit of footing and staggers with the sword raised up, starting to give in to the weakness due to prolonged exposure to the Elden Ring.

"I can... I can... I! CAN!"

"There! There he is!"

Voices called out from behind him as soldiers of the Dragon Order appear far behind him. It was now or never for Rags as they seemed to stop his act of destroying the ring.

"By Placidusax! HE'S REALLY DOING IT!"


The soldiers run the best they could and found themselves falling to weakness as well. They start doing all they could to reach him, crawling and running to their deaths due to the exposure in an effort to stop Rags.

With no time left, Rags firms his stance and raised the Godslayer higher than before. One more strike on the arc was all he needed.


And for a final time.

Rags stops.

Was this the right path?


"I... Don't... CARE!"


With a final strike, the arc shatters. And the Godslayer breaks in half.

Then the anvil erupted with light and a final shockwave sends Rags away, making him fall off the stone platform.

He lands hard on the ground below him but survives due to his undying condition.

Rags's healing factor kicks in full this time as the feeling of weakness from the Elden Ring disappears.

"What...? What the...! Fuck?!"

Rags stands fully and felt out of balance from the last hit, holding a half-broken Godslayer in his hands. He was confused about whether his attempt worked. Only to be alerted as the ground starts to shake.




With the beast's words, he charges to Marika's location as the ground shakes even more.

The stake of Marika comes into view, as Rags was in between maintaining his footing and running as fast as he could. He reaches the base and rams into it with the momentum of the charge.

The ram works as the stake was crooked sideways from the ram. He pushes in the direction of where it was tilting, working as fast as he could with the earthquakes around him getting even stronger with each passing second.

"Come one! COME ON! TIP OVER!"

He successfully pushes the stake down, and Marika was within his reach. The enchantment that kept her up was removed and Rags manages to free her from the stake's restraints, carrying a now unconscious Marika.

And for the first time in two years, she was back by his side.

"Oh... Oh fuck... You... I did it..."


An explosion snaps him back to attention, and Rags turns around to see the mountains behind him.

And he witnessed a sight that was the stuff of nightmares.

The mountains all erupt at the same time. A hundred volcanos are all about to destroy the world around them.

"Holy... Fuck...!"

He dashes off with Marika in his arms, ignoring everything around him as he desperately runs away from the area of the eruptions. He occasionally looks back behind him as an ash storm was coming their way.

Rags run with all his effort while avoiding all the dangers in front, beside, and behind him. Debris in the form of rocks from the eruptions lands around him like comets from the sky, and he runs around them with great effort.

"Fuck! FUCK! COME ON!"

He manages to clear the distance of the ward that prevents Torrent from being summoned and immediately calls for the steed. It appears and Rags mounts up with Marika quickly.

"GO! NOW!"

Torrent dashes off in a fast sprint, like a bull in a charge. It navigates the destruction around it with great speed and accuracy, avoiding danger with near perfection.

Rags looks behind them as the destruction of the eruptions was starting to catch up. His hopes to escape with Marika safely were quickly dashed aside as a stray rock lands in front of Torrent and causes it to fall forward, dismounting both of them instantly.

He lands at a place further from Marika and immediately runs to her location. The devastation of the eruptions was soon upon them and Torrent was too far away for them to mount from its fall.

"Go! Disappear! Now!"

Torrent reluctantly agrees to his order and disappears into a blue mist. He looks at the wave of ashes and braces for it to come, using his cape as a means to protect Marika from harm.

Rags draws his rusted Greatsword and stabs it deep into the ground, using it as support to stay in place. The storm comes and he braces for impact.


It reaches their location and covers them in its blackened mist, and the last thing Rags hears was the sound of his own scream.


Pitch black was all he would see and Rags moves upwards the best she could. He was buried by the ashes of the eruptions and had Marika in his arms.

With a final pull, he reaches the surface and gasps for air after hours of being buried. Some ashes were on his face so he wipes it to clear his vision.

"What the... Hells..."

Disbelief and shock were all Rags could feel as he had essentially survived something that resembles the end of the world, with Marika by his side, completely safe.

He checks on her for injuries, noting that he had taken to full force of the storm that caught up to him. A sigh of relief was all he could make as nothing was found to be life-threating to Marika.

"Damn... Oh, thank you... Thank you..."

The area around them was all darkened and lifeless as Volcano ashes cover the land and that fails to escape it. With Marika in his hands, Rags begins to move on.

Only stop in his track as Marika begins moving.

"Where...? Who?"

Her eyes slowly opened, and looked dazed and confused. Rags watch in disbelief as this was the first one he hears her since she was taken.


He calls her and she switches her focus on him, eyes widening as she could not process the reunion.


"R… Rag… R-Rags…? You… you…?"

She musters all her strength and reaches to touch his face, not believing he was even real. Marika touches it and could feel the warmth she was so familiar with, even after a long time away from him.

Her eyes begin to well up upon contact as she begins breaking down, tears falling uncontrollably as she confirmed that he was real.

"You... Sav-Saved... Me? You... You..."

No God answered her pleas. No Demon or devil came. No one came for her in the end.

No one but Rags.

Rags. Who had somehow come back from the dead itself to save her.

"Oh... Rags... Oh, gods... Thank you... Thank you... Oh... Rags..."

She leans into his chest and cries against it, it was a mixture of relief, joy, sorrow, and anguish. It was unshed tears that she waited a long time time to release, and she was unable to hold them back anymore despite her weakened state.

Rags doesn't respond to her tears for a moment and simply allows her to cry against his chest. He soon pulls her closer and hugs her, comforting her from the trauma she experienced.

"I'm sorry... For taking so long... I'm taking us... Home..."

Marika nods from her state of anguish and was lifted off once again. Rags walks forth without a word, gently and carefully avoiding the debris and bodies around him.

"Rags... Rags... I... I..."

Marika tries to muster enough strength to speak. Rags only watch as she struggled to stay awake, the lack of energy catching up to her.

"I... Love... You..."

She utters the words and falls back into a slumber. Rags processes what was just spoken and could only walk forth without a goal to get her to safety.

He looks down at her and could only think of one response to Marika's confession.

"I love you too, Marika..."

His declaration falls on deaf ears as Marika does not hear them. Leaving Rags only one option for the way to safety.


He walks, walks, and walks.

He doesn't keep track of the time and distance he has already traveled, only that it seemed endless.

Death and destruction can be seen all over them, with no signs of life. Everywhere Rags looks, he sees death. Bodies of humans, beastmen, and Dragons scattered the landscape by the thousands.

Most of them were covered in ash, becoming statues on the spot.

For the Elden Ring had held Farum Azula together in its fragile state. And without it, the region could not survive its own destruction that was delayed for centuries.

How far do I have to go? Fuck...

Walking with Marika in his arms was the only way to navigate the landscape, considering that it would be difficult for Torrent to move around here. His arms feel the fatigue of the two-year struggle to rescue her, all coming down hard on his mind and body after it was done.

Even if the cost was too high.

Rags moves for a few more meters and hears coughing ahead. He gets into an alerted state and moves slowly to the source and prepares to fight, even with Marika in his arms and the Godslayer in half.

He finds the source of the coughing, a dying Dragon Order soldier with his legs missing. He was in a confused and dazed state due to his injuries and inhalation of the ashes. His attention goes to Rags as he simply stands there to stare at him.

"Wh-... Why...? Did this... Happen...?"

Rags could not answer the soldier and only looked with a neutral expression. Nothing could be done for him as Rags could see the signs of blood loss that will mean his death.

"You brought this on yourselves... All of you."

The soldier looks at him again with a confused look. He begins to fall back as his life was fading away, letting out his last words of confusion and fear.

"We... We were... Helping..."

The soldier dies from his wounds, and his cryptic words catches Rags's attention.

"Help...? Helping?"

Rags looks around him yet again and finally sees the true extent of the damage to the region. The damage that he indirectly caused by breaking the Elden Ring.

They were people.

The ones covered in ashes were just normal people living in the region. Something Rags hadn't considered when he walked through their corpses for miles.

But now that he actually stopped to take a look, he couldn't process it.


What is...?

Did I...?

His eyes darted through the ground, analyzing each ash-covered corpse with a sense of dread. He could make out their last actions. All of them were either running for their lives or accepting their painful end in prayer.

I... Did... This?

His focus shifted to one more corpse that was kneeling in prayer. And it was the one that disturbed him to his core.

A mother with an infant in her arms and a child beside her, comforting her children until their very end.





His stomach becomes upset as he felt himself becoming sick. The true extent of his actions were laid bare before him.

Oh... Fuck... Fuck...

I... Didn't... Fuck...

His head spirals from the sight, his mouth becomes dry, his breath becomes uneven, and his body shakes without control.

Oh fuck... Fuck... I...

He falls to his knees as panic overwhelms him. Thoughts of how these people died ran wild in his head. How they suffered in the end.

All because he didn't think of the end results.

And they all paid for it on his behalf.






A haunting voice of a child repeated in his head, and him imagining that it was the child in front of him.

No... I... I didn't...

Why did you kill us?


A real voice calls back to him and he turns around to its source. He sees Renna behind him, her face filled with shock and horror.

"Renna? I..."

"Rags... What- what have you done?"


Days past as Renna brought them back to her realm to safety. At that time, Marika remains unconscious. A state of stasis that she was going through, as Renna explained. A side effect of letting the Elden Ring consume a part of her soul for a long period of time.

So all Rags could do was wait. Wait for her to wake up. Both he and Renna could not tell when that would be, so waiting was the best they could do.

He sits in this everchanging forest deep in thought, still trying to process the events that occurred. It was hard to for him even think of what it meant, what he actually did.

And even now, he still thinks of what he saw. Those dreaded bodies, lining up by the thousands.

It made him sick. And worse of all.

What would Marika think of him, if she knew of what he had done?

She would hate him. And rightfully so.

But it was himself that felt the worst of his actions. His mind ran through thousands of scenarios that he could have done it better.

Just once, Rags took the easy way out. And the results were a disaster that cost so many lives.

Why did I do that? Why?

He regrets not trying another way. Not taking the time to even consider his options when his instincts told him he was wrong.





The beast was pleased with his actions, especially when they invoked great suffering and pain. Through Rags, it had indirectly struck the first blow in its revenge.

He was furious with it for convincing him of the act. And he was far angrier at himself for following it through, even as the warning signs told him otherwise.

Rags looks at hands, the very hands he used to shatter the Elden Ring. They shake as the trauma that he feels within them still lingers. The feeling of the Godslayer striking the arc, vibrating from each blow. No matter how much he tries to shake it away, that feeling was burned within his hands, even the false one.

What... Am I now?

What have I become?

What was he now? Now that he has effectively committed genocide on a scale reserved only for the most evil of men?

He didn't know and didn't want to know.






Death. It happens all around him.

Why was he so surprised? People have been dying around so much around him, it shouldn't even bother him anymore.

But this time, it did.

"Rags? Are you there?" Renna calls out from a distance, coming to visit him as a way to check his mental condition. Despite them sharing a bed once for comfort, they were still on friendly terms without the awkwardness.

But Rags was closing off himself to everyone, even her, at this point.

"Are you alright?" No response came from him and it worries Renna even more. "Rags? Please... Say something." She places her hands on his face to get him to look at her, to no avail, as Rags simply turns away from her.


"How many?"

His question silences her instantly as she understood what he asked for. She has the answer but knows it would not be pleasant to hear.

"How many... Died... That day?"

Another moment of silence hangs between them as Renna debates telling him the truth. She decided to as lying to Rags would only make things worst.

"Fifty-six... Million."

Fifty-six million.

An eighth of the world's current estimated population.

All were lost in a single day.

The answer immediately crushes his morale. It was far higher than Rags had imagined.

"I... Fuck... I..."

His mind goes into a blank and he starts breaking down. All Renna could do was watch helplessly as Rags loses himself to despair.

"I did It... I really... Did it..."

"Rags, you cannot despair. Not now, not after this. The Dragons and their order, the ones that survive, will come for you. Do you understand?"

Nothing she said worked, and Rags only sinks further into his regret. This was not the way things were supposed to be.

"I just... I just... Wanted her back... I just..."

"I know. I know. Rags, it's over. It's done."

"I just... Didn't..."

"I didn't mean... To hurt... Anybody."








Lordan screams awake as a loud bang echo's in his head. He clutches his chest and felt a tightness within it. His mind was a mess as he didn't understand the feeling of dread and panic that he was experiencing. And within moments, the feeling disappears as suddenly as it comes.

And all he could remember was having a nightmare. A nightmare about something being broken. Something important. He notices that Melina was no longer present beside him, meaning that she must have woken up before him.

"What... What the fuck was that?"

The door to his room opens and Melina enters it after hearing his outburst from his nightmare. "Lordan? Are you alright?"

"Yeah... Just... Bad dream, that's all." He quickly waves off the concern as Melina attempted to read his body language to understand what was wrong. She eventually lets it go as she didn't want to interrupt in Lordan's private affairs.

"I see. A letter came for you. From the Princess Ranni." She hands him the letter, with he takes with thanks. With the letter in hand, Lordan opens it from the Carian Seal to read its contents.

To Lordan, Lord Of Limgrave,

The news of thy victory has reached Caria. And I am most pleased with the outcome. And on behalf of mine own mother, I thank thee for your service in giving her firstborn the peace he deserves.

With my brother slain, the next step of the task required of you may now proceed.

I would asketh thee to meet Blaidd at the site of the falling star's impact within Limgrave itself. A group of Carian researchers, along with a garrison of loyal Cuckoo Knights and Carian forces, art traveling there as we speaketh. I apologize if this was done without thy prior approval, but securing the entrance to the Eternal cites is a priority to mine own goals.

Walk the path well, Lord Wolf. And we may be allies yet, shouldst thee require support in thy did bid to become Elden Lord.


Ranni, Princess of Caria and the Dark Moon.

He finishes the letter and now had the next step in mind. Finishing Ranni's errand would complete his obligations with the Carians, so that would have to be performed before finding the other Great Runes.

But first, Radahn's Great Rune requires an activation. So his first trip was to Caelid's own divine tower.

"Well... Back to it, I guess." Lordan stands from the bed and stretches himself from his long slumber. "Hmmm... Equipment is probably ready. What about you, Melina? Got plans of your own?"

"Yes. Unfortunately." She looks away from Lordan, disappointed at herself for not holding to their promise. She was supposed to travel with him more often as they agreed to. But her own business calls her away too much, and Lordan could not know about them even if she wanted to tell him. "Our planned travel together will have to... Be delayed. I'm sorry, Lordan."

"Hey. It's fine." He places his hands on her shoulders and gives them a pat, making sure that she wasn't upset by their separation. "Besides, you have your business and I have mine. And in case you forget, Melina. You can ask me for help anytime."

"Even with your quest that requires your attention?"

"Screw the quest. I can spare a few days for you and everyone that needs the hand."

She nods gratefully at his offer of assistance. Although Melina could not accept it, it was nice to know the Lordan did not find her increases in the absence a problem. "I... Thank you, Lordan. I will call for you if I need your assistance."

"Hopefully for something fun, huh?"

"Perhaps. I have ideas in mind."

"Then, I hope we can do it soon." They stand awkwardly again as both were not aware of how to end their conversations, especially when they both still have so much to say.



And overtalking each other was still an issue, much to their amusement.

"I will see you later, Melina. Stay safe."

"And you, Lordan. Please be well."

They share a hug, and Melina starts disappearing into a blue mist again. Lordan was left alone in his room and looks at his feet, thinking of Melina's words in his dream again. It was practically haunting him at this point.

You won't fall in love with me.

"Making it really hard, you know?"

With nothing else left to do in his quarters, Lordan leaves and seeks to retrieve his equipment for his next destination.

With his equipment returned and reequipped, Lordan moves to the Great Hall where the Grace in the hold was located. He checks on one of the swords that Roderika had worked on, amazed that it had been permanently imbued by heat.

"Now, this could do some damage."

Lordan keeps the sword in its sheath and reaches the hall. He sees the grace on the table and starts reaching out to it in order to leave the hold, where his first location would be north of Caelid.

"Excuse me. Tarnished. May I have a word?"

A man calls out to Lordan who he did not notice sitting on the side of the hall. His appearance was of a pale-skinned man with black hair and dull yellow eyes. He wears a closed black robe made entirely from leather and was sitting casually on one of the hall's many chairs.

"Uhhhh... Sure." Lordan walks over to the strange man and observed his appearance. Something about him made Lordan feel uneasy and guarded as if he wasn't as harmless as he looks.

"You are the Tarnished they call Lordan, are you not? The one who felled Radahn?"

"Yeah. That's me. And you are?"

The man does not speak at first and simply tilts his head to observe Lordan from head to toe, increasing Lordan's uneasiness around him.

"A visitor to the hold and long-time resident to the Lands Between. You may call me Trina. A pleasure to meet a future Elden Lord."

The man offers Lordan a hand to shake, which Lordan reluctantly accepts. His hand felt cold even through Lordan's gloves, another thing that made Lordan feel that something was wrong with the man.

"Ok... Can I help you?"

Trina shakes his head at the request and lets out a short laugh that sounded a little sinister. Trina leans back and simply looks around the hall in a relaxed posture.

"No. I just wanted to meet our incoming ruler. It's about time this place had a great change. Wouldn't you agree?"

"Not really."

"Tsk. A pity you do not see things in hindsight. Especially with the gods here fucking up everything they do."

Lordan looks in between Trina and the grace on the table. He wanted to leave and go about his business, and yet Trina's appearance was preventing him from going easily. He was worried that the strange man was there to cause damage.

"Uhh... Sure. Nice meeting you, I guess? So, what is it that you do?"

"I'm glad you asked. A great many things." Trina leans forward as he was now interested to converse with Lordan. Even if Lordan wasn't particularly interested.

"I am... A fixer of sorts. I used to work for a boy, of all things. He does the eating, I do the shiting and cleaning in a sense. I am also a dealer. A maker of dreams, at a price, of course."

"A price?"

"Why, of course. If you are good at something, why do it for free?" Trina laughs again in a lower tone. His laughter was starting to get to Lordan due to its disturbing nature. "I offer my services for a price or a game. Choose the price, and I expect payment on time. Choose the game, then I hope you don't lose."

"And what happens if someone loses?"

"Well... I have to gain something from it."

Trina's words confuse Lordan and he didn't have time to waste on him. His impatience was showing, and he seeked to leave quickly. "Look, I little busy right now, so do you need something?"

"Why yes. I do. And I know you have the time." Trina reaches into his pocket and takes out a coin. He shows it to Lordan on two sides to confirm that it was genuine.

"Now... Shall we play a game, Lordan?"

"A game?"

"Yes. A rather simple one. A single coin toss, nothing more."

Trina's offer was not something Lordan wanted to do but he needed to humor him to leave. "Fine... For what, then?"



"Nothing. And everything. All in a single coin toss."

He could not believe that the game was that simple. surely there was a catch that Trina was not explaining. "Ok. What is this really about?"

"Call it a test. About a theory I am looking at." Trina flips the coin in his fingers and was awaiting Lordan's choice of a side. "Well? What shall it be?"

Lordan sighs and rolls his eyes at his insistence. Without thinking much, he makes a random choice of a coin side.

"Heads, I guess?"

Trina smiles at his choice and flips the coin and it lands in his palm. His fingers hide the result and he slowly opens them to reveal it.

It was heads. Lordan wins the toss.

"Well... I was not expecting that. This is... Very interesting."

Trina bursts into a disturbing laugh as he was amused by the result, satisfied even with a loss. He stands to his feet and moves to leave the hold, looking back at Lordan again to share some departing words.

"I must thank you, Lordan. Because of you, I have a new mark in mind. If the fates permit it, we shall meet again. And when we do-"

"IF. We do." Lordan corrects Trina from his senseless speech. Meeting Trina again was not something he wanted to do.

"If... We do..." Trina stood close to Lordan and stares straight into his eyes. Showing off a grin. "We would have so much fun together in this... Boring place."

Lordan does not blink in the staredown despite Trina's disturbing presence. Trina soon backs down and retrieved a card from his pocket, offering it to Lordan.

"Here's my card. Something to... Call upon me. Even if don't intend to."

"Card?" Lordan takes it out of curiosity and examines it. To his surprise, he recognizes it at first glance.

A simple playing card. The Jester.

"This is just a Jester card... What the fuck am I suppose t-"

Without him noticing, Trina completely vanished. Not a single trace of the man was present.

Who the fuck was that?

Lordan shrugs and keeps the card in his pocket, not really sure of what to do with it. He touches the grace at the table. And thinks of Caelid as his next location.

He starts disappearing into a blue mist and fades completely out of view, leaving the Roundtable hold with the thoughts of meeting Trina, a strange man that left him disturbed.

Completely unaware that he had just met a very dangerous being. Yet to come.