Once we knew Arianna had died, we could only assume that more trouble was going to come down on our heads quickly. Surely someone would come looking for her. Pete mentioned briefly about how Calvin and Preston were lost in the Armory, and how there was some other person named General Ambrose who seemed to be a compatriot of the High Wizard Arianna. We couldn’t afford to face another enemy now. We had to get out of here.
“Is there a way to get the stairs to go back down?” Wendy asked.
“We never did find anything, but we can try to look for a button,” Pete said.
“Last time, we used Preston’s scepter to open the staircase. Arianna used an incantation to open the stairs here,” I said. “So I can only assume the stairs are controlled by magic. I don’t know how we can possibly do anything. We don’t have any magical ability.”
“Are you sure about that?” Pete said, a smile coming across his face.
“What are you getting at?” I asked.
Suddenly, Wendy’s eyes lit up and she went to where Arianna’s body lay. She searched her robes and pulled out a small slip of paper.
“Nice going, Wendy!” Pete exclaimed. “I knew she must have some kind of item we could scavenge off of her.”
“I don’t know about this,” I whispered as I approached Wendy to check out her find.
Pete sighed. “We don’t have any choice. Now is not the time to be doubting.”
“I don’t know what it says,” Wendy said, handing the paper to me.
“Can you not read?” I asked her.
“I can read!” Wendy shot back. “Just not very well. And it has big words on it!”
I took the paper from her and read it to myself. These weren’t just big words. They were a phonetic interpretation of the incantation Arianna had used to open the door. But why would she even need to write this out? She was the High Wizard. She obviously would have committed such a simple spell to memory. I looked closer at the paper. In the bottom right corner a message was hidden.
use this and get out of here – Diana
Did Diana maintain awareness while Arianna had control over her body? Was she actively fighting her the whole time? And Agnes as well?
And then Finn would have merged… and then we killed her… all of their minds lost in one instant.
I pushed all of those thoughts out of my mind. This was no time to try to figure it all out or reflect on the horrible fates that had befallen our friends.
I read out the incantation.
The staircase back to the bottom floor opened.
“Jenny! You did it!” Wendy said, hugging me tight.
“Time to go everyone!” Pete said. “If there’s a way out of here, we’ll have to find it downstairs. Quick before we get followed. I’m surprised Otoh’halla isn’t already breathing down our necks.”
Wendy hurried down the staircase, with Pete and Duke following close behind. I took a few steps, then stopped.
“Pete, hold on.”
Pete turned around. I walked a few more steps to get closer to him.
“I’m not coming with you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I don’t deserve to make it out.”
“Are you insane, Jenny? You’ve done so much to protect the people here. Nobody’s death here is your fault.”
I shook my head. “No. Everyone’s death is my fault. I am the one who orchestrated this plan. I am the one who decided we should come here in the first place.”
“To save thousands of people! Maybe the whole world!” Pete said, grabbing me by the shoulders. “What happened here serves the greater good. Everybody had some understanding of that.” He paused. “Some of us more than others.”
“When you and Wendy make it back to Arkham,” I said, “I want you to take care of her. She’s special. Promise me, you’ll look after her.”
“Damnit, Jenny. Duke and I can look out for her and you, too,” Pete said, crossing his arms.
I shook my head. “Listen. Calvin and Roland and I… we never told you everything there was to tell you. When we became servants of Otoh’halla, to keep him from killing us on the spot, he told us that… he would now know where we were all the time. That means, if I cross back to Arkham with you, he’ll know where I am. But even more immediately, if I go to the first floor, Otoh’halla will know and that will raise even more suspicion. That could endanger everyone all over again. I’m going to stay here and serve as a distraction. Maybe, I can help you get out. But I was never going to be able to go back home. I’m closing the staircase in five minutes by saying the incantation again. You and Wendy need to get out of here. I trust you to figure it out. For all of us. For Arkham. This is the only way I’ll accept making good on putting everyone in danger.”
Pete narrowed his eyes at me. “I guess I can’t persuade you otherwise.” He let out a grunt. “I’ll take care of Wendy. It’s a promise.”
“Goodbye, Pete,” I said.
Pete walked away, disappearing around the turns of the spiral staircase. I realized I wouldn’t have the chance to say goodbye to Wendy, but it was okay. I couldn’t bear to say goodbye to her anyway.
I stood at the top of the staircase, mentally preparing myself for what was to come. I waited five minutes as I promised, then said the incantation. The staircase closed up. That was the end of it. All the time I could buy them, I bought.
There would be no returning for me. But I could at least rest knowing I had done everything I was supposed to do.
I sat myself down against the wall of the Book Room.
Any second now.
I closed my eyes.
A moment’s peace. I smiled.
I opened my eyes again.
A shadow flashed across my view.
“Take care of her, Pete,” I whispered.
June 27th: JENNY, sacrificed herself in the Book Room
June 26th: FINN, merged with High Wizard Arianna in the Book Room
June 25th: PRESTON, impaled by a toppled shelving unit of spears in the Armory
June 24th: MINH, transported via a portal to Arkham in the year 3007
June 23rd: ZOEY, electrocuted by the metal globe in the Arcane Chamber
June 22nd: AGNES, merged with High Wizard Arianna in the Arcane Chamber
June 21st: CALVIN, shot dead by reanimated Joe in the Armory
June 20th: URSULA, impaled through the head by The Sullied Crown in the Throne Room
June 19th: ROLAND, shot dead by Finn in the West Room
June 18th: YORICK, transported to Carcosa
June 17th: SEFINA, transported alive via a portal to Arkham
June 16th: MARK, devoured by an abomination in the West Room
June 15th: SILAS, succumbed to earlier poisonous gas exposure while in the Book Room
June 14th: AKACHI, succumbed to poisonous gas in the East Room
June 13th: RITA, woke up alive in Arkham
June 12th: LEO, shot dead by Finn in the South Room
June 11th: REX, torn apart by byakhee in the North Room
June 10th: MARIE, fell into the chasm in the South Room
June 9th: CAROLYN, head smashed by Lola in the Button Room
June 8th: JOE, shot himself in the Lust Room
June 7th: SKIDS, dismembered in the Greed Room
June 6th: JIM, possessed by Ambrose in the Lust Room
June 5th: DIANA, possessed in the Lust Room
June 4th: MATEO, drowned in the Sloth Room
June 3rd: DAISY, shot dead by Roland in the Gluttony Room
June 2nd: NORMAN, disintegrated in the Envy Room
June 1st: LOLA, abandoned in the Button Room
Vote for the FINAL episode below