This is the last part of my series of posts covering a playthrough of the two-player roleplaying game A Single Moment. You can find the Chapter 3 here. I might make a postmortem looking back on this session and covering my thoughts about the game itself. If that's something you'd be interested in, please let me know in the comments below, and post any specific questions you might have and I'll do my best to cover those as well.
The Finale is broken up into two parts. Over the course of the game, both players accumulated a meta-currency called Hatred, and help bridge the gap between the last chapter and the moment of the Duel through a series of events per how much Hatred that player has accumulated. During the Finale, the players take turns narrating as either Attacker or Defender, and roll to see the results of their attempts spending Edges and accumulating Scars. Enjoy!
CHANNELING YOUR ANGER
Artrail stewed on what Virgil had told him for weeks. They've accomplished so much together, they've been through many trials. No. It must've been the Demon. It must have latched onto Tristan. It must be riding out on his soul. As his mind processed a multitude of emotions and conclusions. Artrail sent out the legion in order to capture Tristan, to hunt him down. (1 Hatred) After the order to locate Tristan Falconne was issued, it wasn't long before Tristan's family was brought in seeking answers. Artrail had his wife (2) and daugther (3) brought in, placing them in a dungeon until they release the information of where Tristan is hiding, while claiming to hold them for "their protection".
The same order came down on the Falconne estate, an order to seize all of their assets, cutting them off financially. (4) Tristan's mother was so privileged and used to their means, it drove her to directly confront the knights and Artrail outside of their estate. The altercation unfortunately ended with bloodshed and Mrs. Dianne's body bleeding out on the cobblestone roads (5).
Was this demon so powerful as to cause so much chaos? Was it still present in Tristan's soul? Can it manipulate so many, so easily?
Tristan spent his days throwing himself deeper and deeper into black magick, trying to unlock the eldritch secrets that would allow him to give the demon mortal form so that he could destroy it once and for all. He attacked remote Legion of Judgement monasteries, hoping to recover ancient texts that might hold magick secrets (1 Hatred). Eventually, the Legion of Judgement came after him, and he had to defend himself, taking the lives of the first few who were able to find him (2). Secretly, he recruited and was able to turn the Templars, Knights of the Legion who he had personally helped on their paths to mastering the massive Channeling potential. They formed his personal Order of Sword Wraiths (3).
News of his family, his last tether of humanity, and their ultimate demise at Artrail's orders reached him. Partly out of his obsession with the balrog, and partly out of some sick and twisted form of poetic revenge, he sought out the Heirloom of the Lionheart, or rather its broken remains and kept it, twisting its once blessed form with black magick (4). Trying to complete his ritual, a trail of bodies are left broken and bloody and twisted by dark magick across the countryside (5). Tristan the Demon Knight and his Sword Wraiths quickly became a tale told in hushed whispers amongst the provinces to keep people out of the wilderness and out of the dark, lest they lose their soul to him (6).
Months passed by, and news of Tristan's rogue group echoed through the legion. The Sword Wraiths struck fear into the hearts of the new recruits, even the most veteran of knights tremble from the name. Artrail decided enough was enough. The order to capture had been revoked, it was now kill on sight. (6) Artrail returned to the destroyed cathedral, digging through the remains, only to find that the Heirloom of the Lionheart was missing, this caused anger to boil. Artrail had the remains of one of the ancient obsidian statues brought in.
Working with the Legion's smiths and artisans, they reprocessed and forged the obsidian into a large two handed sword. The claymore was brought through the clergy and blessed with enchantments to counteract demons, built not to purge but to slay (7).
The raiding parties searching for Tristan and the former Templar's carried on for months, with Artrail personally leading the way. He struck through many of his form friends and allies, and his hatred flowed from every single one that wasn't Tristan (8). Tirelessly, his efforts directed him deeper and deeper. His resolve become maddening. His actions more desperate to locate his childhood friend... his equal... his rival. Feverously, Artrail hunted and began leaving signs to call out Tristan from hiding. The most hurtful being Virgil, who had ascended from knighthood to templar to fall as a Sword Wraith. As a public showing, Artrail hung Virgil's body out in front of the Temple. Arms bound behind his back with large spears piercing him through, Virgil hung from a large effigy crafted in Artrail's vision. (9)
The message was received. Tristan had sent one last traitor to meet with Artrail at the gravesite of Leopold. The message was to settle this once and for all on top of sacred grounds of The Swordscrown. Upon receiving this message, Artrail struck down the messenger and defiled his brothers grave. "This... this is ALL YOUR FAULT." (10)
Tristan - 10 Edge / 6 Hatred / 6 Scar
Artrail - 9 Edge / 10 Hatred / 6 Scar
Artrail and Tristan stand on opposite sides of this large monumental ground. On first sight, his blood boiled and instead of leading with his tongue he charged forward with his claymore, coming down with a large overhead swing with his dark obsidian blade.
Tristan rolls a 5- 10 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 3 - 8 Edge left
Artrail's massive claymore comes down in a wide arc, cleaving through Tristan's form but hitting nothing as he dissipates into a cloud of wispy black trailing smoke, and slams into the concrete beneath them, cracking it and sending chunks of stone into the air.
"You're getting slow, old man, and I've become stronger than you'll ever know." Tristan taunts as he appears behind him, filling the air with a sulfurous smell and dark smoke. He raises his palm, his arm once destroyed and broken now ablaze in an eldritch glow and letting loose an eldritch blast.
Tristan rolls a 5 and blind bids 1 Edge to break the tie - 8 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 5 and blind bids 1 Edge to break the tie - 7 Edge left
The crackling eldritch energy alerted Artrail in just enough time to dodge roll out of the way. The focused beam of energy slammed into the side of one of the monolithic swords that surrounds this sacred holyground of an arena, sending shards of stone flying off to the side and producing a large fissure into the statued saber.
"I may be getting slow, but you are predictable." Artrail says as he sweeps around with his blade and carves upward into the the Demon Knight's chest.
Tristan rolls a 3 and blind bids 1 Edge to break the tie - 7 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 3 and blind bids 0 Edge to break the tie - 6 Edge left
Tristan snatches the blade before it reaches him with his fist glowing in wispy negative energy. With the other hand, Tristan draws the Heirloom of the Lionheart from his scabbard, it's once majestic lion-headed pommel now twisted into some demonic blackened form, and strikes Artrail in his own chest, sending him flying back several feet and slamming into one of the many massive sword-shaped gravestones nearby.
He flourishes the broken, shattered, black-stained blade, now barely a third of its original length and begins to Channel dark magick into it. Smoky tendrils travel down his arm and over the blade, filling out the missing steel with a smoky blade formed of negative energy. Artrail picks himself up, looking down at his broken armor, with barely enough time to react to Tristan bearing down on him with what was once his own sword.
Tristan rolls a 6 and blind bids 1 Edge to break the tie - 6 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 3 and blind bids 0 Edge to break the tie - 6 Edge left
Tristan charges in with an overhead strike that Artrail barely manages to block, but the sheer weight of the blow brings him to a knee. Three more angry strikes from Tristan, each more powerful than the last as he screams out what has been years of pent up rage. On the third Artrail is barely able to lift the blade, and catches the strike on his armored vambrace. He cries out in pain as the blade strikes and burns through the armor leaving, rending flesh.
"I'm not the frail knight you sought to keep under your shadow anymore, *old friend*.
Artrail down on one knee, feeling the burning flesh beneath his brothers ravaged breastplate. The pain. The emotions. The... rage. Sets in.
"Is that all you've got demon-kin." He reaches forward with his palm outright and grabs onto Tristan's loose clothing, pulling himself into the burning pain of the Heirloom of the Lionheart. "I have a trick too." He mutters a small incantation and this bluish glow of divine lightning emanates around his massive gauntlet. A resonate echo of thunder crackles as he strikes forward into Tristan.
Tristan rolls a 2 - 6 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 4 - 5 Edge left
The gauntlet slams into the Demon Knight, sending him flying backwards into the hardened concrete floor. The smattering of his body across the ground leaves several cracks from each impact. And with each impact, pieces of Tristan's light armor flaked off. Artrail stands up once more now holding his sword out firm with his channeling hand, the divine sparks extending down his blade.
"I see you've been practicing." Tristan taunts, wiping blood off his lip and shedding his tattered breastplate that was barely hanging on by a chain.
He snidely remarks "Let's see what you can do" as he raises his hand, and dark tendrils of energy lash out above Artrail, grabbing a hold of one of the massive stone swords. He yanks it forward and the stone cracks and shatters as the massive gravestone of some ancient King comes crashing down on top of Artrail."
Tristan rolls a 3 - 5 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 6 - 5 Edge left
The massive gravestone comes crashing down only to be met with a powerful divine force of righteousness and anger. Artrail's obsidian blade carves through the monument severing it into two while releasing a powerful concentrated wave of thunder into Tristan. The monument crumbles around the Sword Saint scattering debris of stone in every direction. The impact of the thunderous slash, leaves a wound across the newly exposed chest of Tristan.
"You truly don't understand. You never were in my caliber. As a person. As a swordsman. AS A FRIEND" With each consecutive sentence he released more and more blasts of force from his blade.
Tristan rolls a 2 and blind bids 1 Edge to break the tie - 4 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 2 and blind bids 0 Edge to break the tie - 4 Edge left
Tristan grips at his chest in reaction to the gashing wound now marked across it with one hand and spits out a glob of crimson blood. Before he has time to breathe Artrail is advancing, firing blasts of energy. Tristan deflects each one with his own weapon, each burst of energy being absorbed into and feeding and growing the shadow blade.
"Keep lying to yourself. I know it ate you up knowing that Leopold chose to bring ME over YOU!" And with that, he stabs forward releasing the stored up energy in the former Heirloom of the Lionheart, as a massive lance of purple and black energy surges forward towards Artrail.
Tristan rolls a 3 and blind bids 1 Edge to break the tie - 3 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 5 and blind bids 0 Edge to break the tie - 4 Edge left
The dark crackling lance of necrotic energy splits and redirects around Artrail as he brings down his claymore, centered upon the blast. "YOU LACK CONVICTION TRISTAN." Artrail yells as he closes the distance with his obsidian sword in hand, deflecting multiple eldritch blasts along the way.
He crosses up and crashes downward with another heavy swordstrike.
Tristan rolls a 3 and blind bids 1 Edge to break the tie - 3 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 4 and blind bids 0 Edge to break the tie - 3 Edge left
Tristan raises his guard bringing the Heirloom to his defense, the dark black necrotic energy pulsating against the divine thunder surrounding the massive claymore. Artrail stands over Tristan with his massive frame overshadowing Tristan as he physically forces Tristan down to a knee with this sole strike. The necrotic energy around Tristan's saber begins to flicker, leaving just enough time for Artrail to break through at full force. Striking into the traitors clavicle and as he presses it deep with blood seeping up around.
Tristan yells out in pain as the sword bites down into him. Clenching his teeth, dark energy envelops his hands as he digs them into the stone at Artrail's feet, as he rips a chunk of it up to disrupt his enemy's footing to buy him some space.
Tristan rolls a 6 and blind bids 0 Edge to break the tie - 2 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 6 and blind bids 1 Edge to break the tie - 2 Edge left
The necrotic energy swelled up beneath his feet, giving Tristan the force to rip apart the ground beneath him. Without hesitation the Sword Saint begins driving his feet forward with his sword still pressed into Demon Knight's chest, dragging him across the ground and slamming him into one of the nearby large sword monolith's, as Artrail continues his press he raises Tristan off of his feet. The edge of his blade continues deeper, a heavy stream of blood beginning to flow.
With Tristan suspended in the air against the symbolic gravestone, Artrail thrusts his shoulder into his claymore that is still pressed into his chest.
Tristan rolls a 4 - 2 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 3 - 1 Edge left
Artrail is blown back by the force of a powerful explosion, sent flying with along with chunks of stone and dirt. He looks up at Tristan, still hanging in the air, suspended by some demonic force. Black leathery wings springing forth from his back. His hands and feet grow into grotesque caricatures of themselves as they form into armored claws. His eyes turn a deep red as he lets loose an otherworldy roar.
Tristan flies towards Artrail, the blackened Heirloom of the Heart with it's shadowed blade and black tendrils of demonic energy whipping behind him, and swings in an arc to decapitate Artrail.
Tristan rolls a 2 - 1 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 1 - 1 Edge left
At the last moment of Tristan's attack, Artrail brings his claymore up to block the blow. The blades clash and Artrail buckles to a knee beneath the Demon-Knight's swing. Tristan lets loose a rage-filled bellow and drives the blade down, shattering Artrail's sword, and knocking away the Sword Saint as a blast of black magick sunders the area.
Artrail flies back spinning in the air coming down hard on his shoulder, bouncing off of the hardened concrete floor. Blood pouring from an open gash above his brow his vision becomes a haze of red. The exhaustion kicking in, his breathing labored, how much more can he physically take. Artrail pushes himself to his knees, Tristan flying in for a killing strike, he yells out in a fury. As he reaches upward to the newly demonic form of his long time friend, with a lightly charged gauntlet. The divine spark flickering with instability, "THIS IS MY CONVICTION!!!"
Tristan rolls a 5 - 1 Edge left
Artrail rolls a 2 - 0 Edge left
Tristan grabs Artrail's wrist, crunching the metal gauntlet beneath his claw with inhuman strength and speed and the spell fizzles out. Slowly, he lifts Artrail up as both knights hover off the ground just a few feet."
Hovering above the broken remains of the Swordscrown, Tristan holds Artrail's barely conscious body by the neck. His wings beat with an eerie tempo, and his form barely even recognizable as human anymore.
"You....are weak, Artrail. Just....like him. Just like....your brother" he snarls at the Sword Saint.
With that, Tristan thrusts the shadowy blade of the twisted Heirloom of the Lionheart forward into Artrail's chest.
Artrail's eyes bulge, and he lets out an empty gasp as the sword he once called his own, the same sword that belonged to his brother Leopold, is sunk into his chest to the hilt. He begins to fall back to the earth to the carnage-ridden grave site below. Ironic that this was once a resting place for the revered, now bloodstained and desecrated by ones who once called each other brothers-in-arms.
The last thing he sees above him in the cloudy moonlit night is the twisted vision of a blackhearted demon wearing the form of a man he once called friend.
The last shreds of humanity left within Tristan have all been extinguished. The ritual is complete as he is full consumed by the balrog's power. Darkness falls across the land and with it, hope. The Order of Judgment has been struck a grievous blow, and the rest of the kingdom begins to panic in the wake of its fall.
The Demon Knight roamed the kingdom for years, reforming and perfecting the Order of Sword Wraiths. The armies of death and darkness swept over the kingdom, conquering in force. Darkness spreads over Merona, what was once the heart of the kingdom, now the sovereign city of Tristan. Peace turned to panic, comfort to fear. Who was once known as Tristan Falconne will forever be remembered as The Demon King.