Slipping off the duster with as much grace as you can manage, which isn’t a lot, and knocking the mushed up hat off your own head, you whirl around on the nearest ghoul and swing Jim’s hammer for all it’s worth. The blow sends it staggering, this weapon definitely has some juice, but there’s still no ripple of magic or sudden change. And that kind of sucks, because while you may have stunned one ghoul, there were five more right behind it, all of whom dog-pile on top of you.
From the under the mound of monsters wrapping their arms around your limbs, you’re pretty sure you hear Victoria scream something, but it might not even be her voice. Their powerful grips are beginning to pull you in multiple directions, looks like no one is even bothering to turn you into a scarecrow. You can still feel the hammer clutched in your hand, that much at least they’re avoiding, as you wrack your brain. Losing your own costume wasn’t enough, so how can you be more like Jim’s character? Accessories are out, even if you’d taken some from Jim’s body you sure as hell couldn’t putting them on while the ghouls swarm you.
Then, just as two are beginning to yank your legs apart like a wishbone, the memory strikes you. When Jim made you read his stupid comic, you remember that the character had a catch-phrase he would shout when leaping into battle. You were never sure if it was an actual play on the old “Up, Up, and Away!” or just something Jim put in because it made him chuckle. Either way, it wasn’t a combination of words that was easy to forget, so you might as well try them before you get drawn and quartered. Even if it means you’ll have to do some serious explaining to keep Victoria from punching you after.
“Whenever big-breasted co-eds are in trouble, Godpunch Lightning-Fucker will be there!” Oooooh that sounded much stupider out loud than in your head. Fucking Jim. For a moment, the ghouls pause and you think that even they are mortified for you. Then the bolt of white lightning (ba-dum bum) rips down from the sky, striking Jim’s hammer and engulfing you in a burning glow.
When it clears, all the ghouls have been knocked away and you feel good. I mean, holy shit, you thought wizard powers were something nice, but right now you feel like you could dropkick the sun, which actually this character might have done, now that you think back to the comics. Jim clearly did not hold back when doling out the powers: you’re hovering several feet off the ground, muscles swollen with incredible strength, eyes aglow with sight that pierces the darkest of veils.
“What in the quiet hells are you supposed to be?” The gaunt man has frozen in place, staring at you with absolute shock. You point Jim’s hammer toward him, thinking back to your roommate still frozen in his scarecrow state, and summon a blast of energy that would push the moon from orbit.
There’s now a scorched trench in the ground where he was standing, the force of the blow carving it as his body was pushed through the earth. Still smoking on the other side, he rises, limping and burned, but unfortunately alive.
“Children!” he yells, and the ghouls begin to converge on you.
“Beer golems!” you scream, and from the sky a torrent of hoppy wet ale begins to fall. As it lands, the alcohol forms up, turning into humanoid forms that throw themselves between you and the ghouls, soaking their rags and trying to drown whatever dwells within.
“Beer golems?” Victoria is standing by the table, her claws a blur as she cuts Annabeth free and hauls her into her arms. “This was definitely something Jim made all right.”
“You brought outsiders into a quarrel between houses?” The man with the knife, his ghouls battling an endless sea of animated alcohol, is looking between you and Victoria with angry, desperate eyes. “You bring shame onto the name of WIllowbrook!”
“A quarrel between houses? You forget yourself, Talbot Whispers.” Despite having Annabeth back, Victoria looks as pissed as ever, which causes her enemy to shrink back. “There is no longer a house of Whispers, only lost fools who couldn’t adapt to the changing age. My servants are more than enough for a mongrel outsider such as you.”
“You think he can beat me with petty tricks?”
Well damn, if that’s not a cue for an ass-whupping, then I don’t know what is. And neither do you, so you go ahead and take it, flying forward at breakneck speed and then trying to actually break his neck with a blow from your hammer. The strike produces a series of audible cracks and jerks Talbot’s head to an unnatural angle, but he’s somehow still moving as he lunges at you.
“Even if I am only the leader of a former house, you can’t kill me with secondhand magic like this!” He jabs the knife against your side, but it doesn’t so much as pierce the skin, and you grin right in his shocked face.
“My roommate made this character just in case we had to deal with more magical shit again, so one of the first traits he gave it is an immunity to being harmed by magic. That, and the big fucking hammer.” You crack Talbot across the brow, sending him sprawling to the ground. This time you press the attack, snapping his arms and getting a good one in on the chest. No matter what you do though, he still seems to be alive. Admittedly, he’s not really moving much and looks like shit, but his eyes are open and he’s breathing.
“Enough,” Victoria calls at last. “Talbot Whispers is an old fool living in a forgotten world, but he spoke the truth. Your power will not be enough to undo him. At least, not as it is now.”
She appears in your vision, her fury calmed and focused, but not abated. Carefully, she puts a hand against the crackling hammer that you’ve used to beat the dude senseless. “Talbot Whispers has wronged both of us, Merlin. Tried to take what we hold precious. We have equal claim to his life, but as a reward for what you’ve accomplished, I will grant you the choice of who takes it. A few words from me, and this hammer can finish the job. Or, should you like to keep your hands unstained, I will happily take our revenge. Either way, tonight the rotted remains of what was once the house of Whispers shall crumble to dust.”
Wow, that got real heavy. Then again, you didn’t really know he was immortal when you blasted him with the first shot, so you did try to kill him once. Not in cold blood though. It’s a tough one, good thing it’s you making the call and not me.
So, who kills Talbot Whispers?