Tales of the Great Beasts: Fall of the Four

Last time on Tales of the Great Beasts, Briggan joined the Euran resistance and dubbed them the Greencloaks. Will our newly-named Designated Heroes win the global war? Find out after the cut.

About the Author:
I’m not bothering with an “About the Author” section here because Brandon Mull wrote this short story. If you read through my recap of Wild Born, you already know what I think of him.

CONTENT WARNING: Several characters die! But you probably figured that out from the title. Still, you’ve been warned.

Soaring through a clear blue sky, Essix used the air currents to her advantage. The wind slid across her great feathers as she banked through an updraft to gain altitude in search of a stronger tailwind. Ahead, a forest spread out before her, a sea of green textures. Behind her raged the fiercest battle ever to stain the fields of Erdas.

WOW, WE’RE GETTING A STORY FROM A GODLIKE GYRFALCON’S POINT OF VIEW.

Tellun the Godlike Elk decided that the best time to hold a meeting is during the final battle of the First Erdas World War, which is rather inconvenient when six of those Godlike Beasts are out fighting with the humans. Since Essix can fly, she decides to remain on the front lines with the Greencloaks a little longer while Briggan, Jhi, and Uraza make their way to the meeting. Essix doesn’t really want to go to this gathering, but she has to because she’s the best at reading people and sentient animals.

Eventually, Essix arrives at the designated meeting place: an oasis Tellun created in the Stetriolian interior. And just in time! The meeting starts at high noon–

CABARO: About time!

ESSIX: Yo, there’s a Final Battle going on right this instant.

DINESH: I hope this means this Very Important Gathering won’t be rushed.

BRIGGAN, RUMFUSS, URAZA: lol

TELLUN: I call this Gathering of Godlike Animals to order! Gerathon and Kovo didn’t RSVP, and Mulop is joining us via conference call, as usual.

BRIGGAN: Gerathon and Kovo are too busy taking over the world to come.

ARAX: Screw humanity! Let them solve their own problems!

BRIGGAN: But this is our problem, too! The Bile allows humans to bond with animals of our species! And Kovo and Gerathon are fighting alongside the humans!

HALAWIR: As you all recall, the last time we met was at the beginning of the war, when we voted to remain neutral and see if humanity could deal with the Conquerors on their own.

URAZA: And things has gone to shit since then. Our talismans have been stolen, the Evertree was damaged, and humans are either going insane or dying when they bond with spirit animals!

HALAWIR: Well, maybe you wouldn’t have lost your talisman if you didn’t hang out with humans.

SUKA: That’s exactly why we stay away from humans!

URAZA: Then explain why you lost your talisman, Halawir.

HALAWIR: Um … it was stolen! While I was sleeping! Yeah!

RUMFUSS: Just let the humans fight among themselves.

BRIGGAN: Hey, we led the Greencloak army to the shores of Stetriol so they can end the war today!

DINESH: So let’s wait and see if the Greencloaks are successful.

BRIGGAN: The Greencloaks can’t win without our help!

ARAX: If we voted to get involved, we’d totally pwn those Conquerors whenever we want.

JHI: But all the Conquerors are bonded to spirit animals. As a group, they are nearly unstoppable!

ESSIX: That’s why we need to stop the Conquerors now!

CABARO: Stop begging us for help. We don’t give a shit.

DINESH: We shouldn’t be fighting each other!

URAZA: Says the Godlike Elephant who loves being doted on by humans.

ESSIX: We only attend these meetings because we respect one another. But some certain someones obviously don’t feel the same, and they were closer to this location than most of us. They have abandoned their mission to protect our world, and we must resort to drastic measures to stop them!

ARAX: Those certain someones haven’t acted against us.

SUKA: Hey, maybe this war is a good idea! Human population control for the win!

JHI: But humans have great potential for good and evil. When they’re at their best, they can protect the world!

DINESH: I know from experience.

SUKA: Shut up.

ESSIX: There are good humans in this world, and as Erdas’s guardians it is only right to support them in their time of need! Kovo and Gerathon have lost sight of their mission!

ARAX: So you’ll attack any one of us who you think isn’t defending this world?

HALAWIR: Maybe Briggan, Essix, Jhi, and Uraza should be equally condemned for getting involved in human matters.

JHI: Hey, I only got involved because I detest when free will is stolen from others.

BRIGGAN: We must stop the Conquerors now!

CABARO: We should hear Kovo and Gerathon’s arguments.

ESSIX: They gave up their right to present their case by not showing up. We must fight!

TELLUN: So, do we help the humans or not? FYI, I’m not cool with killing our comrades because they’ll just rez as long as the Evertree stands, but I’ll consider imprisoning them.

DINESH: I’m just gonna protect my talisman. You’re on your own.

ARAX: I’m remaining neutral unless I’m provoked. Sorry.

HALAWIR: I motion to wait.

TELLUN: Mulop just called. He’s gonna sit this one out.

BRIGGAN: Oh, come on! I even had a prophetic vision that predicted that we’ll fail if you don’t join us!

TELLUN: You know what? I’m gonna wait, but you four go ahead and fight in that Final Battle. If you die, it won’t be in vain.

BRIGGAN, JHI, URAZA: Fine. *leave*

ESSIX: I’m soooooooo disappointed in all y’all. Some parting words: Mulop, you see much but understand less. Cabaro, you’re a waste of space. Halawir, you’re an ignorant fool. Suka, hiding is a choice. Rumfuss, stop stagnating. Arax, stop being selfish. Dinesh, size isn’t everything. Tellun, stop being so damn distant. Ninani, at least you try to do your best. You’re cool.

NINANI: Fighting’s not really my thing, but I’ll try to help.

Now that that BS is over and done with, it’s time for the Final Battle! A quick run-down:

  • Katalin now runs with Briggan’s Great Pack.
  • Jhi casts Calm on the Conquerors, allowing the Greencloaks to attack.
  • Tembo is now leader of the entire Greencloak army. Thanks to Jhi’s ability to enhance anyone’s senses and natural abilities, he’s able to traverse the battlefield undetected.
  • Yin protects Jhi while she casts support spells. She’s basically Zatoichi the blind swordsman now: she gains enhanced fighting skills when her eyes are closed.
  • Kovo kills Briggan by slitting his throat with the Devourer’s sword. He also stabs Uraza to death while Gerathon strangles her.
  • Essix distracts the Devourer’s crocodile, allowing Tembo to kill Feliandor.
  • Jhi is killed by a bunch of Conquerors.
  • Kovo beats Essix to death with a club.
  • The Conquerors fall back when Tellun arrives.

And then it’s over!

Essix rested in the tranquil stillness. She had no desire to rouse her mind. Time lost all meaning. The silence was peaceful and good.

And then Essix wakes up bonded to an Ambiguously Brown not!American boy.

——————–

Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above:
If you’re curious how massive this final battle is, the death count is projected to be in the hundreds of thousands. This probably includes both humans and animals.

Mulop doesn’t physically participate in gatherings of Godlike Animals, which is super convenient for an aquatic animal such as himself.

Cabaro the Godlike Lion could have been the leader of the Great Beasts, but he’s too lazy, arrogant, and disinterested to take charge.

If you thought Dinesh loved being pampered in Blood Ties, check him out here. He takes it up to eleven by wearing silks, sitting under an elaborate canopy, having humans transport him to the council meeting, and supposedly designing temples in his honor.

The Evertree is Very Important at the end of the first arc. Which begs the question: if it’s so important, why hasn’t it been mentioned until this short story collection 75% through the series?

Humans are forbidden from attending gatherings of Great Beasts.

Cabaro considers humans an “acquired taste”, if you know what I mean.

Rumfuss is apparently the least liked of the Great Beasts. Thankfully, Rumfuss is cool and doesn’t care what his peers think.

It’s kinda ironic that Jhi is the one who speaks out against the subjugation of free will. Poor BATTLE PANDA.

Suka seems to be friends with Kovo.

In case you haven’t noticed, a lot of the arguments brought up during the council meeting are repeated several times. This made recapping this story rather annoying.

Essix returns to the Final Battle later than expected due to changes in the wind. She thinks that either Arax or Halawir might be controlling the weather.

Kovo is the only Great Beast who uses weapons. He brings a giant club to the Final Battle.

Feliandor is still quite young when he dies during the Final Battle. Essix notes that he’s only a boy.

Tellun has healing powers. Spoiler: This will come in handy in The Evertree.

——————–

NEXT TIME: The online exclusive “Ninani’s Nectar,” in which a not!Peruvian boy has adventures with a Godlike Swan.

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