December 23rd, 2001
A Dark Tale - By Soraac
The cliff was massive. It must have been eighty feet tall. From far below,
I could hear the angry cries of the waves as they hurled themselves
against the impervious rocks. It was a dreary day - the sky was filled
with clouds and the gods hurled thunderbolts down at the dismal land below
them. It was, all in all, an appropriate day for - well, that's what I
was thinking about, anyway. I contemplated the scene below me, and
then I contemplated my miserable life - my horrible, bleak, ludicrously
I heard a sound from behind me; it was a sound like that of an infant
dragon's first breath. I turned to see a small puff of smoke fading into
the cool, crisp wind, and a man clad in ominous black regalia. He
looked somehow familiar. Then, I recalled his sinister face: the Necromancer!
How many times he had wrenched my soul from the grasp of my mutilated corpse,
I couldn't begin to count. He loved to collect souls. I was about to yell at
him that I wasn't dead - yet, but he sent an abominable grin at me and said:
"Well, hello there, Soraac! What are you doing here?"
I scowled back at him. "You know perfectly well why I'm here. And don't
act so friendly! You only want me to jump down there, so you can take
my soul for good!"
He did his best to act like he was taken aback. "No, no, you've got me
all wrong!" I was about to add a witty retort when - to my surprise -
he held out a small pouch of the most delicious, scrumptious looking
candy I had ever seen! "Would you like some of the new Trellorian Tidbits?
They're delectable." I was taken aback at this unexpected generosity. I
slowly offered him my hand, thinking that if they were poisoned, I
could always cure it. He took one of the brown and white swirled morsels
out of the pouch. I reached out to take it just as he tossed it over the
edge of the cliff: "Catch!"
Silence reigned for a while.
"You know, I never asked you - why do you want to jump off this cliff?"
The necromancer stood there, gazing out over the horizon at the ominous
storm clouds that were all one could see for miles. A bird flew over
the nearby forest, making its way towards some sort of shelter from the
biting wind and stinging rain. A bolt of lightning, seeking the quickest
path to the earth, struck the bird and then branched off in several
directions, finding comfort in the soil and trees of the earth. I sat
heavily upon a rock, ignoring my posterior's pangs of protest.
"My wife is having an affair with another man. She lives with him
somewhere. I don't know where or who he is, even."
With that the necromancer looked at me strangely, as if in recognition,
and proclaimed: "Well, you should come visit us sometime. It's really a
nice place. Plenty of room in the basement for my soul collection!"
I was gazing out towards the sea once again. The necromancer had left
for the moment, probably to "visit" my wife. But of course, it seems one
can never have peace when gazing out towards the sea and contemplating
one's sorrows and the ending of one's sorrows. A shimmering portal
appeared in front of me, and a tall man stepped onto thin air. This didn't
seem to bother him, however. He was clad, in contrast to the
necromancer, in a manner that reminded me of a dove. He was tall and muscular,
and looked like he spent all his time sunbathing. I almost expected him
to spew out "Hasta la vista, baby!" multiple times in an Austrian
But no, it seemed nothing was going my way recently. "Hello. I am thy
guardian avatar, and I can answer for thee any questions that thee will.
But first, answer me this - what troubles thee?"
I could see that there was to be no peace on this most dreary of days,
though I didn't think it would hurt to answer him. He was, after all,
my guardian avatar. "The necromancer is having an affair with my wife!"
I exclaimed, feeling a surge of hatred and daggers of malevolence erupt
from my eyes. For some reason, I expected a bit of advice, or at least
comfort, back. But this was one of those days, remember? The avatar's
eyes went as wide as the distance between a lucky trader and a blind
His voice began to echo. "Unheard of! She betrayed me!"
I stood on the very edge of the cliff, looking back towards the forest
(which was looking particularly somber today), when the necromancer
appeared again in a puff of smoke. He was carrying some strange object
made of a metal I had never seen before. It was a dark, midnight black,
with silver in some places; it was rectangular, with a cylinder stuck on
the end. A row of strange buttons of silver covered the top of the
rectangle. I was curious. "What is that?", I asked him. He raised it up
towards me, almost as if it were a trophy.
"This is something I picked up in a dingy little shop. Some odd person
named Merlin owns the place. According to him, he 'travels in time'.
Rather silly business, but this thing actually works. Personally, I think
he made it himself. You look into it, press the button, and it makes
you a picture of whatever you're looking at. Could be useful for artists
- not for me but a fine bit of magic nonetheless." he said. I was
incredulous, but did not move from my perch on the edge of the cliff.
"Why did you come here, then? Certainly not to show it to me," I
"I've come to tell you", he said, fiddling with the buttons, "that I'm
not going to try to get you to jump anymore." This, too, was doubtful,
but I went along with him anyway. He continued. "But before I go
forever, I want to make this thing draw a picture of you." He pressed another
button, and the thing made a whirring noise, followed by a small pop
and a bit of smoke exiting from the back of the rectangle part. He
grinned, and I was sure that that wasn't supposed to happen. "Well, how about
it then?" he said. I couldn't see why not. He wouldn't be able to take
my soul if he killed me. Something about the gods wanting everyone to
have "free will" before the necromancer got to them. With all those laws
they gave us, I found that quite ludicrous.
I responded with a less than enthusiastic tone. "Why not?" I stood
there doing my best to look threatening, which is hard to do when you're
standing less than a hand's breadth from the edge of a dauntingly
massive cliff. If he was going to have a picture, it might as well have been
one that would forever scowl at him. From far below me, I could hear
the waves assaulting the sharp rocks at the bottom, forever indomitable
and tempestuous. He raised the thing, pointing it at me. He squinted his
eyes, one of which I assumed was looking through some magical porthole
at me, but I could not see. He raised one of his hands, not moving any
other part of himself, and waved it at me.
"Please, take one step backwards," he said.
The necromancer wouldn't leave. He just wouldn't go away, but I didn't
really bother. As I sat there, watching the lightning strike and the
waves roar, I pondered what might become of me if I did jump. Then it
occurred to me: a flash of insight! The necromancer was, after all, a
necromancer. He specialized in magicks dealing with death. He ought to know
if there was an afterlife and such. Why not ask him? "Hey, you know,
I'm curious. I've been thinking about something." He stood, and his eyes
lit up like a poor adventurer does when a dragon get him. He probably
thought I was going to jump. "I wonder: is there an afterlife? Does
heaven really exist? If I die holding my sword, will I go to Valhalla and
spend the rest of eternity feasting, brawling, and wenching?" He was
noticeably disappointed (probably having thought I was going to announce
to him my intentions to jump), but not drastically so. He walked over to
my rock and reached into his pocket, as if to pull something out.
"You know, I never told you: I am already dead. This is a job I chose
to take in my afterlife. It's nice." I was about to interrupt him when
he added slyly, "It has its perks, too." I was no fool; he was talking
about my wife. But enough, I wanted to know what he had in his hands.
"Just get on with answering me," I demanded.
He glanced at me darkly. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out
several folded pieces of parchment. "Here, I brought with me a couple of
brochures. I have... hmmm... 'The Afterlife in the Alps', ‘Death in
Deutschland', 'Get to Know Before You Go: Interviews with the Wenches of
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