March 18, 2001
The Game - By Koryne
The sun had just begun to rise above the spires of Castle Medievia, when the
familiar sounds of the scribe's selling their morning papers and the clink
of mail-clad guardsmen brought me back to the waking world. The murmur of
iron-shod hooves and merchants beginning to sell their wares finally hauled
me out of my somewhat uncomfortable bed. Being a decidedly underprivileged
adventurer, it was all that I could afford. A demon-spawned headache
reverberated off the inside of my head; apparently good evenings are not so
As I made my way towards the castle square, my gaze was inexplicably drawn
to the Castle. Awestruck by its grandeur and beauty, I contemplated why I
had never really noticed it before. I had obviously seen it, an object of
its size would require some effort to miss, but it seemed to hold a silent
allure, it was as if it was calling out to me. I suddenly realized that I
was standing still, but a friendly bump from a peddlers cart reminded me
that the middle of a very busy Medievian street is not a very good place to
stand in silent contemplation.
The odd crackle of energy of immense power seemed a welcome interruption to
the silence. Silence can, in certain respects, be expected in rooms of such
an infinite nature. A mockery of the boundaries of space and time, it
existed in an infinite number of planes and times. In the center of the
room, a number of rather 'godly' figures sat around an intricately carved
board. They all seemed to be concentrating intently on the carved figure of
a man, standing near a part of the board that looked distinctly like a
The distant gurgle of the courtyard fountain answered the call of my upset
stomach, reminding me of the previous evenings activities. I attempted to
make a mental note to stay away from Medievian 'ale', but the image of the
castle dominated my thoughts. It struck me that I had never really been past
the first few steps, and it seemed a fine day to explore within its walls. I
shared the idea with Viscount Methusius, a long time friend of many an
adventure. He had heard rumor that the Castle held a fortune of secrets and
untold wealth. At the mention of 'wealth' we began the seemingly endless
clime to Castle Medievia.
The Watchers were deep in thought. A new figure had appeared on the board,
it resembled an old and wizened wizard. Many of them were regarding the
situation with some interest now. A thin sliver of silver began to appear in
the 'air' in a corner of the room. It grew, gradually beating back the
darkness, and culminated in a bright flash of light, which spat a scrawny,
but formidably powerful being onto the floor. The newcomer seemed mildly
dazed after his travel across the astral plane, and appeared to have been
deprived of sleep for some time. Proudly he stood up and presented the room
with an exquisitely carved image of a sinister swamp and forest.
Tentatively, he lowered it onto the top right of the board; taking great
care not to disturb anything around it.
The inaudible scream of space and time being bent in directions that they
didn't want to go echoed through all planes of reality. On the northwest
side of Medievia, was a swamp and forest emitting blood-chilling evil.
Ordinary forest creatures began to twist and corrupt to the core. What
remained was truly a place of evil. For the past few minutes, it had always
The cosmic voice of a deity resounded through out the room, and into
infinity. "Ha! You did it the wrong way around, first the creatures are
supposed to become twisted and then you get a place emitting blood-chilling
"What's the difference, it all happened in under three seconds, no one is
going to know," came the reply. It was met by an omnipresent laughter, which
echoed off the walls of time and caused simultaneous earthquakes three years
After what seemed like an eternity the top of the stairs came into view. The
small degree of relief that it filled us with, could do nothing more than to
spur us on to a half-hearted trundle. Falling over the last step onto my
chest, I wondered what had inspired me to do this. Methusius prodded my
exhausted body with a foot, and then hauled me to my feet. He chanted a
handy incantation that revitalized our strength and we were back on our way
in minutes. We casually greeted the guards and attempted to look important
and full of purpose. After more than one look they let us pass, and we
breathed a collective sigh of relief.
This sigh was interrupted by the sight of an old wizard standing before us.
Although gnarled with age, he seemed to have an aura of power about him. A
mere look in my direction was enough to let me know that I was in the
presence of a vastly superior, and far wiser being. A sly smile came over
his face, which quite honestly terrified me. I had the sinking suspicion
that I was about to find out what makes an incredibly powerful wizard look
slyly at you. A barrage of thoughts tore their way into my mind, with such
force that I was hurled backwards. My mind felt like it was going to explode
as the history of Medievia filled it. Suddenly I knew. I knew about the
beginning; the creation. Most importantly, I knew about the Catacombs, and
that is where my destination lay. It was my destiny. My brain throbbed, and
another piece of information became clear. There was an entrance, just
recently discovered, in a swamp and forest of blood-chilling evil. If fame
and fortune were to come to me by any means, this would most definitely be
it. I would plunge my self into the bowels of the earth to combat the great
menace which plagues.
"That seems to be quite a big job for such a small hero," sneered one of The
"He's not even a hero," added another, "he's just a... a guy, with shiny
The crowd began to disperse. Many of them returning to a sparsely inhabited
area of the board where a faction of trolls were ripping some humans apart.
They appeared to have overrun the area.
After much persuasion, I allowed Methusius to accompany me. I had felt that
the journey was for me to undertake alone, but he would not hear of it. We
both knew that the path ahead was daunting, but we were well prepared to
face Death, head on. Not wishing to delay the matter, we set off
immediately. The day was old already and the idea of traveling under
darkness was not a welcome one, so our first camp was set up just a few
miles outside the city walls. Feeling the assault from every shadow, I
looked towards the silhouette of Medievia city for some assurance. Its walls
rose stoically above the surrounding wilderness, and seemed to give me the
slightest feeling of hope.
One of The Watchers let out a sigh that made the pain of the ages seem
docile. Visibly disturbed by the position of the people on the board. Two
carved figures resembling armor clad adventurers, slept rustically by a
fire. In a tree-shrouded valley a few miles away, another fire burned.
Around it sat a band of gnoll warriors cooking human flesh.
The travel began in earnest the next morning, and so did the adventure. We
used the river as a guide, as neither of us knew more about the landscape
than what we had learned from the odd traveler we spoke to in Medievia
city. The day flowed on as smoothly as the river, and was without incident
until the late afternoon. We descended into a tree-shrouded valley, hugged
on either side by the daunting visage of a mountain whose name was unknown
to us. Whether it was an acute sixth sense, or Death's snicker,
a boom which stung my ears quickly eradicated the laziness of the after
noon. I had the urge to duck. So I did. At that same instant a massive
longsword sliced through the air where my head had been. Holding it was the
imposing body of a gnoll lord, and around him were several more who were
alike in stature. We needed no invitation to retaliate. My sword was swung
into action in seconds, and Methusius was quick to surround me with a
protective white aura. Each powerful thrust of a gnoll's sword was met by
the cold steel of my shield or a most nimble dodge. Blow after blow pounded
me, but the advantage of speed was mine. I counterattacked with precision,
needing but a few sword strokes to run my foes through. Bloodied but more
experienced, I only suffered minor wounds, while Methusius had only been
scratched. Placing his hands upon me, he chanted the words 'Vas Mani', and I
was restored to full health.
Gloating over the impressive pile of dismembered body parts, I savored the
taste of victory for just a moment. The sun was beginning to sink quickly,
and neither of us relished the idea of camping near our slain foes. We made
haste to reach the crest of the rise in front of us, as it would provide a
good vantage point from which to scout out the next days journey. That night
we lit only a small fire, not wishing to attract undue attention, and
fearing an attack from any gnolls that may have escaped us. Cowering under a
stained travel cloak, the events of the day plagued my mind. Had I reacted a
second later this would have been an adventure greatly short-lived. Wisdom
is not the greatest attribute of a warrior, and I began to wonder just how
wise an undertaking this really was. Off in the distance the earth yawned
and absorbed the puddles of blood that lay there, and the bright flash of
body parts catching fire filled me with an uneasy feeling; almost as if I
was being watched.
A contented looking Watcher was taking great pleasure in disposing of a
number of small wooden body parts. A wave of the hand and the mumble of an
incantation would result in a little gnoll head spontaneously igniting. Each
ignition was met by a spontaneous burst of laughter. This quite enthralling
exercise continued until what resembled a small valley, was completely
devoid of gnoll body parts.
The early morning sun licked my face persistently. This was a sunrise that
did not want to be ignored, so reluctantly I opened my eyes. Stretching out
before our makeshift campsite, was a vast expanse of untamed wilderness,
leading into a dense wood. What was just a small rise from the side we had
come, was in fact a steep slope in front of us. Methusius wasted no time in
going ahead to find a suitable path, while I readied myself and collected
our equipment. He had not been gone long, when a blood-chilling scream
pierced the serenity of the daybreak. It was a scream that would haunt my
nightmares and memories for years to come.
Immediately I broke into a run towards the sound of the voice. Spurred on by
fear and adrenaline, I tore down the slope toward two struggling shapes. One
was the shape of my dear comrade, and the other bore the horrible snake-like
features of a Banelar. By the time I arrived Methusius had already unleashed
a barrage of offensive spells against the Banelar, and grievously wounded
it. However, he was clutching a massive gash on his side that was
spluttering blood. I charged shoulder first into the Banelar, knocking it
off its feet, and slashed at it with all the strength I had. After a few
powerful swings, the horrid body crumpled lifelessly to the ground. Next to
it lay a pale Methusius writhing in agony. The acrid stench of his wounds
made me fear the worst; the deadly poison of a Banelar bite was slowly
coursing through his veins.
"Have strength my dear friend," I assured him, "I have a potion that removes
The moments that followed will live in infamy for all eternity. As I reached
back to where I wore my griffon-hide pack, the shock of realization made me
retch. In my panic stricken state I had left it at the camp site. There was
no time to go back. I had killed my best friend.
With each beat of his weakened heart the poison slowly squeezed the life
from his body. He gasped for air as his lungs collapsed, and then his body
went limp in my arms. I could not express the sorrow that I felt at that
moment with tears, so there were none. I clenched my fists above his corpse
until my palms bled, and I cried out.
"I WILL HAVE MY VENGANCE, BE IT IN THIS LIFE OR THE NEXT!"
I had no illusions about my responsibility for Methusius's death. I had
brought him with me, I had know that he was not as powerful as I was, and I
had not been able to act sensibly when his moment of need arose. In the days
that followed I became bitter and bitter and intrudingly reclusive. My mind
constantly mauling over the mistakes that I made that lead to the tragedy.
Some kind of vile power had awoken in me. Holding a life in my hands became
an addiction; eradicating that life became a pleasure. Each life I took
seemed to justify the death of my comrade in some small way, but with time
it became a sport. The gods of goodness had forsaken me, but the gods of
death and destruction embraced me.
I continued steadily towards the haven of Thanos, never losing sight of my
ultimate goal. Even though the dark souls of the creatures I was to face
were no blacker than my own, the lust for riches and power was irresistible.
After some weeks of travel, I began to sense it drawing near, such evil can
be felt from a great distance. I camped not far from the swamp, on what was
to be my last night above ground. Expectation and excitement removed any
notions of sleeping, so I prepared myself and pressed on through the
The smell of death and decay burned my nostrils, as the entrance to the
swamp flared up in front of me. Pulling a handy wand of invisibility from my
pack, I sank into the world of the unseen. I trudged through the swamp
quickly, not wishing to waste energy on attacking alligators and mosquitoes.
The sound of a powerful waterfall attracted my attention; I was near.
Plummeting down into the depths of the earth, was the waterfall at the
entrance to the catacombs. The darkness below me devoured any flicker of
courage I had left. The image of the loathsome creatures groping out of
their putrid caverns towards me left me stiff with fear. After a long pause,
I plunged into the abode of evil.
Purple text bearing the names of those who had braved these walls hovered
above me. I feebly attempted to gather my wits about me, and a mixture of
faith and blind belief in myself pulled me to my feet. I stumbled over some
stalagmites into a large cavern to the north. The sharp taste of my heart
jumping into my throat inspired a quick retreat. A swirling blackness wafted
through the room. The speed of my exit had left me unnoticed.
Carefully, I worked the seal off a potion of God-like Protection and prepared
for battle. As I moved back to the northern cavern, I shouted the words which
had become my battle-cry; 'Vengeance, in this life or.'
The words drowned in the warm splash of crimson against ancient stone. A
blood curdling death-cry echoed from cavern to cavern, followed by the
constant and rhythmical drip of blood against the cavern floor.
One of The Watchers smirked, "I guess its going to be the next."
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