July 14th, 2001
One Last Stand - by Ratarko
Ratarko looked at the doctor. He put his head in his hands. "It's one
hundred percent fatal, isn't it. I won't just become a corpse, and
come back, will I." he stated, not looking up.
Quota didn't say a thing. He went back to look at the paperwork. This
hadn't been easy work, taking on the job of doctor along with his
religious practice in New Ashton
"Hrumph." Ratarko looked up. "Is there a cure, or some bit of magic
that can help me? There has to be something." He wrung his hands.
Quota shook his head. "There's no cure, and no magic known that can
help you. We do have herbs that can slow down the process, but that is
all at this time." He pulled out a quill, and wrote on a piece of
paper. "Here is an address in Trellor. There you can meet with others who
also have your disease. It might not hurt for you to be with those who
really understand what you're going through."
Ratarko took the paper in a shaky hand. He stood, and walked out.
Ratarka and Raticus cried when they heard the news. His mother cried,
his family cried, his friends cried. Even his enemies were saddened,
as he had been around for so long. They knew things wouldn't be the
same without him.
He explained that what he suffered was a disease of the blood, that it
made him unable to fight off the poison of the banelar, the plagues of
enemy casters, or the diseases carried by any other creature. He was
destined to waste away, to die not on the battlefield which he called
home, but in a sickbed, hidden away from the world.
The world was very different for our favorite dwarf from that point on.
He looked upon life as if he was separate from it, and saw then what
was really important, and what wasn't. He was in shock of all the time
he spent on one goal or another, goals that really mattered very little
in the scheme of things, but which seemed so important at the time.
Things would never be the same.
He had to tell all the women that he loved, for they were at risk. He
suggested that they meet with Quota, and be tested.
Ratarko spent the next several years with his children. He watched his
grandchildren be born, and he told stories to them by the firelight.
He told of the great ones that were old when he started his own
adventures, such as Karamon, and Oakland. He told tales of Nightmare,
Barnwulf, and Core; recounted legends of his friends Zark, Beekay, Sedona,
Forge, and many others.
He cried sometimes, when alone. He didn't want to give up on this
life, he still had so much longer to go. He was much thinner now, and the
colds and flus were lasting longer and longer. He looked gaunt, and
lesions were evident upon his skin. He looked so different from when he
wandered the world, in search of adventure.
One night, he decided that he would no longer waste away in his bed,
crying himself to sleep. Wearily, he stood, and opened the chest
adjacent to his bed. He removed from it his equipment - his sword, his armor,
his spell components... his pride and joy, his Diamond Orb of Tyche,
which had he received as a gift from his friend Beekay oh so many years
He donned his armor, polished his sword, lit his Orb, and opened the
front door. He could hardly support the weight of his belongings, but he
Stumbling out into the street, he managed to get himself to the
stables. Our good friend Ratarko purchased the finest steed he could afford,
and mounted it with the help of the stable boy, who was hesitant to
Ratarko had had this happen before. People were scared of him,
thinking that just being near him, breathing the same air as he, that they too
would contract this horrible illness. Qota had insisted that this was
not so, that the only way it could be transferred would be if bodily
fluids were exchanged, such as blood.
He didn't acknowledge the stable boy's fear. This wasn't his time.
This was Ratarko's time. Whipping the horse's flank, he galloped through
the streets, and out the eastern gate.
It didn't take long to find what he was looking for. About two hours
east, Ratarko came across a group of trolls, going through a wagon that
they had obviously stolen. It took them a moment to realize that he
was there, and in that time, the dwarf was upon them.
CLANG went the strike of steel upon steel, as the battle ensued.
Troll after troll dropped like trees felled in a forest, the light in
their eyes dying as a torch in water. The battle raged on for over an
hour, until the end was nigh upon the combatants.
A troll, warrior by trade, managed to evade the sword swings, and close
in on Ratarko who's blows were weakening with every strike. Grabbing
the rider's leg, the troll pulled him down from his horse, and stabbed
him through the chest with one mighty thrust. Standing, the troll
backed off, looking around to see how many of his brothers survived the
Seeing only sky above him, Ratarko smiled, as blood began to escape
from his parted lips. The sky seemed beautiful, so beautiful. He
whispered his children's names, and closed his eyes, falling asleep for the
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