June 28, 2004
It was quiet and peaceful. The long streets and cozy buildings of the city known as Haven were silent apart from the footfalls of adventurers and the occasional youthful outburst. Most of the instruction of the newbie adventurers was carried out silently - echoing only in the vaults of the mind - perhaps the better to impress the gravity on the sometimes flighty students.
In one of the buildings there hovered a large golden orb with a number etched on it. Obviously magical in nature, this orb hung with no apparent purpose except to be. Suddenly the orb changed. A shimmering light played across the perfect surface. As the light faded, it could be seen that the number had increased by one. The import of this was not readily apparent, however there was a sense of waiting, of anticipation, about the room. Suddenly, in the middle of the room, a mist formed, coalescing finally into the form of a young man. Another adventurer had arrived in the world of Medievia.
The man - only a boy really - was dressed with all the trappings of a mage. Straight from the impractical sandals that clad his feet to the pointy - well, to be frank, rather bent - hat on his head. His physical stature also fit well with the image of the mage. That’s to say he looked like the smallest gust of wind might bowl him over, and climbing two steps to a porch would leave him gasping for breath. On the other hand, the glint of light in his eyes, as well as their rapid flickering to take in his surroundings, seemed to hint at a sharp intellect - if not necessarily indicating wisdom.
The mage looked around and let out a long satisfied sigh. Finally! After years of study and preparation, he was ready to go adventuring for glory and profits… He chuckled - perhaps more for the profits than the glory - but... He stroked his fledgling beard. He wouldn’t mind a little glory - that is if it didn’t cost too much.
Abruptly, a voice seemed to echo within his mind. It identified itself as being Norb the Minotaur and informed him that he was now in Lumond’s Haven for New Adventurers. It also said that this was a safe city. The mage snorted. Safe was not particularly what he was looking for. It went on to tell him about the magic of Medievia, which allowed weaker adventurers to teleport to the city of Medievia or back to this city. Well, the mage thought, that might come in handy at least. It would save him some walking. Hiking had never been one of his favorite activities.
Walking out of the room the mage walked into a room with walls apparently carved from solid rock. On these were stern statues and scowling gargoyles. The mage looked about, disquieted. The gargoyles, although monstrous, were very lifelike. With a shriek, the mage jumped back from the wall he had been examining. The eyes of one of the gargoyles had moved! He stood sweating and tried to remember the words to the spell he had learned, but never actually practiced or used... Before he could try to cast a magic missile, however, a voice came into his head again. He was bid welcome to Medievia by, apparently, the stone gargoyle sitting in front of him. It proclaimed that its name was Aog and that it was the mascot of something called the New Adventurer’s Guild clan, and it invited him to join the clan once he had become a bit more experienced. The mage shook his head. This place of Medievia seemed filled with outlandish things, like telepathic minotaurs and stone gargoyle mascots. He left the room through a door in the north wall, keeping a close eye on the creature.
The mage emerged into one of the central streets of Haven. This street was lined with buildings on both sides. These were well-constructed stone buildings, seemingly mostly public in nature with no private homes in sight. Immediately in front of him was what seemed to be a pub or tavern of some sort. Well, he wasn’t interested in that. Instead he wandered down the street, examining the establishments as he passed by. Eventually, he came to a fountain which seemed to have been carved from a quartz-like substance. It was actually quite beautiful, resembling nothing as much as a waterfall with no support or source. A thing to be admired, the mage decided, not only for its beauty, but also for the ingeniousness of its design. After examining the fountain for a while, the mage became aware that there was a sign placed against its base. Reading the sign, he found that he was allowed to drink from the fountain. He also learned other useful information. He found that there was something called a guide, apparently a magical creation which would guide him to various locations in the city. Among these were something called a donation room. That sounded interesting - as long as he was not asked to actually donate something of course!
Utilising the guide the mage soon found his way to this donation room. And what a storehouse of treasure it was! And all of it free! The mage soon found himself outfitted with many strange but useful things, most magical in nature. Finally he decided that he was well enough equipped. He had learned that, unfortunately, items which had been donated could not be traded for money so there was no point in hoarding these items. Now he needed to find someone to gain gold. He would have to accomplish tasks for that; by force, if necessary. First, though, he realized he needed to practice his few spells. He did not want to find himself in the situation he had faced with that gargoyle!
Finding further information the mage learned that he needed to go to the guild of mages in the City of Medievia. Traveling there by magical means was easy, although the imp accomplishing this task was not as polite as it might have been. After spending some time at his guild practicing his spells, the mage was finally ready to take on the challenges of the City of Medievia. From what he had seen it was a splendid place, teeming with life and ripe with people who could be plucked for valuables.
Days went by in the city; days of plunder and, sad to say, outright murder. The mage became fairly adept at flinging magical missiles into unsuspecting innocents. He did this away from the eyes of the law of course. The guards looked too tough to handle safely, but as long as he remained clever about it, he could increase his strength and experience - and earn a pretty penny besides...
Eventually, he heard of a place where he might earn greater spoils yet. As skilled as he had become, the ordinary people encountered in the city were just not profitable enough. But he had heard of a place - the city graveyard - where he believed he might earn a more fitting tribute to his prowess. If nothing else, he thought, perhaps the graves would contain something worth his while.
And so off he went traveling out to the graveyard, which lay just outside the city gates. Eventually he came to the large iron gate leading into the graveyard. He opened them with a small amount of trepidation. The stories he had heard mentioned certain vile beasts that might haunt the graves, but he shrugged this off. Wasn’t he a great mage? He had added considerably to his repertoire of spells, and he was devious in their employment. He ventured inside, peering about for any sign of monsters or wealth. Either would work for him.
Suddenly, there appeared in front of him a most gruesome sight! It appeared to have once been a man, but now there seemed to be only the rotting remains left. Pus came from black, open sores, oozing over strips of flesh that hung from the skeletal frame of the thing. And the stench! It smelled as if... as if he were standing in front of an open grave. Keeping his composure, and his lunch, he managed to stammer out the arcane words to one of his better spells. Then as the thing lumbered within reach he reluctantly grabbed at it sending waves of chilling force throughout it. It screamed! It wasn’t done for yet, although it seemed a little weakened by the spell. It attempted to grapple with him, and he stammered out the words again, trying to retain his grip on the slippery skin of the thing. The fight seemed to last for a horrifying eternity, even if, in truth, it could only have lasted minutes. Eventually, though, the thing lay dead. The mage was badly shaken. He had only minor wounds, and he did not think he had become infected from its noisome grip, but the sheer terror of the moment, and the disgusting nature of his assailant, was nearly too much for the mage. He was the hunter, not the hunted! And to top it off, the thing didn’t even have much in the way of loot! This place was perhaps not what he had wanted. Still, he spent some time there. No use, after all, in walking away from potential profit! Also, from now on he would be sure to employ his spell of invisibility. It had allowed him to sneak up on unwary victims before...
Eventually, it all became a bit much though: all the filth and the disgusting monsters of the graveyard, and very little loot. After one decidedly disgusting encounter, he retreated to the nearby church to think on his situation. At least here it was clean, and the people here were not trying to kill him. As he sat in the pews and reflected, a young man came up to him carrying a collection plate. It was invisible, but the mage had learned how to detect the invisible, and cast the spell frequently so that no loot would escape him. The boy asked if he would like to make a donation to the church. The mage sneered at the young man. Of course he would not! Donate his hard come by gold? Ridiculous! The boy walked on with a disappointed look on his face. The mage fumed quietly. To approached by such a... But wait! There had been coins in that plate, and this church was so much nicer than the graveyard... Well, well, well. Maybe this church had potential. The mage chuckled, stood, and cast his spell of invisibility.
Thus invisible, the mage spent days stalking church workers, monks, and churchgoers, becoming visible only once his magical attacks were well under way. This earned him quite a lot of money and experience. Invisible, he overheard the people in the church speak of the rash of killings. The monks spoke of how the soul of such a killer must surely be in danger of eternal damnation. The mage just sneered at such. He didn’t plan on dying anyway.
One day the mage, while wandering the halls of the church, felt sort of peckish. A little food might be in order. He searched his bags, but discovered that he had run out of provisions. Well going back to either the City of Medievia or that of Haven to buy food was just such a bother. Still, the church had a kitchen, didn’t it? He had never been there, but surely there could be no danger in a kitchen. After all, the monks with their clerical spells were no match for him so surely some mere cook would be no problem. So thinking, he wandered, invisible, into the kitchen and looked around appreciatively. Now to find some... Oofff! The mage had the wind knocked out of him. A skinny little boy had just run full pelt into him. The little annoying pest! The boy was looking around in confusion, but seeing nothing, appeared to assume he had merely hit the wall. The mage was furious. He prepared his most deadly spell and lunged at the boy. The boy screamed as his body was racked by the destructive magic! He turned on the now-visible mage, who was already anticipating the boy's death moan. The boy leaned back a little and kicked the mage in the head! Reeling from the pain, the mage could not even see the blows the boy rained down on him. He tried a few more spells, but all to quickly, everything started going black... He could not believe it. A mere boy!
The pain was excruciating. Eventually though his spirit wrenched itself free from his body and started to float. Freedom at last! But what was this? Some sinister looking man appeared and started messing about with his corpse! He disappeared, eventually, but returned again a little later and did something horrible. After this defilement, the mage found himself back in his body, but undead... He was now a shambling rotting mess like the one he had encountered in the graveyard! Was this how his existence was to end? As this disgusting thing? But wait... He had heard that there was something - someone had said that the undead could pray. Could go to a holy place and pray for their restoration? The altar! That must be a holy place! But to go there, to be in front of the people of the church like this! Worse - would the higher powers hear him? What if his soul was truly damned? He moaned in agony. He had to try, though. It was either that or live like this…
Eventually, the undead corpse that used to be the mage found itself in front
of the altar. It prayed fervently, and was informed that it must stay in perdition
for some time yet! It promised to behave crying piteously it swore ... and waited.
Then kneeling in homage, it prayed again after the appointed time. A miracle!
The mage was restored! He was weak, but he was once more himself… He looked
at the altar, the altar in the church he had befouled, and he swore to do good
with this his second chance.
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