Tales of Tadeusz

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tennessee Writer: A Parody of Bad Fantasy

The Epic Quest of Trilogia
By Eric R. Ashley
Other than the fact that I was left at the door of the monastery, the very night before, well, I cannot say it. It is too horrible. But on this night devoted to darke deeds and toothsome travails, and filled with unspeakable and unmentionable horrors such as peasant wenches from the Bar Maids Union having their throats ripped out on the King’s Highway by the light of a full moon, my swaddled self was placed on the very step where the kind and noble monk Sylvester was to see me in the morning.
Now, I was a stout sort of fellow, always have been, and a little frost did not bother me. Indeed, I slept the night away, and when Monk Sylvester Bara Mi’onk il li thuin got up to worship the Goddess of the Dawn, he was rubbing his eyes as he stepped out, and thus he tripped over me, and fell straight down the flight of stairs outside his room. Cartwheeling down the stairs, he had a moment of what I must call human weakness, for he bespoke a curse on whomever had tripped him.
And then he broke his neck upon impact at the bottom of the valley, nearly three hundred feet away. The dying curses of the Monks of Iyama are of great power, and so it was that not only was I deposited on an ill night foretold by storytellers with great enthusiasm and macabre laughs, but my first morning, I killed a good and kindly man.
I was a murderer. Naturally, the holy monks could not take me in, although they did accept custody of an item which I had with me.
To be claimed upon maturity: One gold chaised silver blade, unbreakable and unmeltable two-handed great longsword, weight seventeen pounds, length, nine feet. The receipt, printed on a pink slip of paper said, and I treasured it for this was the only clue to my real identity. Other than that, I could not read, but I had learned to spell out these words, and no more.
So, they took me to a farm family, and here I must pause. For you see, I have managed to save the world, and defeat the supreme bad guy (of which more later), but it has had some costs. I detailed my childhood in Book the First of my life, using a magic gem which I talked to, and it transcribed the strange symbols on to a piece of this strange, thin substance that Wandering Master left me. Actually, he left me a lot of them, but most of them I used up as tinder during the horrible winter of the Night’s Deragon.
During that winter, a rogue deragon had gotten loose, and the King, Harold the Hardy was unaccountably stricken down with chronic fatigue syndrome. So with an out of control and malevolent deragon on the loose, as if there were any other kind…
Pardon me, but I feel as if I ought to explain what a deragon is even though everyone in my kingdom of Trilogia would well know this. Small bats fly through the night looking for sherep, a white, wooly, and utterly stupid beast who makes no other appearance in the story, to drink the blood from, and sup. However, some sherep are not sherep. Instead, they are Demonkind taking the form of a sherep. And once the innocent, if vilely bloodthirsty creature takes a drink, it is infected with Messenger RNA of a Demon from the 22nd Plane of the Abyss.
It then grows, expands, eats a whole lot of stuff, and in the space of two weeks is over fifty feet long with gigantic bat wings, and a severe case of halitosis. And I don’t mean ‘halotoes-is’ which is what happens when a saintly person gets their halo wrapped around their toes.
These Deragons can fly, and they breathe Abyssal not-fire. For a flicker of eternity, the space of what one could imagine was a cone of fire from their mouths, if any such thing existed in Trilogia, is replaced with Abyssal cold and hunger. A rogue Deragon who frequently uses this power is enough to throw off the balance of nature, and thus kill some of the lesser deities.
Well, with minor deities falling off the Holy Calendar, right, left, and twixtwards, something had to be done. I kept on feeding the sheets of paper into the fire, trying to keep my nineteen adopted brothers and sisters alive while “Father” slept off his drunk with an all-too-willing applicant for membership in the Bar Maids Union. To this point, I had saved my first fifty pages of life, but on that cold winter night, I knew what I had to do.
Not to bother, other than my remarkable entrance into the world, and this unseemly cold thirteen years later, nothing of great note had happened in my life. I raised my brothers and sisters, milked cows, flirted with girls (okay, thought about smiling at them, but stuttered instead), and had an utterly unremarkable life in the little farm valley of Farland. So it was a round of pointless drudgery and good high spirits I fed into the fire.
That morning, which dawned cold and gleaming like a unicorn’s horn, a booming knock smashed me awake, and got the others to murmur in their sleep around me. For we had curled up like kittens before the fireplace. Father woke up enough to open one eye, find me, and grunt.
“Tell the bill collectors I’m not here.” Then he went back to sleep with an arm on the rump of a blonde girl.
I went to the door, and saw instead of Alisterion de Coultrand the Bill Collector (a former noble fallen upon hard times due to his proficiency, or lack thereof one might say at gambling) that it was, gasp, the Wandering Master! He stood tall, lean, and wrinkled with a mud-stained robe (by which I knew he must have teleported for we only had snow hereabouts.) His staff was loaded down with the skulls of all the stupid young wizards that had challenged him to duels. They talked to him at times, telling him dreadful secrets like the way he really looked after he got cleaned up to impress a young Queen in need of a Court Wizard, or even a Jester.
I opened the door with great gladness.
“You are not supposed to be here. You are supposed to be in Highaveir!” He growled at me, and for a long moment I was truly frightened.
“Why?” I bleated.
“Can’t say, kid. But its mondo important, or do you think I would have teleported from the far side of the planet to see you just for grins?”
“Um, I don’t know. You never explain why you do anything.” I pointed out reasonably.
“Very true.” He paused. “There is a prophecy about ‘The One’ who will save the world, or destroy it. I cannot explain further simply to say that it is real important for you to be in Highaveir, right now.”
“But, they will freeze…” I said flinging an arm back inside toward the kids.
His face softened from its unyielding stern expression, and for a second I thought I saw gleaming lights in his eyes, and something like superhuman compassion. He tapped his staff on the ground, and the whole valley rocked.
I looked back, and the nineteen children were all solid stone, caught in repose in the midst of our one-room cabin. Except for Hugo who had gotten up in the corner to pee in the chamber pot. He still moved, although slowly.
“Bother.” The Wandering Master muttered. “We will have to take him with us.”
He tapped his staff on the ground again, and a hole opened up under our feet, and reached out toward Hugo who tried to run away, but so slowly. It caught him, and we all plummeted toward the center of the Earth. Stone walls rushed by us, only lit by the gem on top of the Master’s staff, and we were silent except for the heads who kept yacking the entire time.
And then we popped up out of the ground in front of a seller of meat. Nearly a foot thick of manure mixed with mud lay on the streets, and suffice it to say that my life as a farmhand had not prepared me for such concentrated stink. Flies buzzed about the meat on its cart, and checked out the ground as well, debating one assumes in fly speak as to which was more tasty.
Above me, the golden towers of Highaveir gleamed in the gladsome sunlight. It felt…horrible. I mean it was beautiful, except for the mud, but the heat. Oh, the heat drove my body into a state of wildness. Mirages wavered before my eyes, and suddenly I fell over, face forward, and knew no more.
In a daze, I heard a Voice.
The One, The One, he will save the Land.
And then I awoke. I lay upon a bed, and across the room there primped a beautiful girl, with silk pantaloons, and a fine hat nearly as wide as my shoulders (and since I am at thirteen bigger than most full-grown men, you understand, I am sure that it was a really, big hat!) She squeaked when I murmured for water, and fluttering about finally mustered the cool to go order a servant to fetch water.
It turned out that she was the Crown Princess of Highaveir. Once, she had heard that I was coming to the Big City, to see the lights, and slay the Deragon, she had determined to come talk to me.
“But now that I see you, so handsome, so cute, I can hardly ask you to risk your life for little ol’ me.” She flickered her eyelashes, and I saw those green eyes, and my heart did strange things in my chest.
“I’ll help you, Princess, of course, I will.” I declared stoutly figuring that nothing could be worse than having to change eight diapers at the same time.
“It’s my Father, the King. Of course he’s not really my father, but my adopted father for do I look a Halfling?” She twirled about in her silk pantaloons while I admired her figure, and tried to understand.
“Harold the Hardy is a Halfling! Hunh? Howzat happen, Helen?” For the name of the girl was Princess Helen.
“Harold the Hardy he is indeed. He is hardy at the dinner table, never needing to chew mint leaves, or anything to settle his stomach before heading back for a dessert. A marvelous asset in court politics, but not so good in fighting Deragons.”
The disappointment was shattering. All the posters, the commemorative coins, the baked pottery showed a heroic, lean-jawed, trim-waisted man. A powerful, but a bit slow, and definitely good-hearted warrior. Not a four foot tall ball of fat with an iron stomach! My eyes filled with tears at the disillusionment.
The Princess’ eyes softened as she saw my pain. I stumbled to my feet, leaning against her, and smelling the Aphrodite flower that only grows in the far south, and never survives transport to the north where I had lived. Feeling each swelling breath helped me put aside the pain, and realize there were brighter days ahead.
“My stepfather was the man you saw on the coins, but then an evil magician came and distorted him, put him under a fowl curse.” She wept, and I saw the tears trickle off her perfect lashes, and loved her more for her kindness to one not of her blood.
“Foul curse?” I asked.
“No, fowl curse.”
“Foul?” I did not understand.
“Fowl!” She clucked out in her fury. “Made him chicken-hearted.”
“Well then, I will help you rescue him, Princess.”
“Oh, would you?” She brightened immensely. And then she produced from inside her velvet cloak my nine foot long silver bladed and gold-chaised two-handed great longsword. I yearned to pick it up for this was how I had seen it many times in my daydreams. Me, striding off to danger with a Princess’ kisses burning on my cheek with the giant seventeen pound sword in my right fist, and a giant shield composed of a sea turtle’s shell in the other hand. Unfortunately, I hadn’t yet met a sea turtle of any kind, but two out of three was not bad. I reached for the sword, still leaning on the Princess, and the door opened with a blast of cold wind.
In step the most astonishing woman I had ever seen. You have to understand, I was raised in a family with, well, untraditional morals. “Father” slept with whatever bimbo he could con into coming home with him that night. But still, they wore clothing that covered them up decently. This girl had on a slip of chain mail across her breasts, and one more between her legs, and nothing else but a cloak, and some arm bands. Oh, yes, she wore a thin sword hung from a silk rope about her hourglass waist.
She was slightly older than the Princess, but still a treat for the eyes. With my mouth open, I blinked at her.
“You, Princess!” She barked.
“My chaperone.” The Princess murmured, and already I could tell that despite this woman’s clothing style which I approved of heartily on the one hand, and abominated on the other (and wouldn’t my mind make itself up already!), that her attitude was not nearly as sweet at the Princess’.
“You’re leaning on a man. A woman is fully capable of defending herself. If you’re worried about your stepfather, then why not solve the problem yourself.”
The Princess sputtered, and I came to her rescue against this one hundred fifteen pounds of fighting fury. From my superior height, and weight, I loftily informed her that I would handle that particular detail. The Princess gave me a melting look which infuriated the Bikini Chaperone Amazon (which was a doll my younger sisters had fought over playing with…evidently it had been based on a real person. Go figure.)
So she flicked her thin sword blade out, and pointed it directly at my private area.
I had never had a woman get remotely that intimate with me before, and yet I did not find it a pleasant experience at all. This Amazon held a long, thin blade with a terribly sharp point right where it hovered about two inches from my groin.
“Men are useless.” The Amazon said, and then gave me a false smile. “Aren’t they, you great big pile of idiot muscles?”
I nodded in frantic agreement. She moved the sword in closer so that it rested on my linsey-woolsey farmer’s trousers. My throat was closing in on me, and I found it hard to breathe. My big hands flickered helplessly. She had all the cards, and she knew it.
“Tell me, are you going to treat women as equals to men, now?” I started to say yes, for at this point, I would have agreed to anything she wanted. Then I saw the bright red gem, not a ruby, but a flamestone wink, and then gleam as mana powered its magik. A compulsion stone. Mentally, I did not take the time to even shrug.
“Yes, ma’am. I will indeed.”
She smirked, and flourished her sword in front of my face, and then seated the three foot long blade in her long sheathe that swung out back of her.
“Men can be trained. It just takes a firm hand. Now he will be enlightened. Before, he had been trained to function in a patriarchy, but now I have made him able to function in a civilized society.”
She went on for some time, talking about how useful I could now be, and how clever she was, and I regathered my breath. Meanwhile, my Princess gave me a disappointed look or two, and then pretended to enjoy listening to the Bikini Amazon’s lecture.
I flexed my hands which finally felt normal. I looked at the Amazon. I closed my hand. I hit her. Right on the top of the cheekbone, and as hard as I could. A right jab, and as she stumbled, was propelled away, I followed it up with a left hook to the point of her cute chin. She did not even see it coming, I think because my first punch had dazed her.
The Amazon flailed back against the tapestried wall of the room, and I closed. With my face in hers, I slammed a right, and a left, and then another right to the body. Ribs broke under my hands, and she looked at me in utter shock, and agony. Then she began to so slowly that a child could have caught her, reach over for the blade that had bedeviled me.
I took her hand in my big left hand, and crumpled the wrist. Then I stepped back, measuring her for the final blow to be followed by several kicks in the ribs.
“Stop!” The Princess yelled. “You’ll kill her.”
I looked at the Princess, and saw that this was actually important to her, and held my hand. Or I tried to, but I could not. It came forward, and only a last second application of the will saved the Amazon, all one hundred fifteen pounds of fighting fury from being slammed by a farm boy who had one-handed tossed bales of hay up into the barns of more prosperous neighbors. Instead, the punch skimmed her left cheek bone, dazing her again, which was a mercy considering the pain she must be in.
“I can’t. I’m trying, but I have to treat her exactly like I would treat a man who held a knife to me like that.” And truly, a man might well survive a beating like this, but not pipestem warrior, she was doomed. They would have to send her body to the Forrest of the Doom of Men where all the bikini chicks hung out.
As I struggled futilely with my arm, watching it draw back, the Princess gasped.
“Oh!” And she darted forward, and jerked off the left arm band, the one that had glimmered with Power, and she dashed it to the stone paving of the room.
The hold over me was released, as the armband, a fragile piece of wire and gem exploded with light, but no sound. I collapsed to the floor, thankful not to have killed a girl, even if she was an idiot. The Amazon slid boneless down the wall, and began to snore.
After the Princess checked her out, and removed her other arm band, she turned to me. She then kissed me on the lips, and what strength was left in my body after the adrenalin crash succeeding combat left me. I fell to my back on the floor, and somehow took the Princess with me so that she landed stretched out atop me.
Somehow, she seemed to think this was my plan, but it was a total accident. I swear. Anyways, she felt more than nice, she felt awe strikingly wonderful on my chest, and so on. And breathing the scent of her skin was pretty sweet as well. The way her eyes glowed let me know that the feeling was mutual, although perhaps not the smell factor.
She got up, scrunching up her nose. Her hands went to her hips.
“What is that smell? Sheep? You are going to need a bath.”
I shrugged in easy acceptance, and rolled up to my seat. From there, I stood with the aid of one brawny arm.
“I am a farm boy. Of mysterious parentage. Baths were usually in the stream, or in the horse trough.”
“Oh.” She thought for a second. “Well then…” She began slowly, not wanting to offend.
“I would gladly dive in a bath of hot lava for you.”
“OH.” She blushed, looked me in the eyes to measure my seriousness, and then blushed again.
We stood there for a few moments as the connection sank in. And she muttered something about this being a far more satisfactory control technique for the masculine half of the species than a geas spell. But that was too many big words for me, and I shrugged.
“An evil magician, my sword, uh anything you need to tell me before I go and rescue your stepfather.”
“Rather a lot, dear.” She said, and headed for a room divider, which was something I had never seen before. She kept talking on the other side as she changed. Occasionally, I could see her hair which she had pinned up, and to keep myself from sprinting over there to see details I was not meant too, I collapsed into an overstuffed chair.
“You remember that an evil magician changed my stepfather to a chicken-heart? Well, the same magician also commanded the king, for the good of the realm to send his son off to be raised by monks.”
A chill ran down my back. Could it be? No, it was impossible.
“I tracked this down, and found the monks had the most darling sword. Which they would not sell. In fact, they seemed to be in the midst of trying to melt it down again to make into coinage. Now obviously, anyone with that little appreciation for art did not need it.”
She paused, and I agreed with her. I would have agreed with her about anything.
“So I had the order banned, and all their goods attached, and sent to me by ethereal mail. They claimed this was dangerous, and that their place held defenses against letting out Demons, but I foolishly did not believe them.”
She came out from behind the divider in a confection of yellow silk that glowed in the candlelight, and drooped off her shoulders so that I wondered how it held up, and her already beautiful figure seemed if anything more perfect than before. I gulped. The Princess seemed satisfied with the effect even though I had not offered her one of those flowery compliments the knights always offer to the lady of love in the stories. I guess that means this is real life.
The Princess came toward me, and stepped over, I think, the Amazon although the woman groaned suddenly, and Helen kneeled to me as I leaned forward in the chair.
“I was foolish, so foolish. My actions made it possible for the Deragon to be born, and caused great suffering across the land. And no hero would go forth to die honorably and inspire others to do likewise until the Deragon was destroyed. But I found the sword of the Hero who will enable the destruction of the Deragon.”
And she handed me the blade. Nine feet long, seventeen pounds of silver and gold with gems winking at me from the hilt. It felt light as a feather in my good right hand, for I am a bit stronger than ordinary men. It was designed to be used as a two-handed sword, but for me, it was a one-hander.
“And here. My chaperone often used this, but since you defeated her, and rescued the princess, I think you deserve it.” She placed the armband around my bicep, and then with one finger she stroked it.
Suddenly, I had the outer shell of a gigantic sea turtle strapped to my arm. I laughed in wonder at this. All my dreams were to come true. The only problem was that every story I had heard had like the first dozen knights going up against a deragon dying horribly. Oh well, I would make a first.
We walked to the door, after sharing a deep, and tender kiss. I opened the door, and stepped outside. Two guardsmen, asleep, stood there. I bashed their helmets, and left them in a deeper slumber. Down the hallway we went.
I strode down the curving staircase around the tower with seagulls flying outside which I bespied through the open windows. Guards started coming up, with weapons drawn, and unfortunately, I had to kill them. So I sat to work with a will. None could even come close to my blade, such was its reach.
And despite the several dozen I slew with great slashing and smashing of armour, I barely felt the tiredness. There is something to be said for working a whole day in the hot Augustus sun tossing hay bales around. But, at one point, my sword caught in the enemy’s chest, and his wounded body closed its muscles tight around the blade seeking to forbid blood loss, and further harm. Even yanking the blade back, with a moment to blow a kiss at the Princess did no good as the stubborn fellow’s body would not let go.
Thus encumbered, I saw another bold guard dash upward like a sprinter, and seek to run me through with a spear. If not for the great sea turtle armour, I would surely have been done for. Instead, I crouched, and thrust the shield into his face, and flung him back down the steps, also shattering his spear haft in the original calamity. Then more calmly, I booted the stubborn one from my blade with an apology to the brave opponent.
Which he accepted, and then died.
I looked to my arm, not for the new armband, but for the old one that I had always had. It glowed green, which was a good sign. The magik tested one’s hit points, and let you know how close to death you were. If it turned red, it was wise to flee with all possible haste. Evidently, I had not been seriously hurt.
We continued, making havoc until the bottom of the tower. And then it was come into more open space. The room outside the throne room was filled with courtiers holding thin blades with no cutting edge. It baffled me it did.
I had no clue how to fight a man with a thin blade. But there was no need. My Princess stepped alongside me, and spoke Words of Power.
“Arc Voltage Watt!” She cried, and lightning flared from her outstretched and quite lovely fingers. The spitting fury lanced outward, landed in the chest of the first in our path, and from there jumped to each and every one in the room who was holding steel and barring our path. Smoke drifted upwards afterwards, and the smell of dozens of carbonized bodies sickened me with its resemblance to pig roasts.
Nevertheless, we went on. Up to the giant doors with the magic red eye above them which caused the two story tall plates of maple, with a nice red varnish to swim open, and admit us to our destiny.
Here you will fulfill the Prophecy. The Voice sounded in my head.
Beyond the doors, lay the throne room. It was massive, huge, gigantic even. The rafters were so far above us in the dimness that they were only a faint suggestion of beams rather than hard-edged exemplars of resolute labor. In fact, I thought the top of the throne room might be above the height of its towers.
In the center of the room was a round table, at which reclined the king. On the table, a full host of foods waited for the enticement of the King. Even from here, I could see the kindness, and the family resemblance. This was my father, cruelly distorted by a bird-en laid on him by evil magic.
And beside him sat, at ease, the Wandering Master. My whole world collapsed. I sagged to my knees.
“Noooo!” I think I shouted, but I could not tell. For I suddenly knew that the Wandering Master was the Evil Magician. My own mentor, a vastly powerful wizard, was in the service of Darkness.
With the Princess looking at me strangely from the corner of her eye, I regained my feet. Fury settled into my bones, and I began sprinting across the throne room floor with my sword held out high above my head.
I was screaming my war cry, which I won’t tell you because its something that sounds really silly in the telling, although when screamed by an insane man with nine feet of naked steel in his hand, it still sounds silly, but in a really scary way. Seeming to drift across the floor, I found myself remembering all the good things the Wandering Master had done for me, but in the end, I had to do the right thing, and make the sacrifice.
So I sunk the sword into his chest, and the blade ran out the back, and through his chair. Then sobbing, I let it go for I knew that when I withdrew it that he would die. For I had struck true.
“Don’t weep, my hero. Please.” The Wandering Master spoke soft, kind, and reassuring. I looked up in utter astonishment. First at his graciousness, and second that he was even able to talk.
He sat there, still pinned by the blade like a butterfly on a spike like those sicko “scientists” who had come “collecting” by the village. We villagers had shown them, those that survived, what we thought of such sadism. Impaling them on a stake had been rejected as too mean, but a good fire was a nice compromise. Of course, we only got two of the ones we captured, with the last escaping, but no matter.
I looked to the King to see his response, but nothing. He had not moved a muscle since I started charging. Feeling fearful, I turned to look back at the Princess who was caught in the act of flinging a giant ball of flame at the Evil Wizard. But the flame and the Princess were still.
“What magic is this? I’ve never heard of such.”
“I’ve Paused the Universe, my boy.” The Wandering Master replied.
“Okay, I think I might could get an explanation now, perhaps?” I was bluffing because I knew the Wandering Master held secrets like no one else, even for the most trivial of reasons. One time he had confessed to me that he withheld secrets that did not need to be kept so just as practice.
“Yes, I think it is that time. Let me tell you of your true origins, my boy.”
“I am not your boy. I am the son of the king. The one you spelled.”
“Well yes, and no.”
“Which? Boy, or bespell?” I replied not sure if he was sorta affirming, sorta denying my parentage, or that he had spelled the king.
“Sigh. Look boy, be quiet. You are the son of the king, sorta. Yes, I spelled the king, but for his own good, and besides he rather enjoys it better this way.”
“Being a coward? I think not.”
“Not everyone is a stone hero like you, or like…me.” He said with some private significance.
“I’m nothing like you.” I declared with bitter vehemence.“No?” He laughed at some secret joke. “If you will be still, I will try to explain.”
He waited until I nodded.
“A long time ago, or just yesterday. Time is odd that way, a boy grew up, and became a very good computer gamer. He designed, and he gamed. But what he found out was that his design was really of a different place. He was transcribing the details of a different world.”
“So you come from some other universe. Fine.”
“Yes. Earth.” He paused, and scratched his chest where I had pierced his heart. “Anyways. He wrote himself a backdoor into the code, and used it to enter himself into the other world. Once there, he realized his mistake. The other world was a creation of his dreams, and now that he was here, he was sucking up the energy of the other world, destroying it, and after it died, he would die.”
“My heart bleeds for you.” I said coldly. “No wait, it doesn’t, but yours will…shortly.”
“Have you ever wondered why a knight practices for years, and even decades when an apprentice wizard with perhaps three months training can easily defeat one. And a moderately skilled wizard can defeat armies? I’ll tell you why. Because when I wrote the world, the game, I was a techno geek with no skill at swords, and I wanted a quick route to power. Realistically, everyone would be a mage, and no one would be a knight, but I forbad that with my power as a SysAdmin.”
Oddly enough, what he was saying made sense. There were aspects of the world that made no sense whatsoever. But then that made him not just the world’s greatest wizard, but the Creator as well. Impossible. But then I remembered a glint of superhuman compassion in his eyes as he stoned my relatives.
Okay, maybe not impossible.
“I need magic, magic of a mighty order, magic surpassing anything I had designed in the game, but consistent, at least somewhat with the precedents. So I took my earlier self…”
“I thought you said your earlier self was in another universe.” I interrupted. Already, I felt smarter.
“Yes, okay, it wasn’t fully consistent, but it was close enough. My existence here implied the possibility of my earlier existence here, and that was enough for the universe. I took my earlier self and using King Harold the Hardy as my template made a baby, a clone as it were, but with my mentality.”
“So he’s like my father, but not exactly. Ok. Hey, why are you treating him so mean?”
“I’m not. He likes it, but mostly its because I like him. He was my first character from an earlier version of the game which was more realistic in that mages usually got killed by swordfighters unless the mages had a lot of distance or time. Then mages rocked. So he was heroically brave, and when the Deragon showed up, the harbinger of the entropic end of the world, he would have gone out and died.”
“Why is that?” I asked curiously. “I mean every story I’ve heard has the knights dying like flies against Deragons.”
“There is only one Deragon, ever, but yes. Lets just say, I had a particularly vicious brainstorm right before I ported myself over. And I ‘ve cursed myself for it many times. That sword you carry you will not use in battle against the Deragon.”
I cursed in reply. After finishing him off, I meant to get another smooch in, say hi to the King, and head out on the biggest plowhorse in the city to find the monster. And then I would probably die.
“Each knight that goes forth is a willing sacrifice, and that is Magik. Mana. Power. A dozen knights is just enough to gather the requisite Magik for the wizard to clothe the Lucky Thirteenth with a strong enough shield spell to stand against the Deragon. That sword you stuck in me is a fine channel for sacrificial energy.”
Feeling creeped out, I realized my hand was resting on the hilt which I had not planned for. I tried to remove it, but it would not move. I struggled, but with no effect. It was like trying to shove a cliff.
“Those knights go forth, once a century, and provide life for another century. But there comes a time, the End of the World to be exact when that is not enough. And the Creator and the One who loves him most in the World must sacrifice.”
“But if God dies…”
“The world, or at least the outer substrate we call Reality, ends. However, you empowered by my and your sacrifice, will have more than enough power to recreate the world. And to reincarnate me as a small baby, and yourself as the mightiest wizard of the age.
You will have to live for centuries until, King Harold is reborn, grows up, and a body clone of him is born.”
“But the Princess…” I moaned.
“Mightiest wizard of the age. Time traveling is very simple spell. Level four to be exact. So is immortality gift to make her immortal. Or you can simply recreate her as immortal when you recreate the universe.”
“Oh.” I said softly.
He nodded, and unpaused the Universe. I faced the Deragon. With so much power filling me that it gushed out of my nose, I swung the sword, and spoke words of power caging entropy for another thousand years. And then the world, I remade it.
There was little I would change. The only thing I made different was I turned Hugo, the half-stoned kid into a full stone troll which he would enjoy. And my “mother“, who had put up with “father’s” antics, I gave her a marriage to a rich count. And then I returned to my body, and ducked.
The fireball sailed over my head, and incinerated the dead body of the Wandering Master. Meanwhile, I was aware that thirteen years previous, a young boy sucked his thumb on a cold stone mantel, and that a monk’s dying curse had been met.
“You will all be utterly destroyed.”
A few quick flickers of my fingers, and the Princess saw an illusion of Harold strong and free of the “curse”. And then “unexplained side effects of the wizard’s passing” threw open a gate, and thrust me and her through it and deep into the past. It also made her immortal.
So alone with her, I faced a dark wood, and with deliberation cast another spell. Not for ninety-nine years would I recall my powers. Instead, I would be the farm boy once more, and not the Creator.
I turned to her, and enraptured in love asked.
“Well, what now?”
“I guess we have lost my castle. But this looks a likely place for a cabin. Can you begin work on it?
“That I can, my love.”
She nodded, with a happy firmness. The Universe was in order.


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