Prices paid

Beyond Dominia: The Role Playing Mill: Prices paid

By Rhisiart on Saturday, January 13, 2001 - 09:29 pm:

Rhisiart Moonwalker growls menacingly. "Tell me why I shouldn't kill you where you stand, Bonhurst."

"It's quite simple, really - I'm not the Victor Bonhurst you've fought throughout the past several decades."


Rhisiart's old foe smiles wanly. "There's something you've never understood - something no one ever understands until it's too late. You're already aware of the war between good and evil. What you don't know is that evil demands a price for every victory on the part of the forces of good.

"When we were about to graduate from the old College of Wizardry, you, Tal Greymage and myself went on an Ordeal, as is required of every graduating student. During the night, I was separated from you, and while I was away, you and Tal fought a dragon formed out of the stuff of night itself. You won the battle, and as you struck the killing blow, you took your new name from the creature. Henceforth you were known as Blackdragon.

"That was a victory of good over evil. Evil therefore demanded a price. I was that price. For over a hundred years, I've been trapped here. The Bonhurst who returned to you in the morning was a doppelganger, a creature of darkness that happened to resemble me. He stole my memories, my skills, my life...and he used all of it to fight you. I've seen it all - the masters of this realm allow us to see whatever we wish. In the end, it's little more than another torture they've devised for us, but sometimes it has its uses."

Rhisiart scratches his head. "So...our that the price we must pay for...for our victory in the Black Monolith War?"

"Hardly. The immediate death of Rhiannon d'Oceania, the subsequent death - of sorts - of Elrohir Githain, the deaths of thousands of soldiers destined for still greater good, the fall of Lycanthropolis and other cities...well, you get the picture. In general, war pays its own price.

"Your abduction is the price evil demands for still greater goods to come - for the good which was never paid for but which was accomplished by you and your comrades - and for the good that existed in other timelines. In a perfect universe, the latter wouldn't create any debt, but this is not a perfect world."

Artemis steps in then and holds up a hand. "Wait a moment - other timelines? What in the world do you mean by that?"

Bonhurst smiles again and gestures. A crystal appears in his hand; it glows with a blue light as he begins to speak once more. "The story you remember is not the only one there is." An image appears above the crystal - the picture of a great metal ship drifting through the stars. "When Tara, Genesis of Worlds, remade Phaema, some details were changed forever, forgotten by everyone involved." More images - a third being created from the soul of Rhisiart Moonwalker, three smaller ships approaching the large one, Artemis giving birth to twins. "Furthermore, there are alternate versions of Phaema, just as there are ultimate versions of every world, where different roads were taken." Images of Blackdragon's funeral, a great army of evil conquering the world, a secret lair where the remaining Knights of the Round Table plot to overthrow the forces of darkness. "None of these worlds truly exist as we understand existence. They are shadows - potentials never realized, possibilities never explored. Or, rather, possibilities explored and then undone; potentials reached and then discarded. For all this and more, you pay the price demanded by the darkness. Your entire line is no more."

"Are we dead, then?" Rhisiart asks cautiously.

"No - merely trapped."

"And has anyone ever tried to escape?"

"Some few have. None have returned - I know not whether that's a good sign or a bad one."

"Better ultimate death than an eternity in darkness. Victor - will you join us? After all these years, you deserve the redemption of your name - and the return of your life."

Tears glisten in the lost expert's eyes. "I am honored that you would ask. Yes - I will gladly help you in any way I can. But I fear that magic tied to any one world is useless here - Talismanian magic does not function, and from what little I've seen, neither does Phaeman magic."

"You forget, old friend, that before I came to Phaema I travelled throughout the multiverse. My magic is not tied to a single world."

Artemis breaks in again. "Rhisiart - you had to adapt to the magic of Phaema. Are you sure you can recover your former power?"

"I believe I can. My true power has merely been entrapped by the restrictions once imposed upon it. I shall have to destroy the aura of Phaeman magic that surrounds me - which means you'll lose that aura as well, I'm afraid, connected as your soul is to mine."

"But doesn't that mean we'll lose our connection to Phaema? How will we find it again?"

"As I found it when I first brought New Avalon there - by travelling from world to world until we stumble upon the proper path. It will take time, true, but it may take just as much time - or more - to escape from this place. At any rate, I must concentrate. One moment, if you will." Rhisiart begins to hum quietly, a single clear note that seems to resonate through the entire multiverse. The echo returns to him. All is silent aside from that perfect note for several minutes.

Slowly, silently, a blue glow envelops both Rhisiart and Artemis. The light grows stronger and stronger until their bodies are hidden from view, shielded by blinding auras of pure azure. A beam of white light pierces Rhisiart's aura and shines into the darkness - and then another beam appears, and another, and another. Then, with a loud crack, the glowing blue shells that had enveloped the two wizards shatter completely. Artemis is left in darkness. Rhisiart remains surrounded by an aura of pure white light. He opens his eyes, revealing the same light glowing from within them.

I am restored, he says in a voice that far surpasses the noises made by humans. Let us be off. With that, the white light surrounds the entire party, then vanishes, leaving only a fading glow behind.

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