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[A.N.: this whole marriage thing was my creation... guess I'd better clear things up]
-- Walking through the tundra --
(An on-the-way tale)
Emily: Well where does your compass point to?
(*Jeff spins it, and it points to the east. Without another word the reunited band set off. The keeper is now shaking from the cold.*)
Keeper: I may not be able to continue with you. If I can't warm up my old bones, I'll have to teleport somewhere warmer. My heating magic is wearing out.
Emily: Here, take my extra Yeti-coat
(*Emily unshoulders her pack and unfastens a large rolled object from the top. Just minutes before it had been a deadly artic creature. Now... a coat.*)
Keeper: (*climbing into the rugged coat*) Impressive. Warm too.
Luna: (*also shivering, indicating the rest of the group*) Anything for the rest of us?
Emily: Oh. Uh... (*thinks*) Yes. I'll try this
Tom: Try? This isn't gonna be like Jon casting a spell, is it?
(*Emily holds her hands together, palms down, at about eye level. She brings both her hands down and around, marking a circle in the air. There is a momentary pause, and then a globe of dim light appears, exactly the size of the circle Emily had traced in the air. It slowly glows brighter, and more importantly, hotter. When she is done charging the globe, she flicks her hands and it flies out toward Lone Wolf. He jumps back, startled and with sword drawn, but the globe flies through him, banks, and heads toward Tom Cosmo. It passes through him, and then everyone else in the group in turn, except for Jeff (one of his EPI magiks is resistance to the elements. The spell apparently knew this), before extinguishing in the same manner it started*)
Luna: Wow. I really feel warmer
Jon: Cool! Gesture magic... That's a step up from the verse-kind
(*And so the group sets off again*)
Jeff: Emily... You were married to Uforious... more than fifteen-hundred years ago?
Jon: You look... good for being a mellinium and a half
Emily: (*amused*) Thak you
Ivy: (*looking at the complete expanse of nothing they are heading toward*) We've got a while. Tell us the story.
Emily: Well, you were right to call Uforious a loner. Before he started dabbling in magic, he was very shy, and absolutely brilliant. I met him in an electron dynamics class at university.
Emily: One of the basic building blocks of matter.
Warteen: I guess. Go on.
Emily: Every so often a quiet person will find someone who makes them turn completely around, open up entirely. I was so to Uforious. And only me. He mostly ignored other people. He was a wonderful person, if he would let you get to know him. We started going out-
Lone Wolf: going out?
[A.N.: they have different customs in the north... no betrothals, courting, or the like]
Emily: Kind of a precursor to marriage.
Lone Wolf: Oh. Sorry to interrupt.
Emily: It's ok. We went out for a while and ended up getting married. After we graduated, he got a job at Archive Hall, where they keep a repository of all the knowledge our society possesses. Between me and his job, he was content. Life was good for me too, working in a research facility. I had many friends there (I'm somewhat more social than he is). One day tho, he came home completely transfixed. Something he had found in the Arcives, a completely different way of looking at the world...
Emily: Yes. He started learning about it, researching it's mechanics. I helped him a little, but he grew more distant. Soon he could do impressive little tricks. His isolation kept getting worse, though, so one day I confronted him about it. After we both cooled down for a few days, hardly speaking to each other, he realized his mistake. I began helping him, and learning as well. But his ability grew far faster than mine. I'll never forget that final normal day. Something was different in his eyes, when he came out of his study that morning. Soon, I realized it was not just his eyes that were different. He became incredibly distant again, in a week's time, but I loved him, so I stayed, hoping he would realize again what he was doing. On the ninth day after the change, he left.
Luna: How horrible!
Emily: No explanation. I still don't know exactly what happened. I woke up to find all of his things gone from the house. All that was left was a small cast-iron pot on his desk in his study. There was a liquid in it, smoking slightly, and it gave me chills to even look at it. Neither of us had known, up until that point, that there was a difference between white and black magics. I reported him missing to The Office of Defenders. For three months, noone could find him.
Jon: And then the trouble began...
Emily: Exactly. He came back all right, to the city, but never to me. He wanted change, said everything was imperfect. He demanded to be allowed to rule the city. When our Governor refused, he began attacking. Our technology kept us safe, but he was growing stronger. It was then I decided he would never return to normal, and that, because I knew some magic, I should do something.
Jeff: What COULD you do?
Emily: I was angry, and therefore foolhardy. When I first attacked him, I barely survived. So I decided I needed some training. I set out south in a jet
Gareth: (*who has been writing all this in his notepad*) A jet?
Emily: It's a flying machine. I headed south because that is where the idea of magic had originated, so I thought. I found the Ice Shrine on the other side of the great frozen mountains. There I studied under Kudam-Ra and Kudam-Sa. Because Uforious had taught me a bit about how magic worked, before he changed, I was a quick study. It took mere months, instead of the usual years, before I had surpassed both of my masters in my magical skill and was granted immortality.
Tom: (*looking jealous*) That's how you're still alive...
Emily: I headed back to face him once and for all. Only he had been busy during those months when I was away. When I returned, the city was under siege by (V). I attacked, but combined they easily defeated me. I don't know why Uforious spared me, but he simply left me in this wasteland and put up the flame wall to keep me here.
Ivy: Then how do people get through to the aurora to see their loved ones in Clou'dalem?
Emily: Yahzin wouldn't let him completely block of the aurora. Everyone in Unity has an ID chip implanted in them when they are born (tho I didn't like the idea much), so the flame wall was cast to destroy only those who had such a chip.
(*Emily's mind clikcs on a certain thought that had never consiously occured to her before*)
Emily: (*angry*) He left me here KNOWING I would live forever, (*angrier still*) isolated from my people, from everyone I loved! (*near tears*) It IS a fate worse than death!
(*Emily falls to her knees and breaks down sobbing. Ivy and Luna both try to comfort her*)
Ivy: It's ok
Luna: We'll help you somehow
Emily: (*looking up through her tears*) But you can't! I'll have to leave all of you when we reach the flames again. It's been so wonderful having people to talk to, something to care about again! (*resumes crying*)
Lone Wolf: (*sounding riled*) We'll find some way to help you.
Gareth: (*stooping to put his hand on her shoulder and speaking kindly*) Lone Wolf's right. There's got to be some way out of this place...
Emily: (*standing up, smiling weakly at Gareth and wiping at her tears, which have started to freeze on her face*) Thank you. (*to all*) I'm sorry for breakng down
Gareth: It's understandable. I lost my wife long ago, and then everyone else I loved when the creature attacked. (*gesturing to group*) We all have. Emily: (*sniffing, but otherwise composed again*) We need to get moving again. Maybe I can still be of help before I have to leave.
(*The group sets off again. They talk as they go along, catching Emily and each other up on thier adventures. The talk dies down*)
Jeff: I'd better check where we're going. (*pulls out the compass and spins it*) We're off a bit... head this way (*points*)
(*They adjust their course and keep going. A small dot appears on the horizon directly ahead of them, where the compass had pointed*)
Ivy: Look! There'something over there!
Lone Wolf: We're finally getting somewhere!
(*As they approach, the dot grows and becomes more visible. Slowly, it changes into a towering, high-tech building*)
Jon: What the heck?
Emily: Looks like a building from Unity... Out here? How?
Gareth: (*grabbing her shoulder*) See, there MUST be a way to get through the flamewall!
(*They walk up to the nearest door, which is sunken into the side of the building several feet, creating an overhang. The industrial-style door mats (the carpet kind with the rubber border, found in businesses all over) bear an ominous inscription*)
Jon: Oh fun.
-- To Be Continued --
*The group stands looking at the doors to the tower. Lone Wolf tries to open them, but they are firmly locked*
Lone Wolf: Jeff, does your compass say we have to go in there?
*Jeff spins it, it points to the tower*
Jeff: I guess we'll have to, unless we don't want the shrine hearts back.
Cosmo: How do we get in, and why aren't there any guards?
Jon: Perhaps they don't like freezing to death, which is what we're going to do if we stay out here any longer
Emily: (*Carefully inspects a small box on the side of the wall*) I'd say this is a door control which only accepts passwords
Gareth: There's got to be a way in.
Jeff: That's funny.
Lone Wolf: What is?
Jeff: I spun the compass ideally while you were talking and it's pointing in the other direction.
Jon: Don't tell me it's busted now, is it?
Jeff: It led us here.
Gareth: Quiet, I hear voices
Emily: Hide behind that drift.
*They all run behind the snow and watch. After a few seconds, Sootdust and crew appear over the top of the ridge*
Sootdust: (*Walks up to the door, which then opens for him. Behind him is a senior looking member of EPI.*)
Executive: Well Sootdust, have you got it or not?
Executive: The CEO will not be pleased. You're likely to be...
Sootdust: The CEO no longer maters. You see, he is old and weak. It is I who shall now guarantee the future of Evil People Inc.
Executive: And what gives you the right to do that?
Sootdust: Necromancy. Evil people inc. will do so much better under my command
Executive: (*Suddenly fearful*) Necromancy? You have studied that?
Sootdust: Yes. You see, that is the weakness I speak of. Fear of anything seriously evil.
Emily: The magic to raise the dead.
Gareth: You mean like "life"?
Emily: No, more like the creation of the undead. It is the blackest of the black magics. I have no knowledge of even Uforious daring to meddle with evil of such magnitude. Now let's listen.
Sootdust: Scalene! Scalene get out here. (*Scalene emerges from the ninjas. The executive leaps back in terror*). I suggest you get out of my sight before I decide to practice my art on you. I am in charge now. Go send a message to everyone in Evil People Inc, telling them that I am the new CEO and anyone who doesn't like it... tell anyone who doesn't like it to come and see me personally.
Executive: Y... y... yes CEO
*he quickly darts away from view. Slayer, Scalene and the crowd of ninjas file quickly into the tower. Sootdust remains outside and mummers something inaudible. He then looks up at where the group is hiding. After a few minutes he turns away to follow his minions.*
Ivy: Did he see us?
Luna: If he had, he certainly would have done something.
Gareth: Come on, let's find a garbage shoot or some other awkward way of getting in.
*In the end they find an air conditioning vent. So basically, getting in is simple enough, except the minor detail of the vent being on about the hundredth floor. Below that the walls are black and ominous.*
Jon: It's times like this I wish Raistlin were still with us. We could have used all those ninja ropes and hooks.
Gareth: I do have some climbing rope. (*He looks in his bag and brings out an incredibly thin piece of sting.*)
Cosmo: We're gonna climb up that?
Gareth: (*Begins to attach it to an arrow*) No, you shoot the arrow over the target. Then you use the thread to pull a large rope over.
*He quickly strings his bow and shoots the arrow over a flagpole sticking out halfway up to the vent. After a few minutes they have a secure climbing rope neatly hooked over the flag poll.*
Gareth: I hope no one's afraid of heights. (*he looks about*) No one? It's best to admit it now, not half way up when it's all scary and windy, and...
Emily: Gareth, are you afraid of heights?
Gareth: No, no of course not. Don't scare me at all.
Ivy: It's ok. We won't think any less of you.
Gareth: You can say that, you've got wings. Well, let's get going shall we?
TO BE CONTINUED
*Mnemosyne scanned the area for any sign of her companions. It was so hard to scan for their presence with all of the snow and ice. She could sense that there was a kind of black hole of evil nearby. It was different kind of evil from Uforious, but just as powerful. She had to follow it. The others would just have to hang on without her for a while. She came to a large tower. She came over to the front steps and looked at the mat. EPI. Evil People Inc. This didn't make sense. These were evil people, but they could not be this blackened pit of lost hopes. Menmosyne scanned for a way in, and for the presence of other people. Lo and behold, there were those she had been looking for. Climbing up to a shaft to get in. Mnemosyne went over to the bottom of the flagpole. She sent a telepathic message to Ivy.
Mnemosyne: You must turn back. I am here, and I sense great evil. Come down to me, and I can use the last of my power to lead you all to safety.
*Soon, the people came down from the pole, and they welcomed her back. She greeted them and told them to follow her. A new companion whose name was Emily said they should go to her house. Mnemosyne led them all back, trying to keep everyone as warm as possible along the way. Then Mnemosyne told them of the great evil she felt from the tower.*
Emily: I think I know what you felt. Sootdust has learned necromancy.
Mnemosyne: I see now. How DARE that CHILD fiddle with something of that magnitude! He has no idea what he has done! He has doomed every person that he does that to to immortality.
Tom: What's wrong with that?
Emily: I could tell you a few things...
Mnemosyne: Child, you will die someday. You have only to become enlightened. You will understand someday. When you know all there is to know, you will die. However, this is different. This is evil, pure evil. He has chained the soul to the body with bonds it cannot break on its own. It will never find rest. It will forever, throughout eternity, wander the earth looking for a means of escape.
Emily: You make it sound like it was done to others. If that's true, where are they?
Mnemosyne: They are confined at the very end of the earth. No mortal such as yourself has ever been there. It is a paradise in a way, but also Hell. These cadavers enjoy what they can there, but still wish for release. They have tried all things to be released from their bonds, and things to make themselves happy in their state. Nothing works. Poor, tortured souls.
Ivy: That's awful! There must be something...
Mnemosyne: All we can do is hope that if we can bring all of the relics of the Shrines together, it will also create a miracle for those undead in so much need.
Lone Wolf: Then let's get it together and go after the relics we don't have!
Mnemosyne: Yes, we will. I shall help you, but I must rest to be of any help to you. Let me rest, and we shall set out on the morrow.
TO BE CONTINUED...
-- Outside Sootdust's room --
Guard 1: Yes, what is it?
Guard 2: Bad news I'm afraid
Guard 1: And you were going to tell it to him?
Guard 2: Someone has to.
Guard 1: It was OK when all he could do was kill you
Guard 2: We need someone stupid
Guard 1: How about Scalene? Stupid, and he's already got that... thing done to him.
Guard 2: Then go get him.
Guard 1: No, you or I shall tell him that you've go bad news.
Guard 2: Ok, I'll get him.
Ivy: How are you feeling?
Mnemosyne: I'm still tired.
Ivy: We could put it off for the day.
Mnemosyne: The longer we wait, the more souls are doomed. We must go now.
Emily: Ivy has a point, what's the use of going if it accomplishes nothing?
Mnemosyne: We're going, don't question my judgment child.
*So after a salted yeti meat breakfast everyone sets off onto the icy plains once more. Later, on the trail.*
Jon: There's just one thing that puzzles me, why were you frightened of climbing that rope but not of flying like a bird on the Unity thing?
Gareth: Ok, I'll admit it. I was as scared as you and Warteen were. I was trying to hide it by acting overconfident.
Warteen: So ropes frighten you more than flying?
Gareth: On a rope you're holding on for you life.
Warteen: I see.
Gareth: I though I was going to pass out several times up there.
Jon: That's reassuring, I was just below you.
Emily: It's Ok to be scared of some things. (*She has just walked up*)
Gareth: Oh, Hello. Yes, but not that scared.
Emily: You climbed the rope
Gareth: I almost fell off.
Emily: You climbed it.
Gareth: (*Changing the subject*) Is it ever day here?
Emily: Not in winter. But in summer it's day all the time.
*Gareth is just about to say more when Mnemosyne interrupts*
Mnemosyne: Quiet, we are here
*In front of them is the black tower. Again, there are no guards at the door.*
Lone Wolf: How do we get in this time?
Mnemosyne: Leave that to me.
*Scalene rather jerky walks into the command room of the black tower. Sootdust has turned it into more of a throne room. The lights are dimmed and the walls are draped with decorative fabrics. Despite this, it looks like a office after a Christmas party. Sootdust sits on a huge rotating chair. Before Scalene can speak, he turns round. Scalene jerks back. There's something disturbing in his eyes*
Sootdust: Yes, what is it?
Scalene: The.... the C..CEO the CEO he wants to sp...sp...eek to ... to you.
Sootdust: Yes, I know. I can reed you like a book. Get out of my site you filthy rotting lump. Guard!
*the Guard comes in, looking like he's going to an execution.*
Sootdust: Why did you send him in?
Guard: But, but.... please have mercy. I beg you! PLEASE!
Sootdust: Do you think I like associating with corpses more than I need to!?!
Guard: It wasn't my idea. It, it was Harry's idea blame it on him.
Sootdust: Stop your whining.
Guard: No please! I'll never bother you....
*Sootdust flicks his finger. The Guard's body drops to the floor. A few minutes later it gets up and walks out.*
* Mnemosyne walks up the door of the tower. With a few gestures it opens noisily. Beyond is a dark, spacious room filled with high tech equipment, ranging from hover tanks to robotics octopuses. It looks abandoned.*
Luna: Where is everyone?
Cosmo: Yes, there should be someone about.
Mnemosyne: They trust their technology to keep unwanted visitors out. They trust it far to much.
*CEO Bill Grates', leader of Evil people inc., face appears on a huge screen in front of Sootdust.*
Bill: Well my friend, you have a lot of explaining to do. Why do you persist in being such a nuisance? And where are the shrine hearts?
Sootdust: You must understand, I no longer answer to you wimpy, wining sort.
Bill: I fail to see why not. You are a member of Evil People Inc.
Sootdust: I am the leader of Evil People Inc. now. I am the CEO. CEO? That doesn't sound proper. How about King Sootdust, Lord Sootdust? Wait, I know, Emperor Sootdust the Enlightened! For I have seen the light. You, Bill, are just a sniveling coward. Thanks to you, Evil People inc. was almost forgotten.
Bill: You do not call me by my first name!
Sootdust: There is still a way of gaining my favor. Transmit for me article 44-ECT-118/FAYR here. The personal diary of Uforious.
Bill: How dare you try to give me orders!
Sootdust: It would be such a tire for me to kill and raise you at such distance. Give me the files.
Bill: You are going to get yourself fired, you know.... (*he suddenly stops and splutters*).
Sootdust: Easier than I expected. You have such a weak mind. Transmit the files.
Bill: You won't here the last of this! Consider yourself fired. (*Nevertheless, he quickly transmits the files and the communication is cut.*)
Sootdust: Now to take the shrine hearts from those little upstarts.
Luna: Lone Wolf, I don't like this. It's totally deserted. There has to be someone.
*They are now in a lift, heading up the tower. It's hard to tell what floor the Shrine hearts are on because Jeff's compass doesn't really point up or down. But they figure the most important levels are at the top.
Lone Wolf: Neither do I. I feel like, well I feel like...
*the lift stops and the door opens. Beyond is a large hall with several overhanging gantries. On the left wall there's a huge window looking out on the starlit snowfield beyond. The place looks like another hanger. But what they notice the most is the gantries full of guards and the four robotics octopuses flying behind them. Leading the octopuses is a rather battered looking one on a similar looking golf cart. In the middle of this is Sootdust, standing surrounded by his undead.)
Lone Wolf: I feel like we're walking into a trap.
Battered Octopus: That is correct sir.
*Then things go mad. The Ninja guards jump down and start to approach the cornered group. All the magic users start to warm up spells. Lone Wolf draws his sword to face the oncoming wall, Gareth prepares to fire an arrow, Cosmo manages to Ragnorak someone, Luna tries to get the lift to work, and Sootdust starts screaming to take them in one piece, and not to use the disintegrators (whatever they are) incase they hit a shrine Heart. All the chaos of battle unleashed. It just seems that the good guys are finally going to succumb to impossible odds when...*
Luna: Lone Wolf, look at you sword!
Lone Wolf: What about it?
Luna: It glowing!
Lone Wolf: What?! (*suddenly, a huge white ball of magic flies off it and into the ninja he was fighting, heading straight for Sootdust.) Yarr!
*Seeing the threat, Sootdust tries to maneuver the ball away from himself. It flies to the top of the room. Mnemosyne sees it and attempts to gain control over it. The ball gets very confused, having three people trying to guide it, and goes haywire.*
Luna: Lone Wolf, look out! (*Lone Wolf ducks just in time*)
Guard 3: Yarr.
*The ball flies straight though an octopus and out the window, smashing it completely. It veers round and comes back in, heading for Sootdust. He ducks under but an Undead is completely vaporized.*
Cosmo: I'll try and help.
Lone Wolf: Why is my magic so erratic?
*Suddenly, for some reason, the white ball flies straight down, blasting through every level it encounters to explode many stories below. The whole tower shakes. Emily it thrown out of the window, but clings on to the edge. Sootdust is screaming.*
Gareth: (*Runs over to the window and reaches out*) Whoa. (*The tower jerks some more*)
* Mnemosyne seems to be trying to attack Sootdust in the confusion, and Ivy is helping. The tower rocks again. The floor is now at about 20 degrees. Lone Wolf, Luna, Cosmo, Mnemosyne, Ivy, Jeff, Jon and Warteen are fighting a loosing battle. Everyone they kill is soon raised by Sootdust to fight again. The undead that are raised fight even more furiously.*
Jon: Tom! Cosmo, get over here! (*Cosmo hurries over*)
Jon: I need a tin monkey
Cosmo: What, how am I supposed to get one?
Jon: Ragnorak someone.
Cosmo: Of course.
*Cosmo precedes to hit someone with a Ragnorak, turning them into a tin monkey.*
Jon: (*Picking it up*) Thanks! (*he rushes over to Where Ivy and Mnemosyne are attacking Sootdust, trying to avoid harm*)
Mnemosyne: Child do you understand what your doing?
Sootdust: Arrr, Mnemosyne, predicable as ever. I am no longer a child, I am the master. In time you will call me master or die.
*cadavers rush Mnemosyne from behind. She tries to get them off. One disembodied arm seems to be causing a lot of trouble. Standing behind Sootdust, Jon begins to wind the monkey.*
Jon: Shush. (*he puts the monkey down*)
Monkey: Ook, ook, ook (*clang, clang, clang*)
Sootdust: IIIEEEE, what the! (*He spins round to see Jon*) You! Prepare to join my undead forces!
Monkey: Ook, ook, ook (*clang, clang, clang*)
Sootdust: Ieeeeeee! (*He gets hit in the back with one of Mnemosyne's fireballs and is knocked through a door*)
Mnemosyne: Ivy, go help your friends. Your destiny does not lie with me anymore. I regret that I am still so tired. (*She follows Sootdust, but looks at Ivy again*) Ivy, next time you see me you will look on the face of a enemy. Do not hesitate to do what you must.
Ivy: (*To Jon*) She didn't call me child...
Jon: No time to think about that now. We have to get out of here!
Luna: The lift wont work. We're stuck.
Jon: Oh No.
Luna: Wait, who's he? I'm sure I've seen him before (*she points to a raven black haired man attacking the guards. He has just come in through the window*)
-- Meanwhile --
Gareth: (*the tower shakes again*) Whoa, reach for my hand!
Emily: I'm beginning to see why you don't like heights. Hey, wait a second. Who's he?
(*Climbing up the shaking tower is a familiar figure with raven black hair and claws on his hands. Reod Dai.)
Gareth: Don't worry, I've got you (*he pulls her up*)
Reod Dai: (*finishes ascending the tower and climbs into the hanger*) This is why I couldn't let you have the Brain of Ice. You shouldn't be left to handle matters of such importance.
*He begins to fight the guards. With the help of such a powerful magic user, and in the absence of Sootdust, the battle is faster than expected. Most to the guards begin to flee. Within five minutes the room is empty of Evil People Inc.'s forces.)
Reod Dai: And now to discus the shrine hearts. Where are yours? I cannot let you chaps have them, you'll probably lose them.
Lone Wolf: But weren't you against us?
Reod Dai: I am not against you, I just can't let you have the shrine hearts.
Ivy: We have the suppose of Mnemosyne, the Guardian of Memory and an Eternal ruler of magic.
Reod Dai: And if that were so I may change my mind. But where is Mnemosyne? When I came in there was no pink haired lady.
Ivy: She is right now fighting Sootdust.
Reod Dai: Mnemosyne would not bother with such lowlife slime. He is nothing.
Ivy: You don't understand, he has learned necromancy.
Reod Dai: Clever ploys you make up to defend yourselves! But I tire of them.
Jeff: We couldn't give you them if we wanted to. They are safely hidden, guarded by the Keeper. [If you were paying attention, the Keeper wasn't in this chapter]
Reod Dai: You will take me to them.
*There's a break in the magic exchange between Mnemosyne and Sootdust*
Mnemosyne: You will give up your black art now or be destroyed.
Sootdust: So young and naive, I have become so much more than I was. I can see you are tired. You chose to rush in arrogantly. You friends were right, you were wrong. (*He starts to laugh*) ha ha ha ha! Ironic, the great Mnemosyne is wrong at last. Brave fool. (*Mnemosyne is listening, silently angry*). There is only one way out of this for you. Join me, or die!.
Mnemosyne: You! You are arrogant enough to try and get me to join you? It is you that is the fool.
Sootdust: Live or die, ether way you will serve me. (*he begins to warm up a ball of black fire in his hand. After a few seconds, he throws it at Mnemosyne with a scream.*)
Reod Dai: You will take me to them.
Lone Wolf: Never!
*Suddenly, there is a familiar laugh in the background*
Sootdust: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! As much as I like watching allies fighting, I must stop you there.
All except Reod: Sootdust!
*Beside Sootdust is Mnemosyne. Her hair no longer pink, and her skin is half rotten. An unnatural shadow is following her. Reod looks surprised to say the least.)
Mnemosyne: Ivy, you should leave now. Go.
Sootdust: Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Reod: They were telling the truthů
Mnemosyne: Ivy, out of the window before he makes me do something to you.
Reod: I can float down anyone who can't fly. We'll discuss the Shrine hearts later.
Sootdust: You doom is upon you!
Sootdust: Mnemosyne, attack them, NOW!
Mnemosyne: N... no.
Mnemosyne: I am a holy being. You cannot control me with y...your dark powers.
Warteen: Hey, Sootdust!
Sootdust: Ha ha ha! You dare to challenge me?
Warteen: Not exactly.
*Warteen throws a small knife at Sootdust. Sootdust, rather than dodging it, disintegrates it with a powerful magic spell. However, with him distracted, Lone Wolf is able to get behind him unnoticed. He plunges his rapier deep into Sootdust's back.*
Sootdust: I... I...
Scalene: (*who was standing nearby*) Th... thank you... (*slumps over*)
Sootdust: But... I am... all... powerful...
Lone Wolf: Sorry Sootdust, but you forgot one thing. Good ALWAYS triumphs over evil.
Sootdust: (*now on the ground*) NO!
*Sootdust uses the last of his strength to make a massive fireball that even the most powerful warrior could not hope to block or dodge if it was coming at them. Then he dies. The fireball heads straight toward.....*
TO BE CONTINUED
(and you thought I wasn't here...)
*The fireball Sootdust had made with the last of his strength flies straight toward Lone wolf. He bring up his sword as if to block it, although he knows he has no hope. He feels searing pain throughout his entire body. He shivers in agony, wanting to cry out, unable to make a sound. His last thought before world went white was, "I will NOT fail Luna again! I will NOT fail everyone! I will LIVE!!"*
Luna: NOOO!!! Lone Wolf, look out!!
*It was too late. To everyone watching Lone Wolf, he was engulfed in a huge ball of fire. It engulfed his body. He was surely dead. But then, a light appeared in the middle of the ball of fire. It started as a pinprick and grew, brighter and brighter. The light put out the fire. It expanded outward, engulfing everything in a blinding white. The group screamed as they saw it coming. Then, for them as well, the world went white.*
*Mnemosyne had used the last bit of self will left in her soul to transport to the paradise all of the other cadvers were at. She could barely think. The body that she used was in bad shape, and now her spirit was attatched to it forever. Mnemosyne was a holy being, normally with out a true body. But the spell Sootdust had cast had attatched her to this wretched existance for all time.
Having a sinking feeling of dispair, Mnemosyne suddenly felt something had happened. Looking at her hands, they because whole again. She suddenly felt a strange experience. She fell, because her legs could no longer hold her up. She knew what had happened. Sootdust had died. "Amazing," she thought, distantly. Yet her soul was still attatched to her body. It was strange. What had happened?*
*Scalene tried to make his eyes work. He tried to make some part of his body move. With all of his might, he barely got his pinky to twitch. He found that he was not yet free of Sootdust's spell. Now, though, if he worked at it, he could get a little of his own free will back. Scalene opened his eyes and saw out of them for the first time in what seemed like forever. A white light surrounded him. He wondered vaguely where he was.*
*Ivy's vision began to clear. The white light was dissipating. She knew that she had been right about Lone Wolf and his sword all along. Now, Lone Wolf would be very different. The was such a thing as prophecy, the keeper had told her once. There was a prophecy of a young prince who would spell the end of humanity, and yet save it. He would weild a sword that would shine brighter than the sun. But in order to find his true power, he had to die. Twice. That was the part of the prophecy Ivy had never understood, nor had the keeper. But now she did. Lone Wolf was the one who would bring humanity back from the destruction it had suffered. The light was now gone, and Ivy flew over to fly in place over Lone Wolf's body. Lone Wolf slowly opened his eyes. Ivy shuttered and reeled from the sight.*
*Lone Wolf opened his eyes. He had thought he wouldn't, for a moment. He remembered, though, before everything went white, that he had been positive he would live. He couldn't understand why, though. He felt strange. His body felt strange. Lone Wolf felt the same, except that his body felt different. He opened his eyes more to look up into the eyes of the angel, Ivy. She looked repulsed.*
Ivy: Lone Wolf... I...
Lone Wolf: What has happened to me?
Ivy: Don't try to figure it out just yet. It will be too painful for you.
Lone Wolf: Why are you looking scared of me? What have I done?
Ivy: It's not what you've done, it's what's been done to you. Just rest, don't try to-
Lone Wolf: *angrily* Ivy, I demand to know what it is you are seeing!
Ivy: Lone Wolf, you look nothing like you used to. Your old body has died... You have a new one.
Lone Wolf: What... What are you saying?
*Lone Wolf looks down at himself. He finds his body looking the same as it always did. Ivy flies off and comes back to hand Lone Wolf a piece of glass to act as a mirror. Lone Wolf looks at his face. He sees a middle-aged man looking back at him. The eyes were a bright metallic silver, the same color as his hair, which now hung straight to his shoulders. For the first time he realized his voice was differnt.*
Lone Wolf: This can't... It's not... How can I?
*Lone Wolf's eyes grew very wide as he looked at himself. Lone Wolf felt very dizzy. Not wanting to think anymore, he gave in to the encroaching blackness and passed out.
TO BE CONTINUED
■laceb°: I think we're lost mon.
gar: We're not lost. We're... just... we just haven't found out where things are happening yet.
■laceb°: We've bin wandering 'round with this thing (*gestures to psy eye*) for days mon.
Marril: Marril [AN: Marril's lines are so easy to think up, aren't they?]
gar: Where haven't we teleported to yet? Everywhere is just flat and smoky. We've been to the south, all the shrines or what left of them.
Marril: Marril. (*Indicating north*) gar: I'm trying to think! The east. Castle Lokin was pretty much a few ruined walls.
Marril: Marril! (*Indicating north strongly*)
■laceb°: I think Marril's pointin' north mon.
gar: North. We haven't been north. Aren't you glad you have me around to think of these things?
Marril: (*Jealously*) Marril!
*■laceb° teleports them north*
Luna: I still don't believe this. Is that you?
Lone Wolf: It is. It doesn't feel like it, but it is.
*Jeff begins to look at the dead body of Sootdust. On chains around his neck are two fist sized objects. The heart of the forest, and the wind base.*
Jeff: Well, this is what we came for, we should be going.
Reod: I agree. I can float anyone down who can't do themselves. We discus who gets the hearts at the bottom. It would be pointless in the midst of danger.
Gareth: Out of the window (*Gulp*)
*Everyone leaves except Lone Wolf and Luna*
Luna: Is it still you?
Lone Wolf: Of cause, I keep telling you.
Luna: You don't know how hard it is to believe. It's just amazing.
Lone Wolf: .....
Reod: This is not a time of chit chat, come along. Who's next?
Lone Wolf: Luna, you go.
-- At the foot of the tower --
Jeff: (*Who seems to have become responsible for the shrine hearts*) We now have six out of seven of the shrine hearts. Not bad going.
Reod: Six...? (*Jeff ignores it Reod goes up to float Luna down (see above)*)
Jeff: Can anyone remember who had the last?
Gareth: (*Beginning to look though his notes.*)
Jon: Don't look at me, this thing's getting way over little old me.
*Everyone thinks for a minute*
Cosmo: I know! It's with that ■laceb° dude and his friends [AN: Cosmo probably thinks higher of ■laceb° than Marril or gar because ■laceb° can beat him]. I never got to fight him again. I didn't sit though those lectures for nothing you know. This time I'm going to whip him so bad.
Warteen: Yeah, yeah.
Cosmo: Seriously, I will.
*Reod returns with Luna*
Reod: I'll go for Lone Wolf. Then I'm going.
Jeff: You're leaving?
Reod: Because if you lose to this ■laceb°, then he will have all of the shrine hearts. To big a risk to take, don't you agree? When you have all six, meet me at the city o Unity.
*Reod begins to climb back up the tower*
Jeff: We would sure have found someone like that useful.
Ivy: Let him make his own choices. If he isn't a team player, then he isn't a team player.
*Lone Wolf stands, weary and thoughtful, gazing out of the smashed window onto the desolate ice field blanketed by the starry sky.*
Lone Wolf: What am I to do now? What am I supposed to do, just wave my arm and make everything right?
???: Beautiful view, isn't it?
Lone Wolf: What the! (*Spins around to see who it is*)
Uforious: Let me congratulate you on you promotion in the way of your importance. You are now significant.
Lone Wolf: What do you want?
Uforious: Apart from erasing something from Sootdust's computer... (*he looks at the body of Sootdust*) fool, I almost thought I had competition. I must thank you for that. Let me be frank. I'm also here because I don't like significant people. I want you to die. Is that ok with you?
Lone Wolf: Have you developed a sense you humor?
*Uforious doesn't bother to answer, but he sends a huge black fireball at Lone Wolf. Lone Wolf charges with a drawn Sword. Uforious pulls out a long, thin, pitch-black sword in response. They begin to duel. Uforious turns out to be quite good with his sword, but he can't mach Lone Wolf's skill. What he dose have is plenty of dark magic, which he puts to good use.*
Uforious: You have become strong. (*He releases a fog like black cloud around. When it clears, Uforious is standing on a balcony looking down.*) And yet, you do not show your full power even now. Your mind still doubts.
*Lone Wolf charges up the stairs, but Uforious pulls the same trick again, this time appearing on the opposite gantry*
Lone Wolf: Do you fear me, shadow?
Uforious: Now you know what this all means? It means it's all up to you. It's your responsibility.
Lone Wolf: You're just trying to make me doubt, aren't you? Trying to make me unsure of myself.
Uforious: Very good. I don't seem to have done very well have I? No, it isn't all up to you, but you do have a tremendous responsibility to the others.
Lone Wolf: Be silent, shadow.
Uforious: One other thing, with Mnemosyne gone, do congratulate Ivy on her promotion too, won't you? (*Uforious suddenly fades to nothing, leaving Lone Wolf in an empty room*)
Reod: (*Climbs up*) Come on, your turn.
*Mnemosyne had finally regained control of her body. She looked at her surroundings. There were many other people around her, who all had shadows floating around their bodies. They were dead too. They had to be free of their masters, though. She decided to investigate the plight she had been assigned to.*
Mnemosyne: Argo ia hguio hd? Wo ar ihohuoff!
[AN: Remember, itallic dialogue means a char's thoughts OR telepathic communication!]
Mnemosyne: Why am I undable to speak?
Dead person A: You have no master to tell you what to say.
Mnemosyne: I serve a very high power indeed! I have a Master!
Dead person B: Not on this plane. Your Master you think of is a part of the spiritual realm. He does not literally dictate things to you in this one.
Mnemosyne: Ah. So, since the man who put me under this spell is dead, I am unable to speak?
Dead person C: Correct. The only power you have is to move and speak with other dead. Other than that, you truely are dead.
Mnemosyne: And so it is with all of the other dead?
Dead person D: Yes. Unless they can find masters to attatch themselves to. We are isolated and are unable to find masters.
Mnemosyne: Then I shall teleport to my disciple and have her be my master.
Dead person E: You can't use your magic in the state you are. I was once a powerful wizard. I have tried.
Mnmeosyne: So... You are saying, then, that I am only able to stay here for all eternity, unable to do anything but move?
Dead person A: Not so. We await the day when the Promise will be kept.
Mnmeosyne: Promise? I have heard of no promise.
Dead person E: Once, a long time ago, a wizard had found out how to release us. He released a good few of our number before he had been caught. He did promise that someday, his knowledge would find its way to the ears of one who could help, and he would realse us all from this misery.
Mnemsoyne: (*Looking skeptical*) Just how did he hope to accomplish that?
Dead person C: We have no idea, but it is our only hope to hold on to.
Dead person D: Please don't crush it!
Dead person B: It will happen one day.
Mnemsoyne: You are right, Children. Never give up hope. Someone will come to save us. I simply hope the other dead find good masters.
*Scalene was finally able to get up. He walked to look at Sootdust's body. He started to cry, bitterly. He wanted to kick Sootdust's body, but found his body wouldn't do anything against it. He had meant to scream, "Why do you get to die?? I want to DIE!!! PLEASE!!!!!" but it only came out a stream of gibberish. He was unable to die, he knew. He was already dead. It was so unfair. He had the will to move, but was apprently unable to talk. It was all so insane. Scalene walked to the window, and flung himself out of it. He landed on the ground, and did not even feel it. He started crying again. He hated himself. He wanted rest. More than anything, rest. He couldn't even sleep in this wretched state. He lay, staring at the sky, crying. He became aware of people standing over him. It was his former master's enimies. He didn't care what happened to him or them. He just wanted to sleep. But he couldn't. So he cried instead.*
*Ivy wondered what was wrong with Scalene. He should be free. But he fell on his head coming out of that window and was still alive. He was obviously a zombie, still. A swell of pity and sadness rose in her. Mnemosyne was also stuck like this. She want to cry, too.*
Ivy: Scalene. Scalene! Listen to me. Scalene!! You listen to me now!
Scalene: Age ohi wo pe jaoisi? (*he bursts into tears again*)
Ivy: What? (*looks to others*) What are you trying to say? Scalene, I am only trying to help. Speak to me, now.
Scalene: Yes, Angel. (*he looks shocked at his own use of words*)
Ivy: (*blinks*) Why were you speaking gibberish before?
Scalene: I dunno. Just couldn't speak, before.
Ivy: Here's what I want you to do. Treat yourself like you're still alive. Sootdust's dead. Go, start a life somewhere. Do something to benefit mankind. Well, what's left of it. At least try to enjoy your time here on the planet.
Scalene: Yes, Mistress.
Ivy: (*stares at him*) Well?
Scalene: I am starting my life.
Scalene: I am starting my life.
Gareth: How's that?
Scalene: I can have a life, benifit mankind and follow Ivy's orders here.
*Everyone started talking at once. No one wanted Scalene with them: A corpse of the enemy that could betray them. They all had been on gaurd against him, although he at first had seemed harmless. No, his manner showed no more sadness, but complete obedience. To Ivy.*
Ivy: Scalene, don't try to hurt us. It won't work.
Scalene: (*looking taken aback*) You're my master, now. How can I?
Ivy: I'm your WHAT?
Scalene: My master.
Ivy: When did this happen?
Scalene: When you gave me orders.
Emily: Odd... I have never heard of this.
Reod: Chop him into pieces and spread his body parts. He can't do much that way.
Emily: Sounds good to me. (*uses her magic, to no effect*) What??
Lone Wolf: I will try. He was a trouble to us! (*He hacks as hard as he can at Scalene. Scalene falls over, but is unscratched.*) What?
Jeff: What do we do now?
TO BE CONTINUED...
*Scalene gets back up. Suddenly he starts speaking gibberish again.*
Scalene: Oh pizsaw hunsdfilg.
Ivy: This is very odd....WHAT'S THAT?
*A beautiful red light begins to shine above everyones' heads. It seems to be pulsating whith some sort of life. Then a noise like train wheels squeaking comes, and everyone covers their ears.*
Jeff: (*yells*) WHAT IS THAT?
*Suddenly, a shadow in the shape of a body begins to take form in the center of the light. The shadow turns into an actual body of a fair-haired young man in brown garments and a red cape. The man is very, VERY tall. Abruptly the noise and the light stops, and the body falls on the ground.*
Man: (*lying on ground, unaware of his surroundings*) Ugh...I should not have said that. (*looks around*) Another world? Another adventure.
Reod: Who are you?
Man: (*gets up*) My name is Suragelf, but many people call me Dwarf. Call me whatever you wish to call me.
Reod: Friend or foe?
Suragelf: That depends on your motives! DUH....
Reod: Don't get cocky, man. We're fighting a corporation called Evil People, Inc.
Suragelf: Um...it usually depends on the size of the party. I'll join!
Reod: Alright then.
One of the 20 dwarves who did the handstands on a carpet.
Jeff: What do we do now?
Reod: I'm leaving, as I said. Good bye. (*Wanders off*)
Jeff: Guess we couldn't stop him from leaving... Dwarf... what are you doing here?
Dwarf: I don't know, I don't remember at all, all this dimension hopping...
Gareth: We'd best be going, Jeff where dose you compass point?
Jeff: (*He spins it, this time it points south*) This way. I suppose that's all we can do.
Lone Wolf: Don't forget to pick up the keeper and the other shrine hearts
Ivy: What about Scalene?
Scalene: Yes, Angel?
Warteen: Now he can speak again?
Dwarf: What's wrong with him?
Lone Wolf: We can explain on the way. Come now, who are you?
Dwarf: I am Dwarf.
Lone Wolf: Guess that's all you going to say.
Ivy: Must have been temporary.
*Everyone begins to walk south. Scalene continues to follow them at the back. After a few minutes they come over a ridge of snow. Ahead Reod is marching fourth confidently, just leaving view. A lot of explaining is done to and from Dwarf. Grey clouds begin to drift over the stars. Silently, a few flakes of snow fall from the sky, then a few more, and some more until, before anyone realizes what happened, there's a blizzard going on. The temperature is far colder that imaginable, and the wind is biting and has become very cold.*
Luna: Wow it cold.
Lone Wolf: Did you say something!?
Luna: I said it's cold!
Lone Wolf: You don't say.
Dwarf: I don't feel anything.
Luna: There's something wrong with you then.
Dwarf: I can't here you for the wind.
Emily: Everyone, remember the weather can be a far deadlier foe than an entire army! If you feel like you're running out of energy, then please tell me! (*her last word are blown away by the wind*)
Emily: I said "please tell me"!!
Jeff: This wind is a nightmare!
Emily: Perhaps I should try something.
*She does the same magic she used earlier to warm everyone but Jeff up, however it only lasts a few minutes. Nether yeti-cloaks or magic are much of a match for this storm. Only Scalene, at the back, is unaffected. Without warning, Luna drops to her knees*
Lone Wolf: Luna!
Luna: I'm just taking a break. You go on.
Emily: I think she's starting to show signs of hypothermia.
Emily: Posh word for when you're too cold. Go tell the others to wait up, please.
Luna: I need some sleep
Lone Wolf: NO! Don't sleep. Not now.
Emily: Take my yeti-cloak, I'm more used to the cold that you.
Luna: (*Glazed eyes*) Don't put yourself out for me.
Lone Wolf: This is stupid, we can't go on.
*The others have returned*
Cosmo: I'll say.
Dwarf: I don't rely feel the "cold" you keep going on about.
Jon: After all this, surely we're not going to get beaten by the weather?
Gareth: I know, we'll dig a shelter. They show you how to at the weekly explorer.
*Everyone gets to work on the shelter. The winds really are a nightmare now, you can't say anything without shouting it. Lone Wolf stands by Luna trying to keep her awake. Scalene is very helpful, although he seldom speaks. When the shelter is finally finished some of the other's are in a state similar to Luna's. Only Emily remains fully alert and only Scalene and Dwarf aren't affected at all.*
Jeff: Oh boy, that's better.
*The shelter is basically a few tunnels in the ground. They're just as cold, but the wind is kept out. Dwarf is too tall for them, but is also fortunately unaffected by cold. In fact, he doesn't seem to quite understand the concept of temperatures, maybe they don't have hot and cold where he comes from*
Cosmo: I'll say.
Warteen: I doubt we'd have survived for much longer out there.
Cosmo: I'll say.
Gareth: Stop saying I'll say.
Cosmo: Sorry, it must be the cold. I feel like ragnoraking myself into a polar bear to keep out the cold.
*They all spend the next unhappy hours trying to keep each other alert, waiting for morning. But at this latitude, that won't be for many months yet.*
-- City 'o' unity --
The CEO and an assistant are in an apartment-like room. Unlike most apartments, it is actually the control center for EPI in Unity. Hidden pieces of electronics line the walls.*
CEO Bill Grates: (*not to be confused in any way with Bill Gates*) Are we ready?
CEO: Good. That attack from Sootdust has shown me that my own Evil People think I'm weak. Time to make a move. We were founded here, it is time that here became our permanent HQ. What about the tower?
Assistant: Our forces there are ready and waiting to reinforce us.
CEO: Stick to the plan, get the force field generators first.
Assistant: And the head of state?
CEO: As I said, use the bomb. How about the reach into the Northern boundary? I've been waiting to hear how they got the equipment through
Assistant: Well you can't go under it, and you can't go round it and you can't go through it, but you can get over it.
CEO: Can you now? How high have you got to go?
Assistant: Only about half a kilometer, where the effects weaken as the flames dissipate.
CEO: Very interesting. As soon as we take the city, have reinforcements move in from the tower.
Assistant: But like I told you, the tower is controlled by Sootdust.
CEO: Sootdust is dead, I got a report back just now. Sootdust is dead and his "supporters" are back on our side, or those that are left. Apparently a lot of our Evil People are now walking corpses, which Slayer is finding next to impossible to control. But we'll need the extra man power. From here, we will remodel to world in our image!
Assistant: We're also having some trouble with a storm.
CEO: Storm? How bad can that be?
Lone Wolf: I never imagined just how bad a storm could be!
*The storm has been going on for many hours now and is showing no signs of stopping. Dwarf and Scalene have been standing outside like statues*
Ivy: I hope the Keeper's OK.
Warteen: He has a warm fire and a house around him, and the fire ruby.
Jon: I wish we had the fire ruby here.
Jeff: You couldn't use it to get warm, it doesn't work like that.
Gareth: Sorry to bother you, but there's something outside.
*Hundreds of cloaked figures are swiftly passing by, along with heavy equipment and large weapons. The logo of EPI can just be seen on some of them. It is in fact the army moving to back up Grates in seizing Unity. Scalene and Dwarf have fortunately had the sense to hide*
Jon: Where are they going?
Gareth: Beats me, but there's only one way to find out.
Warteen: What are you suggesting?
Gareth: Some of us can split up and go with EPI, they're all wearing cloaks so they won't notice. And everyone else can go and get the Keeper. We can find out how they're getting past the northern boundary.
Lone Wolf: I'll go, you need someone like me incase you get into trouble.
Luna: Then I'll go, 'cos you're going to need some one like me incase he gets himself into trouble (*indicating Lone Wolf*)
Lone Wolf: (*Making a rare joke*) Trouble, who, meeee..?
Emily: I'm going too, if it means getting past that boundary.
Ivy: Sorry, I think they might notice me.
*Scalene and Dwarf look into the shelter to see what's going on.*
Scalene: I go with Ivy.
Jeff: I have the Shrine hearts to look after. And I have the compass.
Cosmo: I have something to discuss with that ■laceb°.
Jon: I've had enough of waiting around here, freezing by spikes off. I'm going.
Warteen: Me too!
Dwarf: What's going on here? (*Unfortunately his loud voice attracts attention*)
[AN: I'm sure I've forgotten someone]
Some important looking dude: (*From a large transport*) What is it down there?!
Warteen: You idiot.
Gareth: Calm down. Anyone who is going get out now. (*To the important looking dude*) Hello there! We are an Evil People Inc. patrol, and we've been lost in the storm.
*The important looking dude looks important and inquisitive*
Some Important looking dude: What's with him? (*Gesturing to Dwarf*)
Gareth: (*Uncertain*) Er, him? He's just tall. Can we come up? We're freezing down here!
Some Important looking dude: Get up here you lousy little (*hard to hear*). We're going off to attack Unity.
Gareth: (*Loudly enough so the people in the shelter can hear*) An attack on the city 'o Unity!
Some Important looking dude: Get up here.
*They do. A few seconds after, they get into pilots room. There's a sound of scuffling. A few seconds later the they have infiltrated one of EPI's many transports and they are heading for the City*
TO BE CONTINUED........
[AN: To summarize, Gareth, Lone Wolf, Luna, Emily, Jon, Dwarf and Warteen are infiltrating EPI, and Ivy, Scalene, Cosmo, and Jeff are picking up the keeper and then finding the last heart.]
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