The darkness is absolute. It seeps into every nook and cranny of the room. Its overpowering presence penetrates your very being to its core. A place where there is no light... And then, a single beam of light penetrates the overwhelming darkness! It's a light of hope! And with it comes excitement, knowing what will soon follow. For this light is not any light. It is a special light.
It's displaying the credits.
Fox Dragonrite Presents...
A Metamor Keep Production...
The Good and Sacred
John Thesmere as John Thesmere
Arnold Swartzenegger as Patriarch Akabaieth
Diana Rigg as Raven Lightbringer
Marlin Blando as Agemnos
A zergling as Matthias
No letters were harmed during the production of this story.
"It's done! All that is left is to turn it on," John Thesmere said to himself. He reached a gloved hand to a lever and pulled it down. The magical creation came to life and lights all over it started to blink. Wheels turned and crystals hummed. Lightning sparkled across it's antennas. Dials waved around sporadically as the center piece finally came to life. A gentle thumping sound repeated over and over. With each thump, a swath of blue light traveled up the center tube.
"Wow. Dat's impressive."
"Thanks. Who might you be?"
"My name is Akabaieth. And you?"
"John Thesmere. Nice to meet you."
"Da privilege is all mine. Have you been working on dis da whole time?"
"Whole time? Is something going on? I've been spending a lot of time in the lab."
"Da patriarch is visiting."
"Patriach? Is that Lothanasi?"
"Don't worry. It doesn't really mattah. So what does dis do?"
"Absolutely nothing! Muwahahaha!"
"Um, why make it den?"
"Well, it looks impressive, right?"
"And it looks really important, right?"
"And it's so complex that it would take a team of mages months to figure out what it does. I'm going to 'accidentally' let it fall into enemy hands. Should keep them busy a while."
"Hey, I like dat. You have a good head on your shouldahs."
"More of a skull actually."
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, let me show you."
"By Eli... Is dis a product of da curse too?"
"No, no, no! When I died, I... just... didn't die. I'm not sure why I'm still around really."
"Maybe an exorcism would help, er, if you really wanted to move on dat is."
"I'm indifferent either way. But the castle priests from both religions have exorcised me and it didn't work. I've tried notifying the proper authorities, but I didn't get past the secretary."
"Are you Lothanasi? You may find you have bettah luck with Eli. Trust me."
"Actually, my religion has died out. But I'll give it a go. Thanks for the advice."
"No problem. Well, I'll be back."
"Excuse me sir. I'm looking for a Mr. Perl E. Gates. Do you know where I can find him?"
The angel shot him an "isn't it obvious?" look and pointed.
"Ah... Of course."
"You're not of the Way, are you?"
"Not really. But I don't think you are either. Those markings are those of a templar. What are you doing here?"
"Eli acquired The Praetal two centuries ago. Have you been locked in a cellar for a thousand years?"
"Heh, bet you don't hear THAT response much."
"You've got that right. What can we do for you."
"I'm trying to figure out why I haven't gone on to the afterlife. The Lightbringer gods weren't that helpful, so I have to look elsewhere."
"I see. Come on in, we'll see what we can do."
The pearly gates opened and the pair went in. Praises and Psalms abounded from a choir larger than the mind could conceive. By the door stood a box of headphones. The angle reached down and grabbed two pairs. After resting one on his ears, he handed the other to John.
"Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3"
"I hear you loud and clear. Wow, these things do a good job of blocking out that god-awful choir!"
"Yeah. They've been standard issue since the day after we got them. Anyway, follow me."
The pair walked under a huge throne and entered a door marked 'ultra conservatives'. The view on the other side was majestic to say the least. The sky shown bright blue with not a cloud to mask it's glory. The streets were paved with pure gold. Mansions made of jewels, and large yards and gardens stretched out as far as the eye could see. As they walked though the pleasant town, John noted that everyone seemed to dress in a Victorian manner. Everything save their unmarred faces were covered in the finest of cloths and jewelry.
"I couldn't help but notice that Eli was not on his throne."
"Oh, he's on vacation. He has been for the last millennia."
"Why would perfection need a vacation?"
"Prayer is how you talk to God, right?"
"Yes, so I've heard."
"Well, if when everyone talked to you, they said the same things every time in a boring monodrone, wouldn't you get tired of it in a few centuries?"
They reached a small nondescript building. Above the door was marked, "Everyone else". Pushing open the door, they entered into the darker room.
"Hm, this looks like and elevator."
"Correct, this takes you to all the cool places around here."
"Wait! You pressed the wrong button. We're supposed to be headed to the 'Tapestries IRL' level!"
The elevator door opened and the two filed out into a large computer lab. The room was dimly lighted, and the luminous glow of the monitors provide the main source of light to the room. Explosions and Gunfire could be heard from the numerous games of Quake being played.
"Ah, you're going to check the database to see what comes up?"
"Actually, no. We had a Mr. Gill Bates make the operating system for our important work. It immediately crashed and refused to reboot, so everyone said 'screw it, let's go play quake.'"
"Then what are we here for."
"I'm handing you to someone else. Later."
"Oh, okay. Do you have Starcraft in here?"
"Yeah, go through to door on the left."
John started toward the door, hoping the competition wouldn't be to fierce.
"You're John Thesmere right?"
The liche turned to find another angel. But unlike the last, he didn't have on his robe and halo. In its place was a T-shirt that read, "My parents went to fight the legions of Hell, and all I got was this T-shirt."
"That is correct. And you are?"
"I'm called 'N'."
"Hmm, interesting name."
"You said you've been out of it for a while. How long exactly?"
"I was in there since around the year 126. But I like to exaggerate it to a thousand."
"What do you know about the Forgotten Wars?"
"I know I was a General in it. I'm also one of the few surviving Trilarians."
"I think we need to have a talk. Why don't we step into the meeting room. Computer, two to transport to VR Quake."
Both of them vanished in a pretty display of star trek like special effects. They appeared in a dark and moody room in a flash of quake particles.
"I've never played this board."
"Rocket Launcher's over there, Nailguns are there. There's a Megahealth at the top of this platform."
"Got it. Oh, one other thing."
John turned his shotgun on the angel and emptied a round at point blank. N promptly reappeared in the upper tier.
"I got first frag."
"It's high frag count that matters."
John made a beeline for the nailguns, diving behind a pedestal to avoid grenades that N launch from above.
"So, why are you interested in the forgotten wars?"
"We think there are some remaining Ix that weren't destroyed."
John grabs the nailgun he lands by and sprays some wild ammo near N's position. Then he pushes his feet against the wall, sliding himself across the floor on his back. Seeing the quick window of opportunity, he perforates N with a few nails. His body drops beside the liche as he gets up and looks for where he respawned.
"Any idea where they are and in what numbers?"
"We don't know. That's why we need your help."
An explosion sends John flying as he's nailed from behind with a rocket. He looks up to find he's respawned next to a lightning gun.
"What do you need me to do?"
"It's a legend that Trilarians had a way to extend their consciousness. They could use that state to spy on their enemies."
John paused by a corner. The sound of a teleport reached his ears. Locating it to the room in front of him, he spun around the corner and ripped open with his shaft. The lightning bolt immediately fried a female character.
"Kyia? What are you doing here?"
"The Ix were found at Metamor."
John looked over the railing and saw a figure pass beneath him. Letting loose with the thunderbolts, N promptly bit it below him. A dull clunking sounded behind him, and he barely had time to turn around and see the grenade Kyia launched explode in his face and throw him from the balcony to the floor below. He landed with an audible crunch.
"Yeah, Trilarians can do what you said. But any of the brotherhood can. It's just that the Trilarians were the only ones willing to try. It's rather dangerous you know."
"But you can do it, right?"
The sound of a nailgun going off in the distance was closely followed by N dying again. John used this time to snag the rocket launcher. Catching a flash of particles out of the corner of his eye, he launched a rocket at the newly respawned N. The explosion blew him twelve feet off the ground.
"Yeah, I can do it. But I need a focus. Last time I checked, Trilarian equipment was no longer being made. You know where I can get one?"
"I'm afraid not."
John saw Kyia making for the megahealth. After pointing his rocket launcher at the floor, he pulled the trigger. The resulting explosion flung him to the top of the platform. Kyia was surprised to seem him suddenly appear out of nowhere, which John capitalized on by putting his last rocket in her face.
"The vault in Metamor probably hasn't been opened in 500 years. I'll take a look in it and see if someone stored one in there."
"Can you even get the vault open?"
"I'll find a way."
Looking down from his platform, he saw N making for the nailguns. John grabbed Kyia's grenade launcher and lobbed the remaining rounds behind the pedestal. Seeing a couple large chucks of meat flying out from behind it, he was satisfied he got the job done. Then he turned just in time to see a grenade land next him.
"Now then, Kyia. You said the Ix were at Metamor."
"That's correct. I was able to pick up their mana signatures when you were freed."
"Levitating Tasoths! That makes perfect sense!"
Looking up from were he respawned he saw N grinning at him from down his gun barrel. John rolled the side as the blast impacted where he was. Leaping at the angel, he topple him to the ground. John pulled out his axe and sunk it into his ribs.
"Oh my Eli! I can't believe I got axe-fragged!"
"It happens." Commented Kyia as she emptied a magazine of nails into the freshly respawned N.
"Anyway, what makes sense?"
"Those runes I was trapped by were encapsulation runes! The Ix probably had to completely separate itself from everyone else to avoid detection."
"It's been undetected for over 500 years." commented Kyia as she lowered her weapon.
"There's no telling how powerful it is now." commented John. as he lowered his gun.
No one spoke as the gravity of the situation started to sink in.
"We could be in some SERIOUS trouble. I'll see about getting the vault open."
"If you need any help, you know where I am."
"And you both know where I am. If you need any favors from Eli, give me a buzz."
Kyia and John nodded. In a flash of particles, they teleported out.
"Good day, Raven."
"Ah, hello John. Tea?"
"Thank you. I must say, you make a black leather jumpsuit look good."
"Thank you. Now then, I assume you're here for a reason."
"I need some information on Agemnos."
"He's the Daedra Lord of Greed. He's known for offering wealth and power during your physical life and imprisoning your soul at death. Lightbringers are to free these imprisoned souls when ever possible."
"So that would make you 'The Avengers'."
"Could you summon him for me?"
"Just what were you planning to do?"
"Find someone's soul."
"Alright, but I'll want to be present."
Raven lead the undead mage to the inner chamber of the temple. She passed over the traditional chalks and powders, and instead lifted a remote control. After pointing it at the cross and pressing a few buttons, a fat bearded man with a strained voice faded into sight.
"You expressed interest in acquiring my services?"
"My old master Avlin Pantoth was greedy, rich, and had no obvious place where the cash came from. Did he strike a deal with you?"
"Hold on a sec, let me check my records... Yeah, he did. Why do you ask?"
"Some Ix have been located and I need equipment held in the vault to fight them. To open the vault, I need his energy signature."
"The Ix? Tell you what, I'll make you an offer you can't refuse. His soul gem is five miles west of the northwestern tower of the keep. Bring wagons. Consider the power you'll get from releasing the souls my payment."
"And what do you want from us?"
"I want my boys to give the Ix a lick or two when you assault them."
"You'll have your chance. We'll all have our chance."
"Pleasure doing business with you."
"Have a nice day."
Raven pressed a button on the remote and the form of Agemnos faded.
"Well, you seem to have a way with Daedra. How did you plan to harness the power released from smashing soul gems?"
"Hopefully, we'll find answers in the vault."
"Rickkter, stop petting Matthias."
"But Misha! He's so KYOOTE now!"
Misha looked at the growling, spike covered, armored carapace covered, huge toothed and clawed form of Matthias and could only shake his head.
"You have a weird sense of cute, Rickkter."
"And this is news to you?"
Misha shook his head again as John walked into Long Hall.
"The dialog is starting to lose quality."
"I think caffeine and lack of sleep are starting to catch up to the author. Why, just a few minutes ago, he was thinking of having me take over one of Caroline's nightmares that Dream is fluting away. I would start playing the electric guitar and Caroline would start blowing away lutins left and right with the weapons from Quake 2. Finally, she kisses Misha with the late Nasoj's castle exploding in the background for no good structural reason."
"That's better than spoofing James Bond with Rickkter as agent C-Double O-N and Matthias as the 'Bond Babe'."
"But those two would go so well together! Just think of all the comments we could come up with while watching them with a hidden camera! Especially after they nail the bad guys..."
"Rickkter sure is flexible, I'll give him that."
"I didn't know Matthias had a mark there."
"Is that even possible?"
"I didn't know Rickkter was that ... ahem."
"You know, I think Mr. Dragonrite needs to write that spoof."
"Anyway, what can we do for you?"
"I need to open the vault."
"RED ALERT! Everyone take cover!"
Klaxons flare as the room is bathed in red light. In seconds the room is empty.
"Come on guys! I've got a way to open it this time. Oh well, I'll do it myself."
John walked over to wall and depressed one of the stones. A female voice intoned, "Place your hand on the impressed brick and state your name."
"Create new access."
"Place new member's hand on the impressed brick and state his name."
"New access file recorded. Thank you."
A circular section of the wall pushed out. After it completed rotating clockwise, it slide back into the masonry. Then a ten by ten section pushed back into the wall. It split down the middle and either side retreated into the brickwork. As the liche stepped down the stairs into the vault, Misha cautiously started to follow.
"Misha, close the door."
"Press that brick there."
Misha did as asked and the vault sealed itself tight.
"Okay, things are sound proof now. Come take a look at this."
"What is it?"
"It's trilarian weaponry. These here will shoot up to fifty magic missiles a second. The falcon staffs have a blast radius of forty feet."
Misha eyes bulged slightly as he described the firepower the ancient weapons contained.
"This is a crate of the magicium that fuels these implements of destruction. We've got enough firepower down here to raze half the midlands."
"This will prove most useful against Nasoj."
"But there's a catch. Magicium can be nullified with a simple series of negation spells. That's why it's no longer used. But it's been so long that the enemy mages won't remember the counter. However, Nasoj IS old enough to remember the counter, so we get one battle before every mage in the Giantdowns knows how to blow this stuff. Furthermore, we can't use them against Nasoj himself for the same reason. But I can guarantee that it will be a battle we'll win with almost no loss."
"This is still a powerful advantage. We have to wait for just the right time to use it."
"Indeed. For now, they don't exist. And they won't until it's time to use them."
John picked up a tripod like device and hefted it to his shoulder.
"This is what I need. As far as everyone else is concerned, that's all that was down here."
The two nodded and headed back up the stairs.