Grand prize winning entry in contest on Stratics.com relating to the game Ultima Online.
|DARKEST MAGICK: MAGERY 101
Written By: Lord Dorelliun of Great Lakes
A blood red moon hung heavy in the sky, full of dark juice. Upon muttering some strange words, Blix lifted his head and faced his apprentice. Something dark and gleaming flashed in the Master’s eyes, and with a bizarre gesticulation of his fingers, an eldritch haze instantly illuminated the area. “Nightsight will guide us the rest of the way to Papua.”, Blix, the elder mage said. “How do you control such wondrous powers, master?”, asked Worm. “No power comes without a price, young one.”, Blix answered, “We need to keep moving. Grab your backpack, and let’s get out of here before something smells us.” “Sm-sm-smells us?”, young Worm asked.
They trudged laboriously through the mud while a cold rain pattered to the ground around them. “Why are we trying to venture so far from home, Master? Can’t we just stay in town and let the guards protect us?”, the young apprentice asked. “Because we seek glory and power, young one. Glory and power are goals that have to be seized. Only the most fearsome beasts carry the spoils we crave. Only by besting them in battle can we finance our ultimate goals.”, Blix replied. “But what about me, Sire? How can I hope to attain power like yours?”, Worm inquired. “Watch and learn, inquisitive one. Watch and learn”, the master replied, “only through hard work and determination can you hope to achieve proficiency in magery.”
“One of the most important rules we mages observe is preparedness, little one.”, the master explained, “If you hope to survive the denizens of the lower planes, you must even the odds.” “Never leave town with more than you can afford to lose. Always carry arcane clothing and gems, they are insurable. Never carry more than 50 of each mage reagent, the ingredients for our magickal workings.”, the master orated. The young apprentice’s mind raced with this new information. Ree-jents?! “I’m trying to understand, oh beatific splendiferous one. How do I, as a young mage, get started?”, he asked.
“The first thing you need to do, young one, is set up macros for all your spells. It is important to assign spells to keys that are both adjacent to each other, and work well with the other spells next to it. For example, I assign Explosion to my F5 key, and then Poison to my F6 key, because I usually cast them one after another.”, the master explained, “Bear in mind you don’t need to carry your spell book in your hand to use magery..” Blix continued, “When you have set up your spells to macros that are easy to use, then outfit yourself with the best non-metallic armor you can find. Grandmaster Tailors should have what you need.” “I throw myself upon my knees in supplication oh magnificent opulent radiant most powerful one.”, the young Worm replied. The master offered his apprentice one disgusted contemptuous glance, and then continued.
“Once you have outfitted yourself with the protection leather offers, then you need to plan how you will keep yourself stocked in reagents.”, the master said. Worm’s gaze was locked with the master’s, commanding his full and undivided attention. “Ree-gints, master?”, Worm asked. “Ree-AY-Junts, my young apprentice. Take care you don’t mispronounce that in public, else you will be performing the rest of your studies as half oyster, half carrot.”, the master curtly replied. Worm blanched.
“One efficient way to gather reagents, my young supplicant, is to combat the unholy creatures from the grave. Spectres, ghosts, wraiths, and their dark masters, liches, habitually carry reagents. It makes sense to battle creatures that will replenish your ever-diminishing supply.”, the master illustrated. “I see, Master. You are so wise and I am unworthy to receive such knowledge oh splendiferous scrumptious luminescent per–” Blix’s eyes narrowed to icy flints. Worm fell silent.
“Another great locale for mages just starting out is Dungeon Shame. Shame is populated with earth elementals, and these amusing constructs are easily bested with a few well timed fireballs.”, the great sage explained. “The Fireball spell is listed on Circle 3, Page 2 under Transmogrification Conduits before Soul of the Center.......see it there?”, Blix inquired. “Yes, Master.”, Worm replied.
“A wise mage studies his opponent beforehand, learns his enemies’ weakness so he may exploit them to his advantage.”, the master continued. “Fire creatures are weak against the freezing powers of ice; the undead hordes are weak against fire, and so on. Once you know your enemies’ weakness, it is a simple matter to blast them into pillars of ash.”
“A wise mage never ventures into areas without an ally or healers around. It can be a long walk back to town if you get into a nasty situation.”, Blix said. “Because he might get...killed?”, the young apprentice asked. “Indeed, little one. Death is part of the eternal cycle and we mages must learn to accept it.”, Blix supposed, “at least then you have a chance to get to a healer before your body disintegrates forever with everything on it.”
“This is all such good information Master, but what about when I have grown stronger and earth elementals are too easy for me?” the young apprentice inquired. “Well then, my young channeler, I would suggest moving on to liches, the undead masters of those that crawl from their graves.”, the master explained. Worm shuddered. “Liches are powerful former mages, and even after Death, for they command mystical powers of destruction. But as I stated before, they fear fire....and fire is the essence of power, if you remember from your studies, that is....”, and with this he planted a steely glance in his apprentice’s direction. “I know of a forest where the dreaded lich appears in numbers, outside of the city of Yew. You will likely happen upon this area in your travels.”, the master concluded.
“Once you have attained mastery over the undead, I would then move on to drakes and dragons, daemons, and the infernal creatures that roam the Deamon Temple on Fire Island. Both of these creatures also drop reagents as well as generous amounts of gold, so in essence, you can kill two mongbats with one arrow.”, Blix explained. Worm’s mind spun. “So much to remember, Master, I fear I am not worthy...”, the young apprentice realized. “You aren’t, diminutive one. Nevertheless, you are a herald for Chaos; you will MAKE yourself worthy, or you will die screaming.”, the master declared with a contemptuous sneer.
As they rounded the corner, they froze as three snakelike creatures appeared from out of nowehere. Ophidians, Worm realized. The largest of the group, a Justicar, let out a blood curdling shriek and Worm’s blood went icy. “Ah!”, the master glanced at his timepiece, “Right on time. Preparedness, young one. Now is your chance to show me what you have learned. If you are prepared, you will live through this...”, the master calmly opined. Oh no. The Justicar raised his arms into the air, and electricity crackled between them. The creature’s seeking gaze fixed upon Worm and with a triumphant grin, it released the spell.
The Justicar raised its arms, and with a triumphant grin, released the spell. Time slowed to a crawl, and Worm watched in sickening, slow motion as a spark of brilliant azure electricity cocooned the claw-like hands of the Justicar and suddenly arced in a bizarre zig-zag toward him. It was as if the world had become a painted stage and he was the only actor upon it. With calm clinical detachment, he watched the blue lightning race along the line of least resistance, sparking and sizzling as it went, as if it were being drawn slowly by a disembodied, invisible artist's hand. Worm's nostrils filled with the acrid stink of ozone, and in his mouth he tasted coins. No!
5 seconds. Worm shrieked and gesticulated frantically. His arms felt weighted by iron ingots and his brain was a firey, molten ball of pain. (I'm burning Momma I'm burrrrning!) 4 seconds. Worm remembered a trip to the mines of Delucia as a young pup, that he had gotten lost in the caves of Fire seeking adventure, and it was an entire day before he was found. He had wandered for hours, tears streaming down his face while the burning stench of sulphur and ozone raked his throat and lungs, stinging like twin daggers in his eyes. 3 seconds. Worm saw the Justicar, watched it grow to mammoth size, a hundred feet high, a thousand. The rest of the world faded away, and the gaping maw of the beast yawned wide open to devour him. Worm realized he was seeing the shape of his death. He remembered with fondness his early studies, the naive and faultless wonder at the mystical. His collection of crystals, charms, pendants. His mother holding him close, telling him how much she loved him. 2 seconds. A thousand feet tall, a thousand thousand. The Justicar grinned with infernal glee, and Worm observed the mouth of the Justicar contained rows and rows of teeth like thousands of closely packed blue metallic needles. While he watched in revulsion, a long string of pale green venom slowly drooled from its mouth and plopped to the ground. It sizzled like mongbat meat on a fire. No no NO!
In Por Ylem. Worm's eyes lit like glowing embers, as if his skull were on fire from within. Suddenly, Worm locked eyes with the Justicar. The Justicar's smile slipped a fraction, and twin spheres of white hot fire, like tiny meteors, shot from the corneas of Worm's eyes. In a blur, they orbited around each other like dancers through the air, and cleanly burned a perfectly cylindrical tunnel through the forehead of the Justicar, and continued its journey through the meat of the Justicar's brain, and blasted through the back of the Justicar's skull. Worm had a second to register the smoking hole through the Justicar's brain, the smell of charred Ophidian meat made his stomach take a lazy roll. The Justicar's eyes rolled impossibly back into its head, and it then fell into a charred smoking heap. The other two Justicars stared in disbelief at their fallen kin, and screeched crazily as they retreated from whence they came, leaving dust and acrid smoke in their wake. For several seconds, it seemed their screams were carved upon the very fabric of the air, and then faded like a dream.
The Master emerged from the smoke, and offered his hand to the frightened young apprentice. "Well done, my young apprentice, well done.", Blix offered. Worm shakily took his hand, and the Master pulled him to his feet. "You have done well, but we have a long way to go.", the Master said finally. Worm's mouth still tasted like coins, and he wanted nothing more than to be far, far away from this place. But another feeling touched his heart, and he felt it wriggle within him like a fledgling parasite, struggling to free itself from its prison of flesh. He could feel its dark antimatter pushing its face just underneath the surface of his own. Worm reached into his backpack, and pulled out a wickedly lethal shadow kryss.
It was a magnificent piece, and once he held it in his grasp, it hummed with some strange energy. With it, he calmly and carefully severed the tongue of the creature from its twisted mouth. The tough, fibrous meat defied the young apprentice, but with a grunt, the viscera finally separated from the muscle, and with a nauseating snap like a bullwhip, the meat came messily apart. Copious amounts of purplish blood sprayed his face and hands, and spread in a glistening puddle around the crumpled heap of the Justicar. Worm meticulously wrapped the tongue with swatches of cloth, which blossomed a dark purplish crimson with each successive wrap. He then lodged the prize deep in the bottom of his pack, and smiled a terrible smile.
He looked to the north, where his master had already continued his trek toward town, and in the moonlight, for the briefest instant, his eyes shone like hellish green lamps, illuminated from within by some inner flame. I think I understand, Master. Oh yesss, yessssss indeed. A bit of purplish blood had dripped down to his pale lips, and unconsciously he licked it away....and liked it.