16th Anniversary – Mesanna’s Ascension Story ContestReturn to: Character and Lifestyle
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Winning Entry by Lady Ivy of Chesapeake
Mesanna kneeled to place a freshly picked rose on the new grave before her. Unlike the other graves, this one would have no marker. While he had certainly been important to her, Peggle the goat was unlikely to get a lot of visitors here. Even Derrick Mornwok, whose machinations had been so influential during the Poseidon’s Fury crisis and whose impressive memorial stood not far from where she had buried Peggle, seemed to have been forgotten; moss and grime covered his memorial stone and the enchanted hat upon the grave seemed to be losing its magic, as it appeared filthy and threadbare.
She didn’t think that it was even strictly legal to bury a pet in the Vesper Cemetery, but if the Vesperian authorities had an issue with it then that was their problem. Not that Peggle had been just a pet–he’d been her only family for a long time, standing by her side through all manner of trials and tribulations throughout the years. Indeed, no one would ever know just how important Peggle had been, not just to her, but to Sosaria itself.
But Peggle was mortal, and even though he’d lived a very long life for a common goat, he couldn’t live forever.
It was entirely possible, however, that Mesanna could.
She sat down next to Peggle’s grave and reflected back on the day she was summoned before the Council of Mages. She had been one of a great many mages of widely varying disciplines and skill levels asked to serve the Council, but was one of only a scant few remaining.What had begun as a simple call to arms had, for her, evolved into so much more.
Under the tutelage of some of the finest mages in the realm, she had honed her skills beyond what she would ever have thought possible. She found that she had a talent–a gift–for the magical arts, well above and beyond her peers.When the land of Ter Mur was discovered, she added the gargoyle skill of mysticism to her repertoire, mastering it quickly and with ease. Just as she had delighted in learning to read during her early years, she eagerly absorbed all of the knowledge that she could.
In her studies she found references to the Gem of Immortality, but the information confused her. Apparently the invasion of Magincia, during which she had nearly been killed by void demons, had been a prelude to the Shadowlords attempting to recreate the Gem. She felt that there must be more, though. From the moment she first read about the Gem something about the stories–fragmentary and sometimes conflicting though they were–resonated within her, and she had to learn more.
So she took leave of the Council and began traveling anew. Her earlier travels had taken her mostly through the various cities of Sosaria, but now she ventured further out. She visited the old dungeons of Britannia, some of which seemed to have changed drastically from what the dusty old tomes of the Britain Library described. She explored the more dangerous areas and dungeons of the Lost Lands. She visited the Labyrinth and Doom Dungeon in Malas. She investigated the Fan Dancer Dojo and the Yomotsu Mines in Tokuno and the Underworld and Stygian Abyss in Ter Mur.
All the while Peggle accompanied her. Although she didn’t dare take him into the dungeons themselves, he was never far away, waiting patiently at a nearby inn or in the care of friendly locals happy to help a mage of her caliber who was willing to keep at bay the monsters near their homes.
And all the while, she fastidiously avoided the land of Ilshenar. Though she’d heard that Bernholdt, the man who had won her from her father in a game of backgammon and had treated her essentially as a slave for most of her youth, had died years ago, she retained an instinctive distrust of that land. She had no memory of her father, or anything of her life before Bernholdt, but her memories of her time at the Twin Oaks Tavern were enough to give her pause despite her many accomplishments since then.
Still having learned nothing, however, Mesanna turned to the one other place she had avoided in her travels: Bedlam. Mesanna was not particularly fond of necromancy. She felt it was a corruption of magic, a perversion of its use. However, as Bedlam had once been an academy (even if it was a school of the darkest of magical arts), repelled as she was by the place she reluctantly headed there anyway.
Finally, her diligence paid off.
Although most of the records in Bedlam had been destroyed by time and the undead, a few academic books remained. She found in one of the few remaining tomes (after fighting her way past the undead hordes) a mention of the king of fey being a special guardian of part of the Gem of Immortality. The details were very vague, though, and Mesanna’s heart sank. The only king of fey she knew of was Lord Oaks…
Who was sighted most often somewhere in the forest next to the Twin Oaks Tavern.
So reluctantly she headed to Ilshenar. She found the altar that she knew was the fey king’s most used of two access points into the world. She told Peggle to stay back and marched confidently onto the altar.
”Show yourself, Lord Oaks!”
Nothing happened. She could have sworn she heard some nearby pixies giggle, and she shot them an annoyed glare.
“I need to speak to you about the Gem of Immortality! I do not wish to harm your fey kin. Please answer me!”
She cast every incantation and summoning spell at her command, but to no avail. Finally she sat down on the altar and scowled. She looked up at Peggle, who stood patiently off to the side. Sighing, she held her hand out to him and he walked toward her, his old legs stiff and slow.
The moment his hoof touched the altar, two fey, both much larger than the tiny pixies around her, suddenly appeared. Mesanna jumped to her feet and took a defensive position but they ignored her, instead inspecting Peggle carefully.
“Lord Oaks, I presume?” Mesanna said as she stepped between Peggle and the two fey.
The one who appeared to be a particularly large ethereal warrior looked at Mesanna. “That is correct.” He gestured toward his companion, who looked to Mesanna to be a larger version of the tiny pixies fluttering about. “And my queen, Silvani. We heard you ask about the Gem of Immortality. Why do you seek what you already have? We had so wondered where it had gone.”
Mesanna blinked in confusion. “What I already have? I came here seeking knowledge, nothing more–knowledge that I don’t have. I don’t understand.”
Lord Oaks and Queen Silvani exchanged a meaningful glance, but their otherworldly faces were inscrutable to Mesanna.
“There are many who have a connection to the Gem of Immortality,” Lord Oaks said after a few moments. “We are but two. We live, we die, and we live again. Most have gone mad, corrupted to evil by the endless, inescapable cycle. Our magic, the magic of the fey, is different, and we have thus far been spared this corruption. There are many shards of the Gem, many mirrors of the world, and although we cannot clearly see them we know that nearly all of them have evolved similarly. However, once in a while, presumably due to the shattered nature of the Gem, its magic flares out into the world. Usually it subsides and returns to normal, but it seems that in this case, the magic has become intertwined with the life force of this creature.”
Mesanna felt overwhelmed by this revelation. She’d known from the day Peggle was born that he was special, had felt it in her bones, but she’d always thought that her connection with him had been one of kindred spirits, unwanted children in a harsh world. It seemed that perhaps her magical aptitude had drawn her to Peggle as much as sympathy and mutual understanding.
Lord Oaks was not finished, however. His placid, ethereal features twisted into a troubled frown. “And this creature is dying.”
Mesanna felt as if her heart had been yanked from her chest. Certainly, the signs had been there that Peggle’s life was coming to an end–and he had lived an extraordinarily long time for a goat already–but she had tried to ignore it.
“The death of this creature will dissipate the magic that has become attached to its life force,” Queen Silvani said, effortlessly picking up where Lord Oaks left off.
Mesanna paused, and tried to think through her dismay and grief. “What does that mean, though? What will happen if the magic is lost?”
“It is difficult to say with certainty. It might have no effect at all, or it might weaken the very foundation of Sosaria. To our knowledge, nothing like this has ever happened before,.” said Queen Silvani.
“The magic has kept this beast alive much longer than it otherwise would have lived,” Lord Oaks continued, “but a simple animal such as this cannot contain such power indefinitely.”
“No…” Queen Silvani said, turning to Lord Oaks, “but there is another way.”
“Are you certain that is wise?” Lord Oaks asked her. “You have seen what became of the others.”
“This would be different. She is not bound to one location as we are, as the others are. Her freedom could make her the most powerful force of good in Sosaria, across all the shards of the Gem.”
“Or the most powerful force for evil.”
Queen Silvani tilted her head, seemingly lost in thought for a few moments. “I don’t think so. Can’t you feel it? The magic has been tempered by its combination with this creature’s life force. Its essence is already strongly connected with hers, and they have not been corrupted by it.”
“What are you talking about?” Mesanna asked. They both turned to her.
“We can transfer your animal companion’s life force, and thus the magic within him, to you,” Lord Oaks explained. “The spiritual bond between you is strong, else it would be difficult or impossible, and you have enough innate magic of your own to make you an acceptable conduit.”
“But that would kill him,” Mesanna said.
“It would end his physical existence, yes. However, he is already dying, and his death could well cause instability across every shard of the Gem,” said Queen Silvani.
“So I let you kill Peggle or the world ends?” Mesanna asked bitterly.
“Lost friends live on in us, so long as we remember them,” Queen Silvani said. “The choice is yours. We cannot force you, as you must accept the magic into yourself. It is also unlikely that we will find another suitable candidate in time.”
Mesanna crouched next to Peggle and gently stroked his face. His old, tired eyes looked into her tearful ones. She realized suddenly that her interest in the Gem of Immortality had only begun when Peggle’s health had begun to deteriorate with age. Perhaps the magic of the Gem had been influencing her the entire time, eventually leading her here.
Peggle nuzzled her face as if in agreement, and she knew. It was only fitting that their time together should end here, just a stone’s throw from the Twin Oaks Tavern where it had all begun.
“Will it hurt?” she asked.
“It will not hurt him, but you might find the process difficult. Infusing magic into a living being is much easier when they are young. So easy, apparently, that it can happen by accident,” Queen Silvani said, gesturing vaguely toward Peggle. “We shall have to take steps to ensure that this does not happen again.”
Mesanna nodded. She stayed crouched next to Peggle as the two fey closed in on them, one on each side. They each placed one hand on her head and one on Peggle’s.
“Stay true to yourself,” Queen Silvani said. It was the last thing Mesanna remembered before the world exploded in brilliant white.
She awoke some time later. Night had fallen, and Oaks and Silvani were gone. Visions of worlds that looked familiar yet different swam in her mind, and she felt powerful magics within her grasp
Peggle lay lifeless before her.
The temptation to flex her new powers was incredibly strong, but Mesanna knew there was one thing she must do before venturing into the unknown. She had to remain true to herself, as Silvani had said, and that meant returning the loyalty that had been given her as best she could.
It was thus that she found herself in front of the Twin Oaks Tavern, which was now owned and operated by Markus, the cook who had taught her to read all those years ago against Bernholdt’s wishes. He said little, seemingly intimidated by the power that Mesanna was certain she was radiating, but provided her with some fabric to wrap Peggle in for the journey back to Britannia. She found that the place no longer frightened her, and she knew that a new chapter in her life was beginning.
So she took Peggle to the Vesper Cemetery. He’d been mesmerized by the ships in the canals during their stay there some years before, and now he would be near them forever. She hoped he liked it.
She stood. Her new abilities had come with an expanded, instinctive knowledge of the world of Sosaria. She could see the many shards that the Gem had divided the world into. She knew now that the one she was on was called Chesapeake, but there were many more out there, each with their own people and history and problems to solve. She could see them all, like fragments in a broken mirror, and she knew that she needed only to think about it and she could travel to any of them she chose in an instant. She had traveled her world, but now she could travel the universe.
She smiled. “I’m not finished yet,” she whispered. Somewhere, on some plane of existence, even if it was only in her own heart, she felt certain that Peggle heard and understood her. “Thank you, old friend.”
With a thought, she opened the walls of the world and vanished.
Mesanna raised her eyes from the invitation to Mage’s Council in Britain and looked again at its courier standing before her. The brim of his eccentric wizard’s hat was tilted forward, and hid all but his wiry gray beard. A chuckle bubbled up and the man lifted his head.
“Rel!” Mesanna’s voice was almost a squeal. “Rel Tak! It is you!” She flung her arms around her once mentor of the arcane arts.
“Yes girl,” said Rel, breaking into a laughter. “It is me.”
Mesanna released the old man after making sure she had squeezed him as tightly as possible without breaking anything. She slapped his nose with the letter he had delivered. “You really had me going with this. As if they’d ever let either of us in that place.”
“Oh?” said the old man. “Why’s that then?”
“The drunken pirate mage, and the girl who can’t even twist a gate spell?”
“I am not that mage anymore,” said Rel, adjusting his beard, “and from what I hear, you are not that girl.”
Mesanna’s attention returned to the paper in her hand and her eyes widened. “You mean… This is real?”
Her old teacher nodded with a smile.
“But, who on the council would take me as an initiate?” said Mesanna, and in the next moment her fingers were wrapped around the collar of her mentor’s robe. “You got into the Council Of Mages!”
The old man laughed again and placed his hands on her shoulders to calm her. “Yes,” he said. “But it was not me who selected you, I am too old for mentoring. There is another. Someone who has been waiting to see you for a very long time.”
“Come,” said Rel Tak, walking off toward the moongate. “Oh, I do enjoy surprises.”
Mesanna peppered the old man with questions as they left the crowed livestock show. They made it all the way to Luna gate before Mesanna smacked her forehead and ran back to the stage. She grabbed the collar of her prize goat, Peggle, in one hand and the trophy in the other. Then, affording only a hurried nod to the judges and audience, she bolted after the wizard.
Under Rel Tak’s insistence they rode on horseback from the Britain moongate to the steps of Lord British’s castle. They could have recalled in seconds, but the old man reveled in drawing out the suspense However, he never once offered any hint of who they were to meet. When they arrived there were two figures waiting for them in front of the grand stone arches. A man and a woman, both dressed in the robes of the council.
“Mesanna,” said Rel as they came before them. “May I present you to Lord Kronos.”
Mesanna bowed low in greeting but did not take her eyes from the man’s face. His features and expression were stern and almost cruel as he gazed down at her. Lord Kronos barely lowered his brow in return.
“And this,” said Rel, directed her to the woman beside Kronos, “I’m thrilled to say is your-”
“Mother,” said Mesanna, her mouth remaining open.
The woman came forward. She was smiling softly and Mesanna could see tears filling the corners of her beautifully aged eyes. She said nothing as she wrapped her arms around her daughter and rested her head against her neck. Mesanna was too shocked to move at first, too shocked to even speak. Then her arms came up. She crossed them over her mother’s back and held on tight.
“Hmph,” said Lord Kronos. “So that we are perfectly clear Lady Asheal, there will be no fast-tracking among initiates of the council.” And with that the harsh spoken mage removed himself and entered the castle.
“Every night, I have dreamt of this moment,” whispered Lady Asheal into Mesanna’s ear.
In the coming days Mesanna learnt how her mother had spent the years after losing her only child. How her father had lied about selling her to a tavern as a slave, saying instead that she had been taken by a wild beast in the forest, but finally letting the truth slip one night in the throws of a drunken stupor. Her mother had traveled to the tavern that very same night, only to find that Mesanna had fled the establishment just one month earlier.
Lady Asheal would find no leads on her daughter’s whereabouts for some time after that. Not until she joined the Council Of Mages in Britain and met scruffy conjurer from Buccaneer’s Den, who loved to boast of the exploits of his students. The name “Mesanna” had quickly caught the Lady’s attention.
And so it was that they were reunited, and Mesanna became an initiate to the Council Of Mages. She quickly found the words of Lord Kronos at their first meeting had been redundant. Her mother was by far the hardest mentor in the entire conclave, and she pushed Mesanna for absolute excellent in all fields of study. She also received lessons on her heritage, and discovered that the women of her family had always been exceptionally skilled in the arcane arts. Throughout the conclave historical records there was always at least one of her ancestors on the roster of names.
Despite the heavy load of her training, or perhaps because of it, the bond between the two women grew stronger with time. As her bloodline had gifted her, Mesanna was not weak, and would not stand to be seen as weak. When a challenge was beyond her limits, she would respond by casting aside those limits, and reforging new ones with sweat and pain. Finally, two years to the day from entering the conclave, Mesanna was ready for her trials of passage. A trio of tests that would decide if she was to be accepted into the order as a full member. The night before her trials Mesanna and Rel Tak went to Lady Asheal’s quarters to talk about the day to come.
“It’s finalized,” said Rel. “Lord Kronos will be one of the examiners tomorrow.”
Mesanna groaned and let her forehead bump upon the tabletop.
“I expected as much,” said her mother. “He would not pass up his last chance to prevent your acceptance.”
“What does he have against me?” said Mesanna. “I’ve always done what he has requested.”
“I’m afraid it is my fault,” said her mother. “Our views on what a mage should be differ. Lord Kronos is always in search of ways to increase our destructive power, while I seek ways to increase our healing and preservation skills. It has made for some very colorful arguments at the council assemblies.”
“And how is your research going?” said Rel, as he scoured the shelves and drawers for some form of entertainment.
“Very well, thank you. I’ve almost perfected a spell that should be able to remove disease and other ailments beyond our current abilities.”
“Almost, eh?” said the Rel, and flashed a toothy grin through his bread.
“Yes,” said Lady Asheal with an icy tone. “The incantation draws on the wielders life force, much like spells use by paladins. Unfortunately, it draws a little too much.”
“That doesn’t sound healthy,” said Rel as he shook a fortune ball he had found.
“No,” said Lady Asheal. “Oh, for all the stars! The games are in the elven chest you old coot!”
“What kind of test will Lord Kronos choose?” said Mesanna.
“Combat most likely,” said Rel, poking his nose into the chest. “He favors balrons.”
“I can handle those,” said Mesanna.
“I would not count on it however,” said Lady Asheal. “He will surely plan to catch you off guard.”
Rel carried a rectangular box from the trove and slumped his weight into the chair between them. It was a board game, backgammon, and he opened it across the table.
“Right then!” he said “Who’s up for a thrashing?”
Mesanna scowled and stood up. She left the room for the open air of the balcony.
The wizard turned to Lady Asheal, his brow creased. “What?”
“Wait here,” she said, and went to join her daughter.
The night was cool, and from the balcony they had a perfect view of the moon floating low above the rooftops of Britain.
“It’s only a game,” said Lady Asheal, as she came to stand beside her daughter.
“For you,” said Mesanna.
“You must not let your past sway you, Mesanna. It is as dead as grave dust, and cares nothing you now. Why should you care for it?”
Mesanna took a deep breath and turned her eyes to the people moving through the streets beyond the castle walls. “What became of him?”
Mesanna nodded. “What became of him, after he lost me in a game?”
“He is dead.”
Her mother looked away for a long while before answering. “I killed him,” she said at last.
Mesanna said nothing, but inside she was screaming for more.
“He was not drunk,” said her mother. “The night he told me what had become of you, he was not drunk.”
Lady Asheal wiped her eyes quickly and turned back to her daughter. “He was enraged, at what I do not recall, and as usual he came for me.”
“Why did you let him beat you all those years? Why didn’t you use your power?”
“I wasn’t always a mage, you know,” said her mother with a trembling smile. “There was a time I was afraid of magic. Your grandmother had shown me the things it could do, and it terrified me. But then she heard about what that man was doing, and she made me learn. On that night, when he came at me, I was ready.”
Lady Asheal paused another moment before continuing. “He begged for mercy,” she said. “He told me you were still alive and promised me the truth if I spared his life. But even after I had heard it, I did not stop. I could not stop.”
Mesanna linked her arms around her mother’s shoulders as the old sorcerer clutched the balcony rail.
“Believe me when I tell you,” said Lady Asheal. “In this world, there are times when even malice is a virtue.”
A crowd of both mages and citizens had gathered at the old Britain fairgrounds just outside the city. The annual initiate trials were open to all to watch, and it was a show guaranteed to please. There were nine hopefuls taking the challenge this year, of which Mesanna was the last to be tested. By the time she stepped to the center of the weathered oak stage, eight of her fellow apprentices were seated along its edges, battered by defeat.
Lord Higashi of Zento was the first of her examiners. He chose summoning. The task was simple, she must replicate the master’s creatures with own.
At first he began simply. An earth elemental, then water, then fire. Next came a daemon, followed quickly by a vortex. Mesanna had no trouble, never fizzling or mis-speaking a word of power. Lord Higashi smiled. He flicked the sleeves of his robe back to his shoulders and let loose a stream of elemental incantations. Earth! Fire! Air! Daemon! Mesanna’s mind and lips raced to keep up. Water! Fire! Vortex! Air! Llama!
The big wet eyes of the purple creature toppled Mesanna focus, but she quickly caught on to her examiner’s trick.
“Vas Corp Por!” she called out, and streamed the thaumatic energies into just the right channels.
A second and identical purple llama popped into existence before her. There was silence. Then gradually, the amazed crowd remembered to applaud as murmurs of approval were passed between the members of the council. Lord Higashi placed his palms together in front of him, and smiled as he bowed.
The next senior mage to test her would be her own mother, Lady Asheal.
“And what challenge have you arranged with your daughter today?” said Lord Kronos, seated among his loyal supporters, or “minions” as Mesanna liked to call them.
“A test of defense and healing,” said Lady Asheal, not bothering to look back.
Lord Kronos and the men around him scoffed and snickered.
As her mother ascended to the stage, Mesanna began casting protection and buff spells upon herself. Lady Asheal waited at the top of the stairs until she was finished, and then shook her head. She moved aside and to allow Rel Tak to climb up beside her. He was trailing a rope that was linked to the collar of Mesanna’s oldest friend, Peggle the goat. She motioned for the old wizard to lead the pet to Mesanna.
Rel hesitated and said, “I don’t think it proper to-”
Lady Asheal raised her palm to quell his objection.
The wizard sighed. “Oh, bother it all.” he said, and did as requested. Once Rel Tak had alighted the stage Mesanna was left facing her mother and teacher, a bewildered goat standing between them. This had to be a joke, or ruse, she thought. She would not dare hurt Peggle.
“In Nox,” chanted Lady Asheal.
The poison spell landed and Mesanna cured it the moment it took hold. She pre-cast greater heal, let it loose, and then another cure as the attacks came thick and fast from her mentor. Peggle was bleating and trying to flee, but the Lady Asheal used her attacks to confuse and kept the helpless goat running in circles. Mesanna slipped in a buff as a crisp energy bolt ripped across the stage, just one of these would kill a normal goat, however Peggle was hardened by years of adventure.
Heal, heal, heal! Her precious companion was screaming in pain, screaming for her help. Every cry was like blow to Mesanna’s heart, and soon tears flooded her cheeks. Mercifully, her healing was keeping up with damage. Then the fire started. Flame strike after flame strike, with little casting time given between. Why was her mother doing this? The damage began to out pace Mesanna’s skill. She felt terror well inside her, but her mother did not slow. Mesanna was chanting so fast her words seemed to overlap. Every heal spell landed with all the power she could infuse it with, and then… failure! Poison! She had missed the cure in her panic! Peggle lay still, barely able breathe. Lady Asheal began another flame strike, it would be the last.
“Corp Por!” screamed Mesanna. The energy bolt struck her mother in the shoulder and spun her body clear off the stage. The crowd gasped and then fell silent.
After a moment a rasping chuckle drifted up from where Lady Asheal had fallen. Mesanna saw her mother’s hand grasp the edge of the stage and Rel Tak rushed to help her to her feet.
“For a second there,” said Lady Asheal as she patted the grass from her robes. “I thought you meant to let poor Peggle die.”
Mesanna tried to stared down her mother with all the fury she could muster.
“It had to be real, Mesanna. We had to know how you would react,” said Lady Asheal as she was helped to her seat. “And for future reference, I would much prefer a magic arrow. You have passed my test.”
The crowd roared.
Mesanna insisted on a short respite so that she could properly tended to Peggle injuries with magical care. With the help of her fellow mages, the goat was soon back to normal, although still very shaken by the events. Then it was Lord Kronos’s turn test the initiate’s skill. He stepped up to the stage.
“You have proven you can heal, and you have proven you can summon,” he said. “Both excellent support roles in any battle. However now it is time to see how you perform on the front lines, toe to toe with the enemy.”
Combat. Rel Tak had been right. There was movement in the crowd as the city guards cleared a path from the road. An armored prison cart pulled by four horses rolled onto the fairground. Red glowing eyes flashed at the slits in the walls of the holding cell.
“What monster have you brought with you this time, Lord Kronos?” said Lady Asheal. “Another balron perhaps?”
“No, not at all,” said Lord Kronos. “It is just an ogre. Surely any daughter of your bloodline can handle that?”
As the guards moved to open the containment, mages began lining the path and stage with summoned walls of stone.
“It is perfectly safe,” said Lord Kronos to the mages securing the area. “The beast is quite tame. I have been using him in my research for some time now.”
With reluctance the mages complied with their senior’s command, and the crowd of spectators drew back several feet. The gate to the prison cart fell open. The creature it held trudged down the ramp.
It was indeed an Ogre, but unlike any Mesanna had encountered. It’s skin was scarlet and radiated a dark shadowy mist. The eyes were demonic and glowed red, even under the bright sunlight. In its hand it wielded an massive spiked club that was clearly enchanted to the point of instability. Arcs of raw energy could be seen rolling across its surface.
“Blackrock!” cried a voice from among the mages. “That thing is infected with blackrock!”
As a rumble of concern voices built across the fairground, Lady Asheal stood from her chair. “Is this true, Lord Kronos?” she said. “Have you infected this creature with blackrock?”
“Yes, I have,” said Kronos, without a single thread of concern in his voice. “Behold the fruit of my labored research. I, Lord Kronos, am now able harness the limitless power of blackrock!”
He approached the ogre as it stood completely inert, the grass around it’s feet turning black like decaying blood. “I can use it,” continued Lord Kronos, “not only to enhance the strength any creature I choose, but also to bring their mind under my absolute control. As you can plainly see, what was once a wild and frenzied beast, is now a puppet to my every command.”
“The blackrock is chaotic by nature!” said Rel Tak. “It cannot be controlled.”
“How can you know that?” said Lord Kronos. “Have you spent countless days in study of it, as I have?”
“It is too dangerous.”
“Dangerous to the ignorant mind perhaps, but not to us,” said Kronos. He gestured a command to his pet and it walked up upon the stage to stand before Mesanna. “So tell me daughter of the Great Lady Asheal, do you accept your final challenge?”
Mesanna looked from the demonic face of monster to her mother, and then to Rel Tak. The silence over the fairground was broken only by the cries of Peggle, who still upset from the last trail, and now doubly so with the arrival of this unnatural creature.
“She does not,” said Lady Asheal. “You have gone to far, Lord Kronos, and this time your actions must be brought into question.”
“Nonsense!” bellowed Lord Kronos. “Can you not see the power I have brought within our reach? Why do fear it? Watch. I will demonstrate how well this creature is tamed.”
Lord Kronos went to the stage and stood before his creation. With a movement of his hand the beast kneeled before him. Then he raised his arms and his pet took up a battle ready stance. “You see,” he said. Many of the mages of the conclave began to nod in approval. “Now, observe its incredible strength.”
He brought his arm down with a quick sweep and the creature swung its club high over its head. It slammed its weapon against the solid oak blocks of the stage and reduced them to splinters. Mesanna leapt to the ground as the ogre swung a second destructive blow. All the while Lord Kronos watched on smiling, his hand at the ready for another command. As the club came down a third time a bright light flashed from the impact, and a boom like thunder had the crowd reeling in fear. The weapon had shattered.
When the shockwave of raw magic had passed Mesanna looked up to find the ogre howling and clutching its hands to its head. The masses of people were stampeding in all directions. It appeared that whatever control Lord Kronos had over the creature was gone. Mesanna caught a glimpse of him fleeing the fairgrounds with a group of his colleagues. The mages that remained quickly gathered and readied their spells to destroy the abomination.
The first blast of deadly magic struck while the beast was still disorientated. It was knocked face down into the rumble of the stage, but soon began pushing itself upright with its heavy set arms. Mesanna watched the mages beyond prepare to combine their powers for second attack. The creature raised its head and a pair of red glowing eyes locked upon her. The beast roared and sprung forward.
Mesanna rushed to cast a wall of stone, but even as she began she knew she would not finish it. As the creature’s weight crashed into her there was an explosion of heat and light. Mesanna felt her life slip away.
It was dark and cold, so very cold.
Where was she?
Was this death?
A pinpoint of white appeared before her. It cut through the darkness like moonlight through the sea.
“Come back child.” It was her mother’s voice. “You are spared.”
“Where am I?” It was her own voice, but she had not spoken.
“You are safe. You are alive.”
“I can’t see. I can’t feel anything.”
“What is this? What happened to me?”
There was silence.
“I am sorry for the life my weakness has caused you.”
“I am so very sorry.”
There was a beat.
Mesanna awoke on a bed in a room of the castle. When she was well enough to move she found her hair had darkened to a mystical black that flickered with impossible color. Her skin was pale and her flesh was cold, but she was neither dead nor undead. Her heart still beat and life still flowed through her body and mind.
She learnt from Rel Tak that the Lord Kronos’s abomination had infected her with blackrock during the attack at the fairground. However before it could take hold, her mother, Lady Asheal had intervened. Using an experimental healing spell developed in her years of research, she had stopped the infection, containing it within field of magic. Lady Asheal had saved her daughter’s life, but the act of the casting such an unstable spell had extinguished her own.
The field that carried the blackrock infection remained inside Mesanna’s body. In time she would discover that she could use it to connect with the raw magical energies of her world. No longer requiring chanted words or material reagents, Mesanna’s power was bound only by her imagination. She could work magic from its source, and had became the world’s first and only True Sorceress.
Third Place by Alexander of Atlantic
Many years have passed since she claimed freedom and started living the life of a young and beautiful women. It is a mid-autumn morning and the sun was just about to rise above the horizon. Colorful leaves scatter the area and the sound of the near winter-breeze rustles the remaining leaves high above the ground near the luna fairgrounds on Atlantic. Mesanna does her daily chores which include picking the fresh fruits in the garden, feeding Peggle the goat, and preparing for the newly established holiday: Halloween.
Mesanna opens the barn and begins feeding Peggle until her and the goat locked eyes. A solemn memory pierces her mind, a prophecy that haunts her to this day.
A few months have passed since her last meeting with the Council of Mages, yet she is still mind-boggled by the experience. At the meeting, Mesanna received a tattered parchment from the high council mage, Damos. A great silence filled the air as she opened the parchment and read aloud:
“On this horrid of nights a monster will be born
from a mixture of emotions and somewhat torn.
She will be consumed of the evils: hatred and pain.
From a battle of tyranny, blood will mix with rain.
Everything has a weakness, an Achilles Heel.
Betrayal, Anger, and Revenge are evils you will feel.
Slice an’ Dice and tear your enemy in thrice;
For fates are numbers; even you can’t beat the dice.
It is now time to meet your doom….1…2…3…
I can see you but you can’t see me.”
Snapping back from this painful memory, Mesanna continues her duties with Peggle and the barn.
Somewhat distraught, Mesanna fills the water trough for Peggle and then sliced up come carrots to give to peggle as a treat. Peggle, an elderly goat now, rubs against Mesanna’s hands as she lays down the carrots. She gently pets the goat affectionately and couldn’t help to cry.
“You have been there with me since the beginning, I will not let anyone hurt you. I Promise.”
After finishing his oats and carrots, Peggle nudged Mesanna as if it was his way of saying “I want more oats!” Mesanna, consumed with emotion, gives in to Peggle and decides to make a trip into town to collect some items. Before leaving, she makes a quick gesture towards Peggle and heads off towards the house. Noticing she should have went into town a lot sooner, she realizes she needs to grab more than oats and carrots. Mesanna was planning to make her famous ‘Pisto Stew’- made of tomatoes, onions, eggplant, green and red peppers, olive oil, and the peculiar mandrake root. She writes down her list on a piece of parchment, which
– Mandrake root
– Various Reagents
– A new spellbook
Grabbing the last bit of items she needs, she sets off into town. On her way, she finds many objects to keep her mind occupied, a bird here, deer there, and the sound of a cow in the near distance. She couldn’t help but laugh at the site of the deer and squirrel playing together.
Alas, she comes to the opening gates of Luna and can easily feel the ambiance of the city. Merchants, Players, and many creatures that inhabit the city are all around and mingling with each other.
She crosses off some items on her list until she only lacks one more item: The Mandrake Root. The only place to acquire this ingredient is in the ‘Shoppe of Magical and Mystical Features’, which is a place where the rudest and most insane people hang out. Preparing for the worst she makes her way down the ally and before she knew it, she was now in front of the building.
With a deep breathe, she opens the door to the shop and really isn’t surprised by what she saw: Gambling drunks that were about to fight, a witch that was in the process of turning a man into a toad, and an elderly man whom she thought looked familiar. He was wearing a stained grey robe and a very dirty green floppy hat, Mesanna couldn’t remember exactly where she saw him but was certain they had met before.
“Can I help you?” the alchemist said.
Startled, Mesanna turned around and placed her order for the Mandrake roots.
“Yes, we have that in stock. I’ll fetch this fine item for….”
Everything froze, as If time stood still. The ticking grandfather clock was no longer ticking. The overwhelming argument of the drunkards ceased and the witch is frozen in midst of her spell. Yet, Mesanna wasn’t frozen, in fact, she was far from it. Trembling, and not sure what to do, she turns around to find that the old man she somewhat knew is evaporating. Oh Wait! Not evaporating, transforming! What stood in his place was a mirror image of Mesanna herself but wasn’t her at all. Mesanna stood there, frozen in fear, as the appirition spoke:
“Greetings, I am the ‘Spirit of Vengeance’. It is your time to fulfill your destiny. The prophecy has commenced. Stay true to your belief, let no one deceive you.”
All at once, the spirit takes about 100 different forms and says in a fading voice:
“Everything has a weakness, an Achilles Heel.
Betrayal, Anger, and Revenge are evils you will feel.”
Hearing this yet a second time she closed her eyes and screamed at the top of her lungs: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
She slowly opened her eyes and saw that everyone in the room is watching her in bewilderment. The appearance of the Spirit didn’t even happen in their minds.
Mesanna dropped everything she had in her hands and ran as fast as she could, so fast that every breath was a gift. She knew she had to get home fast, something terrible was about to happen…. or could have already happened. Straining to get the extra mile, she saw the entrance way to her house approaching. “RUN!” Was all she could tell her self. Finally reaching her house, she dashed down the hill to the barn, pleading that her biggest fear wasn’t true. Reaching the barn, she broke through the doors and stopped. Peggle the goat was missing.
Feeling lost, she dropped to her knees. She couldn’t hold it, tears bellowed out of her eyes. Peggle was everything to her, why would someone steal him? While sobbing, she noticed a letter addressed to her that was laying on the ground. Fingers still trembling, she picked it up and read aloud:
“You have proven to be masterful of the art of magic. I offer to you now, a ultimatum. After your training, I watched closely as you perfected my teachings to the maximum. I am in need of an apprentice, a mage as powerful or even more powerful than myself. You remember those void demons in magincia? Those were my minions that came to test your ability. It is time to make your final decision. Become my apprentice and your goat will live. Disobey my invitation, you and your goat will die. You know where to find me.
~ Rel Tak”
Mesanna, consumed with emotion, began to understand the meaning of the prophecy and what her purpose was. All of her life, she has been taken advantage of. All of those years of beatings and slavery. Her supposedly friend that burnt down her town and her house, the life she peacefully enjoyed and the Demons that scarred her mentally with the fear of dieing.
Anger began to build. The feeling of being betrayed engulfed her. And the urge for revenge builds every second. Mesanna looked up into the sky and yelled with a mighty roar that shook the mountains: “I will find you…. and I will kill you. No ONE… harms my best friend!!”
Rel Tak, made one mistake in his letter which enclosed the information needed for Mesanna to find him.
Mesanna felt a new strength rush through her, the feeling of invincibility. She had enough with the people who used her for their own personal gain. She claimed her freedom of slavery and she will NOT go back to it. At heart, Mesanna knew a spell that could cause the end of the world, but in the right hands, can be used to the casters advantage: Armageddon
With a mighty force in her voice she casted this spell.
“Vas Kal An Mani In Corp Hur Tym”
Mesanna closed her eyes and felt a rush of power inside her. The thought that she could also be killed in the process didn’t even occur to her. She was tired of being used. Peggle was everything to her, her best friend. Without failure, she casted a gate and went through… to Rel Tak’s layer.
With a push of force, Mesanna used the element of wind to blow open the doors. Anger and Revenge took over, no one could stop her. A rush of excitement rushed through Mesanna’s body when she saw the look on Rel Tak’s face. He was petrified at the sight of Mesanna, looking dead in her glowing eyes. The sudden realization of death was in the air and Rel Tak went into defense mode. He started to take the fire from all the candles to make one big fiery wave. He almost succeeded, the wave consumed nearly half of the room, but Mesanna was to fast for him. Mesanna made an evil grin and a piercing laugh. With a wave of her hand, a gust of air came through her and knocked the fire out. Her and the Magician locked eyes for a split second, then Mesanna picked him up with the power of gravity and through him outside.
The effect of the spell was now taking its place and instantly many shadow-like creatures surrounded Mesanna.
“Meet my minions” says Mesanna
Backed in the corner, Rel Tak used his only fighting option.
“That’s it. Kill me and become my apprentice. Unleash your true power and become one with what I’ve taught you. That’s it! KILL ME!”
Mesanna’s minions moved in closer as Mesanna drew near Rel Tak. Her eyes are glowing a metallic blue and her skin turned to void black. Her hair turns the color of what some call, Abyssal- the only cloth that can be afforded by high matriarchs of kingdoms. With a bold and stern voice, Mesanna bellows out: “I SERVE NO ONE!!”
At this time ash and dust began to swirl between Mesanna and Rel Tak.
Some Warriors use Clubs, Swords or Bows as a mechanism for battle. Some mages use spells along with the power of pets. Not Mesanna.
“You dare give me the option to either sell my life to you or to kill my best friend! You are now the prey as I am the predator. Here are your options, Rel Tack.” says Mesanna
The ash and dust began to swirl even more, so fast the image blurs. In place of the fiery ash stood a table engraved with the most beautiful designs ever seen. Mesanna raised her hand to the heavens and summon forth her weapon she will used against Rel Tak. The wind around Mesanna, her minions and Rel Tak begin to pick up. An image came into focus and it was clear what the item was. It came smashing down and landed perfectly on the table, a beautifully decorated pair of Dice.
Mesanna looked Rel Tak in the eyes and he did the same to her. She remembered all of the torment she went through in her life, all the things she had to fight through, all of the nightmares she since dream-pt. She remembered the final part of the prophecy:
“Slice an’ Dice and tear your enemy in thrice;
For fates are numbers; even you can’t beat the dice.”
With this memory lingering in her head, she spoke to Rel Tak in a voice that had no mercy.
“Hi, I’m Mesanna, wanna play?”
Last modified: September 22, 2013