Pol's Tale - Part 4
I walked quietly for a while, enjoying my thoughts. Those stupid Defenders didn't even notice me as I left Loth Llorien on my journey to Midgard, my birthplace. So much had changed, I could hardly believe it. When I was young, the races lived together in harmony in Midgard, but a war of some sorts set men against all other races. Even Elves, Dwarves and Giant-kin warred with each other. The ensuing conflict had changed the geography permanently, with some places dissapearing, and others reappearing. Peace was no longer the standard between the races. Even the gate to the demon realm, a place I had heard of in my studies, became accessable. I had taken up residence in the Vortex during all of that. I slipped from the world for a time, to think and wonder where my path might lead. I did this primarily because Sinclair had also taken leave of the world, as had many of my friends. It's a terrible thing to be caught living memories.
I strode through the forests of Haon'dor, and they seemed so familiar. Yet, many of the paths I used to walk were no longer here. I approached the gate of Midgard cautiously, for the cityguards here was just as racist and idiotic as the Elven Defenders. The only difference being they were better trained. But, as luck and sheer skill would have it, I walked through the gate to the temple with hardly a glance. Have I mentioned I loved being a thief?
The temple was just as I remembered it. Warm, and very safe. Tynian's own peace was enforced here, and all knew it. Unlike during my time, the place was virtually deserted save for a few young people I had never met. One smiled, another gave me a deep bow, the other two just looked and snickered softly. The mark gave them away as Conclave. Too young for me to play with, but old enough to be taken seriously if they chose to get into mischief.
My excellent hearing, a gift from my father's elven heritage, told me someone else rested here. Uttering the words for seeing invisibility, I noticed another person from my past sitting quietly reading a scroll. Dynn, a man I had not seen for a while smiled at me.
"I was wondering when you would get around to saying hello," he said.
"Sorry Dynn," I replied. "Must be getting old and senile."
"I think you were born old and senile," he said smiling. "What brings you back to Midgard?"
"Well, truth be told... I haven't the slighest idea."
I did, of course, know exactly why. I really needed to find out what happened to Lazarus, and the chance existed I might see if Marisa still walked the world. I just didn't want to raise another uncomfortable conversation. Although, of everyone I knew, Dynn wouuld be the least likely to pry. He was very discreet.
Perhaps I would ask him one day if he had any word on Lazarus' or Marisa's whereabouts, but not today. Today was my day to remember. I slumped down, exhausted from my evening of drunkeness, and nodded off to sleep...
The icy winds far to the north of Ofcol buffeted us as we climbed the steep mountain. Lazarus, Oxide and I had come on a fool's errand. We were here to fulfill Oxide's quest. To slay a god. Oxide had foolishly boasted he could slay Aries, thus showing his worth to the Immortals in the hopes of becoming immortal himself. Madman had accepted his challenge, and he began his preparations. After a short time, it became apparent that a lone warrior couldn't succeed, so with the God's permission, he sought out Lazarus and I.
And rightly so, for Lazarus and I were the two most powerful men in the world. Together we accomplished feats of incredible courage, resourcefulness, and pure insanity. We were Damage Incorporated. We were indestructible. We were idiots to follow this loony warrior into the high mountains on this freezing cold day to slay a being that could not be slain.
Of course, that didn't stop us. After every frozen step, Laz and I would look at each other, look at Oxide, then giggle like children. The situation was ridiculous. Impossible. Perfect. We found the city of Olympus flying high over the snow. With a quick muttering of a simple incantation, I levitated all three of us into the clouds. From there, a snowy white path led deep into the city. Lazarus, as was normal for him, just hummed a silent tune to himself. This was just another day as far as he was concerned. I was just thinking of the gold we might find and the rewards our success would bring, and Oxide just chewed his nails to the nubs, then started on his knuckles.
We encountered little resistance, and actually saw no one, as we approached Aries' temple. I did a quick scout of the area, and was able to determine from the tracks of magical energy where the immortal passed into his temple. Oxide, bravely volunteered to go in first. I scarcely thought this brave, however; it was HIS stupid quest.
He entered, and we waited for a moment. The sounds of clashing weapons and screams told us something was probably happening. But Lazarus, being the unegotistical person that he was, insisted we wait, lest we hog the glory that belonged to Oxide. I concurred, and continued paring the elusive hangnail I had picked up somewhere. We waited patiently for a moment, then after a strangled scream for help wafted through the open doorway, we decided an entrance was in order. Laz and I burst through the doorway, and laid about us with every skill at our disposal. The room engulfed in flame and trembling with the reverberations of Lazarus' earthquake, we made short work of the hideous hounds that guarded Aries' lair, and stood face to face with the god himself. Oxide had already had the misfortune of being in close quarters combat with the being, but was holding his own. Apparently, he had come prepared with many potions to aid him, and was surrounded with the tell-tale white glow of one who is sanctified by the gods.
The real battle then commenced. We flung lightning and hammers of pure spirit, swung with all our might with Avalanche, mace and sword, but Aries would NOT go down. He too wore the sanctification of the gods. But like all magic, god-granted or otherwise, I was its master. Reciting a seldom used spell, I watched with glee as the white aura around Aries faded. He bellowed with rage, as our attacks finally drew the great immortal's blood in earnest. I saw the look or purest horror on his face as my lightning bolt took him square in the chest, and he erupted into a volcano of light as his spirit was shattered, and his essense fled the living world.
The battle was over; Oxide had his prize. Then, for the first time in my long life, I had the opportunity to actually see Madman up close. He appeared quickly, tossing us all aside with casual power and negligent ease. My hand drifted instictively to my mace, but one look was all it took to make me hold my hand. Over twelve feet worth of bird can be a serious deterrent to violence. I had never met someone this large in my life, except perhaps Cyrix or Godzilla. He looked just as grumpy as the tales suggested. Grumpy, impatient and very very irritable. I liked him immediately.
Oxide was granted his immortality on the spot. Lazarus and I, expecting rewards of the highest order, were summarily thanked, patted upon the head like obedient puppies, and dismissed by the world's newest immortal.
Dejected, freezing, and altogether disgruntled, we followed the path back to Midgard. Lazarus made a bet with me on the trail back home. He bet that Oxide would never hold his posiiton as an immortal. I disagreed and put up several thousand gold crowns. I should have known that priests are renowned for their wisdom. You see, Lazarus already knew one of the secrets that took me a lifetime of debauchery and hard-living to learn. It's not that life isn't fair; life is always fair.
In time, Oxide did as so many others before him did. Just as Kiki, Iggy, and Jander, he disobeyed the rules, and was tossed out of the Immortal's world to burn in the pit for all eternity. Lazarus was an excellent judge of character; I should have never bet with him.
I woke to the sound of laughter. Around me, a group of living legends had assembled. Tokugawa, Welverin, Asia, Sohcohtoa, Pendor, Gatharin, and many others I only vaguely remembered, were sitting about the temple. I felt right at home as this was how I remembered this place. The center of the entire world.
"Pol," someone said. My mind was too sleepy to make out the voice. "How nice of you to wake up finally."
I grinned weakly, and created a clear spring on the floor of the temple. The cool, clear water felt good on my punished throat. The group continued talking, largely ignoring me although I scarcely blamed them. I heard the familiar chuckles as stories were passed around. Who did what when. Many of the names they considered legendary, though to me, I remembered them as barely more than youngsters.
The conversation finally drifted my way. Apparently, Ozymandius had blabbed about our conversation earlier today, as everyone wanted to know about the mystery woman that I still pined for after nearly a century.
"You all seem to be in a story telling mood," I responded quickly. "Let me tell you a better story. The most tragic love story of all time. The tale of Cyrix and Siren."