Three Wanderers Lost in a Dark Future...
Through the rashness of the Queen of Rogues and Robbers, and a wish granted by the Necromancer, an alternate reality had been born--one where the Fellowship never came to Questport, the Yostwell's Light was never found, and the Master of Darkness reigns triumphant over a world of shadows. Trapped in this dark future, the Lord of the Supreme Council, the Queen of Rogues and Robbers, and the Lord of Angels and Demons must find a way to restore the true reality...
The Lord of the Supreme Council, the Lord of Angels and Demons, and the Queen of Rogues and Robbers find themselves in the midst of a great plain of cinders and ash, from which ruined buildings poke up like broken bones sticking through skin. Heavy dark clouds hide the sun, letting no light through; the withered, stunted trees make it clear that the clouds rarely abate. The tableau is horribly familiar--it as though they have been swept five years back in time, to when the Master of Darkness ruled the Orbis Terrarum.
"Where are we?" the Queen of Rogues and Robbers wonders, and then adds, to her sister, "This is all your fault."
Sabriel DuLac, studying the destroyed landscape around them, pays no heed to her sister's taunting. To her horror, she finds that she recognizes one of the crumbling ruins. The white walls have been blackened by smoke and soot, the stained glass windows have been smashed into shards, and the great dome is shattered as if a giant fist had smote it, but it is definitely the Temple. Therefore, this ruined place must be... Questport.
But this makes no sense--the cataclysm that leveled Questport three years ago was followed by an earthquake that sent the village's ruins tumbling into the Eastern Sea. There should be nothing left--this ashy, dark wasteland should not exist.
A shout from the Queen of Rogues and Robbers distracts the Lord of the Supreme Council from this quandary. A figure has appeared, shambling towards them through the ash-heaps. It carries a lantern in one gloved hand, allowing the three to see its face--which, despite the heavy iron helmet, is recognizably that of the hero Scorpio, in his human form.
The Lord of the Supreme Council calls out to Scorpio, relieved to see a familiar face. The hero pauses, his hand flying to the hilt of his poisoned sword. Sabriel DuLac frowns: doesn't he recognize them? Of course he does, Scorpio replies.
Excellent! So could he tell them what this place is, and why he is here?
This place is the ruins of Questport, Scorpio replied, all that was left after the Master of Darkness razed it to the ground. He thought everyone knew that. But this isn't a great place to hang around--all sorts of unpleasant creatures frequent the ruins. If they would follow him, he'd lead them to a place of safety.
As the three trail after Scorpio, the Lord of the Supreme Council finds herself increasingly confused. How is it possible that the Master of Darkness could have destroyed Questport? Was this some sort of alternate reality? And if it was, why were she, her sister, and that dratted meddling demon here? She thinks back to the events earlier in the day, wondering what could have caused this...
"Here we are," Scorpio announces. They have arrived at a blocky stone building some distance from the ruins of Questport--Sabriel DuLac recognizes it as the home of the reclusive enchanter who lived in the forest near the village. Lamplight flickers from the windows--a welcoming sight after so much darkness--and two heavily-armed guards stand silently by the door. As the group enters the house, the doors slam closed behind them with a loud crash.
Inside, they find themselves facing the occupant of a high wooden chair set before a blazing fireplace. Draped in black cloth, her wings and green hair shimmering glossily in the firelight, the house's owner stares imperiously down at them with cold blue eyes.
"Emmy?" the Lord of the Supreme Council gasps.
No, she's not Emmy, the fairy snaps, even as she pulls out a pouch full of coins and tosses it to Scorpio. She's Eva, how many times does she have to remind everyone? Eva laughs evilly, a malicious smile lighting her face. Now that she's captured Sabriel DuLac, leader of the Resistance, the Master of Darkness will surely reward her.
The evil laughing is echoed from all sides, and Sabriel, Lirael, and the Lord of Angels and Demons realize that they are surrounded by Emmy's--by Eva's--minions. Including, to the Lord of the Supreme Council's dismay, Shadowa. As the minions edge closer, Lirael DuLac pulls a knife from her boot, but two of the largest minions grab her wrists and disarm her.
"Keep away from my sister!" the Lord of the Supreme Council snaps.
"I don't need your help!" the Queen of Rogues and Robbers retorts. Eva rolls her eyes at such childish bickering. Now that these three are her prisoners, they will drink the potion she has prepared, which will turn them into mindless minions like all the rest. The Lord of the Supreme Council refuses to drink the potion, but Emmy pulls out a watch and waves it back and forth.
"I won't drink it!" Back and forth, goes the watch. "I won't!" Back and forth, back and forth. "I... what was I saying, again?" Under the influence of the evil fairy's hypnotic control, the Lord of the Supreme Council drains the glass of potion. The Queen of Rogues and Robbers is hypnotized next, and also forced to drink the bubbling blue brew. As Eva raises the watch to hypnotize the Lord of Angels and Demons, he takes the glass and drinks it quickly--although, is that a blur of sorcery around the glass? No, it couldn't be.
Eva lets out another evil laugh. Now she will take these prisoners to the Master of Darkness, and be richly rewarded. She sends Shadowa and a handful of other minions to scout ahead, and after a few more minutes of evil gloating, she and the other minions follow with the docile prisoners.
As the group of evildoers walks through the dark forest, cries suddenly come from all sides, and armed figures leap out of the trees. It is the Resistance--led by none other than Shadowa and Tulip! The minions that Shadowa had led away are there as well. Fighting fiercely, the Resistance members drive Eva's minions back, assisted by sorcery from the Lord of Angels and Demons. Still under the influence of the potion, the DuLac sisters do nothing--until Tulip plays merry tune on her magic flute, and they are freed from Eva's spell.
Having vanquished the minions and captured Eva herself, the Resistance makes haste for their hideout, with the three wanderers following them.
The Invisible Necromancer
It has become clear to the Lord of the Supreme Council and her reluctant compatriots that the dark world they now find themselves in is a result of the Queen of Rogues and Robbers' most unwise wish that the Fellowship had never been formed. Accordingly, they must find some way to undo the effects of the spell... but how?
Shadowa, one of the preeminent spellcasters in the Resistance, casts a scrying spell to try to find a solution. The spell needs some fine-tuning--she first gets a glimpse of one of the Fellowship's past adventures, and then a bizarre scene involving dueling armies wielding custard pies--but she eventually gets a glimpse of a busy, steam-filled kitchen and a small demon in a bloodstained apron: Spiro! The scrying spell focuses in on a few objects--a poison-green apple, a bottle of windy water, and a jar of marmite--perhaps clues that the heroes will need later in their quest.
The Lord of Angels and Demons knows Hybris better than anyone else--as he should for he rules there. It therefore falls to him to lead the DuLac sisters, Tulip, Shadowa, and a handful of Resistance fighters along the dark and dangerous paths to Hybris. The journey takes many days, and the Lord of the Supreme Council finds herself filled with horror as she sees the dark ruin that the Orbis Terrarum has become. No matter what the time of day, the sky remains as dark as a moonless midnight, and the questers rely on small fairy-lights to find their way. Near the ruins of Questport, they pass a few fiery La'oo flowers, their burning petals a beautiful sight amid so much darkness.
Reaching Hybris, they sneak into the kitchen and find Spiro toiling over a grand feast. Manticore eyeballs, dragon steaks, roast kestrels, steamed crickets--the menu is stuffed with demonic delicacies. It's enough to make Spiro wish that he had never returned to Hybris and taken up his old job...
He regards the strangers filling his kitchen with mistrust. Yes, the tall, foppish one is his overlord, the Lord of Angels and Demons, but tyrant looks somehow different... And who are all these ragtag ruffians trailing along with him? While the Lord of Angels and Demons sneeringly inquires as to whether demon bunny is on the menu, the members of the Resistance quickly grab the items that Shadowa had espied.
Then it is another long and dangerous journey back through the darkness, to the Necromancer's abode. On the way, the group is accustomed by armed bandits seeking marmite. The Lord of the Supreme Council sells the marmite to the bandits--an elf named Dwayne and an Eagle Avia named Ni'bor--for a steep price, intending to use the gold to pay the Necromancer to reverse the spell.
When they arrive at the Necromancer's abode, however, they find that the dread sorcerer is not there. Instead, a drooling, hunchbacked individual pauses its obsessive sweeping of the front path to inform them that the Necromancer had inadvertently fallen victim to a spell of invisibility, and was now nowhere to be seen. But it is said that marmite has the power to undo such spells, so if these strangers had any marmite, perhaps a trade could be arranged...?
While the Lord of the Supreme Council and the Queen of Rogues and Robbers engage the slobbering assistant in scintillating conversation, the Resistance members race back to the place where they had encountered Dwayne and Ni'bor, intending to recover the marmite--by force, if necessary. Violence proves not to be needed--they find the two bandits almost exactly where they had left them, unconscious from the dreadful reek of the marmite. They take the small pot and return to the Necromancer's assistant, who hands over a Spell to Reverse Wishes in exchange. But they mustn't open the spell yet, the assistant cautions, for it needs some time to mature. Tomorrow it should be ready. Gritting their teeth at the thought of tolerating this horrible alternate reality for even one more day, the travelers thank the assistant.
The Vengeful Elf
In the headquarters of the Resistance, the Lord of the Supreme Council opens the scroll that the Necromancer's assistant had given to her and her compatriots. The strange hunchback had spoken truly: it is a Spell to Reverse Wishes.
To the wanderers' relief, the spell is not difficult at all--the La'oo flowers that they had seen on their journey were an hour's brisk walk from the Resistance's hideout. Sabriel DuLac, along with a handful of Resistance members, sets out to pick the flowers; her younger sister and the Lord of Angels and Demons remain behind, pleading exhaustion from their arduous journeys of the past few days. Not feeling inclined to start an argument, the Lord of the Supreme Council allows them to stay behind.
When the group arrives at the place where they had seen the La'oo flowers yesterday, they are shocked to discover that the brilliantly-burning flowers have vanished, and only a few withered stems remain. The stems have been cut cleanly, as if by a knife--someone has stolen the La'oo flowers! Searching the area in an attempt to find clues as to the thief's identity, the Resistance members discover a scrap of paper that must have slipped from the thief's pocket.
Shocked to discover that the marmite-seeking elf she had encountered the day before is actually a heinous thief, the Lord of the Supreme Council decides that they must set out for Dwayne's lair immediately. A poisonous rain begins to fall as the group journeys through the darkness.
Eventually they come to a narrow bridge that spans a dark river. A single figure--armored, wrapped in a dark cloak, black wings rising from its back--stands in the middle of the bridge. Its sword glitters like ice as it declares: "None shall pass."
The voice sounds oddly familiar... The Lord of the Supreme Council walks closer, only to retreat hurriedly as the bridge's guardian lashes out with its sword. The movement causes the figure's cloak to shift, revealing the strange necklace it wears: a golden medallion, inscribed with convoluted swirls and twists.
"Mei?" the Lord of the Supreme Council asks, incredulous.
The guardian lowers its hood, revealing the face of one of the heroes of Questport. "How do you know my name?" Mei asks. Sabriel DuLac tries to explain that she is a visitor from a parallel world, a world in which she knew both Mei and her father, Djadan.
"Djadan?" Mei repeats, as if she has never heard that name before. Taking advantage of her momentary confusion, the Resistance members rush past her. The Raven Avia does not attempt to stop them; she stares at the Lord of the Supreme Council, trying to comprehend the strange things she is hearing. Sabriel DuLac asks Mei to come with them, but she refuses. Still struggling to cope with what she has learned, she goes back to guarding the bridge.
The group continues onwards through the darkness. Surely they must be getting close to Dwayne's lair--but all thoughts of the distance remaining vanish from their minds as dark figures leap out of a nearby thicket and attack them. Taken unawares, the Resistance members are soon disarmed and captured. And who is it who taunts them with a mocking laugh? Eva, whom they had left imprisoned in the Resistance's hideout. How did she get free?
With a little help from an unlikely source, the evil fairy replies. None other than the Lord of Angels and Demons and the Queen of Rogues and Robbers, who have switched sides yet again. Disgusted at her sister's inconstancy, Sabriel DuLac can only shake her head as Eva orders her minions to drag the prisoners to Dwayne's hideout.
The marmite-seeker and flower-thief lives in a rickety sandstone castle in the midst of the tangled and overgrown Forest of Goats. Guano stains the red bricks and mold has created a furry green carpet on the front door--clearly Dwayne is more concerned with petty mischief than with proper maintenance. Eva's minions prod the prisoners into a drafty, poorly-lit hall, where Dwayne and his co-conspirator Ni'bor await. The La'oo flowers are there, too--glowing in a beautiful vase on a nearby table.
The Lord of the Supreme Council demands that Dwayne release them, but the elf--his demeanor terrifyingly changed from yesterday--bellows at her to shut up. So she thinks she can save her precious Questport, does she? Oh, he knows all about their foolish plan, and has told his overlord, the Master of Darkness, about it. Practically frothing at the mouth, he sneers that being good is utterly boring--and hasn't he learned that lesson over and over, from his goody-two-shoes father, Gawain? Well, he's done with living in his father's shadow: Gawain got what he deserved, and these idiots will too! Letting out a laugh of pure madness, Dwayne orders the minions to throw the prisoners in the dungeon.
Rotting in the dank, disgusting dungeons of the Red Castle, the members of the Resistance begin to lose hope. A muffled boom in the castle above isn't enough to snap the prisoners out of their dark moods, but the sound of someone unlocking the dungeon door certainly is. Shadowa, the Resistance mole among Eva's minions, has come through again. And even better, she has the La'oo flowers, concealed under her cloak.
As the vampire leads the group away from the castle, she explains that a young Raven Avia--Mia? May? Something like that--showed up to help provide a diversion, and was even now leading the evil forces in the wrong direction through the Forest of Goats. This should buy them enough time to reach the Necromancer and perform the spell.
They have just barely reached the Necromancer's abode, though, when Mei appears, flying lopsidedly and dripping blood from one wing. Dwayne, Ni'bor, Eva, and a horde of minions are right behind her. While the Lord of the Supreme Council and the Necromancer frantically begin the preparations for the spell, Shadowa and the Resistance members rush forward to confront the evildoers. But Dwayne fights with all the skill of his despised father and the minions' numbers are overwhelming; despite the Resistance members' most valiant efforts, they are driven back, taking terrible losses. The spell is almost ready--the Lord of the Supreme Council raises the bottle of vinegar, dust, and La'oo petals, but as she does so, Dwayne leaps forward, his sword swinging in a devastating stroke.
There is a blinding flash of white light--
|The End of the Quest|