*waves his hand mysteriously, the lights dim into a story-telling mood, casting taley shadows across his features*
Hear now my story. It is all the truth, it is all the lie, as usual.
In my travels I've also been to the Underworld once. There I visited such scenic sights as the Sulphur Lake, the Citadel of Agony, the Dismal Oubliette... and the Fort of Darkness.
In the Fort of Darkness I bought a few postcards and a t-shirt saying, "I went to the Underworld and all I got was killed wearing this stupid t-shirt." As I was lost trying to find the exit of the Fort, I stumbled into the local Adventurer's Guild and saw a notice board on the wall right beside the traditional moosehead. One note in particular caught my eye.
WANTED: Brave Hero Wearing Mostly White Clothing for a Warm-up Job.
Direct further enquiries to the Ruler of the Underworld.
- *sits down and listens* What happened then?
+ *sneaks in and sits down to listen quietly*
~ *returns from her absence, sits down, listening*
*admires the huge audience of three people he has already attracted* :D
I was intrigued by the quest, although it had no mention of what sort of experience was required of the hero. I went off to request an audience with the Dark Lord himself and was granted this favor. So I stepped into the highly Opulent Throne Room of Darkness... Very gothic, Very impressive, Very awe-inspiring and rather Dark.
The Ruler of the Underworld sat there on his Dark Throne and acknowledged my polite greeting with a friendly nod. He described to me the nature of the problem. It seemed that some of the more infernal parts of the Underworld had been frozen over by causes unknown, and they needed someone to go over and remedy the situation.
It was not at all difficult to relight the fire. I travelled over to check the situation and found someone had played a little practical joke and swapped the Fire Cube that was powering the Flames with an Ice Cube. Now that I think back to it, I probably should've warned the ice skaters before changing the Fire Cube back though.
~ *listens with interest*
Returning from the simple quest, I again approached the R/UW. He was very pleased with me and got right to the reward.
"Kneel, Brave Hero In White Clothing," he said. I felt a bit uncomfortable about kneeling in front of the Dark Lord himself and didn't comply immediately, at which a few of his guardian goons forced me down. Before I knew what was happening, the R/UW had touched my shoulders with a dark sceptre. "And arise, Honorary Demon Prince!" he grinned.
I was totally shocked and failed to comply at which the goons yanked me back on my feet and threw me out of the throne room. Gathering myself from the smooth dark marble floor I felt tingly all over, being infused with new dark powers. From that day on I served the Ruler of the Underworld as one of his Princes.
~ *keeps listening with eyes wide open and full of fear*
The job did have its good sides too though. My magic powers were boosted to unbelievable heights, I was respected in the community, I became nigh invincible and only had to work 5 hours a day from Tuesday to Friday.
The downside was that the R/UW wanted me to be evil, too!
At first I could solve the few tasks that were given to me in creative ways... like for example, instead of decimating a village to get some rouge berries for his Darkness, I asked nicely. When sent to dispatch an annoying squadron of Wandering Minstrels I teleported them to the deepest recesses of the UW from where their singing couldn't be heard. When it was my turn to set up the weekly Ball of Unearthly Delights, I ingeniously turned the event into a philosophical debate over the nature of Chaos.
But then I was given a task with no Good way out.
~ Which was ?..
- Good question. What was the task?
% *another listener approaches silently from the shadows and finally speaks* What was it?
*winks at the newcomer, happy to have amassed a fourth listener*
One dreary, stormy, dark night, a powerful group of seven human warriors descended into the Underworld and steadily advanced toward the Fort of Darkness, intending to rid the world of evil. That would have been just fine with me, was it not for two facts. First, I was presently an Honorary Demon Prince, qualifying for purification in the hands of the human warriors. Second, the R/UW chose me to be the leader of defense and sent me to face the heroes all by myself!
Shivering I strode out of the Fort and positioned myself in the middle of the path on a hill. As the phalanx of heroes drew closer, I hailed them and notified them that I had been sent to kill them, had no wish to do so and would they please be so kind as to leave.
They said they had come to exterminate the evil overlord of the underworld along with all his sick and twisted minions, and were not about to turn back now when they were doing so well. I had to make a choice then with no turning back... and after a moment's deliberation I decided to help them.
+ *shudders, awaiting what happened*
- That's good...
Not that good. The human party put me at front rank and I led them straight into the Fort Darkness, through the Dark Ominous Looming Front Gates, into the inner courtyard... and straight into the secondary defense force no one had bothered to inform me existed. It would have been simple to eliminate all opposition instantly using my demonic powers, but I had lost all those powers upon renouncing my honorary princehood joining the humans.
The human party was gruesomely killed... over a period of a few weeks... in a manner befitting Darkness. As for me, well. The Ruler of the Underworld was not at all pleased. After beating me with soft pillows and calling me names, they tied me on a stake outside the Fortress and left me there to be eaten by giant ants and whatnot.
*shudders at the memory*
= *quietly joins the group of listeners*
~ *shudders when imagining what could have happened to him*
+ *hopes the whatnot was not spiders*
- *prays they didn't include snakes as well as spiders*
*waves to the newcomer, happy to have a huge horde of five people at the mercy of his story-weaving*
One of the human warriors, however... a ranger... had escaped the onslaught by ingeniously oversleeping the previous morning. He hadn't quite caught up with his friends before their demise, but he was in time to witness the events, and he had been hiding outside the fortress after that.
When the Goons of Darkness had left, the ranger sneaked to me and released me a few minutes after. I held back no praise of my gratitude from him. Then he demanded that I help him storm the fort and extract just and righteous revenge on behalf of his friends. I told him he was out of his bloody mind and we were both going to get killed. He said he could tie me back on the stake if I preferred. Again, I had little choice...
~ *refrains from saying what she is thinking about that ranger out loud*
I told my ranger saviour about a little-known dark service entrace into the infamous Fort of Darkness. Inching on from the shadow of one mushroom forest to the next, we quickly made our way behind the bastion and found the always unguarded back door. I tried to reason with him once more and ended up being forced to go on ahead of him at arrowpoint.
We infiltrated the Fortress and curiously made it all the way to the innermost courtyard right ouside the Throne Room of the Dark Ruler of the Underworld, before being spotted. A horde of tiny imps fell upon us from all sides and distracted the ranger's aim enough for me to do the only sensible thing: Run Away. The unfortunate ranger stood fast and fought back all of 50 or so seconds before being trampled.
The way back to the backdoor was blocked however, so I had only one place to flee to... straight into the Beating Heart of Evil, the Throne Room of Darkness.
I crashed inside and slammed the dark doors shut behind me. The Dark Lord Himself's presence occupied the room... he was sitting smugly on the Dark Throne, eyeing me. His Dark Gaze wilted my will as he spoke darkly, "You're a pretty tough guy for a human."
I nodded, throat dry. After blinking a few times, my eyes met with the only thing I could think of to serve as my salvation. The dark lord, you see, has this big dark crystal in a stasis field of dark magic embedded in the dark wall behind his dark throne... If I could but reach the crystal, I could maybe draw on its power to amplify my own magical potence momentarily so I could teleport back to the surface world.
What made the manouvre difficult was one dark Ruler of the Underworld, situated between me and the Dark Crystal, who coincidentally was just about to fry me with a lightning strike spell...
- *decides now would be the time to hide under some blankets, does that*
~ *watches her hide under a blanket, looks around looking for a place to hide as well, fails, decides to play brave and stays*
- *whispers* I have some spare blankets to hide under...
Steeling myself I grunted to him, "I've come for Vengeance."
He grinned at me in a rather nefarious fashion and was so amused he allowed me a couple more moments to live. I took a few steps closer to him and the throne, drawing Swiftseeker. "My name is Kirinn the Starlet, and I've come for you, mwahahaha."
The R/UW sneered and stood up. I only had one shot at it and it was going to be a million to one chance... In the blink of a beholder's eye I charged at the throne, using one of the three mystic Swordtek techniques I'd learned:
Two-handed Ultra Blizzard Master Light Fang Dash!
~ *is listening to him, then cautiously asks* And what happened ?..
As I was plummeting toward him, the R/UW simply stepped aside and laughed at my puny effort. That, however, was precisely what I had wanted him to do. I careened on with unstoppable speed, bounded on the throne and launched myself upward in a high jump.
All this happened in slow motion with very neat special effects like purple reality ripples and cyan motion blur, that I can't really do justice to in this verbal account. I drifted higher until my upward momentum ran out. For a fleeting moment all I could see was a dark crystal the size of my head embedded in the dark wall in front of me. I struck out. The second my blade shattered the crystal, an immense wave of dark magic enveloped me and everything froze completely for an instant.
- *hides deeper beneath the blankets*
Summoning forth all my knowledge of the mystic arts, I willed the world to continue moving and refused to accept a reality where I was somewhere other than the overworld... reality bent under the combined forces of the released magic and my will. My being faded away as the remaining dark magic floating free imploded, obliterating the Fort of Darkness extremely efficiently.
I rematerialized on the surface. Or, a meter above the surface actually, upside down, above a very thorny rose bush. That hurt a bit but at least I was safe for the time being.
The R/UW of course survived the implosion and I've met him once since that time... The Illustrous Lady of the Stars saved me then. When next I meet with the Ruler of the Underworld, I really hope that someone will be around to save me again, or at least that he'll be merciful in my punishment for being so ungrateful after he made me an Honorary Demon Prince and all.