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|This story is no longer 'canon' within the world of my stories. I decide this origin for Emrys's physical pecularities doesnt quite fit. But I am leaving it up as a sample of my earlier work.||
Suddenly, the clouds seemed to condense into a single horrible shape. He saw a beast, a terrible monster all claws and spines and corrupted flesh. It seemed to reach down out of the sky, a massive claw shooting down toward him. He was on his feat in an instant, but the image was gone. He knew, though that what he had seen was a sign. Something terrible had just happened. The next moment, his suspicions were confirmed.
“Emrys?” A beautiful feminine voice spoke in his mind. The voice of his Mistress. “I felt it as well my Lady, I am on my way.” He thought back to her. Their connection was such that neither was ever more than a thought away from the other. He bent down and retrieved his staff from the ground where he had lain; its dark wood etched with ancient runes and glyphs, and raised the hood of his deep blue cloak. Then he spoke a single word, and disappeared from the bright grassy field.
He rematerialized in what appeared to be a great hall of stone, with pillars like massive trees of white marble, and walls hung with brilliant tapestries depicting ancient battles between Goodness and Evil. Of course, this place could appear to be anything its occupants desired, he knew. It’s merely a pocket of reality used as a meeting place for the Powers and their servants.
At the end of the hall stood two figures. They radiated power, beauty, and above all, benevolence. The first was a figure encased in a suit of shining blue-hued armor, with a great helmet forged in the likeness of a dragon’s head, with the figures face concealed in the shadows of the dragons “mouth”, save for an occasional flash of glowing blue eyes. Even though you could not see his face, the figures gaze carried a power and authority that was absolute, beyond question. Hanging from the figure’s belt was an enormous war-hammer of grey stone. This was his Master, Lord Justice. Greatest of the Powers of Good, right hand of the Creator.
The second figure was a tall beautiful golden-haired lady, clad in a flowing gown of delicate blue. She wore a bodice-clasp of mithril and diamond in the shape of a web. Their were eight diamonds along the edge of the web, and a single larger stone at its center. The air around the Lady seemed to shimmer, like heat-haze, except it was not merely the air, but the very fabric of space and reality that became fluid and mutable in her presence. Her most striking feature, however, was her eyes. Devoid of whites, they were the deep blue of the sky at the onset of night, pupiless, and filled with sparkling, swirling stars, moons and galaxies. This was his beloved Mistress, the Lady of Magic. She was the embodiment of the power of the soul and the mind over boundaries of space, time, and rationality.
Emrys went before them and bowed low. “You called, my Mistress?”
“Yes, old mage. Something has befallen that we feel requires special attention.” The Lady said her voice deep and musical, the voice of wonder and magic itself.
“Something has been freed, hasn’t it? I was watching the clouds when you called, and they showed me a vision of a monster reaching down toward me.”
“You’re vision is acute as always my old friend.” The Lady said, looking fondly upon the wizard. “The forces of Darkness have succeeded in unleashing an Elder Demon from his imprisonment into one of the Mortal Realms.”
“And you want me to go and destroy the creature, or send it back where it came from?” Emrys asked, smiling.
“Yes. Normally, as you know, you would only be allowed to insist and inform the people of the world, due to the laws of balance and freedom that bind us.” The Lady said, and Emrys nodded. “But because the Darkness broke those rules by releasing such a creature, we are empowered to allow you to bring you’re full strength to bear to save the people of this world from the Demon.”
“Who was it that freed him my Lady?” Emrys asked. “Olrias, the Dark Summoner.” She said. “Should’ve figured I suppose.” Lord Justice stepped forward and spoke. “This demon is called Etraskias. He was one of the first demons spawned from the First War, when we cast the Fallen from the Blessed Realm. He is old and incredibly powerful. He is also power-mad…he attempted to destroy Olrias and steal his power. The Dark Summoner barely escaped with his life.”
“To bad that. It would make our lives easier if they’d destroyed each other.” Emrys said, smiling. The Lady smiled as well. “That is true. But, as it is someone must stop this creature. You’re siblings are engaged in projects of their own, so although it is not my first choice, you must go alone, as quickly as possible. Be careful dear friend.” Emrys bowed low to the two great Powers. The Lady stepped forward and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Go, as always, with my blessing dear one.” She said. And with that, the mage disappeared.
His Mistress had not told him which of the myriad Mortal Realms the demon Etraskias had been released into, but now as he swam through the grey misty ether of the “between”, the uncreated wastes, he could sense the disturbance of the demon’s unleashing. He headed toward the deep sense of “wrongness”, and leapt from the grey mists into a wide field. Or, what once had been a field. Now it was a burned and blackened waste. The ground had been blasted and burned bare of plant life, almost to the bedrock. Visual signs aside, Emrys could feel the imprints of a great, and very recent, supernatural battle on this ground. Mystical energies still lingered about the entire area. Above the blasted field rose a small mountain, dark and forbidding. Its flanks were treeless, rocky and treacherous. Behind it, rank upon dark rank, rose a high range of mountains, of which it was but a foothill. Without even trying, Emrys knew that the mountain was the source of the disturbance, the place from which the demon had been summoned. He stood in the field and began to send his mind outward. He wished to see if there were still people in the area, and hopefully to get a sense of the demon’s location.
Just as the mage began to open his mind to his surroundings, he was attacked. A massive tentacle of slimy greenish flesh swung toward him. He had barely the time to throw up a mystic shield and partly deflect the blow. Otherwise, it would most likely have crushed his skull. As it was, the wizard was knocked sprawling to the burnt ground, winded, his head swimming. The mage heard laughter coming from in front of him. The sound was thick and choked, as though the throat of the laugher was filled with mud or slime.
“So, the legions of Light have sent a lackey to challenge me already.” The thick voice said, chuckling. Emrys got to his feet, and beheld a hideous creature almost identical to his cloud-vision. The creature stood nearly half again as high as a man, its flesh wet and spongy, mottled in sickly green and blue hues. From the back and shoulders grew many long, thick, twitching tentacles, such as the one that had struck the mage. Spread from the shoulders, they looked almost like wings. The creature also possessed to large muscular arms ending in wicked claws, and legs to match. The demon’s face was dominated by two enormous dead-black eyes, bereft of iris or pupil, like two great orbs of jet. Its head was crowned with curling, slimy horns, like unto a ram’s.
“Why, you’re just a boy! I expected an Arch Angel or perhaps one of the Powers themselves to be sent for me, and instead they send a child! I am deeply hurt!” The creature lapsed into gurgling laugher once more and advanced on the mage, arms and tentacles reaching out. Emrys raised his staff and from its tip issued a bolt of blue light seemingly filled with intricate arcane sigils, all made of burning cobalt light. The bolt struck the demon full on, sending him sprawling backward. The mage laughed. “I assure you Etraskias, I am far older than I seem. More dangerous as well.” Then he spoke in his deep, commanding voice. “I am Merlion Emrys, the Arch-mage, Herald of the Lady and Servant of the Word. I stand before the gate, and none shall pass! Return from whence you came, or be destroyed!” The demon got to its feet.
“So, you know my name. I did not know the Powers had begun recruiting mortal children to fight their battles. How is the Old Witch anyway?” the creature asked with a sneer in his voice. Emrys simply laughed. “Well, you’re definitely arrogant; now let’s see if you have the power to back it up.” The mage gestured with his staff and bands of crackling blue lightning encircled the demon. The creature screamed, and then it seemed to gather its strength, and with a great heave burst the lightning bands asunder, knocking the ancient wizard off his feet. The creature snarled, its tentacles bending forward from all sides. The tips began to glow with foggy green light, and suddenly nearly a dozen beams of sickly emerald energy arched towards the arch-mage. Quickly he opened his hands and the beams coalesced between them. The stagnant green light changed to a brilliant blue, till he was holding a sphere of brilliant sapphire light, which he immediately hurled at the demon. Etraskias attempted to dodge the sphere, but it struck his shoulder and exploding in cobalt radiance. The demon was sent sprawling across the plain by the explosion.
“Very good for a boy!” The demon shouted in its gurgling voice. “The old Witch has taught you some excellent tricks. But, I was performing them before you’re species even existed! I’ll tear out you’re heart and send it to the Witch still beating!” With that the demon rose into the air, and seemed to gather its power, glowing with an ever more intense sickly green light. It raised both hands and a massive blast of power arched toward the mage. Emrys raised his hands in a warding gesture and a shield of blue light appeared. The demon’s blast struck upon the shield and began driving the wizard backward, the heels of his boots digging furrows in the blasted ground. Sweat began to pour down his face as he strained to maintain the shield against the demon’s assault. He couldn’t believe the sheer power of the attack. Rarely had he encountered such force. Etraskias continued to press the attack, on and on. Finally, Emrys’s shield shattered and the blast took him full force. He screamed in pain as the blast hurled him backward across the blackened plain. The demon uttered a gurgling scream of triumph and flew toward the wizard’s motionless body. Emrys sensed the demon approaching, but continued to lie motionless. The demon hovered above the mage’s motionless form, gloating.
“You were foolish to think you could defeat me. I was created before you’re puny species even existed. You’re pathetic mortal magic cannot hope to match my power!” Suddenly, Emrys sprang to his feet his eyes blazing like azure beacons. He raised both hands and spoke a quick sequence of strange words. As he uttered the final syllable the demon screamed, held motionless as the very fabric of space seemed to bend and warp around him. “First of all,” the mage began as he tightened his mystical grip on the monster, “I am no longer a mortal. Second, underestimating an opponents abilities based on things like appearance is very poor strategy. A being of great age and power such as yourself, really should know better.” As the demon continued to scream, the old wizard raised one hand above his head, and the demon soared into the sky. After several moments, he lowered his hand and Etraskias was violently propelled into the ground. The earth shook with the impact. The demon pulled himself up from the small crater left by his impact.
“It would appear I have underestimated you’re powers, young mage. But simply because you can hurt me, that does not mean you can defeat or destroy me.” “I have been sent by the Word, through my Mistress, to either destroy you, or send you back from whence you came. Their commands shall be carried out, one way or other.” The mage stated. He stood stiffly, his cloak swirling in an eddy of wind, his staff gripped tightly in one hand. The demon laughed. “The Powers of Good would use you to do their dirty work, even as the Dark Powers used we Demons in the Great War. You are nothing more than a puppet in their great games, as I was. But I choose to be no one’s pawn. I shall do as I please, and not be an errand-runner for the Great ones, as you have become. Join with me, and we shall rule this world equally! With our powers combined, we could be the masters of a dozen realities!”
The mage shook his head. “I’ve no interest in dominion or control. I choose to use my powers for the benefit of my fellow beings. To defend, and to teach. Besides which, I know the ways of demons. You’re kind do not share…anything. If you wish to possess my power, you must take it from me.” “As you wish!” The demon cried, and its many tentacles shot forward, wrapping about the mage’s body like ropes of putrid flesh. In seconds Emrys’s entire body was entwined in the demon’s filthy limbs. Etraskias lifted the bound mage into the air, and began to pound him against the charred ground again and again. “Human bodies are even weaker and more fragile than the airy shapes the Angel’s so love to shroud themselves in. You’re magic may be strong, but you’re human body is all but worthless!” The demon laughed and began to pull the battered mage toward himself, intending to finish the job with claws and fangs.
Busy with his gloating and taunting, the ancient demon did not hear Emrys breathing the words of a spell. Suddenly the mage’s body exploded with dozens of razored blades of bone, slicing and shredding the slimy tentacles that bound him. The demon shrieked in pain, and the tentacles immediately withdrew. The mage landed on his feat, ready for the counterattack. “My body can be whatever it needs to be. Now cease you’re egomaniacal prattle! It will require more than harsh words and parlor tricks to defeat me!” The enraged demon snarled and lifted a large boulder, claws cracking into the stone and hurled it at Emrys. The mage raised his hand and the boulder halted in mid air. He made a sweeping gesture, and it split into dozens of jagged fragments that sped toward the demon. Etraskias managed to bat most of them away, but several streaked by leaving gashes in his spongy flesh that ran with greenish-black ichor. Slowly the ichor seemed to flow in tiny streams across the demon’s body, and suddenly the disgusting fluid sprang outward like darts of obsidian. Emrys gestured with his staff and in mid flight the darts became a flight of beautiful rainbow-hued butterflies.
“Enough of this foolishness!” The demon bellowed. As he spoke his dead black eyes became infused with a sickly green glow. Emrys gripped his staff, his eyes beginning to shine with a cobalt light. The runes etched upon his staff and the great crystal at its head came alive with the same radiance. Around them the breeze quickened into a gale, as dark clouds filled the sky. The very ground reverberated with the intensity of their power. And so the two titans battled, hurling blasts of eldritch light, conjuring clouds of mist and confusion. Lightning began to rain down around them as their attacks shattered great rocks, clove smoking rifts dozens of yards deep into the ground, and set the very air around them to burning. Finally as their mighty wills strove against one another the very fabric of reality warped and twisted around them. Had there been anyone to witness the battle they would have seen ripples surrounded the dueling pair, like a stone dropped into a still pond, and they would have glimpsed great hands and faces as the ancient demon and the great arch-mage tore open the very fabric of existence to pull forth weapons of terror and rage. Hundreds of feet above the ground they battled. The demon writhed in the air, screaming in pain, as Emrys forced portions of its body and essence into a dozen different dimensions, all the while assaulting the demon’s mind with barbs of righteous rage.
“No! I will not be bested by some filthy upstart sack of man flesh! I will not!” Etraskias screamed in rage. Breaking free of the wizard’s magical restraints the demon charged toward him and struck him a blow filled with all his power and fury. The mage tumbled through the air, briefly losing consciousness. Finally he righted himself, and began to summon all his power and will. His staff transformed into a gigantic spear of azure light that rose before him and continued to grow becoming brighter and brighter till it was like a miniature sun. The great demon hurling massive blasts of unimaginable power toward the mage, but the great light before him simply absorbed them. The demon lowered its head and charged at the wizard. Emrys flung the blazing light toward him, and it drove through him sending the demon tumbling toward the mountain. The wizard raised his hands and conjured a great orb of sparkling eldritch power and sent it hurtling after the demon. Etraskias was thrown into the mountainside, and when the mystic sphere hit there was a tremendous explosion. Emrys was knocked from the sky, and for a few moments everything went black.
When he came to, his staff lay on the ground beside him. It was bound to his soul, and could never be separated from him for long. He looked up and was only mildly surprised to see that the mountain was gone, leveled in the release of power. “That was a bit to easy.” He said to himself as he picked up his staff and got to his feet. He saw no signs of Etraskias, but he still felt the demon’s presence. The wizard thought he knew what was coming, and prepared himself for it. Even as he did so, a column of sickly green light erupted from the crater where the mountain had stood. “Most people, upon having their body obliterated, would decide to quit while they were ahead.” The mage said, readying himself for attack.
“Now I will take you’re power, from the inside out!” Etraskias’s voice cried from the pulsing column of light. The light that was the essence of the demon shot toward the mage and engulfed him. He fought against the assault, but the battle had sapped much of his strength, and the demon’s energy seeped into his body and began to assault his mind. “I shall usurp you’re body and absorb the power of you’re spirit, and then this world will be mine, and its pathetic people my slaves for all of time!” The demon cried triumphantly into his mind.
“I rather think not.” The mage replied. He began erecting barriers within his mind and attempted to repel the demon’s energies from his body. “You expended too much of you’re strength in destroying my body, and now you lack the power to repel my essence…just as I planned. You shall be mine forever!” The demon’s manic laughter echoed through the mage’s mind. “Never! I belong to the Word, and to my Bright Lady! I will join them for Eternity before I allow you to take my power!” And with that he gathered all the power he could muster from within himself and drew in from the world around him, from the magic that surrounds all things, and released it throughout his body and mind in a devastating burst of enormous power. Just before he lost consciousness, he heard Etraskias scream in pain and denial as his essence was shattered and dispersed. Then, all was dark again.
The landscape of the entire valley was now burned and blasted, pocked with craters and rifts as a result of the titanic battle. Merlion Emrys, Archmage and Guardian lay in the midst of this devastation, unconscious, bleeding, wounded in body and spirit. His power was expended, and his life nearly so. As he lay upon the blasted earth, the air around him began to shimmer slightly, and slowly it filled with swirling motes and sparkles of beautiful azure and white radiance. The radiance swept around the unconscious wizard, and slowly coalesced into the shining form of the Lady of Magic. The air around her continued to ripple and shimmer, as she reached down and easily lifted Emrys into her arms, cradling the ancient wizard to her as though he were a small child. Emrys stirred and moaned, and for a moment his eyes opened, and he beheld her face above him, smiling down at him, as he had seen it so many long ages ago. He felt the pain and weakness of his injuries both physical and mystical fade as her light surrounded him. He smiled at her, and she smiled in return.
“You brought me back from the edge of death…again.” He said, his voice choked with feelings that could not be expressed in words.
“Yes. I have restored you, but this battle, perhaps the greatest you have fought thus far, has not left you unchanged.” The Lady’s voice vibrated with her love and compassion for the ancient wizard. Emrys raised his left hand and saw that it was no longer a hand but a gnarled claw with wicked nails. “What has happened to me Mistress? Am I become a demon, or tainted?” He asked, bewildered. “No. And yes.” The Lady’s amazing eyes showed concern. “You absorbed a portion of the demon’s essence as it was being destroyed. That has caused the change. I cannot say the full extent of what has happened. Only time will tell the full effects of you’re decision to fight this battle. “
“Etraskias himself is gone though. His spirit was defeated and what remained passed on into the Abyss. He has no hold on me. He should have realized that no paltry demon would be able to take me from your service dear Lady.” He smiled.
“Of course not. You are my dear and faithful aid, now and forever. Now rest, old wizard. I shall take us home.” Emrys lay back in her arms and closed his eyes. “That sounds wonderful.” He said before drifting off again. She smiled down at him, and they both disappeared.
|The Open Hand||Lessons|