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Alter Aeon 3000


By Jalin/Jordiscy, (C) 2008

It was one of those 'blah' days where I had no enthusiasm to do anything in particular. At least, that's how it started.

The Glades is a popular place for powerful people to just loaf around. Why only powerful people? Because it takes a powerful person to get there. It order to reach this beautiful, tranquil place, one must hike through the treacherous peaks of the Ash Mountains, then navigate through the cursed, undead city of Jo'Keirn. Only past its gates can the natural beauty of the Glades be experienced. Once there, we are naturally drawn to a mystical willow tree that looms above everything. If everyone under its boughs is quiet enough, the spirits of lost souls can be heard rustling about within its wood.

Here, one can usually find some of the best warriors, thieves, clerics, and mages in the world. The weather always seems to be perfect, inviting naps frequently to those who are weary from their adventures. I hate to brag, but I guess I would be considered to be one of these common nappers under the tree.

However one day, when I arrived at the Glades just to rest up and pass the time away, I noticed something odd standing upon a pedestal within the willow curtain of leaves. Upon the simple pedestal was an orb, and it looked to be made out of glass. I looked around to see some other people minding their own business, as if it weren't there at all. It seemed kind of odd that they appeared to actively try to avoid looking at the strange thing in their presence, but I paid it not much mind. People often left odd things behind in these Glades, so this didn't look like anything particularly odd.

Of course, my curiosity rules all of my actions. So I approached the strange orb, casting a spell to reveal any of its secrets as I got closer. I flinched when its aura screamed, 'CURSED!' at me. I, however, tossed the warning aside. There weren't many cursed items in this world, and those that were seemed to have no special effect on anything. Hell, I even had a cursed brain I carried around with me from time to time. Even with this orb being cursed, I should have nothing to worry about.

Yet there was still something inside me that told me to be extremely wary. There was just something not right with this orb merely sitting here in the middle of the Glades, but what? I laid my hand upon the glassy surface and felt the cold run up and down my arm. I glanced inside to see a cute little town covered in snow... a snowglobe.

How quaint. It was a rather large snowglobe, much larger than any of the ornamental snowglobes I have ever seen before. But when did size matter for something as pointless as a little fake town encased in a ball of water and little styrofoam snowflakes that move when the orb is shaken? There were even little people figurines in the streets of the little town. Someone must have been extremely bored to take the time for this immaculate detail. I leaned in close to the glass, nearly pressing my nose up to it to get a better look at those little people. I flinched when recognized those individuals on that little street. They were other powerful warriors and a couple thieves who usually napped in each others' company in this very Glade. Who was clever enough to make figurines of them and put them in such a big snowglobe?

There was a sudden inrush of magic trying to envelop my body almost instantaneously after I recognized those people. My reflexes as a black mage immediately took over, using what skills and powers I had within myself to try and withstand this spell trying to take a hold of me. I recognized this spell. I fell victim to it once before, and I didn't want to be trapped by it again.

It was called Ice Imprisonment, one of the most powerful ice elemental spells to exist. Few ever became adept enough at ice knowledge to even attempt learning this spell, and some who did try wound up either severely frostbitten or frozen to death. The secretary at the Sanitarium knew this spell, and that's how I was caught and admitted years ago.

It took all of my concentration to try and counter this powerful spell. I've countered it many times before; I should be able to do it again. But why was the snowglobe swallowing my arm? This wasn't good... something was trying to imprison me in a crystal of ice while my arm was trying to be sucked into a giant glass ball of water and styrofoam. Who the hell dared to gang up upon me like this?

Two and two then came together. The warriors I recognized on the street of that miniature, snow-laden town... the ice imprisonment... my body merging with the snowglobe... The last thing I was able to say before I succumbed to the powerful magic was, 'Cursed....' Even then it was merely a whisper.

I soon found myself in a familiar, compromising position. My body simply refused to move. Air could not reach my lungs. I couldn't even focus my eyes to get a clear view of what was in front of me, let alone rotate them to see what was in my peripheral. The chill I felt go up my arm when I first touched the glassy surface was intensified too many times to count, and it was spread all over my body. I was encased in a giant crystal of ice, and it was slowly draining my life force away.

Was it really a giant crystal of ice? With what blurry vision that I had, I could see little wooden buildings around me, yet there was this gloss about them that made them appear so fake. Of course. I was now one of the figurines within the snowglobe. The curse on this damned snowglobe was powerful enough to break through my magic defenses, capture me, and even reduce my size to a dime. Whoever had the audacity to think of such a terrible trap needed to suffer, and I mean suffer greatly.

The sky... it was strange. I guess it came with the territory, considering it was made of glass. On the other side of this clear prison of mine, I managed to recognize a face peering down into the little town I was looking at myself only moments ago. It was a person with the reputation of a drunken thief named Fehlan. He may have taken his liberty with Lady Intoxication on a regular basis, but he was a suberb thief nonetheless. Only now he was gazing down at this little snowy prison, at me? I couldn't quite tell. Why wasn't the globe trying to swallow him up as it did me and these other people?! But no, he was safe. The arms of ice did not reach out and claim him. Gods damn him... This was his globe. It dared not ensnare its owner.

Fehlan laughed maniacally at this, and I wanted to jump at his throat with a crystal spear I could conjure up in an instant. Lo, I still could not move. Fehlan couldn't even see the burning rage within me for my prison prevented me from showing any other expression than the pain-stricken face I wore as my magic defenses broke.

Oh, the torture of Ice Imprisonment. I couldn't move a muscle. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't speak to utter a spell to release me. I wanted to cast fire shield on myself, so magical layers of flame would simply ignite just over my skin, melting the ice keeping me in place, yet it was useless. I was only allowed to think. Thinking was simply not enough to cast a spell in this world. I could have another mage dispel me out of this powerful spell, but it would take a powerful mage, one better than me since I succumbed to its trap. Why would another mage risk their own life with battling the spell just to save me?

I became my only friend in the next moments, forcing myself to calm down because everything was futile. There was nothing I could do, and being angry about it will only encourage the icy walls around me to make my grave that much sooner. If thinking was all that I could do, then I would think. If I was going to die this way, better die with my sanity.

Genius. It's such a wonderful thing. Whether I had this heightened cognitive ability myself was debatable, but what good is it? What good is genius if the one who possess it is not able to share its revelations with others or act upon them? Genius is wasted, and that's a crime. Why is the genius there if it is rendered completely useless?

That's how I felt. Useless. I could think, but what good would it do if I were to never get free from this damned snowglobe with those annoying little styrofoam snowflakes? Why would I need to hold onto my sanity if it would do me no good in the end?

I could hardly believe that I had given up. My life was going to end, and I accepted that fact. It was sad, and I wanted to cry, yet I couldn't. That frustrated me, but I calmed down once again, although it didn't matter anymore. There were to be no more to learn. I couldn't serve Blackwind anymore. So many people who have wronged me and pissed me off are going to get off the hook. I wouldn't be able to grow in power and prove to the world that the strength of Evil will prevail of the mere determination of Good Will. I wouldn't be able to watch over Don anymore.

Heh, Don. What would he say if he were to witness me like this? A lecture? Most likely. He'd be right, too, although I'd never admit it to him. Strangely enough, he was the one person I wanted to see at least one more time before I froze to death. I wanted to see his goofy smile when he wasn't asserting his serious determination to everyone. I wanted to hear him gloat about his unwavering pride again so that I could turn around and grind it into the dirt. I wanted to hear him tell me that I was wrong, even if just one more time.

I don't know how much time passed. It didn't matter. My life was ebbing away, and I didn't have much of it left. I was going to die in a fake little town with fake little snowflakes whirling all around me. What a way to go in such a big and interesting world... to die in a small, fake world.

I was to the point where I was about to give up on consciousness when I felt the touch of magic upon me. It was from Smith, one of the most powerful people to ever exist in these times. It was no surprise that he would catch word of this monstrosity of a trap and what awful things it has done. Thank the gods that he was kind enough to attempt to help solve the problem. His magic was powerful enough to reach into the glassy barrier around me and summon me out of that god-forsaken town that I had come to hate. Instead, my blurry, unblinking vision saw a familiar ornate, black-stone fountain looming over me. He summoned me to Ralnoth Square, the heart of the central city of this continent. Surely someone here would have enough pity to help me out of this Ice Imprisonment.

My crystal and I sat there for four more hours. I constantly saw movement around me, but I felt no help from anywhere. Why didn't Smith finish what he started? What happened to the other warriors that had fallen victim to the same trap? Why the hell wasn't anyone helping me out of this damned ice crystal?!

I guess since I was out of the glass orb, the magic holding together the ice finally wore off - it simply didn't have the fuel to keep my rage contained anymore. I felt the ice crack near my right shoulder, and it gradually grew, creating a magnificent web of lines surrounding me. With a little flexing of muscle, I could wiggle around just a little, and I could whisper oh so slightly. A whisper was all I needed.

Uttering an incantation only I needed to hear, brilliant, flaming ribbons flared out from my body and outward, shattering the ice to a fine and melting frost. It appeared to be snowing and raining at the same time, just as it was constantly in that damned snowglobe. The ribbons of fire tangled themselves into a beautiful web and chased the snow around the square, making sure to melt it completely into rain before dissipating into its magical exhaust.

I was soaking wet, and every limb was stiff. My eyes hurt, even clenched. The tears flowed involuntarily, stinging them. My breath was labored, yet it felt good to finally be able to suck in the good air into my lungs once again.

In the corner of my eye, I saw a figure posed in a casting stance, yet it did not cast. With some effort, I craned my neck around to see a little cleric-mage named Matias. I recognized that stance, and it did not make me happy to see that it was directed at me.

Matias blinked a couple times, his face showing an expression of awe and confusion at the same time.

'Matias, what are you doing?' It was a rhetorical question. I knew exactly what he was doing.

'Uh,' he stuttered, 'I was going to fireball you. It would melt the ice.' That stupid grin he wore, typical of a little kid who tries to laugh their way out of being caught with his hand in the cookie jar, enraged me. I had to remind myself that I had to keep my composure up, for I just got out of a rather embarrassing situation myself.

'Don't bother now. I'm out on my own.' Saying that, I stomped off towards the Unholy Temple of Dentin and entered, making my way to some secluded corner to wring out my clothing of this disgusting, stale water. It smelled of styrofoam. I was glad he hesitated to cast that fireball spell on me, despite the fact I was ten times stronger than he was. I had little of the flame of life still burning within me, and it was going to take awhile to recover completely. A simple fireball from that novice could have easily killed me, but I wouldn't let him know that. I have a reputation to hold.

I was alive. I was going to stay alive. I could continue on with my everlasting quest to exist. I debated whether to tell Don of this fiasco or not. I certainly could live without the guaranteed lecture, but I'm sure he would be entertained by it in some manner. Heh, the poor bastard would probably have done the same thing if he found it instead of me. I was relieved, thought, to know that I could see him again.

I don't know what happed to the other warriors who were trapped just like I was. I don't know if any more people had fallen victim to the snowglobe and its fake town after me. I don't know how many lived, although I would hope to assume they all survived. Smith surely would have helped everyone out of that glassy orb instead of just me. As for what happened to Fehlan afterwards, I still don't know. That thief managed to hide well enough to avoid anyone who was caught inside that cursed orb of his for a long while.

Curiosity killed the cat, hm? Good thing I'm not a cat.

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