The following writing may contain mature subject matter that some readers may find unsettling: graphic violence, gore, drugs, sexuality, vulgarity, nudity and other mature themes.
This writing is fiction. Names, characters, settings and events are either used fictitiously or are products of the writers' imaginations. Any resemblance to real events, settings or people, dead or alive, is coincidental unless stated otherwise.
"To push the limits of human creativity and unleash an experience of deep fantasy."
-- Mission Statement, Vagary Incorporated
The hall of gray stone and unlit torches, opening precariously into the cliff-side of the Valley of Vagrants stood open to the wind as a chute. Cool air from the depths of the bastion's dungeon swept out, into the valley floor.
Bweenda stood at the opening, watching the battle. The melee below did not extend to the rocky edge of the escarpment where the nymph had died. Thus, he knew he could loot the drops
once the battle was over. Rameen directed a thought at the system, as a telepathic private message, It is safe now. It cost him precious willpower.
Right behind you, came the reply. A young man emerged from the shadows near Bweenda. He had the same black lochs of hair and alabaster skin that made Prince Klyneh's sharp face so utterly distinct. He was robed in indigo, lined with silver threads. And he playfully tossed a glass ball from hand to hand.
And on his right hand, he wore the signet ring of Agassiz Kingdom. It sparkled in the light from the valley, in the shape of a bottomless isosceles triangle, pointing up. To most, it read as an 'A' for Agassiz, though it could easily read as a 'V' for Vagary. The diamond bar between the edges was indistinct.
Bweenda turned and knelt down on one knee. Formalities, as in writing.
"Save it for the court, Rameen," the Crown Prince chided, This is the only place where I get the respect I deserve. "No need to stay in-character on a dungeon raid. At least, not while my guards are still looking for us in the bastion's tower."
"Yes, good thing we managed to slip into this basement - even if the mapper wasn't finished." Damn your pesky entourage.
The heir to the throne of Agassiz squinted, looking out at the valley through the unexpected gap, "What happened to the nymph we were stalking?"
"I killed the mapper," Rameen blandly stated. A fine bounty.
"Oh, I wanted to tap that shit, man," the prince grinned.
"You'll find the events on the valley floor far more to your liking, my prince, than any mythical wench."
"Oh?" Anything to get my mind off what I've done.
"My prince, have you been crying?"
"I can't log out." I can't even wake up!
"What do you mean, Jul? We all have to log out some time."
"I am mentally and physically unable. Invalid NPC command."
Bweenda looked hesitant, "Maybe I shouldn't have shot that mapper. We need an admin to run a diagnostic on you."
The prince remained silent, scanning the valley. He tried to tune out the bastion's theme music and focus on the subtle fanfare of the battle below. And his eyes scrutinized the landscape. Every toppled farmhouse and broken forest glade. And he glanced idly down the valley right and left, where the land crested higher. This was the low-point of the valley. Always damp, days after a rainy day. And it had taken the farmers a while to irrigate the water into the caves on the opposite side of the valley. That barely sufficed.
"The aqueduct of Mount Agassiz runs along the plateau behind us, underground, beside the bastion. If I break the wall at the far end of this hall, the second and third floor of the bastion's basement will flood. And thanks to this opening, the valley will become a lake within hours. The farmland is already ruined. The stench of blood will taint the land."
Always the procrastinator. Why call the Admins when there is still forty-eight hours left in the night? Bweenda took it in, calmly. He liked the plan, especially since it involved drowning his rival - Sir An'arath. He decided not to tell the Crown Prince that the most loyal of his vassals was fighting on the valley floor.
"Well, let's do this before Prince Klyneh finishes finishes fighting those ogres and bandits."
"Oh, you and your hawk's eyes - almost, almost make me wish I had chosen a different battle style. I wonder what I'd be like as a ranger."
"Save it for the next assignment in class. I need you to grow some vines down the cliff-side. Up and down. Then, I will grab the fairy's loot - it fell. Meanwhile, if you could start charging up a blast to launch down the hall - we'll be set."
Prince Julnareh knelt upon the cobbled edge of the corridor, and picked a tile out of the floor with nimble fingers. Then, he dropped a seed from a pocket in his robe into the earth beneath the tile. He looked to his side at the assassin, "Lend me your inspiration. Meditate with me, Mister Darsha."
Bweenda put a hand on the Crown Prince's shoulder, and closed his eyes. He began to breathe calmly, in a slow and deliberate rhythm. And he pushed his awareness outward - from every nerve in his body to the stirring air. And it flowed down, through his arm, to the Crown Prince. And once the link was established, he began to picture vines cascading up and down the escarpment ridges. They groped the land, violating it. They stretched with green tendrils to satisfy urges of greed and destruction. And as the vision began to falter with boredom, Rameen Darsha began it anew.
The Prince folded his legs, and held the glass orb in both hands, between tense fingers. It began to pulsate, as the blue sun of Vagary. A sprout erupted from the ground, wobbling nervously before flinging itself out in a spurt of growth over the remaining tiles at the valley's edge.
And the calm, soothing harp and distant bag pipes began to play. It was Julnareh's meditational magic - themed with music. The bag pipes carried a hint of pomp and circumstance - and Celtic mysticism. And the harp served to calm the caster and his partner.
Rameen was now focused on the idea of climbing the thick vines safely down the cliffside, and taking whatever riches had fallen from the Cartographfairy's death.
And Prince Julnareh had a firm vision, as the blue orb pulsed on and off as mock cycles of night and day, of standing on the plateau. Agassiz Plateau, the flat part of the mountain. Where the bastion stood beside more farmland and a small village. A quiet tavern. The old blacksmith's shop. And the rich brothel, just far enough away from the capital. He saw himself upon the cliff's edge, watching a tide of dark waters give birth to the Vagrant's Lake - and drowning his brother's army.
Rameen Darsha felt truly at peace, beside his trusted friend and student. His mind swam with materialism and greed. His passion for the handiwork of a false reality. This, he knew, was bliss.
Prince Julnareh's eyes opened quickly, "It is done."
Bweenda grinned, "Do not drown yourself, my Prince. I know a certain lady of the court who would be very upset if I had to tell her you lay gasping for air against the ceiling of a haunted barracks basement."
I've already died once - and it wasn't that bad. The heir was amused by this morbid idea, "Yes, but just think of all the experience points I will get when I cause the deaths of so many."
I have greater wealth to find. And with that, the assassin began to climb down the thick green vines that embraced the cliff side, and circled the gaping mouth of the bastion's basement. That was a veritable Bastille.