Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Land of Shards

Excerpted from "Leveling Up: So You Want to Be a Christian Cleric."

A third example of casting Detect Evil came when I was traveling in the Northcountries several years ago, through the Freeholds of the Akirem’ha.  I had journeyed there in my youth, and marveled at the richness of the land.  

Their sorcerer-merchant guild had cast potent spells on their harvests, and spun their beneficent magics on road and home.  The people were industrious, self-sufficient, well-fed and happy.  Neat little villages were filled with running, laughing children.  Young men and women danced and flirted in the streets, which were filled with musics.  There was a sense of deep contentment among the people.  It became a place of hopeful legend, spoken of far and wide, and many wanderers made their way to the land in hopes of a better life.

I returned after a hundred moons, passing through the realm on my way to the Homehearths of Anadakh.  One of the greatest sorcerers of the Akirem’ha had spun a new magic across the land, and the stories of it had come to me even before I began my travels.  

Into a hundred thousand black shards of obsidian, stolen from the volcanic fires of Malboge, this mighty wizard had cast a deep and potent dweomer.  If you gazed into one of the shards, you could see whatever your heart desired.  You could speak into it, and hear back the voice of a loved one.  You could hold it to your ear, and it would sing the very song that your heart yearned to hear.  You could gaze into it, and it would show you the very thing you wished to see.

How happy the people would be, the sorcerer-merchants proclaimed!  Everything you have ever wanted, right there in your hand!  The spell had to be renewed, of course, for a few pieces of silver every moonrise.  But what a small price for happiness!  Two pieces of silver, and your every desire fulfilled!  What a magical thing, the guild exclaimed!

But as I journeyed northward through that formerly blessed land, my heart was set ill at ease.  The streets that had been filled with the laughter of playing children were silent and empty.  Young men and women would wander by, but they neither laughed nor smiled nor flirted.  Their eyes never wavered from the dark hell-forged glass in their hands, in which their every desire danced and whispered.  

I caught my breath, and stood on the silent, empty street, and there laid out a cast of Detect Evil.  It spoke to me what my heart had felt.  Yes, they had been given a great magic.  But a good magic?

Detect Evil told me it was not so.

My heart fell, and I swiftly hastened from that blighted land of shards.