[AD&D – Dualiar] Part 3

This is part three from a story I was writing a long, long time ago.

The material contains reference to copyrighted material owned by TSR and now Wizards of the Coast. Disclaimer, blah, blah, blah.

Dwarves had always amazed Nym Zoland. He had studied their history. First, they had totally rejected magic, relying totally on their swords and axes to survive. Then, with a flick of the eye, they embraced magic, as completely as they had rejected it before. His infravision, or night vision, had revealed both Flard and Telrin’s leaving. He guessed that Telrin was going to test the boundaries of his new-found powers. He also guessed that Flard was going to meditate. Strange creatures, these dwarves. So close to each other, yet so far apart. If they only could experience the unification and brotherhood that existed in the circles of Cerin. Only through worship of him could one truly understand others and himself. Nym had learned to look at himself and others in a point of view that was non-biased, without blame or judgment. Yet, these Dwarves are different…

His thoughts drifted back to his homeland, the Drow Forests. These forests housed the Artigent, or good, Drow Elves. They had broken away from their evil kin centuries ago, establishing themselves as a power to be reckoned with. Nym Zoland had never been comfortable with other Drow, even his family. He had only found peace at the only temple of Cerin in the forests. He had traveled on foot miles upon miles to reach the temple. Cerin had noticed his vigilance and his hunger for wisdom. Cerin had granted him the powers of the Cleric, a Cleric of Earth. He had had much time to reflect as he had journeyed back home. He had decided to preach the wisdom of Cerin to his own home village, maybe even establish a temple. As he had entered his village, he had noticed an extreme quiet. Try as he might, he did not find any of his kin. The village had been completely empty, not a living soul to be found. Rage, isolation, and madness had filled him, driving him to human cities outside of the forests. There he had met up with this oddball team. He still doubted their control of their abilities, yet he guessed that these Dwarves, different from other Dwarves, were gaining part of that wisdom.

Nym slowly drifted to sleep, still troubled by nightmares of his empty village.

“C’mon, Nym! Get up! Get up, Nym!” The voice of a worried Zet Unt awakened Nym. It was still night, with the moon high in the sky. The whole party was packing up, ready to leave.

“What in Cerin is going on here?”

Zet sighed and relayed the news. “Telrin’s located his Spelljamming ship. It’s just over that ridge.” Zet pointed, acting as though something was still troubling him.

“Come on, Zet. Spill it out.” Nym did not like being kept in the dark.

“I, uh, well, we’re kind of being attacked by a hoard of Sorgs.” The massive creatures, with spines growing out of most of their bodies were more than a match for their party of adventurers. Nym quickly packed his belongings and joined the rest of the party. The rest of the night was filled with hiking, climbing, and no sleeping. By the end of the journey, it was all he could do to put one foot in front of the other. The scenery faded into dreamlike nonexistence. All that existed were his feet, one in front of the other, one in front of the other.

A sudden and powerful wind gust brought Nym Zoland out of his peaceful trance. Looking up, he could see a Spelljamming ship. It was shaped in two sections, the first being the front, where the Helm was. The rear looked like the front, except for a low, sleek pyramid sitting on the top of it. The two sections were connected by a dense magical field, powerful enough to kill almost anything. It landed, allowing the party to board. Nym hated this ship. It was the only thing that could take him away from his god. The ship rose while the ground seemed to grow smaller. Below, he could see the Sorg hoard, writhing and twisting about the beautiful scenery, completely ruining it. A terrible sickness arose in Nym Zoland’s stomach. He believed it to be the effects of rising so quickly, but deep down he knew that it was his repulsion at the ground below that was being torn apart.

*****

Sickness. ‘Why did this damn ship have to go up so fast?! Finally, we’re slowing down.’ Silver clash detested this “Spelljamming ship.” He was holed up in his cabin, trying intently to ignore the swaying of the ship. Even in space, a ship seemed to sway back and forth, back and forth. He looked out of the porthole, seeing a carpet of blackness, punctured with holes that let the light in. The carpet jumped out and surrounded him, pulling him out and into it. All at once the lights went out.

*****

Worry. No, not worry, apprehension. Someone is in trouble. Trident blinked, bringing his senses back to the bridge of the ship. He rose, feeling shrunken and incomplete. There was only one other person aboard, and he was capable of getting into a lot of trouble. He opened the door to Silver Clash’s cabin, expecting trouble. Instead, he found Silver passed out near the window. He sighed, heaving Silver onto his bunk. Terror struck as the floor jumped up to meet him. Trident bolted out of the room, towards the bridge. Throwing himself onto the Helm, he expanded his senses to the limit. Something big had just missed the ship, altering the gravity plane for a moment. Where did it come from? ‘Behind, far behind.’ Another ship, one that appeared to be a giant snail’s shell, with a giant wooden octopus’ head leering out of the shell at him. ‘A Nautiloid, danger.’ A shiver made its way up Trident’s spine as a picture formed itself in his mind. Another object separated itself from the monstrosity. Trident
changed course, picking up speed. The object seemed to slow down as the Smalljammer matched and passed its speed. ‘Expectation.’ Trident focused his thoughts ahead of the ship. A black, perforated wall stretched in all directions,
completely filling his view. The wall was so huge, soincomprehensibly huge, that it held Trident enthralled. He was completely oblivious to his surroundings. A crash warned him of the impending danger. He focused again, watching the projectile hurtle towards the wall.

It headed straight towards one of the perforations. Trident focused directly on the perforation. Pure white shone out of a hole in the black wall. Just before the object entered the hole, it crumbled to dust and disappeared. Trident realized what could happen to him, his ship, and his companion if he made one false move.

‘Close.’ Trident shifted his “vision” again, and realized that the horrible ship was gaining on him. He urged the Smalljammer faster, even though he knew that he was at top speed. A red, burning flash seared his mind as he was pressed hard into the Helm, his command chair. He realized that the black wall was rushing at him at an incredible speed.

A burst of blue light opened up before him. He realized that he must go into the tunnel formed by the crackling blue energy. How he came by these realizations, he had no idea. Suddenly, he was back at the Helm. Trident looked around, sensing something wrong, yet not being able to pinpoint it. The window caught his attention. Surrounding the ship was a humungous blue tunnel. The tunnel swirled around him with crackling blue energy, making him dizzy. He would never see his homeland again.

‘No worry.’ Trident twisted around, expecting to see Silver Clash with a laughing expression on his face. But no one was there. It must have been the Smalljammer, but he wasn’t sitting on the Helm. A great headache welled up
behind Trident’s eyes, so he decided to go to bed. He needed his sleep, or he would lose his mind. He stumbled to his quarters, grasping his head in his hands.

*****

Nym looked around, sizing up the Spelljammer. This was the largest ship in existence, and he knew that for a fact. It rivaled the largest city on his home world, Creation. There were castle towers, portholes as large as the largest dragon, and small buildings scattering the red back of the ship. There was something more, something that set this ship apart from all others. Nym also noticed that Telrin was kneeling down and touching the floor of the ship delicately. His strangely altered eyes had shifted from the uncontrollable red flames to a more purplish color, a more wise color. Telrin closed his eyes, and a serene look crossed the Dwarf’s face. Nym wondered if Telrin could actually communicate with the huge ship. There seemed something oddly familiar about it. Maybe…

“Who are you? What are you doing on my Small…Spelljammer?” A thin elf, not a normal elf from Creation, but an elf nonetheless, came out of one of the towers, followed quickly by a burly human. The elf, dressed in strange robes, seemed to be debating with himself. “Please excuse me for my rude welcome, gentlemen. I have seen many surprises today, and they seem to finally be taking an effect on me. Please, come inside, where we can talk.” For some reason, everyone looked to Telrin for confirmation. Illent Des began to grumble.

*****

“That’s amazing.” Zet Unt was flabbergasted. Nym chuckled at the naietivity of his fellows. The “amazing” story of Trident the Orange and Silver Clash had filled their ears while Trident’s wine had filled their stomachs.

“The next thing that I knew,” continued Trident, “my Smalljammer had grown, and we were orbiting around this planet.” Nym found it wondrous that the Smalljammer that Telrin had helped had found its way back to Creation.

“Obviously,” Nym Zoland interjected, “Cerin has a task for you.” The whole group sighed, extremely used to Nym’s preaching. He glanced around, wondering what was wrong.

“Who’s Cerin?” Silver Clash, the burly human, asked.

“You will know soon.” A sense of certainty filled Nym, as it did often as of late. He knew that he was getting closet to the meeting with his maker, his master, and his friend.

“We–” Silver never finished his sentence. The floor shifted, accompanied by a crash of metal on wood.

[AD&D – Dualiar] Part 2

This is part two from a story I was writing a long, long time ago.

The material contains reference to copyrighted material owned by TSR and now Wizards of the Coast. Disclaimer, blah, blah, blah.

Ahh, open plains, hilly fields, open sky. Wherever that thing took us, it’s got to be better than that cave. Telrin inhaled and exhaled deeply. The smells of wet grass, a few trees, nearby animals, and something else wafted down
to him.

Something was wrong, something was out of place. All of the scents were there, but none of the sounds. Everyone tensed as the field went completely silent. A high pitched scream filled the air as a huge blaze of fire streaked overhead. It hit with the force of an earthquake. Half of the group fell down to the ground, but Telrin doubled over in fiery pain.

The ground ahead of them bulged upward as if a tunnel was being dug through it at an incredible speed. It was heading straight for him. Telrin’s eyes widened as it approached. He tried to jump out of the way, but the thing altered its path toward him. An explosion of light and power erupted from the ground beneath Telrin. He writhed as it fused with his very soul. He cried out in agony and delight. He sought only to release what power he had, not gain more. The light whirled away, forming into two coherent beams. They twisted around each other, each finally slamming into one of Telrin’s eyes. A hellish screech filled the air. Telrin collapsed, glowing, to the torn ground.

The pain, intense pain, was searing through his soul. It searched out every fiber of his existence, and then burned through each one of them.

He got up slowly, turning to face every one of his friends. He saw everything through a shifting orange and red haze. It blocked certain details, yet enhanced others. Telrin could discern everyone’s magical abilities at a glance. Telrin couldn’t even look at Illent Des because of the brilliance of his sword.

“Telrin, your eyes!” gasped Zet.

He had guessed as much. He discovered from the others that his eyes had turned to a boiling, churning fire color. He decided to tend to more important matters, and ran toward the source of the earthquake.

What he saw broke his fiery heart. A manta-like wooden form lay broken on the ground. It was the size of a small sailing ship, with a trail of burnt ground behind it. Telrin could hear the wails of pain, although no one else could. He went over to the crashed Smalljammer, a child of the Spelljammer itself. His hands touched the purple “skin.” It was still warm, losing life fast. Anger and burning pain filled Telrin. All he could think about was the broken space sailing vessel. He screamed out in defiance.

“What in Cerin’s heaven!?” What Nym Zoland saw amazed and feared all of the people gathered. Red light, filled with power, glared out of Telrin’s eyes and enveloped the craft. Red, hazy light, thicker near the tears and breaks, seemed to lessen the tension in the air. The light seemed to turn into a magical, heatless, flame. As the fire dissipated, a now red Smalljammer rose gracefully into the air, seeming to hover above and to thank Telrin. It shot away, streaking red fire behind it, to fulfill its destiny. Nym dared to ask the question. “What was that, Telrin?”

“An injured friend.” Telrin sighed as he heaved his backpack onto the ground. “And a gained ally.”

*****

The Smalljammer streaked through wildspace, speeding towards the wall of the crystal sphere that enclosed the solar system. He prepared to open a portal and let the phlogiston, the liquid that the universe was mad of, envelop him and cleanse him. Instead, a blue tunnel opened up before him, surrounding him and blocking out wildspace. The walls were seemingly made of energy, moving and crackling with incredible magical force. A branch of the tunnel sped by him, revealing to him an entire section of the massive network. The tunnel opened up ahead of him, and he pushed his speed to full throttle. The tunnel disappeared when he left it, revealing a world below. He decided to descend into a mountain range to rest. His incredible discovery plagued him with incredible questions.

*****

After resting, Telrin dared to explore his new boundaries. He knew that he must be alone, so as to not frighten his companions. In an instant, he was enveloped in flames, and transported into the middle of the forest. Telrin was shocked and wonder-struck at his own power. He suddenly became angry, angry at the responsibility now resting on his shoulders. Flames shot from his hand, red as the sun. They began to consume the trees in front of him. A great fear for the rest of the forest filled him, and instantly the flames were gone. He realized that his power seemed limitless, that it could be a link to realizing his wildest imaginings. Telrin sat down with a sigh, and let his imagination run wild.

“You know, you should really learn to control that.” Telrin started at the sudden appearance of Flard Snet, one of his companions.

“How did you get here?” Telrin had thought to be far away from camp.

“I was meditating, over there, when I heard the crackle of flames. Then I saw you set fire to those trees. Can you imagine what would happen if you lost control of your powers? We would all be toast.” As usual, Flard was afraid of too much power.

“Flard, look at you. You have the power to control the elements, you can control what everything’s made of. You can completely destroy your enemies without a single stroke of a sword. Not only that, you can vary your creation, the very spell, each time you cast it. Do realize what you could do if you let your imagination run wild? You could become the most powerful member in our party, more powerful than even Illent Des!” Telrin urged Flard to let go and run
wild.

“If I had that much power, I would be as corrupt as that Greyhawk dragon. Don’t you know that those kind of dragons are extremely neutral?! They LOVE people. Yet this one, this one would have destroyed any person without a second thought. He was corrupted by something. You, me, even Illent Des could get corrupted if they got drunk with the amount of sheer power that they had. That must not happen, at all costs.” Flard was extremely calm, as if he was reciting a lesson that was old and filled with spider webs.

“Listen to yourself, Flard! You’ve unwillingly become the ‘Saint of all Heroes!’ We need to let go to discover ourselves, yet we also need boundaries. Do you realize what that thing was back there? It was a Smalljammer. A space ship. Not only that, it was a child of the fabled Spelljammer itself. It was ALIVE, Flard. The power that I received came from it, though it was somehow changed and magnified. I suppose I should try to control my urges with this power. Thank you, Flard.” Telrin was truly enlightened.

“I should thank you, Telrin. I’ve been afraid of a myth for a long time, and now I’m free. I’m truly grateful, friend.” They clasped hands, realizing for the first time that they were not alone.

*****

“I will find the Spelljamming ship with or without you, Silver.” The mage, aqua and orange hair waving about, was furious. The hard-headed fighter refused to go into the cavern. He was afraid of the magic forces that he didn’t understand.

“OK, I’ll come with you. Just try and avoid casting that weird magic on me. It chills me to the bone.” A fear translated into ferocious demands is still a fear.

“Good. If I’m right, it lies in that cave.” Ever since he had donned the purple cloak, he had had a sense of where the ship was located. The strange color shift, from a midnight purple to a fiery red, intrigued and mystified him. Trident the Orange would get to the end of this mystery if it killed him.

As he entered the cave, new thoughts occurred to him. What if this Spelljamming ship was a Smalljammer, a child of the mysterious Spelljammer itself. What if this Smalljammer could travel between dimensions trough tunnels of magical energy? What if this Smalljammer had undergone some radical change recently, mentally and physically? Not once, as these thoughts entered Trident’s mind, did he question their origin, nor the unusual brightness of his cloak in the dark cavern.

The cave opened up into a vast cavern, with a ceiling higher than he could see. Below the opening of the cave tunnel into the cavern, the floor dropped to a depth that would have to be carefully navigated. What was in the center of the cavern, though, truly amazed him. A fire-red manta-like ship rested on the floor. The color moved with the same slow pulse as his cloak did. He scrambled down the wall, excited at his discovery. As he moved closer to the ship, it seemed to awaken and to notice him. He knew the shape, the shape of a Smalljammer. How had he known this in the cave? It was just one of the mysteries that doggedly pursued him. When he approached, the fires of the ship and the cloak seemed to slow to a more peaceful pulse, calming with a forced control. He touched the ship, and suddenly his mind split. Coming from the Smalljammer, a sense of feeling–fear, yet final recognition. The feelings weren’t
a total consciousness, just a presence. He clambered up the side and into the ship.

“This is trouble. All of this is big trouble.” Silver Clash, the mighty warrior, sighed as he entered the space craft. When they entered a room at the front of the ship, Trident the Orange knew what he had to do.

[AD&D – Dualiar] Part 1

This is part one from a story I was writing a long, long time ago.

The material contains reference to copyrighted material owned by TSR and now Wizards of the Coast. Disclaimer, blah, blah, blah.

The Creature shifted its weight from one scaly lower appendage to another. It was getting nervous, for the height of its existence was approaching rapidly. Its many-eyed head rested in two of its hand-like upper appendages. He had been in this form for many centuries, and that was long, even for this beast. One of its followers approached, trembling uncontrollably. The creature smiled, drooling on its throne.

“Master, I, uh, that is…”

“SPIT IT OUT!” thundered the gruesome beast. The blast threw the measly ogre mage into the wall with a bone-shattering thunk. When he fell to the floor, his imprint was left in the wall.

“The Greyhawk dragon has been destroyed,” the mage managed to gasp. He feared the worst from his master.

“So?” The honey-sweet voice of The Creature floated down to greet the ogre mage.

“I know that he was a bit player in your scheme, O Great One, but he was destroyed by eight mortals, one with the Time Reaver.” The injured mage got up and painfully brushed off his oriental armor.

“Time Reaver.” The one crystal sword that had eluded the Creature. The sword obviously knew something of its plans, because every attempt to capture it had been thwarted neatly and efficiently.

The Creature smiled, silently casting a spell. The ogre mage relaxed, completely trusting the disgusting Creature. The Creature heaved itself off its throne, lurching toward the ogre. A gesture in the air opened a panel in the wall, revealing five glowing crystal weapons, each of a different color. Four were swords, and one was a staff. Each was held up by a glowing metal thong of the
same color that pulsated inside each crystal blade.

“You see, you miserable excuse for a mage, that these swords, when put in these holders, became interconnected.”

“I see,” whispered the ogre.

“SILENCE!” Another roar from the Creature instantly killed the pitiful ogre, shattering any glass or crystal that he possessed. Yet the crystal swords were untouched.

*****

“Well, I don’t care what you say, I am not going any deeper into this damn hellhole!!”

Illent felt that this Star Rider was far too emotional. Every five minutes he burst forth with a forceful string of vulgarities. Illent thought it to be strange because on the trek here, over flat plains, he had been calm and composed.

“Look, I know that you’re under a lot of pressure, but that’s where Time Reaver says that the source of the evil is.” Illent had explained this many times before.

“Well, are you all sure that we’re supposed to go right to the source? I mean, I don’t think that we’re ready for that just yet.”

It annoyed Illent that the water cleric made so much sense. “Where are we supposed to go then?” As the rest of the party shrugged, he drew his sword, finally at the end of his patience. The others cowered back at the sight of the crystal weapon. Its sheer power instilled fear deep in their hearts. But more than that, an aura of destiny surrounded it and its bearer.

“We will decide, NOW!” Illent brought his sword down in a sharp arc in front of him to emphasize his point. A great tearing sound filled the cave as a gash opened up in the air in front of him. Through the gash, they could see an image of shifting smoke. Unbelievably, the smoke did not billow into the room.

“Well, forward it is.”

The squat gnome trotted right for the gash. “Wait, Zet. We don’t know what that,” he gestured at the tear, “is.”

“I don’t see anywhere else to go,” Zet remarked ignorantly.

The whole party nodded their heads like sheep waiting to be butchered.

“Well, then go right ahead!” Illent was tired of trying to protect the group of idiots. He gestured to the gash and moved out of the way. Expressions of fear and hesitation crossed the group’s faces, followed by expressions of determination.

“Fine!” Zet was the first through the gash. As soon as he stepped through, he disappeared. One after another stepped through the gap in time. Illent sighed as he stepped through the tear.

*****

“They just stepped through the time teleport,” remarked the first voice.

“I know. Do you think they’ll make it here?” queried the second voice.

“Yes. Time Reaver will soon be joining us,” replied the first.

“The Creature believes that he can control us,” stated the second.

“He will not,” assured the first.

“He will be surprised,” answered the second.

“He will,” assured the first.

“Why did Time Reaver let the mortal use the time teleport?” wondered the second.

“I believe that he is bonding with his holder,” whispered the first. It was as if he was trying to deny his own statement.

“Impossible! That hasn’t happened since the Creation,” gasped the second.

“It is happening,” assured the first.

“That could change everything,” pondered the second.

“Yes.” The reply made by the first was barely audible.

“That means…”

“That means that anything could happen!” blurted the first.

“The future hasn’t been unknown to us since the Creation! This is all wrong! This could change the course of planned future history. For the love of Cerin, what will we do?” The second voice was frantic.

“Calm down. Everything will sort itself out. We still have our intellect. For instance, take a look at the party. What do you notice?” The first voice was soothing.

“Well, the Star Dwarf is considerably shaken. He doesn’t realize what is happening to him. He views the magic forces to be harmful instead of helpful. But, with this change in events, they could be either.” The second
voice had calmed down.

“Correct. He will release the power when the time is right.” The first voice gained assurance and calmness.

“When will the time be right?” the second was still a little shaky.

“That, I do not know,” the first said with a sense of finality.

[AD&D – Dualiar] Prelude

This is the prelude from a story I was writing a long, long time ago.

The material contains reference to copyrighted material owned by TSR and now Wizards of the Coast. Disclaimer, blah, blah, blah.

“Arrrhhhh!” The scream of the dying dragon filled the cave and rattled it to its very foundations. The wounded warriors collapsed onto the mounds of gold to recover. The stench of poison gas still hung in the air like a haze of rotten carcasses. It was all worth it, though, because of the treasure. They would finally be able to settle down.

*****

Rest. That was all he craved. After weeks of restless camps, standing guard for half of the night, and hiking miles through forests, swamps and mountains, he could use any rest that he could get. His sword, however, had other ideas. Illent Des silently sighed as he found out what his future held.

*****

The walls were closing in. He had to get out. He had to leave and release the magical fires that ripped through him. A rarity in his race, Telrin the Dwarf was a Star Gazer. He had bonded with a spelljammer, connecting his life with its. The pain welling from his wound mixed with the fires racing through his veins. Telrin screamed out in pain and frustration because he knew that he had to contain the fires within him, no matter what the cost turned out to be.

*****

Cerin called out to him. Cerin, his master, had a purpose for Nym Zoland, one of the few Dark Elf worshippers. He knew that he would soon be meeting his purpose and his god. Nym didn’t fear death, for Cerin waited for him. Nym knew that he was getting powerful. The power scared him, for it might turn him into something as ugly and as evil as what he had just helped to kill. He knew that his purpose had something to do with the Shadow-Creatures. It tortured Nym not to know what lie ahead.

*****

Flard Snet felt a certain kinship with Telrin, yet a certain alienation presented itself as well. Flard was an Inanimate, a controller of the Non-Living. He took his powers seriously, too seriously according to his friends. If he took them too lightly, he felt, he would be consumed by them. He wasn’t afraid of his powers, just wary. Would he have to be more serious as he gained more powers? The thing Flard was afraid of was the future.

*****

Ahh, peace at last, thought Zet Unt as his leg went numb. The dragon had seen right through his most powerful illusion. Maddened, it had maimed him with a scaly claw. The creature had almost missed, but Zet hadn’t been quick enough. He flinched at the memory of his tearing flesh. Zet believed he was going to die. He had dealt with illusions all of his life, always running away from what was real. Now he faced death, which happened to be completely real. Zet wondered what was on the other side. Would he be a ghost, wandering the universe forever, or would he be at rest on an exotic plane of existence? Zet Unt welcomed both options.

*****

The ravaged party looked at each other with nothing but a sense of premonition. As they healed the wounded and collected the treasure, they walked as if they were in a deep sleep. All of the tasks that should have excited and grieved them actually brought about no response whatsoever. They realized that they had vanquished only a minor evil compared to what was really out there.

[Carnival] Enemy: Certainty

The young boy, Tommy, that had vacated the contents of his over-full stomach into his lap earlier, turned his face from the scary man in front of him to the scary place that he had just been. The Rides.

The Rides… and, it was guessed, the Ridemaster… were encased in, and perhaps made of, a metallic webbing that looked like every cyberpunk movie ever made had vomited up its nightmares right on that spot. Every one except for the roller coaster. It was in the same draconic shape as when it had been… created? born? But now, it was a hulking, wooden, rattling beast. Its only metal pieces were rusted and conveyed every sense of being primitive.

They all worked. The roller coaster, the ferris wheel, the Tilt-O-Whirl, they all worked. One little boy had even vomited on the Ferris Wheel. Tommy. Neither Tommy nor his mother noticed the little metal spiders that were riding on his clothing like burrs. Inside the Rides, conduits of electricity, light, and thought flared, illuminating many of the tunnel-like areas of the Rides in an eerie glow. They resonated with a thought. “Little bastard.”

Here, Dragon was so free. He admired the craftsmanship of the clothes he had found himself in when he woke up. His trench coat and armor were stylized and adorned with runes in a flaring font that bordered on the remake of Lost in Space. His Warhammer was missing, but he sensed it somewhere amidst the technology that was surrounding him. He was connected to the Rides central annex by a cranial implant – a plug drilled directly into his brainpan. From here, his spiders were his eyes and his ears. They hadn’t spread over the Carnival very much, as the dust and general nastiness that made up the place, and the humans that populated it, would be detrimental to their sensitive equipment.

The roller coaster, though. That was the bitch of the situation. People were thrilled at his Rides. His re-made old ones, and his new VR Battle Mech Theater, and his new Perfect You ride. Each one was scaring the riders until they puked. “Little bastard.” And they loved every second. But the coaster was *killing* his spiders. It resisted every attempt he and the Annex made at upgrading it. It was far too much like that irrational, emotional, physically reliant creature that he had finally caged. He thought about it, and the hallways of the Rides pulsed with thought again.

“I’m not sure you exist.”

The coaster seemed to bristle, rattling in an alarming fashion. Somehow…. somehow it replied, in a snarling, lizard-like voice.

“I will be rid of you.”

The spiders that held the Rides together scuttled about in an alarming fashion as laughter echoed through the fiber, the copper, and the light.