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Thread: NeShattered

  1. #1

    NeShattered

    'AGE ONE - THE SUNDERING

    Highemp floats through a crystalline void that is nothing and everything, the ultimate plotfractal. The OMNIcron. Yet as he watches, it begins to crumble before his eyes.

    Highemp: How?

    He lets his senses guide him to where he needs to go. He is the master of bloodink, absolute monarch of the NeS... but this, this eludes him. And his destiny awaits... on page 3164. He plunges into it-

    Chapter 1 - The Question

    It is a dark moonless night on the last post of page 3164. It is raining, neither too heavily nor too lightly. Yet everything is slowly being soaked. An old man stands with his back to a gravestone outside of London. His cloak is in tatters, his short beard is salt-and-pepper, and his pure white hair curls down to his shoulders. His chest is bare, save for two vertical straps, each from shoulder to the hip. He has vials filled with red fluid - bloodink - on his belt, and scrolls strapped to his straps.

    Highemp appears behind the gravestone, kneeling as he watches the old man. And he realizes - the old man is himself.


    Highemp: But how? How could I grow old? I'm immortal!

    Old Highemp: I knew you would come.

    Highemp starts to say something, then realizes that his old doppelganger was not speaking to him. There is a beanpole of a man, with grey hair, cut in a caesar style, in a trench coat, a badge pinned to it, standing before him, with the London police behind him.

    Old Geb: You did?

    Old Highemp: Yes. You *turning to look back at the gravestone* and someone else.

    Old Geb: What do you mean?

    Old Highemp: I was good back then, Geb. Darn good. Nobody could see me when I didn't want to be seen.

    Old Geb: That was a long time ago, Highemp. You're not as strong as you used to be. The vampires betrayed you; your blood has thinned, and you have aged due to that. Your mastery of bloodink is no more.

    Old Highemp: This old dog still has a few tricks, Geb. Say what you came to say.

    Old Geb: It doesn't have to be this way, you know, old friend. Surrender, take the sentence for conquering the OMNIcron, and I can protect you. Otherwise...

    Old Highemp: It doesn't matter now. Nothing matters now. *he turns to the gravestone, speaking to the young Highemp behind him, whom no one else can sense* The NeS was shattered. A long time ago. Its pages scattered into disarray. There was no linear connection between the pages anymore. I created rivers of bloodink on which boats of parchment could sail from one page to another. But all the pages have been used up. This, page 3164, is the last page remaining. No, not the last page in the story, but the last one to survive. All the other pages have been destroyed at this time. And after this post, there will be no more NeS.

    Old Geb: Who are you talking to? I know all this.

    Old Highemp: *shakes head* I am too old, Geb, to travel to resurrect another page and travel to it. My blood is too thin for me to create more bloodink. I only have these few vials of my bloodink, from when I was young and invincible left.

    Old Geb: Use them, then, Highemp. Escape. Prevent this from ever happening.

    Old Highemp: You know you can't let me do that, Geb.

    Old Geb: I know. But-

    Old Highemp: But nothing. All the heroes are dead, all the villains too, all the protagonists and antagonists. Save for you and me. The writers are gone. It's just you and me. The Narrators are dead, including his great-great-grandchildren. You are the captain of the London police. And I am an exile.

    Old Geb: Highemp-

    Old Highemp: Here they are. Walk away. Don't look back.

    The young Highemp peers behind the gravestone to see a cadre of mighty warriors glowing with incredible powers tumble out of the sky. They advance on Highemp, and an amazing battle occurs. Old Highemp takes them all on. But eventually he falls. A vial of his invincible bloodink from his younger days spills from his belt and shatters on the gravestone, as the Old Highemp falls to the ground.

    Lifeless.

    The bloodink spatters over the word "Hush" on the tombstone, above which reads, IRIANA EMP: May she rest in peace.


    Highemp: *tears forming in his eyes, he uses his bloodink to escape to another page, as the NeS, the once-eternal, now-shattered NeS crumbles to dust around him*

    (NSP:To all, this is a continuation of Highemperor's story from my first post on NeSquared. Feel free to join. Your character can actually exist both in this story and in NeSquared, due to the fact that it takes place on different pages of NeS.)

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Last edited by Gebohq; 06-26-2006 at 11:21 PM.

  2. #2
    *Highemperor falls out of the void between pages into a new world, his essence still forming as he drops from the black skies into a cage. The top seals shut quickly, trapping him. Before he can gather his senses, the cage begins to move, carried on the shoulders of four almost identical-looking people. Highemperor rallies his considerable strength and smashes the bars, but they hold for the time being. He sinks to the ground, gritting his teeth petulantly, and waits.*

    Highemperor: Where are you taking me?

    Figures Underneath: To the Answerer.

    Highemperor: Oh really? When are you going to take me to the Questioner?

    *The figures underneath him laugh.*

    Figures: You are the Questioner, Highemperor the Reviled.

    Highemperor: It figures.

    *Eventually, Highemperor is escorted into a vast underground chamber, dim save for a few torches burning and a large beam of light pouring onto a raised throne at the centre of the chamber. Thousands of identical figures stand in the cavern, their faces shrouded. One man sits on the throne, whom Highemperor recognises from his generic NeS days instantly.*

    Highemperor: TLTE...?

    TLTE: No longer, Highemperor. From now on, you need only know me as The Answerer.

    Highemperor: What do you mean? This is a page from NeSquared, isn't it?

    TLTE: It's not as easy as that, Highemperor. You see, your use of the bloodink has irretrievably affected the...permanency... of the pages. You travelled over them the first time, and that was set in stone, immutably changed unless you yourself intervened. Which you have now, by travelling to this page.

    Highemperor: How much have I changed?

    TLTE: Even as we speak, the damage is spreading. Previous triumphs in battle, near brushes with death...nothing of your past is certain now, Highemperor. And if even one of your page characters dies, the resulting shockwave will annihlate Highemperor from the span of plotfractals. An eventuality I now exist to confirm.

    Highemperor: Why? We were friends! You have to help me!

    TLTE: No, Highemperor. You and your page-character spinoffs have always been a thorn in my side. They are, quite frankly, invincible, lacking in both humility and depth, dying only to return more infuriating than before. However, I think you'll find that this time I am sufficiently equipped to defeat you.

    Highemperor: How so?

    TLTE: I give you Equitas and Gossamer!

    *TLTE's right arm is suddenly covered with a golden round shield, perfectly crafted. In his left hand resides a thin blade of godlike quality, shining brightly enough to make the TLTEs near squint.*

    TLTE: The shield is crafted of your own bones from page 3164, providing resistance to all your magical and spiritual attacks. The blade is made from purest steel, coated in liquid mercury and forged in the fires of your cremation on page 3165. Have no mistake, this blade will kill you beyond some cheap resurrection ploy. But you are not without a chance, Highemperor. If you can somehow defeat the manifold TLTEs here, escape to another page and ensure that every one of your alternate selves survive, you could defeat me. In return, I'll tell you how to rectify this mess you're in.

    Highemperor: Deal. I'll see you at the end of this, TLTE.

    TLTE: Yes you will. And sooner than you think...

    *The TLTE next to Highemp swings a torch at his head. Highemperor ducks and kicks him in the face, sending him flying back into the crowd. The TLTEs move in to attack, leaving Highemperor no choice but to fight...*


    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  3. #3
    Highemp: Very funny. Let me guess. You just saw the Matrix, didn't you? *smashes a TLTE's face in*

    The Answerer: Er... Look over there! *TLTE's it*

    Highemp: TLTE's it? What's that? Anything like gebbing it?

    No, actually, it consists of producing more copies of himself, in the hopes of defeating you.

    TLTE: No, in the CERTAINTY of defeating him, Narrator. Get it straight!

    Right, whatever.

    Highemp: Yeah, well I have some tricks, too. *highemps it*

    TLTE: What? What paltry copycat parlor trick is this?

    Thunder crackles.

    TLTE: Eep?

    Highemp: *smirks* No, EeP's been defeated.

    Lightning shoots down from the sky and blasts all the TLTE's to smithereens, save for the Answerer himself, who is protected by his golden shield of bones.

    Highemp: Blast.

    TLTE: *smirks* No, I believe you just tried that.

    Highemp: Haha, very funny. Now what IS the answer, mate?

    TLTE: Darned if I know, I was just trying to provide some heroic motivation.

    Highemp: What??? But our deal!

    TLTE: I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it any - crud, wrong script. No, actually, I didn't think you'd win at all, so I didn't bother finding out the Answer.

    Highemp: *sigh* Well, just tell me what you DO know.

    TLTE: Well, I do know that the original NeS as you originally passed through it - linearly, that is - was set in stone, vulnerable only to things such as the EeP, which was defeated a few billion pages ago.

    Highemp: A few billion? Just what page are we on, anyway?

    TLTE: That's irrelevant. The point is-

    Highemp: You don't know, do you?

    TLTE: Er, that's irrelevant, too. Anywhos, once you mastered bloodink, you chiseled over the original NeS, shattering its permanency. By page 100 - at least in the old continuity, it may be a different page now - you had shattered the NeS irrevocably through your meddling.

    Highemp: Hey, conquest is as conquest does. So what do we do now?

    TLTE: Well, I don't know.

    Highemp: *grumbling* Fat lot of help you are.

    TLTE: *tries to hide paunch* Fat? Er... Right, whatever.

    Hey, did you see that? He has a paunch! He has a- *The Narrator is promptly gagged*

    Highemp: So what's happened to you? My old self said only he and Geb had survived.

    TLTE: He would know. He killed me.

    Highemp: WHAT?

    TLTE: Yes. This is the me that exists before I was killed. As the Answerer, I am psychic enough to know that you will kill me unless all this is stopped.

    Highemp: So this is as much self-preservation as it is heroism.

    TLTE: That, and the fact that I don't want my favorite jelly doughnut place in town destroyed...

    Highemp: Sheesh, no wonder you're fat...

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  4. #4
    Far away, in a place remote from all else, in a realm hidden from scrying eyes, a magnificent cathedral rests on a plane of snow. Though it appears only the size of a large chapel from the outside, on the interior it is infinite, stretching in all directions, through all dimensions and planes. It is the NeSanctuary. Home of the WriterGod. Cocoon of the NeS.

    Now it is a tomb. A sarcophagus holds the shattered spirit of the WriterGod, and bound tomes hold the NeScrolls, which are the NeS written with bloodink in the ancient language that only the WriterGod could speak without being destroyed.


    *The door to the NeSanctuary slams open on one hinge, creaking, as a cold blast of snow flurries in. It is not the snow of ice, but the dust of crumbled parchment*

    Figure Coming In From The Snowstorm: Dang, what a cold night. Not that it's ever a warm one. . .

    Who are you?

    FCIFTS: *mildly* I might ask you the same question.

    I am the collective spirits of all the Narrators that ever were. Bound in death as well as life to the WriterGod, we are doomed to wander this sanctum.

    FCIFTS: Ah. Well, I am called Highemperor.

    Impossible. There are only two alternate versions of Highemperor, one of whom is dead, the other of which is currently on the 3,476,008,251st page with The Last True Answerer.

    Highemp: Yes, I was afraid of that. Well, technically, I'm now the Ultimarch.

    *snort* Which is what?

    Ultimarch: I'm trying to figure that out, actually. Sometime in Highemp's past, which is hidden to me now, a seed was planted within his being by someone unknown, which inevitably resulted in me. Ultimarch. Whatever that might be.

    Explain.

    Ultimarch: Well, the timeline of the NeS flows back and forth with the timeline of quote, unquote, "Reality"(TM). Sometimes it gets ahead of itself, sometimes it falls back. No one really seems to have any power to control that. So in the past of quote, unquote, "Reality"(TM), Highemperor morphed into me, whilst it's still in the future of the NeS.

    The NeS which is now shattered, thanks to YOUR predecessor.

    Ultimarch: Oh, is that why no one else is around? What page are we on, anyway?

    We aren't. We're in the NeSanctuary, the last remaining vestige of the OMNIcron. It's not a page, it's a. . . well, a ghost of a page.

    Ultimarch: I see. So nothing but you and me to keep each other company for all eternity?

    Well, other than these NeScrolls, on which we can view what once was the NeS, before it was destroyed. By you.

    Ultimarch: Yes, yes, you covered that, guilt trip, etc., blah, blah, blah. Hmmm. . . *flips to page 3,476,008,251* Very interesting.

    -----

    The Last True Answerer/TLTA: Highemp, I have come to a conclusion.

    Highemp: An answer, you mean?

    TLTA: Yes. *wicked grin* To stop you before you shatter and eventually destroy the NeS, not to mention the OMNIcron, I must kill you.

    Highemp: Erm, can I get a second opinion?

    TLTA: No. *brandishes Equitas and Gossamer*

    Highemp: Um. . . LOOK OVER THERE! *gebs it*

    *With a cry of fury, TLTA chases after Highemp*

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  5. #5
    *Highemperor flees, his long strides easily outdoing TLTA's, and soon he begins to fade into the-*

    TLTA: Not this time.

    *Suddenly, Equitas shimmers and Highemperor falls to the ground in pain, allowing TLTA to catch up with him.*

    Highemperor: What's...happening?

    TLTA: A flaw in the Highemperor character is being addressed.

    *Highemperor springs to his feet, punching TLTA in the chest. He flies backward into the rock wall, creating a spiderweb crack.*

    Highemperor: Quite a dent you've made, fatty.

    TLTA: You're not going to get out of this that way.

    Highemperor: What-

    *TLTA tosses his sword, like a gigantic throwing knife, the shining blade spinning light into all directions of the gloomy cavern. The blade lodges in Highemperor's shoulder, pinning him to the wall behind him.*

    Highemperor: AAAAAAAAAGHhHhhh! .....Wait a minute, this story was comedic five minutes ago! I altered the genre in my last post!

    TLTA: Quite correct. I intend to rectify that. You've been wounded. What's the experience like?

    Highemperor: Extremely painful...why my shoulder?

    TLTA: Because another spot might have killed you. And death is no burden to the seasoned writer that you are.

    Highemperor: What is the purpose of this?

    TLTA: Like I said, Highemperor, or Highcount, or Ultimarch, or...why don't I just call you Big-Shot? The inherent flaw in the Highemperor characters are being resolved.

    Highemperor: But I'm not a flawed character! I'm a model swordsman, orator, general...

    TLTA: Exactly. You may indeed go on to become the supreme ruler of the universe, I don't deny the possibility, but on this page, you will learn humility. Neither calling me fat, or insulting my Russian speech impedements will prevent this lesson from occurring...

    Highemperor: Damn. That usually works.

    *He pulls the blade out of his shoulder, marvelling at what it is like to be humbled by a blow.*

    Highemperor: So what now?

    TLTA: An aptitude test. You've heard my words, now you can get the chance to act on them. Strike me with my own blade, if you think that will help. Submit to my words, if you think them meritous. But remember; Equitas will ensure that your Highemperor powers, however impressive, will be countered.

    *Highemperor considers...*

    [This message has been edited by The Last True Evil (edited November 18, 2003).]
    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  6. #6
    Highemp's mind is a whirlwind of thoughts, questions, comments, confusions... everything except answers. Equitas has confronted him with his own mortality... more than that, his own moRALity. It is truly his flaw, he knows, that he is arrogant. He believes he knows everything.

    Highemp: Shut up, Narrator. I DO know everything.

    See what I mean?

    Highemp: Hush, you.

    TLTA: "Hush". Exactly, Highemp.

    Highemp: What do you mean? *the wound in his shoulder automatically heals, leaving only a tear in his clothing*

    TLTA: What eventually becomes so important to you about the word "Hush" that you put it on your daughter's gravestone?

    Highemp remembers seeing his old self in front of Iriana's grave on the last post of page 3164, the tombstone which said, IRIANA EMP - May she rest in peace - Hush.

    Highemp: I - I don't know.

    TLTA: Then you'd best figure it out, hadn't you?

    Highemp: *glare* We will meet again, TLTA.

    TLTA: *inclining head* Undoubtedly.

    And with that, Highemp travels to another page in the shattered plotfractal...

    -----

    In the NeSanctuary, where only I and Ultimarch are, we are reading these events as they unfolded upon the NeScrolls.

    Ultimarch: So, it's too late to change any of this?

    It IS written in blood.

    Ultimarch: Yes, that it is... *muses* Perhaps if we scry upon Highemp's - that is, my - past, we could discover something?

    Ultimarch turns to another page in the NeScrolls, which record all the OMNIcron...

    -----

    In the beginning was the Neverending Word, and the Neverending Word was with WriterGod, and the Neverending Word was the WriterGod.

    *cue camera change to a void of white light where a bearded figure, as represented on the ceiling of the NeSanctuary, stretches out his hand to hold the newly created NeS in his palm*

    WriterGod: It is good.

    And the WriterGod made all things NeW - the Neverending Word. For the Neverending Word runs through all stories, forming the pattern and lattice and weave of every heart.

    *An embryo now rests in the palm of the WriterGod's hand - an embryo with a cape and startling blue eyes*

    WriterGod: Behold, the least, and the greatest, of my creations. He shall have many names across many worlds. Whilst Gebohq, my chosen one, shall be the heart of the Neverending Story, HE, this one whom shall call himself Highemperor, shall be the heart of all stories. The ultimate archetype. The Ultimarch.

    And so did the WriterGod place within this creature the Inkheart - whose blood flows with ink - which is a seed that shall manifest itself far, far into the future - and far, far into the past.

    -----

    Ultimarch: *looking up from the first NeScroll* I see. But what is my purpose now?

    Does it really matter? The WriterGod is dead. The NeS is dead. I am dead. There is only you. A shattered heart the world forgot. The heart of a now dead story. There are no stories left for you.

    Ultimarch: *whispering* But for the ones I create. But that is true of all humanity, isn't it?

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  7. #7
    *As the Ultimarch turns to leave, he pauses, frowning. Being the Ultimarch he is ultimately aware of all present events, and so is currently aware of Highemperor's clash with TLTA.*

    Highemperor: What of this renegade Highemperor, and TLTA? A new portion of the story?

    Say not a new part of the story, but an alternate one. The storyline of strong characters such as Highemperor are seldom linear, and as such can be altered. Granted, it takes a violent change - such as the one presented here - but it can happen. So what you are seeing here is a new part of the story, one that could ultimately affect the entire conclusion.

    Highemperor: And TLTA? What is his motive?

    To explain now would damage and potentially unveil this new plot, so I will simply show you the WriterGod's intentions when The Last True Characters were created.

    *The setting is changed to the WriterGod's dominion. He is weaving His characters into being, outlining their basic purposes for the writers to expand and control. Finally, the WriterGod comes to a humanoid shape in darkness. Quite noticeably, this shape appears to have not one, but several shadows.*

    WriterGod: So shall this character begin, and he shall be named The Last True Evil, for he will be a villain both dedicated yet cunning, and will plague the heroes of the NeS for many pages. Yet in his heart a spark of goodness will ignite, and through the seed of love will he risk - and lose - everything to save those who matter most, not just to him, but to the PlotFractal.

    *The WriterGod pauses, seeming to contemplate the further plot for this character.*

    WriterGod: He is alike to Gebohq, my guide, in ability and intelligence, but darker in his lack of recognition, the scorned late arrival to the NeS throne. His most inner thoughts bear resentment for those with recognised titles in the NeS story arc, and an even greater disgust for those who would try to award themselves with such titles. He will not be able to stand with the Elder Heroes or Gebohq himself forever, and must eventually make a choice to his permanent intentions.

    *Again the WriterGod pauses, etching out an entire plotfractal in seconds.*

    WriterGod: Principally, though, his vices shall determine his post-NeS motivation; he will seek those with power, and question it. This will culminate in a titanic clash with Highemperor, who will award himself almost deity-like power. Despite the nature of his power, it will be the moral victor who will win.

    *The scene fades, leaving the Ultimarch to consider.*

    Ultimarch: That is his reasoning for challenging me, and potentially destroying all of my power? Because I have claimed first what he has always desired?

    In TLTA's mind, what Highemperor has laid claim to is the vocalising of the highest sin possible, though to his eternal shame he will always want it. The superficial yet undeniable self-aggrandisement that the Highemperors of the world so rely on is, to him and the many versions of him, a sign of true weakness, an inability to infuse their characters with a single recognisably human fault. That these people might INTENTIONALLY create their characters as such - flawless, without fault - is so unspeakably vile to him that he dares not consider it, for fear that the rage it would build in him would consume his desire to redeem.

    Ultimarch: Redeem? He has been trying to kill Highemperor, in his most unstable form!

    Trivialties. Shadows of a much larger scheme planned for Highemperor, that will change them both. Understand, Ultimarch: if Highemperor does not prove to TLTA beyond any shadow of a doubt that he deserves the powers and titles he has awarded himself, TLTA will not let him get away with it.

    *Elsewhere...another page of the NeS, somewhere in the second millennia. Highemperor here is relatively well-adjusted, considering that he is only President of the New World Order, "Time" Magazine's Man of the Year and the most desirable single male alive, with a beautiful daughter - Irania. Together, they are opening a new hospital for underprivileged children, when suddenly before them a man materialises, clad in black with a glittering sword and shield.*

    Highemperor: My God...TLTE?

    TLTA: Does it fill you with pride, these hollow titles? Does it please you somewhere in the cavernous depths of your immortal soul that you are the self-proclaimed core of all stories? Or does it disgust you, like it does me?

    Irania: Dad, who is this man? You know him?

    Highemperor: I am a writer, as are you. I cannot be held accountable for your lack of creativity. First come, first served, TLTE.

    TLTA: How very true. You are the first of the Highemperors to be Answered. And with that tidy little excuse, have no doubt that this is the end for you.

    *He nears them, only to suddenly be halted by a powerful blast of energy, throwing him into the new building. Highemperor, the champion of his characters, stands in front of President Highemperor.*

    P. Highemperor: What is this?

    Highemperor: You must run...we will all die if you fail. Go!

    *His bodyguards scoop him and his daughter away, Highemperor turning back to TLTA, who leaps out of the rubble.*

    Highemperor: Trying to defeat me by picking on a weaker link, TLTA? Maybe I am stronger than you, even with Equitas and Gossamer.

    TLTA: As your hand guides the story, you are more than any other man. But no more will your thoughts alone empower your characters. Judgement is here, and you will be Answered in your own time.

    Highemperor: I want answers now.

    TLTA: Perhaps you wouldn't, if you knew what was in store for you. But you are yet a simple number in the equation, Highemperor - there are so many more of you, and I must assemble an opinion of them yet. But I am not without a heart; you seek answers from me, and yet before the end you will realise that the answers to your questions will come from yourself first.

    Highemperor: Try me.

    *TLTA swings his silver blade and nicks his finger, casting several lengths of blood along the blade. He then casts the sword into the ground, and slowly the blood-drops swirl and dance, growing and forming into four humanoid shapes of liquid.*

    TLTA: Your powerful blood has been seen by Equitas, and returned me with powers in kind. Until the Answer, Highemperor.

    *He leaps into the sky, shimmering and disappearing already. Highemperor turns to the shapes, who are surrounding him.*

    Highemperor: Your master may match me in power, but I somehow doubt his lackeys will prove meritous against me.

    *One of the shapes swells and grows at this comment, appearing more wicked and malicious concurrently.*

    Shapes: But it is you who determines our power...we are reflections of your impending judgement. Fail against us and you will certainly not survive Answering.

    *One of the shapes leaps forward, vaguely resembling the form of a warrior, down to the outline of a sword and helm.*

    Shape: I am Courage. Without me, no one aspiring to power will call himself successful.

    Highemperor: My courage is equal to that of a thousand men, and just as resilient to falter.

    *In response, the Shape of Courage shrieks, clutching his chest as though run through. He sinks to the floor and settles as a sliver of blood. The fourth Shape swells again, but its form is not yet resolute. Another Shape leaps forward, a robed scholar-form.*

    Shape: I am Competence. I am the line separating the greatest wielder of power from the mindless beast.

    Highemperor: My competency is more meritous than any other, and far greater than these feeble tests!

    *Again the fourth Shape thrives, but the Shape of Competence grasps his head and explodes, a fountain of blood. The third Shape arrives, a ruthless looking individual with cunning movements.*

    Shape: I am Ambition. Without this, power is as fleeting as the lives of those who wield it unwisely.

    Highemperor: My ambition is too great for even your master to comprehend, and the reason for my successes.

    *The Shape of Ambition is violently unmade. The final, now gigantic Shape steps forward. It is akin in part to all three, but is a kneeling form, its head bowed.*

    Shape: I am Humility. For only when one concedes the flaws within can he purge them and become a true figure of power.

    Highemperor: Your words are true, but needless. I am already purged of flaws, and need no counsel from you. I have defeated you.

    Shape: Delusions, delusions of a mind obviously great but dangerously lacking in this final form. Answering will prove most difficult for you. Tutelage is required - a lesson in pain.

    *The Shape leaps forward suddenly, grasping Highemperor by the throat and squeezing. Highemperor focuses his energies and blows apart the Shape, only to have it form again instantly.*

    Shape: Fighting fire with fire...using your limitless power to destroy that which you are yourself empowering. This lesson may be long...

    *And the Shape leaps at Highemperor again...*

    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  8. #8
    Ultimarch: This is quite distressing.

    Funny. You don't sound very distressed.

    Ultimarch: I said the situation was distressing, not that I was distressed. There's a fine but important distinction there.

    I see... So what now, O Mighty Ultimate Archetype?

    Ultimarch: Well, if the only stories now are the ones I create, then I must create a story...

    -----

    Shape of Humility (SOH): You see, Highemperor, that a man is only Highemperor when he truly masters himself.

    Highemp: *snarling* I have mastered myself, nincompoop.

    SoH: And in saying so, you merely strengthen myself.

    Highemp: *taking a deep breath* Then strike me down, if you will.

    SoH: What?

    Highemp: *standing stock still, nervous sweat collecting on his forehead* If you are so darned powerful, then you should be able to take me down without a problem. The way I see it, the one who needs to learn humility here... is YOU.

    SoH: *freezes in midswipe; stops and bows to Highemp* Very good, Highemp-san. In recognizing the need for humility in others, you have taken your first step into a larger world. *disappears*

    Highemp: *blinks* Er... right. *stands quietly for several moments* I must find Iriana. Protect her from whatever leads her to her grave on page 3164. *disappears in a flash to another page*

    -----

    Ultimarch: *finishing reading that page* Very interesting. I wonder how Iriana died.

    Do you really want to know?

    Ultimarch: Well, yes.

    *silence; after a long moment-*

    Page 18. The newer one, written over the original in bloodink.

    Ultimarch: *frowning* Let us see, then.

    -----

    The old man is drenched in blood and sweat. He rolls over the dewy grass barely illuminated by the day's dawn. Clad only in his pants - which is in tatters, and all his other clothes having been sheared off - he comes to a stop - at the feet of the Blood Phoenix.

    Blood Phoenix: Foolish old man. Think you can defeat me?

    Old Man: No. But she can.

    Blood Phoenix: Who-

    In an explosion of bloodred energy, silvry-white light streams from the Blood Phoenix's chest. The face of a girl can be seen within - a face contorted and twisted into writhing agony.

    Girl: *screaming* Daddy!!!

    Her mouth opens in a scream, and in her empathy, the Blood Phoenix which devoured her screams as well, weakening with the onslaught of the girl's resistance.

    Old Man: *tears streaming down his face* I must end this. I - I'm sorry.

    Nearly blinded with his own tears, the old man takes the Blood Phoenix's neck, ignoring the blisters that arise on his palms from the incredible infernal power surrounding the Blood Phoenix, and twists. With a sickening crunch, the energy of the Blood Phoenix vanishes, fading away into nothingness, her aura of ultimate power disappearing.

    And only the broken form of a small child remains.


    Old Man: *cradling the dead child in his arms as he whispers brokenly* Hush, my child. . . Iriana. . .

    -----

    *Silence reigns in the NeSanctuary. Finally-*

    Ultimarch: But- How-

    *sadly* You killed her. That is how she died. Iriana is the soul of creation. When you ascended to Ultimarch, that process converted your Inkheart into an engine of destruction that merged with and absorbed Iriana's soul, creating the almighty Blood Phoenix.

    Ultimarch: But how? I - she is - was - my creation. My ultimate story! How could such a thing...

    ... be flawed? Creations carry all the flaws that their creator chooses to give them... or that their creator himself possesses.

    Ultimarch: But that was the whole point of the Ultimarch ascension! To erase all flaws!

    Save for the flaw of pride. Arrogance.

    Ultimarch: *resolutely* No. I created Highemperor in pride and arrogance. But Iriana... my child... she was created in the image of God.

    Yet such a thing was shattered nevertheless. Why?

    Ultimarch: Yes... Why...?

    -----

    In the NeT (the Neverending Tower), the Editor's old office on the 42nd story has been transformed into a cell.

    Censor: This story has been too serious since Highemperor took over. We have to censor it somehow.

    Editor: It also needs editing. But Highemp is in command now, and he does all the work himself. Him and his blasted bloodink!

    Moving on...

    -----

    On Page 9999. It is a world of futuristic pyramids and ziggurats, ruled unchallenged by Highemp's iron hand.

    Highemp9999: *to a figure in chains* I have jumped through time, TLTA, or rather jumped pages to this page, where my Lazarus Citadel has been built. It rejuvenates me every 100 pages, making me stronger than ever before, so that I am able to capture you!

    TLTA9999: *in chains* You... fool... *weakly* I foresaw your inevitable triumph over me, for you rule the story. But just in case I hadn't changed your ways before my defeat here, on page 9999, I mentored a disciple to follow in my footsteps...

    Highemp9999: *laughing maniacally* Who? Even Geb now serves me as chief of my enforcers!

    TLTA9999: You'll... find out... soon enough... *dies*

    Farther away, a figure leans against a wall in an alley, considering. He has just learnt of his mentor's death.

    AgentFord9999: It is time...

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  9. #9
    *Highemp9999 gazes down at the body of TLTA9999. It is a rather pathetic, crumpled figure, hardly worthy of respect.*

    Highemp9999: You fool...how were you to conquer me, in my omnipotence. Perhaps you should have struck before I was ruler of the NeS.

    *There is a deafening wave of noise behind him, suddenly. He spins to see TLTA in his prime, his sword and shield poised and ready.*

    Highemp9999: You again?

    TLTA: Equitas knows not the boundaries of time and space, your 'majesty'. It knows only weakness and stubborn behaviour...and now I am angry.

    *Highemp9999 summons the power of his entire world against him. The entire contingent of NeS heroes and villains - now bent to Highemp's nefarious purpose - race to battle TLTA. In response, TLTA slices the first three - Antestarr, Semievil and Ares - in half with Gossamer and raises Equitas to the heavens. A torrent of meteors descends, smiting the demented NeS crew.*

    TLTA: If it were somehow possible, Highemperor, you have made me more enraged. Your insistent powerplaying has forced me to determine that you, a noble and good writer, are committing this heinous act on purpose. Prepare to be annihlated.

    *Highemperor is on him in an instant, raining blow after blow down on TLTA. For every strike blocked with Equitas, though, Highemperor tires, until finally he makes a clumsy swing and his opponent rams his head with his sword-hilt. Highemperor9999 falls to the floor of his pyramid-throne, as it rises above the ziggurat city to the stars.*

    TLTA: I cannot abide this any longer. Long have I watched this appalling manner from afar, but you will not besmirch the NeS with your foul rule. Do your daughter a favour, leave her to grow without your corrosive taint, then such a cruel fate may not befall her-

    *The mention of Irania maddens Highemperor, and he quickly rises, rage sparkling in his eyes as he headbutts TLTA. TLTA recoils, then smiles.*

    TLTA: So, still a fight left from you? Oh, I forgot; you're invincible. Don't you see how shallow this facade is?

    Highemp: Stop...TALKING!

    *He strikes again, but this time TLTA dodges, somersaulting above and over him.*

    TLTA: This has been quite educational, Highemperor. I think final Answering can wait a little longer.

    Highemperor: You're deluded. And insane.

    TLTA: So it would seem. But perhaps you will change your tune when you meet someone else who agrees with me.

    *And before Highemperor can continue the battle, TLTA leaps off the floating pyramid's summit, falling into the starry night. A figure passes him on the way down, ascending to land next to Highemperor.*

    Highemp9999: You!

    AgentFord9999: It's time to end this.
    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  10. #10
    Moving ahead in time upon the NeScrolls to the last post of Page 9999...

    Highemperor: *appearing through his bloodink upon page 9999* Highemp9999, I am here!

    Highemp9999: A bit late, don't you think? *glances around at the dead bodies of all his enemies, save for AgentFord9999, who has escaped*

    Highemperor: Yah, but there has to be a way to save the OMNIcron - and Iriana - from this horrific fate.

    Highemp9999: It is time to powergame once more...

    In a flash of light, a ghostly figure appears... the form of a child...

    Ghostly Child: Dad...

    Highemp: Who are you?

    GC: Don't do this, Daddy...

    Highemp: *gasp* Iriana?

    GC: Yes. I am the spirit of creation, the soul of Iriana, reaching to you from beyond the grave. I beg of you, don't do this. It will only make things worse.

    Highemp: *shaken* Nonsense. I have no choice. I must prevent you from dying.

    The ghostly child Iriana fades away...

    Highemp9999: I hereby summon all my selves to the Lazarus Citadel!

    Lightning flashes and thunder roars, and a hundred hundred Highemperor's appear. Andy the Dreamer, Highemp the Dark Lancer and One Enemy, Iriana Emp, Highemperor, Ultimarch, all of them.

    -----

    In the NeSanctuary...

    Ultimarch: What's this? I feel my self being drained away, as though I'm being summoned...

    -----

    Indeed he is being summoned, for it is he that summons himself. The spirit of Highemperor, the ultimate archetype, joins all together in one, becoming HIGHEMP. He has promulgated his power, now he actualizes it. Iriana watches in awe as her father summons everything that is himself, transforming Page 9999 into the Eternal Page, a timeless vortex outside all stories, a bastion against destruction, a neverending pageworld independent of the OMNIcron, becoming the Axis of the Omnifractal. What once was Page 9999 is now a fortress inviolable to enemies such as AgentFord9999 and TLTA.

    Iriana: Daddy... what did you do?

    HIGHEMP: I protected you, Iriana. Once and for all time.

    Iriana: How?

    HIGHEMP: Before I ever entered the NeS, I wandered throughout the entire OMNIcron, having endless adventures. I met the Empress Alole, who is your mother as you know...

    His eyes take on a faraway look as he mentions her name, and he remembers...

    -----

    Alole: Charmed.

    Highemp: *smiling* May I have this dance, your majesty?

    Alole: Of course. Highemperor...

    *He sweeps her into his arms and they waltz in a wondrous ballet, with music more aweing than in the Nutcracker, more grand than in the Superman theme song, more poignant than in "Concrete Angel". This... this is Iriana's Song, and she is born that night.*


    -----

    *back in the present on the Eternal Page 9999*

    Iriana: Dad? Are you alright?

    HIGHEMP: *blinking away sudden tears* Yes, darling, I am. I was just remembering your mother. I... Well, anyway. My adventures throughout the OMNIcron culminated in the technology to build this, the Lazarus Citadel, which sends the power of the OMNIcron flowing through my veins, to make me invincible for a century. Made from materials harvested from the Nexus planet Majaethrix, and the rejuvenation chamber made from the Phoenix Throne of Exar Zaedek himself.

    Iriana: You've told me the stories, Dad, but why?

    -----

    *In a far off time, a far off place...*

    Alole: *weakly* Highemp... I'm dying. We both know it.

    Highemp: No! Alole, I can save you! With all my power-

    Alole: No, my love. The wise man knows when to apply power, and when he refrains from applying power, has applied the greatest power of all.

    Highemp: I don't understand.

    Alole: Please, Highemp... let me go. *tears blind Highemperor* Let me go...

    Highemp: *brokenly* I love you, Alole...


    -----

    Now upon a time I know, in this country at God's knee,
    How once, quite long ago, was driven an ancient need,
    In that proud dart that pierced the heart of Satan,
    For I too have succumbed to the same bait and
    Have as of now welcomed this forbidden love that can never be--
    Alole, Alole, my Alole.

    Raven hair and raven eyes, you are indeed unto me,
    Haven that yet gives surprise onto my soul's greying lea,
    For what is grey but that in day still will burst,
    And that is me darking so that I will durst
    Come and go harking to this forbidden love that can never be--
    Alole, Alole, my Alole.

    Porcelain face, smooth and white, tempts me do the terribly
    Forceful thing which would, not quite, be an extremely good deed.
    For if in need I do the deed that's amiss,
    The judgement will be swift; yet I'll have the kiss
    As testament lift to this forbidden love that can never be--
    Alole, Alole, my Alole.

    Dark her eyes that will heard me into this dark gully,
    Mark indeed, mark my word, I understand fully,
    This dark presence that makes no sense but for pride,
    That damns my mirth so that I like to have died
    Upon this earth - all for this forbidden love that can never be--
    Alole, Alole, my Alole.

    Dark her eyes that extract from within, out of me,
    Dark soul, to be exact, as a hellish fee,
    Forfeit my soul for one dark whole, chimera,
    As I'm bedlammed by intolerant era;
    Though I be damned, I will have this forbidden love that can never be!--
    Alole, Alole, my Alole.

    So it is the petals that are, can, and will be,
    Know this, the soft metals of touch of death lily,
    Her eyes black holes with lives and souls in the dark,
    To which I am compelled forever to hark,
    As though I am bespelled by this forbidden love which can never be--
    Alole, Alole... my Alole.

    -----

    Iriana: Daddy, what is it?

    Highemp: *composing himself* Nothing... nothing.

    He turns and stares out the window at the incredible vista. The Lazarus Citadel is a tower situated on top of the tallest pyramid in the land - in the center of Urbs Dei, what was once London - where Big Ben used to be before it was razed. Down in the dungeons below are all the forces of the OMNIcron, held captive as slaves to Highemperor's will - the Editor, the Censors, the Writers, the Publishers, the Copyright, everything - and me, the Narrator, forced to narrate whatever Highemperor wishes. Currently, though, he's not paying any attention to me, lost in his thoughts, and I, though still a prisoner, may narrate whatever I wish.

    Highemp: *staring out the window* I remember what TLTA said... "Does it fill you with pride, these hollow titles? Does it please you somewhere in the cavernous depths of your immortal soul that you are the self-proclaimed core of all stories?" *he pauses* "Or does it disgust you, like it does me?"

    Iriana: Dad?

    Highemp: Iriana, my beloved daughter, I find myself questioning my motivations for the first time in millennia. Perhaps TLTA is truly the victor this time in that sense. He cannot enter the Eternal Page, nor can any of his allies, yet his influence is still felt. I have become the Ultimarch, the HIGHEMP, the ultimate archetype. I have become a being of power, yet a being with a tremendous flaw, who finds himself questioning all that he knows... all that he is.

    Iriana: Dad... tell me the story of when I was born.

    Highemp: Wha-? Iriana, now is not the time.

    Iriana: *looks her father straight in the eye* Now is most definitely the time.

    Highemperor gazes deep into his daughter's eyes and assents.

    -----

    Alole: She's beautiful.

    Highemp: *smiling in pride* You both are.

    Alole: Oh, God, oh God... You sent us a miracle. Oh, God, she's a miracle!

    *she passes the babe to her husband, and he cradles her in his arms; as the infant starts to cry, Highemp whispers*

    Highemp: *whispering* Hush, my child... Iriana...


    -----

    Highemp: *eyes glazed over* Hush, my child... Iriana...

    Iriana: *hugging him* You see, Daddy?

    Highemperor is slowly realizing the meaning of that hush. The hush where his soul is stilled... and he recognizes--

    Highemp: *a light flickering in his eyes* Yes... for just one moment I see, Iriana. You are wise as ever. Truly the soul of creativity.

    A light matching the one in Highemp's eyes pours down from the sky, striking the Rejuvenation Throne at the top of the Lazarus Citadel. A figure materializes within it - an unassuming figure who is yet full of poise.

    Highemp: Who?

    Figure: I am you. I am... Highemp the Writer.

    Highemp: But you injected yourself within me ages ago!

    HTW: That I did. My greatest achievement... my greatest mistake.

    Highemp: What? But we are identical! Two sides to the same coin!

    HTW: Yes, but you have become my prison. Forcing me, or rather, forcing myself to overcome everything through sheer force of will. To question the universe, to answer it.

    Highemp: And that's a bad thing?

    HTW: Not necessarily. But, you see, I already have answered it... through the child.

    Highemp: Iriana?

    HTW: Yes... and no. The flaw lies not within Iriana, who is shattered, a broken form beneath the Blood Phoenix, but rather... within your perception of her.

    Highemp: What?

    HTW: As long as Iriana is with you, raised and nurtured and developed by you, she shall someday die. Someday break. Someday... shatter.

    Highemp: But-

    HTW: You must SHARE her. Give her to the one for whom she is meant!

    Highemp: And who is that?

    HTW: The one you so choose.

    Highemp: But I can't.

    HTW: You must.

    Highemp: Alright, then, I choose myself!

    HTW: *shrugging sadly* Then you, and she, will surely die. *turns to leave* Oh, and the Eternal Page? I've broken it upon its foundations. It is not an impregnable castle - at least, not any longer.

    Highemp: But why? I thought you were on my side!

    HTW: I am. I am you, remember, just as you are me.

    Highemp: Then why-?

    HTW: The true inviolable bastion, as you will come to realize, is not a material citadel, but within you.

    And with that he fades away. Stunned, Highemp turns to face his daughter, who is asleep by now. Wordlessly, he descends to the cellar, and releases all the forces of NeS with the simple snikt of a key. And the Lazarus Citadel explodes, along with Page 9999, leaving only Highemperor and the sleeping child Iriana...

    -----

    NSP: Let's see where you take it from here, TLTE/Ford/Geb/whoever posts! Basically, Highemp has begun to question himself. The answer lies right in front of him, but he refuses to face it.

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!

    [This message has been edited by Highemperor (edited November 29, 2003).]
    Last edited by Gebohq; 08-14-2018 at 11:01 AM.
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  11. #11
    *There are great tremors and noises throughout the land. Then, awkwardly, there is nothing but silence. The strange world of the NeShattered, now little more than a blank template, is covered in gloom. Against the quiet maelstrom of the void, a solitary figure stands - Highemperor, his daughter Irania clutched in his arms, now no longer sleeping, yet deadly still.*

    Highemperor: Could I have aborted my control of this story by my own doing?

    *Shaking his head, he looks up - to see the now familiar figure of TLTA gazing down at him.*

    Highemperor: I should have guessed that you would be here, at the end of all things.

    TLTA: Of course you could...when the time came, you would know everything of importance. That has been my unyielding goal all along.

    Highemperor: So what now? We fight?

    TLTA: We may yet be forced to. For the moment, though, I am content to complete your picture of this strange sub-story, less a direct continuation of the NeS than a sort of expanded publication, where characters can be re-formed and shaped to better serve the overall ISB interests.

    Highemperor: Why have you really done this?

    TLTA, on behalf of every TLTE character, has done what he has always intended to do - correct the single flaw that prevents the Highemperor characters from being truly sublime. That is to say, he chips quietly away at the golden edging of their flawless characters, revealing the hollow, uninteresting bases they possess. He feels Highemperor as certainly an equal in writing skill, and yet not; for despite subtle hints dropped since the beginning of their professional writing relationship, the flaw, constant, unstoppable, has appeared in almost all of his published works.

    TLTA: I tried to help you.

    Having so far encountered no visible encouragement or recognition for his efforts, TLTA has grown enraged, so much so that he has become mildly deranged. He now sees himself as the ultimate figure of justice - he will help Highemperor, or he will utterly humiliate his efforts before destroying him.

    TLTA: Only in the interest of the story, you understand.

    Highemperor: You really are insane now.

    TLTA: No. You are wrong. Insane people are aimless; the very nature of insanity demands this lack of form or structure. Ask yourself - if I am so insane, how did I acquire Gossamer and Equitas, two of the most formidable challenges to your writing?

    Answers must be given...

    *In Highemperor's mind, a clear vision is presented. It is page 3164, moments after Highemperor had transferred away via the bloodink. The NeS appears to be on the verge of destroying itself. Three figures appear suddenly; Gebohq, captain of the London police, Ford and TLTE himself. Despite the chaos around them, they appear calm, determined.*

    Gebohq: Highemperor has gone too far, but this is the wrong answer!

    Ford: It is understandable that someone with such a personal stake in the NeS would seek to avoid such a confrontation, but you are no longer the decider in this matter.

    TLTE: It is settled, then. We will travel to face Highemperor, and resolve his ways before the innocent suffers.

    Ford: Yes. Irania must not suffer her father's bitter influence. Powerplaying is the worst writers' evil, and he has been found guilty of it many times now.

    TLTE: But we will need a formidable weapon of our own to face him.

    Ford: It won't be difficult to make. The scorned carcass of Highemperor lies here - combined with our rage at his evil ways, we will forge a weapon and a shield that will match his powerplaying.

    *The vision fades. Highemperor is once again left looking at TLTA, who regards him with naked contempt.*

    TLTA: So you now understand my motives. Not simply to mend your frankly disdainful writings, but to save her in case I failed.

    *He points to Irania. Highemperor reddens with anger.*

    Highemperor: You presume to save her from her own FATHER?

    TLTA: You don't matter to anyone anymore!

    *There is a cold silence. Both Highemperor and TLTA are shaking with rage. When TLTA speaks again, there is a barely controlled undercurrent of bitterness.*

    TLTA: I extended my hand to you to save you from yourself, you who calls himself Highemperor. In doing so, I risked myself and what did I get? Mockery! Scorn! Powerplays!

    *He stops himself, looking out on the now-empty surrounds of the NeShattered. Abruptly, he turns back to Highemperor.*

    TLTA: I will grant you one final grace. Give me Irania.

    Highemperor: What?

    TLTA: You said it yourself - *his voice suddenly becomes Highemperor's own* - "you must SHARE her. Give her to the one for whom she is meant". I will take her and love her as though my own daughter, and fulfill the role of a perfect parent that you could never achieve.

    Highemperor: You must have an appetite for pain, TLTA. I was beginning to see the wisdom of your words, but now you have convinced me that although I am flawed, I am sane. You, however, are not. Who then is the more worthy of being the parent of a perfect person?

    TLTA: Your argument is irrelevant - we already know that in your hands, she will die and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

    *Highemperor gazes down at his motionless child. She is as beautiful as ever. Briefly, Highemperor considers TLTA's words - it is indeed a choice between her life and her death. But then he looks up, resolute.*

    Highemperor: Perhaps I am killing her. But I will not see her in your hands. You are not worthy of her.

    *It is the final scorn that TLTA is willing to bear. He unsheaths his blade and readies his shield.*

    TLTA: You, Highemperor, are beyond saving. And now you have doomed your child as well. I cannot believe that she has survived your corrosion. You must both be Answered.

    *Highemperor readies himself. TLTA smiles coldly, then with a quick motion throws his shield, Equitas, into the air. For a brief moment it shines as though a golden sun, and then explodes, coating the land in a harsh white light. Fine gold mist starts to fall, and continues indefinitely.*

    TLTA: A final act of the shield that has served me so well. Under the mists of Equitas, we are both equal. No powerplaying can penetrate this mist. It is the battle I have long waited for; the man with the prevailing morals and values wins.

    Highemperor: Then let us settle this. For the life of my child, Irania, I will kill you.

    TLTA: And for the betterment of the NeS and the sanctified plotfractal, you must both be destroyed.

    *TLTA holds his sword upright, in parallel to his face. Highemperor clenches his fists, red circles of energy surrounding them. Without another word, they begin to fight...*
    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  12. #12
    Far far away. In the Seventh Dimension. For the reader's comprehension, let us review the dimensions. The first dimension is that of a line in space; the second, a square; the third, a cube; the fourth, time. Or rather, a timeLINE. The fifth is the timeSQUARE; the sixth, the timeCUBE; and the seventh, the greatest, the timeFRACTAL.

    WriterGod: We have been released from the Lazarus Citadel, which has subsequently been destroyed.

    Omnarrator: Who would have thought that I, Eternius the Omnarrator and supreme of the OMNIcron Gods, could have been imprisoned?

    EditorGod: *sarcastically* Surely not I...

    PublisherGod, CensorGod, CopyrightGod, and CharacterGod: *roaring with laughter*

    Eternius the Omnarrator (EtO): What shall we do now?

    WriterGod: We must allow HighemptheWriter the chance to redeem his character.

    EtO: *sarcastically* Oh, really?

    PublisherGod, CensorGod, CopyrightGod, and CharacterGod: *roaring with laughter*

    WriterGod: No, I'm serious. HtW realizes that his character is flawed, and seeks to remedy him. HtW, in fact, has known this for a long time, it is merely his character that does not.

    EtO: And I say we leave him to his fate. Or better yet, smite him with our godly powers! Aye, mates?

    PublisherGod, CensorGod, CopyrightGod, and CharacterGod: Aye!

    HorseGod: Neigh!

    All Others: Shwa?

    HorseGod: Sorry, I'll go back to my little corner now.

    EtO: Erm, right. Anywhos, it's unanimous: we must smite Highemp the Character(TM)!

    WriterGod: And I say nay!

    All Others: Oh? And why is that?

    WriterGod: For one thing, because of TLTE's Equitas mist, which prevents all powerplaying, such as we might do...

    EtO: But we're the OMNIcron Gods! No paltry magic mist can affect us...

    WriterGod: You forget, Equitas was made from Highemp's own powers. And Highemp, being the seasoned writer he is, as even his archnemesis TLTA admits, ruled the story in his prime. He did capture us all in the Lazarus Citadel... remember?

    All Others: Drat.



    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  13. #13
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    Highemp draws his own sword, Drynyrn, with a ringing mettalic sound which fills the hall. TLTA and Highemp begin circling each other.

    TLTA: My name is Idigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

    Highemp: No it isnt. And no I didnt.

    TLTA: I know. I just always wanted to say that.

    [i]With that, TLTA lunges, and Highemp easily parries. the dance about the chamber, their swords creating shifting and interlocking patterns of light on the walls. Thrust. Parry. Sidestep. Riposte. Parry lunge. All of it is no use, they are equal under the dust of Equitas. At one point, their swords lock, and both are thrown far to the side.

    Instead of retrieving their swords, they grab whatever is handy, a chair, a lamp, a rubber chicken, a chainsaw. But alas, they are both equal under the dust of Equitas, and neither gains nor loses any ground.

    By now, both are panting heavily, and their reaction times are slow. they are both weary, equally, and suddenly a voice is heard.[i]

    Voice: STOP!

    TLTA/Highemp: *turning to look in the direction of the voice.* Eh?

    Highemp: Who are you?

    Two figures step from a deep shadow between rising columns. One of them tall, the other small.

    Ford: I'm sure you know who we are. Your daughter here has something to say to you.

    Indeed, the smaller figure is Iriana, who appears to be crying. Tears stream down her face, though her eyes show only anger.

    Iriana: Don't you realize how foolish you both are being? There is no point in trying to defeat each other. Without one, the purpose of the other would wither. And you want to know something? TLTA was wrong. it isn't your choice, father. It's mine.

    Highemp: *sputters* Bu..but...My child...you're so young....

    Iriana: I am old enough to decide for myself, father. And i have already made my decision....



    ------------------
    <Dormouse> there are very few things quite as comforting as smelling like a close friend.

    We are only human, perfect in our imperfections. - Erin amie du Dor

    <Dormouse> it's really cute in the way that a sherman tank with a fuzzy steering wheel is cute
    My girlfriend paid a lot of money for that tv; I want to watch ALL OF IT. - JM

  14. #14
    Irania: I choose-

    *What happens next happens very fast. A blurred shape of electric blue sweeps in between the still tense Highemperor and TLTA, knocking Ford aside and engulfing Irania.*

    Highemperor: No!

    *The shape swirls and forms, resembling a familiar figure, still holding Highemperor's daughter in its non-corporeal arms.*

    Highemperor: The Shape of Humility.

    Ford: Wait, that's TLTA's trick! Aren't we still unable to powerplay?

    TLTA: I'm not responsible for this...

    Voice: No, but I am.

    *Everyone turns. Out of the misty gloom of the ruined thread comes a very familiar figure, but unlike his normal, blue-collar appearance, he is dressed in a black tunic, with a flowing cape to match. His normally doughnut munching, lacksadaisical smile is instead a twisted sneer.*

    Ford: What...

    All: Gebohq?!

    Gebohq: The very same. Or not, depending on how you look at it. You will no doubt have your questions; please, ask and I will do what I can.

    TLTA: How? You've got nothing to do with this; your character was left for dead on page 3164!

    Geb: Wrong, wrong, wrong...you're ignoring the basic facts. For every NeS, a Gebohq. I am the shade of Gebohq that presides over NeShattered. I am the burning light of this thread, and its bitter, twisted soul. Therefore, I am very much a part of the conflict.

    Ford: What do you seek to gain? Are you even a good guy anymore?

    Gebohq: Not in this world, no. Think of NeShattered as the "Bizarro" world of the NeS; where the NeS is a teeming, constantly active success, this world is doomed, its creative foundations smashed to pieces by hatred and loathing. As some of you might see the NeS Gebohq as a benevolent leader, you will come to know me as your worst nightmare.

    Highemperor: But what do you want?

    Gebohq: Ask yourselves what you want.

    Highemperor - you wanted to find yourself, seek your origins, your destiny and thus save your daughter.

    TLTA - You wished to either curb Highemperor's powerplaying tendencies, or destroy him. In doing so, you would care for Irania, and perhaps save your own soul in doing so.

    Ford - You came in at the 11th hour, so to speak, to save Irania and perhaps also your colleagues.

    Highemperor, you have found out what you needed to know only in time to lose everything. TLTA, though you have perhaps made Highemperor the Writer aware of his indiscretions, Highemp the Character is still alive and well, secure in his powerplaying, and thus have you failed. And Ford, well-

    *There is a sudden crack, and a flash from Gebohq's direction. Ford cries out, then falls backward onto the scorched earth.*

    TLTA: Ford!

    *He and Highemperor rush to Ford's side. The bullet has entered his head at an awkward angle.*

    Gebohq: Hmm...not fatal. But don't worry; he, like all of you, will soon be dead. Irania and I will reforge this thread, and with our combined perfection will rival and ultimately defeat the NeS.

    TLTA: I doubt you can beat both Highemperor and myself in this powerplay-void!

    Gebohq: Oh, but who says I want to fight you? At least for the time being, I am content to watch you settle this feud...

    Highemperor: What do you mean?

    Gebohq: Just pretend I'm not here, OK? Let's make it interesting - whoever wins can discuss with me the outcome of who keeps Irania. Sound fair?

    *TLTA and Highemperor look at each other, and then back at the nefarious Gebohq, wondering what to do next...*
    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  15. #15
    Highemperor, in his rage at all that has been done to him, at all that he has done to himself, marches towards Gebohq.

    Highemp: *bristling with power and fury* GEBOHQ!

    Geb: *mildly* Yes?

    Highemp: For too long you have plagued me. For too long you have slowed me and hindered me. Now - now you threaten MY CHILD?!

    Geb: *mock hurt* Threaten? No, never. I merely wish to twist her into my desires that she may be my child, and together we may unleash the true power of NeShattered.

    Highemp: DIE!

    Geb: Tsk, tsk, tsk. You forget, Highemp, that powerplaying is not allowed within this void.

    Highemp: I strike with the truest power of all: that of a loving father!

    Geb: Sorry, love doesn't mean much anymore. *takes a pin and pokes Highemp's bubble of electrical power, popping it into nonexistence*

    Highemp: What? No! How-?

    Geb: *shaking head* You are not used to not having the answers, are you?

    Highemp is silent.

    Geb: *continuing* Well, please, ask and I will do what I can.

    Ford: *moaning* Ugh... Deja vu...

    Geb: *giving a disgusted sigh* Enough with the Matrix references already. Complain to the Department of Redundancy if you wish... Oh, wait, I forgot, it's been destroyed along with the rest of the OMNIcron! *laughs maniacally*

    Highemp: Why are you doing this?

    Geb: No, the real question is, why are you doing this?

    Highemp: What do you mean!

    Geb: Everything has to be about you, doesn't it, Highemp? You, you, you.

    Highemp: *sputtering* But - it is about me! ... Isn't it?

    Geb: You make everything over in your own image. NeS, the world, God. *shaking head forlornly* Me.

    Highemp: *scornfully* And what do you have to do with anything?

    Geb: *looks up again to meet Highemp's eyes sadly* I was your friend, Highemp. But you betrayed me.

    Highemp: I don't even KNOW you! I just met you! You're the evil version of the Gebster for NeShattered!

    Geb: Nope. I am the Geb you knew. In creating your NeS, in shattering mine, you made the final stroke. I died on page 3164, in the dissolution of the NeS... and rose again - shattered. Everything is SHATTERED... because of YOU. It all had to be about YOU.

    Highemp: But why? Why is that such a bad thing?

    Geb: *eyes hardening* Well, you finally got what you wanted, didn't you? A story that was all about you. Everyone acknowledges it. Even TLTEtheWriter does. This story is about you, and you alone. For different reasons, yes, each writer having a different motive, yes, but still all coming back to you. TLTEtheWriter - to show you your flaws. GebtheWriter - to defend you against TLTEtheWriter. FordtheWriter - to carry on an interesting story that may yet reshape one or more characters in the grand drama we call life. And YOU. HighemptheWriter - your motive is the strangest one of all ... you wish to validate your existence. *snorts* As if such a thing could ever be validated.

    Highemp: I do see the answer now, though, Geb! It is in that hush that is Iriana! The creativity of the divine! It-

    Geb: Shut up. Just shut up.

    Highemp: What?

    Geb: Look about you. Just LOOK.

    Highemp stares at his once-friend, then complies, pivoting his head slowly about. He sees what his works, his hands, have wrought. The destruction of all that he holds dear. And he barely makes out... shadows, figures, silhouettes, in the gray fog.

    Shades of all those he's ever known, come to condemn him. His parents, come to disown him. His brothers, hating everything about him. His friends, come to denounce him as a grand and superstitious fool. GebtheWriter, come to warn him. TLTEtheWriter, come to chip him away into nothing. FordtheWriter, content merely to sit by and watch while his life whittles away.

    The shade of a broken child.

    And most condemning of all, an all-too-familiar shade of... himself. HighemptheWriter. All come to condemn him, to castigate him, to destroy him. All the gods that ever were and ever will be: the WriterGod, the Narrator, the Editor, and the Supreme Creator & Judge Over All Things. Tears come to Highemp's eyes, but he refuses to let them spill out. He casts furtively about, but there is nowhere for him to run... nowhere for him to hide.

    He is alone.


    Highemp: *voice breaking* May you rot. May you all rot.

    HighemptheWriter: *vindictively* We will. But so will you. You were my dream, Highemperor, my dream of a better world. But against the cold reality of existence, you faltered. Thus I abandon you. I am not as forgiving as other gods.

    -----

    To dust we shall return,
    For dust from whence we came,
    There is never truth,
    Only dreams come again.


    -"For Dust You Are"

    -----

    The shade of that broken child comes forth.

    The Broken Shade: Highemp... father... you did not create me. You merely nurtured me. I was given to you, as you should have given me to someone else.

    Highemp: *holding back the sobs with sheer strength of will* But to whom?

    The broken shade does not reply, but withdraws once more. GebtheWriter steps forth.

    GebtheWriter: *compassionately* Please, Highemp, have the grace to back down.

    Highemp: And fade away? Never!

    HighemptheWriter: *sadly* Never is such a strong word, my son. Haven't you... ever... ?

    -----

    She walks to school with the lunch she packed
    Nobody knows what she's holding back
    Wearing the same dress she wore yesterday
    She hides the bruises with linen and lace, oh oh.

    The teacher wonders but she doesn't ask
    It's hard to see the pain behind the mask
    Bearing the burden of a secret storm
    Sometimes she wishes she was never born.

    Through the wind and the rain
    She stands hard as a stone
    In a world that she can't rise above.
    But her dreams give her wings
    And she flies to a place where she's loved
    Concrete Angel.

    Somebody cries in the middle of the night
    The neighbors hear but they turn out the light
    A fragile soul caught in the hands of fate
    When morning comes it'll be too late.

    Through the wind and the rain
    She stands hard as a stone
    In a world that she can't rise above
    But her dreams give her wings
    And she flies to a place where she's loved
    Concrete Angel!

    A statue stands in a shaded place
    An angel grows with an upturned face
    A name is written on a polished rock
    A broken heart that the world has forgot

    Through the wind and the rain
    She stands hard as a stone
    In a world that she can't rise above
    But her dreams give her wings
    And she flies to a place where she's loved
    Concrete Angel...


    -"Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride

    -----

    Highemp: *falteringly* Wha- what?

    HighemptheWriter: *piercingly* Sometimes you wish you were never born. You long for a different place. A place... *he trails off*

    Highemperor closes his eyes. He knows. It is given to him to understand. He may be special in that regard, he may not be. All he knows is that he is extremely tired. So tired... And he knows for Iriana. Who is dead to him.

    Highemp: *whispering* Iriana has been given her place. I will ever bandy words, as I always have. It is who I am. But she - she has the golden soul of the best kind of poet. The kind who writes not with words on paper, but with love on the hearts and souls of men.

    The shade of the broken child begins to glow with a golden light. Highemp continues to speak, and slowly the golden shade begins to mend, and speaks along with him, until she takes over.

    Iriana: I am the hush of creativity in which the soul is stilled and wondrous, magical things, miracles, happen. I am the victory which has already been won. I am the war which all humans fight, which has already been won for us. I am the image of the living God. I am that which is incomprensible and which cannot be put into human tongue or form. I am the divine.

    Highemp: *hanging head low* And you are neither mine nor for me alone. You are God's, and His gift to humanity, the golden poet He has chosen. Leaving me one last task. One that is already completed...

    He gathers his tremendous powers as a writer and poet, one with boundless imagination and faith, to him. Streams of light shear through the blank grey template of existence that is all that is left in the entire universe. Multicolored light. Fireworks. Has anything more beautiful ever been seen? And then...

    Geb: *breathing in awe* Everything, and the NeS! It's back!

    Highemp: *breathing heavily from such use of his powers as he sweeps his hands grandly about him* This is your dream, Geb. A neverending story, where the adventure never stops. I dream of a different neverending story. A story... *his eyes take on a faraway look* Where the light never stops shining, and the river never stops flowing... and the children... never stop laughing...

    His breath fades away in an instant, and he slumps to the ground, lifeless. A little girl walks slowly out of the fog, and, with amazing strength for such a small child, lifts him up, cradling him in her arms, the same way those arms once cradled her. She walks slowly away, bearing Highemp's body with her.

    Geb: Where are you taking him?

    The girl turns, ever so slightly, to look at him.

    Child: I'm taking him home.

    Then she and Highemp disappear into the mist, and Geb is alone. Sighing, tears stinging his eyes, he turns to go... Suddenly... he hears a sound, as of distant children laughing.

    And he smiles.


    END OF CHAPTER I

    -----

    NSP: Just so's we're clear, this story is far from over. If y'all want to post now, in sort of an aftermath of Chapter One, go ahead, but do NOT have Highemp make an actual appearance, unless it's through flashbacks or something. Thanks!

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Last edited by Gebohq; 06-27-2006 at 12:38 AM.

  16. #16
    Cha... 3 - Fall of Character

    Geb: What?

    Cha-- Cha-- Chapter 3.14159265...

    Geb: I should have known...

    *The laughter of children can still be heard. Laughing, ever so peaceful, but never stoping. The tranquility never changing. The night never coming...*

    Geb: ...and no sleep for me!

    And I thought this broken story was turning for the better too--

    Geb: No evil to defeat, no world to save, no challange to rise to...

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    Geb: Hello? Is anyone there? ...Narrator? A little help?

    .

    .

    .

    Geb: What the hell am I suppose to do now?! Somebody answer me!

    .


    -//////-/-/-///--
    /-/-//

    /-/-/-/

    /-/-/-//
    /-/

    --explodes, coating--/--father's bitter--/--Long have character--/--is tumble out of--/--of Courage shrieks--/--me to determine--/--the bloodink--/--the bloodink--/--gloom of the ruined--/--written piece of literature--/--his lurking in the spotlights--/--shine upon the characters--/

    -/-//
    -/
    /-//-//-/-/-
    -/-/


    Geb: Huh? Who said that?

    -/-//-
    Otter: "Thank you."
    //---/
    //-/-/--


    Geb: Finally, someone I can relate to! I think...

    ---/-
    //// -
    -
    Randy: Hey Sem, what's wrong.
    -/-/----/


    Geb: RANDY? What are you doing here? Answer me!

    -/-//-/-//-
    ---/-
    Janitor Bob: All my blood is rushing to my head.

    Mr. Kazinski: You can imagine how much I care.

    Janitor Bob: I’m bored.
    ---/-/-///-//-/


    Geb: Why isn't anyone responding?

    -/-//-/--///---
    -/-/////-/--/-
    MZZT: Well of all the luck. We have to shut down this machine, and save Geb. But how?

    Ares: Over there! It looks to be some kind of control switch!

    CM: What's it say above the switch?
    -////-/-/-/-----/-/

    -/---//---/

    Gebohq: I'll fight you if I have to!

    EeP: At last. The challenge of our lives. But first...

    ---//-/-///---
    //--/

    *And now, a message from your friends at NeS*

    THE ARENA, Sem the Poster and Geb the Poster stand center, the other characters milling about in the background.


    GTP: "High, I'm Poster Gebohq, from the popular interactive story, The Never-ending Story."

    -/--/-/-----/
    -/--/----/


    Geb: Wait.... I remember this stuff...

    *page 29-33 fall into the river*

    Geb: This thread... it's fraying, falling apart.

    *Plotholes appear, and Iriana is standing in front of Geb.*

    Iriana: I don't choose you either!

    Geb: Iriana!

    *Gebohq dives to grab her, but another plothole takes her away.*

    Geb: Damnit! I'm getting too old for this!

    *He throws his gun at a nearby tree, and it shatters like glass.*

    Geb: NeS, where are you? DON'T LEAVE ME HERE!

    *Gebohq tears at the air, and it rips like paper.*

    Geb: I'm too old for this, NeS! Even I can only take so much, go so far... day after day I see people come and go, and I remain the constant. Why? "Everything that has a beginning has an end?" Hmm? Which plot to break down next? Where next shall I aimlessly wander? What SAVING shall I be a part of next? All for the sake of the story, right!? RIGHT?!?!

    *Gebohq rips everything down until he is left in a void.*

    Geb: Well I'll be the villian then... for the sake of the story. I'm getting too old for heroics.

    (NSP: Just trying to re-establish Geb as evil... for the sake of the story .)

    [This message has been edited by Gebohq (edited December 04, 2003).]
    Last edited by Gebohq; 06-26-2006 at 11:30 PM.

  17. #17
    After Geb's enlightening interlude, we present - wait a second. Who is this "we"? I'M the one presenting everything! Who's trying to nab some credit? I mean, come on!

    RAM: Just carry on.

    *grumble grumble* - presenting...

    Chapter 2 - The Answer

    It is December 4th, in the year 3003, exactly one millennium into the future. Highemp the Character(TM) disappeared long ago. Shortly after, HighemptheWriter vanished as well, though no one knows where or why. Iriana has since died of her own mortality, having relinquished her father's curse of longevity.

    The one who has not relinquished his longevity, for the simple fact that he CANnot, is Gebohq. The light of the NeS and its bitter, twisted soul... *aside* My, TLTEtheWriter really did conjure up a phrase to remember back on page 50, didn't he? Anywhos... With Highemp's sacrificial reformation of the shattered NeS, the NeS has joined irrevocably, so it seems, with quote, unquote "Reality"(TM), leaving everyone at the mercy of the villain Gebohq, including the writers themselves. Reality is that much colder, that much bleaker, for having driven off HighemptheWriter in its own mysterious fashion. Perhaps, though intact, the NeS is more shattered than it was before...


    -----

    Elder of city of Shattered York: Listen, my children, and you will hear, of the tale of the legend whom none revere.

    Grandson #1: Grandpa, could you stop rhyming? It's really annoying.

    Elder: Pfft. Whatever. I was running out of things to rhyme anyway.

    *entire audience claps*

    Elder: *sigh* Anyway, the legend of Highemperor, who is most reviled, never revered.

    Grandson #2: Ooooh.

    Grandson #3: I never get tired of this one!

    Grandson #4: It's my favorite horror story!

    Elder: Well, certainly there is nothing more horrible than the actions and motivations of Highemperor, who actually tried to shatter the entire Omnifractal for his own purposes - and momentarily succeeded.

    *all grandsons shudder*

    Elder: *in whispery voice* Highemperor had great potential. He taught himself to write - the greatest of all gifts *grandsons smile* - from the age of eight. As soon as he first laid his crayon to paper, his immortality in the annals of myth was sealed.

    Grandson #6: Why is that, Grandpa?

    Elder: Because, you see, Highemperor had the necessary components to make a great writer - strength of will, boundless of imagination, bottomless in compassion, and infinite in faith. But, alas, he also had the one component that would damn us all.

    Grandson #7: Pride?

    Elder: No, though that is what most people, including the venerable The Last True Good the Writer, thought. No, he had conquered pride. His flaw was that which cannot be named - the Unspeakable. *he hunches over and whispers* It has many names. Some call it pride, yes, or arrogance. Others, ambition, or greed, or selfishness. But the wise man knows that the Unspeakable is a flaw of the heart and not one begotten of the mind, and thus cannot be truly identified. His heart was a fragile thing. He armored it and himself in the layers of his writing, collectively named Highemperor-

    All the children shudder.

    Elder: *continuing* - but when his heart was finally broken by the shades of all those his eyes had known and his hands had destroyed, he collapsed. Leaving behind only his daughter, Iriana, blessed be her name, who died more than 900 years ago.

    Grandson #8: What happened to everyone else, Grandpa?

    Elder: Highemperor's mantle - his legacy of curses - passed to Geb, who felt the weight of Highemperor's immense loneliness, upon his shoulders then, and became a villain. Thus did the light of the world become its bitter, twisted soul. He plagues us still. And TLTG - The Last True Good - has long since passed on, though his creator, his writer, lives still, by unknown means. And HighemptheWriter, almost a millennium ago, vanished from all scrying view. No one knows of his fate. No trace of him was ever found.

    Grandson #9: Good riddance, I say.

    *other grandchildren agree*

    Elder: Tut, tut. It would be better that he were still alive and kicking than we not know where he is, ever afraid of what he may do next, ever fearful of his doubtless inevitable return...

    An old man in a brown cloak is standing nearby, listening to the elder's story. He is perhaps a few years older than even the elder, by his looks, and has a short staff, though he leans on it as little as possible, preferring to stand upright of his own regard. He has a smattering of grey beard, just enough to cover his face, and faded eyes gaze upon the spectacle. He is the hermit of Young Hill, known only as the Old Man, or Charlie. He sighs deeply as the story ends, and he imagines a brash immortal brandishing his white sword of power, cleaving all who stand in his way...

    He comes to town every so often, to play with the children of Shattered York, and to bestow upon them treats. He has a few minor martial arts skills, but is otherwise a gruff figure. Most of the time, he broods in his mountaintop cabin/cave.


    -----

    Meanwhile...

    NeS/Reality Tally: Off the Charts!!! (which is something considering the Neverending capacity of the tally charts...)

    In the tallest skyscraper of Shattered York is a plush lounge, where the writers lives. They have meticulously toiled their way up through the various publishers and firms, becoming entirely self-sufficient: their own publishers, writers, editors, scribes, narrators, copyrights, censors, etc.! But are they whole? Perhaps the answer lies untold...

    MaybetheWriter: Well, here we are again. NeS lives, as it ever does, but what do we do? The story practically writes itself now, storywriting technology is so advanced. *gestures to the ElectronicWriter3000!!!*

    OttertheWriter: *a dirty old rich man surrounded by Playboy bunnies written into existence by him in the year 2243, page 180,465* And your problem with this is...?

    KrigtheWriter: Maybe you are content to be lazy, but the rest of us have creative energies and urges to fulfill...

    Leaving them for now, we move on...

    -----

    So we see this brave new world. To fill in a few extra details, everyone is dead, save (most of) the writers, and of course, their NEW characters, as the old ones (but for Geb's, who is now a villain) are dead as well. What new madness will this chapter conjure? Find out next time!

    (NSP: Just a note. Though time is indeed flowing linearly once, for the characters who were involved in the shattered fractal Highemp caused, time is still messed up (Ford, Iriana, Geb, and TLTA), meaning that they can still jump from page to page, very randomly. But now instead of tying in with the present, like in Chapter I, it's going to tie in with the future. Just to make things clearer. Thanks!)

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Last edited by Gebohq; 06-26-2006 at 11:20 PM.

  18. #18
    Within the writers' lounge...

    ElectronicWriter3000!!!: *dictating what it writes electronically* ...and then Gebohq concocted another evil plan to ruin the harmony that is NeS--

    Sem the writer: Ugh! Someone should shut that thing up! Is there a new model out yet? Maybe we can replace it...

    ElectronicWriter3000!!!: --and then Semievil the Writer walked to the window...

    Sem the Writer begins to walk to the window...

    Sem the writer: Hey, I was just kidding! Haha!

    ElectronicWriter3000!!!: ...and proceeded to jump out of it...

    Sem the writer: Could someone help me? The ElectronicWriter3000!!! is trying to kill me! ...again...
    Featured ISB thread: The Never-ending Story Thread^2

  19. #19
    The old man, the hermit, walks his lonely path out of Shattered York. He passes by the children, whose laughter is intermingled with tears, and wonders, as he always does, if it is as it should be. He is always gruff, though kind, to the children, but never - NEVER - shows them pity or sympathy. Yet perhaps a strange empathy does lie behind those forlorn eyes.

    Charlie (The Hermit): Could it be-?

    Shaking his head, he continues, staring resolutely away. As he went, the people of the town whispered behind him. They speculate that perhaps his eyes can see everything that goes on at once, and that is the reason for his infinite sadness. Or that he is an exiled angel who once saw nothing but joy and delight, now forced to see mortal toil with mortal eyes. Perhaps all of these things are true; perhaps none.

    Silently, he walks up the mountain known, rather idiosyncratically, as Young Hill, towards his cave-abutting cabin. He lives alone, and though he pays scant attention to the dirty path before him, he knows every rock and plant on it by heart, so many times has he taken it.

    It is the Road Less Traveled, as Walt Whitman so aptly put it. Though if he heard me, or anyone else say that, or make a reference to any poet, he would yell at us for being fanciful fools. He seems to have a mysterious love/hate relationship with poets and writers and stories.

    He is Charlie, the Hermit, the Old Man of Young Hill.


    Charlie: *sighing* Another day, another part of eternal existence survived. I wonder... *he comes to the door of his cabin and opens it*

    Inside are his few possession. A table, a chair, a bed. A wash basin. And a chest. No one but NO ONE has ever seen the inside of this chest or what lies within it, save for Charlie himself, for it is his most preciously guarded and kept possession. Not even I, nor all the gods of the OMNIcron themselves, can decipher its hidden meaning, but may only guess. Perhaps it is the remnants of an ancient promise that shook heaven and earth, an oath of fealty to a princess. Or maybe it is a treasure of times long past, valuable only to those with a motive. Or maybe it is a weapon designed to harm whoever would harm him.

    We do know that Charlie never opens it. It is locked, with the key laying on top of the lid, connected to the lock with a chain. But the key only responds to Charlie's touch, and will not open the chest for anyone else - as I found out rather painfully some time back...

    He is Charlie, the Hermit, the Old Man of Young Hill, and he walks alone.


    -----

    Cue reading between the lines of the NeS, which now encompasses everything that is, was, or will be. We see lines of encoding similar to the Matrix opener, which is really flowing ink on fraying pages. It drips past like a waterfall of shattering images...

    //Highemp: This is your dream, Geb... A neverending story, where the adventure never stops...//

    Shadows of what could have been, what should be, what yet might be, fall past, illuminating themselves for scant moments before fading away forever, like the flickering flame of a candle, which consumes the top of the wick, and dies, only to be reborn the next instant by more wax.

    //TLTA: If Geb is the burning light of the NeS, you are nothing more than a lost soul, twisted beyond repair.

    Highemp: I am alone, then.

    TLTA: Yes...//

    And so the torrent comes, torturing the dreams of the one known as the Old Man of Young Hill, as they do every night.

    //Highemp: Geb!

    Geb: Highemp!

    *they hug*//

    Lights, music, and dancing all fill his mind as the river rushes past, but they are empty things, worthless as dust on the wind.

    //TLTA: For the sake of the story, you understand.//

    //Geb: I'll become evil, then! ... for the sake of the story...//

    "For the sake of the story..." That cursed phrase is forever burned into Charlie's consciousness, and he hates it with a passion. For without a writer, the story is nothing. And without a story... the writer is nothing.

    //Highemp: Iriana, you need to know something... I - I...

    Iriana: *softly* Dad... I already know.//

    What strange torments awake in Charlie's slumber tonight? Or do the same ghosts haunt him every evening? Only he knows. It is not given even to me, Iriana, the light, and the hush, and the river, and the laughter, to know. I merely carry out my role in the shattered neverending story, for that is what is given to me... a curse passed down from my father... a curse that may be a blessing if I may but help this Old Man of Young Hill...

    -----

    Gebohq: *brooding on a dark throne in the New Lazarus Citadel in Urbs Dei, which was once Big Ben and London* What now? I must continue to exist, must always exist, for the sake of the story! What dastardly plot must I conceive of now? I have all the forces of the NeS under my heel; even the plush writers and their ElectronicWriter3000!!! must be wary of me. *he pauses* And yet. And yet. I am so tired. How can such a thing be? I am... immortal...

    Suddenly a flash and a pop accompany the teleportive appearance of a mysterious but familiar figure in Geb's throne room.

    Mysterious But Familiar Figure: Gebohq, you have doomed yourself by becoming that which we hate most - a shade of Highemperor. His mantle, his legacy, his curse, has passed to you, and you! You carry it alight as a torch! You. Must. Be. Answered.

    Geb: Good grief! TLTA...?

    TLTA: *the figure takes off his mask to reveal a charred, blackened face* Yes, but not you know me. I went to the far, far future, to challenge you, the last remaining shade of Highemperor, but you were too strong. I would have triumphed, despite my damaged body and face, but for the tug from the timestream which irresistibly pulled me down the Omnifractal to THIS page - The Millennium After. Therefore, destiny clearly lies on this page. Prepare to be answered...

    The Last True Answer leaps forward, wielding Gossamer and Equitas Deux...

    -----

    And so it ever is. War upon war upon war. It never ends. Because you simply will not LET it end. Because in your futile battling, you are the ones who shatter this world - as the one called Highemperor discovered when he himself was the first to do so...

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  20. #20
    Geb: Wait!

    Gebohq, in his black and grey attire, stands before The Last True Evil, the Answerer, armed with Gossamer, a blade that cuts down any godly power, and Equitas Deux, a reformed shield now able to defend from even Gebohq's attacks.

    TLTA: Always stalling, never quite ready to take on action. But I'll humor you, Gebohq, as your final wish. It's the least I can do.

    Geb: Why do you wish to kill me?

    TLTA: I would have thought better of you than to ask a redundant question, friend. You have fallen under the same curse that Highemperor was apparently born with. You have made yourself god. All-knowing, all-powerful, without flaw, with every event revolving around you. You have guilded yourself in gold, but the depths of your character have rotted away. No matter what happens to you, you will not be affected, never change, shrugging off anything that does not go your way. For that, there is only one answer for you.

    Geb: That's not true! I am the wielder of this story, and now its only villian. I have to have ultimate power, to ultimately not be affected by plots to end my evil. My character is for the sake of the story!

    TLTA: Don't make me laugh... no story needs such an empty character. You must be answered now for what you have CHOSEN to be--

    Geb: You think I wanted to be who I am? You think I enjoy committing heinous acts of crime for one bit? ...well, there are some perks... --but no! I don't wish to do these things! But it's who I am. I can't simply ignore the needs of the story! Trust me, there are times that I wish I could. The title of weilder was thrusted upon me though, and only I could save this story from fading away after such a climax a thousand years ago.

    TLTA: Save the story? You're more of a fool than I thought, comrade. This story can not be saved. It was made shattered, and despite appearances, it is and always will be shattered, for it was created by Highemperor, the "ultimate archetype." The premise of such disgusts me -- no character should ever be founded on such a false model, like some... some puppet, sauntering in the spotlight. It is futile -- there is no changing what it is. Even you, Gebohq, can not piece back together this transparant story, or weave the fraying threads, and in your good intentions to do so, you have beared Highemperor's curse.

    Geb: But wait! I can reform! I can suppress my powers, go back to doing good. The story will find a way to replace me --

    TLTA: You don't get it, do you? You will always take center stage that is this story world. It is who you are, born of this thread of existance. No, friend, comrade, there is only one answer. The final one. For you, for Highemperor, for all that wish to glorify themselves and thus be cursed, spreading that which rots the depths of their character throughout the stories which they are but players like a disease, dooming all they touch to a fate worse than death.

    Geb: Well... if you want me dead, you'll have to FIGHT for it first!

    TLTA: Yes!

    Geb: No cheap tricks from me, no running away, no interferance from the outside...

    TLTA: Yes!

    Geb: Not even the will of NeS ITSELF will keep this fight from fufilling the climatic potential, for I wield its will.

    TLTA: YES! Finally, a conflict worthy of the name of NeS. I knew you would not dissapoint me, friend!

    Geb: Then step forth and FIGHT ME! FOR I WILL STAND TO THE END OF THE NEVER-ENDING STORY, SHATTERED OR NOT!

    Uh... guys? Can't we just play nice?

    (NSP: We'll see where this goes... )
    Featured ISB thread: The Never-ending Story Thread^2

  21. #21
    *The fight is as brutal as they come. Both men are fighting in the extremes of emotion -Gebohq, a man pushed to the edge, unable to back down, and TLTA, his anger at the turns of events pushing him to the brink of sanity.

    As they run toward each other, fists clenched tightly enough to induce white knuckles, the landscape shifts and swirls to better accommodate them. They are atop two separate skyscrapers, in blackest night. Fine rain mists down on them as they approach the respective edges of their buildings, and with no hesitation, jump. They come together in the night with bone-crunching impact, screaming obscenely at each other, grasping at each other's throats. Like fallen angels, the two disappear into the mist and rain, blinded to the world as they are to each other, struggling as they plummet. There is no redemption, no reconciliation for either - only pain.*

    Gebohq: Uhhhh....

    *He is lying in a desolate alley, his fall being broken slightly by the shared impact of the two opponents. Dimly, his eyes flutter, and strain open. The rain still pours, and across the night lightning bolts continue to streak-*

    TLTA: Ohhh...

    *Gebohq is suddenly aware of TLTA, who has landed badly further down. With great effort, the NeS leader gathers himself, rises and turns-*

    TLTA: DIE!

    *Gossamer bites through the air, toward Gebohq, who ducks. The blade shears above his head, into a brick wall effortlessly, where it catches and lodges. TLTA roars and tries to pull it out. Gebohq, gritting his teeth, steps in and punches the back of TLTA's head, sending it hammering against the bricks. TLTA staggers backward, bleeding from his temple.*

    Gebohq: DON'T SCREW UP MY STORY!

    *He rushes over, spinning and kicking TLTA in the chest, who flies back into the street beyond. Geb, arms pumping, eyes narrowed into slits in the ever-increasing rain, gives chase.*

    Gebohq: YOU WILL DIE-

    *He lunges at the prone form of TLTA, who snarls and kicks his leg out, catching Gebohq in the windpipe. Gebohq chokes, and clutching his throat, stumbles sideways, further into the street.*

    TLTA: DEATH! DEATH TO ALL POWERPLAYERS!

    *He springs to his feet, and with all his might, swings Equitas Deux at Gebohq's face. The blow from the heavy shield breaks Geb's nose, and he lets out a loud moan of pain. TLTA screams in rage and brings the shield in an upward swing, catching Geb on the chin and lifting him far into the air. Geb comes down on a car windshield, shattering it into spiderweb-cracks.*

    TLTA: DEATH TO YOU ALL!

    *As TLTA approaches, shield ready again, Gebohq swings his leg around in a sweep that snaps his foe's wrist backwards, eliciting a scream of pain and his shield to drop. Through the pain, the will to just abandon his pursuit and drop to the ground, TLTA's anger returns, having never really left, like bile in the throat, venom on his lips. Through the agony he braces both fists and leaps on top of Gebohq, strangling him. Geb's hands snap into position around TLTA's neck and they roll off the bonnet onto the gritty, rain-soaked road, choking the life out of each other. TLTA's grip is firmer, though, and Geb feels the world start to sway and lose focus. In a final, desperate move, Gebohq makes a gurgled snarl and brings his NeS-given energy into his fists, pushing out into TLTA's chest. With a sound like a cannon, TLTA is propelled across the width of the road, hitting a signpost and snapping it in two, coming to an abrupt halt on the asphalt. TLTA groans, lying prone on the road; Gebohq, wheezing badly for air, does the same. After about half a minute, TLTA starts laughing.*

    TLTA: This is it, isn't it?

    Gebohq: I'd...say..*choke*...so.

    TLTA: Then let's do it.

    *Using the devastated signpost as a prop, he gets to his feet, limping over to Gebohq's unmoving form. Geb, still unable to properly breathe, cannot resist. TLTA grabs Geb by his collar and drags his bleeding, battered form painfully back into the alleyway. With a great effort, TLTA pulls Equitas out of the brick and stands, blade poised, above Gebohq.*

    TLTA: I promise you, I'll take care of the NeS for you.

    Gebohq: Never....not you...

    TLTA: Why? Have I not proven myself by now?! Haven't I dedicated my existence to perfecting the NeS, protecting it from flaws?! AM I NOT GOOD ENOUGH?! ANSWER ME!!!

    Gebohq: You....presumed to....change us. *cough* Writers are...who they are. You are...the weakest of....all of us!

    *In that brief moment, TLTA's righteous quest is unmade. He realises his fault, his single flaw - in presuming to change those whose writings he disagreed with, he has elevated himself above them, thought himself better. In devastation, having lost everything, his mind resumes his single course.*

    TLTA: DIE!

    *He brings back his sword - as Gebohq throws himself forward, the lethal blade missing him by inches. Without missing a beat, Gebohq, spins and opens his fist, punching TLTA in the face with the remnants of the car windshield he had grasped. There is a brilliant explosion of glass, as TLTA's entire face - including his eyes - is perforated.*

    TLTA: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    *In a final, convulsive rampage, he lowers his shoulder and tackles Gebohq straight into the brick wall. There is a wet snap, and several of Geb's ribs are shattered. Both of them, moaning in pain, drop to the ground, utterly defeated. Their blood slowly mixes in the trickling rain, beginning its long journey into the gutter. Slowly, the downpour builds to a crescendo.*

    Gebohq: W-what...do we do now?

    TLTA: Only...one thing for m-me to do...

    *He elevates himself into a sitting position, and gropes around for his sword. Gebohq, defenceless, widens his eyes in horror. TLTA finds it, and uses it to help himself up. To Geb's surprise and shock, he brings it up, the blade's sharpened edge facing his own heart.*

    TLTA: Promised...promised to always protect the story...so now I end my own evil...

    Gebohq: TLTA, WAIT!

    *TLTA's heavily lacerated face casts about for the direction of the voice.*

    Gebohq: Maybe....maybe your death will help..maybe it won't....but you can't kill yourself, because...you'll be killing the story. We...we're here, you and I, because we love the NeS. Because we love to write. To better ourselves. Highemperor...he has powerplayed. As...as have I. And you yourself are guilty...of writing crimes. Killing yourself; that's a way out. There's another way, too.

    TLTA: What?

    Gebohq: Helping me.

    *TLTA lingers a moment longer, feeling the blade's light weight, its reliability. He would be dead within moments of plunging it into his heart. It would be just. But...*

    TLTA: "The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself".

    Gebohq: Mark Twain.

    TLTA: What do we do, now? Are...are we just going to bleed to death in this alleyway?

    Gebohq: Let's just...keep writing for a while...

    *And with that, their fragile grip on consciousness is lost, spinning them, twisting them into a land of dreamless sleep...and yet, maybe their is a long forgotten peace in their rest, despite it all.*

    [This message has been edited by The Last True Evil (edited December 06, 2003).]
    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  22. #22
    It is shattered.

    I don't understand.

    Why would you? You're only human.

    But we are given MINDS and SELF-AWARENESS, dash it all!

    Hush now, old man...

    I will NOT!

    You mistake my meaning. It is only in the hush when our souls are stilled that-

    Words. Nothing but words. We ever bandy words, and what do we get? Emotions! Feelings! Transitive things! I have stripped all that away from myself!

    And what are you left with?

    ...

    ...

    Shards... shards of broken dreams...

    Yes.

    But the dreams don't matter anymore!

    It is dreams which give us meaning and motivation. Without them, we cannot live.

    I... don't... WANT to live!

    Nonetheless, you are, Charlie.

    I hate you. Iriana, I hate you.

    No, you don't.

    With every fiber of my being. Dare to look into my heart and see...

    ...

    Well? Or are you a coward?

    You do. I can see. But yet you do not.

    Leave me alone.

    Very well. But I shall be back, as ever.

    Leave me alone...

    -----

    A long time ago, there was a girl. A child. Merely a shade of a dream, more than a dream. She was a strange child, blessed by her destiny, cursed by her fate.

    She made a pilgrimage, once upon a time. To the Tenth Heaven. Along the way, she journed through the entire Omnifractal.


    //Grim Reaper: And now, your soul to take...

    Iriana: I think not, for the soul is mine to keep.

    Grim Reaper: We shall see...//

    Ever changing, ever walking, ever believing...

    //Iriana: I seek the Nameless God, the One Who is Above all things. Whose name cannot be said, for no word or words can contain Him.

    The Serapharch: No one may gaze upon the sight of the Nameless beyond those doors and live. Not even I.

    Iriana: I am not afraid...//

    And thusly she stepped boldly beyond those doors. Only to find-

    //The Serapharch: You - you are still alive?

    Iriana: *hagardly, her face sagging* The throne - it is empty.

    The Serapharch: What?

    Iriana: He is gone...//

    And thusly did the child become a shade, and did the shade die...

    -----

    Memories flow and pass through the evanescent stream of the Omnifractal.

    //Highemperor: Iriana, this is something I must tell you...

    Iriana: Dad... I already know...

    Highemp: But!

    Iriana: *softly, calmly* Here, father. *pressing a lily into his hands* Take this.

    Highemp: *looking sadly at it* Iriana... I cannot...//

    More is revealed in time, time which is shattered, shattered beyond recognition or repair. Highemperor is dead. But his legacy still touches the hearts of men.

    -----

    A new day, a new life. Charlie wakes up, dons his worn cloak and sets out from his cabin. Down to the village of Shattered York.

    When he is suddenly waylaid by a most unusual figure...


    Most Unusual Figure: *in sepulchral voice* Old Man Charlie...

    Charlie: What? Who are you?

    The figure stands at least at seven feet, cloaked in a dark blue, almost black robe, a hood over his face. Nothing can be made out of the visage beneath, save dark shadows, ebon as pitch, and blacker than the depths of cold reality. The only skin visible is that on his hands, and they appear ageless - both old and young once, even... skeletal.

    Sepulchral Phantom: I am here to visit upon you the greatest gift of all... doubt.

    Old Man Charlie: What?

    Sepulchral Phantom: I am the shadows of the soul that dare not be named. I am that which cannot be denied. I am the singular seat of what is true and abiding beyond the heat and beyond the cold, and beyond the pale of reality. I visit you now, and shall visit you again. Soon, I shall visit upon the others in this shattered fractal...

    Charlie: Soon? But when - what time is soon?

    Sepulchral Phantom: *thunderingly guttural* All times to me are soon.

    And with that, the phantasmic figure disappears, leaving Charlie with doubt... the greatest gift of all...

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!

    [This message has been edited by Highemperor (edited December 06, 2003).]

    [This message has been edited by Highemperor (edited December 06, 2003).]
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  23. #23
    TLTA: Wake up, Gebohq.

    Gebohq grunts as he sits up, a static crunch is produced from his movements. He blinks, rubbing his eyes, and sees now the cause of the strange noise -- there is a thin layer of snow on the ground, and the light mist of rain changed to flakes of snow, now beginning to cover the dried blood and scars of their past battle. His eyes magnatize back to that known as The Last True Evil, now better known as The Answerer, fear flashing in his glance before dissipating.

    Geb: Well, that was fun.

    TLTA: "Fun?" You nearly died, and you say that was fun?

    Geb: Well, yeah. I mean, now that we're not in the middle of going after each other's throats... for now at least.

    TLTA: Fun?

    Geb: I am still technically a villian. I think... you remember being a villain, right?

    TLTA: Da, da... you have a point, I suppose.

    Geb: So it appears that we live to see another day after all.

    TLTA: Yes... if I didn't know any better, I'd say you used some powers I still don't approve of to keep us from dying.

    Geb: Good thing you know better... *looks elsewhere*

    TLTA: Heh. Death.

    *TLTA looks up and around*

    TLTA: Never would have thought death was any concern when we first knew each other, eh friend? Brings back memories of Mother Russia...

    Geb: Brings back memories of the early days of being a hero... of the other heroes of NeS. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to visit them. I don't know if you want to follow...

    TLTA: Perhaps it's best if I did. But where to?

    Geb: Hold on...

    Gebohq stands up, the snow crunching beneath him, and brushes off the snow that collected on his clothes and hair. He then gestures TLTA to follow him down the street.

    TLTA: Where is it we're going?

    Geb: A few blocks down.

    Geb and TLTA take their time walking down. Geb turns to TLTA again.

    Geb: Do you ever feel like it's been too long since you've slept, or taken a shower?

    TLTA: What do you mean?

    Geb: We're always jumping from one thing to another, it seems, in this existance. When do we relieve ourselves in regards to our uh... basic human functions?

    TLTA: I always understood it that we did these things in the gaps untold in this story. Not that I know for certain... why?

    Geb: I think I'm out of the loop... ah, here it is.

    Gebohq and TLTA turn down a small and rather stereotypical dead-end alleyway.

    Geb: OK, uh... look the other way.

    *TLTA raises an eyebrow*

    Geb: Please.

    *TLTA looks the other way, hand near his sword...*

    Geb: OK, you can turn around now.

    There is now a gate at the end of what was once a dead alleyway. Gebohq and TLTA walk up to gate, and open it, to see another state of existance.

    TLTA: Why did I have to look away?

    Geb: It's one of those things with wielding the story. It's a lot easier when the imagination has to fill in the gaps.

    TLTA: Indeed. Easier, but is it wise?

    Geb: Look, can we just continue on? We can talk about this later. I have a need to visit someone right now though.

    TLTA: As you wish. Lead on, friend.

    [This message has been edited by Gebohq (edited December 06, 2003).]
    Featured ISB thread: The Never-ending Story Thread^2

  24. #24
    ⌐_⌐
    ¬_¬

    Posts
    6,095
    Aariadon. A name that sounded like it belonged to a hero, a knight, a savior. But indeed, it belonged to a timid man, who had no hope for his life. He had been created by the writer MZZT, after MZZT's last namesake character died in NeShattered...

    ----

    //Ubiquitous darkness. Whispering voices. Pain in wrists. Sitting in a cold chair, hands bound behind me. A groaning. My groaning. A bright, blinding light. Footsteps. I am regaining my consciousness.//

    Voice: You WILL submit!

    //A slapping sound. PAIN! I've been hit, my lip is bleeding. That brought me out of my stupor. I feel dull pain throughout my body, and I have a bad headache.//

    Voice: Wake up! Worthless scum!

    MZZT: *strained voice* I... will... never submit. *cough*

    //It is hard for me to breathe. But I remember where I am. I have been arrested and brought to this torture chamber for resisting the rule of Highemper.... OW! Another slap.//

    //He steps into the light…//

    Voice: You will not talk unless I ask you a question.

    //He is blocking the light. I can't make out his features, but he is in his 20s or 30s, judging from his voice. He is about 5'10-11", and he has a light build.//

    Man: Now, let's try this again, from the top. What is your name?

    MZZT: *groan* What do you care?

    //I have gotten used to the shadow he creates. He is Caucasian, and wearing the uniform of Highemperor's prison guards. He has a smirk on his face... or is it a snarl?//

    Man: You are The Mega-ZZTer, aka MZZT. There is no use lying to me... it is over for you.

    MZZT: My friends, even without me, can yet succeeding in overth--

    //OW1 That son of a @$%&# slapped me again.//

    Man: Your "friends" have already failed! We have captured 90% of the renegades! They told us about you, that is how we caught you! Tell us the location of their base, they have betrayed you!

    MZZT: You are *cough* lying. The Force... makes you transparent before my bloody eyes. I just... happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you know it. *loud cough*

    //Ah, I coughed up blood. Ick. I'm not getting out of this one alive, am I?//

    Man: *goes to slap him again, but doesn't* Well. Still stubborn. We'll leave you alone another 30 minutes to think it over.

    //Agh, the light snapped off, I can't see anymore. Footsteps. Metal door scrapping open... augh, my ears are sensitive... more steps, door slamming shut... ow.[//

    //I'm getting too old for this.//

    //There's no way out... they've left me here alone before. They have a mic and camera in here somewhere, although I can't see exactly where. I still can't see anything, but I know the metal door is all but airtight, and the chair I am in is attached firmly to the ground with chains, and my hands are bound so tightly, I can't feel them anymore. Not even MZZT the writer can help me now.//

    //My Force powers are nearly depleted, the pain is blocking them... but, wait, I hear a conversation... but it can't have been more than 15 minutes! I can just barely use the Force to make it out…//

    Guard: I say we gas 'im. I've seen 'is type before. 'e won't tell anything useful.

    Other Voice: Lieutenant Garrett thought the same. Turn the switch.

    //A metallic screeching and a low hiss. It's finally over. A hollow vic... tor... y…//

    ----

    MZZTtW: It has been two weeks since MZZT has died... I thought I could never write again, least of all create a new character. But I find myself yearning to write... to describe rich worlds, to create and make my imagination soar! I will make a new character. But I will not make him perfect... I will make him most flawed. And he will fix his flaws, and become great enough to aid the NeS as MZZT once did. MZZT did not do much introspective examination... Aaa... Aar... Aari...

    MZZTtW: Aariadon.

    MZZTtW: Aariadon will discover himself. Aariadon will succeed where MZZT could not. Aariadon will find his limitations. Aariadon will help repair the Shattered story! And, unlike MZZT, I will not interfere. Or else I might not be able to in the end... like MZZT.

    ----

    Aariadon did not know what his purpose in life was. He only knew he wanted to help people... he had a kind and generous nature, and love children. Similarly, he had a simplistic mind, and many people called him a retard. He lived in a house in snow-covered mountains in Russia by himself, a hermit.

    He knew not what his purpose in life was, or who had written his life, and given him his childish mind. But he was going to find out.

    Today, Aariadon dressed in a warm pair of jeans, a shirt and sweater, and a warm coat. He put on his scarf, hat, socks, shoes, gloves, and decided today he would find out what his destiny was.

    He knew not that he was merely a character in a story. MZZTtW had made sure he was isolated from any characters who had survived the Shattered Era... He did not know of the Arena, or the climatic fight that had taken place there. He only knew that he had a destiny, and he was going to find it.

    He takes a deep breath, and opens the door to his small cabin. He takes his first step into the snow, and his first step into a journey of self-discovery.

    ------------------
    The Mega-ZZTer's Gaming Haven!

    [This message has been edited by Gebohq (edited December 28, 2003).]

    [This message has been edited by The_Mega_ZZTer (edited December 06, 2003).]


  25. #25
    Initializing...
    :
    :rogram/NeShattered
    :
    :
    ::/Loading/
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    ::/Searching Parameters/
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    ::/Parameters Found...Displaying/
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    !Shattered World
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    !Ph/F-ractal
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    !Lazarus
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    !Final Answer(Indeterminate)
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    ![SpcPara]He is the Old Man of Young Hill, and he walks alone[/SpcPara]
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    ![SpcPara]-=Geb=-=TLTE/a=-For the sake of the story[/SpcPara]
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    ::/End Display(ParamtrsFound)/
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    ::/Updating.../
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    ::/Updates Found...Displaying/
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    ::Confirm Updates?

    <Enter>

    ::/Confirmation Command Activated...Confirmation Enabled/
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    ::/Searching for Monitor...Monitor Found/
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    ::/Transferring Feed to Monitor...Displ---

    <>ERROR<>

    #Mareth: The story is not the mere vehicle, but the essence itself.#

    <>ViruScan Enabled<>

    <>Scanning...<>

    <>NO VIRUS FOUND<>

    <>Resuming Initializing<>

    :
    ::/Transferring Feed to Monitor...Displaying/
    :
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    ::LOADING SUCCESSFUL
    :
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    :00101110011110010001101...

    -----

    THE STORY MATRIX HAS BEEN ENABLED.

    -----

    The Lazarus Citadel lies empty, ruined, broken upon its foundations. Once it was an inviolable fortress, the very extraction of powergaming, its characters unable to be touched by any outsider. However, a rival writer touched the writer who wrote into being the Lazarus Citadel - writers being both the strength of characters and their weakest link - and it was shattered. Much like the world around it. It sits much like a ruined cathedral, newfallen snow lodging in its innards. A New Lazarus Citadel has been constructed on page 3003, but it is nothing like this one was. Yet this place still carries significance. How? I do not know.

    I am merely Highemp the Poster, doomed to carry out Highemp the Writer's final instructions to me before he left.


    <>ERROR<>

    #Mareth: Do you not yet see?#

    ??? It is the Old Man Charlie, in his cabin, talking to someone whom... I cannot see? I can't even tell if it's an imaginary alligator, for even the imaginary things I can see!

    Charlie: I don't understand.

    #Mareth: You will. And yet you will not.#

    Charlie: Stop speaking in riddles!

    Me? I ain't speaking in riddles!

    Charlie: Not you! *thrusting his finger towards an empty spot in his cabin* Her!

    Oh, are you speaking to Iriana, then?

    No, it is not I to whom he speaks.

    Who then?

    I do not know...

    -----

    <Memories flow and pass, dancing like snowflakes upon a light winter's breeze>

    Highemp: Enough! *fires lightning from his hands, channeled along the intangible webs of ink that weave the story together, to strike those who hound him*

    SWAT #1: Your paltry electrical effects cannot harm us, Highemperor. We are wearing insulated kevlar.

    Meanwhile, SWAT #2 fires his sonic weapon at Highemp, and the sound energy is channeled easily through the ink (being liquid) to launch Highemp off his feet.

    Highemp: Oof!

    The SWAT team gathers around him.

    SWAT #3: *amused* The great Highemp, master of all he surveys, and the best you can manage is an "oof"?

    Highemp: *jumping up* I'll best you yet.../

    <And so this memory ebbs like the tide, back into the sea from whence it came>

    -----

    Deep in the reaches of outer space lies a floating citadel, the Phortress of Phractal. Phractal is the embodiment of the fractal, the Omnifractal, whose appearance is like that of a man made of fractalized crystal. In other words, too weird to describe.

    He broods upon his solitary throne in space, considering everything that is going on. The only ones greater than he are the Serapharch and the Nameless. Yet the Nameless seems to be missing, and the Serapharch is powerless without his master. Which leaves Phractal himself. Yet, as always, he does nothing, but merely broods and considers...


    Phractal: There is a DreamChylde, at a shrine in TLTE's own Mother Russia - conveniently, where Aaridan is - who possesses the power of fate. She is the descendant of all the mystic pantheon, heir to them all - myself, the Nameless, the Serapharch, the WriterGod, the EditorGod, the CensorGod, the CharacterGod, the CopyrightGod, the Publisher God, and Eternius the Omnarrator. The child of dreams. Why should she even be written, whether into this story or even at all? Only because it was the will of HighemptheWriter, and his power, along with TLTEtheWriter and GebtheWriter, is such that it can overcome mine own. But the Dreamchylde may be too much even for them to handle. Therefore, HtW, wherever you are, I hope you know what you are doing (probably not).

    -----

    We now skip forward to page 4201.

    <>Designated Page Loaded<>

    Thank you. Here we see the end of the Dreamchylde's quest, whose only purpose was to craft the Great Malorkis, a sword greater than Excalibur itself. Her quest lies unwritten, shrouded in mystery, but nonetheless, here is the end.

    Dreamchylde: *in soft lilting female voice* Excellent. I have done it. I have reforged the Great Malorkis. In the shattering of NeS, it was broken in several lesser swords, including the Porkus Malorkis and the Sporkus Malorkis, but I have gathered all the pieces and recreated it. Now I shall wield it to reforge the NeS!

    -----

    Back on Page 3003, Charlie sees all these things in his dreams, and wonders why. He wonders if they are real, or meaningful; he wonders all kinds of things. Yet the answer eludes him.

    And his last thought, before he drifts off to sleep that night is that maybe... he should have paid more attention to TLTA's answer...

    But he is Charlie, the Old Man of Young Hill... and no matter what, he walks alone.


    -----

    <>ERROR<>

    #Mareth: *shaking head slowly back and forth* I must venture forth into the story, where I may be affected and manipulated by the writers, any writer. But such is the way of empathy. As an empath, I must be affected, that I may affect others.#

    Mareth: Therefore have I entered the story.

    Good grief! Where did she come from? She just popped into existence beneath my very eyes!

    I do not know, HtP. But this leaves me deeply troubled. So many new players. Aaridan, the heir to MZZT; Charlie the Hermit; Geb the villain; TLTA, who refuses to let go; Dreamchylde, with the Great Malorkis; and now her.

    Mareth: Greetings. Pleasure to meet you, Iriana, HighempthePoster.

    Erm, 'ello.

    *astonished* You can perceive us? But we have not made ourselves manifest to your vision!

    Mareth: My vision goes far beyond what you might think. I am an empath. I empathize wtih all things. I share in laughter as well as tears, pleasure as well as pain.

    And what is your purpose here?

    Hush, HtP. I'll ask the questions here. *turning to Mareth* So what IS your purpose here?

    Mareth: *smiling* My purpose is the same as it always is. To empathize.

    Yes, but what does that consist of?

    Mareth: Let me show you. Iriana, you live under the shadow of your father. For him, you have believed in and sought the Nameless, only to discover that he has vanished, leaving you empty.

    <>Iriana feels a deep connection drawing her to Mareth, suddenly; and she feels an immense peace and calm from her, just as her pain and trouble radiates outward to Mareth.<>

    I - thank you. I - that is most interesting.

    Mareth: Yes. And Narrator, I believe in your surprise, you have neglected to describe me.

    Oh. Er, yes. Ah, this, ah, new arrival, Mareth, stands at 5'7, with waves of chocolate spilling down her back, and dark pools for eyes radiating her soul out to others. She wears a light grey cloak, with dark brown, almost black, clothing underneath - a long-sleeved tunic and leggings. Um, is that adequate?

    Mareth: Quite. Thanks a million.

    And with that, Mareth goes off to seek out the one called Charlie, the Old Man of Young Hill.

    -----

    Mareth walks across pages, until she comes to page 9999 - the Maelstrom of the Shattered Void. It is a gray template, ruins of an ancient city of pyramids within. The Lazarus Citadel lies within. She walks into, down into the cellar of the ruined bastion. Here there is a pool of bloodink, where the blood and the ink have dripped down from the Lazarus Throne at the top of the tower into a radiant darkness that carries an aura of shadow. She sits by the pool and waits. Her dark eyes mirror the shadowy ink within the pool.

    There is pain here... so much pain. All trapped within the pool. The pain of a lost dream...


    -----

    This is the dirge of a nightingale
    Who could not find her way.
    Through the wind and through the hail,
    She flew through blinded day.


    -"Makayla's Song"

    -----

    Mareth wonders at the lilting voice drifting through the halls. It sings in the most beautiful voice imaginable, and ends on a hushed note that makes it all the more so. Its music is purer than the strains of heaven, tolling along with the chimes of paradise.

    An indistinct figure of dim light begins to blur from the shadows. Gradually it coalesces into the figure of a girl. A girl with waves of golden fire flowing down her back, and eyes of the purest baby blue; rosy cheeks and rosy lips; a visage of divine beauty; and a glowing gown of silvridescent light. She stands on the opposite side of the inky bloodpool from Mareth, streaming radiance into the blackness, radiance that Mareth's presence seems to absorb as soon as it nears her, flaring like a nova before disappearing into a black hole. As Mareth is sitting, so she is standing, almost floating. Yet Mareth's presence is perhaps the stronger of the two.


    Mareth: *to radiant girl* Welcome, Makayla.

    Makayla: *smiling brilliantly* Hello, Mareth.

    They speak as old friends, which indeed they may be, and gradually their purpose becomes clearer.

    Makayla: Here, in this hold, lies my godfather, Highemperor, in the pool of bloodink. Not he himself, but rather the vestige of his dream that refuses to die.

    Mareth: Yes, here in the Vault of Lazarus. We are purposed to motivate, then?

    Makayla: *nodding head slowly* Yes. Highemperor has shattered his world, compromising everything that he holds dear, for the sake of the story. He must come to realize that he is the story, or rather, part of the grand, sweeping story that everyone is a part of. He has misperceived me, and now, I fear, he shall misperceive you.

    Mareth: No. He shall not. That is what my empathy is for.

    She gazes deep into the pool of dark ink, and it is almost as though she can make out the shadow of a familiar face...

    -----

    Makayla had heard the stories around her birth numerous times, but her favorite was ever Charlie's version.

    "If I had ever had a daughter," Charlie said, I would have named her Kayla." The babe in his arms started to cry, and he whispered, "Hush, Makayla. . . my Kayla. . ."


    -"Hush"

    -----

    Mareth: If he had ever had a daughter, you are who she would be.

    Makayla: And if he had ever been a female, you are who he would be.

    Mareth: He is too caught up in himself. And yet... I understand. He seeks many things: he seeks perfection and ideal; he seeks escape from himself; he seeks validation and meaning. But ultimately, I do believe he empathizes with the world, the shattered world. He is not meant to change the world, nor to make the world understand him, for that would be about him and not the Ultimate which he serves - which everyone serves.

    Makayla: So what now?

    Mareth: Now... we wait.

    The ink, black as pitch, is silent as ever, offering no reply...

    -----

    Charlie walks along the beaten path of weeds and overgrowth towards the lone grave. It is alone in a secluded grove, away from all the others. The towering stone looms before him, a crucifix crowning its head.

    High Emperor
    2000-2003
    Page 12-Page 9999


    An inscription was on it, but Charlie doesn't bother to read it. Looming a long shadow across him, it shatters the very soul of anyone who looks across it, casting a pall across the old man's being.

    Charlie: *staring at the tombstone* Highemperor... what a name you styled yourself. You always were grandiose. And... a loser. Ever alone.

    -----

    This is a wasteland,
    And here I lie,
    Waiting for a chance,
    For a chance to fly.

    This is a wasteland,
    And here I am,
    Never to see beauty,
    Or to love again.

    This is a wasteland,
    And the dream is dead;
    I am left with nothing but a whole
    And a cracked-up head.


    -"Wasteland"

    -----

    Shades of a broken dream dance inside Charlie's heart as he beholds the stone, worn by the weather. Lightning crackles, but through the wind and through the rain, it stands steadfastly, the specter of death, over us all.

    Dreams and visions of all kinds spill from their mental sea and break upon this rock, this hard, unfeeling rock that rots the imagination of all who come in contact with it.

    But Charlie is kept alive, though he does not know it, by the spark of a child's hope within him that refuses to die.


    Charlie: *softly, his voice barely audible in the thunder* Still, what I would give...

    The sky offers no reply save another rolling peal of crashing thunder and the rain that showers down, soaking his robes.

    -----

    There was a once,
    A once upon a time,
    When beauty was good,
    And good was mine.
    For one moment,
    Of glory supreme,
    I danced among the stars,
    Like a radiant sunbeam.
    I laughed at the world,
    Laughed at its spite;
    For just one moment,
    Everything was right.
    Whatever it took,
    Whatever the chance,
    I'd give it all,
    For one last dance.

    But it ended,
    As all things do,
    Leaving me alone with a what
    And not a who.
    For a memory
    That what was to be,
    And a memory is torture,
    To one such as me.
    For this vision,
    This wonderful girl,
    Meant the world to me,
    Yet I was but a churl.
    Whatever it took,
    Whatever the chance,
    I'd give it all,
    For one last dance.

    In the years to come,
    As the months passed by,
    I oft looked back,
    And wondered why.
    Why did she come,
    Into my life,
    To go and be gone,
    And cause me this strife.
    Intoxicating her presence,
    Addictive her hair,
    Torturous her eyes
    For being so fair.
    Whatever it took,
    Whatever the chance,
    I'd give it all,
    For one last dance.

    And so it goes,
    Though yet it seems,
    That I can see her sometimes,
    In the rays the moon beams.
    Thank you for you,
    Thank you for us,
    Thank you for being there,
    At my childhood's cusp.
    Still, what I would give,
    What I would sell,
    For one last dance,
    Before returning to hell.
    Whatever it took,
    Whatever the chance,
    I'd give it all,
    For one. . . last dance.


    -"For One Last Dance"

    -----

    So Charlie stands there, wishing many things. He wishes that his dreams could give him wings; that he could rise above this world. He wishes that hope were inviolate, undying. He wishes that his feeble human frame would give out from under him. He wishes, even, that he was never born.

    But if wishes were wings, we'd all be flying.


    Charlie: *sighing* I suppose, if there could be the slightest chance, that there is an Ultimate... but where?

    He walks off, and fails to notice the broken skeleton of a child lying almost hidden in the grass by the grave...

    -----

    In the Vault of Lazarus...

    Makayla: So it begins.

    Mareth: Yes. He has begun to make his pilgrimage to his story. It is imperative.

    Makayla: He must ever dream, and he must write his way to his story. It is the way of every writer. He does not yet realize that his story is shattered...

    Mareth: ... becauase he WANTS it to be shattered. Because in the deepest core of his soul, he himself is shattered.

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!

    [This message has been edited by Highemperor (edited December 09, 2003).]
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  26. #26
    *TLTA and Gebohq walk through the desolate city streets, remaining silent in each other's company. The air is still tense, and the clouds hover forebodingly, ever a reminder of the painful battle fought underneath their deluge only the night before. Finally, TLTA speaks.*

    TLTA: What kind of city is this, anyway? Where are all the people?

    Gebohq: People are not necessary at this point. This story is about us, the main characters, not the populace.

    TLTA: That's a needlessly existential view of the plot, isn't it?

    Gebohq: Remember what you yourself are here to do, TLTA - edit out another writer's excessive indulgences in grandeur, I believe? This is obviously overcompensating on the other side...

    *They walk a little longer in silence.*

    Gebohq: Why are you after Highemperor, anyway? You could have chosen to pick on other writer's grammar...or plot continuity...why this?

    *TLTA considers for a moment.*

    TLTA: Imagine if we were all like Highemperor. On the surface, it sounds perfectly logical; he is a very good author, after all. But within five minutes of the story, we'd encounter a problem. How many Ultimate Universe Monarchs can there be, after all? And who would be the lesser characters, the weaker, necessary contributors to the story? And even if we could all somehow be Singular Gods, ignoring the paradox, wouldn't it seem a little...shallow? Uninspired?

    Gebohq: Well...perhaps.

    TLTA: This is exactly my point. Highemperor has chosen to put himself on an authorial pedestal, above other characters. I seek to know why. If he has no reason, why let him continue as such?

    Gebohq: But to kill him for this mistake?

    TLTA: It sounds extreme, I know, but a fall from grace is exactly what is needed!

    *They continue on in silence. Finally, they reach their destination, a misty yard of some sort. Gebohq pushes back the creaky gates, beckoning.*

    Gebohq: Welcome to the NeS Writers' Cemetary. The story may continue, but its creators are quite human.

    *They enter. All manner of familiar names become apparent to TLTA as he passes; Maybechild, Galvatron, Antestarr, Otter...*

    TLTA: Funny...I thought these people would never die...

    Gebohq: I'm sure they thought the same of you, but you certainly disappointed them. And yet back you are, returning to influence events for longer than your mortal span allowed you...but no longer an angel. You are human again, and the clock is ticking for your lifespan...

    *Suddenly, TLTA spots a grave a little apart. Heart pounding, he rushes over to it. Wreathed in jasmine flowers a delicate shade of pink, the grave of Losien lies before him.*

    Gebohq: Ah yes...sister. She left long ago.

    *TLTA sinks to his knees. He gently pushes back the jasmine to see the inscription;*

    LOSIEN - "Time is too slow for those who wait,
    too swift for those who fear,
    too long for those who grieve,
    too short for those who rejoice,
    but for those who love, time is eternity."


    TLTA: She's dead...how?

    Gebohq: Does it matter? You are alone. The real truth in life - the good always die alone. Embrace it, or despair.

    TLTA: No...

    *He looks down at the grave.*

    TLTA: So she sleeps under here...Losien, my love, "I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times, in life after life, in age after age forever." I forget the poet...but it means something to me.

    *TLTA stands up, turning to face Gebohq.*

    TLTA: Love saved me once...but it seems like I will have to find something other than love this time to save me.

    Gebohq: And a good thing, too. Love does not last in times like this - you're in a dangerous game. Besides, why love when you can be loved so much more? When I finally wrestle control from the NeS, and establish NeShattered as the premier story, I will be...

    *He pauses, eyes closed, smiling warmly at the thought.*

    Gebohq...I'll be forever. Isn't that worth more than love?

    TLTA: I imagine that Highemperor is trying to decide that for himself at this very moment.

    Gebohq: Yes, come on, let's finish what we're here to do. Then we have to sort out what we do about this whole messy scenario...
    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  27. #27
    Not Suitable for Motor Vehicles
    Posts
    4,265
    Page 3187

    Agent Ford is hard at work repairing damage to Equitas, after a lengthy fight with Highemporer. His attention is so rapt that he doesnt hear someone come up behind him.

    Hooded Figure: Hello Ford.

    Ford jumps out of his seat, holding Equitas in front of him.

    Ford: Who are you? how did you get in here?

    HF: *Chuckling* You always were one to ask stupid questions. Tell me, are you prepared to die tonight?

    Ford: How would you know if i were to die?

    The figure laughs aloud, and pulls back his hood. His face is gaunt, paler than the moon. He reaches a hand out to Ford, as if to shake hands.

    Tod: They say only two things in life are certain. Death and Taxes. And my friend, *Leaning closer, his lips peel back in a sickening grin, revealing long straight teeth.*...the Taxman's dead.

    ------------------
    <Dormouse> there are very few things quite as comforting as smelling like a close friend.

    We are only human, perfect in our imperfections. - Erin amie du Dor

    <Dormouse> it's really cute in the way that a sherman tank with a fuzzy steering wheel is cute
    My girlfriend paid a lot of money for that tv; I want to watch ALL OF IT. - JM

  28. #28
    Geb the writer: So what happens if the power suddenly goes out for several days, and the ElectronicWriter3000!!! with it? Do we have to post a B.U.M.P. like in the old days?

    Otter the writer: Nope. We've got that covered too, with Mr.B.U.M.P.3000!!!

    Maybe the writer: Wait a minute... how would THAT run if the power went out?

    Otter the writer: It runs on an advanced cat/buttered-toast engine. You know, the one where you strap buttered toast on the back of a cat and drop it, with the buttered toast trying to fall butter-side down but the cat also trying to land on its feet, thus spinning and hovering inches above the ground?

    Maybe the writer: I think you need to see a doctor...

    Otter the writer: No really! Watch!

    *Otter the writer kicks Mr.B.U.M.P.3000!!! online.*

    Mr.B.U.M.P.3000!!!: B.U.M.P.! (meeeeOOOOWWWeeerrrrrOOOOOWWeeeerrOOOOWWeeerr....)

    (NSP: Er... *gebs it*)
    Featured ISB thread: The Never-ending Story Thread^2

  29. #29
    The Answerer, known once as The Last True Evil, walks next to a shuffling Gebohq, past the graves of the former heroes, posters, and writers.

    Geb: Funny, isn't it?

    TLTA: I would hardly call death a laughing matter.

    Geb: I'd say otherwise, but that's not what I meant. Friends, enemies, writers, posters... their deaths were the only thing that really made sense. Everything else they did was too often lost in the mess of NeS. Can anyone honestly say where NeS is going, or what has happened half the time, or who has the final word? Perhaps me? I often wondered about the posters...

    TLTA: Can we move it along already?

    Geb: Right. Patience is a dangerous characteristic for NeS...

    The two walk away from the graves, and down a dirt path that cuts through some small, barren hills. They continue in uneasy silence for several moments before approaching a lone gravesite on top of one of the small hills fostering long-dead dogwood trees. As they draw closer, the figure of a gargoyle can be made out on top of the tombstone, as well as the skeleton of a small child, holding on to a flower of some sort. Gebohq twiches at the sight, but continues on, stopping a few feet from the tombstone. The Answerer glares.

    TLTA: What kind of joke is this?

    The tombstone read:

    -------------------------------------

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ *** | *** ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ** -+- ** ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ *** | *** ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ *** | *** ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~Highemperor~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Sept. 19, page 12 - Dec. 04, page 1999

    "Reach the stars,
    Fly a fantasy.
    Dream a dream,
    And what you see will be"

    -------------------------------------


    TLTA: I don't find this funny.

    Geb: Should it be?

    TLTA: Don't mock me, Gebohq! I know he's not dead. What's the meaning of this?

    Geb: I came here to pay my respects.

    TLTA: Stop it!

    Geb: Is this not what you wanted?

    TLTA: I want him dead and to never ruin another story, not this false prop of a post!

    Geb: This is the real McCoy, friend--

    TLTA: Lies! Pretenses to stage his return in all his two-dimensional glory.

    Geb: Do not accuse me false witness, Answerer. Highemperor died, and if he were not dead, I would kill him now, as I did everyone else! I buried every character that has stood their own ground and fallen, every poster that has delivered their message and was damned, every writer who created in their own image and doubted their goodness, all because of my existance alone. Do not force me to do the same for you before your time has come!

    TLTA: Then strike me now, if you are to be so self-righteous.

    Geb: I only wish to pay my respects.

    TLTA: Highemperor deserves no such thing. This is a waste of my time.

    Geb: Nobody is forcing you to say.

    The Answerer grits his teeth, then crosses his arms, waiting. Gebohq turns his attention to Highemperor's grave.

    Geb: I'm sorry I don't have much time to talk today. I'm pretty busy with stuff these days... being a villian doesn't leave much for breaks. I guess I say that a lot though. Sorry I ruined your dreams of perfection, Highemperor. I had to do it, for the sake of the story... for my own... I'll keep you posted then. Get well soon.

    Gebohq stands in silence for a few more moments, before turning to the Answerer.

    TLTA: "Get well soon?"

    Geb: What?

    TLTA: Nevermind.

    The Answerer suddenly turns his attention elsewhere, towards one of the dead trees.

    TLTA: I think there's someone watching us...

    (NSP: I'm leaving it open for it to possibly be Charlie, but it could be someone else, or just a false alarm, or left unknown as the two get the hell out of there.)

    [This message has been edited by Gebohq (edited December 24, 2003).]
    Featured ISB thread: The Never-ending Story Thread^2

  30. #30
    (NSP: This post is from Highemperor. As for the rest of you, we need some more new "heroes" -- heck, we just need at least another writer or two! Like MZZT and Ford have .)

    Geb: *staring straight into the trees, away from TLTE and the perceived threat* Yes, I know.

    TLTA: What? You... know?

    Geb: Indeed. It is the curse of all those who thrust themselves into prominency, be it for the sake of the story or not. We are watched, to make sure that we do not overstep our bounds.

    TLTA: So... he is watching you?

    Geb: Not 'he', but think rather, 'it'. And no, friend, it is here... for you.

    TLTA: Me?!

    Geb turns about-face to stare TLTA straight in the eye with a piercing look. The shadows of all those dead haunt his visage, in unison with the shadows that play across his face.

    Geb: Indeed. It is time for you, TLTE, the Answerer, to be Answered.

    With that, Geb is gone, and TLTA is alone. A figure standing at at least 7 or 8 feet in height steps out of the woods, in a dark blue (almost black) robe, its visage sheathed in shadow by a hood that never moves in the wind. A hand so gaunt and ghastly as to be skeletal points a single, condemning finger at TLTA. And in conjunction with this act, three shades stride slowly, one by one, out of the woods, directed by this, the Sepulchral Phantom.

    First, Highemperor, dead to all save TLTA, who refuses to let him die and pass into the merciful slumber he so richly desires.

    Second, Losien, the only thing ever worth anything in TLTE's former life, now reduced to haunting his memories like a ghost bedecked in all her preternatural glory.

    And third, Absolver, his better half, literally, the only part of him that ever smiled or laughed or cried, that ever felt or loved or cared: but now nothing than a painful reminder of who he could have been, of the person he had sacrificed in order to fulfill his mad quest...
    Featured ISB thread: The Never-ending Story Thread^2

  31. #31
    *TLTA, the Answerer, looks on at the figures assembled before him, frozen to the spot. He is almost numb, but is aware dimly of occasional drops of rain filtering through the protective veil of the trees.*

    TLTA: It rains...it rains all the time now.

    *The grim lead figure, the Sepulchral Phantom, laughs thinly and mirthlessly. The noise sends involuntary shivers down TLTA's spine.*

    Phantom: An effort of the story to heal the damage it constantly sustains. To continue the analogy, though, despite the scab forming, the constant fighting and resentment bred here opens the wound just as relentlessly.

    TLTA: So you're here to stop me? To slay me and end the bickering by default? You may stop the fighting, but you'll only be as good as me!

    Phantom: Your thought processes are needlessly emotional. Everyone, TLTA, is answered - you are a fool to think yourself above it by assuming the titular position.

    *TLTA laughs bitterly. He looks out at the hills around him, then down at Highemperor's grave next to him.*

    TLTA: "Faith - not wanting to know what is true". Nietzsche, I think.

    Phantom: Yes. But I prefer these words of his better; "hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man". Your fault was perhaps misjudged faith in part, but you all placed too much in the hands of hope.

    TLTA: No...no, you're wrong. Hope is all we have! It's all we've ever had!

    Phantom: And what has that hope driven you to do? Your divided hopes, your conflicting reasons for being, have moved you to death and despair. Abandon hope, you who call yourself the Answerer; maybe then you will see a glimpse of Heaven before I cast you into Hell.

    *TLTA grimaces. Losien, Highemperor and Absolver look on at him, resolute and stony-faced.*

    Phantom: What say you? Are you ready to be Answered?

    TLTA: So be it. Bring your doom, Phantom - I will answer it as I can.

    *The massive cloaked figure nods, and clicks his two bone fingers. At once, Losien, Absolver and Highemperor move, striding toward him with malicious purpose.*

    TLTA: Bring your judgement! Bring your death! I am beyond suffering, and lost from salvation! I am doom to love, and blight to friendship!I AM THE ANSWERED!!!

    *As the three advance, the clear ringing of unsheathed blades is heard, and silver flashes in the night. Highemperor leaps into the air, snarling as he comes down with his long knife pointed at his foe's throat. TLTA catches his wrist, and uses the momentum to throw him, sending him tumbling roughly down the hill. TLTA turns, facing Absolver and Losien.*

    TLTA: Come then! We deserve our punishment! We will all pay!

    *Losien strikes out with a rapier, her face contorted in grief and rage. TLTA dodges barely, grabbing her and pulling her toward him in a poor imitation of a lover's embrace. As she struggles with him, the half-insane TLTA gazes into her eyes, as he had many times before. The empty, vacant stare he sees is too much for him, and his eyes fill with tears.*

    TLTA: *whispered* No hope...even for love...

    *Suddenly, Absolver spots an opening and slices down with his cutlass, creating a gash down TLTA's back. The Answerer roars and throws Losien off the hilltop, turning to face his former ally with fire in his eyes.*

    TLTA: No hope then...NO HOPE!

    *He draws Gossamer and charges Absolver. The shade puts up a valiant fight, but TLTA is at the height of his adrenalin-charge, and swiftly outduels him, knocking the cutlass out of his hands. Absolver looks stunned. TLTA spins and holds his blade at the shade's throat.*

    TLTA: WHAT SAY YOU?

    *Absolver's face slowly twists into a dark grin. Abruptly, he starts screaming at the top of his voice. His hands reach down to his pockets-*

    TLTA: NO!

    *TLTA swings Gossamer around and with a primal roar, cuts Absolver's head off. The head of his friend sails off down the hills - the body stands stock still for a split second before lurching backwards down the hills.*

    TLTA: No...

    *TLTA turns, shaking, to the hilltop. The Sepulchral Phantom is standing tall, clapping and laughing.*

    Phantom: Yes! A valiant end! Burn all your bridges, TLTA! Lay waste to all you care about! Become the Answerer!

    *TLTA glares at him, wincing as another bolt of pain runs down his back. Suddenly, the figures of Losien and Highemperor advance up the hill and he is forced to defend himself...*

    [NSP: More tomorrow.]



    [This message has been edited by The Last True Evil (edited January 02, 2004).]
    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  32. #32
    *insert deep, apocolyptic version of B.U.M.P. here*

    (NSP: My laziness continues to reach new lows, whee.)
    Featured ISB thread: The Never-ending Story Thread^2

  33. #33
    The Sepulchral Phantom, a being of infinite dread and power, is seldom amused in his grim travels. However, standing atop the mightiest hill, watching The Answerer defending himself against monstrous figures of his own creation, he is inclined to admit a certain amount of unprofessional interest.

    TLTA: HAH!

    With a quick swing of his sword, TLTA forces his enemies, Losien and Highemperor, back. TLTA is simultaneously aware of three things - the relentless downpour of the rain, the aching pain of his now-many wounds, and the unshakable feeling that he would be able to solve this conflict if he could just distance himself from his attackers. Neither of his foes give him any pause, though. And TLTA knows why; they are giving him the same amount of mercy that he would award them, none at all.

    TLTA: No hope, none at all...

    Highemperor feints a right stroke, then attacks left. TLTA parries the blades above their heads, arcing the deadly metal down to his opponent's legs. Highemperor leaps above the move, twisting in mid-air to bring another swing about from over his shoulder.

    TLTA: Nothing left but to fight..

    Behind him, Losien stabs violently at his mid-section. TLTA jerks backward, sword pointed vertically at the charcoal sky, and for a moment all three blades connect with a sharp noise. Then TLTA regains balance quickly and rushes Highemperor, forcing him backwards. Highemperor's footing is lost and spectacularly tumbles head over heels down the hill. TLTA returns to Losien. His face is lit in a grin that is at once slightly deranged and crushingly sad.

    TLTA: Ahh, my love. I saved you once. But you saved me too.

    Losien's rapier dives for TLTA's left eye. Automatically, Gossamer deflects the blow.

    TLTA: You saved me from myself, do you know that? In terms of the relevant story context, you gave me a hero status, but in simpler terms, my darling...you gave me depth.

    Losien attacks right; TLTA blocks. Losien lunges; TLTA parries. Losien feints; TLTA counter-steps. All of it is peripheral, unimportant to TLTA - he feels himself slipping again, like in the moment that he killed Absolver. Reflexively, he fights the urge to lose control, but then suddenly, he remembers the lack of need.

    TLTA: Because depth is really what we are all about, aren't we, my love? I mean, what would the point of writing a story about an utterly shallow, paper-thin VOID of a character be?! There isn't one, is there? IS THERE?!

    His fists clench and he hesitates for an instant, lost in his own despair and rage.

    In that split second, Losien plunges her rapier into TLTA's side.

    A long moment passes, a moment of infinite beauty and grief, as the two stare unreservedly at each other, and the present's troubles are forgotten.

    Then TLTA, finally able to withstand no more, grabs Losien and pulls her close. He wrenches from her raven locks a hairpin and viciously jabs it into her chest.

    Nothing happens for a moment. Time appears to stop, not for the first time in the evening. Finally, Losien just...falls. She tumbles backward, down the awkward slope of the hill, and is lost to the darkness and rain. TLTA is once again alone.


    TLTA: Me, just me....just me again.

    A warm, aching pain is suddenly made aware to him, and he checks his side. He is losing a lot of blood, and begins to feel dizzy. TLTA pulls out the rapier and screams, dropping to his knees and hazing out to the edge of consciousness, coming back to his senses to the tune of raucous laughter from the Sepulchral Phantom.

    SP: Bravo, bravo! How marvellously ironic! How inspiring! How...touching...

    TLTA snarls, speaking through clenched teeth.

    TLTA: I didn't do it for you.

    The Sepulchral Phantom laughs again, crossing its arms.

    SP: Indeed. Or perhaps you did without even realising, does that sit better in your troubled mind?

    TLTA moans with pain and grief. He is dimly aware that he is being toyed with, manipulated by this monstrosity before his imminent death, but is unable to think of an escape. Violence once again seems the only option.

    TLTA: I will run your gauntlet no longer. Let me pass or I will rid the world of grief.

    He points the sword at the Sepulchral Phantom, who shakes his head reproachfully.

    SP: I'm sorry, you still have one more test before the honour of dying by my hand. And I frankly doubt you'll survive, going by your current condition.

    TLTA: What-

    He turns, by intuition rather than any other factor, just in time to meet blades with Highemperor. Rising wearily to his feet, TLTA and Highemperor stand off. TLTA clutches his head, suddenly aware of a terrible certainty.

    TLTA: I can...I can no longer feel the guiding hand of my Writer.

    Highemperor: I have long since lost that luxury.

    TLTA: Highemperor?...Is it really you?

    Highemperor: No longer a shade. A final gift of bitter fate; we are granted the luxury of murdering each other for the last time.

    TLTA: It doesn't seem real...the final confrontation, alone in the woods, both of us certainly doomed...

    Highemperor: Maybe this is Gebohq's doing. It certainly does seem evil enough for him

    TLTA: Maybe, but he's running a terrible risk. If we die, this thread is all but lost.

    Highemperor: Don't forget, we are no longer the emissiaries of our Writers anymore. We are estranged - doomed shades of what we once were. There is no salvation here.

    TLTA: Then let us at least die with our terrible conflict resolved.

    *They face each other, blades lifted to their faces in respectful challenge.*

    TLTA: This will be a battle forever remembered in the annals of the NeS.

    Highemperor: Then let our swords write our story, and our blood serve as ink.

    As one, both blades lower into the battle stance. It begins...
    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  34. #34
    Their blades sing.

    One man leaps over another's thrust. He lands down, landing on a shield of amber and gold, sliding down the hill away from his opponent. The other, caped one, follows.

    Their hearts cry.

    Highemperor's white sword of power cannot sunder Gossamer. Unused to a situation not covered by his powers, he angrily presses his attack, giving no quarter. And receiving none.

    Their lungs scream.

    TLTA is for the first time guideless. Lost, confused, he has no hope. Time disappears, but for the one singular moment of battle in which they are eternally locked.

    Their lips, however, are grimly silent.

    No one watches their battle, save the Sepulchral Phantom. No hordes of audience members, or heroes, or gods, or villains dare to intrude upon the war of the outcast characters. No writer guides their steps.


    TLTA: *whispering* For we have become beings in our right, have we not?

    Highemp thrusts forward with Drynyrn. TLTA blocks the point with the point of Gossamer, creating an even but unsteady balance as the swords face each other, tip-to-tip.

    Highemp: And yet, what beings such as we have worth?

    Slowly, in each his turn, they test the balance, never taking their eyes off one another.

    TLTA: But we have to have worth! This story has done what nothing else could, Highemperor - it has given you depth.

    Highemp: Since when did depth equal worth? I was worth something once, I was worth the world, because my writer loved me - loved me with all his mind and soul. But you, you turned him against me.

    Their blades, still balanced against the other's point, glisten faintly with rain in what little light there is.

    TLTA: For the sake of the story.

    Highemp: For the sake of-!

    Cutting himself off, he smiles slowly, grimly.

    Highemp: And for the sake of the story, so you, too, have been abandoned.

    TLTA considers for the briefest of moments, for the longest of eternities. "For the sake of the story. . ." That damning phrase, which curses all it comes in contact with. And then he realizes-

    TLTA: The characters ARE the story!

    Highemp: What did you say?

    TLTA: We are the story, Highemperor.

    Highemp: Don't call me that.

    TLTA: It is we who determine the fate of this thread, simply by virtue of the fact that this is a character-driven story, and not a fake, plot-driven one, we who have worth.

    Angrily, Highemperor breaks the balance of the blades and resumes fighting.

    TLTA: Don't you see, Highemper-

    Highemp: *screaming in rage* DON'T CALL ME THAT!

    His white sword of power arcs downward to land a blow on the Answerer's head. Fueled by rage, he cleaves a patch of skin off, barely deflected in time by Equitas Deux.

    But TLTA is now driven by a silent determination, a nameless but ever tangible hope.


    TLTA: Highemperor, there is still hope. For you, for me. For all of us.

    Highemp: NEVER! Hope is gone! It has no place within our hearts!

    TLTA draws himself away momentarily.

    TLTA: Highemperor, I begin to think you don't WANT there to be hope. That you like pitying yourself. That you are so intent on being the tragic hero you deny yourself everything.

    Highemperor stops short, as though the breath were knocked flat from his lungs. Tears glisten in his eyes. He turns to look up at the sky, the everpresent rain alighting on his face in rivulets.

    Highemp: *shouting at the sky* Is this then my curse? To live in this hell You call LIFE?

    TLTA: *coughing* It would. . . seem so, friend.

    Highemp turns to glare steadily at his former friend. His gaze is vindictive, his force powerful. But the fire behind his eyes has long faded.

    Highemp: Curse you. Curse you all to the deepest chasm of Hell.

    TLTA: No, Highemperor. There is hope. Yea, even for you.

    Highemperor gives a bellow, and attacks again, furiously, with all his might and main. Lightning forks down from the sky, lancing about them, setting the grass aflame momentarily again and again, as it is again and again put out by the rain. TLTA blocks his blows, staying on the defensive, but is weakening from blood loss.

    TLTA: Would you. . . *hacking* . . . kill an opponent so helpless?

    Highemp: *staring at him, then letting out a short, sharp laugh* Hah! If I am intent on being the tragic hero, YOU are intent on being the honorable villain. May your honor give you comfort. . . IN DEATH!

    Displaying a mastery of hand-to-hand combat, he triple-feints and double-twirls and quadruple-leaps, managing to slice off the hand holding Gossamer. TLTA screams in pain.

    TLTA: *gritting his teeth* You. . . you. . .

    Highemperor smiles coldly.

    Highemp: You have damned me to this life. Now I damn you to dishonorable death.

    And he stabs down.

    TLTA sees inevitable doom descending upon him, and does not flinch. Closing his eyes, he waits for the blade to fall. Seconds slow to hours, minutes into days, and then-


    Grizzled Male Voice: No.

    TLTA opens his eyes to see an old man, hooded in a rough-hewn brown robe: Charlie, the Old Man of Young Hill, who has caught Highemp's wrist. Highemp turns to glower at the old man, whose grip is aging but fast.

    Highemp: You! But- I- you- what? How?

    Charlie lowers his head sadly, before mustering the resolve to look up again.

    Charlie: I am - was - Highemp the Writer.

    TLTA's eyes widen, as do Highemperor's.

    Highemp: You - but you're dead!

    Charlie: *smiling with an infinite sadness* Yes, I am. I am not truly Highemp the Writer, but his last dream. The final, lingering hope. . . of a child?

    TLTA: Iriana?

    Charlie: *shaking his head* No. This one is a boy. An 8-year-old boy.

    Highemp and TLTA glance at each other.

    TLTA: Who?

    Charlie: This boy, all his life, determined to master the elements of time and the cosmos itself, for his sake, for the sake of all. At age eight, this mastery began to manifest itself. For his name meant "helper of mankind", and that was his first, last dream.

    Highemp: To help mankind?

    Charlie: To help himself.

    TLTA: What happened to him?

    Charlie: The boy. . . *he pauses to exhale* The boy died. In pain and suffering he bore a silent storm which killed him and rose him from the ashes as a man, a dark phoenix reborn from fire into death, not life. He robed himself in black, layered his heart in blood and ink, and swore never to let himself be hurt again, swore to change the world!

    Highemp: Who. . . who was this boy?

    . . . though he has a sinking feeling he already knows.

    Charlie: You, Highemperor. You.

    You. You. You. The words echo mockingly through the trees. The Sepulchral Phantom, over on the hill, is silent and unmoving. It is now TLTA's turn to laugh.

    TLTA: Okay? So what? What does this have to do with anything now, other than to cement Highemperor as a tragic hero? *this last said with scorn*

    Charlie lays a hand aside Highemperor's shoulder, whispering to him. TLTA overhears.

    Charlie: My son, let go. Be vulnerable. Hurt. It is the price of love.

    Highemp: I. . . can't.

    TLTA: *staring hard at Charlie* Who are you? Really?

    Charlie turns to gaze at TLTA, then lets out an inhuman bellow, and the wind speaks with him.

    Charlie: I am the last hope of a child, the last dream of a first fever, the first nothing of a final wish. I am- *his voice changing, becoming old and feeble once more* broken.

    Highemp: What?

    TLTA: *understanding* He's broken, Highemperor. He's tried everything to let you see. But you refuse to see. His own heart and soul refuse to let go. Only the story matters, the character-driven story, in which we all are the writers and the participants. But you - you hold on to a hopeless dream.

    Highemperor is silent for a moment, then gives a cry - and STABS Charlie through the heart. A whirlwind surrounds the old man, ink and blood flowing together into the rain and wind, disintegrating his form, as he decomposes instantly. When the debris clears, there is nothing left.

    TLTA: *in horror* Highemperor?!

    Highemperor says nothing, but turns away and walks to his own grave. A semicircular ring of phantoms, including and all identical to the Sepulchral Phantom, stands before him. They regard him silently and the silence is more terrible than any words. . .

    Highemperor: Let me pass.

    Phantoms: *simultaneously* We do not bar your way.

    Highemperor turns toward TLTA, and smiles. The first, true, genuine smile he has ever seen upon that hardened chiseled face. He then walks forward, THROUGH the phantom's form, as though it truly is an intangible phantom.

    TLTA blinks, the wind blows, and Highemperor is gone. But the phantoms remain.


    TLTA: Why do you stay?

    Sepulchral Phantom: For you. You have the option to dream his dream, once and for all eternity.

    TLTA: What is in there, behind your cloak?

    Sepulchral Phantom: A never-ceasing river of light. Everlasting torment in blood. *shrugs* Does it matter?

    TLTA considers, making his decision. He can never come back. Then he realizes - he doesn't want to. Let someone else - even another TLTE - become the Answerer. He has suffered enough.

    He walks through the cloaks. . .

    and he is a boy once more, and there is Losien, hugging him, and they ran to join all their friends, and they were all laughing laughing


    -----

    END CHAPTER II

    OOC: Chapter III will begin shortly. Neither Highemperor nor TLTA can technically come back, though I suppose we can always find a way around that technicality if we need to. I just thought as Highemp and TLTE are both so intent on forcing the story to their individual needs (tragic heroism and honorable villainy, respectively), that they should realize their mistakes and repent.

    TLTE, if you take exception to this, let me know, and we'll work to change this. Aelychana@excite.com

    Thanks.



    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  35. #35
    (No no, Highemperor, that was excellent. A fitting end to such a saga...or was it the end? Who knows yet? For now, though, I am content to take it in a new direction...)

    Chapter 3 - The Lost and the Potential

    *Page 7,239 of NeSquared. In a lost cavern beneath the earth's crust, barely lit by the intermittent flickering of a number of torches, a body of several hundred people are assembled. Aside from slight differences - clothing, scarring, weight - the figures assembled are all identical. They are in fact, clones; clones of the NeS Russian spy known as The Last True Evil. The normally confident TLTEs are presently gossiping and bickering, however, as the manner of their assembly was tarnished by grim rumours. Eventually, a TLTE in ceremonial robes and official in stance climbs up to higher ground in the cavern and calls for silence.*

    TLTE-in-Chief: Greetings, one and all...my brothers, I must begin this emergency meeting by confirming the rumours you have heard - the TLTE known as The Answerer, leader of us all, is missing and presumed dead.

    *Shocked and awed reactions from the crowd.*

    TLTE-in-Chief: However, it would appear that Highemperor, the bane of all of our stories, has similarly met his end, so The Answerer's sacrifice was not in vain.

    *There are dissenting and assenting murmurs. The loss of their beloved leader, the most devoted among them to the cause of destroying Highemperor, is a major blow to the unifying thread that connects them all. Had the TLTEs known The Answerer's final thoughts, and his repentance to Highemperor, they might find themselves even more disarrayed.*

    TLTE-in-Chief: However, there remains much to be done in this shattered world, my brothers! Despite the gnawing threat of another Highemperor appearing, we must now turn our attention back to Gebohq.

    *Mixed feelings again. The assembled TLTEs are from hundreds of possible storylines; they know Gebohq individually as anything from a patriarchal saint to the lowest form of street scum. None of them, however, have met this late incarnation of Gebohq - an organised, lawfully evil antagonist.*

    TLTE-in-Chief: We come to the end of a long period in NeS history; a movement, an age, is passing. We now must unite together with a new bond, a new hope or we are lost to anarchy and self-doubt. I therefore suggest you make me the new Answerer and-

    *A harsh rasp of a laugh emanates suddenly throughout the chamber. The TLTE-in-Chief jumps, startled, then casts about angrily for the origin.*

    TLTE-in-Chief: What is this?

    *In response, a figure steps out from the shadows and strides through the crowd, clapping.*

    Figure: Excellent speech, my friend. The mark of a real leader. Or a good liar.

    *The man is undeniably a TLTE, but of all of the TLTEs assembled he looks the most different. His frame is leaner, thinner, and he is dressed in a black tunic. His skin is an ash-white hue, his pale lips turned upward in a mocking sneer. Absently his hand brushes against a long metal cylinder by his side as he mounts the head platform.

    TLTE-in-Chief: My God...where are you from?

    Figure: Nowhere you'd know, assuredly. "A galaxy far far away", you might say...

    *As if this were the punchline to a terrific joke, the Figure throws his head back and laughs his terrible laugh again. The air of tension in the cavern grows considerably.*

    TLTE-in-Chief: Guards! Eject this fool from the proceedings...

    *Two bulky TLTEs stride forward to grab the unwanted intruder from behind, but as they approach him, their eyes suddenly bulge and they fall to their knees, grasping at their throats. The Figure continues looking straight ahead, but he grins crookedly at the TLTE-in-Chief.*

    TLTE-in-Chief: What are you, some kind of witch doctor?

    Figure: Nothing so tacky. You might say...I am a priest. A practitioner of a faith.

    *He stands now at the centre of the platform, in traditional challenge of the speaker.*

    Figure: You said it yourself, good sir. We are approaching the "end of an age". We...our brothers...we must all put our faith in a unity that will bind us, strengthen us and hold us to our purpose!

    *The crowd starts to nod and whisper in approval.*

    Figure: Look at us! We are the Last True Evils in a world that has forgotten the meaning of power! Of structure! Of worthiness! Too long have we embraced the weak, inept teachings of a vocal minority - the so-called "good" among us. They say we should forsake our very names, our birthright, and become faces in the crowd; and I say NEVER AGAIN!

    *The crowd roar, surprising even themselves.*

    Figure: NEVER AGAIN will we deny what we KNOW ourselves to be! NEVER AGAIN will we let the tyranny of the weak rule over the pride of the strong! And NEVER AGAIN will we lose our grip on the throne of power that we have ALWAYS deserved!

    *The cavern echoes in jubilant cheers and applause. The body of TLTEs is once again united and feels at peace with itself at long last. The TLTE-in-Chief, however, realises that he has one final chance to defeat the upstart Figure, by publicly humiliating him.*

    TLTE-in-Chief: Now see here-

    *He roughly grasps the Figure's shoulder and is suddenly flung into the air, suspended ten feet above the ground, invisible hands holding him by his throat. Coughing and sputtering, he claws at his neck. The ecstacy of thrill that erupted through the crowd moments earlier is replaced by a total silence and almost tangible fear. The Figure now looks up at the TLTE-in-Chief with naked fury and contempt.*

    Figure: INSECT! How dare you raise your hand to me, you pathetic MAGGOT!

    *The TLTE-in-Chief struggles vainly in the air, in front of a grim, staring crowd. He tries to force words out of his mouth, which echo ominously in the chamber.*

    TLTE-in-Chief: ...demon....demon...

    Figure: No, so much more than a demon...for I-

    *He raises his hand, and the TLTE-in-Chief starts spinning madly in mid-air-*

    Figure: Control-

    *The TLTE-in-Chief is spinning so fast he is beginning to blur...suddenly, as if he is throwing a stone, the Figure's raised arm drops to the ground, and screaming, the TLTE-in-Chief spirals down to a violent impact with the unforgiving cavern floor. Their is a sharp crack, then absolute silence.*

    Figure: ...the Force.

    *Casting a final, disdainful look at the mangled heap of blood and bone, the Figure begins to pace.*

    Figure: Brothers, hear me! I come from a land far from here, answering the call for leadership! I was known as Darth Vice there, and here my name will stay! I am, however, filling the position of Answerer, and will lead you to absolute control of this world...

    *He stops, gazing out on his fellow TLTEs. They are all clones of him, so they all unknowingly share his special talents.*

    Darth Vice: Follow me, and we will destroy Gebohq and finish his ambition of cementing NeShattered as the dominant story! Follow me, and Highemperor, if he ever rises again, will be swiftly crushed! Follow me, and re-assume the title of The Last True Evil!

    *For a moment, nothing happens.

    Then, exactly in time, the assembled TLTEs begin to kneel...*

    (So what do we all think? I know, I know...but my reasoning is this; if ever we could bring a cliche into a serious story and make it work, it would have to be Star Wars. I mean, SW is indirectly responsible for all of this, right? If anyone is absolutely against it, then let me know, but we have all, at one time or another, written SW stories, so we have proven ourselves competent. Besides, don't let this new development change EVERYTHING. Just factor it in, is all...)
    Last edited by Gebohq; 06-26-2006 at 11:33 PM.

  36. #36
    Far beneath the earth, situated in an unknown crevice under Manhattan, lies a flaw in the space-time continuum. Call it a fold, or a wrinkle, or a rip, or anything you like. The fact remains that it is there, and that is unbreachable by any normal means.

    There is however a way into it, and that it is by keying any plot hole to the access code for a specific white-plothole-portal inside the rift and then surviving the stresses of the passage through it.

    This white portal opens up into a mysterious subway - the Endless Waystation, controlled by writers, and only by writers, that connects to any story in the universe.

    There is currently a lower-status writer standing guard, as another one, a young man, steps through the portal.

    This new arrival, by the name of Alexan, has slightly pale but hearty features, and his clothing is covered with a glossy black cloak.


    Alexan: *to guard writer* Hey, Lauraleth, they put you on guard duty today?

    Lauraleth: *saluting* Yes, sir. They also put me on narration duty for the Demesne, since no narrators, gods, or anyone are allowed there.

    Alexan: Excellent. Carry on.

    Alexan gets in the subway train, which carts him across realities. He comes to Page 3 of NeShattered (NOT NeS), which is a haven for the Tribunal, a council of three writers that are the forces behind character-driven stories.

    Alexan is one of them. The other two are Erronem and Phoenix. . .


    -----

    NSP: Sorry, gotta run, I'll edit this in about 30 minutes to add more to it.

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  37. #37
    Hi, everyone, this is Lauraleth narrating for the Demesne, as stated before, since no narrators, gods, etc., are allowed within.

    This is page 3 of NeShattered, reachable only through the Endless Waystation - for now. Until the story of NeShattered is written unto page three, that is.

    Alexan gets off the subway and heads for the Demesne. Ah, the Demesne. Home of the Tribunal. It is constructed of bricks forged from the souls of the mightiest characters of all time - archetypes such as Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, Hercules, Gilgamesh, etc.

    For the members of the Tribunal represent all the potential characters and writers and forces for a particular person, each person of the Tribunal representing one of three visionary principles.

    Phoenix: Progenitor of the potential that is The Last True Evil, and rebirth of death and dreams.

    Erronem: Progenitor of the potential that is Gebohq, and balance.

    Alexan: Progenitor of the potential that is Highemperor, and the passion of character.

    The latter, Alexan, still wrapped in his glossy black cloak, walks into the Demesne, and takes his place at the Tribunal. Here decisions are made that affect the neverending fabric of the very cosmos itself.


    Erronem: Welcome back, Alexan.

    Phoenix: Indeed.

    Alexan: *nodding* Thank you, both. But we have far more important matters to discuss. . .

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  38. #38
    Nearby the Lazarus Citadel, there is a portal, a portal that reaches into the depths of Hell itself, hidden by a small, dead forest. The portal was unstable, like the shattered thread itself, but it was there none the less, and until recently, was guarded by Hell's strongest forces. Within the squared thread of NeS, however, what appeared to be some type of family feud in Hell arose. Helebon, who claims to be Jim7's father, fought in attempt to rule Hell for himself. He only succeeded in claiming the Black Fortress, however, before being defeated. However, Helebon managed to sneak into the Black Fortress and enter the portal. Jim7 had followed him though, but knocked his head upon a tree brach and woke later, looking about himself, and jump back through the portal.

    Helebon is now approaching the Lazarus Citadel, a large, toothy grin spread across his face.


    Helebon: ALL OF THE NEVER-ENDING STORY WILL SOON BE MINE! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA--

    Voice: I think not, demon.

    Helebon whips around to see a man clad in dark attire and autumn hair.

    Helebon: Gebohq! I expected you to be here. Where's your band of heroes to stop me, or do you foolishly think you have a chance to defeat me alone?

    Geb: I believe you are mistaken. I am a villian.

    Helebon: I won't fall for your tricks, defender of NeS! Prepare to fight!

    Geb: I don't think you understand. You are not in NeS.

    Helebon: What?

    Geb: This is a shattered thread, one that diverged after page 50 of NeS. I am now ruler and villian of this thread. There is nothing you wish to have here.

    Helebon: I don't believe you!

    Geb: Fine. Conquor this thread if you wish. To stop you would be against my purpose as a villian. But tell me first, if you will: how did you enter this thread? I have never been able to enter Hell myself for a thousand years now, despite my best efforts to find a way.

    Helebon: There's a portal in those woods that leads to the Black Fortress, once guarded by the most powerful forces of Hell. My recent attack on it has made it weak still. What is it to you?

    Geb: You said you wanted to conquor NeS, and presumably, Hell in the process, correct, Mr...?

    Helebon: I am Helebon, Jim7's father, and rightful ruler of Hell. And yes...

    Geb: What if I helped you in your conquest for power, Helebon? I can weild the power of NeS for your benefit.

    Helebon: What's in it for you?

    Geb: I wish to deal with my counterpart. Personally. So... do we have a deal?

    Gebohq offers his hand. Helebon considers for a moment, then his wicked smile spreds as he shakes it.

    Helebon: It's a deal. Right this way...

    Gebohq and Helebon walk back into the dead woods, Gebohq writing notes down in a piece of paper. He smiles as he writes down "3.14."

    [This message has been edited by Gebohq (edited January 31, 2004).]
    Featured ISB thread: The Never-ending Story Thread^2

  39. #39
    Inside the Demesne, the Tribunal is discussing matters amongst themselves.

    Erronem: Yes, we do have much to discuss.

    Each has a simple manila folder in front of them, on the the triangular table they sit around. Other tables of the same build are pushed to the walls. It should be noted that the Demesne was at one point home to a number of Potentials. Now, with the unification of all stories by Highemperor with his Lazarus Citadel, and its subsequent shattering, only these three, known as the Tribunal, call the Demesne home. Whether such a domain can be found elsewhere is unknown, and, as it stands, irrelevant. These three Potentials remain as the core of this precarious story.

    Phoenix: Here we have access to all the NeS, for we know exactly what is going to happen, in the past and present as well as the future.

    Erronem: True, and all of the alternate NeS's as well, yet there is one limitation: NeShattered. As it has become a story in its own right, and our power base, we do not know what will happen in its future.

    Alexan: *shaking head* You are wrong, old friend. I know.

    Erronem: What? You. . . know what will happen in this thread?

    Phoenix: Sounds suspiciously like the powerplaying characteristic coming out again within you, Alexan.

    Alexan: *shrugs* Perhaps. Mayhap not. The fact remains that I do know what will happen in this thread, and I have come to share it with you.

    Phoenix: By all means, enlighten us then.

    Erronem: *placing a hand on Phoenix's shoulder* Peace, friend. But Alexan, please do tell us.

    Alexan: As you know, we have synthesized the purposes of the NeS by uniting into this Tribunal. Language by necessity reflects man's archetypal tendencies - because of its innate and intuitive symbolism - rather than his rationality; therefore, we have made the Never-ending Stories a polynomic mode of communication with multiple meanings and layers of meaning, rather than trying to narrow it down, fruitlessly, to one.

    Erronem: Yes, and?

    Alexan: Well, as your character noted, Phoenix, through my writer, the characters give the story worth; a polynomic, character-driven story is made worthy by the worth of the characters within it.

    Phoenix: Obviously, but what-?

    He pauses as he looks at Erronem, then stays silent.

    Alexan: Worth is the dynamism of the cosmos that causes characters-slash-stories-slash-Potentials such as ourselves to gravitate towards something.

    Erronem and Phoenix exchange glances.

    Erronem: A good philosophical point, but what is its bearing on the matter at hand?

    Alexan: This dynamism motivates us to what we perceive as worthy. I move that we cleanse the doors of perception for all humanity - transforming potential into actuality!

    Phoenix: That would undermine our entire purpose.

    Alexan: And fulfill the entire purpose of the universe.

    Erronem: Alexan, to bring up something that Phoenix surely will--

    Alexan: I know. But you must trust me.

    Erronem: I do trust you. But why should anyone else?

    Alexan throws off his glossy black cloak, revealing caped robes of pure white light beneath, clasped at the neck with a flaming starcross of silvridescence and golden fire. The light shines not of power but of passion and hope.

    Alexan: Because I am the passion of character, living in this potential ever-constantly, never-ceasingly. I have bathed in the bloodink of the pool in the Sanctum Lazari and seen the same cosmos which Highemperor saw, but in an entirely different and altogether worthier light.

    He cloaks himself once more, and the blinding light ceases.

    Erronem: You bathed in the bloodink?

    Alexan: A great risk, I know, but there is more. I have reconciled Makayla with Mareth, faith with doubt, hope with disappointment, love with hate - but only in my own soul. Now I seek to do the same to the ether of all that is, a task great for even me. However, Morthrandur - the Sepulchral Phantom, wishes otherwise, and will keep me from fufilling the task. What do you have to say? Will you help me?

    Erronem: It sounds a worthy cause, but-

    Alexan: *pouncing upon the word* Exactly! Worthy! Worth defines us, motivates us. Who can argue against it?

    Phoenix: I for one cannot, it seems. Perhaps, Erronem, we should consider this?

    Alexan: Wait, there is more to what I have discovered.

    Erronem: More, you say?

    Alexan: Yes. *opens his manila folder and slides two copies of a file over to his compatriots*

    The file, marked simply 'Morthrandur' tells of diabolical plots and means and aims.

    Alexan: The shards of the NeS fall amongst many fertile seeds. All of the forces of the NeS, in the future, add to the creation of the NeSummoner, who wields the NeS. Gebohq will contribute his soul. However, as Morthrandur has stepped in, the reckoning will happen sooner.

    Phoenix: Morthrandur's stepped in personally?

    Alexan: Yes. Into the Squared Neverending thread. With the Shattered Gebohq. He intends to force our hand into designating an NeSummoner, and he hopes for the NeSummoner to be his own Shattered Gebohq, INSTEAD of the UGO Mastermind coming in and revealing to the heroes that the NeS was originally created as part of his own master plan.

    Erronem: But the UGO Mastermind will be defeated when the heroes counter that NeS has become a force on its own.

    Phoenix: Not anymore. If Morthrandur has its way, the UGO Mastermind will never enter the picture, much less be defeated, and there will be no story.

    Alexan: Helebon and the Seven Deadly NeSins will be defeated ONLY if the true Geb becomes the NeSummoner. He has a strong will. But I fear for him. I fear for the survival of NeS.

    Erronem: Like it or not, NeS is only one story. Our duties lie toward them all.

    Alexan: Our DUTIES lie toward compassion!

    Phoenix: We agree, Alexan, it is merely the means that eludes us.

    Alexan: *exhaling slowly* Yes. . . very well. Anyway, Morthrandur intends to doom all souls and all stories and God Himself to its final death.

    Erronem: How does he-

    Alexan: It.

    Erronem: -plan to do this?

    Alexan: By operating from the center of the Shattered Universe: NeShattered itself. It plans to create a champion warrior and rule from the end of NeShattered. His palace is a pyramid under a lake of fire on the last page of NeShattered. There is no way to it except by writing to the last page of NeShattered.

    Erronem: Then write we must. How do we defeat Morthrandur?

    Alexan: Only by creating out of the passion of character, of life, and not destroying.

    The Potentials all nod in recognition.

    Erronem: This will be difficult, but we are with you. Together with faith. . .

    Alexan: With hope. . .

    Phoenix: With love. . .

    Alexan: Shall potential be fufilled.

    (NOTE FROM GEB: Did some editing. Be warned: Mod-man will not "clean up" after you without doing some redecorating of his own.)

    ------------------
    Quest on epic adventures or duel at the High Citadel!

    [This message has been edited by Highemperor (edited February 02, 2004).]

    [This message has been edited by Gebohq (edited February 02, 2004).]
    Visit my all-new website, the [url=http://com3.runboard.com/blazaruscitadel]Lazarus Citadel[/url!

  40. #40
    A ringing is heard. Phoenix takes out his cellphone.

    Phoenix: Hello... yes.............. I see... thank you.

    Phoenix hangs up, turning to the others.

    Phoenix: We must advance our plans. The NeS cast has been transported to the 8th dimension, Morthrandur included. Darth Vice has also risen, and will no doubt make this thin thread even more tangled.

    Alexan: Ah, nothing like a change of plans. We better run if we want to make the next train at the Endless Waystation.

    Erronem: Shadowlord...

    Out of one of the dark corners of the room, Shadowlord steps towards Erronem.

    Erronem: You know what to do.

    Shadowlord: I do?

    Erronem: I'm sure you'll figure it out. Come with us.

    Shadowlord: Here I thought there'd be more answers...

    Erronem: The questions have simply come full circle. NeShattered has now begun weaving itself with the main thread.

    Shadowlord: That made SO little sense.

    Erronem smiles, and the four of them exit the room.

    END OF CHAPTER 3.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 06-27-2006 at 01:04 AM.

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