Welcome to Imaginary Realities' mythic memoirs. Each month you will find here
a new story; tales of astonishing adventure, daring deeds, surprising success
or terrible tragedy - the stuff of myth and legend.
Your story is kept in here for posterity.
As is to be expected, our narratives are connected in some way to muds.
Some are real epic adventures that actually happened on a MUD, recounted
in a grand style. Others might be taller tales based on MUD events or
merely inspired by a MUD world.
Yet, these stories do not simply leap forth, fully formed. No, these are
your stories, sent in by you so that your words and deeds will
live forever rather than fade into obscurity. This means this column will
die a rapid death if no one sends anything in... Here's your chance -
if you want us to continue presenting mud-fiction, contribute something.
It doesn't have to be a fully fledged, polished product - anything is
better than nothing and we can always work to give it a shine ourselves.
Last month, no one sent us a story. Not a whisper. In fact, if the feedback is to be believed, only one person actually read the column. I have heroically filled the breach myself, to provide another story this month - but I can not keep on doing this. Liberus Legendarum needs you!
This month's tale...
In October 1995, an LP mud called New Moon first ran an epic event as a Halloween special. The mud's main town was overrun with undead creatures that proceeded to slaughter everything in sight - NPC and player alike. Low level players were forced to flee, new players were warned to stay away and the rest of us had a whale of a time working out what was going on and battling the undead legions. I was there as a high level elemental mage and enjoyed myself immensely as we teamed up into huge fighting parties to kill the rampaging creatures, work out where they were coming from and how to stop them.
This month's tale is inspired by the events of that original Halloween epic. I have not used real characters names and I have not followed exactly what happened back then and how victory was won (not least because my memory is not that good.) I have instead tried to capture the atmosphere and emotion of what went on, following the thread of events without being shackled by it.
I hope you enjoy the result.
- Scatter ///\oo/\\\
by Scatter ///\oo/\\\
Leviatha has been fun, but it is not home and Alira approaches Heliopolis'
West Gate with a spring in her step. Her profits from Leviatha make
a pleasant weight at her hip and she recalls her trip with amusement.
The city of the plains had been one big gem; ripe for the taking. A place
where her face had been unknown, its inhabitants unwary - and Alira's
speciality is separating the unwary from their riches. Alira shrugs.
Ah well - when a city's guards begin setting traps just for you, it is
time to skip town. Thus she returns to her habitual haunt - the east
coast city of Heliopolis.
As the road brings her closer to the gate, Alira starts to watch for
the concealed path to the south that will take her secretly under
the walls. An instinctive awareness leads her attention back to the gate.
Something is wrong there. Passing her intended track, she clings to the
shadows at the edge of the road - moving closer to the gate. The West
Gate stands open, as is normal for this time of the morning, but where
are the guards? The gate house seems deserted.
No guards means no reason to avoid entering through the gate. Alira's
unease increases as she passes between the high turrets onto Main
Street. Where is everyone? Unsettled, Alira abandons the road for the
relative safety of the rooftops. From this vantage she can see further
but the sights are not reassuring. The bustling market that throngs
every day in Trader's Walk is missing. There are beggars' corpses in
the gutter - not that dead beggars are unusual for Heliopolis but these
look a fair bit more bloody than is normal.
Alira flits across the rooftops, heading south along Trader's Walk. There
are more bodies in the streets and not beggars this time - ordinary city
folk, faces she recognizes. Men, women, shopkeepers - even guards. Has
there been an invasion? An army of the Sect from the swamps? If so, where
are the victors partying?
Market Street comes into view and Alira catches sight of someone moving
at the far end. She hurries to catch them - perhaps they can explain
what has happened, give some clues. As she gets closer, she slows and
then stops, watching. That is not a human shape - not quite. And it is
not moving as a person does. She watches the creature enter the music
shop - simply by crashing through the closed door. There are sounds
from within and Alira drops deftly into the street for a better view.
The shopkeeper is screaming curses at the creature, beseeching
the gods to strike it down. The creature seems confused, bemused, and
turns clumsily bringing down a rack of instruments. This is too much
for the shopkeeper. He grabs a club from behind the counter and
charges, battering the invader. The creature ignores his attacks and
plucks him effortlessly into the air. Before Alira's horrified eyes,
the creature tears the shopkeeper apart and throws the gory remains
into the street.
This is not on - not in my town. Alira considers the creature
as it lumbers slowly out of the shop. Ok, I am not the soul of virtue
and maybe I do prey upon these people myself and yes I have even killed
some of them. But I am what they made me and this is my home. Whatever
you are, you do not belong here and no one should kill profitable
shopkeepers like that in my town. I am no warrior, but I know my craft.
The element of surprise is all I need.
As the creature emerges onto the street, Alira is already moving. It
seems slow and dimwitted and Alira has no trouble circling it and
approaching unseen from the rear. Her trusty knife, Blade, slips
silently into her hand. She steps forward and strikes, driving her
weapon deep into the creature's heart. There is no resistance to her
thrust - Blade slips into the creature as though it were butter.
Alira steps back but her triumph dies before it even began. The creature
turns towards her, unaffected by its wound.
It steps from the shade and with the sun full upon it, Alira begins to
realize the true nature of her chosen enemy. It was human, once. Now
it looks dead, long dead. Rotten flesh barely clings to mottled bone,
putrid juices ooze from many gashes and wounds. Undead, Alira
realizes in horror. How do you kill something that is already dead? And
Retreating, Alira pulls two of her throwing knives from her belt. One
follows the other, cast at the creature in rapid succession. One direct
hit on the heart, one in the throat. The creature does not even seem to
notice them. Alira feels her mouth go dry and her stomach tremble as
the creature approaches. You can not hit it, the unfortunate shopkeeper
demonstrated that. Stabbing it does not seem to do much. I am faster but
it is far stronger.
Sidestepping the creature, Alira brings Blade around in a vicious
arc. The knife slashes through the sloppy flesh of the creatures arm and
between the bones of its elbow. The creatures forearm drops to the cobbles
and Alira smiles maliciously at her success. Movement on the stump of the
creatures arm holds her attention and her smile quickly fades. The flesh
is crawling, moving, growing. "No!" she breathes as the arm regenerates.
"That is not fair!" But her attention has been held too long and a
ponderous swing of the creatures other arm catches her off guard. The
force of the blow slams her heavily into the shop wall, hard enough to
blast the breath from her body and make her head ring. The impact shakes
loose a roof tile, which shatters explosively on the cobblestones.
The creature approaches but despite being winded, Alira is not staying
still. She rolls to one side, slashing out again. This time Blade
slices through the creature's knee and as the noisome flesh parts, the
creature topples. It hits the wall itself with a hefty crash and once
again a roof tile comes loose - this time it snags at the lip of the
roof and stops, dangling. Alira catches her breath as she spots
the large, sharp-edged tile hanging over the creature. In one fluid motion
she draws a third throwing knife and sends it speeding upwards. Her aim
is true. As the creature rises, the tile falls.
Perfect! The putrescent head rolls into the road, severed neatly by
the tile; its body slumps to the floor. "Cymoc is with me," Alira
whispers, awed at her luck. She lingers, suspiciously watching the
fallen creature. Is it going to grow a new head? She turns her gaze
to its head. Or a new body? When it shows no sign of doing either, Alira
quickly scales the northern building, returning to the safety of
Hearing a commotion to the north, Alira heads that way - springing
nimbly from building to building along Pebblestone Avenue. She
quickly finds the cause of the noise - a city guard is engaged in
desperate battle with a skeleton. Undead! Has the city been overrun
with them? Alira sighs, watching. The skeleton has a sword - ancient
and well rusted, but apparently still very effective and its lack of
flesh does not seem to stop it using the weapon with consummate skill.
What use knives against a skeleton? Nothing to stab, nothing to slash even
if I could get past that flashing sword. Alira hesitates. A city guard -
one of those I have fought myself, many times. Yet this is my city too,
and guard or not, at least he is human. Remembering her previous success,
Alira decides to try a similar tactic on the skeleton. As the guard's
faltering defense brings the combatants below her, she takes a flying
leap from the roof - crashing down onto the skeleton's back.
The boney creature staggers, off-balance. Alira tangles her legs with its
and the two crash to the ground. She grabs the animated skull and tries to
twist it off, but the unearthly force empowering it is too strong for her.
The skeleton thrashes and Alira cries out at a shock of pain from her left
arm. Clinging on with all her strength, she brings Blade to bear
on the bony neck, forcing its needle-sharp point between the bones.
Suddenly a blue-white flash and thunderous bang throws the fighters apart.
Alira instinctively rolls as she hits the cobbles; hearing Blade
ring on the stones further away and a clattering of bones from the
skeleton. As she cautiously rises to take stock, she finds the skeleton
lifeless, its skull lying several feet from its body. Retrieving
Blade, she finds her favorite weapon is glowing with a soft
blue light. Alira laughs softly. I did it! She punches the air
The movement sends a sharp pain through her left arm. It is bleeding
freely from a slash from the skeleton's sword and seeing her own injury
reminds her of the hapless guard. He is lying on the ground, half
against the wall. He is looking Alira's way but seems to take little
interest in the skeleton's demise. Moving closer, she realizes the
guard is seeing nothing at all - her rescue was too late, his wounds
too deep. Her mood turning grim, Alira takes a sash from his uniform
and binds her own wound.
Reluctant to climb with a bad arm, Alira presses on towards the town
square on the ground but caution keeps her to the shadows. As she
nears the edge of the square, movement ahead makes her reflexively
freeze. Who... or what? As the three figures become clear, she heaves
a sigh of relief - tension draining from her body. At last! Kal, Luken
and Seia - real people who will know what has happened and who probably
would not try to kill her.
Alira steps from the shadows and the three immediately react aggressively.
"Hey, wait! It is me!" she calls and to her relief they relax a little.
Kal eyes her over, the big mage obviously still ready to cast in her
direction. "Look, I have already killed a disgusting zombie creature,
shattered a skeleton and seen lots of fairly gross corpses," Alira
continues, "I just want to know what is going on."
"Alira?" Luken, at least, recognizes her. The warrior seems as
strong and handsome as ever, though sporting a number of fresh cuts
and bruises. "I thought you were out of town."
Kal finally relaxes. "You killed a zombie and a
skeleton?" he asks, "how did a lowly thief manage that?"
Alira tries to ignore the dripping sarcasm. "Skill," she replies
flippantly, then admitting ruefully "and a lot of luck."
"You are hurt", Seia announces, breaking her silence. Alira has
never gotten on very well with Seia - it seems her day-to-day business
does not go down to well with the highly principled priestess. Seia
takes Alira's arm and murmurs a prayer to herself. Then she unwraps the
makeshift bandage and Alira touches her healed skin with surprise.
Seia smiles, wryly. "Cymoc must favor you today."
Kal insists on knowing how Alira achieved her victories, and she
quickly relates her battles. Kal is fascinated by Blade's new
glow and after examining it he announces that the knife has somehow
absorbed the magic that had been empowering the skeleton. Alira smiles.
"I always knew Blade was something special."
Eventually, Luken fills her in on the state of the town. "The undead
seemed to come out of nowhere - zombies and skeletons. They rampaged
through the city, killing everyone left and right. The guards were
utterly unprepared to deal with them and they fell like flies - the
ordinary folk have either fled, died, or barricaded themselves
inside their houses."
"We are trying to restore order," Seia continues, "We have got several
teams working through the city and most of the undead are destroyed.
Just a few stragglers like those you encountered have slipped through.
The remainder are bottled in the northeast quarter."
"We are heading there now," Kal adds, then trails off with a distant
expression. Alira gets the feeling he is listening to something only
he can hear. "We have to get to the park," he announces, confirming
her suspicions. "Apparently the undead are coming from a hole that
has appeared there, in the ground."
As the three move out, Alira tags along. Far safer to be with those
three, even if they are heading into battle. On route, they
encounter several more zombies and skeletons but Kal and Luken between
them easily despatch the undead. Seia treats the wounds they receive
and Alira watches the effortless teamwork with disquiet. I am
superfluous here, she realizes, but she can not bring herself to
depart and hole up somewhere until it is all over. I will see it through,
she decides, it seems safe enough with them.
The group reach the park. Here, undead are numerous and many people are
heroically battling them. Among them are many notable heros of the city -
warriors, mercenaries and mages of the Academy and College of Twilight.
To Alira's surprise even a few members of the Dark Sect are dispatching
undead, using their unique perspective to great effect. The normally
neat lawns are awash with blood and strewn with bodies and bones from
Kal brings them to a halt and bids them all stand still. A muttered
spell and Alira feels the air thicken around her, forming a semi-solid
shield over her skin. Thus protected, Luken leads them into combat
in the direction Kal indicates. Quickly they are surrounded on all sides
by friends and foe, the warrior and mage working in tandem to dispatch
the uncoordinated zombies and skeletons. Through her prayers, Seia
invokes Cymoc to keep the undead from encroaching to the rear and Alira
manages to make a contribution to the fight, distracting opponents to
let Luken or Kal get in a killing strike.
After what seems like an age, the four reach the lip of a ragged hole
in the ground. "We must enter," decrees Kal. "The source of the
invasion is inside and the defenders cannot hold much longer." Luken,
Kal and Seia jump down into the darkness without hesitation and
Alira automatically follows. Only as they march into the darkness
does she begin to wonder if she would have been better off sticking with
the fight outside.
The tunnel is short; soon it opens out into a cavern within which
another battle is raging. Eerie light from air born mage-spells
flickers over the fight and Alira shivers, feeling all her hair
stand on end. Fighting the town's defenders are not just zombies
and skeletons. Swallowing, Alira fights a strong impulse to flee.
Within the melee are vampires, swooping on victim after victim,
ignoring wounds from mere steel.
As the four prepare to join the fight, a trio of wraiths come
screaming down upon them and only Seia's instinctive response
prevents their chilling touch. She raises her amulet of office and
Cymoc's holy power blazes through it to drive the wraiths aside.
Terrified, Alira cowers against Seia.
Luken assesses the battle with assured skill. "We cannot win this,
here," he says grimly. Kal agrees but suggests they press on.
"The source of their power cannot be far away now," he explains.
"If we can destroy that, we will not need to win here."
So saying, he leads off across the cavern. The alternative being
to be left alone against the gruesome horde, Alira stays with the
group. What am I doing? Why didn't I stay in Leviatha? Why
didn't I go hide somewhere? I can add nothing here, I am no warrior,
no mage, no fighter. Hell, I am bad myself - no kind of hero.
Kal and Luken cut a path through the melee, not so much fighting the
enemy as shunting them aside. Somehow the group reaches the other
side of the cavern intact and they pause just long enough for Seia's
prayers to address their injuries. A tunnel leads out of the cavern,
dark and foreboding. Kal begins to cast a light spell but recognizing it,
Alira stops him. At last, a chance to be useful! "Better to enter
unseen," she says, "And surprise is on our side."
Luken agrees, and Alira takes the lead as they enter the tunnel.
Her heart pounding loudly in her ears, she picks the way silently
through the gloom with the others following as best they can. A
noise ahead triggers her honed instincts and at her hushed signal
they flatten against the wall. A group of mismatched zombies
and skeletons hurry clumsily past to join the chaos in the cavern.
Cautiously, Alira leads the group on. Finally the tunnel opens
out into a dimly lit chamber. First in line, Alira peers in and
is hit by an overpowering sense of evil. She recoils into the
tunnel, only able to shake her head at Kal's questioning glance.
Seia also has picked up the evil presence. She mouths the word
to the others. "Lich!" Alira remains pressed against the
shadowed wall, badly shaken. A lich??
"It is the source," Kal breathes, "We have to kill it." Luken
"A lich?! Kill it?" he whispers, "Are you mad?"
Seia steels herself. As priestess of Cymoc, all that she stands for
demands that she destroy such a powerhouse of evil. The lich
represents total opposition to the principles of Cymoc. "We must," she
whispers. "Cymoc is with us." So saying, she steps boldly into the
chamber. Kal and Luken exchange horrified glances but unable to let their
friend face death alone, they follow her inside. Only Alira remains,
trembling, in the tunnel.
Madness. They are insane. A lich?! One mage, one warrior, one priestess
against the personification of death itself? Three frail humans against
the greatest undead. We are doomed. We are all going to die. Alira struggles
with her fear but it is all she can do to stop herself fleeing in panic back
to the surface. She remains frozen in her hiding place.
>From within the chamber issues a clear voice, Seia's voice.
"Cymoc, Goddess of Light, hear my prayer.
Against forces of darkness, I invoke thee.
Against death and destruction, I invoke thee.
Against terror and chaos, I invoke thee.
Aid thy servant in thy will, Cymoc, I invoke thee."
A soft light begins to radiate from the chamber, it is touch calming
and reassuring. Alira breathes easier, but only for a moment. Another
voice issues forth, making her skin crawl.
"Ahhh. Whatss thiss?" it hisses, "a rightiouss little priesstesss with
two brave little friendsss." Alira shudders, cursing the fear that
immobilizes her. Three friends, she adds to herself, three brave little
friends... But she cannot bring herself to step forward and speak the
words. "Thisss sshould be... briefly entertaining," the voice of the Lich
concludes, oozing confidence. Then, a little startled, "What?"
Seia's whisper carries to Alira's keen ears. "Cymoc has bound it to
this place," she tells Kal and Luken. "It cannot retreat to its home
realm but it is up to us to destroy it."
"So mote it be." Kal's voice. Alira can picture the mage's stony,
determined expression in her mind. The sounds of battle commenced
beat at her conscience. The orange glow of fire flickers into the
tunnel accompanied by the sound of Kal's fireball exploding. Luken's
battle cry and subsequent shout of pain. Seia's determined prayer,
beseeching Cymoc to protect them. A blue-white flash and a crack of
thunder, Kal's pained cry this time.
Unable to endure the sounds of her friends battling for their lives,
Alira forces herself to look again into the chamber. The lich is tall
and foul, skeletal, with tatters of skin and robe hanging from
the shriveled flesh over its bony frame. A raw blue glow surrounds it
and the powerful wave of evil rolling from it is nauseating. Luken and
Kal are still standing, though visibly hurt and weakened. As Alira
watches, Luken strikes again at the Lich but his mighty sword is easily
shunted aside by the light surrounding it. A flick of its arm and Luken
is flung backwards as though struck with a huge hammer. Behind them,
Seia has sunk to her knees. The divine light of Cymoc shines within her
and through her but the harsh glow of the Lich seems to sear it away.
It is toying with them, Alira realizes, it could kill each of them instantly
if it wished. And Seia... she knows she has lead them to their deaths,
she knows. Looking at Seia again, Alira feels the soft glow of Cymoc's
holy power suffusing her. Slowly, her terror subsides, replaced by a
steely calm. Kal's declaration again rings in her mind, "So mote it
be." We are dead anyway, perhaps this way it will at least be quick.
Alira draws Blade, finding its familiar fit in her hand is
comforting despite its new glow. Its glow. The glow of the knife is
the same color as the Lich's shield - the glow that came from the undead
skeleton. The Lich is practically a skeleton, is not it? And undead... I
wonder, I wonder.
For a long moment, she hesitates. Kal's anguished cry as the Lich
effortlessly deflects another spell spurs her to action. Hugging the chamber
wall, Alira enters the chamber. I am only going to get one shot at this, it
must be a perfect sneak. The Lich's attention is on the other three and
Alira begins the most difficult stealthy approach of her life. The Lich
momentarily turns towards her - she freezes instantly but Luken takes
advantage of the movement to attack, diverting its attention back to him.
Alira remains frozen in place. What am I doing? This is madness.
After several eternal seconds she convinces herself to start moving again.
Slowly, silently, invisibly she creeps into position, behind the Lich.
Finally, she is ready. Blade in hand, Alira begins her approach -
soundlessly stalking the Lich to get in range. Away from the chamber
wall now, she is seen at last by the others. Kal and Luken increase their
futile attacks, striving to keep the Lich from noticing her.
All too soon, Alira is where she needs to be. Now is the moment - now
or never. Death or glory. Mere inches away from the noisome creature,
it is radiating evil suffocating her senses. Now is the moment. Strike
or die. Fame or death, but at least quick death...
Strike or die.
Alira's aim is perfect. The glowing Blade screams through the Lich's
glowing aura and bites deep between the bones of its neck. For a frozen
instant, nothing seems to happen. In the next, everything. The knife's
glow brightens rapidly and then with a deafening crack, it explodes. The
flash momentarily blinds Alira and pain rips through her hand. Crying out,
she staggers back.
As she blinks the tears from her eyes, she sees the fearsome
visage of the Lich filling her vision.
"Die..." The word hisses from its rotten jaw, carried on
a vile black vapor. Alira's frightened gasp betrays her, drawing
the dark spell into her body. No! Do not breathe... do not... Clutching
her ruined hand to her chest, Alira takes a couple more unsteady steps
backwards before her legs collapse underneath her. Her vision clouds
with dark red mists and the sound of her ragged breath and slowing
heartbeat rings ever louder in her ears. Slowly, the sensations of the
world fade away into nothingness. As the blackness envelops her, Kal's
words again echo through her failing mind. At least it is quick.
So mote it be.
Transfixed by Alira's fate, Kal and Luken are snapped from their
momentary daze by Seia. She alone has noticed a vital change - "Its
shield is gone!" she hisses.
Immediately Kal returns to the offensive and a furious fire storm swirls
into being around the Lich even as it turns back to them. This time
there is no blue-white glow to shed the force of the magic and the
Lich screams in rage and pain, unable to escape the elemental fire.
Taking his chance, Luken steps forwards with his sword singing through
a rapid arc. This time, nothing shunts it aside and the lethal metal
whips through the fire and smashes through the bones of the skeletal
The remains of the Lich crash to the ground and Kal lets his conjured
fire die. Silence weighs heavily in the chamber. Gradually the sound of
distant cheering begins to echo through the caverns.
"Alira!" Luken and Kal run to the fallen girl, Seia is already there,
kneeling over her. She is chanting the prayer of resurrection over and
over but Cymoc's holy light has faded and finally she trails off and
looks up at her battered friends.
"It is too late," the priestess whispers. "Too late. I am too exhausted,
too slow..." A tear leaks from the corner of her eye and trickles down
her cheek. "She never knew." Seia mourns, her voice tight with pain.
"She saved us all... saved the whole city. She never knew."
Submitting your own stories
This column will depend on your contribution - all of you out there who are
exploring, adventuring, creating legends on muds every day. Send in your
stories and become a part of the bigger myth. We can polish any rough spots,
smooth out any bumps - or if you wish, even write your story for you if you
give us enough detail of what happened and why. Simply use the
or send in your story via
August 2000 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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