CAST OF PLAYERS:
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………..…Human Psionic
Jeremy Whitener………….Korin Alabaster…………………………Were-Mongoose
Aron Head………………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
“There’s dark magic eating away at you,” Casey said urgently to Korin. “It will consume you if we can’t break its hold. Heal yourself now. Put all your power into it. I’ll help you.”
The Mongoose stared blankly at her for a long moment, then slowly nodded. Closing his eyes, he attempted to block out the sounds of battle and the smells of decay and death, focusing on his own familiar healing powers.
Attuned to his efforts, Casey felt him dig, deep down into his center, that core of strength that got him through his early changes, that had kept him sane in the Goblin King’s dungeons. He plumbed those depths of his core knowing that they were depleted, empty.
Not a drop left in the well.
Dry as a bone it was. Only dust and ashes there.
Dust. Ashes. And a heaping dollop of despair.
A flash of spring air, an overwhelming sense of renewal…
Deeply, he drew of that strength and at once was keenly aware of the terrible thing feeding upon him. Black and corrupt, a thing of diabolical intent using his life force to power its own wicked ends.
Alone, he wouldn’t have stood a chance against this thing, but with Casey’s assistance… He sensed her — truly sensed her – for the first time. He breathed in her scent much like sniffing a fragrant rose. His eyes widened, his mind opening to the stark realization.
She was power incarnate. How had he not realized it before? Was there no limit to her ability…?
He could feel himself strengthening … but the monster continued to feed upon his through its dark members ….
Sharing his experience, Casey watched as the strength she shared with Korin revitalized him. He should have been healed by now, but those things were still feeding upon him — which meant she was feeding the monster. The moment she removed her power, Korin would fall once again.
Korin’s eyes went wide as he came to the same realization. “You have to let me go Casey. “It’s feeding on me. The stronger I get…the stronger it gets, and where is its power being funneled?”
“To the necromancer, most likely,” she murmured without moving or withdrawing her focus. “This is his funhouse.”
In a final showing, he released the Mongoose to the deep recesses where it hid, leaving only a haggard and tired, near death Korin Alabaster. He smiled at Casey. “Its okay…I did what I needed. Now you guys have a chance.” He paused, plainly trying not to fight the thing feeding on him. “You can match him Casey…your power…no limit…I saw…so beautiful…so…much..power for good.”
“Wrong kind of power for this,” she responded absently. “Doesn’t work on magic, doesn’t mix with glamour….”
The cool-headed strategist in her briefly considered letting Korin go, sacrificing him to deny the monster its sustenance, but she suspected that it would only move on to Claws or the Stonewolf or one of the others once it had drained the last drop of life from the Mangoose. So she continued to feed it, but dialed down the flow of strength, like turning the burner on a gas stove down to the barest hint of blue flame.
She could attempt to fight it directly: send a bolt of power tearing through Korin’s body to destroy its invader. It might work. But there was a good chance that would destroy Korin as well, given the glamour-based nature of the weres.
Still, the idea couldn’t be rejected completely. Better to save some than none.
Eyes still closed in concentration, she knelt beside the besieged young man and searched for a better option.
It was feeding on him. It was sucking his very life force away.
What if she gave it something less palatable to consume?
She couldn’t fight the magic, not in the conventional sense…but maybe she could poison it.
It would be tricky. She’d have to continue supplying enough clean, wholesome strength to Korin to sustain his life…
…while at the same time…
Her brow furrowed as she focused a separate telekinetic field on Korin’s arm and shoulder. This was pure psionics, the antithesis of magic. She let it soak into his flesh, just beneath the surface at first, trying to get a sense of how the black barbed tentacles and Korin’s arm were reacting to her power.
She sneezed once. A second time. And a third.
She rubbed at her ticklish nose.
The natural energy she was providing to the Mongoose was being converted to a supernatural equivalent and it was that energy, once converted, that was being siphoned away. She could probably force her own energy up the line without benefit of supernatural conversion. The question was whether the necromancer would be able to make use of her strength in its unfiltered state. She couldn’t afford to assume that it would harm him; it was entirely possible that he could utilize her power as easily as she could.
Korin’s time was running short, though, and there was no telling what horrors Alseyne and Pip were dealing with upstairs. It was decision time.
Frowning slightly as she narrowed her focus, Casey sent an intense five-second burst of power directly into the dark invader. A small peripheral part of her mind remained attuned to Korin’s vital stats, but most of her attention was concentrated on discerning the effects of her attack, both on the dark feeder itself and on the house’s general ambiance of gleeful malice.
She could hear his startled cry of pain from upstairs.
Her focus condensed, gathered itself into a pure and potent storm, and then blasted into the black thing with all the force of Casey’s will behind it.
And that’s where it ends. Or stops, rather. Aron sent us this tantalizing message, and then shifted his attention to creating and managing Ideology of Madness, leaving the pbem format behind.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading our little tale of horror as much as we enjoyed playing it out. It remains my favorite pbem of all time, and the most challenging creative writing exercise I’ve ever encountered. My only regret is not knowing who won the war in the end…with Aron at the helm it could have gone either way. But man, that was a fun ride while it lasted.
Most glorious night!
Thou wert not sent for slumber!