This is a story about the character Alexadion.
An illusionary peacefulness settled over the land. Nature had claimed for her own the ruins of a long lost civilization, greenery glowing in the early morning sun. Vines embraced the fallen onyx stone gates, whose writings could still be seen, though none remained who could read them. Shrubs and trees of all manner had found homes in the immense, collapsed buildings and archways that must have once been so majestic.
The encompassing tranquility mocked me, Alexadion, for the tumult I felt inside. For in this lush valley, surrounded by white-capped mountains and thunderous waterfalls, resided a dormant secret, one which terrified me.
Those who sleep.
They occasionally appear in the oldest remaining writings that I can read. There, they are known by a different name. Those who spoil.
That was a name which had no lack of meaning. These beings were very different than other insidious forces that compete for world domination, whom I’ve often referred to as the “Major Players.” They are the most powerful forces in Triavalon, ever so much greater than myself.
Don’t get me wrong. They Majors were evil; a point which couldn’t be overstated. They would eliminate any who got in their way. And after victory was won, those who died would be the lucky ones, as the victorious would have then poured out his undiluted cruelty upon any who remain.
But there was still a sharp contrast in the dangers presented here. You see, as evil as the Majors were, they maintained their sanity. They were capable of rational thought. They had goals, they gauge threats (and we Cihndar have never been high up on the list). In short, the Majors were capable of reason.
That didn’t seem to be the case with the Spoilers. They had no ambitions. They didn’t prioritize threats, or even care if someone is a threat. They wouldn’t reason. They were nothing but madness and blind animosity.
But the truly bad news… We’re weren’t dealing with a band, or city, or even an army of these things. We were dealing with an entire civilization. It was believed that there were countless millions of them, and each one greater than me. There is no defense against them. If they came for us, the people of the world would be destroyed.
When I say that, I don’t mean that we’ll all be killed. I mean destroyed. We will be tortured to the point of insanity. We would then be forced to exist in a state of perpetual torment and madness.
At least, that’s what would have happened had they invaded in that moment. Holding the office of “High Wizard of the Cihndar,” it was my responsibility to see to it that that eventuality never happened, and that was what I was going to do. I went to that place to take the first real step in creating a meaningful defense. That first step was to gain knowledge.
I’ve been operating under the assumption that they have all been asleep for a very long time, and that’s why they’ve left us alone. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that for sure. On the grand scale of things, I knew almost nothing about them. There was little doubt that they will come for us all, though I had no idea when.
I did know what will get their attention. The use of magic.
Our magic sourcecame from a realm that exists very close to our own. We called it the realm of creation energy. Our minds were literally designed to detect, draw, and utilize it. Depending on the skill of the user, the number of potential applications were virtually unlimited.
Their source of magic was a corrupted version of our own, from a separate realm that was the polar opposite of our source. We called their magic “anti-creation.” The use of one either of these sources creates a disruption where the other is present.
In other words, if a creation spell were cast, it would violently force anti-creation away, and vice versa. The disruption could easily be felt by either side. No doubt, they could sense the magic being used by my people, even if they were thousands of miles away. Though, it thankfully hasn’t been enough to awaken them.
How much will it take to get their attention, exactly? I couldn’t tell you. I did know that our people are growing more populous, as are the other peoples of the world. We are also steadily advancing in magics.
If we stopped using magic, we probably wouldn’t have to worry about the Spoilers. But that wasn’t an option because of the continued encroachment of the Majors, whom we would one day have to face. That certainty forced us to continue using and advancing in our use of magic.
I put that out of my head as I continued weaving between collapsed stone buildings that might have been nearly as old as time, committing to memory all the writings I could find, like drawing a sketch in my head. I would later transfer them to a memory crystal. Others could then access the information in the crystal, and try to make sense of the writings. With any luck, an important detail would come to light, bringing us closer to understanding these things.
There were a lot of questions on my mind. What created the Spoilers? I was pretty certain that they weren’t in a natural state of existence. What drove their insanity? Was it possible to cut them off from their source of magic? Would there be any way to predict when they would awaken? I doubted that I would find the answers to these critical questions any time soon. I only hoped I could find some of the pieces to the puzzle.
As I continued forward, deep in thought, the early morning sun began to fade into twilight. Instinctively looking up, I noticed that the sky was perfectly clear. There was no natural explanation for the darkness that now encompassed me.
The phenomenon was new to me. Was this some kind of access point to where the Spoilers slept? Was this the result of a cluster of them? Was it the residue of a dark spell that had been cast long ago? Those were all strong possibilities, but I needed more than conjecture.
I reached out with my mind, as quietly as I could, careful not to disturb the surrounding dark energies. Unaided with magic, my senses could only tell so much, but I was determined.
I closed my eyes in concentration, and suddenly, the world seemed to fall away. The how and why were a mystery, but something had pulled me through a gateway leading to another realm. Every so suddenly, stars were whizzing by, and a brilliant light flashed. Then everything came to a sudden halt.
My new surroundings were too complex to articulate succinctly, but I seemed to have fallen into an inter-realm; a dimension which intersected other points of space, as well as other realities.
I have used the inter-realms on many occasions to travel. I open a door, mentally chart a very specific path, and step out of the corridor at my destination. What stretched out before me was nothing like any such planes of existence that I’ve seen.
This particular plane seemed to have been altered. There, openings to multiple worlds had been propped open, and darkness radiated through the holes in the multiverse to countless unseen worlds. Death and torment radiated back through, and the screams of agony from more people than I would care to guess flooded the realm.
The source was evident. Even before I saw it, I knew what I was dealing with by the feeling of dread that burned in my gut, a result of the malice and oppression radiating from the dark being before me. A Spoiler.
Its attention was focused on its horrific task. Back turned, its cruel, crimson eyes couldn’t be seen. The darkness of its body, however, was so vast that it seemed to drink in the surrounding light.
My whole body shook with indignation. I wanted this thing to die. But then, the weight of responsibility crashed down like a planet being dropped on my shoulders.
At this point, there was no where for me to hide, and I couldn’t open a corridor back to my world without getting its attention. It was going to find out about me sooner or later. Despair began to overpower rage.
Hopelessness couldn’t be allowed to win here, however. I had to believe that, dire as the circumstances were, a Higher Power had to be guiding my steps. This wasn’t the time to self destruct, it was time to think. Elzareh, what do I do?
That was when it occurred to me that the guardian of the realms, Xytar, should have stopped this. He had little authority in Triavalon, but here, not even the Spoilers would challenge him. It shouldn’t have been possible, but this particular inter-realm must have been a pocket in the fabric of reality which Xytar wasn’t able to reach.
That was an assumption, granted. But nothing else made sense, and time was short. So, the decision was made.
I opened a portal, and in a fraction of a second, I was in the inter-realms that I recognized. Nothing but boundless gray encompassed me, like endless storm clouds that offered no openings for sunlight.
The Spoiler couldn’t have missed the release of creation energy when I exited his location. I didn’t know exactly when, or from which direction, but it would be coming. Soon.
“Xytar!” I shouted with all the urgency I could muster. “Xytar!”
Just then, the deep gray was shattered by a blinding flash of white, and a blur of midnight rushed me at an impossible speed. I threw up a ward as quickly as I could, but a blade that was seemingly made of pure gold fell upon it, shattering my barrier and sending me sprawling.
Not even a fraction of a second later, it was on me again, golden blade arcing downward. I didn’t have time to bring up another barrier, and I certainly didn’t have time to roll out of the way. My instinctive solution was to use magic to create thrust, hurling me away from the attacker just in time.
As I sped away, still in flight, I turned toward it and unleashed eye searing bolts of fire. As they raced toward it with a bone shattering shockwave, it simply vanished.
If I had to guess what had just happened, I would say that this thing had just teleported out of the path of my attack, and would reenter the realm at a point from which it could strike. There was no time to waste. I created a second powerful thrust which substantially altered my flight path just as the Spoiler rematerialized and struck, its blade missing me by mere inches.
Two could play at that game. I opened a portal, teleporting myself behind it. Remaining in motion to make myself a harder target, I launched another deadly volley of fire. It immediately disappeared and reappeared directly in my flight path.
I tried to open another door, but I was too late. A stream of jet black slammed into me, and my head felt as though it had just exploded. I screamed at first in agony, and then in anger when I realized that I’d lost the capacity for spell craft.
It had hit me with pure anti-creation energy. That’s not something that should have been able to exist in this reality; not without being transformed into something else. Yet that’s what it did, and I was left defenseless as it caught me by my tunic with one hand, lifting me into the air. It then persisted with sending dark pulses of anti-creation into me, continually disrupting my ability to draw from my own source of power.
All seemed lost at that moment, and I felt the urgent need to apologize to my people for this failure; though such a gesture would be utterly pathetic. It wouldn’t be very long before all the Spoilers knew about the Cihndar, and the end would come. I might have even been an unwilling participant, having been twisted into madness by these things.
I closed my eyes, trying to fight the tears of regret, feeling crushed under the responsibility that I carried. Still, I wouldn’t give up. I had to hope that Xytar would reach me in time.
Where are you? I breathed as a curse.
That’s when I felt the coldness start to rush through my body, a poisonous spell working to violate my mind. I fought it as hard as I could. I fought to break this thing’s grip on me, which was futile. It continued breaking down my resistance; since I didn’t have the use of magic, this wasn’t going to take long.
That’s when I felt something else. There was some other presence that this thing was carrying, and it loosed it on me. It was so full of malice, rage, and madness. And it was so very cold. I felt it pushing against my robes, and then into my skin. It entered me, and was slowly working its way to my brain.
I had long thought that I was above fearing for myself. This proved me wrong. I felt terrified. Without any means to fight back, all I could do was wait for this thing to work its way into my head. And then, something that wasn’t me would be in control of my body.
Nothing left to do, I closed my eyes, awaiting the inevitable. Hate-filled glee radiated from the Spoiler. I could feel it gloating almost as intensely as I could feel the frigid entity making its home inside me.
Then my eyes were snapped open by the roar of thunder. An explosion shook the realm, and I was free! When the world stopped spinning, I saw the fierce, crimson-scaled dragon carried by powerful wings, hovering perhaps ten yards away. It wasn’t Xytar, but it still might have been just the help I needed.
Of course, I wasn’t out of danger. Not by far. The darkness worming its way through me was still there. Now free of the dark pulses being fed into my body, I managed to run a little creation energy through my body. It wasn’t much, but it got the entity’s attention. I don’t know what it did in response, but I can tell you that it hurt.
I didn’t care, though. I would be free of this thing, or I would die. I released more inside myself. This time there was a greater volume of energy, though not much. It protested by flooding me with burning pain. I screamed in agony, and released more energy. This time its response left me on the verge of losing consciousness.
I knew I would have one more try. I had to get this thing out. The good news was that my power was returning. I flooded my body with everything I could muster. Had you seen me at the time, it might have been comparable to gazing directly into the noon day sun.
I could hear the thing’s shrill screaming. It was fighting back, but it was getting weaker. Finally, it gave up any hope of possessing me, and began working its way back out. It diminished until there was almost nothing remaining, and it left my body, powerless to do more harm. I was free.
Ignoring the lingering pain, I immediately directed my attention at the thunderous battle that raged between the dragon and the Spoiler. The dragon was wounded, but still in the fight, hurling terrible forces at the foe who blinked in and out of of this reality in different places. The Spoiler then countered with horrific strikes of its own, and the dragon would evade with such rapidity that it would briefly seem to vanish.
As I considered how I might intervene, it occurred to me that the attack it used to incapacitate me a moment ago would probably work in reverse. Trouble was, until that day, I had no idea that was even possible. I could run power through my body, but not into an open space.
The only thing I could think of was to create some kind of conduit for it to travel through, but that would take time, a luxury which did not exist. My next thought was to perhaps try to inhibit its ability to teleport, and that was something I was certain I could do.
Stretching out my hands, I spun a disruptive field wide enough to encompass the Spoiler. The dragon spat something that moved like lightning but blazed like wildfire. The Spoiler tried to blink out of the way, but this time, it didn’t work. It was struck squarely in the chest, and was blown backward in a conflagration.
Pressing the advantage, I followed up in with more fire strikes. This time, I nailed it with an impact so violent that the shockwave almost sent me sprawling.
The Spoiler wasn’t finished yet. It unleashed another stream of midnight at me, and I managed to dive out of the way just before being incapacitated again. It then closed the distance between us before I could recover, and the golden blade was arcing downward toward my head.
There was a red blur and a jarring crash. The dragon rammed it, saving my life. Unfortunately, the Spoiler had managed to keep a grip on its weapon. It grabbed onto the dragon’s leg, and plunged the blade deep into his ribcage.
The dragon fell hard, letting off a low moan as it began dissipating into smoke. His life wasn’t in danger; dragons are spirit creatures, and didn’t die. Even a temporary loss of its form, however, would be catastrophic. I would be left to face the Spoiler alone. Even with the strikes that both of us scored against it, it wasn’t yet weakened to the degree for me to defeat it without help. That meant the end of the world was seconds away.
But that wasn’t going to happen. Though I couldn’t send creation energy across an empty space, I could direct it into something I was in contact with. Creating another thrust, I flew up to the Spoiler and laid my hands on it.
I instantly regretted that decision, as when I did, I saw into its mind. I saw what it once was, I saw what it had become, and I felt what it felt. I was both terrified and enraged, feeling its desire to share its torment with everyone everywhere. The raw vileness threatened to consume me.
I would not, however, allow that. Forcing myself to focus, I dumped all the raw power into this thing that I could muster. A shrill screech assaulted my ears, and I could feel the thing weakening, its defenses failing. “How do you like it?”
Step back! I heard in my mind. I did as the voice urged, knowing that it was the dragon speaking. Blazing thunder rushed past me, and into the being before us. I joined in with blinding bursts of fire.
Even without its defenses, the Spoiler was tough. It refused to give in even as the dragon and I poured our combined wrath upon it. It tried to regain its power without success, and we continued pressing forward. Explosions rocked the inter-realm, and the Spoiler was pushed back. We didn’t relent as it began weakening.
Our might began tossing it in the air, and it seemed to lose mass. We continued our onslaught, as the Spoiler was then in the hopeless position.
For all the harm you’ve done to my world and countless others, I mentally declared as the flames finally consumed the monstrous being before me. When the smoke cleared, all that remained was a pile of black dust, which began to scatter into unfelt trans-dimensional winds.
It was over. Still, my heart was pounding out of my chest. It’s alright, I told myself while regaining composure. Triavalon didn’t end. After a moment, I’d calmed down enough to acknowledge my debt of gratitude.
“Thank you, my friend,” I told the dragon. “I quite literally owe you the world.”
I then bent to collect the Spoiler’s sword; the secrets revealed by studying it could be invaluable. But then I was stopped.
No! I heard in my mind. You’re not ready for such an evil thing. Give it to me for disposal.
I was deeply disappointed, but I complied without resistance. Doubtless, he had good reason for taking the weapon. And even without it, I’d accomplished what I’d set out to do. That battle revealed a great deal to me about the Spoilers; far more than I’d expected to learn on this journey.
There was then a starting place in my quest to learn how to repel and eventually defeat these things. It would still be a long time before we were ready. We wouldn’t be able to get help from the dragons in Triavalon, but even if we did, the Spoilers simple had too great a number for us to stand against.
Even so, we would continue learning, and with Elzareh’s help, we would one day become advanced enough in the use of magic that we could defeat this scourge of Triavalon.