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[News] The Prisoner of Morpheus [fiction]

Discussion in 'UO Siege Perilous' started by Guest, Sep 20, 2006.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    [​IMG]reetings, friends, and my heartfelt thanks to all those who sent their prayers, best wishes, and other kind words during my recent trials and tribulations. Say what ye will of the land and boards themselves, but the people of Siege and Stratics are second to none!

    I am indeed back! I won't bore you with tales of my recent woes - I'd rather entertain you, and ease back into managing the news! 
    Sadly, it will take a while for me to catch up with all that is happening and has happened on Siege, and due to a recent change of address, many annoying cardboard containers clutter my home and demand my attention, but I did manage to spend an hour or three writing a few words that I hope will entertain you!

    Not truly 'news', I know, but if I was to present a factual news article right now, it would consist of
    'Today I returned to my tower, and heard a polar bear grunting outside. My fish had all died during my absence.' 

    Gripping stuff, I know, but these first chapters of my tale will have to suffice instead!

    Those who know of my health woes will easily see from whence the inspiration came, but, as I said, I'm not here to bore you with real life.

    Should any of ye have true news stories that you'd like to share, by all means, send your messages to me here!


    <table border="1" cellpadding="0" width="100%" style="WIDTH: 100%"> <tr> <td width="269" valign="top"> <h2><font face="Arial" size="5"><font color="#a90720">A Prisoner of Morpheus <h3><font face="Arial" color="#000000" size="4">                           By Blind Otto</font></h3></font></font></h2> </td> </tr> </table>

    </p> <table border="1" cellpadding="0" width="100%"> <tr> <td> <h3><font size="4" face="Arial">Chapter One</h3></font> </td> </tr> <tr> <td>

    The scent of wood smoke joined the crisp morning air, as she looked out at the dawn’s rose and ember paintings forming on the snow fields. The orcs in the camp nearby would be preparing for whatever mayhem they had planned for the new day, and the ceremonial fires were being tended not far off. The orcs had long since ceased to hold any terror for her, and she was almost on friendly terms with one or two of them. Almost. </p>

    As Bea gazed at the new day, fingers of grey smoke tentatively probed the sky, retreating as if stung, whenever a hint of mountain winds came their way. </p>

    A perfectly normal start to the day – in all ways but one.</p>

    </p>

    For a sound was missing from the dawn. Not the chanting and yelling of the orcs – that was already echoing through the crags. No, the careful, precise footsteps in the hallways, and the warm, low, ring of the old stone tower’s master’s words were noticeably absent this day – as they had been for the better part of a month.</p>

    </p>

    With a sigh, she dressed, and headed towards the master chamber, to see if the learned minds gathered within had managed to find any better news for her during the night.</p>

    </p>

    Deep in her heart, she already knew that they had not. Still, she clung to hope, even as she grasped the great handles of the door before her, and pushed.</p>

    </p> </td> </tr> </table>

    </p>

    [​IMG]</p>

    </p> <table border="1" cellpadding="0" width="100%"> <tr> <td> <h3><font size="4" face="Arial">Chapter Two</h3></font> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top">

    In the darkness, the old miner swung his pickaxe, as he had so many times before.
    As ever, he felt the pick bite into the rock, and listened carefully for sounds of progress.

    But, something, somehow, was not right. For the last...how long had he been digging?
    It felt as if time had lost all meaning. But, something was not right. The rock felt... odd.
    Instead of the harsh firmness, there was a slight softness to it.
    It was not easier to dig through, just - different. And...he paused.
    If he had been digging for an untold age... he groped around, and found only more rock.
    No piles of rough ore awaiting smelting. No packs. No rubble from his digging.
    Just him.
    The rock.
    And the darkness.

    He carried no lantern - what would be the point? He'd been without eyes for years.
    But, there in the nameless dark, he found himself wishing for a sighted companion,
    a source of light, and quick summary of where he was, how he'd got there, and how long he'd been digging.

    He swung his pick again, and took a piece of the newly formed debris in his fingers.
    This was no rock he had ever felt before. It was cold, yet seemed to have warmth within it.
    Hard, and yet with a softness to it. As he examined it, he though he heard words whispering,
    sounds far off, yet near. The words just too quiet to make out their meaning.
    Then... was that the flicker of an image? Impossible. Eyes were needed to see images.
    Then, it all stopped, and all was quiet and dark again.

    He leaned back against the wall, and mentally shrugged off the tendrils of fear that started to weave their way across his shoulders. Where was he? He had air, so he was not totally sealed in somewhere. But why couldn't he remember?

    There was no point in digging any more, was there? He didn't know what it was he was digging through, and the rock seemed to heal itself at some point after he'd split it anyway. He had no ore to show for his work... pointless. So - leave?

    That sounded the better of the two options open to him, so he started to feel his way around the darkened cave. All the rocks were much the same - the same strange ore, the same occasional stirring of images, or of distant sounds. But he could find no exit. The cave - if it was a cave - seemed to consist of one room, fairly long, but also fairly featureless.

    After his third circuit of the cave, he sat down on a small outcrop of rock that he had found near the middle, and thought.
    "I do not remember coming here. I do not know where I am. So, it seems that someone else must have brought me here. If I am patient, perhaps that person will make themselves known."

    He stood up.

    "I do not feel the least bit patient!" he bellowed "whoever ye be that has placed me here, reveal thyself!"

    His words echoed all around him, but aside from his own voice, there was no reply. He sighed, and sat down again.

    He had air. Where was it coming from? He began his search again, feeling the air for the slightest motion, the smallest hint of a breeze - but there was nothing.</p>

    </p>

    He sat down, in the dark, and sighed.</p>

    </p> </td> </tr> </table>

    </p>

    [​IMG]</p>

    </p> <table border="1" cellpadding="0" width="100%"> <tr> <td> <h3>Chapter Three</h3> </td> </tr> <tr> <td>

    It was not a quiet morning, in the tower called Snow Blind.</p>

    </p>

    “Absolutely useless, the lot of you!” cursed the small half-elven woman, sending the last of a group of brown-robed men flying out the door in a cascade of sparks and swirling energies with a gesture. “The best in the land, are you? The land is in sorry shape indeed, then!”</p>

    </p>

    Another gesture, this one rather rude, sent a fireball spinning towards the heap of fallen outcasts, and gave them speed that they’d never known they had. The huge oak doors of the tower slammed shut behind them, as the last of their number franticly tried to put out the flames in his hair by plunging head-first into a snow drift.</p>

    </p>

    Still muttering, Bea headed back towards the chamber that had taken most of her attention for the past month, pausing only to collect a massive pile of books and scrolls that was resting on a table outside the library.</p>

    </p>

    Setting them down on a large desk in the chamber, she turned to a scroll, and began muttering… “Hypnos… killed him… Somnos… likewise… Mora…dead… Kikimora – pixie swatter worked well… Oniros … cringing atop the Great Yew tree in Malas… Nyx… fed him to the Gauntlet monsters… Set… little creep dared report me for a murder… he won’t do that again in a hurry….” </p>

    </p>

    and as she muttered, she ticked off names on the scroll, finally stopping and staring at it.  “That doesn’t leave an awful lot of sleep deities. Still, I might have missed a book somewhere…”</p>

    </p>

    Nearby, a sheet-covered figure lay on a bed, motionless. If not for the slight, rhythmic breathing motion, it could easily have been mistaken for a statue.</p>

    </p>

    Outside the icy wind howled around the grey tower, sounding as if it were in mourning.</p>

    </p>

    The giant beetles in the stable below swayed, as if in unison, and lay down with a strange clicking that almost sounded like a sigh. The stable boy looked on, worried, but even bags of their favourite fodder would not rouse them.</p>

    </p>

    And in the depths of the tower, a huge forge’s last ember went out.</p> </td> </tr> </table>

    </p>

    [​IMG]</p>

    </p> <table border="1" cellpadding="0" width="100%"> <tr> <td> <h3><font size="4" face="Arial">Chapter Four</h3></font> </td> </tr> <tr> <td>

    The words suddenly rang through the darkness.</p>

    </p>

    “Absolutely useless!” </p>

    </p>

    The sound echoed around the strange dark chamber, making the old miner jump about half his height in the air with a start.  “Who is there?” he asked “Where am I?” </p>

    </p>

    But there was silence. He knew he hadn’t imagined it. Was that a woman’s voice? Almost certainly. He began searching again, but found the same strange rock face as before. He had to agree with the recent outcry – it did seem absolutely useless.</p>

    </p>

    Still, the words had give him a direction. He grasped his pickaxe again, and headed towards to area he thought they had come from, and started to dig for all he was worth. Useless or not, he wasn’t going to sit there forever doing nothing.</p>

    </p>

    He toiled away at the rock… or whatever it was… for what felt like hours. But, for all his effort, only a small pile of rubble ever met his touch at a time, and practically no amount of damage could be found when he inspected the spot he’d been abusing for the past while. With a cry of rage, he swung at the rock again with all his might.</p>

    </p>

    “Whatever are you doing, my good man?” came a voice from behind him. </p>

    </p>

    He swung round with a start, holding his pickaxe before him, partly as a weapon, partly as a shield. “Who is there? I know I heard someone! Speak! Identify yourself! Where am I and why did you bring me here?”</p>

    </p>

    “My, you do ask a lot of questions!” came the voice. “Yes, you heard someone. Me. </p>

    My name would mean little to you, I fear. As to where you are – well, that’s a long story. Find a seat, and I’ll begin.”</p>

    </p>

    “I’m in little mood for stories.” the miner growled. “Do you have the means to set me free of this place, and are you willing to do so?” </p>

    </p>

    “Ah, more questions. You really do like them. No, I don’t have the means to set you free, but if I did, I’d be willing to free you in an instant. So, since you’re stuck here with me, you may as well listen to my tale.”</p>

    </p>

    Grudgingly, the old man sat down, keeping a firm grip on his pickaxe.</p>

    </p>

    “You, my friend, are Within. Do not ask ‘Within what?’, that is such an obvious question. I will come to that in a moment. Nay, you are Within. But, let me focus on how you came to be here first of all. Then, where you are should begin to make sense.</p>

    </p>

    You see, once upon a time…”</p>

    </p> </td> </tr> </table>

    </p>

    [​IMG]</p>

    </p> <table border="1" cellpadding="0" width="100%"> <tr> <td> <h3><font size="4" face="Arial">Chapter Five</h3></font> </td> </tr> <tr> <td>

    Hoomie</span> gib gud tribuut!” grinned the old orc toothlessly. “Lat go see bubbosh mojo makr now!” </p>

    </p>

    He hobbled on bony legs towards a large hut within the fort, the hides that lined the outer walls all dyed dark – probably with the blood of many victims. Beatrice pulled her cloak tightly around her, and tried not to show the fear she felt as she followed.</p>

    </p>

    “Lat nub wurry!” cackled the old orc, showing her that she’d failed miserably in her attempts to hide her fear “If me wanna clomp lat, lat be clomped alreddys!”</p>

    </p>

    This was true. Orcs were not known for subtlety. Still, they were known for sudden bursts of anger, rage, and violence, so anything was possible. She gave a weak smile, and followed her guide to the doors of the hut, where he knocked loudly with a bone that he’d suddenly produced from no apparent place.</p>

    </p>

    “Geddin!” came a growl from within, as the doors suddenly swung inwards. An old bony hand shoved her hard in the back, and she sprawled into the hut of the orcish mage, the gloom proving too much for even the eyes of an elf. </p>

    </p>

    “Lat gon rong in hed?” came a sinister hissing voice from the dark “Lat walk inna mojo uruk hut wiv nub clomper, nub armur, nubbing? Dumhed breedur!” </p>

    </p>

    “P..please, great and wise mage, I need your help” she stammered, not daring to get up from where she’d landed “My lord is ill, and.. “</p>

    </p>

    “Hoomie makr nub well?” </p>

    </p>

    The voice changed from the threatening hiss to one of concern and surprise. Even more surprisingly, it suddenly learned a completely different mode of speech.</p>

    </p>

    “Get up – you look ridiculous lying on the floor there. Let me gather some things, and we can be back at his tower before sunset. Oh, and do close your mouth – who knows what might go in there if you keep it that wide open in a place like this.”</p>

    </p>

    As her eyes finally became accustomed to the mystical gloom, she saw that this was, indeed, an orc. Clad in the traditional garb of an orcish mage, shovelling various strange ingredients into a bag made of animal skin, he could not have been more orcish if he’d tried. But…</p>

    </p>

    “What’s the matter, cross-breed? You’ve never heard an orc speak human before? You can speak some orcish, and your brain’s half the size of an orc’s. Of course we can speak your clumsy language - we usually don't sink to such depths, though.” </p>

    </p>

    Dumbfounded, she accompanied the orc mage and an escort of four orc warriors in the direction of the mountains. This was not what she’d expected at all – but then, she wasn’t certain that she’d expected to be alive by this point in the day either. </p>

    </p>

    The unlikely group strode on together, towards the distant peaks, and the miniscule spark of hope in her heart became a tiny flame.</p>

    </p> </td> </tr> </table>

    </p>

    [​IMG]</p>

    </p> <table border="1" cellpadding="0" width="100%"> <tr> <td> <h3><font size="4" face="Arial">Chapter Six</h3></font> </td> </tr> <tr> <td>

    Once, there was a great adventurer, who traveled the world in search of knowledge, adventure, and power. Great were his deeds, and bards sang of his triumphs. </p>

    </p>

    On one strange and eventful journey, he discovered the fabled secret of eternal life and youth, and so, was able to continue his great love of adventuring far, far longer than the natural course of things would have allowed. </p>

    </p>

    Sadly, when one wanders alone for so long, the things that normally warm a man’s heart become distant memories, and there is room aplenty for other matters to take their place. And so it was, when his road finally led him to a source of great power, there was little left to bind him to the ways of this world. </p>

    </p>

    He found a new realm, the realm of dreams, and, with all he had learned on his travels, swiftly tore the life from those who ruled there, taking their seat of power as his own.</p>

    </p>

    Time went by, and he found, as many immortals do, that he had done all that there was to do in his ill-gained kingdom. The citizens worshipped him, he had every item of great value known to the land, and riches that he had nothing to spend on. There was no enemy to conquer, no challenge to overcome. </p>

    </p>

    He sat back in his ebon throne, and recalled his distant past, walking the roads, seeking adventure. Memories of the thrill of escaping great danger, of the fear of knowing his life could end at any moment, of the fire in his heart as he braved the great challenges of that place, and that day, filled his mind – and began to eat at his every moment.</p>

    </p>

    But, he could not be hurt any longer. He could not die. There was no foe to challenge. And so, he sighed, and turned to the matters of his kingdom.</p>

    </p>

    One day, one of his worshipers came before him. ‘Sire,’ she said ‘Ye who are all knowing and all powerful, surely know of what I am about to tell ye, but I would be a poor subject if I did not make certain of my Liege's happiness. </p>

    </p>

    A snort of boredom came from the ebon throne.</p>

    </p>

    ‘S..sire.. know ye where the source of this land's life, and your own might, stems from?’ </p>

    </p>

    He did not. For the first time in unknowable ages, he felt the return of excitement. Here was something unknown – something new – an adventure!</p>

    </p>

    The peasant woman told him of the river that flowed into the land, in the far north. He knew of the river, of course, and had passed that way many a time. But, what he did not know was this:</p>

    </p>

    ‘Sire, this land is made of the stuff of dreams, given life from the sleeping minds and imaginations of the men, the women, and children of your former realm. It is from there that all this comes. How can it be that ye did not know this?’</p>

    </p>

    At that, he struck her dead. But, she had given him much to think about. </p>

    </p>

    He spent much time at the river, and followed it back to where it sprang from the rocks. And there, he began to work his darkest spells.</p>

    </p>

    He watched the sleepers who fed his land, and from the brightest and best minds amongst them, he took prisoners. </p>

    </p>

    Those prisoners were kept within their own sleep, as he drained their very souls of the spark that gave their dreams life. He came to live their dreams, and so gained new adventure, through his dark sorcery, and their imagination. And all the while, their mortal bodies, in your realm, slept, and eventually withered away.</p>

    </p>

    That is how you came to be here, my friend. You are a prisoner of the one who now calls himself Morpheus, who feasts on your very thoughts.</p>

    </p>

    And I… I was once that man, before his heart turned black, and abandoned me here.”</p>

    </p> </td> </tr> </table>

    </p>

    [​IMG]</p>

    </p> <table border="1" cellpadding="0" width="100%"> <tr> <td> <h3><font size="4" face="Arial">Chapter Seven</h3></font> </td> </tr> <tr> <td>

    From atop a tower in Wintermoor, a lookout sent word to the guards below. A human woman had been seen in the distance, heading towards one of the western ice fields, apparently the prisoner of a band of orcs.</p>

    </p>

    Clad in blue, armor shining in the sun, two knights rode west, to ensure justice was served.</p>

    </p>

    Meanwhile, Beatrice and the orcs were nearing their destination.</p>

    She was very confused by all that had happened. The orcs were all talking in their guttural language, and she'd heard barely a word out of the mage, who seemed more interested in gathering roots and other strange items as they travelled onwards. Had she imagined his words? She’d certainly been under plenty of stress lately. She looked at the mage again, but all she got from him was a grinning mouthful of yellowish, rotting teeth. </p>

    </p>

    The lead orc hurled his spear into a clump of bushes, and a large man wearing a bandana leapt out the other side with a howl of pain and the spear protruding from his posterior. “Dumhed briggund! Lat go clomp sum udder hoomie! Dis breedur unner uruk prutecshun!” </p>

    </p>

    The brigand squealed in pain, trying to remove the spear, but a few orc-clubs seemed to help ease the pain, and his squeals soon stopped. The party journeyed onwards, pausing only when they came to the edge of the ice field. </p>

    </p>

    “Bah! Culd wet stuff! Me nub like dat!” complained the lead orc.</p>

    A swift kick from the mage convinced him that he did, in fact, like cold wet stuff, and on they went, towards the tower that could be seen on the western side of the ice field.</p>

    </p>

    Yells of greeting from the local orc outpost soon reached their ears, and before long, Beatrice and the mage were trying to escape from an impromptu orc celebration, to do what they had come to do.</p>

    </p> <p align="center"><font size="6" face="Arial">. . . .</font> </p>

    </p>

    The knight turned to his friend, a look of confusion on his face.</p>

    “Where could they have gone?”</p>

    “I know not. There is a small outpost near here somewhere – perhaps there?”</p>

    “Perhaps. Lead on, then – my patrols are usually further afield of here, and I know this area not.”</p>

    </p>

    The two galloped onwards. Sometimes, justice can be hard to find – and sometimes it is not found where it is expected to be.</p>

    </p>

     “He lives near here, does he not?”</p>

    “Aye. A shame, all that occurred. A true shame.”</p>

    The first knight nodded.</p>

    “But, I feel there is still much that is not known. I have heard seven different accounts of matters so far. Truth may be one of the three Principals, but it seems rather elusive in this case.”</p>

    “Aye. Still, perhaps when we have done our duty and dispatched those orcs, we can visit there, and get to the heart of the matter.</p>

    “Aye.”</p>

    </p>

    With a sudden twanging sound, the two found themselves, and their horses, high in the air, the net that enveloped them tight with the weight that threatened to snap the tall birch tree's limbs.</p>

    </p>

    “Pigdug nubbosh hoomies! Lat stay dere an’ be liddle burds in tree!” grinned an orc from a nearby branch. “An’ stay ways from mojo makr!” </p>

    </p>

    “Yub!” another particularly smelly orc added, emerging from a leafy hiding place. “us coulda clomped lat, but lat funnier dis way!”</p>

    </p>

    With that, the orcs deftly whisked the knights’ swords away, and bounded down the branches of the tree, leaving the two knights cursing after them in mid-air, and wondering how long the branch they were tied to would last.
    </p></font> </td> </tr> </table>


    I'll leave the two knights dangling there for now, but there will be more chapters within a week!
    Since last night was Story Night, and I couldn't be there (doctor's orders - literally!), I hope this will be a decent substitute for all those I missed! Many thanks to Angharad for covering all the stories while I was away!
    </p>
     
  2. *grins*

    A compelling read, Otto. I look forward to further installments!