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The Duel of the Ages

Chapter 7

By David J. Parker

"WwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaggggDALAI-LAMA!"1 Darius cried, amazingly well for someone without a tongue. Blood Drops and Death both recoiled in horror when Darius rose to his feet (which were once again attached to his ankles), testing out his newly grown appendages. He blinked his eyes a few times until he was satisfied that he had orbs once again in his sockets (I wonder if they're still blue, he thought), and then worked his wrists and ankles, finally sticking out his tongue to check that that, too, was back in its correct place.

"Well barbecue my ham hocks,"2 Death whispered softly, before disappearing to return to the safety of his realm. Blood Drops fell to his knees abruptly, stunned at the sudden miraculous healing of his foe.

1 Dalai-lama is the religious title of the Tibetan spiritual leader; here, it's a corruption of the "DIALMA" healing spell from the early Wizardry computer games.

2A Foghorn Leghorn reference.

3And another.

"Please Darius, I didn't mean it, I didn't--" he began.

"I say, who's responsible for this unwarranted attack on my person?"3 Darius asked, in a strange accent.

"Well, you see, it was like this...What I mean is...really I..." Blood Drops babbled on, while Darius glared. "...You see, I didn't...that is, I tried not to...well, to be truthful...Say--" Blood Drops looked up at Darius then, perplexed, "How'd you do that, anyway?"

"Do what?" Darius asked. He had removed his sword from it's scabbard and now stood, inspecting the blade's edges.

"Heal yourself like that," Blood Drops was still on his knees in complete supplication to the big warrior.

"How do you think I did it?" Darius asked as he held his sword at arm's length and looked down the blade, checking its straightness.

"Well, I...I're not a doctor,'d have to say... that is..."

"Spit it out!" Darius shouted abruptly. Blood Drops dutifully spat on the floor; in the midst of the glob of phlegm was a tiny carving of the word "it."

"Well I say! That's much better!" Blood Drops commented, before continuing. "Did you use magic?" he was finally able to ask.

"Of course," Darius replied, trying now to bend his sword to correct the small deviation he had discovered.

"But I thought I was the super-character who had unlimited magical abilities and could do just about anything I could think of and a few things I couldn't think of, which, if you think about it, is incredibly unfair to anyone trying to fight me, and that I--"

"Yes yes yes," Darius said, interrupting, "you're all those things."

"Well then...what I mean is.........where did you learn to do them?" Blood Drops asked, still on his knees, staring up into Darius' face with unabashed admiration.

"What do you mean, where did I learn them? That is an illogical question. It follows that you would ask a skunk 'where did you learn to spray?' or ask the color red 'why are you red?' It is illogical."

Blood Drops blanched. He was confused now and scared as well. Something was eating at him, but he didn't know just what it was yet.

"You mean you've always been able to do these things?" Blood Drops asked worshipfully.

"Has red always been red?" Darius asked. He sheathed his sword again, after correcting the bend that he had found. "I grow tired of this conversation. Are you quite through questioning me?"

"No...well, yes, I guess, see..." Darius rolled his eyes as Blood Drops continued to sputter.

"You still want to know where I learned these powers?" Darius asked abruptly, cutting off the sputtering knight in mid-sputter.

"Yes!" Blood Drops cried immediately. "I only know of one other who has powers like my own!"

"Yes, that is true. There is only one other like you," Darius said smoothly.

"But...but that's not possible! Only myself and......" All the color ran out of Blood Drops' face as realization hit home (scoring from third on a base hit by knowledge). He clasped his hands together in supplication and screamed out penance to his immortal master.

"Oh please, wise Sage, I didn't mean it!" Blood Drops cried, tears rolling down his pasty white cheeks. "I didn't know it was you!"

The form of the man standing in front of the Llagimlynian knight began to shift as Blood Drops wept, shifting slowly from the large form of the bulky warrior to the frail form of the wise Sage. The Sage looked pretty silly, standing there in Darius' battle armor.

"You are not forgiven, Blood Drops. You failed to learn what I taught you. You failed to practice what I spoke of. You failed." The Sage4 drew his sword from his back, finding the weight of it strange in his old hands.

4 The Sage is one of my characters, not Dave's. Consequently, this installment took me quite by surprise.
"What do you mean, wise one!?" Blood Drops cried. "You taught me that the power of magic lies in believing in yourself! I believed, and now I can perform feats of wonder! You taught me to trust in myself, and I do!" He was going to continue, but the Sage cut him off abruptly by bopping him on the head with the flat of his sword.

"See what I mean? You don't listen! I never said any such thing!" The old man shook his head. "Imagine! 'Believe in yourself.' How corny can you get?! I never said that at all!" He bopped Blood Drops again, for good measure.

", not in so many...I guess..." The knight was sputtering again. The Sage bopped him again.

"Foolish person. When I told you to believe, I meant in me, not in yourself! Imagine, believing that you could do anything special at all! I'm the one with all the power and knowledge! Jeez, like there's room in one trilogy for two all-powerful characters." The Sage shook his head ruefully.

"Then how am I able to perform these feats of magic?" Blood Drops asked, his spirit suddenly crushed.

"You can't, that's just the point!" the Sage cried. "I did all of the things that you thought you did! I am the one with the power, not you! Whenever you decided you needed to do a little magic trick, I'd work it so that you'd get the desired effect, with you thinking that you were the one doing it all the time. And you fell for it!" The Sage smiled as Blood Drops' face fell.

"I don't believe you," Blood Drops said unconvincingly, after a few moments.

"Well, there's an easy way to find out. Go ahead and try to cast a spell," the Sage replied.

Blood Drops looked dubiously up at his former mentor but nonetheless took his advice. He closed his eyes, calling upon his spirit to perform the action he desired. After a few moments of fierce concentration, he let all of his energies out in a single cry.


Blood Drops opened his eyes.

The Sage bopped him on the head again with the flat of his sword. "Silly boy," the Sage said simply, before slowly shifting back into his guise of Darius Longshore.

Blood Drops crumbled to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. His entire belief system was suddenly shattered in a million pieces. All of it had been a lie.

Darius/Sage sheathed his sword and stepped over the miserable creature and back into the void between worlds, leaving this pitiful scene behind.

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