Old Stories

A test of wills

One day, the gods Cazic Thule and Innoruuk were wandering the realm of Norrath. They watched as many battles were being fought, and although they cheered each time one of their minions won a battle, it angered them that the citizens of Norrath were winning more often than losing.

"Look at that!" said Cazic, "Dark elves and Iskars and humans fighting together, leveling like there's no tomorrow and showing us no respect!"

"BAH!" said Innoruuk, "I have no need for their respect; what I want is their hate and their fear! And they will give it to me!" At this, Cazic gave Innoruuk a sneering laugh, "Fear is my realm, don't forget, yet I can see where they both go hand in hand. But how do you expect them to even care when they jeer at us every time they level? In fact, look at that guy over there, singing praises to himself just because he reached level 32. Obviously, he doesn't give a diseased rat's ass as to giving you his hate or his fear!" This inflamed Innoruuk to no end, "Well, that fool is going to care, for I'm about to make an example of him." Thus, this was how my downfall started.

I am nothing but a poor druid. However, being human, I am loaded with many foibles, one of which is being too arrogant at times. When I had first reached my level 32, I sang a little ditty and was quite proud of myself. Little did I know that things were about to take a turn for the worst.

The first battle I got into was just inside Paws. Being with a group of people was not bad, but just before I got close to getting my first bubble in, we were hit by a train of Tesch Val gnolls; nearly everybody in the group died, including me. I was able to get a rez from a kind cleric, but it didn't include any experience regain. Still, I was glad for the saved traveling time. Then it was time for me to say goodbye to the group and camp for the night. I headed out of Paws and was on my way to the bridge when WHACK! I was stunned by a cyclops. Desperately, I tried to snare him, which I managed to do with me having just half a bubble of life when I high-tailed it to the bridge. I almost made it there, except silly me decided to stop on the ridge to catch my breath and to check if the clops was still on my tail when WHACK! YOU'RE DEAD! I was killed by an undead cyclops! This time I did lose my level, but I thought, "Oh well, I will get it back tomorrow." Boy, was I wrong.

The next day, I met and grouped with my dad. The way we worked it was we would look for something that conned blue or yellow to him, and I would buff and heal till he won. Since he was at a much lower level than me, we were working on getting him up so we could actually group and share experiences together. But on this day, it seemed that luck was against us. If we attacked a sheltie, every centaur would appear right then and there to make shish kebabs out of me and send my father running for his life to the bridge. If we attacked a rook, then that avaik's father, mother, little sister, and next-door neighbor would be there to whoop our butts. If we found an elephant, even though I would snare it, that elephant would do a hundred-yard leap right on top of me, then ten elephants that just happened to be hiding behind a putrid skeleton would gore the daylights out of us. At the end of the day, my father had gained barely a bubble of experience, while I had dropped down to two bubbles into 31.

Then I thought maybe I would be better off trying to solo in Kunark since I had some success there before. No such luck. I went to the Lake of Ill Omen, and it certainly seemed the right name for it for me because my spiral downward just kept continuing. Every time I went to attack a sabertooth grimalkin, an icebone or charbone skeleton would just happen to be right behind me as I was kiting the sabertooth. Attack an Iskar exile, and sure enough, a Sarnak dragoon or a goblin warlord would wander in the same area. And if I high-tailed it out to the Frontier Mountains, hoping for respite, I was again out of luck, for somehow or telepathically, several mountain giant tumps would be there to greet me the minute I zoned. I had now reached level 30 and was just three bubbles away from 29 when I was at the most desperate point. What was I to do? Certainly, I did not want to quit, but it seemed that if I kept this up, I would be an old newbie in no time at all.

I had decided to take a break from battle and went to Toxxulia Forest to hunt snake eggs for my baking skill. It is pretty pathetic when a level 30 druid has to con moss snakes to see if they were going to attack him or not, but the shape I was in, this is what I was doing. I had decided to rest beside the bridge there to make some dough when out of nowhere, pop, this gnomish-looking froglok appeared. "So what seems to be your problem, human?" he kind of sneered at me, and I began to relate to him my downfall. It was strange, but the more I told him my story, the angrier I got. By the time I had reached the end of it, I had reached a level of hate that I thought I was not capable of. "Well, you dumb human," he said with an evil grin on his face, "why don'tcha just give up? Obviously, this isn't the place for the likes of you!" It was then I knew something wasn't right. Frogloks don't dwell in Toxx Forest, and this one took a special interest in me. "Why, thank you, no," I smiled at him, "thanks to you, I just got my courage back, and I know I can go on. Bless you for your help." That's when he screamed and revealed himself as Lord Innoruuk. "You think you're smart, human!" he spat at me, "but let both you and all your friends be forewarned, I will make life as miserable and hard for each and every one of you. You thought the challenges that faced you before were hard, now I will make them harder!" I thanked him again, "Lord Innoruuk, I know that we are opposed in ideology, and you must make things as difficult as you can. Thus, I must accept your challenge and continue to do the things I was doing, for I may not win this battle or the next, but if I stick to my conviction, then in the end, I might win the war." And with that, Lord Innoruuk flipped me the finger and disappeared.

So, dear friends, if all of a sudden you start losing a bubble or two or three, or if it seems that the mobs begin to take a special interest in you over everyone else, or even if that creature that normally tries to avoid you all of a sudden has that "My-momma-can-whup-your-momma" look in his eyes, look around for a strange-looking creature, for you can be sure that Lord Innoruuk has set his sights on you. And if he has, you have the same three choices that I had: to blame your group, partner, the gods, the moon, or the stars; to camp and go into a permanent coma, leaving your friends wondering what happened to you; or to pull up your socks and carry on. I, for one, hope you choose the latter, for I believe that we can be stronger than hate is. And if it's not possible to eliminate it, at least we can try to keep it at bay. That, in itself, is a worthwhile victory.

Take care and quest well,
Mystikos Samaritan

© Copyright 2023 Kenneth G Brennan

No Code Website Builder