The Dungeon Master

((The Royal Dungeon, Karavoss))

When Ponce awoke, he was fully alert mere moments after, eyes darting about the strange room he was in. It was a certain type of room that he was acquainted with. A holding cell, and by the looks of it, maximum containment.

"I figured we would be detained, but not to this extent..." Ponce uttered aloud, turning to find a conscious Horns sitting aside him.

The room was circular in shape, some 20 or so feet in diameter. At it's perimeter stood a cylindrical wall of what looked to be glass, which held a smooth stone roof about 20 or so feet of the ground, and beyond that, darkness. The floor similarly composed of stone, and in the middle of the room was two beds, each housing one of the otherworldly interlopers. Looking up, two equidistant motes of light slowly circled the perimeter, closely hugging the wall and ceiling as they went, and as such, the lighting in the room span about, moving and shifting, as if it were being lit by a monochrome police siren in slow motion.

"What is this place..." Ponce spoke, partially to Horns, but more so to the seemingly endless shadow that persisted outside of the room. Looking to the Half-Tor now, Horns gestured to the other side of the room.

"Why don't you ask him?" He spoke, his tone notably somewhat dejected. Ponce looked over to see a tall elf, with a notably snow-colored head of hair that rested at his shoulders, and he was perhaps a head shorter than Horns, give or take a few inches.

"Who are you?" Ponce demanded to know, instantly springing to his feet, about as much uncertainty in his voice as Horns had ever heard, which admittedly wasn't much.

"My, what exuberance!" The elf exclaimed excitedly, bouncing on the balls of his feet and Ponce's display, "But, please do simmer down, I'm not going to kill you."

Ponce grimaced, "I know you're not, but I might kill you."

"Oh no, I don't think that's going to happen." The elf said, a small chuckle in his voice as if he found the sorcerer's threat humorous.

"And why is that?" Ponce replied, beginning to fume.

The elf shrugged, "A hunch?"

That was it. That was absolutely it! First Ponce was outdone by some two-bit eldritch horror wanna-be, and now this puny elf was toying with him?! His rage was palpable. No, it was tangible. He would end this now.

"I've had it! I've had it with this damned world, and the damned people on it, thinking yourselves so high and mighty, don't you know you stare in the face an ender of worlds?! I WILL DESTROY YOU! BOW TO ME!" Ponce exclaimed, reaching forth, shattering whatever measly disruption field the elf had up between himself and the glass, and pressing forth into his mind.

"Oh my, how exhilarating!" The elf spoke, beaming as he excitedly shifted his feet in anticipation, like a child preparing to witness a grand display.

Ponce entered the elf's mind, his skin cracking once more as he exerted extreme amounts of energy to rip his free will from him. Within seconds, he could feel it, he had control.

"Free me from this prison!" Ponce demanded.

"Of course, I would be honored to... but I cannot complete your req-"

"AND WHY THE HELL NOT!?" Ponce shouted, nearly losing himself in this rage.

"It is presently impossible for me to open your cell, as the key lies outside of this room."

Ponce stared at the elf, unsure whether it would be his rage or his annoyance that would push him over the edge.

"Well, leave the damned room AND GO GET IT, THEN!"

"I would love to, however, I am currently trapped in this room. There is no way I can leave it."

Ponce was prepared to take his rage a step higher, but caught himself as the elf finished talking. He took in a breath, the severity of his cracks beginning to lessen as he started to calm down.

"Why... Why is it, that you can't leave this room?"

"Before I entered, I put in place a countermeasure. There is no way for me to exit this room unless it is of my own free will. Until this prerequisite is met, the only door will remain locked, and cannot be opened."

Ponce raised his eyebrows, what a clever thing to do, but perhaps not too clever...

"Fine then. I'll just kill you."

"-and while I would love nothing more than to experience the full extent of your fascinating power, firsthand, no less, I am afraid there is no way you would ever be able to free yourself if you continue with that line of action."

Ponce frowned.

"I don't believe you."

"Probe my mind, you'll find only the truth. I'm a horrendous liar anyway."

Ponce searched the elf's mind, and he found two disturbing things. One, that the farthest reaches of his mind were closed off to him, in spite of the tremendous power he had exerted to enter it, and two, that the elf spoke the truth. Ponce looked to the elf quizzically.

'Just who is this guy?'

Ponce jumped, somewhat unnerved as the elf proceeded to respond, "I am called Vance Blazzareth. And you are... Ponce... and your horned friend there is... Brute? No... Horns... is that right? I'm quite new to this, forgive my inaccuracy."

Sensing the elf's intellect meshing with his own, their phyche's momentarily intertwining as Vance pressed against Ponce's mind control, the sorcerer physically recoiled, severing their mutual connection in an instant.

"So that's what that feels like..." Ponce muttered, still somewhat shivering at the memory of his mental integrity being invaded.

"You are quite vulnerable while you're doing that."

"I see..." Ponce spoke, a bit numb from the experience.

"What do you want from us?" Horns spoke, still level headed after everything that had happened.

"Ah, yes, Horns, since you ask, I take it you've noted that I've made no attempts on your lives thus far, though I suppose we'll just discard the fact that I stated that I don't want to harm either of you back when Ponce first awoke."

"Don't speak my name..." Ponce snapped, dull anger in his eyes, knowing there wasn't presently much he could do with it.

Horns focused his unnatural white stare on the warden.

"Answer the question."

Vance smiled, "Ah yes! My intentions, you ask? Quite simple, really, I wish to observe."

"What-" Ponce blankly stated, turning a stare of his own onto the elf.

"Ah, perhaps I should explain. You see, as of late, my tenure here in this dungeon has been dreadfully dull. Perhaps you've noted it, but as of late, Aeran has been sinking ever deeper into a dark age. Rules are being broken, new forces are rising to replace the old!"

"He says it like it's a good thing..." Horns quietly noted.

"Alas, in spite of all the excitement that has transpired, that will transpire, I sit here in my dungeon, tending to the same old things, otherworldly beasts, demons, fallen angelic creatures, you know, normal things!"

"Oookay, he's insane." Ponce said, though the comment did not halt the elf's monologue.

"I want to know what rests in the dark tidings that are taking thier hold on this world! Grand things are happening, and I want to be in the loop! So what sort of fool would I be, to let two individuals of unforeseen power and destiny, waltz right within my grasp, and yet not take advantage?"

Ponce waved his hands, motioning for the elf to stop, all the while an exasperated expression on his face, "Wait, wait, wait. So let me get this straight; you want to watch us, as we take part in destroying the livelihoods of yourself and everyone around you as you know it?"

"Oh, you paint it in such a dire light! I simply want to watch as you two bring about the change that you have come to unleash upon us all! Do you have any idea how many "Dark Ages" and "End Times" I've lived through? I'll be damned if I miss out on this one. I want to see how it all plays out in the end."

Ponce sat there for a moment, just taking a second to digest everything he had heard.

"So.... are you going to let us free?"

"Oh, most certainly! However, I happen to know a certain individual who would like to have a word with you. Something about a deal, as I understand it."

Ponce shook his head, flashing Horns quick glance, spotting his characteristically tame scowl.

"Well, it isn't like we have a choice, as much as that stings to say..."

< Prev : Demons and Men Next > : (An'neer) Slave of Zatar ~ Part 01