The Challenge of the Gate

Joint Post - D2wintr & Enderslayer

The first Lich leaned forward and spoke once more its deep voice filling the chamber once again.

" With what does a wise man struggle with most in life?"

"Ignorance." Ursa answered simply, recalling riddle from the countless her mentor had amused himself by telling her during her early years in the Order.

The first Lich nodded its approval leaning back once more into its throne as the next one leaned forward and asked its question.

“I was tall when I was young and short when I grew old. What am I ?”

“A Candle.” Ursa answered, recalling the riddle from her youth.

Another Lich spoke.

“The more you take, the more you leave behind. What am I ?”

“Footsteps.” The answer came to her almost at once.

The Lich at the right hand of the high throne spoke this time.

“Tell me, What is the meaning of Death?”

“Physical, Religious, or Philosophical ? “ Ursa found herself countering when it became clear to her that this was a question and not just another riddle. When no answer was forthcoming she sighed recalling the words of one of her other mentors within the Black Order..

“Within the limits of the physical sense one could assume death as being the polar opposite of life but with that being said the Priests of the Black Order view death as simply being just another stage in a unending cycle of progression with no true beginning and no true end. ”

Ursa shrugged then.

“Religiously I would venture that Death is a tool of control used to enforce submission and conformity among the masses. A fear of it ensures that a structure and hierarchy of dominance is maintained and that an individual's worth can be weighed and measured.”

“ And what of Philosophically? “

“Philosophically, The Black Order teaches that death is the moment of liberation from reality and the uniformity of individuality. It is for a brief time separation of the soul from the self where-in if only for a moment we are free of the endless cycle of existence.”

The Liches spoke at length it seemed, regarding her answer in whispering voices that she could not hear until at last they all nodded in agreement and the challenge continued.

“I have cities, but no houses. I have mountains, but no trees. I have water, but no fish. What am I?”

“A Map.”

‘What disappears as soon as you say its name?”

“Silence.” Ursa countered.

“Is there a moral difference between good and evil?’

Ursa was taken aback by the sudden question requiring a moment to consolidate her thoughts on the subject put before her. “Subjectively speaking No.”

“Explain your thinking.”

“ Well, I mean if you think about it... the issue of what is Good and what is Evil really comes down to the concepts of intention and belief doesn’t it.” She paused then thoughtfully. “ Really Good and Evil are in and of themselves only idea’s or more simply an interpretation of reality. They do not in and of themselves exist within the realm of nature meaning that Good and Evil do not exist within things but rather only within the minds of the individual.”

“In the end all judgments of what is Good and what is Evil are relative to the individual making that judgement. What is viewed as Good by one individual may not in fact be viewed as Good by another if they even believe in the concept of Good and Evil themselves.”

The Liches once again spoke among themselves for a short period of time before the challenge continued.

"What is the fate of those who run from death, What is the fear of all life. The very fabric of reality, the nightmare that none can escape. What is this thing?"


“ A final question... “ The Lich seated on the high throne announced, drawing all eyes to him as he spoke. “Imagine yourself the Lord of a once great and powerful kingdom with the armies of your enemy's now massing on all borders north, east, south, and west. Imagine your beloved queen who would poison every cup you would drink from and every dish you would eat. Imagine an heir who would place a dagger in your heart at the first sign of weakness. How would you survive against such odds as these ?”

“I should stop imagining that I'm a Lord of anything and be content with who and what I am.” Ursa said simply enough shrugging her shoulders.

The Liches apparently found her answer amusing and chuckled in amusement amongst themselves as they faded away one by one until only the Lich seated on the high throne remained.

“Well done Traveler, prepare yourself for the final test.”

As the Lich on the High throne faded from view much in the same manner as his companions had before him. The great metal doors beyond began to open slowly outward. A glowing green mist pouring outward from the chamber beyond quickly covering the floor beneath her feet.

“Prepare myself for what?” Ursa sounded back as her attention shifted from the now empty throne to the doorway and the darkness beyond. “ Prepare myself for... “

“For me my love…”

The voice was as oddly familiar as was the shape that took form in the doorway. Ursa’s heart freezing in her breast as her gaze fixed upon the silhouette. Not some random horror or twisted undead nightmare spit out of the maze at random. No this was something more intimate and much much more familiar this time given that the thing that now stood before her was, for lack of a better description, herself.

“ Surprise!” It announced, in a loud sing-song voice.

Not simply some twisted version of herself paraded around before her eyes. No, what stood before her now was by all appearances a record of every mistake and failure that she could ever recall. A patchwork of open festering wounds that had never closed coupled with exposed and broken bones protruding for torn flesh.

“ You wouldn’t believe how long I have wanted to meet you in the flesh.” Her undead doppelganger announced. “ How long I have waited for the chance to inflict upon you. Every hurt and injury you have ever inflicted upon me.”

Sarcasm overwhelmed Ursa’s good sense as she could not help but shake her head in mock annoyance. “ Goddess above, even as a member of the undead I am still boring as hell.”

The undead doppelganger hissed its annoyance. “ Slut.”

“ Whore.” Ursa shot back.

“I’m gonna make you bleed …” It hissed at her.

“Blah, blah, I’m fucking gonna kill you blah blah…” Ursa fired back.

At this point Ursa’s undead opposite screamed at her as it drew it’s weapons and charged at her in a blind fury.

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