Monday, May 13, 2013

The Grand Vizier: Part V

Bladesinger crossed his huge, battered arms and propped them on the stone parapet. The view from the top of the Darkspire was appropriately excellent.  On a good day, the ashy, toxic smoke from the volcano would blow away to the east and from here you could see all the way to the Greenlands.

In a move somewhat typical of the Storyteller and his often generic, wide audience work, the Greenlands were called Greenlands because they were in fact green.  If you walked thirty miles to the west of here you would reach an utterly unnatural line of demarcation.  While some kingdoms had rivers or coastlines or walls for their border, The Darklands were clearly marked by the spot where the grass was literally greener on the other side.  As soon as you crossed that line, formerly murky, rushing rivers full of jagged rocks instantly sparkled, prancing and laughing over smooth, happy looking boulders.   The fields, which were desolate and thorny, became sun kissed meadows, dusted with wildflowers and teeming with butterflies.  Even the sunshine was brighter and more golden in the Greenlands.

 The Vizier’s realm itself was a collection of dark and vile locales seemingly designed with the distinct purpose of making your skin crawl. Ruins and tombs and inexplicable weirdness were aesthetic standbys.  Occasionally the Storyteller would bother to pencil in a back story when the need for tales of ancient doom were called for to add weight and history, but the vast majority of the times things were just an ordinary creepy.    Bladesinger frowned as he remembered an epic duel with Goodman Thief in a skeletal forest some miles to the South.  They had battled back and forth through the leafless trees for half a day, and when the sun had set, the naked giants had glowed a burning white.

Elsewhere you could find hideous temples to hideous gods which the Vizier had told him had never been hideously worshipped.  The grim sanctuaries were staffed by over muscled, heavily oiled and hairless priests who carried staffs topped by ominously glowing knobs.   In general they were inept as they were bloodthirsty.  Evil priests who intended to gruesomely sacrifice under clad maidens were a standby in some of the more lurid tales.  Usually there were a few giant snakes on the premises as well and background characters were advised to avoid passing that way.

Bladesinger himself had never really worried about getting eaten during his many adventures.  As the hideous lieutenant, he was also an archetype and technically immortal. He was only technically immortal because his job required him to die rather spectacularly on a fairly regular basis only to awake a few days later in preparation of his next narrative outing. By now, Bladesinger had done bottomless pits, vicious chopping machines, collapsing archways, and even a few immolations.  Once in awhile he would get “trapped forever” in an ancient tomb or endless cave complex.  He’d learned to carry a pack of cards and a stub of candle on his person at all times for just such occasions.  Sometimes it was days before he would be popped back to the Dark Spire or find himself in a dark forest preparing to menace a caravan.

He didn’t always die though; at least not the first time. Bladesinger was a personal fan of the apparent death and vengeful return.  While it nearly always ended in his extraordinarily certain death (impaling was currently in vogue) it gave him some serious face time in the third act and occasionally let him upstage the hero.

He sighed and turned away from the parapet.  Actually putting one over on the hero was the life dream of every villain ever born. At least the more clear eyed rogues who ended up being archetypes. The majority of them spent the better part of their time leafing through ancient archives and digging through arcane tomes in search of the edge which would allow them to finally pull one over on the heroes.    Someday, perhaps someone would do it and maybe the villain would become the hero and someone would write stories and they would be famous and beloved across the land.  In the meantime, they were doomed and the wicked world had fallen under a malaise of unoriginality.  The Vizier always “died” and the good guy got the girl.  It was the rules.

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