Well, its February 27th. And with the month almost over, it is time to present Chapter 8 of my Gauntlet Dark Legacy fic, Legendary Hereos. That means the third chapter that was purely written from the notes I had set up back in 2002. As always, I hope you enjoy this chapter as well. Believe it or not, I am continuing this fic series as I post this, and I hope you love what comes next.
(This story is based off characters from the game Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. The events of this story take place before the game.)
Chapter 8: In My Father's Shadow
Of the eight realms, none is more fantastic than the Dream Realm. In this realm, anything one can imagine becomes reality. Anyone not native to the realm could possibly lose their minds when confronted with the strange sights within the realm. It was for that reason alone that the primary occupants of the realm were the real Jesters.
While one might look at a Jester, and think it was nothing more than a glorified fool, true Jesters were gifted fighters. Their appearance was only part of their power, since it lulled opponents into a false sense of superiority. Many an opponent had been defeated by a Jester's bomb, and the current prince of the Dream Realm, Ishkar, was one of the best Jesters. While he enjoyed crafting places where people could visit in the Dream Realm, he was also gifted with accurate fighting abilities.
It had come in handy during the occasional Imp attack. That usually happened in the more established areas outside the castle. Ishkar had even created one of those established areas. It had been made into what one might call an Amusement Park. There, many visitors would enter into the festivities, and Ishkar made sure they were entertained.
With that in mind, Ishkar was surprised when darkness started to infest his area. First, the games the people enjoyed playing turned darker, and more people started losing them than normal. The circus shows had also started taking a darker turn. His fun little haven for the people and visitors to the Dream Realm was becoming a nightmare, and that was a horrible thing to happen.
The only thing that he could do was consult with his father. That meant returning to his home, which when he first created this part of the Dream Realm, was a pathway through disguised as a fun house. Now things had changed. The fun house had taken on a more sinister feel. It had become a place of fear. Even the mirrors that had been placed to make distorted reflections of people now made anyone whole looked into them appear to be wicked, two dimensional fiends.
Ishkar had remembered stories from the days of Skorne, and how the demon had created such evil creatures to help control the Dream Realm. They had been the only ones that could remain in the Maze of Illusion for extended amounts of time. Any being that tried to stay there for too long went insane, unless you were royalty of the Dream Realm.
The entrance to that maze was at the very top of the building, and Ishkar made his way there carefully. Right now, the building seemed alright, but parts of it were reconfiguring itself as he walked through. Once, he had to tread very carefully around one area, for it had a very unusual shadow. He knew what it was. It was a resting Shadow Golem. They never took up residence in a good dream. They remained in the space between dreams, or in the foulest of nightmares.
He reached the doorway, and as he passed through, Ishkar could have sworn he felt another dream was trying to insert itself between the house and the maze. Ishkar kept his mind focused, and kept it from forming for the time being. It didn't stop him from sensing something foul about it. It felt full of some of the worst taboos anyone could dream about. Nothing that foul had been seen since the times of Skorne, and his follower, The Shadow Wraith.
Just the thought of the foul thing made him shiver. It would be a very dark day if that thing returned. Luckily, the Lantern of Revelation should still be in its place in the throne room, right behind the throne, where the barrier between the dreams and nightmares was the thinnest. The Lantern's light even cast a warm positive glow that radiated from the palace.
As he neared the throne room, Ishkar realized something wasn't right. The glow seemed to have dimmed, like the Lantern was being obscured. Even when he entered the room, it felt darker in the room. It was enough to make him look towards the throne, and for a moment, he felt relieved. His father was sitting there, looking over a mystical display of the realm. He must see what was going on in the realm.
He walked over to his father, and said, “Father. Some thing is happening to the Realm. Imps are starting to show up in the various dreams, and they are turning dark. I think I even saw the mirrors that housed the Warlocks showing up.” He was about to say more, but then he noticed something.
His father had a very neutral look on his face, as if what was being told to him didn‘t matter at all. He had never noticed a look of uncaring on the man‘s face before, and here it was. His father had always shown some sort of concern when something foul entered a dream.
After a moment, he heard his father say, “I know. I‘ve been working to stop it. Those against us have been trying to take our power. I‘ve finally found the source of the incursion, and I‘ve been working to stop it.” For a moment, Ishkar felt better, and then he saw his father move towards the Lantern, reaching to decrease its light.
He quickly ran over and grabbed the Lantern. “Father, have you lost your senses? This is what is keeping the powers of darkness at bay. If you…” His voice caught in his throat when he saw two malice filled, green glowing eyes looking at him. There was only one thing that had eyes like that.
He backed up as his ‘father‘ started to advance towards him. “So you‘ve realized it. I am working with the Shadow Wraith. He was right, you know. Fear is needed to keep things in line. People can‘t know they can control their dreams. The time is right as well. Skorne is returning to power. This time, he won‘t be stopped.”
Ishkar reacted on instinct. He held up the Lantern, and let loose the full force of its light. It lit up the whole area, and Ishkar could see that the barrier was already open. A large vortex was behind his father, but instead of it drawing things in, it was spewing forth darkness.
The light also caused two transformations to happen. The first was that Ishkar‘s father‘s skin split apart. To his horror, all that was left was The Shadow Wraith. He also saw an intense hatred in its eyes, and heard its voice utter in an unworldly tone, “You are one of them. You will die.”
Ishkar knew what he could do. He pulled out one of the bombs that was the traditional weapon of Jesters, and went to throw it. He knew the Lantern would weaken the thing, but he hesitated. This hesitation was because he saw the second transformation that had happened.
His hand had been replaced with a paw of sorts. He then noticed that his face had lengthened out in a muzzle. He remember the tales of the person who originally used the Lantern. The original Jester had transformed into a Hyena when he wielded the Lantern. It was the sign of a Legend, and now it was Ishkar‘s time to be the Legend.
Unfortunately, that momentary distraction allowed the Shadow Wraith to strike a surprising blow to Ishkar. One of shadowy blades that formed the Wraith‘s cape had lashed out, and it struck right at the Lantern. The blow caused the thing to fly out of the palace, but Ishkar knew it wouldn‘t leave the Dream Realm. All he needed to do was to reclaim it.
For now, Ishkar knew he had to flee. He jumped back as another attack lashed out, proving that his thought process was correct. He was not any match for the Shadow Wraith. He would need help, and there was only one place to go to find it. He just had to get out of the palace.
He ran quickly through the Maze of Illusion, his body returning to his human form. As he did, the maze shifted in ways that he never saw before. Once he was through that, he passed through that odd portal, and to his relief, it expanded just as he finished traveling though it. He glanced back long enough to see that it truly was a horrifying nightmare.
Eventually, he made it out of the path to the palace, as well as the carnival that he had created. Both were now macabre versions of what they had been, infested with all sorts of foul creature. No one would have nice dreams now, and if the words of the Shadow Wraith was right, it wasn‘t going to be a pleasant time for anyone in the other realms.
He then glanced out at one part of the Dream Realm that never changed. It was the only way people could visit the realm when they were awake. It was Sumner‘s Tower, home of one of the most power wizards who had ever existed. If anyone would know how to battle Skorne, it would be the powerful wizard. According to some, he was either around at the first time of Skorne, or related to the wizard who had been there at the time. He then made his way to the tower, feeling help would be found there.