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Library: Power has its Price, A Lost Times Tale.

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Author: Yari
Date:Nov 2 1995

   Servants are so hard to come by, I swear.
   In the old days, well, what any mortal would call the old 
days(time matters not to me, you see), servants were begging to come 
into my fold.  So many, they all were so easily turned from the 
light, all it took was the slightest extension of my power into 
their material plane...  Greedy mortals, they were attracted me as 
moths to a flame.
   My plane requires considerable maintenance.  For this, I need to 
enslave souls.  It is such a chore to clean up after my saturnalia, 
and I'll be damned(oops, too late, ha!) if I am going to demean 
myself in that way.  It is not a simple job being the greatest 
source of evil in the entire multiverse.
   At any rate, I could regale amusing tales of mayhem, but my 
intent here is to tell you of a particularly good servant I acquired 
quite some time ago.  You see, I had recently thrown a fete for 
Asmodeus, and in the process, as it usually happens, several of my 
attendants were...hmm, for lack of a better term, destroyed.  I took 
one look at the mess and knew iimediately that I required a 
particularly strong candidate.
   I checked the list of mortals that had taken my offer of eternal 
damnation for minor mortal power, and one name seemed to jump out at 
me, 'Apocalipsis'.  Hmm, perhaps it was time to tip the scales in my 
favor on this one.  You must understand, I never made any guarantee 
to these fools that I would not interfere with them, I simply said 
that I would enhance their power, and if they were to be slain, then 
they would be mine.
   Hmm, Apocalipsis, let's just see, what _are_ you up to?  I viewed 
him, he was, as usual locked in combat, only this time, as luck 
would have it, it was against a worthy foe.  Oh ho, look at that, 
it's old Tiamat, picking on a band of mortals, one of whom happened 
to be my chosen one!  Ha!  Unfortunately for me, the mortals seemed 
to be winning, this simply would not do.  Curse those healers, they 
irked me one too many times.
   In a flash, I appeared next to Tiamat.  "Tia dear, how HAVE you 
been?"
   Tiamat swivelled 2 heads to glare at me.  "What do you want," she 
said(bear in mind that when tiamat spoke, the words came from all 
different heads at different times, it really is quite pleasantly 
unsettling.) "I am occupied a the moment, and we have an agreement, 
so leave me be."
   "I, surprisingly enough, want nothing more than to offer you some 
of my might.  You see, I wish to have one of your tormentor's souls, 
and I am afraid that I must bend some rules to get it."
   Tiamat's heads stopped snaking in all directions and turned 
toward me as one.  "And what, pray tell, must I do for you?  You 
have never made it a habit to give freely of yourself, do not expect 
me to believe that you are starting now."
   "True, true, it is not my nature, but in a way, what I am getting 
is this particular soul, and what you are getting is your life.  As 
it stands, you are losing this battle, and you will fall, surely you 
know this; you need not admit it, I will spare your pride."  She 
snorted haughtily.  "All I will do is augment your power until you 
destroy this Apocalipsis.  After that, I collect his soul, and we 
are both on our own."
   Two mighty heads, red and black, reared toward the ceiling of her 
lair, lost in thought.  Blue and white scanned all exits for signs 
of our intrepid mortals, while green remained trained directly on 
me, searching for some sign of deceit, no doubt.  A low hiss escaped 
her, a sign of sure frustration(Tia always tried to keep her 
draconian nature in check when speaking to non-dragons.), and she 
spoke, each word from green head, a sign that she was very serious.  
"Yesss, I believe I shall take you up on this offer, but I have one 
provision.  My offspring, it is to be mine, no longer do you get my 
egg.  Our earlier arrangement is void as of your agreement.  Agree 
to this or get no cooperation from me!"
   Well, well, leave it to Tiamat to make my day less pleasant.  I 
truly do like her, she is a being after my own heart(as black as it 
is).  "Hmm, Tia you certainly know how to bargain.  What gave me 
away?  I did attempt not to appear eager, drat!  Alas, you have me 
here, and I will agree to your terms.  So, then!  It is done, go 
forth."
   A rumbling emerged from her chest, emerging as an enormous 
laughter.  It echoed powerfully through the cavern, shaking loose 
several stalactites, sending them crashing to the floor.  "YESSSS!  
I shall live up to my agreement!  You were a fool to offer so much 
at the outset, I knew immediately that you wanted this 'Apocalipsis' 
very much, indeed!  Begone, Satan, and leave me to my chore."
   I grinned, she was right, as usual, I had extended myself too far 
for her, and in the process, I had lost my access to her firstborn.  
Well, you really must admire her skill.  I quickly grew to a height 
rivaling her own and gave her a kiss, making her howl in rage,(she 
nearly managed to bite me, but I am too fast) and went back to my 
demense.
   Tiamat, with my help, did indeed slay Apocalipsis, but, like a 
fool, slew him while there were other adventurers about.  True to my 
word, I instantly removed my powers from Tia, and she subsequently 
fell to the remaining mortals.  I felt some remorse for her loss, 
but took some solace in the fact that her egg lived on, perhaps one 
day I would have my chance with her offspring.
   Nevertheless, I was forced to take my eye from this mortal strife 
to capture the soul that I had been after for so long.  I quickly 
searched the various planes where souls go after death on the mortal 
plane, and found Apocalipsis, a bit confused, but otherwise intact.  
Lars, as usual was hovering nearby, waiting to get Apocalipsis 
reincarnated to a new mortal body, but his face fell when he saw me.  
I smiled, my most charming smile, Lars hung his head and turned 
away.
   Apocalipsis saw me, and grinned, a mirror of my own.  Not what I 
expected, not at all.  Most of my previous servants had either 
screamed or tried to get away.  Not this one, no.  He walked to me 
and grasped my hand, bowing slightly.  "I am yours," he mouthed, for 
the dead have no voice, "take me into your fold."
   Take him into my fold, I did.  At first, I treated him as any 
other servant, and expected him to be destroyed within a short time.  
After several years had elapsed, though, he was still with me, 
grinning his evil grin, and I had grown to enjoy his company.  He 
was amusing, a perfectly loyal servant, and even at my most raucous 
gatherings of various demonkind, he always survived the ordeal.  
Indeed, even entertaining the demons with his tales of his evil 
deeds!  
   There was only one solution, I was forced to create a strong body 
for him.  With it, he could serve me as a demon, instead of a lowly 
spirit.  The unfortunate side effect would be that, as a demon, he 
would grow in power and influence, and eventually, like most demons, 
challenge me.  It was a risk that I would have to live with.
   This is, in the end, exactly what I did.  Apoc, as we called him 
now, was given this body, and over the years, he grew to have fame 
and fortune of his own, he was accepted by the other demons as 
peers, no longer an underling.  As predicted, our confrontation did 
come to pass...
   He approached me, my right hand, my protege.  He stood to his 
full height, nearly to my shoulder, and hailed me.  "Lord Satan, I 
have come to ask something of you."  He paused, waiting for my 
acknowledgement.  I nodded, and he continued.  "I have served you 
long and well, my time has come to copntrol my own domain, my own 
destiny."
   I stood and glared at him.  "Who are you to come and demand this 
of me?  You, to whom I have given unimagineable power.  You, with 
whom I have trusted secrets that no mortal would ever have even 
guessed!  How dare you!"  I was trembling with rage.
   Apocalipsis stepped back and waited for my anger to subside.  "My 
lord, I fear you misunderstand me."
   I paused a moment and sat back down.  "Continue, then, I will 
hear what you have to say, as you know, you are like no other 
servant that I have ever commanded."
   "I realize that work on your own plane is important, and that my 
help is useful in matters of demonic politics, but in the end, I 
fear that I am capable of more, that my abilities are going unused 
in this plane."  Apocalipsis stopped, and licked his lips, a 
particularly demonic habit he had picked up over the years.  "My 
lord, I am asking to go back to my realm, the mortal plane.  There, 
the realm with which no other demon is so familiar, I can be of 
immense help toward extending your influence!"
   Apocalipsis, always so inventive...Yes, this was an interesting 
thought.  I had long ago been closed off from the mortal plane by 
the implementors(yes, there are powers higher then even my own, they 
are our creators, and for the large part, they leave us to our own 
devices).  With Apocalipsis, I may one day be able to use him as a 
bridge to gain another foothold...  Yes, this was a great plan, I 
was rather glad I had thought of it!  "Apocalipsis, you may indeed 
go to the mortal plane.  You, of all demonkind, are the perfect 
being for the task.  Your name, however, must not remain as 
Apocalipsis.  Your name lives on in the mortal plane in legend, as 
one of Satan's victims.  If you were to return, my promise of 
eternal torment would lose all meaning.  Therefore, you must choose 
another before you are allowed to do so."
   Apocalipsis paced briefly.  "I understand and obey, Lord Satan.  
I am hereby to be named 'Apocalypse'.  Is this satisfactory?"  Apoc 
smiled, a most perfectly evil smile, demonic teeth gleaming in the 
light.
   "It is perfectly suited for you, my champion.  You are hereby 
granted this freedom, do not disappoint me, and report your findings 
every year to me.  Go now, and one day we shall meet again."  I 
raised my arm in salute.
   Apocalypse mirrored my salute and stalked off into the 
surrounding gloom.  As I heard his footfalls fading into the 
distance, I was already lost in thought.  Mortals...once again mine 
to torment, to play with.  It would bring demonkind together once 
more, instead of the fragmented existence that we live in now.  Yes,
Apocalypse, serve me well, for you hold the future of the mortal 
plane in your capable talons...


Taken from a log stolen from the shelves of Satan's bookcase, a story
that will have to wait for another day...


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