Death-Bed Story of a Guardian, Part I

From: ANDOVER@delphi.com
Date: Sun 12 May 1996 - 23:41:51 EEST


A slightly tongue-in-cheek story! Jim Chapin
The Guardian's Death-bed Story, Part I

"You know, my good wife, I'm pretty close to the end."

"I never told you much about myself, even after you took me in that night 35
years ago, and saved my life. But I've been loyal to you, and to Black Fang,
ever since. I ran the fencing operation pretty well, and 'cause no one here
knew me, I wasn't on the bad books of the Lunars."

"But it's time to tell you, especially 'cause I have no idea what will happen
next myself. The last time I died, I knew what would happen. Now I have no
idea. Who was it who said: 'Death opens unknown doors. It is most grand to
die?' I don't feel that way myself -- though I ain't sure now the way I was
last time where I would go."

"The last time I died? Oh, that got your attention, did it? This ain't my
first life, you know."

"No, I ain't gone crazy and this ain't some mystic theory. I KNOW. I have
been here before."

"How do I know I was? I was -- for all I know -- I AM a Thanatari Guardian. Ahh,
I shocked even you, I see? What do you know of Thanatar, the Severed God? Just
the headhunting bit, ehh? And you know enough to understand that there's a
Thanatari temple there under the Devil's Playground."

"But you don't know much else. That was my temple once, but it wasn't my temple
in this life, by the way; if it was, I would have been in more danger here.
They might have recognized my body."

"Recognized my body? Oh, yes, this ain't my body, or at least not my original
body. For all I know my original body may still be down there under the rubble,
as a zombie guardian."

"Oh, no, I am not a zombie, as you surely know. No, this fine body which has
given you so much pleasure and fathered our children wasn't mine at first. Tell
the truth, I know nothing of the person who had this body before; I never
asked."

"What is a guardian, and how did this come to be? I will tell you."

"Do you know, the best part of being a Thanatar worshipper is that it is the
only chaotic religion that offers you a decent afterlife, or even any at all?"

"First, you got to hang around the Place of Waiting for a while. Well,
admittedly, it is kind of boring. I once was in a line in Nochet, waiting for
my chance to purchase some bread during a shortage, and let me tell you, even
that is not as boring as Hell's Waiting Room!"

"But considering that most of the other chaos faiths offer you not much better
than returning to the chaos ooze or being swallowed up in Krarsht or becoming a
spirit of disease, I guess it ain't too bad."

"But let me tell you the best part, it's coming back as a guardian!"

"If you been a faithful servant of the Severed God in your first life, you
might get to come back again as a Guardian to a Rune-level of the Cult."

"It's a pretty good deal, sort of like being an allied spirit, but you get a
good human body instead of floating around in the air or sitting in a weapon or
being in an animal. And when I say a good human body, I mean a good one: the
cult picks hosts very carefully. They carry out a set of pretty awful
ceremonies, and then the old spirit is driven out of its body and the Guardian's
spirit comes in."

"Not only does you get a better body than you had in your previous life -- my
original body was nothing like the same shape as this one. Ha-ha!"

"That's a joke, as I am about to explain. How did I become a Thanatari? Oh, I
didn't tell you -- and I hope this don't shock you even more -- I didn't start
out human. I started as an ogre."

"No, no, my dear, I wasn't a monster even then -- hmm, then again, maybe I was
- -- but I certainly ain't now."

"We ogres work secretly, and most of us worship the Cacodemon -- there is a
temple to him too out there in the Rubble. He gives us our powers, but then
demands that we spend our life doin bad things for no particular reason -- not
that most of us don't enjoy doin them anyways -- I certainly did."

"But I was a smart guy even then, better at numbers than words, you know, you
always said so -- that's why I've been able to keep the books for our gang
mostly in my head."

"But the nice thing about Thanatar -- he gives you a chance to learn something
instead of just killing things like most of the chaootic Gods."

"But even him, I'm afraid, like most Gods, he isn't really too bright."

"Well, that is only to be expected, him running around without his head for most
of his existence, and living only by grabbing other's heads. As for the Atyar
part of him, it lay on that damn island for ages with nothing but rats and
savages for company."

"At that, our boy is smarter than most of the chaos Gods, though being smarter
than Thed or Cacodemon or Bagog, not to mention various piles of slime, isn't
too hard, I will admit."

"The Lawfools ain't much better, of course. Windy Orlanth spent half his life
killing Yelm and the other half getting him back, and loves crappy poetry to
boot."

"And he's got all those other silly little Gods trailin after him -- tradin,
studyin, healin and the like."

"And they all got nothing better to do with their time than to kill ogres, too."

"Yelm is dead half the time, thank Goodness -- too bad it ain't all the time."

"The Moonies -- they has got all these complicated dieties with contradictory
powers -- supposed ta work together but half the time they don't"

"The non-human Gods is even worse. Mostal is dead all the time and he has those
little machine things that worship him. And we have the walking plants and their
Gods, and the even stupider Darkness bunch. Since Kyger Lytor refuses to let
you interrupt a poem, I always wonder that Orlanth didn't just bore her silly
with one of his endless poems."

"Some of us ogres disguised ourselves right under the noses of the humans --
joining the Lawfool cults and eating people in secret. But I was ugly even for
an ogre, and when I found out that there was a cult that let me steal abilities
from the other species, I couldn't wait to join."

"Then I found out the downside -- geases!

"Of course, since the Severed God is chaotic, is not always clear what gift or
geas you may get, but I am afraid, like I said, he ain't really too bright.
Else why the geases? Why do truth Gods so often want geases? Humakt, and
Yelmalio, and our boy."

"The worst of it is that most of the geases make it harder to function, harder
to fight, or just all around lousy. Heard that some of the Yelmalios never
wash -- that must make them as popular as broos, and others never have sex --
that must make them as horny as broos."

- --to be continued--

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