|ostfest V, Part III: The Devas: For the Love of Mankind
|Posted on Tue, September 13, 2005 by Dongul
|CruelSummerLord writes ""What a strange creature man is! Both good and evil, neither good nor evil, and everything in between."
- Bjornungard of Everreach, storm giant philosopher.
The Devas: For the Love of Mankind"
Posted with permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
WHY DO YOU STRUGGLE, WHY DO YOU HELP MAN? I AM ALWAYS IN HIS HEART, AN EXTENSION OF HIS WILL. I AM THERE WHEN HE KILLS. I AM THERE WHEN BROTHER BETRAYS BROTHER. I AM THERE WHEN HE TURNS TO THE DEMONS, THE GREED, THE HATRED. YOU SEE WHAT MAN DOES TO PLEASE ME. YOU SEE WHAT HE DOES WITH HIS OWN WILL. WHY, WHY DO YOU STRUGGLE?
We fight for what we know is right. We are in the deeds of man; his charity, his humility, his sacrifice, his justice. You believe in your hubris, your evil, your corruption. But we know what man’s deeds can bring with our help.
The angelic being struggled in the vampire’s iron grip, concentrating on his spell. He pushed the creature back as far as he could, and reached into his will. The vampire spat and cursed, trying again to drain the creature’s spirit.
“You, you-“ the creature cursed. The deva’s magic finally pushed it away, as he finally stood up. He raised the long, slender sword in his hand, smiling as it glowed with inner fire.
“You should know that our souls cannot be drained,” the deva answered calmly. The vampire hissed, calling to the wolves and bats that served him.
“No negative power, no animal will strike me,” the deva said calmly, pointing its flaming sword at the vampire. The foul thing screamed and cursed him, as it charged once again.
The deva only chanted calmly. The vampire suddenly howled and thrashed about, unable to see. It knew its time had come; nothing could stop the deva now.
The movanic deva struck seven times, its sword cutting through the vampire as if it were nothing. The vampire struck back in frustration, but could do nothing against the deva’s assault.
“My spirit…lives on…” the vampire snarled. “I will…return…”
“Not if your coffins are all destroyed,” the deva answered. “Your traps, although dangerous, were both detectable and avoidable.”
With that, he ran the foul creature through.
MAN’S DEEDS CONCEAL HIS TRUE NATURE. HE PLOTS, HE SCHEMES, HE PLANS FOR ADVANTAGE. WHAT GOOD ARE THE DEEDS, IF THE THOUGHTS REFLECT AUGHT BUT EVIL?
We fight for man when he has nothing to gain. To help him help himself, we fight by his side and on his behalf. He gains nothing, yet strives for perfection, for the greater good. Truly he plans, he plots and schemes, but not all plans entail evil, nor yet personal gain. When both ends and means are just, we will be there.
The Elemental Plane of Fire was a place of magma, of solid flame, of brass and bronze. Dangerous creatures lurked everywhere, few of them at all friendly to humans or other creatures from the material plane.
Peter cursed. He should have known better than to try and fight the demon face to face…and now here he was, trapped in another plane of existence, with no sword, shield or armor. He was barely able to stand the heat, the bright lights flaring above him. A ring of fire prevented him from leaving the brass pedestal he was trapped on, and the massive fire elemental and the dozen salamanders beyond it would tear him apart if he somehow managed to cross it. Not that it mattered; he was battered, half-dead, and slipping into delirium.
Some hero he turned out to be. The priests of St. Cuthbert save him from certain death, asking him to slay a demon in return. And now he’s trapped until the demon comes to tear him apart. He would never see the clerics, or any other human being, ever again.
He suddenly heard the salamanders slithering away, entering into a massive battle against…something? Was the demon back? He couldn’t see through the flames…
Then, suddenly, the ring of fire vanished. Surprised, Peter looked around, and across the chasm saw the salamanders all clashing with…an angel? They screamed in frustration and terror; nothing they did seemed to be able to harm the creature.
Peter looked around, and cursed as he saw the massive fire elemental looking down at him. The creature seemed to be smiling as it contemplated just how slowly it would burn him alive. It raised a massive fist, increased the intensity of its flames…
And ceased moving, suddenly frozen in place.
“They’re not very intelligent”, Peter heard a voice say behind him.
The warrior turned around, and suddenly saw the angelic being standing in front of him…Hieroneous, now I know I’m delirious.
The deva merely smiled at him, and placed a hand on his shoulder, chanting a spell.
Peter’s wounds suddenly healed before his very eyes.
“You’ve…come to take me to the Seven Heavens?” Peter asked ironically. “I didn’t know I was worthy of the honor.”
“I’ve come to take you back to your home world of Oerth,” the deva answered with a smile. “I act for the priests who engaged you. They would not abandon you. They might be hard, stern and disciplined, but they would never abandon a brother in arms.”
Peter didn’t know what to say, remembering all the words he had already said about the priests of St. Cuthbert, especially the unkind ones. He finally shook his head.
“It’s getting hot here,” he noted dryly.
“So it is,” the deva answered brightly. “Shall we be gone, then?”
The deva took Peter’s hand, vanishing with him in a flash of light.
AND WHAT OF THE HEART OF MAN? WHAT DOES HE HOPE TO GAIN FROM HIS ACTIONS? DO YOU THINK HE TRULY DOES THESE THINGS WITHOUT KNOWING, IN HIS HEART, WHAT HE GAINS? HOW CAN THAT BE DONE?
You exist in the hearts of man, but so do we. Man has both evil and good in his heart. He does both evil and good, and we fight for what we know truly lies within him. For while years pass, deeds come and go, we always persist, and always have and will defend what we know truly lurks in the hearts of man…
This level of the Abyss reflected its master’s heart. Cold, bleak and almost devoid of life, it radiated malice and hatred to the two beings who trudged through the thigh-deep snow and ice. One was a thinly built man in furs and armor, bearing a huge two-handed battleaxe over his shoulder. The other was a strange creature of golden skin and hair, whose eyes and wings glowed amber and white.
Rory shivered. He hated to think of his brother in this hellish world, lost so long ago to him, sacrificed by…he forced himself to remain calm, remembering that he would have vengeance on that treacherous priest someday, somehow. The deva who accompanied him had been his guide, his friend, the only way he would have survived the battles he had fought in this horrific place.
“Kostichchie no doubt knows we’re here by now,” Rory muttered. “Half a dozen dead frost giants are a clear enough warning.”
“Peace, friend Rory,” the deva said calmly. “We have come to the magical prison, I know it. We will soon be gone from this wicked realm.”
“A pity we had to come in the first place. But I cannot break my oath…how could I live with honor, knowing that Donal, my blood-brother, is trapped in the frosts of the Abyss?”
The deva did not answer, chanting its magic. A magical field appeared out of nowhere on the icy plains, a young man floating inside, seemingly in a coma. Rory rushed to catch the man as the deva stepped forward, chanting again. The man’s eyes slowly opened, as his wounds healed.
“…Rory?” Donal Archaen asked, looking around as if awakened from a centuries-long sleep. “Where…how…all I remember is…”
“It would take too long to explain,” Rory said silently, helping his brother to his feet. “Thank Obad-Hai you’re alive.”
A high-pitched, maniacal laughing suddenly pierced the air. A dozen different voices seemed to be sniveling, sneering, leering and lisping all at once; the cries of plaintive children, the sighs of dying old men, the laughs of maniacs, the plots of despots, all rang in the air.
“Blasphemy!” laughed one of the voices.
“Thank Kostchchie, you mean!” sniggered the other.
The deva chanted a spell hastily, and was soon repulsed by the sights it saw. A pair of leucrotta, ugly hooved creatures with hideously splotched hides and viciously fanged jaws, appeared out of nowhere. Above them flew a large, majestically cruel dragon of pure white, upon which sat a creature resembling a hairless, bandy-legged giant. His oval head, thick eyes and gnarled limbs all shone a dull yellow in the Abyss’s colored light.
Kostchtchie, demon lord.
He glared down at the insolent strangers who had invaded his home, and merely snarled. His pets sprang to the attack, even as he lowered his dragon to strike.
The two leucrotta sprang at Rory and Donal. Rory quickly tossed his brother a sword, as they fought desperately against the foul creatures, who continued to sneer and laugh even as they struck, making the men’s ears ring with curses and blasphemy.
The deva merely raised its mace and charged at the demon lord and his dragon. The dragon breathed, a wave of glittering, freezing shards of cold soaring down on the breeze towards its foe.
The deva simply charged through the cold and smashed the dragon with its mace, knocking the creature senseless. It fell limp and began to fall towards the ground, even as its rider snapped his fingers and disappeared.
He reappeared behind Rory, who withdrew his axe from the body of the leucrotta in front of him. Rory turned around at a warning from his brother, and barely had time to raise his blade before Kostchtchie viciously struck him down with the huge warhammer the demon carried. The tall man collapsed, stunned and barely able to breathe.
Donal pulled his sword out of the other leucrotta, and charged the demon lord, plunging his sword into the demon’s stomach.
Kostchchie seemed not to care, nor even notice as Donal struggled to pull the useless sword free. He merely raised his hammer to strike the hapless warrior down.
Donal cursed, trying vainly to reach Rory’s axe before they were both killed. He knew he would never make it before the hammer crushed him.
Kostchtchie suddenly stopped and screamed as a mass of magical blades appeared, cutting and slicing his flesh. The enraged demon struck the blades aside, and turned to face the astral deva as it came down to attack.
The deva struck him with his mace, dodging the demon’s hammer blow. Kostchychie swung again, catching the deva in one hand as it flew above his next strike. The demon then chanted an evil spell of its own, causing the deva to writhe in agony.
Donal stood back, not knowing what to do. He felt he should help the deva, but wondered what he could do against the demon lord’s strength and magic. He feared also to abandon his brother, who lay, stunned, from the demon lord’s blow.
Fear not, my friend, the deva communicated to him.
Donal shook his head. The demon was tearing the deva apart, and it would die if it stayed here any longer…
I will die, the deva imparted to him, but not in vain. Through my sacrifice, I have saved an innocent soul, and enabled two brothers to be re-united. I could ask for no better fate.
The last thing Donal saw before the deva’s magic teleported him and Rory away was Kostchtchie viciously striking the deva down, as the deva landed one last, defiant blow with his mace.
||Average Score: 3