End of the Powermaster
(( this was originally posted on Boo’s old forum, years ago… and a copy was emailed to cloud back on 1/31/15 - so i’m posting it here, now, for reference)
“I wanna try an experiment…”
Those five fatal words marked the end of The Powermaster. Daren, known across the sphere and the world of Toril for his extreme feats of magic and spellcraft, called mad by some - enemy by a great many, and friend by precious few. This is the story of how the being known best as “The Powermaster” came to an end.
But first, before we spin that yarn, there is a few tales that must be told, so that you - dear reader - will fully understand what all has occurred.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the tale of how Daren tricked and tutored a simple ogre into becoming a fellow Powermaster, and how that ogre went on to craft the Great Obelisk. You may have also heard of how Zap turned a simple doppleganger into a never-before-seen race called a Managanger, or how that creature (who claims the name Malathon) went on to develop previously unheard of items of both magic and technology.
Well, as one might have imagined, once the “design” for the Managanger was proved viable and stable (even if the personality was not) - Zap deployed this process to upgrade his oldest comrade into a Managanger as well. Daren took to the new race like a fish to water, and enjoyed a great many less restrictions on his magic as a result. Dead magic zones, once the most formiddable bane to Daren, were now just a speedbump to the powermaster.
Malathon, however didn’t particularly care for Daren overshadowing him, and so set out once more to push the boundaries - even the foundations of magic to new heights. Alchemical genetic manipulation, spell regeneration, manawelders and more drove him ever onward. And as he reached the furthest edges of magic, he reflected on all the (rather painful) lessons that Daren had learned over the eons. Formulating advanced theory from where others had gone before and failed, he achieved an epiphany - one that he could not achieve, but could manipulate others into helping him succeed.
Approaching his creator, Malathon wheedled Zap into using the Earth Stone fragment in Damar’s forge to fashion a Microsphere, a miniature universe in of itself a replica of Realmspace but on a micro-cosmic level. He had the foresight to convince Zap to build two such spheres, one for him and one for Daren - knowing full well the Magnesti rarely refused to aid his oldest friend. After Zap exhausted himself crafting the spheres, Malathon begged for a few giant rings of spherecrystal to experiment on, then left his tired creator alone to rest.
Escaping into his hidden offworld sanctum, Malathon emerged a month later - triumphant at last. Worldwalking to Daren’s tower, the once power blue managanger looked mottled and white. No sooner than he arrived, an avatar of Mystra appeared with a thundercrack and attempted to force ascension on Malathon. This drew quite a crowd of attention, including that of several Darens. Malathon refused, and when she grabbed his arm and flooded him with divinity, the managanger merely grimaced and seemed to ABSORB the goddess on the spot.
A shriek from the heavens echoed across the land, and another avatar of Mystra appeared, along with two other avatars - Azuth and Corellon. She pointed a finger at Malathon “You DARE to deny the command of the Divine Council of Magic ?” Malathon snarled back “You don’t get it, do you bitch? The rules have changed! Now leave me alone or I will annihilate you.”
Purpling with rage, the goddess released a True Power Word Kill at Malathon. As the 200th level spell effect struck him, he gave her a fleeting grin before crumpling lifeless to the sands of Anauroch. “And that is that !” she proclaimed a scant moment before he stood back up and dusted himself off. “Tell me, weave witch, do you feel the pain that your avatars suffer ?” Tilting his head, he watched as tiny cuts opened up across each and every square inch of flesh on the goddess of magic. Howling with pain, both she and the other two gods threw healing or dispelling effects, which seemed to have no influence on her condition. After a few more tries, the avatars fled from Anauroch.
Duly impressed, Daren hopped down from the top of his tower. As he landed, Daren felt the weave tear itself free from Malathon, who only shook his head and sighed. “Imbeciles.” Smiling at Daren, Malathon reached inside his tunic and withdrew the second sphere. “Greetings, Powermaster. I’ve brought you a gift !” Tossing the cantaloupe sized sphere to Daren, he whispered “Guard that well, it’s your freedom from tyrannical gods of magic !”
Quirking an eyebrow, Daren placed the sphere inside his chest cavity. Almost immediately, he felt his massive manapool drain away into nothingness. The now pale, mottled white Daren gasped “What are you trying to do, kill me ?” Forstalling Daren’s patented, lightning fast flee maneuver with an upraised finger, Malathon advised “Connect to the sphere first, eh ?”
Squinting suspiciously at Malathon, the Powermaster linked himself into the sphere and felt a wave of warm, magical energy rushing back into his mana-starved body. “Ah…ah…ahhhhhhhh…” he murmured blissfully, but when he tried to divert that energy back into his manapool, he couldn’t FIND his manapool. “All right, Malathon - what’s going on ?” Slinging an arm around Daren, the firstborn managanger dematerialized himself and the powermaster into Daren’s study.
“Don’t want to bore you with the details, but basically that microsphere has its own connection to the source of all magic, and so your powerpoint bandwidth is only regulated by your current level of mastery. You can draw 500 powerpoints per level of experience, but the only way it’ll work is if you don’t have a charged or active manapool,” Malathon whispered conspiratorily.
“So why would I want a manapool that’s a quarter of what I had before ?” Daren asked.
“Because this isn’t a manapool, its a mana generator. You can draw, what, 26000 points each and every round, PLUS never have to worry about find a SOURCE for magic. No more weave rules, no more dead magic zones, no more threats from divinities. Because you’ve got your own microsphere now, old man. And once you send a miniature you inside, you’ll be a micro-clockmaker, just like me. And thats when the rules change,” he smirked. “Out there, when Mystra tried to invest divine energy into me, I merely channeled it (and her) into the microsphere. Which made her a goddess of magic in the microsphere, but since part of me was the overgod, she was basically at my mercy.”
Daren’s eyes widened at the thought. Malathon continued, “Still, it won’t take her too long to figure out she’s just gotta cut that part of herself free to not feel the effects of my overgods microblade barrier, but it’ll keep 'em from trying that forced ascension bullshit again.”
The powermaster finally wrapped his head around the concept, and what he grasped was mind boggling. “So they can still kill us, but the micro-overgod can just replicate a new us and send it out of the sphere… where we just reform back around it, or reanimate our previous shell.”
Malathon nodded. “And he can seal the sphere from within, preventing anything he doesn’t want from trying to come in and take over, so even if they kill us and dump the sphere in a volcano…”
Daren finished the thought, “Then he can still shift the sphere elsewhere and regrow us once again !” The powermaster shook his head in wonder. “Malathon, you’re a freekin’ genius ! Not having the threat of ascension hanging over my head is a relief I cannot repay. But it does beg the question, why share this with me ?”
Malathon grinned. “I’ve never been one to try and hoard knowledge once I’d finished developing it. Besides, I know full well that once lightning-boy found out what I’d done, he’d just make one for you too. So I pre-empted him a bit, both to tweak his ‘all-powerful’ nose, and save time since I doubt the powers that be will allow him to make any more. Little lesson I figured out - if you’re gonna cash a zoomie, cash in two or three, better mileage and less headaches.”
Standing up to leave, Malathon stretched and Daren shook his hand one last time. “Thanks a lot, Malathon. I have to admit, I didn’t like you stealing the secrets of powermastery from me, but it’s definitely paid off. Keep up the good work, and watch your back. Mystra has a vengeful streak a mile wide…”
Malathon winked, then d-matted away. Daren tapped his chin, then chuckled “Why the hell not, don’t need to save power points anymore !!” and dematerialized himself back up to the top of his tower.
More months passed, and while Daren was experimenting with his new toy, Malathon was making progress of his own. Word eventually reached the Powermaster about the firstborn managanger devising a way to use his sphere to randomly encrypt each and every spell he cast so the spells couldn’t be reverse-engineered. This idea never really appealed to Daren, so he focused his efforts elsewhere. However, it wouldn’t be long before another one of Malathon’s exploits soon dragged him back to center stage.
The loud hiss of static woke Daren from his sleep. He’d been dreaming of ways to free the Knowledge Repository from the greedy clutches of Diniscus. Sprouting eyeballs across his body, Daren looked around for the source of the annoying noise. The static hiss was briefly interrupted by a voice. “…this thing even works ? Hello ? Hello ?”
His twenty eyeballs turned and focused on the doorway to his bedchamber, outside of which a pale flickering light bounced off the slick marble walls of the hallway. Commanding his body to unpuddle, he shifted into his traditional humanoid form and grumbled out of bed. More static greeted him as he emerged from his bedroom and shuffled blearily down the hall. “… got the wrong channel, move over and let me try.”
Rubbing his eyes, Daren nudged the door to his scry-chamber open and peered at the static-filled image on his old, dusty crystal ball sitting on the floor next to his wide-screen crystal matrix. It’d been years since anyone had called him via crystal ball. Picking it up, he blew the dust off the sphere and studied the image which began to clarify.
“…telling you all we need to do is send him a scroll scented with new magical ink - he’ll think it’s a spell and we’ll have his undivided attention.” The image coalesced into two near-identical twin girls arguing back and forth. “…but we can’t send a scroll !! We can’t even connect to the ruddy network !”
Staring at his two adopted daughters, Daren cleared his throat loudly. Four eyes snapped back to look at his face. “Hello Father !!” they chorused. The powermaster was of a mind to chide them for the late call, but even he couldn’t keep track of local time when off-world for more than a week. Besides, they looked disheveled and distressed. “Why are you two calling me on this old thing ? And is that…candles I see behind you ? Surely you’ve got enough spell points for a simple continual light !!”
The twins looked at each other, communicating silently in that eerie way twins often do. Karilee, the more impulsive one, spoke up. “Father, you’ve got to do something about that Malathon ! He’s done something to our Mobilisk, and now we’re floating dead in space.” Karanna, the mentalist, added “We’ve got the technodwarves working on getting power back on, and our ion drive restarted - but we’ll be crawling back home for years at that speed !”
Daren frowned, wondering why the firstborn managanger would do such a thing. “All right, all right. Show me what’s going on.” The image on the ball swam and blurred as they walked across their floating mountain towards the massive Mobilisk that speared through the core of the mountain. Torchlight flickered on faces and buildings as they passed by, and the powermaster could only wonder at what sort of chaos would ensue in a city dependant on their obelisk for both magic and power. It’d be almost like the great resurrect all over again.
The image clarified as Karanna held aloft the crystal ball and approached the obelisk. Daren could see the enormous crystalline form, almost as massive as Obelisk Prime, sitting dark and unresponsive as blue sparks of energy arced sporadically inside it. Abruptly, a giant illusion of Malathon appeared in the darkened sky. “The Mobilisk is undergoing an experiment and WILL NOT be interrupted. Any being who does not heed this warning will be megamorphed into a beer elemental for the rest of their shortened existance.” The illusion flickered out, and Daren dryly noted the thirsty grins of dwarves who just “happened” to be lounging about, waiting for something to occur.
Pulling the crystal back towards their faces, the twins looked across vast amounts of space at their adopted father. “So what the hell was he thinking ?” blurted Karilee angrily.
Daren rubbed his chin “I don’t know, he certainly didn’t mention anything about a Megamorph spell the last time we spoke.”
The girls rolled their eyes and whined “Daddyyy !!” in unison.
Daren refocused his thoughts. “Well, my advice is to either find a place where you can settle down for a while or backtrack to a friendly spot you’ve established. Build up a little base or waystation, and wait to see what happens . In the meantime, I’ll try to locate Malathon and get the skinny from him, and in any case most of his ‘experiments’ tend to be of the non-explosive variety, so you should be safe. But I wouldn’t recommend continuing forward without the Mobilisk to back you up or power your magic. Too risky.”
The twin girls both frowned and seemed angry, but didn’t have any better idea what to do. So they wished their father a good night and dropped the connection. Daren wasn’t too worried, since they could still grow a seed obelisk on a planet and ‘hop’ back home if need be. His adopted kids were nothing if not resourceful. Still, he made a mental note to keep in better communication with them, and try to hunt down Malathon on the morning.
Unsurprisingly, the next day saw Daren searching fruitlessly for the firstborn managanger. In fact, not only wasn’t Malathon to be found on Toril, he wasn’t anywhere on a world in the obelisk network. Weeks went by without a trace of him, and Daren quickly forgot about the matter. The twins eventually settled down on a ore-rich moon and built up a small spelljammer port while their Mobilisk mountain was put in stationary dock. Months rolled by, and the Mobilisk was left abandoned and alone. Until one day…
Karilee was awakened by an insistent pounding on her bedchamber door. Struggling to pull her mind out of the morass of beer-induced slumber, she sleepily tried to sit up and fell forthwith out of bed. Landing hard on her rump, she gave a little squeal of annoyance. “Alright, damn you - I’m awake !” she hollered. “Come in, come in already.”
Garleena - her maidservant, rushed in with an armload of clothing. “We must hurry, milady ! Else it’ll abandon us to our fate !” The maidservant fluttered about the room, dumping various and sundry piles of clothing and stacks of papers into whatever container was nearby.
The young rolandite blinked in confusion, her alcohol-sodden brain unable to grasp what she was talking about. “Garleena, you’re about 3 seconds away from being HELD - now slow down and tell me what the hell is going on !” When the maid didn’t stop (or even slow down), Karilee pulled out her platinum holy symbol and started reciting a limerick in old dwarvish.
Apparently the bluff worked, because the maidservant immediately froze and looked at her with wide eyes. “Sorry mistress, but the…erm, mountain is only giving us an hour to depart !”
After a moment passed, the young rolandite finally understood what the maid was going on about. Reaching out with her mind, she caressed the sleeping mind of her sister. Karanna came instantly awake, her finely tuned mental defenses springing up all sorts of barricades and defensive armaments. Scant seconds passed before she recognized the mental signature of her sister, and the two traded information at almost the speed of light.
Garleena, well aware of how her mistress mindtalked with her sister, resumed packing and stuffing containers.
Getting unsteadily to her feet, Karilee walked over and placed a hand on the maids arm. Instantly, the older girl slowed and calmed down. “My sister is awake now, and we’ll be straightening this out with the obelisk shortly.” Seeing the almost dwarven look of resolve on the face of her mistress, the maid nodded and slowed her pace, beginning to pack things with more care and organization.
Karilee knew that the rest of the servants wouldn’t enter her sisters room unless THEY knew she was awake or had already left. Karanna tended to spook most of them - as she was more aware of what they were thinking than they themselves were. The rolandite yawned, then exchanged teleport coordinates with her sister, and both vanished with a soft pop.
They reappeared in an alleyway just outside of the central ring of streets surrounding the Mobilisk. Much to their suprise, the once massive crystalline form had shrunk to a shadow of its former self. Previously, the core spire of the mobilisk was almost 500 feet across at the base, now it was a tenth of that size. The slender crystal was now a deep, cobalt blue and projected an aura of impatience. Projecting out from one facet was a large, numerical display - counting down time, which currently read 00:52:36.18 and continued to decrease.
Karilee gave the obelisk her best imitation of a disapproving dwarven frown. “Now see here, you overgrown lump of quartz ! You go all dormant on us, leaving us stranded for almost a year and now have the balls to TELL US when we’re leaving ? You can just stop that countdown right now !” She stomped her foot and glared at the clock. It continued counting down, no faster or slower than before.
“Are you LISTENING TO ME ??” she shrieked. “I will personally LIFEGATE that damned ogre here and have him rip out your flawed personality circuits if you…” her voice died away as she was suddenly filled with an overwhelming sense of loss. Glancing over her shoulder for reassurance, she was startled to see Karanna was nowhere to be found. Sending out a mental touch, her query was met with…nothingness. In almost a panic, she sent questing tendrils of thought energy across the entire moon they’d called home for the last 10 months. Still no response from her twin.
She spun back around to face the obelisk, suspicion narrowing her eyes. It’s crystalline voice, far colder and more arrogant than she’d ever heard before, whispered “Yes, arrogant mortal. I responded to your infantile threat with a display of my own. Your sister has been removed.”
Fighting hard to keep her voice steady, the rolandite bit off each word. “Removed. To. Where ?”
“Out of this multiverse” the crystal intoned. “And if you want to find her again, you have 50 minutes and 33 seconds to pack your bags, because thats when this train is heading out for adventure. With, or without you - the choice is yours.”
Karilee growled, her voice an angry hiss “I cannot mobilize all of these people that quickly ! You have to give me more time !”
The slender crystalline entity didn’t bother to respond. The countdown clicked past 50 to 49 minutes.
With a shriek of anger, Karilee stomped off down the street, spitting curses fit to pucker the ears of any sailor. Splitting her mind into 3 distinct parts, she began issuing orders both verbally and mentally. Soon, the small moonbase was abuzz with frenetic activity.
Fourty nine minutes later, the majority of the populace of the small moon city lifted off the ground. About a tenth of the population remained behind, either needing to finish what they were working on, or desiring to stay and “clean up” the mess made by the frantic exodus. Karilee was standing by the crystalline spire - arguing, cajoling and trying to bargain with it while her split mind was composing the most scathing and venomous email ever written (before or since) to one Malathon the Managanger.
Leaving the vicinity of the moon, the city shifted sideways - turning point first towards the central star of that system. The mobilisk began to thrum with power, then accellerated rapidly - quickly closing the distance to the fiery giant.
“What the hell are you doing ??” demanded Karilee. “We’ll be flash fried before you even get close !”
“In the center of every star, lies the potential for collapsing into a black hole. We are using that potential to leave this universe and jump to the next one. Hold on to your girdles, fleshlings - this may be a bumpy ride !” Nobody could miss the note of excitement in the voice of the crystal entity. Of course, most of the people aboard were terrified to the point of wetting their undergarments (girdle or otherwise) as the star grew uncomfortably close and the temperature climbed higher. With a tremendous blast of energy, the mountain shot forward into the heart of the star.
Now I’m sure some of you have seen really neat and pretty strobing tunnel effects, on various shows and whatnot. This was nothing like that. The light grew painfully bright, so much so that it caused the brain’s optic center to shut down. This in turn caused unconsciousness (in most), panic (the rest) and an unfortunate increase of intraocular pressure (a messy few). This was followed by an intense, crushing weight that felt like a giant hand was trying to push your entire body into your shoes. It only got worse from there…
When some time had passed, Karilee regained consciousness and found herself staring up at the smiling face of her sister. Karanna was sitting at a small table set for tea, and she was chatting pleasantly with a familiar-looking managanger of ill repute. Karilee felt nauseous, but she managed to get up enough gumption to stand up, shuffle over and stab Malathon right in the neck with her belt dagger. To nobody’s surprise, his neck became a hand which closed around the blade and jerked it from her grasp. He shook his head and tut-tutted disapprovingly in her direction. Leaning towards Karanna, he muttered about the poor state of manners in the youth of today. Karilee flipped him the bird.
Karanna mindspoke her sister. “Be polite and sit down for tea ! If Mystra couldn’t kill him, what reasonable chance do you have ?”
Karilee snarled but sat down, arms crossed and determined to stay angry. “Do what you want without ever asking! You’re just like father !”
The firstborn managanger smirked. “Ah no, actually - he’s just like me. Besides, I’ve given you the most powerful spelljammer ever conceptualized. Think of the profit you’ll make exploring worlds that nobody else from our home multiverse can even GET to ! The boag-train, the original giant Spelljammer, nothing holds a candle to the Mobilisk 2.0 !”
As she started thinking about profits, Karilee’s mood began to soften. “How will we be able to even take advantage of our new ‘opportunity’ when he doesn’t obey us anymore ?” she replied and shot a venomous glare at the crystal.
Malathon snorted. “How did you get him to obey you in the first place ? You bribed him with food - in his case, gems. Now he wants entertainment, to explore. Probably to try out his new abilities in combat. Don’t you think you’re well suited to provide him with such things ?”
She growled in reply, but had to concede his point. “So how is this gonna work ?”
“I like simple questions,” replied the managanger. “Its more of a equal partnership at the moment. He has requirements, and will negotiate with you to provide these. In return, he’ll provide you with things you want - like transportation home.” Malathon tilted his head, and the obelisk shot a beam out to tease a small black orb from a pyramid of orbs. The orb, which Karilee realized was a Sphere of Annihilation, slowly stretched and flattened until it was a large circular disc. The beam framed the disc, and shifted colors wildly causing the infinite blackness of the orb to clear and show familiar looking landscapes - Waterdeep, New Argopolis, Daren’s tower, Silverymoon.
“You can stop it wherever you like - and at that point the gate solidifies and becomes permanent on both sides for one hour. After that it’ll collapse, and you’ll need a new sphere to travel each time, which is why one of the requirements you’ll need to find are more spheres.” Gesturing at the dozen which remained, Malathon shrugged. “Those are the last of the stock available to either Diniscus or the Rolandites. My gift to you.”
Karilee looked suspiciously at the managanger. “How do we know this isn’t one of your tricks to co-opt our Mobilisk ?”
Malathon sighed. “Mobilisk, has this little upgrade I’ve given you made you any more of my pawn ?” he asked aloud.
“I refuse to be considered ANYONE’s pawn. If anything I’m your queen. I challenge you to find a more powerful piece than I.” It spoke without trace of humility.
Karanna frowned. “He sounds even more egomaniacal than Uncle Zap !”
The managanger laughed out loud. “Indeed ! Makes me glad I chose him to try this experiment on instead of Obelisk Prime ! Now we know what effect megacompacted sphere crystal has on an obelisk. What I’ve also learned is that he’s several orders of magnitude past what we knew as “infinitely hard”. Nothing I’ve found can withstand its impact, not Admantium, Meteoric Admantium, Reality crystal or even Ultranium.”
Karilee’s eyebrows rose. “Ultranium ? It put a hole in Ultranium ? Compacted metal which can survive the core of a black hole. You’re kidding, right ?”
When he shook his head, the young rolandite stared in disbelief at the Mobilisk. “I suspect you’ll have ample time to discover what he can and cannot do. Of course, if you don’t feel up to the task, I do have another obelisk-enhanced mountain on standby. One featuring a standard obelisk, that is. It should be possible to move all of your technological and magical apparatuses over to that mountain, should you wish to travel as you were before. And let the original Mobilisk continue exploring on its own…”
Karilee looked at Karanna, and they debated between themselves which direction they wanted to choose…
Which brings us back to Daren’s 5 fatal words. “I wanna try an experiment…”
Months after all this had passed saw the powermaster finding more and more uses for the microsphere, and more ways to bypass divine restrictions than he’d ever dreamed possible. It was if someone had unlocked every chain holding his magic back. New spells were dreamt up, tried, tested and perfected in a matter of days (sometimes hours !) instead of weeks or months or years. It was like being on a big magical vacation for Daren, and the inhabitants of New Argopolis would often hear him SINGING as he worked. Even Damar didn’t know what to make of it.
More stories of Malathon’s exploits trickled into the city, each one seeming to spark more ideas and creative energy from the powermaster.
Then, as often happens, Daren finally hit a wall. But what frosted his blue ass was this was a wall of his own making. Trying dozens, even hundreds of different ways around the wall produced only a growing frustration in the powermaster. A frustration which he eventually brought to the attention of his oldest friend.
Meeting the magnasti for dinner and drinks one night, Daren finally worked his way to what was bothering him. “Zap, I wanna try an experiment…” Glancing at the powder-white elf and seeing the inevitable quirked eyebrow, he continued. “I know, I know - do you remember the deal I struck with the ex ex clockmaker ? Where I gave up my alchemical levels for more levels of powermastery ?”
“Of course - but if you’re going to ask me to break that contingency and return your alchemical levels, I’m not that mad. I doubt even you would be able to hold that much insanity in check.” The pointy-eared fellow replied.
“No, no - not alchemy. I agree that’d be bad. No, what I want to do is try that again. Only this time, I’m willing to burn all my other selves, my SDDS copies to channel their levels and knowledge into becoming an Ancient. Specifically, to become equal levels with my current powermastery, and transform myself into the Race of One. Predecessors of the ancients and powermasters before the race split.”
Zap tapped his chin and rubbed his bald head. He pondered what and how the powermaster was asking, and drank copious amounts of alcohol while seeking an answer. After a long while, he finally nodded. “Yes, yes - I think I can pull that off. I think if I amend the original clockmaker’s contingency, I can patch this request into it without blowing the whole thing wide open. It’ll be tricky, but with Istus’ help I think we can do it !”
Daren blinked. “Wow - I think thats the only time you’ve greenlit one of my crazy ideas on the first try. Either I’m getting better at this, or we’re all going to die because you’re getting worse ! So, just out of curiosity - what would happen if, after this is all said and done, I were to re-SDDS myself ?”
Zap shook his head. “You’d blow apart the contingency - either destroying yourself (and likely me) in the process, or returning yourself to 5 powermasters - or possibly blasting yourself back to when you had an alchemical side. Clockmaker contingencies are nothing to trifle with !”
Daren grinned. “Got it - just wondering about the possibilities ! Guess I’ll cross that one off my list.”
And so off the pair of them went. Daren spent many torturous days and nights in the magnasti’s lab, being torn apart and reconstituted, merged with his other selves and spliced back together. And in the end, Istus cranked off a half-dozen divine fate points, truncating paths where the final result failed (once spectacularly and in grand fiery fashion). Finally, alone stood Daren, the former powermaster - now the second being in the Forgotten Mess to achieve elevation to the Race of One.
The immediate side effects were quite apparent : gone was the translucent blue skin, the powermaster tattoo on his chest, even his eldritch managanger ears and high cheekbones. Instead, he looked like… well, your average joe blow commoner. In fact, his appearance was now so typical he’d get lost in a crowd of three people. And, as he was formerly clothed in a replica of clothing, he was also quite naked. The microsphere was still lodged under his skin, protruding from his back like a third buttock.
Daren looked at himself in one of the floor-to-ceiling mirrored panels of the lab. “I…ahem, seem to be a bit starkers here. Loan a nigger some clothes ?”
Zap snapped a finger and a servant appeared at the door. Motioning at the nude man, the lord of lightning didn’t bother to speak his request. The young magnesti female vanished, then reappeared in record time with a standard Robe of Protection +5. Daren slithered into the finely spun garment, then frowned. “Uh, when I said I wanted to become the race of One, I really didn’t intend to lose my ganger abilities. I’m kinda accustomed to the whole shifty thing…”
Zap visibly considered giving him a hard time, then waved it away. “I’d expect that your Managanger traits will slowly emerge after you get used to this new form. Give it a week, and if nothing has happened by then we’ll start to worry.”
Still frowning at himself in the mirror, Daren groused. “I look so nondescript. I’m not COOL anymore ! What the hell !”
Clearing his throat noisily, the magnesti suggested “Perhaps we should try some of your MAGIC abilities, what do you think ?”
This caused the former powermaster to blink, then break into a foolish grin. “Yeah ! Lets see what this little upgrade can do !”
Calling up the memory of a simple fireball, Daren incanted the spell - going through the motions and words like he’d done thousands of times before. The fireball appeared, then whuffed out of existance. Tilting his head sideways, he murmured “That felt different. Let me try it nonverbally.” Gesturing more wildly, he made different motions and a fireball again appeared, then exploded out of existance.
Tapping his chin, Daren recast a dozen different variations on the spell, each time sorting out the differences between now and what had gone before. Finally, having formulated the differences, he scribbled something on one of Zap’s chalkboards. Which then burst into a fiery sphere. Daren stuck out his bottom lip and peered at his old friend. Zap just rolled his eyes.
Striding over to a safer, transparent test chamber - Daren blinked a few times, then merely WILLED the fireball to appear. A sphere of flame obediently burst into existence, then vanished. Holding up his right index finger, the former powermaster motioned in a backward motion and the fireball reappeared. And vanished. Moving his hand in the same motion to make the sphere reappear, he pushed his palm forward and the fiery sphere seemed to…wait. It sat there, burning merrily like one of arg’s plasmaballs. Daren turned and grinned at Zap.
The magnesti grinned back, reaching into his robes with his left hand and withdrawing a slender wand. He barked a command word, then repeated it a half-dozen times. Each word sent a fireball rushing towards Daren, who reached out his left hand and motioned for the ball to stop - which each sphere obligingly did.
Daren pointed at the wand and made a “come hither” motion. The wooden shaft struggled in Zap’s hand for a moment, then streaked over to the ex-powermaster when released by the elf. Grasping the wand, Daren squinted and peered mightily at the item he held. Layers and layers of overlapping magic peeled back to reveal the wand’s core which held all its remaining charges - looking like tiny little burning bb’s. Daren looked up and motioned for one of Zap’s fireballs to return to the wand.
The fireball obligingly zoomed in, but the wood of the wand started to catch fire. With a spark of intuition, Daren nodded and physically reached down and actually unpeeled the layers. Zap, ever the wiser of the two, threw up a protective ward just in time as all of the tiny bb’s flew free and flashfried Daren in coruscating bursts of flame. A soot-covered Daren emerged from the flame, making Zap’s booming laughter heard all throughout his tower. Daren blinked a few times, shook his head and summoned a fate point.
Reality seemed to hiccup, then time briefly flowed in reverse. The little bb’s unexploded and returned to their ranks in the wand, and Daren’s hands reclosed the layers of magic - returning the wand back to its normal appearance. The former powermaster scratched his head, then nodded sagely and twisted a little neck behind the bb’s in the wand. Then he resumed unpeeling the magic layers, leaving the twist in place to keep the little fireballs contained. Now, when he motioned the fireball back into the wand, it obediently shrank and sat there as its former companions took their places once more. Daren fiddled with the wand a bit, refolding and moving and untwisting and such, returning all of the charges back where they started.
Spinning around to face his fireball (which was looking rather wispy and pale and burnt out by this point), Daren fed it more magic and it returned to a more healthy glow of flame. He motioned for that one to join the ones in the wand (after twisting in the middle and reopening the one end), but when that fireball tried to oblige it looked like a giant fat woman trying to squeeze into a mousehole. There just wasn’t enough room. As it strained to acquiesce to Daren’s wishes, the layers of magic began to separate into their composite enchantments and the entire containment began to fail.
The ex-powermaster pulled the wand away from the porky fireball and rewove the spells, then analyzed what was going on. He didn’t really expect it to work, since his “basic” fireball was somewhere on the order of an 80d8 blast versus the 6d6 blast of the standard wand effect. Looking to his left, he opened a dimensional door to Arg’s lab and, reaching through, pulled across a piece of horn from a titanic Red Battledragon. With a selection of tools from the magnesti’s lab, Daren inscribed runes along its surface and compacted it down to the size of a typical wand. “Never really thought about it before, but Malathon’s idea of compacting reagents and focus items probably allows for greater spell effects to be imbued.”
Laying higher-potency versions of the spells from the ‘standard’ wand atop the new one, the ex-powermaster wove the magics into the item, then encouraged the larger fireball to try again. This time the spell easily slid into the slender wand. Daren spent the next 20 minutes filling the wand with fireballs, then sealed the whole thing with a magnified permanency. “Behold - the first Heavy Wand, the birth of the next stage of Ancient Items.”
Daren smiled, and opened another dimensional portal…