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Fear: The Strongest Emotion

                                  Jonathon Pierce

Iffley stood at an intersection. Four passages branched off into the cardinal directions. The quandry was that Iffley could not remember where he was or how he got there. Both the Sceptre and Tiara were gone. He randomly chose a passageway.

Suddenly the hedges in the giant maze changed into mirrors. The mirrors reflected every ounce of visible light, brightening the maze incredibly. He abruptly ran into a large mirror. The mirror did not shatter, instead, he merely phazed through into the other side.

This part of the maze was made out of walls of flame. The walls, however, did not seem content to remain in their positions. The wall behind him was tracking him, closing the distance between the attacker and the victim. Iffley turned to see the advancing wall of flame. He started to run, wishing he had his Sceptre to destroy this menace. Iffley tripped and fell, the wall of flame passed over him, consuming his body.

Somehow, his body did not dissolve. He stood up, but now he was standing in a concrete maze. He turned down a corridor, a stopped when he saw his enemy. Adena stood at the end of the hallway. Of course, the maze was a giant hologram. He set his teeth and started toward his nemesis.

Suddenly, Eve Eden appeared next to him. "Don't go, Iffley." She said to him in a quiet voice.

Iffley simply pushed her aside, "Adena must pay for her crimes." He was now some fifteen feet away from her. Any minute now he expected Adena's lasers to rip through his body. What happened, however, he was not quite ready for...

Adena's eyes began to swell and bulge outward. Then they exploded, splashing bits of cornea and optical fluid on Iffley. Her body mutated, changing into the form of the Minotaur. Iffley, undaunted, charged the terrible beast.

"Iffley, don't kill her!" Eve screamed, "It's only a dream!" Eve could see that she would never be able to stop him, so she altered the basis of the dream. A giant rift appeared seperating the two opponents. Iffley tried to jump over the crevice, but Eve expanded it, causing Iffley to fall into the rift. He screamed as he fell into the bottomless pit.

Adena reverted to normal, but seemed unconcerned. Eve said, "I must stop this dream before he dies." Abruptly, she vanished.

*  *  Fear of the Unknown  *  *

Iffley bolted upright in bed. The sweat had matted his hair and dampened his pillow. He struggled out of bed and glanced at the clock--it was midnight. He had no doubt that the nightmare was caused by Eve, who was, naturally, testing the powers of the Belt. He would deal with her shortly, but Adena was more of a threat.

He quickly changed into a red shirt and black pants with a black-red cape for effect. He retrieved the Tiara from the safe, and teleported to the stables adjacent to the castle. He had not bothered to awaken Camille, she would only nag anyway.

The stables housed several horses, a few near-extinct zebras and four danae. The first danae was silver and named Moonbeam; the next was golden, and named Nova; the third was plaid, and named Checkers; the last was a brilliant striped danae, named Chevron. He mounted the last and rode off into the night. As the danae flew onward, its stripes pulsed with a variety of colors. His mane remained snow white, as did his tail, unaffected by the constant color changes.

Iffley approached Adena's castle, aware of his task. The danae settled down gently in the courtyard, his color changes acting as camoflage. Iffley dismounted and patted the animal on the nose. Chevron's stripes shifted to red in appreciation. Iffley laughed and teleported into the study.

The study seemed as dull as usual, Iffley noted. He stared at the painting. 'The Tempest' was a fitting name, for it described the painting perfectly. Perhaps Adena should rename it 'The Maelstrom'. He stepped through the painting and entered her bedroom.

Adena, dressed in a pale green nightgown, lay still, embraced deeply with the sandman. Iffley laughed silently: Adena snored slightly. Iffley noticed something else that seemed rather strange: Adena wore her Amulet to bed. He wondered whether she wore it in the shower, too. She moaned softly, and rolled over, causing her snoring to abate. Her nightgown, which was rather restrictive in the front, was cut down to the waist in the back. The Ring sparkled on her finger, and Iffley almost resented giving it to her. It would be so easy to take it, he thought, but that was not his mission.

Iffley pointed his Sceptre at the sleeping figure. The down in the pillow beneath her head transformed into chloroform. Adena would certainly not cause any problems now. All he had to do was take her to his master, and receive his reward.

Iffley gently picked her up, trying not to wake her up and transported them to the awaiting danae. Chevron's colors shifted wildly from red to green, then back into his normal color patterns. The winged unicorn flew off into the night. "Home, Chevron." The danae snorted and turned toward their new destination. The wind rustled past the accelerating danae, causing Adena's hair to whip in the breeze. Iffley was not worried, however, Adena would be unconcious for some time yet.

As they passed the equator, Iffley noticed that it was becoming quite cool again. He wondered how it could be winter both in Alarius and Furanose. Perhaps the Plague had something to do with it. Iffley created a small blanket for Adena to protect her from the elements. They passed his castle, snow had piled on the uppermost turrets. Their journey was over half completed.

Iffley pulled out the Tiara and concentrated. The diamonds began to glow, reflecting events from the past. This was even better than the Fountain of Remembrance; with the Tiara, he could control the image and the date. He concentrated on Toltec. The diamonds clouded showing Adena and Toltec sitting on a sandy beach. The moon had risen above the horizon and was casting beautiful shadows on the couple. The diamonds cleared again.

This technique, Iffley knew, was known as farsensing--observing the past without entering it. Iffley concentrated again. The emeralds sparkled, showing Adena, Eve, and Toltec at the ball. The trio were laughing at something that was obviously funny: One of the guests had inadvertantly spilled her punch on a guard. The punch had been very cold, and it took all of the guard's self control not to move. Then, Toltec whispered something into Adena's ear and touched her shoulder. The emeralds dimmed. Iffley felt his rage growing again, but momentarily controlled it.

Again he concentrated; this time, the rubies shimmered, showing another scene from the past. Adena and Toltec were in the sauna. Iffley stared, mouth agape, at the images. He looked away from the Tiara, and the rubies returned to normal.

Chevron settled gently down in the courtyard of Ozino's abandoned castle. Iffley, with Adena finally in his arms--well, almost--ran up the steps into the throne room. The Maelstrom sat upon a golden throne, snearing as usual. He greeted Iffley rather brutally, "What are you doing here?"

"I have brought Adena."

"So I see." His gaze fell upon Adena, turning his frown into a smile. Then he glanced back at Iffley, who had set Adena down on a throne next to the Maelstrom's, "You have captured my Queen, but you are not following my exact orders. You panicked. You are nothing but yellow-bellied pond scum."--Iffley wondered how pond scum could have a yellow belly--"You are to kidnap her only after you have all five Keys. "

"I had them all, Sire, but Eve..."

"That pipsqueak? I seem to have overestimated you. Perhaps you need a little more prompting." He raised the Staff meancingly.

"No, Sire. All I need is the Ring to accomplish my task."

"And what is your task?" The Maelstrom asked, already knowing the answer.

"To get all five Keys by manipulation, destruction, and death."

"And who is standing in your way?"

"Eve Eden and Toltec."

"Then you must kill them. Here, take the Ring." The Maelstrom pulled the Ring off of Adena's slender finger and threw it at Iffley. "Now, begone." The Maelstrom watched as Iffley nodded and vanished. He turned to Adena, "Sleeping Beauty, at last you shall be mine." He kissed her savagely and suddenly, she awoke.

 © 1985, 

K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, A. Mann, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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