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Force is Priceless

                               Jonathon Pierce

The sun slowly rose in the east, peaking over the lonely mountainside. As morning removed the last veils of peaceful sleep, the animals stirred to life. A small sparrow flew by the turrets of a spectacular castle, soaring past its fluttering flags. It landed on a large ledge and began to sing to the occupant inside the window.

Adena smiled and walked slowly to the window. Her movement startled the bird, causing it to flee. Angrily, Adena sent a burst of powerful energy at the creature. It engulfed the sparrow, incinerating it. "Stupid bird," Adena said.

She turned to the reflective panel and smiled at herself. She brushed her hair back over her shoulder. The Periapt sparkled brilliantly around her neck; it was such a pity that she was the only one left in Ralle with a Key....

*  *  Coercion  *  *

The meeting at the City of Remembrance was almost completed. The entire group had been shown the majority of the City. After dinner, Iffley had returned to the party; somehow, however, he seemed to have lost his appetite. He was in a somber mood, depressing everyone else in the assembly.

"You people don't seem to miss much," Taft deduced.

"No, Mr. Taft, we do not," Beam replied.

"Well, if you're so powerful, tell me where..." Taft thought quickly, "where Phire Island is."

"Do you still feel some vendetta against Blue? It is no matter, let us proceed to the Atlas Chamber," Shine lead them through the Museum until they reached the chamber. A large atlas, covering one wall, showed the entire Earth, "South Sea of Discord, please." Shine asked politely. The map expanded around the region of the Sea of Discord until, at last, Phire Island showed.

"Excuse me, please." Eve asked, "Why is the island so unclear, as if there is a film over it?"

Light explained, "That is because the island has sunken,"

"Can you take us there?" Taft inquired.

"We can pinpoint its location, but you have the power to teleport there."

"Shall we go, dear brother?"

"I suppose." Iffley asked for the exact location and then transported Taft and himself there.

Bronson walked into a corner of the room and motioned Madison to follow. "Madison, now that Eve is all alone, I need a spell."

"I think this should do the trick," Madison said as he cast a Virility Spell.

*  *  Influence  *  *

Adena was quite pleased with herself. She did not understand all of her new powers, but she was glad that she had them. She stroked the Periapt, causing it to glow brightly.

Suddenly, surrounded by a large puff of smoke, a demon appeared. "You summoned, Mistress."

"Why, yes... I need some information."

"Proceed." The demon said, wrinkling his hairless eyebrows.

"First, why do I have so much power now."

"Correction, Mistress. Power is not applicable here. What you have acquired is Force."

"Force?"

"Yes, when the five Keys are combined the Force is produced. To answer your question, I, Narcuss, will have to concentrate." He closed his large, yellow eyes for a brief second and then continued, "The obvious answer is that the other four Keys have been destroyed. This is not an unknown phenomenon. Once, long ago, in Terna, the energy was transferred from one Key to another. It was the Amulet, I believe. If a Key is destroyed, the energy is transferred to the nearest Key."

"Where exactly is Terna?" Adena asked slowly, trying to comprehend everything that the demon was telling her.

"Terna is the alternate universe from which the 'Restorer' came. In that universe, good triumphs over evil, unlike our own."

"But there is peace now. Anyway, I thought that the Keys were created to combat the Pestilence; that is for a good cause."

"Ah, but that is before the Keys were associated with the demons. We transformed this universe into one of pain and misery: a virtual paradise.

"This peace that you refer of has already been written into the history books. They have labeled it as the Black Age, the period following the Golden Age of the Maelstrom."

"In the demon history books, perhaps." Adena said curtly.

"Have you looked around lately? What has the 'Restorer' done for us? Oh, sure, he rescued the Wanderers from their fate, but now our unemployment rate has nearly tripled. All of his reforms have only harmed our economy."

"How do you know so much of Terna?"

"We have had several demons sent there, and they have kept us up to date."

"Well, you do seem to be an authority on the subject. What course of action do you suggest that I take?"

"The Periapt contains the energy from all five Keys. The first thing that you should do is summon the Force."

Adena, unsure of herself, shrugged her shoulders. She concentrated on the Periapt, and suddenly the Force came forth. Adena realized that it was invisible and untangible, but she felt its effects on her, as if someone was looking over her shoulder.

"Now, Adena!" Narcuss said, "create a fortenmik."

Adena did not wish to obey, but she could not fight this irresistable Force. Suddenly, a large fortenmik appeared in front of her.

"You see, Adena, the Force only requires a catalyst, it knows what must be done: We are going to conquer Terna!"

*  *  Authority  *  *

Iffley and Taft appeared in the center of Phire Island. The entire area had been effectively sabotaged, most probably Blue's last act. Before the pair stood PUTR, stretching from wall to wall. It was, in fact, the largest computer that Iffley had ever seen.

The pair quickly scanned the computer for damage. Although the room was practically destroyed, the computer seemed untouched. Taft reached up and pulled the power switch. The computer screen came to life.

WELCOME, BLUE.

INPUT THE PROPER CODE FOR ACCESS

Following the prompt was a flashing cursor.

"Well, Iffley, now what do we do?"

Iffley thought for a moment, "I saw Adena activate a stalled machine with the Ring, but I'm not sure that it would work in this instance. The code allows access to main part of the computer. It might work, but I doubt it." Iffley concentrated on the Ring and twisted it. Suddenly, the entire code appeared on the screen.

>IAM#l

ACCESS GRANTED

The computer hummed for several seconds and then output:

FILES AVAILABLE:

THE HISTORY OF THE LEDICS

THE HISTORY OF THE LUDITS

POSSIBLE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN ALARIUS AND DOMAIN

NOTE

AMULET

RING

SCEPTRE

TIARA

PHIRE ISLAND

FURANOSE

FILE?

"Now we are getting somewhere," Taft said while wringing his hands. Taft's smile dropped to a frown as he heard a roar in the distance.

A huge, brownish-orange creature stormed into the room. It centered its blue eyes on Taft, and sniffed at him with his flat nose. Bindletime moved its sickly yellow teeth as it spoke, "I must defend what is Alyne's!" It raised its large spiked palm at the pair. Iffley knew that he and Taft did not have long to live....

*  *  Superiority  *  *

Narcuss and Adena, complete with the Periapt and Book of Incantations, arrived in Terna. The Ecrof--the demons considered it blasphemous to call it the Force when in Terna--was here, too. Narcuss seemed confidently in control, "Now, Adena, I feel a little lonely. I need some company. I believe that the Book can help."

Once again, Adena felt compelled to obey. She opened the Book and said, "Xyrup." It was a simple, one-word spell, and yet it was enough to loosen all of the demons that the Ecrof controlled. The demons came in the thousands with their ugly faces and yellow eyes.

Narcuss now seemed even more confident, "Now, my minions, attack!"

The radiation demons descended upon the Earth, bringing with them their death and destruction.

Suddenly, the entire Earth seemed to explode. One atomic explosion spawned another. The world was aflame, and now, virtually lifeless. Narcuss smiled happily, conquering Terna would be easier than he had expected.


 © 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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