sun slowly sank over the horizon, casting its auburn rays across the twinkling
sky. Iffley stared into the blazing sunset, losing his soul to it. The wizard
knew that it was dangerous to be out on the surface, but thanks to a Radiation
Shield Spell--thoughtfully proffered by Madison--brief visits were safe
enough. The wind whipped across the wasted landscape, and Iffley silently
shook his head. A brilliant comet streaked across the sky, startling Iffley.
The comet was an omen. A tocsin warned him that the shield was wearing off,
and he returned to the City of Remembrance.
met Taft in the Square of Remembrance, the City's central park, for his
Sceptre lessons. Taft was patiently waiting for him, which seemed, to Iffley,
rather unusual; perhaps his acceptance of Taft as an Iffley was improving his
handed his prized Sceptre to his brother and directed him to transform a
nearby rock into something useful. Taft jabbed the Sceptre in the direction of
the rock, and it became a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
rolled his eyes, "Theo, you are not concentrating enough. Try teleporting
pointed the Sceptre, and the rosebush turned into a bottle labeled Coke.
"What's that?" Taft inquired.
I have no idea." A bewildered Iffley replied. "Anyway, it seems that
you cannot channel your thoughts into the Sceptre. Project your mind. The
Sceptre will do your bidding."
Taft aimed the Sceptre at a tulip. It shook and then became a box of
moaned, "Why do you always transform things into food?"
can't help it: I'm hungry."
this will help." He removed the Ring from his finger and handed it to
Taft. "Try again. Channel your thoughts through the Sceptre and change
that bench into a chariot." Taft concentrated and a crude, wooden chariot
appeared in the bench's place. "Very good. Now the Sceptre will only do
what you expect of it. If you only want a crude chariot, that is what you will
get. Have a little confidence in yourself, and you can do miracles." Taft
stared at the chariot, concentrating deeply. Suddenly, the chariot became an
ornate, golden masterpiece of Roman innovation. "Now, give me back the
Ring and transport it to that oak tree."
returned the Ring and waved the Sceptre at the chariot. The chariot, however,
remained in place. "Suralio, I don't understand. Why did it not
teleport?" Taft turned around and was met with solitude. Iffley had
* * The Challenge * *
appeared atop a large, transparent pillar. He surveyed the odd landscape that
stretched out below and around him. The surface was circular, with alternating
bands of gold and silver. Four circles floated around the edge of the area.
Iffley noted that the entire region look very similar to a gigantic
a flash of silver light, Sterling appeared, the Shard glowing brightly in his
hands. "Welcome to my gameroom, Suralio Frith Iffley. I, Sterling, have
did I get here?"
was quite simple. I just reformed Taft's mental command, causing him to send
you directly to me. Oh, by the way, did you enjoy my little comet? I have
heard that you delve in omens, and I didn't want to disappoint you."
that you have taken the trouble to get me here, what are you going to do with
see, my dear Enchanter, I shall have my revenge. And, with Adena out of the
way, you are naturally next on my list." His face contorted as he
continued his spiel. "You are here to play my game, Iffley. The rules are
quite simple: simple enough for even you to understand. We shall play a game
of klitik. If you win, then you shall be set free. If you lose, then
you shall die.
is one other rule. You will move each piece from this pillar, but when a
challenge is made, you will become the challenged piece and fight for the
territory. Should you win, you shall occupy that territory; failure means
death of that piece. As you lose pieces, your strength will decrease, until,
eventually, you shall die. Are the rules quite clear?"
what if I chose not to participate?" Iffley asked defiantly.
the pillar you are standing on shall reform into mist, and you will plummet to
your death." Sterling snarled contentedly, "Shall we begin? I, of
course, shall play silver. You shall have the advantage of the opening
move." The Shard sparkled, and Sterling disappeared.
stared below at the board. The pieces suddenly formed on their appropriate
territories, giving Iffley a fair idea of the size of the board. Iffley
decided uncertainly, "Infantry Two to Ring Three." The move was very
basic, but it allowed freedom of movement for his greater pieces. Magically,
his Infantry was placed on the third Ring, diagonally right and forward of its
Four to Ring Three." The silver Infantry slid to its appropriate diagonal
recognized the strategy: the Calvary's Gambit. Iffley correctly countered this
move by placing his Cavalier on the Third Platform. This allowed adequate
protection for his Calvary, while allowing his Chaplain access to the center
of the board.
this left his Infantry One relatively unprotected. "Infantry Five
challenges on Ring Two." Sterling's voice boomed across the board.
Iffley found himself in the center of a golden plain. He was heavily armored
in a cuirass. He also noticed that he was in the body of some massive,
ignorant soldier. He momentarily appreciated the power of his body as he held
the two-handed sword in the air. A brief second passed and his opponent
appeared. The enemy looked as mean and ugly as Iffley felt. The match seemed
to be fair, but Iffley knew that the cards were stacked against him; he did
not know how to fight with this sword.
enemy Infantry sneered and charged, swinging his sword in a large arc. Iffley
met the sword with his own, producing a resonant clang. The vibrations
traveled from the blade and through the armor. Iffley, however, had little
time to think about it. Iffley thrust the sword at his nemesis, his muscles
pressed against the armor, making it feel tight. The silver warrior smashed
Iffley's blade with his own, causing him to drop it. Iffley reached down to
snatch it up, but the blade met his arm. As if the blade were enchanted, it
sliced neatly through the armor, chopping off his arm at the elbow.
stared at his stump and screamed with pain. The blood gushed from his wound
and splattered onto the golden surface. The opponent smiled wickedly and
rammed his sword Into Iffley's face....
reappeared on the pillar. He immediately reached to touch his severed arm. It
was whole again. He did not, however, feel as strong as before. It was almost
as if someone had removed a piece of his mind or of his soul. "Calvary
challenges Infantry," Iffley said boldly, as he prepared for the
time, he appeared atop a unicorn. The animal was sleek and pure as snow. Its
crystalline horn sparkled from the glare of the floor. This time, Iffley was
not so armored. A thick leather breastplate covered his vital organs and a
helmet protected his vulnerable head. He was armed with a lance and short
sword. The silver warrior reappeared, looking less meanacing from Iffley's
nudged the animal and it bolted into a run. He lowered the lance and aimed for
his opponent. The soldier dodged and struck the lance as Iffley passed,
causing him to drop it. The unicorn turned sharply, lowered its head, and
charged at the warrior. The Infantry barely avoided the unicorn's deadly
weapon, but Iffley's sword did its job. The silver menace was dead. A golden
cloud enveloped the Infantry, and it disappeared....
Iffley returned to the pillar, Sterling was making his move: "Necromancer
to Platform One." Iffley, in turn, placed his own Necromancer on Platform
Four. Sterling shifted his Infantry defense by placing his Infantry Three onto
Ring Three. Then, Iffley moved his Chaplain to the next Ring. Sterling
countered by moving his Cavalier to Ring Three.
challenges Second Calvary." The golden Chaplain circumnavigated the
board, stopping at a silver square containing the Calvary. Iffley was once
again ripped from the pillar.
reformed in the unimpressive body of a priest. A flowing robe was his only
protection. A ceremonial scimitar hung from his belt. In his hand, he held a
golden staff. Iffley wondered how the Chaplain could be such a potent piece if
it had no advantages over its opponents.
unicorn-mounted enemy appeared. He lowered his lance and charged. Iffley
raised his staff and struck the lance, in much the same way as did his own
previous opponent, as it passed. The Calvary did not drop the lance. However,
the lance, where it had touched the staff, had dissolved, leaving only a blunt
the Calvary threw down the useless weapon and drew his sword. The Calvary
charged again. Iffley parried his blow, destroying the sword. Iffley then
shoved the staff into the face of his opponent. The soldier screamed in pain
not only from the acid burning his face, but also from the scimitar that
Iffley had lodged into his neck....
voice seemed slightly miffed, "Retu P'moc Chaplain." Iffley
stared at his Chaplain as it grotesquely changed into a silver priest.
Iffley's own voice turned hard, "Cavalier to challenge Necromancer,"
and Iffley was once again ripped from the pillar.
wind rustled through his hair as the wings of the horse flapped rapidly.
Iffley, dressed in light armor, was soaring several feet from the surface. He
was armed with a bow and arrows and a wicked-looking boomerang made of
sharpened steel. The Necromancer appeared, surrounded by a silver aura. His
silver robe, which blew in the wind, was tied with a blue bag.
loaded his bow with a arrow and launched it. The Necromancer's aura
intensified and the arrow bounced harmlessly aside. He reached into his pouch
and pulled out a small box. He opened it and a large cloud emerged. It floated
upward to a level horizontal to Iffley. Then, a streak of lightning shot from
the cloud. The horse dove, and the bolt only singed its tailfeathers. Iffley
threw the boomerang. It sliced neatly through the air and arced toward its
victim. The Necromancer raised his hand, and a ball of fire met the weapon.
The boomerang exploded in an array of technicolor. Meanwhile, Iffley had
prepared a golden arrow and shot it. The aura intensified, but the arrow
permeated it. The Necromancer screamed as the arrow pierced his shoulder. He
glared at the wizard and raised his hand. The horse could not dodge the ball
of fire. Iffley's face burned away as the intense heat struck him squarely on
was much weaker now. His force was now nine points behind Sterling's. The game
would be over soon, Iffley feared, and so would his life. "Emperor to
challenge Necromancer." Apparently Sterling was tiring of the game.
appeared in the golden, flowing robes of the Necromancer. A golden aura
surrounded him, stretching out several inches, like some opaque shield. He
opened his red bag and saw a variety of objects. He pulled out a small black
ball and awaited his opponent. Sterling, himself, dressed in the Emperor's
clothing, formed beside him. The Emperor wielded a deadly sabre. A flowing
blue cloak was draped around his shoulders, barely hiding the lion's crest on
will be your last battle, wizard."
the game is not over yet."
is now." Sterling said as he approached Iffley.
Enchanter threw the ball at the Emperor. The ball struck the ground and began
to expand. As it approached Sterling, its diameter had grown to almost ten
feet. The Emperor simply lifted his sword and sliced the ball in half. The
ball fell around him and disappeared.
parted his cloak, allowing his crest to spring from his breastplate. The lion
sprang at Iffley. The aura took the brunt of the blow, but the wizard still
was knocked to the ground. He raised his hand at the lion, frying it in
mid-leap. He stood quickly up and threw another fire ball at the Emperor. His
missile struck the blue cloak and dissipated.
see, Iffley, you can't win." He thrust his sabre at the wizard. It
penetrated his aura and pierced his abdomen. Iffley dropped to the floor in
pain. "Say good-bye, Iffley," Sterling said, readying himself for
the execution. Instead of completing his plans, however, he dropped his
weapon. He clutched his throat in an attempt to breathe. His pores began to
swell as the blood forced its way through his skin. He fell to his knees, as
the blood permeated his skin and gathered in large pools on the floor. He
convulsed and fell into the red puddle.
walked quickly up to Iffley, "I'll take care of you." She touched
his hand, teleporting them to the City of Remembrance.
* * The Prize * *
sat in a white bed, surrounded by white walls in the Hospital of Remembrance.
He was thankful for Adel's interference, for he knew that the battle was lost.
The sword had pierced his left lung, just barely missing his heart. The
medicine in the Hospital was miraculous, for Iffley had almost completely
healed in several hours. But now, he was feeling rather lonely.
Bronson bounded into the room. "I'm a wild and crazy guy," he said.
Bronson seemed like the life of a party (even though there was no party). This
was due to Madison's Personality Enhancer Spell. "Well, how ya doin', big
am recovering nicely, thank you. I have one question. Sterling died once, and
was reincarnated. What happened to his body?"
Baby isn't going anywhere." Bronson said confidently, as he produced a
small cage containing a worm. "I think that it's a rather fitting
| ||© 1985, ||K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, A. Mann, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft|