Sometimes I wish I could go back and experience Thain the way I did as a teenager, but with the maturity I have now. The people and experiences I had here permanently shaped who I am today and still think about it and all of you and those who are no longer here all the time.
Hello HOP, if only you could see it now. You gave us the foundation to create something truly spectacular. I wish you could see how much the lore you left us with has grown, and how much the mod has taken life. 20 years some years later, there are many of us who are truly passionate about it.
Registered Member #24916
Joined: 2:58:00 pm GMT 01/23/19
The Temple of Loss and Grief - Part 4
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Nicolette had been quiet as the three tried the other path. They didn't even react to the trail of remains littering what may have been a recreational room. There were just so many skeletons everywhere. Every room, and every hall. There were just too many dead to react to them all.
"Is that a piano?" Nicolette reacted to something she didn't expect. "On a platform! Heeey~ Aren't you a bard?" "I know how to play it, if that's what you're asking." "You should! Something might happen!" The two went inside this chamber. It was fairly large, with darkness covering the walls, making them hard to see. There were fewer corpses too, with the piano's platform standing in the middle of the room. There had likely not been that many in here, who saw their end in what may have been a concert room.
"Seems I'm in luck. There are no mirrors here. Go ahead and play, girl. It can't possibly make this place more grim." It took Nicolette a moment to work up the desire to play, but seeing there was still sheet music on the piano, something to play towards, helped her a bit. She leaned in close, and read it in her white light as she placed her fingers on the keys. It had certainly been a while, and as she began to play, it was mechanical at first, but as she played, she couldn't help but find some feeling in it, even if the piano was dreadfully out of tune, and the piece was dark and melancholy. It still felt right for this place. "Ugh, that is just depressing.. Just stop, or you're going to wake the dead." Nicolette gave Shade a dark look, but continued to play a moment more. "Let them wake." Conrad smiled to her. "Don't listen to him. It's not half bad."
"Ugh, this place is so moody.. Why are the dark temples always so moody?!" Shade, bored as he was, lifted a skull and stuffed his hand inside from below. "Don't you agree?" He made a voice then as he chattered the skeleton's jaw. "Yes, I completely agree!" Nicolette meanwhile played to the end of the sheet, then closed it and took it carefully. "It's probably from Vangottstein. This song. Not much survived from those days." Conrad nodded to her. "Well done... That is a memorable moment. To think I've never seen you perform." Nicolette meanwhile looked to Conrad, and for a moment, she smiled, in spite of how she seemed to be feeling. "I can't believe you haven't." Shade kept playing with the skull... until its jaw dropped to the floor. He stared at it for a few, then just lobbed the skull away, like he was done with a toy. He looked around for something else to distract himself with.. saw a mirror, and moved on, pretending that he didn't.
"I've missed music for its own sake. Though.." She looked around. "We should still find a mirror." "There are none here. We should keep walking." "Whatever you say." Shade turned and began to walk, when he heard Nicolette call from the corner of the room. "Over here!" He heard her running, and he sighed. "See..." She indicated the dusty mirror in the corner. "It caught the light." "Okay, you're up, front liner." "Hrm.." Conrad sauntered up. "A pinch of blood and just touch it? Doesn't seem too difficult." "It shouldn't be. Do you need help?" Conrad frowned. "For the record again, I don't spill my blood for just about anyone. But this time.." He looked as shade approached him. "Mmhmm.. Mmhmm.." Shade shadow-jumped behind him and prodded Conrad's arm with a spike. "Boop!" Nicolette seemed shoked and yelled "Shade!" "Why you little!" And Shade laughed and leaped for the mirror, dragging the little blood he could get from Conrad over it.
Once again, darkness seeped out around them, but they did not see the symbol this time.. Nicolette was prepared for it this time, as the darkness deep enough to swallow her light surrounded them.. But what Conrad would see, she could only imagine. What came up... was not what they expected. It was Conrad with Old Man Tharin. It made Conrad's eyes widen. "The old man.." Nicolette looked to Tharin, and then the other Conrad with uncertain eyes. The Tharin of the vision gave Conrad a big, bright smile. "Oi! If it ain't Danrad! How tha hells yah been, lad?!" "For the last time old man. Danrad isn't even a real name!" "Nay? Then why's 'em folk sayin' yer changed yer name?" "I haven't changed anything. It's just that my name doesn't quite have the ring it used to. Ever since what happened." Shade gave their Conrad a flat look. "You have really weird painful memories, man..." "Nay? Then let me tells yah a storeh from me childhood.." "Don't bother, I've already heard it. I didn't recruit you only for your legendary swordsmanship, old man." "Not this one, yah ain't. See, back when.." And the image faded.. Apparently not even Shar's magic wanted to hear Tharin's rambling.
"...Danrad?" "Don't ask.." "Okay, this was just weird.. and I know weird! ..also, mirror's empty again. Think it's broken?" "Seems I got off easy." "Yeah, maybe." Shade shrugged as he and Nicolette both noticed something. "You're not glowing." "Yeah, we don't see a glow around you." Nicolette brushed her fingers over Conrad's shoulders. Her own still had an internal purple glow. She looked surprised, but Conrad just shrugged. "We done with that thing?" "Probably?" Nicolette nodded. "So.. Back to the first one?" Nicolette gave Conrad a certain and thoughtful look. "I suppose.."
They made their way trough the halls, the main area, and trough more halls, back to the execution room. "So.. Shadowguard against Sharrans, eh? Bet you won't find that written in history." "Hard to tell who won the day." "Yeah." "I'm not sure anyone did.." As they came to the mirror, Nicolette and Conrad watched as Shade approached it. He prodded himself with a spike, cursed, and smeared a little blood over it. As darkness poured out, they saw Shade standing around in what appeared to be a tavern. He was holding a mug of ale in his hand, and they noticed the symbol of Shar wasn't on the mirror this time either.
Someone bumped into Shade in the vision, and the mug dropped to the floor, spilling his drink all over, making Shade gasp in horror as he looked to the floor. He dropped to his knees before it. "My ale... It was innocent.." While the real Shade crossed his arms and harrumphed. "..damn it, that was good ale too." "I can relate to the feeling." Conrad chuckled, as Nicolette rested her hands on her hips and stoop up straight. There was likely a storm brewing inside the woman, as their visions were mere mockeries compared to what she had to relive. "What is it with the two of you? I don't believe this!" She shook her head. "Not for one second!" "Hey, it was good ale!" Conrad tried to hide his amusement of the vision, snorting. "I swear, that ale was good enough to kill over! ...which I did. ...I had to spend three days running."
Nicolette looked to Conrad. "You've killed for my mother. And you.." She looked to Shade. "..I don't believe for an instant." "Don't believe what?" "You don't get to be the way you two are, without once being sad. Without some grief, or some loss..." Shade gave her a flat look at this. "...sweetie. I know you know who I am. What part of this surprises you." "Suppose we've grown numb to grief over the years, and the visions portray merely the nonsense we go trough daily to find solace from it." Nicolette glared at the mirror, speaking to it like Shar herself could hear. "You're showing us lies and masks. Who don't you show some truth?!" "Sweetie, you are yelling to a mirror." Shade told her flatly, then looked to Conrad. "Want to try again?" "Seems as it wasn't as bad as I expected, if it amuses you." "Well, yours was just weird. I mean, an old man telling stories?" Nicolette was still glaring at the mirror, as if it had personally affronted her. "Let me try with my own hand instead..." "Sure. I bet it will be something stupid." Shade stood for a moment, before giving Nicolette a slow smirk. "Want to make a bet?" "What?" "A bet!" "I know what a bet is. What are we betting on?" "What his memory will be! I bet it's something silly. Like... Being drunk and pissing against the wind." Nicolette eyed Conrad and shook her head. "I don't think so. I think..." She spoke to Conrad then. "It's going to see what you let it."
As Conrad took a dagger from his belt, and made a small cut on his finger, then placed it on the mirror, the dark disk of Shar flared up on the mirror's surface. Darkness poured out trough it, as it really seemed to work this time. "...well, shit. I was doing it wrong?" Screams of battle were heard as the vision revealed itself to the three. A familiar landscape of the eastern woods of Crossroads opened before them. The Bloodguard fortress of Riftenfahl was in flame, with the battle raging on its walls, with familiar faces to be seen clashing against one another. Nicolette shivered as she seemed to recognize it. "Aww, poor thwing.. Did yuh havv to do battwle..?" Yes, Shade baby talked at the memory.. then.. "Wait, is that..?" Nimmeril's light was seen shining from within the fortress. Famous knights on both Kreisian and Bloodguard ranks were yelling out orders and struggling against the invading demonic horde lead by the winged Rhandum and a hulking orcish leader. "Of hey, it's the demon fellow! What's become of him? I haven't seen him in months!"
Gustav of Steinkreis was seen protecting Nicolette from attacks of Karbacchuum and Conrad was seen drawing blood against Rhandum not too far, seemingly gaining the upper hand against the demon. "Oh no.. Please tell me you didn't slay him.. I liked that guy.." The mercenary captain was seen yelling out "I've seen enough hell for a mortal lifetime demon, the Rift will never claim this island as long as I have a say about it!" Nicolette bit her lip as she watched. It was strange to see herself from the outside again, shining once more like a princess in white. She knew how it would end. Shade meanwhile tapped his foot as he watched with crossed arms. He wasn't sure if he found the memory interesting, or if he should go look for something more interesting to do. The bloodguard in the vision seemed to succeed in repelling the raging wave of demons, and victory for the defending forces was near.
Rhandum, having been wounded by Conrad, decided to take his chance on turning the tide, by focusing his attention on the White Rose, casually flying over the clashing forces to reach Nicolette. The real Nicolette gasped and stared with her mouth hanging open, as the Conrad in the vision went after Rhandum, leaving him open. The greatsword of the hulking orc furiously pierced trough Conrad's chest, killing Conrad instantly. The mercenary died, having failed to achieve what he thought was right. For once placing his principles ahead of personal gain. Even Shade winced at the memory and held a hand over where Conrad was pierced. "Yeowch.." Nicolette watched in silence, as she recalled the moment. Again, the vision was clearer than her own jumbled memories of it. "So you have died too.." A demonic voice could be heard in the vision. "Conrad Gilles died in battle of fort Riftenfahl... only the Blade remains... and it hungers...." and the vision faded..
Conrad looked back at the two. "I used every resource I could to stop the riders of the rift.. I failed.. I paid the ultimate price for what I believed to be right.. I'm not even sure if even the gods can determine why I am still here.." He looked to Nicolette as a purple glow began seeping from Conrad as well, with the symbol of Shar still burning on the mirror's surface. He experienced his worst memory, so he passed the test.
Registered Member #24916
Joined: 2:58:00 pm GMT 01/23/19
The Temple of Loss and Grief - Part 5
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"Dracswell, why aren't you glowing like we do?" Shade looked back to Conrad as they walked back toward the main area. "Hm? Oh, I'm immune to that stuff. I don't feel like you do." This made Conrad take a deep sigh. "That tale of spilled ale was one quite full of sorrow." "I keep telling you! It was damn fine ale!" They went trough the middle door this time, and trough the room ahead. There were a staircase leading down, but it was too full of skeletal remains to be safe to travel. There was something ahead that drew their attention anyway. A doorframe with what looked like a purple barrier. Nicolette walked toward it, but stopped when close and reached a hand into it. Nothing happened, and she moved right trough, with Conrad and Shade passing trough after her. One of them without glowing, and unfazed by the barrier.
"Wait up, girl.. Someone's got to watch your back." Nicolette paused at Conrad's words and nodded her gratitude to the mercenary as they were all approaching a deep darkness. It wasn't long before neither of them could see, and as they walked along in the pitch black darkness, they started hearing voices.. Renneleth asking "Nicolette? Is that you?" and what sounded like a dying soldier shouting "Conrad...!" The voice gargled and coughed, clearly in extreme pain. "Conrad..! Don't leave us..!" "Who... Al? Zurtor?" Nicolette gasped in the dark, as she felt her way along the wall, moving just ahead of Conrad, but then she head the voice of her mother. "Oh little flower.. How proud I am of you.." "Don't you dare.." Nicolette whispered. "..not those voices.." "Conrad! Coooonraaaaad!!" "Hang in there, lads!" Conrad called back to his soldier, as Renneleth screamed.. "NICOLETTE!!!"
As they came trough the darkness, they appeared in a hall of mirrors. A dark hall still, with grand pillars on each side of the room, with mirrors lined up in a ring around them. Mirrors also lined the walls, and up ahead was the faint outline of a circle of purple light. "Where are you lads? Your captain is here!" Nicolette then saw nobles in the mirrors, laughing at her and commenting on how her, a street rat, pretended to be a noble. Shade meanwhile just walked along. He had no voices calling for him, and no mirror images trying to get to him. It was like nothing in this place, with the exception of a door giving him a jumpscare, was aiming anything at him.
Nicolette moved trough the taunts, hearing "By decree of Steinkreis and the light of Andarus, we sentence The White Rose, Nicolette Adair to death!" with other voices aimed at Conrad. "Hey, are you seeing what I'm seeing? It's Conrad! Let's stab him with another riftstone!" "Not if I'll stab you first! Bring it you wretches!" Conrad shouted at the mirrors as Nicolette shivered. Her heart ached. Those were words she had heard in nightmares, but she still kept moving forward, stepping into the circle of purple light, and reached out to a oozing cloud of darkness at its center. "...You want me.. Here I am.." The voices just kept taunting Conrad. "Ha ha ha ha! We made him mad!" "We made him mad!" "I'll kill the bloody lot of you!" Conrad began storming around the mirror hall as Nicolette focused on the black disk of Shar. "..Why? Why are you doing this?" "Because life is not fair... So much has happened to you.. so why do you still protect them..? Why do you still fight..?" She heard a voice right in her head. It was strangely warm and soothing, but Nicolette knew better than to let herself be swayed by the voices tone.
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Then Lily stood in a mirror and grinned at Conrad. "Did you know I use your name as a euphemism for taking a dump?" Then Tharin shows in another. "Hah! Yer a real ladies man, mah boy!" Conrad drew his sword again. "Come on then, Lily. Let's make it count this time!" Nicolette's fingers touched the floor pattern as she heard the voices all around her. Her eyes were closing, as the visions of despair all danced at the edge of her mind. "..What are you shouting at?" Shade gave Conrad an awkward look, as if the man had gone insane.. Or Shade simply didn't see or hear what he did. It was starting to get really confusing for the shady fella, and he scratched the back of his head.
Nicolette was silent for a moment, with the question ringing in her mind. She answered only in a whisper. "Because... The Kreis endures.. From the ones who built these stones, in days of old.. To me, here, now.. They can take my family, my titles. They can cast me out into the cold. And it hurts.." She shivered. "But it just means... We have to be better." "But how long until that becomes too much? It shouldn't have to hurt.." "I don't know.." There have been times in all this, these memories and taunts, that she felt close to breaking. She is only human, and She was alone, save for a shouting mercenary chasing mirror images, and a distant elf, who both felt far away. "...as long as it takes..." "That is very impressive, Lauren.. But you are close to breaking.. I can tell.. And when that happens.. Know that I will be here for you. I will always be here for you.. If you need me, you need only touch a mirror and speak my name.." "I don't want it.." "We will see, Lauren.. We will see.."
Shade couldn't hear a whole lot of what she was muttering, and he wasn't really all that interested either. He had been thinking of converting Nicolette, but he knew he was terrible at it. He always was. It is why he is the one who lays the ground work, and lets the church come in and take advantage. It would be like this with Nicolette. The Black Disc would plant the seed in the young songstress, and it would be up to him to... Hm... Just thinking about that made his head hurt. He hated planning, and there was definitely more that could happen in this temple, so he decided to just take things as they came, and walked up to a mirror. There, he started fussing with his hair as he started loosing interest in what Nicolette was doing. "Neat. Would you mind helping me braid my hair?"
"..I don't want your name. You can't... You can't help me.." This made Shade glance back. He definitely knew what powers it could give Nicolette, but shrugged and resumed doing his hair. It was just more interesting at the moment. There was just so much dust in it that he had to get out! He was likely a reminder for Nicolette, of what one who took that deal is really like. She knew he was emotionally distant, and there had been clues throughout their journey in the temple to just how lost he is. The disk went quiet, with all that remained were the statues of Shar, placed out in each side of the room, by the walls, where they appeared to watch the disk. Nicolette felt like she was surrounded by the voices of all her failures. All of her loss and grief. Her eyes welled with tears, and yet.. "..you can't help us.." "No, but you can help me. Now. Braid please?" Nicolette ignored Shade. "..if the gods could help, if they ever could help, there'd... there'd be no need for us.. We'd all be the same. Darkness, and silence. The same every day.. But that can't be all there is.. We.. We have to be the light."
Shade got a sour look as Nicolette hit the nail on what it would really be like to have Shar's gift. "Right, that is enough of that. Shall we get back to exploring? Your friend is running around like a maniac between mirrors. He really seems to hate this Lily gal." Nicolette drew her hand from the disc. She looked to the sound of Conrad's distant shouting, somewhere among the mirrors. Shade looked back to her, as carefree and distant as he had been trough the entire ordeal. "So...?" She took a breath and let it out, with her emotions welling. It was hard to get them under control. She walked toward Shade.. "Please don't hurt me?" She reached for him, making Shade squeak and flinch backwards.. only to have Nicolette fix a stray lock of hair. "...oh. Thank you." She turned then, and followed Conrad, deeper into the hall.
"You can't get to my head! Who do you think I am?!" Conrad was yelling around restlessly. "A walking turd!" Lily's voice was quick to respond. "I'll kill you!!" He rushed toward the sound with his sword cutting in the air, only to have Tharin laughing at him from behind. "Ha ha! She got ya there, lad!" It was all rather surreal for Shade, who was unaffected by everything. "Woah.. You uh.. Really have it down for that girl, huh.." "What's happening here?! This isn't real!" "Conrad!" Nicolette called his name while reaching for his arm, only to get decked when Conrad reactively turned toward Nicolette, holding his fist up in the air. "Nic..?" Shade only scratched the back of his head as he watched Nicolette drop, with a voice joining in. It was Kallista again. "Harrumph. How disgraceful. -This- is what I spend my money on?" "Urgh no.. I didn't mean t..." He noticed Shade behind her. "You did this Dracswell! Make it stop!" "You uh.. Wait, what? How would I do this?!"
As Nicolette pushed herself up, she had a trickle of blood from her broken lip. "Conrad... It's messing with our heads.." Shade was still just standing there. None of the mirrors were messing with him. Conrad reached an arm toward Nicolette. "Forgive me, girl.." "Whatever's still here. It's like a living thing.." She took his arm and rose, nodding her understanding. "It's malicious.. We have to find it." But just as she said this, a voice spoke in her head. "Do not forgive.. stab him... he deserves it..." "Dracswell! You brought us here. This is your doing. The mirrors did nothing to you!" "Uhh.. Yeah? Because I don't let things like taunting ladies get to me? I will add that I had absolutely no idea what we were going to find." Conrad's expression went blank at this. "See? That's the face. Now keep that." Conrad sheathed his sword as he casually walked toward Shade, with Nicolette loosing her grip on his arm as he moved. "Hrm, yes.. That must be it. You are absolutely right." "If you are going to kiss me, at least buy me a drink first." "What would I ever do without you." He gave Shade an "unexpected" smile, seemingly biting his lip.
A poof happened, and Shade was gone from his sight. "You know it is obvious you are going to punch me, right?" He said from the other side of the room, making Conrad side-glance. "Slippery little..." with the visions of Lily taunting him more now. "Come on, dipshit. Even I am more subtle." "Shade.." Nicolette spoke up. "Yes?" "If you really don't know what this is. Tell us what you think. You've... seen things like this before." Shade turned to her at this, and spoke in a far more serious tone than he likes to take on. "It's a temple of misery. It amplifies those feelings greatly. It wants us to feel down. It wants us to argue, and fight each other. All so we will give in to darkness." He answered honestly. After all, she would know he was lying, and he didn't really want her giving in just yet. It could be fun to see her fall, but he had more adventures he wanted to take her on. Lily's voice was heard again, taunting Conrad some more and snorting. "And look at Conrad. Too dumb to realize even that." but Nicolette kept her focus. "What's driving it?" She looked around the hall, seeing the many reflections in the mirrors. "Is it... alive? The temple?" "Hmmm... I would say no.."
"Oh, is that it.. You don't think I can reach you there? Is that it?! You're dead, Lily!" It was a miracle Shade and Nicolette were even able to talk with how loud Conrad was being. "But Shar is among the oldest of Faerunian gods. Her presence could longer for ages beyond its inhabitants. Which... it quite clearly does." After answering Nicolette, Shade looked to Conrad as he saw the way he glared at a mirror. It held a vision of Lily mooning him and slapping her ass in a taunting way. "Oh, that does it!" Oh yes, Shade was loving this. He fully expected Conrad to pounce and crash his face into a mirror.. It was disappointing when Conrad instead lifted the damn thing, making Nicolette step back with her eyes widening at him as Shade gave an impressed whistle. "Conrad!"
"Here... Have it, Dracswell!" And he threw a freaking mirror at Shade! While he was, Nicolette heard a voice in her head.. "He will kill you... He is turning insane, and he will kill you.." A poof happened, and Shade stood in another place. "Again, you make it so damn obvious..." "Conrad! Stop!" Nicolette yelled at him before looking to where the mirror fell. Another voice came, this time from Melphaecto, the Iron City Inquisitor Conrad had worked for in the past. "How in the nine did you miss that.. He was -right- there!" It made Conrad grumble and yell in frustration. Shade meanwhile, just seemed amused. "Hah! Fun in a temple of misery. Who would have thought?"
Registered Member #24916
Joined: 2:58:00 pm GMT 01/23/19
The Temple of Loss and Grief - Part 6
(The unimportant part you can skip.)
"Come here, you!" Conrad yelled while bullrushing Shade, with Nicolette shouting from the side "Stop! Please!" "Fight like a man!" Conrad yelled as Shade just poofed away from him once more. "See.. When you keep announcing what you are going to do.." Conrad looked to Nicolette, asking her "What?" as a voice spoke to his mind again. "It is him.. All him.. Kill him.. Kill him.." "I bloody know, right.." He answered the voice as if talking to himself. Nicolette was holding one of the glass shards in her hand. Her other brushed her own temple. "It's... trying to turn us against each other." The voice kept talking as Nicolette spoke to him. "Even the girl.. She will try to stop you... She is taking his side over you... The jester.. Over you.." "I need you both right now. And... I need you both to understand each other." She approached Shade slowly, making him just look curiously to her. "Hm? Oh, this is one sided, I assure you. See? I am perfectly calm.~" He chimed and gave her a big, dashing smile. "I even smile!"
Conrad looked between the two as he was pacing around, hearing the voice still, telling him to kill them. "You... want us to get trough this alive. Right?" "Of course. It would be no fun if we can't explore more." "Then give me your hand." "Hm? Sure." Shade gave it to her without thinking, as Nicolette heard the voice again. "Kill him.. He will only sacrifice you when it suits him..." She grasped Shade's hand in hers, and the other hand, the one that held the mirror shard, moved to swiftly cut his hand. A shallow cut, but it drew blood. "What are you doing? That won't kill him." Shade begged to differ. He was bouncing around, holding his hand as he gave off a storm of "Oww oww oww oww"'s. Despite how much he taunted Conrad, he sure was a coward himself when it came to pain. Nicolette looked at his blood on the shard. "I don't want to kill him. We need him. I want to see the truth."
"Now I'm going to clock you back to Dracswell second of his name.." Conrad approached Shade with his fist up, prompting Shade to shadow-jump away again, and chimed "Third.~" teasingly. Nicolette did as they did earlier in their journey and pressed drops of Shade's blood against the nearest intact mirror. "Show me." This made Shade react, and look back to her. "....Waaait.." Conrad stopped too, as Nicolette spoke. "Why are you doing that here? I don't think that is part of the riddle anymore?" So Shade said, but a chuckle that they all could hear came from the dark disc. The words that followed were heard by Nicolette alone. "Do you want to see, Lauren? The tragedy of Shade Dracswell, third of his name?" Nicolette tilted her head as she listened to the voice. "Yes. I want to see." "But you already have.. The spilled ale.. His great sorrow.. He actually did murder for that ale, you know?" "Who are you talking to..?" Shade asked curiously, still not knowing the temple could speak to them. "I don't need a lie. A story about lost ale.." This made Shade narrow his eyes. "Nooooo..." but Nicolette kept going. "He's seen what happened to us. Show us what happened to him. The truth. Not the mask." "Thought we already saw it. That clumsy oaf spilled his ale.." Conrad barely could say before a dark chuckle echoed trough the entire temple, and the voice spoke for all to hear. "Very well... Allow me to unmask the jester." Shade's eyes popped open as he heard this. "Uh oh."
A darkness spilled out throughout the temple, as it twisted around them. All lights faded, the walls moved, and they soon seemed to find themselves in an entirely different ruin. Before them was a younger looking Shade, holding a very old looking book. He seemed as happy as cheerful as could be. "This.. This is.. Hah! Ha ha! Ha ha ha! Finally!" "Seems you did it, girl. This seems quite something else." Conrad said as the two watched the vision before them. The happy and eager Shade. They both saw how purple smoke was lifting from the lettering of his book. "The magic of the ancient Netheril! The magic that kept them alive! .... Yes! Yes, I commit myself to the power of the Netheril! I am committed to its studies!" "The younger pest seems rather eager to do something reckless.." And Conrad was right. As the younger Shade agreed to the terms of its binding, shadows poured from the ancient book. The shadows flew trough the room, shifting directions, with the purple lights soaring about him. It was a really beautiful visage. Nicolette meanwhile tensed a little as shadows appeared, instinctually wanting to summon her light.
The younger Shade watched in awe as his life's work finally paid off. So many years.. Several human scholars had the time to grow old and die by the time any of his studies bore fruit, and now he watched it all surrounding and flying around him in a spectacular light show. It all flew into him, creating shadows on him, adding together until he is entirely cloaked in it. They saw how his expression changed as shadows kept seeping inside him.. It went from utter delight at a massive archaeological achievement, to one of shock... "..what? Why don't..." He looked down at his hands. "Why don't I... Why am I not happier? What is going on?!" Conrad chuckled as the young Shade felt the cost of his agreement. "Worth every copper to see his annoying smile fade like that. What do you think is actually happening to him, girl?" Nicolette did not share his smile, she was horrified. "They made it so he couldn't feel anything.." Darkness poured out again.. "Nothing happy, nothing sad. Just nothing at all, for all time..." "That does seem a rather gruesome fate."
As the darkness lifted, they found themselves at what seemed like a grand ball-room. A clear formal event of some form, where it's host cleared his throat. The hundred attendees all turned to him, and they saw Shade was there too, dressed in formal garments. "Sure hope he's not nervous in crowds." Conrad commented as the host began to speak. "Ladies and gentlemen! It is with great pride that I announce a new milestone in Netheril Studies! Shade Dracswell found one of their ancient spellbooks!" The ballroom erupted in claps and cheers, yet Shade seemed to feel.. nothing? He was just standing there, looking as if he should feel something, but didn't. The host gave him a big, bright and proud smile. "Come now, man of the hour! Let us hear some words!" Shade looked up and around, with an empty look on his face. "Uhh.. The wine was fine?" This didn't seem to sit well with the host. He likely thought what Conrad had assumed. That Shade would give a three hour speech. The scholar raised his hands and gave his best dashing smile. "Shade Dracswell, everybody!" Nicolette's fingers tensed as she grasped Conrad's arm. The scene was not horrifying to look at, but she seemed to be waiting for something.. but it didn't come, and all they saw was the host coming over to Shade, to speak quietly. "I expect to see you in my office." Then darkness poured out again, and they heard the younger Shade say "Fired? But why? I... I don't.." His sigh was heard. "Fine.. I will leave.."
"Worry not, girl. We might finally be on to something here with this guy." "That's what worries me..." She spoke softly to Conrad. "This place doesn't show stories that end well."
When the darkness lifted again, Shade was in a nice little village. He was standing with what seemed to be the elder, who seemed overjoyed, and was shaking the hand of a rather expressionless Shade. He was just.. staring.. Empty eyed, not feeling a thing. "I don't really see the issue. His setbacks are only bound to make him stronger." "Come now, friend! You alone saved our village! Thanks to you, our farmers are safe again! We will sing songs of you for ages to come!" "Oh. Yes. Brilliant." Shade gave him a thumbs up, as if the glory of having songs written about his deeds really meant nothing, and darkness covered them all again. "He probably should have had a written speech in his pocket. Dracswell seems completely terrible with realizing the fruits of his labour. Should have a drink to celebrate at least."
This time, when the darkness lifted, they were in a forest. An elven woman seemed delighted to see shade, and was running straight for him. She jumped in his arms, as happy as could be and cupped his face as she gave him the most loving of smiles. "You're back! What took you so long?!" Shade still seemed empty, not feeling a thing, even as he was clearly reunited with his lover. "Oh.. I uh.. Saved a village.. Made some significant marks on history.." Conrad muttered as he watched.. "For someone so skinny, he seems to have had fine piece of luck with women. Not bad." "Well..." The elven woman took his hands and laid them on her belly with the brightest of the eager smiles. "You are about to make history here.~" "Yeah..?" "Yeah!" Nicolette's grip on Conrad's arm tightened. This seemingly pleasant scene did not seem to calm the songstress, and for good reason. Conrad even noticed Nicolette's reaction, but turned back to view the scene expectantly. Shade only looked down at her belly, surely knowing what great news this was. He was to be a father! He should have been overjoyed, yet he felt nothing. In a desperate attempt at feeling... ANYTHING.. He drew his blade and cut his lover's belly open.
Nicolette had expected this, she feared it, but she still gasped when it happened. They watched as the elven woman's face filled with horror as she dropped to her knees, looking up at him in pure shock as blood poured from the large gash. Shade's eyes met hers. He should have felt something.. He looked from her, to his blood coated blade.. and back into her eyes.. Knowing he should feel something.. He should have felt sorrow! He should have felt happy he was to be a father! He should have hated himself for killing himself for this! But all he felt was emptiness.. Nothing.. Not even a single reaction as his lover fell lifeless to the ground. "That's downright brutal even by my standards. What in the blazes is wrong with this guy?" Even Conrad's eyes showed shock at Shade's past.. And as if to make matters worse, a more matured elven man, likely her father, came running. "Shade! What happened?! Why is-" He stopped dead in his tracks as he saw the blood on Shade's blade.
Shade disappeared in the blink of an eye, from the shadow of a tree, and reappeared in the shadow of the other elf. A quick slice chopped the other elf's head clean off, and yet again, Shade only stared down at his blade.. Screaming internally as he knew he should have felt something... but... he wasn't even screaming inside. He knew he should have, but he felt nothing.. Nothing at all.. Nicolette could only shiver as she watched the memory..
"Rather educating. He's quite more than meets the eye." The memory faded, and everything was the way it was. They were back in the temple. The memories were over.. And now Shade was standing by them with his arms crossed, looking bored. Conrad looked to him. "You saw that, right?" "Told you it was uninteresting." Nicolette appeared affected by the memory as it faded, taking a breath and letting it out. "It wasn't..." "You're one cold blooded killer Dracswell. I would of hired you back in the day weren't you as annoying as you are." "And I would have flirted with you, hadn't you been such a hot head." He smirked at Conrad. "Now will you stop throwing mirrors at me?" Nicolette regarded Shade steadily with thoughtful eyes, but remained quiet, like she was still piecing her feelings together.
And there they had it. The reason Shade had seemed immune so far. He simply didn't feel the emotions the temple played at. What they had plenty of, Shade had nothing. The mirrors had nothing to use against him. The voices had nothing.. As Shade would simply not feel anything from them.