Entropy's Glory (story)
This story was originally posted by Gamemaster Armifer in the Guild Events folders of the Moon Mage folders of the Dragonrealms forum on 11/1/2008.
Edward the Exorcist was a Cleric of minor repute, noteworthy for being one of the precursors to the modern adventurer-priest. He did a lot of good in his years on Elanthia, wielding his faith and his unflappable demeanor like weapons, but his legacy did not rise above the noise and drama of history.
One of the few recorded adventures he had was his brief employment with the Moon Mage Guild. The guild was investing in the excavation of a pre-imperial site along the northern fringes of the Provinces. They had claimed and restored a remarkably intact library on site known as the Emsfolk Archive, but Emsfolk gained a reputation for being haunted.
The archive had been staffed for five years before Edward was summoned, and that time was marked by an escalation of uncanny events. The original staff claimed that there was "a darkness" that hung in the building, souring moods and sapping the will. By the fourth year, experiments showed that the effect had grown to a physical dimming of all light sources within the walls. Decay and decrepitude came on unusually quick: food rotted within days, tools broke frequently, and the staff bore their years heavily. However, the most dangerous effect was luck. Spells misfired at random, mechanisms larger then the men that maintained them were known as death traps, and even the weather seemed at odds with the seasons and their needs; in some absurdly malevolent way, reality at Emsfolk was askew.
While the staff initially assumed there was a planar origin to their troubles, by the fifth year they gave up hope of solving it themselves. Edward was hired to appease the dark gods and drive out any demons that had taken hold in the archive. He accepted the job on the provision that he'd first be allowed to examine the building alone for one night, with neither company nor scrying magic intruding on him. After his first night, Edward told the Moon Mages that the haunting was of unusual origin, and that he would need to do more research before he could quote a fee.
Ten months passed before the Emsfolk staff saw Edward again, and they had begun to send out for another priest. Edward told them that he could exorcise the archive and would require one thousand platinum for the service. The Moon Mage Council initially balked at the cost (a princely sum, before modern inflation), but pressure from the Emsfolk mages soon made them give way. Edward got his fee, with the additional terms that any damage or expenses would come out of it, and he would not see a copper of it until the building was pristine.
Edward wasted no time pressing the limits of that agreement. He insisted that he would require a magical item crafted to his specifications in order to complete the exorcism. Another ten months passed while guild enchanters worked, often needing to invest in new crafts and tweak spell patterns to suit Edward's exacting demands.
The result was known as Edward's Staff, an expensive marvel of Lunar enchanting. Set upon a humble oak base, the head of the staff was an arrangement of clarified gems, glass, and crystal panes. Celestial runes floated in the air around its head, and delicate platinum spheres orbited it through a trick of telekinesis. Light radiated outward from its center, magnified by magic and the physical properties of the material, creating an awe-inspiring scene.
Staff in hand, Edward set out to confront the demons of the archive. This time, he permitted scrying magic from any magician that wished.
The stage had been set for a dramatic confrontation. Edward strode in to the darkened central hall of the archive, the light and magic of the staff enfolded around him, magnifying his body with the majesty of the stars. The darkness of Emsfolk drew together against his display of might, gathering in the opposite end of the hall. It was a half-manifest entity of shadows, somewhere between a roiling cloud and a pulsating mass of snakes and tentacles.
Edward took a step toward the otherworldly horror and rose the staff. He then grabbed the base of the staff with both hands, abruptly pivoted, and swung it against a nearby wall. The head of the staff shattered, falling to the floor as a cloud of broken crystal and glass. The hall plunged into darkness.
An altogether different light grew out of the darkness. Edward appeared again, the only figure to be seen against a black backdrop. He was surrounded by a dim aura of golden light, which seemed to radiate from his skin. Edward's light was humble compared to one he just destroyed, yet the shadow-creature was unable to engulf it.
Edward looked down at the staff in his hand. The magnificent head was gone and the staff had been charred and split where it once rested. He examined it in detail, seemingly not mindful of the evil force that swirled around him, and muttered, "That's a pity. It was a good piece of oak." He then casually tossed the staff into the darkness, where it crinkled against its glass remains.
The building rumbled as the shadow-creature manifested currents around Edward, yet still his humble light warded him. He formed a ball of lucent energy and half-heartedly threw it into the monster, but the spell sputtered and died on contact. Edward said, "Dear me, isn't this a bother. They were expecting a good show, and we appear to be incompatible."
He said, "I'm the wrong sort of person for this job, you know. They should have sent a scholar versed in occult lore; they should have sent a Lunar mage with inhuman power and mastery; they should have sent a champion to drive you from the plane and craft a tale to be handed down for years to come."
Edward shrugged, "But reality doesn't work like that around you, does it? So you have me.
"Entropy's Glory. That is a very nice name, by the way. Took me three weeks to find an Empath that'd explain the concept to me. A little bit of Zachriedek, a little bit of Urrem'tier, a splash of Eylhaar to taste. Fearsome. Banishing you would've made a bloody-minded hero very happy."
The rumbling intensified, and a hissing, slithering sound echoed all around. Edward produced a pipe from an inner jacket pocket, then absently patted himself down to find his tobacco. He said, "Took me much longer to figure out what I was going to say to you. Didn't pay much attention to Moon Mages before now. All that moon and star nonsense, you understand. Fascinating people, though, if you know where to look."
Tobacco pouch in hand, Edward carefully filled his pipe. He said, "Think I got a good grasp on it now, though. In fact, you and I? We share three secrets that they," he gestured with his pipe toward the ceiling, the typical vantage point for a scrying window, "don't know.
"First, we both know that the gods are good, and that they have suffused this plane with meaning."
The hissing grew sharper in pitch. Tendrils of shadow-stuff probed against Edward's light.
"Second, I know what your real name is-"
The rumbling further intensified, threatening the structure.
"-and we both know you can't kill me fast enough to stop from shouting it out. Next time, use more syllables."
Everything went dead, except for the sound of Edward lighting his pipe.
He said, "I confess I don't really understand the bit about names, nor why you chose the first one, but that doesn't mean I can't bash you over the head with it. So, here's the deal. I don't care. The people watching us would care, but I don't care very much about them either. Surrender this connection to the plane, and I won't tell them who you are."
There was a pause. Commentators later suggested that Entropy's Glory communicated with Edward telepathically. No one but Edward knew what it said, though his response was audible, "Certainly, but there will be other people. That's the will of the gods; the fate to which you are bound. It's not within your power to throw off this burden, but you're welcome to keep trying.
"Now go, unless you enjoy my company."
The shadows around Edward receded into the cracks and corners of the hall, then vanished entirely. Emsfolk was cleansed.
Afterward, accountants tallied up the cost for Edward's Staff and assorted services: the exorcism had cost 997 platinum and change. Records indicate that Edward charged a new hat and tobacco pouch to the account, then donated the remainder to a local monastery.