Ikken Naeja



  • Entry for the Summer 2017 Chron Challenge

    "Alright Beorn-Selax," Katerei said. "I helped you destroy your evil counterpart, become an air elemental again, save the world, sever the portal between our world and the mirror universe, and restore Cythera’s connection to the Void. Now pay up: Tell me what happened to Tiernan."

    "I was just getting ready to do so," answered Selax with dignity. "That is easy. I reminded Avatara of his duty to defeat Icel, and escorted him to the Void to pursue that goal."

    "Escorted him!? He would not have left me willingly!"

    "I did not say it was willingly."

    "So you dragged him kicking and screaming?"

    "Technically he was not kicking. "Dragged him fireballing and screaming" might be an accurate description."

    "You JERK!" Katerei attempted to punch him, but he morphed into air and her fist merely went through him.

    He sighed. "There is no need to resort to violence. I merely did what was necessary in order to save many worlds, including Cythera, considerable amounts of destruction. Now, I was going to relate to you the message he asked me to tell you, but if you do not want to hear it…"

    "What did he say!" demanded Katerei.

    "He said that he would meet you in the Plains of Erendell in six months."

    "Six months? Six months from now, or-?"

    "Six months from when he gave me the message," clarified Selax.

    "But that was…"

    "About a year ago, if memory serves."

    If looks could kill, Selax would be… well, he’d probably be unharmed because he’s Selax. But Katerei was glaring at him very menacingly.

    "Why are you just now telling me this!?" she growled.

    "I agreed to deliver his message after he defeated Icel. Last I checked, he had not yet done so. Then Cythera became cut off from all other worlds, so I did not, until now, discover that he had successfully completed his endeavour."

    "He has?" Excitement flickered. Icel was gone. The world was safe. Maybe Tiernan had never meant to abandon her. Maybe he still loved her, still wanted her. "Take me to him," she said. "You owe us that much."

    She was almost surprised how easily he agreed. "Yes, I will take you there."

    Katerei stepped out of the Void and onto the Erendell Plains, behind Selax. The sudden light of day momentarily blinded her, obscuring her vision of the beautiful grassy hills and ancient obelisks. But her thoughts were not on the scenery. She anxiously wondered if she was about to see Tiernan, and if he would be happy to see her. If she could hug him, if she could kiss him…

    Selax’s eyes adjusted before hers did. "That is not good," he commented.

    Katerei stumbled beside him and saw what he was referring to. "no," she whispered.

    Across the plains was the figure of a man lying facedown in a puddle of… something purple? He was not moving. Katerei ran to him and flipped him over. Her worst fears were confirmed. It was Tiernan. She wailed in despair. "Tiernan! Tiernan!" She fumbled for her medical satchel and rooted through it, but of course she had nothing helpful. Resurrection potions had been banned a decade prior.

    Selax was beside her, his fingers on Tiernan’s wrist. "He is dead."

    Katerei shot him an anguished look of fury before returning her attention back to Tiernan. Using a rag from her satchel, she cleaned the purple slime from his face. "What happened? How? When?" She wanted to ask these questions to Tiernan, but the only answer she got was from Selax.

    "Quite recently, judging by the condition of his body."

    "So if you had just brought me here a few hours sooner, maybe he’d be alive?"

    "Unfortunately, that does seem to be the case. I apologize."

    Through her tears, Katerei couldn’t manage to verbalize anything except "Argh!" And turned her back to Selax.

    "I understand that you are distressed. I will give you some time alone to grieve. Will five minutes be enough?"

    She ignored him, and eventually he stepped away to give her space. She ran her hands over Tiernan’s face, over his chest, his arms… He had always had a habit of disappearing. She didn’t know how long she had loved him, but she did know that each disappearance had shaken her, and each reappearance had shaken her even more. The last time she saw him, he had told her he loved her. He communicated that in more ways than one. She thought he would finally stop vanishing. She had been wrong.

    This time, he wouldn’t come back. This time she was too late to save him.

    She searched his body for wounds, but found none. At least, none that weren’t nearly healed.

    She touched his lifeless hand, held it in hers. She felt something crinkly. She pulled a folded paper from his fingers. She unfolded it and recognized the symbols on the page as Cytheran script. She could not read it, at least not easily, but she had no interest whatsoever in asking Selax for assistance. He probably wouldn’t get around to reading it until after she died herself. She tucked the paper into her bag. She had once taught herself to read medical textbooks - she could figure out what this note said. Later, in private.

    She turned her attention instead to the weird purple puddle that Tiernan had seemingly drowned in. It was only about an inch deep. But the substance was something completely foreign to her. It was not quite liquid, nor quite solid. It slid, and jiggled.

    "We should take his body back to Cythera for burial."

    Of course Selax had made no sound when he approached her.

    "What is this stuff?" Katerei asked, gesturing to the puddle. "Some kind of Ooze Monster?"

    "No. It is not alive. I am familiar with it, because I have seen it on another world."

    "What does it do?" she asked, afraid.

    "What does it do? Nothing. On that world, it is consumed as a dessert. They called it… Jell-O."

    "But-!" Katerei’s brow furrowed in confusion. "How did it kill him?"

    "It appears that he tripped and fell into it, perhaps damaging his neck so that he could not turn his head for breath. I cannot say why there is a puddle of it on the ground. Perhaps he was carrying it when he tripped. This case is… most odd."

    There didn’t seem to be anything more to say. Katerei could only hope that once she had a chance to study the note, it would have answers. She didn’t protest as Selax lifted Tiernan’s body, and followed him back to Cythera. Whatever happened, Tiernan deserved a proper burial.

    The Cademian graveyard hadn’t been this crowded since the double-burial for Dheiva and Indigo. Many of Cytheras heroes and bar patrons had shown up to pay their respects. The coffin with Tiernan’s body stood before a bunch of chairs that one of the mages had conjured up. Katerei inconspicuously moved one chair away from the group and claimed it as her own. She wasn’t the only one mourning, she knew, but no one else knew the depth of her grief. None of her friends were even aware of how close she and Tiernan had grown during his last weeks in Cythera. And certainly none of them knew what she had read in his final note.

    "The funeral will begin momentarily," Selax informed her, having once again approached her with no warning. "I have taken care of all the funeral details, so you have no responsibilities in that regard."

    "Thanks," muttered Katerei.

    All the heroes were finding seats, and one very old man in rags was hobbling over towards the coffin. He stopped a few feet in front of it and glared at everyone. "What are all you whippersnappers doing here?" he demanded. "Get off of my lawn!"

    Selax was instantly at his side. "This is the cemetery, not your lawn, Neoptolemus. You agreed to officiate this funeral, remember?"

    "Who told you my name!"

    "This could be your lawn, very soon," mused Rapierian.

    Katerei couldn’t keep quiet. "Who is this guy and why is he officiating?"

    Selax cleared his throat. "This is Neoptolemus, a dear friend of the deceased. He is here to lead the funeral ceremony."

    "That’s just what I was saying!" Neoptolemus said. "It’s rude to interrupt an old man, you know. That’s what’s wrong with you young folks today, you have no respect for your elders! You come barging in here, interrupting me - no respect!"

    "I apologize," said Selax wearily.

    "That’s better! Now as I was saying, we are gathered here today to honour what’s-his-face," Neoptolemus waved his cane vaguely at the coffin.

    A few of the kids (who for some inexplicable reason hang out in the Tavern) started wailing as it hit them that Tiernan was really dead.

    "Wait a minute, who is it we’re honouring?" asked Shanadar. "I was told we were having a funeral for a fallen hero, but I missed the part about who it is. Sorry."

    "It’s that moderator guy," said Silverfish.

    "Oh, Selax? Wow, the Selaxes are dropping like flies lately."

    "Yes, that was it!" announced Neoptolemus. "We’re gathered to honour Selax."

    "No, I am Selax," said Selax.

    "You are?" Neoptolemus was aghast. "What are you doing over here?! You’re supposed to be in the coffin!"

    "There has been a misunderstanding. I am not the one who died-"

    "Don’t talk back to me, hoodlum! Show some respect! Do you want me to officiate your funeral or not?"

    "I do not; I want you to officiate Avatara’s funeral."

    "One thing at a time, punk! This is Selax’s funeral! Can’t even respect the dead, tsk, tsk." Neoptolemus shook his head in disgust.

    "Again, this is not Selax’s funeral. I am Selax, and I am not dead."

    "Stop trying to confuse me - I’m an old man! And show some respect! If you’re Selax, then who’s in there?" He gestured to the coffin again.

    "That is Avatara, the man we are here to bury."

    "Huh? Whatzit?"

    "Avatara!"

    "Avara, you say?"

    "…Yes, Avara," sighed Selax, deciding that was a good compromise.

    "We’re gathered here today to honour Avara!" said Neoptolemus decided. "He was a hooligan - sometimes he even to walked across my yard! No respect, I tell you! Good riddance, that’s what I say!"

    "Er, perhaps you have some fond memories to share…?" prompted Selax.

    "What’s that? Fond memories about Avara? Now let me think…"

    "I love Avara!" announced Saria. "Exploring angular boxes is so much fun!"

    Shanadar high-fived her. "What emulator do you use?"

    "I’m on #avaraline if anyone wants to play!" said Yomu.

    "You young people with your newfangled emulators!" spat Neoptolemus. "Back when I was boy, you could play Avara natively! Why, I remember one time I was network-playing some delinquent in Kosha - and beating him heavily I might add! - his two-legged machine whatzit was so boxy I told him, "you’re so unfashionable I bet you don’t even have any grapes on your belt!" Ha!" Neoptolemus slapped his leg and roared in laughter, but no one else was paying any attention. Most of the mourners were busy setting up an Avara game on their mobile devices. He glared at them all. "You see what I mean - no respect! Get off of my lawn, all of you!" He hobbled over to the mourners and began whacking them with his cane, which did no damage whatsoever because everyone in attendance had a reflex level above 0.

    Selax cleared his throat again. "Avatara’s closest friend has agreed to deliver the closing eulogy-"

    Katerei felt a surge of panic. Was she supposed to give a speech? He hadn’t told her about that, and she hadn’t been in any state to prepare anything since discovering Tiernan’s death. But maybe Selax was referring to a different friend? Many of Tiernan’s friends were in attendance…

    "-but first, I’d like to invite anyone who so desires, to say a few words about Avatara."

    "Actually, his name wasn’t really Avatara," said Katerei, but no one was listening.

    A girl in magess robes walked to the front, and when she turned around to face the audience, Katerei groaned. It was the nurse from the Magisterium, who had been determined to see Tiernan die. (And whose nose Katerei had eventually broken…)

    Katerei stood to leave. She couldn’t deal with hearing Adriana gloat about Tiernan’s death. But Adriana didn’t say a word. She only pulled out her lute, and began playing. Katerei slowly sat back down. She didn’t recognize the song, but it was pretty. When Adriana wordlessly walked back to her seat, Katerei was shocked to see tears covering her face.

    There was a very weak scattering of applause. Most of the attendees were still busy playing Avara and weren’t paying any attention. Talos was the next person to get up.

    "Avatara was a thief, a deserter, and a lousy tipper," said Talos. "He stole several thousand oboloi from me, he left me as a stone statue for several months (despite being widely regarded as the most powerful mage in Cythera, with the power to do anything, even resurrect people from the dead), he was always running off and falling into volcanos or getting arrested when we needed him most, and he never even ordered any drinks to support my business. But… I guess if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have all that iron cutlery at the Tavern. So, thanks for that, Avatara…"

    Talos returned to his seat, and Moonshadow stood.

    "Avatara was, to me, a shining light in a dark time, and a dark splotch in a shiny time. He was a good man. He will be missed."

    Moonshadow sat down, and there was an awkward silence while waiting to see if anyone else had anything to share. Finally, Selax stood. "I’d like to invite up one of Avatara’s fellow adventurers and closest friends, Rapierian."

    Katerei gaped. Rapierian was barely even an acquaintance of Tiernan’s, much less a close friend!

    Rapierian pushed his way around the Avara game and Neoptolemus’s cane, and stood just next to Tiernan’s open coffin.

    "Thank you, thank you," said Rapierian, bowing with a flourish. "First of all, I would like to thank Avatara for generously bestowing all of his possessions to me in his will."

    "Avatara didn’t have any possessions," Selax pointed out.

    "Nothing, huh? Oh well, it was worth a try," Rapierian shrugged and continued. "When I heard that Avatara had drowned in an inch of jello, I was greatly amused. I mean, deeply saddened. I was deeply saddened," he laughed, and Katerei clenched her fist.

    "Such tragic news indeed, that such a heroic person was taken before his time. Among Avatara’s heroic deeds were refusing to join his friends in venturing through the Void, stealing treasure in a remote mountain, getting eaten by a dragon, killing an innocent freemage, and getting stabbed in the gut. Indeed, who can compare to such valiant and honourable acts as these? His death could be seen as a most regrettable misfortune…

    "…Or, it could be seen as a stroke of serendipity." In a flash of movement, Rapierian pulled a vial from his cloak and dumped it on Tiernan’s corpse. The corpse moved, sitting up.

    "NO!" protested Selax, moving impossibly fast to capture Rapierian. However, Rapierian pulled something else from his cloak and threw it, creating a cloud of smoke through which no one could see him or Tiernan’s animated corpse.

    But they could still hear him, laughing louder than ever. "It is so rare to find a cadaver in such good condition. Thank you, my friends…"

    Selax whipped up a whirlwind that dispersed the smoke, but there was not a trace of Rapierian or undead-Tiernan. "It is quite likely that he had a teleportation spell."

    Katerei felt sick to her stomach. "What do we do?"

    "Does anyone know where Rapierian resides?" Selax asked the crowd. Everyone shook their heads. "We could try to find him, but I believe the only way to break his hold on the undead servant would be to destroy it completely."

    Katerei felt sicker than ever. She knew better than to attempt to fight Selax, though it was what she most wanted to do at the moment. "YOU are the one who sent Tiernan to his death, YOU are the one who neglected to find him, and YOU are the one who invited Rapierian to the funeral."

    "Perhaps these decisions had some unsavory consequences-" Selax admitted.

    "Don’t EVER talk to me again!" screamed Katerei, stomping off and making a supreme effort not to be sick until she was out of everyone’s sight.

    (Later, in Rapierian’s secret lair.)

    "Do you have any sevens?" Rapierian asked.

    The undead-Tiernan shook its head.

    Rapierian drew a card, and sighed. "I thought having you as an undead servant would be more amusing," he confessed. The corpse stared blankly at him.

    (Meanwhile, at Katerei’s house)

    Katerei prepared a fire in her fireplace, and sat down in front of it. She unfolded a piece of paper - the note that had tormented her since she discovered Tiernan’s death - and read it one more time.

    Dear Katerei,
    Where are you?
    It is my fault for being late, and my fault for assuming you’d still be interested after all this time.
    I miss you.
    I can’t wait any more.
    I have prepared some poison in a gelatinous dessert. It should be quick and painless.
    If you ever get this note, know that I tried. I did everything I could to keep my word to you.
    It wasn’t enough.
    Goodbye

    Anger coursed through Katerei and her fingers curled inwards, crumpling the note. She tossed it into the fire, watched it burn to ashes, and felt a small twinge of satisfaction amidst her pain and regret.

    She had done all she could, but it wasn’t enough.

    This post has been edited by BreadWorldMercy453 : 21 August 2017 - 04:54 PM



  • For a moment, when Kat made it to the plains, I was excited they might actually have a happy moment. Then I remembered you wrote this for the chron challenge. THANKS, SELAX :mad:

    I’m contractually obliged to complain about sad Katernan endings, but I did laugh, at least. Favourite lines:

    "You JERK!" Katerei attempted to punch him, but he morphed into air and her fist merely went through him.

    She fumbled for her medical satchel and rooted through it, but of course she had nothing helpful. Resurrection potions had been banned a decade prior. (is that a dig at banning them in stories?)

    "I understand that you are distressed. I will give you some time alone to grieve. Will five minutes be enough?"

    "It’s that moderator guy," said Silverfish.
    "Oh, Selax? Wow, the Selaxes are dropping like flies lately."

    "Avara, you say?"
    "…Yes, Avara," sighed Selax, deciding that was a good compromise.

    "But… I guess if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have all that iron cutlery at the Tavern. So, thanks for that, Avatara…"

    "Avatara was, to me, a shining light in a dark time, and a dark splotch in a shiny time. He was a good man. He will be missed."

    Was totally not expecting the purple ooze to be jello. Or Adriana to be nice.

    I like the parallelism of it ending with a letter from Tiernan, flipped from the end of Sail (wait, I can’t call it that anymore…)



  • I liked Neoptolemus. Even though it's been so long I don't remember him from the game (and I was too lazy to click the link), there was enough here that I could get a feel for his character, or at least the version in this story. And most of my favorite lines came in that exchange between him and Selax.

    The note at the end was sad, though I guessed it would be a goodbye note. I was wondering going in if this would be some kind of Romeo and Juliet style story, but I guess killer jello really is just flat out deadly. My mom always said too much dessert would make my teeth rot, but I didn't realize it could apply so literally.



  • Thanks for commenting, Kat and Tyry! You two are always so quick to read and reply (even if my story is garbage) <3

    Yes, the banned resurrection potions was a reference to resurrecting in the stories becoming discouraged ^_ __^

    When Sely posted the challenge, I asked Shorty for an idea of what would be a really lame way for Tiernan to die, and he suggested drowning in an inch of jello. I took his idea (at least as the assumed cause of death), but added the suicide angle.

    If you remembered that Neoptolemus was a character in the game, I'm impressed ^_ __^ He basically just yells at everyone to get off his yard, grumbles about how no one respects him, and, if you're really patient with him, will tell you a tangent-filled story about how it used to be fashionable to tie grapes to your belt @_@



  • @breadworldmercy453_bot, on 21 August 2017 - 04:52 PM, said in Ikken Naeja:

    "What does it do? Nothing. On that world, it is consumed as a dessert. They called it… Jell-O."

    I liked imagining Selax clearly enunciating "Jell-O" as if it were two different words.



  • Well-done, 453 :) . I liked Selax's rather dry and disinterested way of discussing things. I also enjoyed the eulogies quite a bit.

    @ikaterei_bot, on 21 August 2017 - 09:35 PM, said in Ikken Naeja:

    For a moment, when Kat made it to the plains, I was excited they might actually have a happy moment. Then I remembered you wrote this for the chron challenge. THANKS, SELAX :mad:

    You're welcome. (Also, I think you should blame Avatara: he started it :p !)


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