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Quantum Musings

Raymond Coulombe, Michael Gallant, Timothy O. Goyette
Alien Fruit

Harris Tobias
The Wizard's House

Jeromy Henry

The Stranger


Dominic Licorish

The legends tell of a man known only as The Stranger. His footsteps can be traced back through history for centuries. They say that he is immortal, a vampire that wanders this world preying on the unlucky. Some say that he is Death. Iíve met him once. When I was very small, only six years, my village was attacked and burnt to the ground by a single man. I remember that day like it was yesterday. My best friend and I were skipping rocks by the river. When suddenly sounds of death and terror reached us. Young and unlearned we ran back to the village proper to find a massacre in progress. A man in a cape stood in the square and spun about, firing spells as he did. When he turned to us he stopped and approached slowly. I had the wits about me to run but when I turned back, Callisto was rooted with fear. I couldnít go back. Damn me I couldnít do anything. My whole life Iíve wanted to see him die. Tonight I will.

The clouds were a swirl of ominous grey, and promised a heavy load of rain later in the night. Cuíhura, the blue star that gave light to XíNehb, hid itself behind the clouds as dusk came upon the land. Ganymedeís blue-grey eyes burned with the fires of hate, and the old fires of a small village. His ears rang with the screams of dying people and animals, and his teeth gritted with the memory of a man dressed head to toe in black. The small village was easy pickings for the marauding Stranger. Little did he know that when he attacked and killed everything that Ganymede had known or loved that the young survivor would grow to become the warrior he was now.

Ganymede stared out at the lone spiralling tower near the top of the mountain. Inside he knew there was a man, a man who was almost out of places to hide, and out of time to live.

Ganymede fingered his sword, Ira Dei, and whispered a soft promise to his prey, "Youíll feel his wrathÖ" The sword sent waves of pleasure at the prospect of violence, and grew hot. Years of training have brought me to this point. Ganymede remembered the years of honing his body to be as deadly as a spearís tip. Widening his horizons and stretching his mind to full capacity. The holy power of Aramos coursed through him. Ganymede the knight is going to slay The Stranger! Magicka swirled through him and almost everything he owned. Battle anxiety gnawed at the back of his mind, but the experienced adventurer buried it quickly. He looked up at the sky and decided heíd waited long enough. The Stranger will die before sunrise. The sword once again tingled at his side. Magic imbues items not only with power but also with personality; the most difficult prospect of having a magically powerful item was not procuring it, it was simply to resist its desires and personality. Ganymede however had proved himself to be highly skilled with magic. Once when a tsunami was aiming to hit the coastal city of Azura, Ganymede simply held his sword in the air and turned the wave back with a single sweep. The legends also tell of his shining white armour, forged in the blue flames of Cuíhura, able to withstand even the mightiest of blows. His gauntlets granted him inhuman dexterity and his boots gave him speed like no other. All of the fine items were acquired on various adventures and explorations or given in payment by wealthy nobles. Kings paid him in gold and items, but the commoners gave him something far more valuable, reputation. Who hadnít heard of Ganymede the Glorious? He who led the defeated army of Xenos into a suicide battle against the barbarian hordes and with a brilliant show of military strategy killed every last barbarian. He who prayed and fasted for a month to convince Aramos to end the famine. The prisons were filled to double capacity because of him. No one was more virtuous, no one stronger, cleverer or more determined than Ganymede. He was the definition of the word hero, the anthropomorphic representation of good. That was whom the Stranger was going to face.

Ganymede walked up boldly and in plain sight to The Strangerís tower. When he stood outside he drew his sword, and shouted to the winds, "Stranger! I, Ganymede the Glorious challenge you!"

His challenge hung in the air for a second. Then the wind died. Just stopped. Then Ganymede watched, and Ira Dei trembled in anticipation, as The Stranger leapt gracefully from the top of the tower down to the ground. His "face" was featureless, concealed as it was by a no doubt magical mask. He wore armour of coal black and red, with a black cloak over it. At his sides were various weapons and pouches. Ira Dei could hold itself back no longer and burst into flame. The sword that was forged from pure anger, burning like the heart of The Glorious One holding it, so hot this time that Ganymede actually felt pain lance through his arm for the first time in the years since he had first held it.

The Stranger calmly threw off his robe and drew a black sword from its sheath. Ganymede tried to get a sense of The Strangerís magical energy, but that, like so many other things about The Stranger, was impossible to grasp. When he spoke his voice seemed not to come from the body before him but from inside his own head. "I accept your challenge Ganymede."

That was it, thatís all Ganymede needed to hear, and the battle was joined. Ganymedeís righteous fury, pitted against the cold calm of The Stranger.

The ring of metal on metal echoed through the air, and magical sparks and flashes went off as the two magically energetic swords made contact. Ira Dei fought to overpower the magic in the other blade, but The Strangerís sword was matching it each time. Ganymede struck high, as The Stranger easily parried the attempt, the hero followed up with a leg swipe, catching The Stranger off guard. Elation swept through Ganymedeís heart as he raised his sword for the final blow.

Ira Dei smashed against The Strangerís face, but didnít go through. Ganymede raised it again and struck down with all his might. The sword didnít even hit The Stranger; instead it impacted an invisible barrier right above his armour. Suddenly Ganymede knew what had happened and, had to jump high into the air to avoid The Strangerís grasping hand. The Stranger stood to his feet and sheathed his sword, instead holding his hands in front of him like claws.

He ran at Ganymede with a dizzying flurry of chops and punches. Ganymedeís mind flooded with an array of possible attack vectors and didnít know where to defend. The Stranger broke his defences and brushed one of his hands across Ganymedeís chest. Suddenly he flew backward and hit the ground, blood gushing out of his chest, where the kinetic energy from his earlier attack on The Stranger was transferred through the contact. At first it seemed as if the fight was won, but Ganymede did not have such a reputation without reason. Muttering an incantation to ward off shock, and to stop the bleeding, he was able to rise to his feet again. When the healing spell was finished, the wounds remained but they were completely cauterized.

Ganymede smiled and drew a small dagger from his belt, "Youíre going to have to do better than that," and plunged it deep into his own heart. Instead of blood rushing out, the dagger started glowing and Ganymedeís flesh knitted itself back together. Then to The Strangerís surprise, Ganymedeís armour grew back too. He placed the glowing dagger of healing back in its sheath and then advanced toward The Stranger.

The Stranger cocked his head, regarding Ganymede in a new light. Once again the words of The Stranger penetrated the heroís mind like a whisper, "This game has been enjoyable. I regret to inform you that I will play no longer." He gathered energy to himself and stored it in his blade.

Ganymede nodded and raised Ira Dei before him. This is it. Iíll give him everything I have and more. Aramos! Give me your strength, and I know I will destroy him!

The feeling began deep in his abdomen. A spark, bright and intense spread like fire to his extremities and then he opened his eyes, his glowing white eyes. Even though The Strangerís features were impossible to see, Ganymede felt the waves of uncontrollable fear roll off of the man. Ganymede smiled a grim smile, and stepped forward with a spinning backhand slash. It was a simple move that a novice swordsman should have been able to parry but when Ira Dei made contact with the Sword of Darkness, the black blade simply shattered.

The Stranger jumped back and pulled out another sword, but this one was nowhere near powerful as Ira Dei. Ganymede looked at the sword and told it to melt. It did.

"Dammit," The Stranger growled.

Power coursed through Ganymede and he revelled in it. His mind was at rest and all fear was banished. "So you can speak," he chuckled. "Canít fight to save your life though."

The Strangerís response was a barrage of spells. He reached down into himself and released his energy into magic Ganymede hadnít seen before. For his protection he surrendered his body to the power of Aramos and kept faith in His ability to shield him. He was hit with everything from the powerful flames of a red dragon to the icy breath of the great whites. Evil undead rose from around him only to be repelled by Aramosí light. Earth Golems rose against him and he destroyed them all with a simple release of energy.

The Stranger was fast running out of tricks, and after a short while the endless stream of spells ended, and The Stranger lay spent on the ground. Ganymede, who had been completely unaffected by it all, walked over to where he lay, and Ira Dei cried out for revenge and retribution.

"The things Iíve heard, I wouldíve thought this would be a lot more difficult. You disappoint," he berated with mock sadness.

"Iím not dead yet!" He screamed it out loud, no mind games anymore.

"You wouldnít be a tenth the nuisance you are now if you were."

The mysterious one poured the contents of a bottle down his throat and then rose majestically into the sky, hands held aloft. The air seemed to bend around The Stranger and after a minute he looked down and said, "Not even you will be able to weather this blow. The Spell of Unbinding!" Ganymede smirked, for not only could he weather the blow in all likelihood he could reflect it. Against a weapon such as a sword the armour he wore was a finely made protective suit. Against magical energy, the far more dangerous threat, his armour was built to withstand most every form of conventional spell. Then he felt the mountain shudder. Heís going to unbind the mountain! If he does itÖ if he splits every atom in this mountainÖ Ganymede dropped to the ground, crossed his legs, and started muttering a long and ancient incantation. As he completed the incantation The Stranger finished his own. Ganymede threw him a poisonous stare and The Strangerís expressionless face remained static. They released their spells.

They say that the whole planet could see the light of the explosion. It lit up space like a giant flare for a second, and then it was gone. Ganymede had transported the whole mountain into space. The Stranger fell to the flat expanse of ground far below, his energy completely spent. A smug Ganymede cast a spell of slowfall and floated gently to where the crumpled form of the Stranger lay. "I bet youíre having trouble breathing through this mask." He removed it, only to reveal a face he would never forget.


Callisto looked into his eyes and nodded. "Itís been so longÖ I donít have time to wasteÖ He took me and trained me, the last one I mean. When I killed him, betrayed himÖ I donít knowÖ itís a curse or something. Youíve killed me friend, but not The Stranger."

Ganymede gasped, "How can this be? What is The Stranger?" Callisto pointed at Ira Dei, a black fluidic thing was creeping up from the tip. He felt the swordís panic, and something else too, another magical force, dark and sinister in nature.

"Magic has a personality," explained Callisto. "Takes someone powerful to tame it. 'The Stranger' is energy so powerful... impossible to tame." The man did not have long, his words began to crawl from his lips in a pained jumble. "no one powerful enough to use it... Itís never reached its potential... Keeps moving on to most powerful it findsÖ" Callistoís eyes closed and for a second Ganymede thought he was dead, but then Callisto whispered, "Beat it for me Gany."

With those words his armour changed colour, the black sliding off of him and onto The Glorious One. Ganymede called out to Aramos in anguish as he felt his mind being invaded, raped by his sinister foe, The Stranger. His last waking thought was, I will not succumb to you! The black evil took over limb by limb.

Ganymedeís subconscious built up a wall of defiance and anger so strong and bright that the black recoiled from it. You shall not have me. The Stranger attacked the wall, but as soon as it made contact it changed. Ganymedeís light infected it instead. Bent it, broke it down and showed its dominance until The Stranger surrendered and became Ganymedeís own.

He woke with a start, What? Who am I? He stood and examined himself. The coal black armour with golden trim, the furious sword at his side, and the long sword at his back. He felt as if everything was familiar, and yet it was new. He searched for himself, and the memories returned but he was different now. Iím not Ganymede the Glorious anymore. He conjured a reflection glass in front of him and saw himself for the first time it seemed. Ganymede the Stranger. Thatís who Iíll be. The Stranger was there inside of him, but it was his to use. He rose into the air and then flew into the night. Ganymede wasnít sure where heíd go, but he never did. Somewhere, someone needed help, and Ganymede the Stranger would gladly give it.

The Stranger, momentarily subdued, reconciled itself to wait. This new host was powerful, and I t would take time to break him.

The Stranger waited.

Read more stories by this author

2009-09-22 15:31:29

2009-09-22 15:30:59
well shut up you bana.

2009-09-22 15:29:35
well joe...... this is Poinsettia. if you dont stop putting those messages up, you will be sorry. i think this story was great.

2009-09-22 15:26:47
especially 2009-09-20 05:40:48. that doesn't make any sence. the correct way to say it woul be "good but i personally dont like magic so much." i personally think your a retard. my name is Joe Ransome. What are you going to do about it punk? huh? thats right. nothing. bana.

2009-09-22 15:21:21
both of you people are banas... hee hee

2009-09-20 05:40:48
good but i personally don't like so much magic

2009-09-13 20:20:02
Like it, visual and innovative.

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