Story Fragment: The Dark Sorcerer

Once upon a time … I’m sure you’ve heard this story before. But you probably don’t know how it actually ended.

Once upon a time, there was an old man who was a powerful wizard. He was powerful enough to demand favors of gods, to bargain with demons, to walk unmolested through the hells of Ninhursag, who was known in the heavens and on Earth. He declared himself a lord of the world, raised armies, and strove to conquer all.

And he did. He ruled with an iron fist. His palaces overflowed with pleasures, while the peasants and common folk lived in abject poverty, wracked by monsters. Misery and injustice were everywhere. Rats swelled into vast hordes, and ate the folk alive in their home. The sky was dark by midday. Men killed one another for a loaf of bread. 

A band of heroes arose. A mighty champion. A cunning orphan. A priestess, pure of heart. Several others. The gods, jealous, were on their side, and the demons, tired of doing the sorcerers’ bidding, paved the way before them. The old tyrant scoffed, but somewhere inside, he knew. The oracles had spoken. He strove to disbelieve, but you don’t attain to great magic by ignorance.

The heroes slew the undead by the hundreds. They stormed the inner chambers. The sorcerer’s magics failed him, seemingly by chance, when they were needed most. And when the great warrior, shining and true, raised his sword, the sorcerer fell to his knees and, without hope in his heart, but at his last resort, he asked dully for mercy, for clemency.

The sword-bearer paused, lowered his weapon. Extended his hand. He extracted an oath from the black-hearted wizard. “Make this right. Redeem yourself. Save this world from the horrors you’ve unleashed, and then, using your powers, leave this world, never to return.”

The sorcerer … had foreseen all, all but this. He couldn’t have imagined that mercy could be granted for his many sins. Unthinkable! He swore the oath, though, and he was true to his word.

The warrior ruled, with a shadowy force behind the throne, his “advisor,” who none knew to be the self-same black-hearted wizard, the one all knew to be slain long ago, with a different face. With mighty spells, the land was healed. With rituals, the people thrived. Gold was discovered in the ground. The land was united through the brief unpleasantness of war, an anticlimactic war fought without slaughter, through the mage’s profound trickery. At last, the land was whole.

On a cool crisp evening, the warrior looked the old man in the eye. They were never friends, but they’d grown to … understand one another. Perhaps there was even a kernel of respect. But … there could never be trust. The warrior told the old man, “It’s time.” The wizard nodded. It was time.

The sorcerer rose into the night sky. He left this world for the heavens, to float, meditating, in the vast nothing. What more was there? If he couldn’t have the world, what did he want? He asked himself, and for a long forever, there was no reply.

Then, an image appeared in his head, then another. He thought about green shoots pushing through thick layers of ash, to welcome shafts of the sun streaming down through darkened clouds. He thought of children born to barren women, and tears of joy. He thought of men returning from wars to family and children, hanging their swords and shields on the wall, to gather rust and dust and stories. He thought of peace, and growth, comfort, and calm. Of books and stories written about tales of dread, but written with a full stomach, under a roof, with not a rat in sight.

A vast stone swam lazily through the void next to the sorcerer He looked at it. The walls of the craters on this planetoid looked something like a crenelated castle wall. Mayhap, a home, for study. For the greatest spell. A spell to bring peace and comfort, to entire worlds, for all time.

The sorcerer willed himself to fly to his new home, and it was so. In an immortal life, there was now so much to do.

Note: This isn’t necessarily the canonical origin story for Ensi Abgal and Uru Ulan, but it’s an idea, and I like it so far. I may develop it further later on, I just wanted to post it for feedback for now.

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