塔城的传奇（原文）Iona: Genie of Promise
In the beginning, Iona was in an ethereal sleep of the genie, in a golden lamp, far in the desert of Enroth. Unknown to her in her long slumber, her golden lamp was unearthed one day after an unusually strong cyclone ripped through the desert. An evil warlock one day picked up the lamp, and knowing the full power of the genie, carried it in his backpack with other magical artifacts. He roamed over the land on the back of a black dragon with scales of adamine platinum, armed with his staff of power. He led minotaurs armed with battle axes, slithering hydras with dull golden scales clicking over rocky ground, filthy and chaotic wild griffins untamed as of King Griffinheart yet, more dragons like the one he rode on, centuars armed with longbows that filled the skies with their arrows, and gargoyles from dirty crypts burning enemies with their deadly gaze. He led his way over the land, defeating smaller groups of creatures with no order, and slowly growing stronger, building his castle and magical powers, until he came to the wizard lords. There, he fought the lesser lords, defeating them and adding powerful archmagi and great flying rocs to his service. He attacked the last and high wizard lord Astral on his third month since he had picked up Iona's lamp.
The sun set on the horizon, but the warlock waited until it was completely dark before making his move. There was no moon, as it was covered by dark, black, brooding, wispy clouds that enveloped the moon's brightness. The warlock murmured several words, and thrust out his hand. The earth started by rumbling, then trembling, shaking, and finally, with an shattering crrrrrrraaaaack! a huge fault broke upon on the ground and flew towards the castle. Creatures scrambled to get out of the way, and creatures were thrown left and right onto the ground. The walls split open and crumbled apart. Black dragons, gargoyles, rocs, and griffins were already spreading their wings and soaring over the wreckage into the castle. Huge, forboding forms of titans and giants stormed out of the huge white castle that floated on high surrounded by white clouds. Griffins flew to rip apart the ranks of the halfling slingers, slashing with their claws at the tiny people, even as their ranks were dying from a hail of stones. Gargoyles soldered metal together on the iron skins of golems. Black dragon's mouths snapped open as fire shot out of them to engulf titans, and titan's lightning bolts ripped through dragons. Archmagi sent fiery beams of light into the ranks of the enemy, burning swaths. Centuars sent rattling shafts of arrows high into the air as boars charged forward, the ground rumbling under their hooves. The high wizard was there, sending meteors flying from his hands, summoning fireballs to explode into the ranks of the warlock. The warlock, on his dragon flying high above the battle used his staff of power to send fire flying onto the earth below. The wizard roared "Come and face me! Astral, the wizard who has powers far greater than yours!" Astral summoned a bolt of energy, highly concentrated, and threw it into the path of the dragon. It opened a portal, and a fiery bird flew through, landing on the ground next to Astral. Astral climbed onto the back of the phoenix, and flew towards the black dragon at amazing speed. The dragon darted out of the way, and the phoenix broke off to narrowly miss being hit by a bolt of red fire that arced past it from the warlock's staff of power. The dragon sent a fireball whipping past the phoenix, and the dragon roared as a storm of arrows summoned by Astral ripped through it's wing. It sent a bolt of green fire past the phoenix. The phoenix dodged it and sent a flurry of fire flying into the dragon, like red knives, that ripped into the dragon's body. Astral sent magical energy flowing into his mount, quickening it's speed, increasing the damage of it's attack. increasing the magic that protected it. The phoenix, fleet and nimble, dodged the dragon, and sent a final last beam of fire cutting into the dragon. The warlock, still sending fireballs into the phoenix, cursed as the dragon knocked him off the saddle, his staff of power flying as his leg caught in the leather strap of the dragon's harness. Astral blinded the dragon with a flash of light, and the phoenix slashed the dragon's wing, shattering the bone. The dragon roared in pain, and it's wings folded downward as it plummeted to the ground below. Halflings and boars scurried to get out of the way, and the dragon smashed into the ground, the warlock pinned underneath, his backpack thrown free. The dragon groaned, and erupted into flame, burning the screaming warlock underneath. Astral floated to the ground, unsummoned the phoenix, and watched the dragon and it's mount burning. He shook his head in shame as he watched the powerful mage die. He looked past the burning body and saw the warlock's army in full retreat, flapping wings and figures running into the darkness from whence they came. He noticed the backpack of the warlock then, thrown clear of the fire. He picked it up, and looked inside. Lying nestled in between a lucky clover and a magical vial of mercury, lay Iona's lamp. Astral closed the backpack, and deposited it in his library. He went back outside, and found the staff of power. He took the shattered wood and wrenched the fiery orb from it's tip, snapping the dead and smoking wood. He held the fire orb delicately between his fingers. Then he put it in his backpack. He announced to the figures moving around "It is growing too dangerous here, we are going to Erathia." The halflings protested, as they always said it was more dangerous to move to Erathia than stay in Enroth, with more dangerous monsters, but Astral had made up his mind. He packed up the castle, libraries, cellars, armories, alchemy shops and all, into a silver ring he placed on his finger. The halfling leader, Boelin said "Astral, I have followed ye through the succession wars, and I have always been faithful to ye. However, my tribe and me cannot go to Erathia. Too much danger awaits us there." Astral lost his temper and said "You will go, or I will make you! I will give you one last chance" he shouted. Boelin said "I will not go, and that is final," and the rest of his tribe nodded and chorused together "We will not go." But a two halflings, a young couple, stepped out of the crowd. They said "Astral, we will go." and Astral turned to them. He said "Thank you, you alone shall come with me, and shall have high seats of power, but as for the rest of these, I am sorry that I have to do this... He raised his hands and a soft white light shimmered out of his hands, floating and flying to circle around the halflings. The halflings ran in terror, screaming, but they were sucked into the blue stone in a ring on his finger. Astral sighed, and dropped his hands. He said "Again, I am sorry, but it is the only way I could. It is for their own good." He called down a roc from the sky, whistling, and said "Take this to Natasha, she will find a use for it." As the roc flew into the fog to the sorceress's castle, Astral got busy doing other things. He channeled the rest of the roc colony into his lightning ring, nests and all. The boars and their pens were channeled into another ring, and the golems and factory into another, while the giants were channeled into another ring. The archmagi and halflings followed him on his ship. As Astral was one of the last wizards to leave Enroth, he had to get a leaky wooden ship that once was a fine orcish warship, but now had deteriorated so the planks were rotting apart. But in over a month of chatting with sea-hardened humans, they learned to get along with each other. Astral and the archmagi often did not feel to well, and the simple sea food that usually included porridge, hardtack biscuits, beef jerky, and dried fruit, did not help to improve their conditions. At last, they made it to Erathia, to solid land. Astral went to the head wizard in the snowy region of Bracada. The head wizard assigned him to a spot by the AvLee border, in the Cloudring mountains, so named because of the mystical ring of fog hovering around the mountaintops. Astral hiked to the top of the mountains, with his archmagi following him and the two lone halfling servants. He found a suitable place in which to place his castle. Using blue wizard fire, he cleared and sanitized the area of brush and debris, until the ground was flat and clear of snow. He then took off his ring and motioned. The wizard's castle flowed out of his finger in a flash of white light. The white towers and walls flowed out, with the mage guild and tavern flowing out to flash and appear in front of the river that flowed in front of where his castle was placed. But to his surprise, they all looked different. It appeared that Erathia's magic was stronger than Enroth, and since the magic in that area was wild and untamed, it added little things here and there to the structures. The stone was harder, made out of gray granite instead of white limestone. That among smaller differences made it seem almost unfamiliar to Astral. Since all of his servants, mostly halflings, were gone, he decided on gathering the people nearby to his help. Mostly people fearing for their lives from the invading demons and dungeon overlords, they quickly rallied to his castle. There was a high population of what appeared to be gremlins in the area. The were green, and wore bright, raudy, loud looking clothes that almost made them look silly. But they were excellent manual labors, and soon Astral had them enlisted in carrying water, building a blacksmith, carrying messages, and ferrying supplies. He paid them well in gold, made sure they were comfortable and happy, and allowed them safety and shelter under his castle walls. Soon Astral began teaching some of the gremlins who had shown their loyalty and dilligence to attack with balls of steel on chains. Those who showed skill in handling the balls were promoted to master gremlin, and were taught how to hurl their maces in a ranged attack. The master gremlins wore blue cloaks, as opposed to the regular gremlins who wore drab green and red cloaks. The gremlins lived in little workshops, where they pursued their own entertainment, including satisfying their curiousity with strange, new, objects brought from Enroth that they had never seen before. The ingenious gremlins soon invented a war machine, a ballista, that fired bolts of steel tipped wood, manned by gremlins expertise in the working of the war machine. Gremlins also worked hard in the blacksmith, making new balls and chains, in plentiful supply for the numerous ranks of master gremlins.
Soon several dozen gremlins came, hauling in blocks of granite cut from the nearby mountains Astral had ordered cut. Astral worked as hard as the gremlins did, directing the blocks, and using magic to perfect and move them into shape. They were erected into a sort of tower. Astral put plated golden metal on the sides, and made elaborate windows with steel skeletons. In this new tower, he taught gremlins and peasants the art of alchemy. They worked day and night, teaching them to make potions, to grind herbs and minerals, and use small magics to make secret and powerful potions. Astral also taught some of the stonesmiths from the nearby village to make some gargoyles, from sketches he had made of the dead warlock's gargoyles. He thought they were the perfect fighting force if they could be animated, and he found out the secret alchemy that allowed him to make living stone. He taught it to his alchemy's class, and with dozens of alchemists and stone smiths, they made several dozen gargoyles, but none of them animated-yet. Astral took his secret potion outside, with all of his alchemists and stonesmiths. He poured the potion on the gargoyle, completely covering the outside of the gargoyle with the liquid, and saying the magical word Anima and the gargoyle slowly shook it's head, and opened it's mouth and squawked. Astral said "Fly," and it flew through the air, looping over their heads. All the alchemists and stonesmiths cheered. This was months of their work into a final creation.
Very soon they were animating many gargoyles weekly, but also animating stone statues they made, and duplicating the iron goldems Astral had brought from Enroth. Astral was running out of funds to pay his workers and his castle, and being his alchemists had not invented a way to convert coal into gold, he sold the two magical rings he owned, carrying the rocs and boars from enroth. One he sold to a Barbarian shaman who gave the rocs to a Barbarian circus, which slightly angered Astral, as he felt as if he had sold the birds into slavery, but when he saw the show, he saw the rocs were treated well, and praised the family. Eventually the circus broke up, and the birds became wild, living off the animals in the desert land, and nesting in the high cliffs. The boars also once traveled in the circus, but were quickly released, oftentimes becoming food for the rocs. But the boars multiplied and their number grew. Astral recieved more than enough money for his rings, and was able to fund a new school. It was then he brought out the magical genie lamp, Iona. He worked on it many nights, rubbing the lamp to no effect, trying to spark the magic inside, trying to smash the unbreakable metal, until finally he was able to draw the genie out of the bottle. With a final word of power, he severed her ties to the lamp, setting her free. The magical bonds that once bound her to the lamp were gone, and she was able to do whatever she wanted freely. But Iona was so thankful to Astral for freeing her from the lamp without draining her power by making her grant three wishes, she swore fealty to him. He accepted, and she became a respected person around his castle. He built the school, the Altar of Wishes, where he bought most of the genie lamps around the land and freed the genies inside. They were powerful in the ways of magic, attacking with blasts of their magic at short range. The genies who mastered the magic soon learned spells learned from the scrolls and books in Astral's large library. The genies stayed in the altar of wishes, and they were often seen, hovering around their large tower, or soaring above the parapets of the new castle.
Meanwhile, the warlocks who had come over from Enroth were not faring as well as Astral. All of their creatures abandoned their ranks except for the minotaurs who were kept by their leaders in the warlocks, and the red and black dragons, who stayed only because the warlock castle was the only place they could rule without any dispute. The centaurs abandoned the ranks of the warlocks, fearing the evil that would destroy them, only being pressed into service by the threat of death, found refuge in the forests of Avlee, besides the dwarves and elves that lived there, and welcomed them. The gargoyles essentially ceased to exist, only rarely seen as so few of them remained after the Succession wars, they fled to the lonely cliffs where they are sometimes seen by the necromancers of Deyja. The hydras escaped their mind spells, taken off of them when they were crossing over the ocean. The hydras fled into Tatalia, and have bred with the wild breed of hydra that lives there, developing feet and different heads. The griffins also fled to the cliffs of Erathia, where Catherine Griffinheart's father eventually tamed them and they serve in the ranks of the Erathian military.
The archmagi who had served in his ranks in Enroth eventually wore the red robes that were the new uniform of the wizard castle. Some of the peasants from the nearby village who had magical abilities were also taught to channel their magic, and were also taught the martial arts of a staff. Soon, these new magi were so well trained they were able to do the same damage with their enchanted staves as they were with their magic missiles. Then the first attack came. From one of the jealous strongholds, one of the barbarian heroes attacked Astral. He quickly called in all the people from the countryside, and shut the gates of his great stone walls, with master gremlins and magi patrolling the walls and sitting in the watchtowers. The barbarian attacked in the late afternoon. First he marched his goblins on the left, with ogres armed with clubs on the other. Wolfraiders swiftly charged over fresh snow, with orcs armed with throwing axes on one side. The barbarian marched well over 70 strong. But Astral did not fear. He called, using magic to project his voice "Why have you come, armed and hostile against my gates? If you need food forage for it in the countryside, if you want gold, we can give you some, not a lot though." The barbarian yelled "Me crush you, take shiny castle, get everything, get smart peoples." He raised his cutlass and screamed a war cry "AIIIIIAHHHHHYYYIIIIHOOOOOO!"
The twenty or so wolf raiders charged forward, ahead of the army. Their wolves howled in anticipation of fresh meat and blood. Astral waited until they got in sufficient range. They were fairly spread out, having heard of the master gremlins and their mass attacks with ball and chain. Astral nodded, and the magi summoned magic missiles, sending them flying into the thin ranks of the wolfriders. The hobgoblins toppled off their wolves, and wolves alternately burned into ash, causing chaos and haulting the wolf raider's charge. Hundreds of master gremlins gathered on the ramparts and hurled their balls and chain at the ranks of the two dozen some goblins, killing dozens of them as the tempered iron balls and chain crashed through the ranks, taking out two or three goblins with one shot. The cyclopses hurled giant boulders at the castle, shattering a wall and sending several gremlins and magi toppling to their death. But two dozen gargoyles soared off of the paraphets of the towers, hurtling like meteors into the ranks of the orcs and darting in like angry sparrows to mercilessly attack the two cyclopses. They pulled back and flew high into the sky before the other close range units close by could attack them. Almost a dozen of the thirty orcs lay with their head or limbs ripped off their bodies, at the price of two gargoyles . One of the cyclops was wounded, his eye badly slashed up by the claw of the gargoyles. The other cyclops had shattered two of the gargoyles, turning them into powder. The wolf raider's ranks were decimated now, and hobgoblin and wolf were fleeing, whimpering in terror from the smoking ranks of their fallen comrades. The barbarian roared in fury, and charged forward on his war horse with his fresh ogre warriors. The master gremlins hurled their missiles again and again in a whistling storm of shining balls and chain, finally felling the wounded cyclops. The gremlins had armed a ballista on the castle walls, and was firing it again and again into the ogres. Archmagi burned holes in the other cyclop's body and eye, causing it to hurl another boulder that flattened over a dozen gremlins. Astral was concentrating now, and finally finished. The golems waiting silently in uniformed rows blinked out and suddenly appeared behind the ogres. They silently punched away at the ogres, but because of their few number against the twenty three ogres, they quickly were turned into dust and battered beyond recognition. Astral was about to send the regular gremlins, when Iona launched herself off the tower, leading the genies in a mad charge. They hurled the magics of air at the ogres, battering them with lightning bolts, spark blasts, and whirlwinds. The gargoyles, heartened by this morale raising charge, dropped from the sky to finish the genies' charge by swarming over the cyclops, biting and slashing until it fell with an earth shuddering crash. Iona herself took the barbarian on and won. She paralyzed him with a weak lightning bolt, and brought him before Astral. The battleground was littered with dead goblins, orcs, wolves, ogres, and cyclops. They had hardly lost any troops at all, with only a few dead here and there. Astral rejoiced, and awarded Iona with the new title of Arch-Genie general of the tower ranks, along with the two halflings (now a lord and lady of the castle, both well learned in magic and alchemy) and his best magic and alchemy students. So for now, Iona was in a place of high power. But who knows what may come of the newly built Tower town, snug and peaceful in the mountains, who has just tasted battle, and is so far untouched by the poisonous hand of the terrorizing Eofol demons and underground Nighon dungeon overlords...