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The Old One

by Aaron Nowack

The Old One came to Mystara. He had no name, but once he had been known as Verthandi. He no longer had an entirely separate consciousness from the group that was the Old Ones. He did not truly come to Mystara, either, but merely focused his thoughts on the world and there formed an avatar. The avatar had the form of a tall man in a black cloak. Where the face should have been, the twinkle of uncountable stars could be seen. Two brighter larger stars formed the avatar's eyes. The avatar materialised over the place that the mortals called Glantri City. He noticed without interest the magical battles raging around him. Travelling downward, ignoring the stray blasts of magic that would have stopped any mortal and perhaps an Immortal, the immaterial avatar slid through the surface of Mystara. As he headed to his destination, he realised that he would be violating the first and foremost decision of the Old Ones: We will not interfere. He knew that the other Old Ones were aware of him, had known from the instant he had decided to take action. But they would not interfere. He had argued long and hard against the course of inaction that had led this world, more important than any but the Old Ones knew, to the brink of destroying itself. The Old Ones had remained unmoved, and the first decision remained inviolable.

He reached his destination, the cavern known as the Nucleus of the Spheres. He passed through the Immortal spells of warding, noticing them no more than he did the stone through which he travelled. The avatar appeared in between the beings within the cavern and the artifact. Without even a thought, he ceased all magic in the cavern. He ignored the mortals that were present and spoke to the Immortals in a low voice, "Cease." One Immortal, Rad, fell to his knees, while the other, Ixion, stepped back, his fiery brightness dulled. The avatar continued, "You have failed to understand the nature of your privilege, Immortals. You should take better care of those from which you have risen, and from whom you draw that which allows you to exist. Only then will you know who We are. He paused, realising that instead of feeling anger from the other Old Ones, he felt pride and...approval. He pointed to Ixion, "Leave and learn." He then turned to Rad. "Come." Mesmerised, the Immortal silently followed him into the artifact. He travelled, and took the Immortal to another place. There, without effort, he wove a great enchantment. He then addressed the Immortal, "See who you are. See what you have become. By your choices, We shall judge you." The avatar then vanished.

Elsewhere, two Old Ones conferred. They were the oldest of them all, the first created. One stated, "The Plan continues, the danger has been averted."

The other replied, "Yes, but now the chance of success lessens, and only one world stands between us and...them. If it fails, they will be freed and the war will begin anew. What can we do?"

The first speaker paused, and answered, "What do we always do? We wait, and we watch. We hope. And we trust in those weakest of vessels, the mortals."