Federation-Apocalypse Session 129 – The Darkness Upon The Deep

   Further poking around in Core revealed… nothing much. For the moment, the conflict had been pushed back, the kadian treatment centers and various countermeasures had reduced the trouble with the weaponized memes to an easily handled annoyance, and – while there was a good deal of general reluctance to accept the basic concept behind the contract – most of the population was agreeing that it was a balanced and ultimately reasonable deal. It was just a matter of time before the computers completed their survey.

   Well one of the biggest advantages Core had was that you had to be REALLY powerful to overwhelm even the local defenses; there was just too much in the way of decentralized power reserves, force-field systems, and remotes. If the computers found it necessary, every building and vehicle could be turned into a fusion-powered military unit – and every person and pet was an armored communications hub.

   Hrm. Maybe they should take another vacation. They didn’t seem to have any pressing business from the House of Roses – and Marty did have that standing offer of training from the Tux Brigade. Besides, they could go to Japan and train in Kaiju Fist! Heck, that last trip to Inversion had mostly been on their own initiative. They’d been meaning to visit the anthropomorphic realms – and, perhaps, the Silmarillion (Kevin still wanted his last Silmaril!). So much on the plates even for vacations! Besides… Thawban had now had a month in Kadia, the Lunar Inversion Realm would doubtless be issuing urgent demands for consultation, the Military would still want to talk to them, and there were STILL those kids from Singular – who had somehow managed to disappear so throughly that an extensive Thrall-search still hadn’t found a trace of them!

   If it wasn’t for the Hellstorm and the Final Army, they might have.

   Still, by the time they were done catching up with that, M was free to see them…

   They would probably have been diverted a lot more, but the House of Roses, the Computers, and the other local authorities worked together to maintain a buffer zone around the greater powers of the Manifold when they dropped by for a visit. Such beings did cause trouble rather frequently – and Kevin had been placed in that category shortly after he started working for the House. ANY Opener had to be handled with caution – and Kevin was far more powerful than most.

   M was sitting behind his desk, reading some report or other, and gestured for them to sit down.

(M) “Ah, good to see you. I heard you managed to make a mess of Inversion recently?”

(Marty) “That’s a nice way to put it.”

(Kevin) “Mostly reset I think. Rather annoying actually! I got them all focused to break through the blocks and then they said “thank you” by kicking us right out!”

(M) “Well these things will happen. Not everyone has been happy with the consequences of the most recent Opening after all. I certainly believe it is there right to wish to be left alone.”

(Kevin, who was still feeling put out) “Hmmmph. They could still have sent a nice note or a medal or something. It makes me feel quite unappreciated when I go to all that trouble…”

(Marty, sighing) “Look at it this way, Kevin. They think that poor prosecutor did it, if they even know at all. How are they going to send you a medal?”

(Kevin) “Hey, they all touched my mind directly! The face on the screen really wouldn’t matter much!”

(M) “I’m sure that deep down they are appreciative. But not everyone has developed the level of maturity the people of Core have. That is a relatively recent development in humanity.”

(Kevin) “Anyway… the local agents – “Serah” and “God” – turned out to be a couple of people who had been unable to handle Ryan’s accidental darkness-infusion, and were just more pawns. Apparently they were being manipulated by Merlin though.”

(M) “Hmm, Ryan O’Malley is turning out to be a great source of trouble. I am going to need to have a word with him at some point soon.”

(Kevin) “Well, that was fifty years ago. Hopefully he knows better by now!”

(M) “The silly man seems to be cursed with experiments and projects blowing up in his face.”

(Kevin) “Well, he is from that sort of world.”

(M) Quite true, it’s just that sort of general problem is a major hassle to everyone else considering Ryan’s level of power. Take the most recent incident for example.

(Marty) “Oh yeah. They were also working with cavemen. You don’t know anything about the Neanderthal Manifold, do you M?”

(M) “Hmm, what little I know suggests that they have been steadily absorbing the manifolds on the other extinct humanoids. I am not really sure how far back they can go down the family tree, but it does seem like their ability to generate souls has reached its limits without interacting with humanity – or Core – more regularly. What that interaction will entail long-term is hard to discern.”

(Kevin) “Well, I left them with a gate to Greenwald. No one else was using the place anyway, and it will hopefully divert them from making trouble – although it’s hard to be sure; they’re VERY hard to communicate with.”

(M) “Quite true, the neanderthals could pose a problem long-term, but being confined to a single world will probably do a lot to contain the situation. It further helps that the concept of planets is very likely to be alien to them.”

(Kevin) “I thought it probably would be. We may have to tinker a bit with the local computers, but they probably aren’t interested in them anyway.”

(M) “Now, as far as Ryan goes, the fool was generating simulacra of himself and infusing them with some arcane combination of mana and other energies to act as stand-ins for himself. Apparently he believed his presence was needed in multiple locations simultaneously. It worked for a time, until a major blast of power attuned to him broke across the Manifold and disrupted their programming. Now we have nearly two dozen of the things running loose causing general chaos searching for something.”

(Marty) “Wait, two dozen copies of Ryan? Any idea what they were looking for?”

(M) “Hard to say, but my sources have been able to confirm that it relates to some foolish Oath the idiot took back during the early days of the Opening. Best guess I would hazard is that he is looking for something he fabricated once and was stolen from him.”

(Marty) “Do we know anything about the oath?”

(Kevin) “When did it happen?”

(M) “I believe is has something to do with the old books dealing with Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves and such. I have never had a chance to read them myself, but I am told he fell into the role of a powerful craftsman while visiting there. At that time the power of Openers and Gatekeepers was at a relative highpoint and that helped…. facilitate the role binding. Sort of like that whole Slytherin debacle. As for how long ago that was, I think the Oath was made within the first year or two of the Opening. Around your time in Hogwarts, Kevin.”

(Marty) “What, you mean Lord of the Rings?”

(M) “That sounds right”.

   Sadly, Marty was not much of a reader – and the Silmaril’s hadn’t been in the movies.

(M, poking at a datapad) “Ah yes, here we go. Lord of the Rings, Silmarillion. Feanor, eldest son of Finwe was the role he fell into. Apparently made some sort of glowing stones.”

(Marty, leaping to a conclusion – or a near-forgotten memory – of his own for once) “Oh… Crap! Sounds like what you’ve got, Kevin!”

(Kevin) “Oh, now that’s a bother. Still, at least the things have been helpful – which is more than I can say for most of Ryan’s tinkering… I read those a long time ago… It might be a good place to stop by and look into. We’d been planning to do that anyway at some point, just to pick up the third one of the things”

(Marty) “Hey, that’s where the Balrog comes from! Maybe he knows something about the place other than Moria.”

(Kevin) “Well, we may have to talk to the Balrog too”.

(M) “Yes, and a lot of people have begun to take notice of this. The call for someone to do something is getting rather strong. Luckily for him, the Americas find his talents useful and have been shielding him from some of the more severe repercussions – but I think that, once word gets out that he was indirectly responsible for the mess on Greenwald, even the Americas won’t be able to protect him.”

(Kevin) “Well, I have sent some “aides” who are also keeping an eye on him.”

(M) “That is good. Would it be possible for them to forward reports on to me regarding his activities?”

(Kevin) “I’ll have them pass it on. As last I heard, he was trying to locate his duplicates and was building a ship on commission from the New Imperium to try to stop the Hellstorm.”

(M) “And trying to upgrade the defenses of the Linear Realms. The blasted Americans don’t seem to realize that this sort of effort is only helping to further destabilize the situation there.”

(Kevin) “Well, that does seem likely to be the next major invasion.”

(Marty) “Hey, putting our noses in everybody’s business and making international politics worse is what we do best!”

(M) “It also hinders the efforts at building a global coalition when the American Defense Network there is being upgraded several hundred years in only a few months time. Demanding that everyone else conform to the upgraded system is further destroying relations.”

(Kevin) “Oh dear. They all need resources poured in, not a boost to the Americas and devil take the hindmost.”

(M) “Yes, that is making a mess of things and I fear war is inevitable whether or not Merlin and his cronies invade or not.”

(Kevin) “Hm. I can try to boost some of the others – but that’s going to require some fairly massive operations. I don’t think I have that much in the way of reserves.”

(M) “Indeed, we’ve been trying to do what we can to shore up the other major powers, but a technomancer of his power is hard to compete against.”

(Kevin, sighing) “I’ll see how many agents with technical powers I can find.”

   Kevin checked with his managers – and recruiters.

   OK: not that bad. If he could stick around Kadia and recruit the constant influx from the Linear Realms for a while, and send them back to help out, he could deploy quite a few Thralls…

(M) “Thank you, I will appreciate whatever help you can send our way. Now as for Merlin: we have strong indications that whoever is playing that role has been doing it for a very long time. Best estimates are since the previous opening – and that he might be an Opener from that period.”

   Kevin frowned. It always irritated him when people confused Awakenings with the Opening! It wasn’t like most of the worlds of the Manifold had ever been completely isolated; even the more distant and exotic realms had always been linked to related tales, mythologies, and dreams – and powerful mystics, godlings, and entities had often used their abilities to open magical gates and paths between them.

   Periodically, when a group of realms had sufficient souls, the people of several of the currently-major realms would break free of their worlds original structure, become more aware than usual of the other realms, and there would be a surge of contact and mixing. Realms would shift and change – particularly if they had been mostly-forgotten in the Core – and a few Gatekeepers or even a Flawed Opener or two (or perhaps merely decent magical facsimiles thereof) would arise – but at their very worst, the barriers of the Manifold were nothing like the barriers of the Core! Just as importantly, thanks to their lack of a link, none of those Lesser “Openers” could reach the true Core! Any attempt would simply take them to a realm based on what they imagined the Core to be!

   Hm. If they really were Openers, however, a visit to the Core would fix that. It would provide them with the necessary link – the same effect which renewed fertility? He really should update his theory, it had been a long time. Besides… if any of them were true Gatekeepers or Openers, over time their power would probably grow.

   Anyway… the last Awakening had been around the time of fall of the Roman Empire in Core – and had, as usual, brought about the intermingling of many societies within the Manifold. Of course, as the souls involved had scattered more widely, the surge of power had dissipated – and the paths between the realms had faded into obscurity once again, save for those few wanderers and traders who spent their existences traveling and exploring the worlds.

   The Opening, of course, had occurred when the psychic pressure of the human race had hit a critical threshold in Core – and full Openers had arisen, channels of energies sufficient to open gates to and from the Core itself and to allow the long dead to once more visit the world of their birth. The Awakenings had merely widened the gates between the after-worlds, the Opening had broken the barrier between the living and the dead!

   Well, OK: Unless you were an Opener, or were heavily involved in the research, the difference was hard to see. He might not have cared if he – as one of the first true Openers – hadn’t spent so much time being interviewed by the scientists himself.

   Meanwhile, M had been continuing… A good thing he had multi-tracking!

(M) “Civilizations rose and fell out there as different realms met and conquered each other or allied with each other. I suspect this is where the tales of ancient lost nonexistent civilizations came from in Core. Merlin is a relic from one of those civilizations that has refused to…. reincarnate himself and find a new role in life. What exactly he intends to do is a bit of a mystery. However, I think someone like that cannot be counted on to be entirely stable.”

(Kevin) “Oh well. Quite a lot of the people of the manifold are more than a bit nuts.”

(M) “It would be nice though if we could manage to get Merlin and Ryan to kill each other. It would take care of two of my bigger problems right now.”

(Marty) “Huh. Hey, Kevin, think Merlin would be interested in the Silmarills?”

   M seemed mildly startled at that suggestion.

(Kevin) “Oh, possibly – although we could just spread a rumor that he had them. On the other hand… If he gained control of a bunch of Ryan-simulacrums, it could get even more messy.”

(Marty) “I was thinking more of having them fight for them or something. The Pan-Manifold Silmarill Tournament, something like that.”

   Kevin had to grin at that one. He could just see it… First Contestant: Ryan O’Malley, Second Contestant: Ryan O’Malley, Third…

(Kevin) “Hm. I think we’d really better drop by the Silmarillion.”

(M) “I do believe that would be in our best interests at the moment. I need you bunch of you to find out more about the nature of the Oath and what all it binds him to doing. If we can find a way to use that Oath to minimize the damage and retake control of this mess of his, then so much the better. If you feel the need to gather resources before going there, so be it, but do not delay for long. It’s only a matter of time before one of the Simulacra makes a real mess, like the original tends to.”

(Kevin) “Well, hopefully they have less actual power.”

(Marty) “And if it stops all those copies from running around, I’m in on it.”

(M) “We believe so, and Ryan has smartly cut them off from his resources, but how long do you think that will stop copies of a technomancer of his skill? Even if they don’t have his raw power, his technical and magical knowledge is a substantial resource in its own right.”

(Kevin) “Well then… I guess a flying visit home, to Battling Business World to talk to the Balrog, and then off to the Silmarillion.”

(M) “Fair enough, please keep me posted on any findings you might have. In the meantime we will be trying to keep Linear Realms from falling into war and do what we can to track down the simulacra.”

(Kevin) “Have you anywhere else at the moment where you urgently need some of my agents?”

(M) “Our biggest concern at the moment is keeping the Linear Realms stable, so returning parity to the other nations there is top priority. If we can at least give the other nations some of your agents, it might help forestall things for a while.”

(Kevin) “I’ll see how many I can assign.”

(M) “That is all that I ask.”

   Kevin had to wonder… Did M know roughly how many Thralls there were at the moment? That was secure information, but the general projection had probably been easy enough, and there were a fair number of house operatives in Kadia working with the meme-research project, the treatment project, the investigations into the Rosary of Memory, and others. For that matter, HE was no longer sure without checking…

   Marty could read that thought all too readily. How many voices were there in Kevin’s head? Even he couldn’t possibly have enough multitasking for them all!

(M) “Now unless you have more questions, I am afraid I have other business I need to attend to soon.”

   Neither Kevin nor Marty had anything much else – so it was off to Kadia.

   Where Kevin had an experiment to try…

   Ryan had tried making quasi-independent simulacra using magic and technology, and they had, of course, developed their own purposes and had gone off to pursue them. That didn’t work.

   Matthias had used psionics and demonic magic to take over other people – either phantasms or people he’d driven the soul out of – and controlled them via psychic and demonic links. They’d tended to resist, the links had been short-range, and the entire mess had been corrupting. That also did not work.

   On the other hand… Even in the Core, people could create identities for themselves in worlds like Crusader, or in realms of dream, or write themselves into their own fictitious worlds and alter-egos. They could, at least to some extent, control those identities remotely, and they could take them on when they died – or when they visited those worlds.

   Yet those phantasms and identities sometimes manifested when their creator was not around to give them life – although their “owner” might recall such activities later as vague and passing fancies.

   So there were links across the manifold, which could carry some portion of a soul’s essence to wherever its attention was focused. That had been instinctively understood long before the Opening; people had said that some tales and settings “drew them in” and made them feel that they were a part of the story. Myth, and legend, and the shared experiences of archetypes had had power throughout history.

   Well, he already had the power to split his attention… All he had to do was strengthen the links to his various identities so that he could control more than one manifestation at a time. There would be limitations of course; since it was still just him, his avatars activities would drain his attention and powers – but he needed to be able to induct Thralls and make occasional decisions in Kadia while he was busy elsewhere!

   It should work. Lots of mythic entities got away with making avatars, so he couldn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be able to manage the stunt.

   Besides… That would let him spend more time with the kids once they hatched.

   It turned out to be surprisingly easy. Perhaps the ability to maintain a presence in your personal realm while “you” were busy elsewhere was one of those divine prerogatives?

   It would be useful anyway – even if it would be a potential point of vulnerability at times.

   By that time, Marty had already expressed his doubts about that plan (look at how something that really sounded pretty similar had worked for Ryan!) and had checked in with Mr Leland.

   He’d been mildly surprised to find that Amarant Solutions proper had relocated to Kadia

(Marty) “Huh. That’s interesting. Wonder what made them come here? Did they get sick of Zero smashing up Manhattan?”

   He’d been more than mildly annoyed to hear that Jenkins had led an internal takeover of the operations in Battling Business World. He had a soft spot for strong feisty women, yes, but that was getting just a bit ridiculous! Besides… Leland was a pretty damned good manager! Taking over his company with accounting was a cheap shot! He deserved a duel across the rooftops and a climactic battle silhouetted against the setting sun at the very least!

   Still, that would make it exceptionally easy to talk to the Balrog! It had come to Kadia along with Mr Leland and Corrigan!

   That left him almost enough time to check in on all the business offices… giving them about ten seconds each. When had there gotten to be so many of them? There were hundreds spread across Core, and a couple of thousand in the Manifold!

   Kevin was a bit annoyed! WHO had admitted the Balrog to Kadia?

   Oh BLAST! HE had! He’d said that the Amarant Solutions people were allowed to come and visit as long as they didn’t wreck anything!

   Oh well. Since there was no consideration involved, he was free to change that!

   He did so before Jenkins had a chance to bypass the entry defenses.

   After that, they went to see the Balrog…

(Marty) “Hey, Balrog old buddy! What are you doing in Kadia!”

(Balrog) “I am fleeing the rampant and idiotic destruction of Manhattan. Never before have I ever understood the concept of senseless violence! Now I understand.”

(Marty) “Yeah, but nobody complains about the rampant and idiotic destruction of Tokyo!… Anyway, do you know anything about the Silmarills?”

(Balrog) “The Silmarils? They are great and legendary artifacts without equal. Do you find yourself coveting them as well?”

   Hmm. Tell the Balrog, or not? Oh well, they might actually be able to fight him on even terms now!

(Privately, to Kevin) “What do you say, Kevin?”

(Kevin, privately) “Not quite yet”.

(Kevin) “Well, they seem to be entangled with Ryan’s recent silliness – so we’re going to be dropping by the Wars of the Vala and Morgoth to see what’s up.”

(Balrog) “Ah, returning to the war where it all began. A terrible and tragic war that was for the elves. They never did fully recover from the damage it did to their… (the Balrog smiled) innocence.”

(Kevin) “Well, we’ll just have to see where we wind up in the storyline. That’s always a problem with a story that well-known.”

(Balrog) “As best as I recall the three jewels were crafted by the elf Feanor, son of Finwe. A craftsman without peer and the world has never seen another like him since. It is said that they contain the light of the two trees that were destroyed by the machinations of Morgoth.”

(Marty) “Ryan’s role. Of course he’d want them back.”

(Kevin) “It does sound like one he’d fall into”.

   Kevin sighed. He was still putting it as 99% that he’d wind up cast as Morgoth – unless someone was already in the role. It would probably be a bit early for Marty to wind up as Beren as they’d guessed once before, but it was hard to say…

   Oh well. They’d just have to go and see.

(Balrog) “The Vala wanted to repair the two world trees using the light within the jewels, but Feanor feared their greed for his greatest creations and so opposed their request. Morgoth merely took the opportunity in the… discussions to remove the irritant between the Vala and the elves. Let’s just say Feanor did not take this very well. On that day he swore an oath to regain the jewels from Morgoth at all costs. That very Oath damned a great number of his family and people in the war that followed. They are powerful artifacts and not to be trifled with.

   Now it was Marty’s turn to sigh. Oh dear. And they’d trifled with them quite a lot. Oh well; they did that with EVERYTHING. It was their nature!

(Balrog) “So you believe this Ryan has something to do with them? Strange I have not heard of him before.”

(Marty) “Yeah, he was one of the first Openers. A real trailblazer.”

(Kevin) “Ah well. Just as I dropped by your original world and became Gandalf for a few hours, he apparently dropped by the Wars and became Feanor for a time – and foolishly allowed the role’ to drag him into taking that oath.”

(Balrog) “Foolish indeed to have gotten himself involved with the Silmarils then. The family of Feanor will stop at nothing to retrieve those jewels. They have even been involved in kinslaying.”

(Kevin) “I can’t argue there… On the other hand, we’re about to get involved ourselves I think!”

   Oh well. The Silmarillion was a fairly popular realm and not so hard to reach.

   Kevin inducted the latest batches of Thrall-candidates – and dispatched several thousand to give the other nations of the Linear Realms parity (and a bit more, to make up for the late start) with the Americas – while setting things up so that his avatar could continue to cover for him (and, still unknown to him, to be a target for Gelman and the other interventionists to pester at inopportune moments while he was busy elsewhere).

   Lets see… They’d need some Thralls, and some weapons and food… Wait! They could take a ship! That was very classic!

   They took the Saucy Wench. They hadn’t needed a ship in quite some time, but she was ready to go – and they had plenty of Thralls to make up a crew.

   Marty took care to pick up some language chips for the appropriate languages too, Kevin relied just a bit too much on dropping into roles.

   Kevin shrugged. It was a strong world that was heavy on the archetypes. He was pretty sure that he was going to fall into an appropriate role – or that he can just cheat with a spell or two. Still… weapons, armor, food, general supplies, some basic trade goods and gold and gems… That should cover them. Somehow, Ryan’s stunt with the nuke seemed like a bad precedent to follow. They only threatened people with antimatter, and then only to get them to talk to them! He didn’t need to get smacked by Illuvatar of whatever the local name was. He’d gotten smacked by the powers of light enough back in the Crusader Kingdoms! Just because he was playing with holy artifacts they wanted to reform him! Pesky powers of light!

   Now, ship travel was mostly early on, which was the period they wanted. Still they might want to give the ship a more local name. The “Glorious Twilight Maid” or some such.

   There were several quite inappropriate suggestions from Marty and the Balrog, including “Glorious Twilight Maiden of Luscious Sauce?” and “She who plays to MMORPG female elven stereotypes” (??? WHAT had the Balrog been doing???).

   They eventually settled on Lissefea – a crude elvish version of “sweet-spirited maiden”.

   They didn’t bother with a gate. That particular path was almost as easy to hit as it was to hit middle-earth. In fact, a bit of the problem was that it was too easy to end up there when you really didn’t want to – and they might as well go with the flow – at least if it arrived early enough. They did, after all, want to talk to Feanor, and that meant arriving during the early days of the Oath. That way they could try to find out the details of the blasted thing.

   The voyage went swiftly, the winds favored him as the Dark Powers he possessed corrupted the natural order of the world. Soon he spied the distant shoreline, knowing that he must make landfall swiftly, as the Elves and Vala would not be far behind. He had little time to rally the forces which had been so nearly destroyed in the last assault that the Vala had waged upon him so long ago.

   Marty frowned. OK, he’d been cast as Sauron, and Kevin had – of course – fallen into the role of Morgoth – but the kid didn’t usually get QUITE so caught up in a role’!

   And he didn’t usually fall into them quite so easily himself… The author must have been good. The local roles and themes were STRONG. Was that what had happened to Ryan? Would there be a lot of souls trapped in the power of those roles? Oh dear. And Kevin already tended to become whatever was asked of him, was already full of dark powers, was feeling unappreciated, and had been cast in the role of a seriously dark god. Even the Thralls seemed to be in the roles of… balrogs and other fallen maia.

   This might be a very rough ride.

(Kevin) “To the dark mountains! There my fortress awaits!”

   Oh yeah, this was going to get rough.

   Angband lay in ruins, a testament to the fearsome power of the Vala when they go to war. The walls and gates lay broken and crumbled. The armies of orcs were scattered across Middle-Earth. Kevin/Morgoth frowned, and exerted his will. As he had once done in the Underdark, so might he do here, in the fullness of his power… He raised his armored fist against the fading light as the black lightnings crackled and he imposed his dark will upon the very bones of creation.

   Marty was kind of hoping for an outpost of Kadia, complete with Ferris Wheels! Even if a war zone was not a good spot for an amusement park.

   With a mighty cackle of dark power, and shattering of the very earth itself, a fortress erupted from the ground as it was torn asunder. It was larger and more impressive than the Angband of ages past, and fixed most of the numerous glaring design errors that had led to the fall of its predecessor.

   Marty couldn’t help sniggering a bit. Kevin still made a better dark lord than the original! He learned things! The benefits of a Core education!

   Now with a mighty fortress, Kevin/Morgoth was almost prepared for the inevitable onslaught that would soon come. All he needed was an army of fodder to lay waste to the elves so that he might properly focus his attentions on the Vala! He ascended to his dark throne and summoned his minions! The Orcs, wolves, werewolves, trolls and prototype dragons…

   OK, he also sent out a few messenger-thralls out to bring in the minions. Besides… he rather liked werewolves and wolves. Orks and trolls, rather blah. Dragons… Well, the local variant might be interesting, and they might not.

  Marty, since he was being Sauron, who had great crafting skill, settled down to make some equipment for them! It wasn’t often he got to be really good at arts and crafts!

   Soon the dark races of the world begin to arrive in vast numbers in response to his summons. Orcs, trolls, worgs, were creatures, dragons and uruks. One particular orc had the gall to request an audience with Morgoth in person!

   Kevin hesitated an instant – but even the role of Morgoth was not enough to stifle his tendency to talk to EVERYONE. Still, it would be a quiet backroom interview… Hm. Given the realm, and how popular it’s had been… A fair number of the dark forces might well be ensouled!

(Orc) “Ah it is good to see that you have returned after these thousands of years my Lord. I am most pleased to report that the orcs have become quite numerous and savage while we waited.”

(Kevin/Morgoth) “Well, that shall be useful!”

(Orc) “Will the Vala be returning to this world or do we seek the conquest of Middle Earth?”

(Kevin/Morgoth) “The Vala shall not return in this age of the world! The foolish elves have sworn in defiance of the will of the Vala, and shed the blood of their kin on the shores of the undying lands!”

   Wait… Oh yes. He knew that! He didn’t have to worry about the Vala at the moment!

(Orc) “The elves? Foolish indeed if they think to hold back the tide of war. They have not the numbers to hope to stand against us. I, Gothmog, shall see to it that they learn the lesson for such foolish pride.”

(Kevin/Morgoth) “They shall attempt to speak with us first I suspect, to proclaim the rightness of their cause. That should be amusing…”

(Gothmog) “Is there anything in particular you wish to surprise the elves with my Lord? I must admit, I can only return to my Maia form for only a limited time these days, but I can surely make for a great accounting against the elves.”

   Marty sighed. He was DEFINITELY going to have to pinch Kevin at some point. The kid was just too adaptable and recently dosed with extra darkness!

(Gothmog) “Ah, an ambush at the negotiations then? The elves would never suspect such treachery.”

(Marty) “My lord, would they not expect this out of us? We should not play our hand so soon.”

(Kevin/Morgoth) “I think, perhaps, we shall simply let them talk… Their foolish pride will demand it – and the longer they are distant from the Vala, the colder will grow the fires of the undying lands within them.”

   Besides… hadn’t he wanted to talk to Feanor.

(Gothmog , looking surprised) “As you wish my lord. I am sure a great plan is in the works.”

(Kevin/Morgoth) “In the end, in my presence, the darkness will overtake them – and the oath itself will be the opening wedge. Can they long withstand the darkness with their hands fresh-dipped in the blood of their kinfolk?”

(Gothmog) “They have slain their own kin? Far has the mighty elven race fallen if they have come to that!”

(Kevin/Morgoth) “They are fallen indeed – and thus mine!”

(Gothmog) “Very well then, with your leave, I would like to begin the training and organization of this great host you are assembling. I shall lead these orcs and men into battle!”

   Hmm… Gothmug definitely had a soul, and so did a fair number of the human and orc chieftains… The fallen maia too most likely. He would see when they arrived.

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