Atheria – a Smorsgasbord of Darklord

Demon earth

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Atheria – How do Darklords do their Stuff?

Editorial0 has been looking into the Lesser Dark Lords of Atheria.

On Atheria, where ritual magic comes with knowledge, the ritual of Drawing Down the Dark – asking the aid of the dark powers – is simple and easy. Sadly, while mortals often want to pay for aid with things like money, wine, slaves, worship, and bearing children, those things are of no actual use to the true Darkness.

Thus it delegates. It sets up a secure gateway to a Lesser Dark Lord – a powerful mortal who can help with the problem and who wants that stuff. The Lesser Dark Lord (such as Thrall here) answers the request, accepts the payment (or not as they deem fit) – and provides a tithe of the power that they aren’t using today, or occasional genuinely worthwhile services, to the true Darkness in exchange for it providing communication with, and transportation to and from, customers.

Need an edge for that duel tomorrow? Your walls repaired before the siege? An escape from a sticky situation? Somewhere out there is a Lesser Dark Lord who can provide it – and is just waiting for you to place the call.

Most Lesser Dark Lords are morally dubious, and mercenary at best – but actually being “evil” is not required for the job. You just have to be powerful, willing to accept what people are offering, and want the job.

Ein, of course, is carrying out some in-character investigationss.  -Thoth

“The Dark Side is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be… unnatural.”

Ein just finished investigating the techniques used by Darklords, and more specifically, the hidden “Power(s?)” who allow and support the Darklord’s rituals.

What we know:

(1) Darklords generally need some kind of magical competence, even if only for ritual magic.
(2) The Powers are willing to trade for souls, wealth, slaves, and who-knows-what-else. If they don’t want it themselves, they can apparently trade it to others.
(3) Darklords gain extra magical energy (or at least the ability to act as mediators for various pacts and an attunement to the Drawing Down the Dark ritual, which is  apparently greatly overpowerd for it’s difficulty – Thoth) from the Powers, who don’t seem to care very much about to whom they grant it.
(4) Someone, something, or some group, which people varying call “Shadow” or “Darkness,” seems to be behind this.

The result is obvious: you pays your money and you takes your magics. The mechanism is… less obvious. The energy simply seems to show up, probably because the ritual creates a mystic link to somewhere or somewhen*.

*Ein recently learned that different dimensions are not only meta-spatially distributed, they are meta-temporally distributed. Worse yet, neither of these terms can be properly interpreted by the merely mortal mind, because they involve existence on a level orders of “magnitude” greater than he occupies.

We have some possible sources:

(1) The Powers behind this could have a ton of magic themselves, and simply sell it.
(2) They may be able to get energy from entropy or destruction, hence killing slaves and destroying wealth.
(3) They may have a large store of it from trading off the slaves and stuff, taking a cut for themselves.
(4) They’re running a Chelmian Afterlife scheme on a huge scale, and probably sell off their personal power.

Number (3) looks like a very reasonable  answer – it would make the universe a nice, orderly place in many ways, though with human lives treated as nothing more than a commodity*. It’s also unlikely. We definitely don’t see anyone selling off slaves in exchange for magical power. Of course, they might be in another universe which needs people. The problem here is that Atheria is almost a perfect universe for that kind of thing: lots of hard men with dubious morals and excess magic.

*Then again, what else is now?

Further, we haven’t yet seen any Darklords in the new universe our characters are exploring. Which would seem to be rather odd, since they’d benefit even more than Atherians, where it’s reasonably common if disreputable. You’d expect Darklord-ism to be everywhere. Of course, Darklord techniques might be local. And this could easily support (4). If the Powers are Chelmian, or even the Darkness itself, it’d have power to waste and might enjoy stocking an afterlife with all kinds of people.

We do know it’s something of a banking scheme. That is, the Powers borrow magic and sell it in exchange for slaves and such. What precisely they do with all of them isn’t clear, but Darklords do get offers through the Powers’ matching services.

Leaving the issue of WHO and WHY aside, we still can ask HOW. That’s even more complex, but we do have some better-defined channels. We know that…

(1) The Powers and the Darklord in question have a pact.
(2) The Darklord carries out a ritual to set up the initial pact, though he or she doesn’t need much beyond that.
(3) Objects and persons ritually offered to the Darkness seem to wind up being allotted to the Darklords – although most take payments directly.
(4) Magical power of some kind apparently flows back to the Darklord.

From this, we can conclude that the ritual opens the way for the rest. Once the ritual starts, the link is established and the “business deal” can commence. From this, we can conclude that whatever the Powers are, they have enough magical power to reach between worlds or across effectively infinite distances – far greater than the teleportation possible in Atheria. The Powers take whatever it is they get. (It’s possible they’re trading the energy on the spot, using up a portion of their income to instantly boost the Darklord.)

The only theory I’ve got right now runs along the lines of: The Darkness is roughly all places in some aspect. It’s beyond time and space and fundamental to the reality of things (because in order for anything to exist, we must have something which implicitly does *not* exist) Hence, being everywhere, it has links which connect everyone and everything. Anything lost it can find, and anything it has it can move. It doesn’t need super-high-level magic, because it is an aspect of reality. Now, whether we’ve just got someone who knows where the doors are, or whether we actually have some incarnate existence pulling the strings, is a question we can’t readily answer, and quite possibly a matter of abstract philosophy.

Thoth says that the “Light” sometimes just does things for free just because, but apparently only for some major, exceedingly important purpose. But it’s not controllable and doesn’t bargain. I’d bet it goes where it wants and you’re not stopping it, but isn’t omnipresent like the Shadow.

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