Define "Chosen One"

The war has proceeded direly and Lio the "Brave" (the quotations are part of the title, it is a largely sarcastic appelation) is the proud Hioierian nation's last, best hope for a swift and timely resolution. A year ago, he was dispatched with an army of two hundred trained man into the mountainous and treacherous wastes of the far southern kingdom, the Unwanted and Unrulable Lands to which Hioier stakes a firm but impractical claim, but which for the greater part obey their own smaller, more "cold-wise" leaders, in those areas that are even inhabitable. In truth the most powerful and proud rulers of the Unrulable Lands are the mighty weather gods themselves and the invisible Cold-God which rules everywhere that blessed sunlight and fire does not touch.

"It's freezing!" Lio shrieks, for what time nobody following him could say. The cold has overwhelmed almost all his senses and thoughts. His mission is to the Final Rock, the last known outpost or geographical feature before the flat, sterile white snowland which for all anybody knows extends further south forever. At the Final Rock, last visited by noble ancestors better-armed and better-equipped and hotter-blooded than he, is where the locked and barred Portal of Enn lies. The Portal was installed by the Final Shaper, as the last thing He did after creating the rest of Hioier (and the rest of the world, but Hioier is most important and so that is what gets most of the credit and recognition. There's not much else than swamp and sand outside of this green lush land). The Portal leads back to the Shaper Rooms and the Final Shaper closed the door behind Him to prevent the Cold-God's magic from pursuing Him into the Rooms, and to ensure that He was never followed.

The Portal of Enn is locked and barred and always will be, as Lio was taught since he was a tiny babe tottering rapidly around his room exploring, pursued by helpless nurses. But laid before it, it is said, for the One who will arrive and reach it, is the mythical You-Creator, the archetypal ploughshare with which the Shaper turned firmament into human-friendly land and planted all the living creatures which grew up after he left. It is a powerful, earth-shattering, mountain-levelling tool, and most definitely considered a weapon much as a scythe or sickle or smith's red-hot hammer is a weapon when wielded with both hands and brutal hostile intent.

It is this weapon and only this weapon with which the black and hypnotic blue/red magical force spread across the land by Ilthule, Harvester of Suns can be driven back. Ilthule, so the finer mages report, has the shape of a Shaper about him. There is the crackling self-similar fractal cloak-- alternately too tenuously-bound to get a firm grip on, and as sharp and prickly as an iron dandelion or snowflake, ensnaring humans by the skin of their shoulders, hands and chests and tearing them apart when they struggle painfully to be free. There is the blazing red trail that Ilthule's eye leaves across the human retina, piercing the human eye with almost physical force and leaving persistent and unpleasant thoughts behind. There is his brilliant, solid halo of pure blue, and the sharp blue carpet of thorns that he leaves like a slug's trail and which spreads like mould on stiff bread. Ilthule is ten feet tall. He saunters, meandering across the land almost without an obvious aim or direction in mind, but even so he has consumed a thousand lives and he never crosses his own trail and will assuredly circle in on the High City before long. He has resisted all magical attack, swallowing up juicy spells and breaking them into component mana and ingredients before scattering those components to the four winds. He is a formidable opponent in hand-to-hand combat, having left only two or three alive-- not because of a genuine loss but simply to scare those who meet the survivors with the fearful wounds across their faces.

Shapers of myth brandished such unstoppable weapons, and were equally difficult to oppose in battle, but the colours are most significant. The blue of the halo and the red of the eyes are pure, like portals cut out of this universe and through into pure blue and red universes. The Final Shaper, it is said, broadcast in white, and others in other holy combinations. But never this blue and red, an evil and taboo combination.

But Lio has immense difficulty keeping himself oriented within this mission. His thoughts about his homeland falling to this evil Shaper's darkness are "Blimey, it's cold"; his fear for the safety of his diminishing army of men (of whom less than a hundred still remain and half of those are in poor shape) amount to "I'm really, really cold"; and his attention to the dangerous and slippery icy path (both literal and figurative) which lies ahead of him is limited to "It's seriously freezing right now, and my nose and ears really hurt".

And when the iconic, domed, helmet-like shape of the Final Rock fades into visibility through the bitter snow and Lio's frozen crystalline breath -- the opening where a giant's eyes could peer out forming a huge pair of semicircular portals into the interior -- his first thought is "I wonder if it's warm in there?"

Turning to his men, "The Final Rock!" he cries. He raises an arm triumphantly and points with his thickly-gloved hand. But his cry is muffled by the heavy cloth wrapped tightly around his face and half the procession are so far back that they can't even see him.

"What did he say?"

"Not a clue."

*

Inside the cavern within it is not substantially warmer, having spent a millennium or ten cooling to equivalent temperature, but it is spacious and enclosed and relatively shielded from the wind. A fire is lit and once huddled around it, all generating body heat, the remaining men begin to warm up slightly, at least at the fingers and toes.

Through the next room (which is cathedrally tall and could never have fit into the external Final Rock as it appeared) is the luminescent Julia fractal in the dusty floor, projecting shifting columns of light directly upwards at the ceiling. Visible suspended in the shaft, at just chest height, is a luminous shape which looks like it could be a sword from one angle but then Lio blinks and he might see a spiked object or a metal handgrip with a long thin cylinder attached, or a ploughshare.

Lio rummages through his clothing and out of a deep crevice pulls the Wandering Eye with which he can, on occasion, when the phase of the Moon is correct, talk directly to the High Magess back at Castle Eudum. "Orynth! We're here. We've made it. Can you see this? I'm standing in front of the Portal of Enn and the You-Creator is right in front of me. How do I get it out?"

"I see it. From what Lore tells us and from what I see through the Eye, the You-Creator is guarded by a Keyspell cast by the Final Shaper himself, waiting to be unlocked by a specific Chosen One. That's obviously Eudum, so bring him up and put him in front of it and see what happens."

"Eudum? The Ninth or what?"

"The Ninth, Lio. Is he there? Give him the Eye and let me speak to him. I have to tell him what to do."

"Eudum the Ninth is in Konorderi leading the Salvage Crusade. That's like two thousand miles from here. ...Oh come on, Orynth, don't be all silent at me."

"I specifically asked you whether Eudum was okay when I spoke to you last month. And you said yes. You said he was with you!"

"No, I said that he was okay as far as I knew. He was never with me! He set off with a totally different army in the exact opposite direction! He's a four-year round trip from here!"

"What's wrong with you?!"

"Nothing's wrong with me, just tell me how to open the Portal of Enn without a Chosen One!"

In her private laboratory at the top of the Observing Tower at the north-northeast corner (the most auspicious) of Castle Eudum, Orynth the High Magess comes close to hurling her half of the Wandering Eye at the ground in fury. She grips it between her hands and screams so high that nobody hears it. Of all the incompetence! After all the years and this monumental, crowning screw-up! Why ever marry the fool? For his relatively easy Royal access to obscure chemicals and potion-newts? Ilthule's laying waste to the world out there! Right now!

"Okay. Put me down in front of the Portal and let me look at it." Lio does so and the tinny voice has to bounce around the room to be heard. "Is there's a crimson radial line extending from the centre of the light pillar across the floor? It might be very thin so look carefully. Look all the way around the edge of the Portal but don't touch it."

"I see it."

"Look carefully at the point where it meets the wall and tell me what dots you see."

"There are three dots. Pale green, then grey, then black with a white edge."

"Is the black one the one closest to the wall or the light pillar?"

"The wall. Starting from the wall: black, grey, green."

"Okay. I'm going to give you a simple incantation to do. Stand facing the You-Creator and hold your arms out horizontally and clench your fists, then extend your index fingers so that they are as far apart as possible. Now repeat after me: eholi yihur polamadtha..."

"E-holy y'her pola madtha."

"...redasu inatu redasa."

"Redda soo inner tu redda sa. The Pillar just turned purple."

"I know. I can see that from here. Right, it looks like the Final Shaper used what we now classify as a 7-fold Yungjir Person-Keyed Negation Ward. These are generally as powerful and difficult to break by brute force as the individual who created it, and it looks like this one won't fail naturally due to lack of power for at least a hundred and fifty million years. Go and take the You-Creator yourself."

"What?"

"I just found the book. All Yungjir spells have a single exploit in that, the Person-Key is imperfect. It was probably cast so long ago that there was no deterministic way to predict the Chosen One's attributes other than his or her astrological orientation. That's the constellation he was born under and the planets which were in significant positions at the time. You're Eudum's younger twin brother, correct?"

Lio nods, knowing he can be seen.

"Right then, so you share his star sign and horoscope to within a few minutes. You're astrologically interchangeable from the Final Shaper's perspective, so just take the You-Creator."

"Sure it won't flay me alive?"

"If it does we can try a few other things. Take the thing."

Lio reaches forward into the Portal of Enn and takes the thing by what currently most closely resembles its handle. Passing through the light pillar is completely uneventful but as he touches the weapon/tool unlimited wild power courses up his right arm and begins yelling Things You Could, Should Or Must Do into his brain, almost forcing him to brandish it and, in an unrestrained instant, render the world into his image. But he thinks that might be a bad idea and the Final Shaper might be angry if he did it and, omni-weapon or not, he thinks he'd lose that fight. So he restrains himself.

The universe is saved, and the War of Ilthule's Light is over within the next couple of minutes.

Discussion (12)

2010-11-19 00:54:46 by qntm:

1972 words. Running total is 34829 words. This concept is from any story where some mysterious magical force can only be defeated by a mysterious Chosen One wielding some mysterious special artifact. I find myself asking what would happen if the One or the artifact were misplaced or unavailable, and who put that force in place in the first place, and whether they did it right, and whether it might actually be easier to exploit some sort of loophole to solve the problem with an un-Chosen one and, say, a chopstick. This story was close to going down the "Magic Tech Support" route which I fear is already drained of all humour. I wrote half of this before going out for the night and the other half after getting home which meant I couldn't spend as much time or as many words as I wanted.

2010-11-19 02:01:16 by LabrynianRebel:

This is great, it's amazing what crazy stuff you can write under pressure.

2010-11-19 02:10:17 by YarKramer:

You know, now that you mention it, I don't think I've ever been satisfied with "this spell only works on/with one specific person" stuff, and for pretty much the same reasons. And I haven't actually seen very many "Magical Tech Support" stories, but I can definitely see it getting old fast. I suppose in this specific case, it wouldn't take much alteration of the dialogue to make it sound less like "tech support" and more like "the way spells interact" ... Though if you do change it around, please keep the "Sure it won't flay me alive?" "If it does we can try a few other things" bit ... ;)

2010-11-19 02:21:28 by eneekmot:

Magic A is Magic A. Your fantasy is quite fascinating, Sam. I bet you could outdo Jim Butcher with the right protagonists.

2010-11-19 09:38:49 by pozorvlak:

I loved the "Magic Tech Support" angle.

2010-11-19 09:43:09 by pozorvlak:

Also, I hope you do at least one more Lio story.

2010-11-19 15:14:29 by Col:

Yeah, more of this would be nice. Also, I liked the "so he restrained himself." How different would things be if the Chosen One wasn't a Great and Mighty Warrior and Leader of Men, but cautious and a bit bookish, and yes, a bit cowardly, but given to thinking about things before hitting them?

2010-11-19 15:38:11 by qntm:

While my stated goal for this month is force an average of 1,667 or more words per day out of myself, this is a means to an end, namely to generate interesting ideas for possible future exploitation. Of course, characters count too. I quite Lio as a guy who wants to be the hero but lacks several of the vital qualities necessary, such as charisma, a firm moral compass, or any kind of desire to hurl himself into danger.

2010-11-19 20:14:13 by JoetheRat:

You've made a lot of cool hooks and ideas so far. It's that sort of hesitant, unrighteous, not-quite-up-to-it-but-nobody-else-will protagonist that is all the more compelling - because he (or she) is a hell of a lot more like us. Example, not Exemplar. The Classic anti-hero (as in 'not-heroic', not 'morally dubious, gun-toting, someone stole his razor'). You're almost there. Well, not really, but I do try to be encouraging.

2010-12-01 04:03:43 by Jake:

I like Lio - he hangs out in a fairly unexamined space. He's not a Hero, but he's not a coward, either. Too many not-Hero's fall into the "I'm smart/clever/tricky" or "Things just tend to work out in the end". Lio's in the rather unenviable position of having to do the hero's job for him, in this highly Lore-heavy universe. It's gives us a chance to laugh at the corny narrative, and see a character who stands outside those laws, but somehow Lio manages to not become genre-savvy, or cynical about the narrative in which he finds himself.

2012-07-02 01:14:53 by Discworldfan:

Lio reminds me of Rincewind.

2019-12-24 16:45:10 by AGM:

Insert Wizzard Here.

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