The Lost Journal of Li0nh8rt the Paladin
The problem with Online Role-Playing Games like Everquest and Diablo II is that they have nothing to do with Role-Playing. It's all click-and-kill, repeating the same actions and quests over and over again to gain power, money and items, with little thought given to character, interaction or true development on a personal level. But maybe that's because such things are truly impossible. Perhaps this recently discovered journal can explain what it's like to be a real character in a world bereft of meaning. Or perhaps it'll just emphasize the futility of trying to explain the inexplicable.
Today I wandered into a small hamlet, where I was greeted with some degree of skepticism by the inhabitants. I learned that they were having some problems with some monsters in a nearby cave, and needed some help clearing the place out. For some reason, despite the fact that I'm obviously destitute, running around in my underwear with a rusty sword, the town's blacksmith refuses to part with any of her armor or weapons to aid me in my quest. Perhaps this is merely a test of my resolve, handed down by the Almighty, in whose name I venture off to defeat the evil triad of Mephisto, Diablo and Baal. Anyway, off to the caves.
I returned from the caves this morning, having spent the night there in silent meditation after easily dispatching the twoscore creatures found therein. I have to wonder why a town filled with skilled archers couldn't handle a few zombies and porcupines. The point is moot, alas, since the people of the hamlet have finally accepted me at face value. The town elder even offered me training in a skill of my choice as a reward; I had no idea she knew how to train paladins. One thing that nags at me, however, is the fact that she wouldn't tell me about the magical artifacts I had found until I paid her up front. Oh well. These people have strange ways, I suppose, and these are difficult times. At least now I have some armor.
A steady rain in my face awoke me today, and as I rose and unkinked my back I once again wondered why these friendly people slept in warm tents while I was forced to sleep in the open air every night. At least I have a spot by the fire. And a companion -- a friendly sorceress has wandered into town, and she offered to assist me in my quest. In good time, too; apparently, the sorceress had been talking to the town's head guard, and she informed us that one of their leaders had been possessed by an evil demon, and had taken up residence in the nearby graveyard. How could we refuse to help these good people? We eagerly volunteered for the job.
Well, that was a fiasco, to say the least. The good news is that we killed the rogue archer and her undead minions. But that's about all the good that came of it. It turns out this sorceress was more powerful than I expected, and by the time I was able to unsheath my weapon and charge into the graveyard with a holy cry, she had already killed everything in sight and had proceeded to loot and desecrate the remaining graves and crypts, despite my protests. In the name of my Lord, I commanded her to stop, but she ignored me, and when I protested a second time, she got aggressive with me and started shooting bolts of ice in my direction. Luckily I had purchased a Portal scroll earlier in the day, and I was able to escape back to town. I will never again journey beside the Sorceress Skie(Ice-MageMule).
During my travels through the nearby swamps, I came across a ring of monoliths, guarded by some fierce demons who quickly chased me off. Luckily, there happened to be a skilled Amazon warrior in town, and she was more than happy to accompany me back to the stones to slay the beasts. I was not at all familiar with her language, but I had time to learn, as she accompanied me through a magical portal in the middle of the stones to another town, where we rescued an old Sage. Some Amazon words I learned include: "afk," which apparently means that it's time to meditate for several minutes; "pally," which is the Amazonian word for Paladin; and "ptptptpt," which indicates a desire for me to open a portal to her location.
When I spoke with the Sage this morning, he was so thrilled at having been rescued that he agreed to identify items for me free of charge from now on. The town elder will no doubt be upset that I won't be paying her for this service any more, but I'm running out of coin, so this is a necessary evil. And she didn't seem too upset, since she did give me a magic ring that she had laying around her tent. Speaking of evil... today, a Necromancer and an Assassin wandered into town, and invited me along on their quest to rid the local Monastery of evil forces. This seemed a bit hypocritical of them, but the Lord works in mysterious ways, so I agreed to come along with them. I must say that their powers were impressive; between the three of us, we managed to recover the town blacksmith's hammer, AND defeat the evil demon who lived in the catacombs. Interestingly, my two companions also spoke in the Amazon tongue; I must study this language more carefully, as it appears to be spoken across the land.
Things aren't going as planned. I returned to the town with my friends and discovered that the caravan master was willing to take me to the nearest desert town, which just so happened to be the direction I was heading in my quest to defeat evil. Since today is the Lord's day, I opted instead to spend it in meditation and rest. I remembered the cave that I had cleared out several days ago as being quite peaceful and restive, but when I returned there I was shocked to find that it was once again filled up with foul creatures from the underworld. Of course, I dispatched them (begging forgiveness from the Lord for doing such bloody work on the Sabbath), but a sense of doubt filled my head, and I wandered over to the nearby cemetery to discover that my suspicions were correct; not only had all the zombies once again risen from the dead, by their leader, the rogue archer, had also returned. I slew her again, but I fear that a cycle of evil has begun here that I may not be able to handle alone. And the worst part; no one in town wants to acknowledge that this evil has returned right outside their village. They seem to be in denial. I fear for their lives. Perhaps I had better head off to this desert town as soon as possible; dallying here to slay an unceasing stream of minor demons will only delay my showdown with greater evils elsewhere.
Apparently the folk here have heard of my prowess, for they accepted me with open arms; even the town elder came right to the gate to greet me as I entered. However, these people also appear to be suffering from severe financial difficulties, since they, too, seem unwilling to offer their services for free in exchange for my defense of their city. I treat it as just another tithe and do my work for the Lord in silence. As the afternoon waned on, a group of wanderers like myself asked if I would venture into the sewers beneath the town with them. I agreed, and together with an Sxkxhfe the Amazon, Wteuded the Barbarian and another Necromancer named D3thstab(poison), we vanquished the zombies in the sewers and returned triumphant to the surface. The entire time was spent in relative silence, the three speaking some odd language consisting of strange characters that I suspect is of Far Eastern origin. However, by speaking with them in broken Amazonian, we were able to convey basic concepts and get the job done.
A strange thing happened today that I can only explain as the work of the Almighty. I was questing in the surrounding desert for the component pieces of a staff that would reveal the location of a tomb I had to enter, when a group consisting of several Barbarians, a Sorceress and a Druid invited me along with them to the tomb itself. I attempted to explain as best I could in the Amazon tongue that I had not yet located the staff, but it turns out that the Sorceress already had it with her! Pleased at this stroke of fortune, I went with them and we defeated another great demon who resided in the tomb. To my dismay, Mephisto was not to be found there; he had already fled to a nearby swamp town. Luckily, a ship's captain was willing to take me there that very night, along with my companions. I had expected to spend more time here in this warm climate, enjoying the sun, but it appears my path will lead me down darker, damper paths.
The ship has arrived at long last, and I can tell already that I will not like this place much. The people are friendly enough, but the air is stifling and filled with large bugs who sting unceasingly. I had hoped to rest and get my bearings, but the other members of my party were eager to move along. The old sage, who accompanied me here, had told me that I would need to locate several relics from an old magician, but as it turns out he was mistaken; one of the Barbarians knew of a magical Waypoint right into Mephisto's lair, and before the sun had set my bold party had slain the demon once and for all. A portal to Hell itself opened before us, and singing songs of praise to the Lord for this great victory, I plunged headlong into it and was whisked away to do battle with Diablo.
Once again, my expectations were exceeded dramatically. I have waited my entire life for the chance to do battle with the dread lord Diablo, ruler of Hell, and I was expecting to have to wade through ranks of foul demons to get to him. However, shortly after a quick breakfast of hardtack and jerky, a blue portal opened before me and a Sorceress stepped through, inviting me along to kill Diablo. I trembled in my boots, but a quick prayer to the Lord Almighty gave me the courage to strap on my armor and join her in Diablo's lair. Shortly after we arrived, several stalwart Barbarians and a Necromancer joined us, and together we slew Diablo in just a few seconds. I had not expected the lord of Hell himself to be so easily succumbed, but perhaps this is merely proof that the power of the Almighty is greater than that of evil.
I am becoming a bit fatigued. Our adventuring party returned to the nearby safe haven, where we were shocked to learn that Baal, seeking vengeance for the death of his brother Diablo, had lain siege to a northern barbarian town. Shirking rest, my companions and I proceeded through a portal into this town, where the barbarian leadership there informed me that demons had surrounded the town, while Baal had fled to his mountaintop lair. As we broke the seige around the town, I began to notice strange inconsistencies in the world around me. For example, there is the matter of coin. Every demon I kill is carrying hundreds of gold coins, but none of them are wearing any clothing. Where do they keep it? And what about the porcupines and foul birds? Even they have coins. And the demons in Hell itself; what use do they have for coin down there? And this is to say nothing of the fact that these people leave their valuables sitting around in open view. Just today, I discovered several dozen chests and barrels lying around the hillside. Morality had kept me from pilfering these before, but I gave into temptation today and opened a few, and discovered all sorts of things: potions, weapons, armor... But even here, there is no logic. An unlocked barrel might contain valuable gems, while a locked, trapped chest could contain a broken sword. It is as if all sense has left the world.
Surprise after surprise. A Necromancer in town told me that he had knowledge of a magical Waypoint in the heart of Baal's lair, which we used to enter unseen, sneak up on him and slay him within 10 minutes of my arrival. I have to wonder why a town of angry, strong barbarians couldn't handle this task, especially considering how easy it was to get inside Baal's fortress. After we dispatched Baal, a portal appeared, and I happily walked through, a bit confused but nevertheless pleased to have finally defeated the great evils. Now that the world is cleansed of their foulness, I can return to a life of poverty and service to mankind.
I spent today in silent meditation to atone for my foul thoughts yesterday. I feel that the Lord has forgiven me, and tomorrow I will venture forth to do battle with some of the minor demons that still plague the area. They seem to be a lot tougher than I remember, however.
What in God's name is going on here? Am I having a nightmare? As I mentioned, I was whisked away to the small hamlet where I began this adventure, but now it seems that all of the inhabitants have been rendered dumb, or cursed with amnesia, for none of them ever remember seeing me before. And to make matters worse, the old sage has been recaptured, the swamps and caves are filled with more creatures, and the townsfolk are once again milking me for all my money. Don't these people have any sense of morality and decency? Arrrrrggggh!
I have no doubts now that this is just a horrible nightmare from which I will never awaken. Knowing the path before me, I had expected to once again have to do battle with hordes of foul creatures, but instead a group of adventurers invited me along with them and in a two-hour blitz, we skipped along magical Waypoints to defeat the head demons who had once again risen from the dead to seize control of the world. By the time the day was through, my head was spinning and we were once again staring down at the corpse of Baal, who had joined Mephisto and Diablo in eternal rest at the end of our blades. I have to wonder why they were foolish enough to keep these Waypoints into their lairs operational; if I were in their shoes, I would have destroyed them the first time.
Forget the nightmare; it is obvious that I am no longer asleep, or even alive. I am in Hell. Yes, that's it, Hell. I entered the portal after defeating Baal, and once again found myself in the original hamlet, with no one remembering who I was. Once more, the countryside was filled with evil creatures bent on our destruction, and once more I joined a group of adventurers in skipping along Waypoints to defeat the prime evils. But no... this must be a test from God. I will do his will and vanquish evil, even if it means that I must spend my life in Hell.
It never ends. Every night I sleep, and every morning I wake up and a group of adventurers are there ready to wander off into the hills surrounding the barbarian town to break the seige. Can't these people see that this war cannot be won? Evil is sending an unceasing string of demons our way, and no matter how many of them we kill, or how many of their magical weapons we capture, we can't ever seem to put them to rest forever. I believe I am going insane.
Sleep is but a memory. Today, my fellow adventurers and I broke the seige around the barbarian town 27 times in a row before my hands could no longer hold a sword steady. I no longer have any doubts that I am trapped in Hell. I cannot escape. I never eat. I never sleep. I never urinate. I have been killed and resurrected dozens of times, often several times in a row, and in the end it always ends the same way, with me throwing my body and sword into the fray and walking away covered in demon blood. I am become Death, destroyer of demons.
The Almighty has abandoned me at last! Today I was accompanying a group of Barbarians and a Sorceress on our 57th trip to break the siege around the barbarian town when the Sorceress attacked and slew me without cause. I returned to vanquish her, but she killed me again while the Barbarians laughed at me. I died a dozen times before she got bored and let me retrieve my equipment. Now, as I look around me at my fellow adventurers, I can see the same behavior in all of them. No longer content to merely defeat evil, they have taken to killing one another, knowing that they cannot truly die. Do none of them see that they are trapped in a Hellish nightmare from which there is no escape? They almost seem to take pleasure in the killing. I fear that I am starting to share in their sentiment.
It occurs to me that I haven't seen any other Paladins since I started this adventure. Maybe it's just me. Maybe my doubts and my sins have cast me into the fires of Hell, into an eternal loop from which there is no escape. Let's see, what did I do today? Killed a thousand demons. Broke seige 78 times. Killed Baal 17 times. Killed Diablo 5 times. But I can't kill the bastard shopkeeper for charging me 250 coins for a potion that he knows I can find lying outside on the ground for free. I've decided that it's not worth going on any more. I'm going to find a nice empty field and fall on my sword. I know that suicide is a sin, but what difference does it make? The demons can't kill me permanently, my companions can't kill me permanently, and if I'm already in Hell then what difference does it make? Maybe this way, at last, I can find eternal peace in oblivion. Farewell, cruel world...