Legend Of Merickel

Late one morning in his nineteenth year, Merickel the half-elf came to a warm, mist-shrouded lake that he had never seen before, even though it sprawled squarely in the midst of his native wood. Sweat covered his brow from riding. He dismounted his unicorn and dove in to bathe.

He floated lazily under the warm sun.

Fierce tritons, men with fins, grappled him. He fought back. “Hey, stop it!” He thrashed mightily. Nevertheless, they subdued him and dragged him down to the lake bed.

Merickel awoke in a shadowy shrine. Its small windows revealed dark water. Light emanated from a cracked, lonely altar, where lay the lost greatsword of a dead war god.

“You are destined for greatness!” the sword called to him. Bards say the sword granted wishes too, and promised Merickel much, but other bards sing that the sword was the font of Merickel’s suffering from the get-go.

When Merickel staggered from the lake with the sword firmly in hand, he found a bustling town at its shores.

“Where did this town come from?” he wondered aloud in shock.

“I will follow you inside,” offered the sword. “We can handle anything that comes our way!”

“Hmm,” Merickel mused. “May someone good live here.”

He entered the gates. Old women and dirt-faced boys, beggars and nobles rushed about shouting, haggling over food stuffs with coins in hand. How sad, he reflected, to pay for food.

“Find the Dragon Quest Inn,” the sword urged.

At the inn he met his future wife, the elf maiden Erah, and they savored many fine evenings that summer after he returned from work in a nearby scorching smithy.

“I wish you to be my bride,” he whispered to her under the twinkling stars one warm night.

Erah’s stepfather, a town magistrate, moved to thwart the marriage in favor of Erah’s arranged suitor, a human paladin named Justinian.

“I too wandered upon this strange town,” Justinian said when he and Merickel met. However, they had little else in common. The paladin spoke incessantly of great deeds and holy plans. Merickel closed his ears and thought; I cannot imagine I came from the same place as this bore.

Erah was partial to Merickel, so they eloped. He made her his wife by the blessing of an itinerant priest.

“Now, let’s locate my home!” he announced after he sealed the marriage vows with a deep kiss. The town and its land reeked of mud and vermin. There were no satyr pipes, nymphs, or prancing unicorns to inspire anyone. “Rejoice in your marriage,” the priest shouted as they galloped off.

Search as he did with Erah in tow, Merickel found no familiar landmarks.

“Never heard of this fey wood,” people said when he would tell them about the lake, the sword, and the town.

“I have always lived here,” Erah added. “Perhaps your childhood was a dream, or you are a changeling.” She winked and kissed him. Merickel vowed to put aside his longing.

He found and cleared a mountain keep. The two settled in. Merickel used gold from the keep’s horde to restore it to its former glory.

Two years passed.

When Erah bore him twins she said, “I am so happy you came into my life.”

“I am all here,” he replied, “for this day is my dream.”

Then, like the tritons before, demons came one dark night to steal the dead war god’s greatsword.

“Ah, my prize!” the demon lord exclaimed. “Give it!”

“I am yours, protect me,” the sword cried to Merickel.

Merickel fought the demon lord, who grabbed Erah in his claws and flew away on his bat-like wings, howling, “The time will come when you will happily give away that sword.”

With newborns in tow, Merickel set out to find beloved Erah. He hiked to the orc badlands, where a spirit shaman directed him to a wondrous island kingdom.

“What marvels the world holds,” he told his twins as the island’s golden spires came into view. His children had grown quickly, as if by magic. In three years, his son stood as high as a pony and fenced using a man’s sword.

At the island kingdom, he met the mystic Jessica, her brother, and the thief twins whose names are lost to history. Others also joined his inspiring quest for Erah.

“Like bears to honey,” Merickel would say, “they come.” All the while, the demon lord spied, ambushed, and taunted Merickel.

“Come and get me, oh, little god of war.” Merickel was undeterred, with Erah etched in his heart and the visions of mystic Jessica to guide them.

With the visions as his treasure map, Merickel and his band found beloved Erah. Yet he was shocked. She was not chained in a demon’s dungeon, but living comfortably in the floating sky castle of her true father, the elven mage Agazon. The paladin Justinian had rescued her months before.

“Please illuminate me,” Merickel demanded. “Do you have feelings for Justinian?”

“I was very happy with you,” Erah said, “but my father’s purpose for me lies here.”

Heart-broken, Merickel cried in the castle’s garden. “What have I done wrong? Do I live another man’s life!”

Now, the demon lord’s drow mistress had entered Keep Agazon disguised as Jessica’s brother, whom she had quietly murdered in secret. She prepared poison to kill Merickel while practicing swordplay. But Merickel knew his friend well. He uncovered the drow mistress, drove her off, and vowed to strike the demon lord’s infernal home to end its dominion.

“But first,” the elven mage interjected, “Who should wield the greatsword of the dead war god? Let us find out, shall we?”

The spells declared it belonged to Justinian, grandson of the slain god.

“This explains much, Merickel,” the elven mage said. “You have been living Justinian’s life. But to be fair, a match will decide who will wield the sword.”

Merickel did not care to fight, but said yes.

Then more bad news: “It is true,” Erah admitted with tears, “I carry Justinian’s child.” Merickel flew into a rage. He attacked the paladin in the keep’s gardens the day before the match and left the “heir of a god” whimpering in a puddle of his own spittle and blood. It was the least he could do.

“You disgrace! Leave this place forever,” the elven mage pronounced as he and Erah turned their backs on him.

Bards say Justinian bore the greatsword into the Nine Hells. Sadly, his strike against the demon lord did not unfold as gloriously as prophecy predicted. The demon lord quickly removed his head and snatched the greatsword to go and slay his own master, a beast even fouler than it was.

Years later, Merickel heard the news. He had been living with Jessica, the thief twins, and his now-grown children.

“You are lucky,” his daughter said consolingly. Nostalgia filled his heart. He returned to Erah, still floating in her father’s sky home. He came with flowers and a smile. He asked once again for her hand in marriage.

“I am too bitter a root for you,” she said. “Go find that fey forest of yours before its too late for you too. And here is the greatsword,” she said. “Life’s irony returned it to me.” He did not ask how she got it back. Its journeys are another story.

On that day, Merickel returned to the misty lake.

He dove deep. It was cold now. Tritons lived there no more. He returned the greatsword of the dead war god to its resting place in the shrine, and then he disappeared into the woods. No one saw him again, which is not to say no more tales were told.

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