Karnak angered me one last time, and this time he hit something I personally cared about. His child. No, it’s not a fatherly care, or any creepier sort of old man caring about a small child. Anyone following me should know that child of his, Nef, is special. Because he spent his entire life in the Nexus and couldn’t have children there, his biology was saturated with Nexus energies. So when finally had a child in this dimension, all these energies transferred and she spawned with unusual magical energy tied to her even before birth. We call instances like these “planetouched”. Being touched by the plane of such power as the Nexus… that gave her truly enormous power. She would teleport across space, time and universes at will, with nary a thought. I had to have that power. And that little pissant warrior decided to run away with his family because I was getting snarky with people.
He somehow managed to sneak his family aboard the ASJ Apexis on its delivery trip to Ruelgorm, a major Gnadra world. That’s the planet forest gnomes come from. You don’t need to know much about forest gnomes. They’re gnomes, but they’re completely unlike anything you know about gnomes. Well, they’re still small and annoying, but they prefer trees and druidism as opposed to technology. On Ruelgorm, they maintain large, wild forests and jungles where they live amidst nature. Apparently Karnak decided he likes the idea and fled there. It didn’t take long to track him to that planet, but it took some bribes and coercions to find the specific hotel they were staying in. I had my two favorite killers, the Urcheon and the Shrimp, with me of course.
We found him in the hotel and of course, he had to be a hero. He said he would never betray his family and would never let me control his child like a puppet, like a lightbulb – merely a source of power and nothing more. I told my minions to attack him, but he thought he could manipulate me. “Always sending your minions,” he said, “do your own dirty work for once. Fight me. Show me what you can do.” He thought I would chicken out, and he would prove how weak I am. Or that I would lose, and he would get to run. i did neither. I fought him, and proved running at someone with a curved sword is no substitute for magic. I admit, he was somewhat creative with his limited physical repertoire, but what could he do against my power?
When I finally had him rooted to the ground, disarmed and bleeding I pulled out my ace in the hole. The same one as last time. The titan orb. “The Dragon Sphere of Yasei”. Strangely enough, he did not cave to its light immediately. Most people do. But not him, no. He was visibly strained and kept refusing to submit or tell me what I need to know, despite being in an already bad physical shape. He is either remarkably strong-willed, or it simply doesn’t work as well on him because he’s from a different universe. Still, I won. It took time, but the man crumbled. He crumbled much further than I wanted, though, because in the end I had a wreck of a man before me. Whimpering, slobbering fool with no will of his own. He finally told me where his family was, hiding in a druid enclave on Ruelgorm called Ynys. And yet… I started feeling regret. I didn’t want to break him. I didn’t want to reduce him to a lobotomized husk. I wanted him to worship me. I wanted HIM to worship me. And everything he was… was gone.
On our way to Ynys I stayed silent, thinking about what I had done. The Urcheon and the Shrimp were right next to me, and the limp body of Karnak was following us closely because we poked it in the right direction. I didn’t even want to look at him. I didn’t want to feel… conscience. I thought any last pangs of guilt were gone forever years ago but this wreck was proving otherwise. When we finally got there, the forest gnomes knew what we were coming for immediately. They summoned plants to block our way and sicked their giant hamsters at us. It was of course no issue to a powerful druid such as me, and the two psychopaths following me. I told them not to kill the gnomes because I didn’t want a diplomatic incident but I actually… felt like I did enough today.
Holly and Nef were hiding in a tree house not far from the entrance. We sent Karnak first, so that she would open the door willingly. She did and she hugged her husband… but she immediately saw something was wrong. Well, it wasn’t hard to see. Between the vacant stare and emotionless repeating of the words we told him, it didn’t take her long to know he was caught. We entered not far behind him and she started screaming at us. Started calling us monsters, villains. That we will get her child only over her dead body. And then it turned out Karnak wasn’t completely gone. He collapsed and grabbed his head, started screaming. “GO!” he started yelling. “RUN! FAST!” She grabbed the child and ran to the back door… only to get knocked off her feet by the light blast of the Shrimp’s blade-arms. She dropped the child, but I managed to catch it in the air. She screamed again when she saw me with her. I laughed at her… before the Urcheon pierced her chest with his giant claws.
I looked at the room once again. Before me lied a dead woman, killed for protecting her child. From me. And the father was not five feet from me, convulsing on the floor, slobbering and screaming random words. Her last words echoed in my head again. I realized what I became. She was right. I became a monster. A villain.
No. I am not a villain.
I AM NOT A VILLAIN!
You know, resurrection spells are fairly cheap these days, at least if you find the corpse not long after they died. Luckily, I was right there.
She was puzzled when she rose and saw me give her the child back. I couldn’t even look her in the eyes and turned back. I pulled out the orb and undid the hold it had on Karnak’s mind. For a brief moment, he was confused too but he quickly grabbed his sword and ran at me again, only to be fended off by the Urcheon’s claws. “Leave, now,” I told them. “Before I change my mind.”
They didn’t wait. They didn’t speak anymore. They simply ran. I don’t know where. I don’t care. I’m not that kind of person. Yes, I wanted the power… but not at that cost. I am not a villain.
I will have her. But not like this. When she’s adult and independent, I will get her power. But not by killing her parents and brainwashing her from birth. I am not a villain.