Visions of the Black Temple

Orrin Frye

BNN:Britannia

   Woe is the day that I fancied myself a hero - able to creep stealthily past enemy lines in hopes of spying some crucial bit of information that might turn the tide of battle to our camp. I thought myself a great warrior, full of bravery, confidence - the champion of our cause. I thought that if I could only prove myself here, in our darkest hour, that all vistas might be open to me - that my superiors might see I had what it took to command.

Now the horrors I have seen...that unwholesome monument to evil. I cannot help but laugh at my own foolhardiness, that I believed I could best any dreadful beast I might find within the city walls - but e’en that laugh comes out as a foul, choking cackle now.

Indeed, I did manage to skulk within the walls of Trinsic for a time, prowling from one darkened alley to the next, my every sense alert for the shuffling footsteps of the undead patrols - or the stench that inevitably follows. I evaded three or four of the foul groups before reaching the interior of the city, to look up at the dark, noxious edifice.

That it towered o’er a building that was once the heart of all decent gatherings within the city only made the black monument all the more vile. An immense structure, its gloomy walls appeared to the eye to be ancient blocks of stone, crumbling and near to collapse. If it were not for the sense of incredible power that the structure itself seemed to emanate, I would have thought it more of a primeval ruin than a tower so recently constructed.

I saw the undead legions pass their fetid, rotting hands over the surface of the shadow stone - seeming to complete some last act that would bring forth a terrible, potent magic from within the structure. For indeed, as the foul beasts finished with their abhorrent ritual, the stone seemed to come to life, much like the assembled undead had done before. A swirling cloud of noxious gas began to emanate from the summit of the temple, infused with great arcs of lightning energy. After mere moments the combined effect of the crashing noise and the foul stench originating from the black shrine were almost too much to bear. Would that I had stumbled away then, under the power of the assault. But nay, I stood forth even then, resolute that my reconnaissance would be complete.

And then she stepped forth. It could be none other than Minax herself - her every feature had been burned into memory from the few descriptions from the front. And yet, as she stepped from within the black monument, fully into the light, I saw more daemon than woman. The thunderous cacophony of sound and stench coupled with her wild-eyed expression, her teeth bared in a snarl like a rabid dog would make, it seemed to hold me in place. Though every sinew in my body screamed to be put into action, I stood and stared, watching as she gazed out over the assembled horde of undead, raising her hands high into the air.

Her feral snarl turned into a smile so cold and malevolent it seemed even her skeletal warriors were taken aback by the display. Then she turned to me, as if she could feel the presence of a living being out across the square, lowering one arm and pointing across the distance between us. If that were not enough to raise me to my feet and begin my mad dash throughout the streets of Trinsic, the sight behind her drove my body into action while my mind reeled in the black space of madness.

I must have run through the streets for hours. Whether headed for Nystul’s blessed gate by some twisted trail all along, or merely fortunate in my lunacy to stumble upon it, I awoke today to the cry of seagulls and the sharp tang of salt air.

The Britain docks had never felt so safe, had never seemed so glorious as they did today.



From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, February 21st, 2000.