The story of Zephram and Ridley

Vincent de l’os of Britain

UP: Chesapeake

    I’m sure many of our readers have come into contact with either Zephram or Ridley at one time or another, but few have a good grasp of the entire story, and many others have never met them. For this reason it seemed that the time had come for the Town Cryer to bring you the story of this tragic pair in our fair city of Britain. To that end, I have spent the last week performing an investigation into this story.

    Many will recall that months ago, Zephram the Scientist had decided to undertake the task of inventing a potion of resurrection. Being an alchemist of great talent, Zephram has devoted his life to experiments that he feels will benefit all of Britannia. This reporter was fortunate enough to have spoken to him at one time about his beliefs. “A Necromancer? Tis not what I am. I am a scientist. Mine work has always been aimed at healing the sick, increasing vitality, and yes, I’ve even worked towards making gold from lead”, he said, “I do not seek to raise the dead, merely restore life in a manner similar to what healers and mages do now, except to have the means given to the common man. Necromancers are twisted beings, who summon the dead to do their bidding. Healers give people their lives back.”

    For several months, Zephram sought the aid of adventurers to bring him many of the materials he required for his work on this resurrection potion. He worked long hours, only rarely accepting the interruption of someone knocking on his door. He is probably best remembered for the bones that he asked people to bring as a material he needed for these studies. In the artist’s rendition, you can clearly see that Britannians can be very industrious when they put their minds to a task. This was not the only ingredient he needed though; Other materials retrieved for him included the venom of giant serpents, and the blood of an ancient wyrm.

    After months of effort, Zephram announced that he had finally completed the prototype of his potion of resurrection. Reporters and scholars from around Britain were gathered, and town criers ran the streets announcing that he was about to test the potion in public. Tension rose as dozens of on-lookers gathered and waited. Warrior and scholar alike were enthralled. Both skeptic and believer watched with anticipation. Finally Zephram announced that he was ready to begin. First he introduced the ghost that stood beside him as Ridley the Mage. He explained that Ridley had recently died, and in the name of scholarly persuits had gratiously volunteered to be the test-subject, confident that Zephram would succeed.

    Unfortunately, the experiment was a complete disaster. I remember clearly how a large portion of the crowd fell silent... while others saw fit to yell. When Zephram attempted to apply the potion, it exploded, leaving his skin a sickly green color. But that was not the worst of it. The most disastrous result was that Ridley was not restored to life, but was rather transformed into another form of undeath. His physical body was only partially restored, as he now stood as a skeleton. At first he was stunned, but as his mind cleared and he realized what had happened, he become quite enraged. “I can never be brought back to life now! You complete and utter fool! You shall pay for this Zephram!” He was heard to say, just before teleporting away. Apparently he regained enough of his former self to be able to cast magic spells once again.

    Neither of them have made much of a public spectacle since then, with a few exceptions. A short time after the experiment, Ridley gathered many adventurers together to aid him. He explained that when he died, his home was burned to the ground and looted. After the accident that left him in his current state, he returned there and managed to recover only a few things. Most of his magical devices were stolen or destroyed, and many were unique and irreplacable. However, he had learned that one of them, a wand of restoration, was in the posession of a daemon, and there was a chance it could restore him to life. Many brave warriors and mages accepted the challenge, and returned the wand to him. Unfortunately, it had no effect.

    However, the story took an even darker twist last week. Zephram had taken an interest in the frontier town known as Paxlair. He began asking the locals if they had any ideas about how he could cure his skin, and help Ridley. Very few ideas surfaced, except the possibility of talking to a necromancer, a specific necromancer that has been terrorizing the countryside. At this point, my information becomes sketchy at best, but from what I have been able to determine, Zephram hesitantly agreed to join the townsfolk on a mission to the crypts of Yew, as reports had come to them of large hordes of undead being active in that area. The warriors on that quest had to return without Zephram, for it is there that he vanished without a trace. There are rumors that he has been spotted a few times since, and has even spoken with a few people, but this can not be confirmed. Even his own logbook still says that he is in Paxlair. And oddly enough, he has left his door unlocked. Tristan, his lab assistant and shopkeeper is a man of few words, but he has expressed some concern about Zephram’s absence. “I sincerely hope that he is alive and well. Until I find out otherwise, I will assume that it is the case. For now, I will merely keep the place clean and continue to sell potions and reagents for him.” Seer Garak, a friend of Zephram also has not seen or heard from him, and has even gone looking for him in Paxlair to no avail.

    The latter part of last week showed just how twisted the whole situation has become. Fortunately, this reporter was lucky enough to be passing by Paxlair at the time, and managed to witness the event. Ridley the Skeleton came to Paxlair, accompanied by a small horde of zombies. He was certain that the townsfolk were hiding Zephram, or that Zephram was hiding amongst them on his own. He continued to vow vengeance upon Zephram, though he made a point of stating that he had no quarrel with the people of Paxlair... for now. He hinted that as long as they didn’t get in his way, he wouldn’t bother them. However, Zephram was first and foremost on his mind, and thus he ordered his zombie-thugs to search the town! Quickly they spread out, looking in every building and house that was not locked. After a short while, one of the zombies returned to Ridley and handed him a small item. Not many of us in the crowd could see it, but apparently it was a piece of glassware, some sort of lab apparatus that supposedly had Zephram’s name inscribed upon it. Not everyone in the town was convinced of it’s validity; one person was even heard to mutter in a sarcastic tone “how convienient”. At this point, Ridley was convinced that Zephram was somewhere within the town, but he was also satisfied that he had found all he was going to find that evening, for he knew Zephram not to be a fool.

    Probably the most disturbing thing was that before he left, he had also hinted at the mixed blessings of being in his current state. Is he beginning to like being a skeleton? Only time will tell. This reporter, for one, is a little spooked over the whole ordeal... However, we here at the Town Cryer will continue to persue this story, and keep you informed with future articles. Until then, safe journeys!


From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Wednesday, July 8th 1998