Harris and the Staff of the Elements

Seer Hearadh

UP: Sonoma

    In an evening filled with tales to keep bards busy for years, the world erupted with disaster, heroism, honor, and tragedy last night. What might have been a splendid ceremony and a triumph for Harris, the Finder from Magincia, ended with his death and disappearance in the mysterious hedge maze and leaving many questions unanswered. The man himself, his staff of the elements, the union ritual: were they doomed from the start? Were the staves inherently evil? Or, as some suggest, was it the inexperience of Harris and his friends? Perhaps the strangely-damaged staff of the sea was to blame. And, of course: where is Harris now? Answers call me from afar, but first I wish to report a short history of the event, as I know it.

    Those who are not familiar with Harris may not know that many years ago, he came into possession of a strange and powerful staff. Glowing with an internal flame and bright red-orange in color, Harris called it the staff of the sun. Learning of the existence of other such staves, he used all of the tricks of his trade to find three more staves of the elements: sea, sky, and land. Each beautiful, each powerful, and, to Harris, each an exciting new toy. As he became familiar with them, he discovered that he was able to trick each staff into summoning its element as a reaction to exposure to the opposite element, although it is now the belief of the Seers that the staff is intelligent and will generally accede to the will of the bearer: Harris wished them to summon elementals, so that they did.

    About the time he recovered the fourth staff, he was ambushed by orcs and lost the staff of the sun. This was the beginning of a period of years where he gradually lost possession of three of the four staves. After losing the staff of the land during his move to Magincia, he decided to re-focus his life on the staves and, with the help of many brave citizens, he has spent the last few months doing exactly that. Research, wizardry, and many battles resulted in the recovery of the staff of the land (from the tunnels of Buccaneer’s Den), then the staff of the sea (after months of battle and negotiation with pirates), and, finally, the staff of the sun (recovered despite the efforts of the lich who created the staff of the land).

    Once again in possession of all four, it is now well-known that Harris became somewhat obsessed with their unification. Many days he spent in Britain and Moonglow with sages and mages, learning how they might be united, and despite various indications that the union would end in more evil than good, he pressed on. Words of power were learned, exorcism was performed on the hedge maze tower where the event was to be held, and an audience of warriors was invited to watch what Harris believed would be a grand and exciting event.

    Harris had selected his old friends Truth, Cloud, and Fergus MacLeda as staff-bearers, as each staff would have its own bearer at the ceremony. Fergus, however, was nowhere to be found when the time came, so Soruth London, another citizen well-acquainted with the staves, was asked to take his place, and accepted. The Four made their way to the top of the tower, running eagerly, each to a corner of the tower. As the three new staff-bearers experimented with their staves, tame elementals covered the top of the tower. Eventually, they felt confident and continued...and so began the amazing events of the night.

    As the words of power were spoken a new staff, the staff of the elements, appeared at the center. Glowing with an eerie black light, it drew the Four closer to it. Harris slowly reached for it, but without warning, it shattered and, in an incredible display of evil magic, a dark elemental appeared in the circle, poisoning any who came near and summoning a steady stream of evil elementals of all sorts on and around the tower. An incredible battle began as the audience quickly became participants. Despite great bravery by the assembled warriors, the enemy was too powerful, and after those citizens present retreated, hid, or died in the face of the overwhelming onslaught, Seer Cepheus informed the town criers of the need for more support. He gathered survivors and newcomers in Magincia to devise a scheme to defeat the evil: we Seers had foreseen the possibility of such an outcome and had researched the locations of pure elements, which we believed would force the creature to return from whence it came.

    And, indeed, this was the case. Seer Cepheus was able to organize four teams to retrieve the pure elements: water from the stream between Deceit and Honesty; fire from the daemon temple on the Isle of Fire; air from Wind; and earth from deepest Despise, at the base of the Serpent’s Spine mountains. While the four teams went to find the elements, the battle in the hedge maze raged on. The scores of warriors responding to the call of the town criers helped clear the way to the tower, and soon the team leaders nearly flew up the stairs, bringing with them the pure elements. I was able to withstand the evil’s poison aura and place the pure elements around it, causing it to vanish without a trace in an amazing display of the power of those elements.

    During the hours of the evil’s dominance of the hedge maze area, many great warriors were slain, and, sadly, Harris was slain with them. His ghost was seen wandering near the tower base, sobbing softly and blaming himself for the disaster, when without warning, the ghost disappeared. Sadly, Harris has not been seen since, and it is with this information that I now focus my studies on how to return him to his former self, although not before recognition of those who were most influential in Harris’ life.

    For some time, I have been following the adventures of Harris, and I feel that this culmination of Harris’ work since he arrived in Magincia gives me an opportunity to recognize a group of particularly devoted and worthy sages, mages, and warriors who worked closely with the man. To that end, I summoned the assembled adventurers to the Parliament building in Magincia, where Seer Cepheus and myself arranged a presentation of awards. To the staff-bearers—Truth, Cloud, and Soruth London—I granted significant rewards of fame, although such rewards hardly begin to describe the sacrifices they made, both yesterday (for they all died on the tower top) and over the months since Harris moved to Magincia. Hours of waiting outside his office, days of transporting him in search of the staves, and weeks of research on his behalf can hardly be repaid in one moment, but I felt a symbolic recognition of their work was much-needed. Seven others were rewarded by myself and Seer Cepheus: Kira Vonur, Jyden Caendryl, Katarn, Birmingham, Lurker, Tanis Fireforge, and Rivan. All of these citizens were deemed worthy of varying grants of fame, based on their long association with Harris and their devotion to his search. Many others made significant contributions as well—too many to name—and to all who worked with Harris, giving time, money, and frequently life to aid his cause, I extend the deepest thanks.

    Cloud, whose research was invaluable during the earliest phases of Harris’ search for the staves (and who fought for and personally recovered two of the missing three), is further honored in an exhibit in the Lycaeum. The display features the broken staff of the elements as well as samples of the pure elements used to defeat the evil, and all citizens are welcome to visit and see the artifacts.

    I shall now retreat to my library to research the questions that have arisen from yesterday’s incredible events.

• Seer Hearadh

From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Friday, July 24th 1998