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Dr Archeville

[Unbalanced Vignette] Do You Fear Death?

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Freedom City, South Freedom, Bayview, Claremont Academy, Jon Carter Dormitory, Corbin Hughes' Room

October 31st, 2010, 11:45pm

October had been a busy month for Cobalt Templar. All those undead on the street meant that he got a pretty good “workout” in his first month as a real superhero. Now, he hadn't gone out alone, but he's definitely had his chance to shine while working with several other students who weren't on any particular team. His ring seemed almost eerily effective against the likes of zombies and vampires, and he'd had to steel his will against the occasional sounds of discomfort they made when he struck against them. So, with all that in mind, it was easy to understand why he would be sleeping, even on this night of truly epic confrontations. Even as the Freedom League battled the forces of the Greek God of Death, Hades, Corbin tossed and turned in his bed, utterly exhausted from all the hero work he'd done. But even as he moved about, his sleep was perhaps the deepest he'd ever experienced. For this was no ordinary sleep, no ordinary dream...

Corbin “awoke” in what seemed to be a desolate valley. Overhead, the sun shone through thin clouds, casting an odd reddish light all around him. He stood from where he lay on the ground, dusting himself off...Which was when he noticed the ring missing.

“Crap! Where did it go?”

He dropped to the ground, running his fingers over the dirt as he cast his eyes around, trying to find that tiny, mighty artifact. It was only when one hand hit, of all things, a boot, that he stopped and looked up. He blinked, as he saw a man clothed in what looked like 1st Century AD Middle Eastern robes. His stern demeanor somehow made Corbin feel even worse about losing the ring...until the man opened his clenched left hand, and the teenager beheld the object of his small quest.

“You need to be more careful with this. There's so much power wrapped up in this ring. So many things you yet need to do, so much you yet need to learn. But so little time. Stand, Corbin.”

He did so, studying the man in front of him. There was something about him that was just off. Something about this whole place, really. The strange man handed Corbin the ring, which the boy slid onto its normal resting place, feeling a sense of wholeness overtake him.

“Your suspicions are correct; this is not the “real” world. I suppose “physical world” would be better; philosophers often argue that reality is perception.”

“You're not here to give me a philosophy lesson, are you?”

“No. I come to you now because the barrier between living and dead is so thin. It will strengthen soon, and I will be unable to speak for a long time, and there are things you must know. You see, I was the first wielder of this ring.

First, you must strive to control your fear. As you grow closer to the ring, this weakness will fade, but until it does, you must not let fear rule you. Or you will face dire consequences.

Second, this ring will change you. I think you've begun to feel it already. I cannot tell you everything, except to say you will be no mere mortal man. So do not panic overmuch.

Third, you are not alone. This is not the only ring. Well. It is and isn't. I cannot explain more at this time.

Fourth...Do not doubt yourself so much. You are the right person to have this ring. You will do great things, Corbin Hughes. You will do the legacy of this ring proud. Never let that thought leave your mind, even as some of the other details from this conversation fade for a time.”

“Wait, what do you mean?”

“Some of this knowledge will be buried, only to surface when you need to understand it most. This conversation is a building block. You still have a long road ahead of you. Keep your eye on the horizon, boy.”

The man started to fade a bit, becoming somewhat transparent.

“You are a true champion. Now go! Do us proud! Let my soul truly rest in peace, knowing that this ring has a worthy bearer!”

“I...I will, sir. I promise.”

“I believe you.”

With a start, Corbin awoke in his normal bed, the memories of the dream almost immediately fading into obscurity. All he was sure of...was a renewed sense of confidence.

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