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Lord of Knightmare steps into the confusion of all his past dungeons. Fanfic, by Andrew Buckley.

The Valley of Dreaming

[Andrew Buckley/Dec 1999]

 

Resting at the top of a mountain, outside the barriers of time and space, and at the same time in the North of England, there stands a castle. The world of magic, mystery and witchcraft exists in the dimensions beneath it, ever shifting, changing, and waiting for a new hero to challenge it. This is the castle of Knightmare; the dungeon below the creation of a sick and twisted mind. Once used for evil, it is now harnessed for good by Treguard, Lord of Knightmare.

In the castle antechamber, Treguard sat on an ornate wooden chair, reading through the ancient book of quests. The book told of the brave few who had challenged the dungeon, and, more often than not, it told of how they had failed. He read the accounts of the challenges, his mind floating back through the past, remembering those who had succeeded in their quest, remembering his servant Pickle, remembering Merlin...

His reverie was interrupted when the door to the antechamber was flung open, and his latest companion, Majida, strolled noisily in. She walked around the back of his chair, peering at the book from behind him

"Majida," he said, testily, "how many times must I remind you that it is rude to read over someone's shoulder?"

"Sure, sure," the genie replied, "but I'm not reading over someone's shoulder. I'm reading a book!"

"You know very well what I mean," Treguard said, but he knew that he was wasting his breath. He wasn't going to be able to read any more with Majida distracting him, so he decided to give up. He closed the book gently, and took it back to its home in a dusty old cupboard.

"Hey," Majida said, "I was reading that!"

"So was I," replied Treguard, and Majida knew from his manner that she ought not to press the matter further. The old Saxon seemed somewhat disturbed, distracted, and that worried Majida more than anything else. Though she would never dream of telling him, she really quite liked Treguard, for all his bluster.

Gently, she said, "what's wrong with you, Treguard? You've been like this for days now."

"Like what?" Treguard asked, "there's nothing wrong with me."

"Oh, yeah?" Majida glared at him, and he decided he might as well tell her what was on his mind. After all, he deduced, it would shut her up.

"Oh, it's nothing really," he said, sitting back down in the chair, "it's just that I miss the challenge. The game. The adventure. I miss being Dungeon Master."

"So why don't you just re-open the dungeon?" Majida asked, genuinely trying to be helpful.

"It's not as easy as that," Treguard sighed, "believe me if it were, I would. The dungeon is off limits at the moment, re-forming itself. The path has taken so long to re-open, I'm beginning to think it never will. And then there's no one to challenge it, nobody from the other world seems interested any more."

"Oh, pooh," Majida said, "nobody interested? Why do I not believe that? I'm sure there are loads of people out there who want to play the game."

"Well if there are, their messages aren't getting through to me." Treguard sighed, looking around the antechamber, and the memories started flooding in again.

It was another two weeks before Treguard's growing lust for adventure was to be satisfied. He and Majida were sat in the antechamber, enjoying a peaceful afternoon, when the mirror on the wall began to glow. Through the cobwebs that had grown over the mirror, a faint picture began to appear.

"Treguard, Treguard," Majida said, excitedly, "someone is trying to talk to us!"

"Mmm?" Treguard said, looking up from his book. "My word, Majida, I think you're right!" He rose out of his chair and walked closer to the mirror. "Who tries to make contact?" he said, hoping the person on the other end of the mirror could hear him.

"Dear me, Treguard," a voice said as the picture began to clear, "One would have expected you to keep your communications devices in better order. One tried the pool, but that was not working."

The picture was, by now, totally clear, and Treguard could only gasp as he saw his caller.

"Hordriss!" he exclaimed, "my word, I haven't heard from you since…"

"Five years ago, Dungeon Master," Hordriss said, "five years ago."

"Much water has passed under the bridge since then, Hordriss," Treguard smiled, "and I am no longer Dungeon Master. There is no longer a dungeon for me to be master of!"

"Nonsense, Treguard," the old mage laughed, "it's just taking a while to re-form. One did warn you that would happen if you started using that technomagical pool!"

"Ah, indeed," Treguard said, sensing a lecture was on its way, "what can we do for you, anyway, Hordriss?"

"You must travel to the Valley of Dreams," Hordriss said, "there is a way there, bit I have forgotten it. You will need magical aid of a kind even I cannot give you."

"Why must we go there, Hordriss?" piped up Majida.

"Because he is there," Hordriss replied, "and he wants to use the valley's power to control the dimensions. Both of them!"

"Who is he?" Majida asked, but Hordriss was gone.

"Who is he?" Treguard laughed, "I'm surprised you need to ask. I must get ready!"

"Me too," Majida said, making for the door.

"I think not," Treguard said, "I must go alone."

Majida protested, but Treguard convinced her that he had to go alone. Not only was it dangerous for her to go, he needed to do this alone in order to feel useful again. Majida grudgingly accepted the logic of his argument, and so he went to get ready.

Minutes later, he stood at the dungeon door.

"Why are you going in there?" Majida asked, "it is re-forming. There is nothing there."

"Don't you see," Treguard replied, "when the dungeon re-forms, it shifts through its own past. Hopefully, as Dungeon Master, I can do so too."

"Why?" Majida asked, confused.

"To get the best type of magical aid possible. Farewell!"

With that, the Lord of Knightmare stepped into the confusion of all his past dungeons.

Matt fell off the causeway, Julie was surrounded by goblins, the blade sliced Alastair neatly in half, the first step is the hop, the spyglass was in front of him, Brother Strange banged his staff on the ground, Dickon picked up the crown, the second step is the clap, Motley ran around the tree stump, Ariadne moved in for the kill, The Guard smashed Simon's skull into pieces, Lillith laughed with delight as Mave fell to her death, the third step is the wave…

Treguard emerged from the confusion in the right place. He had reached the chamber he needed. In front of him stood a deep, dark pit, and at the other side a door and a throne. He walked to the brink of the precipice and, dispelling his embarrassment, performed a quick hop. A piece of path appeared in front of him, and he walked onto it. He then clapped his hands once, and another section of path appeared. He walked onto this and waved. A final section of path appeared, and Treguard walked to it, accompanied by a clap of thunder, and a puff of smoke.

Sat on the throne in front of him was Merlin, the greatest of all the wizards.

"Now who is it that disturbs me?" Merlin coughed, wafting the smoke that surrounded him away. As the smoke cleared, he gasped in shock.

"Treguard?" he asked, "my but you have aged, haven't you?"

"It's a little difficult to explain, Merlin," Treguard said.

"Then you'd better begin explaining right away," was the wizard's answer.

"Very well," Merlin replied, after Treguard had recounted his tale, "I will aid you, Dungeon Master. To defeat someone in the Valley of Dreams, you require a simple spell: 'NIGHTMARES'. I gift it you."

"I thank you, Merlin," Treguard said, "I thank you."

"And now," the old wizard smiled, "SPELLCASTING: T-R-A-N-S-P-O-R-T-A-T-I-O-N."

Treguard found himself in a cavern, dark and dreary. Scattered randomly across the walls, the occasional candle offered light, but not much of it. Treguard walked cautiously through the caves, following the candles, which seemed to be leading him in the right direction. He didn't bother to draw his sword, for he knew that it would be useless against the foe he was to face.

After what seemed to Treguard like forever, he entered a well-lit vaulted room, resembling an underground cathedral. This was one of the old places in which the Witches had performed their dreaming rituals generations ago. Treguard suspected that he had found his foe, or at least his foe's new chamber.

"Lord Fear," he called out, angrily, "Lord Fear, where are you?"

An evil laugh erupted from the shadows at the far end of the chamber. It boomed and echoed, ringing in Treguard's head, deafening.

"LORD FEAR?" a voice snapped, incredulously, "you idiot! I am not Lord Fear!"

Treguard froze. From the other end of the corridor, from behind the shadows, a figure emerged, laughing.

"Mogdred," Treguard breathed, taken aback, "I thought you dead."

"Dead?" Mogdred was in stitches, cackling evilly, "My dear Dungeon Master you cannot kill me!"

"I did kill you," Treguard screamed, "I killed you!"

"You tried to kill me! Just because I killed one too many of your precious dungeoneers, you tried. But you failed! You banished me, mortal fool," Mogdred cried, "that is all you achieved. And now I am going to kill you!"

Treguard, though, had recovered his wits after the shock of seeing Mogdred, and knew what he had to do.

"I think not, Mogdred," he cried, "SPELLCASTING: N-I-G-H-T-M-A-R-E-S."

Mogdred screamed. The dreams of the valley turned black, writhing over the old magician, eating him alive. The Valley of Dreams imploded, taking Mogdred with it. Where once had been the valley, there was now only barren land. And an unconscious Saxon warrior.

It was several days before Treguard returned to Knightmare Castle. When he did, he returned a happier, more contented man. Prepared now to simply rest, knowing that all was good. But still he waits, as do we all, for the dungeon to finish re-forming. For the path to open. For the game to begin anew. Treguard knows, deep down, that one day, the Knightmare will come again…

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