the four suites of the Minor Arcana, Wands, Cups, Swords, Disks
here signify respectively
Creativity, Spirituality, Authority, Wealth
Meanwhile, in the Dimension of Demons, the soul of Otius was
delivered unto slavery. He had no body when he arrived, so the
demon in charge of such things had Otius' soul installed into a
sturdy workslave gnome, a grey, wart-mottled caricature of a
Things were different here. First of all, demons had been small
on the human world, but here they were 'normal', and Otius found
himself half the size of an average demon. So now he had to
look up to Fear and Dismay, who were his masters.
The two demons, now seemingly huge, lived in a cramped cubicle
with their slave. The cubicle was jammed among innumerable
other similar cubicles which repeated endlessly in a building or
city or world which seemed to be of infinite dimensions and
incredibly overcrowded. Otius was appalled, it was a hellish world
and held no appeal at all, stinking of sulfur and brimstone.
Fear and Dismay now called Otius "Sslaveling" instead of
'Masster". There was a period of adjustment before the three of
them put their new roles in proper perspective, and then it was
truly Hell for Otius. A wise man of some other world had said
that no man can serve two masters, and Otius could verify that
as truth. Fear would command him to do one thing, Dismay would
order him to do another, then they would disagree on which
duties their shared slaveling should perform, with Otius torn
between conflicting demands. To disobey either one meant
Otius was the Prize the two demons had earned for their years of
servitude on the human world. Rather than being grateful,
however, the two ex-slaves were quite irritated with Otius for
his failure and defeat. They had been looking forward to years
more in the spacious freedom of the human world, even as
servants. And now they were trapped back in their dinky cube-
Eventually they decided to farm him out to the Magic Factory.
This was better for everyone, since it got Otius out of their
crowded cubicle and made a meal ticket of him. For Otius, it
was a vast improvement; being an ex-sorcerer put him in the
position of skilled labor, and he was made foreman over other
The Magic Factory produced magic, of course, or to be more
exact, the energy which empowered the crystal banks on the human
world. This was a system arranged by the Ancient Powerbeings,
who had built the power banks, as well as the Tower of Tarro,
those who had also made the powerstaffs, and had written the
metal-bound book. Those Ancient beings had been from another
dimensional world, and returned every now and then to see how
their project was doing.
Since there was neither night nor day, nor time as we know it in
the Dimension of Demons, Otius had no way of reckoning how long
he had been there before he ran into an old acquaintance, who
like himself was an ex-sorcerer subjected to slavery and made a
foreman at the factory.
"Weren't you once Otius, Lord Sorcerer of Darkstone?"
Otius saw another grey gnome like himself. They all looked
alike to him. He shrugged. "Once."
"Perhaps you remember me: I was Fenwit, sorcerer of Eastersea."
They had competed once for a prize, and while it had been
destroyed in their struggle, they had each won from the other a
grudging respect. "Fenwit, of course! You here too?"
"All the mightiest have fallen," Fenwit said with a cynical
"A temporary setback," Otius said grimly.
"Quite so!" Fenwit agreed. "We have been killed and yet we seem
to be living. The mysteries stretch out before us forever. New
worlds to be conquered, possibilities. The Ancient Beings may
need a couple of good gnome-wizards, who know? There is always
Otius afforded Fenwit a superior sneer. "An optimist in hell?
Well, I too hope, but for revenge back in the other world."
"You'll get over that," Fenwit said, "that world is gone forever
to us, this world is here. Revenge won't seem important after a
"We shall see," Otius said.
end of epilogue
Otius worked diligently. He understood magic power and was an
effective foreman. Among the gnomes he had no reason to be
cruel or kind, nor any power to be. He and his crew kept alive
the gigantic God Worms that dreamed the power, a task so
demanding that it was not unlike worship. Otius took pride in
his job and even developed camaraderie with his colleagues.
On the human world he had never had friends, but here he found
himself talking to others, especially Fenwit.
On a break between feeding times Fenwit asked him, "Say, Ot, are
you interested in a peek back at the human world?"
Otius took interest. "Is that possible?"
"There is an illegal underground theater which panders to that
He had to sit in an extremely crowded cubicle with many other
gnomes and a few demons, and had to wait his turn as others
saw their chosen visions. But at least it was most entertaining
to watch the others in the room, some of whom became sad or
angry or upset to see what had happened 'back home', for all the
gnomes had once been human. Husbands or wives looked back and
became jealous, the once-rich ached to see their treasures
scattered. At last it was his turn.
Otius had arranged to look in on Crown the ex-Clown. The
dimensional barrier shimmered and an opening spread before Otius
and his fellow audience. The scene was the City Place in Tarro.
Ten years had apparently passed since Otius had died, there were
no signs of the destruction he had once wrought there.
The Sorcerer Crown and the Sorceress Wand walked into view, to
the cheers of people around them. They were both mature,
beautiful, perfect. They did not hold hands and walked with
great dignity, but it could be seen that they were in love and
happy and successful in everything they did. Two wonderfully
blond children walked just behind them, a boy and a girl.
Rage drove Otius to stand and rant, "Fool! You haven't finished
with Otius the Old and Evil yet! I SHALL have my revenge
upon you all!"
The crowd of gnomes applauded his outburst, laughing and
whistling and stamping their feet. A good show.
Some other gnomes also remembered Otius: "Hey, you were the
rotten sorcerer who sacrificed my soul to slavery here in one of
your magic deals. If I ever hated anyone, it's you!" The gnome
bashed Otius in the face, but gnome bodies feel no pain (nor
pleasure) so it didn't matter much.
Or: "I wish I'd helped that young gypsy who was out to get you.
You had leeched the vitality from his young wife, killed her,
leaving him with three kids in that rainbow wagon. I hope the
gypsy got you. Did he, huh? Did he?"
"How was it you got yours?" Fenwit asked Otius.
"A sorceress sent a super genius against me."
"Ah. Hardly fair. But yet, maybe it was poetic justice: it
seems I remember one of your curses resulting in a young genius
becoming an idiot...your son, wasn't he?"
"Yes, my son," Otius shrugged. "I cursed him to simplicity so
that he could no longer challenge me."
"Hmm. A coincidence, perhaps, but a baby boy with that same
curse upon it was brought to me by a gypsy in a colorful wagon.
He asked me to remove the curse, but I refused, of course."
"A baby clown, perhaps?" Otius asked.
"Just a baby...but now that you mention it, the gypsy was
travelling with a circus at the time. And I heard the kid's
father had been a court-jester's assistant until an unfortunate
misunderstanding cut his career short--seems he was pretty damn
Eventually Otius knew enough about the Magic Factory to effect a
plan of revenge.
He found the circuits that channeled energy to the powerbanks
inside the ancient shining silver Tower of Tarro. He
manipulated them so that he could detonate the powerbanks on the
human world from within the Magic Factory in the Dimension of
Demons. The result would be an explosion of such magnitude as
to vaporize the Tower, the entire City of Tarro, and a good
portion of Theland as well, leaving behind only a very deep and
expansive lake in the course of the River Lyfe.
"And thus will that presumptuous Clown at last be made a Fool of
A magic triggering word was programmed, by which he only had to
say the word "blessing" to unleash a mushroom-like cloud of
Otius had to deal with the underground theater again, this time
to transmit a ghost of himself to visit the sorcerer called
Crown. It was expensive, but worth all of the meager fortune
Otius had acquired in hell.
Crown's co-ordinates were located and an image of Otius (in his
last human form) was transmitted.
His image manifested before where the man Crown was now sitting
at a polished desk in an unfamiliar place, not Tarro for Otius
could see out the window to a grassy plain, and a settlement on
the horizon. Yet there was something familiar about the place...
why, it was his own study in Castle Darkstone, but so changed!
The once dark stones of the edifice were white, no, rather
translucent and glowing. Wait, Otius had heard something about
a "Castle Lightstone", a shining edifice upon a grassy plain, a
beacon of blue-white light at night--and he had heard of armies
of barbarians riding to attack and plunder that castle, only to
lay down their weapons and become peaceful settlers when they saw
the light. But he had not heard that it was what remained of
his very own Castle Darkstone.
Oh, how degrading, that the fearsome stronghold of Otius the Old
and Evil had come to such a sorry end. Yet another insult to be
avenged this day!
However, Crown was at ex-Castle Darkstone, not Tarro. Initially
Otius felt a bitter regret that Crown would not be caught in the
doom of Tarro, he would escape unscathed. But instantly he
realized that this was indeed a better revenge, for now Crown
could suffer the loss of all he loved, rather than merely perish
along with Tarro.
"Hearken, Fool! I, Otius the Old and Evil, return from the dead
to wreak revenge upon you and all you love!"
"Yes I know, greetings, Otius," said Crown. Many years had
passed and the young man had become grey-haired and creased. He
was no longer a young man, although he still looked healthy and
strong. "But first listen: I have anticipated this and I think I
can talk you out of it."
The super intelligent wise man was not only unafraid of Otius'
ghost, he had been awaiting him. An odd deck of cards laid
spread out on the table before him.
"You cannot talk me out of it, but I would enjoy hearing you beg:
so you may speak," said the ghost.
"You seek revenge because I have taken your life and your place
as Sorcerer of Darkstone--but I did so by your own teachings. I
read your notes, memorized your books, your words. You have
been--and still are--my teacher. You live on through me.
Destroy me and your line is ended."
"Fool! You are still a Fool! I was--am--the Old and Evil One!
You dare consider yourself my disciple? You are not even Evil!"
"Well, no. Not yet, but who knows? If I continue to study your
ways and words, perhaps the temptation of certain powers will
win me over, as they did you. For example, as I grow older it
becomes harder to refrain from stealing the vitality of young
enemies." Crown shrugged, "I can't promise that I will become
evil, but it is possible."
Otius found himself considering these words.
"Besides, there is a major point: you are my great-great-great-
great-great-grandfather. I am your heir, the rightful Lord of
Darkstone. Things are in their proper places and as they should
"You stole my powerstaff and all that was mine," Otius reminded
"Out of necessity. You had some very bad intentions for us, if
you will recall."
"And I still do. Nothing you say changes anything, I shall have
my revenge. Consider it my bless--"
"No! You know not what you are doing, Otius," Crown interrupted.
"Obviously I am ready for this moment, I have been a lifetime
preparing. I have, with the assistance of Wand and Luminata,
predicted accurately what you would do and how you would do it.
Do you truly believe that I would trust solely in a plea to your
humanity, Old and Evil One?
"I am prepared: if you say your magic trigger-word there will be
an explosion, not for us but for you."
"What have you done?" Otius asked, his ghost form fluttering
"I have invented a back-charge system for the powerbanks. If you
detonate them they will indeed explode--but in your dimension,
not my own."
Otius' ghost fluttered like a flag in the wind. "But the Magic
Factories would be destroyed. The God Worms would awaken...and
magic would cease to work on your world."
"Not a problem for me, Otius. I have already invented alternatives:
electricity, coriolis generators, lasers, computation devices,
flying machines, and am working on antigravity. You may eliminate
the Ancient Powermagic, but my new sciences will go on. And so
Otius' ghost stood silent for a moment.
Crown spread his hands wide. "I ask you to forget your revenge,
far-father. I ask instead for your blessing."
Otius' ghost smiled a wispy, wicked smile. Or was it an ironic
smile? Was the Sorcerer Crown playing the Simple Clown? He
could not know...
Otius smiled a real smile at last, or the ghost of one. "Did
you know that I liked you as Clown? You reminded me of my son,
after I cursed him. He had been very clever and almost got my
powerstaff from me. I had raised him to be evil and he was. We
never got along until I cursed away his brains. Then I liked
him..." Otius turned to fade.
Crown called, "Wait, far-father! Do I have your blessing?"
Otius scowled, as if not certain what the joke was yet to be.
Then, somewhat reluctantly, he nodded, saying nothing.
Otius watched that other world fade away, and with it his ghost form.
He was a gnome again. And deeply in debt for ghost projection
services rendered. He heaved a cosmically heavy sigh and trudged
back to the Magic Factory.
and of this story within the Tarot Cards
List of Chapters