I had this weird idea about doing a fantasy mod based on this short story I had bouncing around in my head. I've come to realize that I just don't have the patience to actually build the mod itself, but I thought I'd share the story with you anyway. I had originally posted this in the C&C Forum but have asked that the thread be removed. So here you go... THE PRIZE The tabletop plateau stood amidst a vast glacial mountain range in the far northern reaches of Tomival. A brisk wind carried the scent of coming snow; small eddies slowly swirling across the plateau. Gray clouds drifted across the leaden, afternoon sky. The figure appeared, in that infinitesimal span of time between moments, he simply was. Nothing heralded his arrival; no flash of light, no roll of thunder and crash of lightning, nothing, he simply arrived. His long, shimmering, gold robes and white beard unmoved by the breeze, he took a moment to take in his surroundings and then spoke to the empty air, Ah, this will do quite nicely. He gestured, the long ivory colored staff in his hand glowing briefly with intensity not unlike the sun. An intricate, domed structure came into existence. White marble with a shimmering golden roof, a circular, raised dais, upon which he now stood, stood in the center of the floor surrounded by 20 ornate thrones. Although without windows or doors, the interior of the structure was lit by a soft, golden glow emanating from the walls. He glanced about the area briefly and nodded in satisfaction. Closing his eyes, he sent out a mental call, Come my brothers and sisters it is time. This mental beacon instantly traversing the various planes and multiverses, serving as both herald and guide for those he wished to attend to him. He then took a seat in one of the thrones; one crowned with a golden sun, folded his hands and waited. How long he waited he did not know, or if he did, it wasnt a matter of import. He did however stand when the first of them arrived. The distinct odor of brimstone swept through the building, covering everything in a dim miasma of blood red mist. The mist then coalesced into a swirling column out of which stepped an attractive, powerful, male figure clad in purple and black, a huge black mace hanging from his belt. The new arrival gestured briefly and the column of mist dissipated. Ah Aldamar, how good to see you, I seem to be the first to arrive, I take it you are the one who initiated this little soiree? Spare me your platitudes Vhokuun, you know as well as I that it was SHE who wanted this conclave. Ah yes, our doting mother, the multi-verse, Vhokuun replied sarcastically. Aldamars eyes flashed, Be careful brother, I may think as little of this whole idea as you, but I will not tolerate irreverence toward HER! Oh do relax Aldamar, and sit down. Vhokuun walked swiftly to a throne one quarter of the way clockwise around the circle, a throne crowned with a cobra head and sat. If SHE really cared what I thought of her she would have whisked me out of existence ages ago. Taking a few moments to look around the structure Vhokuun replied, Very nice, a little gaudy for my tastes but well done none-the-less. I really like the touch of having our sigils on the thrones. Aldamar rolled his eyes slightly, Thank you, I am quite pleased with the outcome myself. The next instant the room was filled with sound of crashing waves and the smell of the sea. A large column of water appeared above the dais, and then splashed to the floor reforming itself into a powerfully built, blue-skinned man clad in armor of coral. Jet-black hair entangled with seaweed covered his head and he carried a conch shell and a trident. Hail, brothers! his voice booming like the crashing of waves. Greetings Droghaan, Aldamar answered warmly. Water logged show-off, Vhokuun muttered. Droghaan looked at Vhokuun briefly; one brow rose slightly, then glanced briefly around the room and strode over to a throne two chairs away from Vhokuun, his crowned with a golden sea-horse. Where are the others? Droghaan asked as he sat. You are among the first to arrive, answered Aldamar, it is still early, Im sure they will be here shortly. The others Droghaan referred to began to arrive. Beroth the Learned in her hooded, brown monks robe appeared with Syrinx the Drunk, Elvaar the Fey, and Iridala the Beautiful, clad all in yellow a dove perched on each shoulder. Chyronn Stormlord appeared amidst a terrific thunderclap, tiny lightnings dancing in his eyes. Falkyr the Bold clad in bloody armor arrived with Valan the Chivalrous wearing his gleaming plate armor. Oh look, mothers favorite has arrived, Vhokuun snorted at Valan as Aldamar greeted the warriors. Valan glared at Vhokuun, Quiet snake, before I remove your forked tongue from your head! He half drew his sword, only to be restrained by the strong grips of Khurne the Hunter, Hurdaan the Earthlord and Thordonar the Smith who had just arrived and together with Falkyr escorted Valan to his seat urging him to be calm. Vhokuun smiled evilly, Take your best shot whelp, I look forward to it. Aldamar strode onto the dais striking the butt of his staff to gain attention glaring at Valan and Vhokuun, Enough you two, I will not tolerate any of that foolishness at this gathering! A melodious voice then filled the air, Tsk, tsk Aldamar let them be, if they want to tear each others heads off who are we to stand in their way. A cloud of ice blue motes of light surrounded Aldamar and began to swirl, tugging at his robes and beard. Sylistra this is no time for indulging in your whimsies, Aldamar said in a scolding tone. The blue motes slowly drifted away from Aldamar and coalesced into a strikingly beautiful woman clad in blue and gold. Poor Aldy, Sylistra laughed and patted him on the cheek, you need to take a little more enjoyment out of things. The Mistress of Magic laughed again and sauntered over to her seat, waving at some of the others as she went. And you should take things more seriously, Aldamar responded, and returned to his seat. Next to arrive were Nymdyl the Dreamer and Lunara the Moon Maiden each greeted warmly by all but Vhokuun and Chyronn. Several small cliques came together as the waiting continued, with the tension continuing to grow between Valan and Vhokuun who sat with one leg casually draped over one arm of his throne a smirk on his handsome face. After a time the stench like that of a thousand open graves wafted through the building. Iridala visibly wretched, and gasped, then cried as the doves on her shoulders fell to the floor dead. A black portal appeared on the dais a cadaverous man clad in black, carrying an ornate bone rod and a crone who appeared to be afflicted with numerous diseases stepped through, the portal closing behind them. Aldamar stood and stepped toward the dais. Dyrge, Tyrannah welcome, his voice strained with an effort to be civil. Brother, the cadaverous man rasped, let us dispense with the false pleasantries and get this over with. The crone cackled hideously, Oh come now Dyrge, I think Aldamar was being sincere, at least as sincere as he is capable of, she cackled again. Nonsense Tyrannah, Dyrge replied, we all know there is no love lost between the two of us. We are polar opposites and if left to our own devices would probably be at one anothers throats. Hes right Tyrannah, Vhokuun said from his seat, they are the eldest and have forever been rivals, Aldamars light to Dyrges darkness. I actually find it quite refreshing. You would Vhokuun, the crone shot back, and took her seat in a throne crowned with a black sickle. Aldamar, ignoring the conversation, turned his back on the two newest arrivals and returned to his seat. So whom are we waiting for? Thordonar rumbled from his seat. From his throne Vhokuun interjected, Yes who are we waiting for, lets get this party started, and chuckled. Aladamar shot the Tyrant another disgusted look, It appears we are waiting only for Jackandys and Syth. Im here, a laughing voice spoke from the air. A cascade of gold coins began to fall out of mid-air onto the dais eventually piling up nearly five feet in height. From out of the pile emerged the young goddess of adventure, gold coins spilling everywhere. As am I, a soft whispering voice came, seemingly from everywhere in the room. Syth, would you please show yourself, Aldamar asked. Of course Aldamar, whatever you wish. The shadows beneath the thrones began to gather near the dais slowly forming into a slender, dusky man surrounded in a flowing dark gray cloak, his face hidden by the shadows of the cowl. Ive actually been here for quite awhile and am quite amused by the lot of you, with the way you carry on, the sarcasm nearly dripping from each word. Would you all please take your seats, Aldamar interjected, then we can get started. As each took their seat Aldamar rose and stepped to the center of the dais. He looked sternly at the young goddess of adventure and cleared his throat, Jackandys, the coins? Oh sorry, with a wave of her hand the pile of coins disappeared in a puff of gold smoke. As you all know this world, Tomival, is completely uninhabited by what any of us would consider intelligent life. SHE wishes to change that. Oh joy, Vhokuun snickered. Aldamar spun to face his brother, Vhokuun I have warned you once already, I will not tolerate such interruptions! Oh but I do apologize dear Aldamar, Vhokuun bowed from his throne, Please continue, a smug look lingering on his face. Chyronn and several of the others chuckled quietly. Aldamar leaned upon his staff slightly, This time it is different, this world will be a prize in a contest of sorts. What kind of contest? Jackandys asked. I was just about to get to that, Aldamar responded. We will each be allowed to seed a tribe on to the planet. We can migrate this tribe from any other world where we maintain worshippers. However, there is a catch. There always is, Vhokuun muttered. Aldamar continued, ignoring the comment, The tribe is allowed only the most basic of knowledge and survival skills. No magic, no scientific advancements, nothing to give them any advantage over the others. Sounds ridiculous, Syrinx interjected, what is the point of having a bunch of primitive mortals running around on an empty planet? The point my dear Syrinx, retorted Vhokuun, is the potential power gain. Is it not Aldamar? Aldamar nodded slightly, Essentially Vhokuun is correct, imagine if you will, an entire world full of worshippers devoted to a single deity. That is what awaits the winner of this contest. Whomevers tribe succeeds in dominating will gain complete control over all worship on Tomival. The rest of us will be unable to interfere or intervene on Tomival. Still seems ridiculous to me, Syrinx added. You dont have to participate drunkard! Chyronn thundered, any of your wine besotted worshippers would be lucky to last 5 minutes down there! Syrinx rolled his eyes at Chyronn, Spare me your histrionics Chyronn, I said it was ridiculous, not pointless. Besides Id put any group of my followers up against your savages. This instigated more heated discussions between various individuals, eons long rivalries and hatreds coming to the fore. Syrinx and Chyronn nearly came to blows before Falkyr stepped between them. Sylistra and Tyrannah shouted insults across the room at each other. Others still were holding quieter discussions amongst themselves. Vhokuun sat quietly on his throne chuckling at the whole thing. After a time Aldamar again struck the butt of his staff on the dais, a brilliant glow and the crackling of power drowning out the cacophony. Enough of this bickering! Youre acting like a bunch of spoiled children. Grow up!! With this last statement an intense flash of energy erupted from his staff encompassing the entire building in a golden radiance. A silence fell across the room, broken only by Vhokuuns laughter. The radiance slowly faded and Aldamar strode over and stood over Vhokuun, his eyes still alight with the same intense golden glow, and just what is it that you find so funny? Vhokuun stood, gently pushing Aldamar out of his way. What I find so funny, dear Aldamar is our doting mothers sense of irony. Always in the past she has encouraged us to cooperate, to discuss our differences and find a solution that wouldnt case waves. Now she has come up with this this farce of a contest which is intended to cause nothing but problems. Do you not see the irony in it? Aldamar stood quietly, a thoughtful look on his face, the glow slowly receding from his eyes. Sighing, he replied As much as it pains me to admit it Vhokuun, you are correct. Though, while I see the irony I do not find it humorous in the least. You wouldnt, youre not capable of it, Vhokuun snickered. Aldamar shot his brother a withering glare, but said nothing. Vhokuun looked right back at him unflinching, a characteristic look of smugness on his face. Khurne left his seat and inserted himself between the two, gently separating the two. So now that we know what SHE has in mind, when does this contest start? the Hunter asked. Ten Tomival days from today, Aldamar answered. We will return here and announce what tribe we are seeding to this world. Suddenly Aldamar was alone in the room, the others having returned wherever it was they had been. He looked upwards and said into the empty air, Mother, I hope you know what you are doing. Then in that infinitesimal span of time between moments, he simply was gone.