Shards of the Shard of Hate
EQ2 Humor by Coyote
A large Kerran blows dust off of a DVD labeled "Scenes from The Shard of Hate". Placing it in his DVD player he grins as he grabs his remote control and sinks down into the depths of an impossibly comfortable looking easy-chair and presses the play button.
The television hisses briefly as the first scene comes into focus and the screen counts back from three:
A tired and battle weary adventuring party trudges through the bleak landscapes of The Shard of Hate as they look around apprehensively for signs of battle or danger. The party's leader raises his hand to signal the groups halt as he cracks his neck and stretches his arms in fatigue.
"Okay, this looks like a safe spot we can rest for a minute before moving on." The hulking Paladin announces to his group mates as they all groan in relief and drop their gear to the dark earth.
"Gorath, I need you to scout ahead. We don't know these lands and I'd rather not be surprised. Melthor, I need you to...." The man's instructions are cut off as he turns his head and listens to the ghostly whispers of a faint song playing unseen in the distance.
"..her name was lola...she was a show girl. With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there.."
Shaking his head with a puzzled look he turns back to his party who seem unaware of the out of place melody and continues his orders.
"Melthor. You need to keep your buffs up - we can't lose mana like we did in the last battle. Johanas, I want you to.." His commands are again cut short as he spins, searching for the source of the phantom music.
"..his name was Rico, he wore a diamond.."
"Okay. What in the hell is THAT?" The warrior demands with a growl as he turns back to his exhausted companions who stare at him in confusion.
"What's what?" A dark elf woman asks in a tired voice as the others look around apprehensively.
"...There was blood and a single gun shot..But just who shot who?"
"THAT! THAT right there! You don't hear that?!" The group's leader asks angrily as he raises his hands to the sky. The group sighs in understanding as Melthor waves a dismissing glove.
"Oh. That." He says with a sleepy grin. "Background music. Ambience. You know, for the new zone." He explains as the rest of the group nods in agreement. Puzzled, the Paladin looks around once more before turning back to his group, his brow furrowed.
"The...the music in the Shard of Hate is Barry Manilow singing Copa Cabana?" He asks slowly.
"Yup." Comes the tired reply.
Nodding slowly in appreciation the warrior reaches down for his pack with a growing smile and shakes his head.
"Wow. They thought of EVERYTHING." He admits with a chuckle as his party echoes their agreement.
Driving his sword deep into the chest of an attacking monster, a cheery looking Berserker laughs as the party's combat finally ends. The healers begin tending to the wounded as the Berserker lets out another amused chuckle, drawing the attention of the group's Warlock.
"Okay. I gotta ask." The robe clad Iksar preludes as he approaches the bloodied warrior. "You're wounded, you've just fought to the point of dropping, you've won no loot and I'm pretty sure your armor is at the breaking point. What are you so HAPPY about?" The caster asks, his question spurring a long loud from the Berserker.
"I can't explain it. It's..it's just..." The fighter all but bubbles with happiness. "The discord, the violence, the scenery - the MONSTERS. I just ...well..I LOVE this zone." He laughs loudly as he looks around and takes a deep satisfied breath.
The Warlock frowns as he studies the man for a moment and tries to comprehend.
"Are you saying...that you love ..The Shard of HATE?" The caster asks as the big man nods in happy affirmation.
"Absolutely. I LOVE this zone. I love the way it feels, the way that I feel when I'm here, I LOVE everything about The Shard of H-*FOOSH*" The giggling warrior's confession of love is cut short by his spontaneous combustion. One moment the man is standing before his Warlock companion, the next he's reduced to a pile of smoldering ash and twisted charred metal.
Running over quickly another group mate cries out in alarm as the Warlock looks on in grim understanding.
"What the HELL was that?!?" The startled Half-Elf asks as the mage shrugs and kicks at the ashes.
"He loved the Shard of Hate." The lizard man states flatly with another small kick at the remains of the berserker sending ash into the air. Bewildered the Half-Elf looks around in panicked confusion before turning back to the caster.
"I..I don't understand." The man's voice crackles nervously as the Warlock turns to him.
"The universe hates a paradox." The Iksar explains with another half hearted shrug as he heads back towards his gear.
Looking around in alarm the Half-Elf swallows slowly, his eyes wide in fear.
"Man..I *hate* this place." He says in a small voice causing the Warlock to wave a dismissing hand.
"And all is right with the world." The caster chuckles as he gathers his things.
Several puzzled adventurers are standing in a circle of confusion as they look down at a long cylindrical piece of crystal at their feet. The word "Hate" has been carefully etched in its side and it pulses gently with a soft green light.
"Huh." A large Kerran fighter grunts as he scratches the back of his neck and looks at the others for explanation.
"I..I thought it would be ...you know...bigger." A High Elf Templar admits as she tilts her head to one side and ponders the small crystal.
"Well...they DID say it was a "Shard" right?" The group's Gnomish Enchanter points out as the others nod in agreement and continue staring at the tiny crystal shard.
Looking around awkwardly and unsure of what to do next the group ponders the mystery of the Shard of Hate in silence for a few moments before the High Elf sighs in defeat.
"Now what are we supposed to do?" She asks causing the others to look up.
"Heh. We can use it to call Superman's Dad!" The Kerran laughs as he reaches down and picks up the crystal. "Or maybe hang it around our neck so that the Skeksis chase us!" He chuckles as he waves the suddenly darkening crystal through the air.
The cat man laughs loudly to himself as he half-heartedly examines the Shard with his group mates looking on in disgust.
"I hate you." The gnome states in irritation as he walks away shaking his head, Templar in tow.
"Hey! Wait! We can sell it to some hippies as a magic healing stone!" He calls after them with a laugh as they continue walking without looking back.
A group of adventurers stand frozen in fear having just entered the portal into the Shard of Hate. Unable to move or even react they simply stare upward at the sign that welcomes them to the place of loathing and disgust. Finally the silence is shattered by the group's Halfling Ranger screaming in horror and looking away.
"NO! I WON'T GO IN! I HATE IT HERE! HATE IT!" He cries as he buries his head into the arm of the Ogre beside him. Reaching down gently and patting the Halfling's head reassuringly the Ogre looks scared, but is trying his best to be brave.
Other than the party's sobbing Halfling, they haven't moved past the entrance as if their bodies were trying in vain to deny their will.
"We...we have to do this. No matter how much...it sucks." The group's leader, a grim looking Ranger says in a shaking voice as they stand fast.
"NO! I hate it! I HATE IT!" The Halfling cries loudly, tears streaming his face. "I WON'T GO IN AND YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!" He roars through his tears as a mammoth sob shakes his body.
The Ranger growls and turns towards the blubbering Halfling and points a finger in frustration.
"YOU agreed to this, YOU knew it was the most HATED zone, and YOU KNEW how bad it could be, so SUCK IT UP and act like a MAN!" The Ranger spits as he turns towards the rest of the group. "It sucks, I *KNOW*, okay? I hate it, you hate it, but that's the point of this place. Let's just get through it and get it over with and NEVER come back here again, okay?" He says causing most of the members to nod in hesitant agreement.
Turning back towards the zone and stepping past the entrance he steals himself for the hate and loathing as he looks upward at the gate sign that greeted them all upon entering:
"WELCOME TO VANGUARD"
Shaking his head a single tear trails his cheek as he laughs ruefully in spite of the situation.
"Man...they weren't kidding when they said Hate." He admonishes with a shake of his head as he an his party step in.
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