Doom came fishing for Belkith Nor in the form of a passing mention of an alicorn dagger in an old book, and he took the bait. He set his apprentices to research the idea, and when he got their report he did more research himself, and convinced himself that the things were real, and that he simply had to have one.
He didn't NEED one, of course; they were powerful, but not powerful enough to be useful to one of his stature. But they were beautiful and rare and interesting, and he wanted one. He employed agents to find him a unicorn, and when he received word of a unicorn near one of his teleport anchors, he employed even more agents to track the beast down.
The reports that came back to him were interesting. This unicorn did not, like most of his kind, just breed indiscriminately with any herd animals it chose, killing stallions and bulls and rams as they got in the way. No, this unicorn used his human companion to negotiate stud fees with the local farmers; they kept their bulls and stallions and rams out of his way, and paid a fee to have him breed with their herds, producing unusually healthy and beautiful offspring. Belkith Nor didn't CARE, of course, but it was interesting.
The unicorn proved to be maddeningly elusive; he moved quickly, and followed no schedule. A few efforts to capture his human companion resulted in a great deal of carnage, but left the unicorn and his companion unscathed. Eventually, Belkith Nor managed to get within range of the unicorn on the road, and blasted the life out of him.
Belkith Nor walked to the unicorn's crumpled body, grabbed the horn, and pulled. "There is no point in resisting," Belkith Nor said. "I know that the horn will not come free without your consent, but I can compel your consent. Wouldn't you rather come willingly?" There was no response.
There was, however, a sound from behind him, and Belkith Nor turned to see the unicorn's companion limping toward him, a large knife held awkwardly in her left hand. The girl's obviously broken right arm hung limply at her side. "You killed him," she said through gritted teeth. "You killed my master!"
Belkith Nor sighed. "Yes," he said. "And now I have killed you," and he did. He frowned at the blasted corpse, then flung it into the roadside scrub with a casual gesture backed by just a bit of thought and magic. He turned back to the unicorn, and pulled on the horn again. He sighed again. "Have it your way, then," he said. The domination spell was slightly more complex and fatiguing that the blasts had been, but only slightly. He grabbed the horn again. "Now, come with me, friend Unicorn, and let us get away from here." He pulled again, and the horn came free.
Belkith Nor had had months, while waiting for a unicorn to be found, to design the shape that he would apply to his alicorn, once he had acquired it. The design he chose was simple and elegant; the unicorn might even have approved, if he hadn't been consumed by hatred. After the sculpting was done, Belkith Nor couldn't resist fondling his handiwork. He tested the blade against his thumb, and drew a single, tiny drop of blood. He had believed, in his arrogance, that there was nothing the unicorn could do that could harm him, and so had not bothered to order the unicorn not to try. And that single, tiny drop of blood was enough. Magic flared, and Bekith Nor fell to the floor, dead.
Or perhaps not. Once the pain subsided, Belkith Nor found himself conscious. Blind, deaf, and nearly insensate, but conscious. He was a great wizard; he was not prone to panic; he calmed himself, and concentrated, and examined his situation to the best of his ability. He was aware of two entities, one very close, the other farther away but larger. He concentrated on the near entity, and became aware that it was the fragment of dragon spirit in his dragon bone staff. With a bit more concentration, he learned that the other entity was the thrice cursed unicorn. Much thought convinced him that he was somehow existing inside the staff, and he composed himself to wait. Eventually, inevitably, one of his apprentices would work up the nerve to see what had become of him, and once a living person touched the staff, Belkith Nor would have a chance to steal a body and free himself.
Suddenly there was light, and heat, and sensation. Belkith Nor shook himself out of his trance and looked around in surprise; he was in a desert, somewhere, and the sun was overhead, and... He was a rabbit. Damn. He turned around and found himself facing a silver haired faun with a single horn in the middle of its forehead; the faun was fondling some kind of small animal in its lap.
"Hello," the faun said. "My name is Fiddler, but you never bothered to learn that. Of course, you never told me your name, either, so I guess that is fair. I only know your name because... But I am getting ahead of myself. The important thing is that you are the person who killed me. More importantly, you are the person who killed Salsi, who was my friend, and my lover, and my RESPONSIBILITY. So it isn't enough to just kill you, I have to make sure that you cease to exist. You can try to run away now."
Belkith Nor found that he was terrified, and turned and ran. It did no good; the ground rose in front of him, becoming vertical and then curling back toward him. He found himself falling backward to land hard on his spine. He rolled painfully to his feet, found that the fear had passed, and turned to face the faun again.
"I wonder how many times we can do that," the faun said, "Before I become bored with it." Belkith Nor cowered at the words. "We could see, you know. I am, well, a god, in this place." As he spoke a lattice of stone rose up around Belkith Nor, caging him. "You see, your magic was completely anchored to your physical body, and now that you are dead, you have no connection to it. *MY* magic, on the other hand, was anchored to my horn, so I still have some control over it. And it doesn't take very much power to control a dreamscape. So even though, objectively, none of this really exists, for you, subjectively, it is absolutely real." He paused and played with the creature in his lap for a moment. "The one thing I can't do, unfortunately, is destroy you. I can make you experience death as painfully as I can imagine, over and over again, but I can't actually snuff you out."
The faun took the creature out of his lap and set it on the ground beside him; it was a lizard of some sort. "And that is where my friend here comes in. This is Sulissa. You killed her, too, more or less. Or at least, you killed the dragon that she used to be part of to make your staff." The lizard was getting larger and becoming more obviously draconic. "They say that dragon fire can kill ghosts. I don't know for certain if the fire of a ghostly dragon can kill a ghost, but it is certainly worth finding out, don't you think?" The dragon was the size of a horse, now; it ambled to the cage and looked in through the open top; its head blocked out the sky. The dragon inhaled, and then fire poured out of its mouth; Belkith Nor felt a long moment of horrific heat, and then nothing at all.
The dragon turned and looked at Fiddler, who shrugged. "He is gone as far as I can tell. We can only hope." The dragon nodded and rose on its hind legs, becoming nearly human as it did so.
"And now what?" Sulissa asked.
"Now we wait," said Fiddler, "Until someone comes looking for the idiot, and sets us free. It may be a long wait, but we do have each other for company."
The dragon woman smiled. "Yes," she said. "We do have that."
January 9, 2016