A customer walked into the Kadary Bar. He moved over to the
counter, and stood near the bartender. "A glass of water, please," he
The bartender looked up from a glass he was polishing. "Oh, hi
Jolve," he said. "You want water? No problem. Want me to put it on your
"No, I'll just pay for it now." Jolve took a meseta out of his
pocket and placed it on the bar. The bartender took it, then filled up
the now clean glass from a tap with water and placed it in front of Jolve.
"So where have you been the past couple of days?" the bartender
said as he put the coin in his cash register. "I was starting to think
you were sick."
Jolve shrugged. "Working mostly. The boss just received a new
shipment of antidotes at the Supply Store, and he's been keeping me in to
take inventory. Did I miss anything interesting around here?"
"Then you haven't heard the news?"
"No, what's been going on?" said Jolve as he raised the glass
to his mouth.
"Town Council finally voted. Zio's Church is going to be
The glass stopped. "Really? When is it due to be destroyed?"
"The job starts tomorrow. I thought you might be interested to
"So all the Conservationists lobbying was for nothing?"
"Yeah, sorry about that. Some of them are out by the Church
protesting still if you want to join them."
"Nah, what would be the use? I doubt Council is going to
change their mind that easily."
"You never know, it might do some good. Anyway..." the
bartender carried on delivering the last few days worth of news and
gossip. Jolve listened, sipping his water, nodding whenever a question
was asked, but he wasn't really paying attention. The bartender was
right, the news had been of interest to him. A year back, when Zio's
Church had held sway over the town, Jolve had been one of Zio's followers,
and was fanatical in his devotion. After Zio's demise, Jolve had been one
of the few to remain in Kadary, not having anywhere else to go. The
townsfolk had been pretty forgiving towards him, since most of the had
been under Zio's control as well. He'd gotten a job as a clerk in the
Supply Store, bought himself a small house, and had for the most part been
happy, until recently, that is.
For the past few months several members on the Council had been
trying to pass a bill to have the Church of Zio destroyed. Their
reasoning was that Kadary no longer needed the Church, but could use the
land it was built on. At the same time, a group
of citizens calling themselves Conservationists, Jolve among them, had
tried to prevent the Church's destruction, saying that the Church should
remain as a reminder of what Zio did to both Kadary and Motavia. The
Conservationists had had strong backing on the Council, but apparently not
enough. Jolve wondered how anyone could want to destroy such a landmark.
Had the Council no emotions? For a moment, he actually considered joining
the protestors the bartender mentioned, but thought better of it, sinc e
it really wouldn't do much good.
Finishing the water, Jolve placed the glass down. "Thanks for
the drink. I'd love to hear the rest of what you have to say, but I've
still got work to do."
The bartender nodded. "Sure, but I'll see you tomorrow then,
"Right, tomorrow," and Jolve walked out.
* * * * *
It was late in the night, and Jolve was strolling down the
streets of Kadary, carrying a torch. He had been unable to sleep, and
kept tossing around and waking up periodically. The thought that the
Church would be gone soon had been too much for him
to bear. He had to see it one last time, before he could never see it
He looked around as he reached the Church's courtyard. The
statues at the front were damaged from a year of vandalism. A few signs
left behind from the protest were strewn about, bearing slogans like "Save
Our Church" and "Better a Dark Past than No
Past". But the Church itself was still undamaged. Even a year after
Zio's death, only the Council wanted to defile his holy place.
Jolve crossed over to the Church's doorway. The double doors
were closed and locked now, but that was no problem to him. He withdrew a
small crowbar from his pants pocket, placed it between the doors, and
applied pressure. Zio may have been an incredible architect when he
designed the rest of the building, but his knowledge of locks was limited.
There was an audible snap, and the doors flew open, knocking Jolve back.
He held still for a moment, hoping noone else had heard the lock break.
The last thing he needed was to be arrested for trespassing. Luckily,
everything remained quiet, so Jolve got up, and entered the building.
The Church had seemed eerie before, in the daytime, but at
night it was outright frightening. Jolve shivered as he scanned the place
with his torch. The place was obviously in need of maintenance. Layers
of dust at least inches thick covered the pillars and arches. The
candelabras were tarnished badly, showing none of their original shine.
Jolve walked around, examining everything. This was definitely
not what he had expected. The place seemed too empty, cold, lifeless. He
wondered why he had even bothered to come here. The place had decayed
from what it used to be into a dingy, decrepit building. Having seen what
he wanted to see, Jolve turned, and started to leave.
Unexpectedly, Jolve heard a voice call out to him. "Jolve, you
have arrived!" it said. "Don't leave just yet, I haven't seen you in a
Jolve started, thinking a guard had snuck up on him. He
prepared to run, and heard the voice again. "Why do you run? Don't you
And Jolve stopped. He realized two things: that the voice was
in his head, and that he had heard it before. He recognised the soft,
angry tone. "Zio? Is that you?"
"Who else would it be? Please, stay, for I must speak with
"It can't be you though! You're dead! I must be going mad!"
The voice claiming to be Zio gave a mental sigh. "That is a
long story Jolve. Stay, and I will explain."
Confused, Jolve leaned against a pillar, sending up a cloud of
dust. "Okay," he said. "Explain then."
Zio began to speak. "When I was alive, and first started my
Church, I built this place for two purposes. The first is simple enough:
to give my followers a place of worship. The second is more complicated.
I knew that there would be forces opposing me, so as method of protecting
myself, should I be attacked, I surrendered part of my powers into the
Church. When I was killed by the Hunter and his companions, my physical
body was destroyed, but my soul fled. It rejoined the powers I left here
the Church. It took time, but my soul fused with the Church, giving me a
body and a new consciousness. By then my followers had left, so I
remained here, almost powerless."
Jolve shook his head in amazement. "So you are the Church
then? But doesn't that mean if the Church is destroyed-"
"Then I am destroyed," Zio said, finishing the thought. "But
as I said, I am not completely helpless. I have been able to read and
influence slightly, very slightly, the minds of others. When I learned of
what was to befall my 'body' at the hands of the Council, I started to
take steps to defend myself. I found one who would have been sorrier than
others to see the Church go, and influenced him to want to take action!
He did the rest, forming that group you joined, what is it's name?"
"The Conservationists." Jolve provided.
"Correct, the Conservationists. Anyway," Zio continued. "It
did no good. The order was passed to demolish me. I was forced to take
desparate measures. And that is where you came in. I influenced you, to
want to see the Church again when you were already upset over it. And
here you are!"
"So you used me then," said Jolve. He was fed up after hearing
Zio's story. "Why? Why do you tell me this? To confess that you have
used people like puppets, even after your death?"
"I apologize if I have upset you," Zio said without sincerity.
"But I believe it would help you to better understand my motives for what
I am about to do."
Jolve became suspicious. "Do what Zio? What are you
"It's quite simple. You see, if the Church is destroyed, I
must have a new body. And yours is perfect!"
Jolve suddenly became aware of something trying to enter his
mind, some kind of mental probe. He resisted, trying to push it back, but
it was too strong. It forced its way in, and started searching for a
place to begin to grow. Jolve dropped his torch, which went out on the
stone floor, and fell to his knees, clutching his head, mentally trying to
force the thing out. The whole process caused a great deal of pain, and
he had to fight to keep from passing out as well. Through clenched teeth
he man aged to say "Why me Zio? Why choose me?"
"Because you were the last who truly believed in me, Jolve! It
is so much easier to take over a mind that is more inclined to my way of
Jolve tried to protest, but knew Zio was right. He had always
felt that if the Church still stood, Zio would never be truly dead. He
had had no idea how right he was.
The thing had started to grow by now. He could feel Zio's
probe starting to force him out of his own mind, making it harder for him
to concentrate. He tried to speak again, and managed to gasp out a few
words. "Why... do.. you..need ..to...live?"
Zio feigned astonishment. "Why, so I may serve my god once
more, of course! How could you even ask that?"
Jolve was about to lose consciousness. As his vision started
to dim, he said "Your...god....dead! Or...you'd....be....alive!
Without warning, Zio's probe retracted, losing all hold on
Jolve, who collapsed to the ground, in shock from the unexpected recovery.
He slowly stood up, shaking his head and recalling memories to make sure
he was still him.
Zio was silent for a while, then exploded in fury. "That can't
be! Dark Force can't be dead! He didn't leave me!" and continued with a
mental scream that nearly sent Jolve to the ground again. Jolve recovered
his balance, and took advantage of Zio's distraction. He ran as fast as
he could out of the Church, through the courtyard, onto the street, and
didn't stop until the scream was just a distant hum in his head. He
stopped against the town wall to catch his breath.
When Jolve finally composed himself, he gazed at the figure of
the Church against the night sky with nothing but malice. He would make
sure to join the demolition crews tomorrow, no matter what. If need be,
he would buy his own sledge hammer. He would do anything, just so long
as he got to bring that place down. The Conservationists were wrong.
Kadary didn't need the Church as a reminder. As far as Jolve was
concerned, what he had just gone through was reminder enough.