How Patsy Met Helldamn

How Patsy Met Helldamn

Morning of the 30th of January, 2024

“Did I ever tell you how I met the Wizard Heldamn?”

Garrick turned, surprised at the sudden voice from behind him. Not because he didn’t know she was there – he registered her presense at the table when he entered the floor. He was surprised because he said “Hi” to her when he walked up but she didn’t respond or indicate to him in any way she had heard him. She was often like that, buried in her research projects and oblivious to the world around her.

He turned around to see her still sitting at the table, open book in front of her, looking at him and waiting for him to respond. “Not in detail, no,” Garrick told her. She had told him some small bits of the story but he hadn’t pushed for more information.

Patsy closed the book, seemingly glad to be taking a break. “I was fresh out of college. Alan Parkman was organizing an expedition to Iraq, to the ruins of Babylon. The wars at the end of the last century had damaged parts of the site. We were going to re-examine the extent of the damage and try to confirm what remained. Most of the people he pulled together weren’t terribly excited about it. Babylon is an important site but it had been explored time and time again for the last two hundred years. I was excited though. This was right in my expertise. What was I going to say, no?”

“Once we arrived and set up camp Alan put us to work. Mostly we re-examined the site, referencing previous documents to catalog the damage and confirm previous findings. I was two days into the work when I noticed the first inconsistency between the documents we were referencing and what was actually on the site. It was a minor thing – something that was easily explained as a misunderstanding, or a translation error. I didn’t think anything of it. But then I found another. And another. All of these errors were small by themselves but they kept cropping up.

“I took notes on what I was finding. I planned to report this all to Alan and submit the corrections through the proper channel. I spent several weeks noting everything I found in detail. I sat down one night to review all my notes and I made a strange realization. These weren’t just errors in previous translations. They were a hidden message that had somehow been missed for centuries! I was excited, but also suspicious. It took me another two weeks to confirm that I wasn’t just seeing something crazy.”

“You can imagine just how exciting this was! I had discovered something no-one else had discovered before! ” Patsy was speaking really excitedly now. “Best as I could translate it said something to the effect of: ‘He offers respite from the curse. Seek him where the tower once stood. Ambition can be avenged.’ There were directions based on ancient landmarks and the stars. It wasn’t hard to reconstruct the ancient star positions to locate where this message was trying to send me.”

“I was consumed by this discovery. I didn’t want to share it. So I never said anything to Alan about it. Armed with this information I just took a truck one clear night and drove off. I didn’t even ask! I was afraid they would stop me. I was loaded with everything I thought I needed to confirm my discovery. That’s all I was trying to do – I just wanted to confirm it. Then I would tell Alan and everyone else about it.”

Patsy was looking at Garrick’s direction but it didn’t seem like she was seeing him. Her gaze was focused on her past and seeing her memories. “I drove for some time. It seemed a lot further than I expected. I got to the area but of course, I saw nothing. I shouldn’t have been surprised – of course I wouldn’t see anything. Most likely the ruins I was looking for were buried, not a standing structure. Still, I got out and walked around anyway. The air was cool and dry. I walked around the area. I don’t know what I was looking for, really. I was beginning to to come down from my excitement and realized that I was being ridiculous.”

“It was then I noticed it was a lot windier than it should have been. I was so absorbed in my own thoughts that I failed to notice the drastic turn in the weather. I looked in the direction the wind was coming from in horror as I realized what was happening… a sandstorm was coming, and it was close! In a near panic I ran back to the truck. I was a lot further from it than I thought. I didn’t make it before the storm hit. I did my best to cover my face and keep moving toward the truck as the sandstorm blinded and blasted me. I knew I needed shelter, but there was nothing around. Blind, panicking, I walked right into a wall.”

“There was no structure around earlier but I was too surprised to really think about that. All I was thinking about was getting to safety. I moved and felt around the wall blindly until I stumbled upon an opening. I went through it and I was instantly out of the storm. I stood there in shock for a moment. Cautiously I opened my eyes. It was dark inside but I could see the sandstorm raging behind me. Using my flashlight I saw I was inside an old stone building. This made me curious. Did I manage to find what I was looking for all along?”

“With the storm still going on I couldn’t leave. I had obviously gotten lost and was beyond lucky. I decided to walk further inside. Just to look around. The entrance led straight to a large audience chamber. The flashlight barely reached the walls. I shined it around in awe. This had to be it. It had to be! My moment of triumph was broken by a voice. ‘It’s been a long time since I’ve had a visitor.'”

“I wasn’t alone! I turned towards the voice while also taking a few steps back. The flashlight illuminated a tall man standing near the far wall. He was wearing a cloak over dark, aged bronze armor in the ancient Sumerian style. The helmet on his head shadowed his face but couldn’t hide his piercing, red gaze. He stared at me in silence for a few moments while I tried to decide what to do. Had I stumbled into a supervillain’s secret base? Was this an ancient evil I had managed to awaken? Did he speak to me in English?”

“‘You speak English?’ I asked him stupidly. “‘It is a simple manner for me to speak all languages,’ he answered. ‘Is that not the gift you came here for?’ I looked at him with confusion. He seemed to understand. ‘No, you have come seeking something else. Glory. Acclaim. Notoriety. Greatness.’ He spoke the truth but I was ashamed to admit it. I stammered back at him. ‘No, that’s not it. I…’ But he held up a hand to stop me. ‘I can sense the truth, Patsy Palmer. We are not dissimilar, you and I. I can grant you what you seek.'”

“He stepped toward me. I stepped further back but was surprised to find my back was already against the wall. What he said rattled me. He knew my name! I was trembling as he continued to walk closer to me. He stopped an arm’s length away and spoke again. ‘It has been too long since my power has been felt in your world. Yet not long enough for me to emerge once again. I find this isolation both frustrating… and boring. So I offer you this gift, Patsy Palmer. Fulfill your ambition. Seek your glory. And do it in my name. Helldamn Spellshroud.'”

“‘Helldamn?’ I asked? At that moment he smiled a large, inhuman grin and disappeared. A smoky mist rose up around me and encircled my whole body. It then wrapped tightly around me, lifting me up off the ground, transforming me and filling me with power! I heard his voice from all around. ‘Say my name to call this power. Say it again to dismiss it. Go. Discover your greatness.’ The mist was gone and I hovered there. I felt stronger. Tougher. The knowledge of incantations filled my head. I-”

Patsy stopped talking abruptly. Her eyes refocused and she was clearly looking at and seeing Garrick now. “I’m sorry,” she said after a moment. “I thought I was ready to… It’s tough, to remember all that I was and lost.” She took a minute to compose herself, then continued. “Well, I had that power. Once I recovered from the shock of it tried out transforming back and forth. After some time I realized the sandstorm was over and I was able to walk toward the truck.”

“I emerged from the structure and it was daylight now. Looking back, I saw a ruined stone temple half-buried in the sand. The whole event seemed improbable. I called his name again and was transformed by the black mist. His name a second time caused the mist to fall away and dissipate, pulling my newfound abilities away with it.” Patsy sighed.

“That’s the story. I managed to return to camp and tried to bring a team back to where I found that temple, but it was gone. There was nothing there when I returned and no sign that it had ever been there. I tried to show the notes I had made but when Alan or any of the others compared them to the originals in the Babylon ruins they said it was my notes that were in error! I was sent home out of concern. I considered telling them all about my granted powers, but with no other evidence what would that prove? And then what would the government do to me?”

Patsy exhaled a deep breath. “Well, that’s how I got my powers. Back on my Earth I eventually found old records throughout history that referenced the Wizard. Here so far I’ve found nothing like that. It’s like… he just never existed here. I’m still looking but…” She trailed off, unwilling to complete that thought. “I’m still looking. You gave me hope that I’ll find him here or find a way home to him. Thank you, Garrick.” She smiled warmly at Garrick. Seeing him look back at her so kindly and warmly made her blush and look away. She gathered up her books and went back to her room. “Thanks for listening!” She said to him as she quickly walked away.

Garrick quickly asked her, “Do you think the Wayfarer could potentially grant you that power once again?”

Patsy stopped thoughtfully. “I’ve known other Wizards back on my Earth who were heroes like how he’s been described. They didn’t have the sort of power for something like that, so I don’t think he could do that. My hope is that he knows how I can return home.”

Garrick told her with strong conviction, “Well, whatever you need I am there for you. You won’t face Murder Master alone. I swear it.”

 

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