Distant Voices, by Malisa

The following section describes non-canon material that may be disputed by canon.

Story name: Distant Voices
Author: Malisa
Publication date: November 1997—June 1999

  • Chapter 1: November 27, 1997 (revised January 19, 1998)
  • Chapter 2: November 29—30, 1997 (revised January 26, 1998)
  • Chapter 3: December 3, 1997 (revised January 26, 1998)
  • Chapter 4: February 4, 1998
  • Chapter 5: April 25, 1998
  • Chapter 6: July 12, 1998
  • Epilogue: June 22, 1999

Overview

Princess Malisa, or Matt, journeys to find a power weapon and answers to her family heritage, while a mysterious wizard causes death and destruction.

Plot Summary

The story is told in two plot threads whose connection becomes clear later on. It was intended to be told in 9 parts, but only 6 parts and the epilogue were completed.

Chapter 1

In Merith, a stranger exits a boat from Sorin and heads to the Barfur Inn for a room and information on a wizard named Sven. He is amused that he is currently working as a tailor now, and asks that he not be disturbed for any reason.

In Metamor Keep, Matt and Jenn have several arguments over being a woman. Jenn thinks Matt's discomfort is a sign that he is sexist, that he sees women as too weak to rule a kingdom; Matt is uncomfortable with her female body, and afraid of fully succumbing to the bimbo curse, and feels that her hatred towards it is all that preserves her identity. Jenn storms out and tells Thomas, which prompts him to gently order Matt to ask Magus for help.

Magus forces Matt to relive a repressed memory, before the attack on the Keep, where a man named Karanor is transforming him into a woman. He tells him that he is his father, that he swore revenge against King Thomas V for killing his wife, killed the wizard who had apprenticed him, and joined Nasoj's army. He wishes Matthew to be his daughter and to join his conquest, and shows him an artefact with the power to open a portal to another world, which he plans for them to use and conquer worlds together.

After breaking out of the trance, Matt realizes that her other memories must have been blocked too, and the only way to recover them is to find the artefact in question, somewhere in the northlands. She writes a letter to Jenn in magical writing only she can see, and sets out for allies.

Chapter 2

I Want Power, a strange man who has been untransformed since his arrival weeks ago, meets Matt immediately and tells him that he is an interdimensional traveler, and trying to find his way home, and wishes to join her quest to find the artefact; he had been listening in on Magus, as he suspects he knows the secrets of travelling dimensions. Matt decides that IWP's magic could prove useful, and agrees to let him join.

She next goes to her childhood friend Alain's house, who has transformed into a panther morph. He pounches on Matt as payback for a bad date three years ago. After sharing a drink and reminiscing about their early womanizing days, Matt shares the reason for visiting. He knows of a cave two days east of Midtown, which will take them to the eastern part of Nasoj's lands. From there, they can ride to the capital. Alain is hesitant, but agrees to join the mission for his friend's sake.

Jenn confronts Matt with the non-descript message she left. Matt tells Jenn about the mission, and she berates him with a slap before running off. In her room, she decides to join the mission, but by the time she returns, Matt has already gathered Alain and IWP and taken off through the south gate.

Chapter 3

The stranger confronts Sven, who runs himself through the stranger's sword before he can be made to obey him. The stranger returns to the inn, where the town commander knocks on his room to interrogate him. The stranger slaughters the five men, and attacks a man and woman who have witnessed but fail to get away. With a green mist, he absorbs the life energy of the two, and then confronts the innkeeper, demanding a wagon with supplies in exchange for being disturbed, intending to visit Metamor Keep.

In Laselle, Matt's group stops at the inn, where the serving woman nearly turns them away upon seeing Alain, but an old man stops her, saying they owe their lives to them. The man introduces himself as Farzib, and that he is an extradimensional traveler who can read people's true natures; he not only knows that Matt was a man, but that IWP is also an extradimensional being. He knows that the three of them will be very important in a great game, and he will be watching them. He suddenly disappears; not even IWP can trace where he went. They finish their meal and head towards Midtown.

Captain Terricot Webster, Knight-Marshall of Kelewair and of Midland, investigates the forty or so murders in Merith. Accompanying him are his battle-mage Oliver Kirk and his daughter and mystic Cassie. Their only witness is the tailor Sven, who despite his sword wound is still alive. He is reluctant to share his past with a lowly knight-marshall, but Webster coerces him into revealing that the man is Lord Acohen, a man who had commanded the armies of the Suielman Empire. over 700 years ago. The gods sentenced him and his lesser commanders to eternal life, intending him to remain alive even as his body decayed into bones, unless they righted the wrongs they had done. Acohen, however, found a way to keep himself alive on other people's life force. Sven himself was his high-wizard council, and is 795 years old.

Matt stops at Midtown for supplies and shelter. She is not well-liked here, for 6 years ago she killed the lord's son in self-defense. Alain shrouds himself while Matt talks tough to the guards. They are surprised to see Midtown is prospering. They ride to The Monkey's Bottom, where Matt asks the innkeeper for Sara, her former lover. Sara is angry that Matt hasn't contacted her in 6 years, and heartbroken to learn that she is marrying Jenn. She refuses to give Matt a room until she tells her why she came back, and although she finds the mission foolish and self-centered, she gives him the room anyway. IWP and Alain narrowly avoid a confrontation with three thugs when IWP turns them into mice.

Webster tells a sergeant to get an army to the Keep before the new moon. Sven offers to go along with Webster, as a chance to repay his sins. Cassie tells Webster she doesn't trust him, and Oliver is uneasy about wizards from the Suielman Empire attacking them. Webster promises he will look into this artifact Sven mentioned.

Chapter 4

The next morning, they are served breakfast by another of Matt's former lovers, a waitress named April. Sara's younger brother Tristan is delighted to see Matt again, even as a woman. He tells them that he has been escorting traders from down south into Midtown for the last three weeks, and that the Duke of Midtown is planning to attack Metamor Keep. Fortunately Tristan has already alerted both the Keep and Kelewair of this development. Alain wants to return immediately, but Matt dissaudes him.

Four of the Duke's soldiers join the bar, using a special paper to get free drinks and shelter. They turn their attention to Matt's group, and begin harassing IWP and Matt. Soon a brawl starts, and Matt learns how to fight close quarters as a woman. After taking down the four men, they rush out the back before the guards arrive. Matt quickly apologizes to April as she leaves. Sara catches them at the stables, telling them that a trader with supplies will be waiting for them.

Acohen arrives at Metamor Keep, pretending to have excess supplies as a gift. Acohen is amazed by the energy that fills the Keep, but controls himself as Copernicus1 welcomes him and shows him to the Deaf Mule. Acohen asks where the mages are, and Copernicus tells him that their most powerful mage Magus is out and won't return until tomorrow. As they enter Acohen's room, Acohen murders Copernicus and steals his life energy.

Chapter 5

The next day, Acohen talks to a waitress about where to find Magus's place. He finds himself tempted by her, and just as she leaves, he grabs her arm. Only his gloves prevent him from stealing her life force, but his cold touch alarms her, and she soon excuses herself and talks to the innkeeper. Though it is tempting to kill them, Acohen knows it will hinder him from his ultimate goal, so he finishes his breakfast and leaves.

En route to Laselle, Captain Webster awakes and reminisces the Keep. It is revealed that, in fact, this is an alternate dimension of Metamor Keep, in which the curse has been lifted, and Duke Thomas has been dead for over three years, and his successor Matthew has never been effected by it. Sven cooks breakfast for the other three, revealing that he carries a skin of everlasting water, and a bag of holding.

After much searching, Acohen finds Magus's house just as another of his experiments explodes. Acohen is unnerved, but asks Magus for information on portals. Magus quickly realizes the danger he is, but Acohen is quicker and slices off his arms, demanding that he gives up the information. He sucks up Magus's life force, knowing that Magus's dying thoughts will carry over to him, including that vital information. Acohen is overwhelmed by the amount of energy in Magus, and sickens up. When he recovers, he sets up an explosion to distract the guards. Outside, he is confronted by Duke Matthew, enraged by the death of Cope, but the bomb goes off before he can attack, and Acohen races to the library, killing guards and civilians who stand between him and the place where the portal can be summoned. On the second floor, he recites the incantation, and steps through the activated portal just as Duke Matthew reaches the stairs. He is about to go through, but Bob stops him. It is too dangerous for him to follow, but he can try to trace the portal's destination.

Matt's group continues towards the cave, afraid of meeting Lutins. IWP puts himself in a trance to prepare some spells, forcing Tristan to lead him. Alain stops the group, smelling several Lutins nearby. Matt and Alain climb a tree, and find a massive encampment of Lutins and Giantmen in a clearing by the mountains. Matt realizes that they need to find out where these Lutins came from before they can continue her mission.

Chapter 6

They rejoin the others, and Matt decides to use one of the few spells she's learned to sneak past them. The spell goes differently than she remembers, with a sudden light display surrounding each of them. Alain is confident in Matt's abilities, so despite Tristan's protests, they walk towards the Lutin camp. Alain wonders if all the little things they've encountered to help them succeed had to have been planned.

Captain Webster arrives at Metamor Keep, and formally asks the guard Jennifer to see her husband Duke Matthew. When they enter, he and Jennifer warmly embrace like old friends. Webster tells her he has information about the man who attacked the Keep, for her and Matthew to hear. Before they enter the throne room, Webster asks for Cassie to join them. Jennifer is surprised to learn that Cassie is his daughter, but laughs and lets her in, to Cassie's great consternation.

Matthew is pleased to see them, but is still angry over losing Magus, Cope, and half of his guards. Cassie makes an outburst that prompts him to her mother, and Cassie asks what he knows about her mother. Webster silently tells Matthew that she doesn't know, and Webster tells Cassie to get herself cleaned up. As she and Jennifer leave, Matthew and Webster reminisce about Webster's wife, who it turns out was Matthew's sister Leila. Webster still hasn't told Cassie; he feels ashamed that Leila had to die in the Lutin attack that he should have defended. After that, he and Cassie went south, where he took on the position of Knight-Marshall, and Matthew and Jennifer were unable to contact him. As they reflect on the future, Jennifer re-enters, carrying Matthew's mother, an age morph with a deadly infection that Webster recognizes as Scarlet Fever. He gives her a small amount of potion that will cure her, and tells Jennifer to give the rest of the bottle to Bob to assist him with the other four people infected in the Keep.

Webster, Cassie, and Oliver all meet in the study with Matthew, Jennifer, and Bob, as Webster catches Matthew up on the recent events in Merith. They speculate on his motives, and why he only attacked one person Metamor, but killed so many in Merith, when Sven enters to explain that Metamor is full of strong magical enemies, thanks to the spell, and that it must have been by draining Magus that he learned to create the portal, which he was able to detect from outside the Keep. Furthermore, Sven knows how to trace the portal, which was lost with the rest of portal magic since the Suielman Empire fell. He also reveals that Cassie has a great deal of magical potential from her mother's side, and from the Keep itself. Webster asks that he focus on Lord Acohen.

Sven tells the group about the glory days of the Suielman Empire, when they conquered ever-numerous dimensions with portal magic, until the gods themselves grew fearful, and trapped the souls of every Suielman within a magnificent crystal called the Soulstone, while the leaders faced the judgment of the gods directly. Sven then shows them an image of the key that can open a portal to the Soulstone. If Acohen reaches the Soulstone and frees the Empire, they will destroy every world and dimension in existence in their fight against the gods.

Matt's group approaches the Lutin camp, finding them celebrating and revelling. The Lutin guards see them as fellow Lutins, and tell them to join the partying. They hurry through the camp, but Matt notices a large white tent, which confuses her; Lutins don't have central command structures. She is shocked to see human Midtown soldiers commanding them, and tells her group to hurry, for the spell doesn't work on humans. A Lutin commander tries to stop them, and is outraged when Matt says they are sent on guard duty, forcing Alain and Tristan to silently kil him. As they reach the final line of tents, a human soldier steps out to their mutual surprise. Matt kicks her in, and they attempt to flee, but the alarm is sounded, and one of the commanders diffuses Matt's spell. As they are quickly surrounded, a tall man approaches and tells them that his commander will be interested in speaking with them. Matt suddenly hears IWP's voice in her ears, telling her to turn him towards the east.

Chapter 6 ends here. The only remaining part is the epilogue, written a year later to tie the story back in with the rest of Metamor Keep.

Epilogue

Misha is returning from a week-long patrol in the north, pleased to hear that Euper is finishing the construction of its gates. Talk is being renewed about friendship between Euper and the Keep, though they need a strong Prime Minister to take over since Bob's death. He muses about meeting Jimmie, owner of the Jolly Collie Inn, and taking over for him.

Suddenly he hears people approaching, and readies his Great-Axe. He is amazed to see a weary Lady Malisa approaching, with Alain and IWP close behind. He gives them a royal procession back to the palace, where Duke Thomas and Jennifer and the royal court wait for her. Thomas leaves them with an order to get cleaned up and to meet him in his chambers. Malisa gives IWP a farewell, knowing he must soon leave to continue his search up north. Malisa and Jennifer are now left alone, and embrace. As Malisa goes to get cleaned up, Jennifer answers the unspoken question: she will marry Malisa.

Malisa enters the Duke's waiting room, fully dressed as a woman. The Duke carefully welcomes her back as his daughter. He informs her that Bob died a few months ago. With a smile, he informs her that she is the new Prime Minister, for he knows he can trust her to do a fine job. He dismisses the court so that Malisa can tell her all about her year's adventures.

Author's notes

After Chapter 5, the author released a series of notes that clarified certain points about the story:

  • Captain Webster is not the Knight-Marshall in the normal Metamor Keep, if he even exists at all.
  • The gods in the normal Metamor Keep world are the same as before, but the gods in other dimensions may be different, and they are not the same gods that the Sathmore Empire worships.
  • In Acohen's universe, the Suielman Empire lived further north in the Midlands; in the normal universe, they lived in the present-day Sathmore Empire.
  • Malisa asks that nobody touches the Sathmore Empire, as it is super important for her story, and changing it would destroy her story.
  • Oliver is a battle-mage, meaning he was trained as a warrior up to a captain, and then spent years learning battle magic. Few people are battle-mages, as few have the talent to learn magic when not trained as a child.
  • Light Sticks are like matches, with a magical substance on one end that ignites when struck, but they are very expensive.
  • She asks future writers to bear in mind when writing:
    • The Keep must NOT under ANY circumstance learn that there is an attack being built up in the South.
    • They will know that Jennifer went north, that Alain, IWP, and Matt are missing, and that they likely have search parties looking for them.
    • It is important that Nasoj not attack the Keep any time soon, as his forces are currently focusing on the Midlands.

Points of Interest

  • Several places to the world of Metamor Keep were introduced in Distant Voices, though some of this information may be non-canonical:
    • Merith lays 2 days south of Metamor Keep on the other side of the forest. It is a stop in-between Sathmore and Midtown, and connects to Sorin via port.
    • Laselle is the smallest town in the northern Midlands, but it is the one town between Metamor Keep and the rest of the Midlands. Due to poor relations with the Keep, Laselle is slowly dying; the shops have moved southward, and only the taverns and inns see business.
    • Midtown lies to the east of Laselle, close to the northern border, on the quickest route to the southern kingdom. It was founded by Duke Ovid in a series of circular defenses, at the center of which lay the council buildings where trade agreements are made.
    • Giftum is where the current duke of Midtown, Duke Du Pliese, is from.
    • Kelewair is further south of Midtown.
    • The Sathmore Empire lies south of the Midlands. At one point, they were a major source of slaves.
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