Seeking the Fifth Hero is a bit of Fan fiction by Dalai Lama originally posted in the Diii.net Fan Fiction Forum. Posted as a short story on August 1st 2010.
While draining a cold mug in New Tristram I couldn't help but overhear a heated discussion on whether the fifth hero would have ranged skills or not. As I listened in, I became convinced the fifth hero would indeed be able to strike from afar, and to the best of my recollection I relate what I overheard that evening:
Seeking the Fifth Hero
By Dalai Lama
“I sense a soul in search of answers”... the words had rung in the sage’s mind for nearly a decade, but only with Akara’s restored powers and recent information had the shards of truth began to form a whole. The forbidden union of Horadrim and Sightless eye had yielded a child with prodigious abilities. A child whose mind alone could open portals. The Archbishop had sought to sacrifice the child and claim its powers for his own, but when he slid his flat palm into the small torso and ripped out the still beating heart, the magic aura was faint, and Lazarus knew he had slain the wrong child.
If only we had known then.. the sage regretted, moving closer, yet making sure his shadow did not cross the grave. From the folds of his cloak he produced a dark blue libram emblazoned with gold filigree. He opened this tome to the seventeenth of its twenty pages and carefully laid it flat against the jade headstone. The lone grave lay nowhere near the others in the small town. In accordance with the deceased’s final wishes, it was as far from the cathedral as possible.
Underneath its icy veneer, the stream gurgled. Two maple trees stood like sentinels near the grave, one forever leafless, the other ever verdant, even in the deep of winter. The sage tried to stamp the cold from his feet, as he withdrew a bundle wrapped in waxed muslin. As he unfolded each layer, he uttered sacred syllables that echoed within his throat before they emerged from his lips like the sound of a miniature blizzard. With the final Urdiragaru spoken, he placed the club like object onto the pages of the book. Crafted by Pepin from the gnarled root of a tree struck by lightning to serve as a replacement leg, the object had been transmogrified in the magical Horadric box so many times that it was now tougher than adamantine.
The sage readied the Urdiragaru for Pillar of Fiery Doom in his mind as he balanced a brown tome atop the other two items. The sage stood, adjusted his astrakhan cap, and stepped back thirty paces. As he raised his arms wide, the frozen whisperings rushed from his mouth and a mote of fire flew from each hand. One mote arced downward, causing a small pool of liquid fire to ripple out from where it struck. The other mote streaked upwards, quickly passing into the grey clouded sky. A jagged spark of crimson flickered between the two motes and then there was a roaring like a thousand waves from above. A tornado of fire struck downwards a moment later. The enchantments the sage had cast constricted the whirling firestorm so tightly that the blast only knocked him a few feet backwards. A second later and the column of fire spent its anger and vanished upward as abruptly as it had appeared.
Several minutes later the sage approached. The tombstone still glowed like a blacksmiths ingot, so he had to steal quick glances then turn his face away from the heat. A hole the size of a man’s head had appeared in the jade stone. The sage watched and waited. The headstone cooled, the sun began to set behind the bluish outcrop of the cave and still nothing appeared. With disgust, he shook his head. The long journey had been for nothing. As he prepared to head back, a rustling sound startled him and the sage turned around. A slight breeze had arisen as the sun's remaining glow made the bluish rocks look purple, but the tree making the rustling sound was the one without leaves.
The sage chided himself and rummaged in his cracked leather sash for a magical adjunct he had long forgotten. The pouches that had once held healing potions before the destruction of the Worldstone rendered them ineffectual now held various gimcracks and trinkets. Somewhere among them was the Optic amulet.
"Aha!" he cried out with a visible puff as he pulled the amulet out and fastened the clasp so that it rested against the skin of his chest. The itching in his eyes began immediately as the milky rheum began to form. When they had clouded over completely, his mind adjusted to the magics and suddenly he could see what had been hidden before. As if lit by St Elmo’s fire, the sage could now see a clear scarlet outline where each invisible leaf rustled in the breeze.
As he carefully turned back toward the grave, he saw a pale green fire flickering from the edges of the hole in the tombstone. Odd that. Not scarlet, ruby or another such shade, but a metallic green. The color of envy or greed? he wondered as his eyes continued to adjust. Wispy green tendrils became apparent. Like ethereal jellyfish they trailed outward from the hole and merged together to form a small child like wraith before him. The sage recognized the youth instantly, despite the hazy features. It was the boy Canace had adopted to hide his origins. The deception and various Horadric enchantments had failed to hide the boy's powers, and so he had come to the attention of powerful demons.
They had almost had the boy, but their puppet archbishop erred in his divination, and he escaped. Bound by fear forever afterward from adventuring where he longed to go, the child's powerful mind learned to do more than open portals. Somehow, he learned how to detach his mind from his crippled body and voyage deep into the caves and beyond. This was the soul in search of answers, and far more. This soul wanted wealth, wanted adventure, but most of all wanted revenge.
“Psst...... Over here...”
The cold wind didn’t really speak those words, but the sage, could hear them echoing in his skull as the wraith child's Urdiragaru forced themselves past his lips and into his mind.
One by one, the sage dropped 50 golden coins into the hole in the tombstone and then looked up to face the wraith child. “It has been said that to defeat the evil swarming across our land, we must have the strongest of all the essences. We have found the hero of earth- the barbarian, the heroine of wind, the wizard, the hero of fire- the witchdoctor, and that of water- the monk, but we still lack the fifth element. Who is the fifth?"
“Listen,” the wraith child began, “Don’t trust everything the Horadrim or the Seers say. I’ve heard rumours of the Quintessence, and what I’ve heard would scare the life out of me if I weren’t already dead."
The sage tossed another 50 coins.
The ghostly boy continued, “The element you are seeking is Aether, and you will find its ever shifting form below the frigid steppes where the barbarians maraud with impunity. “The ghost went silent.
The sage sighed and tossed another handful of gold.
“Out it figured haven’t you?. Rakshasa seeking are you.”
"Must have put in 49 that time", the sage muttered to himself and carefully counted the next batch of 50. They continued this way through the night, until both of the sage’s gold pouches were empty and a scarcely believable tale had been revealed.
In the deepest parts of Moongrave forest, a man eating, shape shifting race known as the Rakshasa were found. Feeding as it were on the essences of all four other elements, and combining them internally, they formed the quintessence, the Aether. They could take any of four forms, each more fearsome than the next.
The Rakshasa could take the form of a monkey, nimbly dart past obstacles and slash at enemies all around with daggers grasped in their hands, feet and tail. They could shift into a sacred Aspis bull and wield halberds savagely. In open areas beyond the woods, the Rakshasa could take the form of a charging elephant with a deafening battle trumpet and twin spears where tusks would be. The Rakshasha's fierceness was tempered only by pride and close combat usually meant getting your victims blood on your pelt.
The Rakshasha's preferred form was the most dangerous and elegant of all. They could purr to themselves in complete safety as their enemies flailed about in pain hundreds of yards away. The Rakshasa need not tousle a single fiber of their luxurious orange coat as they wielded the mighty clubs that launched the small white round missiles towards their victims. They seldom missed their mark, for these were the tigers of the woods.