Winchester was transported to Mestoya, a colony inhabited by several tribes of primitive creatures from another civilization. His mission was to turn them into devoted worshippers and followers of Grantook, his evil ways and, therefore, the weight of his proposed successor, Winchester. A condition of this ultimate test was that Winchester was to be on his own; there would be no more help from the Great Grantook.
It wasn’t long before word of Winchester’s success soon reached the dying wizard who was finally beginning to feel he could die without worrying about the future of The Order. As a reward for a job well done, Winchester asked that he be allowed to bring back two of Mestoya’s inhabitants. They would serve as his own helpers, assisting in any way Winchester saw fit. Naturally, Grantook granted the request and so the Mestoyan twins Barog and Tarow accompanied Winchester back to Karah.
After Winchester’s return, he and Grantook spoke at great length about the future. It was during one such conversation that the great wizard suddenly turned a dastardly shade of green and started sweating profusely.
“Almighty Grantook, what is it?” Winchester’s voice trembled with fear.
“It’s time,” Grantook sputtered. “Oh no, I can’t leave yet, I haven’t told you about the ring!”
Grantook held up his swollen purple hand, the call of death forcing each and every vein to throb and pulse erratically.
“The ring? What ring?” Winchester asked, the usual look of perplexity on his drawn face.
In a weakened rush, Grantook struggled to remove it from his swollen middle finger. As he did so, the golden band engraved with secret symbols representing some of The Order’s most secret spells glinted and sparkled. The huge reddish purple stone cushion in the golden collar chiseled with The Order’s secret signs winked at its benefactor. Giving the ring one final jerk, the knuckle cracked and off it came.
“Quick, put it on no! Not on that finger,” he yelled, while thinking something much more sinister, and watched Winchester try to slip it on his pinky. “It must go on the middle finger, as it has been worn since time began. Quick give me your hand. No, not that one, the one with the ring on it now.”
Grantook shook his head and sighed deeply. In approaching his death, he realized his choice may have been too hasty.
“I do hope I have done the right thing,” he thought, fading quickly.
Holding Winchester’s hands, he mumbled several words and then clapped his hand sharply against that of his protégé.
“The spell of passage is complete. Now you have the powers you will need to survive against the goodness of this universe.”
The ring began to glow and a greenish tint painted the drab walls of the similarly nauseatingly-colored cavern.
“Hey,” Winchester whined, “the ring is burning my finger!”
“Good. That means it has accepted you. Now, all you have to do is live up to what is expected of you.”
Drops of thick and bubbly orange gray saliva slid from Grantook’s mouth, down his chin and onto his robes. Seconds later, his body disintegrated into a dark powdery dust, the particles pulling together, swirling round and round, finally forming a small cloud that darted out the window like a whizzing bullet. Sitting on the ground, all in a heap, was his brocaded robe, All that remained of Grantook, was, of course, the ring on Winchester’s hand.
Winchester stood there for a moment and then picked up the pointed wizard’s hat and put it on. He contemplated his new powers.
“No sense wasting time,” he grinned, adjusting the rim and rummaging through Grantook’s papers.
After throwing papers everywhere, Winchester stopped when he spied a brand-new Federation Map buried beneath one of the big piles of all the others.
“Why, this looks interesting,” he smiled slyly.
It was a detailed topographical map of Amoris, a newly discovered planet now under consideration for its ability to sustain habitation. Notes on the map said it had been discovered by an exploration team on its way back to the Federation after completing an interstellar survey. They had been slightly off course when they discovered the huge purple sphere sitting out in the middle of nowhere.
Pink mist and cotton candy clouds, lavender seas and magenta mountains; all appeared compatible for life as they knew it. With the great shortage of such planets these days, it definitely warranted further investigation. The notes continued, saying that upon the team’s return and report, a colonization unit had been sent out to study its potential to support life. It was this discovery of that map which led to Winchester’s first visit to the purple planet.
With great enthusiasm, Winchester activated the viewer in Grantook’s cavern, in order to have a better idea of the planet’s terrain and scanning for the whereabouts of the recent settlement. There was no actual date of the colonists’ arrival on the notes and he had no idea of when the team had arrived or even if any member had remained behind or even survived. After studying the silvery screen for a few minutes, he spotted random signs of life. Several dwellings were set several miles inland from a range of magnificent purple mountains, close to a forest of big blue trees. In the other direction, although barely audible through the viewer, Winchester could hear the soft lapping of lilac painted waves rushing to shore.
“Excellent, I love it already,” he laughed, his lips pulled back in a tight smile. “Now,” he turned and looked at his assistants Barog and Tarow, “let’s go get a better look… At our new home.”
This is installment 2 of As Long As You Believe, published in 1997. ISBN: 0-9657084-0-3 and on file with the Library of Congress. Special signed collector’ editions are available from the author.