The Wonder Worlock: All's Well That Intz Well, Part 1
created 02/23/2014 - 11:12pm, updated 02/24/2014 - 3:34am
(Cover by Jason Heichel)
The Old Times, only slightly after the departure of the Elves of Everwhen, solemn teachers of the Intz.
During these days when the world known as the Shirewood is less peaceful, Intz are like guardian giants fending off would-be antagonists of the jungle planet. And well are they suited for the role: Intz are tall and very strong, capable of tearing apart rock and stone. They are tree-like beings who cherish nature and care for the seeds as they grow to be mighty forest lines across the whirling rock.
But plants that will become tall and lush forests are but seeds in the Old Times, and animals that will rise to the size of dinosaurs are practically non-existent.
The dangers to the Shirewood are legion because of its key placement in a small solar system near the Mephistoff Nebula. Like a friendly smile, an open harbor that attracts not cordial visitors (save in the case of the Elves) but invaders, space pirates and cosmic terrorists.
But the Intz are guardians of the Shirewood, and it is to be during the last Great Incursion, that by the nomad alien Binary race, that the eons-old Jerichowall, built in times out of mind, will come tumbling down at the Intz’ own hands!
During the Old Times it was that a red-skinned alien race known as the Binary journeyed to the Shirewood in a marvelous but failing star cruiser not unlike those of the Neptunians, a gargantuan fish bowl containing metric tons of water. The water-breathing Binary came from an aquatic planet seeking sanctuary from a great and devastating war.
What they found, to them, was Eden.
The Binary vessels landed amid the lush fields beyond the Jerichowall and beyond the Intz, and those people began to establish a thriving civilization there on land, using their great technology to siphon moisture from the atmosphere to breathe the exotic Shirewood air, itself akin to a rain forest.
So solemn are the Intz that even with their superior technology the Binary never even knew they existed … until it was too late.
Tokeen, the eldest Intz, discovers the encampment of red-skin aliens one day during his very slow, non-hasty trip around one side of the Jerichowall at the limits of his patrol. Tokeen is a large, almost troll-like figure, at least fourteen feet high, very sturdy, with a tall head, and hardly any neck. Whether it is clad in stuff like green and grey bark, or whether that is his hide, is difficult to say. At any rate the arms, at a short distance from the trunk, are not wrinkled, but covered with a brown smooth skin. Tokeen’s large feet have seven toes each. The lower part of the long face is covered with a sweeping grey beard, bushy, almost twiggy at the roots, thin and mossy at the ends.
Even for an isolated world, the strength of the Intz of the Shirewood is well-known. But that never stopped the pirates, the “up-rooters,” as the Intz called them, from trying their takeovers. Spotting the Binary, Tokeen makes the first hasty decision – a mistaken one -- of his long, long, long life. He believes his world is under attack by up-rooters. Again!
It does not take long – maybe seven years or more, too speedy by Intz standards – for Tokeen and his eldest son, Boughbo, to assemble a mighty warring party. The Intz in action are truly something to behold, like an entire world’s eco-system come to life, plants rustling as allies to their guardians, a living world fighting off a viral plague, the Binary. Or so it thinks.
The irony is that the Binary with their water-technology are actually improving the environs of the Shirewood, converting oxygen to much-needed nitrogen for the poorer soils beyond the great Wall. Many celestial historians will later credit the Binary – although not knowing the race by name, for few do today – for the eco-system that will one day give rise to a planet of lush jungles, towering forests and saurids reaching for the skies to eat from the lower leaves of magnificent trees.
Thinking they are invaders, the Intz begin their maddening attack on the seemingly-impenetrable Wall. Tossing stones the size of large termite mounds, throwing long-dead and gnarled tree trunks, slowly, inexorably the Jerichowall comes a’tumblin’ down!
Amid the aftermath, even with a number of Intz casualties from superior technology, the attack of the mighty guardians finds all of the Binary slain, and the Intz never, ever know otherwise about the intents of the red-skinned water-breathers.
It is, unfortunately, a fate to be repeated on faraway Oceanus, when another crippled star cruiser of Binary, again seeking peaceful sanctuary, are slain by the Baah creatures that to this day inhabit the ocean in which the aliens landed.
It will be another 30,000 yerarn before a brown badness on the Shirewood creeps forward and into the bodies of the Intz population, Tokeen being the first to succumb. The brown smooth skin on his arms will become black, cracked and decaying. Most of the other Intz will follow suit.
After a month, maybe less, as time is reasoned in the Shirewood, there will be no life at all, just decay. The animals will return to the soil; the plant matter is pickled in some kind of gelatinous mire … this includes the bodies of Tokeen and the Intz.
It is this ooze, this green sorbet that is sucked up, fly-like, by the creature then known as Plantagenous Rex.
Today, the world of the Shirewood is a dead and dusty place. The Intz miraculously survive on a lush jungle planet dubbed Shirewood II. And on that same world is a plaque in tribute to both Tokeen and, ironically, Plantagenous, whose last days were spent growing beautiful gardens and forests for his Intzlings “nephews”.
PART THE FIRST
Like a comet with a powerful, crackling tail, the bright object hurls through darkest space. Along the rim of the Mephistoff Nebula and then into a small solar system it heads, exuding energies off any scale.
As it breaks through the atmosphere of a lush, jungle-filled world, the sound is nearly deafening … were there any ears to hear it. Right now, there seem none.
With an almost soundless landing that belies its travel fury, purple smoke clears from a glade of tropical plants and, were there eyes to see, they would now observe that the object in question was the galactic guardian known only as … the Wonder Worlock!
“Zootalaris!” he exclaims, shocked at what he sees on this world he has not visited for years, this world called Shirewood II.
Everywhere around the cosmic necromancer, the signs of life are evident. Wild cow-things walk about under the canopy of the verdant vegetation, their young ones constantly nosing their milk sacs for more jungle juice. Small rabbit-like creatures hop to and fro, seemingly unafraid of any predators that might be hiding in the tall grasses nearby. Giant saurids 50 feet tall or more nibble on the lower leaves of this magnificent forest, barely scraping the lifelines of these noble plants.
All is calm, all is at peace.
“Tokeen! Tokeen the Younger!” the Wonder Worlock screams, surprise again turning into fear. He had meant to check, at least invisibly, on the Intzlings as they progressed without either Tokeen the Old One (killed by Vargas), Plantagenous (killed by Bil’gruph) or Doctor Rand, who had returned to Goff’lar. “Where are you boys?”
It is not Intzlings that suddenly come to life around the Wonder Worlock in the jungle clearing like the Munchkins around Dorothy Gale of Kansas. No, they are adult Intz, some twelve feet high or more, and their stark resemblances to the trees of their patrols on this world are startling, even to the Dark Mage:
And their de facto leader with Doctor Rand’s departure, Tokeen the Younger.
“We are here, Uncle!” Tokeen says, his brown smooth-skinned arms lifting the ebony figure into his twiggy beard affectionately. His brothers follow suit. “I told you we would make Mother and you proud, and I hope we have. Please excuse my rather hasty voicing. I am not the Intz my father-seed was.”
“Tokeen the Old One was surely a great Intz, but I know you have made not only your mother and I proud, but Tokeen, Plantagenous and Alf as well.”
“See how we have used the ideas of Uncle Plantagenous and the advice of the Elves to shape our world?” Tokeen says. “We have even started erecting a Jerichowall along the perimeter of my patrol, as it was my father-seed’s. And we hope it will not be necessary to tear this one down in a battle with alien invaders, as legend tells.”
"Everything looks so ... so beautiful, Tokeen," the celestial shaman says. "It is truly a living tribute to your father-seed and your Uncle Plantagenous.
"But in flying past this solar system, I picked up a psi call of distress, a summons like Tokeen the Old One utilized?"
"You did, Uncle. It was from me,” Tokeen says. “As beauteous as this is, there is trouble in paradise. My brothers and I have become aware of something alien in this world ... besides ourselves, that is.
"There is danger on Shirewood II, and it seems to be a ..."
Just then, a strange cascading of lights and sounds appears before the Intz and the wondrous wizard. The Wonder Worlock immediately recognizes it as a transporter beam from his battle with the Silent Ghost ... with the murderer Vargus!
Then steps from the pyrotechnics a humanoid form, red-skinned, muscle-bound, brandishing futuristic weapons and breathing a hydrogen/oxygen mix through a mask.
"Behold, murderers! I am Kr'm Sun, last of the Binary!"
TO BE CONTINUED...