The Wonder Worlock: Children of the Norn, Part 1
created 11/05/2013 - 11:17pm, updated 11/05/2013 - 11:30pm
(Ghoulishly cool cover by David Michel and Jasmin Steele)
PART THE FIRST
The world of Dalbain spins around the outer rim of the Mephistoff Nebula, far from the expanse of the great Goff Empire and to the south, if such measurements mean anything in space, of the desert world of Za.
Here in his ancient castle does the powerful enchanter Glandairos confer with Loch, his acolyte as well as a former warrior of the Dalbain army, on the current training of Arion, now a teenager whom they have raised from infancy.
“Loch, there is something special in that boy. I have known it since I found him under the gin’sa trees,” Glandairos says. “It is a quality even my scrying pool cannot reveal, and it once belonged to the legendary wizard Riddle-dee-dee.”
“Yes, Master,” the always weary Loch responded, almost like he did not care what the matter was … which he didn’t.
Glandairos encountered the babe Arion on Loch’s farm, in the back 40 of the castle grounds. There, under a spreading tree, a babe, naked to the world. The world of Dalbain, the necromancer recalls.
It is now early autumn, more than 16 years since the discovery of Arion and less than two after the defeat – At least, that is what we called it, Glandairos thinks -- of Nwara’s army and death of his warlord, the so-called Norn King. Arion has been content to his daily farming chores and studying under the tutelage of these men, his mentors, his “sires,” as he calls them.
However, weightier matters are afoot.
“Queen Enid of the Goff has contacted me. She has called all her allies to a council to be hosted by the independent Dalbain. Us!” Glandairos says, mostly to himself. “Men are disappearing and more and more of the walking undead, the ‘Children of the Norn,’ as they are calling them, have joined the forces of Nwara, who calls himself ‘Death Lord.’ He is rebuilding his evil forces, and right here on Dalbain! Under our noses!!
“This time, his target seems to be not Dalbain but the Goff Empire as a whole!
“Evidently, the Well of Uror -- the Well of Fate -- is active: Queen Enid proposes to capture it or destroy it, if such a feat is possible by mortal hands. Their flagship New Hope will carry one force in an attack on the moon of Ann’vain where many of the Children of the Norn have gathered … that is, after a second and smaller raiding party led by her new Gaza allies has broken off to enter by the mountain pass known only to one of our greatest warriors … you, Loch!”
“Wha …?!” the oldtimer says, falling flat on his hoohaa and spilling his mead on dozens of Glandairos’ priceless mystic scrolls.
“Oaf!” the wizard yells. “Lucky thing the Goff ruler needs you or you would be in the middle of the Omega Cluster … no oxygen there!”
Glandairos continues with his musings, knowing now he has Loch’s full attention:
“If all goes as planned, General Doz’s party will slip into Nwara’s stronghold and steal the Well’s legendary cauldron without being detected. Three men have been designated to remain behind with pack animals to serve as a rearguard and secure the retreat: Captain Gar, chief of the Royal Navy of Neptunia operating under Oceanus’ flag; our own Arion; and that outworlder, the Wonder Worlock, whom I have always found to be arrogant, haughty and most threadbare. Never changes clothes, hmph!”
“Wouldst be the sound of jealousy, Glandairos?” Loch ventures.
“Wouldst be thou a frog?” Glandairos asks, to no answer from the fallen warrior.
As kind and just a queen as she might be, it is known even by her subjects that Enid disdains Arion for his place on the farm, his unknown parentage and the popular charisma he seems to have with peoples of all statuses – and farm animals alike. Arion, in turn, envies Enid for her noble birth, despite Glandairos’ counsel that that youngest daughter of a minor king has only “his name and his sword.” In truth, both are dismayed to share a role with no chance for glory.
“Loch, go find Arion. He should be down with the shep’zud herding,” the mage says. “I am dousing the even’light in six clicks.”
Through a strategically-placed Goff stargate come the Wonder Worlock with Captain Gar in tow in a mystic sphere, both wrapped in a cloak of invisibility even the hi-tech of the Docrons or the Olympians could not perceive.
“And why is it again that we’re zoomin’ through yon open hole in space without me fine vessel, Good Fellow? What is a naval captain without his ship?” Gar yells from the sphere.
Have you heard about maintaining “radio silence,” or the phrase comparable to that here? the Wonder Worlock psi-speaks to Gar. Just think it and I will hear it. But don’t give me a headache!
Now, the reason you are here is trying to spread the word and the wealth of the union of Neptunia and Oceanus, obviously. Also, you are the second best fighting man I know.
SECOND best? Why, ye flyin’ manta …!
The first would be Emperor Traven of Threlkel, the galactic guardian teeps, but he has quite enough problems to contend with in his own dimension. This is our section of space, the Mephistoff Nebula … or at least mine …and I welcome you ‘aboard,’ Captain.
Welllll … teeps Gar as the duo invisibly makes its way to the home world of the Empire, Goff’larr, and the palace of Queen Enid, daughter of the late King Goffing’mur V.
Captain Rand, General Doz and most of their forces have already arrived at the palace. As Rand says goodbye to his mother, geneticist Mayrah Rand, the Wonder Worlock and Gar phase into a small anteroom and then walk into the gathering.
“My, O Sir, how anti-climactic! No sound effects?” Rand jokes, greeting his best friend.
The Wonder Worlock roughly lifts the young captain up off his feet by his no-longer-clipped necktie. “So soon after the Docrons, this is no time for games, Captain,” says the Dark Mage, mildly shaking the uniformed officer. “I have been to Niflheim and beyond as you know, but the Norns are relatively unknown to me.”
“Urk, choke, urk … That’s the plan, buddy,” Rand says in a high-pitched voice, his arms at his side, as the Wonder Worlock sets him back on his feet, flinging the two ends of his necktie in the air -- all out of sight of Rand’s troops, of course.
Rand’s No. 1, Tral-Faz, greets the Sorcerer Supreme of his world in N’Moy fashion before hugging the magician. Rand secures his necktie to his uniform with a new metal clip – How many has he been through since meeting the Wonder Worlock? – and joins the mage and Faz.
“Bringing Gar along was most logical,” Faz says. “A fine foot soldier.”
“CAPTAIN Gar, furrow-chin!”
“Perhaps I should have said ‘fine flipper soldier.’ Or is that fishy?”
The Wonder Worlock holds an angered Gar back as he looks at Faz in amazement. “A joke, Tral? From a N’Moy??”
“I have found our Shaman to be very forgiving … and do I not have their chieftain here?”
“Again, HOW many titles do ye have, dark cloak?” Gar laughs, despite himself.
“Enow!” the Wonder Worlock says in a commanding voice. “We go to face the Children of the Norn! Let every man be true to himself and his Queen!”
Invoking the Vortex of Voyages, a whirling wind gathers dozens of the warriors and whisks them away to Dalbain. They came together by science, they leave by quantum magicks.
Meanwhile, Captain Rand, Tral-Faz and their company beam up to the New Hope, his mother and Queen Enid waving them adieu.
Beware, Nwara and Aesir! the celestial sorcerer thinks. Here cometh the Wonder Worlock and an Army of Blood!!
Nwarakeep, on the mountainous southern side of Dalbain, climbs MountCrumpet like a sewer snake taking its place in a tree limb on a sunny day. There are few sunny days at this elevation, but plenty of snakes. Nwara, the self-professed Death Lord, rules this region of his world with an iron fist.
The Death Lord spends most of his days plotting the fates of his fiefdom. He feels he has the opportunity now to extend his running trickle of power out into the surrounding vastness of the Mephistoff Nebula, bringing all the worlds under his rule ... under their rule.
He had been but a lad when his parents’ craft accidentally was swept into a tiny wormhole. But unlike the Wonder Worlock, whose similar experience took him to Niflheim, Nwara traveled to the land of the Norns, who rule the fate of men and gods. There he learned the ways of these mysterious seers – Uror, Veroandi and Skuld – and was adopted by his future warlord, the Norn King, servant of the Fates!
Upon his eventual return to Dalbain as a seasoned man, the Norns fashioned a liquid canal of sorts, a trickle that runs from a cauldron in Nwarakeep and straight through the dimensions to the Well of Uror from which the Norns draw water and take sand that lies around it, pouring it over the World Tree Yggdrasill so that its branches will not rot.
Knowing the fate of everything is in my grasp, Nwara thinks, despite the death of my “father” the Norn King, my run-ins with the warriors of Dalbain and the mystic forces of Glandairos … especially that brat Arion. He is protected in some way even the Old Ways do not penetrate. Thousands of soldiers have fallen in our wars on this world, but not he. Even the great Loch has been injured and is a shadow of his former self in the glory days of war!
“I am the Child of the Fates, the Host of the Norns, the Scion of the Norn King, the Death Lord of Dalbain!” Nwara cries aloud in his mountain chamber to no one. It echoes, and the murmur of the living dead can be heard: the Children of the Norn!
“Come, forces surrounding me, let us see what you can bring to Dalbain! What you can bring that my own kind have not attempted! Come, come!
TO BE CONTINUED …