The Wonder Worlock: The Devil in the Dark, Part 1
created 02/04/2013 - 1:21pm
(Cover by Sash Scott)
PART THE FIRST
Brightly in the skies of faraway Earth does shine the star Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo – Alpha Leonis. Approximately 77.5 light years from our third rock from Sol, Regulus is a multiple star system composed of four stars which are organized into two pairs. The spectroscopic binary Regulus A consists of a blue-white main-sequence star and its companion. Located further away is the pair Regulus B and Regulus C, which are dim main-sequence stars.
And around Regulus B swings a small system of planets, chief among them: N’Moy. A reddish M-Class planet, much of its surface consists of deserts and mountain ranges, and large areas are set aside as wilderness preserves. It is much hotter, it has a stronger surface gravity, and its atmosphere is thinner than that of Earth. As a result of these factors, Earthers and their kindred races tend to tire out more quickly than native N’Moys.
After a bloody beginning, the monkey-men of N’Moy in about the 4th century AD emerged from their violent tendencies and civil wars under a philosopher named O’theron, who advocated the suppressing of emotion in favor of logic. This period was known as the Grand Awakening, and much of present-day N’Moy philosophy emerged from this period.
On that world today walks a man of science, a man of magicks. He is the Wonder Worlock, and he hears the sweet calls of his former lady love, Shalla-Faz, in each breeze that rustles through the My’arn trees.
He has returned here with a purpose. He has helped Shalla’s brother, Tral-Faz of the great Goff Empire flagship New Hope, come to term with his ghosts of how Tral’s sister, the Dark Mage’s beloved, died. This day, on the crimson sands of N’Moy, he hopes to soothe his own continuing nightmares about the occasion. At his side, as is customary these days, is Arema, Queen Prime of the World Oceanus, Ruler of the Seas Eternal and all Lands touching same, Empress of the City-State of Oceana and Keeper of the Grotto of Gaspar … i.e., the Wonder Worlock’s current squeeze.
Used to swimming above the sands of her native Oceanus, walking on the surface of hot N’Moy tended to tire Arema’s feet out when the couple first arrived at the dome home of Lyra-Faz, widow of Lu-Faz and the matriarch of two noble families. But thanks to the quantum magicks of the Wonder Worlock assisted by Neptunian science, the Queen survives the heat, the strong surface gravity and the thin atmosphere, strolling regally into the Faz manse and giving Lyra a very enthusiastic and heartfelt hug that somehow reminds the N’Moy of her late daughter.
“How good to see and receive you, Wonder Worlock,” Lyra says as the old friends embrace. “I knew that you would one day be royalty, and arriving with a queen from a far-away world just proves my family’s penchant for precognition!”
“We are pleased to be received by you, dear Lyra,” the mage says, sitting on one of the thin arboreal seats made from the powerful roots of the My’arn trees that surround the trio about the abode. “Queen Arema …”
“Arema, please!” the Queen insists as her paramour names her.
“Ahem, Arema has brought you a case of rare shell gems from the Grotto of Gaspar itself, a very holy place in the history of our Oceanus. They are the first to ever leave the Oceanus atmosphere.”
“ ‘Our’ Oceanus,” Lyra giggled like a naughty school girl. “How generous of you, Your High … Arema! And may I present you with one of my husband’s fabled shawls, homespun by a member of his family of the rare j’torcus wool – and fully waterproofed! Their flocks are in low numbers now and the remaining populations in the O’theron Wilderness Preserve, a place your companion is all too familiar with.”
“How kind you are, Lyra,” Arema says, “and how well I know the story of your son and my close friend, the Wonder Worlock.”
“ ‘Tis not for naught that he is a hero here on N’Moy, planetwide!”
“Same on Oceanus and a few other empires, I believe.”
“Lyra, Arema, please, we are not on this sojourn to discuss me,” the galactic guardian says. “I am here to search my soul and lay to rest my memories of Shalla-Faz in the N’Moy tradition of Og’tel … is that right, Lyra.”
“Of course it is! Your grasp on the ancient tongues of this world is ten times as good as mine, so Arema might as well know you are trying to impress her!”
The trio giggles and drinks deep of the products of N’Moy’s greatest vineyards while sitting among the roots of the My’arn trees as the fabled Orb of O’theron illuminates their discussion well into the evening.
It was during the 20th week of the Wonder Worlock’s first visit to N’Moy, as Earthers mark time, that the wizard journeyed to the Faz family estate. Here, he found the Fazes in an uproar; Shalla was not answering her door chime!
With diplomat Lu-Faz in tow, the Wonder Worlock manually climbed the stairs to Shalla’s quarters and found her, nearer to death’s door than even he surmised by her thought patterns. On the floor near her leg, a deadly viloso viper!
Smashed by the angry foot of Lu-Faz, he and later Lyra-Faz begged, pleaded with the mage to use his “unN’Moyish skills” to cure their daughter, to raise her from the dead. The Wonder Worlock, crying tears from eye slits full of emptiness, refused.
He fell in a clump over the body of his beloved on the floor, let out a silent scream that probably raised the hair on the collective necks of telepaths for parsecs, and then – nodded, sighing.
An unknown energy then pours from the right hand of the being above her, the one clad all in ebony with a collared cloak that threatens to seemingly engulf the light of the Orb of O’theron itself. Tongues of flames which do not burn lift the limp body of the once-Shalla-Faz above the head of the Wonder Worlock, his hand outstretched.
“My beloved Shalla … my sweet, sweet one,” he says. “I do the forbidden, the damning here as you rise, you know? And of course you realize with my act of surrounding you now with the Eternal Fingers of Flame, your death and the life you once led are now my responsibility?”
“... The life you once led.” The Wonder Worlock takes time to ponder these words as he hears them. Flames intensify, crackling in the girl’s simple home quarters like the fires that once burned in the deep inhabited caves of N’Moy, when that world’s primate ancestors finally stood on two feet, pointed to the dotted tapestry in the skies around them and later embraced logic over love.
You would never know that this day from the faces of Lu- and Lyra-Faz.
“Forgive me, my beloved, but you must return from the Afterlife Realm of your people to this plane, and may your … may your Makers forgive me this soulless act, this cosmic crime.”
Slowly at first, then in a heated rush, the tendrils of fire burn the mask of death from the young girl. Life – at least of a sort – has been renewed and both Shalla and yes, the Wonder Worlock himself, stand in shame of the act. It is as if both are now naked to the eyes of the universe!
“My ebony ecstasy, my Wonder One, my beloved, I ache! I am in pain! The fires of life burn me!” the shell of Shalla-Faz screams. “Please, my parents, you who raised me to know the ways of science and shaman, please let my beloved release me! Free me from this torment to follow the light, please! PLEASE!!!”
“Bu … but, Shalla, your mother …” says Lu-Faz, as Lyra turns her back and bows approval. “No. NO! This is some magic trick of the wizard. Shalla would not want to leave us! Free her from your will, mage, your treachery!”
A single tear running almost invisibly from the glowing eye of the celestial sorcerer brings an empty Lu-Faz to his knees. Then he whispers: “Please return to us, loved daughter …”
“Beloved …?” what remains of Shalla-Faz utters. “Beloved,” the Wonder Worlock responds.
A gesture of his right hand and Shalla’s form is engulfed in the mystic flame. As her image fades, the shamanic acolyte has a smile on her face. Her lips seem to mouth thanks to her temporary captor, her lover.
And as the mage releases the soul of Shalla-Faz, as Lu-Faz strikes the cloaked back of the wizard with a weak hand over and over, as Lyra releases a sigh of contentment, as the viloso viper goes into the first throws of rigor-mortis, a heavily-decorated young man enters the scene of his worst nightmare. It is a minute of theatre that will haunt him forever. Enter the brother of Shalla: Tral-Faz, newly-commissioned ensign in the Great Navy of Goff.
The Wonder Worlock, an Honorary Shaman of N’Moy and soon a legend, left this world of love and logic that night. Twenty-five years have passed since that time.
The cool breezes from the nearby Oxt’gla Ocean bring a bit of relief to the sweating grasslands near the mosque of the Shamans of Survok. Old is this sect, founded by the great shaman Survok. Along the beauteous cobblestone paths of the Shamans’ hideaway are gardens and worship places – nirvana niches, they are called in the N’Moy tongue – in the hundreds.
And at the center of the mosque is the Well of Wisdom, surrounded by the rare and prized Seering Surfaces of Survok, mirrored images left the group by the legendary shaman himself. Each reflectacon save one captures and reflects onward the miles-away Orb of O’theron; the missing mirror was broken months ago by a regretful Tral-Faz.
“Swirl, O Mighty Well, it is almost time for Survok’s revenge,” mumbles a robed figure above the mystic seer’s pool. “Before, I could see him clearly coming, landing in an alien ship filled with water, the water of another world! He has returned, and my lord Survok will have his revenge on this necromancer!”
As the N’Moy shaman shows a forbidden emotion – rare for this planet and in this sect especially -- the vision is gone, faded to shreds and fragments, the calm water of the seer's poolgolden under the middaysun.
“You will have revenge, Survok, and it will come through your daughter, the faithful Shalla-Faz, and right when it should: during the Wonder Worlock’s trial of Og’tel!
“So swears Mage-Eek, Shaman Prime and Guardian of the Seering Surfaces of Survok!!”
TO BE CONTINUED …