The Wonder Worlock: Lair of the Lava Men, Part 2
Posted by: Byron Brewer, Managing Editor
October 25, 2013 19:07 | Updated: 6 weeks 6 days Ago
October 25, 2013 19:07 | Updated: 6 weeks 6 days Ago
(Cover by Sash Scott)
At the same time the escape of the warrior king Traven turned the scientists of Underground Za to ash and robbed the society of its “god,” a live nuclear bomb, the effects of his ebony blade’s magicks along with the radiation permeating through the tunnels of the Za’nites caused thousands to mutate into what Chief Scientist Ursula calls “Lava Men.”
Led by a former Za’nite mercenary called Kaysar, these Lava Men have not only waged war on the scientists in their shielded makeshift citadel but also, in many instances, on the small brown natives on the hot surface above.
The first known Lava Man to visit the surface world was Ukinj, who was propelled to the surface by a volcanic reaction shortly after Traven departed Za. This Lava Man fought the tiny warriors of Comlonar before he returned underground.
Later he and other Lava Men, now clearly under the leadership of Kaysar, fought Ursula’s serf drones after a group of exploring Za’nite scientists tried to communicate with the Lava Men in their subterranean world, deeper in the core of the world than even Underground Za.
From information gathered by her cadre of knowledgeable gentlemen, Chief Scientist Ursula has observed that Lava Men have red skin of rock-hard consistency. A Lava Man's body has twice the density of a normal humanoid Za’nite. Upon death, a normal Lava Man immediately decomposes into dust.
A small number of Lava Men have undergone a metamorphosis – supposedly from residual nuclear radiation -- giving them golden skins. Kaysar has rendered all Lava Men mute under his rule. No clearly female Lava Men have been observed to date, although they are known to exist.
Less than one thousand Lava Men are known to exist. The Lava Men briefly had a tribal government, but became a monarchy ruled by Kaysar, although the golden Lava Men remain under tribal rule. Much like the brown skins above ground, their technology level is primitive and the Lava Men are deeply religious, mourning for their lost “god.”
Out of respect to who these men and women once were, when Ursula and her kind are not battling the Lava Men they are trying to find a cure for their mutated condition. Gene science as well as synth-life has hit an all-time high in the Za’nite civilization, perhaps more advanced than anywhere else near the Mephistoff Nebula.
PART THE SECOND
Steam rises and lava bubbles down earthen mountains near the core of Za. It is here even the adventurous Za’nites of Ursula do not travel. It is here that the mighty Kaysar rules with an iron hand, and not one of the Lava Men say him nay.
Since brought together months after the departure of Traven from their planet and the genetic mutation had crept around their bodies like a cancer, Kaysar took it upon himself to pull these peoples up by their suspender straps, so to speak, make them realize who they now were and get on with the ways of life, the ways of society.
His first decision: Talk about nothing, discuss nothing. Heed the word of Kaysar.
And with that, the giant ben’tiras, houses made of wet and drying lava, climbed from the shell of the world to the ceiling underneath its surface. Like many housing units of Earth’s Aztecs, few are less than two stories tall. The grandest building of 10 stories was constructed for Kaysar and is located in the central courtyard. The homes of other Lava Men are most often built with a lava-melted brick.
Now, sitting in the throne of the grand castle he calls Humnator, Kaysar listens to the clicking hands of his spies, just recently returned from the science citadel. Although speaking is forbidden, Lava Men like bees and other creatures have sounds that convey meaning. Certain clickings of their large, mutated hand-claws tell Kaysar his planet has a new visitor.
Could the war-god Traven be back? Could the thief have returned?Kaysar thinks. If so, we will take down the bastard and the scientists more interested in studying him than finding W’tan … W’tan, our glorious stolen god!!
With that, the Lava Men gather single-file and march the road to Underground Za. In their hands, tools and stones, their primitive weapons of war!
“I am Warfarin! I am your king! Feed me!” screams the invading mandroid from Degaba.
The serf drones, all in a variety of shapes for a variety of uses, attack as best they can, phaser blasts and photon fire filling the citadel. The cadre of scientists follows Ursula into the shielded tube, an innovation since her father died at the hands of Traven’s sword, and immediately an alien energy transforms their bodies into set patterns which are then hidden amid the files of the well-protected Master Computer in the screened Vault.
The drones put up a remarkable resistance to Warfarin, his weakness showing as he battles. As he combats the synthetic life forms, a barely noticeable flying bird is hurled in the air and makes its way quietly down a main exit of the citadel. Into a cave it soars, dodging rock forms from the ceiling and floor, and into a hallowed hall that is lined with silver and gold.
In the hall’s center, an empty hole … a hole with metal-made flower things lying there, and radiating some type of lost energy.
The eye on the avian turns red and instantly, Warfarin is gone from battle and in the body of the bird. As his seven-foot frame extends out of the tiny automaton, the former Degaban king has a smile on his face.
He utters three word: “Life! FEED ME!”
No one is talking on the faraway surface of the desert planet Za, but not because Kaysar the Lava Man has decreed it.
No, the Wonder Worlock has returned to this world and to the desert where he almost died, to the cave and the crickets that gave him life.
He sits, floating as he could not then, in the Position of Nirvana, just listening to the soulful chirps of his small friends. Just listening, listening …
He will be indebted to them forever.
And then it hits him, like a sledge-hammer in the head!
“Zootalaris! Again??!” the Dark Mage exclaims, his 99.99 percent shutdown cosmic awareness picking up the unmistakable vibrations of the former Threlkellian dimension King of Degaba, Warfarin, whom he thought he had just squashed in another war along with the monstrous Y’mok the Rock Troll.
“Later, my chirping friends,” the Wonder Worlock says and then, in a puff of purple smoke and stench of brimstone, he is … somewhere else.
Down into the heart of Underground Za travels the Wonder Worlock, feeling the energy of Warfarin (although weakly) like a red flag in front of a charging bull. He knows the king is injured, is not himself in the way he way he was years ago when the mage sided with Threlkel in an other-dimensional planetary war.
But dangerous? Aye, that he is, the Dark Mage thinks, and soars onward through the very walls of the caves about him, intangible.
The Celestial Shaman approaches a building he has never seen before, although his friend Emperor Traven has told him about it many times … many times, ad nauseum. The wizard smiles.
In the Citadel of Science, hundreds of synthetic beings and other mechanoids have lost their lives and/or ceased functioning. But that is not what draws the Wonder Worlock to a ramshackled corner of the lab. It is the energy that radiates from there.
Calling on the Hex of Reverse Substantiation, the Vault becomes clear and one by one the cadre of scientists and Ursula appear before the alien sorcerer.
But rather than attacking as her father would, Ursula offers the ebony being the hand of friendship.
“Great being from outside our world, if you have come to kill us there is no other technology we have greater than that which you have thwarted,” Ursula says, a tear falling from the eye of her radiation-mutated face, unmasked. “And if you have come to save us from the synth-human War-far-in, we will be in your debt.”
The words take the Wonder Worlock by surprise after hearing Traven’s jarring tale so many times, but he clasped his gloved hand in her ungloved mangled hand and pledges friendship. He then erects a Shield of Synaster around the scientists as he heads instinctively for the Worship Hall of W’tan.
A light show that would do Thunder Over Louisville at Derbytime in Kentuckyproud glimmers over the abandoned god-holder of a cavern. The Dark Mage slings Blue Blades of Bedevilment at the newly-constructed – and whole – Warfarin, but they just bounce off his energized shields.
“Warfarin! The radiation you are causing, amplifying, is a danger too all life on this world … those native, those newly-arrived,” he yells, thinking of those who have just populated the other side of the planet from the great death of the Gazasystem. “Let us fly to outer space!”
“Fie on you, Man in Black!” Warfarin says, hissing. “You take two opportunities from me to remake my own kingdom, my own planetary empire, and I am supposed to dance with you in space? Well, Warfarin has had enough of space. This is Warfarin’s world. New Degaba! And it shall be the beginning of Warfarin’s new empire! Bwahahahahaha!!!”
Before he can send the Vortex of Viruses hurtling at Warfarin, the Lava Men of Za charge in, their thrown fireballs and molto-pistols spewing lava crashing through Warfarin’s shields as he knows pain for the first time in many a day.
The Galactic Guardian warps light so that it wraps around his frame, becoming invisible. He then augments, unknown to the Lava Men, their fire weapons with his own Hellfire. Warfarin releases a number of exotic energies, but none hurt the hardened molten bodies of the Lava Men or penetrate the shields of the Wonder Worlock.
In a dramatic moment, Kaysar, towering over Warfarin at almost half a head taller, throws a lava-fisted punch to Warfarin’s slowly-reforming face. Kaysar’s mighty fists then bust the interiors of Warfarin’s awesome auto-mechanical interior.
“Where is W’tan, outworlder? Where is our W’tan??!” Kaysar screams, a scream that becomes a battle cry from all the formerly mute Lava Men.
In unison, they yell, “Where is W’tan, outworlder? Where is our W’tan??!”
Warfarin knows the agony of defeat well, and this is it.
The wreckage that is the King of Degaba attempts to send a small mechanical bird into the cave’s air, but it is shot down by the molto-gun of the venerable Ukinj.
And just like that, the rise and fall of Warfarin is over yet again, not with a bang but a whimper.
Silently, Kaysar and the Lava Men return home to Subterranea, to the core of this desert world.
The Wonder Worlock says nothing in his invisible world.
Amid the shambles of the citadel, the Wonder Worlock and Ursula discuss what has happened. He tells her of the true Traven, his mission here and the dangers their “god” had brought to Ursula’s world – responsible for their own mutations and the morphing of the Lava Men.
“We are scientists, all of us,” she says. “Why did we not see the obvious?”
“Religion can be a wonderful thing,” the Wonder Worlock says. “But more men and women, creatures across the cosmos have lost their lives dedicated to religious zeal than any other cause to my knowledge. Yours was not an unusual blindness.”
“So what would you have us do, O Sir?”
“I would ask you to continue your studies as you explained them. I would also ask you to, in your surface suits I will help you create, seek out both the small brown tribes native to this world and to a new population you may find in the hinterlands across the Mountain of Mephistoff. Be at peace with them …”
“And the Lava Men of Kaysar?” Ursula asks.
“I have a feeling neither of us have heard the last of Kaysar and his minions,” the Dark Mage says. “Leave them be for now, even a you attempt to find a cure.
“For in leaving after the death of Warfarin, I was able to touch Kaysar’s surface thoughts. They were of this nature: You stay in your world, and we will stay in ours …”