The Wonder Worlock: On the Rocks, Part 2
created 06/10/2014 - 7:38am, updated 06/10/2014 - 7:52pm
(Cover by Ben Ferrari and Jasmin Steele)
Gaza IV, some time before its explosive end, underground:
The reptilian inhabitants called it Rotworld, realm of raging rivers, hanging stoneworks and wise hissing elders. And ruins.
Long ago, when the stars were but a few scattered twinkles in the surface sky, the reptilian populace built castles the size of mountains, great citadels whose peeks could be seen even on the surface. But over the eons, the lizard men grew weary of the constant warfare required to defend their walls, of the blood that was shed over piles of rock.
And so one day, the lizard men returned to the depths of the cool canyons even further in the earth where the caves were, leaving their great stone towers to crumble back into the dust from whence they came.
Yet even in a world such as this, hidden as it was from the humanoids and dragons above … a world that had tried its damndest to turn its back on war, the great slouching beast still somehow found fertile soil in which to plant its fertile seeds.
Especially if your name was … Kosmos!
A cavern in a particular labyrinth:
“Sssynthia, we need to talk,” says Ariss, father of a newborn hatchling. “Only one? Only one?!! I could divorsse you for thisss, you know. And it hasss that … that eery green glow of your grandsssire, the one that nearly killed hisss own people long ago.”
“Dear Arisss, you mussst know it isss in the blood. You mussst know that my newborn … we shall call him Kosmosss after hisss grandsssire … shall mean sssomething sssome day to our people. You might even follow him to the sssurface …”
“You ssspeak like your grandsssire, Sssynthia, like your father! Their bones are ssstill drying on the Farbank. That isss where thisss will lead usss, not to the sssurface. Better he die with a ssslash of my tail than bring plight and pox ‘pon MY family! I …”
Another tail, another razor-sharp slash. Mother and child reunion.
“Ah, Kosmosss,” Ssynthia says. “You shall be the leader of our family, of our people, the bringer of truth … jussst asss your grandsssire wanted!”
The baby coos and, unlike either of his parents, lives to see the day this world explodes and he and his people find themselves transported suddenly by aliens from the caverns of Rotworld, of Gaza IV to Ytsan Nobe, in the Goff outskirt territories.
That was years ago …
PART THE SECOND
The souls of She’ol seethe beneath the cowl of the Wonder Worlock, sparks sizzling white hot around his gloved hands.
It has been a long time … a LONG time … since he has felt anger such as this. And General Ron'drh Doz, his companion, his battle-hardened friend, a warrior born, continues to vomit behind the long flowing cloak of the Dark Mage.
“Kosmos? Nothing in the known cosmos can protect you from the wrath of the Wonder Worlock ‘pon this heinous crime, lizard man,” the mage says, his eye slits narrowing, unexplainably. “Kosmos? I would call you murderer. MURDERER!”
Again, the laugh.
Bwahahahahahahaha!The laughter is in the mage’s head and all around the echoing caverns. In front of the Wonder Worlock, on a cave wall, he recognizes the round, shadowed objects again … the hanging, bloody heads of Emperor Goyn of the moloids, Queen Ssthgara of the reptilians and several others of each race, wearing their respective military helms. Below the hanging heads, the decapitated bodies, partially consumed.
And in the shadows, a lizard man of great height and apparent strength, standing before a small reptilian gang.
“One is an insssult, the other a compliment, both are true,” Kosmos says.
A Bolt of Bedevilment suddenly leaves the gloved hands of the galactic guardian but is halted in mid-air by an eerie jade sphere, a sphere almost resembling a Synasterian shield.
More blue bolts, more jade spheres.
“This is my world now, wizard,” Kosmos said. “I am taking care of my people, by taking care of this straw queen, the traitors who followed her, and her moloid allies, by bringing this world to which you – YOU! – brought us under control, MY control. The control of Kosmos, Sorcerer Supreme of Ytsan Nobe!
“First this world, these peoples … and then the Greater Goff Empire, including surface holdroids like the puking toy solider behind you! Bwahahahahahaha!!!”
Suddenly, even as Doz comes to himself, drawing his ancestral war ax, wave after wave of other-dimensional verdant energies bombard the Wonder Worlock, sending the spacefarer reeling. A simple conjurer’s cone, cast by the experienced sentinel of the spaceways, captures the energies and funnels them back at Kosmos. The right hand of the Wonder Worlock then glows white-hot, and begins to grow and extend to mammoth proportions. Simultaneously, twin tongs appear above the hulking lizard wizard. Behold! The Pinchers of Power and the Guided Muscle, the mystic master psionically shouts as the giant hand grabs the glowing Kosmos. The Pinchers of Power then attach to each edge of the creature’s green aura as the General battles three members of the reptilian throng at once.
A white dot forms in the emerald gloom surrounding Kosmos and the colors of the darkness flare to life again, oddly like an old color TV set being turned off in reverse. Immediately, shards of poison fire at the Wonder Worlock like so many arrows from a machine gun. The first barrage takes the mage by surprise. While they do not pierce his personal force field, thus saving his life, their velocity cracks his secondary shields, causing him to double over, wince and tumble aimlessly about the stalagmites nearest the Great Furnaces of Ytsan Nobe North.
The heat is like a living hell!
Catching his balance, the Wonder Worlock raises his right hand as he now soars above the scorched volcanic rockway that is this world, summoning the Eternal Fingers of Flame. Kosmos is surrounded by the mage’s own hellfire and begins to show signs of weakness; he is, after all, cold blooded. But winds from one of his spheres cool the Flaming Fingers, finally blowing them out entirely.
Amid his own winds, Kosmos is not quick to notice breezes blowing from elsewhere. The Wonder Worlock has summoned the mighty Vortex of Viruses which encircles the alien and begins to break down the chemistry of the other wizard’s molecular structure. In true danger, Kosmos forms an egg about himself, leaving his men dying at the edge of Doz’s mighty battle ax, itself starting to become legendary after the war on Dalbain.
The egg floats only seconds before Kosmos is apparently healed entirely. When the egg cracks open, the oval floats out and jade goop spills all over the Dark Mage.
The Wonder Worlock calls for refreshing rains from the heavens to wash the bacterial-like quagmire off his physique. He then strengthens the storm and directs a bolt of celestial lightning at Kosmos. Unfortunately, the eerie energies only heighten the power of the light-master.
“Bwahahahahahaha!! That the bessst you have, shaman?” Kosmos screams over the underground thunder claps.
Freezing winds begin to blow as the Vortex of Viruses again engulfs Kosmos’ form. The whirling winds then create a downward spiral, literally sucking Kosmos into an alternate dimension. The cosmic conjurer takes a breath, thinking the moment’s respite might become a battle victory. It is then the air crackles above the ceilings of Ytsan Nobe North, as the being known as Kosmos reenters our reality through a wormhole.
Cloaking his psionic activity, the Wonder Worlock warps light waves through and around his form, effectively becoming invisible. Kosmos telepathically seeks out his quarry while ultraviolet energies search for the mystic’s heat signature. But as the reptilian sorcerer searches for his mystic rival, another hole, this one of shimmering gold, starts to open next to the saurid.
The Wonder Worlock himself has opened – the Dread Dungeon of Doom!
The Tridactyl Trio! The Great Ilahk! The Dozen Dwarves of Wons Etihw! Mork! Ymok! These deadliest of cosmic denizens pour from the Dungeon, as an irresistible vacuum sucks Kosmos and many of his fleeing thralls slowly towards it.
Seven saurids scream, then vanish.
Somewhere, invisibly, the Wonder Worlock smiles a satisfied smile.
“What trickery is thisss?” Kosmos says as the Dwarves are immediately dragged in and through one of his spheres by tendrils lined with spikes. “Parlor tricksss? Now you don’t sssee them, now you do? Bwahahahahaha!”
The hulking form of Ymok, former king of the Rock Trolls, leaps at Kosmos, but his spheres flash forward and cover the alien in their color splash. When the jade hues dissipate into gas, so does Ymok. Mork points his glowing finger at the gas and it transforms suddenly into flowers of the same color. Then, the petals explode toward Kosmos. “Noonah! Noonah!” screams Ymok’s former strategy officer.
At that time, Ilahk pokes his mammoth Aesir hand into the aura about Kosmos, and – if it is imaginable – the mystic warlord is visibly pained. “Noonah! Noonah!” Mork screams again, but mindlessly attacks the son of Odin, who is then sucked into the Dungeon along with the Rock Troll. “Noonaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!”
Kosmos turns toward the three-headed flying reptile known as the Tridactyl Trio as the creature pulls together its facial composition and three fanged mouths dripping in poison snap around the edges of Kosmos’ aura. Kosmos’ colors flicker, and again green shards of poison fire all about. But they merely bounce off the Tridactyl’s scaly body. “Rrrrrarrrr!!” is the dragon’s only response.
“I will not fail! Mother, I will not fail you. I am Kosmosss!”
As Kosmos begins to transform one of his spheres into a mocking version of the flying reptile, Blue Bands of Bedevilment stream like Christmas ribbons from limbo, binding the murderer of queens. Then they quickly contract!
Another primal scream, this one also heard by the ears of the Wonder Worlock. Kosmos is trapped!
As the Dungeon of Doom and the Tridactyl fade, the cosmic crusader spins a web of null-time around Kosmos’ physical form. For the murderer of Ytsan Nobe royalty, time effectively stands still on the physical plane.
The Wonder Worlock probes …
The most handsome of the lizard kings of Rotworld was named Kosmos. He was once a being of truth and light, but trained by the ancient shaman he became a true wizard, a practitioner of darkest chaos magicks … a trait signified by an emerald glow, passed down every other generation from thence.
Kosmos was also knowledgeable in healing herbs and runes, which made him a favorite among the people of Rotworld despite his knowledge. Kosmos lived in a palace named Breidablik with his wife Syndeux. It was believed that no lie could pass through the walls of Breidablik, home of truth, so when Kosmos started having frightening nightmares about his own demise, the other Rotworldites did not take them seriously. But his wife did.
Syndeux catalogued everything that might possibly cause Kosmos harm, from weapons to diseases to creatures. With the list in hand, the spouse of Kosmos the Elder set out to exact assurances from everything in underground Gazanot to harm her husband. This wasn't hard because he was so loved among the caverns.
When she had completed her mission, Syndeux returned to Gladsheim, the lizard men’s meeting hall, for a celebration. After a few rounds of drinks and toasts, the Rotworld populace decided to test Kosmos' invulnerability. A pebble thrown at Kosmos bounced off without hurting, in honor of its oath. Larger weapons were used, including axes. All refused to hurt the ruler.
Enter Syryn, known as a trickster. Sometimes he was mischievous, but he hadn't really been malicious. The moloids across underground Gazawere said to be evil, but Syryn, who was the mutate son of a moloid, hadn't been known as such. It seems his self-appointed job was to stir things up when things were going well.
Syryn was disturbed by all the gaiety and decided to do something about it, so in disguise as a disgusting old hag, he went to Syndeux while she was at Fensalir taking a break from the festivities.
“What isss going on at Gladsheim,” he asked her. She said it was a celebration for her husband, Kosmos.
Syryn-in-disguise asked, “Why, then, are people throwing weaponsss at him?” Syndeux explained about the promises she'd exacted. Syryn kept at her, asking questions until she finally revealed that there was one thing she hadn't asked because she thought it too small and inconsequential. That one thing was … the plant mistletoe!
With all the information he needed, Syryn set off to the forest to get himself a branch of mistletoe. He then returned to the festivities at Gladsheim and sought out Kosmos' blind brother, Syrung, who was in a corner because he couldn't aim and therefore couldn't participate in the test of Kosmos' invulnerability. Syryn told Syrung he would help him take aim and handed Syrung a piece of apparently innocuous mistletoe to throw.
Syrung was grateful and accepted the offer, so Syryn steered Syrung's arm. Syrung launched the branch, which caught Kosmos in the chest. Kosmos died instantly, his green glow exploding outward, killing dozens.
The surviving lizard men, arising, looked towards Syrung and saw Syryn beside him. Before they could do anything, Syryn fled.
Celebration turned to anarchy, and the bodies of the wizard king and his blind brother and most of the family were burned, cursed and the bones were laid out, unburied, on the Farbank.The new rulers of Rotworld, ancestors of Queen Ssthgara, turned against the “truth” that Kosmos had represented, cursing his surviving sons and all his heirs.
As the Wonder Worlock ends his probe and is about to speak with the noble Doz, an eerie sound emanates from the bodies of lizard men lying at Doz’s feet, beneath his bloody ax.
It is one of the survivors of Queen Ssthgara’s party. Ssthgara of Ytsan Nobe South!
It is … an aged Syryn.
“For my people, for Ssshgara, my great-granddaughter, for Ytsssan Nobe!” he slithers, launching an arrow of mistletoe the way of Kosmos the Younger.
His cry is deafening, his emerald glow exploding outward and sending the shielded Dark Mage and Doz reeling.
“For Ssshgara …” Syryn mumbles before he falls on his own crude knife.
The Great Furnace Caverns of Ytsan Nobe North are unusually quiet.
In the days that follow, the Wonder Worlock, Doz and members of the Great Goff Empire help resettle the moloids and lizard men who are willing to work together and share the underground of Ytsan Nobe in the name of their murdered rulers, Emperor Goyn of the moloids and Queen Ssthgara of the reptilians
The bones of Kosmos are taken to the wicked surface and discarded like so much rubbish. His memory and that of his grandsire and all the kin are stricken from the histories of both races, forever.
Queen Enid and the Science Council of New Gaza have promised to help the moloids and lizard men establish governments that can be of service to the Goff Empire and benefit from trade in both their rich mines and superior fashioning of weapons.
"It looks like the start of a beautiful friendship, Doz," the Wonder Worlock says to his friend.
"Only one thing worries me, O Sir," the battle-hardened general says. "How am I going to get all these blood stains out of my uniform before I return to Nef and Landry?"
For once, there is laughter in the caverns of Ytsan Nobe.