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The Wonder Worlock: Secrets of the Sea, Part 1

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Posted by: Byron Brewer, Managing Editor
created 04/16/2013 - 5:30pm

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(Cover by Jim O'Riley)

PART THE FIRST

SSSSSSSSSPPPPPPLLLLLAAAAAAAAASSSSHHHHHH!!!!!

Into the sea of an alien world he has never known dives the Wonder Worlock, guardian of the galaxies and more.

It is quite a new experience to fall from outer space, through the atmospheric layers of a world and into its oceans for the spirit beneath the dark mask, the high collar of his billowing cloak threatening to capture what little light there is under the waves … to be a first-time visitor to a planet, so vast have been his adventures.

He gestures one hand amid the murk and instantly bobbles of life dance to life like fairies of a children’s story, each keeping in file like students going to lunch or fish in a school.

Yes, underwater it would seem the greater comparison: fish in a school.

Their light is not of high magnitude, only used as a guide for the celestial necromancer. And everywhere he swims, this way and that, alone in the gigantic ocean of a world that is almost 100 percent ocean, he is awestruck by its simplistic beauty.

And everywhere he swims, this way and that, he thinks of … her.

Her: Arema, Queen Prime of the (faraway) 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.

He had not planned to “settle down,” this space-faring sorcerer. He has called a thousand worlds “home” in his centuries-old lifetime. Yet only his time on the red planet N’Moy would equal what he has found under the waters of Oceanus, and that is … well, a life.

And now he is here, faraway from Arema and her shared Bedchamber Royale; here, on the under-populated world of Neptunia, once one of the busiest ports in this quadrant peopled by an exploring race who looked up amid the stars rather than pollute their own environs as so many other water-breathers – and air-breathers – had done.

No, the Neptunians are of this ancient underwater world, but being such did not hinder their innate curiousity about life among the stars. So generations ago, they left behind the waves and underwater wonders of their own planet to explore those bright and shining lights above the waters’ surface, and in so doing crafted magnificent spaceships which carry metric tons and tons of water … water like that on the planet Earth … because that is the atmosphere in which Neptunians exist. They are water-breathers, riding highly sophisticated fish bowls through the heavens.

Many of those crafts, like the one captained by his friend Gar, the Good Fellow, now call Oceanus their home port. It happened to them the same as it did the Wonder Worlock. There is just something magic (he laughs as he thinks this) … yes, magic about that blue marble in the skies so far away, that Oceanus.

And now he is on the planet Neptunia, a world abandoned by its own race but the home of two others … and not willingly so.

When the world of Gaza IV exploded months ago, the Wonder Worlock along with several allies – including the population of Gaza itself – helped relocate beings that would be affected by the death of the planet.

Gaza’s underground residents, mammal and reptilian, found themselves making the best of things as they were relocated to the dark world of Ytsan Nobe with its livable caverns and deep subterranean passageways. The desert dwellers of both Gaza V and VIIhave found a new home on Za in the Mephistoff Nebula. Its warmth will sustain those peoples and, aside from the Underground Dwellers’ small population and an occasional nomadic native tribe, this population may be the key to slowly forming Za into a cultural center as it was rumored to be centuries ago.

The prime populaces, meanwhile, were given, free and clear, the outskirt territories of the Goff Empire. Several worlds are within one star system around the great giant Gargantos, and it is here the surface people of Gaza IV and Gaza VIIhave made their star-faring prime ports.

But the Wonder Worlock concerns himself with none of those beings today, as he has for weeks on end. No, this day he dives to check on the water-breathers of underground Gaza IV as well as a sister species on Gaza VII, all of whom were transported to Neptunia by permission of High Naval Command after receiving word from Captain Gar. With most of Neptunia’s population on Oceanus now, the Dark Mage and Gar agreed this would be a fine opportunity for a continuation of repopulation efforts.

Whether these two races have communicated or even come in contact with each other is unknown. Although both were quite civilized, nothing has been heard from either population since the day Gaza IV blew.

That is why the Wonder Worlock, and he alone, has come to Neptunia.

Deeper and deeper swims the cosmic necromancer, just off the main underwater continental shelf. Lush greenery on the surface and underneath the waves calms him as he glides like a dark manta across a grotto and into a den of caves occupied by large but apparently harmless octopus-like creatures – just like on Oceanus! And again – déjà vu all over again? -- the black-clad conjurer has a brief thought of Kat’Wallidur … and shivers.

Slowly, inexorably, he dives deeper and deeper into the caverns of Neptunia, the thick kelp and numerous fish life sometimes making visibility a problem. As he begins to lose sight from the surface, the space-bender gestures and stronger lights – the Seven Suns of Synaster -- appears before him, illuminating the way for the journey ahead … or rather, down.

Not that he needs the light. The Wonder Worlock flies through the vastness of space unencumbered, sometimes where there are no bright stars or swirling nebulas to illuminate his path. He can navigate through interstellar space, dimensional barriers and hyperspace, which he enters to exceed the speed of light, and has even proven capable of time travel. His space-kissed senses enable him to detect objects and concentrations of energy light years away and to perceive matter and energy in subatomic detail, including life energies of living beings.

No, not that he needs the light. On the world of Oceanus and aboard the crafts of humanoids for so long a time, he has just become accustomed to it, finds a comfort in it. Like he does in Arema.

Ah, Arema, he thinks …

At the trunk-roots of an ancient sea-growing tree, with limbs as thick as 10 Neptunians in a row, maybe more: movement!

From the murk and swirling seaweed steps a creature, a humanoid alien of obvious age. And he does something the Wonder Worlock does not expect:

He smiles.

“Welcome, O Savior of my people, your people,” he says in a tongue new to the mage but understandable through quantum magicks. “O Savor, O Wundarr, we your people have come to meet you, for your coming was foretold by our seer, Daka. Come, come.”

The shaman extends his hand and the ancient one tries to do similarly. The hands shake. Then the subsea being gently presses his webbed hand’s thumb onto the top of the Dark Mage’s cowl, and this is repeated by the cloaked visitor.

“I am Cleito, former Vizier of our fallen ruler, Tridenture, also representing our great Council of Three.”

“Fallen?”

“He stayed behind and met the fate of Gazaand its legendary dragon spirits, I am afraid. He wished this not for his people, but he believed the reign of his father and his father and his father began there and should thus end there.”

“And so …”

“We wait for you, Great Wundarr,” Cleito explains. “We have done as best we can and this world is a world of plenty, already having great cities and living spaces we have populated. Even libraries with a discernable language which has taught us new ways the Council of Three is willing to accept. Now must come our day of joy, though.”

“ ‘Day of joy’?’” the Wonder Worlock questions.

“Yes, O Sir, as we welcome Our Savior, the Great Wundarr, to meet with the Council of Three that, in absence of Noble Tridenture, it might become a ruling Council of Four as ‘twas always meant to be!”

With that, and even surprising the space-born senses of the Son of Survok, billions and billions of living fishes stream down lightly around he and Cleito like so much confetti. After a second, he gathers it is exactly that!

The underwater population of Gaza VIIhas indeed become part of its sister civilization from Gaza IV (the sister race slightly greener in tent, IV’s population leaning more to a light blue hue) and both are welcoming the Wonder Worlock this special day to a brand new world, a brand new democracy overseen by the now-Council of Four.

Down a wide main thoroughfare of the nearest Neptunian town, now called Fryecore by these mer-people, “Wundarr” rides atop two giant turtle-like creatures with flipper spans that would make any Earth whale envious. Around him are maidens throwing garlands of sea plants, one fashioning a laurel around his head and a lei around his neck, and she manages to do so despite the flapping collar and cape!

Like an elderly drum major, Cleito leads his people and a suddenly lengthening convoy through the trunk-roots that support this city’s ceiling and further, into an illuminated domed area resembling, if nothing else, Gaza IV’s now-destroyed Citadel of Science.

As the singing and gaiety of the people swell, the turtles land softly on the sand outside the citadel and the Wonder Worlock, still somewhat in shock, dismounts.

Underwater clarions blow an unfamiliar tune.

“The Council of Three!!!” Cleito shouts in a high squeaky voice.

A lovely woman of lightest green skin hue swims down from the ‘Citadel” and bows low to the Wonder Worlock, kissing the end of his cape.

“Amroda!” Cleito shouts, “formerly of the Empire of Sulomor on Gaza VII!”

Then a good-looking young man-fish steps forward, doing exactly as Amroda had done.

“Thakos!” Cleito shouts, “formerly of the Empire of Sur of Gaza IV!”

Thakos smiles as he passes the Dark Mage, and it finally puts the sorcerer at ease. After all, this – well, meeting the undersea peoples, not being grand marshal of a parade – is why he ventured here – alone – in the first place.

“And the Great Volpan!” Cleito shouts, to mighty cheers from the crowd. “Hero of the Battle of Despan, conqueror of the Dragon Stormwing, formerly of the Empire of Nort of Gaza IV, and Ruler in the sted of Noble Tridenture!

“The Council of Three!!!”

“Come to me, O Wundarr, as our Council now becomes numbered as Four: all equal, all ruling, all empowered to protect the peoples of this New World we still call … Nep-toon-ee-yah. Our World, Our Peoples. Come to me, O Wundarr …”

“By the …!” The Dark Mage interrupts the Hero of Despan. The Wonder Worlock cannot believe his eyes, and thinks he might have to re-summon the Suns of Synaster.

Speaking while bowing before him is … Vargas!!!

Vargas the Vile! Vargas the Murderer! Vargas the Damned! And, he thought …

Vargus the dead?!!

TO BE CONTINUED …

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