The Wonder Worlock: Sword & Sorcery, Part 2
Posted by: Byron Brewer, Managing Editor
April 15, 2011 13:11 | Updated: 2 years 3 weeks Ago
April 15, 2011 13:11 | Updated: 2 years 3 weeks Ago
PART THE SECOND
Flotsam and Jetsam spread their metal wings, soaring on the solar winds like birds of prey. These two mechanical probes are part of a plethora of robot-spies that are the eyes and ears of Warfarin, almighty ruler of Degaba, a planet that orbits a binary star in the same dimension as exists Threlkel.
The robot-spies surround the giant of a man, hugging onto his physique almost like a cloak. Then dozens of communi-cables extend from the “birds,” entering connections to the quasi-automaton that is Warfarin.
In nano-seconds, information about the current state of the worlds and even galaxies that surround Degaba are assimilated, assembled and analyzed by the monarch, his normally dark visage shimmering with the power of knowledge as the birds empty their all into Warfarin.
This monarch is their only reason for being, these partially-sentient beasts of artificial life, their only reason for existence. They are as loyal as a pup, as savage as a wolf, and as selfless as a kamikaze.
"Ahh, yes!” Warfarin smiles. “Flotsam! Jetsam! You have brought me great news indeed. Doubly so! The infernal power rings surrounding faraway Threlkel are dissolving, for reasons unknown. And it seems at its greatest hour of need, Threlkel’s champion, the pathetic barbarian king Traven, is no where to be found. I have probed for his energies myself, following up on your report. Traven is not even in this flarkin’ dimension! Bwahahahaha!”
The Degaban king is quick to take action – almost unnervingly so. He has been preparing for such a colonization – his word is “colonization,” but it should be read invasion – since time out of mind. His once-vast empire has dwindled in recent cycles, with populations escaping to other worlds or other empires claiming lands on the fringes of the Degaban system.
Now opportunity knocks on his door!
“Call out the Light Brigade!” Warfarin commands. “They will take the point. And inform its members they will not be coming home.”
Then he launches his Penetration Assault, as his metal-winged flock of robot-probes converts to battle armament. Almost as one, the flock leaves Warfarin’s physique to soar into the Degaban skies outside their master’s castle – to the skies, and beyond.
“Fly, my pretties, fly!” Warfarin screams as he watches from a palace window, cackling like a madman. “Fly!!”
The battle for the future of Threlkel is on quickly – and its favored son is no where to be found.
Since learning of the dilemma with its precious rings, the scientists of Threlkel have worked hard to find a solution. Pleas to staunch allies have been answered and experts from over 30 systems are housed in think-cubes scattered among the volcanoes, laboring tirelessly to solve an unheard-of phenomenon.
“What do we know thus far?” asks Zavar, chief scientist and telepath of Threlkel, to an assemblage of local and allied experts connected in a psi-conversation. “We must solve things before the return of King Traven. I am determined to show His Majesty he is not alone in his love for – or dedication to – Threlkel.”
“Dedication? Love? Hah!” snorts Java Lyn of Olympia, verbally and right in front of Zavar in his own think-cube. “A worldwide, life-and-death catastrophe for his ember of a rock and the great ruler takes a powder? Leaving us think cube-huddled men of science holding the bag? Yes sir, that’s dedication!”
"Out of my cube, Java, now! Treason is not welcome, even if he is only your historic king and not by practice,” says Zavar. “I have telepathically known of your feelings for a time, but in deference of your scientific standing and many contributions to our way of life I have said nothing. I never dreamed you would. Out! OUT!!”
As Java exits the cube and beams up to an orbiting Olympian ship, the skies of Threlkel seem to grow darker toward the east. The populace believes it to be another failing of their beloved rings. In truth, the attack – or “colonization” – of the volcanic world by the Light Brigade is only hours away.
He soars the spaceways, free of worry. For once he has shut down almost completely his version of cosmic awareness, living for the moment rather than the needs of the many. Today is for the needs of the one. It is a decision the Wonder Worlock will regret.
His body and mind are healing, this cosmic conjurer in black. This frolic in the autumnal mists near the worlds of Honah Lee, in the open space of his own universe, has been healthful. He even finds a moment to mourn his fallen friends, such as the crew of The Hope, and his departed foes, like Nomad.
“Zootalaris! But that small light radiating strange energies reminds me of Nomad. It seems to be a warbling reflection rather than a star – perhaps another errant comet, such as the one that killed Aloka or the one that almost destroyed the beautiful Pizzar …?
“But no!” he abruptly exclaims. “I have played the role of fool!”
The Wonder Worlock quickly erects a cosmic forcefield around his frame, but his will power fails him. So much for the idea of – what do Earthers call it? – “a vacation.”
“Have at thee!” screams Traven as the whirling Memorell brings him face to face with the Wonder Worlock. “Harken, mage. Give me no lip or resistance! I have need …”
“Of some manners!” responds the man in black as he grabs the warlord in the vaunted Guided Muscle, his gigantic hand squeezing Traven tightly. “Now what say you, stranger?”
“Nay! I have no time for these magicks, sorcerer! My …” Traven’s anger gets the better of him as he swings his enchanted blade, shattering the Guided Muscle into so much confetti.
“I would have word with you, arrogant one!” the mage says, “but first you and that flashing weapon must be contained.”
While the Blue Bands of Bedevilment shoot from limbo like party favors, binding the roaming ruler, the Rings of Randak encircle the floating Memorell, keeping the sword from the hand of its master. Such occurrences are practically unknown to Traven, much less having two such events in less than an hour.
"Calm yourself, Your Majesty. I sense no hostility in your rather novel approach to asking for my assistance.”
"Out of my head, shaman! '‘Tis true, I do need your aid. The One Eye you sent to my dimension … I assume to save your own … it is killing my world!”
The esoteric bands tighten. “You lie, barbarian! Kat’Wallidur was dead before he left this realm; I ensured it myself!”
“It was his leaking alien energies more than any physical threat that has been our undoing. He has flarked up Threlkel’s light- and heat-generating planetary rings! He …”
The Wonder Worlock frowns beneath his ebony cowl. “Say no more,” he says, summoning the Vapors of Vipers to, snakelike, engulf them both.
When the smoke clears, the space once occupied by monarch and magician is empty.
Without their king, the Threlkellians never stood a real chance against Warfarin’s invasion. That should be understood from the onset.
Oh, the planet’s defense forces and their allies fought the good fight. The Threlkellian Star Blazers even managed to rebuff the Light Brigade, although the suicidal pilots of those mini-missle crafts did their damage, both to the think-cubes and the already damaged rings. Thousands of scientists killed! The rings’ deterioration hastened!
It was the birds of prey, the robot-probes-turned-
Now Zavar kneels before the arriving Warfarin, monarch of Degaba and soon-to-be ruler of Threlkel.
“O yea, O yea, all rise for His Most Royal Highness, Ruler True of Degaba, Protector of the Realm, Monarch of the Seven Sacred Moons, Most Esteemed Emperor of the Extemplar, soon-to-be King of Threlkel, His Excellency the Most Noble Warfarin!”
No response from the gathered, beleaguered assemblage.
“Stay on your knees, scientist!” the probe-cloaked monarch says to the telepath. "You will be made example of, you who defy my queries on technology, on the whereabouts of your 'king.’ Fie ‘pon you!”
A gesture of Warfarin’s chin and Degaba’s Executioner Prime steps forward, axe in hand.
Zavar of the Telepaths, Zavar of the Scientists of Threlkel, clad in psi-prohibiting collar, nobly bows his head – and then spits on Warfarin’s bionic feet. The Executioner Prime raises his axe …
It is at that moment that the Wonder Worlock and King Traven arrive, and in the proverbial puff of smoke!
No probe information? No pre-plan? The identi-file on the black-clad one empty? How can this be? thinks Warfarin.
All of the quasi-automaton Warfarin’s data banks are imploding, suddenly. The protective array of war-birds surrounds the Wonder Worlock but is swept away in a cosmic whirlwind. The mage hurls bolts of bedevilment right and left, erecting psionic shields to protect both Traven and the warlord’s people.
The Wonder Worlock then unleashes a pure stream of cosmic energy from his right arm, the limb crackling white-hot. Striking Warfarin, the Degaban ruler literally begins shaking, then explodes in a multi-colored shower of nuts and bolts that reminds the mage briefly of his earlier celestial disc lava-boarding.
Angrily, Traven grabs Memorell tightly and swings the sword toward the smoking hulk that is the refuse of Warfarin. The swing would’ve done Mighty Casey proud!
The reign, the execution and the termination of Warfarin -- His Most Royal Highness, Ruler True of Degaba, Protector of the Realm, Monarch of the Seven Sacred Moons, Most Esteemed Emperor of the Extemplar, soon-to-be King of Threlkel, His Excellency the Most Noble Warfarin – took less than ten minutes … tops!
The irony is not lost on either the Wonder Worlock or Traven that it is the Degaban scientists, working under Zavar’s “influence,” so to speak, who come up with a device to not only restore the light- and heat-generating rings around Threlkel, but actually to improve their performance.
A cosmic bolt of lightning summoned by “Official Visitor” the Wonder Worlock activates the device in a very public ceremony. The cheers are deafening.
Traven smiles at the departing mage, and offers the wizard a bit of advice even as he begins to be surrounded by purple mists.
“Wondrous shaman,” the wise king of Threlkel proffers, “try to take it easy, eh?”
Many who attended the Ring Lighting Ceremony that day recalled that, as they left the solemn event, they heard the echo of laughter in the air.
-- FINIS --