The Wondor Worlock: The Wizard Of Za, Part 1
Posted by: Byron Brewer, Managing Editor
February 24, 2011 02:10 | Updated: 2 years 11 weeks Ago
February 24, 2011 02:10 | Updated: 2 years 11 weeks Ago
In the Earth year 1641, a mere decade or so after the village of Salem is founded in Massachusetts in a very “New World,” English law makes witchcraft a capital crime – meaning its practice was punishable by death, usually preceded by torture.
In 1688, following an argument with laundress Goody Glover, Martha Goodwin, 13, begins exhibiting bizarre behavior. Days later, her younger brother and two sisters exhibit similar behavior. Glover is arrested and tried for bewitching the Goodwin children. The Rev. Cotton Mather meets twice with Glover following her arrest in an attempt to persuade her to repent her witchcraft. Glover is hanged. Mather takes Martha Goodwin into his house. Her bizarre behavior continues and worsens, leading Mather that same year to publish his Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions.
On January 20, 1692, eleven-year old Abigail Williams and nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris begin behaving much as the Goodwin children acted four years earlier. Soon Ann Putnam Jr. and other Salemgirls begin acting similarly. In mid-February, Doctor Griggs, who attends to the "afflicted" girls, suggests that witchcraft may be the cause of their strange behavior. Later that month, Tituba, at the request of neighbor Mary Sibley, bakes a "witch cake" and feeds it to a dog. According to an English folk remedy, feeding a dog this kind of cake, which contained the urine of the afflicted, would counteract the spell put on Elizabeth and Abigail. The reason the cake is fed to a dog is because the dog is believed a "familiar" of the Devil. Pressured by ministers and townspeople to say who caused her odd behavior, Elizabethidentifies Tituba. The girls later accuse Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne of witchcraft. Arrest warrants are issued shortly thereafter.
On March 1, 1692, Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin examine Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne for "witches’ teats." Tituba confesses to practicing witchcraft and confirms Good and Osborne are her co-conspirators.
On June 2 of the same year, Bridget Bishop is the first to be tried and convicted of witchcraft. She is sentenced to die.
The blood and madness of the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 have begun in Massachusetts. It will not be until 1702 that the General Court declares the 1692 trials unlawful.And it is in 1711 that the colony passes a legislative bill restoring the rights and good names of those accused of witchcraft and grants 600 pounds in restitution to their heirs.
But what justice was there for those already slain in the name of the dark arts? And what of the true practitioners of Wicca, of the mystic arts, those who either died trying to do good or those who cowered in the shadows while good people, innocent people, died?
What of that justice, that retribution?
PART THE FIRST
Walking, walking, walking. Alone, in a desert. No beast of burden to ride, black cape dragging the scorching sands, invisible sweat under a dark cowl dripping under three suns as they shine down, beat down on him. The black figure instinctively makes a gesture that would ordinarily bring a refreshing rain and the wind of a thousand worlds to his beckon call.
He remembers his name – the Wonder Worlock? – and what he stands for across the Multiverse. But he cannot put the pieces of a puzzle together. Why he is here, how he came here, how long he has been walking – this blasted, eternal walking to … where? – he does not know. For d’ast sake, he can’t even fly!
Then, as if in a rush of madness, the cloaked stranger begins digging, digging like a dog in the hot desert sands, digging a hole, forming a circle – a pentagram, a scrying pool? – and even though the heat blisters his gloved fingers, he digs on. And on. And on …
Finally, slumped onto the sands, he raises his right arm to the heavens, pain making his unseen facial visage wince. His dry mouth forms words, not easily: “Show me,” he almost whispers.
Nothing … at least at first. Then, the deep depression in the dunes crackles with energies powered by the three stars above him. Murky images his sun-baked orbs can barely register, can scarcely make out, flicker in the seer pool: The deep blackness of endless space … cool, cool space; a tingle inside the wizard’s head as he was soaring the spaceways; a bolt of crimson lightning containing energies he has never encountered before; the eternal plummet from the skies as the desert surface of this planet came up to meet him, roughly; and a distant memory of green fog surrounding everything … the green mist of death?
He tires, this cosmic legend. The seer pool goes dark and dry as the trio of suns shine down strongly on the man clad in black. A slithering reptilian beast of no legs springs suddenly from the hole the Wonder Worlock has dug. Fangs dripping venom, the serpentine beast strikes!
Too slow. The star-faring wizard grabs his coiled foe by the throat, opens a yawing chasm in his deep dark mask, and swallows the reptile whole!
Then he slumps down over the dried seer pool as the suns continue to beat down. There is no wind, no more animal movement – and barely a heartbeat.
And the suns shine on.
Thunder booms and lightning flashes over a desert world once heated by the blistering rays of triple suns. Rain pounds a lone figure, barely clothed and seemingly possessing an age beyond time. Water trickles down his brown skin, through a river of wrinkles and drips onto the thirsty desert sand. The storm in this section of the RazhDeserthas lasted almost five cycles, and still the parched sands thirst for more.
The small wrinkled figure whirls his short arm over his head like a frenzied helicopter, and the storm increases its intensity. Unbelievably, a small fire burns before the squatting form. He closes his eyes, looks inward and then begins to cackle a maniacal laugh. Winds blow across the terrain, but the azure fire flickers not a whit.
“Wonder Worlock? Wonder Worlock??!! Bwahahahahaha!!”
These two words are repeated over and over amid the howlings of an apparent madman. The being of aboriginal-like frame waves his arm again, and the storm intensifies anew. Lighting strikes the large boulder on which the old man sits, turning it into molten lava! Still, the minute figure continues to squat upon the mass of melted rock, cackling and speaking the name of the cosmic legend that fell upon his world weeks ago, onto the scorching dayside of the planet Za.
“Wonder Worlock? Wonder Worlock??!! Bwahahahahaha!!”
Night. The black sacred relaxation period of the grueling dayside of Za, a desert world somewhere in the Mephistoff Nebula. The animals – some mammals, mostly reptiles – come out to bite the native plant life, sucking whatever fluid is left remaining in this arid land. Tiny teeth gnaw at the lower limbs of the non-resident wizard; there are no personal shields, no psionic defenses for the animals to fear.
To the denizens of the RazhDesert, the Wonder Worlock represents not so much a threat as an unexpected smorgasbord!
“Zootalaris!” the waking space-farer yells as yellow energy suddenly glows around his midnightform. “Off with you, vermin! I am no meal to extend your pitiful lives another cycle! I am no diversion for your sandy existences! I am the Wonder Worlock! Do you hear me?? The Wonder Worlock!!!”
The yellowish aura grows outward from the physical form of the cosmic conjurer, flinging reptile and mammal as well as submicroscopic parasites off his star-kissed form. Swiftly, as his eye slits narrow, a vortex whirls around his body and renews the spirit of the legend. A small storm cloud appears over his head and the Waters of the Outer Realms clean the sands and sweat off his tired form. With the foul taste of serpent still on his tongue, the man in black screams a silent cry of defiance to the purple desert skies.
Then, his body slumps again. Under the black carpet of evening, the Wonder Worlock sleeps the sleep of the weary.
“Report! Navigator!” the grizzled voice says. “We have just entered the damnable Mephistoff Nebula, and tactical is practically nil. Yet that rise in energy readings emanated from somewhere in this quadrant. What are we looking at?”
“The residual energy readings are coming from the desert world of Za, the only readings there save the animal and primitive primate intelligence that dot the world,” Ulus tells his Captain. “You seem to know more than our data banks, sir.”
“Aye,” Captain Tiberius Krik says. “I have been on that damnable, dusty world before … back in my Academy days. Why, I was even younger than our youthful Ensign Raspootnik here. I remember …”
These are the Goff, humanoid space-farers dedicated to spreading understanding and cooperation across their galaxy. Understand, however, that although their mission is altruistic, these are military men on a military vessel, the grand starcraft Hope. It is the pride of the Goff navy and the symbol of their race’s life-mission.
SSFLANG! SSFLANG!! The mysterious cosmic energies return, the energies that were able to knock a flying cosmic champion out of physical space now pummel The Hope. The crew is in action immediately.
“Return fire in the area of that attack!” Krik barks out. “Ready plasma torpedoes and secure cloak!”
“Cloak non-functional in the nebula, sir! Return fire already …”
“Dammit! Get the molecular cannons online. Re-aim the sonic cannon, the Great Solexus, and release the Thrumm toward the energy signature.”
“Molecular cannons offline, sir! Damage reports from decks 17 through 32. Over 50 reported dead already, Captain. Void breech in the aft!”
THROMMMMM!!! The sound of the Great Solexus is deafening, literally. The high-level sonics sweep the silence of surrounding space, small moons and asteroids melting like ice cream on a hot summer day. THROMMMMM!!!
The Hope lurches in the broadcast of its own sonic release. But then, silence again reigns. The alien energy stamp is gone, save that being given off in the deserts of Za by the Wonder Worlock. Gone, but not forgotten.
“What the d’ast was that flarkin’ fire?” Krik demands. “Killed a third of my crew and sick bay’s already overwhelmed and under-manned. Turn this tub toward Za –
Weeks have passed on Za, as Earthers reckon them. Studying the ways of the world and bringing to bear his cosmic knowledge, the Wonder Worlock has become more a master of his environment, not it of him. He still cannot fly, especially swiftly enough to achieve escape velocity, but most of his cosmic power has returned – at least enough to remind him of earlier days and how humble – and peaceful! – is the life of the man who does not soar the spaceways.
Ages ago, the primates that dot and apparently rule this world in nomad fashion stepped out of the caves. To these same caverns has the Wonder Worlock returned in current days, taking shelter from the heat, reserving power, probing the surrounding nebula for the energy signature of the being or beings that brought him here.
The coolness of the caves heals the Wonder Worlock, and allows his pain to ease. An underground stream yields food in the form of blind insects and crawfish. Food is not usually a need of this wonder wizard, but being away from the stars and vastness of space – in addition to the heat of the triple suns – has taken its toll on the cosmic crusader.
He is almost whole. Almost. But when you have the power of the Wonder Worlock, “almost” is far from recovered.
The owner of my “doom bolt” is still in this quadrant, somewhere out in the vastness, zipping in and out of hyperspace,he thinks. When I can, the Wonder Worlock will face this foe in mortal combat! On that day, this entity or peoples will learn what happens when you threaten the existence of a warrior born!
At that moment, the Wonder Worlock feels a kindred spirit in his head, in his mind, a whisper from another mind parsecs away.
And who is this, the Wonder Worlock asks psionically.
Oh! I am Rand, one of the few telepaths belonging to the Goff race. I am of the starcraft The Wave, answering a distress summons from our flagship The Hope. It has disappeared into the Mephistoff Nebula. My ship was then destroyed by – something, some energy beam. Red…
I would assist you if I could. Have you ever heard whispered tales of a being called the Wonder Worlock?
After several humbling – and, to the cosmic champion, embarrassing – prayers of salvation, Randdiscovers the black-clad mage is also lost in space, just like his crew … or what remains of The Wave’s gallant men.
We are attempting to erect a solar sail and make our way to the Outer Realms, Randsays telepathically.
I am sorry my space-bending powers are still in recovery. But perhaps, if I concentrate, I can summon a solar wind that can help The Waveon its way once your solar sail is erected.
Anything you can do, O Powerful Wonder Worlock, our peoples would be grateful. We will be to your assistance on Za as soon as we can, O sir.
The Wonder Worlock smiles, for the first time in – in recent memory.
Eventide on Za.
And as he has for the past many weeks, the Wonder Worlock dons his black cloak and leaps into the cool night sky of the desert world. Slowly at first, but now much more easily, the mage becomes an almost invisible sky-skimmer against the virtually starless night curtain of Za.
Tonight, he tries something different. Instead of landing birdlike, as he did last night and the nights preceding it, he concentrates and – BAMF!! – he has teleported to the opening of his cave home. Genuine laughter emanates from a mouth that, days ago, swallowed a Za’nite serpent – whole!
“Ahh, come out, little cricket friends, sing me your pretty night music,” he says to no one. “Sing of your stream and the challenges of your sightless lives. My power is now on a self-generating level; I no longer need to consume you or your crayfish brethren. And I sincerely thank you for the sustenance you provided me in my needy days. In truth, little ones, I am in your debt. Now, sing your night song and soothe my soul …”
The Wonder Worlock’s eyes begin to close, when, as quickly as smoke through a keyhole, the ground above and below his cave rumbles and shakes. Fire shoots from the small caverns lining the underground stream. And if it did not seem so odd, the Wonder Worlock could swear he felt drops of rain – underground!
Bending space around him and lessening his density, the cosmic conjurer rises through the very cave roof to see what is disturbing his insect lullaby. He has sensed no tectonic unrest in Za before now.
Living lava boils along the former sandy surface, heat high enough to melt the wizard’s cave entrance. Floating above the hot molten lava, the Wonder Worlock’s right hand crackles white-hot and summons the Vortex of Viruses and the Rains of Razh (the natural waters of the very desert over which he floats) to cool and extinguish all this fire – flame he has now determined to be unnatural.
“Wonder Worlock! Wonder Worlock! Ah-hahahaha!” shouts the small brown-skinned man as the ground literally carries his sitting form before the mage. “Wonder Worlock! Wonder Worlock! Heard of you I have, Shaman of the Distant Skies. You have not heard of ol’ Za, I will wager. Think they I was named for the world of my birth, but in truth, the world was named for Za! Old I am, older than you, older than this world. People took me to heart over the millennia, ‘til there was so much to remember, remember, remember to tell the young ones – pass it on, pass it on, pass it on – that I got tired. Tired!
“Tired am I! Fled the people to the other side of Za, did I. The world, not the rock rider, heeheehee! Here to challenge my decisions, are you? Here to best me, says I. Heeheeheehee!!!!”
Rock rolls from beneath the mage and grabs him in a strong hand-shaped vice! The black-clad being summons his Guided Muscle, as his right hand grows to gargantuan proportions and shatters the rock fist, physically hurting Za in the process.
Winds from a thousand worlds blow the rock rider’s way, extinguishing his fires and finally blowing the Zen-like Za from his rocky perch. Suddenly, Za is no longer cackling, but stares at the terrain beneath the floating space-farer. A chasm yawns into existence below the Wonder Worlock and a vacuum tries to suck the wizard into its abyss. Blue Bolts of Bedevilment are hurled by the Wonder Worlock at the chasm, but still is he drawn slowly, inexorably toward the fissure.
The Wonder Worlock’s eyes glow as his density increases a thousand-fold; his body stops its drag along the sandy planet surface. Just then, a mere conjurer’s cone forms at the behest of the mage to fill the ground-hole. When the cone closes again, it is as if Za’s chasm had never existed.
“Fie! Fie!” yells Za. Never has he been so bested, even in the Old Days when, to his recollection, there were more Rock Wielders than he. “Fie, I say!”
Before the Wonder Worlock can become intangible again, a prison of sold rock rises from beneath the sorcerer. “Ah-hahahaha!” cackles Za as he slowly shrinks the granitite jail, effectively squeezing to death an ill-prepared and still-weakened entity.
As the Wonder Worlock struggles to summon his Pinchers of Power – enter a legend!
Tiberius Krik entered the Naval Academy of Goff as a lad, serving as a cabin boy on the fabled Botany Bay. Later, as a cook, Krik slept on his feet on a barge of a craft, dreaming of space explorations of the future.
But as great a space explorer and military man as Krik was, he was much more successful as a diplomat. It was to his advantage, then, as he worked his way up the ranks that the many worlds and civilizations around the Goff system were matriarchies. And Krik was rumored to be a lady’s man from way back!
The now-Captain Krik enters the fray between the Wonder Worlock and Za with his best Red Shirts, fighting men of high talent and higher respect, at his side: Vul-Kann, the warrior giant whom some say shares more with Krik than just a close friendship; Bones, a Goff mutant who claims to be able to command the muscles and nerves of foes’ bodies psionically; the kilted Heigh Land, whose sonic pipes were modeled after the Great Solexus itself; and young, loyal Raspootnik, who reminds the Captain of himself in earlier times.
“Avast, black-cloak,” Krik miraculously spits at the imprisoned Wonder Worlock. “You have the same energies about you as the monster or monsters that damaged my ship and killed my men! What say ye?”
A nod from Krik, and Land’s sonic pipes bursts the Wonder Worlock free from his stony prison. Immediately, the weakened wizard bends light around and through his form, turning invisible.
“Where’d you go, ye devil? Can’t sink The Hope on my watch,” Krik screams, turning his attention now to the cackling Rock Wielder Za. “You’re older looking than my mother-in-law, ye mad midget! Phasers on stun. Fire!!”
As Vul-Kann and Raspootnik fire on Za, Bones uses his fabled talent to make certain Za does not bring his own special skills to bear.
“Randhas been in touch, warlock, and is well,” Krik yells to the empty air. “Too bad I cannot say the same for his skipper, Alars. Alars Krik was my son – my son! For his death and the deaths of my loyal men, someone will pay! Can you – will you – tell me who? Who!!!!”
“I am … I am sorry. I do not know,” the Wonder Worlock says, reappearing. “I have a feeling our foe is one and the same, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And so you found Rand and his fellow survivors?”
“Too few survivors for my tastes … but aye.”
“Assume your men can handle Za?”
“Before determining his power set, we were going to return him to his people for treatment. Another sad d’ast story of genetic manipulation, mind-melding. Most folks think only the primitive aborigines like ‘Za’ here live on this God-forsaken world. Most do not know or do not care to know about Za’s underground population – very advanced, but very stupid. Their attitude really never came out of the caves. Poor guy, ‘Za” really believes he is one of the Old Ones after whom this planet was named. Escaped from his care center a few cycles ago; I do not think the caretakers could give a flark.”
As “Za” is beamed up to The Hope, he finally exclaims, “Wonder Worlock! Wonder Worlock!! You will never beat me! Ah-hahahaha!!!!!”
Five hours later, The Hope leaves Za orbit, heading slowly through the great Mephistoff Nebula. The Wonder Worlock is on board.
TO BE CONTINUED …