Old Mages, Older Powers

((Dalen Alps, Nargozond))

The sound of beating hammers upon softened metal echoed in the underground as Gelt watched the Kragan work. Their anger was put into every blow they gave, their rage shaping the instruments of death and war. Black metal blades of axes and swords lined the walls and filled carts. One Kragan stood above the others in the pits, a long whip cracking amongst the forges to give incentive to the remainder. The whip itself did not bring the same pain it would bring any Man or Mer. It gave them an almost frenzied rush of bloodlust that they expended into the weapons.

Weapons of hatred to light the torches of war, Bathlazaar thought. Cinder and fume to scorch the land and rivers. Let there be the blood of kings, let the blades of chaos ring!

"Master," spoke a Kragan as it came up to him. The warrior of his own creation went to its knee as it bowed its head. "Another hundred have been birthed. We are now one thousand strong, as you wished."

"Excellent. Our production must be doubled for the coming war. Our enemies grow in strength every passing moment. We must not fail in this, for now there is no turning back from our greatest triumph." Gelt spoke this as he continued to watch the Kragan work away. Leonin-like roars from the birthing pits sounded as new Kragan emerged from the vats in which he had applied his knowledge of mahangory. More and more they were brought into the dark world with rage and pain untamed by none, save those whose own matched them.

A little nudge in the back of his mind told him of someone attempting to scry him. The nudge became a shove as someone forced immense power into their spellcraft. Gelt turned away from his view. Who had dared to try and force their view?

His appearance in his seeing room was swift. His hand curled over the seeing stone at the center pedestal. Power flowed freely within the place as the runes of protection along the floors and walls of the hexagonal room flared into existence.

"Trying to block me out, Gelt? You watched me, I think it's only fair I see you." A cold voice spoke to Gelt in the back of his head. "You've been pushing your agreements a bit, Gelt. Getting that desperate?" The voice held the natural cruelty of a blizzard, only one man was capable of matching the power of winter.

Gelt applied a bit more mental pressure to the seeing stone, knowing who it was on the other end. "So… At the dawn of Dalen's rebirth into a kingdom, ruled by the Diablo himself, you have returned. The Lord of the Frost Heart himself. You seemed to have mastered the art of being unseen. I applaud you, Sainte. Now I ask, what has Changed you to return?"

The runes glowed as his own will was matched. Very few could and Gelt was all the more aware of who it was he spoke to. It had been over a century since The Mage Wars, yet the legend of Zachary Sainte was still spoken of between the rebuilding states of the Remnant.

"You know very well what it is, Gelt. You attacked Soldor's Bastian, you enraged Soularous, and you pushed Draken. All for the sake of what, an empire built from fear and rage? I know why you are doing this, it's the same reason I went into hiding. Great powers are coming to a place they don't belong. Am I wrong?" Zachary inquired, "Congrats on having the Nameless retreat from Dalen."

An ethereal hiss came from the golden mask. "I had sensed them here upon this world. The fact they slipped beneath my notice intrigues me. I have set into motion what others are unwilling to do to protect this world. Draken Darkward will see to the rebuilding of Dalen even as Verden readies for war with false enemies. I will correct them in time. As I will with all of the lands."

He knew he had to direct Verden before it saw his changes as a threat. Gelt would remind them thoroughly of why magic was to be feared as much as it was necessary.

"If you want to free the magical beings trapped by the fearful masses of Verden, you need to find something in their foundation of belief. Doubt. You are not the only one who has been planning." There was a soft sigh at the end.

"I sense my old master, the Necromancer King, has been disturbed. It's a matter of time before he is awakened."

Gelt fell silent and still. He did not respond immediately. When he did move, he waved his hand over the stone, parting his lesser wards to gaze upon the chiseled and weathered facsimile of Zachary Sainte. His other wards hung like thick webs upon their Sight.

"If He truly is disturbed, then I await from what is to come. I have watched the last of the magic-users slowly dwindle. Not many remember the ancient ways to bring about His awakening. There is only one. And long have I sensed him as my armies gather and kingdoms rise. He is still weak, tis a strength complete with no body. And here he is, yet another harbinger."

Gelt sensed nothing from Sainte. As it should be. He knew the man more thoroughly than many could imagine, but even he had to agree that Zachary Sainte was no man to truly fight.

Zachary looked down at the orb of ice, right back at Gelt, "So you do wear a mask, truly you've seen a lot." Zachary unexpectedly pushed through Gelt's wards, or more so, found some kind of weak point. "Don't mistake me as some simple mage Gelt, demons sneer at your name while they dread to speak mine. What you did already gives me plenty of reasons to freeze those worthless red beasts you command into fresh ice. As much as I have to agree, Draken has potential, however you forget one of the greatest weaknesses of all kings: a woman. The demons are rebuilding Opra Dale, but Draken has gone to Zatar of all places to save a woman, someone we know as the last of her kind, Orla Carling."

Zachary knew Gelt was tactical about his plans, but Zachary himself took account of everyone's own thoughts and emotions, and free will can always ruin a plan.

Gelt was aware of this too, even as he mentally collapsed part of his webbed wards as that weak point was pushed. The layers shifted to ensnare and Sainte casually lessened his pressure, lest he fall to the wards. Gelt was also aware of the Cult of Fernoia, sensing her faint presence in Opra Dale. The name confirmed it.

"A name entangled in history. So the last of the fey walks the lands once more? No, tis a sign. One that bears the epitome of Chaos untainted. One that may become our salvation if my plan fails." That last part was painful for even Bathlazaar to admit. Even he could not predict everything that was to transpire. But he could see the folds of destiny as assuredly as the Weave of Aeran. They were changing again.

"Even so, this proves useful. You are right to be correct, Sainte. Emotion is a strong motivator. If Draken wishes Orliath Carling, it will be best to keep her as incentive. Perhaps I have let Zatar go unchecked for too long. This will be corrected."

"Zatar isn't something to worry about, the Iron Crown and its vessel are dealing with Zatar, and I'm certain that Ar and the Nameless are combating for control. Zatar is a battlefield at the moment, let it crumble." Zatar could not be controlled at the moment,it needed a full reformation.

"Hmm. Perhaps a while longer," Gelt agreed. "All will have a part to play in this grand game of Fate. Even you."

"Whatever you are planning you know how to contact me, I now have to maintain my grandson's kingdom." Zachary ended his scrying spell and left Gelt alone. Bathlazaar stared at the stone a moment longer before turning away. The runes died out as the red wizard strode out of the room.

He had much to ponder on these developments. One fact was certain: with Sainte returned, Dalen would be great again. He was certain that the old magocracy was stepping in the right direction. It would have to do for the time being. Other countries still had much in the need of change than Dalen at this point in time. Most importantly, Verden would be next. Unlike the last bastions of the Remnant, Verden would be different and would be much harder.

Gelt knew it did not matter. The war would come to them, assuredly.

< Prev : The Uninvited Guest Next > : King of Necromancers ~ Part 01