A Friendly Meeting

JP with Thaen

((Dalen Alps, Nargozond))

He walked, musing on his talk with Zachary Sainte as The Crimson One observed his Kragan. He watched as they dumped the ceramic vat into the waiting pit, other Kragan pulling and ripping at the caul that covered the fully grown Kragan. The muddy skin parted to reveal the muscled, red-skinned Man-Beast. Goo dripped from its appendages as it seized a Kragan that pulled at it. Born with fury and bloodlust, it quickly tore the throat of a Kragan out as it stood.

The pitmaster raised a black iron staff and stabbed it forward, silvered tip slamming the chest and arcing electricity that would have dropped a Man. The Kragan roared its leonin call for blood and grasped the staff. Gelt merely watched as the pitmaster was yanked from his height above the vats and to the waiting hands of a newly born and infuriated warrior. He watched as the Kragan savagely attacked the other, staff descending in aggressive stabs and crushing blows that caved the chest of the pitmaster. The newborn turned and jumped up to Gelt's height. It raised the staff as spittle and goo flew from its mouth.

"Crucio," was Gelt's only response. The attacking Kragan suddenly twisted from the full force of the wizard's will, pulling taunt every nerve of its body into a screaming pain immeasurable. "This one will become an excellent battlemaster. Prepare it," he commanded.

The other Kragan swarmed the aggressive one, yanking the struggling form to rooms deeper underground.

He observed for a moment longer before returning above ground. The numbers would be on his side when it came time to march. His divination confirmed that Verden still lay unaware of the machinations he had made, making it all the more likely that the heir to the throne would be one who would listen to Gelt. It would be perfect.

And yet, tremblings of activity were reported from Zatar. The Iron Queen was continuing her campaign with a slow, methodical success. If her aggression remained unchecked, it would eventually threaten Sarnia and Aelmere. He knew that, if allowed, her expansion would grow to rival his. It would depend if she would bend the knee to him.

The Empire would need strong leaders. What it did not need was competition.

At Gelt’s thought of competition there was a small flash of magic outside his sanctum walls. It lacked fanfare or gravitas. It was even more subtle than most teleportation spells. Nothing more than a small whirl of wind not unlike a dust devil kicking up a small gust of powdery snow. The only thing that let Gelt know that it was a true threat was when his magical defences sprang into action. Laying down a hail of multitudes of magic. Turning the small swirl of snow into a wall of powder white.

“I just want to talk.” Aldous’ voice boomed through the use of thaumaturgy. “We have bigger problems than a petty squabble.” He shouted, his shield spell holding strong but getting annoyed by the pelting blasts, and cold surroundings. “I know you can be reasonable. Come on, just talk. Promise I won’t sucker punch you like Blue did.”

Gelt, of course, sensed all of this. Even as Aldous called out to him, he knew Aldous to have a much more leveled head than the King in Blue. And so he retreated to the balcony overlooking his cave network of Kragan. The wizard reached with his magical senses and seized the defenses. Outside, the magical blasts stopped, dozens of magic missile spells suddenly swerving away from him. They uncharacteristically began to swirl around him, their speed increasing until the blur of the blue energy was nearly a solid wall of light.

Gelt knew that he could not force Aldous to teleport if he targeted him directly. Instead, he gave his attention to the surrounding area of roughly five feet. Adding more power, this time from the staff, he channeled his spell and let it release. Reality next to him snapped as the sibling of Soularous appeared.

"Once more, you have come here. What dost thou need of me?" spoke The Crimson One, curiously toned in his voice.

Aldous spoke. “We have a common enemy. We might both be very powerful, but I don’t think we can handle the problem single handed. I come to offer a truce. We help each other. Then we reset, start over and figure out how our grudges go after. Sure we beat each other up. But I don’t feel like you and I need to be enemies. What do you say? Work together to stop a greater evil from making so we can’t keep doing what we want?” Giving Gelt a puckish shrug. “Pinky promise I won’t toss you into the sky again.”

"You assume a malice lies between us, Aldous," Gelt responded. He turned to his created army. "I care not for the squabbles between the kingdoms or the realms, only the safety of this world. You are correct, alone we possess nothing. Together, there is power. You speak of The Nameless as the enemy. I have watched for their return and have prepared. And still, despite my hopes of a unified Aeran, they slowly crack away at the mortar of our world."

The Crimson One turned back. "I have foreseen this. This must not come to pass."

"Which is why we must work together," Aldous nodded.

Gelt stared at him with a weight that any lesser mortal would feel upon them. Aldous simply stood with most of his weight on one foot. "Even our own efforts combined cannot overcome the strength of such a foe. However, there is a way. One that I am willing to accept."

Bathlazaar spoke with an assurance that was rarely as tangible as he exuded. "In exchange for my assistance against the Nameless, you will bring word to Draken Darkward Sainte a request to appear before me. Now that The Diablo has ridden himself of that poor copy of an artefact, and he himself now placed as heir to the Dalen throne, it is time for him to make his choice."

"A request. Nothing more. In return, you will have your assistance. Do we have an accord?" Gelt finished. He knew that Aldous and his kind enjoyed pacts. This was a dangerous gamble even for him, though. There was no guaranteeing that Draken would come and effort put someplace else at the most critical moment of his plan could damn them. He waited as Aldous thought about it, the cries of Kragan howling in pain and anger from the vats below giving them an ambient chorus.

"So you'll help me fight this godlike entity and its powerful agents and in exchange I must ask Draken to stop by here at your house for a chat? I don't know, you drive a hard bargain and that's a lot to demand of me. I'm nobody's messenger boy, but, alright, fine. We have an accord..."

Bathlazaar nodded. "Let us begin," he spoke, power channeling into his staff,
almost as if the artefact wanted this fight. "The Nameless have recently begun their activities in Zatar. I have been watching the self-named 'Iron Queen'. Had I not, I would never have noticed our enemy."

"Zatar? There are still a few members of my cult there, but their interpretation of me leaves something to be desired. I could activate them and see what more information they can dig up for us. Do you see the Iron Queen as a potential ally against the Nameless? From what I can tell she is no friend to anyone but her fellow Night Elves." Aldous took a small piece of red jasper from his pocket. “Either way I’ll put my ears to the ground.”

He spoke into the stone.


"Dreaded Lord of Lust, what is your bidding my master?" a voice responded to Aldous in a reverent voice.

"Go forth and find out any info you can about a being called the Nameless that some non-believers in Zatar are secretly serving. Find out what you can and get back to me," he ordered and pocketed the stone once more.

“That’s done,” Aldous said, looking at Gelt again.

Meanwhile, Gelt had silently summoned his own attendant. Liliana coalesced from shadows at her master's bidding. "What is thy bidding, my master?" She spoke seductively, passing a licentious eye over Aldous.

"Ready the rest of the army in my absence. I shall go away to Zatar. See to it that our guest does not escape until my return," Gelt commanded.

"We march, my master?" she asked, a small smile playing on her lips as she bowed to him.

"Soon. I have one more task for you. Travel to Varland and find Stormcrow," The Crimson One stated.

Aldous, hearing Gelt speak of Varland and Enanth Stormcrow, immediately locked eyes to eyeholes on Gelt. "Do not fret, Lord of Lust… my business is not with that land but merely a wizard that has stayed in the shadows long enough. It is time for Stormcrow to face the reality of our situation," spoke Gelt to him.

"What would that old man want with you?" Aldous said, a bit heated. "He has not been the same since he lost his college."

Gelt merely chuckled at that. He bid Liliana to go as he prepared for his journey. "Stormcrow thought to bring the lands together peacefully. I showed him how indifferent people were to his accomplishments."

There was something in the way that Gelt had said those words that made Aldous connect the dots. He stared for a moment, realizing that Aggie was doubly lucky to not have been at Miekrannis. "It was you, wasn't it?"

Gelt chuckled again and gestured for Aldous to follow. The symphony of pained roars soon died out to be replaced with their footfalls on dark stone. Through the halls they strode, twisting and turning as Gelt channeled power into himself. He knew that he would need more than usual amounts of stored magic to fight the alien menace of this realm. By the time they arrived at the portal room, The Crimson One was positively brimming with power through his body. To himself, he felt his soul rekindled to a bright inferno of energy even as his body gave its own feelings of being this full of magic. It was truly dangerous… for most mages.

"Zatar," Bathlazaar Gelt evoked. The inlaid silver and gold metal rings on the floor glowed with power as arcane runes came into existence. The veil of in-between snapped at reality in an orb of murky purple and blue clouds that deepened to a black darkness. Gelt gestured from Aldous to the portal, ready to step through with him to the desert land beyond.

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