By Robert Ekblad
Time was approaching for Khatellu to put his big plan into action. Mordaks' Coffin was his and his Nadziranim and Wayl had revealed several of its powers to him. He had one of Tijil's Fangs which he needed to operate Mordak's Coffin, but his plans couldn't be put into actions yet. The power he wanted to use in the coffin wasn't always available. The power needed a noticeable rupture in the fabric of Magnamund. Not something as big as the destruction of Archlord Gnaag and Helgedad, but nevertheless quite big. So big that it may be several months or even years before it happened.
His Nadziranim and Wayl had explained to him that the Coffin would use the energy that was released from the disruption, to power it up for the journey which he was to undergo.
Khatellu considered the prospect of leaving Magnamund. His two thousand years in Magnamund had been full of disappointments. He'd never been the Archlord, never been allowed to rule a city, not until now when all his peers had gone into the unforgiving embrace of Naar.
The defeat of Gnaag and Helgedad had signalled an end to the Darklords' conquest of Magnamund, and he and his advisors both knew that the free Kingdoms and the accursed Kai would never allow him to rebuild Helgedad to its former glory. Indeed, already at this point they were scheming to send spies and assassins to the Darklands in order to kill him - the last of the Darklords. So far they've stayed their hands, instead focussing on building up their own countries from the devastation the latest war had wrought.
While the spawning vats in Helgedad had been destroyed, Khatellu had the knowledge to quickly make new ones. All he needed was to work undisturbed for a few years, and his personal spawn army would number in their thousands, which should be enough to annihilate any enemies at his destination.
His destination. . .
Wayl had done the job there. She was the only creature he had available who could planeshift to the Daziarn, and scout out the best place for the purpose. It needed to have sulphuric air, and enough resources to build the first spawning vats nearby. Nearby creatures should be weak so that the Khatellu could enslave them and use them as labour and food. Wayl had put images in Khatellu's mind in order to describe his new home, and for once the Darklord had been satisfied. The prospect of once again exterminating races and despoiling lands often made him lick his lips in anticipation.
Wayl was both worried and excited. For a while her doings in Magnamund had gone unnoticed by her peer. Now a meeting was imminent and unavoidable and she knew her rival wouldn't be pleased by her presence here in Magnamund.
She glanced at the Darklord. It was her duty to protect the Darklord, her rival would likely do whatever she could do disrupt her plans for the Darklord, unless she could persuade her otherwise. Her plans. . .. The Darklord may think that it was his plan, but in fact he'd done very little to further the plan. Wayl it was who had come up with the ideas and insinuated them into many of the Darklord's advisors. Wayl it was who had suggested a suitable place in the Daziarn, the Darklord didn't need to know that she had no need to scout, as she knew of the place before travelling to Magnamund.
She sensed a familiar entity approach.
A young impish girl with shortly cropped red hair enters the room. Wayl notices that the entity has made herself invisible to the Darklord and the Nadziranim. Not that it matters much. She's known all along that in this encounter she's all on her own.
She must face Alyss on her own, she moves to greet her.
"Long time no see," Wayl thinks in Alyss's direction.
"Why are you here Wayl?" Alyss demands.
Wayl laughs and shakes her head, redistributing her long black tresses.
"You've always been curious, but surely you can make your own guess as to why I am here," Wayl responded.
"You're ruining everything! If I were you I'd go away before you plunge Magnamund into chaos!"
"Oh, I got the distinct notion that it was you who had been doing that? Why do you think the higher powers sent me here?"
"I had got everything under control until you started to mess around," Alyss retorts acidly.
"No, I beg to differ," Wayl says shaking her head slowly. "As a result of your actions this world is about to be plunged into disaster, at least as far as the higher powers are concerned."
"Why so?" Alyss asks defiantly.
"Because you have been helping Good to such an extent that you've unbalanced the world," Wayl responds. "So much, in fact, that the higher powers commanded me to help the Dark God," says Wayl casually.
A little too casually, and Alyss accurately makes the conclusion that already Wayl has fulfilled the command of the higher powers.
"You bitch," shouts Alyss angrily, "What have you done?"
"Let's just say that it will test the valour of your charges as well as yourself a bit further," says Wayl studiously. "Anyway, at least I give you a fair chance to redeem yourself. The greater powers have given me the authority to give you clean slate, should you succeeded in solving the situation."
"And if I don't solve the situation?" Alyss asks.
"Then I'm afraid you'll lose your freedom and cease to exist," Wayl states.
Alyss glares at Wayl, who in turn glares back.
"Why have you been helping Evil?" Alyss asks.
"Who says I'm helping Evil?" Wayl responds. "Appearances are not always the truth as I'm sure you are aware."
Silence follows. Alyss studies her fingernails to check that they match up to perfection. Wayl conjures a silvery mirror and absently adjusts her hair. Thoughts race through their minds as they both carefully consider their next words. It's Wayl that breaks the silence.
"Tell me, Alyss. It's a matter of curiosity on my behalf," Wayl starts, using a more companionable tone than before. "Why did you break all of those rules set out by the higher powers?"
"Which rules are you referring to?" Alyss says.
"Come on Alyss, I'm sure you know exactly which rules I'm referring to," Wayl responds.
"Curiosity I guess," Alyss says after a short pause.
"Was it worth it?" Wayl asks.
No reply. The hall is devoid of any motion, and in fact has been that way for the entire discussion. Just Wayl and Alyss are animated. The rest of Magnamund is still and silently awaits the conclusion of their discussion. A small tear trickles down Alyss's left cheek, as she recalls and remembers.
"Of course it is worth it," Alyss says soberly.
End of this part of the story. . .
Lone Wolf © TM Joe Dever 1984-2000.