2.4 – A New Hope (Book II, Ch4)

Location: The Rhokii Mountains
Timeline: AO 226 – 228

I’m not going to lie, my last conversation with Gwar made me angry. And, if we’re being honest here, I’ll admit I was a bit afraid too. OK, I was a lot afraid! The prospect that Dagaal was on Terra was terrifying – after all, that dagger was created with but one purpose: to destroy ME! Gwar’s refusal to help me find it, and his coy attitude about it, only further served to convince me that the big lummox either had the weapon or else knew who did – regardless, I was certain he was ‘in’ on Baal-Zebub’s plans concerning it.

I fretted about this problem for months – locking myself inside The Cauldron, pondering my next move, and filled with a mix of emotions. Anger? Check. Anxiety? Check. Fear? Depression? Frustration? Check, check, and check. Quite frankly I was a mess. I drank — but even the finest reds from my private vineyards in Western Gor didn’t help. I sacrificed scores of servants in my experiments — but I just couldn’t stay focused and most of the time botched the results. I even tried changing my wardrobe – but I just didn’t look good in pink and could hear my servants laughing behind my back. For a long time then I just stayed in my chambers and slept – one of the good things about being a god is that you can do that for months or even years at a time if you want to.

Eventually though I realized it was time for action. That’s when I came up with yet another plan. I knew that somewhere, someone besides Gwar was eventually going to see Dagaal or perhaps had already seen it – after all, Gwar was a fool and usually all too happy to show off his prized possessions or run his mouth about things he should be keeping secret. My guess was that Gwar had probably taken Dagaal with him at some point as he roamed around on TerrVerde while I was still in Illusia being tortured by Baal-Zebub. Given that Gwar loved inciting war between the Derks and the Drokka in the lands of Gor, and that he’d apparently been participating in some of the fighting himself during the century I’d been gone, I estimated there was a good chance that Gwar had either used Dagaal or at least showed it off on the battlefields of Gor numerous times during my absence. That meant that potentially lots of people had seen Dagaal. Lots of mortal people. And what do we know about mortals? They died. And when they did that was good for me because it meant that not only could I harvest their souls to feed my own, but I could also take their bones to my Necronomicon and ‘converse’ with them – forcing them to tell me what I wanted to know, giving me the knowledge I needed to find Dagaal.

My initial thinking was that I would just harvest a bunch of Derkka bones and use those – especially since Gwar was occupied over in Urra and I’d be free to roam around unfettered – but alas, by the time I was ready to take action, the big galoot had already returned home (1). Not wanting him to guess what I was up to, I had to scrap that plan. Forcing myself to think, I looked for a new solution to my problem. I started asking more questions. Sure the Derkka were around Gwar a lot and there was a good chance they had seen Dagaal if it really was here on Terra, but were there others who could have spied that magical blade? And if so, could I infiltrate their clan without Gwar finding out what I was doing? A good problem solver is one who asks the right questions, but a world-changer is someone who looks for answers to the non-obvious questions and exploits the secret knowledge he discovers. Once I ventured down this path it didn’t take my superior mind long to hit upon the answer.

Most of the commoners on TerrVerde had a saying “All roads lead to Rhokii Pass” – this was in reference to that fact that, geographically speaking, Rhokii Pass was a crossover point physically located almost dead center of the Rhokii Mountains, and because of its location, had become the nexus of the primary East-West trade route for the continent – making it a financial juggernaut too. The amount of human traffic that flowed through Rhokii Pass was perhaps greater than anywhere else on the planet — making it was a potential gold mine for my clandestine efforts. Unfortunately there was a bit of a problem.

Rhokii Pass was controlled by the Drokka — hundreds of years ago they were the ones who mapped out, expanded, and connected the natural tunnels within the mountains and turned them into useful thoroughfares that connected East to West. This caused a trade bonanza – it definitely wasn’t ‘free’ trade (2) but that was intentional. The Drokka decided who was allowed to cross over and who was not. And anyone they allowed to pass was subject to their tolls. They built such a lucrative business at Rhokii Pass that eventually the Drokka moved their primary kingdom from Oz to this nexus point – and grew rich in the process.

That may have been all well and fine for them, but it didn’t help me – recall that the Drokka had long since fallen out of my control when they rejected my alter ego Baal character in favor of a religion built around worshiping my one-time colleague Rhokii. With Rhokii’s help then, the Drokka had since dotted the mountains with new kingdoms and gained a stranglehold on all traffic between Gor and Eastern TerrVerde (3).

Their former slavery at the hands of the Derkka was a distant memory, and now wealthy beyond compare, the Drokka should have gone on to become the premier human society on the planet – but alas, like all humans, the Drokka were fatally flawed. No, I’m not talking about their appearance, although that was comical in it’s own right — I’m sure you’d laugh if you saw a Drokka because they didn’t look much like any human you’d recognized — after centuries underground they were short (4), squat (5), and sun-shy (6). Instead I’m referring to the flaw that all humans suffer from – GREED.

There’s one thing I’ve always loved about your kind — you don’t know how to be content, regardless of what you have. You have the basics, you want more. You get rich, you still want more. Humans never have enough. And such was the case with the Drokka – they had more wealth than any other society in the world, but it wasn’t enough – they too wanted more…they wanted it ALL.

On top of that, they also wanted revenge – 400 years of slavery at the hands of their Derk brothers, and then hundreds more years of warring with them, had only served to intensify their hatred of their bitter rivals. In spite of the fact that the Drokka’s society had surpassed that of the Derkka, the Drokka didn’t buy into the adage that ‘living well’ was the best revenge – instead they wanted to exterminate their rivals off the face of Terra.

All this should have been enough for me to easily get the Drokka back under my control, but the oversight of my rival Rhokii had always put a cramp in my style. Luckily for me, during my last trip to Illusia, it seems that Rhokii had apparently tired of ‘his people’ and gone off in pursuit of other endeavors (7). In Rhokii’s case, he was blinded by love (8).

Now Rhokii had always loved the lumenarc Gaia (9). And she loved him back. In truth, Gaia was a bit of a goody two shoes – she never would have joined the rebellion against A’H if not for Rhokii. And Rhokii only joined because he was too stupid for think for himself (10) — it was therefore all too easy for Zebub and Lucifer to tempt him to the dark side. When he joined our cause, so did Gaia.

As you know, all of us got cast out of Illyria during The Fall, and while Rhokii initially remained loyal to Zebub, it was clear very early that Gaia might falter in her faith. That’s part of the reason why Lucifer and I duped her into joining us for a little experiment on Terra – little did Gaia know that she was the experiment and that we planned to use her essence to bring Terra to life (11-a). Things worked out well for Terra, if not for Gaia individually – but such is life.

When Rhokii later found out that his eternal love had been taken from him, he wanted to destroy Lucifer. Never knowing that he’d one day become a thorn in my side, I talked him off the cliff (literally, he was standing on the side of a mountain on Terra and threatening to track down Lucifer to murder him) and I made him realize that so long as Zebub was protecting Lucifer, Rhokii would never get near enough to lay a finger on his enemy.

My counsel to Rhokii was to be patient – after all, I had a plan in mind that (I thought) would solve both our problems. As you know, I later duped Zebub and Lucifer into creating Illusia (11-b) – during which Zebub became trapped in that hell world – and I later got Lucifer imprisoned there as well (12), while at the same time securing free reign for myself, Rhokii, and all the other lumenarcs to return back to The Middle Plane and do as we pleased.

How was I to know that Rhokii would turn against me and outright rebel against Lucifer’s leadership?

The brute nearly cost me my life when The Dark Lord learned of his treachery and it was everything I could do to keep my head. I should have known that Rhokii had never forgotten about Gaia and that the dumb fool was stupid enough to still be in love with her, even though she was naught but a planet now.

Yet that’s exactly what happened, Rhokii became enamored with the planet Terra – convincing himself that ‘she’ loved him back and doing his best to take care of her. Believing him to be a nitwit, I only casually paid attention to his actions – finding myself amused to see that he spent so much time in the bowels of the earth, apparently believing that these locales kept him close to Gaia’s essence.

When the Drokka fled their Derk slave masters and sought refuge inside the Rhokii Mountains, that brought them to Rhokii’s attention. Learning of their plight, Rhokii took them under his wing and made them “his people” – showing them how to safely mine the caverns beneath the mountains to expand their kingdoms.

The Drokka in turn forsook their worship of Baal (although my alter ego had done little to actual help them so I can’t say I honestly blame them) and instead created a new religion glorifying Rhokii. For a time then, Rhokii took an active role in protecting the Drokka and that allowed their society to rapidly grow. And since Rhokii was too dumb to be able to do two things at once, for a time, he forgot about Gaia.

Now when Rhokii appeared on Terra among this people he took the form of a huge physical specimen: essentially a giant Drokka who was 25 feet tall, broad chested, with big muscles, a full beard, long wild black hair, with heavy leather boots and a leather wrap around his waist (13). Drokka mythology claimed Rhokki was the physically strongest of any being (14) and that Gwar was terrified of him – and I can attest that these facts were actually true.

Now while Rhokii was stupid, he was also stubborn – when Rhokii put his mind to something, it was hard to stop him — and by the time I realized that he’d decided he wanted to control the Drokka, there wasn’t much I could do to oppose him directly – therefore I had to find other methods.

Thankfully Rhokii solved my dilemma for me – eventually he remembered his love for Gaia and returned to the depths of Terra to be with his lost love – effectively deserting ‘his people’ in the process.  Although the Drokka didn’t want to admit that Rhokii was gone, I knew it would be centuries before the lummox returned, if he ever did.  That meant I had an opening — abandoned by Rhokii, the Drokka were ripe for my influence again. Best of all, I knew that if I could infiltrate their ranks, I’d be able to do so without Gwar knowing — since the God of War was so afraid of Rhokii, Gwar wouldn’t dare to get anywhere near Rhokii Pass, afraid his nemesis might return at any moment (15).

It was therefore time for me to put the next phase of my plans in to action. It was time for me to begin The War of The Ghast

Nektar’s Notes

  1. Gwar never could stay focused for long.
  2. Free Trade – has there ever really been such a thing?
  3. Not just at Rhokii Pass but nearly everywhere else too.
  4. Most around four feet tall.
  5. Their shoulders twice that of a typical human of the time.
  6. Although they’d developed these self-glowing eyes that allowed them to see better in the dark and that was kind of cool.
  7. Such is the case with gods, they tend to forsake the ones they love, eh? Always promising to return but never actually doing so. Sound familiar?
  8. Love – the vice that has caused the downfall of so many humans too.
  9. In fact Rhokii loved Gaia when we were all back in Illyria – from the very beginning of their own individual creations.
  10. Rhokii – picture Gwar, only bigger and dumber
  11. (A) For more see The Morning Star chapter of The Great Deceiver— Gaia essentially lost her individual identity and for all intents and purposes became Terra. (B) In this chapter you can also see how I tricked Zebub.
  12. For more on how Lucifer got trapped in Illusia – see The Garden chapter of The Great Deceiver.
  13. All of which made him look like a fool.
  14. Mortal or immortal – save A’H or Ze.
  15. As you can see, the mutual stupidity of Gwar and Rhokii made them a perfect match!
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