2.5 – The Pawn of Prophecy (Book II, Ch5)

Location: Rhokii Mountains
Time: AO 295

I’d like to introduce you to a young man, a Drokka, by the name of Hacktor Derkillez. Why am I bringing him to your attention? Because for nearly 70 years I’d been working behind the scenes to turn his father Baldur — the king of the Drokka — into a pacifistic do-nothing whose anti-nationalistic policies were now slowly destroying the Drokka nation from the inside out. In addition to Baldur’s political changes, I’d also helped the king bring even more wealth to an already rich society – sending them from the land of comfort into the land of excess (1). Very few of the people realized what was happening, thus only a few were unhappy — but Hacktor was among this group. In addition, Hacktor was Baldur’s first born son (read: a disgruntled heir ready to assume power!) — this made Hacktor the perfect candidate to complete my plans to not just destroy the Drokka, but more importantly to turn the tables on Gwar and Baal-Zebub in the great game of the gods.

At the time of our story Hacktor had a mere eighteen winters under his belt. On the day I’m telling you about he was sitting in church with his family, and like most of you, Hacktor’s mind wasn’t on the service. Instead he brewed about the following…

Men go to war over black gold – Mirkir says they always have and they always will. So why won’t my father?

Young Hacktor chewed on that thought as he sat in the Grand Cathedral of Iztak. In this case, the black gold which Hacktor pined for was Blackwood — the most precious commodity in his part of the world and the cause of countless wars between the Drokka and their rivals during the last three centuries. Oh sure, Hacktor knew the stated reasons for these wars always centered around religious differences between the clans, and while he devoutly believed in the validity of those justifications, Hacktor was smart enough to know that there was also a reason behind the reason — and that the real reason was, of course, Blackwood.

As the son of Baldur III, Kon-Herr Drokka of the Rhokki’s, Hacktor was a prince and the first in line for his father’s throne — the most powerful seat in the eight kingdoms. He should have been happy — instead he was far from it. For Hacktor knew that as long as Baldur was in power there would be little chance of another war — which meant little chance for Hacktor to fulfill his destiny and become the greatest Kon-Herr who ever lived. But Baldur’s inactivity had lasted long enough and Hacktor meant to do something about it.

After today, things will be different. Hacktor vowed. For this was Mining Day (2), and more importantly this was the day Hacktor would finally be going back to the royal court after an absence of five years. The world is about to change. Hacktor glowered. I know it. My father knows it. By Rhokii, this entire crowd knows it. I can feel it in the air! (3)

“May the might of Rhokki protect us…” Mirkir The Wyze (4) called out from his place at the alter, his ebon robes sucking at the glow from the candles. Mining Day was the holiday in which he was the star of the show and he lavished in seeing his church packed with people. After relishing the power he had to make the people speak or stay silent, at last he rang a giant gong, signaling the people’s reply.

“…from the terrors that haunt the day.” Hacktor fervently voiced the prayer’s reply along with the rest of the crowd that filled this sacred cavern (5).

Throughout the mountain kingdoms the various clans of men that made up the Drokka people were all gathered in churches on this day — for Mining Day was the holy day that signaled the start of the Drokka new year. Today marked the 295th time that Mining Day was being celebrated to commemorate the time when the Drokka people first chose to delve into the earth to make their underground homes — and escape the slavery of the world above.

Having been instructed in the faith by Mirkir himself, Hacktor well knew that the hero of Mining Day was the famed forefather Ajax The Freemaker, and that the exodus Ajax led marked, and the underground city he founded (Oz), was the turning point in Drokka history. In fact so important was Ajax’s establishment of Oz (“a land they could call their own”) to the Drokka people that their entire time system was based around it — prior to the freedom Ajax secured for them, their period of bondage was part of an era which the scribes entered into the Drokka Kroniklz as either Before Oz (BO) or After Oz (AO). (6).

The cathedral where Hacktor attended services was overflowing — for even though this national holiday was being celebrated throughout the eight kingdoms, because Iztak was the religious capital of the empire, everybody who was anybody was here.

Yet that wasn’t necessarily a good thing – for the church was so full that its capacity was strained. Drokka were packed tightly in the pews and as they sat there dressed in all their finery, the people roasted in that poorly ventilated environment. More than a few Drokkina and even some of the strongest Drokka men fainted in the close air. They are weak-minded sheep who lack the fortitude necessary to be here today, Hacktor stewed whenever he witnessed another person keel over. 

However it should be noted that – since Iztak was the religious center of the Drokka’s world and thus was a kingdom without a Kon-Herr – Hacktor and the royal family had the luxury of sitting in the front row, where the air was less dense. Beside Hacktor sat his father Kon-Herr Baldur, along with Hacktor’s twin sister Hecla, his half brother Bran, and the rest of the royal family.

Pah! I should be on the dais with Mirkir tending to The Flame like the Holy Alkolyte I am, not stuck down here with these of little faith. Hacktor still rued being forced to give up his alkolyte robes now that he was leaving Iztak. He fidgeted in his seat, unable to get comfortable in the pew as he watched the alkolytes tending to the never-ending line of sheep being led to the sacrificial slaughters – the animals incessant bleating while they waited to die, their screams of death as they knife came down, and the added heat created by the presence of the herds themselves only further served to make this environment feel more like the never-ending torments of the Fires of Kawkawzuz to the crowds than a holy service to be thankful for. (7)

And while they’d likely have preferred to have been anywhere other than here, royals from each of the remaining kingdoms, along with their retinues, dutifully packed the rest of the pews, while commoners from the local communities and pilgrims from throughout the underworld crammed into the aisles, balconies, and any remaining spaces they could stand. I can feel their eyes upon me. Hacktor squirmed. Why didn’t they stay home? Iztak isn’t the place for lukewarm souls.

Although Hacktor had already been at Iztak, most of the crowd had left their palaces and homes many days before to travel here — making the journey entirely underground thanks to the engineering marvel known as the Drokka Byways — an elaborate system of natural and man-made tunnels that connected the various Drokka kingdoms that dotted the far reaches of The Rhokii’s and the network that supported the East-West trade routes of TerrVerde proper.

Iztak — my home — until today. Hacktor couldn’t help but reminisce about the place he’d lived since he was eight year old. The place where he’d been instructed in the tenets of the faith by Mirkir and where he’d learned the art of war from Haraclez. Neither of whom father ever wanted for my teachers (8).

“Praise be to Rhokki, the maker of stone and water…” Mirkir chanted, then rang the gong again (9).

“…And to Kalypzo, our mother, the giver of life.” The crowd replied (10).

While countless animals were slaughtered, the opening prayers to honor the gods continued — for even though this day was about Ajax, the Drokka were wary of  offending the gods without giving them their just due first (11). Yet the ceremony on Mining Day the longest religious service of the year — spanning multiple candlemarks — and there was plenty of time spent honoring Ajax’s exploits too. For his part Hacktor tried to overcome the awkwardness that was came from sitting so close to a father he’d grown so far apart from and instead focused on the prayers.

Hacktor rose and sat, rose and sat, leading the crowd with the necessary replies, yet soon enough he could feel his blood start to boil. This time it wasn’t just the queer vibes that came from Baldur, for Hacktor knew what else was coming — The Readings.

As if on cue, Mirkir took a seat — parking himself on a throne-like chair upon a dais facing the crowd (12). Behind Mirkir the altar was raised upon a higher dais and it was here that Mirkir’s underlings bathed in blood as they processed sheep after sheep upon the holy table – the animals death rattles a constant cacophony of horror.

For his part, Hacktor had served countless times around that altar and was thus immune to the unsavory aspects associated with the sacrifices. Instead he instead focused his attention on the sacred dais – the massive structure was sculpted from the darkest obsidian and even when it was covered with blood, Hacktor always felt as if altar pulsed with a living blackness that came from the heart of the giant stone it had been crafted from centuries before. Four ravines were carved into the top of the table, radiating outwards to allow the blood of the sacrifices to flow down into containers that were collected by alkolytes – and Hacktor envied them of their task.

The four corners of the altar were graced with triangular horns of Rhokkium, nearly a foot high — the gemstones giving off a rainbow of ever-changing colors. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, blazes from The Eternal Flame directly in front of the holy altar ever licked the airs — a constant reminder to the Drokka that the gods were present within this holy hall (13).

The priests and alkolytes had their faces painted with a mix of charcoal and blood, the color matching their dark robes – all of which were already filthy with soot and ichor. Because of their sacrificial duties the men and boys who served here were in constant motion around the altar — all expect Mirkir. Yet even though the high priest merely sat upon his chair, it was he who stood out the most. With his face covered in a thick white chalk and a fluffy beard as white as snow that reached down to his waist, Mirkir visage marked a stark contrast to the deep sable color of his priestly garments. Mirkir’s robes were the darkest of any of the clergyman around the altar (14) – as befitted his station as The Wyze One — the high priest of the Drokka religion.

Despite Mirkir’s age — Hacktor knew he had more than eighty winters under his belt — Mirkir was still hale and strong. His grip on my shoulder when I do wrong is like a vice. Hacktor recalled. And the slap he gave me yesterday still stings. For a moment, Hacktor felt the elderly priest’s eyes upon him — practically boring a hole into him — yet just as quickly the sight was gone, as alkolytes began their slow march around the holy area with censors filled with fragrant incense – quickly shrouding Mirkir, the altar, and everything around him in a murky haze.

From out of these mists a lector began to read from The Nebulungilgalad — that sacred poem by Snorri Sturluson that told the epic History of the Mountains — much of it about the exploits of Ajax and his successful campaign to free the Drokka from the Derkka’s vile grip. While many in the crowd soon found themselves bored by the lector’s drone of a story they’d heard countless times before, Hacktor drank in every word. For Ajax was his hero — and, if truth be told, the historical figure whose legendary feats Hacktor himself hoped to eclipse one day. Such a desire was not as egotistical as it might seem, but instead merely a matter of course — for Hacktor was a Balkery — the first in nearly a century and more importantly the first among the royal family since Ajax, or so said The Kroniklz (15).

As a Balkery, under the tutelage of Mirkir, Hacktor had successfully talked with the gods (16) — and the deity who spoke with him was the one that had first told Hacktor about his future greatness. As if being a future Kon-Herr was not enough, Hacktor was born with the Mark of the Balkery. Yet for reasons Hacktor still didn’t understand (or accept), his father Baldur had kept that fact hidden for most of his childhood. None within the Drokka world knew (17) — until one of the high priest’s servants had discovered the truth about Hacktor while posing as a royal valet to the prince — for Mirkir claimed he had always known Hacktor was special and therefore justified his covert operation behind Baldur’s back — much to the king’s displeasure (18).

Yet once Hacktor’s secret was out, there was naught Baldur could do to deny it — or more importantly to prevent a then 8-year old Hacktor from being taken away from the palace and raised within the faith by Mirkir and his minions (19). Baldur was aghast at losing Hacktor to Mirkir’s clutches. Hecla was distraught at losing her twin. But Mirkir was delighted — and not just because he cared about Hacktor’s soul. The good news was that Hacktor’s dislocation from court did not interfere with his status as the heir to the throne; in fact his status as a Balkery — a Royal Balkery who had the full power and endorsement of the faith behind him — only strengthened his claim and proactively squelched any power play that may have later come from Bran or any of Hacktor’s other half-siblings when the throne became available.

As the church service dragged on, Hacktor focused his attention again on the readings — the lector continuing the tale of Ajax’s legendary deeds. “And Ajax said to Bashamel, ‘Thus says Rhokii, Lord of the Mountains, ‘The time has come, let my people go that they may serve me.’ Yet with a wave of his hand, Bashumel, Marduk of the Derkka refused. At this the Marduk’s aide addressed Ajax, ‘So let it be written that Bashumel, Grand Marduk of the Dekkka, King of all Gor, and Supreme Ruler of the West has spoken, and these are his words — The Drokka are my people, my property, and so shall they remain. That includes you, Ajax, for you are naught but a puffed up slave. Who are you to speak for a god?’ Yet Ajax would not be dismissed so easily and he warned the Marduk’s court, ‘If you refuse, what happens next is on your head.’ And he stormed out — while the Derkka laughed at his departure…”

They weren’t laughing when Rhokki caused the weavils to destroy their fields, or the reeds to clog their drinking water, or when any of the other perils were cast upon them. Hacktor knew the rest of the story before the lector even read it — yet he also knew that it wasn’t until Ajax unleashed the Hammer of Rhokki that Bashumel supposedly relinquished his grip upon the Drokka. For who can withstand a plague upon the firstborn? Who can withstand the hammer of a god? (20)

“Yet even after Bashumel had agreed to free The Drokka,” the lector continued reading, “even still the Derkka king dealt treacherously with Rhokki’s chosen people — for the Grand Marduk changed his heart and made ready his army to chase the fleeing Drokka and shackle them as slaves again — until Ajax cried out to the Lord to save them…” (21)

Arg, even though Ajax won our freedom lo those many years ago where does that leave us now? We might as well still call the Derkka ‘master’ since it is the Marduk and his people who control The Blackwood — and therefore us too. Why can’t my people open their eyes and see that we are still slaves? Hacktor’s mouth filled with bile at the thought. And while it was true that he had never been a slave himself, even still he fumed (22). Yet despite the depth of Hacktor’s emotions, he knew others in the crowd felt differently — for Baldur’s reforms during the last fifty years had transformed international relations with their rivals and the Derkka were now the Drokka’s most important trade partner. In addition, Baldur himself had actually taken a Derkka woman for one of his wives — and not just any slaver either, but Gawain, a daughter of Garrick of The Golden Hand, the current Grand Marduk of the Derrka! (23)

I still can’t believe father married her. Hacktor fumed. Praise be to Rhokki that she is not here today. If Mirkir didn’t behead her, then I certainly would have! Hacktor’s own mother Vilma had died giving to he and his twin sister Hecla. Although he’d never known his mother, Hacktor distinctly recalled the fact that Baldur had only one wife when he first rose to power. As is only natural. His nanny and many of the servants often spoke of how Baldur loved Vilma deeply and that the king lost more than just a wife or queen on the day Vilma died — he’d lost his heart too. And his mind if you ask me.

Mists clouded the memories of early childhood now and thus Hacktor struggled to reconcile the wispy visions of a happy family life with Baldur and Hecla when it was just the three of them because those hazy mental pictures didn’t mesh with how events played out – nor how he felt currently. By the time Hacktor turned five, Baldur had taken a new wife — Carine, the daughter of Bane, Herr of Kel-de-Kaba, the military capital of the eight kingdoms — a move clearly done to secure support for Baldur’s then shaky grip on the throne; for although each kingdom had its own army and the Kon-Herr was, at least by right, the royal commander of all of these forces, Bane commanded the majority of the Drokka army — thus solidifying the Kel-de-Kaba Herr’s backing was a wise move by Baldur (24). Yet within a year the high king shocked the court and the entire underworld when he announced that he was taking another wife and additionally that he was starting a royal harem — the first Kon-Herr to do so in three centuries, for the practice had long since been outlawed by the faith.

How did father manage to keep Bane on his side after that affront? Hacktor wondered again. How did he withstand Mirkir’s inquisition about the sinful practice? Hacktor was too young at the time to wonder about such things back then, but since royal diplomacy was soon to be his world, he pondered the dilemma now. Perhaps in time he would have his answer. Nonetheless, somehow Baldur had convinced his council that the practice would be good for diplomacy (25). And so, over time Baldur managed to build his harem — soon taking in wives from each of the power families within the underworld and then stretching his scope beyond. To the Outside. To the Others.

The first of the Overworld queens to join the harem was a girl from Agaria – a potential trading partner east of the Rhokii’s. There soon followed more from nearby lands. And since trade did indeed improve after each of these moves (with ever more Overworlders using the Drokka Byways and thus paying the Drokka taxes to move their goods), the Drokka people did benefit by enjoying the fruits of these international relationships, therefore none could argue that Baldur was successful with this reforms. But surely none could had foreseen that he would marry a Derkka! (26)

Hacktor was fourteen when Mirkir told him about his father’s most egregious sin — Gawain. When he’d first come to Iztak, Hacktor immediately came to understand that Mirkir did not approve of his father — something he was not aware of before he’d become the high priest’s disciple. Yet in that first year, Hacktor was told that Baldur had committed many sins against the faith — at least according to Mirkir. At first, Hacktor did not believe the high priest’s charges, but the more time he spent as Mirkir’s alkolyte the more he found himself unable to deny Mirkir’s wisdom. As for Gawain, despite Baldur’s success in using his marriages to improve trade relationships, it was common knowledge that his entire council was against the high king marrying a Derrka. Yet Baldur was relentless when it came to something he believed in and he was dead set on marrying one of his sworn enemy’s daughters. In the end, he succeeded in negotiating the marriage with Grand Marduk Garrick and he married Gawain some four years past — although the ceremony was a private affair and quite unsanctioned by Mirkir or the faith (27).

Rumors abounded about Gawain and some had even reached Hacktor’s ears. Unlike the other women who made up Baldur’s harem and lived in luxury a few floors below Baldur’s apartments, the king apparently housed Gawain separately — in her own royal chambers which adjoined with his. Ever since her arrival, rumors about the breakup of the harem had run rampant through the palace at Rhokii Pass — for it seemed that Baldur rarely invited anyone but Gawain to spend time with him now. Hacktor had heard that Gawain was in her early twenties and beautiful beyond compare and that Baldur, nearly thrice her age, was totally infatuated with the sight of her. Or perhaps he’s infatuated with what’s between her legs, eh? Hacktor spat. How could my father do this to us — to willingly bring a Derrka woman into our kingdom? Who’s to say she is not a spy – telling Garrick about all that she sees?

Hacktor’s eyes scanned surreptitiously to his left — to his father. At four and a half feet, although Baldur was of above-average height for a Drokka, the king was runt of a man compared to Hacktor — who was nearly a foot taller and at least a stone heavier. Behold, a king who refuses to lead his warriors into battle — yet he actually has the gall to sit there in military garb? Hacktor’s mind raged at seeing his father’s outfit: upon his head Baldur wore a steel half-helm, burnished a royal black-blue and complete with an multi-colored ostrich plume, a velvet blue cape graced his shoulders, steel greaves, also burnished black-blue, covered his wrists, and upon his chest sat a priceless breastplate made of the finest Rhokkium gemstones — making the armor nigh impenetrable.

I’ve earned my warrior’s stripes under Haraclez’ secret campaigns, yet my father’s armor puts mine to shame. Although he wasn’t wearing a helm, greaves, or other armor, Hacktor’s station as both a prince and a de facto general in the Drokka army fit with his desire to dress accordingly, as such his hand involuntarily went to the exquisite golden plate mail that covered his own torso — it too a priceless work of art — with a relief of two drokka battle axes crisscrossed on the front; yet it was nothing compared to the ever-changing rainbow of colors that his father’s breastplate gave off. Yet everybody here knows Baldur has never lifted an axe in his life — not even to split a stone. Why the man looks like a complete fool. Hacktor could barely hide his disgust. Baldur spied his son’s gaze — and smiled warmly at Hacktor. If he only knew how much I hated him. Hacktor faked a smile back. You are a coward, father, and one day you will die because of it.

Baldur The Bold? Hacktor grated at the moniker people called his father. More like Baldur The Bashful if you ask me. What has he done but further subject us to the Derkka’s control? In Hacktor’s mind, Kon-Herr Drokka’s were defined by their glory on the battlefield, not the business room… or the bed room. Volzung — the first Drokka to ever die in battle. Berkin — The Right Hand of Rhokki. And of course Ajax — our Deliverer and the inventor of War itself! These are the Kon-Herr’s who glorified themselves on the battlefield; these are the Kon-Herr’s whom History remembers. Not some do-little king who shies away from battle at every turn and marries the daughters of our most hated enemies.

Despite the blackwood fires that burned within the altar and in alcoves around the edges of the cavern, and despite the mass of humanity that was crammed into every available space, the Grand Cathedral was cold. Everything in these mountains are cold — which makes no sense if it’s true that we are supposedly closer to the center of the earth and the fires of Baal at its core. Hacktor had never understood that paradox – were the fires of Kawkawzuz caused by the dark lord or were they meant to keep him locked inside? Nobody had ever given him a solid answer to that question and the mystery often frustrated him. Perhaps when the Ragnarok comes, then I will finally get my answer.

Just then Hacktor’s younger brother Bran broke his concentration with a nudge and whispered into his ear, “Did you hear what was for dinner after this?” At twelve the boy was six years Hacktor’s junior, yet it might as well have been fifty years for all that Hacktor cared.

“Don’t care.” Hacktor grumbled back.

“Mutton.” Bran sighed. “Might as well be nothin’. Oh why’s it gotta be mutton again?”

“Shh.” Hacktor elbowed his brother back. “It’s always mutton on Mining Day, you fool. Now be quiet.”

The ceremony continued for some time more – as is the norm for festivals of this type — regardless of the religion. All the while, Hacktor’s mood continued to darken. One day, father, I will be in control of our people. And then they will see greatness again.

Eventually, after it seemed like half The Nebulungilgalad had been read, all of the sheep had been murdered, and most of the crowd had fallen asleep (28), finally Mirkir rose up from his chair and initiated the closing prayer, “Oh that salvation for The Drokka will come from our Lord. Let Rhokki restore the fortunes of Oz. Let Ajax rise again and destroy the evil ones.”

“Oh Rhokki we beseech you.” Hacktor and the crowds prayed, rising again.

Mirkir’s chants droned on for nearly a candlemark more, until at last he said, “Hear our prayers, O God. Vindicate us with your might.”

Hacktor recognized the final verses. The time has come. The future is now.

“Challenge not The Drokka.” Mirkir suddenly roared, banging the gong with all his might.

“FOR RHOKKI IS OUR GOD!” Hackor and the people boomed in reply – finally ending the service (29), and opening the door for Hacktor to step forward into his destiny.

Nektar’s Notes

  1. Well to be honest that wealth didn’t filter down through all levels of Drokka society — as is often the case with humans, it’s the top 1% who get to enjoy the luxury that is built from the backs of everybody else below them – such was the case here too, but the Drokka became so rich under Baldur that even the scraps that fell to the dregs of society were laced with gold.
  2.  Mining Day was he most important holiday on the Drokka calendar.
  3. You may be wondering how I knew Hacktor’s thoughts, or for that matter, did I know everybody’s thoughts — perhaps even YOURS right now? Rest assured on the later – I don’t know yours, for alas, A’H has taken that power away from me. But, during the time of this story, I did have the power to cast my psyche outwards to <hear> the mind of specific individuals who, let’s just say, had a penchant for the dark side – and since all humans were flawed, I could pretty much get into the mind of anyone I wanted at the time. Now lest you think this was a good thing, think again – the cacophony of humanity’s thoughts could be deafening! Throughout history mankind has accused the gods of not listening to you – but what you don’t realize is that you people are like the constant bleating of mindless sheep — it’s such a nuisance that most of us gods simply ‘turn off the noise.’ However, if I concentrated back then, I could cut through the noise and eventually filter out certain prospects who appeared to be aligned with my goals. There are always a few interesting voices on the wind — if you knew how to find them. Hacktor was one of my favorites. But lest you think that Hacktor was just born bad, think again – he was actually a very happy baby, and in the beginning he grew up in a loving family — I had to work hard to behind the scenes to lure him to me. My efforts were successful (as usual) and now it was time to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
  4. Mirkir was the the Drokka’s High Priest and another one of my minions – although unbeknownst to him.
  5. Like all church services that follow man-made rules, this one too was filled with a mix of comic ritual and mindless dialogue – the people in the crowd lapped it up like the pitiful sheep they all were – Hacktor included. And no, I’m not simply being spiteful because the service didn’t worship me or any of my alter ego deities. Take faith out of the mix when you analyze any religious service and you’ll see I’m correct – if you can dare to be honest with yourself.
  6. Does the whole BO/AO time system sound familiar? It’s just another example of how you people can’t come up with anything new.
  7. Ah, the wonderful world of animal sacrifices. Convincing humans to murder their herds, burn their crops, and sometimes even sacrifice their children, was always one of the skills I was most proud of. Need I remind you that I invented the rather comical concept of Sacrifice very early on in the history of your people. Recall that my made up god Yahway offered this little carrot to Adam as a potential way to atone for the Original Sin fiasco the got the man and his mate kicked out of The Garden of Eden. As detailed in Book I’s chapter called “The Offspring,” Adam and Eve taught the concept of Sacrifice to their children, and although it directly led to a disastrous outcome with their sons Kane and Kaybl (with Kane murdering Kabyl out of jealously when my Yahway favored the latter’s sacrifice), Adam’s clans continued to try to appease Yahway with ever more sacrifices. It never worked, but then again these men didn’t have many other options – for, as you know, my Yahway was always a jealous god and Adam’s people lived in constant “Fear of the Lord.” The end result is that the concept of Sacrifice became so ingrained in the minds of humanity that it lived on for ages – with the Drokka being yet another example of people who willingly (read: foolishly) wasted their precious resources to try to appease gods that had long since (read: never) been listening to them.
  8. What Hacktor didn’t think about – what he tried hard to push to the back of his mind — was that Hacktor had been abused by both of the men he admired. Mirkir had not only taken the eight year old Hacktor and brainwashed him into a war-mongering zealot, but he’d also poisoned Hacktor’s mind against his father. And as if that wasn’t enough, Mirkir had also made Hacktor his catamite – sexually abusing the poor boy to further dominate him — ensuring that he’d always command over him. Shocking as it may sound, none of this was hidden or even frowned upon – instead Hacktor was envied for his station as Mirkir’s Beloved – a rite of passage ‘enjoyed’ by only the most worthy of alkolytes. And then there was Haraclez – although he was the general of Mirkir’s holy armies at Iztak, he was too much a man of the world to let religion stop him from enjoying life. Haraclez drank, smoked, fought, gambled, and whored – and he introduced Hacktor to all of these vices before Hacktor even reached thirteen. The result of all this – Hacktor did his best to make sense of the world, but let’s face it, the boy really had no chance, did he? Oh, and I guess I should mention that everything Mirkir and Haraclez did was pretty much orchestrated by me as their puppet master – but I’m sure you knew that already, right?
  9. Arg, don’t get me started on Rhokii.
  10. Kalypzo was the Drokka’s name for Gaia – in their religion she served the role of Goddess of Fertility. Little did they know what Lucifer and I once did to her – reference The Morning Star chapter of Genesis Revisited.
  11. For all the good it did them as Rhokii and Gaia had long since forgotten them – they should have spent their time worshiping me again!
  12. Why do high priests always claim to be ‘servants’ to their people, and then sit on thrones like this glorifying themselves?
  13. As if we gods cared about such things – what poppycock!
  14. Black robes? Claiming to be wise? Seriously why must everybody steal from me? Perhaps I should take it as a compliment – after all, mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
  15. Hmm, let’s see, Pride? Check. Special Birth? Check? Dissatisfied heir to a royal throne? Check. Are you starting to see why I had such high hopes for Hacktor?
  16. In his case just one so far and I think you’ll be amused when you find out who.
  17. Save Baldur, Hacktor’s twin sister Hecla, and Hacktor’s personal valet.
  18. OK, it’s possible Mirkir may have been tipped off – but you didn’t hear that from me.
  19. Which was exactly where I wanted him.
  20. Actually there was a very good scientific explanation for each of the so-called ‘plagues’ that Rhokii allegedly released – here’s a hint, Rhokii didn’t lift a finger to help the Drokka back then, remind me when I have time and I’ll tell you the truth sometime.
  21. Oh, this stuff makes me sick. How many times can you people recycle the same myths?
  22. I loved it when Hacktor got angry — it was something I could use.
  23. What can I say, my webs were well crafted – haha.
  24. I wonder who gave him that idea?
  25. Although that still didn’t answer how he’d escaped Mirkir’s condemnation – perhaps there was another force at play behind the scenes, eh?
  26. None except the master behind the plan, that is.
  27. Ah, Discord, how I love thee.
  28. Including king Baldur.
  29. About time, right?
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