Location: Hall of the Double Axes
Time: AO 290 – 299
So Hacktor got to be king (1). A few tidbits of history may help you to understand why this was important.
After nearly seventy years of growing fat and lazy under do-nothing Baldur, the Drokka were ripe for the picking. With the populace in a panic, the Derkka (2) could have swooped in and exterminated their rivals – if they only had the balls to venture into the caves to root the Drokka out. I knew all along that this would never be realistic, so my plan was always to bring the Drokka out of their safe havens and make them accessible to the Derkka. Back when Rhokii was watching over them, even though the the Drokka armies were one-tenth the size of their rivals, the cave-dwellers were a fearsome force and since gaining their freedom, the Drokka had launched countless wars against their former slave masters: 3 Purification Wars that lasted half a century, 60 years of Derkka Death Wars, and a 45-year War of the Rhokiium had turned the Drokka into little killing machines. Their skills, superior armor/weapons, and jihadist beliefs had always given them an edge over the I’ll-fight-when-its-convenient-for-me Derkka. Had Rhokii stuck around to continue helping them, the Drokka would likely have been the ones to wipe out the Derkka, but as you know, Rhokii abandoned his people so he could go off in search of love – that left the door open for Gwar to take part in openly backing Derk’s people and this eventually turned the tide against the Drokka. But you know all this, right?
Recall, this was the scene I came back to when I returned from Illusia after first learning about Dagaal. After pondering my options, I realized the whole Drokka-Derkka rivalry offered me an opportunity to not only feed my ever hungry soul, but also to get some information about Gwar’s knowledge of Dagaal without the brute knowing about it. Not wanting Gwar to get my way (3), I had to do something to get him away from the scene for awhile – that’s where my idea for Baldur’s peace treaties came up. It wasn’t easy to change the mindset of the war-mongering Drokka at first, but money cures a lot of things. I made sure that Baldur’s plans succeeded – and that his trickle down politics impacted the common people too (4). The result – most of the Drokka abandoned their desire for war (5), the Drokka armies dwindled in size and they lost their skills, and for nearly seventy years this became the Drokka way of life. Oh I kept a small faction inside the community focused on their historical goals (6), but most of the people only paid lip service at church after Baldur’s secular success made them rich (7). Just as importantly, without wars to hold his interest, Gwar, The God of War, grew bored with TerrVerde and went in search of greener pastures (8).
And that’s when it was finally time to move the process forward. After the fall of The Siq Towers and the death of their beloved king in the beginning of AO 299, the Drokka people were afraid – although they still had an army and lots of little generals running around, the current generations had long since lost confidence in their abilities. Getting them to take action required the presence of a strong commander with a dynamic personality (9) – someone with the willpower to change the world. That person was Hacktor Derkillez – after all, he’d been groomed for this moment his whole life — Hacktor’s sole purpose was to start a war such that the world had never seen. Oh I suppose that I may have ‘pushed’ Hacktor a teensy bit, but ultimately the choice was his – for like you, Hacktor too had Free Will. Therefore the decision to make war (and the tragic results for his people) fall squarely on his shoulders.
Like most religions, the Drokka faith was bogged down with beaucracry, corruption, more man-made rules than you could count. But at it’s core, the Drokka religion was meant to help the people understand their reason for existence in this world -in that regard it failed miserably (10). Recall that 800 years prior to Hacktor’s time, the Drokka initially worshiped the god of their forefather Kane – my made-up deity Baal. Back then the Drokka also lived in (relative) harmony with their Derk brothers — since both had a common enemy in the form of rival clans born of Zeth’s lineage. When Baal promised Kane and his sons a “Promised Land they could call their own,” (11) they all migrated west – eventually crossing an ancient (and now sunken) land bridge that allowed them to settle in western TerrVerde after a near century of being on the move.
As you know, unfortunately things didn’t quite work out as expected for Kane. The ‘marked-man’ didn’t get what he wanted (12) and so abandoned his sons and their clans. The place where the Droks and Derks settled (Gor) was beautiful, and while the land had more than enough space to accommodate both clans, I inspired with Derk and his sons to want to control it all for themselves – having favored their clan with a higher birth rate (among both the humans and their livestock) during the migration, Derk’s people far outnumbered Drok’s by the time the clans reached Gor and they had greater wealth and possessions. It wasn’t hard for Baal to convince the Derks of the benefits of enslaving their brothers (13). And so, soon finding themselves in a strange land, without freedom, and feeling abandoned by the only god they’d ever known, the the enslaved Drokka’s faith in Baal was shattered (14).
For a time the Drokka tried worshipping the mystery that was their patriarch Kane, but as he too had abandoned them, this faith didn’t stick. Abused and beaten, during the time of their captivity, the Drokka searched for answers.
Eventually a new quasi religion emerged – one that attempted to explain the mysteries of life with a host of foolish concepts (15). One of these was the concept of The Balkeryz. For all intents and purposes the primary motif associated with The Balkeryz was their role as the deciders of fate for a person or even an entire people (16). As their religion developed, The Balkeryz took on greater form and function – eventually morphing into powerful immortals who had specific personas. High Balkeryz were essentially the gods – over time Rhokii became the chief among them (17). Additionally, certain ‘high achieving’ Drokka were posthumously proclaimed to be ‘immortal’ by Drokka priests and scribes as a result of their recognition as balkeryz after their death (18). As their religion continued to take shape over the centuries, the Drokka came to believe that even a living person might be a balkery too – particularly if they were born with The Mark of the Balkery (19).
But with Hacktor, things were a bit different – first off, I personally gave him the distinctive mark; secondly I had Mirkir primed to recognize that identifying Hacktor as a balkery would serve the priest’s own designs (20); and third by this time in their religious development, the Drokka faith required that balkeryz (especially royal ones like Hacktor) spend their formative years under the tutelage of Wyze Ones (in Hacktor’s case that was Mirkir). This allowed me to use Mirkir to indoctrinate Hacktor on a daily basis.
Additionally, one of the most important beliefs about balkeryz that I just loved (and therefore helped grow) was that a balkery could talk to the gods – and there was no better place to do this than The Well of Wyzdom (21).
The Well was really nothing more than a (seemingly) bottomless pit that had been discovered a couple centuries prior to Hacktor’s time during a period of Drokka expansion throughout the Rhokki’s. It was soon discovered that the pit made unusual sounds (22), and as nobody could explain these ominous noises, opportunistic Drokka priests took it upon themselves to offer a religious solution – ascribing the pit’s strange music to be ‘the voices of the gods’ and claiming that only they could interpret them. Thus was born The Well of Wyzdom.
The location of The Well led to the establishment of a religious capital in what would later become the city of Iztak. With the birth of Iztak, and commands soon pouring forth from The Well, the Drokka’s religion exploded – in time Wyze One’s became almost as powerful as Kon-Herr’s (23) — and when The Wyze Ones spoke, the people listened (24).
Once I got him under Mirkir’s control, it wasn’t hard to move him along his journey – particularly because I had long since taken over as the voice of The Spirit of the Well. Given that Hacktor was a royal balkery — and that he was Mirkir’s Beloved — Hacktor was given access to The Well more than anyone save Mirkir himself – that meant I could speak to Hacktor directly.
Oh Mirkir was still kept in the loop – because the priest believed he helped Hacktor to interpret what the boy learned — but in reality, it was my interactions with Hacktor that decided the course of the Drokka’s fate (25).
Over the years of Hacktor’s time in Iztak, I had numerous conversations with him as The Spirit of the Well – many were about his father — my goal was to get the prince to understand that although the Drokka people as a whole loved his father, it was hard to argue that Balder had done anything important to advance the station of his clan – for nothing of significance had occurred during his reign.
Here is one such discussion that happened while Hacktor was about fifteen.
“Tell me – what about Baldur III, King Under the Mountains, will be proclaimed as great in The Kroniklz?” The Spirit asked Hacktor. “What glory did he bring to The Drokka?”
The boy did not reply – as usual he was awed by The Well.
The Spirit continued on, for I wanted Hacktor to understand that he could achieve bigger and better things than his excuse-for-a-king father. “It’s true that Baldur The Bold enjoyed peace during his reign. The Kroniklz also notes a few others who ruled during peaceful times. But can you even tell me their names?”
Hacktor remained silent.
“Nor do I care for you to do so. Like those do-nothing Kon-Herr’s, Baldur will soon be forgotten when he passes on. But what about you, Hacktor? Do you want your reign to be remembered? Nay. More than just remembered. Do you want your reign to be considered legendary? Do you want to be mentioned with the forgotten Baldur’s of history or with the Ajax’s and the Volzungs? Or do you want to be greater still?”
Hacktor stuttered to reply.
“Hush. Hacktor, you have a chance to be different.” The Spirit offered. “The name Hacktor Derkillez can be remembered by more than just a few wrinkled Scribes and their unread scrolls — if you so desire. Never forget that you are Balkery. We share the same spirit. You are part of me, and I of you. I know your deepest desire — for it is also mine.”
At last young Hacktor found his voice, “What is my desire?”
“To be known as the Kon-Herr Drokka who was not just a part of history, but who changed It forever!” And then it was that I took Hacktor, in spirit form, on a little journey. First I showed him a vision of himself sitting at a grand banquet surrounded by a cornucopia of wealth (26) and untold numbers of rabid supporters, “You shall not live on bread alone — when you rule, the world will be yours and all that is in it.”
Next I took him to the top of The Siq, and opened his mind so that he could see all the kingdoms of the TerrVerde, “Because you are like me, nay because you are me, I will give you all their authority and splendor; it is mine and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, nay if you worship Us, they will all be yours.” I could see the boy was in shock, so I laid my coup de gras, “Know this also, Great Hacktor, even should you throw yourself down from here no harm will ever befall you. For I shall command The Balkeryz to guard you, they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not so much as strike your foot against a stone. For you are a god! You need only to believe for all this to come true.”
At last Hacktor smiled – and it was not just the smile of a teenager, but that of a confident king. Thus it was that I knew I had him — completely.
And so, finished with my temptations, I left Hacktor until a more opportune time.
Now because of Hacktor’s grooming, as soon as he became Kon-Herr in AO299, he began planning an offensive war – laying the groundwork for an apocalypse so grand that it would carve his name in history for all time. For the time was now right for war again and Hacktor was the right man for the job.
You wonder – why was Hacktor so confident he would succeed?
It’s simple really — unlike past kings, Hacktor not only had the backing of the Drokka faith, but more importantly he also had unmatched firepower on his side – in the form of The Ghast (27).
I’ll never forget the day I first spoke to Hacktor about The Ghast — it was towards the end of the year AO 298, about nine months before he became king. His father Baldur was still the Kon-Herr, Hacktor was frustrated beyond compare because Baldur not taken his advice to protect The Siq and merely dismissed Hacktor’s concerns about The Priory of the Myz as unsubstantiated ‘conspiracy theories’ – thus the prince felt that the kingdom was being compromised and Baldur was jeopardizing the safety of the Drokka people.
Now because Hacktor was a Balkery, tradition required him to return to The Well of Wyzdom at Iztak at least twice a year – this gave him an outlet to escape his father, and gave me the chance to move things forward.
During the time of Hacktor, The Well of Wyzdom was in the center of a small cavern, itself deep within the mountains. Incense continually filled the room, coating everything in a hazy shade.
“Today is the day you shall finally see The Spirit in the flesh.” Mirkir advised Hacktor, the old priest nearly giddy with emotion in a way Hacktor had never seen him act before. “Even I have not had that privilege, boy – for I am not a Balkery. Yet I do know this – soon you shall be Kon-Herr! The Spirit has told me so. It’s shown me secrets. Amazing secrets about what is in store for you. And now the time is right — The Spirit wants to reveal itself to you. This very day. Are you ready, boy?”
“Yes.” Hacktor could barely contain himself, so jacked up was he by Mirkir’s effervescence.
“And dost thou know The Rules?” The priest tried to get control of himself and maintain some modicum of composure.
“I shall remain here… alone… praying to our gods. I am to kneel prostrate before The Well and wait for The Spirit to arrive. In addition to revealing Itself to me, the great spirit will delve into my soul and read my destiny. Whatever is spoken to me is not to be revealed… except to you. When I finish, I am to ring the Bell of Conclusion.”
Mirkir didn’t reply, instead the wrinkled mage affixed Hacktor with a critical eye, the old man’s gaze boring into Hacktor’s soul. “You must tell me everything, Hacktor – everything.” And here Mirkir laid a bony hand on the prince’s shoulder, pinching the bigger man’s muscle with a vice grip, attempting to dominate the would-be king who was still the priest’s catamite at the time. “Do not forget – I won’t be able to help you interpret The Spirit’s knowledge unless you tell me ALL that occurred. Without my help, you will waste this opportunity. Do you understand, boy?”
Hacktor looked away, “May I begin?”
“Indeed.” Mirkir nodded, mumbling under his breath as he exited the room, yet finally leaving Hacktor alone to face The Well.
At first Hacktor hesitated, unsure of what to expect – perhaps afraid at what The Spirit might look like, or worse yet what It might find within his soul. Soon enough though, he took his place, kneeling at the base of The Well.
With his forehead pressed against the cold stone, Hacktor could hear a trickle of water off in the distance; meanwhile the incense continued to force its way into his lungs and even though he closed his eyes, still they began to water profusely. In fact, the longer Hacktor lay prostrate, the more the room seemed to fill with the herb-infused smoke. Coughing, the man wondered how long he could keep this up – for by now his lungs felt as if they were being pierced with glass shards. Soon the pain was unbearable and growing worse by the moment – yet still he struggled to remain kneeling.
“Deliver…me.” Hacktor gasped at last, his lungs ripping with each word. Finally, he looked up… and saw…
“Arise, my child.” A raspy voice called from The Well.
Hacktor was surprised at who he saw – for even though Mirkir had long been preparing him for this day, I knew that the soon-to-be king was expecting someone else. For Hacktor had long assumed that The Spirit he had been talking to over the years would surely turn out to be the god Rhokii, but he secretly hoped that he might actually meet He Who Has No Name (28) — this is because The Drokka Kroniklz said that both Ajax and Volzung saw The Creator God during their visits to The Well. Obviously then, Hacktor was hoping it would be the same for him.
Instead he saw… ME!
Immediately Hacktor bowed before my presence, “Shedu Mazai…My Lord?” (29)
“You were expecting someone else?” I laughed, the robes of my black hood combining with the mists of The Well to conceal the skeletal features of my face. “Should I leave you?”
Hacktor’s throat constricted, but he managed to eke out, “No, please…stay. Share with me your knowledge.”
“I’ll do more than that, Great Hacktor. For I’ve come bearing gifts.” And before him I caused there to appear the image of a great, gleaming battle-axe – The Ghast.
Hacktor jumped back at the apparition as it glowed in the hazy light. It was a long while before he found his tongue, “What is… it?”
“With this blade, Great Hacktor, you shall deliver your people.” My words cut him to the core. “I shall also tell you how to forge countless copies of this blade. Although not as powerful as your own, you can arm your people with the copies and then make war upon your rivals. When you do, all that you desire shall be yours — Blackwood Forest, untold riches, your name carved into every rock in The Rhokki’s – Hacktor Derkillez will thus remembered for all eternity as the greatest Kon-Herr of all. For such is my covenant with you and it shall stand for all time.”
The ego-driven prince smiled at my proposal and reached his hand forward, intent on grasping The Ghast – only to be disappointed when it disappeared into the mists. “Wha- what happened?”
“I’ve shown you naught but an image. But fear not, great Kon-Herr. The Ghast awaits you with its maker.”
“Who? Where?” Hacktor wondered at first, but then answered his own question. “There can be only one with the knowledge to create such a blade – Hef Fastuz!”
“Indeed. Seek him out. Take hold of your destiny, Hacktor Derkillez!” (30)
The remainder of our conversation was not important, nor the details of the day: how or when I left Hacktor alone again, him ringing The Bell of Conclusion, or even how he got out of The Well. I can tell you though, that Mirkir was immensely pleased to learn about Hacktor’s vision of a weapon of power. In fact, Mirkir already knew about The Ghast because I had previously arranged matters such that, after Hef Fastuz finished making the blade (31), tradition required the weapon smith consult The Wyze to have the mage read The Runes and advise Hef Fastuz who to offer his gift to (32).
And so it was that Hef Fastuz had visited Mirkir about a month before I told Hacktor about The Ghast. Upon hearing about Hef’s creation, Mirkir dutifully read The Runes and (not surprisingly) instructed Hef to gift The Ghast to Hacktor Derkillez, future Kon-Herr Drokka of The Rhokii’s. Thus it was that Mirkir already knew that Hacktor would receive The Ghast, he just didn’t know exactly when. Now, given Hacktor’s revelation about The Ghast from The Spirit of The Well, The Wyze advised the prince to travel to Kel-de-Kaba with all haste to retrieve his prize.
“The Ragnarok is at hand, my boy!” Mirkir averred to Hacktor. “Obtain the blade and take hold of your destiny!”
What Mirkir didn’t tell Hacktor was that The Priory of the Myz’s plans were also moving forward behind the scenes – and that Kon-Herr Baldur was about to be murdered, which meant that Hacktor would soon be made king.
Thus Hacktor being given The Ghast at this time was critical for the long-term success of Mirkir’s own plans. Seeing things come together to nicely, the old priest was amazed. Before Hacktor left his presence he reminded the young prince, “Rhokii works in mysterious ways – many are the plans of a man’s mind, but it’s The Lord who directs his steps. Challenge not the Drokka…”
“…For Rhokii is our god!” Hacktor smiled.
And so it came to pass – Hacktor was destined to possess a weapon of mass destruction – and Baldur or no Baldur, once Hacktor got his hands this weapon, he was intent on using it!
- Hacktor was king – but did it matter? I mean who cares about another miscellaneous human figurehead – after all your history is littered with them, right? Ah, but Hacktor was different – for Hacktor was mine. Oh sure, Mirkir, Haraclez, and Hecla all thought they were responsible for Hacktor’s rise to power, and each of them believed they could influence Hacktor to do what they wanted. I let them think that way, but in reality I was the one pulling the strings on the puppet that was Hacktor Derkillez.
- Who historically always had a much larger population.
- IE have him be the cause of the Derkka destroying the Drokka.
- At least enough to give them a taste of the finer things in life.
- Who wants to fight when you can sit at home and drink, smoke, and whore without expending any efforts?
- Religion, Ragnarok, and Rhokii
- And so the degradation of their society continued.
- Across the Aravan Ocean (the Big Pond as you say now) and to Urra.
- Think someone like your famed commanders Julius Caesar or Napoleon.
- Pretty much like all of your religions have failed.
- See Book I – The Great Deceiver chapter called The Baals
- Ideally death, but failing that then at least his Mark of Immortality removed.
- “Why share when you can have it all? Why work when you can have others do it for you?
- To further ensure this would happen I also had the Derkka priests murder all the Drokka priests – “to ensure the worship of Baal was kept pure.”
- Thus making it similar to most other human religions.
- In part the Drokka’s Balkeryz were similar to later archtypes like the Parcae, the Norns, Moirai, and the countless other mysterious Weavers of fate – those faceless, immortal, illusory beings who you people foolishly believed could control the threads of time. However the Drokka took things a few steps further.
- Given that my rival had helped the Drokka secure their freedom I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.
- Among them Ajax The Freemaker, Volzung the Fearless, the poet Snorri Sturluson, etc. Read The Kroniklz for a full list.
- Although in reality this ‘mark’ was often nothing more than a common birthmark that Drokka priests could use to satisfy greedy, forward-thinking royals into believing that their children were special – and thus securing major donations to the church for its guidance.
- Namely by giving Mirkir control over a future king, Mirkir would feel like he was orchestrating events to suit his own designs – aka that he would get the Ragnarok he so lusted for. I suppose it didn’t hurt that old Mirkir also got to satisfy his sexual appetites by making young Hacktor his Beloved as well.
- What’s that – you want to know if The Well of Wyzdom still exists? Alas, modern man has yet to discover it, and I’m not about to just give you the keys to the kingdom. I will tell you this much though: remember that The Well was located at Iztak – two kingdoms south of the court at Rhokii Pass. Iztak was in the heart of The Rhokii’s — that mountain range that still cuts the continent of TerrVerde in two. Therefore, if you simply figure out where modern-day Rhokii Pass is, and then locate Iztak, and you’ve got more than enough information to find this archaeological treasure – if you dare.
- Due to a certain, rather common geologic phenomena.
- And by the time Mirkir emerged on the scene, I had him wondering why a Wyze One such as him, one so loyal to the sacred faith, was in fact not more important than a secular king such as Baldur who posed a real threat to the future of the religion and it’s stated goals? Oh, that’s right, it’s because Baldur made the people rich. Money is a cure for everything, eh?
- Well the common people did at least. Baldur and most of the other men ‘of society’ paid little attention to Mirkir – letting the priest spew out his dogma to help keep the people in line because it served their purposes as well.
- Did I just admit that? What about Free Will? Oops.
- Food, livestock, jewels, and gold.
- The first weapon of mass destruction that world had ever seen!
- HWHNN was the (made-up) creator god of The Drokka whom few had ever seen (read: none!) and whom no one had ever described.
- Shedu Mazai is the name the Drokka gave me in their Kroniklz.
- Little did I know that by sending him to Hef Fastuz I was not only signing Hacktor’s death warrant, but my own as well!
- Earlier in the year – as you’ll read about in Chapter 17 – The Fires of the Forge.
- Naturally this tradition was installed long ago at my direction in preparation for just this occurrence.