Location: Kel de Kaba
Time: AO 287 – 298
Continuing with our brief history…
After leaving The Well at Iztak, Hacktor travelled with all haste to Kel de Kaba to visit with Hef Fastuz.
How did Hacktor know that this individual had created The Ghast? Because Hef Fastuz was the preeminent weapons smith of his day and the products of Hef’s smithy were highly prized by all the Drokka. Even during times of peace, men still valued well-crafted weapons – such was the case for the Drokka of Baldur’s day. And, is so often the case, when a true master pursues his craft out of the sheer love of it, the ‘art’ he produces finds a way of emerging to the world – that’s what happened for Hef Fastuz’ creations.
For Hef Fastuz was the undisputed master of all masters when it came to the trade of arms-making – during his time or any other. Be it bronze, iron, steel, silver or any other metal, Hef could smelt, forge, and shape it. Be it diamond, jade, blood ruby or rhokiium, Hef could find a way to utilize a gem’s best quality to not only adorn the treasure, but also to use it to increase the actual effectiveness of the weapon. Be it flint, slate, obsidian or adamas, Hef could efficiently incorporate stone into his work as well. Although he was not a carpenter, Hef had the knowledge of what types of wood worked best for different uses within his own craft too. And lest it not be forgotten, he was a master of the decorative arts – etching, enameling, inlaying, casting, damascening, and gilding – all these and more were within his power to employ. As a result, it was oft said by the Drokka that if a weapon carried the maker’s mark of “Fastuz” upon it, that alone brought magic to its blade.
In the past, Hef had skillfully produced a multitude of master-crafted items – from a golden long sword whose curved hilt of jade had been fashioned into the shape of a great bear and whose blade had been damascened in silver all down its length with Drokka runes of Nort that read “With Rhokii’s Might” on one side and “Fear not the Ragnaroken” on the other, to mighty war-hammers and morningstars of unsurpassed quality and strength, to full suits of chain mail whose interlocking rings of crystal or rhokiium had been intricately woven together so tightly that no mortal weapon could ever penetrate their protection. Yes, these and many more masterpieces of design had the lonely Drokka wrought. Always did he give them away, and never was the receiver disappointed by the priceless gift they received (1).
It’s now time for you to learn about the two magical blades that Hef Fastuz made for Hacktor since they are about to play a pivotal role in our story. Note that I said TWO blades (2). Little did I know that Hef was going to double-cross me and I almost paid for that mistake with my life…
About a decade before Hacktor became king, I paid Hef Fastuz a visit. Entering his workshop in secret, I did not reveal myself to him at first (3). Immediately I received a surprise — for the supposedly legendary Hef Fastuz was in fact a cripple!
Have I made a mistake? I wondered. How could a man with such handicaps be a master arms-maker?
I studied the man before me — Hef Fastuz was deformed (4), crippled (5), and unlike his vain Drokka brethren this man clearly didn’t care how he looked: his face was pock-marked, his ratty black hair and beard were grimy, his only clothing (6) reeked worse than he did from sweat, and his skin and body hair were permanently stained from layers of smoke that constantly spewed from his nearby smithy. For a moment I was on the verge of leaving.
But then my intelligence kicked in (7). Give him a moment to reveal his true nature, I cautioned. Don’t judge too soon. Look…deeper.
Maintaining my invisibility, I moved closer, peering past Hef’s beat-up beak of a nose and into his eyes. What I saw astounded me! To begin with, I saw the man’s pain — it was clear that Hef had been rejected by his clan very early in life (8). What was surprising was that, in spite of multiple crushed fingers and a maimed hand, somehow the man had found a way to not just use them but to create works of art (9). Yet the same could not be said for Hef’s legs — it was apparent they were mangled beyond use and I could instantly see that even walking a short distance must have been painful. Luckily for the man, he had a companion – in the form of a wolfdog. I could sense that this was Hef’s only friend (10), but it was evident that, because of his canine friend, although Hef Fastuz was a hermitic Drokka, he was not a lonely one. But most of all, as I looked into Hef’s eyes, I could see there was <mastery> inside (11), and this gave me the confidence to proceed.
I moved back a few steps, preparing to reveal myself — although with a bit of a twist. As I got into position, Hef continued working – completely unaware of my presence. Taking a hunk of hissing metal out of a water pot, Hef laid it on the workbench before him. Pausing to push back his scraggly hair and wiping the dripping perspiration from his brow, the man then turned to his friend and, with much effort, he managed to instruct the dog, “G-g-garf, th-there now…ga-ga-go n’ grab that ch-ch-chisel f-f-for me,” (12) and he pointed to the tool he wanted his partner to fetch for him. And Garf, with one ear apparently always perched to hear his master’s commands, happily made ready to obey the request of his handicapped master. Yet as soon as the wolfdog stood up on all fours and moved towards the location of the toolbox, a most unexpected event occurred — then it was that I unleashed my surprise — gracing Hef and Garf with the presence of the gods!
Yes I said godS, for I didn’t appear to Hef Fastuz in my own form, but instead in the guise of two of the Gods of Mittengarten – and not just any divinities mind you but, but two of the most powerful names in Drokka lore – the gods Rhokii and Myndoz. The first you already know about (13), but Myndoz is probably new to you so let me fill you in a bit . Unlike Rhokii, Myndoz wasn’t a giant, instead he appeared as a Drokka of normal size, but one who was incredibly (read: immeasurably) old. The Kroniklz of Chaldea named Myndoz as the Drokka’s God of Intelligence and Healing and their religious dogma claimed that he came into existence when Baal chopped off the skull of He Who Has No Name (HWHNN) during their great battle in The Time Before. The legend states that after Baal left HWHNN for dead, Myndoz poured out of the latter’s skull and healed him. The tale goes on to say that Myndoz later created the Balkeryz (14). The Kroniklz also attest that Myndoz helped HWHNN to create the Ragnaroken, where they later imprisoned Baal. Myndoz was thus held to be the brother of HWHNN and the source of all wisdom for the Drokka people (15).
Dumbstruck by such a surprise, the smithy was speechless; while Garf quickly ran behind his master’s chair to hide, with every hair on his body standing bolt upright in shock! In the 67 years of his life so far, Hef had never before met with either of these two deities, yet upon their arrival in his forge he knew instantly who they were, and his reddish-brown eyes flamed even brighter than the nearby fires in his forge. There could be no mistaking of these two figures that were so engrained in the religion of the Drokka people (16). Therefore Hef at once dropped his hammer and tried to brush away the grimy ash that covered his body (17). Then, despite the gross deformity of his legs and feet — and thus the great pains it caused him to do so — Hef Fastuz fell to his knees before my apparitions, bowing his head in respect (18).
Seeing the labor of the man, Myndoz help Hef arise (19). After the crippled smith recovered from the shock of having two immortals suddenly appear in his forge, I had (my) Rhokki lay down a two-ton black boulder at the Hef’s feet.
“Dost thou know what to do with this?” (my) Myndoz asked of the Drokka.
“Yes, M-M-Maaaa-ster,” Hef Fastuz struggled to reply.
“Excellent. And, you shall name it The Ghast,” (my version of )the First Balkery averred. Then, from within his flowing white robes (my) Myndoz pulled out an object and handed it to the Drokka, “And here is your chisel.”
Accepting the glowing gift with his smoke-stained, mangled hands, Hef bowed and stammered out, “Th-th-…th-than-….at your bidding, Si-si-sire.” And then holding the magical new tool in one hand, Hef picked up his trusty hammer in the other, and at once began to work upon the ebon stone Rhokii had lain before him, eventually chipping it down to its very core, whilst (what he thought were) his beloved gods watched over him approvingly…
That’s the legend (20) that would later appear in the Drokka Kroniklz concerning the forging of The Ghast…and The Grim. For what I didn’t know was that Hef Fastuz would make not one, but TWO magical weapons – the latter totally unbeknownst to me.
How could I have made such an error? Unfortunately Hef’s mind was always closed to me – certain ‘innocents’ of the world have always given me difficulty. In retrospect perhaps I should have chosen a different smith to make The Ghast, but travelling down the path of regret has never served much purpose to me so why ponder What Ifs now? The fact is that I (in the form of fake Myndoz and Rhokii) was the one who gave Hef Fastuz instructions to forge The Ghast. I also gave him the magical gemrock to make the blade from. I knew the creation would take some time (21) and I did occasionally check in on him, but since the process for interacting with Hef actually required me to visit him in person (22), and since I had lots of other things on my plate at the time, for the most part I left Hef alone. That was a mistake – because what I didn’t know back then was that the real Rhokii and Myndoz also visited Hef (23). Those two meddling gods actually had the gall to give Hef secret instructions to create a second blade from the magic rock I had provided — a dagger called The Grim (24).
And so it was that The Ghast and The Grim were created — from the primary ingredient I had provided: a dark stone that was magical in its own right, for its carbon-based rock was practically a living part of the earth and had been on the very verge of turning into unbreakable diamond just when I had harvested it from the bowels of Mittengarten. I knew that in the hands of a master craftsman like Hef Fastuz, he could use this magic gem-rock to create a blade for The Ghast that would turn the battle-axe (and the man who wielded it) into a killing machine — and my intention was that Hacktor Derkillez would use the blade to (attempt to) destroy the Derkka — with the resulting war providing nigh limitless fodder for me to later conduct death communals on as I searched for intelligence about Dagaal. What I didn’t intend was that the real versions of Rhokii and Myndoz would not only instruct Hef to create that second blade, but more importantly that they would provide the smith with magic of their own to put into BOTH weapons. Yet that is exactly what happened — and so it was that the drokka Hef Fastuz turned that mysterious stone I gave him into into the two most powerful weapons ever created in the entire history of your world.
Only much later did I learn that, because of the meddling of Rhokii and Myndoz, both of the blades Hef forged were capable of destroying any of the hate-filled gods of Ragnaroken – that meant that dread Zar (the God of War), Hekubuz (the vile Seductress of Temptation), Naxos (Lord of the Raging Seas), and Nektar (your truly) were all viable targets– because the deadly strike of either The Ghast or The Grim could spell our doom (25).
How could The Grim or Ghast destroy my mates and I, you ask? What about our immortality?
Alas, forget not my flaw, friend (26) — back then I was still subject to the control of Baal-Zebub (27) in Illusia (which the Drokka’s called Ragnaroken). As a result, recall (28) that the lifeforce which sustained me on the middle plane (29) was called <hellfire>. This <hellfire> allowed me (and other fallen lumenarcs from BZ’s camp) to survive upon Mittengarten for nigh 1000 years, but as our <hellfire> dwindled we had to return to the underworld to beg BZ for more. The important thing to know is that if our <hellfire> ran out, then so did our immortality!
What made The Grim and The Ghast a problem for my friends and I was that their blades were capable of instantly draining our <hellfire>. With our lifeforce thus depleted, either of the mighty blades could then literally hold the aura of any of the gods of Ragnaroken around itself, and strike us dead — before we had the opportunity to return to BZ for help. For, as The Kroniklz attest, Rhokii provided the might, Myndoz the magic, and Hef Fastuz the weapons crafting skills, and thus were born the blades with which to kill a god! (30)
Perhaps only this particular trio could have combined to produce such a work as these arms, perhaps not. In any event, nothing of their kind had ever been forged before or since, and although their intended destinies would not be realized for centuries hence their production soon altered the very course of your world’s early history.
The Grim’s blade was made from the extreme utmost core of the carbon-diamond gemrock I gave Hef Fastuz; it was all and entirely black, seemingly an object that sucked the very surrounding light into itself. Or at least it appeared that way. But in reality, if one looked closely at its surface while in complete darkness, then that person would behold, glowing in diamonique flame, the vertical letters “G-R-I-M” emblazoned lengthwise upon each side of its flat shanks. This amazing sight could only be appreciated in the black absence of light, wherein the dagger itself would then appear as a beacon of hope, a light in the darkness, and (because it included a powerful magic called the <The Voice of the Balkery>) The Grim could give one the ability to call forth The Hand of He Who Has No Name even during the most dire of one’s darkest days.
And yet, because these last claims were not able to be readily demonstrated, as a result, for what practical purpose the knife was best suited for, The Kroniklz never said – nor did Hef. Thus, despite its strange magic, The Grim appeared to be little more than a simple black dagger, whose outdated stone blade was attached to a common silver hilt, and whose only adornment of note was a single red ruby in its pommel — which had been carved and inlaid in the shape of a single letter: “G.” In fact, because it was so commonplace, I never paid it a second glance during the times I visited Hef to check on his progress with the blade I had commissioned him for (31) because my sole focus was on The Ghast.
For all the lack of accouterments of The Grim, The Ghast I had encouraged Hef to make was entirely the opposite. It was the truly the most formidable weapon ever forged! Certainly it was the most awe-inspiring – one look at it could strike fear into the heart of any foe, thereby immediately giving the wielder the advantage in a fight.
The Ghast was an iron-hafted broad axe with a blade of black carbon diamonds, whose edge had been specially tempered never to dull — for thus was the craftsmanship of Hef Fastuz. Too, whereas The Grim’s blade was black as night, The Ghast’s cutting edge glowed so brightly, despite the blackness of the stone it was forged from, that to gaze upon its surface might cause one to be momentarily blinded — yet another advantage for its wielder in war.
As I mentioned to you before, the length of the The Ghast’s iron haft was decorated with golden plate, upon which were embossed Drokka runes of power, in tribute to their mythical heroes Ajax and Volzung – these runes made the plate the covered the haft into a work of art, so skillfully were they crafted that the runes appeared to dance depending on what angle someone looked at the weapon. Opposite the large-headed cutting edge, Hef flared the reverse blade into two cruelly curved, four-inch barbs, designed for ripping and tearing into one’s victim. In addition to it’s fearsome appearance, The Ghast also had the infused power of two immortal gifts I provided – namely <Limitless Endurance> and <Unmatched Power> during battle. And as if that wasn’t enough, what I didn’t know is that the real Myndoz and Rhokii instructed Hef to infuse two additional secret powers – specifically <The Might of Rhokii> and the <Mind of Myndoz>). The end result: whatever The Ghastwielder hit, he destroyed!!
Understand something – this was no overnight job. The Grim and The Ghast actually took Hef Fastuz nearly ten exhausting years (32) to complete, working that entire time in seclusion. For more than anything Hef loved the actual labor of his craft. Toiling ceaselessly at his smithy, Hef was able to transcend his normal existence and reach a plane of reality that only a few can comprehend; thereby did the blacksmith find the ability to feel an inner peace that only true mind and body masters can fathom (33). Yet all journeys eventually, and Hef finished his two most famous masterpieces by the time he was 77 years old.
Shortly after he had completed the production of The Grim and The Ghast, Hef knew that he would again have to make his usual journey to the Drokka kingdom of Iztak — for always upon completion of a token of power did the highly devout smithy dutifully consulted the Runes – relying on the Wyze One to interpret them for him. Thus, around the middle of year AO 298, the smith made arrangements for the trip – an underground journey via The Drokka Byways in a cart pulled by his beloved Garf.
As you know by now, Iztak was the home of the Well of Wyzdom… and Mirkir The Wyze. It was Mirkir who read the Runes and instructed Hef to give his gifts Hacktor Derkillez (34). As for Hef Fastuz – he didn’t think twice about the implications of giving his magical gifts to Hacktor Derkillez — for not only was it common knowledge that Hacktor would eventually become Kon-Herr Drokka, but more importantly the ultra-religious Hef believed in the adage “if the Runes foretell some, reality must become” — thus the smith didn’t question Mirkir’s reading of the Runes. Instead Hef and Gart headed home and waited for Hacktor to arrive.
At this time it was late in the year AO 298 — The Siq was still standing and Baldur was still the king — but the meeting between Hacktor and Hef was one that promised to change the world…
- What a shame that Hef lived during the reign of Baldur – most of his talents were wasted. Then again, perhaps that was a blessing – for Hef was thus free to work on the most important project of all – mine!
- Two blades – the one I commissioned him for, and another I didn’t know about.
- For my plan was to observe him for as long as it took to assure myself that this man really was capable of doing what I needed him to do.
- One arm had apparently never grown since birth.
- His legs looked like they were mangled in an accident long past.
- A never-washed leather loin cloth.
- For my wisdom is such that I can see past a book’s cover.
- Although this was not surprising given his ugliness.
- Although such is the case with true masters – they succeed in spite of the odds — I should know for I am one too.
- But I could also sense that this was fine by him.
- Hef oozed that ‘something special.’
- Oh great, the man’s a stutterer tool. This is going to be so much fun…
- Rhokii was the Lord of the Mountains, the Bringer of Fire, and the very father of the Drokka race.
- Thus he was considered to be The First Balkery of Astengarten and also The High Balkery (aka highest high priest of the Drokka faith.
- Naturally this was all poppycock — Rhokii and Myndoz didn’t visit Hef Fastuz – I did. And it worked like magic — at least in the beginning.
- And that’s what I was banking on.
- Oh look, the gimp is trying to make himself more presentable – how cute.
- To be honest, that effort nearly touched my heart – yes I do have one – but don’t get carried away, Hef’s painful genuflection only ‘nearly’ touched me — almost, but not quite.
- See? I can be a nice guy when I want to.
- Sans my involvement.
- Perhaps multiple decades?
- Which was rather tedious.
- Apparently Myndoz was able to pry Rhokii away from Gaia for this much at least.
- Can you believe the nerve of those two? In my wildest dreams I would not have imagined interfering with another god’s experiments – you just don’t do that. It’s like an unwritten rule among us gods – don’t mess with someone else’s work. The sheer lack of respect involved here is unfathomable. I realize it may not sound like much to you – after all, humans back stab each other all the time — but for a god to do this to another god? That’s like violating Divinity Rules 101. It just doesn’t happen – only it did. To me!
- I mean, do you really think I would have let Hef create such weapons had I known all this?!? Well, maybe taking out Zar, Hekubuz, and Naxos wasn’t all that bad, but certainly I wouldn’t have given Hef the power to create a blade that could kill me too! Damn my rivals for interfering!
- Yes, I know it’s hard to believe but I did/do have flaws.
- Formerly known as Lucifer.
- For more on this see Genesis Revisited, Chapter 2b – The Morning Star.
- The Drokka’s Mittengarten – aka the universe that held your world.
- And that doomed god was almost me!
- To be honest with you I don’t even recall seeing it.
- Actually this was faster than I expected.
- I sense you’d like to know more about Hef’s inner peace – sadly, like most humans, you lack the patience to be a body-mind master so do yourself a favor and forget that line of thinking – it will only cause you frustration.
- Naturally Mirkir was acting under my instructions — as provided to him in advance by The Spirit of The Well. Unfortunately for me, Mirkir was so focused on The Ghast — knowing that it would mean if such a weapon got into Hacktor’s hands — that the fool paid no attention to The Grim. This meant that I missed a precious opportunity to learn of that diabolical little blade when I later questioned Mirkir about it!