Time: AO 298
Let’s finish our history lesson – there is one final piece that will help you understand Hacktor’s back story – and the tragic consequences of his decision to make war. And then we can finally get on to the war itself – AKA the ‘fun’ part!
After hearing from The Spirit of The Well that he was about to receive a magical weapon from the legendary Hef Fastuz, Hacktor Derkillez barely batted an eye — for he considered this honor to be merely a divine endorsement of his soon-to-be status as the most important Kon-Herr the world had ever known. After saying goodbye to Mirkir, Hacktor immediately gathered his royal guards and journeyed along The Drokka Byways to Kel-de-Kaba – eager to see The Ghast in real life (1).
As the story goes in The Kroniklz, near the end of the year AO 298, after Hacktor arrived at Kel-de-Kaba, he quickly dispatched with the formalities of meeting with Kon-Herr Fredrik Vendal (2), and at once commanded a guide to take him down the mountain passages towards the deeper confines of the Drokka community within. There, far below the surface, down further than most of the other residences or trade association workshops, deep within the living stones of Kel-de-Kaba, therein was the located the combined home and workshop of the Hef Fastuz – a man whom Hacktor knew by legend alone.
Upon arriving at the closed door to the blacksmith’s home, the guide instructed Hacktor’s guards to remain outside, whilst advising Hacktor to enter alone – for this was the usual procedure required by the hermit craftsman. Never one to fear intrigue, Hacktor accepted this without hesitation and opened the door to Hef’s workshop.
Yet the smithy was nowhere to be seen.
Had Hacktor scanned the room, the would-be king could have spied Hef Fastuz in the far corner, hiding in the mists of the forge fires and behind the mass of gray that was his wolfdog Garf. But the future Kon-Herr didn’t bother looking for the smith – instead he gave all of his attention to the sight immediately before him – for Hef had made it easy for Hacktor by placing a wooden table inside the door and laying the future monarch’s gifts upon it.
Had he thought about it, Hacktor would have been insulted by Hef’s lack of respect in paying homage to him, however the soon-to-be-king’s lust for glory bubbled over at the sight before him – for The Ghast glittered beyond all his expectations.
“By the Right Hand of Rhokii,” Hacktor’s gasped. “What devastation I can bring upon the Derkka with this blade!”
Yet then it was that Hacktor noticed that The Ghast was not alone on the table.
“There are two?” The prince was confused, spying a small black dagger sharing the table with his fearsome Ghast. At first he was ready to dismiss the insignificant looking dirk as an afterthought, for he wanted to he focus all his attention on the battleaxe he so lusted for — yet try though he might, Hacktor’s mind kept being drawn back to The Grim. In fact, so much was Hacktor taken in by Hef’s workmanship with both blades that the young lord became frozen in place by the magnitude of the moment.
Half a candlemark passed before Hacktor found the courage to act. His knees buckled, his feet felt like they were stuck in quicksand, and it took all of Hacktor’s concentration to force his arms towards the table. Shaking from the effort, Hacktor’s hands but slowly spanned the distance to his gifts.
Time seemed to stand still as an epic struggle silently unfolded, deep within the bowels of the earth…
Beads of sweat danced upon the future Kon-Herr’s brow…
His limbs began to convulse from the superhuman effort…
Yet, finally, in the end, Hacktor’s fingers found their prizes — both of them.
As soon as his hands grasped the hilts of The Ghast and The Grim, Hacktor could feel the divine power oozing out of their blades and into his body! It was a heady sensation that left the royal one woozy. Yet, although his legs buckled further, Hacktor Derkillez did not fall. Nor did he lose his grip on his gifts.
At last Hacktor searched for Hef Fastuz — if only just to thank him — for ego or not, Hacktor realized that Hef’s gifts were beyond anything he had imagined. Yet try though he might, Hacktor could barely make out the form of the smith through the smoky air, and it was clear that the craftsman would make no attempts to come any closer. And so, after recovering his composure, Hacktor bowed low in thanks while holding the weapons out before him, and then he turned and left the smithy’s workshop.
Leaving Kel-de-Kaba, Hacktor arrived back at Rhokii Pass shortly after Mining Day 299 (3). Without even bothering to pay his respects to Baldur, the prince immediately went to his apartments. Hecla was waiting for him – in his bed. With the candles tapered low, and the smell of myrrh, aloe, and cinnamon wafting from the bed where lay his sister under colored linens from Mersia, it was clear to Hacktor what Hecla had in mind. As he approached, the princess let drop the sheet that covered her, revealing her beautiful form to the future king. With brazen face, Hecla took hold of Hacktor and kissed him, “Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love!”
A burning desire overcame Hacktor and together with Hecla they began frantically ripping away his clothes – until they got to his belt.
“What’s this?” Hecla’s mouth was agape at the size of Hacktor’s battleaxe.
The prince paused as well, pulling the axe off his belt, removing the cover from the cutting edge, and proudly displaying his new mark of manhood. With the sheath gone, the blade glittered in a thousand points as it reflected the gleam from the candles. “It’s called The Ghast.”
Hecla was awestruck, “It’s beautiful.”
“It’s our future. With this weapon, I will destroy our rivals once and for all. Forever carving my name into every rock of ever cavern beneath mountains – as the greatest Kon-Herr who ever ruled in Mittengarten. And I will do it all with you at my side – as my queen!”
“Indeed you will.” Hecla’s passion burned so hot the princess’s skin seemed to glow as she pulled both her brother and his giant blade onto the bed.
Most of the candles flamed out long before Hacktor and his sister’s lovemaking did, but eventually those two gave in to exhaustion as well.
Many candlemarks later, Hacktor awoke to see his sister leaning back against the plush pillows of his bed, holding something unexpected in her hands — it was The Grim.
“Pay no mind to that worthless dirk.” Hacktor reached over, intending to pull the dagger away from Hecla.
But the princess resisted, “It’s… strange. Clearly it doesn’t look like much. And yet, I can’t seem to put it down.”
Hacktor pulled his sister closer to him, letting her keep a hold of the strange black blade, for now. “The feeling will pass. I’ll admit I too felt a mysterious pull from that little dagger.” And he went on to briefly explain what happened in Hef Fastuz’ workshop, but in the end repeated, “Pay it no mind, my love. It’s pull will pass.”
Hecla snickered, “It’s kind of funny, don’t you think?”
“Well look here.” The princess pointed to the pommel. “The ruby is nice and perhaps the intricacy of its carving shows a bit of Hef’s mastery, but Hacktor, he didn’t even get your name right! Shouldn’t he have put an ‘H’ instead of a ‘G?'”
Now it was Hacktor’s turn to laugh. “The ‘G’ is because the truename of this blade is supposedly The Grim; yet why such a worthless weapon would be honored with a truename is beyond me. After all, what good is it? Consider – the stone blade is dull and outdated – it would be quite useless in combat.” And then Hacktor reached over and pulled another dagger from his pack, “Certainly it doesn’t match this one.”
“Ballin’s Bane.” The spell on Hecla broke as she laid eyes on the gem-encrusted, steel-bladed battle-dirk Hacktor just handed her – this new one nearly three times the size of the tiny Grim. “Where did you get it?
“Haraclez gave it to me – said the time for his stewardship over it had ended.”
“Grandfather would be happy to know you had it.”
“And that father never did.”
“He wasn’t worthy of it.” Hecla spat. “But you shall earn it. It will make a great companion to The Ghast.”
“What shall we do with this?” Hakctor picked up The Grim from the spot Hecla had dropped it.
Still enamored with the blade called Ballin’s Bane, Hecla didn’t even look up. “Ha, send it to Uncle Rawf. Let him figure out what to do with it.”
Hacktor smiled at his sister’s suggestion — for Rawf V was the Kon-Herr Drokka of the Akka Mountains — a far away kingdom in the northeast corner of TerrVerde and a land far removed from the soon to be war-torn lands of The Rhokii’s. “I like the way you think, dear. Yes, let’s allow Uncle Rawf to bear the burden of this little dagger – perhaps one day he’ll find a prophet who can make use of this blade’s quirky magic.”
Yet Hacktor and Hecla gave little thought to any future events that might involve The Grim. Instead, after quenching their passions again, the pair turned their attention back to The Ghast.
“How can we make the most of your weapon?” Hecla trailed a lazy finger thru her brother’s chest hair.
Misunderstanding her question, an exhausted Hacktor sighed, “Sister, your passions are insatiable!”
Hecla laughed, reaching a hand toward’s Hacktor’s midsection, “It’s not this weapon I’m referring to. It’s The Ghast.”
Hacktor pulled Hecla’s fingers back towards his mouth, kissing them as he pondered the question. “It’s a magical blade – isn’t that enough?”
Hecla thought about it. “Perhaps. And yet I wonder — if one Ghast is awesome, wouldn’t more be unstoppable?” (4)
The thought caught the prince off guard – on the one hand, he was impressed that his sister had come up with the same plan as The Spirit, on the other he wasn’t yet ready to reveal to Hecla just WHO that Spirit was (5). Pretending that Hecla’s idea was original, Hacktor played along, “Baldur said he despises war because there are no winner. Perhaps that may be true if both sides have similar weapons. But, when one side is superior, victory can almost be assured.” Rising up from bed, Hacktor ran with the idea as he hastily dressed himself again. “I shall return to Hef Fastuz and command him to make more Ghasts – once I have them I’ll return to father.”
The smile fell from Hecla’s face at the mention of Baldur. “But…”
Hacktor ignored her, getting ready to leave. “With an army equipped with Ghasts, we’ll be invincible. Baldur must buy in to my idea then!”
“Hacktor wait. I need to tell y–”
Nearly at the door, Hacktor continued talking to himself, “With a hundred or more Ghasts, who could oppose us? We could wipe the Derk clean from the face of Mittengarten. It is our destiny. How could Baldur deny us that right if victory was certain?” And he hurried out of his chambers in search of his guards.
For her part, Hecla remained in Hacktor’s bed, finishing her own thoughts, unable to hide a smile from her face. “Dear brother, I wanted to tell you about The Siq. The plans of The Priory will soon come to pass and when they do, you won’t need to worry about Baldur interfering any longer. In fact, we won’t need to worry about Baldur at all.”
And so it was that Hacktor returned to Hef Fastuz — and this time his visit was different — for upon this occasion, the smith spoke up. Oh, Hef still stayed close to the opposite side of the room, near his forge and behind his dog Garf, but clearly something was compelling him to speak.
The shadows of the forge fire provided a haze within which Hef covered himself, while the smoke from the fire was pulled out of the room in fits and starts by an old ventilation shaft. Before Hacktor could make his request, it was Hef who surprised him by speaking first.
“The B-bl-blackness will save you, Pr-pr-prince Hacktor.”
Caught off guard by the smith’s remark, Hacktor wasn’t sure how to respond.
Driven by an internal need to share wisdom that he believed could change the world, Hef Fastuz spoke more at one time than ever before in his life — and shockingly he didn’t stutter a single word. “My Lord, The Grim was forged especially for you. Although I know not what your future holds, Myndoz was adamant that this dagger will help you fulfill your destiny. One day, you will confront your Darkest Day, but on that day, The Grim will be your light..”
Recovering his composure and eager to get off the embarrassing subject, now it was Hacktor’s turn to stutter, “I d-don’t know what to say, Hef.” And he bowed low to the floor to give himself time to think. “Thank you. The Grim is certainly…an interesting piece.”
“It’s more than that, great one.” Here Hef spoke even more forcefully, as if compelled by a higher power. “Hacktor, when you live your Moment of Truth, trust in The Grim – for at that time, it this blade shall give you the strength… yea even to overcome Death.” (6)
Hef’s words struck a chord and Hacktor turned red at Hef’s continued reference to The Grim – a blade he’d already sent off to The Akka Mountains prior to his return to Kel-de-Kaba. “Thank you for your advice, Hef. I can see how important The…Grim is… to you.” Then, before the arms maker could speak again, Hacktor barreled ahead – pulling The Ghast away from his belt and explaining, “Speaking of powerful weapons, I can’t thank you enough for this one. So inspired am I by your work with The Ghast that I am left wanting more.”
There was a long pause from the forge area. Hef remained silent and only the sound of Garf’s low growl could be heard.
Not willing to be deterred, Hacktor advanced a few more steps into the room. “What I mean to say is can you make more Gh–?”
“Come no further!” Hef’s cry stopped the prince in his tracks. “I will abide.”
Not sure what to make of the smith’s statement, Hacktor tried again. “I want you to make copies of The Ghast. Can you do it?”
Again a pause, Hef’s voice spoke through the haze again. “Yes.”
Then it was Hacktor’s turn to pause, for he dreaded this moment. Hesitating he asked, “Do I need to le-leave it? The Ghast..with you?”
“I need not that blade again. It is yours. I have every space of The Ghast seared in my psyche. You will get your copies, but mind you…”
Clutching his beloved axe, thankful that he didn’t have to give it up, Hacktor casually asked, “Mind me what?”
“These copies will not carry the divine gifts that your Ghast has – they will be but pale shadows.”
Hacktor had expected this and was not surprised. Part of him was actually thankful to hear that his own blade would be special, for it stroked his ego. Wanting to inspire Hef to start the work immediately, he paid a compliment to the smith, “They may not carry the magic of Myndoz or Rhokii but they will carry the maker’s mark of Hef Fastuz – that will provide all the magic my army needs.”
“As you wish.” Hef’s voice called.
“Ah, how…long?” Hacktor feared that it would take the smith years to produce copies of such a unique weapon.
“You shall have them in the spring.”
Hacktor couldn’t have been more pleased. “You truly are a gift from Rhokii, Hef.”
Thrilled beyond compare, Hacktor took his leave from the great weapons maker – totally forgetting the conversation about The Grim and 100% focused on the fact that he would soon have a multiple ghasts to show Baldur in order to convince his father of the certainty of victory in war.
True to his word, Hef Fastuz produced three additional ghasts for Hacktor by the spring – on the surface they were every bit as inspiring as The Ghast — for Hef’s mastery indeed on full display — and one heft of a ghast certainly made its bearer feel strong and confident. But they were not true Ghasts – how could they be? For they lacked the added powers of the gods. Nonetheless, they served a purpose – they were about to give Hacktor that extra something he needed to inspire his people.
Just as importantly, it should be noted that Hef delivered his new ghasts to Hacktor at a meeting at Iztak arranged by Mirkir the Wyze. It was on the day of this delivery that another major event occurred – for unbeknownst to Hacktor at the time, while he was salivating over Hef’s new gifts, The Siq towers were collapsing! Yes, the treachery of The Priory was unleashed in full fury — with Baldur, the high king, falling victim in this disaster as well — for Baldur had happily accepted Hecla’s invitation for a secret tryst and was thus ensconced in the highest room of the highest tower when they fell (7).
The terrorism that destroyed The Siq and took the life of the Drokka’s king would be the event that opened the door for the coup planned by Mikrir, Haraclez, and Hecla – the coup designed to put Hacktor on the throne. And now it wouldn’t just be Hackor, the mere man, but instead Hacktor The Ghastwielder!
Indeed, the Kroniklz were about to be forever altered.
And so it was that Hacktor obtained his Ghasts and readied for war – an event that would come sooner than he knew. Meanwhile, history changed where The Grim was concerned too – for ultimately that magical blade was gifted to Hacktor, re-gifted away by him to a far away land, and then forgotten by Hacktor – all without my ever knowing about it – that oversight would eventually cause me major problems – but they paled in comparison to what was about to happen to Hacktor…
- I should point out that, because of other obligations, I wasn’t paying attention on the specific occasion that Hacktor actually received The Ghast from Hef. In hindsight that was a mistake because this could have provided me an opportunity to witness The Grim as well – and perhaps finally pay attention to it. But alas, a god can only do so many things at once. After I’d previously confirmed the final product that became The Ghast with Hef, and then later gave Hacktor instructions about it from The Well, I figured that the actual gifting process offered little that could go wrong, so I focused my attention elsewhere. As a result, most of the things you’re reading in this chapter I didn’t learn until much later.
- Frederik Vendal was the Drokka king of the Kel-de-Kaba region – a position that was important but still secondary to that of Baldur (High King of all the Drokka).
- Here is another occurrence that I didn’t witness in real time and only learned about later – once again another missed opportunity to learn about The Grim – and what happened to it.
- And so it was the Hecla hit upon the idea I had already proposed to Hacktor – make copies of The Ghast and equip his entire army with them. Ah, great minds think alike, neh?
- It seems Hacktor was a bit ashamed that he was taking advice from The God of Death – well, that could be a problem for you eventually, my son…
- Whoa! I don’t like where this is heading. Now had I been privy to this conversation when it happened I would have immediately put the kaibash on this entire charade — for analyzing the words now, it’s clear that Myndoz was communicating to Hacktor via Hef Fastuz. It’s also clear that Myndoz and Rhokii knew about my use of The Well to influence Hacktor and my plans concerning The Ghast. This conversation is yet another example of A’H’s interference in my grand designs – The Great Creator (or Great Deceiver?) let me string myself along my entire life – allowing me to lay a web of lies that had terrible consequences for humanity (which apparently A’H didn’t really care about if he let those disasters occur) and most of all for myself (since I was clearly fooling myself the entire time). Alas, had I but witnessed this conversation, I could have taken action concerning The Grim – but once again I allowed myself to be busy elsewhere, mistakenly believing that once Hacktor obtained The Ghast, nothing could derail my plans for it.
- Meaning he had the longest amount of time to ponder his doom – much to Hecla’s delight!