Time: AO 309-314
Eventually, such words spread, as things like this often do. What Hacktor didn’t know is that we ‘evil’ gods knew all about him – even before he made the mistake of challenging us. Obviously, I knew about Hacktor, and while I would have preferred to keep his rise to fame off the radar of my peers, no sooner had he became Kon-Herr, than the name of Hacktor Derkillez was known to Hekubuz (the Drokka’s name for Inanna) as well. Yet, more importantly, did she come to know about The Ghast.
And although Hekubuz (like myself) still knew nothing about The Grim, the notion of even one god-killing blade like The Ghast in the hands of an all-too-successful war-king like Hacktor was enough to make my friend (1) seethe with rage. Ever cautious, Hekubuz reached out to me for some advice — she wanted to devise a plan to steal The Ghast. I told her to be patient and strung her along, assuring her that I would help her accomplish her goals when the time was right, and promised to make sure Hacktor didn’t stray into her lands (2) anytime soon – that kept her at bay (3).
As for Gwar, he was still far across the Aravan Ocean for the first decade of Hacktor’s war (4), yet when he finally did return to TerrVerde, the fool wasted no time in investigating the Derkka reports about Hacktor first hand — eventually showing up at the ruins of The Siq and demanding that the Drokka inside come out to battle with him.
By now The Siq had been rebuilt – at Hacktor’s command the barrier was now intimidating and nigh impenetrable to attack from the west (5). As the first defense against Gor and the gateway to Rhokii Pass, a well-armed garrison was always on duty at The Siq. Yet imagine the terror the men stationed at The Siq must have felt when they saw the god Gwar standing before them (6) – especially because King Hacktor was off on another campaign and thus not able to help them.
Standing twenty feet tall, the God of War flexed his muscles as he stood alone before the gates to the Rhokii Pass Kingdom. Gwar’s long black hair flowed out from beneath his silver helm, waving in the winds that ever whipped through these hills. In his right hand the god held a pitchfork, and in his left hand, his razor-sharp, serrated sword, cruelly double-barbed at the hilt – both weapons the cause of death for countless mortals.
“Hacktor Derkillez,” He screamed, “Come out of that hole you cowardly mole. I am here to answer your challenge. Come meet Myzentyuz and I will give you your destiny!”
The Drokka on watch within the mountain cowered at the sight before them. For Hacktor and The Ghast and much of their army were not expected to return from The Forsaken Lands for months. In fact, because the Derkka never attacked the Drokka, only a small defense force was left to guard the kingdom; certainly not enough to stand up to the immortal God of War.
Still waiting, but sensing that he was striking fear into the hearts of the men locked within the stone walls before him, Gwar sneered, and drool slathered down from his mouth, a saliva that was his own malevolent black blood, poisonous to mortal life. With eyes that were completely black, the God of Hate gazed upon the scene without compassion. “Do you dare defy me, puny little stone man? Where is your great weapon now? Surely you don’t think that some little tree chopper can help you defeat me, do you?”
In truth, had Hacktor been present to wield The Ghast against him, it could very well have meant death for the God of War. Perhaps Gwar knew somewhat of his danger, perhaps not, yet in the end, after much raving, my foolish friend did not actually attack the Drokka stronghold alone. Instead, he proclaimed, “Pah, you’re not worth my time. Come find me when you want to fight. But don’t think I’ll forget about your insults. You’ll pay for your words yet.” Then pointing his pitchfork at the gates of The Siq, he shouted, “I’ll be waiting. And know this, little mole, The Ghast you so trust in, it will be mine…along with your head!”
Although Hacktor was not present at the capital to hear the God of War’s challenge, even still when he arrived back home later that fall, the monarch boiled over in anger.
Sitting on his throne in the Hall of the Double Axes, Hacktor pounded upon the arms of his chair, kicking his legs out in spasms and screaming in anger. Long did he rage, yet none could make aught from his howling, except, “GWAR! GWAR!” peppered throughout his rantings.
Then, of a sudden, the Kon-Herr went silent.
On a throne beside him, Queen Hecla could not hide the worried look on her face – even as members of the crowd began to whisper among themselves, wondering if perhaps Hacktor was losing his mind as a result of Gwar’s challenge.
That was far from true — instead, although it was soft and under his breath at first, soon all those in the Hall could hear something unexpected — the sound of Hacktor Derkillez laughing!
Hecla cast a sideways glance at her mate, surprised to see Hacktor’s little chuckles soon evolve into great, uncontrollable guffaws. Not sure what to do, she pretended to laugh along with him. The people also played along (7).
But then King Hacktor stopped, and his face became rock hard. Standing upon the dais, he roared, “Don’t you see, Oh My Brothers? Can’t you see what a fool Gwar is? Why he has played right into our hands. The prophecy is true! This will indeed be the time of our LAST Great Battle!!”
Gasps of shock came from all corners of the throne room to hear such words.
But Hacktor went on smiling, now talking almost to himself, “Ah, but The Spirit of The Well surely is great indeed. For a time I was almost about to doubt It, despite my success, for the accursed Derk numbers never seem to dwindle! But surely this blunder by Gwar is the omen I have waited for.”
Then to his warriors arrayed before him, “My people, follow me, together, we will meet this ill-given challenge head-on.” Raising The Ghast, he shouted, “Let us put an end to this accursed war once and for all! Fear not the Ragnarok!!”
And the cry of “Challenge not the Drokka, for Rhokii is our god!” was shouted back in reply.
Little did Hacktor know, whether he consciously did it or not, he had just committed a mortal sin – for the king had spoken aloud to others that which was told to him in private at the Well of Wyzdom. And although none present knew this at the time, Hacktor’s blunder would later be marked as a critical turning point by the Scribes of Chaldea they the reflected on the reasons why the War of the Ghast ultimately failed (8).
But these errors would not bear fruit for some time, and for the moment, the only thing Hacktor and his war-clans could think of was the insult of Gwar. Come the spring of AO 310, the War of The Ghast became even bloodier than before as Hacktor and his army erupted onto the lands of Gor and even push a bit north into Kra — Hacktor intent on slaughtering all evil minions’ off the face of Mittengarten. And the war cries of “With Rhokii’s Might” and “Challenge not the Drokka, for Rhokii is our god” were heard far and wide by all the residents of those lands.
Into the battle once again went The Ghast, along with a Drokka army that was practically immeasurable in numbers (many of them carrying pseudo-ghasts as well). At that time, the Drokka population was over a half a million strong (9) and their people filled perhaps every nook, cranny, and cave in the Rhokii Mountains. For the Drokka now guarded the entire span of that passage – from Duzarez and Gaza in the south, all the way to Oz (10) in the north.
Under Hacktor’s leadership, the Drokka were again destroying the Derkka at every turn and the eleventh year of the war promised to be the best yet. As word spread back home, soon even the common people began to praise Hacktor for his greatness – growing more and more assured that the war would end soon. Trying to capitalize on her brother/husband’s success, Queen Hecla deployed Monty Redstone’s propaganda machine — sending learned men throughout the Rhokki’s to assure the populace that it was Hacktor’s confidence was warranted, for as Monty’s men explained, “not only does King Hacktor have an invincible weapon, but so do all the members of his massive army (11).” And Helca also had them proclaim for all the world that “Great Hacktor, Kon-Herr Drokka of the Rhokii’s, also has a secret prophecy working in his favor – a prophecy that must be fulfilled.” (12)
It worked — the Drokka people were soon rabid with delight — quite sure that finally, once and for all, Hacktor and his Ghast would carry them to complete and total victory over their hated rivals.
And indeed, they were almost correct.
Unfortunately for Hacktor and his men, it takes more than just fancy weapons to win a war. The wanna-be-legendary king still had much to learn about the strategy required to lead a successful offensive campaign in faraway foreign lands. This took time. Much time. In fact, several more years passed as Hacktor continued to drive his men further into The Overworld — looking for Gwar. Yet in spite of the god’s bold challenge, never once did the Kon-Herr and his army find the Gwar waiting for them.
It’s simple really – after Gwar had spent his bravado at The Siq, he came calling to me – asking what I thought about The Ghast and blustering that he’d get the weapon for himself in one way or another. I told him to stop making promises he couldn’t necessarily keep and before he could dispute me, I challenged him to just go (secretly) watch the next battle and see The Ghast in action for himself.
Gwar took my advice (13) and during the rest of the year AO310 he observed numerous battles between the Derkka and the Drokka. Sitting on his wind-swept Aerie (14), high in the mountains of Kagor, the God of War became obsessed watching the battles that raged on TerrVerde proper. Strange as it may sound, although it was Gwar’s mission in life was to inspire gruesome war throughout the world (and while Mittengarten itself was indeed now embroiled in many wars as a result of Hacktor’s hostilities), my colleague soon discovered that the horrors of combat no longer brought him joy.
Why? Because Gwar was afraid!
Yes, Gwar the God of War, the God of Hate, the deity who had killed more mortals than there are stars in the sky, yes that Gwar, suddenly found himself fearful of battle. For upon watching the awesome destruction levied by The Ghast, Gwar realized that even he could not stand up to its might (15).
In fact, for the next four years, Gwar never moved from his perch – for he was wholly transfixed by the sight of The Ghast.
With naught he could do but watch, Gwar let my Derkka fight on his behalf (16) — which I graciously allowed him to take the credit for. However, as Gwar continually saw ‘his’ Derkka being haplessly slaughtered by the hated Drokka, he grew ever more battle-hungry — so much so that he was becoming insane with bloodlust.
And then one day, in the year AO314, I made nicey-nice and gave Gwar something to take his mind off his frustrations —- sending him a summons, inviting him to call upon me again, and promising that what I had to say would change his world (nay, the entire world) forever. For I promised Gwar a chance to get The Ghast.
- I use the term ‘friend’ loosely.
- At this time in our tale, Hekubuz had established her ‘home base’ in the southern lands of Ramos. She’ll factor into this story a bit later and she’ll play a larger role in future books.
- In reality, my plan was to use Hekubuz for my own designs. She had no idea that she would eventually play an important role for me. But that was still in the future.
- Stirring up trouble on the continent of Urra.
- Impenetrable to mortal armies, but offering little to stop the immortal strength of Gwar.
- The Drokka believed that Gwar was a god who had been created ages past by the Baal, with the sole purpose to more quickly destroy the good races of Mittengarten – which would thus help Baal to gain his sought-after dominance over the middle plane and thus his subsequent hopeful release from that prison world of hellish Ragnaroken. According to The Kroniklz of Chaldea, Gwar had erupted from Ragnaroken, through to Mittengarten, blasting right through the ground in Western Gor. So powerful was his volcanic emergence that it had broken apart a massive section of the coastline and sent it surging out to the sea. Thus was Kagor created. As for the seas that were left to pour into this newly created basin, no calm waters would they ever be, but instead, they forever mirrored that god’s hateful fury — for those choppy unpredictable waves were at once unnavigable, and known to all as the Stormy Seas forever after. It’s a nice story, but it’s hardly true.
- Extreme tension often sometimes produces laughter among you humans when you’re trying to ease your internal stress. It doesn’t make sense to me why you do it, and it amuses me every time – so I guess it’s contagious?
- Naturally, their identification of this Hacktor’s loose lips being the cause that led them to lose the war was complete nonsense. But, as usual, humans of later generations have a long history of changing history to tell the story they want it to.
- For some perspective, the Drokka population was approximately 100k when they first escaped slavery and were led by Ajax the Freemaker into the Rhokii Mountains. Despite continual war, the Drokka quickly thrived once they were free and their population grew to nearly 300k by AO60. Although it declined slightly during the War for the Might of Rhokii (AO 175-185), in which the Drokka went head to head against Gwar – and got demolished at every turn, after 70 years of Baldur’s peaceful reign, it ballooned again, surpassing 500k. Hacktor lost a lot of men during the first 10 years of his war, but the Drokka’s birth rate was strong so the population remained stable — until AO 314 — for reasons you’ll soon learn.
- Hacktor having recaptured the Drokka’s original kingdom fairly early in the war, believing it was a critical success marker on his road to fame.
- This was actually not true – less than 50% of the men were equipped with ghasts.
- Hecla cared little for the god’s wrath and didn’t worry about any rules regarding what should/shouldn’t be said regarding ‘secret’ prophecies.
- Hey, there’s a first time for everything.
- Gwar’s Aerie was a wind-swept perch that he called home. It was a servantless palace high atop a mountain on the barren island of Kagor.
- Gwar actually showed more intelligence – and for a time I thought he might even have turned a corner on the Brains vs Brawn front. But that didn’t last long.
- Gwar, like Hekubuz, did not possess the power to create like I did, thus whenever either of my colleagues wanted to use my progeny to do their bidding, always were they forced to come to me — a fact that was not lost on either of them.