Hacktor Derkillez lay dying on the field of battle in what used to be Blackwood Forest — for as far as the eye could see no mortal creature took a breath but for the Drokka king. Those who had not died in the fighting had been wiped out when the great Kon-Herr had called upon the name of his god (1) and empowered The Ghast with a destructive force such as the world has not seen before or since. With one fell swoop, Hacktor’s Ghast had destroyed all that was alive in his vicinity – every mortal being: the Derks, the Myz, the Ghorbles, Hacktor’s arrived-just-a-bit-too-late Drokka army, the animals, the grass, the insects, and yea even Blackwood Forest (not a single tree was left standing). All was lost (2).
All but Hacktor…and one other living soul.
That other was not Garrick of the Golden Hand – for he too had been killed by Hacktor’s hand when at last the magic of the Derkka king’s armor had been lost. Garrick’s massive body had fallen upon Hacktor when they both fell to the ground in their final gruesome embrace. His lifeforce expended, the Derkka king’s face now hung limp, hovering over Hacktor’s — without the strength (3) to push Garrick off him, Hacktor had no choice but to look at the lifeless visage of his hated rival. He was horrified by what he saw — once beautiful, Garrick’s face was now monstrous to behold. This wasn’t just because of the horrors of war, instead, it was because The Glamour had been removed (4). Thus Hacktor saw what Garrick’s face looked like without any magic — the bloated lips, the mangled ear, the drooping eyes, and the single orifice for a nose (5). Even Garrick’s famous golden locks were gone — for only patches of tightly wound black coils were visible now. Having never known about The Glamour, the Kon-Herr didn’t understand what happened to Garrick, nor did he care. Hacktor Derkillez simply wanted to die.
Yet even that privilege wasn’t available to him…yet.
For then it was that the other person on hand to witness these events finally revealed himself.
“Bravo, my boys, bravo.” Gwar casually trampled over the piles of dead myz, derk, and ghorbles that formerly comprised ‘his’ army as he made his way towards the fallen Kon-Herr. Sticking his massive sword into a body here, and driving his pitchfork in another there, the God of War was giddy with excitement, and with the grume of war everywhere, he lustily breathed in the vile perfume of combat. For this was his element and he felt alive!
With his vanity thus on full display, Gwar walked slowly, purposefully, for he wanted to savor every moment of his great victory (6).
Meanwhile, Hacktor was but barely alive by the time Gwar neared him, yet then it was that an unexpected plan flashed into the Drokka king’s mind. The idea so bold that it could only have come from the gods! (7) His mind racing, the Kon-Herr knew it was perhaps a foolish idea, but given the situation, it was the best he could muster, and inspired with new life, Hacktor vowed to die trying.
Without the power of The Ghast coursing through his veins, Hacktor Derkillez knew that he was now no more than any other common Drokka in a physical sense, yet mentally, he still believed he was The Great Ghastwielder. And so, laying there on the forsaken ground, he proceeded with his plan – surreptitiously reaching with his left hand down to his hip, and with a painful effort, carefully drawing out his grandfather’s Baldur’s bejeweled dagger – hoping beyond hope that there was magic in the blade. Then, holding the hilt so hard that blood began to seep from his fingers, Hacktor waited for destiny to arrive, thinking…
No matter what, deliver a strike to the heart! The heart!
Even as he felt his lifeforce continued to drain away, King Hacktor’s mind became focused and clear, and that one single thought, nay that one command, roared within his psyche…
Deliver a strike to the heart! The heart! (8).
“I am the Ghas-“ the Drokka king began, trying to empower himself again, but coughs quickly stunted his words, and as the waves of new pain overtook him, spasms racked his body – his mortal muscles finally revolting at the super-human efforts he had demanded of himself this day.
Suddenly unable to speak, now exhausted and limp, Hacktor was forced to fall back upon the cold wet earth. Yet, he never took his eyes off Gwar, and as the latter inexorably came for him, Hacktor held onto that one thought…
Strike the heart! The heart!
The idea was so powerful that Hacktor was certain the gods were watching over him (9) — perhaps even Rhokii himself! And that last hope filled him with renewed strength.
Just then, Gwar reached Hacktor…and stopped.
The god’s eyes afire, black drool ran in streams down the God of War’s chin, telling of his constant craving for this long-awaited moment. Looking down at the mangled mass that was Hacktor, Gwar gloated. Casually sheathing his silver sword upon his back, the god held menaced his pitchfork over Hacktor’s face.
“So this is the mighty warrior who had once dared to challenge ME?!?” Gwar jeered. “You had the gall to proclaim your superiority over the God of War? Let me teach you a lesson, little midget.”
And with that, Gwar lifted his black fork on high, as if preparing to impale his hated rival (10). Gwar’s face a mask of cruelty, the god jumped up, then using that momentum, he drove his pitchfork down, not into his victim just yet, but instead viciously jamming it into the earth next to Hacktor’s helm…for Gwar was eager to see his enemy’s fear and he wanted to toy with him a bit.
Thus it was that Gwar played the fool yet again — for he’d underestimated his enemy and didn’t pay attention to Hacktor’s counter attack! For as War was plunging his pike into the ground, that was the moment that Hacktor too gave his last great effort. Having already accepted his fate, the Kon-Herr raised his grandfather’s dagger up, just as War came down upon him, hoping that the divinity’s own momentum would add to his surprise thrust.
Perhaps empowered by other gods, perhaps just able to muster a final bit of energy on his own, Hacktor Derkillez thus delivered his own death blow — a powerful stab deep up and into the chest cavity of the God of War!
“Noooooooooo,” Gwar shrieked, his hands falling away from his pike and searching out the terrible wound on his chest. So shocked was he by this turn of events that Gwar’s black hair instantly turned a stark white (11).
For his part, Hacktor fell back to the ground, letting go of the spike that remained jutting from the god’s sternum. Smiling as he lay in the bloody dirt, looking up at his most-prized enemy, Hacktor’s mind flashed with the inevitable parades that would surely be held in his honor — celebrations throughout the world among all the clans, with everyone shouting the name Hacktor Derkillez as the Drokka hero who had defeated a god!
Satisfied with his fate, Hacktor thanked the gods — believing that the Spirit of the Well, as well as Rhokii and Myndoz, must surely have been working together to propel him to this historic moment! (12)
And so it was that Time stood still…
…as the world waited for War to die.
Yet, in the end, Gwar did not perish. In fact, Hacktor watched in horror as the god realized he was not even injured! (13)
For a moment, Hacktor had been certain Gwar glimpsed the power of the gods that within him as the Kon-Herr had lunged up at the deity. He was even more sure that he had struck the god’s heart as that single driving thought had commanded him to do. Yet somehow, despite feeling as if Rhokii himself had empowered his thrust, Hacktor saw that his dirk had caused no damage at all to Gwar.
Recognizing his futility, the tragedy of this moment became an even deeper shade of black, for then it was that Hacktor Derkillez realized that his darkest day had finally arrived! And of a sudden, a new thought tore through his mind…
My Grim! My Grim! Why have I forsaken you? (14)
It all became clear to Hacktor: The Grim was they key to it all. For that seemingly insignificant black dagger that he had so carelessly given away had been created by the Hef Fastuz under the divine influence of the gods for a purpose. Yea, this was the day, this was the instant, this was a moment of truth which that The Grim had been created for!
Hacktor Derkillez could indeed have been the mortal who successfully rid the world of War if only he could have called forth the power of the Hand of He Who Has No Name – which he could have done with The Grim. Who knows perhaps Hacktor might even have survived himself, had he wielded that enchanted weapon?
Yet, this was not his reality now.
Instead, the would-be-great Kon-Herr was left to realize naught but his greatest failure – for then it was that Hacktor understood that, not only had he failed to destroy Gwar, but he had also forsaken his people. There would be no parades in his honor. There would be no remembrance of him as the greatest Kon-Herr Drokka of all time. There would only be ignominy — if his people survived at all.
Feeling naught but a worthless bag of bones, Hacktor looked up as Gwar regained his composure.
The god’s black eyes were now alive with fire, “No more games, stone man.” And Gwar snatched up Hacktor by the neck with one hand, while he viciously ripped The Ghast out of Garrick’s side with the other. Raising high both of his prizes — and careful not to touch the blade of the Ghast! — Gwar bounded in one leap to the top of a nearby hill and wailed in victory, “YAAAAAAAWWWWP!”
It was a hate-filled scream so powerful that every living creature within earshot would have died of fright – had they not already been destroyed by Hacktor’s Ghast. In truth, had he destroyed his own army with his murderous voice, Gwar would not have cared about such trifling consequences — for he rarely noticed the destruction so often left in his wake. However, what he did not intend was that Hacktor Derkillez too should die! But that is what happened, for it was with horror that my colleague realized that what little life was left in his hated rival had just been forced out of existence by the fright instilled by the god’s awful wail.
“ARRRRRG!” War raged (15), ruthlessly shaking Hacktor’s body. “Come back! I never gave you permission to die!”
And so ended the life of Hacktor Derkillez, Kon-Herr Drokka of The Rhokii’s, Royal Balkery, The Great Ghastwielder, Twin of Queen Hecla, and Reaper of The War of The Ghast — now gone, never to walk again upon this world. Like most men, he departed without ever realizing his true potential – for he trusted too much in his own designs. In short, Hacktor Derkillez was naught but a pawn in the game of the gods.
And that game was about to take a new twist…
- Oh, it gives me goosebumps just to say those words ‘his god.’ Perhaps I was too hard on Hacktor? He was loyal till the very end. But alas, it’s too late for that now. Goodbye Hacktor – may the Balkeryz rise up to take you.
- Now that’s what I call a weapon of mass destruction!
- Hacktor didn’t have the strength to push his rival away because the Ghast had lodged itself between the plates of Garrick’s no-longer-glowing armor when Hacktor had delivered the death blow. The axe’s haft now eluded Hacktor’s grip – meaning The Ghast no longer filled the Kon-Herr with its divine gifts. Hacktor was a mere mortal again.
- Why should I waste my magic on a dead man?
- Garrick’s skin masks had fallen away when his life force expired.
- Psshaw! As if Gwar was really responsible for any of this?!?
- It appeared that rival gods were trying to make a play to manipulate events to suit their own designs. Instantly I knew that this could only be the work of that treacherous Myndoz. Witnessing this unexpected turn of events from a position of safety, I was grateful that I wasn’t in Gwar’s shoes!
- Reliving his moment, it gives me the chills even now. Why must the gods contend in vain like this? Can’t we all just get along?
- Well, that much was true – at least one god was…and it wasn’t Rhokii.
- In reality, he had no intention of killing Hacktor so quickly — for he’d previously told me that when this moment arrived his plan was to drive his pike into the ground to the right by Hacktor’s head, thus toying with the psyche of his enemy — for Gwar wanted Hacktor’s torture to endure far beyond this day. What he didn’t admit, but which I guessed, was that Gwar wanted to make Hacktor pay for all the years the Drokka king had filled him with terror.
- It was actually quite hilarious.
- It’s a nice thought, but obviously untrue.
- No mere mortal weapon could kill a divine specter from Ragnarok. Only the power of another immortal could accomplish that feat.
- This was the first moment ‘in real time’ that I learned of a weapon called The Grim. Even today the thought of that dagger fills me with terror – for had I not agreed to give Gwar his request and let him kill Hacktor, then I would have been the one to do it. For such was my original plan – it was only when Gwar demanded he be the one — and I recognized that I could hold this card against him for a future play — that I changed my plans. Yet witnessing what was unfolding before my very eyes, I raged at the treachery of Myndoz and Rhokii – for surely they had worked with Hef Fastuz behind my back to empower him to create The Grim and they had further used my own designs against me. Don’t you see — had Hacktor kept The Grim, he would have destroyed me!!!
- Oops. As usual Gwar’s carelessness created problems for himself. He just doesn’t think these things through. And you wonder why I hate working with him?