Timeline: Sixth Age of Substance, 46th Year, Spring
The skies over Kagor roiled black, clouds swirling in a staccato dance, as the thunder echoed off the mountain crags.
Heat lightning ripped through the sky, the tear resounding throughout the land during yet another spring storm. Like most weather events on the island, this one too brought no rain, and with nothing to cool the rising temperatures, the barren lands again received no relief. For most creatures on Terra, the desert-like conditions of this terrain were nigh uninhabitable, yet for the myz warriors it was home. (1)
At the base of the Kasteele Mountains, on the central Eastern coast of Kagor, the weather was perhaps even worse, for here the lightning strikes often touched ground, ripping gashes in the dusty carpet of that cracked landscape. Yet, underneath these dark clouds, there boldly stood a massive kastle, its walls unfazed by the elements of nature — it was known by all as Zar’s Keep (2).
Many other fortresses were sprinkled throughout the Kasteeles – all modeled after Zar’s original design – each made of the same black basalt stone that formed the jagged backbone of this island (3). The Kasteeles formed a semblance of buffer against the turbulent waves that beat against the island coast, as the Stormy Seas to the East ever revolted against the devastating memory of the god Zar’s entry, the churning waters making the shipping lanes UNnavigable to all but the most skilled (or foolhardy) of sailors.
Devoid of architectural beauty – Zar’s Keep was nothing if not solid (4). Proclaimed by the God of War as “impenetrable” (5) — the kastle’s simple block-like structure was outfitted with countless iron bars and grates (read: overdone), a moat of fire (read: ‘notice me’ desperation), and a 30-foot tall, 10-inch thick, double-walled steel entry gate that required three brutz to open it (read: ok, so what?).
And yet for all it’s glory (or lack of it), the fact is that Zar’s Keep was not the home of that evil deity (6). Instead, this kastle was now the abode of a mortal – and while he wasn’t as powerful as Gwar, for a short time in the history of your world, he was perhaps just as feared. Legends abounded throughout TerrVerde about the cruelty and ruthlessness of Keldar, mighty ruler of the myz — the first so-called Supreme Overlord of the West. (7)
For decades Lord Keldar had controlled Kagor. During that time he had expanded the structure of The Keep – taking it from the small abode of Zar and making it sufficient to house The Overlord’s royal guards (made up of other myz) and countless human slaves captured from Gor and Kra. As the Overlord’s span of power grew, so too did his advisory ranks. The extra insulation an every growing workforce had but one function – to protect Keldar against the threat of rebellion and keep him on the throne. (8)
You may recall that I partnered with (read: used) my colleagues Gwar and Inanna to create the race of Myz during the time of Hacktor Derkillez’ War of The Ghast. Although the myz worshipped Zar as their God (9), it was I who masterminded their anatomy – very deliberately creating them to be the most fearsome warriors on the planet. If united, none could withstand their onslaught in battle — for the myz spent their entire lives either in combat or else in preparation for it – thus they were quite literally killing machines. They were also greedy, overly passionate, and generally unable to control their base emotions (10).
Keldar knew all of this of course – which is why he not only surrounded himself with an army, but he also kept his person guarded at all times by a small group of Shock Troops – the best of the myz knights, hand picked by the Supreme Ruler himself. Since he’d first announced the position (some two decades past), gladiators from throughout Kagor had shown an eagerness to join Keldar’s special forces. Many had tried their skills at Zar’s legendary training grounds – The Killing Fields – in order to now catch Lord Keldar’s eye. There, on the hot, stony plains to the south of Zar’s Keep, if Keldar thought a warrior might be worthy, he commanded the knight be put to The Tests; if the soldier passed – or rather if he survived – then he was added to the elite guards, if not, he was unmercifully used as a sparring partner by the Shock Troops, until he was eventually killed, and his body tossed over the cliffs into the Stormy Seas — for the myz held no tolerance for failure on the battlefield.
If you must know, it was my rival Zar who had encouraged ‘his’ myz to combat one another in order to weed out the weak from their ranks. And in fact, it was The God of War who also first established The Killing Fields — that wide black pit in the land where the blood of the gladiator combatants had run freely for so long that the stony ground was now shaded a deep crimson (11). It was also Zar who’d goaded the strongest factions in myz society into constantly warring with each other, for my colleague said he wanted one mighty ruler would emerge – a Supreme Overlord as he called it – someone who could not only lead the myz, but unite all Kagor, Gor, and Kra under his reign, thus making the lands west of the Rhokki’s unconquerable (12).
Ever since the myz had migrated here after The War of the Ghast, various knights had strived to complete the task of uniting Kagor, yet few had succeeded. More often than not two or three myz laid claim to the Overlord of Kagor title and eventually met at Zar’s Killing Fields to settle the score. Although a single winner sometimes wrote his name in the history books, the reign of any myz king had never lasted long. Instead assassination and anarchy were the far more common rulers of Kagor. (13)
Of those Kagor Overlord’s who had managed to rule the island, none before Keldar had succeeded in holding any land on the main continent, thus no one had ever assumed the full-fledged title Supreme Overlord of The West. Even if I had been willing to allow them to try, the problem with such a strategy was that usually there were not enough myz to spare for military operations in far away lands — for one of the main repercussions of the endless power struggles on Kagor was that myz-on-myz crime killed more myz than anything else (14). Furthermore, the myz’ ability to procreate was extremely low (15) and not every effective (16).
Yet Keldar’s reign had been different – not only had he completed dominance of Kagor, but he’d also secured a firm grip upon the mainland as well – an expansion of power never accomplished before (17).
So why did Lord Keldar succeed when his predecessors had not?
More importantly why am I spending so much time telling you about him?
Like I always say – everyone has a role to perform in the Great Play of Life – and since I was the director of that masterpiece on your planet, it just so happened that I had a role that urgently needed to be filled and Overlord Keldar seemed to be just the chap for the job.
That being said, I’ll admit that I’d never heard of Keldar until recently. Recall that I was stuck in Illusia for most of the past century, therefore everything I learned about Keldar was from second-hand information.
According to my intelligence people, Keldar had seized the myz throne shortly after Gwar’s Last Great War (18) – it seems that, although Gwar had brought his myz to the battlefields in The Stax and Pennal, for whatever reason, The God of War had never allowed the myz to engage in battle – leaving the dirty work of war to the Derkka armies. As a result, when the war had ended, during the long journey back to Kagor, Keldar (a relative unknown) recognized an opportunity and created a movement. With Gwar gone to Ur, Keldar had secretly rallied supporters to his cause; he and his mates then used the lengthy passage back home to eliminate most of their rivals. By the time everyone arrived back to Kagor, no other faction had been powerful enough to withstand the dominance of Keldar’s crew. Within three years after the end of The Last Great War, Keldar had laid claim to the title of Supreme Overlord of Kagor and had even occupied Zar’s Keep.
With the blood of his brethren upon his hands, the stories told that Keldar’s thirst for power had only grown – and while that is nothing new among despots the world over, what struck me as unique about Keldar was that he hadn’t apparently just murdered everyone (19). Instead he’d used people (and that’s what really intrigued me about him) – he used them in ways that both accomplish his goals and eliminate them as rivals. Very early in his reign he’d used his most hungry (read: threat) myz by sending them to the lands across the Stormy Seas and commanding them to establish smaller fiefdoms for themselves (under Keldar’s rule of course). (20)
For any who accepted the challenge (21) Keldar required that they succeed in their quest or else perish in the attempt – apparently this motivation worked because, in spite of their small numbers, Keldar’s myz (and the human slave armies they built) conquered all the lands west of the Rhokkis in short order.
My spies also told me that Keldar had developed his own intelligence network – making him the first person besides myself and Inanna to do so. Apparently it was fairly effective (22) – yet another reason for me to pay attention to him. However it seems that the sole focus on Keldar’s covert operations was to report on potential threats to his throne (ho hum, how boring). If any report showed a potential threat (for example, coordinating efforts with another myz), Keldar had the myz ruler brought back to Kagor in chains so that he could personally execute them.
In spite of it’s simple nature (or maybe because of its singular focus), Keldar’s expansion strategy (and the intelligence network he used to monitor it) worked — not only had it given him an outlet to exile his potential detractors to a life of minor power and solitary existence but it also kept under the eye of Keldar’s spies.
Thus it was that Keldar became the first myz to reign on the mainland, taking the title Supreme Overlord of The West (23) – giving him the power of life or death over all the peoples who resided on his side of the Rhokii Mountains.
Although I didn’t necessarily like seeing a mortal have so much power (especially so close to my home), I knew a beautiful plan when I saw it, so when my spies detailed all this to me, I realized that Keldar was a rather exceptional myz – and thus someone who I could use as my pawn if I had him on my side. (24)
It was now time to see just how intelligent Overlord Keldar really was — given all his success, given his now far-reaching reign, would Lord Keldar be foolish enough to think that his might could compare with mine?
In short, would Keldar do my bidding if I called upon him?
- Or the closest thing they had to it. I’m not entirely sure you can call a place ‘home’ where death awaits around every turn, but then again, I’m not a myz – and be grateful YOU aren’t one either.
- Zar was the name the myz called The God of War, Gwar.
- The Kasteel Mountains had sprang violently into existence when the planet Terra was ruptured by the God of War when he burst forth into your world at the direction of Baal-Zebub.
- Ho-Hum. Are you bored yet? A child using Duplo blocks could have done better than Gwar, but my colleague insisted on doing everything himself and as you can see, architecture was sadly not his calling.
- Shortly after finishing it, Gwar paid me a visit to boast of his accomplishment. When he sensed I was unimpressed, and then later took the time to witness the luxury I enjoyed at Nektar’s Cauldron, the God of War soon complained that his home lacked the creature comfort mine had therefore he later built himself a new palace – atop the highest peak of the tallest mountain on Kagor. It too was a poor effort.
- Yada, yada, yada – I feel like a low level herald reading off a list of titles – none of which were all that impressive in my book. Enough already.
- Revolt among the myz ranks was the central theme of the history of their people on Kagor. It was in fact the manner in which Keldar himself rose to power – thus his precautions against it.
- An insult I let stand in order to not have to hear Gwar whine about it; since I knew we both knew the truth.
- Traits which, looking back now, I’ll admit I perhaps ‘dialed up’ a bit too extreme – for although useful in the heat of battle, outside of war, these character flaws often proved detrimental in the myz’ ability to engage in any sort of diplomatic relations with other races. Leaving the myz completely feared yet also totally shunned by everyone else on TerrVerde.
- You see, I do Gwar credit for some good ideas, right?
- Sounds grand, huh? Not if you are me! Oh I knew all about Gwar’s plan, but I never allowed it to happen – there was no way I was going to see anyone get that much power so near to my kingdom.
- I may have play a role in some of that behind-the-scenes, but those are tales we don’t have time for now.
- You just can’t fix stupid.
- There were in fact no female myz, therefore the myz could only procreate (in a fashion) with a human partner. Unfortunately for the myz, most of the human slaves they brought from Gor didn’t survive a single rape (the only manner of sexual intercourse the myz knew) and only one in hundred women ever got pregnant. Of those that did give birth, 100% of those women died in childbirth — due to the brutality of a myz child’s emergence from the womb which was a gruesome explosion reminiscent of Zar’s violent ‘birth’ onto Durt!
- The creature produced by the coupling of a myz with a human women was in fact not a true myz. Instead it was a water-down version of the species. Although still stronger and more aggressive than the other races of TerrVerde, these lesser myz lacked the ‘It’ factor of the a full-fledged myz knight and thus were often relegated to lowest ranks of myz culture. If you must know, there was in fact, only one way to produce a genuine myz – but as you can imagine that was a genetic code I kept only to myself and I only produced more myz when I needed them – which hadn’t been very often.
- Imagine my surprise when I recently discovered that apparently all this happened while I was recently down in Illusia. The fact that Keldar now claimed rule over Gor, The Dim Wood Forest, and even Kra (lands right outside my doorstep) was not something I appreciated and was something I planned to do something about – when the time was right. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I broke a few things (and a few heads) when I first heard about it, but after I calmed down, I vowed to file the insult away and find a way to use it all to my advantage until the time for payback was right.
- A failed military venture initiated by Gwar in my absence. You’ll learn more about it in Part II of this book.
- Oh don’t get me wrong, Keldar murder a LOT of myz. Anyone who Keldar suspected of anything less than total allegiance was decapitated by The Supreme Overload himself and the victim’s head was stuck on a pole and shoved into the grounds surrounding The Killing Fields – to add to ambiance, I guess.
- Of note, Keldar required that each myz establish his own kingdom without help from another myz – this rule helped to keep Keldar’s potential rivals from joining ranks (at least overtly). This also required each myz to recruit (read: enslave) his own army of humans from Gor – the lands occupied by the peoples of the Derk clans. Recall that Gor was that “land flowing with milk and honey” promised to Kane and his sons Derk and Drok by the (false) god Baal and settled by the Derk nearly a milennia past. Also recall that the Derk clans had previously enslaved the The Drokka – the singular event that led to the hatred between their groups and later to Hacktor Derkillez’ War of The Ghast. All of which makes it so ironic that the Derkka were now becoming slaves themselves. Karma is a bitch after all, right?
- Most did because it was either that or death.
- Although it was an effectiveness based more on the threat of fear than the more subtle ways my spies operated. Since torture has historically never been the most efficacious way of extracting truly reliable information, I knew Keldar’s spies had a long way to go. I also knew I could ‘feed’ them information from various sources whenever I needed to.
- A feat he completed just five years prior to my return from Illusia. A feat that fulfilled Gwar’s vision. And, for both of these reasons, a feat I found downright sickening
- Even though I had my hands full with a lot of projects, the challenge of cracking the nut that was Keldar excited me too much to pass up. Especially because I really did need someone like him for my most important project.