Location: The Northern Wastes
Timeline: Sixth Age, 46 Summer to 47, Spring
I’m going to open Part II of this book by introducing you to another one of my pawns – a figure who’ll end up playing a rather important role in our story.
In second month of the Spring season of ’47, in the foothills of the rugged highlands along the eastern border of The Northern Wastes, there above the Big Water Lake, in the region known to most as The Stax, the myz knight Kaoz had camped for the night. The lone warrior had thrown his packs down within a stand of gnarled birch trees — even in the darkness the whiteness of their wood complemented the washed-out landscape.
The terrain was challenging for most travellers — with the earth broken and jagged, full of sudden dry gulches, narrow ravines, and rocky bluffs — yet not for a myz. Crisp breezes, stubborn holdovers of winter, rolled over the hilly wolds of this area. Yet Kaoz neither minded the rugged terrain nor the chilly climes.
Without a companion nor even a nitemare to ride (1), Kaoz was neither lonely nor discouraged at his fate. Instead, as was inherent in the nature of the myz, Kaoz’ coldly calculating mind was focused on but one thing – complete the task he had been given…or die trying.
And so it was that, as the moon’s ghastly face cast its gaze over all below; but for the wind, the crackle of an occasional twig, or the shifting of loose rocks, all was silent – all except the heavy breaths of Kaoz as he slept among the sparse woods at the base of a granite hillock. With a rucksack under his head and a giant broadsword by his side, the myz passed yet another night on his endless journey to the east.
Kaoz is FREE! The myz’s mind throbbed – the violent burst within his brain forcing him awake in the process (2). Although I’d released him from The Cauldron more than a month ago, Kaoz continue to savor his freedom — often reassuring himself that it was the truth.
You shouldn’t be surprised that Kaoz questioned reality – since he’d spent a number of months under my ‘care’ at The Cauldon. It was during that time that Kaoz not only regularly questioned whether he’d see the light of day again, but more importantly it was then that I’d ‘revised’ the mission Lord Keldar had given him on Kagor and most importantly it was then that I’d also helped Kaoz to recognize who his one and only god should be – in this case that old favorite made up deity Baal (3).
The tortures my Baal imposed on Kaoz left the myz scarred (4).
They were scars which I (acting as The Shaitan) then pretended to help Kaoz recover from – and to keep a buffer between my true self and my secret plans, I also pretended that I (acting as The Shaitan) was a servant to Baal. Since my Shaitan character (whose appearance featured my standard Grim Reaper fare) looked so much less imposing than my Baal persona, I knew Kaoz (whose mind foolishly believed strength always meant power) easily accepted this ruse.
Now awake, the myz tried to calm himself. Kaoz IS free. Kaoz will complete Baal’s mission… and make others feel pain too.
As he waited for the sun to rise, the myz looked forward to the opportunity to get his hands on the humans in Orkney – thinking of all the ways he planned to murder the men and defile their women, but rather than subject you to those macabre visions, let me instead take a moment to tell you how Kaoz had reached this point in his travels…
The previous summer Keldar had sent Kaoz and a nine other myz off to separate destinations on the mainland (5). Following my instructions (6), Keldar had advised his myz that their mission was to be a covert operation among the men of the East, and as such Kaoz and his mate could neither travel on nitemares nor wear their armor. Also, per my instructions, Keldar did not tell his minions that I was the Man in the High Castle for this mission – instead portraying it as his own plan.
Despite these unusual requirements, like the rest of the myz chosen for this mission, Kaoz knew better than to question Keldar — lest his head end up on one of the stakes that lined The Killing Fields. Instead, after leavind Kagor, Kaoz had traveled with his mates to the southern tip of the island and there the ten knights were loaded onto a galley crewed by human slaves. The boat had wended its way through an armada of tiny islets that almost, but not quite, formed a land bridge between rocky Kagor and green Gor. Although the crew was skilled and never ventured far from the islands’ shores, even still the ride was rough and for all their mighty appearance, every myz (Kaoz included) was racked by seasickness every day of that sea voyage.
Because The Stormy Seas were so difficult to travel, the voyage to the mainland took nearly a month, but eventually Kaoz set foot on dry land – the galley landing at the port of Nazir on the southernmost tip of Gor. Although I know they were thankful to have survived the travel, none of the myz exchange pleasantries before parting, rather, each went his separate way — focused on the task at hand.
For his part, Kaoz turned North. With a rucksack of provisions and his broadsword upon his back, his long black hair flowed freely in the breeze. Although not as big as Keldar, Kaoz was still a giant of a myz – standing over six and a half feet tall and weighing over 17 stones. Without the normal armor to cover his dusky gray skin, Kaoz wore a simple burlap shirt, cowhide pants, and rugged black boots with steel shod soles. To any traveler in Gor, he would have been terrifying – and that was just as he liked it.
Kaoz spent the rest of the summer of ’46 traversing the fields of Gor – that Land of Milk and Honey that had been the breadbasket of the West for centuries. The passage proved easy and Kaoz quickly reached Babel – the Derkka capital that was once a jewel of a city but had long since fallen into disrepair (7). Sitting at the end of the Weston Road (a passage that wound its way all the way from Primcitta on the Eastern shores of TerrVerde), Babel was home to an unusual breed of Derk society. (8)
Although the Skin Trades were a distant memory, and I’d long since taken The Glamour away, what made these Babelonians unique was their penchant for building!
When Kaoz approached Babel, he saw that it was a tiered city and that its towers soared to dizzying heights – the spires so high near the city center they were lost to view in the clouds above. But Kaoz also saw something else that spoke about the character of the Derk who lived here – in spite of their penchant for building, they weren’t very good at it. The city was primarily constructed from bricks made of mud (and dung) but it was surrounded by broken walls, with the spires of many a tower having fallen to the ground, and most of the buildings looking like they would topple soon too. (9)
Yet worst of all was the stench – even a battle-hardened warrior like Kaoz couldn’t avoid being affected by it and he retched on multiple occasions as he walked through Babel’s streets (10). Covering his mouth with a cloth, the myz wound his way through the city’s alleys, the putrid smell of feces and rubbish pummeled him at every turn.
I’d sooner kiss a Drrukka whore than smell this shite any longer. Kaoz’ mind raged as he continued moving. The deeper he got into Babel, the larger the dung piles — for the mzy realized that the Derkka made huts out of a mixture of trash and mud and their families lived inside them, while one or more goblins squatted on top of the mounds to guard them. Additionally, it seemed that the city’s inhabitants were always looking to expand their individual piles at the expense of their neighbors, for Kaoz laughed (11) as he witnessed many an argument break out between Derks who claimed ownership of contested rubbish heaps. Indeed, no matter where he looked, Kaoz saw goblin-like humanoids racing around to collect, barter with, and (most often) steal items of flummery. Everything was broken, everything was filthy, and clearly none of it was worth a thing, but to the Babel derks, it was apparently priceless (12).
What confused the myz perhaps most of all was this — he couldn’t understand how any of the Babelonians understood one another – for every person seemed to speak a different version of the Gut language and none of them made seemed to make any sense! (13)
Kaoz had originally come through Babel planning to replenish his supplies – yet that plan was quickly discarded and his sole desire now was to make it to the northern gate and exit Babel as fast as possible. Head down, he began bullying his way through the crowded streets – yet the disturbance he caused eventually got him surrounded by a liveried band of Derk soldiers, their raggedy uniforms stained with a mix of sweat, filth, and unusual patches of orange that were hopelessly out of place.
“Out of Kaoz’ way.” The myz warned, reaching behind to draw his sword.
“We’re to take you King Qufic’s palace.” A fat blob of a man blurted out from the front of the soldiers, hands raised to ward off a blow. Although his uniform was the most dirty of all, it also showcased the most orange and interestingly enough, the man spoke a dialect of Gut Kaoz could understand, “His majesty has been expecting you. Please join us.”
“Kaoz doesn’t have time. Move. Now.”
“King Qufic has something you’ll want.” The goblin persisted, the medals on his filthy uniform jiggling with his every word and the fat folds of his neck spilling over his chest.
“Kaoz doesn’t your supplies.” The myz countered (14).
“King Qufic offers…information. Secret information.”
The unexpected opportunity intrigued Kaoz – since, when he took a moment to consider it, he realized this might be the first step in completing his given assignment – that of bringing back covert intelligence to Overlord Keldar. As a result, the myz agreed to follow the deformed men to Qufic’s castle.
As it turned out, Kaoz never actually met King Qufic.
He’d followed the guards through the tiered levels of the city (his escorts huffing with exhaustion by the end) and eventually reached the very center of Babal. The trash piles (and the stench) grew bigger the deeper they traveled into Babel, yet Kaoz found his mind wondering about something else – for the colors of the city changed too. In the city proper, everything was a mix of browns, blacks, greens, and grays (typical of the trash the derks collected), but towards the center of the town, the colors became vibrant with reds and especially orange, and giant swaths of tattered orange cloth could be seen covering many a city wall.
“What’s with all the orange?” Kaoz had asked his escort, but the men only laughed in reply.
As the group ascended the last hill and entered through a wall entirely covered by orange velvet, Kaoz couldn’t help but gasp at the view – for the towering palace of trash that stood before him was unlike any the myz had ever seen. The spires of Qufic’s castle rose to dizzying heights – many so high that Kaoz lost the sight of them in the clouds – and everything, EVERYTHING, was covered in orange velvet (15).
<poosssh…pooossh> With the steeples of Qufic’s palace sickeningly swaying in the winds, bricks of mud regularly fell from above, crashing into the grounds of the courtyard.
“There’s no way I’m going in there!” Kaoz stopped his escort, well outside the range of the falling bricks.
“Have no fear on that account.” The reply came from a new voice as another derk emerged from a passageway in the palace walls. Unlike the other goblins Kaoz had seen in the city, this man was different – to begin with he was thinner than most of his colleagues, and strangely enough his fat was somehow vertical. He also spoke the Common language (16) – one Kaoz also understood. “King Qufic is presently…occupied. I’ve been instructed to give you this.” The man handed over a surprisingly clean scroll – the seal unbroken.
Kaoz grunted his thanks as he took the message and backed away as a new visitor emerged from the palace.
<poosssh…pooossh…pooosh> With more bricks falling from above, Kaoz watched an insanely obese Derk nimbly dodge the shrapnel while carrying out a box of supplies. The monster dropped the box at the myz’s feet and then ran back to the palace gates.
Pulling the box further out of range of the falling missiles, Kaoz leaned down to inspect it – discovering it contained the exact mix of food, water, and supplies he would need for the next leg of his journey.
“Tha-” the myz stopped — looking around he discovered that everyone was gone. Alone in the courtyard, he broke the seal on the scroll and began reading. The message was simple, but cryptic…
I will find you in The Dim Wood.
The myz hadn’t been expecting to meet anyone on his journey this side of The Rhokki’s and therefore didn’t waste time trying to figure out the meaning of the note. Since fear wasn’t part of his nature, Kaoz also didn’t even consider changing his route (already slated to travel through Dim Wood Forest) and instead looked forward to the possibility that maybe he’d find someone to battle in the woods to slake his bloodlust.
Tossing the scroll aside, Kaoz quickly refilled his packs and then eagerly scampered away from Qufic’s falling freakshow of a castle. Although it wasn’t easy, and he had to knock a few heads on the way, the myz reached the northern gates of Babel by nightfall and was all too happy to leaved the unusual sights, sounds, and people of Babel behind.
The next item of significance on Kaoz’s journey occurred in Dim Wood Forest.
It had taken Kaoz the rest of the summer to reach the dark woods — for after Babel, the soft loamy fields of Gor were replaced by alternating thick grasslands and rocky hills – both of which made the journey much harder. Many times along the way the myz paused to restock his provisions at any of the multitude of military checkpoints and Derkka mining communities – the only real industries in southern Kra. Often during one of these stopovers Kaoz would talk with the myz knight who Lord Keldar has stationed there – thus was he able to prepare for the next leg of his journey as well as send word back to The Supreme Overlord that confirmed he was making progress on his mission. Yet Kaoz never dallied for long on these stopovers – for something continued pulling him forward…always to the North (17).
When he finally reached the Dim Wood, Kaoz didn’t hesitate about entering that fearsome abode – although it was highly possible that he could have been murdered by any number of predators (18), as always, the myz never let fear stop him. The deeper into the forest he ventured, the stronger the <pull> on his heart, and even as the road itself became more and more lost in darkness, Kaoz realized his thoughts were growing clearer.
Perhaps most importantly, Kaoz realized that while Keldar may have assigned him the mission, he became convince that there was another – a higher power – who was the real driver of the plot.
The Shaitan! Kaoz named the persona – realizing at the same time that this god was also the source of the intense motivation he’d been feeling.
Now that I’d allowed him to recognize me, I ‘inspired’ Kaoz’ mind to play out the string…
Should I succeed, it won’t be Keldar who rewards me, Kaoz surmised, but the god of Life and Death! With his help, I could take down any – even Keldar! (19)
With thoughts like this and other, more grandiose ideas, I pulled Kaoz onward – eventually leading him to a little-traversed section of the forest where there was a quasi-military camp known only as Outpost 69. (20) Only too late did Kaoz realize he’d walked into the den of one of Overlord Keldar’s fiercest enemies!
“Borg!” Kaoz grated out the name of Keldar’s long-lost rival. Forgetting about his own recent treacherous thoughts, Kaoz tried to draw his sword – intent on vanquishing Borg and returning with his head to Keldar for what would surely be a rich prize.
Unfortunately for him, before he could get the sword from its scabbard, everything went black… (21)
The last piece of the puzzle that you may care to know about as far as Kaoz was concerned was just this – he spent some really quality time with me…
A cold, steel table. Leather straps. (Do you see where this is going). Kaoz was unable to move or speak. He could only see…ME.
Staring down at him in The Life Lab, I let my green eyes burn into Kaoz’ soul. And then it was that the myz finally knew FEAR.
So terrifying was the look I flashed Kaoz that it forced his mind to black out – yet this defense mechanism (22) only succeeded into pushing Kaoz’s psyche down a path of subconscious nightmares – visions of all the horrors Baal would inflict upon him if he failed to worship that deity as his God. (23)
It’s beyond the scope of this book for me to try to explain all the things I did to Kaoz (even if I wanted to tell you), yet neither he nor you will ever know all the gruesome things I did to <change> him during that horrible winter of 46. Suffice it to say that the Kaoz was hypnotized, fantasized, dramatized, and even lobotomized in those labs – and all the while, I moved him further down a path – making him into a servant capable only of serving Baal (24) and viewing his Shaitan as his loving protector.
I left a handful select memories in the forefront of the knight’s mind – to ensure he wouldn’t forget about his time with me – and the thought of just having his head impaled on a stake at Keldar’s court surely seemed like ambrosia compared to the punishments Kaoz knew Baal would inflict upon him if he failed in his NEW mission.
After that I released him. (25)
“The GRIM!” Kaoz awoke from his daydreams, his broad chest heaving with panic. “I will find it, Master!”
Hurriedly packing his supplies, the myz ran towards the east – continuing a journey that had now led him further into The Northern Wastes and ever closer to the borders of Orkney – the region that was home to the Akka Mountains, where waited The Grim – a lost prize he was to retrieve for Baal’s servant The Shaitan.
For finding The Grim was his Kaoz’ true mission.
In return for his success, I promised Kaoz a special gift – a magical spell that would imbue him with such strength that he’d be capable of overthrowing Keldar and supplanting himself as the new Supreme Overlord.
Overlord Kaoz! The myz’s mind relished the thought, even as the wind whispered that something even more wicked was in the air.
- That gruesome abomination of a horse which I’d created especially for the myz warrior to ride – for it was the only beast that could support them in battle. Picture a skeleton horse from Minecraft and you’ll be on the right track.
- Do I really need to explain how I know Kaoz’ thoughts? For you remedial students, see the notes from this chapter and this one – and stop wasting my time! Meanwhile, before you ask, yes, it’s true – for whatever reason Kaoz talked about himself in the Third Person – don’t ask me why. I must have crossed something up when I made him, I guess.
- You remember Baal don’t you? The monstrosity that was a grotesque half-man, half he-goat, covered with mattered black hair, and with massive horns piercing out from his skull from Book I. He seemed like an ideal god for Kaoz to worship.
- And that’s no easy feat – for I’d initially created the myz with a mind that was nearly immune to being afraid. Thankfully as their creator, I knew the secret keys to unlock Kaoz’ fear factors – and I pulled those levers with glee!
- It took Overlord Keldar over a month to begin carrying out my instructions! As for the 10 destinations – they were scattered throughout TerrVerde – but to be honest with you, I’d picked them out by throwing darts at a map since I didn’t really care about the results of the mission I’d given Keldar or what his myz did or didn’t find out. It was all an elaborate ruse and only I knew the true mission.
- At least Keldar did something right.
- Babel was still the home of the Derkka kings at the time of this writing, but like the Drrukka, that people had never fully recovered their glory after the devastation of The War of the Ghast. Add to that the coming of the myz and Keldar’s dominance of them for decades and the once proud men of Derk were second rate citizens on TerrVerde at best. Oh the Babelonians were still better off than their Common Derk brothers and within the city of Babel the people there still had a caste system in which the richest of the rich continued to enjoy lives of luxury, but most of the population of Babel now lived little better than the serfs of your Middle Ages.
- In case you don’t remember your Derkka lore from Book II, let me give you a few reminders on how the people of Derk and those within Babel look like goblins. First off, recall that Derk was a son of the man Kane who was himself believed to be the first born son of Adam and Eve (but who was in reality the offspring of Lucifer and Eve as I explained to you in Book I). You’ll remember that I convinced Kane and his sons to worship my made up god Baal and that Baal commanded Kane to lead his sons Derk and Drok away from the clans of Adam’s people and instead to the new continent of TerrVerde. At that time, all the people of Kane still looked like other humans of the day. Remember that when the Derk and Drok finally reached Gor, the Derk enslaved their Drok brothers and held them in bondage for hundreds of years. This was the cause of the intense hatred between the people of these two clans. Remember, the Drok finally escaped (with the help of their Deliverer Ajax) and built their homes inside the caves of The Rhokki Mountains – where they then took Rhokii as their god. Centures of life underground morphed the Drokka into the dwarf-like creatures they became – a completely natural phenomenon. Yet what happened to the men of Derk was far from natural – for the Derkka changed from a race of people who looked like other men into their goblin form because of a horrific curse by the jealous god Baal who accused the Derk of worshiping false gods and deformed them as a result. As Baal said at the time, ‘I am a jealous god. You shall have no other gods besides me. Lest you forget, my curse shall always remind you.’ Although generations of supplication to Baal (and a promise to worship him as their sole god) later caused Baal to relent his wrath towards Derk’s people – even then the god’s forgiveness was tempered. Rather than actually cure them of their disease, I instead chose a different path. As I explained before, back then I conducted some genetic experiments with the Derkka people that lived in their capital city of Babel – I crossed some of them with a handful of Amorosi I’d captured and thereby introduced the Amorosi traits into the Derkka gene pool. Things didn’t quite work out as I’d planned – oh it’s true certain Amorosi characteristics became hereditary in those Derkka who lived in Babel, and those clans of Derk soon became leaner, taller, and slightly more beautiful (read: less ugly) than their more ‘Common’ brethren from the countrysides, but even these so-called “Babel Derkka” were still grotesque goblin-like creatures. However, I was intrigued by fact that the Babel Derk also grew more intelligent than the rest of their clans. Over time the men of Babel built their city into quite an empire. Wanting to test their intelligence, I decided to toy with them a bit – appearing to them as the “Son of Baal” figure of their religion (whom they named Nektar), I offered them a unique solution – one I called The Glamour — a magical aura that I cast over the Derkka of Babel. The Glamour caused everyone who was not from the city of Babel to see the men and women of Babel as the most beautiful people in the world. At first the people of Babel were delighted and they praised Nektar for his help. Unfortunately they quickly discovered there was a bit of a catch — for when these “Babelonions” looked at their own reflections, they saw the truth of their appearance, and knew they were still ugly. To overcome this flaw, the merchants of Babel created Skin Masks – pieces of flesh that the people wore to cover their deformities – it became big business for a time. Yet even that trade perished during the War of the Ghast and after that dreadful time it never fully recovered. Thus the Babel Derk remained goblins – although still better looking and more intelligent ones than their Common Derkka from the countrysides. It was the Babel Derk that Kaoz was interacting with.
- I honestly think that something happened to addle the minds of the Babel Derk when I removed The Glamour spell from their ancestors. But since all that building kept them busy, I let it continue – after all the work was only harmful to themselves and every generation needs a pastime right?
- Kaoz’ vomit fit in well with the aroma of Babel.
- Yes it’s true, myz were capable of laughter – as their creator, I knew that physical reaction was a necessary emotional outlet valve the myz needed to keep them from destroying themselves from anger.
- Like I said, the society of Babel had fallen a long way since their hey days described in the period prior to The War of the Ghast. With their minds so addled, each generation had grown less intelligence. They now lived with but a fanatical desire to continually shroud themselves in “luxury” – which to them was a mish-mash of trash garnered from anywhere they could find it in an effort to continually upgrade their holdings to something “more flattering.” In a strange quick of fate, countless Babel Derk began taking the name “Joneses” and loved nothing more than to outdo their neighbors by showcasing how much they owned to the world.
- Perhaps that’s the reason why their building projects always failed?
- In fact, Kaoz was in need of fresh food and water for the next stage of journey, but he’d doubted he wouldn’t find it in Babel.
- What’s with all the orange velvet? There’s really not much to tell. Like many humans, King Qufic had a fetish – he loved orange velvet. And with the means to satisfy his craving, he luxuriated inside a castle whose rooms were covered in every shade of orange velvet imaginable. Although the king had also commanded his servants to cover all of Babel the same way, Qufic never came out of his castle to check – preferring instead to spend his time either dressing up the girls of his harem in various shades of his beloved fabric or else trying on the fabrics himself and observing his beauty in his priceless Mersian Mirror, all while snacking on apricots, carrots, mangoes…(well, you get the idea).
- Common was a language that traced its origins back to the time of Kane’s migration, it made trade possible between the races and was thus the de facto universal language of TerrVerde.
- Kaoz this <force> was his inherent desire to succeed. What he didn’t realize is that it was my presence that was calling to him.
- A rogue band of Derkka, myz who were enemies of Keldar, every hungry lepeds, or giant Brutz, were just a few – and we haven’t even talked about the nefarious spirits that haunted Dim Wood (but those are fairy tales for another time).
- Like I told you before, all the myz had the same flaws and greed was at the top of that list.
- Unlike the other checkpoints Kaoz had visited, this one was neither sanctioned by Keldar nor was its leader a supported of The Overlord.
- If you must know, Borg let himself be seen by Kaoz as a decoy – whilst other myz from Borg’s band who were hiding in the trees dropped a large boulder down onto Kaoz – knocking him out – thus making Kaoz an easy ‘package’ to ship to me.
- One I purposefully triggered.
- As I said before, I wanted Kaoz to view Baal as the high god. That left me (as the Shaitan Azazel) to play the role of savior for the myz.
- Or so I thought.
- See? I’m not such a bad guy after all, right?