Location: The Northern Wastes
Timeline: Sixth Age, 47th Year, Spring
A few nights later, Kaoz was again resting – he’d finally reached the end of the Northern Wastes and on the morrow would enter Orkney. His escapades with Inanna ended (for now), the myz was ready to continue his mission – albeit serving a new master.
Once more Kaoz’ mind was filled with dreams, yet rather than the sexual fantasies of Lust, this vision involved a viper slithering up his gray body. Awaking with a start, the myz quickly discovered that the nightmare was instead a reality!
“Arrrrg!” Kaoz flicked the serpent away – the snake retreated from harm and then coiled itself around the warrior’s sword.
“Give Kaoz that back!” The myz tried to shoo the snake away with his boot.
But the viper merely hissed at the myz’s steel shod sole and then wound itself tighter around the blade. Raising its head to strike, it forced Kaoz to take a step back.
“Haaz take you, fiend!” cursed the knight. “What do you want?”
“That’s all I can take,” Kaoz roared. “My little poisonous friend, bite me if you dare try, but Kaoz will have his weapon back…NOW!” Foolishly unafraid of the viper’s venomous bite, the myz moved a peaty paw to grab for his weapon.
Luckily for Kaoz, the snake did not strike, for it had surely the gray warrior would have perished. Yet, killing the giant was not what tonight’s visitor had in mind.
“Whoa!” Kaoz backed away as the snake began shape shifting – the viper transforming into a human, fully clothed, and armed with a dagger (1). “Who are you and what do you want.
For a moment, the strange man didn’t reply.
Fondling his weapon, he shrugged, “What I want…Kaoz…is to help you with your mission.”
Kaoz had been around Viperz before, although he had never actually seen one <change> in front of him. Cautiously he replied, “What know you of Kaoz’s mission?” Then, remembering that Viperz were spies of both myself and my rival Inanna, the myz tried to backtrack against any potential trap. “Kaoz’ only mission is to serve his master and Kaoz doesn’t need a man’s help. Get away before Kaoz takes your head off, fiend!”
“Calm down, friend.” The spy soothed. “I mean you know harm. My name is Ramssee and, although you may not believe it yet, I can indeed help you.” And the Viperz moved closer to the myz.
Kaoz studied his would-be opponent. Of ordinary size for a human, Ramssee wore non-descript clothes and appeared to be no different than any other townsman from eastern TerrVerde. Certainly he looked to be no match for the gray giant that towered over him. Yet the sight of Kaoz’ muscles and the fire in the myz’s eyes did not deter the changeling from continuing his approach.
Had it come to blows, the myz would likely have dispatched the snakeman, yet it wouldn’t have been without difficulty – for Kaoz was well aware of the shape shifter’s ever-present fangs (and the potent venom they held) (2).
What the myz did not know was that this particular Viperz also had a special gift – a hidden ‘talent’ I’d blessed him with prior to sending him off on this mission (3) – and so before the myz could move to harm him, Ramssee instead captivated the giant warrior with his eyes – spinning globes of yellow, black, and green, the colors swirling together in a voodoo call.
The result: Kaoz changed his mind, now realizing he believed the words of his new friend and desiring his assistance.
“Yes, Kaoz,” Ramssee soothed, drawing on the magic I’d given him and pleased to see that <The Power of Persuasion> was working so well. “I know of your mission. The Shaitan himself sent me to assist your cause. I know about The Grim and together we will acquire it from Akka.”
“But why?” Kaoz tried to resist the spell, still wary of a possible trap from Inanna. “Why did The Shaitan send you if he told Kaoz I could do it alone? What reward does he have for you? How do I know you really serve him…and not another?”
“Ah, my large friend, there’s the rub, eh?” Ramssee smiled, realizing there was perhaps more to the story than he’d guessed. Then it was that he fished with a new lure.“Perhaps The Shaitan is our mutual master, perhaps not.” And seeing Kaoz’ confusion, he tested him further. “If we are to be partners, we must trust each other. Therefore let me be the first to say it – I believe that our master, our God of Life and Death, our Shaitan, is not all that he seems. Do you feel the same?”
And as if snapping from a trance, Kaoz broke free of Ramssee’s black magic. Afraid that I somehow knew about Inanna’s visits, the myz tried to hide his fear raising his sword and screaming, “You dare to insult Kaoz’s master? Kaoz will have your heart!”
For all his bravado, Kaoz’ threat was without effect; Ramssee’s eyes began spinning power again as he soothed, “Kaoz, be calm. Listen to my tale and then judge for yourself.” When the myz backed up, no longer threatening, the snakeman continued. “Good. Now, if you still believe me to be a threat when I am finished with my story, then I will allow you to take my life. But I believe you will see see the value of working with me. Consider…”
Ramssee went on to weave a tale of intrigue worthy of the greatest authors. To start with, he explained that he was recently created by The Shaitan for the express purpose of following Kaoz to make sure that the myz acted according to the plans that I had given him (4). Next the spy provided various proofs to add to his credibility – including giving a detailed description of The Grim. He then went over to Kaoz’s packs and pulled out a map of The Kingdom of Akka (5)and explained that he knew The Grim was locked in a secret lair called The Deepest Depths. Since all of this matched exactly with the knowledge that I had instilled within Kaoz’s mind – the myz was quickly sucked into Ramssee’s tale.
Never once did Ramssee give any impression that he knew about Kaoz and Inanna – an omission that eased the myz’ mind. Instead the Viperz talked in depth about how it would be wise for he and Kaoz to team up on this mission, and dropping various hints along the way (without ever really saying anything specific) that maybe there was an alternative to simply returning to The Cauldron when all was said and done.
Certain he’d won Kaoz’ trust, Ramssee then delivered his coup de grace, “I can see that you are an intelligent myz, Kaoz, therefore I’m curious to know – how does someone so intimidating as you plan to walk into a human town and not be noticed?”
The myz was at a loss, “Kaoz didn’t think about that part.”
“Worry not about such details. I’ve got it all figured out for us.” Ramssee then advised that, because of his appearance, he could travel in advance of Kaoz and be the first to infiltrate Orkney’s capital city Fubar – promising to prepare the way for the myz to enter the town secretly shortly thereafter. The Viperz explained that he and Kaoz would be wise to use Fubar as their base of operations because it would likely be impossible for the two of them to unearth the way to The Deepest Depths by themselves. Before Kaoz could object to anything as being “impossible” for a myz, Ramssee detailed a plan by which he would use his persuasive powers to convince the leaders of Orkney about the benefits of mining for the treasures of Akka. “After all, what human can resist the allure of riches?”
As Ramssee averred, the benefit of using human miners meant that he and Kaoz complete their real mission sooner (6). “Let them men of Fubar have all the Drrukka’s gold, eh? What do we care, so long as we get The Grim, right?”
“But where do Kaoz fit in?” The myz was unsure about how this offer might affect his agreement with Inanna. “What is Kaoz supposed to do?”
“Think about it, friend. This mining operation will take time. Once I get into the good graces of Orkney’s king, I’ll bring you into the background scene, set you up at some villa on the ruler’s estate, and then you can wait around in luxury until the job is done.”
Despite Ramssee’s <persuasive> powers, Kaoz was not to be taken in so easily. Perhaps the myz feared the Viperz would double-cross him – leaving Kaoz without The Grim and thus likely to suffer the ire of not one, but two, evil gods. “Rubbish!” The myz spat. “If it was all that easy, then why did The Shaitan need Kaoz in the first place? I don’t trust you, fiend!”
“Be calm.” Soothed Ramssee, eyes twirling, hands open, palms up. “Listen to me. LISSSSSTEN.” Kaoz let go his rage. “That’s good, friend. The truth is that I don’t know why your master wanted you to go on this mission. Now, now, before you come at me like that, LISSSSSTEN.” What Ramssee did next was most assuredly not something authorized by me (7). “Let me ask you a question, Kaoz, did Death offer you a reward in return for bringing The Grim back to him?”
“Obviously,” replied the knight. “Kaoz doesn’t work for free.”
“Let me guess – did The Shaitan perhaps offer to help you overthrow Keldar and supplant yourself as the next Supreme Overlord?”
“What’s it to you?” Kaoz grew suspicious again.
The Viperz merely countered with another question. “Why would the great God of Death send a conspicuous giant like you on a mission that calls more for stealth than strength?” And before the myz could answer, Ramssee added, “More importantly, why would The Shaitan make the very same offer to me?”
The idea caught Kaoz off guard. “But how can we both be The Supreme—“
“We can’t.” Ramssee interrupted. “Play out the rest of the action. Recognize that your master did not intend to fulfill his promise…to either of us.”
For his part, Kaoz didn’t know what to think – was this all a ruse by The Shaitan, a test from Inanna, or something else.
The Viperz broke the silence. “I can see the wheels turning inside your head, my friend, so think on this too — are we the first of our kinds to be offered the chance to help Death? Surely you know of others in the past who have been Death’s slaves. Yet, have you ever heard of anyone who actually collected a reward from Death?” Then quietly, he added, “Or any other god-desssss?”
When Kaoz was reduced to stammering, Ramssee knew he was on to something. “That’s right, Kaoz. No one ever receives their prize! Not from The Shaitan, Zar, or even Inanna.” Seeing the myz flinch, the Viperz grew even more confident. “Whether we succeed or fail in this quest won’t matter, for either way, surely our only payment will be death!” By now Ramssee had reached his climax, his eyes were spinning with <The Power of Persuasion> so strongly that Kaoz was completely transfixed. “Lissssten to me, Kaoz. I understand thisss great game. It isss clear to me. And know thissss – I have no desire to be The Ssssupreme Overlord of Kagor. I also know thisss – your master is the God of Liesss. For here is the real truth – I, Ramsseee, was sssent on thiss mission not only to ensure that you captured The Grim, but, once you achieved this sssuccesss, I was instructed to kill you and leave you to die in the Deepest Depthsss of Akka!”
“What?!” Kaoz raged at Viperz treachery, trying to break the spell. “Kaoz will murder Ramssee first!”
“SSSTOP!” Ramssee commanded, eyes blazing. “NEITHER of us need die! Think – would I be telling you all this if I meant to kill you later?”
At that Kaoz grumbled, “Then Kaoz don’t understand. If you can do this job yourself, what do you need Kaoz for?”
“Ah, now we’re finally getting somewhere.” Ramssee smiled, his eyes relaxing. “Let me give you some truths. What you may not know is that your master didn’t just send a Viperz like me to to the job because he’d previously tried that – twice – and my predecessors failed – both times. Sending you is a new gambit. Yet think about this, my friend – what is so special about this odd little dagger in the first place? Why did The Shaitan create a plague to wipe out the Drrukka of Akka? Why does he want it so badly?
“He said The Grim is his by right.” Kaoz merely repeated that which I’d instilled in his brain many times over.
“Do you really believe that? if that’s indeed true, then why doesn’t Death just go get it himself? Why bother sending lackeys like us?”
“I guess he is busy?”
”For something so valuable?” Scoffed Ramssee. “Don’t you see – we two are naught but Death’s guinea pigs to be used in his latest experiment. The Shaitan wants to expose us to all the risks associated with this vile dagger. We take the risk in unearthing it. We take the risk in secretly bringing it back. We take the risk in handing it over to Death and hoping for a reward that will never come. And what risk is he taking? He’ll use us to get his prize, he’ll take it to his secret labs, and then he’ll destroy us for the part we played. And in all that time, he’ll take no risk. What, I ask you, is Death afraid of? Let me tell you – for here’s something else i know to be true – The Shaitan fears The Grim for he knows The Grim is capable of killing Death himself!”
To Ramssee’s great surprise, Kaoz was not impressed. “Even if that is so – and Kaoz doubts it — you still have not answered Kaoz’ question.” By now the myz had grown tired of all this dialogue and began pondering how he might simply kill the man and move on alone. Inching closer to his prey, Kaoz asked, “If you know all this, what do you need Kaoz for? Why not just keep The Grim for yourself?”
“What?” Now it was Ramssee turned to be shocked. “Have you not been listening to me? I have no desire to ever touch that treacherous blade. That is exactly what I need YOU for.” And the Viperz eyes began twirling again. “LISSSTEN to me, Kaoz, for you CAN become The SSSupreme Overlord of The West. Take the Grim. Bring it back to The Ssshaitan. Sssay you killed me, that I failed, that YOU were hisss true sssavior. But, do not give Death the blade, instead when he reaches forth his hand to receive it, use The Grim to ssstrike The Ssshaitan down. Use The Grim to KILL DEATH!”
Even though Ramssee offer sounded eerily similar to that which Inanna had just recently promised Kaoz, the Viperz’ <persuasive> powers made it impossible for the myz to resist. Thinking his words were having the desired effects, Ramssee continued, “It’s true! YOU, KAOZ, can defeat The God of Death. After that you can move on Keldar and install yourself as the next Overlord.”
“I CAN do it.” Kaoz was unable to break free of Ramssee spell, but in fact he wasn’t as taken in by it as he pretended to be. Still wary of the snakeman’s seeming altruism, he countered “And what do YOU get out of all this?”
Ramssee expected the question. “That’s simple. Work with me and you will get to rule The West, Kaoz. I have no reason to interfere with you there. As for me, all I have ever wanted since the dawn of my creation is to be a King myself. Why I have this desire I do not know, but it is there nonetheless. Yet I have no desire to rule over myz or derk. Instead, I want to be an emperor of men. I want Fubar. Help me get that and together we can fulfill both of our dreams!”
At last, Kaoz smiled, black saliva dripping from his dark lips – for the myz realized that not only did this spy not know anything about his secret deal with Inanna – which meant Kaoz was safe in that regard – but furthermore, here was another person who wanted to double-cross The Shaitan. Since Lust could only give the myz support ethereally, and since Kaoz did believe that much of Ramssee’s plans were solid, he surmised that teaming up with the Viperz indeed might prove worthwhile. Now that he knew that Ramssee’s desire would not in anyway conflict with his own – for allowing the spy to become the ruler of a kingdom of men in lands faraway from Kagor, that seemed a worthy trade. In return for the partnership, Kaoz would be able to acquire The Grim and then take it to Inanna so he and the goddess could then begin their quest to conquer the world.
Yes, Kaoz smiled at Ramssee’s offer and so happy was he by the proposition that the myz needed just one word to seal their pact. “Done.”
Thus it was that two of my most loyal pawns conspired against me by plotting my demise – too bad for them that I was one step ahead of them…
- The shape shifting part was easy, but giving the changeling the ability to transform with clothes – now that magic was a lot trickier to manage and took me centuries to perfect.
- A Viperz ability to utilize his venomous fangs in any form was trait that I had genetically engineered for their protection from the very beginning – for I knew it would come in handy to even the scales against even the toughest of opponents.
- For surely you realize by now that Ramssee was MY minion and, even though I didn’t as yet know that Inanna had already begun meddling in my plans, I wasn’t foolish enough to just send a single myz off to find The Grim – that mission was much too important to trust to a wildcard like Kaoz. Ramssee was thus my ace-in-the-hole, a fail-safe I’d sent to ‘watch over’ Kaoz and ensure he succeeded. What you read here is intelligence I gathered fairly soon after this meeting from Ramssee himself.
- Like any good liar, the Viperz included a bit of truth in his story – it made his tale that much more believable.
- The legend was one that I had made with my own hand – the result of the many inquiries I’d conducted with dead Drrukka warriors in my Necronomicon death communals.
- Although he emphasized the word ‘real,’ Ramssee was careful not to specifically allude to what that real mission actually was. A fact that was totally lost to Kaoz’ lesser intelligence.
- Additionally this little gambit was something Ramssee rather conveniently left out of his story when he later gave me his report to me.