The Rise And Fall Of Lord Void
Chapter 31: Pains In Past And Present
Lord Void crested a hill and looked down on a forlorn building. It was Majisto’s Workshop. It’s namesake and owner dead for over a year, it had fallen into disrepair, with no new wizard appointed to manage it’s upkeep. It had survived BloodVaine’s brutal magical winter, but that was when two very powerful wizards had occupied it, and when it was in their best interest in keeping the building intact. But now, few, if any, were interested in the upkeep of the workshop. Now, away from any beaten path, the workshop was beginning to succumb to the nature around it. Gouging wind had pulled away wooden shingles, and fogged the windows with grit. The ‘launch-pad’ of sorts located next to the workshop was nearly completely immersed in sand.
But Lord Void didn’t care. His robe leaving streaks in the sand, he approached the door and muttered the appropriate incantations. Then, from deep beneath the folds of his cloak, or perhaps from the air itself, Lord Void withdrew a key, and inserted it into the lock. He turned it, and the door unlocked with a click. Lord Void placed his thin had upon the door and pushed. The door remained closed. Lord Void pushed harder. Nothing. Sighing, Lord Void muttered something else and the door exploded inward, shoved by a surge of magic. It banged against the wall and sent a cloud of dust into the air. Lord Void entered the cloud, emerged from the other side into the main room of the workshop, and wiped his monocle on his robe.
What a dreary place it was, and in such shambles. Books, tomes and scrolls were spread across the large center table haphazardly, dust think on all of them. Lord Void idly inspected an ink bottle that had been carelessly left open. It’s contents had dried solid within. With a grunt of annoyance, Lord Void tossed it away. It landed in the barren fireplace, when it shattered amongst the ghost-gray ashes.
Lord Void pushed aside a book, clearing a space on the table, and then turned to examine the large bookshelf that spanned an entire wall. It was jammed full of books, and was so tall it required a mobile ladder that slid on wheels, guided by a rail, to reach the books on the upper shelves.
Lord Void squinted at the books. Most of them were spell books, useless to him, or chronicles of mystical tales and valiant heroes demonic beasts -- also useless. But a few, a bare few, were what he was looking for: records. Specifically, military records. Lord Void was luckily, actually, that any of these existed. A full library of records had been located in the Fire Breathing Fortress, but all of these had been obliterated along with the fortress when BloodVaine had overreacted to an attack from the sorcerer Drock and detonated the place. However, long before BloodVaine had begun his first vile moves toward world domination, Majisto had requested certain records be copied from the Fortress library and placed here. Lord Void never found out why Majisto had wanted this, but it didn’t matter now.
Like a wraith, Lord Void lightly ascended the ladder and swept the three record books under a long arm. He slid off the ladder and placed the books on the table. He then began to leaf through them. It didn’t take him long to find the entry he was looking for.
The recruit Ajaxx, according to record, was an able and eager recruit. After being drafted into the Dragon Master army in 1988, Boriansian Division, Ajaxx was soon promoted to Corporal, then, Sergeant, then Lieutenant within three years. In 1992, when border disputes with the Ninjas began, Ajaxx was assigned to the front lines.
Lord Void’s finger ran quickly through the report, picking out details. Promoted to Captain after the Battle of Ogden’s River, in 1994. Promoted to Major in 1995 after routed an enemy attack and saving the Dragon Masters from a humiliating defeat. Awarded the Dragon’s Blood Metal in 1996 after retaking the Northern Maddek outpost and saving a Brigadier-General from assassination.
Lord Void’s finger stopped. Ah, now this was interesting:
In 1997, reprimanded and transferred for disobeying and insulting a superior officer, a one, Brigadier-General Barkins.
Lord Void contemplated this, then continued.
In 1998, the Ninja border disputes escalated, and casualties were high on both sides. Half of the Dragonsbane Brigade was decimated, and many soldiers were transferred over from other divisions to fill the void. Major Ajaxx was one of them. The leader of the Dragonsbane Brigade, a one Jorge Dragonsbane, promoted Ajaxx quickly. And then Jorge Dragonsbane was killed. And Ajaxx, newly promoted to the highest living ranking officer, became the new Dragonsbane.
Lord Void sat back, thinking. Then he bent forward quickly, and leafed through the book looking for another entry: Barkins. After skimming through most of the entry, he soon came to understand one thing: Barkins was a wizard. And, as Void continued to dig, looking in other past military records, he found out another thing: Ajaxx hated magic. Vehemently.
Lord Void leaned back. This is interesting, most interesting indeed…
There was a scratching outside the window of the workshop. Lord Void looked up. It was a pigeon. And something was tied to it’s leg. Lord Void rose, wrenched open the window, pulled off the bit of paper tied to the bird’s leg and unfolded it.
My Lord Void,
I have overviewed the construction site and I am glad to report all is on schedule. There is, however, an obstruction that requires your powerful magic to remove. Thorinsburg says that construction will soon come to a halt if this is not dealt with. I respectfully request that Milord proceed at once to the construction site to aid us with your magic.
At the very bottom, written in pinkish loops:
Elsa Byrd says hello, dahling!
Lord Void folded up the paper. He looked back at the table where the books lay. He had found out all he could from here. Without another glance, Lord Void exited the workshop, slamming the door behind him, reinitiating the protection spells. Time to go to the Fire Breathing Fortress.
Lord Void, limited by the crude but powerful Earth Magic, did not have the ability to teleharm anymore. However, there were many was around this minor annoyance. Dragons, for one.
Walking swiftly, his black robe leaving long streaks in the sand, Lord Void returned to the Grolling Fortress. He didn’t both stopping at his quarters; he immediately went to the dragon stables and ordered the flustered stable master to prepare a mount for him. While the stable master began shouting orders and curses at the numerous stable boys, Lord Void retreated slightly, his cool gaze making everyone in the stone (wood could be set on fire by a dragon’s whim) building.
To their credit, the stable boys and master saddled up a fine black-scaled dragon within five minutes. Without another word, Lord Void swept on top of the dragon, and pressed his exposed feet into the rough haunches of the dragon. Ambling slowly, awkward on land, the dragon bumbled out into the courtyard, almost looking comical. But any sense of humorousness was instantly gone when the dragon spread it’s wings in the expansive courtyard and yowled. Then, with a thrust of it’s wings that spawned a miniature whirlwind, and a spring of it’s powerful rear legs, the dragon, with Lord Void perched on to, shot into the sky like a shot from a trebuchet. The dragon rose swiftly, wings pumping, and then it burst up into an air current, and it glided across the burning sun grandly. With a slight nudge, Lord Void corrected the course of the dragon. He’s reach the fortress within five minutes.
Lord Void could see the construction site before he reached it. An expansive dust cloud was suspended in the air above countless slaves, as the poor souls toiled to level group and carried away the last debris littering the footprint of the fortress-to-be. Lord Void saw at once was Caimlin had requested he come for: a large mass of rock and metal, sitting in the near center of the marked footprint. So, that was all that was needed: a simply job of moving the offending chunk out of the way.
Persons below had seen him now; or, more specifically, the dragon. There weren’t many loud cries from below, this was Dragonar, after all, Dragon Master land, and dragons were just as frequent as horses. With a touch of his heels and a pull on the reigns, Lord Void put the dragon into a dive, aiming toward a flat, clear spot that lay close to the outline of several pavilions. The dragon shot to the ground, pulled up at the last possible moment, and landed gently, it’s claws finding firm purchase on the ground. Dragon handlers rushed forward to tether the beast, and Lord Void slid off smoothly. Wiping his monocle on his cloak, he nodded at three approaching figures. Two were Dragon Masters. The other was floating.
“Greetings, Caimlin, Thorinsburg, Byrd.” nodded Lord Void calmly.
Elsa Byrd called “Hello, Dahling!” and returned to sipping ice tea (with a little pink umbrella, of course!), while Caimlin and Thorinsburg bowed.
“Milord,” Thorinsburg began humbly, “I fear there have been…delays…”
“Yes, yes, I see!” snapped Lord Void briskly, “That mountain there refuses to budge, is that it?”
“Yes, milord…” said Thorinsburg, bowing again, “Nothing we’ve done has succeeded in moving it….”
And without a further word, Lord Void strode toward the mass of stone and metal. Caimlin, Thorinsburg and Elsa Byrd followed. When Lord Void was about eighty paces from the mass, he raised his arms, squinting. Then, with a grunt and a swift muttering of goblin-runes, he thrust his arms upward. With an earth-shattering rumbled, the mass of stone and metal was wrenched bodily from the ground. All within a hundred yards were thrown to their feet except Lord Void and Elsa Byrd. Seemingly without effort, Lord Void rose the mass higher, completely lifting it’s entire bulk above the ground.
“Where to, Thorinsburg?”
“Er, er--!” stuttered Thorinsburg, surprised the mass had been uprooted so easily.
“Over there, milord.” responded Caimlin quickly, pointing, “Beyond those foothills there.”
Lord Void nodded and began to maneuver the mass of stone and metal over the heads of the stunned Dragon Masters and slaves and toward the hills. When the ground began to rise and the foothills began, Lord Void rose the hulk even higher. Then -- suddenly -- horribly -- the mass plummeted back to earth. It didn’t have far to fall, but it fell hard. Very hard. Again, everyone was thrown to their feet. And Lord Void was among them. Shock waves surged through the ground. The pavilions collapsed and the dragon Lord Void had ridden shrieked in fright. It’s tail whipped about, flattening several hapless Dragon Masters. Then it bit through it’s restraining chain -- snapping teeth so blood flowed from it’s mouth -- and took to the sky.
But Lord Void was not paying attention to any of that. He lay on the ground, grit in his eyes, clutching his sides. By Memphistar, the pain! The electric pain! It lanced through him, biting and stinging, just like the time when he had beaten Hadadar to a pulp in the dungeons. And, also like that time, the pain was gone almost instantly. Like it had never been there. But it had. And it had been there a lot longer. The first time, it had only lasted a few seconds, five at the most. But this time it had felt like a minute. Lord Void sat up, groaning.
“Milord!” gasped Caimlin, getting to his feet. Blood flowed from a gash on his forehead.
Lord Void felt horribly weak. And tired, too.
“Is -- that -- far enough?” he said, straining to rise.
“Did I move that rock far enough for construction to continue?” Lord Void hissed rapidly.
“Er-- yes, milord.”
“Good. Now get someone to rebuild a pavilion. I am to retire. Thorinsburg!”
“Proceed with construction.”
As Lord Void stumbled toward the remains of the pavilions, Elsa Byrd floated beside him
“My God, dahling, how hor-rin-doss! Ab-sole-loot-lee hor-rin-doss! Now that’s why you never perform such spells before stretching, dahling! You should always stretch, dahling, like so!”
And, while still in midair, Elsa Byrd demonstrated, doing some gravity-defying jumping-jacks. Lord Void barely noticed. All he wanted was sleep. Then he would contemplate his troubles tomorrow.
Not far away from the “crash site”, Japheth lay concealed by some scrub brush. He was wide-eyed, and he was sweating.
“Now that,” he said to himself, “Ajaxx will be most eager learn about.”
And then he crawled away.
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