The Menace in the North, being an installment in the Chronicles of King Lagmoor

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She came to me
In a dream
And pleaded for my aid
She was named Jyscana
The Priestess of the Seven Eyes
Mystical advisor to
King Rosjark of Nogrund
A kingdom far to the North

With sadness in her blue eyes
She revealed
That the king was in
Dire peril
That he had dabbled to deep
Into dark magics
Out of curiosity
And awoken something truly terrible

Being a loyal ally of mine
As he was
I knew I had to assist Rossjark
And save him from the doom
That had now come upon him
When I informed my
Chief wizard, Draalek
His expression turned most grave

“Beware, oh great king,”
He warned
“For what you go to face
“Is an evil most monstrous!”
“What is this evil
“Of which you speak,
“My old friend,” I asked

With haunted eyes, he answered,
“Ages ago, in the North
“Before the Great Cataclysm
“And the shifting of the poles
“There reigned a great empire of darkness
“Drenched with the blackest of magics
“And had traffick with
“The foulest of demons

“Somewhere, far below the ice
“In that frozen tundra of
“The Kingdom of Nogrund
“Lie the dread relics
“Of that dark empire
“And I fear that King Rossjark
“Has summoned an ancient evil
“That has long slumbered

“For this mission, my king
“With your leave
“I must take my fellow wizards,
“Randar and Pesgan
“For I fear my arts
“May not be powerful enough
“If this evil is what I fear.”

And so it was
That I took traveled with
My three most powerful wizards
And a retinue of my mightiest knights
And set out upon my quest
After we had crossed the perilous passes
In the Slagdar Mountains
Where the fierce blizzard winds blew
Like the breath of a dark god
We came to the frozen Lake Viron
Which we would have to cross
To enter Nogrund

With great care
We crossed the frozen waters
Praying to the Gods
That they would not crack
Beneath our weight
We had made it near half-way
Across the lake
A chorus of angry howls
Surrounded us
Inhuman, grisly howls
That chilled us to the bone

Through the falling snow
We began to make out
Just what made
Those frightful noises
Towering above us
At the height of five grown men
Were monstrous beings
Covered in shaggy white fur

Their eyes glowed
As blue as coldfire
Up from their lower lips
Protruded razor-sharp fangs
And wicked barbed tusks
Emerged from their cheeks
In their mostrous hands
They brandished iron-shod warclubs

Jalbek, the captain
Of my retinue of knights
Rode up beside me
On his steed
As he whispered;
“Ice Giants, my king!
“Fearsome, beastly, foul creatures!”

“Indeed, Jalbek,” I answered,
Shivering from more than the cold
“We must break through these brutes
“To get across the lake.”
“Don’t worry, my lord,” Jalbek growled
“The Wolf-Brothers shall defend you!”

There was a heavy booming
Of monstrous feet across the ice
And a inhuman scream of rage
As one of the Ice Giants
Rushed our force

With a berzerker rage
Borne from a thousand hells
Jalbek charged the monster alone
His steed snorting as it galloped
Jalbek raised his blade on high
But was thrown through the air
As the fell giant
Decimated his horse
With one heavy sweep of its club

“Jalbek!” I cried, “Do not be a fool!”
The leader of the Wolf-Brothers
Seemed to lay deathly still
As the furred beast
Stomped toward him
And raised its war-club
To deliver the final blow

Then from where my chief wizard stood
I saw a purple-coloured blast of magic energy
Fly forward
And hit the giant
Right between its glowing eyes
And stunned it
So that it fell unconscious
Upon its back
The boom of the impact
Shaking the frozen lake

It was then that Jalbek rose
His wolf-helm glinting
And his black cape billowing
In the wintery wind
And with another rage-filled cry
Plunged his sword
Into the fell thing’s heart
The monster gave a scream of agony
And then it died

As the captain was walking back, steedless
Towards his knights
I turned on Draalek in anger,
“You fool! With the fall of that giant
“The ice could have broke
“And killed us all!”

The younger, blond-haired wizard, Pesgan
Answered me cooly,
“My king, it was I that fired
“The stunning spell
“I knew that the ice
“Was thick enough
“From the way the giant
“Rushed across it.”

“Very well, Pesgan,” I relented.
“But know this, my lord,”
The younger wizard warned
“Those iron clubs
“That those bastards carry
“Are strong enough
“To break the ice to bits!”

There were still six
Of the gargantuan devils remaining
And with their shrill howls
They all raised their war-clubs
“Teeth of the Divine Demon!” I cursed
As their clubs fell
The ice shook once more
Beneath us

Great cracks began to form
And tore the frozen lake asunder
Many men and horses fell
Into those icy waters
Screaming for their lives
The ice had broken up
Into various chunks and islets
Of which my men were trying to gain purchase

For many, it was too late
Half my retinue of knights
Were taken down
Into the icy depths with their steeds
Never to surface again
I was one of those who fell
Beginning to sink
Into bone-freezing oblivion

How lond I was down there
I know not
But a hand reached down
And pulled me back up
Onto a sizeable islet of ice
Where my three wizards
And fifteen of my knights still stood
Including Jalbek
They were all that remained
Of our company

Across the rift of the freezing waters
We saw the Ice Giants howling in rage
Shaking their war-clubs in the air
Incensed that we had survived
And out from the six behemoths
There appeared a seventh
One that we hadn’t see before

Its beard was braided and plaited with human bones
And a girdle of human skin covered
Its beastly loins
Belted by human skulls
Skulls also it wore as a necklace
And it carried a crude, heavy staff

“What is that creature?” I asked in fearful awe,
“It appears to be their shaman,”
Answered Draalek
“They seek to loose their magics
“Upon us now.”

As my chief wizard was explaining
A shaft of lightning shot forth
From the Ice Giant Shaman’s staff
And incinerated one of my knights
On the spot

“Strong magics indeed
“They have with them,”
Draalek continued,
“Randar, set up a barrier,
“We must have shielding.”

The raven-haired wizard
In question nodded in obedience
His drooping mustache
Sagging further
As her frowned with concentration
And began to chant strong incantations
At the end of which
He struck the butt of his staff
Upon the ground
And there sounded
A deep thrum of energy

The beastly shaman sent another
Bolt of magic lightning
At our small iceberg
But this time
A wall of purple energy met it
And dissolved it
Into the magical shield

The shaman howled in frustration
The rest of the ice giants
Echoing his anger and howling
At the skies
While they shook their war-clubs
With great wrathful vigor

The remaining knights
Murmored amongst themselves
While I somberly stated
“It is a shame I did not
“Bring archers with us.
“They would do greatly
“In this situation.”

“Have no fear, my king,”
The head-wizard answered
And commanded the other wizard, Pesgan
To put all his concentration
Into reinforcing Randar’s magic shield
As Randar morked his arts
The shield glowed in radiance
And stayed in place
Instead of just appearing
When we were assaulted

Draalek stretched out his hand
Before the shield
And in the center of it
There appeared a red circle
With red mystic runes
Circling about it

With one single harsh-spoken
Word of Power
Draalek inserted his staff
Into the red circle
And a mystic blast
As red as blood
Shot forth from the shield
And consumed the Ice Giant Shaman
Reducing him to ashes
On the biting wintery wind

And so it was
That the cyclopean fiends
Upon seeing the great display
Of the power of my three wizards
Were filled with fear
And ran for their barbaric lives
**********************************************************************************************************

As we came to the fortress of Krogan
The palace of the mighty king Rosjark
We beheld a grim, cold horror
The gates were open
And the guards and sentries therein
Were completely frozen
In a sheen of blackened ice

Each body
Was a rigid corpse
Frozen in time
Covered
In an ebon, icy shroud

“This is a most dangerous situation,
“My king,” Draalek whispered to me
“Judging from what has happened here
“The evil that I feared
“Has been confirmed
“I suggest you
“And your remaining knights
“Prepare yourselves
“As I am so doing
“With my fellow wizards.”

Wrapping my fur cloak
Tighter around me
From the now darkly supernatural cold
I led the way into the silent fortress
Halls that were once merry
And full of life
When I had visited my friend here
In the past
Were lifeless, freezing, and silent
As the grave

When we entered
Into the throne room
A scene of distress
And black horror
Greeted my eyes
For there
Held fast to the chamber walls
By blackened ice
Was both King Rosjark
And Priestess Jyscana

The Northern King had his head
Hung low with defeat
His mighty beard
Now seeming to droop
Priestess Jyscana looked up
And her green eyes brightened

“My liege!” she said excitedly to Rosjark
“Awaken! King Lagmoor has come
“As I knew he would!
“We are saved!”
“Nay, Priestess…” the King of Nogrund
Somberly answered her
“The evil that has imprisoned us
“Is too powerful, I fear.”

With brazen courage
I spoke up
“Come now, old friend
“Tell me that you are not
“Giving up that easily
“You who have been fierce in battle
“And powerful
“Both in mind and body…”

A mocking laughter interrupted me
From the king’s throne
Seated high atop its dais
There upon the throne
Sat a figure robed all in black
And beneath his black robes
Was night-black armor
His face was completely skeletal
Like one of the living dead
And his eyes blazed an icy blue

“So,” he cackled, “This powerful warrior-king
“I have heard so much about
“Now comes to confront me
“And save his precious ally!
“How heart-warming!”

I gazed upon his pointed rotting teeth
Set in their mocking sneer
“Warmth is certainly not
“What you have provided
“For this place
“Fell thing!”
I answered and drew my enchanted blade
“Identify yourself, worm!”

“I must commend you
“On your astute observation,”
The hideous, armored, corpselike thing leered
“This king you see
“Bound before you
“Dabbled too deep
“Into forbidden magics
“And opened gateways
“Into dark domains
“And so brought me forth
“I am Ghasharnaruz
“Ancient High Emperor
“Of the fabled wicked Empire
“Of Nasghun”

“You see, my king,”
Draalek whispered in my ear
“Everything I sensed
“Was true
“The terror of Ancient Nasghun
“Has returned
“And seeks to fulfill itself
“Through its revived Emperor!”

“I was imprisoned
“For aeons
“By the magics
“Of the meddling ‘hero’ Malak,”
Ghasharnaruz continued,
“But now I am free!
“Malak’s chains couldn’t hold me
“Your upstart wizard there
“Is a descendant of his
“And I shall thoroughly enjoy
“Crushing him
“As well as you
“And your whole pitiful band!”

With a primal scream
Of battlelust
I ran up the stairs
Of the dais
And swung my ensorcelled blade
At the lich’s obsidian oblong-crowned head
In a flash
He swept up
His serpent-headed staff
And blocked my assault

Locked in a fierce combat stance
Our two weapons forcing themselves
One against the other
The undead tyrant’s staff
Glowing a dark purple
While my sword blazed
A fiery red
We both bared our teeth
At one another savagely

The power of that devil’s staff
Became instantly too much
For me to bear
And sent me flying
Over the dais
And crashing to the floor
Where my sword
Was knocked from my hand
And became stuck to the floor
In a sheen of black ice
With a frozen blast
From the villain’s staff

“You see, my weak friend,”
Ghasharnaruz cackled as he descended the steps,
“I may have thrived
“In much warmer climes
“In my time before the cataclysm
“But now I have bonded
“With the cold of this place
“And have made it
“All the more oppressive!”

He punctuated his boasts
With another icy blast
From his ensorcelled staff
Which I quickly rolled from
And dodged
Just in time

I began to unstrap my battleaxe
From my back
When I heard Draalek
Shout for me to move aside
I quickly obeyed his warning
And witnessed my three wizards
Summon an armored knight upon a horse
It bore a curved blade in his left hand
And both horse and rider
Were composed entirely of flames

The fiery rider
Charged the lich
And slashed at the foul being’s head
With its flaming scimitar
Ghasharnaruz ducked
But his high crown
Was knocked from his head
And completely immolated
By the flames of the sword

As the burning phantom
Turned to circle back around
The darksome fiend
Aimed his staff
To fire off
A devastating icy sorcerous blast
It was then that my retinue of knights
Descended upon him with their lances
While the three wizards chanted
To keep their summoning
Stable on this plane

But even with the necromancer’s back turned
He knew the knights were charging
And to my immense horror
And theirs
Four enormous, slime-covered tentacles
Emerged from his back
And entrapped all fifteen knights
Within their clutches
The wizards lost their concentration
In utter shock at this new horror
And their summoning faded from existence

“I am all-powerful!”
The lich laughed maniacally
“Did you truly think
“You would catch me off guard?!”
And as he began to turn around
To face me,
My knights writhing in the grasp
Of his multiple tentacles
I said a silent prayer to all my Gods
And pleaded with the now-imprisoned
King and Priestess, that, whatever power
They might have left in them
They would bring to my aid

I heard my wizards began to chant once more
And I felt myself empowered and almost aglow
With a supernatural light
Time seemed to slow incredibly
And I knew that my prayers were heard
I chanted a spell over my ensorcelled battleaxe
And with nothing but pure faith in my heart
I rushed and brought down my weapon
At full-force
Upon the fiend’s serpent staff
And shattered it in two

His power fully broken
Ghasharnaruz’s tentacles withered
And my knights, having broken free
Drew all fifteen of their blades upon
The fell being
The defeated necromancer
Fell on his face before me
Begging me to spare his life

“You are nothing but a coward!”
I spat as I hefted my axe
Preparing to deal the killing blow
When my chief wizard urgently stopped me
“No, my lord!” he boomed as he ran to me
“You are a noble and merciful king.
“You do not want to stain that repute
“On such a worm.
“Let us, your wizards, deal with him
“And send him back to the imprisonment
“From whence he came
“Besides, death would be too good for him!

“As he said, I am the descendant
“Of the ancient hero Malak
“That imprisoned him to begin with
“I hold the right and the power within me.”
With a grim nod, I acquiesed
And so it was that my three wizards
Chanted with powerful incantations
Ones that were frightful to my ears
And they sent the beaten fiend
Screaming into a black portal
Never to be seen again

After I and Draalek worked together
To free King Rossjark and Priestess Jyscana
And the king’s entire court
We were rewarded with a great feast
And I left with him Pesgan
My third most powerful wizard
To help guide him
In the use of the right magics
And caution him against
The foul sorceries that summoned up
The black horror we encountered

And so it was, that Draalek, Randar
My knights, and myself
Returned to my kingdom
Wondering what other strange, otherworldly adventures
Awaited us…….

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