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   Chapter 14 Po-Adar

Maldene II: Mysteries Of Olde By Mark Anthony Tierno Characters: 39836

Updated: 2018-04-10 12:03


Battle raged about the small seaport. Goblins came out from everywhere, besieging the town's inhabitants from every direction. A small contingent of troops bearing the insignia of the Great Northern Kingdom defended as well as they could, but in the end they were swamped by goblins, ghouls, and unspeakable monstrous terrors that were best kept in the darkness.

The goblin commander was directing the flow of prisoners as his troops hauled every last man, woman, and child out from their homes and stood them chest to chest inside a convenient warehouse by the town's pier. The blood of victory was on his gnarled teeth as a subordinate came up to him.

"This was the last town sir, " the subordinate growled.

"Good, he'll be pleased then, " the commander nodded with a twisted grin. "This whole campaign has gone just the way he said it would."

"Sir, " the subordinate ventured, "the troops were wondering if we could, uh, - well just one of the captured females, or maybe just one little boy- it's been a long campaign and they've been..."

"No, " the commander struck him across the face with the back of his clawed hand, "you'll have to wait until he decides. You don't want to get him angry."

"No, I don't, " the subordinate grumbled, fearful memories at the back of his mind, "but it's just that-"

"Report."

The voice came out of nowhere, sounding like fingernails on a chalkboard, grating up the spine. The commander whirled around to see the dark-robed figure standing behind him.

Fifteen feet tall, humanoid in outline, though beyond that one could not be certain. The three tons of bulk towered over the six-foot goblin commander, but it wasn't the sheer magnitude of size that made the goblin shudder in his boots. Cloaked though the features were by the shadows of the hood that he wore, still could the goblin see things moving beneath where the face should be, small wriggly things, with an occasional worm-like suggestion that almost came past the shadows. Then, out from the sleeves of the robe was the other thing; while the left arm appeared normal enough, if worn and spotted, the other sleeve had a dull orange tentacle slithering out, a thin layer of slime covering it with the occasional pustule filled almost to bursting. An odor also came from within the robes, an odor reminiscent of sulphur and old fungus. The figure towered over the goblin, longsword belted to his side, a constant slick of blood dripping along its steel length.

Beside the large figure was another figure, though this one was shorter even than most goblins. Three feet tall, the green of his eyes matching that of his thick scraggly hair and scrawny body. His pointed ears quivered with excitement as he flexed his small claws. His tattered pants hung loose around his legs, his torn shirt revealing the gnarled flesh of his chest.

The goblin commander was fearful of both but knew his duty. He stood up as straight as goblins ever got, swallowed his courage, and nervously began to report.

"The town is ours, master, " the goblin said, while his subordinate tried to make himself very small, standing behind him. "It was the last; the entire faultez is now under our- uh, your- control."

"Very good, " came the grating voice.

"The prisoners are lined up in that warehouse over there, " the goblin said pointing, "just like you asked."

"Ah, more to be added to the ranks of my troops, " the figure said as he reached up into the shadowy recesses of his face and scratched something moving.

"Sir, " the master looked to be in a good mood, so the commander thought to be brave, "the troops were wondering if, well, it has been a long campaign since we had any... rewards, of battle."

The large figure seemed to sigh as he looked around the town. Nearing twilight showed goblins and ghouls about the streets, cleaning up any strays, delving about into the buildings for anything good.

"You may take the children, " came the answer. "They are useless to me; too young. Also, a third of the young women. Do with them as you would; the rest are mine."

"Thank-you, Master Po, " the commander bowed and scraped. "Thank-you."

The smaller figure beside the larger one then started to jump lightly up and down.

"Jumpit get one too? A pretty for Jumpit?"

A tentacle reached out and stroked the smaller figure's head almost lovingly.

"Yes Jumpit, you can have one, " the voice sounded less grating. "Go and pick out one that you like."

Jumpit bounced up and down with glee, his short claws working back and forth in pleasure.

"Thank-you, thank-you, Jumpit happy. I'll pick out a nice one, will I."

Jumpit half bounced, half ran, across the dimming streets, quickly over to the warehouse where the prisoners were stored.

"I may even get a little toy for myself, " the grating voice mused, and then turned back to the goblin commander. "Is there anything else?"

"Yes, " the goblin answered. "There was a small outpost of troops from the Great Northern Kingdom. Apparently there was a watch post; we've got them locked up in-"

"So, the King's own troops, " the figure said, turning around and pacing forward a few steps. "Representatives from that ungrateful little sot! What a good day this is turning out to be! I may start to get my revenge a little sooner than expected. Go bring them to me."

"I obey, " the goblin nodded.

As the goblin commander quickly departed with his subordinate, to both get the requested prisoners and tell his troops about their pick of the rest, the tall figure paced casually about the street, looking out towards the sea, out towards where Cenivar lay, a mere fifteen hundred miles to the South. He pondered his position, now in full control of a large faultez that lay nestled a small distance to the North of Cenivar and nearly equidistant in the Freelen Sea between the eastern end of Catho and the western shores of Degaloth.

Practically in the middle of where the King's ships would cross on their way to nearly all the assorted points of interest in the Northern Hemisphere.

"Betray Po-Adar, " the tall figure mused to himself. "But I shall have my own revenge upon the world. With this small land taken, he can now not send out a rowboat without my knowing, without having to cross my path. And cross it he will! From this strategic land will I pester him until he admits to the world that it was I that saved his skin so that he might become King!"

Po Adar looked out across the waters for a short while, interrupted finally by the sounds of several people being reluctantly moved about.

"Sir, " came the goblin voice from behind him, "I have brought them."

Po turned around to see of what the King had sent.

About a dozen men, mostly Human with three of them Elf, all dressed in the remnants of their uniforms, their armor and weapons having been stripped from them along with parts of their skin. They were worn, bleeding, but still standing proud. Twenty goblins surrounded them, long pikes keeping the prisoners at bay.

"And sir, " the goblin commander at the front added with a smile, "the troops would like to thank you."

The sounds of screams and cries for mercy came from the warehouse, just down the wharf on which they now stood, cries of children in pain and suffering, cries of young women being made to live through the sexual horrors of the goblin and ghoul troops. One particularly loud and painful scream rose above the rest, greeting Po-Adar's ears.

"Ah, it sounds like Jumpit has also found his own toy. Good. Now, who leads these King's troops?"

A tall human figure took a step forward, his hands bound behind him, bloody welts about his face. Still, though, he managed to maintain a certain amount of dignity. The goblin commander stepped aside as the figure came forward.

"I am Captain Tork of the King's watch-post on this faultez. By capturing us you have automatically declared war on the Great Northern Kingdom, an act which will be dealt with by the King himself. Also, by killing and torturing those civilians you have committed crimes against justice and morality, of which the gods will deal with you in due time."

A raspy chuckle escaped from Po Adar, a chuckle that carried more than just a hint of mental instability.

"You think I care? Let him send what he can; I will only spur my efforts onto other less protected regions. More burned towns, more tortured people."

"You cannot win a war against the King, " Captain Tork responded with stiff pride.

"You think I do this to win?" Po-Adar's voice came out with an amused, almost hysterical, edge to it, "I do this to harass him, to kill and destroy, to spread my vengeance upon the world. I do this because it pleases me! I don't expect to win any war, just to cause him as much grief as possible. Besides, I don't think there will be any war."

"The King will not stand by and let you-" Tork began.

"The King will have other problems on his hands!" Po-Adar shouted out his interruption. "I have seen the threads of the future, and he will have more than he can handle in the war and events ahead. He will not be able to spare anything for such a minor concern as myself. No, there will be no war; he will abandon this region to me just as he abandoned me to my own Fate!"

"You speak blasphemous of a King that has been good and-" came an outburst from one of the other troops.

Po looked up to see from where the objection came. His eyes settled on one of the elves.

"You, " he pointed a tentacle, "come forward."

The figure stepped forward, torn hat upon his head, trying to maintain composure as had their Captain. The figure stopped next to the Captain.

From within his dark hood, Po's gaze seemed to narrow, a smile to cross his shifting features.

He gestured with his hand; the cap that the figure was wearing flew off, the hair unfurled, and the top shirt flew apart.

"I did not know that the King used women in his troops, " Po-Adar's voice seemed to almost gleam with pleasure.

Po had spoken true. A long mop of golden hair flew from the figure's head, pointed ears poking up from either side of her head. Her breasts showed out from her torn shirt, round and white. Her features held a distinctive lean look to them that Po recognized.

"And an elf at that, " Po added.

"I am a scout with the King's army, " she said, trying to not let the embarrassment of her partial nudity show. "Lieutenant Eldana."

Po walked slowly up to her, his hand coming up to grab lightly onto her chin. She kept her features strong and proud, her chin stiff against his touch.

"One rise will I take the King's own daughters, a truly personal revenge, " Po said, lifting up her chin slightly so that she might look into the dark shadows of his hood. "But until then, you will have to do. A fine elven maiden indeed."

"No!" Captain Tork spoke up, practically leaping up to Po-Adar. "You will not have her!"

Po Adar turned his head, sending the Captain but a brief glance. Glance though it was, the Captain was flung through the air, across the wharf to land against the end of the mast of a ship anchored there.

Impaled against the tip of the mast.

His body quivered there as Po Adar turned his attention back to the young elf, a slight trembling now crossing her features.

"I have found my own toy, " Po said, not even considering the Captain's outburst to be an interruption, "You will be mine."

"Never, " she said defiantly, then spat at him with her next comment. "Fauwnima!"

A chuckle escaped from the hood as the hand upon her chin suddenly shifted into a large crab-like claw. The large pincer closed quickly about her throat, tight enough to make her gurgle but not enough to kill, though it looked large enough to easily snip off her head. He picked her up by the claw, raising her now wiggling form several feet above the ground, her face to meet with his

hey know that the sight of that land could well be the last thing they ever see. We need to-"

"I know, I know, " the Captain interrupted him. "We could have used a proper crew on this trip, but the merchant that hired us was too cheap to pay for it. He said it would be a routine trip. Well, if we don't make it through these waters then it'll sure cost him- and us."

Thick fog, rising up from surrounding sea. Sudden cloaking veil about small ship. Crew shouts, cries of fear.

"It is the end!"

"Zosoodra!"

"Captain, save us!"

The Captain looked out at the unnaturally rising fog, watching as visibility was reduced to a few short feet in but moments. He pondered what to do, wishing they'd had a Sea Mage aboard as did all Thirdocian ships.

"This is definitely the work of magic, " the Captain mused, "and bad magic at that. We must sail for our lives if we are to make it out."

"Captain, " the First Mate pointed out, "the crew is panicking. They may not perform as you would hope."

"Then we are already lost, " the Captain said, then raised his voice for the entire crew to hear. "I'll have no slacking off on my ship! Get those sails up and steer due South. Move this ship for all you're worth, mates!"

The sails were raised, the crew pulling them around to bring them straight South. Fear drove them along with the winds. They counted the inches between their ship and Po-Adar's faultez as they sought to increase them.

The winds stopped; the ship was dead in the water.

The crew murmured their worries as they tried to look through the surrounding fog.

"Captain, " the First Mate said, "the winds, we will be-"

"I know, " the Captain said as he thought quickly. "We are in the grip of a powerful soodra. Have the crew break out their swords- if some insane wizard would have our souls we will not make it easy for him!"

"Aye sir, " the First Mate nodded.

As the First Mate relayed the orders, nervous human sailors drawing out their swords, the Captain gazed out through the fog. A dim shape he saw, gradually taking form, almost a phantom peering through the midst.

"What in the..." he began.

He squinted harder, trying to resolve the shape.

Ghostly outline coalescing; tall waving mast, vague shimmering outline. Large looming ship materializing, coming out through the fog. Grinning undead faces, shining through the mist, evil desire given form.

"Hard to port!" the Captain shouted out. "For your lives, men!"

The ghostly ship had appeared but a few feet away from their own ship, its crew of ghosts and ghouls eagerly awaiting their new prey. Screeching howls came from the strange ship, faces forming in its sails, the bow of the ship seeming to form a large toothy grin, ready to bite down into the small merchant ship.

The boat shook as the ghost ship rammed full into its side. Ghouls came leaping over while ghosts flew out from the sails. Sailors screamed in terror, half of them running away for their lives, the others trying to bring sword to that which was already dead. Swords struck out, doing no harm to the leathery ghouls, passing right through the life-sapping ghosts. Others ran across the ship, heading for the presumed safety of the other end of the deck.

"Hold your positions, " the Captain shouted out futilely, swinging his own blade at an approaching ghoul. "Don't give in to fear!"

At the other side of the ship, sailors came up to the grey wall of fog, desperate enough to seek safety in its depths. One sailor climbed atop the edge of the railing, ready to dive into the sea. He looked out at the fog, heart pounding fast, crouching down for his jump.

The fog grew a face, a smiling foggy image of horror bigger around than he was tall. The sailor gasped, trying to back up on his precarious perch. But the large face came suddenly at him, screaming a high-pitched wail as it closed a ghostly mouth around the sailor. The others watched as the mouth swiftly swallowed their friend from off the railing, the sailor's scream adding to the spirit's own. An echoing chorus of screams erupted from out of the fog as a dozen more such spirits suddenly streamed out at the terrified crew, taking them back into the fog to never see the light of day again.

The Captain fended off the ghoul as he watched the horde of undead swarm across his ship. Of the ghost ship itself, its bow seemed to sink into the side of his own ship; an invading mirage as the very planks beneath his feet now turned a ghostly white. Ghouls, ghosts, and spirits flew around him as he backed up against the ship's large steering wheel, his sword bravely in front of him.

Six slavering ghouls crouched in front of him, a dozen translucent spirits hanging in the air about. Around him, the remains of his crew were killed and dragged away into the swallowing fog, the deck beneath his feet turning paler by the moment. He swallowed his fear and stood straight and tall.

"You will not take me without paying the price, " the Captain said bravely.

A chittering chorus of laughter arose from the undead, an insane echo upon the lonely seas. But they just stayed where they were, not advancing upon him.

"Well, " the Captain brandished his sword, "what're you waiting for? Come at me so that I might make you pay!"

More chittering as the Captain now saw himself to be the last one left alive aboard his ship. The masts of his ship had now taken on their own ghostly look, his ship beginning to resemble the ghost ship which had rammed into it.

"Well, " the Captain grew nervous the more he waited, "what's stopping you; afraid?"

A maniacal laughter arose out of the fog, deep and resonating, a twisted edge to its sound. The chittering laughter of the undead increased to frantic proportions at its sound as a hole formed in the fog above the Captain. The Captain looked up, no longer sure if he would even die a warrior's proper death.

From out of the air overhead came a nightmarish creature. Demon in form, though spawned from the insane imagination of Po-Adar, it was a mass of tentacles, misplaced facial features, bulbous blobs, and seething ghostly parts. Fear struck down through to the soul of the Captain as it reached down for him, wrapping a world of madness around him.

The Captain screamed.

The ghost ship sailed through the thick fog, stealthily approaching its intended quarry: a small merchant vessel, no Thirdocians aboard her decks. The stern-faced Captain eyed it through the fog, his ghostly form easily seeing it even at such a far distance, and nodded his approval. He turned around to face his First Mate.

"Give the order, " his whispery voice called out, "that is our target."

"Aye sir, " the First Mate's craggy voice answered.

In life the First Mate had been Human, but now in death it was a dark leathery-skinned ghoul, crouching down on the deck as he listened to the orders of his Captain. A captain that was now, quite literally, a shadow of his former self.

"Sail to port, " the Captain ordered sternly, "I want that ship before evening falls."

"Port it is, sir, " the First Mate scampered out to relay the order.

The Captain looked back out to the sea as he stood on the deck of his small ship. A ghost of its former self as well, the ship that he had sailed in life was now like the ghostly apparition that had killed it and its crew. He looked around at his crew of ghouls and ghosts, spirits that flew about the masts.

"This crew may have been the most pitiful excuse for fear-driven sailors that I ever had the mispleasure to command in life, " he whispered into the fog, "but, by the Deep, now I'll whip them up into proper shape! Either they'll learn or I'll see that they answer to Po-Adar himself!"

The ghost ship sailed on towards the unwary boat, now another ship in Po-Adar's growing fleet of the dead. It sailed on to its quarry, to once again repeat the cycle that its master had set up.

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