Wizeman surveyed his new creations with the pride of a master craftsman; pride tempered with a critical eye that spotted all imperfections and allowed none to remain.
Still dormant until the time he would awaken them, they slept curled around spires inside the realms he had constructed along with them, environments designed to be most suited to their identities. The day of their activation would only come when he was satisfied that they met his standards and he felt it would be strategically best to make use of their abilities. Also inside each of their realms floated a cage. The designs of the cages were surprisingly elegant, like gazebos hidden in the gardens of a stately home. His cruel, overbearing personality usually led him to produce grander, less subtle works of art. Each cage was a different colour; the colours of the five Ideya.
The Ideya were the only things between Wizeman and total domination of the human world. They were the purest virtues of the human soul, the aspects of a person that made them strong against his corruption. Courage, wisdom, intelligence, hope, purity; all could be used to fight off his whispered words, and all five together were even more powerful than the sum of their parts. As he had been human once, he should have had them too, he supposed, but he didn't remember ever having Ideya, and he had no way of counteracting their power. He couldn't harness the power of the Ideya itself – it was so antithetical to him that its light hurt his eyes and burned him to the touch – but he could use his own power to make an equal and opposing force. A darkness to the light, forged from the all-consuming darkness inside his own soul.
So he had based each Nightmaren's essential nature on each of the Ideya. Gilwing he had created first, a serpent-dragon. Wizeman had read up on human mythology and knew that the serpent was a symbol of temptation, corruption and primal evil. The serpent was supposed to be able to tempt even the most innocent and pure of minds. That, and Gilwing's confusing movement pattern would reduce any human trying to dodge out of the way to the use of some very un-innocent words.
In the chamber opposite bounced Puffy. Her appearance was roughly based around a grotesquely fat opera singer. The songs he had taught her were those from the stories with the most tragic endings. Nothing was a more powerful influence on the human mind than stories, especially those wailed in a siren-song, and hearing nothing but bad endings would wear away hope. He was unsure how to get Puffy to actually stay perched on a spire – it was something he would work on later.
Gulpo was a simpler design; a giant goldfish. Fish were scary on their own, with their completely alien natures to humanity and their cold, staring eyes. A goldfish was also a symbol of stupidity and memory loss. Watching him swim around and around his spire would distract the dreamer from thinking.
Clawz greedily eyed the goldfish from the next chamber along. Did he really mean to eat Gulpo, who was five times his size? Wizeman made a mental note that moving Gulpo and Clawz further away from each other might be a prudent idea. The cat-like beast had elongated, razor-sharp claws and powerful hind-legs that could jump onto the ceiling and hang there in wait to drop on any prey that wandered beneath it. His concept was based on the idea of predator and prey, that the most terrifying thing for a human, who was basically just a mammal who had risen up the ranks to become a firmly established top predator, was to become prey again. They did not know how to survive when they were hunted; not just by other humans but by something designed to kill them. Although Gulpo, who didn't think about much, seemed unconcerned that Clawz was watching him, it would strip a human's courage away swiftly.
That left Jackle. Wizeman didn't like to admit it, in case someone accused him of being unimaginative, but Jackle's design was based off his standard template for Reala and NiGHTs. He was roughly humanoid, except that only his giant gloves, helmet and cape were visible. He cackled insanely at his master as Wizeman approached, and tried to hand him a deck of cards to shuffle. Jackle was the opposite of everything wise and sensible; not only was he a madman, he was a gambler. Humans could not resist gambling, taking risks if there was a chance they would double their winnings, even if they didn't need more than they already had, even if they couldn't afford the equal chance that they would lose everything. Jackle didn't lose.
Wizeman heard the faint rush of air that meant someone was flying towards him. He turned around to meet them. It was only Reala and NiGHTs, reporting back on their regular patrols.
"Nothing to report, sir!" said Reala, saluting.
"Nothing here either," confirmed NiGHTs, before adding, "I'm bored."
"Boredom is good. Boredom is the opposite of trespassers," Wizeman sighed. No matter how many times he fixed NiGHTs, he ended up rude and insubordinate. He needed NiGHTs to be imbued with chaos to balance Reala's lawful nature – there were plenty of humans who were afraid of chaos and plenty who were afraid of law – but he wished there was a different way of doing things that would leave NiGHTs with enough intelligence to solve problems on his own.
"If its okay, sir, may we see the new creations?" asked NiGHTs.
"You may," he indicated them with a sweep of three of his disembodied hands, "Take a good look at them. You'll be commanding them in battle, once we begin our invasion. I'm intending to put Jackle and Gilwing under your control, NiGHTs, and give Clawz, Gulpo and Puffy to Reala."
"How come I get two and Reala gets three?"
"During the performance tests, Jackle and Gilwing came out with much higher results. To balance their power, the two stronger are balanced against the three weaker," he said, his voice betraying his strained patience, "Of course, that still leaves a slight imbalance, but I am sure this will be counteracted by the fact that Reala is a more competent General who can actually follow orders."
NiGHTs gave his brother a hurt look. Reala folded his arms and smirked at him, then gave an embarrassed cough as he realised he was behaving like, well, like NiGHTs in front of his master. He frowned and said, "So, when do we go to war?"
"Very soon, Reala," replied Wizeman, "Very soon."