The Lord of Kaos – Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter One: Smoke in the Forest

From the top of the Great Hermit's Mountain of Syndar the Dwarf could see far, past the Moors, past TrollHeim, deep into the Dire Mist Marsh. Miners such as he seldom make the trek to this peak, and only in times of danger to watch for possible enemies. It was a dark day, gray clouds twisted in the sky and a wind from the ocean to the east hammered down on the summit. The hardened watchman saw none of this; his eyes were intent on a still darker cloud swarming over the Forest Path to the east. What it was exactly he could not say, but these were strange times and strange folk were about. He grunted as he decided this particular cloud could only be made by dark magicks, and it was moving steadily eastward along the path, to where he could not guess. Lately scores of Rune Elves had plagued these realms, horrid creatures who destroy all in their path to achieve their goals, often slaughtering innocence for their food. The stout body tensed at the thought of such an encounter, but was eased by the fact this trouble was moving away from his home. As he turned to descend the mountain back to Aghorin, his home, to report his findings it began to rain.

*****

Far below the Great Mountain creatures of all sorts fled from the forest as the army of Rune Elves passed. Deer, rabbit and squirrel alike hid in caves or ran to save their lives.

Above the forest the black cloud swirled and sparked with small lightening bolts, below the cloud lay the Rune Elves. Slayers, Warriors, and Priests of this race were pacing down the path. They had fierce dragons for pets who they often let devour small Halflings and Gnomes to watch their pray squeal and cower in horror. Small beings such as these were not much to fill elf bellies, and had more entertainment value than nourishment. Wandering adventurers who crossed the army's path were soon bloody stains on the road, their equipment and belongings strewn about the trail like morbid decorations. All below the dark and flashing sky howled with delight and gnashed their teeth when new prey was found. All except one.

The Dark Priestess, ruler of the Rune Elves, commanded this army. She was The One to all who followed her, and all who followed her feared her more than any God's wrath. She sat, flowing in air via her own powers, on a throne of onyx. Ravens and rats lined the throne's handles and head, snakeheads were its feet, and scorpions lined its back. She herself was horrible to look upon; even those who served averted their eyes when addressed by her slithering voice. Her hair was black and slick like oil, her eyes deeply set in her skeleton like face. A gown like night hung around her strong frame with red flames lining its sleeves. Her only weapon was a crystal dagger, but that was all she needed for it was of the deadliest kind and mysterious in its powers. Her mystery has never been unraveled, some say she was once a human, some say a dark elf twisted by the powers of the curse that befell the Dark Castle, some say she had a name once. To the Rune Elves she was and would forever be The One, and so they did her bidding.

So to Forestia they traveled.

*****

Nicodemus rested peacefully in crook of a branch. He was a goblin of the nimble fingered sort and thus spent many nights such as these, hiding in the wilderness from those who might chase him for his misdeeds. That night had been dry for him, slim pickings from pockets. He had, however, managed to snatch some jewelry from a passing Lady, Mystic Something-or-other, and she was out for his head at this time. Hence the tree top.

Nicodemus was used to this sort of thing though, and contented to curl up for the night in the darkness of the sky for safety. He absent-mindedly stroked his pet tree mouse Morty as he thought of how much gold the jewelry would fetch, and of a pretty girl he had seen earlier that evening down in the town below. She was nice, he thought, but probably wouldn't like his profession or lifestyle. She might like a few dances and a few kisses at the local tavern. Thinking of this and the clink of coins in his purse, the thief drifted into a comfortable sleep.

A loud crash of thunder woke him with a start. He bolted up, loosing his balance and sliding out of his bed. Hitting what felt like every branch on the way down he fell to the ground with a thud, thankfully in softer bushes. As he sat up, holding his head, Nicodemus's purse and belongings crashed upon him, smacking his head with considerable force. Covering his head with his arms he sheltered himself until the onslaught ceased, wishing he had fallen asleep with his helmet on.

"That was really graceful Nico," he muttered to himself, "just like in the stories." He then stood up, gathering his trinkets and bags, and looked around to see if anyone had seen his fall. No one appeared to be in the streets thankfully. "Morty! Morty where did you get to?" A squeak answered him as his friend was perched on a branch above him with a gold piece in its mouth. "Hey fella, you've got more grace than I do! Well I guess you should… falling out of trees isn't your style… seeing as you're a tree mouse and all." Nicodemus held out his arm and Morty skittered along him, dropping the gold piece in his vest pocket. "Very nice. I bet you're bragging in your head. How much gold do you think I lost in that tumble?"

Another ear piercing clap of thunder ran through the forest, shaking the ground and the bushes as one. Birds flew into the night sky from all around Nicodemus, shrieking horrible cries. Time to put on the armor, he thought, now where did my shield get to? Searching the foliage further he located and equipped his gear, grabbing his Diamond Dagger from one of his sacks. Screams, humans screams he thought, were now coming from the city, and licks of fire lined the clouds in the sky. A musk of smoke entered his nostrils as he sniffed the air. A raid from the bandits near TrollHeim he guessed, and quickly gathered the remainder of his possessions. The last thing he wanted was to get mixed up with anyone who he owed gold or worse to. Pocketing Morty in his slacks he quickly set off north cursing all the way at the gold he probably lost in the fall. He quickly drank a potion to heal some of his wounds as he tromped through the shadows.

The screams were growing in frequency and in pitch now, it seemed they were all around him. Nicodemus had always liked this town because it was almost always empty, and there was never trouble like this. His thoughts wandered to what thieves might be in the invasion party, who might be after his head, when suddenly he found himself in the middle of a battle.

Rune Elves! Curses! He was suddenly surrounded as the Rune Elves saw new prey to devour, and he did what he did best; Nicodemus hid in the shadows with the last of his strength. Three Rune Warriors searched where he had been, sickening to look at, with sneers on their faces and horrible teeth protruding from their mouths. Curses, curses curses!! Nallyssa help me! There were others around him fighting the Rune Elves, though it seemed a vain effort; few greatly experienced beings travel to Forestia. Fighting bodies all around were turning into corpses with sickening noises as Nicodemus was discovered by a Rune Slayer who had sneaked up behind him. His body was encircled in arms like granite as he felt his exhaustion wears off, and the arms began to squeeze…

End Chapter One

Chapter Two: Capture

Thinking like a Goblin, Nicodemus bent his neck and plunged his sizeable teeth into the Slayer's arm with all the force his jaw could produce. Behind him he heard a howl unlike any he could remember hearing; it was almost like a jaguar's roar, almost like a snake's hiss. The grip around him loosened just a little, but a little was enough. Squirming like a rat, he managed to release himself from the Rune Elf's trap. Once out he wasted no time; thoughts on the crisis at hand this time he faded into the shadows and ran stealthily for awhile before abandoning that course of action and simply running like mad.

He paid no attention to where he went, as long as it was to the south, away from the fires and battles he had been in. Quickly turned down a side street, he ran down to the end, scrambling up a ladder on his right to the top of a tree. Nicodemus found himself outside the tavern where he had wanted to dance with a pretty girl what felt like years ago. She's probably long dead now he thought. From this tree, after resting a moment, he peered at his surroundings. Fires were to the south as well now, and a dark cloud loomed over the entire city crackling with energy.

"Ooooh shit." He could see dark forms running towards the tree he was in now from the south, and when he turned there was more coming from each side. "You okay Morty? I think this is it pal, you should get as far away from here as you can." Morty buried himself deeper in his pocket, "Suit yourself." Looking around the tree for some way to escape, he decided hiding in the tavern was his best bet though it looked like there was no chance.

The room was empty, spilt ale and wine over tables and the floor creating a smell of alcohol mixed with pine. The tavern's only window was broken, glass was scattered across the floor. The message board on the far wall had been knocked off its hooks, and now it was cracked and lay against the wall never to be used again. No where really to hide, might as well just look out the window to see if they went by. Poking his head out a small bit he waited for another flash of lightening to illuminate the forest town. In that flash alone he counted four figures swiftly moving towards him. No chance.

Without warning he was attacked from behind and lifted off his feet by a dark figure. Nicodemus thrashed and scratched for his dagger at his side, but before he could blink darkness closed in around him. There was confusion as he felt constrained and trapped, and he realized eventually that he had been pushed into a large sack. 'When in doubt…' He started screaming for help. A voice hissed at him from above.

"Silence! Or you're dead."

Nicodemus decided not to risk it, so he shut his mouth. By now he was scared witless and quite willing to do much anything to save his neck for a little while longer. Remaining in this sack was not what he planned to do however. I could cut through it with my dagger and escape, he thought, but what then? Run into all the other Rune Elves so they can squeeze me to death and turn me into paste? I'll take a sack over that.

Soft whispers come from someone's mouth, and suddenly Nicodemus felt completely weightless, as if floating! Then a flash of light and a scent of smoke bombarded his senses, and when he opened his eyes he could not see the sack anymore, or himself! I'm invisible! That's better than sneaking! He was then forcefully crushed against his captor's body, and the pair began to move swiftly what he guessed was out the tavern door. In what felt like running, Nicodemus realized that they were heading towards the edge of the tree. Oh Nalyssa! He's a crazy suicidal Rune Elf! Help me! Through the air they plummeted as they cleared the tree, and at landing the sack rolled along with the captor. Surprisingly Nicodemus was unhurt, and Morty squeaked in his pocket in aggravation at being tossed around as such. Then they were off at a run again, though where he could not say. Floating leaves no track, which is very clever!

The movement stopped again, and more whispers were exchanged outside the sack; Nicodemus kicked at whoever was holding the sack a little to remind those outside that he was still in there. He gained no notice however, and soon he was being tossed around in the sack again as swift running ensued.

Off to a cook pot I'm sure, well I'll cut myself out before that! On and on the sack tumbled about as the screams and thunder faded into the distance…

End Chapter Two