hile the battle continues between the Dark Lord’s armies and the Parthinians, leaders on both sides wonder when Yargo will intervene.
To King Boris and Chief Sacheema, his mysterious absence is a welcome, but uneasy relief. Yet, both know that Yargo will eventually reveal his powers.
Kronc and Nimrodt have similar concerns. Too many warriors have already died. In the past, Yargo has always imposed his power when needed. The two leaders discuss sending a message to solicit Yargo’s support, but neither knows how to contact him. They also have unspoken concerns that a young warrior might challenge one of them for leadership. Without the Dark Lord’s magic, or the fear caused by his magic, Kronc and Nimrodt know they have little control over their tribes.
“All it will take is one firestorm and the battle will be over,” Nimrodt comments to Kronc.
“Yes, where are you, Dark Lord?” pleads Kronc? “We need you now.”
What neither side knows is that Yargo is preoccupied with other matters. Somewhere deep within the Kryamee Mountains – no one really knows where – is the fortress of the Dark Lord, ruler of all who walk the dark side. No guards protect him. He needs none. He has no advisors to counsel him. He needs none. And, no servants wait on him – for he needs none.
Worshipped by many and feared by most, Yargo is the Dark Lord. His name alone strikes terror in most men. He is immortal, all-powerful. and a master of the dark magic.
Yet on this day, Yargo stands staring into the red orb within his chamber – searching the Land for the wizard. Because of his preoccupation, he has little concern for what is taking place on the Path of Darkness above the Caverns of Erebus. If he did, he could easily unleash his powers and defeat his enemies. Yargo has never personally tasted defeat. Some of his weaker followers have, and when that happened he dealt with them, for failure is not acceptable.
Unconcerned, he watches and waits for the wizard’s apprentice, who should already be dead. Many have been sent to challenge him, but none have ever made it this far. Why is this one different?
Yargo’s orb has never failed him. Through it, he views all the Land and its people as well as the present and the past. Nothing happens anywhere within the Land without the Dark Lord knowing about it. For some reason, however, the orb cannot find the boy.
It had been so much easier to follow the boy’s movements before the Sightless Ones began to meddle. If he can find this wizard’s apprentice, he can destroy him, for the orb has another capability. The user can send his magic anywhere into the Land. Whatever Yargo can see, he can control or destroy with his magic.
“Datgelu eich hun.” Yargo commands the orb to reveal the wizard. Yet, nothing happens. He slams his hands down on the rim of the orb and bellows, “Datgelu eich hun!”
Yargo leans over coughing uncontrollably. “Huhh – huhh – huhh.” Gasping to regain his breath and composure, Yargo wipes the spittle from his chin with his sleeve as he considers everything that has happened since the wizard’s arrival. “Perhaps there is more to this boy than I originally thought,” he mumbles to himself as he continues to peer into the orb.
“No,” he argues, “he is nothing but an apprentice, and an insignificant one at that.”
He again thinks back on the others who had been sent to stop him. All had failed and many had died in the process. Why is this one different?
“Yet, the boy still lives. Have I underestimated him?” he asks, remembering the prophecy. “No,” he spits out while shaking his head. “The prophecy is nothing more than a bedtime story for children – something to give them hope. Besides, he is only a wizard’s apprentice.”
For some time now, Yargo has watched as several of his minions tried to kill the boy. All had failed. When the wizard was captured in the caverns of Erebus, it should have been over. First came the fire, and then those meddlesome Sightless Ones nursed the wizard back to health. Why did they have to interfere? He then observed the needfire and heard the Zhactahl’s challenge. Yargo looks up into the shadows of the ceiling of his chamber. No one has ever commanded the Zhactahl before.
Yargo turns his attention back to the orb and waits. He knows the apprentice is coming. He can also sense that the boy’s powers are growing.
How obstinate. Yargo again shakes his head while clamping his fingers tighter on the rim of the orb’s stand. The arrogance of this boy, he rambles on in his thoughts. Just who does this child think he is dealing with?
Yes, the apprentice is close now. But, the orb remains worthless, for somehow the boy cloaks his movements. So, Yargo waits for the unavoidable confrontation. Then the wizard will understand the true power of the Dark Lord. Still …
Until then, Yargo will not be distracted. He knows Kronc and Nimrodt are formidable leaders. Their warriors can easily defend the entrance. Besides, they have numerous talismen that can help keep the Parthinians’ attention diverted until he has done away with the boy.
The Keepers of the Land have waited a long time for the wizard's coming. His arrival had been foretold. “One will come from within the Caverns of Doom. This man has felt the death grip of the Dark Lord before. He will come to free the Land and its people from the Dark Lord’s powers. He will carry the Staff of Rhah with him into battle.”
The Keepers’ role in this “coming” has also been prophesized. “The ones without sight will know of his arrival when the caverns are again filled with fire. He will come from the fire and be born again of fire.”
The prophecy also told of his powers. “He who walks with the Staff of Rhah will free the Land. For no mortal shall be able to touch him. Giants will bow to his powers or be turned to ash. The servants of the Dark Lord will flee his presence. The Staff of Rhah shall be his sword and his shield. No weapon or magic will penetrate it.”
The Keepers know the final battle is near. And, with it, much healing will be required.
Meanwhile, still many leagues away, Tipp steadily moves towards Yarg. He has passed through the great forest, crossed the Valley of Tears, and is now climbing up into the Kryamee Mountains.
Tipp, no longer a person of doubts or guilt, moves steadily forward towards his destiny, towards what he knows is the final battle. No longer a boy, yet not quite a man; he is, however, a wizard, a Wizard of the Word.
Even though the distance apart grows greater, Tipp can sense the Keepers’ incantations, and his powers and resolve grow with each passing league.