The Travels of Zahktor
A New DiscoveryWhen Zahktor first felt the pull of a new realm on the edges of his consciousness he thought himself a fool. It had been eons since the last realm was formed and no one has seen any World Builders for twice that long. And yet it was there, tugging at the corners of his mind. Over the years the feeling grew in strength until his curiosity overcame him. He started to investigate the source of the power. After performing the necessary Planar Peering Ritual he jettisoned his consciousness across the space in between the planes. First, he saw nothing that was new to him. He felt the bizare magics of the FaeWild , took a long detour around the glare of Haven and dodged a few other minor-planes. He had to admit that he felt a bit of disappointment. A new plane meant endless possibilities and Zahktor had seen most of what was to be seen in the different realms. If he was being honest with himself he was bored. This new plane would have given him a plathora of adventures. He felt very dissapointed. He retracted his psychic extension. This would definitely put him off the next decade. Racing back to his physical manifestation in Hel he became somewhat brazen and moved closer past Haven than he would usually dare. Perhaps scaring a few lesser-angel guards would bring him a bit joy. As he imagined their reactions in his mind, he became distracted and almost crashed right into it. At the last second he quickly slung his consciousness in a wide loop to avoid the unexpected obstacle. After steadying his flight, he willed himself to a stop, turned and felt his 5 hearts each skip several beats. It was undeniable, what he was looking at was a brand new fledgling world. And not some minor-plane filled with nothing but dusty rocks or poison water but a fully formed plane with diverse life and...what is this? Magic! This plane contained the most delicious magical energy! Zahktor became so enamoured by the feeling of this new discovery that he did not realise the ritual was expiring. When the time ran out he was pulled back roughly to his physical body. He hit his plane with enough force to rock the foundations of his keep. When his minions found him passed out unconscious in his study he had the biggest smile on his demonic face. When Zahktor finally recovered several weeks had passed. He immediately started making preparations to visit this new realm and learn all he could of its inhabitants and the wonders it could hold. Opening a new planar rift required an immense amount of work and this case was particularly tricky as it seems no visitors from Hel had entered this new realm yet. It meant the barrier between the worlds was the strongest it would ever naturally be. He also had to account for the inhabitants knowing how to fortify the barrier and therefore overcompensate for the amount of energy needed create a breach. Decades of work was needed. Obtaining the necessary profane artefacts, gathering enough enslaved souls and calculating the correct time was backbreaking work and Zakhtor loved every second of it. It all also had to be done in silence as the other denizens of Hel would not hesitate to remove him if it meant they could access this new source of possible power first. All of these factors meant the work took more than 2 centuries to complete. During this time many other demons and devils became curious about Zahktor's mysterious dealings and had to either be bribed, distracted or removed entirely. He would often sit in his workshop and peer over his plans within plans within plans and appreciate again what a mastermind he was. It came from eons of experience traveling the multiple planes. Zahktor had seen almost all there was to see. He had sailed the endless lava oceans of Hel, strode the rainbow canopies of the FaeWild and even snuck into the relic vaults of Haven. If he was being honest with himself, he was becoming quite bored with what reality had to offer. But a new world offered endless new possibilities.
An Unwanted VisitorZahktor could never have know what role we was to play in the fate of universe that day. He awoke as he did every morning, albeit with a much more enthusiasm than he had in the previous 2 centuries. As he strode through the corridors of his keep towards the ritual chamber he could do nothing to keep the smile from his face. As he strode through the doors to the ritual room and down the circular stairs that lead to the main floor he took care to note every minute detail. The candles had to each be the precise distance from each other. The relics had to be angled perfectly, all pointing to their designated spot in the ceremony. Each soul needed to be tortured just enough, not too much and not too little. As he was peering over his careful preparations a small imp came to stand just behind him and cleared its throat. It took the imp two more good throat clearings before Zahktor turned and looked at him with pure murder in his eyes. "Sorry to disturb you my lord", the small imp managed to stutter, "but you have a guest." Zahktor's eyes narrowed as he studied the imp. Who would dare disturb him uninvited like this? Without another word he strode past the imp towards the entrance of his keep. His thoughts turned darker with each step and he played around with all manner of fiendish new torture techniques that he could trail on this unwanted guest. When he rounded the corner to his entrance hall and saw who the visitor was he let out a audible sigh. Standing in front of him was Kelmor, his soul banker. Kelmor was admiring a trophy head of a angel against one of the walls. When he heard footsteps approaching he turned and greeted Zahktor with a slight nod of his head. His mouth was pursed and a frown could just about be made out on his scaly red forehead. Zahktor knew this was not going to go well. "You can leave your discontent to your minions, Zahktor. I do not have time for your nonsense. We both know that your payments are late. We have been in contact multiple times." Zahktor thought back to the many messenger imps he had gleefully roasted when they came to tell him of his soul payments that were past due. Now it seems the bank has decided to send out their more imposing agents to collect. "Surely it has not been that long since my last payment?", Zahktor started but was swiftly cut off by Kelmor raising a clawed hand. "It has been nearly two centuries since your first withdrawal with no repayments since. We have been doing business a long time now Zahk' and while you have been late before the bank has looked the other way. But this time you have stretched the bounds of our generosity too far." He hated that nickname, Zahk'. His discontent for the portly creature in front of him grew and a brief thought of ending the miserable creature right there crossed his mind. "Too much paperwork", he thought. It would delay his project even further. He would need to placate this retch somehow in order to return to his work. Why on this of all days? "I assure you my dear Kelmor, if the bank could only allow me another year or so I will repay the full amount with interest. I am on to something big this time." Kelmor's tail twitched at the sound of this and he thoughtfully started rubbing one of his horns. "What exactly is this project of yours? People have been talking and there is a great amount of curiosity out there to find out. You can be so secretive about your projects sometimes." Got him! Zahktor had worked with Kelmor before and knew that the one thing the devil loved more than his job was gossip. He would tantalise the banker with just enough information to keep him interested and perhaps buy himself a bit more time. "I can't say too much, old friend. You know how these other demons get. They are likely to break in here and take my research for myself. But seeing as we are so close, I can tell you this if you keep it between us." Bile rose in Zahktor's throats at the pleasantries but he told himself it was all worth it for his project. The devil nodded his head so fervently that his ruby jowls shook. "Well, I have found something. A new source of souls so rich it could pay back the bank tenfold. It is a project the Fae are working on within their plane. As soon as it is complete, which is any day now, I will be able to sneak into their camp and secure it for myself." That should keep the fat creature busy for a while. And no unnecessary information was provided which could inform others of his plans. The eyes of the banker grew wide and a smile played at the corner of his mouth. "Perhaps the bank could give you a bit more time. After all, we have been doing business together for a number of millennia now." Zahktor smiled sweetly. "I would be incredibly appreciative if you could manage that for me. I just need a little more time. That is all." Kelmor thought for a few more minutes and agreed that the bank would give him one more year to pay back the amount owed in full. After a few more attempts of fishing for more information Zahktor managed to escort the unwanted guest out of his keep and slam the door shit behind him. A bit louder than was necessary. Zhaktor let out a sigh of relief. A inquisition from the bank would not only derail his timelines but would expose his entire project to the busybody's at the bank. He returned to his ritual room, slightly unnerved by the whole ordeal but satisfied with how it had concluded. All he needed was another day after all.
The New WorldDescending the steps to the main floor for the second time that day. He did another check across the various preparations and assured himself that he had not missed anything. Regardless, he checked a third time. Mistakes were not permitted. What he was about to attempt had not been attempted in millennia and never by him. He was about to perform a very advanced Planer Peering Ritual. It would not only allow his spirit to travel the space between the planes but also create a rift in the new plane's barrier. This was exceptionally hard as the barrier seems to be healthy and strong. Clearly very little if any beings had visited the plane before. Therefore he also needed a certain amount of destruction magic woven into the ritual, but not too much to permanently damage the veil. Once that was done a few teleportation runes were added to the ceremony he was about to perform to transport his physical body to this new plane so his soul could reunite with it. Once in the new plane Zahktor would open a portal between the planes for easy frequent access. This step was a lot easier but still held some risks. But he put these out of his mind. First he would need to get there. Zahktor went to stand in the center of his ritual and indicated his servants should take up their positions. As they did, he did another check of the components. Somewhat satisfied that everything was in place, he took out a scroll and read through the contents in his mind. He had rehearsed the incantation a million times before this day but he wanted one last practice. After a few more revisions he started chanting out loud. The first words imbued the candles. Their flames turned from a soft orange to a bright green and then to a deep, dark purple. Their flames rising and falling with his voice. Each time they rose, it was a bit higher than they had been previously. The second passage started siphoning the powers from the souls. Their faint wails of anguish were drowned out by Zahktor droning voice as he uttered the incantation. The sigils inscribed on the ground around him began to glow and he could feel their power pouring into him. As he started the third and final paragraph the artefacts began to activate. Dark objects from his own collection and from that of others he managed to acquire in preparation. Their magical properties activated and started augmenting he spell with their unique abilities. Zahktor slowly lifted from the ground. As the last syllables of chaotic energy left his lips he felt his soul expelled violently out of his body. It arced through the roof of his keep, through the barriers that made up the outer layers of Hel and finally into the space between planes. The force with which his soul was jettisoned was unlike any he had felt before and it took all his concentration to keep his being together. Once he was outside of Hel his progress slowed slightly and he could focus on aiming his soul energy towards the new plane. He had been monitoring the place where it had been previously and while it had shifted a bit since his first encounter with the exciting unknown entity he knew exactly where to go. He streaked across the void, leaving a slight energy trail in his wake. A deep, dark red comet he sped towards his destination. It came up much faster than he had anticipated and he had to will himself not to slow down. The new plane had a blue hue to it. As he came closer he also noticed it seemed to be filled with a light he did not notice before. Suspicion rose in his mind. He did not have any time to dwell on this new information, however, as he came crashing into the barrier. He channelled the destructive magic he channeled into his soul towards the barrier at a pinprick sized point. This would allow more energy to be directed at the entry point instead of being spread out and also lowered the risk of breaking the barrier more than was necessary. The barrier held fast for a few seconds and he began to panic. He slowly started to pour some of the energy from his own soul into the attack. Nothing. He poured in more power. He was aware that the chaos energy from the ritual was running out. There would be no way for him to pull more from his ritual room in Hel while the ritual was underway. If he could not enter the new plane now he would need to completely redo the ritual. He was determined to not let that happen. He poured more of his soul into the attack. Nothing. Something unexpected did happen though. The light which was radiating out of the plane stopped ad the blue hue turned many shades darker. A second later, out of the corner of his eye he could see a bright light shine out of the barrier to his side. Realising the was at the end of his power, he shot across to where the light was coming from. As he came closer to the source of the light he saw what it was. It was another energy entity leaving the plane. They were hovering just over the barrier, closing the tear they had left from. Once the opening was mostly closed the white light energy orb shot out and headed for what seemed to be the plane of Haven. Zhaktor, who had been waiting just far enough to not be detected took his chance. The moment the light orb was gone he speed at the point they had left in the plane's barrier. Sure enough, as the tear was closing there was still a small space open. A pinprick. Zhaktor used the last of his quickly diminishing power to squeeze himself through the opening. He was in! He could hardly believe it. After decades upon decades of planning, preparation and research he had managed to gain access to this wondrous new plane. The teleportation runes in the ritual activated and his physical body was transported to the new plane. It formed around his soul and the two reunited again. When he had regained use of all his senses Zahktor noticed he was falling. He was falling fast. In his energy form he was able to freely move around the barrier of the plane for a few seconds but now, inside his physical form, he seemed to have lost the ability of flight. He tried to summon enough energy to cast a levitation or flight spell. Unfortunately, he realised the ordeal with the barrier had completely drained his power. He could do nothing but admire the view as he plunged into the unknown of this new world.
HermonHermon was tending the field, lost in thought again as he so often was. He slowly, laboriously pulled a small patch of weeds and deposited it beside him with the rest. The pile next to him was low and meagre for a day's work. Father would probably shout at him again. The thought worried him, but only for a second before his mind wandered off again. In this thoughts he was climbing the mountains to the east of his small village. A troll had just stumbled onto his path but he was not worried. He was a knight of legend. One who had fought countless foes much worse than this meagre troll. He drew his magical sword and raised his enchanted shield and dared the beast to charge him. "Hermon! Come in, Hermon, it is time for dinner." He shook himself awake from his dreaming and noticed that the light had almost entirely vanished. He stood up, dusted himself off and made for his family's small cottage. On his way his thoughts returned to the troll in the mountains. When he reached the house he washed his hands and cleaned his feet outside. When he opened the door his father looked up, a frown on his face. He did not mention the weeds but told Hermon to fetch some appels from the trees down the road for after dinner. Hermon agreed and happily set off down the road. He quickly found a branch on the side of the road that morphed into a magical sword into his hand. Every shadow was troll and each low hanging branch was a hippogryph. Having picked the appels, he set off back home. His magical sword had broken against a particularly stubborn tree and he had only his mind to keep him company. Having slain the troll in the mountains his attention turned to the world around him. He noticed the sound of the insects of the night and how they played their songs around him. He looked up at the last inches of light disappearing into a hole in the sky. He continue to look after the last bit of light was gone and wondered where the light went each night. As he continued to look something peculiar happened. A small, red object appeared next to the place where the light had disappeared to. It then started to fall. And fall fast! Open mouthed Hermon tracked the object with his eyes all the way until it smashed into the neighbouring farms barn. A million possibilities raced through his mind as Hermon ran down the farm path. Apple's long forgotten next to the road. His tiny arms pumped next to him as he willed his legs to move faster. The barn came into view as he ran closer. Even in the darkness he could make out that half of the barn was destroyed. The wall had been caved in and the roof had torn loose and half of it had fallen down onto the pile of rubble below. To his left a few lights were approaching. Probably the neighbours coming to see what had made such a commotion. They both reached the barn at more or less the same time. The neighbours, a family of dwarves, barely noticed him as they lamented over the state of their barn. The head of the dwarven family was a stocky man with flecks of grey in his long beard. Hermon liked him as he would often bake them a pumpkin pie when Hermon came to play with his kids. As the older dwarf moved around the side of the barn to get a better look he almost walked right into Hermon before noticing him. "Sorry there boy. Did you see what or who did this? I swear if some city wizard is out here slinging spells...". His voice trailed off as he walked all around the barn. He had not waited for Hermon to reply. Not letting it deter him, Hermon shouted, "It was a fallen angel!". The dwarven kids laughed when he said this and he gave them a glare. When their father had walked all around the barn he returned to where the others were standing. "Well seems the entire west wall is down. The roof is barely hanging on but half the barn will have to be redone. Not sure how stable it is at the moment to be honest." He took a small handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped his brow. He looked at Hermon by his side. "Did you say something about a fallen angel?" "Yes. I saw it fall from right there in the sky straight into your barn. A red angel." As he described the the flight path of the thing that fell from the sky he traced the line with his finger. The old dwarf looked at him with not a small amount of disbelief. It was the same look his parents give him when he tells them about the ogres in the forest or the goblins in the wheat fields. The dwarf ruffled his hair and turned to talk to his wife. They started discussion plans for repairs and Hermon lost all interest. He walked over to the side of the barn that had collapsed. There was strange feeling in the air. He assumed that must be from some sort of angel magic. He stepped onto some of the rubble against the wall and peered inside. Before he could see anything he felt himself being lifted off his feet and placed down about a meter. The dwarf father was standing beside him with a scowl. "Stay away from that! And that goes for you two too!", he yelled back at his sons. "This thing could drop at any moment. We don't want any of you coming close to it." Hermon realised that he would not be able to see his angel tonight. He should head home and wait... He suddenly realised that he had been gone from home for a long time. His parents would start to worry and his father would definitely be upset. He bolt off towards his home and yelled a goodbye to the dwarven family. He ran through the cabbage fields as a shortcut to his family's farm. When he got there he tried to explain to his parents what had happened but his delay earned him a few lashes with the rod and being sent to bed without any food. As he lay in his bed that night he paid no mind to the pain. His thoughts were of falling red angels and trolls in the mountains.
A Fallen AngelHe could feel his arms. He could feel his legs. He could feel his tail. He could also feel something the size of a house pressing down on him. Zhaktor slowly opened his eyes. Pitch blackness greeted him. He tried to move his body and found himself completely pinned in place. He tried to remember how he got himself into this situation. He remembers falling, panicking and then having some sort of idea. Then a big red roof of a building and then nothing. He decided to think things over in his study. He drew on his magic to move whatever was holding him down and found there was nothing. He felt within himself and a surge of panic washed over him as he noticed he did not have a drop of magical power left. Renewing his efforts to physically free himself he started to feel the object on top of him shift. He put all his physical power into it and slowly it started to give way. He realised what was on top of him was a massive heap of stones, wood and debris and thought back to the roof he saw in his flashback. It took longer than he would have liked but he finally managed to free himself. Dusting himself off he took stock of his surroundings. He saw that his impact had destroyed half of what seemed to be a storage room. It was stacked with all manner of plants. Mostly leafy balls and smaller brown lumps. He stepped off of the heap and walk a few paces. Behind him a small cottage stood. Smoke was coming out of a hole at the top. Behind him a large forest grew with farmlands all around it. In the distance a mountain range stretched halfway around the horizon. His annoyance quickly gave way to sheer excitement when he suddenly remembered where he was. A new world! He looked at all the sights around him with a renewed sense of awe. He started to hear voices behind him and turned to the cottage. There must be someone inside, he thought to himself as he started towards the small dwelling. The entrance was just below his shoulder and was made of a wooden door with a wooden nob for a handle. Pushing inwards he was greeted with a aroma that made his mouth water. He stepped inside and was met with an ear splitting shriek and then an angry shout. A creature that measured up until his stomach was standing between him and three similar beings. It was waving an axe around and slowly advancing. Zahktor raised his hands in a gesture of peace and tried to explain that he did not mean them any harm. He merely wanted to learn more about their world. The creature with the axe looked at him, mouth agape and then continued shouting and advancing with the axe. Again Zahktor tried to explain that he was new to the world and was only interested in knowledge. The short creature seemed to have reached the limits of it's patience and took a wild swing at Zahktor's head. He deftly dodged out of the way and, without thinking, unsheathed the ritual blade he had strapped to his side. His blade hand shot towards his attackers throat and took a step back. The creature put a hand to his neck, gargled, stumbled, fell on his front and lay silent. Zahktor turned to the remaining creatures who sat huddled and whimpering in the corner of the room. The two smaller creatures looked very similar to the larger creature they were with and the one with the axe. Neither of the larger creatures looked like the other, however, he noted. What interesting beings they must be. He stepped towards them and tried to apologize for what had just happened. He did not mean to kill the one with the axe, but when attacked he could not be expected to not retaliate. The creatures did not seem to register anything he said and instead the larger of the three started to shout and scream. After a second or two of trying to reassure them Zahktor drew his knife again and ended them as well. He could not risk more locals coming. As he took the lives of the three creatures he noticed something he had also picked up from the creature with the axe. As each died, they seemed to emanate a magical energy that quickly disappeared again. Thinking quickly, he took out his Soul Accumulator from his pocket. Holding it over the last creature as they passed it glowed a feint green for a second and then faded, confirming his suspicion. Already he could feel the power of the creatures soul replenishing his magical reserves, although only a small amount. Making a mental note of this, Zahktor started to explore the small dwelling. Once Zhaktor learned everything he wanted from the cottage he stepped outside and took another look across the country before him. He noticed again another small house a short distance away, partially hidden against the woods. With a bit of his magical energy restored, he was able to magically augment his perception of languages. Hopefully his next interaction with this plane's beings would be less violent. With his magical energy once again depleted, Zahktor set out to the next house.
Atvar landed with a light thump on the ground. Behind him Atrom soon followed. The two angels looked around. Besides the giant gaping hole in the barn, nothing seemed to be out of place. The two walked over to the destroyed barn and tried to make out what would cause something like this. After a few minutes of investigation they both agreed it was pointless and moved towards the cottage. They pulled on the wooden doorknob and were immediately greeted with a horrid odour. After covering their mouth and nose with a piece of cloth Atvar pulled the door open completely. In front of him he saw the corpse of a dwarf lying in a pool of dried blood. Next to him was an axe. With no blood on it, however, they ruled out the murder weapon. Stepping over the body they continued into the house. The sound of flies was coming from one corner. When they went to investigate they found a grisly scene of a mother dwarf and her two children slain. Atvar indicated to his colleague to investigate the bedrooms while he looked in the living room. After about half an hour of investigation they met outside and each took a few deep breaths to eradicate the terrible smell. "Anything?" "No, you?" "Nothing. Seems lord Dhodon's suspicions were true. The family has been dead for a few days now, but even with that stink you can still smell the demon." Atrom sighed and looked around him. His attention rested on the hole in the barn for a few seconds before he looked on. "Perhaps the neighbours heard something?", Atrom said, pointing at another house not too far away where there was smoke coming out of the chimney. "I can't imagine a demon is something people would miss." The two set off down the path towards the house next to the forest.