Legends Of The Genemage: The Eternal Sovereign, Chapter One

Mathus let out a triumphant shout as he thrust his sword deep into his opponent’s chest. A wicked grin crossed his face as Mathus watched the fire in his opponent’s eyes slip away, leaving behind only the cold stare of death. Mathus pulled his sword back with a grunt, kicked his opponent’s dead body to the ground, and turned to face the crowd of people watching him. Slowly, Mathus moved his gaze to each member of the crowd, judging each person’s reaction, before raising his sword above his head and shouting his victory to the heavens. The crowd around Mathus burst out in cheers, filling his heart with pride. As the crowd continued to cheer, a young woman broke free and ran up to Mathus, circling her arms around him in a tight embrace. Mathus reached down, picked the young woman up into his arms, and gave her a deep, passionate kiss, causing the crowd to cheer even louder. Mathus stood proudly, his arm around the waist of the young woman, soaking in the cheers of his adoring fans when he began to feel a tapping sensation on his arm. Mathus looked down at the young lady standing near him who seemed to be saying something to him, though her voice could not be heard over the din of the crowd. Mathus leaned down closer to the woman, and tried to focus on her voice, but was surprised to find the woman saying his name repeatedly in what sounded like a distinctly masculine voice. The shock of hearing such a beautiful woman speak in a male voice, that also sounded rather familiar, was enough to shake Mathus out of his dream state, and pull him back to the real world. Mathus groaned as the crowd of cheering people melted away into the pale grey stone walls of the dungeon Mathus guarded in his real life.

“Mathus,” Merrick growled, poking Mathus in the arm repeatedly. “Wake up man. It’s time for dinner. Come on! Wake up already.”

“Yeah,” Mathus moaned, sitting up in his hard, wooden chair. “I’m awake. I’m awake.”

“Good,” Merrick growled again. “Tired of listening to you snoring anyway.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Mathus growled back. “You aren’t exactly a silent sleeper either you know.”

“Whatever man,” Merrick said gruffly. “Wipe the drool off your face and get ready to eat.”

“Fine,” Mathus grunted. “You know, you woke me up from a really good dream.”

“Oh, boo hoo,” Merrick said with a laugh. “Did you get the girl this time at least?”

“Yeah,” Mathus replied with an air of pride, and then quickly lowered his head in dejection. “Well, almost. I had the girl, but you woke me up before anything good could happen.”

“Aw, I’m sorry pal,” Merrick said, trying as hard as he could to hold back his laughter.

“Are you boys done arguing now,” A woman’s voice said abruptly.

Mathus looked to the direction that the female voice originated to see a short woman pushing a cart towards him. The woman stood approximately three feet, eight inches tall, with broad shoulders, and short arms and legs, the woman was a member of the dwarven race, and was therefore considered a lower class in society.  As a result of her class, one of the few jobs she would be considered qualified for was a food servant.

“Evening Zigg” Mathus said, smiling at the woman. “What’s on the menu for tonight?”

“Only the best for my boys,” Zigg said, placing a plate of food on the wooden table in front of Mathus. “Boiled meat and potatoes. I know it’s your favorite.”

“Yeah,” Mathus said, pawing at the meat in front of him with a look of distaste on his face. “My absolute favorite. I hope you have plenty of salt to go with it.”

“Oh,” Zigg said with a hint of glee as she pulled a flask out from under a napkin. “I’ve got something much better than salt. I brought you boys a little something to get you through the night. I know how boring guard duty in a dungeon must be. So, I brought you a bit of spirits to keep you guys in a good mood.”

“You are the best Zigg,” Mathus said with a wide grin, his mood instantly improving. “I think I might be in love with you.”

“Oh stop,” Zigg said, blushing from the attention. “You know how I feel about you boys. Now, eat, drink, be as merry as you can in a dump like this. I’m going to feed the prisoners, and then I’ll be back to clean up after you boys.”

“Hey Zigg,” Merrick said with a salacious grin. “When are you gonna be on this menu?”

“Man, don’t do that,” Mathus scolded.  “Don’t be such a gross pig.”

“Come on,” Merrick laughed. “Live a little, will ya? I’m just havin’ some fun with our girl Zigg. She knows I’m just kidding around.”

“It’s okay Matty,” Zigg said. “I know he’s just kidding. Besides, the truth is that ol’ Merrick here couldn’t handle all of this on his best day.”

“Well played Zigg,’ Merrick said with a laugh. “You got me good on that one.”

Zigg shook her head and then turned to walk down a long hallway of barred doors to bring food to the prisoners being held in the dungeon. Mathus and Merrick, still laughing, focused on the meals in front of them, and the bourbon Zigg had snuck in for them.

“All kidding aside,” Merrick said through a mouthful of food, “what do you think? Would you?”

“Would I what?” Mathus asked, eying Merrick warily.

“Would you ever…you know…with Zigg?”

“What are you talking about,” Mathus asked, not sure he wanted to hear the answer.

“Do it,” Merrick blurted out. “With Zigg? You know, would you fuck her?”

Mathus shook his head and let out a long sigh before attempting to answer Merrick’s question. “First of all, crossbreeding with a member of the dwarven race is against the law, with rather severe punishment attached. Second of all, you should not be talking like that about Zigg. She is always good to us, and you should not be treating her that way. If someone heard you say things like that, if she heard you say things like that, you could be in really big trouble. Then again, you are a pig, so I really can’t say I am surprised to hear garbage like that come out of your mouth.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Merrick said, waving his hand as if to swat away an annoying fly. “Illegal, blah, blah, blah. I’m a pig, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Come on man, just answer the question.”

Mathus let out another sigh and opened his mouth to answer Merrick when he realized that his mouth had become incredibly dry. Mathus stuck his tongue out to lick his dry lips, but noticed that his tongue had begun to swell in his mouth. Mathus attempted to swallow, but noticed that his throat felt like it had begun to tighten as well. Mathus looked up at Merrick, and noticed immediately that his vision had become blurred to the point that he could not focus on anything. A sudden pain in his chest caused Mathus to lurch forward and fall out of his chair onto the floor. Mathus began writing on the floor, clawing at his throat and chest as his lungs began to burn as if they had been lit on fire inside him. The last thing Mathus saw through his blurred vision, was the image of Merrick lying on the floor across from him, foam pouring out of his mouth as his body convulsed in the throes of death. Mathus’ vision continued to blur until all he could see were blobs of color, which then morphed into blobs of black and grays before turning into complete darkness. Soon after that, Mathus slipped into unconsciousness, as his heart seized completely.

Zigg walked up to the two guards lying dead on the floor, and gave each one a quick kick to check for movement.  Satisfied that both men were dead, Zigg then walked to the dungeon entrance, and pulled open the large, wooden door with a loud grunt.  On the other side of the door, a male dwarf dressed in a black cloak waited, a look of impatience on his gruff face.

“Did the poison work,” the male dwarf asked abruptly.

“Yes Grann,” Zigg replied. “Just like promised. I enjoyed watching those bastards choke on their own tongues.”

“Easy Zigg,” Grann said. “Don’t get overexcited. This is a rescue mission. We are not here for revenge.”

“I know,” Zigg sighed. “But, you don’t know how those guards used to treat me. It was gross. It was……”

Zigg paused, choking back tears as she stared down at the dead guards. Grann walked up to Zigg, and give her a strong embrace.

“I know Zigg,” Grann whispered. “They treat us like animals. Or worse. But that’s why we have been searching for him for so long. He can help us heal. He can help us get a better life.”

“You really still believe in him after everything that happened Grann?”

“I never stopped,” Gran replied. “You never knew him like I did, but I would gladly give my life for him. That’s why I never stopped searching for him. Now, let’s go get him.”

Zigg nodded her head, and led Grann down the long, dark hallway of dungeon cells. As the two dwarves passed by the dead guards, Zigg gave one guard another swift kick, and then quickly grabbed a ring of keys from his belt. As they walked down the hallway, the horrid odor of death and decay assaulted Grann’s nose, causing him to choke back the urge to vomit. Grann shook his head in disgust at the squalid conditions of each cell he passed.

“Even the worst criminal does not deserve to be treated like this,” Grann whispered in disgust.

“I have to walk these halls every day delivering barely edible slop to these prisoners,” Zigg said. “I have seen the worst treatment you can possibly imagine down here. I have seen things that no one should be forced to witness. This place is far worse than you can imagine.”

Grann solemnly shook his head as he followed Zigg to the final cell at the end of the hallway. Once there, Grann turned back to keep watch as Zigg fumbled with the stolen key ring. Once she found the correct key, Zigg unlocked the heavy wooden cell door. Grann walked up to the door, leaned against it, and let out a grunt as he shoved the door open to reveal one lone prisoner in the cell behind it. The prisoner appeared to be an old man, frail and emaciated, with long, scraggly hair that seemed to be swallowing his gaunt face. Grann choked from the odor wafting out from the prisoner’s soiled clothing, and he had to again fight back the urge to vomit.

“Are you sure this is the right guy,” Zigg asked, failing to hide her doubt.

“I don’t know,” Grann replied, his voice muffled beneath his hand as it attempted to block the foul odor in the cell. “It’s hard to tell. He looks so…different.”

“Yes, well, twelve years of prison will do that to a guy I suppose,” Zigg said. “Especially when they are treated so horribly.”

Grann walked up to the prisoner, leaned as close as he could stomach, and stared into the man’s lifeless eyes.

“Nothing,” Grann said, waving his hand in front of the prisoner’s eyes. “His eyes are wide open, but his mind seems to be somewhere else entirely.”

“I’m not surprised,” Zigg said sadly. “His mind has probably shut down to escape the horror of this place. We may not be able to get him back. If that is even him at all. I knew this was a bad plan! I have been saying that from the beginning.”

“Woman, please be quiet,” Grann snapped. “I don’t need your negativity right now. It’s not helping at all.”

“I’m sorry Grann,” Zigg said. “But you have to admit that this is not good. We still don’t even know if this is the right guy or not.”

Grann held up his index finger, signaling Zigg to pause for a minute, then turned back to the prisoner. Taking a deep breath and holding it, Grann reached down, grabbed the prisoner’s shirt, and roughly tore it open to reveal a large, grotesque scar on his chest.

“What is that,” Zigg asked, horrified by the sight.

“That my dear,” Grann replied feeling his confidence grow, “is the evidence I needed to see. That my dear is the proof that this is the man we are looking for. That my dear is my long lost friend and our former leader.  That is the man known as Aerron The Immortal.”

“So,” Zigg said, pausing to study the sickly, repugnant prisoner before her, “this miserable wretch is the great general that led our people into the Doomed Rebellion against the Sovereign? Seriously?”

Grann let out a loud sigh that was a mix of frustration and great amusement at his comrade. “Yes. This is our brilliant leader. We have found him at last. We can rescue him from this vile place and he will bring our armies down upon the head of the Sovereign once again!”

“Which we will probably lose again,” Zigg said quietly.

Grann shot an angry glance at Zigg, then let out another deep sigh. “Yes, well, we have to do something. We can’t continue living as servants to the humans. That’s no kind of life for any of us.”

“You don’t have to tell me that,” Zigg stated. “I have been serving slop to prisoners in this cursed dungeon for the last year! No one knows more about the pains of servitude than me, I assure you.”

Grann walked over to Zigg, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and then embraced her. “I’m sorry my love. I meant no disrespect. I know you have suffered here. As I know you have also seen suffering here that no loving soul should be forced to witness. That’s why I know you understand how important it is that we take Aerron out of this damned place.”

“I get it,” Zigg said. “I know how important this is to you. I truly do. So, let’s get him out of here then. We can figure out the rest after that.”

Grann removed a leather harness he had been wearing under his cloak, handed it to Zigg, and then reached down to pull Aerron away from the wall. The moment Aerron felt Grann touch him, he seemed to instantly snap to life, letting out a guttural moan. Grann grabbed Aerron’s head in his hands and forced the decrepit prisoner to focus on his face.

“Aerron, my old friend,” Grann said, staring into the wild eyes of the prisoner. “It’s me, Grann.  Focus on me, my friend.  Focus! I’m not here to hurt you. We are here to rescue from this place.”

Grann was relieved to see a hint of recognition fill his friend’s eyes, and he felt tears well up in his own eyes even as his mouth formed a jubilant smile. Grann then slid Aerron away from the cold stone wall he had been propped up against, and signaled for Zigg to bring the harness over. Zigg quickly complied, moving behind Aerron and sliding the harness around him. Grann watched anxiously as Zigg tightened three buckles around Aerron’s chest and arms, then nodded his head at Zigg. Zigg then grabbed onto Aerron with one arm, holding him up in a sitting position, while Grann moved behind him. Zigg helped Grann put the harness back on with her other hand as she leaned Aerron forward.  Once the harness was back on Grann, Zigg helped him tighten four more buckles around his chest and torso. When both Zigg and Grann were satisfied that the harness was secure around both men, Grann began dragging Aerron out of the cell with Zigg walking ahead of them. The pair exited down down the dungeon hallway, past the poisoned guards, and proceeded to drag Aerron’s frail body up a small flight of stairs and out into the cool night air outside. Zigg and Grann paused once they reached the outer courtyard of the dungeon, and began inspecting the area around them through the moonlit darkness. Grann could hear the raspy hiss of Aerron’s breath as he took in the fresh air for the first time in possibly years, and his heart began to fill with hope.

“Kierick,” Grann called out, his voice nothing more than a loud whisper. “Where are you?”

“I’m here,” a deep voice called back. “behind this shed.”

Grann chuckled as he and Zigg moved towards the shed near one of the massive stone walls surrounding the courtyard of the prison. As they approached, a tall man, approximately nine feet in height with a robust build and shoulders almost as wide as he was tall, stood up, towering over both of the dwarves as well as the shed he had been attempting to hide behind.

“What are you doing Kierick,” Grann asked with a laugh.

“Trying to hide,” Kierick replied. “It’s not easy for us big guys to find good hiding spots you know. Luckily it is dark out, so that makes it a little better.  I did run into a couple of guards though.  Don’t worry, I took care of them.”

“Sure, sure,” Grann said, his laughter increasing. “Good job my friend.”

“Is that him,” Kierick asked, pointing his meaty finger in the direction of the passenger on Grann’s back.

“Is that him,” Grann repeated, his tone laced with mockery. “You know, just because you ogres have the reputation of being stupid, doesn’t mean you have to prove it right.”

“Watch it, runt,” Kierick bellowed. “Or I will squash you like a tiny little bug.”

“Will you two keep it down,” Zigg hissed. “We are trying to avoid alerting anyone that we are here.”

“Relax Zigg,” Grann said, waving a hand towards the female dwarf. “We are just fooling around. But, she’s right Kierick, we need to keep quiet and get out of here as quickly as we can.”

“No problem,” Kierick whispered as quietly as his deep voice would allow. “I’m ready. Let’s get loaded up and go.”

Kierick knelt down beside the dwarves, and Gran and Zigg worked together to pull Aerron out of Grann’s harness, and slide him into a large basket attached to Kierick’s back. Once Aerron was secured in the basket, Gran and Zigg then climbed in. When all three passengers were safely tucked away in the basket, Kierick rose to his feet and left the courtyard as quickly and quietly as he could. The dungeon that Aerron had been locked away in had been located in a remote, wooded area, a factor which facilitated the group’s escape. Once Kierick had brought the group deep into the forest surrounding the dungeon, they all breathed a deep sigh of relief.

“By the sake of the ancients, we made it,” Grann said unable to hold back the tears that streamed down his face. “It’s so good to see my old friend again!”

“Old is right,” Zigg said, casting a disapproving glance towards Aerron’s feeble form. “He doesn’t look like he has much life left in him. I hope he was worth all the trouble it took finding him and getting him out of that prison.”

“Have some faith woman,” Grann barked. “If not in Aerron, then at least in me. Is that so much to ask?”

“No my love,” Zigg replied, letting out a long sigh. “I do have faith in you. I always have. That’s why I went along with this plan. If you say that Aerron will help our people fight back against the Sovereign, then I believe you. And I will stay by your side no matter what barriers we face.”

“Thank you, my love,” Grann said, placing his hand on Zigg’s cheek. “That is all I ask for.”

“So then,” Zigg said, her demeanor perking up. “What is our next step?”

“Ah yes,” Grann replied, clasping his hands together excitedly. “Kierick, take us to the Healer!”

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  1. The Genemage Archives: Book One, The Eternal King-Chapter Four | From The Mind Of Derrick

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