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The Weaponeers of Monkaa Chronicles

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:47 pm
by SpyMonkeyJeremy

Story by Jeremy Sung and Brian Stevenson
Written by Jeremy Sung
Art by Matt Cauley

CHAPTER 1: The Old Miner


The Old Miner trudged down the gently sloping mineshaft. The others had laughed at him. “Old, worn, and broken down.” They would say this of the man and the ancient mine he worked. Yes, they laughed. That is until the first time he returned with the finest ore, raw gems and stone they had ever seen. Then they rushed to work the old mine themselves. Time and again they would return empty handed. Only The Old Miner had the knack they would say. Some even made the sign of protection when he would pass. They whispered that he was touched by the kobolds, or the rock sprites or some other fairy story bogeymen. Eventually they gave up, leaving him to work the "haunted" mine alone.

However, the stories they whispered did trouble him as they held a small knot of truth. There was something mystical about that old mine. It was as if something was guiding him to find new veins of ore, new caches of gems and rich quarries of marble and quartz. Often he would feel as if he were being watched, and turn only to find it was a random pile of rock, vaguely resembling the shape of a man-like creature. Once he had nearly been caught in a cave-in after carelessly delving too fast and too deep after a shining vein of platinum ore. He'd never tell a soul, but he was sure someone, or some thing, had pulled him out just in time as he awoke hours later, unharmed with a neat pile of ore next to him.

Whatever the reason, this mine had made him rich. He was sure this trip would be no different and there was only one man he would sell his materials to. The Old Miner set to work. He had a long day of work to do before bringing his haul to The Weaponsmith.


CHAPTER 2: The Weaponsmith


With a grunt, The Old Miner heaved the last sack of ore onto the heap in the center of the workshop. "That's all of it, Master Weaponsmith."
The Weaponsmith nodded and counted out the agreed upon sum of gold and handed it to the old man. "Thank you my friend.”
The Old Miner turned to go, but paused a moment. "Beggin' your pardon Master Smith, but somethin's been naggin' at me mind these past few months..." The Weaponsmith frowned. This did not halt The Old Miner’s curiosity, "I been bringin' you all manner of ore, gem and stone and I seen your armory fill with all manner of weapons...." the old man paused, "...these past months each time I visit I’ve not seen your forge fires hot, nor any ash, nor slag or scrap. Yet the materials are gone and your armory is full. It’s like you take the raw stuff I bring you and turn it into weapons, easy as that."

The Weaponsmith grinned, "Well old friend, you didn't really think I could turn out an armory full of weapons every fortnight on my own did you?"
The Old Miner started to speak, but stopped. The two men shared a glance, eyes locked, and nodded almost imperceptibly. "Everyone needs some help I suppose. And everyone has secrets... I'll take my leave now Master Smith." "Be well my friend, fates protect you..." and The Old Miner took his leave.

The day had been long. The Weaponsmith stood up and stretched his sore shoulders. The materials were arranged on the workshop floor just the way he had seen them in his dreams. Ore with ore, gems with gems, stone with stone. Placed in a pattern like a great gear or starburst. All he had to do was close up the workshop and head back to his small room in the citadel. Come morning he would return and the material would be gone. Replaced by another gleaming pile of the finest weapons he had ever seen. Still he knew not the mysterious benefactors that all but did his work for him. There was never any slag or scrap left behind, yet there seemed to be some loss of material in the transformation. Perhaps that was the price the mysterious crafters required. More than fair, thought The Weaponsmith, as the weapons they left paid the cost of the materials many times over, leaving him both wealthy and renowned through the kingdom. He doused the workshop lamps on his way to the door. Just as he turned to open the outer door, he felt the oddest sensation. An instant of both withering heat and bitter cold, followed by a pressure and release, like the last moments of holding your breath. He spun around and staggered slightly backwards. "Stranger!"

"Greetings, Master Weaponsmith. We meet again." Replied the shadowy figure.

CHAPTER 3: The Stranger


The Weaponsmith first met The Stranger years ago. He had been arrogant, full of pride at his work, boasting that his were the finest blades in all the cosmos. Then one night The Stranger made his first appearance in The Weaponsmith's workshop. He asked The Smith to prove that his were not idle boasts and to create a blade that could serve one who walked the cosmic space ways. Challenging him to forge a blade capable of cleaving a path between good and evil. A Master Blade. The Weaponsmith laughed and brought forth his newest creation, a gaudy gilded blade, ornate and as arrogant as the man who forged it. The Stranger took it and in his grip the blade tarnished, cracked and finally crumbled.

So The Weaponsmith toiled. For many years he was consumed with proving his skill to this ‘Stranger’. Each blade he created was finer, cleaner and truer than the last, but time and again The Stranger would return and the blade would fail in that mysterious cosmic grip. Until one night, in his grief and exhaustion The Weaponsmith collapsed at his workbench. His dreams were strange, troubled. At daybreak he woke to find the flawed prototypes he had constructed replaced by a blade he knew would serve. The following night the Stranger appeared again. This time the Stranger gripped the new blade and smiled. It was indeed A Master Blade. The Stranger took the blade and The Weaponsmith, humbled, went on to truly master his craft.
Years had passed since the creation of The Master Blade. It seemed no surprise to The Stranger that The Master Smith was startled at his sudden appearance. He spoke in a steady otherworldly tone, "It appears you have been very busy in my absence. I did not think you would be able to craft anything to match The Master Blade. You are full of surprises, Master Smith."

The Stranger ran a clawed finger over the pile of ore arranged neatly on the workshop floor. "A strange way to store your supplies."
The Weaponsmith still recovering from his shock attempted to answer, "I... You see..." Then the Stranger laughed. An honest, open laugh at odds with his grim visage. "Fear not Master Smith, you have done no wrong. Indeed, you are but a link in a grand chain of events, a glyph in a pattern that has taken me years to see. You have brought power and protection to your people and served The Great Struggle admirably." The Weaponsmith relaxed, feeling a great weight lift from his soul.

"Return to your home, Master Smith. I will stand vigil this night, that we may learn the source and the skill, which has filled your armory. Whoever they are they must wield great power to create such formidable weapons and I would learn of their place in The Great Struggle."

CHAPTER 4: The Visitors


The Stranger sat still. Not still like a man, not even still like a stalking bush cat or great sand devil waiting for it's prey, but as still as to almost fade from perception. The workshop was dark as pitch the sun had long set and the moons had yet to rise. The Master Blade lay across his lap, blade winking and gleaming with cosmic energy. His eyes were closed but his senses were sharpened like no other being in known existence.

His eyes flashed open a moment before it happened.

The empty air above the pattern of ore, gems and stone laid out on the floor seemed to quiver, then crack like glass. The crack widened and a heavy shape dropped to the floor. It was followed by a second and third, each landing silently despite their squat bulk. The Stranger stood and immediately the newcomers tensed, turning as one to face the unexpected intruder. Each one fell into a combat stance, with fists like hammers and grim weapons that seemed a part of their thick arms. The Stranger raised an open hand, hoping to placate the strange creatures, but the lead one lunged. The Stranger raised The Master Blade to parry the coming blow, but before it fell one of the creatures spoke. "Hold. He wields one of our blades, and to wield it names you friend to The Gearo."

"Friend I may be,” The Stranger lowered his sword, “though I would know who names me as such for merely holding this blade." "We know you Stranger, servant of The Great Struggle,” replied the gleaming red figure. “Though you do not know us, perhaps the time has come to reveal our part in the grand pattern of the cosmos. We are The Weaponeers of the dimension of Monkaa. I am called Empyreus Rex, Ruler of Monkaa and Leader of The Gearo. War is coming to your world, and without the weapons we have been forging for your people, you are lost."

"I serve The Great Struggle. The balance and conflict that is the crucible for greatness. I'll not have you destroy that balance. I've seen the weapons you create. They are a match for my Master Blade and even in the hands of the righteous they are fearfully powerful." The Stranger’s hand tightened around the grip of his weapon. Empyreus Rex laughed. The sound was like nothing The Stranger had ever heard, as if a thousand solid iron boulders were crashing down a mountainside. "Naïve Stranger, we have been fighting what you call ‘The Great Struggle’ since long before you took your first steps into the cosmos. Palidar! Explain to our new friend.”

The heavily silver armored member of the trio strode into the light, “Did we not gift you with your own Master Blade? It was but the first taste for your world. Do you think we are the only ones crafting weapons of such might? Every light casts a shadow, and our shadows have already seeded your worlds with darkness. We are not here to serve in your war, we are here to arm you that you might join us in ours." Empyreus spoke once more, “Come Stranger, follow us and learn!”

For the first time in eons, The Stranger felt awe. He watched as the three figures leapt back into the rift they had ripped into the air. Reluctance gave way to curiosity. The Stranger sheathed his Master Blade, and dove into the unknown.

CHAPTER 5: The Crossing


The Stranger floated and spun like a leaf in a gale, a mere idea in a maelstrom of possibilities. The Weaponeers had offered him an invitation to cross over to their realm, which they referred to as Monkaa. He learned that they were called The Gearo, builders and guardians on their home world and were seeking allies to join their cause. The Stranger agreed to the visit and followed them into the portal to their dimension. Their dimensional rifts were like nothing he had ever experienced. His own abilities to fold space and travel the breadth of his universe were practically instantaneous. But The Weaponeers' rifts pierced the very fabric of reality and seemed to temporarily suspend all rules of linear time and space.

Stretching his senses, he began to perceive what he soon realized were other universes. He saw a universe where diminutive Travelers crossed a cosmos of sentient machines and fearful amalgamated beasts. He saw universes of fantastic beings from the reaches of Outer Space, men as awe inspiring as they were alien. Canne'boid hordes, Armorvors, Ancient Astronauts; the worlds open to these Weaponeers and their Armories were limitless.

Then, in a flash of light, it was over. The Stranger blinked in the harsh glare of three alien suns and looked around. Huge crags rose from deep gorges, as if the very landscape were formed of great conflict. In the distance a vast jungle sprawled and the vague shapes of gigantic creatures lumbered in the murk. But what shook The Stranger to his very core was the pulse of raw power that emanated from the ground at his feet. The very fabric of this universe hummed with potential energy, each boulder and rock almost crying out to be formed into a tool of great power or a weapon of great destruction.

"Welcome to Monkaa, Stranger." He turned to see Empyreus Rex and his two companions. Unlike earlier whereas The Weaponeers had merely exuded power, here on their home world they threw off waves of force like miniature suns. "I trust the crossing wasn’t too much of a shock?"
The Stranger shook his head, "Your world teems with power, and you... you are the hands that can harness and wield that power. I see now why the weapons you forge are so formidable. The forces you can unleash..."

Empyreus chuckled. "You've only begun to see Monkaa, Stranger. Palidar! Accompany The Stranger that he might see more of our world without running afoul of anything too far beyond his abilities to master." The Stranger turned to regard The Weaponeer General called Palidar. He was squat, like all Weaponeers and was armored head to toe. The eyes that glowed from the depths of the high helmet he wore looked as if they had seen much glory and much sorrow. "Empyreus, would it not be wise to stay together? The Vilhain often send scouts and saboteurs even this close to the capitol."
Again Empyreus laughed. "You worry too much old friend! Take this Crystal Gohlem and accompany The Stranger. Let him explore and satisfy his curiosity a bit before re-joining us at the capitol. I think I can handle anything The Vilhain can throw at me."

Empyreus slapped The Stranger on the back, staggering him slightly. "See our world Stranger! Your senses are sharp. You may reveal secrets that even we have yet to discover!"

Far away, eyes full of glowing yellow energy narrowed. The ghostly image of The Gearo and The Stranger shimmered across a large wall of volcanic glass as a figure cloaked in shadow watched and seethed with malice, hatred, and envy.

CHAPTER 6: The Vilhain


The phantom image on the glass wall dispersed and Umbreus, Supreme Overlord of the Vilhain turned angrily. "So Empyreus thinks to bring an alien to our world? Yet another interloper to steal what is mine." Without warning Umbreus turned and obliterated the wall with a punch from his spiked fist that split the very bedrock floor of his fortress and turned the molten lava beneath to steam. "Brutok!" Umbreus shouted in a tone that was both commanding and petulant. The shadows stirred and a powerful figure strode forth into the dim light.

"Ay, Lord Umbreus", the frightening figure replied.

"That arrogant pup Empyreus has seen fit to bring a outsider to our world! No doubt he thinks he can bolster his forces and deny me my birthright. All is mine, Brutok, The Power of Monkaa. This world. This universe. All universes. ALL IS MINE!" Brutok waited. His master was clearly not done ranting, and Brutok knew not to disturb him. Beneath his lumbering brutish exterior, the War Marshall of the Vilhain hid cunning and battle savvy that not even Umbreus suspected. "But Empyreus has once again proven what a naive imbecile he is. He has sent his bodyguards away with the outsider while he journeys alone back to the capitol. Take a force of Magma Gohlem to ambush the fool and bring him to me."

"Ay, Lord Umbreus. Brutok Obeys." Brutok bent down slightly and dragged his large fingers along the floor of the Great Hall. From the crags of broken stone and the flowing lava beneath crawled three creatures. These three resembled the Crystal Gohlem in the Gearo exploration party, but these three were made of molten magma. They formed ranks behind Brutok and followed him out of the chamber. As the attack force made their exit, Umbreus reached for the helmet on a pedestal near his throne and placed it on his head, The Helm of Vilhain. Slumping down upon his throne and with a wave of his hand the volcanic glass wall reformed and the image of the The Stranger and his Gearo guides reappeared.

“Yes, I know who you are. Why are you here, Stranger? And what exactly does my Star Brother hope to gain by your presence?”

CHAPTER 7: The Gohlem


The Stranger staggered slightly and fell to one knee as he stopped to rest at the crest of what seemed to be an entire cliff side made of the same metal that comprised Palidar’s armor. He had been hiking and exploring with Palidar and the silent Crystal Gohlem for hours and had only begun to take in the vastness that was Monkaa. As he stood, his ankle twisted awkwardly in the metal dust and he began to fall toward the sharp precipice. Suddenly the Crystal Gohlem was there, firmly but gently catching The Stranger and steadying him until he had his balance again.

"My thanks," said the Stranger. The Crystal Gohlem had no answer, merely cocking his head quizzically to the side before slowing nodding. On impulse, The Stranger placed his hand on the Gohlem's shoulder and nodded with a smile. After a moment the Gohlem copied The Stranger's gesture, the barest hint of a smile on its rough-hewn features. The Stranger laughed, and to his surprise the Crystal Gohlem did too, though it was a strange sound like a combination of wind chimes and pane glass breaking. Then the Crystal Gohlem raised a large hand and pointed to The Stranger's Master Blade. The Stranger unsheathed the sword, holding it out to the Gohlem to examine. The Gohlem then raised a hand and before the Stranger's astonished eyes a clear blue crystal energy blade blossomed from the Gohlem's fist. The Stranger sheathed the Master Blade and the Golem did likewise. The pair laughed again, this time in unison.

Palidar approached the duo, "Are you alright Stranger?" "Yes, thanks to my new friend here," he answered. "What happened, are you unwell?" asked Palidar. "No, it's just that the inherent power of your world takes some getting used to. My senses are...finely tuned in my universe. It's taking some time to filter and sort through all the energies. It is..." he paused and then smiled. "...Wondrous." Palidar nodded. "It is merely my home. Though I love it well, I often only see the strife and battle scars our long battle with The Vilhain have left. It does me good to be reminded of its majesty."
The Stranger glanced at the silent Crystal Gohlem. "He doesn't speak much does he?" Palidar regarded the Gohlem. "He is still new to life, and has only just taken up the Gearo cause. He has yet to choose a specific life path. So for now, he simply observes and learns. "

This puzzled The Stranger, "He is a child then?" The Gearo Commander considered this. "Hmm… something like that. It is...complicated. A seer or forgemage would be better suited to explain than an old warrior like me. Suffice it to say that a Weaponeer is not born a Gearo or Vilhain. Rather its journey through life shapes and forges it, honing its strengths and exposing its true nature. His journey has only just begun, but he has shown the curiosity and compassion of a true Gearo. He is also very brave, I would be proud should he choose to join my guard at the citadel." The Stranger suddenly stiffened and then winced as if in great pain.

"We must go Palidar! Now!" He started down the path.

Palidar’s blue eyes glowed with surprise, "Stranger, What is it?" The Stranger paused, though he felt great urgency. "Recall when I told you my senses were sharp, General? Well, I'm starting to get the measure of the life energies and signatures of your world and your people. I'm beginning to recognize unique life forces like yours, the Crystal Gohlem's...and that of Empyreus Rex." The Stranger winced again. "Unless I'm greatly mistaken, what I sense now is that Empyreus is under attack and hard pressed. And though I've yet to encounter them, I assume it is..."

"…The Vilhain." Palidar stated grimly. The Stranger nodded and as one the trio sped down the trail.

CHAPTER 8: The Ambush


Empyreus frowned. He had taken a leisurely meandering path back on his way to the capital, taking full advantage of his momentary freedom from the responsibilities of ruler. Suddenly he saw something odd in a small grotto just off the main trail. It was a heartstone, one of the energy filled crystals that mysteriously appeared and formed the core of a growing Gohlem. They could appear anywhere in any material, be it quartz crystal, sandstone, obsidian or even molten magma, and would grow stronger and form the body of a Gohlem around them. However this one was in distress. It had formed within a cluster of stones, but a nearby spar of crystal had collapsed and landed on the heartstone, crushing it into the earth. It pulsed weakly in danger of expiring. "This won't do," said Empyreus, as he climbed down to free the distressed stone. With a powerful heave he threw the broken spar clear and the heartstone almost immediately began pulsing healthily.

"How touching...sss...sss…" hissed a voice. Empyreus spun around to see a Magma Gohlem blocking his path back to the trail. "What a soft heart the Lord of the Gearo has...sss...sss…" said a second Magma Golem as he emerged from behind a large boulder. "Maybe we tear it out…sss...sss…" called a third from above the lip of the Grotto.
Empyreus grinned. "Well, this is unexpected. You three walk the path of the Vilhain and impede me from returning to my own path. I could use a bit of exercise."

The Magma Gohlems closed in. "Three against one? No fears, I like a challenge." With incredible speed he ducked the swipe of a flaming sword. Then he blasted its wielder across the grotto with a shot from his fist that had formed into a cannon. The other two Gohlems charged him and he leapt over them as they collided in a messy tangle of flaming limbs. "Is that the best you can do?" Empyreus said, still grinning.
That grin quickly faded when a large shadow fell across him. "Clumsy Gohlem! Need him alive! In one piece! Mostly!" thundered the mighty Brutok as he leapt into the grotto, landing with a ground-shattering rumble.

The Stranger practically flew down the trail, finally rounding the corner and leaping down into the grotto. The scene that greeted him was grim indeed. One Magma Gohlem shook it’s head as it stood up dazed. Two others had a hold on Empyreus and before the Stranger's eyes Brutok knocked the Lord of the Gearo unconscious with a brutal blow to the head. The Stranger let out a cry and ran towards the large green assailant. "Bind him!" commanded Brutok pointing to The Stranger. The nearest Magma Gohlem raised its hands forming a web of energy like a great net, which it hurled at The Stranger. The Stranger raised the Master Blade reflexively and was shocked when the net parted beneath his swing. "Fool!" rumbled Brutok. Faster than The Stranger thought possible Brutok swung his newly morphed fist, wreathed in glowing energy spikes like a great mace. He knocked The Stranger off his feet, and into the grotto wall where he slid down in a dazed heap. The Magma Gohlem closed in when a blur of sparkling blue landed in front of the prone Stranger. As the Magma Gohlem swung a fist like a flaming mace down, the Crystal Gohlem wove a net of pure blue energy and hurled it, snaring the Magma Gohlem in a neat bundle.

"Brutok. Still Umbreus's dog I see," said Palidar as he landed in the grotto next to the Crystal Gohlem. The two remaining Magma Gohlem rushed the Gearo warriors, flaming energy blades forming in their fists. As one, Palidar and the Crystal Gohlem met them with glowing energy hammers around their fists, blazing like miniature suns. The flame swords sputtered and doused when they met the hammers. The Crystal Gohlem's opponent was struck square in the chest and fell to the ground reduced to a bubbling pool of magma. Palidar's challenger ducked his swing rolling past the old Gearo, only to be smashed into a puddle of molten goo as Palidar flipped backward with a double kick. The leap had put Palidar out of position as Brutok moved in. The Crystal Gohlem bravely stood his ground not willing to abandon the injured Stranger, clear blue crystal energy blade in his hand. But he was no match for Brutok. With a terrifying roar Brutok struck the Crystal Gohlem as he swung his sword, smashing him in a spray of jagged crystal shards.

"NO!" screamed Palidar, and with an anguished war cry leapt at his old rival.

"HA! Brutok break your playmate, Old Gearo?" mocked the brute. "I'm the one you want, Vilhain! I’ll be your end!" shouted Palidar as he clashed with Brutok. "This how it should be, Palidar!” his taunts continued, “This how will always be, Palidar! Strength for strength, power for power, skill for skill, until only mightiest remain!" Palidar grimaced and with a mighty heave, he lifted Brutok over his head and hurled him across the grotto. Brutok twisted in mid air and landed deftly on his feet. His eyes blazed with battle lust as he prepared to lunge again at his nemesis.

"Master…sss! Gearo forces approach…sss...sss! We must flee!" The first Magma Gohlem had freed itself from its bonds and climbed the lip of the grotto. In the adjacent clearing, a gleaming host of Gearo warriors fast approached. Brutok turned toward the coming forces; he would take them all on. Suddenly a dimensional rift tore open above him. "RETURN!" hissed the voice of Umbreus.

“NO! BRUTOK STAY! BRUTOK FIGHT!” roared the mighty mass of a figure.

“I COMMAND YOU TO RETURN!!” Violently the rift expanded, swallowing the still raging Vilhain General and his cowering minion.
"Next time, Vilhain," whispered Palidar grimly as he kneeled beside the fallen Empyreus. "My Lord," he said gently as Empyreus stirred. "Palidar... you're late for the party... I was having a great time with the Magma Gohlems, but that Brutok is a real gear grinder,” joked Empyreus as Palidar helped him up. "I'm fine old friend, see to The Stranger." Palidar turned to see The Stranger kneeling sadly among the shattered remains of the Crystal Gohlem.

"He defended me," The Stranger said softly, "and he paid with his life."

Palidar gently searched among the crystal shards. "Can he be saved?" asked The Stranger. Palidar shook his head sadly as he lifted the Gohlem's heartstone, which had dimmed almost completely. "I fear not Stranger. His energies have been all but extinguished. Without a living heartstone a Weaponeer cannot be reforged." "There is always hope old friend," said Empyreus, taking the heartstone in his hands. Then the Lord of the Gearo focused his own life energy into the fading heartstone and the grotto lit up like a thousand suns. When the light abated The Stranger looked at the heartstone and saw it glowing steadily. "The Forge Star shines forever, my friends," said Empyreus. Then he staggered and fell to one knee, dropping the heart stone, which The Stranger deftly caught. "It seems I've pushed my limits a bit too far this day. I might need some assistance making it back to the capital," laughed Empyreus.

"Always my Lord," said Palidar as he lifted Empyreus. The Stranger took the heartstone and as much of the shattered crystal as he could carry and followed Palidar and Empyreus up the trail.

CHAPTER 9: The Citadel


The Capital of The Gearo was not at all what The Stranger expected. He had assumed it would be a magnificent castle overflowing with opulence and grandeur. It was grand, but only in its scale and solidity. Surrounded by a great wall of metal and stone, it housed thousands of Gearo warriors, smiths, clerics and Gohlem of all kind. There were no gaudy shows of wealth, but every brick, stone and rivet spoke of simple strength and honest craftsmanship. Great towers watched over the city within, each one made of the major elements of Monkaa. The Stranger recognized a tower built of the same mysterious metal that formed Palidar's armor. Another nearby tower, made of crystal sparkled in the fading sunlight. In the distance he saw towers of stone of various types. At the center of the city he beheld a large fortress made of the same bright red alloy that Empyreus's armor was fashioned from. It was that Citadel he, Palidar and Empyreus were headed toward.

Upon entering the great hall of The Citadel of The Gearo, they were greeted by a most unusual character. "By the Forge Star! Lord Empyreus! Dear me, what a state you are in! Dear me!" fussed Ambro, Chamberlain of The Citadel. The Stranger regarded the chief administrator and noted his odd elongated head and torso and birdlike movements. "Palidar! How could you let your charge get battered so?" he scolded. Before Palidar could reply, Empyreus cut in. "It's nothing Ambro, just a minor scuffle," wincing as he did so. "Nonsense. You may be Lord of the Gearo but I know when you need to rest and heal in a dream forge. I served your father and so will I serve you, whether you like it or not!" With that Ambro and his Gohlem hustled Empyreus off. Palidar chuckled. "He's like an old brush hen, that one," he whispered to The Stranger. "But there's steel in him, and beneath that foolish seeming exterior beats the heartstone of a true Gearo." Palidar turned to regard The Stranger, battered and dusty as he was after The Vilhain encounter. "Do you need aid, Stranger?" The Stranger shook his head. "No my friend, I'd rather see to our fallen comrade," indicating the remains of the Crystal Gohlem. Palidar nodded. "Then we will have to pay a visit to another old friend."

Palidar led The Stranger, still carrying the fragments of the Crystal Golem, to a tower of brilliant white marble at the rear of the fortress. Inside was a quiet sanctum, softly lit by glowstone globes. It was empty but for a single figure standing near a glowing pool fed by a gently bubbling fountain at its center. "Stranger, this is High Cleric and Chronicler of The Gearo, Fandar Sun," said Palidar.
Fandar Sun, in his blue and lavender colored stone coverings, radiated serenity like nothing The Stranger had ever felt. "Welcome Stranger, to the life spring of The Gearo." Palidar regarded the shards and heartstone in The Stranger’s arms, "Fandar, our comrade, this Crystal Gohlem bravely fell in battle with The Vilhain, Brutok.”The Stranger interrupted, “He protected me. Can he be saved?"

Fandar Sun took the pulsing crystal heartstone from The Stranger. After a moment of concentration, he spoke. "Ah, this one was almost lost forever. However I sense Lord Empyreus's hand in this. He has again given of himself for one of his own," said the old cleric. "Fear not Stranger, The Forge Star protects. Your crystal friend shall be reborn," and with that Fandar Sun placed the crystal fragments and the heartstone into the glowing fountain where their glow lights merged and sparkled.

"This may take some time Stranger," said Fandar. "Palidar has duties he must attend to, but stay, sit with me. Drink of the fountain and heal your hurts. I will share with you The Chronicle of Monkaa. Share that you may better understand the world and the war you now find yourself in."

CHAPTER 10: The Chronicle


In the great chamber of the life spring Fandar Sun, High Cleric and Chronicler of The Gearo paused, took a breath, and began his tale...

The Great Gear turns. Ever has it turned and ever will it turn. Through war and peace, joy and tragedy, bounty and famine, life and death, forever will it turn. So it was many turns ago that the noble Kingdom of Light and the mighty Empire of Shadows found themselves at the threshold of peace. Long had they fought without a victor, for there can be no shadow without light nor light without shadows. It is their very nature to be at odds, so odd indeed it was to find the possibility of peace.

The Lord of Light and the Mistress of Shadow had, against all sense and nature found love. They believed their love could unite Kingdom and Empire and forge a new future for Monkaa. So arms were set aside and a new age began for this world. The culmination of this peace came with the birth of the first son of the Lord and his Lady. Prince Penumbrus was to be the first of the Sons of Shade, heir of the new Realm of Light and Shadow, a balance to the two opposing forces that would inherit the realm and forge a lasting peace. He was born precisely at twilight, just as the suns set and night was nigh, and Lord and Lady were overjoyed.

But while Penumbrus was born a healthy robust youngling, the Mistress of Shadow was yet weak and remained in the birth haze despite having already bore her child. The Lord of Light was confused and feared for his beloved, until the following dawn broke and the Mistress of Shadow bore a second son. Smaller and weaker than his older twin brother, the second son had mottled skin and crooked limbs, but his eyes shone bright and clear and the Lord and Lady loved both of their sons equally.

The Great Gear turned and the infants grew into fine young warriors. Penumbrus was everything the Lord and Lady had hoped for. Handsome and commanding, he was every bit the leader they needed him to be. His younger brother, though deformed, was a loyal and kind soul, and held no jealousy for his brother, for he knew his was not the path of leadership.

However, the melding of light and shadow is not so easily achieved. True, twin sons had been born. Both were inheritors of shadow and light, but could not have been more different. While the younger brother carried a bright shining soul under his dark, deformed exterior, the elder had a dark heart beneath his princely countenance. Penumbrus' heart was dark. Dark as darkest shadow. He was not content to inherit his parents’ kingdom, and hated his father, the Lord of Light. For though Lord and Lady ruled together, it was the nature of light to shine brightly, while shadow supported and strengthened from the margins. Penumbrus only saw this as his father greedily eclipsing his mother and the great power of Shadow. The joining of light and shadow was the dream of a fool. Equality was a useless compromise and the worst sort of weakness. Light must be broken by shadow, made to serve. And all, light or dark would serve Penumbrus once he ruled. Sadly the Lord and Lady knew not of the darkness in their elder son's heart. To all of Monkaa he was a shining beacon of hope, and the world dreamed of peace not knowing it would soon plunge into the darkest of nightmares.

So it was that the Lord of Light took his sons on a climb to the highest peak of Monkaa. At the peak he told his sons, "Look upon the majesty of our world. One day soon Penumbrus, you will rule Monkaa. It will be your burden to keep this hard won peace in our realm."

As the Lord of Light turned to speak to his younger son, Penumbrus whispered, "Sooner than you think, old fool", and he stabbed his father in the heart with the Blade of Shadow. Four times the blade struck and when the Lord of Light staggered to his knees. Penumbrus tore the Crown of Light from his father’s brow, taking his power. He hurled his younger brother into his dying father's arms and pushed them both off the peak. "Now Monkaa is mine!" he roared.

The bodies fell, finally crashing to a halt at the base of the mountain. The Lord of Light was mighty; some say the mightiest being on all of Monkaa. Even a blade to the heart might not have killed him, but as they fell he had turned and protected his younger son, using the last vestiges of his power to take the full impact of the fall. Before he struck the unyielding earth, the Lord whispered to his son, "...Empyreus, the fate of Monkaa is in your must resurrect the Light..." And so it was that young Empyreus rose from the protective grip of his dead father, dreams of peace as broken as his heart. He buried his father at the base of that great mountain, just as he buried all love for his brother.

The Great Gear turned and Penumbrus, now king, secured his rule over Monkaa. The Mistress of Shadows, heartbroken at the loss of her beloved husband and younger son, grew weak. It was not long before Penumbrus was able to create a soul siphon to drain the Lady's power like a leech, forcing her to slip into a suspended yet deathless state. Using the combined might of the Crown of Light and the Blade of Shadow, Penumbrus created Shade Demons to conquer the realm and enforce his will. With both the Crown of Light and the Blade of Shadow, Penumbrus alone could open rifts to other worlds and other realms, plundering and conquering. His power grew, so too grew his insatiable greed and soon no world was safe from him.

Penumbrus was not all-powerful, however. Though he possessed the Crown of Light, he could only control it with the support of the Blade of Shadow, and the Mistress of Shadow was the only being with the power of pure Shadow left on Monkaa. Penumbrus could drain her power endlessly, but he could not simply kill her and take the power as he had done with the crown. So Penumbrus hid his mother away, far and deep where none could ever find her. Her last words before he sealed her crypt haunted him. "My son, your father and I made a grievous error. Light and Shadow cannot be melded, not even through love. Each must exist for that is the balance and way of the cosmos. For what we dared we are cursed, and so too are all of our people..."

Soon Penumbrus discovered the meaning of his mother's words. Since the day the Lord of Light fell, no children had been born on Monkaa. Tales of strange pulsing stones and odd primitive beings born of the very elements of Monkaa abounded. These beings, called Gohlem were neither light nor shadow, good or evil, but grew and changed in a myriad of different ways. Some were drawn to Penumbrus and his power, but others wandered Monkaa choosing their own paths.

Many found their way to Empyreus. Stronger and harder after years in exile, but still generous and kind, Empyreus forged a brotherhood out of these new Gohlem. First among equals, he named his new clan The Gearo. Empyreus learned that the Gohlem had an elemental link to the very fabric of the world of Monkaa and could create tools and weapons of great power. The Gearo worked and trained and forged and when they were ready they marched against Penumbrus and his Shade Demon hordes. Many battles were fought, many lives lost and much destruction wrought. The former peoples of the Kingdom of Light and the Empire of Shadow gradually died out, all but replaced by the Gohlem. Empyreus and his Gearo pursued Penumbrus and his Shade Demons relentlessly. Finally the brothers faced each other, alone, in a blasted wasteland in the deepest part of the Sea of Sands.

Empyreus was brave and fought with righteous fury, but Penumbrus was ever the stronger and held the Crown of Light and the Blade of Shadow and his brother was no match for him. Finally, bloody and beaten, Empyreus lay at his brother's feet. "Fool! You are no better than our weakling father. All is MINE, and now I will burn you as I should have years ago." But as Penumbrus prepared to use the power of the Crown to destroy his brother, something wondrous happened. The Crown burned. It burned with the fury of a thousand suns. It burned Penumbrus. It burned his head and face, turning it into a ruin and a horror, the stuff of nightmares. He fell screaming and the crown rose in the air to settle on Empyreus' brow. Just as Penumbrus was the son of Shadow, Empyreus was the true son of Light. The Crown of Light had sensed a kindred spirit and merged with Empyreus, healing his deformities and wounds and sheathing him in a gleaming shell of bright crimson armor. Broken but undefeated Penumbrus hissed his hatred at his brother, "Whelp! You may have father's power now, but I am still the Lord of Shadows. You may have killed Penumbrus, but you will never defeat the Shadows! You will never defeat Umbreus!" And with that the creature that was once Penumbrus, now renamed Umbreus, turned and slashed open a dark rift with the Blade of Shadow and escaped into the darkness.

Empyreus and his surviving Gearo returned to the shattered remains of the Realm of Light and Shadow. He and his clan built the Citadel of The Gearo as a beacon to all Gohlem who would follow a path of right and good. Empyreus knew he would forever battle his brother to protect Monkaa and all the worlds beyond, for now he held the power of Light, just as Umbreus controlled the power of Shadow. So each time Umbreus opened a rift to conquer and plunder, Empyreus too opened a rift to arm and protect. Though Monkaa had changed, and it's denizens had changed, the battle of Light and Shadow, of good and evil continued. The Great Gear continued to turn and as it turned so were born the Weaponeers of Monkaa.
Fandar Sun paused. "So now you know the beginning of the Chronicle of Monkaa, Stranger.”
The Stranger contemplated this a moment. "That’s how the war between the Gearo and Vilhain began...".
Fandar Sun chuckled, "Oh my no. That's how the war between Empyreus and Umbreus began. I've yet to tell you of Brutok and the Cult of Vilhain, and how Umbreus came to be their Lord. But that is indeed a story for another day; best told by Palidar, last of the Paladins of Light. Right now, I think something else requires our attention."

Fandar Sun pointed to the life spring and The Stranger turned and saw a glittering hand rise from the gently bubbling waters...

EPILOGUE: The Return


The Stranger ran to the life spring and grasped the crystalline hand that emerged. With a heave he helped the powerful figure up out of the waters.
"Thank you my friend," said the Crystal Gohlem. "You're alive! You can speak!" cried the stranger. "Yes, I am reborn, thanks to you and Lord Empyreus." The Stranger regarded his friend. Gone were the crude features of a simple Gohlem of Monkaa. Instead the Crystal Gohlem now wore a glittering crystal helm, similar to the one worn by Palidar. He was taller, more heavily armored, and the curiosity in his eyes was now joined by wisdom and strength.

"Ah, perfect timing!" Ambro, Chamberlain of the Gearo bustled into the chamber of the life spring. "Lord Empyreus has left the dream forge! He's good as new and would like to see all of you in the great hall! Come on! Don't keep him waiting!" And without waiting to see if they followed, Ambro bustled off the way he came. The Gohlem glanced at The Stranger and they shared a laugh.

"Well, you heard the Chamberlain!" said Fandar Sun, and off they went. The greatest warriors and dignitaries of The Gearo were gathered in the great hall. At it's center was a great stone table in the shape of a gear. Empyreus beckoned The Stranger, "Come, sit." The Stranger recognized Empyreus, Palidar and Ambro amongst the warriors and worthies around the table. "I see I'm not the only one who's feeling better," Empyreus said, noting the presence of the Crystal Gohlem standing behind The Stranger's chair. "Thank you Lord Empyreus, I owe you and The Stranger my life," said the Gohlem. Empyreus nodded, "I'm glad you've rejoined us, brother Gohlem. Welcome back." He turned to The Stranger. "Well, your first visit to Monkaa has certainly been exciting my friend!" he said.

"Indeed. I could stay forever in your realm and still not see all of its majesty. But I think it's time I returned to my world," The Stranger replied.
Empyreus smiled and then spoke slowly and deliberately, "You are always welcome in Monkaa, friend Stranger. I hope we can count you as an ally in the war to come. You've heard the chronicle and seen a glimpse of what Umbreus is capable of. He is as much a threat to your world as ours. In truth, he is a threat to all worlds... and despite our best efforts Umbreus and his dark Gohlem have learned the art of Weaponeering. He is now not only plundering other worlds but also arming bloodthirsty allies and recruiting ruthless armies. He means to bend the cosmos to his will. He must be opposed. Will you join us?"

The Stranger contemplated. He opened his vision fully and took in the full power and aura of Empyreus and The Gearo. Then he spoke. "Of course," said The Stranger, "It's high time I finally chose a side." "My lord, I have a request..." interrupted the Crystal Gohlem, "...I owe a life debt to you and The Stranger and I wish to accompany him back to his world as a brother in arms." Empyreus looked to The Stranger, "What say you?" The Stranger nodded and replied, "I'd be honored to have my new friend, a true Gearo warrior, by my side. Thank you both." Empyreus smiled. "Then it's agreed! I will open the rift tomorrow at dawn and then you and the Crystal Gohlem will depart. Tonight, you will be our guest! Ambro, prepare a feast! Let us show the Stranger a true Gearo celebration!”

The Weaponsmith unlocked the door to the workshop. It was quiet, much as he had left it a fortnight before when he last saw The Stranger. The pile of raw materials was gone, but nothing stood in its place. Puzzled, The Weaponsmith looked around the empty chamber. Suddenly the air in the center of the room seemed to quiver, then crack. Cases of weapons and tools fell through the rift and landed on the floor. The Weaponsmith was shocked but had no time to recover as the weapons were immediately followed by two figures.

"Hello Master Smith," The Stranger said grinning. The Weaponsmith turned his gaze to The Stranger's companion, a powerful glittering crystalline figure. "Well met, Master Smith," the Crystal Gohlem said. The Weaponsmith stared in stunned silence. "I found the source of your wondrous weapons, but perhaps you should sit down and catch your breath. I have quite a tale for you..." The Stranger said…

…And The Stranger and the Crystal Gohlem laughed.

Visit us at and http://www.weaponeersofmonkaa.comand check out our store at!

Re: The Weaponeers of Monkaa Chronicles

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:00 pm
by SpyMonkeyJeremy

Story by Jeremy Sung and Brian Stevenson
Written by Jeremy Sung
Art by Nate Baertsch

Chapter One: Blood of My Blood


It was white. Bright white. Painfully so, and it was in this blinding white light that Lady Noiria, The Mistress of Shadow withered.

Suspended in a chamber of unrelenting light she suffered, alone and lost. Merely clinging to life by using a small rift in the light through which she could channel her last remaining stores of energy, drawing on the great power of Shadow. However, the rift was a terrible double-edged sword. Though it let her live it also granted its creator the ability to siphon off the majority of the great power of Shadow, leaving her only the barest dregs, just enough to keep her alive. Her jailor and creator of this cruel trap was none other than her first-born son, Umbreus, Overlord of The Vilhain.

"Hello Mother." Umbreus appeared as always, with no warning.

One moment it was endless whiteness, then a blot of dark oozing purple and green. Within was Umbreus' leering death's head.
"They're all dead you know. Father, that stunted whelp Empyreus, The Kingdom of Light. All dead. All is mine, as it should be. I win. I will always win," hissed Umbreus.

"You lie, son. Delusional as ever," sighed the Mistress of Shadow.

"Oh I do, mother dear. I do, but my lies have flecks of truth buried in them, and I leave it to you to try and find them," taunted Umbreus. "Though I've beaten those sniveling Gearo again and again they manage to survive! I need an edge. I need something to end their foolish resistance once and for all. I need more mother, give me more of your power!"

"You’ve taken all you can my son, I've nothing else to give. You fail to realize that you can never truly stand triumphant, neither Light nor Shadow can ever best the other. The balance will always endure..." answered The Mistress wearily.

The darkness around Umbreus grew even deeper. Suddenly and with terrifying speed he lashed out, striking The Mistress of Shadow a series of savage blows. Blood sprayed from her wounds, covering Umbreus. "Silence! No one doubts the might of Umbreus! No one! You'll soon regret every..."

Then Umbreus paused. The armor on his body where his mother's blood had fallen blackened and fused, burning painfully. "What trick is this witch?” Umbreus howled in pain, “Hsssss...! You'll suffer for this!" and with that Umbreus withdrew leaving The Mistress of Shadow alone and wounded in her prison of light.


It had been weeks since Umbreus' confrontation with The Mistress of Shadow. Her clotted blood had stained his armor. Nothing, not fire, nor ice, nor crackling mystic energy would cleanse him. The clots grew and infected his body, making it difficult for him to move. Soon he was fused to his throne. Imprisoned, he raged and cursed in madness and agony. The glow of light from his eyes was the only hint that The Lord of the Vilhain yet lived. Even that eventually dimmed.

Without Umbreus to rule them, Brutok took over the day-to-day matters of ruling The Vilhain. He still raided Gearo lands and fought border skirmishes, but the green giant’s real priority was sending team after team of Vilhain into the wilds of Monkaa in search of a goal known only to him and his highest ranking lieutenants. As he had many times in the past weeks, Brutok debriefed a recently returned scouting party of Venom Gohlem.

"General Brutok..." said the green armored Venom Captain.

Brutok interrupted his minion, "Search success?"

"Unfortunately not my General. We went as far as the edge of the Howling Chasms and still no sign of"

Brutok paused, and if it was in rage or sadness only Brutok knew. "Return to barracks. Try again tomorrow. I go myself. Find...her..."

The Captain bowed and his men filed out of the throne room. Brutok stayed for a moment, glaring at Umbreus' frozen form and then he too left. Silence fell over the empty chamber. There was no one left to see a single crack appear in the crusted cocoon that was once Umbreus. A crack that widened and began to ooze bright crimson blood...


"Steady on, son." Palidar strode over to the area that the two Steel Gohlem were sparring. One had been a tad overzealous and knocked himself and his opponent into a rack of weapons. Palidar leaned in and gave them a hand up.
"Don’t lose control. That's the key to victory," scolded the Gearo Commander. "You may one day be up to your eyes in Vilhain with your back to the wall, but never lose control. Trust your skills and the brothers around you and you'll win the day." The Steel Gohlem returned to their sparring as Palidar righted the weapons rack and began returning the fallen gear to the proper places.

"What a mess!" cried a familiar voice. Palidar turned to see Ambro, the Chamberlain of the Gearo Citadel. "Oh rivets, what a mess. Who did this, Palidar?"
"Not to worry old friend, I've got it under control," said the Gearo Commander, smiling.

"Someone needs to be reported for this. We simply cannot have this sort of...chaos in our midst,” fretted Ambro.

"It's fine, you old fusspot," laughed Palidar, "they are new to life and still learning."

"Well, see that it doesn't happen again," muttered Ambro as he walked off.

Palidar turned back to his task but was again interrupted. "Commander Palidar! Our lookouts report Vilhain activity near the Shard Caves!" announced the approaching Crystal Gohlem Scout.

"Probably another raiding party. One company of Gearo Home Guard should be able to take care of it,” replied the grizzled warrior.

"But Commander, they're being lead by Brutok..." said the scout.

Palidar paused and his thoughts drifted back to a time long past...

It was a bright clear day. On a raised platform the Lord of Light and Mistress of Shadow stood, hands clasped.
"On this day, peace comes to Monkaa! To symbolize the union of The Kingdom of Light and The Empire of Shadow, our two finest warriors will pledge themselves to be brothers!” the announcement evoked a joyous cheer from the gathered throng.
"Rise, Palidar, noblest and truest of the Defenders of Light!" declared The Lord of Light. A much younger Palidar climbed the steps to the platform, bowing humbly before his liege.
"Come forward, my loyal Brutok,” sang out the Mistress of Shadow, “mightiest and most favored of my Warriors of Shadow!" A youthful Brutok joined them on the platform and gazed up at his beloved mistress in adoration.
The two warriors then turned and locked forearms.
"Well met, Brother," said Palidar.
"Aye, may we fight side by side from this day forth," answered Brutok...

Palidar's focus shifted back to the present. He pondered a moment longer and answered "...I think I will take care of this myself, soldier."

Chapter Two: Blood Tide


Brutok trudged doggedly through a winding ravine in the great Shard Caves.

The reflective crystal walls and pillars created a kaleidoscope of rainbow colors. Shadows and light created a chaotic mix of constantly shifting patterns. It seemed a perfect place to hide something, or someone, of great value.

“Still searching, eh?" Brutok looked up and saw Palidar, flanked by a team of Steel and Crystal Gohlem standing on the edge of the ravine.

Now more than ever Brutok was sure that he was so close to his goal!

"Palidar. Out of way. Be gone,” Brutok called out. “Today I let you live."

"I am afraid not, old foe. I cannot let you go any further, you are too close to Gearo lands and I will not have you and your thugs harm any of our people."

A moment of silence passed and then the giant green Vilhain burst into action, hurling himself at the steel clad Gearo Commander. Their combat was perfect. Each blow served and countered effortlessly, as if each fighter knew the other's next move before it was made. So long had these two titans fought that it was nigh impossible for either to get an advantage.

Not so for their soldiers and henchmen however. The disciplined Gearo warriors clashed with a berserk mob of Vilhain raiders. Steel Gohlem formed a defensive ring as Crystal Gohlem struck with precision from within.
The Magma Gohlem seethed and boiled, launching waves of molten projectiles and burning lava, while Venom Gohlem struck and retreated in a impossible to predict pattern of poison strikes. Slowly The Gearo discipline began to turn the tide. The Vilhain forces fell, wounded and dazed as The Gearo stolidly advanced. All the while Palidar and Brutok fought, neither able to get the upper hand.
Finally, Brutok stood alone among his fallen soldiers.

"Give up Brutok. It's over. Take your surviving troops and go," commanded Palidar.

"No!! Must find...her!" shouted the Vilhain General.

A look of sadness came over the face of the Gearo Commander. "Old...friend. She's gone. Let go of your rage..." said Palidar quietly.

"Never! Gearo lie! You lie! Give her to me!" roared Brutok.

Suddenly the cave darkened as a shadow rift opened and a familiar voice hissed out of the darkness. "Yes Palidar. Give her back to Brutok. You scheming Gearo are hiding her aren't you? Empyreus' dear mother, The Mistress of Shadow, is all we want, to have our queen back. That is why Brutok and the noble Vilhain fight. We simply want Shadow to have its freedom from the tyranny of Light..."

"Take your lackeys and go Umbreus, I have no time for your games today!" shouted Palidar.
"I think not, you steel plated old fool!" screamed Umbreus.

Then two bolts of darkness, seething with a bloody red light, burst from the rift, piercing Palidar's armor and knocking him from his feet.

"Rally my brothers! Stay true!" ordered Palidar through bloodied lips.

Then the rift opened fully and Umbreus, Overlord of The Vilhain strode through. Though he was not the familiar purple and green armored figure Palidar expected. Umbreus' armor was a deep black and the seams and joints flowed with fresh crimson blood. Umbreus' terrible face was a ghastly bone white, grinning out of the bloodshot black armor.

"You're outnumbered Umbreus! Take your men and go," barked a still defiant Palidar.

Umbreus looked around the cave, noting his dead and wounded minions as well as the Gearo forces. "Hssssss… Pathetic..." whispered the Lord of the Vilhain.

"Take him!" shouted Palidar and a pair of Steel Gohlem rushed the demon. Their form was flawless as one struck from above and one from below, but Umbreus moved with unnerving speed. He caught one Gohlem with an upraised claw, spearing him through the chest plate, while pinning the other to the cave floor with his sickle. An oozing black corruption spread from the wounds of both Steel Gohlem dimming their shining steel armor and immobilizing them.

" My turn..." hissed Umbreus, and he tore through the Gearo forces like a scythe through so many blades of grass, striking down each brave warrior, leaving blackened bodies in his wake. Finally only Palidar remained, backed against a wall, alone and wounded.

"Finish it then," grunted the Gearo Commander.

"Finish it? You poor fool, I've barely begun…" replied Umbreus as a foul darkness seeped out from his shadow to engulf all of the fallen warriors, Gearo and Vilhain alike. The frozen black forms stirred and cracked, bloody seams opening up as the blackened armor cracked and shifted. "Rise my Bloodlust Warriors!" howled the Overlord of the Vilhain.

For the first time in centuries, Palidar felt fear as the horror of a dozen bloodlust corrupted Gohlem closed in around him...


It only took a few short weeks for the Vilhain to all but win the war.

With each battle the ranks of the Vilhain grew, fallen soldiers on each side rising up as Bloodlust Warriors. One by one, the Gearo outposts and encampments fell.

The path of destruction left in Umbreus’ Bloodlust ravaged wake was leading to a last stand at the Gearo Citadel. Empyreus, Fandar Sun, and Ambro gathered their remaining forces but they were hard pressed on all sides and they knew their defenses would inevitably fail. The Gearo soldiers tried to rally but the loss of Palidar was a terrible blow. Without their stolid old Commander, many of the younger Gearo were lost and afraid...


"Move it runt!" shouted the Venom Gohlem Captain with a vicious kick.

The intended target grunted and tried to roll with the blow, but even so his armor cracked as he bit back the pain. "My apologies, Captain," said the Obsidian Gohlem.
"Out of the way and let your superiors pass," replied the Captain.
The Obsidian Gohlem looked on as a platoon of Venom Gohlem herded a large company of Bloodlust Warriors through a tunnel deep in the bowels of Castle Umbreus. The Venom Gohlem swaggered and laughed as they marched, their morale buoyed by their imminent victory over the Gearo. But the Bloodlust Warriors marched just as they fought, with a silence that was both grim and terrifying. As the crowd moved by, the Captain shouted back, "Get back to work, you flawed runt! See to the prisoner."

The Obsidian Gohlem picked himself up and gathered the bucket of slop he had been carrying. "Yes Captain," he said, and limped off. He slowly followed the winding path around the great chasm at the center of Castle Umbreus to the lowest levels where he and his fellow Obsidian Gohlem toiled.

This particular Gohlem was called Flaw, and he was lowly even for an Obsidian Gohlem. The bulk of the Vilhain forces were made up of bright green Venom Gohlem and seething Magma Gohlem. Obsidian Gohlem were related to Magma Gohlem, but unlike their molten cousins, they were neither born fighters nor shape shifters. Their bodies were formed of hardened volcanic glass. They were extremely strong and excelled at digging and excavation so most were set to work below Castle Umbreus. Their job was to mine for precious raw material and expand the network of caves below the castle. The warrior castes of the Vilhain looked down on the Obsidians and saw them as mere laborers, useful only for their strength. Flaw however had a crack in his heartstone. Despite his great natural strength the crack made him tire quickly and so he was unable to tolerate the long hours of digging that mining or excavating required. So he was relegated to menial tasks like clearing rubble and moving supplies and wastes. Recently though he'd been given a new task, guarding a prisoner.

Flaw stopped at the door of the prisoner's cell, opening the small grate pushing the slop bucket through. "Hhhn, hhhnnn. Time to eat," he wheezed, for the long march and the kick from the Venom Captain had taken its toll on him. Flaw coughed and sagged against the cell door.

"Are you alright son?" replied the prisoner.

"Never you mind Gearo!" growled Flaw, "I am Vilhain, I am strong and we will crush you and your kind!"

A pause. "You're not a fighter son, so it wasn't a Gearo that did that to you."

Another pause. A fit of coughing prevented Flaw from responding.

"That's no way to treat your own,” the prisoner continued. “That's not the Gearo way."

Unsure of how to respond to this unexpected compassion, Flaw gathered himself up and limped away down the tunnel.

Back in the cell, Palidar picked through the slop bucket to try and find something edible.

Chapter Three: Betrayal


Castle Umbreus was silent.

Gone was the swaggering banter of the Venom Gohlem and the bubbling grunts and gurgles of the Magma Gohlem. It was silent as a tomb and it was just how Umbreus liked it. He sat on his blackened throne and surveyed his armies. Rank upon rank of Bloodlust Warriors stood at attention awaiting his command. Victory was at hand, and he had tired of the unruliness and lack of discipline in his Venom and Magma Gohlem. So he had struck them down one by one, transforming them into Bloodlust Warriors. Silent. Obedient. Deadly.

"Soon I will have it all, Brutok. It will all be mine. Monkaa. Finally. Forever. As it should be," sighed Umbreus with a perverse pleasure to his tone.

Brutok stood silent before his lord and master. Gone were the Vilhain soldiers, his loyal troops, replaced by mindless Bloodlust Warriors. A terrible sacrifice, but worth it if it meant he could save her, the Mistress of Shadows.
"When Gearo gone, we find Mistress." It wasn't a question.

"Yes, yes, you sentimental brute," said Umbreus. "A little more patience and you'll get what you deserve."

"Good," said the Vilhain General as he turned to leave.

"Yes... just what you deserve..." whispered Umbreus as he silently strode up behind Brutok, and without warning stabbed him in the back with his scythe, tearing a deep gash in Brutok’s armor. "You fool, your mewling and whining for my Mother is at an end. Your love for her has always been your greatest weakness..." hissed Umbreus as Brutok fell to his knees. "Now die and be reborn as my obedient Bloodlust General!"

But then, a most curious thing happened, the black corruption in Umbreus' touch changed when it came in contact with Brutok's flesh, becoming fresh blood, clean and pure. "No! N-n-n-n-noooooo!" stammered Umbreus.

Brutok reached back to try to staunch the flow of blood from his wound. Then recognition lit his eyes as he touched the blood. "This. Her blood. Gearo not take her. YOU take her!" roared Brutok as he slammed into Umbreus. The enraged green giant rained blow after blow on Umbreus and the bloody dictator was hard pressed to defend himself. But the wound he'd given Brutok had taken its toll. Brutok paused as a fresh gout of blood burst from the wound in his back, and Umbreus blasted him with black energy, knocking the green giant across the throne room.

"Traitorous scum!" shrieked Umbreus. "Crush him my Bloodlust Warriors!"
Brutok was set upon by wave after wave of Umbreus' silent minions. For a moment it seemed like Brutok's rage could stem the tide but wounded as he was he could not stop them all. Gradually he was pushed back until he found himself at the edge of the great central chasm of Castle Umbreus. "You hurt Noiria! You destroy Vilhain! Brutok END YOU!" shouted the raging green titan.

"Lovesick Fool. You are of no further use to me. Umbreus. Does. Not. Share." And with that Umbreus called forth a cataclysmic storm of black energy and blasted the General of the Vilhain into the seemingly bottomless chasm.
After a few moments, silence fell once again in Castle Umbreus.


"You must know something of what's going on, son..." said Palidar.

"I'm not your son! I told you my name is Flaw, you old Gearo fool!" growled the frustrated Obsidian Gohlem.

Palidar replied from inside his cell, "It's been days, son. You bring me food, you stand guard, but the overseer hasn't been by to question me and even the sounds of mining have stopped. The castle is silent. What's going on?"

Flaw didn't reply. In truth he was afraid. Had the Gearo won? Had Umbreus abandoned the castle? What was going on?

"Have you been doing the meditation exercises I taught you?" asked Palidar changing the subject.

"Yes... Thank you," replied Flaw, "It has helped a lot, I'm not as uselessly weak as before."

"No one is useless, son." Flaw was about remind Palidar once more not to call him son when the entire prison area was shaken by a tremendous crash. "What was that?" asked Palidar.

"I don't know..." replied Flaw. A horribly desperate cry echoed through the tunnel.

"I think you better let me out of this cell, son," said Palidar.

"I think you're right," replied Flaw reaching for the keys...

It took Palidar and Flaw some time to get out of the prison area. Many of the tunnels had collapsed and Palidar was weak from his imprisonment, and though stronger than before, Flaw still had a weak heartstone. Eventually, they dug through the last collapsed area and entered the base of the great chasm of Castle Umbreus. What they saw was a fortress abandoned. The husks and cocoons left behind by the birthing of Bloodlust Warriors littered the silent chamber. "Did he do this to his own soldiers?" asked Palidar sadly.

Yes," replied Flaw, " the end he even drafted the Obsidian Gohlem miners and made them into more Bloodlust Warriors. I don't know if he skipped me because I'm weak or if he forgot about me altogether..."

"You and me both," replied Palidar, "I'm surprised I didn't end up one of those mindless things...."

"I.... I told him you had died of your wounds," confessed Flaw. Palidar smiled.

"Well, it seems we have a choice," said Palidar. "You can either keep me prisoner here as the last Vilhain, or you can come with me to the Gearo Citadel."

"As your prisoner?" asked Flaw. "As a friend, son," replied Palidar, "So what will it be?"
Before Flaw could reply another terrible howl rang out and the chamber shook. A large heap of rubble in the center of the chamber burst apart as a bloody and ragged figure rose out of the ruin. It was Brutok. Palidar and Flaw could feel the rage coming off him in searing waves. Brutok howled again and threw himself at the duo, blind in his thirst for revenge. Palidar was knocked off his feet and thrown into a wall with a crash. Flaw ducked the blow and scrambled out of the way as Brutok slowly came to his senses.

"Who?" roared the enraged green giant.

"I'm nobody..." mumbled Flaw, "j-j-j-just an Obsidian Gohlem, General Brutok."

"Leave him be, Brutok," said a dusty and bedraggled Palidar as he climbed from the wreckage wrought by the attack, "It's me you want."

Brutok stopped. "No. No more fight. Only fight one. Only fight Umbreus," stated Brutok flatly.

Palidar was taken aback. "Finally came to your senses eh, old...friend?" he asked.

"Not friend. Maybe... Maybe ally.” said Brutok.

Palidar smiled again, "Come on son, I think we three have a lot of work to do."

"Don't call me son..." said Flaw as they helped Brutok up and began the long climb out of the chasm.

Chapter Four: Bloodlust Apocalypse


They never stood a chance.

The final attack had come and the last of the Gearo defenders had retreated into the Citadel. A thin gleaming red line of Elite Guard led by Empyreus. Each one was a veteran of countless campaigns across a thousand worlds, but even they felt the stirrings of fear as the massive army of Bloodlust Warriors came into view. They moved almost soundlessly, mindless, bent on one thing, destruction.

Empyreus and his men threw them back with Gearo discipline and fortitude. The leader of the Gearo threw up rift after rift, redirecting enemy fire back at them, moving his men out of harms way or into flanking positions. Empyreus was a blur of motion, attacking, supporting and striking where he was needed most. One pair of Elite Guard found themselves surrounded by Bloodlust Warriors. Empyreus blasted free of the two foes he was engaged with and leapt to their aid. His soldiers saw him coming and moved into position as he landed. The three warriors fought back to back in a rotating triangle formation until they made it back to the Gearo line.

They were fast met by Toro, the horned veteran captain of the Gearo Elite Guard. Empyreus looked around. The line had been terribly diminished. No more than fifty Gearo made this last stand at the gate of the great Gearo Citadel. "Are we all that’s left, Toro?" asked Empyreus.

"Aye my Lord. I saw Crimson and his men fall defending the eastern parapet. Rojo and his troops were taken driving the hordes from the gate," answered Toro.

"What should we do sir," asked one of the younger soldiers. Before either Toro or Empyreus could answer, a rift of shadow and blood tore open above the battle arena.

Umbreus had arrived. They saw his ghastly white face materialize out of the mass of black and red warriors surrounding them, his gruesome death's head visage leering mercilessly at the sea of fallen Gearo. In his wake fallen warriors from both sides rose and joined his ranks. The end had come and it tasted of blood and dust and death. "It is over little brother," proclaimed the Lord of the Vilhain.

"You expect us to surrender?" Empyreus asked defiantly.

"I expect you to be exterminated,” Umbreus stated flatly. “Your deaths will swell my ranks. I will have your precious Citadel and within it the Gearo Lifespring. My victory will be complete."

The Gearo around Empyreus turned to their leader. "It is the end, my Lord," said Toro, "We will buy you what time we can."

A look of deep sadness came over Empyreus, "I should be with you at the end, my brothers..."

"No my Lord," replied Toro with conviction, "You must protect the Lifespring."
And with that the last of the Gearo Elite Guard launched a final charge against the legion of Bloodlust Warriors. They were magnificent. They fought with a fury unmatched by the mindless drones they faced. They met their doom with honor like true Gearo. Empyreus said a silent prayer to the Great Gear for his noble brethren and turned to face the gates of the Gearo Citadel. He ran forward and opened a long rift across the face of the Citadel, warping away part of the walls and the foundation. As the mighty edifice began to crumble and fall the Lord of the Gearo threw himself into the maelstrom of broken stone...


"We will stop now and start again at dawn. We are only a short march from the Gearo Citadel," said Palidar.

"How can you tell time down here in these tunnels?" asked the stout Obsidian Gohlem. The trio of Palidar, Brutok and Flaw had made their way out of Vilhain territory and at the border of the Gearo lands Palidar had showed them the entrance to a secret network of tunnels that ran directly into the Gearo Citadel.

"Call it instinct," answered Palidar, "I've fought on worlds where day was night and night was day, always knew in my gut the where and when of it."

"Hrmph," grunted Brutok, as they prepared to make camp.

"What do you think we'll find when we get there? Everywhere we've been the land is deserted. Gearo and Vilhain gone. Has anyone survived?" asked Flaw.

Before Palidar could answer, Brutok interrupted, "Umbreus there. Brutok find. Brutok kill."

Palidar looked sadly at the warrior he had once called brother, then enemy and now ally. "There will be a reckoning son," he said quietly, "I just hope we're not too late. Right now I think you could use a bit more practice before we settle in for the night..."


"Again!" ordered Palidar, "Keep your guard up and keep striking!"

Flaw was exhausted. The sparring practice had been brief but intense. After one more punch and parry he slumped to the ground. "I can't...too...weak..." he said breathlessly.

"You've improved a lot, son. You can fight much longer than before and your instincts are as sharp as any Gearo soldier," urged Palidar.

"Hrmph, not right," called Brutok from across the cave. "Technique good. Getting better. But not right," said the big Vilhain as he walked up to the pair. Suddenly he threw a series of punches at Palidar who instinctively blocked the flurry of blows. "Technique good. Good for Palidar. Good for Brutok. Not good for him," Brutok said pointing to Flaw. "Him strong, but no stamina. Need something different," stated Brutok. "Palidar attack Brutok," the green titan commanded.

Palidar nodded and moved in to attack. Brutok stood still as Palidar feinted and weaved in series of moves until the first of Palidar's punches was about to connect. Without warning Brutok launched a mighty uppercut that blew past Palidar's punch and his guard and knocked the old Gearo Commander to the floor. "That how him need attack. Use strength. Wait for opening and overwhelm."

Palidar laughed as he got up, "You're right Brutok. Umbreus always underestimated that strategic cunning of yours."

"Umbreus a fool. Umbreus will pay." said Brutok solemnly as he stalked back to his side of the cave.

Flaw stared in awe at the Vilhain General and then nodded and took his battle stance once more...

Chapter Five: Last Stand of the Gearo


Empyreus was alive.

He had been able to bring down the entire front gate and wall of the Gearo Citadel, putting tons of rock and metal between himself and the Bloodlust army. His energy was spent. The Lord of the Gearo lay half buried in the main hall, for how long he wasn't sure. He willed himself to move but his battered body did not have the energy. His eyes were caked with dust and his armor was battered and crumpled. He thought he heard movement. Had the Bloodlust Warriors made it through already?

"Over here! Oh bolts, oh rivets!" exclaimed a familiar voice. Empyreus smiled as a friendly face came into view. “My Lord! Don't move! Let me see the extent of your injuries!" fussed Ambro, Chamberlain of the Gearo.

"He's fine," a serene voice answered, "He just needs a moment to collect himself." The pair were joined by Fandar Sun, High Cleric of the Gearo.

Empyreus painfully rose from the wreckage with help from Ambro. "My Lord, our troops...?" asked Ambro.

"Gone, Ambro. They fought to the last Gohlem. I wanted to stay and fight, but Toro reminded me of my duty," sighed Empyreus.

"As well he should," answered Fandar Sun, "There may yet be hope, but it requires that we risk all we have left." Fandar Sun continued as Ambro did his best to tend to Empyreus' wounds. "We cannot allow Umbreus to access the Lifespring. If he were to join its energy with his Bloodlust powers he would be a force unstoppable," stated the elder Gearo.

"So what do we do?" asked Empyreus, "Destroy the Lifespring?"

"It cannot be destroyed, my Lord, for it is life," explained Fandar. "Just as Umbreus has discovered the power of Bloodlust, so too must you find another power to answer his. You must enter the Lifespring."

"Oh bolts! That is madness!" interrupted Ambro, "Only dying Gohlem can enter the spring, Fandar! And not just that, Empyreus wears the Crown of Light! We dare not risk that much power concentrated in one place! It could destroy all of Monkaa!”

Empyreus thought for a moment. "No Ambro, I will take any chance we have if it means stopping Umbreus. He will not be satisfied with defeating us or stop at ruling Monkaa. The entire cosmos is at risk as long as he is free to wreak havoc.”

Fandar Sun nodded, "Then we must hurry..."

Before Fandar could complete his thought one of the side walls of the main hall blew apart and a familiar figure stepped through.

"Brutok!" cried Ambro, drawing a blaster preparing to attack.

"Wait!" said Fandar Sun, "He's not alone..."

Palidar and Flaw emerged from the dust filled gloomy cavern.

"What madness is this? Palidar alive! And in the company of Brutok! Oh bolts, oh rivets," confounded Ambro.

"Not to worry old friends," said Palidar, "He's on our side, at least for the moment. Allow me to introduce my new friend, Flaw. He kept me alive and helped me escape the Vilhain dungeon."

"Welcome to the Gearo Citadel friends, my apologies for the mess..." laughed Empyreus. Flaw nodded, a little confused by the Gearo Lord's lighthearted tone amongst the ruin surrounding them.

"How goes the defense?" asked Palidar.

"We three are all that remain Commander, and the Bloodlust army is digging its way in as we speak," answered Fandar Sun.

"Yes, and I was about to go take a dip in the Lifespring," added Empyreus.

Palidar raised an eyebrow. "...I...see. Well, what can we do?" he asked.

"I'll go with Fandar to the Lifespring, the rest of you stay here and do what you can to keep the enemy out as long as you can," answered Empyreus.

They all nodded and the battered leader of the Gearo and the High Cleric disappeared from the great hall.


The attack came suddenly, swift and vicious. The rubble blocking what was once the main gate to the Gearo Citadel collapsed and out boiled thousands of Bloodlust Warriors. The four remaining defenders fought admirably. Brutok and Palidar stood side by side as they took down hundreds of the drones. Fighting in tandem, they were a dynamo of battlefield prowess and perfection.

However, had there been any to observe the battle they would have been more surprised by the other pair of unlikely combatants. Ambro, bureaucrat and administrator though he was, fought like a true Gearo. Being slighter of frame than most Gearo, he attacked, spun, parried, and dodged in a blinding series of quick strikes. Flaw, on the other hand, had mastered the fighting style suggested by Brutok and stood like a solitary stone in a rushing river. Wasting no energy the former Vilhain prison guard waited as enemy after enemy approached, dropping each of them with a single mighty blow. Soon, Ambro and Flaw instinctively sensed each others fighting styles and began to work in tandem. Ambro harassed the enemy feinting and evading until they were drawn into Flaw's strike zone, where they were dropped one after another. Unfortunately, for all of this quartet’s valiant effort this was too similar to the tale told at the gates of the Citadel and the same ending was inevitable. Once again a dark foreboding overcame the defenders as Umbreus joined the battle.

"Well, well, Palidar. So you live. I also see we have a little traitor, that flawed runt of an Obsidian Gohlem. Ah, and Brutok. It seems I've been sloppy in tying up loose ends..." cursed Umbreus.
The look of rage in Brutok's eyes was immeasurable. Without a word he launched himself at Umbreus in a storm of punches.

"Well? Back him up!" shouted Palidar, as he and Ambro also attacked Umbreus. The trio made headway, actually pushing Umbreus back a step or two, but it didn't last. With a mighty heave Umbreus threw all three back with appalling force. Brutok was thrown headlong into a series of columns and buried. Ambro was launched across the chamber and hit a wall, landing in a tangled heap at its base. Palidar was thrown back with a dark blast and landed unmoving next to Ambro. Only Flaw stood between Umbreus and hallway leading to the Lifespring.

"So, the last soldier of the Gearo is a pathetic, traitorous, crippled weakling not even fit to toil in my mines like a grub..." chided the Lord of the Vilhain as he approached Flaw, "Stop this foolishness and I might grant you the honor of becoming a Bloodlust Warrior..."

Flaw did not answer, he stood perfectly still while the threat of certain death approached. As Umbreus raised a blood drenched clawed finger up to Flaw’s forehead digging into the black stone that was his skin, the stunted Gohlem pivoted ever so slightly. With the force of a Monkaarian granite bull, Flaw raised his fist square into the demon’s face. Sending Umbreus’ helmet flying.

Umbreus staggered, taken by surprise, and spat out a gob of blood, his own blood. "So the worm has teeth...,” he growled as he grabbed Flaw in a vice like choke, "You don't deserve the honor of being reborn a Bloodlust Warrior. I think I will leave your broken corpse for the cragghoppers." Flaw struggled and began to go limp as Umbreus tightened his grip. "It ends now!"

As his consciousness dimmed, Flaw thought he felt the air burning. Though it was not his imagination. The room was indeed brightening. Pure energy flooded the main hall as passage to the Lifespring poured out light as bright and as hot as a thousand suns.

"NO!" cried Umbreus, dropping Flaw to the floor, "NO!!!"

A figure wreathed in glowing light stepped out of the hallway. In panicked response Umbreus cloaked himself in deepest darkness, attempting to snuff out the blinding light. For a moment, Light and Dark balanced on a razor's edge neither side gaining the upper hand.

Just before he passed out Flaw noticed hardened shells of this strange light encapsulate Brutok, Palidar, Ambro and himself. Then the entire chamber trembled and was torn asunder by a cataclysmic maelstrom of energy.

Can Umbreus be stopped?
Will this Glowing Knight turn the tide?
Do our heroes survive or is the Bloodlust too strong?
Learn all of this and more in "Power of The Lifespring”,
the next exciting tale of Weaponeers of Monkaa!

Visit us at and http://www.weaponeersofmonkaa.comand check out our store at!

Re: The Weaponeers of Monkaa Chronicles

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:08 pm
by SpyMonkeyJeremy

Story by Jeremy Sung and Brian Stevenson
Written by Jeremy Sung
Art by Nate Baertsch

Chapter 1: The Lost Gohlem


The landscape was silent. It was just before dawn, and very still in this brief moment between night and day. Suddenly there was a ripple in the air, a deafening crack, and then a blinding explosion of light and fury. When the dust settled there was a crater, jagged on the edges like the broken shell of an egg. At the center of the crater a hunched figure stirred and slowly rose. It was a Gohlem of Monkaa. However, this Gohlem was different. Tall and perfectly formed, he pulsed with the glow of raw power. This newly awakened Gohlem surveyed the land and skies around him, quickly discovering he was alone and that he had no idea where he was.

Nor did he have any idea who he was.


The Glowstone Gohlem had been walking for some time. How long he wasn't sure but he'd seen the suns of Monkaa rise and fall more than once. He had no idea where he was headed, only that he needed to move and that his feet seemed to know where to go even if his head did not. On his way he saw the wildlife of Monkaa locked in the endless cycle of predator and prey. He marveled at the great herds of Mud Leviathans bellowing from the muddy banks of a great river. He stood in awe at the prowling Wolfhawks soaring high, ever hungry for a stray pup. He knew to duck into cover when he heard the hissing shriek of a giant Sky Wyrm passing overhead, and to run for high ground when he felt the vibrations of a Sand Tiger moving below his feet. He could not explain or recall why he knew these survival tactics, but they were as instinctual to him as breathing or walking.

As he traveled the expanse of this majestic planet he wondered at the fact that he knew these beasts, how they hunted and how to avoid them, yet had no idea who he himself was or how he came to find himself in the deepest parts of the Monkaarian wilderness. Eventually his march led him to a rough shepherd's track, which in turn led to a stone cobbled road. He followed the road and eventually saw two figures in the distance. He recognized them as Gohlem like himself immediately and set off at a run. As he drew near he overheard them arguing.

"Told you! You listen to ol' Sooty and just keep walkin' already!" proclaimed one.

"But Sooty, me feet’re sore and the pack be heavy!" replied the other.

"Char, dear Gohlem, we've got to get dis load of ore to the next village an dat's what we're gonna do!" bellowed the one called Sooty.

The Glowstone Gohlem approached. Upon seeing him, the pair of Obsidian Gohlem immediately stopped bickering and fell to their knees. "Beggin' your pardon, Lord. We are just humble porters." they groveled.

"Lord?" asked the Glowstone Gohlem. "I'm no Lord, just… just a...pilgrim." he added, not sure why he chose that word.

"But you are marked with the emblem of the Vilhain, Lord," the older more upright of the two replied.

The Glowstone Gohlem looked down at his chest and noticed the skull-like emblem there. "This...this means Vil-hain?" he asked quietly.

"Aw, he's havin' us on, he is!" whispered the one called Char.

"Shut up!" barked Sooty. "Grant us mercy Lord Vilhain, take our meager goods if you must, but don't toy with us. Please let us live", he begged.

The Glowstone Gohlem was thoroughly confused but decided to bluff his way through. "So be it," he replied sternly. "You've done well to pass my test, loyal Gohlem. Carry on," he commanded. He collected a modest bag of provisions from their cart and walked towards a small village he could just make out in the distance.

"Thank you Lord! Thank you for your mercy!" they said as they got up.

The Glowstone Gohlem frowned as he walked away. That pair of Obsidian Gohlem were absolutely terrified of him. This Vilhain emblem clearly was a symbol of tyranny and terror. Why did he wear it? Who was he and what had he done in the past...?

He was so engrossed in this self-examination that he missed the shouted warnings from Sooty and Char as they receded into the distance. "Beware the Blood Walkers, Lord! Forge your weapons! Find shelter before dark...!"

Chapter 2: The Thing in the Dark.


Everything was broken.

It was midday and the Glowstone Gohlem had arrived at the ruins of a small Monkaarian village. His hope was to find some villagers, someone who could help him learn more about his whereabouts, if not his identity. Unfortunately, the village looked like a powerful tornado, or a pack of ravenous sand tigers had torn through it. Walls were caved in and collapsed and there were claw marks and slashes on most surfaces. There was no sign of life anywhere in this sacked hamlet that appeared to be a once bustling town. The Glowstone Gohlem edged past some broken beams into the ruins of a small house. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness within he spied a figure sitting motionless on the floor similar to the two Gohlem he had met recently.
"Hello...? Are you all right? Do you need help?” he asked.

The figure twitched slightly and slowly turned toward him. It was a Gohlem, or at least it resembled one. It shared the size, shape, and many the same features of what he would expect a Gohlem of Monkaa to exhibit, but it's body was shot through with bloody red cracks and it's eyes pulsed with a dead white light. Shrieking horribly it lunged at the Glowstone Gohlem. He noticed its claws bleed and reform into large blades like sickles.

Recoiling in shock and horror the Glowstone Gohlem instinctively fell into a defensive stance. His own hand glowed, and with a tingling sensation he could only describe as a small electric jolt, it formed itself into a large blade resembling the wing of a mighty falcon. Sharp and true he swung the blade and parried the attacks of the enraged creature. The hideous thing was howling and shrieking as it attacked, a flurry of rage and bloodlust with no control or restraint of any kind. Gradually the wild attacks drove the Glowstone Gohlem back and he found himself tangled in the debris littering the ruined home.

"ENOUGH!" he bellowed and his other hand morphed into a large war hammer. Shocked as he was at this new found ability to seemingly forge battle ready weapons out of his own limbs, he struck the thing a mighty blow knocking it back through what remained of the sidewall of the house and into the street.

As the monstrous creature rose up it began shrieking even more fiercely when the rays of the midday suns shone down upon it. The beast’s skin crackled and boiled, but this seemed only to enrage it further. It charged at the Glowstone Gohlem, who had now emerged from the ruins, and attacked once again. The brave Glowstone Gohlem had had enough. He steeled himself for a final blow and suddenly both weapons he wielded began glowing with power. Almost involuntarily they both reformed into long conical cannon like barrels. “By the Great Gear!” he exclaimed as the cannons began to well with energy. He thrust both towards the rampaging thing and blasted the crazed creature with twin beams of pure glowing light. The blood walker shrieked when struck by the beams and an even brighter blaze of light burst forth and generated an earth-shaking explosion launching both combatants into the ruins. Then silence.


"He’s comin' to, he is!"

The Glowstone Gohlem slowly opened his eyes to find himself staring up at the curious faces of Sooty and Char, the Obsidian Gohlem Porters he had met earlier.

"Easy there, Lord..." said Sooty.

"What happened? That creature!" the Glowstone Gohlem said as he sat upright.

"Easy, easy, you took care of it you did! Did I not tell you our Lord Vilhain would beat it, Char?" said Sooty with a wide and crooked grin.

"Ne’er thought I be happy to see Vilhain..." mumbled Char.

"I...I'm not a Vilhain. I don't know why I have this symbol. I don't know who I am..." confessed the Glowstone Gohlem.

"Hmmmm. A right mystery this one is, Char! I thought as much," said Sooty. "Been an age since we seen a Gohlem all glowey and shiny like you. Last time were the Toxic Glow Brutes, but the Gearo Lord of Light, Gearion banished them an eon ago. Your speech is too good to be one of them, and I ne’er met a Vilhain didn't give me a crack across the jaw soon as look at me..." he went on.

Gearo? Lord of Light? Thought the Glowstone Gohlem. These were familiar terms but he couldn’t remember why.

"The creature, you said I took care of it?" asked the Glowstone Gohlem.

"Aye! Sooty and me seen dat all! We followed after meetin’ on the road. We seen you wander this way. We knew dat Blood Walker was about. Did not want you to think we be pointin’ you to a trap!" said Char excitedly.

"It was a...Blood Walker?" asked the Glowstone Gohlem.

"Aye, dat all what we be callin’ them,” explained Char. “Terrible things. Hide durin' the day and come out after dark to attack any living thing.”

“Enough of them gather...well, you see what one can do," said Sooty gesturing to the ruins around them.

"Show me the body," said the Glowstone Gohlem quietly.

Sooty and Char led the Glowstone Gohlem back across the street to where the battle had taken place. There was a crater where the creature had made its last stand. The trio peered over the edge and what they saw struck them all speechless. There was a Gohlem lying curled at the bottom of the crater. Although it was not the bloody ruined creature the Glowstone Gohlem had fought.

It was a second Glowstone Gohlem.

Chapter 3: An Old Friend


The Glowstone Gohlem stared down into the crater at what seemed like a mirror image.

"Dat all be alive?" asked Char. Sooty had nothing to say.

"Let's get it out of there," said the Glowstone Gohlem. He climbed down into the crater to rescue his twin. As he dropped to the bottom of the crater the second Gohlem woke. It saw the Glowstone Gohlem and recoiled in fear. "Easy...easy. I'm a friend," said the Glowstone Gohlem.

"Fr...fah...fah...fah-rend...Friend" replied the frightened Gohlem.

The Glowstone Gohlem managed to lift the newborn Gohlem out of the crater. It saw Sooty and Char and shied back. "No, it's okay. Also friends" said the Glowstone Gohlem.

"Fah-rend-zah. Friends," the newborn Gohlem said, and smiled a wide innocent smile like one would witness from a child.

"Well grind my gears. He's brand new, he is," said Sooty.

"Dat all be cured? Not gonna go all blood and fangs and claws and dat all again is he?" asked a skeptical Char.

"No, I think he's fine," answered the Glowstone Gohlem with conviction. He thought a moment. "I have to go. Would you two take care of this new Gohlem?" he asked.

Sooty and Char looked surprised then grinned. "Sure enough, Lord! Always wanted to be a father, I did!" said Sooty proudly.

"Hey! Who says you all be the father?" asked Char.

As the two Obsidian Gohlem argued, The Glowstone Gohlem turned to the newborn Gohlem. "You will stay with them. They are friends. They will take care of you. Understand?"

The newborn Gohlem nodded, "Friends. I will stay. Take care."

The Glowstone Gohlem turned back to the Obsidians. "Not to worry, Lord! We will take care of this new one," said Sooty.

"Thank you my friends, I guess I'll be going now" answered the Glowstone Gohlem. "One last question for you two, where does this road go?" he asked pointing to the main road leading out of the ruined town.

"The old Gearo Highway? Goes halfway across Monkaa, but this will take you to the Gearo Citadel," said Sooty.

"Gearo?" asked the Glowstone Gohlem. “I’ve heard you use the term a few times today. I even caught myself calling out to The Great Gear in the heat of my battle with the Blood Walker. Who are the Gearo?”

"Fight the Vilhain they do. Protect the weak and all,” said Sooty.

“Aye,” answered Char. “Gearo. Protectors of Light. Great Gear. Enemies of Vilhain. You really be a mess you don’t have memory of dat all. Even broken rocks like us two know of dat all.”

"...Protect the weak..." said the Glowstone Gohlem quietly....


The Glowstone Gohlem encountered more of the common folk of Monkaa on his pilgrimage to the Gearo Citadel. Much like Sooty and Char, they were simple hardworking Gohlem. All too often he encountered the evidence of Blood Walkers; sacked villages, ruined caravans, and terrified survivors. He fought off lone Blood Walkers three times after that first encounter, and helped a tribe of Granite Gohlem defend their home from a small herd of the creatures.

In all of the encounters he did so using his instinctual fighting skills, and his still baffling ability to forge weapons of any shape and size out of his hands or any natural quarry he could lay them on. Whatever glowing power had allowed him to redeem that first creature had yet to recharge. However, in all of his travels, nothing and no one he met was able to shed any light on his identity or the mystery of his glowing form until he finally came within sight of the Gearo Citadel, or at least what was left of it.

The Glowstone Gohlem had expected conditions to improve as he neared the Citadel, but the opposite was true. The closer he got the more ruined the landscape became. Soon the Great Gearo Highway was so pitted and broken that he climbed as often as he walked. He was walking a particularly broken stretch of roadway when he came upon the largest herd of Bloodlust Walkers he had ever seen.

It was nearly dusk and the Glowstone Gohlem was looking for a cave or ruin to fortify for the night when he heard the telltale shriek of a Bloodlust Walker.

It was followed by more howls and shrieks and he was about to run when he heard another sound, a strong voice shouting battle cries. He climbed up onto an outcropping of rock and saw the surging herd of Bloodlust Walkers attacking a lone fighter on the other side of the highway.

He immediately leapt to aid the outnumbered warrior and as he fought his way closer was shocked to see that the warrior also appeared to be clad in Glowstone. He wore a tall helm and where the Glowstone Gohlem had a Vilhain Symbol, this warrior had a star centered within a gear. This formidable fighter was also forging weapons out of thin air. The skill and precision at which he wielded them mesmerized the Glowstone Gohlem. He himself was a sufficient swordsman and marksman, but this warrior was fighting as if the weapons could sense his very thoughts.

"Ho! Friend! Are you going to stand there with your jaw agape or are you going to come aid me against these beasts!" the warrior chided as he fought.

The Glowstone Gohlem raised his hands into the air. Two sharp axe blades formed where his hands once were and blasters grew out of his forearms. He dove into the fray and once more shouted the same battle cry from his first encounter. “BY THE GREAT GEAR!”

Their battle raged for what felt like hours. The tide of Bloodlust Walkers seemed endless and soon the two glowing warriors were surrounded. Despite their valiant efforts it was starting to seem that all might be lost.

"I guess this is it!" said the helmeted warrior to the Glowstone Gohlem after a Bloodlust Walker knocked him to one knee.

"Never!" shouted the Glowstone Gohlem and he reached for the warrior’s hand to help him up. As their hands clasped the light within each seemed to grow exponentially. The two weary warriors began to glow as brightly as the twin suns of Monkaa. Their light blazed forth and threw the Bloodlust Walkers back to flee in terror. When the light subsided the two warriors were left alone. They turned to face each other and proclaimed as one, "I remember."

"Palidar," said the Glowstone Gohlem. "Flaw," said the old Gearo Commander.

Chapter 4: The Riddle of the Glowstone


Flaw tried to suppress a grin as Palidar clapped him on the shoulder.

"I knew you'd make it, son!" exclaimed Palidar.

"Don't call me..." and then Flaw was laughing and embracing his mentor, his friend. "How long has it been? The memories are still murky..." said Flaw.

"I'm not sure either," answered Palidar, "until that last blaze of light, I had no memory of who I was or why I was headed this way. Only that I had to come here."

"I as well," said Flaw. "Empyreus... Umbreus... Brutok... Ambro... Fandar Sun... What of them?"

"I suppose if they survived they too would be drawn back here..." Palidar paused and regarded Flaw. "Well, you certainly look stronger with that glow about you," he chuckled.

"I feel stronger...and my heartstone...I think… No, I know… it's healed..." Flaw responded quietly.

"Now if only we could do the same for the Gearo Citadel..." said Palidar, sadly surveying the ruins around them. “Come, we are still miles from the gates and I’m not sure we can fight off another herd of those monsters any time soon. We need to reach the Great Hall.”


It took Palidar and Flaw another night and day to reach the ruined walls of the Gearo Citadel. When they arrived they were greeted by another surprise. The Citadel was full of Gohlem. Hundreds of Glowstone Gohlem filled the city streets. They toiled and labored to rebuild the broken walls and structures, but like the newborn Gohlem that Flaw had saved in the ruined village, they were new and simple. All of them save one. Palidar and Flaw recognized the spindly frame and bird-like movements immediately.

It was Ambro, Chamberlain of the Gearo.

However, while they recognized Ambro, he had no memory of them. It wasn't until Flaw and Palidar each clasped one of Ambro's hands that the memories came flooding back in a blaze of light. The three friends rejoiced and filled each other in on what little they knew about recent events. Flaw and Palidar told of their battles across the wilderness of the Monkaa, Palidar and Ambro were amazed to hear that Flaw had developed the ability to forge Monkaarian Armory weapons without having ever been blessed by a Forge Mage, while Ambro explained that he had awoken in the ruins of the Citadel, not knowing anything but a fierce need to rebuild. Ambro also explained how naive, newborn Glowstone Gohlem had been finding their way to the citadel one and two at a time to help him in his work.

"The main task now of course is to find Fandar Sun," explained Ambro. "I didn't know why at the time, but in addition to re-building, I was compelled to dig. No doubt Fandar is still buried in the Lifespring chamber..."

"And maybe if we find Fandar he can tell us what happened to Empyreus!" said Palidar.

So the trio set to digging and before long they had cleared the tunnel of debris and exposed the great door of the Lifespring chamber. With a final heave they tore open the ruined door and stepped through. What they saw was a sphere of light floating above the now empty Lifespring and suspended within was Fandar Sun, High Cleric of the Gearo. The trio approached, as they drew closer, the light around Fandar dimmed and he slowly floated to the floor.

"Welcome back my friends," the old Gearo said serenely as he smiled. Again there was much rejoicing, but Fandar quieted the warriors and said, "There will be time for this later, first we must find out what happened to Empyreus and Umbreus..."

"We thought you would be able to tell us that." said Flaw.

"Aye," said Palidar, "we have no knowledge of what happened."

"Ah, but you bear the light of Empyeus..." said Fandar. "Your new Glowstone forms are a gift from our missing liege. I saw Empyreus enter the Lifespring. The Crown of Light and the Lifespring joined their power within Empyreus and thus it was he went to face his shadow brother, Umbreus and the power of the Bloodlust, properly armed. That power was so fierce that I was driven into a protective slumber to aid Empyreus in containing it within his armored shell. Judging by the destruction, I failed in my task and their battle destroyed most of the Gearo Citadel" Fandar explained.

"So how can we find Empyreus, and what of Umbreus?" asked Ambro.

"...and Brutok," added Palidar.

Fandar looked into the empty Lifespring. “You three carry the last vestiges of the Lifespring power. Your new Glowstone shells are the solid living form of the Lifespring. If you are willing to return it and re-ignite the Lifespring, it may grant us a vision..."

“Then there is no question. Do it, Fandar!” Ambro said with conviction.

Palidar turned to Flaw, “If we do this, Son, it could mean going back to the way you were before. Is that a sacrifice you are willing to make?”

Flaw paused. Then he nodded, "Empyreus saved us from imminent destruction. He would do no less for us. If it means going back to being Flaw the broken, so be it."

The three warriors then stood around the Lifespring clasping arms. Fandar Sun went in to another meditative trance and wove a power circuit in the air around them. The glow of their armor intensified and the light rose from them to settle in the Lifespring. The air crackled and the liquid in the cistern bubbled back to life.

“Concentrate my dear Gearo, focus your energies, center your heartstones,” Fandar imparted, “For now we must turn our attention to the Lifespring, for it will grant us a vision of the final battle between Empyreus and Umbreus..."

Chapter 5: The Hero's Sacrifice


Flaw, Palidar, Ambro and Fandar Sun stood in the power circuit gathered around the Lifespring chamber as the light from the roiling, newly restored waters filled the room. Images began to form all around them and in their minds. Soon they were transported to the recent past...

Empyreus stepped into the Lifespring.

As the waters closed in around him he felt the Crown of Light on his brow pulse with awesome yet barely contained power. The two potent power sources began to mingle and meld and Empyreus thought he might burst from within from the intensity of this experience. His armor blazed with an intense glow and he felt renewed, stronger than ever. He grew taller and broader, matching the size and might of Umbreus and his Bloodlust armor. The power was so overwhelming that Fandar Sun aided his liege by going in to a meditative battle trance to keep the Lord of the Gearo grounded and from going mad. Empyreus in this new powersuit quickly headed for the great hall. He arrived in time to see Flaw strike the Lord of the Vilhain in the face and began to glow in fury as he watched Umbreus begin to choke the life from Flaw. Umbreus upon seeing his star brother bathed in this formidable new form turned and cried "No!" dropping Flaw to the floor.

In the blink of an eye Empyreus was locked in combat with his brother, matching the dark Bloodlust power with the incredible Lifespring glow of his new form. Each blow was perfectly matched. For every blast of boiling blood Umbreus thrust at Empyreus, he would counter with a blinding flash of pure concentrated light. For every ray of light the Gearo leader launched, Umbreus would cleave asunder with his blood-drenched sickle. The battle of these titans raged for hours. There was even a moment when it seemed Lord Empyreus Rex had gained the upper hand.

"This cannot end this way!" screamed Umbreus, and commanded his surviving Bloodlust Warriors to attack the Lord of the Gearo. Empyreus began opening light rifts that consumed the Bloodlust Warriors. He even thought he saw them change and begin to heal as they were bathed in light, but that could have simply been the madness of so much power taking control of his senses. Until he noticed Flaw rise and start to rally the newly transformed Glowstone soldiers. Empyreus hit Flaw with a beam of energy and the broken Gohlem formed into a perfect specimen of Monkaarian might. Punching, kicking, and blasting Bloodlust Warriors into rifts as quickly as Empyreus could open them.

In retaliation Umbreus hissed his rage and began opening shadow rifts. Time and space began to shatter and shred around the great hall as rifts opened and closed seemingly at random, tearing Bloodlust Warriors and newly formed Glowstone Gohlem from the battlefield and scattering them across Monkaa, or who knows where.

"If I can't have it, then I will destroy this world!" shrieked Umbreus, opening even greater shadow rifts, changing the very face and shape of the world they knew.

Empyreus worked frantically to spot the damage Umbreus was doing and could barely match the power mad despot’s chaotic attacks. Flaw was a marvel of speed and skill protecting his new Lord from the attacking Bloodlust drones. “We just may win this day, young Gohlem,” Empyreus smiled down at him.

Flaw only glanced up at Empyreus for a moment. So swift it was immeasurable by any unit of time. It was enough for Umbreus. He blasted the former Vilhain prison guard with a fiery ball of raw Bloodlust sending him towards a dark shadow rift. Empyreus had just enough time to tear open a rift of his own just before the brave little Gohlem was forced through. That was the window Umbreus was looking for. A second fiery ball struck Empyreus knocking him back and off his feet. He was quickly set upon by a pack of ravenous Bloodlust Warriors.

Suddenly a green blur burst forth from a tangle of fallen columns. The Mighty Brutok had rejoined the battle. He tackled Umbreus and gripped him in a fierce bear hug. "Open...rift...banish...him!" grunted the green titan.

Empyreus sliced through the last of his assailants, “He’s fractured space and time! I can only close the rift from within!" shouted Empyreus.

Umbreus shrieked even louder and sprouted jagged spikes, impaling Brutok. "DO...IT!" shouted the wounded warrior. “This is for my love… this is for Noiria!” the green giant sputtered at his former leader as he reared his head back and drove the spikes on his own helmet deep into Umbreus’ chest. Umbreus howled in agony as the blood from their wounds mingled. Flames and brimstone gushed from the Vilhain Lord’s wounds.

Empyreus concentrated and drew in all the rift energy in the chamber, creating a vortex around himself, Umbreus, and Brutok. Hard Glowstone shells closed around the unconscious forms of Palidar and Ambro and they were launched into the last of the closing smaller rifts. The walls of the great hall exploded. The once grand Gearo Citadel was nothing more than rubble. Time and space shuddered as the vortex forces expanded to engulf Brutok and the lords of both Light and Shadow. There was a final crisp snap of energy and the rift imploded. Then all was empty and silent.

Flaw, Palidar, Ambro and Fandar Sun were stunned into silence as the vision dimmed. "Are they dead?" asked Ambro.

"I don't think so," said Fandar. "Perhaps I can use the Lifespring to open a sight rift and find them.” Fandar approached the glowing pool, wove another power circuit and the four heroes peered into glowing image.

Across Monkaa the world had changed. The many rifts opened during the cataclysmic battle had not been confined to the Gearo Citadel, all across Monkaa random rifts had turned the world inside out and scattered the inhabitants. Mountains had been felled, valleys had become mighty rivers, deserts bloomed with life, jungles were frozen wastelands, desolate swamps where cities once thrived, and volcanoes burst from frozen tundra. Jagged peaks and giant trees sprouted from the oceans and crystalline valleys and tunnels opened up across the landscape. Violent pockets of light and dark energy seethed across the land and brought new life and sudden destruction seemingly at random. Newborn Gohlem of ever sort wandered aimlessly in nomadic tribes, while Bloodlust Warriors were reduced to savage Blood Walkers. Without Umbreus' iron will to guide them they descended into chaos and mindless ferocity. Nowhere in this vast survey of the world was any hint to the whereabouts of Empyreus, Umbreus and Brutok.

Fandar Sun sighed as the vision faded. "I'm afraid that Empyreus is nowhere to be found on Monkaa," he said sadly as the trio released their grip on one another.

"Then he is most assuredly dead..." whispered Ambro.

"No, I don't think so," answered Fandar. “It was a rift after all, that Empyreus used to banish Umbreus, and rifts always lead somewhere..."

"So the Lord of the Gearo may yet one day return," said Flaw reaching up to feel a burning sensation he felt upon his chest.

Flaw expected it was the pain of his old cracked Heartstone returning, but soon realized he still felt strong and whole. He glanced at Palidar, expecting to see his old grizzled, damaged, and worn armor, but the Gearo Commander was clad in bright silver armor that shone like new. Ambro stood straighter than ever and seemed filled with vigor.

Palidar smiled and pointed at Flaw, "Seems you finally made a choice, Son."

Flaw looked at the symbol on his chest and instead of the mark of the Vilhain, a bright new Gearo emblem was emblazoned there.

"I suppose I did," Flaw said and he stood taller and prouder than he ever had before.

"Yes," said Fandar, "you three will forever have a link to the Lifespring. Your hurts are healed and in dire times of need you will be able to channel this power and regain your Glowstone forms.

Suddenly the last broken remnants of the chamber door were kicked aside as a mighty warrior thundered in. He was tall and powerful, clad in gleaming gold armor astride a majestic Steel Vohrse. A retinue of shining Golden Gohlem followed this mighty figure. One of the Gold Gohlem grinned widely and loudly proclaimed, "All hail the Lord of the Gearo!"

“Hmmm, quite unexpected.” mused Fandar.
“By the Great Gear!” gasped Ambro.

"Empyreus?!?" shouted Flaw.

"That is not Empyreus..." said Palidar in awe.




Re: The Weaponeers of Monkaa Chronicles

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:23 pm
by SpyMonkeyJeremy

By Jeremy Sung and Brian Stevenson
Art by Nate Baertsch

Chapter 1: A New Era



It is a time of great tribulation for Monkaa. In the nearly decimated once great Gearo Citadel the battle between Empyreus, Lord of the Gearo, and Umbreus, the Bloodlust Tyrant, reaches its climax. Across Monkaa rifts are opening and closing at a fevered pitch. The native Gohlem, many creatures, and very fabric of the planet are thrown in and out of these dimensional rips in the space-time, changing the face of the planet forever. All is silent at the foot of the Great Spire, the highest peak on Monkaa, in this calm before the storm. Suddenly and violently a rift opens above the mighty mountain and a halo of light emerges. Within the light an object becomes clear. A helmet. No, not a helmet…. a crown. The Crown of Light. The very crown worn by Empyreus. It hovers for a moment, still and seething with energy. In a streak of blinding pure light it is drawn like iron to a lodestone, rushing to the foot of the mountain.

Drawn to a modest unmarked pile of stones, to the grave of The Great Gearion, Lord of Light.

The crown strikes the burial mound like a comet, pausing for a brief moment, then is absorbed, almost hungrily, into the tomb below. There is an eerie silence that follows. A massive tremor begins to shake the earth, the ground pulses, the bedrock splits and the Crown of Light emerges, bursting forth within the grip of a mighty golden fist. A powerful armor clad figure rises on a beam of pure golden light from the very earth of Monkaa, bathed in a brilliant glow. He rides the beam slowly onto the ground and raises the crown high above his head. He closes his eyes and releases a scream of both anguish and joy so powerful that it shatters the rocks, stones, and ruins around the gravesite causing dozens of heartstones to be revealed. The golden figure strides forth across the landscape. Golden light pools in each footprint spreading like tendrils into the earth, seeking out the heartstones.

The first among the heartstones to fully form into a Golden Gohlem surveys his new body and the land around him noticing the large formidable being at the center of the life giving tendrils. He approaches the golden warrior and quizzically places a hand upon the symbol on the large one’s armor. The same symbol burns itself into the Gohlem’s golden hide. The Gohlem smiles, “Lord Gearion, you have returned to us. Much has changed.”

“Yes, it appears I have returned. What on Monkaa could be so powerful outside of the Lifespring itself to resurrect me? The memories are faded. The last I can recall is falling from the peak of the Great Spire with my dear son Empyreus in my arms after….” The Lord of Light gave pause, his eyes began to glow with fury, a fiery hatred burned within him, “…After my eldest, Penumbrus drove the Blade of Shadow deep into my back!” He grabbed the Golden Gohlem by the throat and lifted him into the air, “Where is Penumbrus? I must have my vengeance on that dark souled demon! And if the Crown of Light sought me out, where are my heir and my queen? What has become of Empyreus? Mistress Noiria?”

“Lord… Please… release me,” pleaded the Gohlem. “I can help you find them. There was a terrible battle. The Citadel was decimated. Attacked by a mighty army of shadow and blood. Many Gearo and Gohlem lost their lives. We… we can find answers there. Spare me to do thy bidding.”

Gearion lowered the Golden Gohlem to his feet. “Yes, the Gearo Citadel, Fandar Sun and the Lifespring will have the answers to these riddles. Such as, how is it that a Gohlem, newly formed of a heartstone that until just moments before was buried beneath the rock and stone, knows so much about what has transpired before his birth?”

The Golden Gohlem placed his hand once again upon the Gearo insignia on Gearion’s armor and a dark light emitted from the symbol, “My Lord, I believe I gained all knowledge when I touched your sigil. We can wonder the whys and wherefores as we march. First we must build you a legion to command should we happen upon any resistance.”
“Yes,” The Lord of Light concurred, “a mighty army to retake my kingdom, find my sons, and exact my vengeance upon the one who betrayed me.” He clapped a hand upon the Golden Gohlem’s shoulder. “You shall be my general. You shall be commander of my golden army. A general must have a name. I can’t be expected to call you Golden Gohlem among a brigade of your identical brethren. As my touch gave you life, so shall it give your soldiers their purpose, and a leader.”

Gearion stood back, raised his arm into the air, opened his large hand and exclaimed, “By the Might of Monkaa!” The air around his hand crackled and burned. A silver sabre in the shape of a falcon’s wing formed from his open hand. He cried out again, “Behold the Light of Gearion!”

He examined the blade, “Ah, feels good to forge again.” Then he looked upon the Golden Gohlem, “Kneel before your Lord and King.” The Gohlem obeyed. Gearion placed the sabre blade on each of the Gohlem’s shoulders then placed the point directly against the center of his Gearo symbol. “Rise and be honored. Rise and be named. First of my golden warriors! General of my golden army! Rise, Midas!”

Midas stood and smiled.

Soon the mighty golden lord and his newly named commander had a legion of Golden Gohlem following in their wake. The very beasts of Monkaa, from the largest and most fearsome to the lowliest gave way in awe. A steel herd of mighty wild vohrse had gathered in the camp. Gearion raised his Falcon Sabre again and the herd parted. Their leader, an enormous gleaming stallion strode forth and bowed to the golden lord. Gearion laughed, “Yes, this one is perfect. He’ll do nicely.”

And so Gearion, the Lord of Light and Midas shall lead this golden host toward the Gearo Citadel and the birth of a new era. Thus begins The Golden Age!


"All hail Gearion! Lord of Light! Emperor of the Gearo!" proclaimed Midas, his voice echoing throughout the ruins of the great hall of the Gearo Citadel.

Gearion dismounted from his large steel steed and strode over to the stunned quartet. "Palidar! Well met my old friend!" Palidar was speechless. "Fandar Sun! Greetings old one, even when the walls cave in around you, you refuse to leave this chamber, eh?" smirked the Lord of Light.

"Welcome back my Lord,” said Fandar Sun. "This is...a turn of events… a surprise… even I did not foresee."

"Perhaps your vision has been clouded by advanced age," chuckled Gearion. "Now where are my sons? Where is dear Empyreus? The common folk we encountered on our march told us that he has honored me well and bravely maintained the Gearo way of life. I wish to look upon him and give him praise!"

Then Gearion’s expression changed, as he seemed to swell with rage, his blazing red eyes burning even brighter, "...and where is Penumbrus. Or Umbreus as he now calls himself. That treacherous beast has much to answer for...."

Palidar had finally recovered his composure. "Empyreus is gone my Lord, as is Umbreus. You arrive in the aftermath of a great battle, one that almost ended Monkaa... We four are the only survivors of the Citadel battle. Many Gohlem have gathered to help rebuild, though the sons of shadow and light are no where to be found.”

“Nor brave Brutok,” added Flaw.

“Silence Gohlem!” sneered Midas. “Do not address the Lord of Light unless you are spoken to!”

“Easy, pal.” Flaw fired back. “I don’t know who you or King Goldie here are but we’ve all just been through a very trying ordeal and we’ve lost a great many comrades, brothers, and friends. Including Brutok! Without his sacrifice there’d be nothing left for your Lord to lord.”

“Infidel!” accused Midas as he forged a blade resembling a bat wing.

Flaw’s hand began to morph into a plated shield as he prepared to defend himself.

“ENOUGH!” boomed Gearion’s voice. “Midas, put that away. We are among allies here. Though I’m very surprised to see an Obsidian Gohlem wearing the mark of a Gearo. Usually they are so common and difficult to train. This one would be wise to learn his place. Do you have a name?”

“Flaw is my name, I am a warrior in the service of Empyreus, Lord of The Gearo,” Flaw answered.

“Well Flaw, my dear fool,” Gearion chided. “It appears that Empyreus is not here. The true Lord of the Gearo has returned to claim this kingdom anew. Another outburst like that and I’ll have you back in what ever hole you crawled out of.”

Palidar intervened, “Liege, Flaw has proven himself in battle and loyalty to the Gearo cause. He is just as valuable as any of a hundred Empyrean Elite or even my own Steel Brigade. He has earned his place.”

Gearion turned to Palidar, his eyes flaring up with the same burning hatred they filled with as he spoke of Umbreus. “Shall I begin setting an example with you, Palidar?” Then the golden lord composed himself and continued, “I’m sorry, this is no way to begin a homecoming. There is much to do, much to prepare. Come Palidar, fill me in on what has come before that I may have a better understanding of the players and their parts within my new empire.” Gearion turned and began to leave the chamber. "And have your minions continue the re-building process," he said, gesturing to Flaw and Ambro.

Palidar looked at his dear friends sheepishly, "My brothers, I..."

Flaw and Ambro smiled. "Go, fill in his lord high muckety-muck," whispered Flaw as Ambro stifled a laugh, "we 'minions' know our role." They rounded up the Glowstone Gohlem and moved them out to the courtyard to continue with their appointed task.

“Palidar, a moment please,” Fandar summoned. “I find it very peculiar that Lord Gearion did not even acknowledge Ambro in this exchange. One would think that if he was happy to see anyone it would be his once savior.”

“I too noticed that,” Palidar returned, “I also noticed how uncharacteristic his attitude toward Flaw was, and his seething hatred for Umbreus. I too may act out of sorts if I’d been stabbed in the back by own son, but I sense something very dark about our newly resurrected lord.”

“Palidar!” Gearion called from within the corridor.

“To your side, my liege,” Palidar called back. “Stay wary, Fandar. Things may not be as golden as they appear.” Then he disappeared into the next chamber with Gearion.

Soon the only two left in the ruined chamber were Fandar Sun and the Gohlem that had announced the arrival of the Lord of Light, Midas.

“And what is it that you would see done…. I’m sorry, what is it you’re called?” Fandar asked the Golden Gohlem leading the troops crowding the Great Hall.

The Golden Gohlem bobbed his head in reverence. "Fandar Sun, you are a living legend, old one. I am Midas, first among the new era of Monkaa, General in the Army of the Golden Gohlem, and humble servant of Lord Gearion. Perhaps we might confer, as Gearion would like a report on the state of the Lifespring.”

"Humph. Very well," sniffed Fandar, "I suppose this 'old one' is still good for something... This way… and don’t touch anything."

Midas barked several orders to his platoons of Gohlem then the two retired to the Lifespring chamber.



Empyreus floated and spun like a leaf in a gale, a mere idea in a maelstrom of possibilities. He had never taken a rift this far. He had hoped to take Umbreus and the Bloodlust power as far from Monkaa as possible. So he crossed as many dimensions as he dared, finally feeling his brother torn asunder as they grappled. In the process Empyreus had fully expended the power of the Crown of Light and felt it fall away from him, lost through one of the many side rifts that opened in his wake. All that sustained him were the remnants of Lifespring power he still carried, and his body still glowed with it, a pinprick of light in a sea of unending darkness. He could see Brutok’s battered and lifeless body in the rift space with him. He called out to him numerous times but the sound would vaporize and then crystallize into shards of stinging glass as soon as it left his throat. Empyreus tried to open an escape or return rift but he was still too weak, and quietly cursed under his breath. "Bolts and rivets!"

"Bo-olts… End… Ree-veets," an odd voice intoned.

Empyreus glanced around. Slowly a strange green glow coalesced before him. It sparked then pulsed and again Empyreus heard rough words, "Bolts. And. Ri-vets."

"Who...What are you? I am Empyreus, Lord of the Gearo. I need help,” the lost prince said.

The smear of light buzzed and hummed and suddenly winked out, leaving Empyreus and Brutok alone in the void. But again he heard, more clearly this time, "Bolts and rivets."

Chapter 2: The Golden Age Dawns


The Great Gear turns. Ever has it turned and ever will it turn.

Many turns of the Gear had passed since Gearion’s return. Soon the Gearo Citadel and the new empire of Gearion, Lord of Light began to thrive. More legions of Golden Gohlem were raised. Either from fresh heartstones or any Gohlem who wished to volunteer and receive Gearion's “Golden Touch”. The first decree of the new Lord of the Gearo was that the Bloodlust Walkers, who still roamed the countryside and wildernesses of Monkaa, be contained and captured.

On the battlefront, Palidar led the charge as demoted second in command of the army and soon the newly constructed prison-pens outside the capital teemed with Blood Walkers. He had not been to the Citadel for quite sometime. Each time he would attempt to return, Midas would give him new directives and new missions to carry out. Each time he was unable to hold council with Gearion, his suspicions grew stronger. The Lord of Light was cold and distant, bent on revenge. There was an all too familiar darkness about Gearion that Palidar feared would be their undoing.

In the capital, Midas led the armies from his war room. He had also usurped Ambro’s duties as chamberlain and saw to the day to day running of the empire. This left Flaw and Ambro, who both declined the Golden Touch, with little to do but periodically check in with Fandar Sun in the desperate hope that the Lifespring would grant them a vision of Empyreus' whereabouts. This day Flaw and Ambro were on their way for just such a to visit.

Flaw knocked on the chamber door, and when they did not hear the familiar "Enter my sons," he gently pushed the door open.

Fandar Sun lay wounded in a pool of blood on the chamber floor. His armor had been savagely rent and torn asunder.

"NO!" the duo cried in unison. Rushing to Fandar's side they desperately searched for any signs of life. The old seer stirred, but barely.

"Li-Life-Lifespring..." he stammered, and Flaw quickly but gently carried the battered old Gearo to the Lifespring. As the waters closed over him a softly glowing shell of healing energy began to form around him. Fandar drifted off into a healing sleep. Flaw thought he heard him mutter a few sounds.
"Gear..ion… Uh… Uh… Uhm…" And then he was deep in the healing trance.

Flaw turned to Ambro, "Will he survive?" asked the Obsidian Gohlem.

"I pray so," answered the former Chamberlin, "Palidar needs to be told of this. Immediately."

Flaw frowned, "... what about his lord high muckety-muck..."

Suddenly the door to the chamber burst open and four fully armed Golden Gohlem rushed in. "Arrest the traitors!" a voice bellowed and they closed in on Ambro and Flaw.

"RUN!" shouted Ambro as he fell into a fighting stance and formed his hands into a pair of spiked shields.

Flaw acted in kind and forged a large battle-axe. “I’m not going anywhere!”

"NO!" shouted Ambro, "Find Palidar! He’s the only one left that hasn’t taken that blasted Golden Touch. We need him here. His suspicions are bearing fruit. I’ll hold them back. I must stay to protect Fandar. GO!" The troupe of Golden Gohlem closed in on Ambro.

Flaw ran to the window, "I'll come back for you!" Then he burst through the window in a shower of iron and glass.

The Lifespring chamber, while on the ground floor of the Citadel, was ten stories of a sheer cliff above the great city marketplace and as he fell Flaw rolled his body into an armored wrecking ball and landed with a crash in the center of a potters stall. As he rose from the wreckage and began to apologize to the shopkeeper, he saw a group of heavily armed Golden Gohlem approaching from the far end of the street, pushing and shoving bystanders aside. Flaw leapt to his feet and ran in the opposite direction. There was a great commotion at the gate to Gearo City. Golden Gohlem bellowed and bullied trying to lock the city down as confused citizens, merchants and porters milled about in confusion. Flaw approached the chaos cautiously, knowing it was he whom they sought. Then he spied a pair of familiar figures.

"Ay! Let us through! We got bizniss in dat all!" grumbled Char.

"Indeed, we’ve done nothing wrong a’tall. We aren’t the Obsidian Gohlem you are looking for!" added Sooty.

"Lord Gearion's orders,” barked the guard. “All Obsidian Gohlem are to be detained and questioned, no exceptions!"

Flaw seized his chance. He leapt up on a cart full of polished crystal light spheres. "Looking for me!" he shouted as he unleashed his Glowstone power, blinding the crowd. With a mighty heave he overturned the cart sending light spheres into the street tripping the Golden Gohlem guards and creating even further chaos.

"Dat's our old friend!" cheered Char.

"Aye! Over here me Lord" shouted Sooty.

Flaw lowed his shoulder and barreled through the crowd toward the Obsidian Gohlem porters.

"In trouble again, eh, me Lord?" laughed Sooty, as a breathless Flaw reached them.

"We'll never outrun them...,” he panted.

Sooty glanced at Char. Char shrugged, “No use hidin’ dat all from him now! Mother says we help him? We help him.” With that the two porters joined hands and opened a blazing rift of orange flames around them. Then the trio disappeared, leaving behind a confused crowd and a platoon of frustrated raging Golden Gohlem.


"Speak Traitor! Why did you attempt to murder Fandar Sun!" shouted Midas.

Gearion sat on his throne and watched his general and chamberlain question the prisoner.

Ambro was a bloody, broken mess, held up by two burly Golden Gohlem guards, “Lord Gearion, I have been a loyal servant and friend. Fandar Sun is my teacher. I am Gearo through and through. I would never do anything to bring harm to the kingdom. You among all others should know this. Surely you remember the life bond you and I shared during the Vilhain Uprising. I sacrificed much to bring you from the brink of death so the Gearo could win that war. Or when the twins were only boys. I was their teacher. You and mistress Noiria entrusted me with their education of both shadow and light. Empyreus was my best pupil. Please, sire. I am Ambro. I am innocent. Flaw is innocent. We found Fandar in that state. He tried to tell us, warn us of something. He uttered a name… Um…”

Gearion leapt from his throne, “LIES!” and struck Ambro with the force of a rampaging Thresher Maw. “Until we learn the whereabouts of the one called Flaw this line of questioning is over! Now, where is that Obsidian whelp hiding?”

"He's unconscious sir," replied one of the guards holding the limp form of Ambro.

"Bah, take him to the cells," said Midas.

"No Matter," said Gearion, "the old man was of little use to me anyway. We have more pressing concerns. Alert our field teams to add this Flaw to the list of undesirables to be rounded up along with the Blood Walkers."

"Of course my Lord," obeyed Midas. "I will personally ensure that this murderous traitor is brought to justice."

"Excellent, my loyal servant. Be on your way. I have other important matters to attend," said Gearion dismissing the Golden Gohlem. “I ride for Castle Umbreus at dawn.”

“Castle Umbreus, my liege?” questioned Midas with a puzzled look. “Whatever do you hope to find in that dark ruin? I should ride with you.”

“What I seek is none of your concern,” Gearion hissed and his eyes glowed red. “Now go! Do as I have ordered and bring me this one named Flaw.”

Midas didn’t say another word. He merely smiled a long drawn smile, saluted, and took his leave to carry out the hunt.

Once Midas had left the throne room Gearion paced the floor like a hungry sand tiger. The things Ambro had spoke of roiling in his mind. The Vilhain Uprising, life bonds, Flaw, Fandar Sun, the sons of shadow and light, Empyreus and even the name of Umbreus before he had knocked the former chamberlain unconscious. All of this waging an anguishing conflict of dark and light within the mind of Gearion. A dark shadow crept into the chamber and surrounded The Lord of Light lifting him off the ground, sharp tendrils of dark energy found their way into the chinks of his golden armor, and his eyes burned blood red with fury. “I must find Empyreus. His final fate must be known to me,” the Golden Gearo King said in a voice filled with anger and darkness. “I was a fool to leave the Throne of Monkaa to one so weak. Umbreus. Yes, my eldest son. Umbreus is the rightful ruler of Monkaa. His return is exactly what this planet needs….” Then the cloud of shadow around Gearion dissipated, the dark tendrils withdrew, and he was lowered to the throne room floor as the chamber was once more flooded with light. In a more even tone the Lord of the Gearo muttered, “yes, I must find my sons… both of them.”


Flaw slowly regained consciousness. "What...what happened? How did we escape? I” he asked as he sat up.

Sooty and Char glanced at one another.

"I think you took a crack on the head me Lord, got dat all confused a bit," said Char.

Sooty added, "You saw us bein’ detained by them golden thugs and came to our rescue."

"You opened a glow rift with dat all power and saved dat all three," said Char nodding.

"That...that doesn't sound right..." said Flaw, still confused.

"No matter me Lord, you done us right once again, and dat all is all dat matters," Char said with finality.

"Besides," said Sooty, "you're a wanted Gohlem, but don't worry, old Sooty and Char will keep you safe and sound..."



Empyreus had wondered if he would see the strange green smear of light return or if it was just another one of those inexplicable moments one has while in rift space. He had almost drifted off to sleep when he heard a sound that was indeed all too familiar.

“Hrrrrhn…. Where?” questioned the deep boulder crashing tone. Brutok had stirred.

“Ah, there you are,” Empyreus said. “Welcome back to the living.”

“Hmmph, Jokes.” Brutok answered. “Always jokes. Where are we?”

“Trapped in rift space, between here and there. Only I’m not entirely certain where there is. I had hoped to drive my brother as far into the cosmos away from anywhere inhabited as I could,” The Lord of The Gearo explained.

“Umbreus?” asked the green behemoth.

“As we fired through the final rift out of the chamber, he shrieked and wailed as though his soul was being ripped from his body. He cursed us both profusely and tried to tear you apart. That’s a tough hide you wear. I can see why Palidar respects you on the battlefield.” He fell silent for a moment before speaking again, “Umbreus was vaporized it seems. His empty armor drifted along with us for a while but eventually fell out of sight.”

“Hurt him maybe, but that not kill him,” Brutok muttered. “Take us back. Home. Back to Monkaa.”

“I wish I could,” Empyreus said. “What small amount of Lifespring power I have left is the only thing keeping us from being ripped apart and vaporized like Umbreus was. I’ve lost The Crown of Light.”

“Not good,” grumbled the former Vilhain General. “Must return. Must find Noiria.”

“You really did love my mother didn’t you?” asked Empyreus. “More than a subject loves a queen.”

“She gave me reason to be,” confessed Brutok. “Umbreus made me believe Gearo killed her. Why I let him rule over Vilhain. Promised once Gearo defeated, Brutok could have peace. Foolish. I now have lost army. Home. Tribe. All that matters. Lost. If we survived,” contemplated Brutok, “possible Umbreus too.”

“Umbreus killed our mother, just like he killed our father. He very well almost killed us too. He is a madman but I agree his control over shadow rifts is just as powerful as mine over the light. I sense him still through the rift space. Somehow changed, altered but still alive.”

“Gearo, you are wrong,” Brutok said softly. “Empyreus not as powerful when Gearion die without crown. Without Lifespring. How Umbreus become so strong if Mistress was gone?” Brutok smiled through his dented and bloodied helmet. “My Mistress, Noiria, your mother… she lives.”

Suddenly the air around Brutok sparked and pulsed as he was enveloped in the green light Empyreus had encountered before.

“WHAT!?!” growled the green beast and then he howled in agony as the light shot through him and seemed to tighten around him. He then roared with anger. The light constricted and mimicked his roar. Empyreus tried to forge a blade or a blaster to fight off the mysterious attack but he didn’t have the strength. Then the rift space twisted and distorted and before his very eyes the strange cocoon of light around mighty Brutok constricted once more and imploded upon itself in a snap of energy taking the green giant of Monkaa along with it. All fell silent and Empyreus was once again alone.

Chapter 3: The Hunters and The Hunted


The Crayboth was lost. It had come a long way, across space and dimensions, via a rift to the world of Monkaa. It had adapted quickly, as its kind is apt to do, but something about Monkaa had affected it. It had started to develop self-awareness and intelligence uncommon amongst these odd little creatures. It had also become obsessed with flight. Early on it had been part of a small pack of Crayboth. A Monkaarian Eaglehawk, a mighty winged predator, hunted the pack. One by one the Crayboth had been caught and eaten. All save this last one. While it feared the great Eaglehawk, something in it longed to fly. Its skin had morphed and changed colors to mimic the big bird. This inadvertently saved the little creature's life without it realizing it. It now looked like an eaglet, and was safe from predation by the big birds that refused to cannibalize their own young. So the little Crayboth Eaglet wandered the countryside, vainly flapping its arms as it leapt off tree stumps and boulders. Eventually it found its way to a small Gearo village.

Unfortunately, it arrived the same day as Midas and a cadre of his Golden Gohlem hunters.

"Gather around simple folk of Monkaa!" cried Midas. "Your Lord Gearion has need of your aid! He seeks any information on the whereabouts of any feral Blood Walkers or the vile traitor Flaw, the Obsidian Gohlem!" Midas reached into one of many bulging sacks loaded on a cart he and his hunters had in tow. "And he rewards his loyal servants!" he shouted as he threw handfuls of valuable rare ore and sparkling gems into the crowd. "There will be wealth, food and glory for any that are able to help your beloved Lord!"

The crowd scrambled to pick up the scattered wealth and Midas grinned. The Crayboth Eaglet watched the commotion from under a nearby bench. It was very hungry and eyed the bulging sacks of fruit, root, and grain. Finally the crowd dispersed and the village square quieted. The Crayboth Eaglet made its move and stealthily crept toward the food-laden cart. It had just begun to bite into a nectarplum when Midas turned and saw it. "Well, hello little one," he said. "Don't be afraid. Hungry are you?" He reached down and offered the little creature another nectarplum. The Crayboth Eaglet hesitated but its hunger won out and it took the food, relaxing a little. "There, there. Plenty for even the smallest," he smiled.

Without warning Midas’s hand shot out and closed around the arm of the Crayboth. The little creature squawked and struggled in vain.

"You'd steal what is mine? MINE!!" the Gohlem shrieked, his face twisted into a terrifying rictus. Midas lifted the Eaglet Crayboth over his head, cruelly twisting its arms. "All. Is. MINE!" he shouted and savagely flung the little creature across the square and into a wall, where it struck with a crunch and fell to lay still in a heap upon the ground.

"Come. We've wasted enough time in this cesspool of a village. We'll be back later to finish the...test..." Midas hissed and turned to leave, followed by his Gold Gohlem hunters.

From the shadows a dark cloaked figure watched and clenched his fists in rage. If there was one thing Flaw was all too familiar with and despised it was larger creatures bringing harm to those that seemed defenseless and harmless.

Flaw threw back his hood as he took off the cloak he had been wearing. He leaned down to look at the poor broken little Crayboth. Its arm was twisted at an unnatural angle and its carapace was cracked and oozing a bit of blood. Flaw channeled his rage into Glowstone power and laid his hand on the horribly injured creature. Healing life energy flowed from the Gohlem's heartstone through his hand into the Crayboth Eaglet. The creature stirred. Its injuries didn't vanish, but the bleeding stopped and the carapace began to knit back together.

The Obsidian outlaw gathered up the little creature and wrapped it in his cloak. Carefully carrying the small bundle, he withdrew from the village.


“What a cold, dark and absolute perfect place for a fortress,” Gearion thought to himself as he walked through the gates of the abandoned Castle Umbreus. “I can see why this is where my eldest born took refuge from the light.” The high walls were sheer and black; the slick glassed stone looked more like the stacked bodies of Obsidian Gohlem than it did masonry of any sort. The courtyard and grounds were strewn with weapons and training devices. Much more a gladiatorial ludus than it was a palace. “Clearly the work of that jade brute my wife was so fond of,” he mused out loud.

“That jade brute is one of the few reasons you had a Monkaa to be reborn to,” said a voice from the shadows.

“Step forth,” commanded Gearion as he forged a silver falcon sabre in his hand. “I would see the man I’m about to slay for stalking in the darkness.”

“You can put that away my king,” said the voice as it stepped from the dark hallway, “you won’t be needing it. This place is abandoned and desolate.”

“Ah, Palidar, well met my old friend,” said Gearion. “A shame. I could use a good battle to quell the urges I’ve been having since my return.”

“Urges?” asked the steel clad Gearo.

“Yes, dark urges. The kind where rage devours reason and the desire for vengeance permeates the very fabric of my soul.” The Lord of Light stood still for a moment then snapped his head toward Palidar once more and clenched the hilt of his blade. “What brings you to this dark place? Midas did not order a search of this area, I would have been informed.” He lunged at Palidar, thrusting the blade straight at the steel soldier’s chest.

Palidar clapped his large hands together, catching the blade just inches away from the bright blue sigil on his armor. “Midas may be your General, my liege. He is not mine,” Palidar said dryly. He then crouched slightly and leapt into the air, summersaulting over his golden attacker. Still holding the blade flat between his hands he flipped and tossed Gearion into the black glass wall across the training yard. He then raised both arms above his head, the air around them cracked and sparked as his right became a spiked mace and the left a curved blade resembling the horn of a thresher maw. “I am here to investigate some information I received from mighty Brutok the last time I found myself within this terrible place.” He assumed a defensive stance and gestured to the fallen king to come at him.

“Humph, always the most stubborn of soldiers, you rusted old war vohrse.” The Lord of Light stood holding a long black spear in his free hand.” What information?” Gearion quizzically cocked his head to the side like a pup when it knows there is a plate of scraps upon the table. Then with a powerful heave he launched the spear at his former general with the force of a thousand sky wyrms breaking the sound barrier. It would surely find its intended mark.

Palidar deftly, and with speed unmatched by Monkaarian warriors a fraction of his age, stepped out of the path of the speeding projectile. With an uppercut of the thresher horn blade he snapped the spear in two and like a dervish of lightning spun to kick the broken tail of it back in the direction of Gearion. The golden king swatted it away with his sabre and doubled up on his grip. “Noiria, my king. Your wife, Mistress of Shadow.” Palidar explained as best he could recollect, “Umbreus kept her hidden away somewhere, alive if only just barely. Brutok, Lord Empyreus, even Fandar Sun all believed her to be dead at the hands of Penumbrus.”

“Noiria! Alive!?!?” He charged Palidar and burned with rage. The light and shadow both emanated from Gearion so intensely that Palidar could feel his own steel armor freeze and all at once burn with the heat of the suns. Gearion unleashed a flurry of attacks upon Palidar, lunging and slashing with angry and uncontrolled parries and thrusts of his flashing sabre. What had begun as mere playful sparring between two friends had escalated into a full battle of heated rage with Gearion as the aggressor. “Take me to her! NOW!”

The rage and darkness he could see in his king concerned and frightened Palidar as he used every bit of his battle prowess to defend himself against the mad randomness of flourishes and blasts. “She is not here, my Lord. The chamber where she was being held is as empty and dark as the rest of this dark place.” He blocked a downward slash from Gearion’s blade and with a kick to the chest Gearion fell to the ground. My Lord. Dear friend. Enough. I do not want to harm you,” Palidar pleaded.

Gearion laughed, a terrifyingly familiar laugh. Palidar shuddered. A pair of large raptor like wings forged on Gearion’s back and he flew at Palidar like a vicious eaglehawk zeroing on its prey. Palidar dodged the advance and swung his blade, slicing off a chunk of a wing. Gearion shrieked in pain and a vast shadow rift tore open in the wall of the arena. The golden figure disappeared into the dark tear and left the weary steel warrior bewildered and in awe.

Palidar bent down and picked up the shining silver tip of the wing he had sliced from his mad king. In his hand the metal tarnished and turned black and then into pure blood. “No!” he shouted. “It can’t be.” He whistled and through the gates a gleaming crystal stallion emerged. “Come, Qwartz! We must hurry to the Citadel. Make haste. In my absence I fear my suspicions have come to pass. RIDE!”



Time had little meaning in this strange dimension Empyreus found himself in. He couldn't tell if it had been moments or months since the strange green glow had either taken or devoured Brutok, but it had returned. This time he avoided speaking. Instead the lost Lord of the Gearo reached out a hand and attempted to touch the strange green smear of light. It rippled and distorted like a reflection in a pond. After a moment, it began to vibrate and hum and before his eyes the green glow coalesced into an exact copy of himself.

"How...?" said Empyreus.

"I am Empyreus Lord of the Gearo," said the strange green doppelganger.

Then it reached its hand forward, right into Empyreus' chest and squeezed. The Gearo felt as if he were drowning and burning at the same time. His blood froze and rigor set into his limbs. He could not move. He tried to cry out but the sound would not come. A bright and blinding light came over him and then he blacked out.

Re: The Weaponeers of Monkaa Chronicles

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:24 pm
by SpyMonkeyJeremy
Chapter 4: All That Glitters


Flaw, Sooty and Char had been hiding in a network of caves near the village where Flaw had observed the cruelty of Midas and rescued the Crayboth Eaglet. The little creature had recovered thanks to Flaw's healing touch. It had grown quite attached to the Obsidian outlaw, and followed Flaw everywhere. The trio had also re-united with the young Glowstone Gohlem that Flaw had left with Sooty and Char after he had inadvertently turned it from a Blood Walker. It had grown into a strong and skilled warrior and had become quite adept at fighting off any feral Blood Walkers that threated its new family. Sooty and Char told Flaw they had taken to calling the young Gohlem by the name of Shadoh merely for the irony of it all. Shadoh had gone off to scout out the area and gather news, while Sooty, Char and Flaw waited at camp and prepared the evening meal.

"We can't sit here forever," grumbled Flaw, "Those golden thugs are everywhere, throwing wealth around. They may seem magnanimous, but they're hiding something. That Midas is worst of all." He patted the snoozing Crayboth Eaglet on the head. "No Gearo would treat a defenseless creature like that," he said under his breath, eyes still flashing with rage. Bolts and rivets, I don't trust them one bit, or our new emperor, Gearion. He's nothing like the true Gearo I know."

Sooty glanced at Char and sighed, "All in good time, right now the main thing is to keep you safe, and one step ahead of them golden brutes."

Char nodded, stirring the breadfruit stew they were preparing, “Aye, your Gearo brothers will sort dat all out. We need just stay low ‘til dat all time is right.”

"But Ambro is still a prisoner, I have no idea where Palidar is, and we're no closer to finding Empyreus!" said a frustrated Flaw. "At least those golden thugs are clearing the countryside of Blood Walkers...”

Just then Shadoh burst into the cave. He was breathless and had been wounded. “The village is gone. The villagers slaughtered," he wheezed.

"How?" asked Flaw.

"Blood Walkers, hundreds of them. Led by the Golden Gohlem, the one you call Midas,” answered Shadoh grimly.


"Report Midas!" commanded Gearion, Lord of Light and Emperor of the Gearo, "How goes our extermination of the Blood Walkers?"

"Excellent my lord! We have gathered the last of them in the prison pits and my Golden Gohlem are systematically culling the herds and entombing the bodies in the caverns below Gearo City," answered Midas.

"Superb," nodded Gearion, "Once we have rid ourselves of those mindless savage abominations Monkaa will finally be at peace and united in the Light. Then the search for my sons and beloved wife can resume."

Just then the door to the throne room burst open, and a steel clad warrior shoved aside the guards. “And just what do you plan to do with them once you find them?” Palidar had returned.

"What is the meaning of this!" shrieked Midas.

"The meaning, you gilded lap dog, is ending this madness!” shouted Palidar. “Flaw and Ambro are no traitors! They would never harm Fandar Sun!"

Several Golden Gohlem guards closed in and attempted to restrain the angry Gearo General. After several dozen had been laid out by the old warrior his fatigue from a long and arduous journey back to the Citadel had set in and they were able to best him.

"How dare you disrespect Lord Gearion in this way!" raged Midas.

"Gearion?” scoffed Palidar indignantly. “I knew Gearion. Fought for Gearion. Bled for Gearion. This… thing that sits upon his ill begotten throne is not Gearion. This is not the Lord of Light! Better that we address him as he was once known… Umbreus!"

"STOP!” boomed the voice of Gearion, rattling and quaking the very walls of the Citadel itself. “I allowed you your one indulgence at my dark heir’s former palace, Palidar. Even my love of a loyal old servant has its limits. The Obsidian Gohlem and the former Chamberlin must pay for their crimes. The issue is closed," decreed Gearion. “NOW, about your treasonous accusation…” Gearion held Palidar’s chin up and wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth with a thumb, “this too I will allow to pass, but only this once. You have refused my golden touch for too long. Tomorrow you will be anointed like the rest of the army that serves me. Tomorrow you take your place as a true Golden Warrior of the new Gearo under the command of Midas.”

"NEVER..." yelled Palidar defiantly.

"Enough,” Gearion laughed. “Another word and I will be forced to assume you were in league with those traitors, your former comrades. Is that what you want?" asked the stern Emperor of the Gearo.

Palidar remained silent and gritted his teeth.

"Good. Now Midas will take you to a holding cell where we can keep an eye on you until I have enough energy to bless one as strong willed as yourself with my golden touch. The two of you must learn to work as one,” Gearion ordered. “You will oversee the extermination of the remaining Blood Walkers in the prison pens. You look like you could use some distraction."

"You will never control my free will..." said Palidar seething with rage.

Midas grinned and led him out of the throne room by his restraints. Too weak to fight back, Palidar followed.

Palidar was taken out of the Gearo Citadel by Midas and down to the prison pits. Midas proudly showed Palidar how well constructed the prison was and how they could move the herds of Blood Walkers from smaller holding pens into a giant central pit. Palidar walked to the edge of the pit and looked down at the seething mass of Blood Walkers.

"They are nearly dormant now, as they've not fed in some time," said Midas.

Palidar nodded. "So how do you exterminate them? Starve them?"

"Exterminate? Starve? Why, Palidar, we don't do any of that at all..." Midas purred lasciviously as he came up behind the old Gearo General. "We. Feed. Them." he hissed.

With that Midas grabbed Palidar by the arm and with strength that Palidar had not expected hurled him into the Blood Walker pit. The Gearo General fell upon the ground in the deep pit and was set upon by massive herd of ravenous bloodthirsty monsters. As they closed in he turned and at that moment realized what he had feared since the day Gearion had returned to them. He had made a grave error in his accusation of The Lord of Light. Midas’ face began to melt and distort it became a molten pool of unformed golden liquid. Then it took on a more familiar form as the pool solidified and changed into a grinning golden skull...


Flaw, Sooty, Char and Shadoh surveyed the ruins. The Crayboth Eaglet rummaged about the wreckage in agitation, hissing and clucking. The village had been obliterated.

"It's totally destroyed," said Flaw sadly.

"Aye, there's no mistakin’ dat," agreed Char.

Sooty nodded, "...but somethin’ isn't right. It's completely destroyed. Feral Blood Walkers aren't this precise. This village and its inhabitants were methodically destroyed. This was a military strike.”

“You're sure this was Blood Walkers?" Flaw asked Shadoh.

"Yes," the young Gohlem answered, "I know Blood Walkers and there were hundreds here. I caught sight of it from the hills outside the village, watched them mop up and retreat, in silent orderly ranks, led by that horrid Midas. By the time I got into the village they were gone and it was too late to help."

Flaw looked at the Crayboth Eaglet angrily hopping around in the broken rubble. He remembered the terrible grinning rictus on the Gold Gohlem's face as he beat the small creature. Flaw gnashed his teeth, "There's only one being on Monkaa that can command Blood Walkers that way. Umbreus!"

Sooty and Char glanced at each other, not in surprise, but with knowing.

"The kid's smart, can't deny dat all," said Char.

"Yes, he doesn't miss a thing does he?" answered Sooty.

"Well, he don't know everything yet..." Char reminded.

Sooty smiled and nodded at his cohort, and with that the two joined hands and opened a rift of bright orange flame.

"You two! So I didn't imagine it!" shouted Flaw.

"Hush," said Sooty. "We are a story for another day. Right now your friends need you. You and Shadoh. We can rift you into Gearo City, but it's up to you to free Ambro, find Palidar, and stop Umbreus. Beware the misguided power of Gearion, but know he is not necessarily your enemy."

"Aye," added Char, "Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your friend." with those cryptic words Flaw, Shadoh, and the Crayboth Eaglet were sent through the fiery rift.

"The enemy of your enemy is your friend," said Sooty, "I like that brother."

"Well, it's true," answered Char "True for now at least."



Empyreus awoke and the strange green light doppelganger looked at him quizzically. He looked around and realized he was no longer floating in a black void, but appeared to be back in the Gearo Citadel. Or at least a copy of it created out of green light. The doppelganger spoke.

"You are Empyreus, Lord of the Gearo. We are the Veridiohm. We have no form. We are thought. We are energy. We are idea. We have heard the song of your soul. We take a form familiar to you. We create an environment familiar to you. We must gain knowledge from you. Why are you here?"

"I am lost. I fought a great battle against my brother, my enemy, and found myself here in your realm," answered Empyreus.

"We have seen this in your soul. We know how you came to be here. Why are you here now? What do you want? What do you intend to do? Tell us. Tell us that we may decide," demanded the Veridiohm tonelessly.

"I just want to go home," said a weary Empyreus.

"We know that is your desire. What is your intention? How will you affect the Futurestream? Tell us that we may decide," said the Veridiohm again.

"Decide what?" asked Empyreus in frustration.

"That we may decide if we must destroy you, Empyreus, Lord of the Gearo," answered the Veridiohm. "We know of rage. We know of destruction. We know of love. We know of betrayal. We know of war. We know of fear. They threaten the Futurestream. We learned of these things from the one called Brutok. We heard the song of his soul. He threatened the Futurestream."

“Where is Brutok?” asked Empyreus with furrowed brow.

"We destroyed the one called Brutok. Now help us decide if we must destroy you."

Chapter 5: Fool's Gold


Palidar had fought for hours but it was an impossible battle. He was in a pit full of hungry Blood Walkers. Had they not been near dormant from hunger, they would have torn him to shreds. As it was, it took everything he had to morph his limbs into weapons and armor to stave off the horde. His Glowstone power finally expended, the old warrior had been backed into a corner and was near the end.

Then a bright flaming rift opened above him and in dropped Flaw, the Crayboth Eaglet and the Glowstone Gohlem called Shadoh. It only took Flaw a moment to size up the situation and begin laying into the Blood Walkers, followed immediately into the fray by Shadoh. The Crayboth Eaglet had continued to evolve after the infusion of Glowstone power. Its arms blurred and morphed into a pair of strong wing blades, and it swooped through the chamber slashing back Bloodlust Walkers.

"Need some help old man?" chuckled Flaw.

"Ha! I was just warming them up for you son!" answered Palidar.

But soon the tide again began to turn against the heroes. "This is a losing battle!" shouted Shadoh.

Flaw was about to agree when he began to feel a pull on his soul, the link to the Lifespring suddenly pulsing with life. "Flaw, Palidar!" It was the voice of Fandar Sun, "use the Glowstone Gohlem! He is the link! Redeem them!"

Flaw looked at Palidar and the old soldier nodded. Shadoh seemed to understand what he needed to do and the three warriors joined hands. The Blood Walkers closed in and began to tear into them. Flaw and Palidar screamed in pain and opened up their link to the Lifespring, channeling their power into the young Glowstone Gohlem. He pulsed with light and a rift began to grow around the trio, expanding into the ranks of the attacking Blood Walkers. Each one caught in the rift was washed clean of the Bloodlust infection and they reverted back into their original forms, Gearo, Vilhain and common Gohlem alike. In Palidar’s weakened state the rift could not engulf the entire massive herd and once it reached its limit it snapped shut, whisking the three heroes, the Crayboth and the newly redeemed Gohlem away to safety and leaving a diminished but still deadly Bloodlust horde in their wake.


"It is done my Lord. The empire is free of the scourge of the Blood Walkers and your people are united in the Light!” announced a grinning Midas. "Perhaps you would like to accompany me to the prison pens and oversee the final extermination of the last of the fiends?"

"Very well, my loyal servant, lead on!" agreed a jubilant Gearion.

Midas grinned even wider as his plan was nearing completion.

Midas…. or more accurately, Umbreus thought to himself, “ How fortuitous it had been that his dear brother lost his precious Crown of Light within the rift and it returned to seek out the brow of its once bright bearer. It had been simplicity for his own disembodied spirit essence to take control of one of Gearion's newly born Golden Gohlem. It had been child's play to win the trust of the arrogant fool and use the darkness within to control him.” He mused in silence, “So easy to bend him to my will because the corruption from the Blade of Shadow that I used to kill Gearion still flowed through the Lord of Light. Using my father’s hatred and black urge for vengeance against me to turn even his most loyal of subjects into traitors. Poisoning his once healing golden touch to seize control of the empire and build a mighty army of both Golden Gohlem and Blood Walkers was a stroke of genius. Soon I will pitch that golden buffoon Gearion into the pits with my Bloodlust Horde like I did Palidar and snatch the Crown of Light from his broken and devoured remains.”

Umbreus led Gearion into the final chamber of the prison pens. With the power of the Bloodlust and the Crown of Light, and backed by an army of Bloodlust Warriors and mind controlled Golden Gohlem he would enslave all of Monkaa and then the entire cosmos. That heroic whelp Empyreus was either dead or lost across the dimensions, leaving everything for him to rule. It was perfect.

Just as the he was about to lead Gearion to his doom, a messenger interrupted them. "My Lord Gearion! There's chaos in the streets! Refugees have arrived from the outer provinces. They say villages have been razed by herds of Blood Walkers! Led by a Golden Gohlem! The common folk are confused and gathering in the street! There's talk of rebellion and rioting!"

"This won't do! Who is spreading these lies?" bellowed Gearion. "The tour will have to wait Midas!
We must deal with this!" With that Gearion flung open a rift and stepped into it. Midas followed, but not before impaling the hapless messenger for his untimely interruption.


Flaw, Palidar, and Shadoh stood surrounded by their newly redeemed army. The Crayboth Eaglet was perched on Flaw's shoulder. Their rag tag army was comprised of all walks of Monkaarian. There were crimson clad Gearo Honor Guard, stolid Steel Gohlem, gleaming Crystal Gohlem as well as former Vilhain in the form of Venom Gohlem, and the once enslaved Obsidian Gohlem, Granite Gohlem and other common folk of Monkaa.

"My friends," said Palidar, "You've all known the horrible power of the Bloodlust. You've felt its bite and indeed are still reeling from the effects, but you must stand strong..."

"Why should we help you Gearo?" interrupted a sneering Venom Gohlem Captain.

"Quiet villain! The Gearo Honor Guard stand with General Palidar, you'd do well to remember your place!" bellowed Toro, horned Captain of the Gearo.

"Thank you Toro," said Palidar. "Know this, now is not the time for old hatreds. You have all been betrayed and nearly destroyed by Umbreus. He would have sacrificed Gearo, Vilhain and Gohlem alike in his selfish quest for power."

"That's true!" said Flaw. "I was once a lowly crippled Vilhain slave! Palidar showed me that there is more to life than a sigil on your chest. There is loyalty and honor and family. We almost lost Monkaa to the Bloodlust. You standing here with us are proof of how close we came to losing it all. Now our world needs you. Umbreus has returned and plans to use the Bloodlust Warriors to crush our world once and for all! Lord Empyreus is gone. Mighty Brutok is gone. The Lord of Light, Gearion has been resurrected but his dark thirst for revenge clouds his judgment. Umbreus has complete control over him. We can't rely on Lords and heroes to save us. We must do this ourselves. We must do this together. We the people, the common folk of Monkaa. Are you with me?"

There was a brief pause and then a great roar of approval rose from the survivors.

"We march on Gearo City, straight to the gates of the Citadel! We must stop Umbreus and save Monkaa!" shouted Palidar as the small but determined army began its march.


"This is blasphemy. This is madness," said Gearion incredulously. “How can my people turn on me, their benevolent Lord?"

"My liege," hissed Umbreus, still wearing the guise of Midas, the Golden Gohlem, “the rebel army led by the traitors Palidar and Flaw approaches the capital. We must surround and crush them."

"No. As clouded as his judgment may be from my return, Palidar will remain loyal. They may yet see reason. I will take a force of my Golden Guard and parley with them. Hold the remainder of our forces in reserve my General. I will summon you if they refuse to surrender and accept my Golden Touch, and we will meet them in honorable battle," the Lord of Light and Emperor of the Gearo stated. “I ride within the hour.”

“Fool,” thought Umbreus. “Yes. Go parley. Waste your silly words of honor and loyalty. Distract them that I may surround all of you with my Bloodlust Army and crush you each and every one! This was unexpected but my plan will yet succeed. Such is the brilliance of Umbreus, Lord and Ruler of Monkaa!”

The two armies met on the fields before Gearo City. Palidar and Flaw led the Free Gohlem of Monkaa while Gearion, astride his mighty steel vohrse, led his Golden Guard. Monkaarian history will record the details of the parley, but suffice it to say that on that day there was little agreement between the righteous yet angry Free Gohlem and the noble but deluded Gearion, The two armies would have likely clashed had they not been interrupted by the ominous groan of stone and steel.

All along the base of the wall of Gearo City cleverly hidden gates were slowly creaking open. The tunnels behind them stretched down into the blackness. Slowly the tunnels filled with the glow of blood red eyes as rank upon rank of silent Bloodlust Warriors, once again under the thrall of Umbreus marched out and surrounded the Free Gohlem and the Golden Guard.

Gearion reeled in confusion, “What is this?!? Midas!” he called out. “There has been a breach of the prison pits! Gather your troops that we may quell these beasts!”

At the top of the wall Midas emerged. He grinned, a grin that split wider and wider until his golden face distorted, melted, and oozed away leaving only a grinning golden skull. On either side of him Bloodlust Warriors brought the bound and unconscious bodies of Ambro and Fandar Sun. Umbreus grinned and his hands formed into dark golden tendrils infused with the very shadow he had used to posses and control Gearion. He plunged the tendrils deep into the chests of his prisoners and pulsed with energy as he drew their blood and their very life force out of them. Umbreus seemed to swell and grow as his body was cloaked in shadow shot through with a bloody red light. When the dark cloud of corruption cleared, Umbreus emerged, his horrible Bloodlust power fully restored. A look of shocked realization came upon Umbreus’ gruesome visage as he turned to look at a barely conscious Fandar Sun. “Oh yes! Soooo many secrets you’ve kept hidden away old one,” he hissed. “So many delicious secrets… I must know more. You I will keep alive until I find this ‘chronicle’ you hide. But this one,” he turned his attention to Ambro. “This one I will kill completely.”

As he strode over to the guards holding Ambro he formed a cruel sickle in his hand. He raised it high and as he brought it down hard to deal a final blow upon the unconscious Gearo a blinding flash of golden energy shot across the top of the wall. Umbreus was sent reeling backwards.

Gearion had opened a rift and there he was on top of the wall astride his shining steed. He slayed the Bloodlust Walkers holding Ambro and scooped him up onto the saddle. He then turned towards Fandar Sun and in unchecked panic cried out, “FATHER!”

Umbreus shrieked with glee, “Father!?! This old husk is the one of legend? Fandar Sun is sire of the great Lords of Monkaa? He is the one known as the first Monkaarian? THE WEAPONEER?!?! Oh, yes. It’s all beginning to make perfect sense. SOOOO many delicious secrets. I must learn them all.” With a wave of his hand Umbreus sent a storm of black shadowy blades across the battlement knocking Gearion from his mount.

The Lord of Light fell in a daze as his vohrse reared and bolted for the gates carrying Ambro upon its back. "I've been a fool...” he muttered, “I've been a cursed and blinded fool..." burning tears of rage running down his face. “PENUMBRUS! THIS ENDS TONIGHT!” and he lunged at the demon he once called son and heir.
Back on the battlefield Flaw and Palidar readied for a fight. With a nod, the two friends, backed by Shadoh, the Crayboth Eaglet and their new army of Free Gohlem charged the Bloodlust Army. The fighting was fierce, no quarter asked or received. There were no rifts, no titans, and no redeeming glow of Lifespring energy. The magic had been expended. This was brutal hand to hand fighting pure and simple. Umbreus was unable to fully swell the ranks of his Bloodlust army. The Free Gohlem, having been released from the Bloodlust and bathed in the healing glow of Lifespring energy were now immune to the corruption. The Golden Guard, having received Gearion's Golden Touch was similarly immune. With Umbreus’ control over Gearion now broken, The Golden Guard joined the Free Gohlem in fighting the savage Bloodlust Warriors. The common folk and citizens of Gearo City were not so protected however, and soon Flaw and Palidar realized that they had to protect them, lest they succumb to the Bloodlust and overwhelm them all.

Thus what should have been a final battle became a fighting retreat. The Golden Guard fought in keeping the Bloodlust Army away from the gates, while the Free Gohlem guided the surviving citizenry to safety. But the Bloodlust Army would have yet won the day if not for a cruel twist of fate and misunderstood magics. While Umbreus had full control of the Bloodlust Warriors, if they wandered too far out of his presence they reverted to feral Blood Walkers, uncontrollable and useless. Such was the price of his battle with Empyreus. He still had the Bloodlust Power but it was diminished and not all encompassing as it once had been.

The battle between Gearion and Umbreus raged as the Gearo and Gohlem armies emptied the streets. Blow for blow they seemed to match one another. Gearion’s anger and shame clouded his ability to skillfully end the fight. In a final move of desperation he opened a rift and made a run for Fandar’s lifeless body.

He lifted up the High Cleric, oldest living Monkaarian, “Let’s get you out of here old one.”

Gearion heard his father utter words he’s hoped to never hear, “Gather the tribes… Magelok is free…” and as the Lord of Light nodded in agreement the dark tendrils holding Fandar tightened and Umbreus pulled on the old Gearo.

Gearion held on and began to enter the rift. Pulling with all of his might to save the sire of the Lords of Monkaa, the first Monkaarian. His own Father, Fandar Sun. Lord of War, the one legend calls The Weaponeer.

“I think not,” hissed Umbreus. “This one stays with me.” With that the tendrils snapped and pulled tighter. Fandar howled in agony. Gearion held on. Umbreus continued, “I have grown tired of this game!” He formed a long straight blade of pure burning blood and brought it down at the base of Gearion’s wrist, severing the golden hand tightly gripping Fandar.

Umbreus then blasted the Lord of Light backward into the rift and sealed it with a second blast of pure Bloodlust energy.

Umbreus refused to give up possession of Gearo City, more importantly he would not now lose his grip on Fandar and the Lifespring, so he was unable to pursue his enemies. As he retreated into the great hall of the Citadel a black cloud of pure shadow engulfed the city and solidified into an impenetrable field of darkness, sealing it off from the rest of the world.

And so it was the battle ended. Not in triumph or victory, but in a stalemate. The Free Gohlem and Golden Guard had saved the citizenry but lost the city and the Lifespring. The Bloodlust Army had won the city but was unable to exterminate their enemies.

The Great Gear turns. Forever has it turned and forever will it turn, and the heroes and villains of Monkaa would certainly meet again....


"Tell us why we should not destroy you Empyreus, Lord of the Gearo," intoned the Veridiohm. "Your kind is warlike, violent, you fight and fight with no resolution. Like the one called Brutok you are rage and destruction. The Veridiohm crave balance, peace, stasis. Your kind is anathema to us."

Empyreus paused. Then he replied. "You are ignorant," he said. "Lost. Your logic is flawed."

The Veridiohm pulsed, crackled and sparked, swelling in what seemed like rage, "We are the Veridiohm. We are above your petty motivations. We serve balance, peace, stasis. If you cannot give reason, you will be destroyed."

"Like you destroyed Brutok? Did you learn of rage from him? Or did you vent your rage on him? YOU acted in violence. YOU abducted. YOU destroyed. By those actions YOU contradict yourselves. You are not servants of peace and balance and stasis. Were you infected because of Brutok or have you always been as imperfect and as full of rage as those you have accused?" posed Empyreus.


"Perhaps you then are guilty as well. Should you destroy yourselves as you did Brutok, as you plan to destroy me, hmmm?" smirked Empyreus as he reversed the line of questioning upon his interrogators. "Would that restore the stasis? Would that protect the Futurestream? Or are you incapable of realizing the hypocrisy you are guilty of and will soon perpetrate upon another?"

The Veridiohm light constructs fizzed and popped and sparked, "We are the Veridiohm! We serve balance, peace, stasis. We cannot destroy ourselves! We commit rage, destruction, betrayal. We must destroy ourselves! Conundrum!"

Empyreus nodded, "Perhaps it is you who must now learn to accept change. You think you know of rage and destruction, but perhaps I can teach you of love, compassion, redemption and forgiveness."

"You would have us merge our consciousness with yours?" asked the Veridiohm.

"No," answered Empyreus, "You must right this great wrong that YOU perpetrated. You destroyed Brutok in arrogance and ignorance. You must now attempt to redeem yourselves. Perhaps through an act of selflessness, maybe even of sacrifice. Give of yourselves to right that wrong. Before destroying him you say you understood him, his rage, his destructive power. But you did not understand him. You must merge your consciousness with his using the song of his soul that resides in you now. You must truly hear it and see that he is not only rage and destruction, but honor and love and sadness and loyalty too."


The Veridiohm light constructs suddenly winked out, leaving Empyreus in darkness. It might have taken the space of a heartbeat or an eon, but soon a small green spark burst forth from the darkness and grew. Bones and muscle formed, then armor and finally a familiar spiked helmet.



The two Gohlem sat in a dark cavern, lit only by the soft glow of flowing lava. As they sat and bathed in the heat of the lava, the dusty, sooty, charred shells of the disguises they wore cracked and sloughed off. In their place stood two figures with deep orange veins of molten lava and skin of black volcanic rock.

"Oh it feels good to be rid of those disguises," said the younger brother.

"Indeed," said the elder. "Obsidian Gohlem are so...cold, I don't know how they can stand it..."

"My Sons," a soothing feminine voice from the Shadows interrupted. "You've done well."

The brothers smiled, "We only did what was best for the tribe, Mother."

"Always my sons," she replied... “Always”

Chapter 6: The Trial of Brutok


Empyreus smiled for within a matter of moments Mighty Brutok once more stood before him.

However, the jade behemoth was changed. No longer was he the familiar green and purple armored titan the Gearo had fought so many times through the eons. The Veridiohm had certainly resurrected him as Empyreus chanced they could, but he was not at all what the gleaming red Prince of Monkaa had expected. Now he was almost translucent, like a rare Emerald Gohlem. He was composed of the fabric and material of deep rift space. His armor pulsed and glowed with green energy, power circuits and runes channeling and focusing his new heart, veins, and organs.

Brutok slowly opened his eyes. A bright yellow light shone from them, bright and blinding like the suns of Monkaa. Empyreus stood at the ready, expecting Brutok to roar with rage and tear through their captors like a rabid fire lion. But that did not happen. The pulsing green giant surveyed his new surroundings and stretched his new limbs with a groan, not of rage or anguish but of joy and relief. He looked at Empyreus and it almost seemed as though he was smiling, “Lord Empyreus, Good to see you. Feared you lost in rift-space.”

Empyreus smiled back, “No, I’m afraid it will take a lot more than being lost to the void to do either of us in. It is welcome to lay eyes upon you too. I owe you a great debt of gratitude for saving me, for saving Monkaa. Come Brutok, it's time we found a way to return home. I have a feeling we are both sorely needed there."

"Wait," commanded the Veridiohm. Then twin points of glowing green light burst into view and coalesced into twins in the familiar form of Gohlem of Monkaa. "We are the Veridiohm," intoned the two Gohlem in unison. "We have corrected our mistake. The one called Brutok lives once again. We have shared of our energy and power to return that which we so wrongfully took away. However, we are sundered. For now our minds are awash with the confusion, contradiction and chaos that plague your minds. Flooded with the rage, destruction and chaos that you, Brutok, infected us with. You now must atone. You now must help us. You now must show us how to cope with these new sensations, these new conflicts we now suffer within."

"How?" asked Empyreus.

"Brutok serves no one," stated Brutok with finality.

"You will serve us," said the first Veridiohm Gohlem, eyes blazing with cold white light.

"Yes, you will give answer to our questions, our conundrums," added the second Veridiohm Gohlem, it's eyes filled with fathomless black darkness.

"You have corrupted the Veridiohm. You have altered us, disrupted the balance we crave," said the black-eyed Gohlem.

"You have corrupted us," added the white-eyed Gohlem. "You will now answer for this transgression. You are charged to redeem us, or we will all be destroyed. You will do this for the sake of yourselves, for the sake of those you protect, and for the sake of the entire Futurestream."

"Thus begins the Trial of Brutok,” the two pulsing green figures intoned in unison. “Stand and answer for your life, your actions. Sing us the song of your soul, that we may all be saved."

“Very well,” answered Brutok, “you may begin. What of my soul interests you?”

The first Veridiohm sparked and crackled, blurring briefly and then snapped into the form of a very familiar Gearo to both Monkaarians, Palidar. “You hate,” began the Veridiohm, “but also love this one? Explain.”
Brutok took a deep breath and the green energy that resembled the Gearo Citadel changed into a battle arena. The Palidar form leapt in the air, forged a broadsword, and attacked. Brutok answered with blinding speed. The green giant and the masquerading Veridiohm battled for several moments. Blow for blow in a wondrous display of strategic beauty. Suddenly they stopped and bowed to one another. “Ah, Palidar,” he began. “Once called Palidar foe, then friend, then brother, then enemy, then ally. Now unsure what I shall or may call him.”

“Why?” asked the Veridiohm.

“We have fought. We have quarreled. We have beaten. We have battled. We have loved. We have despised. We have forgiven. We have spared. We have hurt. We have healed one another more times than I remember anymore,” Brutok explained. “We have same goals. Methods are as different as shadow and light that we serve. Palidar is the closest to family I have ever had. Yet we do not agree. Best we remain on opposite sides. Keeps balance. We are warriors. We need each other. Fulfills desire to be better for us both. You ask hate, but also love? Not hate or love. Respect.”

The two Veridiohm faced one another. Their eyes blinked and pulsed in tune with a series of audible clicks and hums. Then the second Veridiohm sparked and with a loud pop assumed the form of a female, that of the Mistress of Shadow, Noiria. The form approached the glowing green giant and gently placed her hand upon his cheek. “Then this… this is the love we feel,” said the Veridiohm.

“Yes,” Brutok’s voice softened. “It is also where you will find sorrow and agony. Both born of that love.”

“Because of this one,” stated the first Veridiohm. It blurred and sizzled regaining clarity as Gearion, the Lord of Light. “Because of this one there is sorrow.”

“HAHAHAHAHA! No.” Brutok bellowed with laughter. A sound that took Empyreus by much surprise as he’d never heard the mighty brute laugh, or really ever seen him smile. “That one is a fool. With a fool dream. Shadow. Light. Separate for reasons he never understood. Maybe understood, only too arrogant. His dominion over one would not give same for the other. Maybe she just as foolish. Believed that dream.” Brutok bowed his head, “…told her …begged her. Did not matter. Gave him her heart anyway. Gearion not to blame for that.”

“Do you still love this one?” the Veridiohm wearing the form of Noiria asked.

“Never stopped…” Brutok answered very matter of fact. He paused a moment before continuing, “Enough! Next!” The rage in his eyes swelled and they glowed a fiery bright yellow.

The first Veridiohm glowed bright and blinding in response to Brutok’s sparked rage. Its body burned like an emerald fire. Fire that soon resembled flowing blood. When it washed away, the form of Gearion had given way to the gruesome Umbreus. The Umbreus Veridiohm was holding the form of Noiria in his grasp and seemingly absorbed her under her protests and screams of pain. Brutok’s rage ignited. The runes on his new body glowed and shot blasts of energy at the creature that was decimating his once queen and unrequited love. At that moment the second Veridiohm also took the form of Umbreus and both began to attack Brutok. The battle escalated. The pair of attackers then merged and their green energy bled into a blazing red. The being they formed resembled a Monkaarian but it was like nothing Empyreus had ever laid eyes upon. A cycloptic horror more terrifying than anything he’d ever seen. Even Umbreus at his most vicious with the Bloodlust consuming him could not compare to the beast that Brutok was presently locked into mortal combat with. Brutok was also like nothing he had ever witnessed. The jade behemoth fought with a fury so wild and unrelenting but with such precision and calculation that Empyreus could do nothing but stand in frozen astonishment.

He wanted to call out to Brutok, “none of this is real, only illusion”. The words would not leave his throat. He had never felt so powerless in all his life.

Suddenly and with a great crack of silver lightning all was once more calm. Brutok stood, fists clenched and teeth gnashing. The two Veridiohm had once again assumed the forms of Monkaarian Gohlem. Both Veridiohm stood staring at Brutok in awe. “The trial is concluded. He will serve the purpose we require,” the first Veridiohm said. “The song of his soul is stronger and more clear than any being we have ever encountered. We understand.”

“Indeed,” concurred the second. “He will surely be powerful enough to defend the Futurestream against that which they have set free. Verdict. Brutok as Novum Veridiohm you will remain.”

“Set free? What is going on here? You have heard the song of his soul. We are no threat to the Futurestream. We can help you defend it. We both command great armies. Let us go back to gather them so that we may aid you. Send us home. Send us back to Monkaa!” demanded Empyreus.

“They intend that, young Lord,” Brutok said with conviction. “As they heard the song of my soul, they shared theirs with me. The battle between you and Umbreus tore rift space apart. A great ancient evil has been set free from his prison far forward in the Futurestream. A timeless evil, greater than even Umbreus.”

“It is the sentence of the one named Brutok to travel with us to the end of the Futurestream,” the first Veridiohm stated.

“You, Empyreus, Lord of the Gearion will be sent back to Monkaa,” intoned the second. “Your sentence is far more crucial. You must not fail. Brutok, if you will.”

“What sentence? You’ve not tried me! What must I do to save the Futurestream?” Empyreus begged for answers. None were given. Suddenly a rift of green energy opened up behind Empyreus. It began to pull him in. He was still too weak to fully resist but tried with all of his might. “Brutok, NO!” he cried. “I can’t leave you here. We know nothing of what these beings speak of. We must return to Monkaa. Together.”

“We both go to Monkaa, young Lord,” said Mighty Brutok. “Learn well from your encounters. Your journey will be hard. You will be tested beyond your limits. Stay strong. Stay true.”

Brutok placed his hand upon the Gearo symbol emblazoned upon Empyreus’ armor. He clenched his fist around it, crushing the shiny silver plate, ripping it from the young warriors chest. He then leaned in close and whispered, “Gather the Tribes… Magelok is free…” with those final words he gave Empyreus a gentle shove through the rift.

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Re: The Weaponeers of Monkaa Chronicles

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:31 pm
by SpyMonkeyJeremy

By Jeremy Sung and Brian Stevenson
Art by Nate Baertsch


*Our tale begins before the events of BLOODLUST.

Eassy being Vilhain ssoldier.
No need to think, jussst obey.
Over-sseer ssummons.
Risse from the Magma Pit.
March. Fight. Die.
If no die, rejoin the Pit.
March another day.
Fight again. Die or Rejoin.

What a simpleton I was.

It was easy being a Vilhain Soldier, or at least it should have been.
You see we Magma Gohlem are all raw simple creatures. We share a hive mind, the mind of the Pit. Lord Umbreus or General Brutok summon us and once free of the Pit we must think and act and fight as a unit.
We are of the Pit. If we don't die lost, alone and far from our home we return, we merge again with the hive mind and are reborn. Every memory lost. Everything we know lost. Everything that would make us individual is lost. Everything lost, except our battle training. Somehow we retain that no matter how many times we are returned and reborn as stupid, simple and obedient as ever. Not I, not this time. I've been out of the Pit now for 293 days by my count. This may make me the oldest living Magma Gohlem. I don't know, my kind have no history, no family, nothing. Nothing that is, until a handful of us found ourselves free from the Pit for an abnormally long amount of time. What I've learned in these many months of freedom I've jealously guarded since I last saw the Pit. Since I last saw my brothers and sister of the Pit…

I’m rumbling…. I should begin at the beginning….

We were sent on a campaign against the Gearo 293 days ago. One thousand Magma Gohlem, led by General Brutok. The march was far. The march was long. Our target was a Gearo encampment on the far side of Mount Glacius. By the time we arrived our internal fires had dimmed and some even had dark patches of lava and rock on their extremities. Our natural shape-shifting ability was dampened, but we fought. We fought well. We fought legions of stolid Steel Gohlem that were led by Commander Palidar himself. Our fire against their steel, that alone should have given us the advantage. Again and again we charged, howling our madness and hatred at our gleaming adversaries. Though we brought down many of our foes, we did not prevail. We were crushed, snuffed out one by one. Our desperate rage met with their courageous discipline. Only a single squadron of us survived along with General Brutok. Thirteen of us there were. Thirteen and the Mighty General stood fast before Palidar’s forces. It was a tumultuous battle and we held our own. In the end Brutok brought down the mountainside and we thirteen escaped in the avalanche of broken rock and snow as it crashed down. We were separated from Brutok, but I knew he would have survived. Nothing can stop that one.

So my fellow survivors and I picked ourselves up and eventually began the long trip home to Castle Umbreus. However, we were changed. We'd been out of the Pit 100 long days. We could think clearly. We could feel. We could decide. Without the control or the commands of Brutok or Umbreus to guide our actions we became more than a hive mind. We became individuals and we started to become aware. Our skin began to cool further and crack, turning black like Volcanic Rock or Obsidian. Our overseers told us that Magma Gohlem prison their bodies become. But we did not. In our freedom we had surmised that they lied to keep us controlled and stupid. Or perhaps we were just different. This band of brothers were not just mindless Magma Gohlem any longer. We had become more.

In our journey back across the expanses of Monkaa to the Shadow Realm and Castle Umbreus, we further evolved. Some of the squad started taking on unique forms and adapting new abilities as well as being able to better control our shape-shifting and forging traits. The first of us to do so was my brother, Ehmber. He'd given himself that name, so proud to finally even understand what a name was. He chose to emulate the armor and helm of Palidar. “That all may be our enemy,” he would say. “But that all was the most formidable foe we will ever face on the battle field. I honor his skill by wearing this helm.” The others soon followed Ehmber’s example. They soon gave themselves names. Burhn, Boihl, Blahst, and Blahze. Followed by Mag-Nahr and Mag-Lahr, the molten twins. Then came Cyndehr, who to the surprise of the squad took the form and beauty of a fierce warrior maiden. After that Inferneus, Volcaneus, and Scaldeus. Finally the largest of us, Flame Beard who sprouted an uncontrollable plume of searing fire on the entire lower half of his face. I was the only one of us yet to choose a name. Ehmber assured me that my name would come to me when the time was right.

Many months passed. So curious we became about our world and in honing our new individuality that we had all but forgotten we set out to return to the Pit. We travelled across the entire northern hemisphere of Monkaa. Battling Gearo, and occasionally Vilhain, depending on the encounter and the balance of power. The whispers on the wind had reached us that our small band of warriors were being called the Lava Strike Force by the common folk and the survivors of our battles. We had become an impressive and deadly faction all our own. From some we were met with honor, reverence, given shelter and sustenance when we needed. From others we were feared and shunned, entire villages emptying like spirit vaults when we rode through.

We were a force like none other on Monkaa. Not quite Vilhain, no longer Gohlem, and certainly nothing like the Gearo we had met along the way. We came to odds many more times with the Vilhain and the injustices we witnessed perpetrated against the denizens of Monkaa from them than we ever did with the Gearo. Injustices that as we drew closer to the Vilhain keep we could no longer turn blind eyes to. We would indeed return to Castle Umbreus, but we would not be welcomed. We would arrive at our destination much more than the Pit, much more than the hive that spawned us. We were veterans, a strike force of elite warriors. Instead of returning to the Pit to be reclaimed by it we would return to liberate the rest of our kind. We thirteen would return to defeat the Vilhain hordes and give those of the Pit the same freedom and abilities we had finally come to realize were our rightful place in the Great Gear.

We stormed the gates of the Castle in the mid hours of the resting. We had thought that would be to our advantage. We were so very wrong. Along the road, a raiding party of one hundred or even an encampment of one thousand proved to be no match for the thirteen of us. Castle Umbreus and the bowels of the great mountain it is carved into the side of held over thirty thousand Vilhain soldiers. Venom, Umbrean, Ruby, Granite, even the lowly Obsidian and our own kin the Magma Gohlem were called forth to do battle against us as we struggled to advance through the castle to reach the Pit. We fought hard, we fought strong, and we fought as one. There would be songs of this battle if we grasped victory. There would be…. If.

Finally, as we breached the Lord of Shadow’s throne room we were set upon by the one sentient being on all of Monkaa that no one, save the brave Palidar, has bested in open combat. We were set upon by the mighty Brutok himself. It was then that we realized our folly in returning. The green behemoth made such brutal and short work of our little band of freedom fighters. He cut through us like the claws of a sand tiger through a tender young meadow deer. We were no matches for the General. One by one he felled us all. He was cold, swift and without mercy. We were naïve thinking we could defeat an entire army, but we were downright foolish to think this confrontation would have had any other outcome. There were thirteen of us, very unlucky.

We knew our return to the Pit was now imminent. Gathered up by the Umbrean Guard, we were bound and marched right back to the Pit from whence we came. The Lord of Shadows was standing on the thin stone bridge above the Pit. He stood there for several moments just staring into the roiling mindless mass of our people, our race. He was rolling a dimmed heartstone in his fingers. “So,” he hissed, “You want to be free do you? This mighty Lava Strike Force? This band of brothers?” He laughed a vicious and maddening cackle. “You sad failures! You unfortunate abominations! Better you should have died against the Gearo scum than waste your worthless resources venturing back here in a feeble attempt to free this!” He pointed down to the Pit and flung the heartstone into its center. Immediately where the heartstone had sank beneath the surface a form began to take shape. A new Magma Gohlem emerged and climbed its way onto the rocky edge of the Pit.

“General Brutok,” he called down to the mighty one standing below. “If you will.”

“This a waste of good soldiers!” the hulking beast barked back in what seemed like defiance that mirrored our own.

“Do not tempt me to hurl you into that pit along with them,” Umbreus said coldly. “Now do as you are told.”

Brutok looked at the newly formed and still burning Magma Gohlem that stood before him. We all watched in horror as the brute drove his massive fist straight into the inferno of the poor Gohlem’s chest. When he withdrew his hand he held within it the heartstone that Umbreus had released just moments before. “Brutok, we’re waiting….” Umbreus said. The General growled another disapproval of his appointed task and crushed the heartstone to dust. The magma form before him screamed out in agony, bubbled, warped, and oozed into an intangible puddle of liquid before his executioner’s feet.

“Monster!” Blahst cried out.

“Monster?” quipped Umbreus. “Monster? My dear misguided Magma Gohlem; it is I who gave you life. Without the heartstones that I provide, you would all be no more than that disgusting, oozing mess below. No more than this horrid smelly Pit that is blight on my palace. Without me you would never have even known the short meaningless lives you’ve had. I am not a monster, but your savior.” He chuckled, “and right now I am saving you once more. Saving you from these awful notions of freedom and individuality.”

“Brutok,” he commanded. "Take their heartstones. Throw their bodies into the Pit! Melt them down!"

“What shall I do with heartstones?” Brutok asked. “Not crush them!”

“No. Bring them all to me”, the Lord of Shadow replied. “I have a new curiosity to explore.” With that he tore open a rift and disappeared into it leaving us to our fate.

The first of my brothers, Burhn was thrown into the Pit and what was once our home, our mother, and our birthplace became a scorching inferno of unrelenting torture. We saw him crackle and melt, screaming in horror as his mind, his newfound identity was seared away. One by one they pushed my shackled brethren into that white, hot hell mouth. I will never forget the look in the eyes of my brother Ehmber. He turned to me and merely said, "Run. Remember me. Remember us. Just run." He grabbed me with both hands and hurled me out over the Pit into the catacombs just beyond. Then he roared his defiance and tore into our captors like a tornado of rock and fire. My last sight of him was as he confronted Brutok and a dozen vicious Venom Gohlem. They cut him down and hurled his remains in all directions.

And so I ran. I ran deep into the catacombs of Castle Umbreus, far from the only family I knew. I ran and wept for my brothers. I cursed Umbreus. I cursed this horrible ability to think and feel and hurt.

It took days before I was able to do anything more than cower in a crevice and try to shut out the pain and the fear and the hate. All I know is that when I think of Ehmber and the others, of what we survived and the betrayal and bitter end they all met, I burn. I burn with a fire hotter than the Pit, and I renew. My body softens and my shape-shifting abilities return. Oh, but my mind endures. My spirit endures. My intellect burns as bright as my defiance.

My fire was not extinguished like my brothers and sister. However now I was alone, so alone. So I began to test my abilities. I began to push the limitations of what we had learned together as the squad of thirteen. I began to push myself in ways we had never imagined. Instead of merely forming blades and weapons and fighting forms and limbs, I began to mimic. Like my brother Ehmber had done when he donned the helm of noble Palidar. It was crude as my recollections were rushed and confused but I forced myself to mimic the great and terrible figures I'd seen in my short life. I turned gaunt and twisted and wore the face of my betrayer, the hated Lord Umbreus. I boiled and contorted into the form of a ravenous Scaled Leopard Dragon, then a Sand Tiger, then a Thresher Maw. I grew spikes and bulked up like mighty General Brutok, I liked this form the most. It suited me. I stretched and flowed and did my best to mimic Palidar, the Gearo Commander. I only saw him once at the battle of Mount Glacius. A Steel Gohlem had been surrounded and was set upon by dozens of my fellow Magma Gohlem. It had lost both legs and was struggling and would have soon died had Palidar not leapt into the fray, single handedly barging his way to his wounded comrade and dragging him to safety. I remember Palidar shrugging off blow after blow, his armor rent and cracked, but never losing his grip on the wounded Steel Gohlem. Much like brave Ehmber when he sacrificed himself to save me. Vilhain don't do that. They care only for themselves. We are not like them. We are not Vilhain. Ehmber was not like them. He died along with all my brothers, but he saved me. At the cost of his own life, he saved me. We are of the Pit. We return if we do not die to be reborn. That is when I left the cavern I'd hidden in. That was when I decided to avenge and rescue my family. That was when I decided to end Umbreus.

So I trained, oh how I trained. I knew Umbreus would be hard to kill, that tyrant guards his life even more jealously than his power and possessions. Crude bludgeons and blades would not do the job. I knew I would only have one chance to end him, so I debated my options. One was to try using my new mimic abilities to disguise myself as an Obsidian Gohlem servant or miner and attempt to get close enough to deal him the final blow. I practiced that disguise until it was perfect, even calling myself "Sooty" and mimicking the rough speech and earthiness of the Obsidians. Ultimately, I discarded that plan, as even though my mimicry was better than ever, I feared his eldritch powers and scrying abilities would see through my disguise. I thought about becoming a great beast and devouring him as savagely as he dispatched my brothers into the Pit. However, my ability in holding such a form long enough to rend his carcass asunder was not as strong as my desire. And what of General Brutok? Surely he would be there to protect his maser and do his duty. I had become a formidable warrior, but not good enough to best that one in single combat. So I knew my only option was to end him from distance. I would have to forge a weapon I'd never tried, a projectile weapon. I tried everything from crude javelins to slingshots to bows, but none had the range or power I needed. I simply did not have the expertise. So I set out to learn.

I carefully made my way up from the bowels of Castle Umbreus, past the toiling Obsidian Miners until I was near the armory and garrison. There I observed. I watched the Venom Gohlem and Umbrean Guard training and practicing. It took weeks but finally I found a unit of Venom Snipers. They had modified their own forging abilities to create long snouted weapons that spat concentrated balls of energy, harvested direct from their heartstones. The overseers trained them relentlessly and more than one died when his heartstone was exhausted. I mimicked them carefully but discovered that my fiery rage could fuel a precise energy blast much better than the Venoms could. So back down to the bowels I went, practicing, always practicing. I practiced until I was so precise that I could knock a stone seed out of the grasp of a tiny granite crawler high on a stalactite far in the distance. I was ready.

Among the Obsidian Gohlem in the mines I heard rumblings, Umbreus had a new power. The Lord of Shadow had uncovered the Bloodlust of legend, once wielded by the despot Magelok. He believed this power would give him dominion over all of Monkaa and was wasting no time. I waited and watched until I learned that Umbreus was planning to address his troops before a new offensive against the Gearo. He would address them from a high balcony on the tower in the mustering yard. Perfect.

I climbed the opposite cliff wall of the stronghold at night and carved out a hide, careful to blend the opening with the natural imperfections in the rock. And I waited. I banked my internal fire, lest my glowing rage give me away to the prying eyes beneath, but kept a core of white, hot fire to fuel the one shot I would need to end him. If it emptied my heartstone so be it. As long as the tyrant fell, I no longer cared what became of me. Finally, the daylight came and the muster yard filled with hundreds of thousands of restless, gruesome Vilhain soldiers, Bloodlust Warriors I believe is the name I had heard the Obsidians murmur about before they all mysteriously disappeared from the mines. Black and bloodied, I had never seen anything so terrifying in all my short life. I was so obsessed with my mission I didn't notice that there was not a single Magma Gohlem to be seen, or any other type of Gohlem for that matter.

At last, the stone doors parted and Umbreus stepped out into view on the balcony. However this was not the Umbreus I had expected. He was twice as tall and was just as black and bloodied as the creatures he intended to address. I couldn’t think about the uncertainty that was welling up inside me like a volcano on the verge of eruption. It was now or never. My squad, my family demanded this vengeance be carried out, now. I extended my weapon arm and sighted down the barrel, putting his leering skull adorned head squarely in my sights. I stoked the flames of my internal fire and prepared for the shot of my life. I fired. The shot was true and sped straight toward the grinning sadist's temple. This day I would rid this world called Monkaa of a most heinous being… But then Umbreus turned and looked right at me, my burning energy bolt coming to a dead stop, suspended in the air just inches before his face.

"Who dares?!," he shouted.

Before I could turn to run, he leapt from the tower and flew across the fortress. A blast of magic blew open the hide and he had me by the throat in a crushing grip. He formed a wicked scythe with his other hand and savagely tore off my weapon arm.
"Soooo..." he hissed, " of the Magma aberrations survived..."

Then he laughed and hurled me down into the mustering yard among his frothing bloodthirsty horde. They swarmed like a plague of Cragghoppers upon me, their claws ripping and tearing at the thick rock that had formed around my heartstone. Their teeth gnashing and cutting deep into my skin until one of them pierced my armor and unleashed a torrent of scalding magma into their unyielding maws.

The gush of my molten life force sent them reeling back. It wasn’t much but it was enough time for me to stand. In an instant and without even thinking I formed my remaining hand into a tendril and drove it into the earth. Where my arm had been severed by Umbreus’ scythe the magma pouring from the wound reformed my lost limb. I was whole again. As that hand reshaped I pointed it downward and another tendril plunged into the rock beneath my feet. I released a howl that was of both agony and ecstasy.


The ground surged then buckled before finally swelling into a jagged mound of rock and lava. That mound lunged forward and took the form of a savage Scaled Leopard Dragon. The fire breathing behemoth leapt from my memory and formed of the very ground I stood upon. Umbreus and his horde looked just as astonished by the feat as I felt in my ability to accomplish it. I wasted no time being proud of myself though, I set the stony creature upon my assailants with all the fury and anguish of these long weeks since witnessing my brothers returned to the Pit. I tore into them and tore them apart. The carnage continued for what felt like hours but in reality probably lasted only moments. I had expended too much energy in short a span. I could feel my flame ebbing. My head became lightened and I felt my heartstone beat its last.

I would make this count. With one final effort, worthy of the Eternal Barbarian himself, I launched the creature at the hovering Umbreus. This would be my dying act. I would bury him beneath the rubble of this beast’s final salvo. The ground erupted forth as my stone dragon grew to ten times the size it had started. Flying with open jaws at the murderous jackal above. This was it! “Vengeance is nigh, my brothers!” I cried. Ready to expire and join them once my puppet had completed its deed.

Suddenly, Umbreus’ armor cracked and split as a flood of shadow and blood poured from his body and engulfed the rocky monster, petrifying the giant in mid attack and melding the rocky form to the ground. I was spent. I had no more. I had failed. I fell backwards landing in a pool of cooling lava. Umbreus snarled as his armor sealed itself around the bloody cracks. He launched himself down, landing on me and crushing one of my legs. Lying in a broken heap, leaking hot lava, I thought it was finally the end of me, but Umbreus had other plans. "I believe this is mine,” he glowered as he once again tore my arm off. “Take him to the gallery..." he snickered to the Bloodlust Warriors standing over me. One of them formed a scythe and swung it at me. I felt an explosion of fire as it pierced my chest and then all was blackness....


I don't know how long I was out, but when I awoke I felt nothing but pain. I was still alive and my rage burned deep in my core and burned past the fog of despair. As my senses returned, I realized I had been hung from the ceiling of a circular chamber. Cold steel chains had been punched through my body, every wound a universe of agony unto itself. The stump of my arm had sealed around the wound, but in the process of being hung I must have lost my damaged leg, as it was still oozing and dripping liquid lava to the floor below. Looking at the circular Pit below me, I realized with horror that it was all that was left of the magma Pit that spawned me. My rebellion must have enraged Umbreus so that he destroyed the Pit, snuffing its fire forever and leaving a cold, dead crater... Then I looked around the chamber and what I saw nearly froze my already dimming heartstone. Umbreus had called it a gallery, and a gallery it was but the art was something only a truly depraved and sick mind could envision. I saw bodies. Or what was left of them. Twelve hanging carcasses, blackened and cracked covered in ash. Magma Gohlem. The Thirteen, my dear brothers and sister. Directly across from me I saw what was left of Ehmber, only a head and half of a torso. This gallery was one of horrors.

Rage like none I'd ever known exploded in my heartstone.

The steel chains suspending me from the ceiling evaporated like morning mist and my blackened cracked body burned white hot as I fell to the floor in a shower of fire. I hit the cold stone floor and immediately liquefied a pool of lava around me. My body drank in the hot liquid stone, regrowing my lost arm and leg, as I swelled and grew powerful, renewed by my righteous fury. The Chamber was now fully ablaze by my glowing form and I again saw, more clearly now, the sad remains of my brothers and sister. I howled and formed a long flame whip with my hand. The searing lash struck the chains suspending Ehmber's remains and I ran forward, catching what was left of my brother as he fell. Hot lava tears streamed as I cradled what was left of Ehmber. As I held his broken body I heard something. Heard it in my heartstone, the tiniest beat of life, banked like coals buried deep beneath the ash and soot and wreckage of our sad existence. I reached for that spark and fed it with a line direct from my soul. The heat poured out of me in waves, again liquefying the floor and slowly Ehmber stirred. I doubled my efforts and his body started to draw in the fresh liquid lava, reforming. REBORN!

Finally, Ehmber opened his eyes and said words I never thought I'd hear again, "My Brother.”

Then I laughed, for the first time in ages, I laughed and he joined me. "We can save them!" I shouted, "We can save them all!"

“Not without that all heartstones,” my brother said with a somber tone. “For that all past months Umbreus has toyed with us all and experimented. We all been destroyed and reborn a hundred times over. Each time he would destroy the bodies but our spirits, our hearts grew stronger. We all did not lose what was gained. Our individuality and thirst for freedom remained. Each time we all rose, it was us all and not his mindless Gohlem slaves. It enraged Umbreus so much that he continued his mad tortures of us until that all Pit had been completely drained. When he was done with us all he would remove our heartstones”

“In his last visit,” Ehmber continued. “Umbreus was interrupted before he could remove my heartstone. It has been weeks since he’s been to this all cave of atrocities. Then that all creatures brought you here.”

“So the other heartstones,” I implored to my brother. “Where are they?”

“Of that I am unsure,” Ehmber answered. “I had feared that they were destroyed, but I can feel them call to me, pulling at my own to find them and to free them.”

“Then that is exactly what we shall do,” I said. “Are you with me?”

Before he could answer there were Bloodlust Warriors clawing at the door to the chamber of horrors. Our rebirth had been noticed. "We'll fight them..." I growled through clenched teeth, readying mace and shield limbs.

"Of course..." nodded Ehmber as he forged twin swords of pure molten magma. The door exploded and a rush of Bloodlust Warriors poured in. We fought like madmen, but soon the numbers took their toll and we were driven back. I looked at Ehmber and thought how unfair it was that we'd be snuffed out so soon after being re-united. Suddenly the ground shook and the chamber began to fall apart around us. Large formations of rock began falling as the room caved in. Ehmber and I dodged and blasted the rock as it fell. Most of the Bloodlust creatures were crushed. I moved to try and free the others from their bonds but it was no use. If the Great Gear wanted us to return to the Pit it wasn’t going to have very much longer to wait. A giant portion of the ceiling gave way and was heading straight upon Ehmber I leapt and tackled him, hoping to move him out of harms way. The moment I touched him the world exploded in light.

When my vision cleared it was barely coherent as everything was still a bright blinding white. We were in a stark chamber, suspended in a dimension of unending light. I looked around and spied a dark form slumped on the floor bathed in burning white beams from every direction. We approached and saw that it was a woman. She was bleeding badly from numerous wounds and at first we feared she was dead. She stirred and we went to her, trying our best to make her comfortable. She looked at us through blood glazed eyes and asked weakly, "...who are you...?"

"Brothers," replied Ehmber, "I'm Ehmber and this all is…”

“Fyreball!” I blurted.

I glanced in shock at Ehmber and he smiled and said, "It's the perfect name."

I smiled too and nodded, "Yes, we are brothers. But who are you...?"

"Hmm... brothers..." said the lady with a smile, " appropriate. I am a mother who has lost her sons..." Suddenly, her tired eyes opened wide with a look of utter clarity. "He's coming," she murmured fearfully.

Ehmber and I didn't need to be told whom she meant. We lifted the lady to her feet and as we held her she seemed to touch our souls. She smiled. "You are unique among your kind...I think we can help each other...join hands," she said.

We did and felt that familiar explosion of light building. But this time it was not random, it was controlled, as this dark lady, The Mistress of Shadows, was guiding our newfound ability to open rifts when connected to one another. She smiled again and we winked out of sight, out of the bright, bleak prison of light.

We materialized far from Castle Umbreus. Ehmber and I built a stronghold in back of a narrow ravine Noiria brought us to, hewing a comfortable yet extremely defensible home out of the bedrock. There is something called a Lifespring hidden here. She says there are a few others like it scattered across Monkaa in secret kingdoms. It does Ehmber and I no good but it has worked miracles with our new mistress’ wounds. Most of her hurts are now healed. The ones you can see anyway. The Mistress was still weak from her ordeal at the hands of Umbreus, so it took a few months for her to regain her full strength. Much of her power was diminished, drawn away through the blood Umbreus had taken from her to fuel his Bloodlust powers. So Ehmber and I used our internal fires to bolster her power where this Lifespring is unable. We nurtured her body as she nurtured our minds and taught us how to hone our mimicry and forging skills. She spoke of the other Lifesprings and other tribes. She shared with us many secrets of Monkaa, secrets her lost sons never knew. She told us the sad history of the War of Light and Shadow and her imprisonment, while I told her and Ehmber of lonely days fighting to survive in the bowels of Castle Umbreus. Our shared tragedy at the hands of Umbreus has built a powerful bond between us. We have become a family.

The Pit is no more. The Magma Gohlem are gone. The Mistress of Shadow is gone, at least as the rest of the world is presently concerned. We are the Lava Strike Force and we protect our new mother, Lady Darkfyre. We still have much to do. Our ten brothers and sister remain shackled in the gallery of horrors buried beneath Castle Umbreus, their heartstones calling to us. We three still desire a reckoning with Umbreus, but that will all come in time. We will rebuild our brotherhood, and one day repay Umbreus for the cruelty and evil we have all suffered at his hands. For now we continue to build our strength, striking from the shadows and lighting fires where we may. We are the flame in the darkness, burning ever bright. We may find new allies and make new enemies, but we put family, our family first. Always.

"The Great Gear Turns! Yet Our Fires Burn! Be Friend or Be Foe, This Lesson You'll Learn! We Rise From The Magma! Our Heartstones are Strong! We Strike Without Warning and as Quickly are Gone! A Force Without Equal This Lava Army! We Fight For Freedom! My Brothers and Me!"