Thundarr The Barbarian in The Wrath Of Crom

Chapter 21

Many days have passed since the seven heroes had arrived in Xanthus. The old wizard, Aboroth by name, provided Thundarr and Ariel with Potions of Vitality to counteract the effects of the life draining powers of Glasya and Gideon. Thundarr recovered more quickly than Ariel, for Glasya wasn't able to drain him of nearly as much life energy as Gideon had drained from Princess Ariel. While Ariel is now awake, she is still very weak from the incubus' attack and so spends the majority of her time in bed. Aboroth gives her a Potion of Vitality every day to help her regain her strength. Thundarr scarcely leaves her side throughout the whole ordeal, refusing to accept the invitations of Conan, Grey Wolf and Jezmine, even Ookla, to explore the city until Ariel is well.

The others do not spend their time idly waiting for the sorceress' health to improve either. The council of wizards in Xanthus have been studying The World Wand and figuring out how to best use its powers. They agree that Princess Ariel should be the one to wield the artifact once she's well, since she is the one who seeks to return home. Also, she has a greater understanding of where her world is in comparison to Hyborea. If Grey Wolf or any of the other wizards of Xanthus were to try and use the wand to send them home, Thundarr and his friends could wind up on entirely the wrong plane of existence. Ookla spends a great deal of time with the wizard’s council, speaking to them at great length about moks and their culture. Of course, he uses the aid of both Zula and Jezmine as translators, since none of the wizards can understand mok. Eventually, Princess Ariel is well enough to travel once more. She and Thundarr rejoin their friends just as soon as she's no longer bed ridden.

"Well met," greets Grey Wolf, "It is good to see you are both well again."

"It's good to feel well again," says Ariel, "All that doctoring was becoming tiresome."

"You needed rest," says Thundarr, "We had to be sure you would get it."

"So were you standing guard?" asks Ariel, "Or playing nursemaid?"

"A little of both," admits the barbarian.

"But now you are both well, and we can finally get you all home," says Conan.

"And hopefully, a cure for Sasha and Meesha," adds Grey Wolf.

"Then let us waste no more time," says Ariel, "Have you discovered how The World Wand works?"

"We have," says Grey Wolf, "The operation is simple enough. You need only point the wand at the area you want the portal to open, picture your destination in your mind, and then speak the name of your desired destination out loud."

"I would think a wizard would come up with something more complicated," says Conan.

"It is more complicated than it seems, my friend," replies Grey Wolf, "If the wizard is uncertain of where exactly he wishes the portal to lead, he may find himself lost in some random location."

"Gather the horses then!" says Thundarr, "We leave as soon as we're ready!"

Within minutes, Thundarr, Ariel, and Ookla are all mounted upon their steeds, as are Conan, Zula, Jezmine and Grey Wolf. The wolves, Sasha and Meesha, are sitting patiently next to their brother's horse. Grey Wolf hands The World Wand over to Princess Ariel. The sorceress takes the artifact, and then looks at it closely. She gasps in surprise, and then holds the device out for Thundarr to see.

"Thundarr! Look!" she says excitedly, "This wand looks exactly like the one the wizard Crom used to send us here!"

"Lords of Light!" exclaims the barbarian, "How can this be?"

"I don't know," admits Ariel, "It is most unusual."

"We shall all get to the bottom of this mystery," says Grey Wolf, "After we get you three home."

"Aye," agrees Conan, "No sense in worrying about it until after that blasphemer, 'Crom', is dealt with."

"Then let us get back home and face him!" says Ariel. She points The World Wand at the street ahead of them and says, "Washington D.C., in the year 4000 AD!"

A beam of ruby red light shines forth from the large gemstone on The World Wand's tip. It opens up a portal in space in front of the seven companions and the two wolves. Looking through the portal, they can see the ruins of the once great city. The crumbling walls of The White House. The headless statue of Abraham Lincoln. The Washington Monument laying on its side over top a large cement pond. Thundarr's white stallion rears up on its hind legs as the blonde barbarian expertly maintains his perch.

"Everyone!" he calls, "RIIIIIIIDE!"

Then he rides his horse through the portal. Conan spurs Thunder forward and the great black stallion charges forth fearlessly through the magic portal. Zula and Jezmine follow their friend, and are quickly joined by Ookla on his equart. Next is Grey Wolf, with the lupine Sasha and Meesha close at his heels. Finally comes Princess Ariel on her chestnut mare. After a moment of disorientation, the sorceress finds herself alongside her friends in what remains of the center of power of Old Earth.

"This is your home?" asks Conan.

"Hard to believe anyone would miss a place in such disrepair," adds Zula.

"It wasn't always like this," says Princess Ariel, "It was much nicer once. And if we can ever bring an end to the tyranny of the wizards who rule here, it will be nice once more."

"I sincerely hope so," says Jezmine, "No offense, but this place gives me the creeps."

"No offense taken," says Ariel.

"Enough talk," says Thundarr, "We have a mission to accomplish."

"Aye," agrees Grey Wolf, "Where is this magical pool which you told me about?"

"There," says Ariel, pointing towards what's left of The Washington Monument, "Just under that toppled stone structure."

"Then let us waste no more time," says the wizard, and he spurs his horse into a gallop, Sasha and Meesha following close behind.

"Well," says Ariel, "You heard the man."

And she too spurs her mare into a gallop. Thundarr and Conan both spur their stallions forward, and are followed by Jezmine, Zula, and Ookla. Soon the others all catch up to the two spell casters at the pools edge. Sasha and Meesha both sniff curiously at the enchanted water, neither of them seeming entirely certain as to what they should do.

"Well?" asks Thundarr, "What are they waiting for? Tell them to jump in."

"They are nervous," says Grey Wolf, "I think they can sense the pool's power, but they don't know what to make of it."

"Crom's beard!" curses Conan, "Do you mean to say we came all this way for nothing?"

Ookla walks up to the two wolves, scoops them up by the scruffs of their necks, and then tosses them into the water. Sasha and Meesha yelp and splash about in the pool. Then the magic of the pool begins to take effect. The wolves begin to grow, developing humanoid features. Their paws become hands. Their snouts shrink into their faces. Their hair retracts into their bodies. In a matter of moments, in place of two wolves in the pool are now a man and a woman. Sasha and Meesha both swim over to the edge of the pool.

"We are human again!" exclaims Meesha, "Thank you, little brother!"

"You should thank Thundarr, Ariel, and Ookla," replies Grey Wolf, "It was they who discovered your cure."

"In that case," says Sasha, "We thank you all."

Meesha pulls himself out of the water, and Grey Wolf removes his magical cape and wraps it around his brother's waist like a kilt. Sasha stays in the water, keeping the pool's ledge strategically placed at chest level. Princess Ariel turns to Thundarr.

"Thundarr," she says, "Give me your belt and your vest."

"Whatever for?" asks the barbarian.

"Because I don't think Sasha wants to walk around naked until we can find her some clothes," replies the sorceress.

Thundarr looks down at Sasha and realizes that the mage is in fact naked. He quickly removes his belt and his vest and hands them to Princess Ariel, who holds them up for Sasha. Sasha climbs out of the pool and slips into the fur vest, wrapping the belt tightly around her waist. Luckily the height difference between her and the barbarian makes the vest hang on her body like a very short dress.

"Well," says Ariel, "It might not be very fashionable, but it should do until we can get you some proper clothes."

"Thank you," says Sasha.

"Come!" says Thundarr, "We can find you both some spare clothes in that village over there."

Thundarr leads them to the ruins of what was once The White House. Inside are the human villagers that Thundarr, Ariel, and Ookla had saved from Zevon and his pack of werewolves some years earlier. The villagers remember Thundarr and his friends quite fondly, and are more than willing to provide them with food, clothing, and shelter. In fact, the day that The Pack had been defeated had become one of their most celebrated holidays. The next day, with their bags fully packed with provisions, the group, now two wizards stronger, gets ready to depart.

"So where to next?" asks Conan.

"To find Crom," replies Thundarr, "and put an end to his evil once and for all."

"But how will we find him?" asks Jezmine.

"I have a feeling," says Ariel, "that he is the one who will find us."

"Then we should be far from here when he does," says Conan, "So as to not endanger the lives of our hosts."

"Then let us be off!" says Thundarr, "Mount up!"

They all mount their horses and prepare to leave. Sasha rides behind her brother Grey Wolf, while Meesha rides behind Ookla on his equart. Thundarr leads them away from the village, just in case Crom attacks them right away. They head south, as the wizard's last known location was a citadel in Texas. Crom's magic is powerful, and it is entirely possible he had sensed Thundarr's return. He may even be watching them right at this moment. Thus, all of them keep their eyes open for any signs of trouble. Along the way, Princess Ariel points out ancient ruins and artifacts to their new friends, such as automobiles and skyscrapers, and explains their origins and functions. When the sun begins to set, the nine friends find themselves a secluded place to set up camp. Thundarr manages to find a clearing near a small lake where they can rest in relative comfort and safely water their horses. They quickly gather up as much driftwood as they can and have a raging campfire going.

"The night will be long and cold," says Thundarr, "But this fire should keep us warm."

"How long before we find this wizard, 'Crom'?" asks Conan.

"It is difficult to say," says the other barbarian, "If we have to track him all the way to his citadel, it could take us many weeks. And even if we find where his citadel was the last time we defeated him, he may have abandoned it in favor of a newer, more secure location."

"And if that's the case," adds Ariel, "It could take us much longer to find him."

"But if he were to come and seek us out," says Thundarr, "Then we could find him in a matter of days, if not hours."

"So we could be here for a while," concludes Grey Wolf.

"No longer than we were in your world," reasons Ariel, "As I highly doubt Crom is completely ignorant of our return. Or if he is, then he won't be for much longer."

"You believe he will make his presence felt soon?" asks Zula.

"If not tonight, then very likely by tomorrow," says Ariel.

"Then we should get as much sleep as we can, while we still have yet to be detected," says Jezmine.

"I second that opinion," says Ariel.

"You all take to your bedrolls and get some sleep," says Meesha, "Sasha and I shall take first watch."

"Are you sure, my brother?" asks Grey Wolf.

"Aye," says Meesha, "We have been living as wolves for many months. We would like to spend some time enjoying our human forms once again."

"Very well," says Grey Wolf, "When you begin to tire, please wake me and Princess Ariel to take the next shift."

"As you wish, little brother," says Sasha.

Then everyone goes to sleep, while the two wizards, Sasha and Meesha, keep watch. Just as they were asked, when the two wizards feel drowsy they wake Grey Wolf and Princess Ariel to take the second shift. Then when the wizard and the sorceress become too tired to keep watch anymore, they awaken Jezmine and Ookla for the third and final watch. Not long after the third watch begin their shift, dawn breaks and everyone begins to stir. Soon everyone wakes up, feeling fairly refreshed from a good night's sleep. They pull out some fresh fruits that the villagers had given them and breakfast around the campfire. Needle expresses disappointment that they didn't pick up any pomegranates, but settles down to enjoy a nice fresh pear instead. As the group is eating, they suddenly find themselves being attacked with lasers from the trees.

"Demon Dogs!" says Thundarr as he takes out his Sunsword and ignites the blade.

"Crom!" cries Conan as he draws his Star Metal sword.

"Good guess!" says Ariel, as she sees the gray skinned wizard floating over the tree tops.

"Attack them my mutants!" shouts the angry wizard, "ATTACK!"

Dozens of scaly reptilian mutants, wearing horned helmets and carrying energy rifles, charge forth from the treeline and attack the camping heroes. Zula fires his crossbow at one of the mutants, sending the crossbow bolt directly into the barrel of his rifle. The mutant fires back at the Wasai prince, or at least he attempts to. With the barrel blocked, the energy rifle explodes in the mutants face, rendering him unconscious.

Jezmine throws her throwing stars at the lizard men, the razor sharp shuriken digging deep into the flesh of their forearms. Two of the lizard men drop their rifles as their injuries make it impossible for them to hold the weapons anymore. Jezmine calls for her throwing stars to return, which they do, causing the mutants whose arms they had imbedded themselves in even more pain.

Grey Wolf knocks several mutants off their feet with a Gust of Wind spell, while Princess Ariel uses a Binding spell to wrap several mutants up in magical energy. Sasha uses her water magic to conjure up a massive wave and wash several of the mutants back into the trees. Meanwhile, Meesha casts a spell upon their campfire and causes it to hurl miniature fireballs at the attacking mutants, causing many of them to turn and run for safety.

Conan, Thundarr, and Zula charge straight for the oncoming mutants, while Ookla shoots at the mutants with his stun arrows. Zula throws his bolas at a mutant, entangling its legs and causing it to trip. Meanwhile, Conan deflects the mutant’s lasers with his shield and Thundarr blocks them with his Sunsword.

"These serpent men do not get sent into The Abyss when they touch our Star Metal," says a surprised Zula.

"They are not the serpent men of your world," replies Thundarr, as he cuts a mutant's energy rifle in two, "Things work differently here."

Conan cuts a mutant's energy rifle in half with his Star Metal sword, and then kicks the scaly creature in the chest, knocking it to the ground.

"They aren't very fierce warriors!" says Conan as the mutant gets back to its feet and runs away.

"They are a cowardly lot," agrees Thundarr as he disarms another one, "Only willing to stand and fight against enemies weaker than themselves."

Zula grabs an energy rifle from a mutant that had been rendered unconscious by one of Ookla's stun arrows. He aims it at a mutant and squeezes the trigger. The laser strikes the mutant in the chest, stunning him and knocking him out.

"Amazing," says Zula, "A crossbow which needs no arrows."

"Fight now!" says Thundarr, "Admire later!"

Zula starts firing the energy rifle at the lizard mutants. Not aiming at anyone in particular, just giving them a taste of their own medicine. The Wasai prince proves to be a far better shot than the mutant attackers, for many of them fall to his stolen weapon. Soon the mutants all turn and flee, having seen enough of the savage barbarians and their powerful magical allies.

"COWARDS!" cries Crom, "FOOLS! COME BACK! THEY ARE OUTNUMBERED! YOU CAN STILL WIN!"

"Your army has deserted you again, Crom!" says Thundarr, "What are you going to do now?"

"Now barbarian," says the wizard, "I shall send you away, PERMANENTLY!"

Crom pulls out the twin to Ariel's World Wand and raises it up over his head. But before he can cast the spell, Needle flies up and starts flapping about the wizards face, breaking his concentration. Crom starts swinging the wand at Needle as though it were a club. The baby phoenix is too swift for the wizard's clumsy attacks though, and easily avoids them. This distraction is enough to keep him from opening any portals though, and allows Zula to retrieve his Star Metal bolas.

"NEEDLE! MOVE!" shouts Grey Wolf.

Needle does as he's told, and Grey Wolf casts another Gust of Wind spell which forces the levitating Crom out over the lake. Before he can even respond to being hurled through the air, Sasha creates a pillar of water to erupt from the lake like lava from an erupting volcano. Grey Wolf then casts a spell of Arctic Wind, freezing the pillar of water into solid ice, trapping Crom at the top of the pillar. Then Zula throws his bolas at the wizard, wrapping them around his wand with enough force to rip it from his grasp. Then as the wand and bolas are falling, he calls the weapon to return to his grasp, bringing the wand with it. Crom struggles in his icy tomb, but cannot break free. Nor can he cast any spells, for his arms are completely encased in ice.

"LET ME OUT!" cries the wizard, "YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO ME! LET ME OUT, I SAY!"

"Let's not and say we did," says Ariel, to which the others all have a good chuckle.

"For someone who named himself after a god," says Conan, "I expected a greater challenge."

"He relies too much on his mutants and his machines," replies Thundarr, "Always has."

"So now what are we to do with him?" asks Zula.

"I have an idea," replies Ariel, "May I see his wand?"

"Of course," says the Wasai prince, and he hands the second World Wand over to the sorceress.

"Hey Ookla?" says the princess, "I'm going to be needing your help with this."

The mok nods his huge head in agreement, and then stands ready to do whatever Ariel asks of him.

"On my mark," she says, "Smash the ice."

Then she points both wands at the lake and creates a horizontal portal just behind the ice pillar. Then she looks up at Crom, who is still struggling against his icy prison.

"Hey Crom!" she says, "Go to Hell!" Then she turns to Ookla, "NOW!" she says.

Ookla walks up to the pillar of ice and gives it a solid hard punch. The ice shatters and Crom, still encased in a large block of ice, falls into the open portal. Princess Ariel immediately closes the gate. All that is left of the evil wizard is the shards of ice floating in the lake. And when those melt, he will be all but a memory.

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