The Last Magus

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In the Beginning…

“In the beginning there was only void…”

at least that is what many religions would have you believe. Sadly though it is not as true as you might think. Let’s start again then, “In the beginning there was…” Darkness. The darkness of The Before but in no way could it be described as void. The very word void is related to devoid, as in absent of everything. And The Before wasn’t that by any level. In that realm of eternal midnight there was life. Well, make that life by perhaps the loosest of definitions...they were mostly simple creatures that lived unproductive lives. Many were no more complex than a collection of protozoic cells…but that darkness had rulers. Ruling that bleak realm with a fist of iron firmly encased in an iron gauntlet while wielding a very solid and menacing iron mace were The old ones. Who were the old ones you ask they were the most developed creatures that existed in The Before and thus from their viewpoint naturally its rulers. The truth of our creation is that our universe and everything we know was actually created out of the whirling chaos of The Before.
Now there was no real concept of time in the Before, ten thousand millennia could pass like the blink of an eye, so no one knew how old the old ones were, they only knewthey were lords of chaos and they loved it!

Understand, you may be someone who believes in the concept of a big bang that blasted our universe into existence. While many would lay the blame at the feet of some deity who created the universe in an odd week he had spare. To be honest though all of that is frankly immaterial. The universe was not just created from the Before but actually overlaid on it…like building a house on the ruins of another, in this case though the former building’s tenants were still in the cellar!

To describe The old ones as demons is probably over simplifying them. True, they were cruel, sadistic, hideously repellent and totally filled with malice, even to one another. For example the chaos lord Garneus resembled a pool of animated grey green vomit that oozed everywhere, even the thought of him made some of his fellow old ones skin crawl and give them feelings of being unclean after a meeting with him. But since everything existed in complete blackness it mattered very little what anything looked like. In many cases the old ones were hideously malformed, legs where arms or even ears would be on a sensible creature…their appearance seemed to follow the precept of “well seemed like a good idea at the time!” or maybe who or whatever had created them did so in the dark just picking up bits at random. Chaos entwined the old ones though running through their veins like fire, chaos created them and chaos ruled their existence. Above all else the old ones loved the darkness, it was probably because of the chance it offered to hide their true appearances! They unanimously regarded light, and above all life, as not just being of little value but of having positively no value at all. All things were inferior to themselves so life was only useful to fulfil their pleasures; it afforded them the chance to be totally vile to whatever possessed it! They would delight in endless periods of torture and torment as they put the creature through hell…literally! To the old ones good and evil meant nothing; there was what they wanted and what they didn’t! In this place what they didn’t want…just didn’t happen and that was an end to the matter!

That was until the change...at some point in all their sadistic games and torments, perhaps while they were distracted, something different entered their domain…and created a chain reaction of change! The old ones didn’t know where it came from even when it arrived, not being able to see any clock or timepiece in the darkness. Had it sneaked in like a thief? They felt sure they would have remembered anything trying forcing its way in. But this difference, this change, sprang up, erupted in a hideously bright explosion and with a rapidity that initially confused them replaced their beautiful dark horror scape...with of all things hideous light; while life sprung up like weeds in response around it.

Now again, whether it took one being a week or a spark a single moment is immaterial, the very fact it had happened at all meant The old ones were angry, hurt and upset! Extremely upset…they flew into uncontrolled fits of rage, but then again no one was quite sure how Garneus would show rage, he seemed to gurgle and slosh in a slightly more animated pool.

The old ones held a grand meeting, all of the most senior old ones were present and each blamed the others for the catastrophe. They raged and bellowed at one another who would dare take their space from them. Who was responsible? Who had been the one that let it in? Accusations were levelled and rebutted of course but where had this thing come from? Whoever or whatever it was would pay and pay dearly when found!

However, as they roared and chastised one another the overlay started to take hold, growing and expanding. They soon realised, perhaps too late thanks to their bickering, that the new universe was expanding very rapidly. It appeared to be surrounded by an impenetrable skin that try whatever they might they just couldn’t crack. The expanding universe began inexorably squeezing them into an ever tighter space; and getting into a tight space with Garneus was not an overly tempting prospect for any of them! Thus the old ones became trapped on the wrong side. Unable to break in or affect anything inside the new universe they beat futilely on the barrier. The barrier was indeed constructed from the same energies that had created the new universe itself enveloping and protecting this new creation from the old ones interference. Thus trapped outside and seemingly powerless, the old ones stood impotent…Wait a moment did I say all? Well all except one!

One lone chaos demon had managed to escape the imprisonment of the others. He was a lesser demon named Ghord. Ghord had been off somewhere else, carrying out some menial task the others had set him. So he had been away when the overlay had occurred thus by blind chance, or providence, he found himself on the inside of the barrier. In the old ones hierarchy Ghord was the lowest of the low, the spotty apprentice or work experience student. Most of his peers ignored him or when forced to acknowledge him would treat him like their slave. They would laugh and joke about what lowly task they could get Ghord to do next. So when he returned after completion of his latest task and saw his fellow old ones pinned between the edge of their former realm and the glistening barrier, trapped on the outside and totally impotent in the face of this new thing, Ghord couldn’t contain his glee. He felt an overpowering sense of superiority over them as he began by laughing cruelly before strutting around in front of them. He felt an overpowering need to torment them for all they had done to him, so he revelled in their powerlessness. He teased and coaxed and taunted each of them until they were positively hopping with rage. Asmodeus’ eyes burned into him like two glittering coals, he could wait an eternity and then Ghord would pay for his insults. Sadly Ghord persisted in his taunts perhaps pushing beyond the point he should have stopped. However Ghord rapidly tired of tormenting them, it didn’t feel the same when they couldn’t do anything about it. He slowly realised that being the sole surviving force of chaos on this side of the barrier eventually meant no one for him to impress, no chance of promotion away from his lowly status…that thought, like many others, dawned slowly across his mind, “to spend eternity as an apprentice!” Ghord howled with the frustration, how could this have all happened? Eventually the thought became like a thorn stuck in his skin in a place he just couldn’t reach, a torment to him. Ghord may have been the lowest ranking demon...but he had ambition! He craved recognition and status they were all he wanted; recognition of his own perceived greatness. Ghord you see had an ego that left many solar systems feeling inadequate, additionally he had a vastly overinflated sense of his own importance. He was the one that should have been the highest not the lowest, Asmodeus was nothing compared to the mighty Ghord. So finally he turned from his taunting and started exploring what he now realised was his new prison.

Ghord soon found on this side of the barrier that he could affect the universe...adversely, and did. But his limited chaos powers made him impotent and that impotence precluded doing anything on a major scale. He wanted desperately to be able to prove himself to his peers, but all his peers were on the other side of that ridiculous barrier. Leaving Ghord to try to figure things out for himself...after a millennia of thought, one of the reasons for Ghord’s minority role was that he after all wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box! Ghord finally concocted a plan, a simple plan really: However long it took him...he would destroy this new universe, down to the very last atom! He didn’t stop to consider what such destruction might mean with him on this side of the barrier, he just felt that destroying the universe to the last atom was what he needed to do. Why in doing so maybe he could break the barrier and release the others…not that he strictly wanted to of course, but then they would be forced to see that he, Ghord the unconquered, had performed this feat and thereby recognise his importance. But where to start?

For uncounted millennia Ghord scoured the universe, he hated and tried to shun the light of the stars he found, he detested the life he found amongst them. He found one day that if he nudged a star just right the temperamental thing would explode, sometimes massively. The flash though hurt Ghord’s senses, the first time he blew one of the stars up he felt the light had seared his eyeballs. But that was not the real problem for him, it wasn’t the explosion...it was the aftermath. The destroyed star almost always collapsed back on itself and gave birth to a new one, or in many cases more than one! Ghord howled and raged, how could he be expected to destroy this place if it didn’t even know how to stay dead? So he continued his search, no stone, planet, asteroid or star left unchecked. Through all his journey he spent his time searching for some weakness. There must be something, there had to be some weak thread, a thin spot, something that he could exploit and thus bring the whole sorry edifice crashing down. Oh that would be a glorious moment and he would stand triumphant, Ghord the unconquered...master of chaos!

He searched and scoured, scoured and searched, he had to admit whoever or whatever had built this thing knew what it was doing. Surely it cannot have only taken seven days? Then by pure chance he found what he needed…

Ghord had been wandering through the galaxy known in later centuries as the Milky Way, he had another name for it, something far more obscene and luckily unpronounceable to anyone without a cleft tongue. There among the stars of the western arm he spied by chance an utterly insignificant yellow star. The damn thing was too small and young to try and blow up so he of course loathed it. Out of the dust clouds that circled the star nine planets had begun to form. The outer most five were vast gas filled worlds, one looked like a star in the making, would have been too if Ghord hadn’t interfered. The third planet out though was unlike any other place he had found to date. A small, rocky, blue-green marble in just the right position for liquid water. This marble had the inevitable life taking its first tentative steps on its surface. Hateful!

However, it wasn’t the detestable life that interested Ghord, what held his attention was the energy this small planet possessed. Compared to its relevance and miniscule size its energy levels were off the charts! Nowhere else in the universe had he found reserves of the magical energy mana; or at least not in any abundance…but here? Here on this nothing little planet, mana exuded from practically everywhere. Ghord just couldn’t fathom why, it was a non entity in his view!

Now mana collected in quantity could be tricky stuff, if mishandled it could explode with a brutal concussive force…“maybe enough force…to end everything!” Ghord mused as he sat on an asteroid watching the planet orbit. He smiled to himself, “maybe even enough to crack that cursed barrier!” Yes, maybe enough...here was his answer, on a small nothing planet in the veritable backwaters of nowhere. A place Ghord would have overlooked and dismissed if he hadn’t stubbed his toe on that stupid floating rock in the neighbouring system! Here every living thing on the surface exuded mana…it was as if their existence was entwined with it. However, even with the vast amounts already available for collection...it wasn’t enough!

Ghord petulantly kicked a tenth planet like a football sending it careening off into the depths of space. “Not enough!” Here after all this time was his answer, something at last capable of breaking that damn barrier. Something that could unmake this cursed prison. If only he could collect enough! Ghord pulverised another asteroid in his fist as he ground his teeth in vexation. “Not enough...DAMN!”
The processes of Ghord’s mind moved again with that same agonising slowness, he developed another plan. He, Ghord the magnificent, Master of Chaos would release his fellow old ones and restore the proper order...with of course himself elevated to his true position. He would collect the mana, then he would use it to construct a mana bomb! Again, the rather obvious implications of setting off such a thing, with him on this side of the barrier, practically sitting on top of it when it detonated did not cross his mind. He did admit though it would need to be a VERY BIG bomb! One that would split the foundations of this universe. Why even the most ancient old one of them all, Asmodeus, the anti-God, would have to acknowledge Ghord for his ingenuity…and that was exactly what Ghord wanted! Asmodeus might be so grateful for his release that he might forget his wrath and make Ghord his go to chaos agent. Maybe even a chaos lord in his own right! Ghord’s eyes flashed with avarice at the idea.

Mana collection though was tricky, even for a demon of Ghord’s understanding and it was above all mind numbingly tedious. When Ghord tried to take too much at once the hated living things withered to nothing and then the supply dried up, leaving Ghord with no more mana. So Ghord after many fruitless attempts tried to keep calm, cursing and berating the stupid lifeforms under his breath over their inability to produce mana faster. Time stretched out as he carried out the painstaking process of collecting just enough to allow the lifeforms to continue developing, just very very slowly…Of course this showed Ghord’s innate stupidity, a smarter demon would have allowed the lifeforms to develop until they reached a maximum rate of mana production; the more intelligent the life the more mana it was capable of producing at any given time...only when they were at maximum production would he then have controlled their development. But as has been said Ghord wasn’t the smartest so he collected and waited, howling and cursing at the creatures he saw around him, while carefully storing the mana away in a void space he’d opened up.

It was during one of these gathering expeditions that he noticed some curious apes. Ghord had first seen them at a distance in the trees, and completely discounted them as too primitive to succeed. What sort of almighty deity would create anything so ridiculous looking? They were hairy, with large heads and elongated arms, they looked absurd...no, Ghord was certain they weren’t going to amount to anything. But as he watched, and the millennia ticked by so tediously, they started to change...they learned to walk upright their knuckles no longer dragging on the ground; they started forming small communities and working collectively at tasks. Their inventiveness intrigued Ghord, he would spend centuries just watching them from a place of concealment. The more he watched the more he felt amused by their antics. “I suppose they might make good pets!” He rumbled to himself in his best attempt at a laugh. The apes started hunting some of the other lifeforms using their bodies for sustenance and wrapping themselves up in the skins to keep warm, that was ingenious! The eating of meat naturally accelerated their development as their brains grew in size and complexity. Ghord was delighted as their mana output rose in response. So Ghord would often visit these apes to see what they had discovered or developed next. Their first fires raised an eyebrow, if that’s what you could call it on Ghord. He saw some promising members of these humans, for that was how they had named themselves… the impudence! Ghord was sure he could find a better name later. But these promising individuals seemed to just revel in the hurt and pain they inflicted before they killed…

Then came the first day Ghord heard these ape humans talking; initially it was a collection of guttural sounding grunts with lots of pointing. Ghord felt a sudden chill run down his spine about them…perhaps things were taking a course he didn’t like all that much after all. They were developing much quicker than he wanted, but in the end what did it matter “Everything is going to fall into chaos” he smiled as he ladled more of the precious mana into his storage vessels.

Some very few members of these humans then learned how to manipulate mana, that unsettled Ghord more. With those humans starting to use mana it would make his process all the more arduous and expose him to discovery. These exceptional humans learned to control their new abilities, they rose rapidly in their societies; they were regarded as wise inspiring awe in their non-mana brethren. The dress code became more elaborate than animal skins and sackcloth and more surprisingly to Ghord they used some of the ancient words when casting their spells. How had they known those words? The humans magic seemed to fall into categories that Ghord hadn’t even considered, “mana is mana you bend it this way or that.” But Ghord was too intent on his mana collection efforts to pay them over much attention, an error on his part as he now saw it. He should have gone with his first instinct and squashed them when they first tried their spells.

These magic-users grew in power, they formed their own societies, schools of magic they called them, teaching their lesser and younger brethren the secrets of their art. They took on names like wizard, magician, conjurer, invoker, warlock; “Nothing more than fancy titles…doesn’t make you worth any more than any other ape!” Ghord would scoff to himself but with each new mage he became more uneasy. Each wizard represented a drain on the mana supply and they were growing in number. To avoid discovery Ghord had had to reduce his collecting efforts which meant it would take all the longer to get what he needed and that vexed him. “interfering bugs, I should really do something about them!”
One such wizard then appeared apparently from out of nowhere, he rose higher than all of the rest, an incredibly natural adept at magic, he seemed able to manipulate the energy of mana as easy as breathing. He it was that became The Great Magus. If Ghord had been paying more attention he would have feared this man above all others, but Ghord discounted him as easily as he had discounted the others. And so Ghord’s mission continued…

Then, approximately six thousand years ago, there came a day that the Great Magus finally decided Ghord was becoming a threat and that this threat required him to take action. He had known for many years that one of the old Gods was loose on the planet. Unlike his fellow humans he had known from the first that the universe was not the start that everyone else assumed it was, that there had been a Before. The people around him worshipped one God or another based on the say so of a high priest, who in most cases was looking after his own interests. The magus had thus been content to just keep a wary eye open for Ghord, pretending not to notice him and the way the mana of an area depleted. However, he could feel Ghord’s disrupting influence keenly. He could feel intensely the drain as Ghord took mana from the world and would watch in mute horror as spells fizzled or performed at severely reduced levels of power. He hated most of all the foul sulphur taste and black tar that Ghord left him in his mouth!

The Great Magus had then discovered the power of raw mana himself, an accident that almost cost his life. He had dropped a single droplet of the raw liquid from the edge of his desk and the resulting explosion had reduced one mountain to powder while decapitating three more. Saved only by a reflex shield spell the magus crawled out from the mass of rubble that had been his laboratory. On seeing the utter devastation that just one tiny drop had wrought he stood horrified. He realised all too well what Ghord had all those millennia ago, raw mana energy in enough quantity could tear apart the fabric of the universe in one act of supreme devastation. Like Ghord the magus knew instinctively the quantity of mana required would be unfathomably huge but Ghord he was certain had been collecting the stuff a long time. How close was Ghord to his target? Was the magus worrying needlessly or should he start packing? Where could he go if Ghord intended to end the whole universe...some parallel plane perhaps? He’d always found the astral plane to be peaceful. Then again perhaps Ghord had an innocuous reason for requiring so much raw mana. Ghord was collecting mana, of that the magus was certain, but he couldn’t prove for what purpose. He doubted it was anything benign, but he didn’t want to jump to conclusions either. So he decided to get Ghord to answer a few simple questions. However, sitting a God or demon in one place was no easy task, it would not be a case of calling Ghord into his laboratory one day with “Come in Ghord pull up a chair there’s a good fellow...Now tell me about this mana you’ve been collecting.” If only...Getting a God or demon to do anything, particularly against their will, was a task that would require a great amount of study. Given Ghord’s obvious animosity it would of course also require control spells, but spells capable of dominating a God...was that even possible for a mortal? It would need to be unlike anything ever used. In fact the magus realised very rapidly that all the spells he would require would be like nothing ever used! He thus locked himself away in his new personal tower and set to work refining and redefining some of the magic he knew, combining powers here with others from over there, always studying and always improving. Many of the thaumaturgical laws of magic he realised needed revision so he worked from first principles, reconstructing the very nature of magic. The day to day life of magic he left to the masters of the six schools, he wished they would work together but each was only interested in their own importance.
Finally, after many years of continuous, arduous, and in some cases downright dangerous study and training the great magus felt ready. He needed to confront Ghord and he felt he needed to do it soon. Every delay simply increased the amount of mana Ghord would possess, while the magus wasn’t getting any younger.

So it was on the fateful day that the magus summoned the other heads of the six magic schools. They all assembled on a mountain plateau in a vast range in the south west corner of the world, an area uninhabited so minimising the danger to the innocent. The mountain area itself was a vast expanse of bare wind blasted rock scoured continually, bone dry, nothing grew and nothing lived here. The Great Magus nodded to the assembled wizards and strode out onto the plateau, using his staff he drew out a vast summoning circle, covering the area. He carefully, painstakingly inscribed the magical wards and sigils of the binding spell, burning them with ardent energy flares into the mountain’s living rock. The other wizards were shocked, they’d believed the old fool was dead for a start so they stood dazedly staring at the magus blankly. The sheer magical effort to inscribe just one symbol would have rendered them unconscious for a week or more, yet here was the great magus, now an old man, inscribing a symbol every few minutes. Finally, with the circle complete, the Great Magus stepped up to the edge. He drew in a deep breath to calm himself, the wind scraped at his throat, no moisture of any kind here. He coughed aloud once and then with a God like commanding voice he cast his summons. He called Ghord...by name, summoning him to the circle. The summons was a mighty spell that caused more shock and awe in the other magic users, hairs on the backs of their necks rose and crackled with the power the old man was unleashing. The Great Magus intoned his summons a second time, Ghord tried to ignore it, shrug it off, even when he felt its pull. The raw power involved made the other mages pale. What had the old man done to himself to be able to use this much power? And could they do it to themselves?
“Damn!” The Great Magus cursed under his breath, he had been afraid of this, he was going to have to force the contemptible creature! He had really hoped he would not need to, but demons and gods can be...obstinate, just for the sake of being difficult. The Great Magus needed Ghord to account for himself, there was nought else for it. He raised his arms and invoked his summons a third time, this time adding an extra incantation that created a brutal mana-whip. The fifty foot long glowing whip materialised out of the air above Ghord’s back and with a flaming tongue of white hot energy lashed forwards. The old man’s incantation channelled raw mana energy into the weapon. Ghord cried out as the lash touched his skin, his roar shook the mountains. The other wizards paled and cowered whispering to one another, “The old man must be insane.” “He can’t really be whipping a God can he?” Thunder rolled through the skies and dark leaden clouds blotted out the sun. To the magus if Ghord’s answers were unsatisfactory he would obviously need to shut Ghord down, hurling him to another dimension, out of harm’s way. But first he had to get him here “Damned obstinate creature!” Again The Great Magus used the lash focusing energy into it, it flashed and whipped with a crack like a gunshot that echoed and rebounded off the mountains until you’d swear armies were at war. Ghord howled again with the pain which was now mixed with a growing sense of fury, who could be causing him pain like this? Ghord raged with anger as he felt the burning touch of the lash a third then a fourth time. Very gently he pushed his next storage vessel into his store before whirling on his feet and stalking off to find the impudent creature who had dared to assail him.

Finally therefore he arrived in the circle, stepping from a vast black cloud that crackled with lightning. He naturally spat fire and numerous curses at the sight of the magus…the impertinence of this jumped up ape! Didn’t he know Ghord had work to do and now he had welt marks from the touch of that lash. His skin, his perfect unblemished black skin was marked with great red fiery lines. What he didn’t have was time to bandy words with this old fart! How dare this insignificant little bug command him to do anything! Ghord raged and stormed around the circle...it was odd, he couldn’t actually get close to the old man, something stood unseen between them. Then Ghord noticed the spidery silver trail of mana energy feeding the whip. He recoiled with the realisation that this insignificant little bug and the one inflicting all the pain on him were the same person! Ghord was incensed, he flew into an even more powerful rage bellowing like a raging bull and charged at full speed at the magus. He crashed into the barrier spell with a booming blast, the force of his impact twisting one of his black iron horns a full half turn. The concussion resounded off the mountains like thunder but all Ghord managed to achieve was to bounce away as the barrier held then repulsed him. Seeing his reflection in the shimmering barrier wall with one horn bent at a very strange angle only heightened Ghord’s rage further, he was going to take an especial interest in torturing the old man making him beg and plead to die! Which he would do at Ghord’s hands many many times!

As Ghord hit the barrier the masters of the schools cowered before fleeing to a corner of the plateau out of harm’s way. The old magus paled, he suddenly felt uncertain, the impact had almost carried him off his feet and the barrier had very nearly failed. The magus suddenly felt he had badly miscalculated the power of this chaos God. But the moment passed and resolutely the magus quelled his shaking and summoned himself again raising his arms and staff defiantly and demanding Ghord answer him!

As you can guess the meeting went badly from the start, the magic involved was titanic. Ghord was ever defiant to the old man, ever filled with fury and rage. He cursed in a hundred different tongues as he beat on the walls of the protection spell surrounding the summoning circle, just let him break the stupid old git’s wards and he would unleash a terrible retribution. While the Great Magus stood as if carved from stone and insisted again and again, lashing Ghord with brutal burning whip strokes, demanding the answers he sought. Ghord howled in rage, he howled in pain, his skin became a network of burning oozing scars but it was his rage that consumed him. Ghord had been forced to acknowledge his own stupidity and how mistaken he’d been in discounting this old magus.
The two of them battled for days, the skies above the mountain exploded with light as spells met counter spells while thunder roared and rumbled. The magus time and again demanding answers, Ghord answering only with threats, curses and fury. Lightning ripped apart the darkness in multi coloured flashes that hurt Ghord’s eyes. In response he tore the skies open, sending torrents of rain, and liquid fire, down onto these apes. Luckily there was no one there save the seven wizards and they were amply prepared to defend against meteors, even if some looked like burning mountains! The six masters of the schools just hid themselves in their quiet corner out of the direct line of fire, they could wait it all out...they prayed that the meeting would conclude before they were all roasted alive though. They would help if they could but how could they? The old man was performing magic the likes of which they could never have even dreamed of. Powerful creatures unlike anything the world had ever witnessed were summoned from both sides. Some were hideous, others magnificent in their beauty. Not all were destroyed as some escaped the area. The Earth, forced to endure this relentless onslaught, shook, bucking like a wild stallion as earthquakes rippled back and forth across the surface. Mountains and valleys buckled, plains exploded, rivers overflowed in tsunami like floods. Earth and land were literally heaving into new patterns. Cracks became gaping fissures that ripped open, dropping to unimagined depths as new mountains reared up. The surface of the land started to tear under the strain, splitting into vast continents that began to drift slowly apart. The gaps between filled with water in even more devastating tsunamis, hissing and spitting with steam clouds as the water fell onto the now exposed liquid rock. Volcanoes exploded in gouts of orange fire as rivers of liquid rock crawled like snakes across the land. Clouds of ash and choking foul gases filled the air. The Earth threatened to tear completely apart under the strain, one vast section even tore completely free, exploding off into space. It didn’t go far as it became trapped in the planet’s gravity well forming a lone moon where it orbited.

Finally, the Great Magus faltered, he was starting to feel the weariness of his exertions. He had underestimated Ghord badly and was realising that even his improved reserves of mana were draining faster than he had expected. Getting this stupid obstinate creature to answer even the simplest of questions was taking all of his strength and concentration. With a deep sigh of reservation he decided on a last all-or-nothing effort to deal with Ghord…once and for all! Over the course of the battle he’d come to the sad realisation that Ghord was not going to answer him willingly. He had reconstructed magic from the first principles, magnifying the power available to himself by several levels of magnitude…but even with all that the magus realised he didn’t have what he needed to put Ghord out of action, not permanently! With some reluctance the old magus stared down at his staff, he mulled over his choices quietly. He hated to kill anything, even something as obviously dangerous as Ghord had been given life for some purpose so who was he to take it? With a shuddering breath he realised that he had only one choice left, he silently prayed he had the power left to do it. He summoned his remaining mana, this would be his great final spell! Everything he had would need to go into it, every single ounce of his life force too! For a moment he balked at the thought...all his life force! But no this was too important so with a quiet sigh he bound his essence to the spell, he would use it only if he needed to. He knew the danger, even with his new powers the fundamental law of magic remained, but this was too important to consider any other course. Ghord HAD to be stopped! The magus drew a deep breath, held it and started to inscribe the final sigils as he incanted the words in a voice that seemed to boom and echo off the surrounding mountains. The other wizards cowering under their makeshift shelter peeped out with open mouths, they had not seen the old man in years, the high wizard had even been persuading the others that he was dead and been vying for the post of the new Great Magus himself. So when they had each received his summons it had been a shock to them but they had no idea just how powerful the Great Magus had become. The past days had shocked them to their cores, a man of his advancing years could command such power? Just one of his spells would have been beyond each of them, even collectively they couldn’t match him. They had studied for all of their lives in their chosen school, but they were apprentices compared to him. They felt a sense of deep awe and maybe even a trace of fear that he could summon such power, imagine if he were ever to use it against them! But then avarice dawned inside them...just imagine if they could get their hands on it too!
The air around the magus glowed, then crackled, the power covered him in a fizzing, hissing halo of light. A shower of multi coloured sparks, pure unbridled magical energy, that bounced and jiggled on the ground melting small pits into the rock where it made contact.

“Great light show old man! But it won’t help you! I will kill you...” scoffed Ghord speaking his first words that were anything other than curses. His contempt for the magus was obvious but truth be told even Ghord felt the tiniest shred of fear at what the old man might be calling up now. Ghord knew the raw power mana possessed, it seemed absurd but this old man appeared to be drawing that power straight from the source. No mortal could do that…at least no mortal Ghord had met could. The magus just smiled thinly and then with a final deep inhale of breath, a silent pause and a bellowing voice he spoke the final words,

Somnambus perpetua.” His voice resonated and echoed from mountain to mountain, the heavens shook as he spread his arms and released his final spell. For a heartbeat there was nothing.

Ghord scoffed again, “Oh my did the little ape get his words all screwed up? Tut tut tut!”

…then with a flash a pencil thin beam of pure white energy shot forth from the old man’s outstretched arm, channelled and amplified many thousand times through his staff. It struck Ghord dead centre in the chest like a scalpel of pure light. At first Ghord recoiled then he laughed, the old fool what did he think he was doing? Ghord had expected some searing, lancing pain but there was nothing! Ghord tried to brush it aside contemptuously, but the beam remained. Suddenly Ghord staggered, he felt an overpowering sense of exhaustion; suddenly he wanted to sleep…but that was absurd, he didn’t need sleep or rest, he was a God! Ghord the unconquerable master of chaos, he was an immortal being! Ghord closed his eyes just momentarily and squeezed the bridge of his gigantic bulbous nose, shaking his head to rid himself of the feeling. Instead the sensation intensified as the old man poured his life essence into the beam, he was going to need to give everything he had after all… “Stupid obstinate creature!” the old man cursed under his breath. Unsteadily Ghord stepped back half a pace as the beam flashed, maybe he needed to sit down…yes just for a moment! This old fart and his spells had been more of an exertion than he thought...

The old man’s spell drove into him deeper, flashing and crackling as the old man poured more of his precious life energy into it. Ghord took another half pace back, that half pace was Ghord’s undoing, he caught his foot on a loose boulder, which rolled out from under him. Ghord lost his balance and in losing it bellowed as he fell over backwards…but rather than falling to the flat surface of the plateau he found himself instead plunging backwards over the edge of the mountain’s vertiginous drop. Nine thousand feet of sheer precipice he descended head first, bellowing with anger while yawning his gaping mouth with his growing exhaustion. He sleepily clawed great rents in the side of the mountain trying to gain a handhold but the rock had suffered so much injury over the past days, it merely crumbled under his touch and all the time Ghord felt ever more exhausted. Why was he so tired all of a sudden? Ghord yawned hugely, opening his gaping maw and breathing out a fetid cloud of yellow green. He fell bellowing and cursing, half twisting as he accelerated toward the bottom of the ravine at the mountain’s foot. With a half sleepy turn of his head Ghord realised that he was going to impact the bottom in a few seconds. When he hit he did so with an earth shatteringly huge boom, that ripped the air from his lungs while kicking up a dust cloud twice the height of his fall. His impact shook the mountain root to tip splitting it open, while his heavy body caused a massive crater three miles into the surface. His head struck a gigantic iron ore deposit and Ghord knocked himself unconscious. Then with a loud rumble and more earth shaking the crater walls, unsupported, collapsed inwards. A torrent like avalanche of rock and dirt. When everything finally stopped shaking the crater was filled, Ghord was covered completely, buried...not dead, but unconscious and entombed.

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