Friday, November 30, 2012

The Archmage: A Primer

The Archmage's name is lost at this time. It is not considered important to find it as there is no pressing matter that requires such knowledge. Instead, it is enough that we know how The Archmage became known as such.

The Archmage, in the waning years of the Old World, led a double life. To all but a few he was an ordinary, if conservative, man from a faded family formerly of means. During his life before the Azure Flames, he restored the family wealth. Unknown to all but that same few, he employed sorcery as part of his greater array of knowledge and used that mastery of magic covertly to ensure that parts of his business plans that otherwise were left to chance would not be so vulnerable.

In time The Archmage gathered around him a handful of proteges, many his own kin and the rest married into his family. They ran the restored, and growing, business while he did the key work of securing future opportunities for further growth and development. What none but his chief lieutenant perceived, until the very end, was that The Archmage had a clear vision of the Coming of the Azure Flames and used all of this time before to clear away a space and secure it for the benefit of himself and his people.

This space centered around the structure we know now as "The White Tower", a tall and strong artifact of the Old World's latter-day architecture built in a now-vanished city on the northern end of the west coast of the Old World's last great imperial power. We mock them as "The Wizards of the Coast" at our peril, for even now their power can reach across centuries of time--and, increasingly, light-years of space--to afflict us for the trespass of disrespecting their knowledge and mastery of powers that only now are as widely known as the secrets for faster-than-light travel.

When the Azure Flames arrived, The Archmage and his people remained secure in the space he and his proteges prepared previously. The people watched out shielded windows as the blue flames ruined the city about them, consumed the flesh of the people therein and cast down the Old World that once was. The Archmage and his men, on the other hand, conducted their most ambitious rite during those three days and did what was formerly impossible: they transformed themselves into a new form of Man entirely, escaping the flesh of old and becoming something else--but still Mannish--entirely.

This, reader, is how The Archmage escaped the power of The Necromancer- and, in time, so did his people. It is also how The Archmage became one of the powers that, at the end of the Wars of the Damned, would unite to cast down and destroy The Necromancer forever.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Necromancer: A Primer

Those that did not live during the reign of The Necromancer find it difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend that such an entity existed. For those that witnessed that final event wherein The Emperor destroyed The Necromancer, one could scarcely believe the sight before them. All assumed that The Necromancer would be like in the tales of such death-workers from the Old World: decayed, decrepit, dead and yet not so. Nothing of the sort was true.

Instead, what we learned was that The Necromancer was once a horribly abused and neglected boy. When the Azure Flames erupted, he lay dying in a hospital on a table in an operating theater. He lay there because his mother beat him near to death out of a petty anger when the boy interrupted one of his mother's frequent unlawful couplings with a man. He knew not his father, and had no such figure around; he was unwanted, and his mother could not be rid of him, so she beat and berated him because she could not ever accept her own failure and responsibility.

It did not help that he came from a ghetto wherein a long-abused race of men, formerly slaves, got herded into generations before. The Old World rulers were not enlightened men, and in their decadence encouraged new forms of old ills; the result was poverty, ignorance and exploitation such that slavery for this race never truly ended- so neither did the reactions to it.

So, as the Azure Flames raced across the world, those charged with saving his life fled instead thinking him disposable and not worth the effort. Abandoned by the last people trusted to make right the wrongs in his life, the boy impotently raged and cried out for justice- for revenge. Unexpectedly, someone answered.

This someone called itself "Gabriel", and took on the appearance of a then-famous actor in a well-known role of the same name. Gabriel tells the boy that the Creator heard his cries, and sent him to offer the boy--now between life and death--the opportunity to be the instrument of judgement upon Mankind. The boy accepted without hesitation; all he had to give in return was his name, and what is a name to one like him? Of course the boy accepted, for the price was nothing to him; this is why no power known to Man can reveal The Necromancer's name- he gave it to someone beyond mortal ken in return for power beyond mortal ken.

This, reader, is how the great and terrible scourge of Man known as "The Necromancer" came to be.

As he desired revenge, he also desired all deprived of him before. He grew from a boy into a great and powerful man, tall and broad-shouldered, flesh hardened into a lean and powerful athletic form. His presence grew with his maturity, and the fear-filled form of a small, shattered son transformed into a muscular, magnificent man of power and authority. No decrepit form had he. No decayed corpse-flesh. No, his lungs breathed deep and powerful. No, his heart beat hard and fast to pump red blood through living veins. The Necromancer, in truth, was a magnetic man of power and none who saw him ever forgot it.

Gabriel was not his only adviser. As The Necromancer grew, he learned that he held absolute power over life and death, for he held power over the flesh and dominated the wills of the dead- all that ever lived were his to command, be they imprisoned in their dead flesh or not, and all flesh that he knew was his to command. This would, in time, become his undoing, but until those centuries passed as the remnant races of Men surviving the Azure Flames died out The Necromancer knew no fear. The greatest generals of history lead his legions of lifeless drones. The greatest admirals of history led his ghost fleets. The greatest politicians of history administered those living colonies permitted to persist. The greatest monsters of history terrorized one and all to ensure The Necromancer's reign would continue as desired.

This, reader, is one of the reasons for why The Necromancer was such a feared player in the Wars of the Damned that followed the Azure Flames and the destruction of the Old World. Imagine now what it took for The Archmage to hold him off until the White Tower People could stand on their own. Imagine now what it took for The Emperor to cast him down and destroy him forever. Imagine what it took for The Engineer to get past The Necromancer's defenses and join forces with those others to ensure that The Necromancer would fall.

Imagine, and be glad that you live now long past that terrible era.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The South American Incident-13

Ken intercepted the hit team sent to ambush him, and after a short, brutal firefight in the street he killed all but one of them. The last one lived only because Ken chose to spare him, and having shot the man he then tracked the hitter back across Bogota to the hideout where his handler waited to kill them all instead of paying them off. Ken didn’t stop the handler from killing the loose end, but he did get into a firefight with that spook. Ken wounded that man, and attempted to track the spook to his boss, but this guy had the presence of mind to just kill himself instead.

The dead spook did not remember to frag his phone, so Ken lifted the spook’s phone and waited for his boss to put in a call. Ken traced the call, and then paid the boss a visit unannounced. He arrived as the boss and his staff exited their safehouse, provoking a running firefight through the streets and on the highways of Bogota that involved the police as Ken chased the boss and his staff in a car chase that Hollywood directors would envy. This ended as the boss approached the American Embassy, where the chase went into a nearby carpark; Ken killed the staff in a series of sublime shots to their skulls, and put down the boss as he ran for a waiting helicopter.

Ken took off the boss the rogue spies’ operational codebook, and then took off in the chopper to meet with the boss’s superiors: the C.I.A. faction of the rogue network, operating out of Narco turf in the jungle. He passed word on the Israeli and British factions’ presence to Marisol, who passed it to the Colombian government factions that she trusted, and they moved swiftly to roll up those networks; they went down in vicious urban firefights that leveled a city block apiece.

Ken did not hesitate when he landed. He shot the welcoming party, catching them by surprise. Taking their guns, he ran a one-man army assault on the compound killing everyone he came across; no friendlies stood in that compound, so he felt confident in ensuring that naught but the dead remained to testify to his presence.

He blasted his way into the compound’s citadel and engaged with those rogue C.I.A. agents. Two of the three went down in seconds. The third got under cover, and then seized the little girl that Ken came for to use as a hostage. Ken shot the man in the eye, forcing the man to drop the girl, but it did not kill him. With one eye remaining, the man shot at Ken and then at the girl in rage. Ken took a few shots in covering the girl as she ran for shelter, putting him on the floor as he moved to reload.

The rogue spy aimed at Ken, about to shoot him dead.

“Surprise!” The Colonel said, standing in the doorway with one arm in a sling, and killed the spy.

“Good plan.” The Colonel said, “Try not to nearly die next time.”

Friday, November 9, 2012

The South American Incident-12

Marisol gathered up her courage and dealt with the police again, themselves still in some shock at the unexpected attack upon their families. Now that the kidnapping had become national news, and had hit the international wires, backing down on either side became unthinkable. As Ken told Marisol in a text message, “The die is cast.”

The call came, and this time the rogue agents in charge gloated as to their superior position. As Ken said, Marisol did the talking. She surprised the agents by not meekly acceding to their demands, but instead insulted them and mocked them- “acceptable losses”, she said.

“What can you do now?” she said, “Your violence is front-page news throughout Colombia, and the wire services now tell the world of what you’ve done here. You wanted my daughter so you could bargain with my husband, but he is now dead. You took the sons and daughters of honorable men that sought a peaceful conclusion when we challenged your desire to negotiate honestly with us. You men call yourselves ‘professionals’? You are nothing of the sort. Professionals are not so easily roused to senseless butchery to assuage bruised egos.”

Quietly, in her earpiece, Ken said “Keep going. I’ve found their line and I’m tapping it.”

“You are in no position to say shit to me.” said a rogue agent, “We got to your man, and we got to your cops’ kids and women. We can just skip this and take you out too.”

“Oh? Is that so? Then this is not about money, is it? You wouldn’t say so if it were.”

“I’m in.” Ken said, “Tracing.”

“No, you’re after The White Death. No, don’t bother denying it. It’s all people on the street, or online, talk about now. You show up in the wake of our nation’s—our region’s—liberation from decades of collusion between the narco-trafficking syndicates and corrupt officials throughout the continent by this one man, a man strong enough and tough enough to do what should have been done generations ago, and then exposes their ties to Washington D.C. and the Anglo-American Empire based there.”

“Got it.” Ken said, “Sending coordinates.”

“Oh no,” Marisol said, “you’re here to bring us back under your banksters’ boots. That is not going to happen.”

Just then, a shot echoed into the house from across the street.

“They had a hitter in position; he was about to take the shot.” Ken said, “He’s dead, and I know where they’re hiding.”

A few moments passed, and the rogue agent on the other end went silent.

“Your man is dead.” Marisol said, “The White Death got him. He knows where you are, and he’s coming for you. If you value your lives, you had better run.”

“I don’t think so.” The agent said, “We have what you want.”

“And if you don’t return what is ours, unharmed, then pray that the White Death finds you first. We will not be merciful; we are The People of the Sun.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

The South American Incident-11

When Marisol called Ken, he already knew what had happened.

“How is your husband?”

Marisol calmed herself enough to say “He is still alive, barely, and he’s under guard at the hospital.”

“Have you gotten a call demanding ransom yet?”

“No. When should I expect it?”

“Soon. They need to secure a hiding place for your daughter first, and then ensure a secure line between that place and where they’re going to make that call.”

Marisol sighed.

“These men are professionals. They expect the police to attempt a trace, so they’re setting up a decoy location to test for it.”


“She’s fine. She’ll be shaken up, and a bit bruised from rough handling, but they need her alive and unspoiled for this to work. When the police come to handle the ransom call, cooperate as best you can with them; let them do their jobs. What I want you to do is to record everything, start to finish, and let me follow that. Then there’s something I need you to pass to your husband.”


“He needs to pretend to die, and you need to go along with it. If the bad guys think that they got him on a slab, then they’re going to think that you’re going to fold faster than Superman on laundry day, and that means that they’re going to come out of hiding to scare the crap out of you and push you into giving them everything that they want- assuming that you’re too weak to defend yourself.”

Marisol paused, and then said “This is very dangerous.”

“I’m good, but I still need a lead if I’m going to track them. This is going to put themselves out where I can get to them- and you know what happens once I get my teeth into them. They’ll freak out, and in their panic they will lead me straight to your daughter.”

After a moment, Marisol said “Okay, as you say then.”

Marisol then hung up. While Ken broke down his kit and quickly moved to his next spot, Marisol went to the hospital and spoke with the Colonel about Ken’s plan. He silently agreed, and with the aid of his doctors they performed a convincing spectacle of a failed emergency surgery followed by a public announcement of his death.

The police then came to Marisol, and asked her to cooperate with the kidnapping matter, and as Ken said she complied and cooperated. She also began recording the entirety of her dealings with them, and Ken kept abreast of the situation there through those recordings. When the call came, the police did attempt to trace that call. They found the location that the Intelligence network wanted them to find, which was empty and abandoned, making a mockery of them and outing their identities to these rogue agents; their own children got kidnapped, and some of their wives, within the day in retaliation.

When Marisol called, Ken made it simple: “Keep them talking. You know how.”