Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Wizard of Hades

 A stocky farm hand named Koll was taken on the frozen wastes of the dark realms, spirited to the netherworld. In the seventy-five years he'd been in these haunted caverns, he was still only twenty years old. Likewise, it was impossible to die here, as the entities fed on torment. 

But his plan of escape was nearing fruition. He'd once dabbled in amateur wizardry, having learned a minor spell that drained a victim of life force and any talents it possessed. It was woefully inadequate against the entities who ruled here. But, having nothing to lose, he tried it just to gage the result. 

His target was one of three entities. The Blues wielded cold magic; Yellows were flame elementals. Deeper down were the Grays, who could only whisper temptation to those desperate enough to take them up on it. Were the promises realized? No one knew, as the escapees were not seen again. 

Koll unleashed his spell on the Blue, which earned him such a frosty pasting that he was frozen solid for an hour. But, amazingly, he had made brief contact with her mind, and now knew her name. 

The Yellow who ruled this enclave singled Koll out for special attention after that. He delighted in hoisting Koll by the neck, then lambasting him with a torrent of fire. Koll never cried out, staring at that mask of a face in defiance. It had a weird grillwork for a mouth, and a slit for a nose. Cast aside, Koll waited for the damage to heal as the Yellow went off after other prey. 

He caught sight of the Blue. She was sculpting a massive iceworks at the top of the cavern. A few victims had been added to the mix for artistic accent. The vengeful Yellow invested it all with a sweep of fire, turning it all to dripping mush. Victims fell to the ground and crawled away. It was the opening Koll had waited for--but not today, for the Blue vented her wrath on all within reach. 

Next day, though time had no meaning here, Koll watched the Blue sail atop a low rise, lamenting the ruination of her work. He jumped when a wretch grabbed his arm. Koll searched his face. "You were one of those she froze into the sculpture."

"Never mind that." The older man looked up, pointing out a faint pocket of phosphorescence. "Don't you see? That's the surface world! It's why the Yellow doesn't want us going up there." His face fell. "Anyway, how could you get through ice that thick?" He staggered away, hiding behind a boulder when the Yellow swooped by in the distance. 

Now or never, Koll thought. He approached the Blue and looked up at her. "For what it's worth, your lattice showed keen imagination." The Blue frosted him again, but at least his chilled mouth still worked. "Twila." That was her name. "You did it out of boredom. Imagine what you could do on the surface, where no one could attack your work." He shook off the frost, but sprinted away under a barrage of stinging icicles.

Another "day" passed. When the faint glow appeared overhead, Koll strolled about, practically inviting attack by the Yellow. It was quick in coming. A hot lance through his back dropped Koll to his knees. The Yellow pulled him up by the neck and began sweeping him with flame. 

Suddenly a blue patch appeared on the Yellow's abdomen. Cold magic! Twila had attacked him from behind. With a yowl of rage, the Yellow spun about and took Twila by the neck. The two traded magical attacks. 


The female voice echoed in Koll's mind. Twila!

Here is the power for your spell.

A giddy rush of power infused Koll. He blasted the Yellow with everything he had, draining him so hard his fires went out, and the Yellow became a shriveled brown thing that skittered away. Jubilant victims began punching and kicking it. 

The Grays will come. We must leave.

Koll stared stupidly. "How--"

Yellows can fly.

Of course! He now had, for a short time, the Yellow's power, including that of flight. He soared upward, seeing the Blue winging close behind. Was the ice to thwart their glorious escape? Koll gathered speed, reaching fists forward, and smashed through.

He fell heavily in late evening snow. Orange sunlight made long strips across the blue tundra. A caravan pulled by woolly oxen came around a bend. 

An old woman got down and approached. "Where in Hades did you come from?" She raised her staff against a blue shape that went winging away. 

Koll became famous for his tales of the netherworld. Whether they believed it or not, he couldn't say, but his fortune was made. And to this day, visitors to the region are awed by the amazing ice structures carved artistically into the frozen hills.

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