The Lord of the Socks
Episode 12: The Orb is Mightier than the Sword
There wasn’t time for me to figure out what was going on. All I knew was that if I didn’t act, Korac would die. I used a sock-enhanced burst of speed to tackle Xern, sending both of us to the dusty floor. The Orb flew out of his hand and through the air for several yards. I figured it would shatter upon impact, but instead the floor cracked as it bounced once and rolled to the far side of the chamber.
“Good job, Myrick,” Korac said. He reached into his pack, which he must have picked up from where I left it in the tunnel, and pulled out an amulet. “Go get the Orb so that we can finish him once and for all.”
“Myrick, don’t!” Xern hissed. “He must be stopped. He is a follower of Arnabet.”
I still wasn’t sure if I completely believed Xern or not. All I knew was that neither one of these bozos should have the Orb until I could think things through.
I jumped up and sprinted to where the Orb lay. I scooped it up and headed for the exit, hoping I could outrun Korac’s control spell.
“Shlabauk!” Korac commanded and snapped his fingers.
Nothing happened. I continued running. I slowed down when I reached the archway and turned around to see the surprised look on Korac’s face.
“That’s not possible,” Korac said. He snapped his fingers again but still nothing happened.
Xern stood up and laughed, but it wasn’t one of his humored ones from earlier. It sounded more menacing—like how an evil sorcerer was supposed to sound. “The Orb protects him from your puny spell.” He turned toward me. “Now, Myrick, if you would be so kind as to give me the Orb, I can release you from his spell.” He put his hand out.
I knew he could do it, too. But if I gave Xern the Orb, he would use it to kill Korac. Did I really care enough about Korac to save his life? After all, he’d enslaved me and Nut-boy with that stupid control spell. No telling who else he had his magical hooks into. I started back toward Xern.
Korac recovered from his shock and shouted, “Rora somots!” A jet of flame erupted from his fingertips.
Xern spun around barely in time to put up a magical shield. He was still weak from his battle with the undead, though, and fell to his knees from the effort. “Myrick, please,” he said through clenched teeth.
Fil was the first to regain consciousness after being slammed into the wall by Xern earlier. He picked up a rusted sword and charged the sorcerer.
Xern saw it, pointed with his other hand, and said, “Zark!”
Fil exploded into a bright flash, forcing me to avert my eyes. When I looked back again, all that remained of Fil was a dissipating cloud of ash.
I stopped. That spell scared the cabbage out of me. Anyone who could disintegrate a person with a single word was someone too dangerous to trifle with. And too dangerous to give the Orb to. But what could I do to stop him? I remembered the bone of Arnabet Sister Nyn gave me. With my free hand, I reached into my pocket and pulled it out.
Korac’s spell faded. Xern let go of his magical shield and lay down on the floor, panting from the effort.
Korac chuckled as he took several steps toward Xern. “I don’t need the Orb to finish you. You are now just a weak, pathetic sorcerer who is out of his time.” He thrust his amulet forward and grinned maliciously. “Har’uk!” A bolt of lightning streaked from the amulet toward Xern.
Xern managed to lift his hand and deflect the bolt, causing it to fly to the side and blast a large hole in the stone wall. He countered with his own spell, “Zark!”
Korac thrust his amulet up to deflect the spell. The amulet shattered with a blinding flash and Korac was knocked backward to the floor.
Xern sat back up. “You see, I’m not helpless. I can still destroy a backwater practitioner like you with the power I possess in my pinky toe.” He forced himself to his feet.
Frederica came to next, picking herself up from the floor and shaking her head to clear it. A scimitar lay near her. She grabbed it and stood. “Die, you foul sorcerer,” she said, charging toward Xern.
Xern turned and raised his hand toward her. I knew if I didn’t do something, he would do to her what he had to Fil. I couldn’t let that happen. With a magical burst of speed, I once again rammed into Xern and tumbled to the floor with him. I still held the bone shard in my hand. I pulled my arm back to thrust it toward Xern.
Xern saw it and his eyes widened. “Myrick, no!” He put his arm up to stop me but too late.
I jabbed the sharp end of the bone into Xern’s thigh before rolling away. I lay there for several seconds, listening. It was as quiet as a tomb. Oh wait, it was a tomb.
“Myrick, you did it,” Frederica said, breaking the heavy silence.
I pushed myself up with my arms and looked toward Xern. He still lay there, his eyes wide, but he didn’t move a muscle.
Korac climbed back up and smiled. “Yes, Myrick, nice work.” He snarled as he pointed a finger at Xern, “Har’uk!” A bolt of lightning flew out, striking Xern in the chest. It exploded in a brilliant flash, but once finished, Xern still lay there like a statue. Not even his clothing was affected.
“Hmm,” Korac said. “The time binding spell must protect him. Oh well, he’ll remain buried in here forever now.” He turned toward me. “Myrick, I order you to give me the Orb.”
Somehow, I still clutched the Orb in my other hand. But as long as I held it, Korac could do nothing to stop me. I stood up and smiled. “No. You don’t deserve it.”
Korac’s eyes narrowed. “Give it to me. An idiotic peasant like you could never figure out how to use the Orb’s power.”
“I don’t want to use it, but I don’t think you or anyone else should, either.” I looked into it. It just seemed like a glass sphere to me. I didn’t feel anything special. But with it, I could use my socks to run far away from Korac, out of reach from his control spell, and then throw the cursed Orb into the depths of the ocean.
“I know what you’re thinking, Myrick. It won’t work. I will find you and you can’t hold onto that orb forever. I’ll be able to use my control spell on you and snuff the life from your feeble little frame.”
“But you won’t find me,” I said with a smile. “I’ll be so far away you won’t even know where to begin to look. My socks will get me to places you’ve never even dreamed of. All you will be to me is a bad memory.” I turned and sauntered back toward the archway, whistling a happy yet triumphant tune. I hoped Nut-boy was long gone, but if he was somewhere outside the cavern, I’d just take him with me.
“Shlabauk!” Korac commanded, snapping his fingers again.
I stopped and laughed. “Really, Korac, you think you can use that on me still? You’re more stupid than you look.” I turned around so I could give him a final, triumphant gloat.
Frederica stood next to him. Her eyes were wide with horror. She wasn’t breathing.
Korac smiled, “You’re not the only one who has been enchanted by my spell. I noticed you were willing to stop Xern to save your beloved princess; I’m betting you will also be willing to give me the Orb in order to save her.”
I could hear Frederica struggling for air. I stood there, trying to think of what I could do but I came up totally blank.
“You’re killing her,” Korac said, holding out his hand. “She only has a few more seconds before she passes out from lack of air. Do you want her death on your conscience as you go skipping off across the world?”
I then knew why Nonac hated wizards so much. They are conniving, evil, sons of troglyns. I gave Korac the meanest, angriest glare I could as I walked forward and put the Orb into his outstretched palm.
Korac nodded. “Wise choice.” He took several steps back before snapping his fingers.
Frederica fell to one knee and sucked in a deep breath of air. She looked at me. “You shouldn’t have, Myrick. You should have let me die and gotten that thing far away from him.”
I shook my head. “I couldn’t do that.”
“No,” Korac said, “he couldn’t let his precious princess die. That would be terrible.” He chuckled.
By now, Bum-stabber was finally awake and staggered over to us. Nonac climbed to his feet as well, looking around the chamber with a confused expression.
Korac said to Bum-stabber, “I want you and the barbarian to gather all the gold over there.”
Nonac looked over at the pile of gold and smiled.
I was about to tell Nonac to not help when Korac caught my eye. He held his hand up as if ready to activate his control spell. And without the Orb, I was once again vulnerable to it.
Korac had us gather up all the treasure we could carry and we headed out of the complex. Soon after that, we met up with King Frankfurt’s army. They had come back to life when the pedestal had been demolished and were still trying to figure out what had happened. We found Nut-boy among them. After some soldiers retrieved the rest of the treasure, we all marched happily back to Castle Fringol. Korac told his tale to the king, managing to leave out all the parts where I’d contributed, and made himself out as the hero who defeated the ancient evil sorcerer Xern. Of course, the troubadours heard his version of the tale and made up all sorts of songs praising the brave Lord Korac.
“So, what happened in there?” Nut-boy asked me as we marched out of the Valley of Death.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I muttered, still in a glum mood.
“All I know is that I woke up in that cavern and heard a bunch of fighting going on in there. I ran as fast as I could.”
“That was the wise thing to do. Wish I’d done that.”
Nut-boy sniffed. “What is that smell? It smells like troglyn urine.”
I sniffed my arm that was still covered with Sister Nyn’s ointment. Yup, that was the source of the smell. I then knew what Frbg’s secret ingredient was.
Once we arrived at the castle, the king, Korac, and the army all got welcomed as heroes. Princess Frederica was returned to her prison cell and we were ordered not to tell anyone who she really was. As far as Nonac goes, he just left with his share of treasure. He didn’t even bother to say goodbye. I have to admit that it hurt my feelings. Oh, and Nut-boy returned to messenger duty.
And me? Well, suffice it to say I got a “guest room” in Korac’s tower for a couple of weeks as he tried to figure a way to remove my socks. After a while, though, he gave up and let me return to the messenger’s barracks. He always kept his eye on me whenever he could, though, and wouldn’t let me leave the castle. My hero, Bum-stabber, became my second shadow.
So, did I do the right thing? Did I let the right wizard live? I had a feeling I chose poorly.
And I suppose you’re wondering what happened with Korac and the Orb of Trineer. Well, that’s another tale for another time. And it will cost you a mug of mead.