"The hills and the forests are my place, and I walk this land not by choice..."
Grimaldine of the Broll
Even in the realm that embodied the Dungeon of Knightmare, the Green Wizard seemed out of place. This was no small feat, as the Dungeon boasted inhabitants of such varied species and nature that it was a small miracle that it bore any resemblance at all to the more normal dimension of the Earth. Humans, goblins, trolls, dragons and pookas flourished in the Dungeon as different human cultures flourished and competed on Earth.
Ask any of these inhabitants, though, about the man named Grimaldine, and they would insist that the man simply did not fit in the Dungeon. Strangely enough, Grimaldine was in fact from Earth, a place that he should have been noticed as different even more than in the Dungeon. The land of Cornwall is known for several things, but sorcery in a green glittering gown does not appear on that list. Perhaps the elements that make the Dungeon so unusual are not missing from Earth, but merely go unseen.
In different circumstances, Grimaldine might have considered such philisophical questions with his fellowship. But these were not such circumstances. He was forced to wander the realm of Knightmare until he had fulfilled his quest and retrieved that which had been stolen.
The shock of realising that the Brollachan was no longer on Earth had sent shockwaves through the Brotherhood of the Broll. The Brollachan race was teetering on the verge of extinction. Unthinkable considering the power and abilities of a Brollachan, but somehow it was true. The Brollachan protected by the Brotherhood might well be the last of its race. And it had vanished from under their very noses. At first they had assumed that it had left voluntarily. A Brollachan was far from human, a semi-fluid being that could seep through walls and pass through stone or metal as easily as steam. No known restraining method, be it magical or technological, was known to be effective on this creature.
But somehow, someone had snatched the Brollachan from its hiding place in Cornwall and dropped it in the half-reality that made up the place Grimaldine now searched. He had had some small success in the short time he had spent here. Through enquiries with the friendlier inhabitants of the Dungeon, and dealings with the peculiar helmeted children that quested through Knightmare, he had learned of how the technomancer Lord Fear had abducted the Brollachan and stolen its memory and knowledge, forcing the confused monster to do his bidding. It seemed that the Brollachan hunted a dragon throughout the Dungeon. Unfortunately, the Brollachan's shape-shifting nature, combined with the sheer size of this damnable dimension, was making it next to impossible for Grimaldine to track the creature.
Exhausted, Grimaldine prepared the Arken Energy Ritual. The ritual was necessary to maintain his energy and health in the Dungeon. He had observed that the strange children, Dungeoneers they called themselves, were always accompanied by an Energy Sprite maintaining their presence in the dimension. That had come as a surprise, finding that these adventurers and he shared a home country on Earth. Grimaldine had no such Sprite, and so had to rely on his own magical power to remain in the Dungeon. It seemed that, when a Dungeoneer's sprite was destroyed or had exausted its power, the Dungeoneer was pulled back to his or her own world. Maybe Grimaldine would follow if he let his power drain away, but it was his own energy, and he doubted that he'd survive the trip. And so he relied on his green Arken stones to restore lost energy.
As his staff syphoned power from the stone into his body, Grimaldine slipped into a medatative trance, and thought back to more pleasant days.
Grimaldine clapped his hands, and the campfire extinguished itself. A few of the children he was teaching made impressed sounds. Grimaldine smiled.
"Now, this class is dismissed. I will see you all again in two days time."
The children acknowledged his statement and left, talking among themselves. Grimaldine stood up and stretched his neck muscles. Behind him, there was a sudden sound, reminiscent of a large gong, followed by what sounded like a set of stones sliding together and apart. Grimaldine turned to face his visitor, a shiny green semi-solid face where moments before had been a plain brick wall.
"Tell me, Brother Grimaldine." The Brollachan's voice, slower than a normal human's and pleasantly pitched, left a not-quite-human echo in the air. "Why is it that you teach your children magic of so little practical value? It takes far more effort to light a fire magically than to do so with two simple sticks. Why not teach them magic that is of more use than the physical approach?"
Grimaldine chuckled. "It is all to do with how a child thinks. At this age, a child does not learn something because it is useful. They learn it because they have an interest. Now I teach them small tricks that have obvious effects, introducing them to magic. In a year, though, when they have this much experience, they will learn more...useful magic, as you say."
The Brollachan stretched its mouth back in what passed for its smile. "I see. A matter of psychology. Perhaps I will study this further."
With that, the shape shifter slipped back through the wall. As it disappeared, a second teacher approached Grimaldine.
"Glynwon? You are early. Your studies go well?"
Glynwon nodded. "I have made a discovery of much interest. A dimension that phases in and out of our own."
"What? Incredible! Are you sure?"
"I am certain. From what I have been able to research, I have found that, at certain times, this new realm phases with our own and allows people from our realm to travel to it..."
Grimaldine's eyes jolted open. The ritual was complete, and a small goblin was cautiously approaching him, club in hand. A light fireball was enough to send the beast scuttling away. Grimaldine stood up and picked up his staff. Once more, it was time to search for the missing Brollachan.
Raptor looked in bewilderment from the two frozen goblins that had been accompanying him to the bald guy in green robes. This wasn't how it was supposed to happen. One moment he'd been on the trail of a Dungeoneer, the next he was facing down this bald Celtic guy with the green fireballs!
"Allow me to introduce myself." The wizard said. "I am Grimaldine. Often of the Grey, but always of the Green. And you would be the man called Raptor?"
Raptor made an effort to pull himself together. "And what business would that be of yours, then?" he sneered.
"I understand that you are in the employment of Lord Fear, the man that has recently...obtained the creature known as the Brollachan. Is this correct?"
"Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. Why should I tell you?"
Grimaldine sighed. "I suppose that I will have to persuade you to be more forthcoming."
With that, Grimaldine thrust a single finger into the air. A large emerald lightning bolt blew a hole in the ground right between Raptor's feet.
"Now then, I will ask you again. Are you in the service of Lord Fear?"
"A-a...aye. I am." Raptor gulped.
"Very well. I wish you to pass on a message from myself to your master. Tell him that the Brotherhood of the Broll demands the immediate return of the Brollachan, and that if he does not comply, steps will be taken to force our demands. Is this clear?"
Raptor nodded nervously. With a wave of his hand, Grimaldine released the goblins from his magical grip. The Opposition lackeys turned and ran for the hills.
Grimaldine shook his head. He seriously doubted that, even if Raptor did pass on his message, the crude sailor's description of the encounter with him would carry much weight with his master. It was more likely that he would have to find a way to contact Fear personally. Judging by the accounts of the man's character he had so far obtained, he didn't believe that words, delivered personally or otherwise, would be sufficient to regain the Brollachan. But his attempts at tracking and catching up with the mind-wiped creature were proving fruitless. The Brollachan was simply too quick, and Grimaldine couldn't compete with his ability to move through walls and obstacles. And even if he did manage to catch up with it, he wasn't sure what his next step would be.
Grimaldine had by now reached the small complex of rooms deep within the Rift of Angar that served as a temporary home. Very temporary, the Celt hoped. He searched his mind, as he had done countless times now, for any information that his Brotherhood had obtained through their studies of the Brollachan.
"In some ways, it is very similar to the legends which we are familiar with." said Glynwon. "As you can see, it is essentially shapeless, and of course, we did discover it in the marshlands, where the Brollachan was supposed to have come from."
Rhiannon cut in at this point. "But there are some major differences. The legends state that the Brollachan could take the shape of whatever it sat upon, but we can plainly see that it attatches to the wall somehow. It doesn't seem possible for it to sit on anything..."
"And how expert are you on the specifics of my race?" the Brollachan interrupted from its position on the wall. "You have yet to see my other self."
"Other self?" asked Grimaldine. "Will you show us?"
The shapeshifter gave a fluidy grin. "You would not enjoy it. I never manifest my other self, except to attack...or feed."
Rhiannon pushed back her hair and nodded to the Brollachan. "And there's that. The Brollachan was only supposed to be able to speak two words - 'Myself' and 'Thyself'."
"Mortals have such a habit of creating ridiculous stories and details." the Brollachan remarked. "It is almost as annoying as your habit of talking about other creatures as if they were not there."
"Oh...we're sorry." Grimaldine apologised.
"No apology nessecary. As you say, it is human nature."
Grimaldine turned the strange spyglass over in his hands. This device was somehow supposed to gain him contact with Lord Fear, without having to confront him in person. He had seen the Black Tower of Goth, and had realised that anyone who could create such a place through Technomancy was someone to be reckoned with. He briefly wondered if it was drawing power for that operation that had lead to the destruction of a realm adjacent to Angar, a place that had once been called WitchHaven according to talk in a local tavern. Such things were irrelevant to Grimaldine's quest, however, and he returned his mind to the task of activating the spyglass.
The glass in the frame suddenly clouded over. A moment passed, and a face appeared. It wore a tight silver helmet, and had sliver-tinted skin, red around the eyes. Lord Fear did not look pleased to see his unwelcome caller.
"Who dares contact Lord Fear without his consent?"
Grimaldine clenched a fist. If there was one thing he couldn't stand, it was an inflated ego.
"Lord Fear, I am called Grimaldine, some..."
"Oh yes, I remember that name." Fear interrupted. "Raptor mentioned you. Something about one of my newer monsters, if I recall."
"The Brollachan is not one of your monsters. You abducted it from my world. I give you one chance to return it to us, or suffer the consequences."
Fear glared at him. The visual display on the spyglass was a bit distorted, as if Grimaldine were looking at Fear through a calm layer of water, but there was no mistaking the impatient look on Fear's face.
"Listen, old son, it's no good threatening me. We don't take kindly to outsiders poking into our affairs - leastways, I don't, and I'm the only one who counts!"
"If you do not return the Brollachan, I shall come to your palace in person and wreak revenge!" Grimaldine snapped. "I believe you have little experience of Green Magic. We shall change that!"
Grimaldine thought about his encounter with the mage named Hordriss a short time previously. Hordriss had underestimated Grimaldine's power, and had limped away much worse for the wear. Judging by Fear's mocking shake of the head, however, he either had not heard of Hordiss' experience or did not care."
"That's the trouble with you Druids and Celts." Fear sighed. "All oak trees and mumbo-jumbo. No technology at all. How are you going to get in, eh?"
Grimaldine was fast losing patience with Fear's disrespectful tone of voice. "A small problem. I shall merely capture one of your servants and...extract the knowledge."
It looked like Grimaldine had struck a nerve there, as Fear's expression changed quickly from irritation to cold anger.
"Then I look forward to our meeting." Fear snarled. "Dismissed!"
Fear waved a hand, and the connection was cut off. Grimaldine growled and threw the spyglass against a wall in anger. It seemed that he was going to have to go up against Fear in person after all. As his anger cooled, he turned to the problem of locating one of Lord Fear's servants. No doubt the Technomancer would be quick in withdrawing any minions that Grimaldine could make use of.
A thought occured to the Green wizard. Fear seemed obssessed with the Dungeoneers, doing anything to stop them. Perhaps Grimaldine could use a Dungeoneer to locate one of Fear's servants. Gathering some supplies, Grimaldine left his room to seek out one of the strange children.
"I undertsand the need to search the other dimension," Grimaldine protested. "But why have you chosen me? Surely..."
Lord Llwydd raised a hand. "Brother Grimaldine, you are perhaps the most powerful sorcerer in the Brotherhood, especially with regards to offensive and defensive magic, which could well be crucial to the success of the mission."
Grimaldine tried again. "My lord, I believe brother Glynwon would be better suited to the task. He has studied the anomaly, he knows more about this situation than anyone else..."
"Which is precisely why he can not be the one sent to the other realm. We will need brother Glynwon to send you to the other realm, and to bring you and the Brollachan back to us." Llwyd leaned forward. "Grimaldine, I do not want to send anyone to another dimension, believe me. But the Brollachan is a very powerful creature, and we know of no way to damage or restrain it if the need arises. If the one who took the Brollachan can gain control of it, the damage they could do to both their world and ours would be disasterous! Someone must retrieve the Brollachan, and you are quite simply the best wizard for the job."
Grimaldine sighed and hung his head. "As you wish."
"Tell me, where do I come from?"
"You come from Cornwall."
"I seek a place called WitchHaven. Why can I not find it?"
"Lord Fear has destroyed WitchHaven."
"What is Sylvester Hands' favourite drink?"
"Knowledge returned. So I will return."
The Brollachan retracted into the stone wall, leaving the Dungeoneer to navigate through Goth. The New Master had ordered it to destroy the intruder, and it should have been compelled to do so. Yet the Brollachan found itself continually sparing the Dungeoneers in exchange for knowledge to replace that which was taken from him.
The interrogation it had just completed with the last Dungeoneer, Julie, had been fruitful indeed. Finally, it knew the name of its home - Cornwall. It still had to find out where this place was, but that would be only a matter of time. Always assuming that it hadn't gone the same way as WitchHaven.
Seeping through the tiniest of cracks in the wall, the Brollachan considered the New Master. It seemed that the more it found out about Lord Fear, the more it desired to break his hold on it. The fact that Fear refused to provide any information on it was more than annoying, and there were virtually no people of any sort that it had encountered that thought too highly of the Technomancer.
While questioning Julie, the Brollachan had sensed something about her. A form of energy that seemed familiar somehow. It'd thought to question her about the sensation, but the feeling was so vague, it couldn't come up with the words to form the question. Strange, as the feeling had not been present the first time it had encountered her.
The Brollachan shook off the curiosity. Finding this Cornwall was important, and it doubted there was much time before Fear forced it to return to the task of seeking out and destroying Smirkenorf.
Grimaldine cautiously made his way through the Black Tower of Goth. He had been so close to victory. His ally Julie had held Fear in the Arken Shield, and then the Witch Queen Greystagg had appeared for vengeance against Fear. He'd had plenty of time to search the stronghold. His search had revealed that the Brollachan was not there. Soon after, hordes of goblins and Storm Geists had been released in the tower, and he'd retreated back to Angar.
Now he was making another attempt. Several of the more interesting characters had been flocking towards Goth these last few hours, and rumour had it that Fear had initiated some dangerous new project involving the Brollachan. Grimaldine had quickly returned to Goth, having to pause and work his way past a barrier of anti-magic. He'd looked for any potential allies who he had heard were in the sewers below the tower. He'd come across none of them.
"What the..?" Grimaldine gasped. A huge crash had just sounded a little distance away. Quickly, but cautiously, he made his way to the source of the sound. When he arrived, he could barely believe the sight before him.
Lord Fear, along with several of his minions, seemed to be trapped under a huge and very unconcious troll. He couldn't make out too many details because of the clouds of dust that were still settling, but he saw enough. Whatever project Fear had been undertaking had obviously backfired dramatically.
"Great Goblins!" Fear cried. "Is there no one left?!"
"I hunger..." a familiar voice said from beyond the dust cloud. "Now you will feed me with knowledge."
"The Brollachan..." whispered Grimaldine. He had never been this close to completing his quest.
"Oh no..." Fear moaned in despair. "Not that..."
"Tell me things." the Brollachan demanded. "Talk to me, I have so much to learn."
"Treguard!" Fear yelled to some unseen enemy. "Majida! Barry! I'll get you for this if it's the last thing I do!!" Fear's head went limp and thudded softly against the floor.
Grimaldine entered the chamber. The dust had settled, and he could clearly see the Brollachan looking back at him.
"These people here serve no purpose while they can not wake." the Brollachan said. "But you can still feed my hunger. And...I sense something about you. Something familiar."
"I am familiar to you because we have met before." Grimaldine replied. "I am Grimaldine. I was sent here to return you to your rightful place."
"My rightful place?" Brollachan repeated slowly. "You speak of the place named Cornwall?"
"That is correct."
"And you shall gift me with knowledge there?" There was more than a hint of hopefulness in the Brollachan's voice. "The knowledge which I lack so badly?"
"We shall indeed."
The Brollachan smiled for the first time in many weeks. "Then I shall follow."
The Brollachan's form shimmered and slid across the wall, following the Green Wizard as he left Goth and returned to Angar. And from there to Cornwall, and home.
Knightmare and all associated characters, etc., created and owned by Tim Child. And not by me!