The Phoenix Arises

The icy wind scourges the frost-blasted wasteland of Ultima Thule. In a rime-coated hall, KING JAMES gazes moodily into a pewter cup of mulled wine. Hair long and streaked with threads of silver, naked as the day he was born, his once ponderous bulk emaciated and scarred by the depredations of the long years. Once this hall held the revels of the greatest warriors of the OSR. Now it is all but empty. The jewel studded goblets have been sold to purchase fire-wood to last the winter. The warriors march under other banners now.
The silence is riven by the clangor of great brass doors opening.
Entering the hall and bringing with him the strength-sapping cold and snow is LORD KELVIN. Once a humble retainer, now he is one of two Great Captains, and he is said to be able to fell a man using only his puns. His shield is cracked and splintered, his head is bound with linen cloth and he trails a path of bent rings as well as blood droplets onto the floors of dusty marble, but his gaze has hardened in the many fights.
“Morklings!” he cries, still panting from the desperate flight. “They came upon us in great droves. They have crossed through Idiotland and taken Rumpeland and Homofilbjǫð. They were without number. We fought bravely but could not hold them.”
“How could this be?” asks King James, but there is confusion in his voice, not royal anger. “Idiotland is a maze of icy crags. No man can ford it without a local guide.”
“Stuart Buck-tooth taught them the Common tongue!” curses LORD MAYO THE DISCLAIMER, emptying another skin of wine, his bulging stomach poking out from under his coat of well-oiled mail [1]. He has joined the vanguard only recently, but his sword has claimed the heads of many foes. “They can spread all over the OSR.”
Lord Kelvin sits down on the near empty bench and accepts a cup of wine with gratitude. “We need a Champion my Lord. Lord Mayo and I are not enough to hold them. We have fighting men but none valiant enough to lead them to victory.”
“Had Stuart buck-tooth not left…” King James mutters, pacing around the frozen hall in confused state, his naked feet freezing on the dirty marble, his droopy eyes looking over the banners and weapons of his old campaigns.
“Is there no one else?” he roars, his voice echoing in the still air. What few retainers sit at his tables cannot meet his eyes.
“IS THERE NO ONE ELSE?” he bellows again.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT? GOLD?” He grabs a handful of bracelets and rings from a near empty coffer that was once overflowing. “YOU CAN HAVE GOLD.” He casts it across the hall where it rings and clatters. None reach to grab it. The clattering subsides, replaced only by his panting. “No one?” he asks.
He sits down on his throne of Iron.
“Once I was a King of the OSR…” he sobs, before composing himself. His next utterance is manful, invested with Royal Decree.
“We must consult the Zakwell.”
Lord Kelvin and Lord Mayo eye eachother warily.

***

On the farthest peak, the very centre of the Land of Eternal Ice, lies the Cavern of the Zakwell. Shuddering with the utter-cold, their breath turning to fog, the three lords stand before the gaping mouth in the black ice. Icicles like fangs protrude from its ceiling. Within stands a cowled figure, beckoning them egress.
“Lord Rients!” says Alex Mayo, but King James holds him back and shakes his head wearily. It is true. The creature before them was once the Lord Rients, a venerable warrior, crafty in the ways of old. Now he is but a wraith, shriveled and blackened, his non-being wholly beholden to a greater power. A creature of the Well.
“Come. The Well awaits thee,” grates the creature. The three lords step into the icy maw, and go to traffic with Things Best Left Dead.
Braziers of monstrous aspect, twisted and blistered with exposure to centuries of evil, light up with emerald witchfire as the lords enter the cavernous vault and face the emptiness it houses.
“The Well is considered the wisest by all philosophers, judges and poets in the land,” croons the Reints-thing fondly.  “Only liars hate its council. Do you seek a Fact-Checking?”
The two lords hesitates but King James presses on. “Yes!”
The Rients-thing produces a scroll of black vellum. “Sign this affidavit and cast it into the Well. Only those that surrender legally unto it will receive its wisdom.”
“Lord I think this foolish,” begins Lord Kelvin.
“Morklings cavort in our halls, sporting with our women who are actually men, devouring our offspring!” snarls King James, naked underneath the hide of a great white bear, “It served me once and it will do so again!” He signs the affidavit in his own blood and casts it into the pit. The Rients-thing titters madly.
The cavern trembles with awakened power. Lord Mayo and Lord Kelvin huddle close to King James as debris and chunks of ice falls among them. King James is unmoved, staring into the abyss.
“Zakwell. You have served me once. Give me your council!”
A voice like a hurricane thunders through the cavern.
“LIIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR” it roars. The two lords clench their ears and hunch under its fury.
“LIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR.”
The roar echoes through the caverns.
“YOOOOOOUUUUU’VVVVEEEE REPEATEDLY CLAIMED I DID SOMETHING WRONG AND REPEATEDLY DODGED ANY REQUEST FOR PROOOOOOOOOF”
King James attempts to speak but there is no interrupting the Well. Once the Fact-checking had begun, no earthly power could halt it.
“Great Zakwell, Morklings are-“
“IIIIII HAVEN’T MADE A STATEMENT ABOUT “WHAT YOU SAID” I MADE A STATEMENT ABOUT WHAT YOU APPEARED TO BE SAAAAAAYYYYYING.”
“Yes Great Well but-“
“ITTTT’’SSSS IMPORTANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING EVEN WHEN ITTTTTTS UNPOPULAR. IIIIIFFFFF YOU’RE NICE TO BAD ACTORS THEN THAT’S BAAAAAAAAD,” moans the Well.
“LLLIIIIIIKKKKEE: YOOOOOOUUUUUU SPREADING MISINFORMATION DOESN’T CHANGE MY HEEAAAARRRRRTBEEEAAAAAAT. THIS IIIIIIISSSSSSS THE JOOOOOOOOB. THIIIIISSSSS IISSSSS MY LIFFFEEEE NOW. DOCUMENTING THE HARAAAASSSSSSMMEEEEEEEENT, FACT-CHEEEEECKING THE PEOPLE LLYYYYYYYYING.”
“I understand that but-“
“SSOOOOOOOO IIIIFFFFFFFF YOOOOOUUUUUU LIIIIEEEEE, I HAVE TO SAY YOU ARE LYYYYYYYYIIIIIING.”
King James with no other recourse, awaits the Well’s beneficence.
“LOOOOTTTSSS OF GAMERS ARE AGAINST ME BUT NOT THAT MANY OTHER PEEEEEEEEOOOOPLE, BECAUSE A CERTAIN KIND OF CASUAL MALIGNENCE IS ENCOURAAAAAAAAGED IN ONLIIIIIIIIIINE GAMER SPAACES THAT ISN’T THE NORM EEEEEEEELLLLLLSSSSEEEEWHEEEEEERRREEE.”
A noxious, sour stench, as of stale bread or an old spinster long past breeding age, begins to fill the cavern as the Power of the Well is now fully invoked.
“HOWEVER: YOOOOUUU’VE BEEN ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR CLAIMS AND FAILED TO ANSWER THEM, AND YOU DEFENDING LLYYYYYYYYING ABOUT PEOPLE ON THE GROUNDS ITS GOOD THERAPY FOR THE LIIIAAAAAAAAAAR. THAT MEANS YOU’RE NO BETTER THEN THEM—REGARDLESS OF WHICH SIDE YOOOOOOOUUUUUU’RE ON!”
The Rients-thing howls and titters madly as black ichor seeps from his wounds. Many times has he bore witness to the utterances of the Well, and its power has transfigured him.
“Behold the infinite wisdom of the well!” he cackles.
“THAAAAAAAT ISN’T ANYWHERE IN THAT QUOOOOTE. MIKE SAID HE “RECOMMENDED” YOOOOOOU NOT TO SIGN THEM UNLES YOU’VE TALKED TO A LAWYER AND UNDERSTAND IT ET CETERA (THE SCOPE IS LIMITED TO AFFIDAVITS AND CONTRACTS NOT “ANY LEGAL PAAAAAAPERS.”
Lord Mayo whispers in King James’s ears. “The Well is not as it once was. This is futile. We must retreat. The Lord Kelvin has passed out under the strain of hearing it.”
King James nods and is about to say his goodbyes but Lord Mayo stops him.
“Say not a word to the Well. It must always have the last word, or else the Fact-Checking is disrupted and its ire is turned against the interruptor.”
Saying not another word, the King James storms off, Lord Mayo carrying the unconscious Lord Kelvin on his shoulders. Behind him, the ouroboros continues to devour its own tail.
“YOOOOOOOUUUUUU SHOULD BOTH TALK TO A THERAPIST ABOUT YOUR DESIRE TO LIE AND DISTORT INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET AND IF YOU UNDERSTAND THE RIIIIISSSKS, UNDERGOOOOOO TREATMEEEEEEENT.”
It is hours since they have departed from the Cave of the Zakwell, and its dolorous howls of “I’m JUST HERE TO FAAAAAAAAACT-CHECK” have long since faded to an inaudible murmuring.
“The Well offers no recourse, if ever it did. There are no Facts left to be checked. We must forge our own path,” muses King James, stroking his chin, the embarrassing memory of the Well long behind him. “But who will be our champion? Who will lead the men?”

***

The sun rises in Homofilbjǫð. Framed in the gold of the rising sun, a lone sail is visible from its green shores. On the shore lies a great Hall, now defiled with excrement, spilled black seed and the banners of the Mörklings. Drowsily and without fear, a Morkling, sharp face drawn in a rictus of dull curiosity, stumbles towards the shore, clutching a polearm dulled from plumbing too many orifices.  
The ship approaches but its occupants cannot be made out.
“Hvem går dit?” it asks.
“Mord!” is the cold reply, and a cast axe caves in its ribcage. Armored in pelts and scavenged mail, ferocious like wolves, Lotfpmen leap over the side, axes and spears and swords drawn. Leading them are Lord Kelvin & Lord Mayo, resplendent in newly forged Chain, and in their midst, a warrior in golden armor, with a great horned helm and blazing sword.
Spotting the death of the lone sentry, a Morkling grabs a great brazen trumpet shaped like a horse’s phallus, and blows it. To the sound of its droning roar, the Lotfpmen breach the inner walls, slaying Morklings where they lie sprawled naked in heaps, or cut them down as they savor their morning vapes.
From the sauna and the shed near the great hall, a screeching horde of Morklings, oiled for war, emerges fully erect, clutching blade and club, and crashed into the Lotfpmen. Spears shatter, shields groan and blades bend under their battlecries of ‘Jeg er Homo!’ and “Flyktninger velkommen!” and from the Lotfpmen “Koska vittu siksi!
Kelvin Green casts his spear, and two of the Morklings are nailed to the wall. He rushes from the protection of the shieldwall, hewing and hammering into their ranks, driving back the Morklings, leaving broken forms sprawled behind him. Alex Mayo wraps his arms around his bulging stomach, forming a great mailed boulder of flesh, and his men roll him into the Morklings, crushing them beneath his ponderous bulk until they are but a smeared paste of black ichor and red blood. Soon Morkling arrows begin to fall amid the fighting Lotfpmen. Some of them are wounded, and a scattered few are cut down, but most fight on, possessed by the invincible fighting fury of their commander in gold, whose blows cleave Morkling shields and split Morkling helmets.
Kelvin Green, covered in pink and magenta blood, is struck in the chest, knocked to his knees, mail ringing with the force of the blow. He looks up to see a great Morkling, its pale flesh painted with pink bones and skull-shaped ukranian flags, raise its crude hatchet. Without breaking stride, the Golden warrior rushes past the creature, and bisects its spine, to send it howling into Mork Borg hell. Kelvin Green weeps only a tear of gratitude and returns to the fray, laughing with bloodlust, his puns scything through the enemy ranks like scythes. Morklings fall in their hundreds, and soon the field is won.
The commander of the Morklings, a creature said to have felt the licentious touch of Pelle Nilson himself, flees into the great hall, its pale claws clutching an ugly wound across its belly. “I’m not räcist,” it pants in the common tongue. “It is not good to be räcist.” It searches in vain for a weapon forged by Morklings that can stand against such righteous hate.
A shadow blots out the golden light of sun.
The creature looks up to behold a warrior garbed in golden mail, wielding a blade, newly forged and impregnated with the light of the dawn.
“I do not know you warrior,” it snarls, now resigned to its death. It’s beady eyes make out the runes Just Another Stupid Dungeon on his well-made sword. His shieldrim of red gold is inscribed with the legenda Curse of the Daughterbrides. He notices also that underneath his golden mail, the warrior is naked.
The warrior speaks.
“I am King James Edward Raggi IV of the OSR. These are my ancestral lands, Morkling, that I shall reclaim by mine own hand. And thou art trespassing.”
The Morkling begins to answer, but the blade splits his skull. The last thing it hears are the victorious cries of the Lotfpmen, the croaking of the ravens and the dying howls of its kin.  


[1] Having no knowledge of Alex Mayo, the poet had to differentiate him from the lanky up-and-coming Lord Kelvin, and decided to make him very fat


13 thoughts on “The Phoenix Arises

    1. Terror in the Streets and Strict Time Records Must be Kept are good (although the nature of the victims in the former leaves a sour taste for me). And if the King could do previews that actually described some features of the product, whilst wearing some clothes, who knows how high they might fly.

      Like

  1. I’m a vegan and a bit of a cycling junkie, so ‘fat’ is probably pushing it…although I suspect I still have a few pounds on Kelvin – even after losing a few after a bout with Covid last month.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My thanks for correcting the only factual inaccuracies in this otherwise perfectly accurate tale, though in my defence I did denote the areas of poetic licentiousness 😛

      I imagine this is like an extremely retarded form of patronage, so I salute you for rolling with the punches. I hope the Covid has left you untouched. Your main weakness I can see currently is an inability to filter out superfluous detail, but I have not read your newest batch so perhaps you have improved since. Give them hell!

      Liked by 1 person

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