The Unwanted, Part 2
by Edward Bolme
How did the Shadow Magi gather?  Read The Unwanted, Part 1
What else has been going on?  Read The Book of Ages, Issue 3

When Lanyx, Ashio, and Qwade arrived in the courtyard near the throne room, they found both Harror and Chur waiting for them.

"Good to see you all," said Harror.

"Or as Marella would say, 'Harror you doing?'" said Ashio.

The other four Shadow Magi looked at him blankly.

"Okay," said Ashio sheepishly. "I guess you had to be there."

"And Chur?" asked Qwade. "Are you well?"

"Sharp as flint," answered Chur, "and tough as a brick."

Ashio laughed out loud, unable to stifle his glee.

"What?!?" bellowed Lanyx and Chur simultaneously.

"Oh, nothing," said Ashio, biting his fist to try to stop laughing. "Nothing at all. Really."

"Quiet, all of you," said Harror authoritatively. "The winds have changed. First of all, Agram is nowhere to be found. When he was defeated, I felt this sudden tugging of the air. It's hard to explain to non-Arderians, but it was this abrupt shift of the air, like some of the atmosphere suddenly ceased to exist. I think that maybe the space around Agram reformed to pocket him away somewhere, leaving nothing in its place. Regardless, we can't reach him at the moment. Maybe we'll never be able to. That leaves the question of who will rule."

"That's an easy one," said Lanyx.

Harror ignored him and continued. "I was in the throne room when Zet claimed it for himself. I dodged outside, looking for support, although frankly, I wasn't entirely sure whether I was in favor of his move or against it. By the time I got back, the Dark Twins had squared off against Korg and Zet. It was ugly; I just stayed low, so they'd take it out on each other. In the end, Warrada blew Zet down the hall. They fled, leaving Hrada on the throne."

"Drove Zet away?" said Ashio incredulously. "Woah, that lady's been hiding her strength."

"Morag?" asked Qwade.

"He did not take a side in that battle," said Harror. "I'm not sure where he stands. Er, floats."

"And Nagsis?" asked Qwade.

"No idea," admitted Harror. "No one has seen him. He may be trapped with Agram, but I think that's a stretch. More likely he fled like the big coward he is, and won't come out until things have stabilized. Then he'll toady up to whomever is on the throne, just like before."

"Well, that seems fairly straightforward," said Lanyx. "All those arrogant 'pure ones' have been ushered out. Serves them right for trying to lord their 'purity' over us Shadow Magi. That leaves me on the throne to blaze the trail to glory and vengeance, though not necessarily in that order."

"I think that Hrada may have a different opinion about the throne, Lanyx," observed Chur wryly.

Lanyx waved his hand dismissively. "He knows who deserves to rule," said Lanyx. I just have to give him a graceful exit. I'll thank him for disposing of the pretenders and stewarding my throne, and reward him for his faithful service. Easy enough. Let's go."

Lanyx strode arrogantly for the throne room, the other Shadow Magi following uncertainly behind. As he entered the throne room, Lanyx saw Hrada sitting on the throne, running his hands across the polished armrests and whistling appreciatively. Warrada stood behind the throne, draping her arms across it and resting her chin on its carved back. Morag hovered thoughtfully to one side; it was apparent that the arrival of the band of Shadow Magi had interrupted a discussion of some sort.

"Well, then," proclaimed Lanyx, full of bluster and authority, "I see that everything is in order. Thank you, my good Hrada, for securing the throne and holding it in stewardship for my arrival. Everyone! A round of applause for our comrade!" Behind Lanyx, the others began a rather desultory clapping. "You may step down now, Hrada, and be certain that I shall reward you appropriately for your meritorious service to me."

Hrada placed his hands on the armrests to push himself up, but Warrada smoothly placed her hands on her brother's shoulders and held him in the seat. "Why, Lanyx, dear, I thought you had come to swear fealty to the new ruler of the Core. And yet you seek to unseat him? Dear me, that's not terribly polite. But I'm sure if you apologize, we can overlook your little mistake."

"Have Hrada upon the throne of the Core?" bellowed Lanyx. "Impossible!"

Warrada giggled menacingly. "You always said you didn't know the meaning of the word 'impossible,' dear Lanyx, and, since my brother is indeed on the throne, and will stay there, you have just proven your own silly claim."

"If you do not step down from my throne," snarled Lanyx through clenched teeth, "I will take it from you, and your reward will be fire instead of power!"

Hrada made an effort to rise again, but was held firmly in place.

"Impossible," mocked Warrada. "Tell me, emperor Lanyx, will any of your followers fight for your right to rule?"

"Not likely," said Qwade, scooting for the door.

"Come back here, Qwade," said Harror, following. She made a show of trying to stop Qwade, but was strangely unable to succeed.

"Of course they'll fight for me," roared Lanyx, not so much to intimidate the Dark Twins, but more to browbeat the two remaining Shadow Magi into staying.

Ashio backed up slowly, watching Chur. Chur stood her ground, then, thinking better of it, stood her ground rather behind Lanyx, so that he would take the brunt of whatever the Dark Twins threw at them. Seeing this, Ashio sidled toward the door. Then Chur, seeing that she would be fighting alone once Lanyx fell, made for the exit, too.

Lanyx looked at the Dark Twins, then at Morag, then at the otherwise empty throne room.

He raised one finger. "Hang on for a moment," he said.

"Take all the time you need," purred Warrada. "We're not leaving."

Lanyx stepped through the doorway to fume at the other Shadow Magi, who had all taken care to get out of direct line of sight of the throne. "What is wrong with you cowards?" he hissed.

"Nothing at all," said Harror reasonably. "At the moment, we're all rather quite healthy."

"I'm not," whined Qwade.

"Are we going to let those arrogant Naroom clowns take my throne?"


"We are five to their two," hissed Lanyx. "Five to three if Morag fights for them, which I doubt he will. We can easily destroy them."

"Yeah, probably, we could," said Harror, looking at the other three.

"Then let's destroy them!"

Silence again met Lanyx's words.

"Right. We're agreed," said Lanyx confidently. "Let's go."

"You go first," said Ashio.

"Yeah," added Qwade. "You think I'm always saying 'me first,' well now I'm saying 'you first.' So you first!"

"Fine, you cowards!" snarled Lanyx. "Follow me!" He strode into the throne room, bellowing a challenge. "Hrada! Prepare to meet--"

There was a sudden massive blast of energy flaring past the door frame, and Lanyx flew back out of the throne room past the other four Shadow Magi, bouncing several times down the hallway to land in a heap against the wall. His head fell to the floor with a klok! sound.

Ashio couldn't control it any longer; he started to laugh uproariously, helplessly holding his sides as he sank to the floor.

The other Shadow Magi stared at Lanyx, then at Ashio, then back at Lanyx.

"You heard what he said," said Chur over Ashio's laughter. "Follow him!"

"Okay," said Qwade, and rapidly retreated down the hall, away from the throne room. "Here I am, boss," he said to the unconscious Lanyx. "I'll just go this way, okay?" And he moved on out of sight.

Harror and Chur stared at each other across the hall for a while, each trying to will the other to go into the throne room first. Neither did.

"Oh, well," said Chur at last. "I wasn't going to get the throne, anyway."

Harror nodded, and they went down the hall, passed Lanyx, and followed Qwade.

Ashio brought up the rear, laughing so hard he had to crawl down the hallway. He paused when he got to Lanyx, he paused, raised Lanyx's head about an inch off the floor, and let it drop. Klok!

The jolt brought Lanyx to a groggy consciousness. "Whaaaaat?" he blearily asked as he saw Ashio looming over him, laughing. Ashio declined to comment but began to follow the other three.

And so the last two Shadow Magi crawled away, one laughing and one groaning.


What happens to Korg and Zet? Read King Korg, Part 1
What happens to the Dark Twins? Read The Battle of Naroom, Part 1
What happens next? Read Part 3 "A Hole Lot"

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