The Quest for the Sword of Justice! Part Five: Zeltar the Wretched

This is my NaNoWriMo project for 2016! New updates daily, and a “book” when it is all finished! Don’t worry if this isn’t your thing, I’m still posting tech/music stuff too. :) Got one coming up later today in fact!

Read Other Parts Here!

There. I think that’s just about every character I need you to know about for the story to keep going. No wait! I forgot to introduce the proper antagonist! It’s hard to remember this, I haven’t touched this stuff since college and —

“Mom? What’s an antagonist again? I think I saw that word in my English class.”

Hmm? Oh you know sweetheart. Like…a villain! An antagonist is a villain. A villain is a bad guy. Person. A bad person. Not always a guy. They cause challenges for our heroes, which they have to try and overcome.

“But, what actually makes a person bad?”

That questions is far too big for the scope of this weird story.

“Megan told me her mom is mad about the other night when you told us about the bar fight. She says her mom thought it sounded too violent.”

Megan told her mom about the story? Hah! Well, I hope she enjoyed it. I admit it was a little bit over the top compared to the beginning, but you girls are 12 now. I thought you’d enjoy the excitement.

“Oh, I totally did. Please keep going!”

Very well then. Let’s see…

***

The King spent the rest of the day barking orders at the “map artisans,” as he called them, until he was finally satisfied that they would create a proper-looking field to replace the scorched patch. Several of his subjects came to make requests, but he turned them all away to focus on the map.

Exhausted, the King stumbled into his private chambers and locked the door behind himself. He walked over to a small glass tank at the far side of the room, reached in, and tapped his pet turtle on the head. The turtle smiled. He put his crown on the table next to the turtle’s tank, and flopped onto the bed. He rubbed his face.

“I don’t know, Jeff, maybe this whole map thing wasn’t a good idea for your legacy.”

***

“Who’s Jeff?”

The King. The King’s name is Jeff.

“The King’s name is Jeff?”

Yes, the King’s name is Jeff.

“Oh come on mom, that’s ridiculous! Hahaha!”

I don’t see what’s wrong with it! Jeff is a perfectly fine name for a person.

“Maybe for some dude who lives now, but not in the time of the story!”

I never told you what year the story takes place in.

“…I guess that’s true, but it’s Fantasy. Those stories always have medieval knights and dragons and stuff, and names that aren’t Jeff!”

I think it’s a perfectly fine name. If you want to hear the rest of the story, you’ll just have to deal with it. And don’t roll your eyes at me!”

“Oh fine! What’s the turtle’s name?”

Jeff.

“Mom. Now you’re just messing with me.”

The King is egotistical. So of course he would name the turtle after himself. Now, if you keep asking me about these little details, we’ll never finish! You haven’t even met the villain yet.

“You mean it’s not the King? Or the turtle?”

It’s not the King. And it’s certainly not the turtle. Jeff is not a suitable name for a fantasy villain, after all.

“I guess I agree with you there.”

***

King Jeff continued to lie on his bed, staring at the ceiling. Fear started to build in his stomach. This was always the time when he heard from the voice. It had been a year now. Each night, and sometimes during the day, Jeff would hear from him. Sometimes he’d even see him. Jeff tried to stop himself from thinking too much about it, but he couldn’t. The voice was very persuasive. It seemed to be able to control Jeff’s thoughts and deeds.

The armoire in the corner began to shudder with loud vibrations. Jeff screeched and hopped up off the bed. He ran over to the armoire and hit it firmly with his right fist. It continued to rumble.

“HOW DARE YOU STRIKE ME!” shouted the armoire.

“Oh god, the closet is talking,” said King Jeff. “This is new!”

The rattling wooden doors burst open. All of King Jeff’s clothes were gone, replaced by the black void of space. The King peered into the armoire.

“That’s strange. I don’t remember putting the sky in there!,” said the King. The low rumbling stopped, replaced by a serene and eerie music. A bright flash of light flew out of the armoire, and the King jumped back a little. And there it was: the floating, disembodied head that went along with the voice from the ceiling.

It was Zeltar The Wretched.

***

“The bad guy is a floating head in a closet? How does he do stuff?”

He uses his imposing magical powers to command powerful people, like the King.

“Yeah but like, what if he has an itch?”

Well. Then it just sucks for him I guess.

“Is he always in the King’s closet? The King seemed surprised.”

No, he can appear anywhere he wants to. I assume he chose the closet and the space background for dramatic effect.

“You don’t know? Isn’t this your story mom?”

The story doesn’t always tell me its secrets.

***

“Well, Zeltar the Wretched, we meet again! I admit, I didn’t expect to see your horrifying visage inside my closet.”

“Hello, King Jeff. I see that you have wasted another day on that infernal map of yours.”

The King raised an eyebrow. “I’m confused, Zeltar, I thought you said we needed the map to build an army? That it would be helpful?”

The floating head of Zeltar the Wretched frowned. His skin was pale white, and featureless. It was as if he had never aged a day, yet he clearly had the look of an older adult man. “It will be helpful, but we need to hurry up. I’ve been stuck in this place for thousands of years. I don’t intend to wait much longer.”

“The way I see it,” said the King, “you don’t have much of a choice.”

Zeltar let out a screaming howl, knocking the King back onto the bed. “Do not underestimate me, King Jeff,” said Zeltar. “My name is ‘the Wretched’ for a reason. If you press me, I will find a better vassal, and we will crush your kingdom without a second thought.”

The King stood up and straightened his tunic. He gave a small bow of apology. “You’re right my Lord. Fear not, I still believe in the mission.”

“Good,” said Zeltar. “Have you found the key your father hid from you yet?”

“Sadly, no, he must have hidden it very well.”

Zeltar frowned. “We need all nine keys if we are to unlock this prison. That’s the whole goal here, remember? One key from each of the eight kingdoms on this island, and the ninth — “

“Island?” asked King Jeff.

“Yes. Your Kingdom is on an island. As are the other seven.”

“Is it?” The King scratched his head. “I had no idea.”

“You created an elaborate map of the island you’re on, and you didn’t know it was an island?” Zeltar had a look of disbelief.

“It’s more a question of trust,” said the King. “I’ve never seen the seas myself, I relied on explorers to go out there and draw them.” The King stamped his left foot. “I never trust anything unless I’ve seen it myself. That’s the way my father taught me, and that’s the way I live.”

“I’d be careful listening to your father’s lessons,” said Zeltar. “After all, it was he who hid the key to my ancient prison from you. The other leaders wear theirs openly, from what I can tell. Some of them don’t even know what power their piece of jewelry holds!”

The King grimaced. “Do not insult my father Zeltar. You may be wretched, but my father was wise. For instance, if someone told me that there was an ancient evil space wizard imprisoned in an ancient prison that was unlocked by nine sacred keys held by the leaders of the realms, I wouldn’t have believed them. But once I saw you with my own eyes, I knew it to be true.”

“As I’ve told you before,” said Zeltar, “the ninth key is in the hands of Osiris. She is a dangerous, powerful, legendary adversary of mine. She will stop at nothing to prevent me from escaping this place. She’s probably gathering heroes at this very moment to thwart our plans. Getting that key off her neck will be the hardest chore that faces us, easily…unless we can’t find where your father hid his. Have every corner of the castle searched — ”

A loud thump sounded on the roof. The timbers of the ceiling came crashing into the room, mere feet from the King. The Wizard and Osiris fell in a heap on the floor, and quickly scrambled to stand up.

Osiris took stock of the situation. “A King, a Turtle, and…Zeltar the Wretched in an armoire. I may have slightly miscalculated our landing spot.”

“Who is Zeltar the Wretched?” asked the Wizard.

“I prefer the term closet, myself,” said The King.

“You fool!,” shouted Zeltar. “Don’t talk to her about closets! That’s Osiris, my sworn enemy! Take her key!”

“There’s a floating head thing in that closet!,” shouted The Wizard.

With a flick of her wrist, Osiris shot a plume of flame out of her left hand, setting the armoire on fire. The doors closed quickly, and Zeltar let out a yell of anguish. She looked at the King’s neck, and frowned. “He’s not wearing it. It must be somewhere else. We need to get out of here before Zeltar comes back.”

The Wizard, as if he didn’t hear what Osiris just said, gave the King a bow with an elaborate flourish. “Hello my liege, allow me to introduce myself! I am the Royal Wizard of the Royal Court of Whimseria.”

Not really knowing what to do, and not wanting to upset his evil space wizard master, King Jeff did the only thing he could think of: he shouted “Guards!”

“Well!,” said the Wizard, with a look of indignation, “I’ve never received such a rude reply to my greeting.”

Osiris grabbed the Wizard’s hand. “We’re getting out of here now.” She went sprinting into the hallway.

“This is exciting!,” shouted the Wizard. “Where are we running to?”

“That window,” said Osiris. She used her free hand to shatter a nearby window with another burst of magical flames. “Hold on tight!” She leapt through the window. She and the Wizard went sailing gracefully out the window, flew over the city wall, and landed in the field outside. “It should take them a while to find us.”

“My lady,” said the Wizard, “Your skills of flight are most impeccable and impressive! I know that this may be a bad time to ask, but I belong to a group known as WOOL, the Wizards of Our Lady. Of late, we find ourselves in search of a new lady to devote ourselves to, and I was wondering if — “

“You’re talking again Wizard,” said Osiris. “We need to find somewhere to lie low so the guards don’t find us. And I need to rest.” Osiris spotted the night torches of Hillsvale in the distance. “What about that little village down there?”

“Sounds good to me, my lady!” He held tight to her hand.

“Sorry, we’re going to have to run this time, I can only fly for so long.”

The Wizard frowned. “Normally, we Wizards hate to run, but seeing as you are the new applicant for the Lady that WOOL will devote itself to, I shall make a one-time exception.”

Osiris and the Wizard ran across the plains, towards the village of Hillsvale.

Written by

I do radio voice work by day, and write by day and night. I studied film and production. I love audio, design, and music. Also video games.

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