Friday, January 30, 2009

"Spidorans Below" -- Part 1

I mentioned in last week's post that I was semi-disappointed by the last couple of posts I've made. This week I've decided to remedy that with Part 1 of a new Zalam short story.

Zalam, for those not with the knowledge, is an alien Sword & Sorcery character I've written about before. This is the first time he's ever appeared outside of If - E - Zine(tm), my ezine dedicated to science fiction, fantasy and horror. The first story appeared in Issue #3 in a short story entitled "The Last Stand of King Zalam". He then appeared in Issue #4 in the short story "Zalam of the Mountains" and then again in Issues #10-12 in the serialized story "Zalam in the Lost City of Adul-Ra".

Zalam is a derderoid -- an alien species living on the planet Protuculus. He was once king of all Protuculus, but was usurped by an invading human named Norikahn. Zalam escaped to the harsh wintry Argonian Mountains with the help of his wizardly friend Calibos the Mage. He struggled to survive within the climes of the mountain range and was found nearly frozen to death by servants of Rasiki-Ha -- ruler of the fabled city Adul-Ra. Plots were devised to torture and kill Zalam during his stay in Adul-Ra, but once more he escaped, this time with the aide of his new friend Olmec the Golem.

"Spidorans Below" picks up the story from there. As we join the story, Zalam and Olmec are descending the southernmost tip of the Argonians in flight from Adul-Ra. Unbeknownst to them, they are chased by Lizarus -- a lizardman and sworn enemy to all golems and to Zalam alike. As if this weren't enough troubles for our hero, gathering at the base of the mountains is Norikahn's army awaiting Zalam's arrival.

Will our hero escape certain death from either hand fate has dealt him?

Read on! And find out!


Moisture dripped from subterranean walls. Clicking, clattering sounds echoed throughout the cavern. Little light gave heed to size not grandeur of the earthen home. Chitterings followed. As did the shuffling of inhuman feet. A triumvirate of figures bathed in crimson, silken robes gathered round a tiny red orb set atop an ancient metal machine. The glow of the orb gave the cave its only illumination.

Each of the figures was small, yet stood as enlightened creatures. Theirs thousands of eyes each sparkled in the orb's glimmer. The faces were ghastly atrocities -- part metal and part meat. Massive mandible claws extended from lipless mouths dripping with saliva. Their robes bespoke of their six arms each. The topmost pair of arms were thin and ended in tiny hands with painfully long fingers. The other four arms had no hands, but rather a single piercing steel claw each. The robes covered the four legs each creature stood upon.

The three were ugly creatures. Each was organic. Each was inorganic. And when they spoke their mandible claws struck together lightly to add savage intonation, inflection and unnerving clacking.

*clack*clack* "Speak upon us the wisdom you have retrieved," said one creature named Aeroe.

*click*clack*click* "I've used our Seeing Orb to spy the Overworld. There is great unrest for those residing there," spoke Nauru.

*click* "What manner of unrest?" asked Enod.

*click* "The kingdom that has kept peace in the Overworld for generations has been usurped," explained Nauru. "The King of Protuculus has been replaced forcefully." *click*

*click*clack* "A war?" asked the Aeroe.

*click*click* "Not much of one," *clack*. "The king hardly stood his ground, though he remains alive and free. His army was outnumbered nine-to-one."

*clack* "Who ousted the king?"

*click* "A creature called human. His name his Norikahn."

*click* "Huuuman?" asked Enod. "What is this creature?" *clack*clack*

Nauru explained. *click* "Humans are from a world over the Overworld. Those of the Overworld call in Heavens, but the humans call it Outer Space." *clack*

*click*click*click* Enod's mandibles worked fiercely. "A world over the Overworld? This could change the perceptions of all our kind." *clack*click*

*click* "We have long known through our minimal contact with the allied Overworlders the belief is commonly held there is a world above the Overworld. There should be no surprise creatures live in this... this..." Nauru struggled for a name to this alien place. "This Outerworld." *click*

The three Spidorans mulled over matters in silence. At last, Enod -- forever the questioner - asked, *clack* "How would this usurpation affect us?"

*click* "It may not," answered Nauru. "But we may desire a hedge in our wages should matters come to directly affect us. And I fear they may." *click*

*clack* "Why would that be?" Aeroe this time was the questioner.

*click* "Because of this human and his army of metal men."

*clack*click* "Metal men?" exclaimed Enod. "Others like we?" *clack*clack*

*click* "No, no," said Nauru. "These men are completely metal and appear similar in form to the human. They have minimal linguistic skills and therefore must be assumed to be fairly stupid beasts. They are not enlightened creatures such as we." *clack*

*clack* "What of this human and its army?" asked Aeroe.

*clack* "It would appear he is bent upon a destiny of cleansing the world of all those who oppose. And those not of his kind are, if they do not willing give themselves over to be his servants, enslaved or murdered outright. It must be assumed the human would only do the same with us." *clack*

*click*click*click* "Who's to say he would discover us?"

*click* "He may not. But know this: he tortures those he enslaves and often for information about this world. We once more must assume he would do the same to the few allies we have in the Overworld and they would certainly speak of us in the fires of torture."

Again the three shared a silence.

*click*clack* "What must we do?" asked Enod.

Nauru took his time formulating an answer. *click* "As I see it," he said. "We either present ourselves to this human and offer ourselves as servants or we aide in any way the surviving king of Protuculus." *clack*

*click* "What matter does this ousted king have in this?"

*click* "It is thought as long as he's alive he threatens the authority of the human's throne. This is not unwise."

*click*click* "Then we must help the old king," said Aeroe.

*click* "His family once claimed a desire for peace amongst the world's many inhabitants. Though we do not live within the Overworld, we are a part of this world -- perhaps moreso than the rest. Ours is an ancient race, a good race filled with the passion of reason. But now is the hour we may need to take increased action to defend our lives, our way of living, our passion for reason. If not, we the eldest race of Protuculus may perish."

*click* "But this human's metal men," interjected Enod. "Think you he may have the wisdom of Fronithus?" *click*click*

Again Nauru took his time to answer. "Perhaps, but it is doubtful. Our Creator, insofar as we know, had no dealings with this Outerworld." *click*click*

*click* "Even so," said Enod, "perhaps this human knows the ways of similar alchemy that created us." *clack*click*

*click* "There are things we must assume and others we cannot," argued Nauru.

"Where is this old king?" *click* asked Aeroe.

*click*click* "He descends the southern Argonians as we speak."

*click* "We've an entrance there! We could meet with him directly!" exclaimed Aeroe.

Enod clacked nervously.

*click* "There is but one problem," said Nauru.

*click* "What problem is that?" asked Enod.

*click*clack*click* "The human's army gathers, also awaiting the old king so they may kill him or imprison him or both."

All three Spidorans clicked and clacked loudly, nervously.


Be sure to check back next week for Part 2!

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