The dark chambers of the Master brightened to a dull blue
glow as a moongate shimmered into existence on the far side
of the room. The outline of a figure in an enshrouding pitch-black
cloak turned to watch one of the controllers stumble through
the gate, clutching his leg through the tatters of his arcane
“Report, Phoseph,” the voice of the master rasped from the
shadowed corners of the room.
Phoseph struggled to remain standing as he wiped the encrusted
blood from his hands on the frayed edges of his cloak. “We
found a tunnel, Master. It must be where the outsiders are
From the moongate, the heavy sound of a golem’s footsteps
echoed and creaked like a cart of ore falling over. As it
emerged from the moongate, it walked with a strange stumble,
pausing between each step. Gears and rods could be seen turning
under the ripped outer shell of the clockwork creature like
muscles under torn flesh. In its massive arms it held a dead
gargoyle, which it tossed to the floor with a careless thud.
The moongate dissipated and vanished.
The dark cloaked stranger stepped forward and silently contemplated
the corpse. “The renegades.”
“A patrol went through the area of the tunnel before it was
finished and captured a group of the renegades there. We believe
this one stayed hidden until they left, then continued the
work on his own.” Phoseph grimaced at the stabbing pain in
his leg. He could see his blood pooling on the floor around
his foot, but continued with his report. “When we discovered
his body, a group of the outsiders surprised us and attacked.
The others in my party were killed and their golems were destroyed.
This one will have to be repaired.”
As if in reply, a rapid ticking noise started echoing from
the golem, growing louder and louder until it was almost deafening.
It stopped suddenly, and the mechanical behemoth fell forward
at the waist and crashed to the floor like a pile of pots
and pans. The head rolled across the cold stone and stopped
beside Phoseph. “We can use this one for parts, my Lord.”
The figure examined the remains of the golem for a few moments.
Its armor looked as though it had been slashed by thousands
of cuts. “Blade spirits.”
Phoseph nodded. “The outsiders know how to cast them. With
our current construction plans, the golems’ armor can’t take
the assault for long.”
“Unacceptable.” The cloaked one boomed. “If the golems cannot
withstand a common blade spirit, they will be worthless in
defending the city. I know the outsiders; they will send more
mages as word of this weakness spreads. If the city is left
undefended, we will lose more workers. Begin adapting the
Phoseph bowed his head and spoke slowly. “My Lord, forgive
me, I do not wish to question your wisdom, but… I believe
if we use more of our supplies to enhance the golems, we will
not have enough left to construct a defense force for the
city. The enslaved gargoyles grow fewer in number with each
outsider attack. Without them we will not be able to gather
enough raw materials to continue construction.”
“Do as he has ordered, Phoseph.” The voice of the Master rasped
from the darkest shadows of the chamber as the tiny lights
around the room glowed briefly. “Use what materials are needed
and enhance the golems to dispel summoned creatures. We have
other ways of defending the city.”
The dark figure turned towards the voice. “What do you propose?”
“Phoseph, you are to gather one group of the workers and take
them to the small chambers in the production center. Remove
“Master? Remove their chains?” Phoseph stumbled and gasped
in pain before regaining his composure. He did his best to
ignore the pain in his leg but knew that if he kept bleeding
much longer he would likely pass out. “The chains block their
use of magic, Master; you told us they were never to be removed,
and to kill on sight any worker not in chains to be safe.”
“The workers will need to use magic to defend the city, Phoseph,”
the Master droned.
The cloaked form slowly spoke as he silently paced the room.
“It is risky, but that could be quite effective against the
“The workers?” Phoseph spoke in shock as he slipped in the
small puddle of blood around his foot, almost losing his balance.
“They are not strong enough to hold back the outsiders, Master,
even with their spells.”
The dark figure flew across the room towards Phoseph and an
arm shot out, backhanding the controller to the floor. Through
the lights dancing across his vision, he could see his Lord
standing above him in stillness. “You have offered enough
of your opinion, Phoseph. I would suggest you offer no more.”
Phoseph noticed the drops of crimson on the cloaked one’s
hand and could feel a trickle of warm blood running down his
chin from the blow.
“Go now,” said the cloaked figure. “Prepare the workers so
that the city will be defended.” The figure began to turn
towards the Master’s voice again but stopped for a brief moment,
glimpsing at the blood on its hand in amusement. “And, Phoseph,
have your wounds tended to. You seem to be bleeding.”
“Yes, my Lord.” Phoseph said through clenched teeth. He stumbled
his way out of the chamber, leaving lone footprints of blood
As soon as he was gone, the figure in the black cloak spoke
again. “Are you sure this is wise, enhancing the gargoyle
workers? Giving them so much power could be dangerous. They
are so weak right now they may not survive the procedure.”
“We can afford to lose some to experimentation. Those that
die during the procedure will provide valuable information.
Although I think you would agree that the process has reached
near perfection.” The sounds of clicks and whirring increased
for a moment.
The dark figure stood, unmoving. “Indeed.”
The Master continued. “Enhancing the gargoyles will make them
powerful enough to deal with the humans in the city. So long
as our chambers are not discovered, my control of their minds
will remain absolute. Adapting the golems will make the attacks
on Britannia more effective. Victory is still probable.”
“That may be,” said the figure, his cloak flowing around him
as he turned, “but I will not be satisfied until it is absolute.”
From the Britannia News Network - The Journal of Ultima
Online, October 11th, 2001.