Lightning crashed around the central tower of the Stone Keep of Nyranz, viciously lashing out at the very air itself as if the mighty gods of the Heavens and the Earth were at war. The lightning slashed again illuminating the scene that was both unholy, yet confusing. Set on a roughly-hewn stone slab of what looked like unpolished marble, sat a jumble of metal and mechanical parts that appeared to be anthropomorphic in shape.
Yet another flash and in that brief moment of illumination, a hunched, hooded figure become visible, meticulously but rapidly working over the pile of junk and metal. A deep red mask covered half his face, with a permanent frown etched into it, creating a look of deformity and insanity. This was the Tinkerer, ancient custodian of the Stone Keep. Droplets of green liquid began to pelt down on that single tower of the Stone Keep: acid that burned the skin and blinded the eyes. But that didn’t bother the Tinkerer, who worked tirelessly without seeming to notice the deadly liquid that carved grooves into his skin.
Metal was bonded to metal. Bolts were screwed in and hinges fitted, until at last the hunched figure stood, examining his creation all the while the raging elements battled on around him. The Tinkerer studied his creation carefully and then took out a single red gem, that reflected every facet of the tempestuous storm. Fitting it into a bright yellow crown, he placed it onto his masterwork. In the blink of an eye, the gem flashed, as quick as the fingers of a Tyrani pickpocket but brighter than the Seventh Star. The red-masked figure stopped and waited, focusing on the jumbled pile of human-shaped metal pieces being lashed by the maelstrom. An eternity passed, then a second one, but in truth, it was most likely only a few seconds, but with a groan, the jumbled pile came alive. The pieces began to quiver and shake with a violence that caused the entire Stone Keep to rumble in response.
Fearing for his life, the Tinkerer backed away to the very edge of the tower, so close to the edge he could almost feel the nothingness that awaited him. As the rumbling got worse and worse, the masked man could see bits and pieces of his beloved keep falling to pieces around him. Surrounded by a crumbling ruin, he ran over to the pile of metal, to put a stop to it and remove the crystal that was set into the crown…that’s when its eyes opened.
Letting out a screech the masked man backed away from the source of his unrelenting labours. The glow of the orange eyes followed him no matter how far he retreated, until he stood on the very edge once again, wind howling around him and the crackle of the lightning making his hair stand on end. It would have been comedic if not for the horror that filled him. His creation swung his legs off the marble slab and surveyed his new form with an air of child-like curiosity. “Who am I?” he stated with finality, using a voice that was decidedly metallic and imposing, yet oddly jovial. “You are Bomb King and you will LISTEN TO ME”, stated the Tinkerer with more confidence than he felt, despite his cracking voice. Bomb King flexed his newly formed arms and admired the admittedly remarkable workmanship despite the crude iron utilised. Bending his hand back Bomb King noticed a panel slide open on his arm, revealing a smooth ball with a short fuse attached.
Made of iron like the rest of him, Bomb King put two and two together, “This will not do”, he muttered to the Tinkerer, who replied with a growing bravado, “I created you, you are MINE”. Annoyance flashed across the face of the Bomb King who, picking out one of the polished orbs, rolled it towards the Tinkerer. The Tinkerer began to rush towards Bomb King in order to tear out the glittering gem set in the Crown. “BEGONE” shouted Bomb King, pushing the Tinkerer back towards the polished iron orb just as it chose that exact moment to explode, disassembling the Tinkerer in a violent, bloody fashion. “THE KING IS HERE”, Bomb King screamed, as the ashes began to settle, and turning his back on the marble slab and the Tower, he descended deep into the keep.
The sheer marvels and inventions he discovered in his newly acquired property were staggering. Apparently, the man who animated hunks of metal was into Soul Magick, based on the notes he found in a surprisingly modern laboratory, despite the stone exterior. Picking up a glowing lilac mirror which the Tinkerer’s notes called a Mortal Psyche, Bomb King’s thought-gears began to turn. He ran off to find a giant bell…I mean it was a giant stone castle, it had to have a bell.
The peasants of Nyranz were awoken by a loud tolling of the Stone Keep’s warning bell, rousing them from their rest and hustling them into the safety of the walls. Of course, they had no idea what had occurred to the Tinkerer. Obvious bad choices aside, he was a good and kind ruler, if a little reclusive, but now a new age had dawned – one they were about to learn the hard way. As the peasants crowded into the central courtyard, Bomb King appeared on a high rampart, allowing the sun to share his new found resplendence with the world. He had been busy overnight, shedding off his iron and adorning himself with inlaid gold and a series of large rubies on his gauntlets (to hide the surprises underneath). “PEASANTS TO YOUR KING”, Bomb King announced in his metallicly jovial voice, much to the horror of the assembled crowd. “You are not our king, said an elderly gentleman with his coal black hair tied into a plait, we will never accept you”. A smile split the face of the usurper King and in that same joyful tone, he stated in mock horror, “I DIE”, while he feigned falling off the rampart.
Then the laughter started, softly at first but growing in intensity until it reverberated off the stone walls. The crowd watched on with a mixture of terror and amusement, that is until Bomb King decided that he had enough of the joke. Standing up to his full height, all 4 feet of it, he held his glittering arms high above his head, palms open. A beautiful sight to behold, at least until he clenched his fists and the explosives he hid in the towers surrounding the courtyard started to go off.
Stone and mortar rained down upon the heads of the unwitting peasants, who began to flee, only to find their way blocked by the steel portcullis which had fallen, broken and decrepit when the bombs initially went off. Bomb King watched with thinly veiled amusement and pulled the Mortal Psyche out from the interior of his armour. With a mighty roar, Bomb King tossed the mirror into the centre of the carnage, where it sat hovering, emitting a slight hum.
The appearance of the Mortal Psyche served as a calming presence for the assembled group, who once again fixated their attention on the new King, while blood dripped down out of various wounds on their bodies. “Give your king a big hug”, that damnable happiness emerged once again, as Bomb King tucked his arms, legs and head into his body and began to roll towards them. That’s the time the panic started again, as friend fought friend and neighbour fought neighbour to escape the rolling ball of death, and explosiveness that was this tyrant. The Bomb King’s rampaging form stopped a little off-centre in the once perfect courtyard, and with a loud ‘ting’ exploded.
When the smoke had cleared, there were only a few of the gathered peasants remaining, but there was no sign of the Bomb King. No sign of the tyrant that had killed so many of their peers and friends. As they began to pick their way among the rubble to recover the bodies of their dead and wounded, they did not notice the slight haze that had spread over the chaotic field. A haze that was being drawn into the Mortal Psyche that still hovered, untouched.
Where had the Bomb King gone? Down, once again into the laboratory, where the life force of the dead and the dying had been channelled from the Psyche into a Kinetic Soul Siphon, for the use of the tyrant. He performed for himself as he worked, great works by ancient comedians and tragedians were putty in his hands – he had found a stack of wonderful dramas in the libraries of the Tinkerer. Nine cycles passed while he worked, hunched over those polished countertops, but on the breaking of the tenth day, he exclaimed excitedly, “IT IS FINISHED”.
He stepped away to admire his handiwork, and what was revealed would have filled the peasants with horror, for he had stolen the life force and essence of the dead and instead of letting it pass on, had turned it into a mockery for his evil purposes. His once plain iron bombs were now grinning, open-mouthed with wide rolling eyes. His new tools, the explosives that marked the beginning of his awful reign, held the souls of the fallen, twisted into a permanent grin, for a sadistic tyrant king. The Bomb King.