In Pan Post 74 King Arthur and several of his knights are on the trail of Gamma Pans who, along with some L-Kryptons, has entered The Forsaken Valley of Saturn - an ancient Krypton city that is now haunted by dust-ghosts. They chase the X-Krypton into the city and battle against the dust-ghosts. The divine weapons of Excalibur and Clarent are effective against these undead spirits, placing Prince Mordred on the offensive alongside the magical power of Sir Caelia. Arthur leaves his knights to fight the ghosts while he storms through the city using Excalibur to repel the ghosts until he and Omega Wier catch up to Gamma Pans. Ready to deal the final blow Omega Wier snatches the magical amulet from Gamma Pans and it becomes apparent that it was Wier who lied all along - a ruse to get Arthur to help him steal the amulet.
Space Camelot: The Ruins of Saturn
Characters: King Arthur | Queen Guinevere | Sir Lancelot | Sir Bedivere | Sir Kay | Prince Mordred | Sir Galahad | (Sir) The Black Knight | (Sir) The Faerie Knight | Tom a'Lincoln | Morganna le Fay | Merlin the Younger | Andy | Admiral Ltexi | Gamma Pans | Omega Wier | Sir Tristram
They had been travelling for half a day before they finally catch sight of their quarry. King Arthur and his band are standing atop of a cliff overlooking a valley and in that valley they spot the fleeing figure of Gamma Pans. He isn't alone and, from Omega Wier's suggestions, it's likely a band of L-Kryptons that conspired with Pans against the G-Kryptons. A treacherous, narrow path winds down from their elevated position to the valley below.
In the valley they can see strange ruins of an ancient city. It's made of rocks that resemble sandstone and, like the Krypton civilisations they'd encountered so far, there are no walls. Some of the buildings have crumbles to nothing but rubble, while others stand immensely tall - taller than any of the modern buildings they'd seen in the X-Krypton or G-Krypton Cities. A fell wind sweeps across the valley, picking up the dust of centuries in a threatening blizzard. The figures of Gamma Pans and his crew use the buildings for cover against the minor dust storms, navigating the ruin like insects scuttling across sand. Here and there are incredibly tall obelisks tipped by circular plates and emit a faint blue light. Evidently the lights are powered by some unknown ancient means and in the dying light of the evening Arthur thanks God for their existence.
He glances up at the yellow sky as it starts to darken. The constant cloud cover means that the night holds no stars and no radiant moon to gaze down upon the mortal struggles of man. Instead there's just a black, oppressive roof above them that feels suddenly stifling. Regret burrows into his heart and he mentally punishes himself for agreeing to remain on this God-forsaken world. However he realises that his choice may well have been God's Will. The traitor Gamma Pans may well have gotten away with his crime had Arthur not remained on the world, an act that the X-Krypton likely hadn't expected given the difference in cultural practices here.
King Arthur: "Okay. We're gaining on them. We'll be able to catch them in these ruins."
He starts his horse towards the narrow path but Sir Tristram cuts in front of him.
Sir Tristram: "Sire, I should warn you before we proceed..."
He looks out across the ruins.
Sir Tristram: "When researching the world, Sir Bedivere and I discovered some stories of this ancient land. It is known to be a place of restless spirits, sire. If the stories are true, we will find ourselves under attack from malevolent spirits of ancient Kryptons."
King Arthur: "Strange. These people seemed to be all about the physical, practical world and not interested in anything spiritual."
Sir Tristram: "That only adds credence to the claims then. Nobody knows why the spirits remain. No other land on the planet apparently has such ghosts, only this forsaken valley."
King Arthur: "...The Forsaken Valley."
He nods with a smirk.
King Arthur: "And excellent name for it, Sir Tristram. I'm sure we can add this venture to our list of magnificent tales."
Sir Tristram bows his head.
Prince Mordred: "So we're still going in there? Even with the ghosts?"
King Arthur: "Let's just hope the spirits don't steal vengeance from our grasp."
Silently they file down the winding pathway. Prince Mordred takes the rear and shares a worried glance with Omega Wier. At least he's not the only practical-minded person on this trip. Mordred is actually surprised Omega Wier even came this far as he could have left Arthur to it and sauntered off back to his Custodian House in the X-Krypton City. Mordred supposes there's some sense of vendetta to the man, just like Arthur. Wier, however, doesn't appear to be built for these kinds of adventures. Though Mordred is no expert on Krypton physiology, he can tell that Wier is overweight and sluggish. He had borrowed Sir Bedivere's horse and had had days worth of lessons in riding, yet he was still fairly clumsy and looks like he might fall off the horse at any given moment. Mordred is certain the horse himself is desperately trying to keep the rider on his back rather than the other way around. Wier's big, round eyes are bright red against his obsidian skin and he has abnormally large ears. To the prince the man looks like some kind of fat gremlin that might be lurking under a bridge or in a cesspit. Yet his ineptitude makes him almost comical.
Sir Caelia's dire wolf is able to leap down each narrow path, placing her at the basin long before any of the other knights have even reached the centre-point. She races off to start scouting the area and quickly becomes a tiny, dark point to Mordred's eyes as he looks out across the abandoned city. To Mordred it seems like Stonehenge - an ancient and mysterious structure in England that defied explanation by all scholars. Only Merlin and his druids seemed to know where it came from and who might have built it but even they always admitted that they were uncertain. Then, one day, along comes Sir Kay and he graffitied it with a little sword and axe heads. An ancient, mystical ruin and he carved stupid pictures into it. It just goes to show - time doesn't give a toss.
He and his father are about to go blundering through this ruin, alongside that very same Sir Kay, and are likely going to be mistreating this mystical ruin.
As he nears the next bend he finds Sir Tristram watching the ruins while the other knights pass him by. Mordred slows.
Prince Mordred: "Do you see anything?"
The Saracen shakes his head slowly.
Prince Mordred: "That's a good sign."
Sir Tristram: "Is it? If these spirits do indeed exist, then why have they not come out for the Custodian? Why is Sir Caelia allowed to roam unhindered?"
Mordred looks up at the darkening sky.
Prince Mordred: "Could be they only come out at night, like on Earth? Give it another hour."
Sir Tristram: "Could be..."
He kicks his horse into motion and slowly walks by Mordred.
Sir Tristram: "Or perhaps they're waiting for the rest of us to enter the valley first..."
Undead. Malicious. And smart?
Mordred continues to wonder why they aren't headed in the opposite direction.
The knights reach the basin and start to slowly cross the dusty valley with some hesitation. The sky is now completely dark and only the tall pillars cast an eerie blue glow throughout the valley. The tall buildings cast long, black shadows across the dusty, empty streets and Arthur has to draw Excalibur to help cast light around the group. He holds his mighty sword aloft and the brilliant, white light sweeps around around them. A deep sense of unease suddenly clutches at Mordred's heart and he can't help but groan at the sensation.
Sir Tristram: "I feel it too, Mordred."
Sir Kay: "I feel like my bowels are about to drop... same for you?"
Sir Lancelot: "Steel yourselves, knights. A deadly foe stalks us."
Prince Mordred: "Thanks for that, Sir Lancelot. That really helped steel myself."
Sir Lancelot: "We are the Knights of the Round Table, we won't be cowed by any wanton spirit!"
Sir Kay: "You tell them, Lancelot. And fight them too while I run off."
King Arthur: "If you run away, Kay, I'll put you on barnacle duty. Someone has to scrub those buggers off the ship."
Mordred draws Clarent while he listens to the others bickering. Strangely their inane banter is somewhat soothing against the offensive sense of despair and fear that is grasping at his nerves. The sensation, he knows, is an external force being applied to him by the dead beings in the ruins. He's able to feel it encroaching and trying to falter his own, natural resolve.
Suddenly there is a piercing screech. It's followed up by dozens more from all around them. Surrounded.
From beyond light cast by Excalibur comes the enemy. The spirits have a strange physical form - the dust of the ruins congeals together to recreate the rough shape of their former selves. They have no legs, only swirling dust, but their torsos extend from the dust cloud and bear long, gangly arms and small, grotesque heads. As gremlin-like as Mordred thought Omega Wier, these monstrous spirits are far more terrifying to look at.
One swoops in at Mordred, impossibly fast, and he instinctively swipes at it. As his sword cuts into the spirit it explodes. Dust buffets him and whizzes past in its continued trajectory. He coughs and splutters the dead from his mouth. He wonders if all this dust is actually the earthly remains of their original bodies and he's quickly hacking in a desperate attempt to get dead aliens out of his throat.
Unfortunately the coughing fit leaves him vulnerable and a dust-spirit slashes up at him with clawed fingers. The claws cut razor-sharp and shreds the cloth of his tabard. He's thrown from his horse and onto the dusty ground with a grunt. He crawls forward but something snatches his ankle. He barely has time to glance down at the ghost's snarling, hungry face as it then drags him along the floor. He grasps at the ground but his fingers only meet dust. He sees Clarent lurking off and can only cry out as the distance between it and him grows. And kicks with his other foot but his boot meets nothing but air as the dust of the figure moulds around his body attack. He realises his first stroke had been a lucky one - a blessed blade against undead creatures. He isn't going to escape this fight with kicks and punches.
His fingers finally meet the solid remains of an ancient wall, hidden beneath the dust. The ghost yanks at his leg but he holds tight. Then he feels the ghosts razor-claws dig into the leather armour, easily slicing through it as though it were simple cloth. The cold, knife-like grasp meets his skin beneath and he screams with the sudden agony of the sensation. His legs is being sliced by four knives at once. The aura of dread is suddenly able to worm its way into his soul and he panics. His cries of anguish and horror deafen himself.
Even when he finds himself scrambling freely through the dust he continues screaming for his soul until a blunt object smacks into the back of his head. Suddenly dulled, Mordred's brain reorganises itself. He looks up to find Sir Caelia atop of her wolf, who is standing over him. She throws her hand out, palm splayed, and blasts a dust-spirit to oblivion. Able to manipulate the very air allows her to destroy these apparitions' physical manifestations with ease. Yet there are many of them.
Sir Caelia: "How's your head?"
He rubs it and winces. She must have whacked him with a very big rock. Probably relished the opportunity to give her ruler a good crack.
Prince Mordred: "I'll live."
Sir Caelia: "Good. Get your sword. They're coming."
He sees their shadows coming closer from beyond the light and he dives for Clarent. His hand curls around the hilt and he instantly feels its light pulse through him. He swings it as he rises, cutting through the stomach of an inbound ghost. It blasts apart and the dust flies past before it topples to the ground to join the rest of the eternally forgotten.
He swings again, this time trashing a dust-ghost that had been flying towards Sir Caelia. She, able to tear them apart easiest of all the knights, has made herself prime target for the ghosts and more and more of them descend upon her position. Clarent glides through the air as Mordred hits another intent on passing him on its way to the Aes Sidhe Faerie. He runs and slams his foot against a squat wall, propelling him through the air. His momentum allows his outstretched sword to pierce through three ghosts at once as he flies through them like a dart. He lands with a roll and hacks at another ghost that pops up in front of him. Clarent itself seems to fill him with courage to stave off the dread that had consumed him earlier, but it also seems to possess a kind of wisdom of its own. Wisdom that Mordred, somehow, also possesses when he uses the sword. He had always considered himself competent at swordplay but when wielding Clarent he feels like he can estimate the mystifying movements of the ghosts with uncanny clarity.
A lance suddenly whizzes by him. It passes through a ghost, doing nothing to stop the foul spirit as the dust just moulds around the passing object. Mordred's attention, however, is now drawn to it and he lashes out to finish what the lance had started. He looks back to see Sir Lancelot now brandishing Arondight - the demon-sword of Baal - as he cuts through the spirits with as much apparent ease as Clarent. A lot better than his lance did.
Mordred sees bright red streaks zipping out from a single point in the distance, striking through the ghosts. The energy arrows do not, however, seem to affect the spirits as well as the magical weaponry of Lancelot and Mordred but the energy blasts do hit the ghosts with kinetic force that knocks them back. The knockback then allows King Arthur to cleanly slice through them while Sir Tristram uses the beam-bow to stun them. Excalibur cuts and a dash of light streams out with every stroke. As the light extends it ploughs through other ghosts and burns them up into nothingness. Aside from the wind magic of Sir Caelia, Excalibur seems to be the most potent weapon against these malevolent spirits of evil.
Omega Wier, like Sir Tristram, is able to stun the enemies using his beam sword, though his strikes are far weaker than the missiles of the knight. Wier seems like a child with a stick and is being protected by Lancelot, whether the alien realises it or not. Yet even Omega Wier is currently in a better position than the unfortunate Sir Kay, who is being overwhelmed with only his standard bronze sword to fight with. A ghost screeches down towards the knight and grabs his shield. Holding onto it tightly he's lifted up off of the ground and dangles over the battlefield.
Prince Mordred: "Sir Tristram, shoot Sir Kay down!"
Sir Tristram responds in an instant. The light arrow fires through the air at bashes into the dust-ghost. It dissipates with a mild explosion of red light and the spirit rocks back with a cry of anguish and hatred. Sir Kay lands in a crouch, just in time for Prince Mordred to jump up onto his shield and fly up into the air to finish off the stunned ghost. Mordred lands on his feet with only a quick crouch to break his fall. He turns to help Sir Kay in his plight against the monsters.
King Arthur: "Knights, hold them off until I'm out of sight! When I'm gone, retreat to the top of the cliff!"
Sir Lancelot: "My king! We can't--"
King Arthur: "I have to get the traitor, Lancelot."
As Arthur starts to ride away, further into the city, Omega Wier follows after him. Ultimately Arthur decides it would take too much time and effort to try to get him to understand the concept of remaining with Sir Lancelot than it would to just let the clumsy oaf follow after him.
Arthur rides like the wind and Omega Wier manages, surprisingly, to keep up. Likely in part thanks to the grand horse that he rides and in part due to the terror of being caught by the sudden wave of dust-ghosts that have risen up behind them. The cloud of spirits chases after the two riders, growing ever larger as more ghosts from the city take up the pursuit. Arthur glances back and, for a moment, thinks he's an idiot for riding off alone like this. There must be hundreds and hundreds of them. Their screeches bombard his ears but his renewed determination for vengeance steels him.
At the far end of the city he sees bright light flowing and blasting in a fit of rage and despair. The dust-ghosts attacking Gamma Pans and his companions are dispatched by the lightning that cracks out of the amulet - probably even more potent against them than the wind magic of Sir Caelia. The electrical attacks seem to grow ever more powerful as the amulet is being used.
Arthur throws caution to the winds and when Llamrei draws near he slings himself off of her back and tackles the X-Krypton. As he'd expected the momentum of his body slams Gamma to the ground easily, the Krypton's thin legs making the squat torso easy to topple. Lightning bursts from the amulet in Gamma's sudden panic. It streaks out and hits one of his allies who is struck hard and sent flying into the air. Unfortunately he is snagged from the air by several ghosts who begin to rip and tear at his liquid metal armour until he's shredded by their claws. Gamma Pans is struck by the horror of killing his ally but his attention is drawn back to Arthur as the king tries to grab the amulet. Electric cascades from the bejewelled artefact and courses through Arthur's plated gauntlet. He reels back from the sudden jolt of pain and clutches his scolded hand. Gamma kicks Arthur away and scrabbles to his feet.
He's carrying a bag of possessions, strapped over his liquid metal armour, and wears a wild, hunted look in his eyes. Exactly how Arthur had wanted him to feel.
Arthur swings Excalibur at Gamma but a quick burst of lightning hits the sword and it slams backwards into the ground. The blast would have taken any other sword out of the wielders grasp, but Excalibur can never be forcefully removed from this king's hand. So his hand is thrown with it. His arm is jerked violently as the sword slams into the sandstone. Arthur growls and yanks his blade free again.
One of the L-Kryptons, apparently overconfident in his skills, jumps in front of Gamma Pans and swings his laser sword at the king. Arthur parries the strike with such ease that he appeared bored by the intervening duel. The parry leaves the Krypton wide open and Arthur runs him through. The light from the strike lashes out and incinerates two creeping ghosts with to boot. There's only two other L-Kryptons left in Gamma's party and they instantly accept their loss to Arthur in favour of defending themselves from the onslaught of ghosts.
Arthur glances back to the city where he can see the swirl of ghosts that had pursued him through its streets. They appear angry but unable to extend out of the city limits. He's unsure what force binds them there but he's thankful for it. The rest of the free-roaming spirits pose little threat so long as he hold Excalibur.
Omega Wier sidles up beside Arthur, his own sword poised. Gamma Pans glowers at the other X-Krypton.
Gamma Pans: "So it comes to this."
He then says more in his own language to Wier but Arthur doesn't care to ask for a translation. He charges at the former Custodian but his strike misses as Gamma Pans jumps backwards. He fires blast of lightning from the amulet that Arthur narrowly dodges. Having experienced one jolt from the magical weapon, he doesn't want a repeat experience. Then, from the amulet, a greater surge erupts and a wall of lightning strikes down between Arthur and Gamma Pans, raining down seemingly from the heavens itself. The sudden strike destroys many ghosts on its way down to the ground and as it hits the shockwave knocks Arthur and Omega Wier backwards. Arthur shields his eyes from the dust upheaval and clenches his lips tightly. He peeks through two fingers to see Gamma Pans making a run for it.
King Arthur: "The cowardly dog!"
He runs after him, striking a ghost as he moves past.
Gamma glances back to fire a blast of lightning back at Arthur. The attempt is unaimed and it lazily misses the pursuing human. It does, however, distract Gamma so that he runs straight into an awaiting dust-ghost. Its claws grasp the fleeing man, one hand around his arm and one around his neck. Gamma cries out in pain and horror as his life is about to be snuffed out. Arthur reaches them, while the two L-Kryptons keep running for their lives, disappearing into the darkness with the ghosts flying after them.
Arthur brings his sword to bear.
His strike tears through the ghost and releases Gamma Pans from its hold.
Gamma Pans falls to the dust with a look of fear and confusion.
King Arthur: "Vengeance shall be mine, traitor. No ghost shall take it from me."
Gamma Pans: "You call me a traitor!? It's you who is the traitor! You steal the lands of the G-Kryptons, betraying my trust in you! And now you corrupt this fool so he thinks he can claim what is mine!"
Before Arthur can ask what that means, Omega Wier grabs the amulet and tugs it from around Gamma Pan's neck. The look on the man's face suddenly lifts the veil from Arthur's mind and he sees the greed and ambition in the X-Krypton's eyes.
Omega Wier: "Mine!"
His first English word.
Lightning suddenly blasts from the amulet with wild abandon. Unlike the controlled, though desperate, blasts from Gamma Pans, the lightning strikes from Omega Wier are untamed and excitable. They strike down from the skies, streak out from the amulet and burn up the ghosts in a display of fire and light.
King Arthur: "He said you tricked me into taking the G-Krypton City. Said it was a lie that they were the raiders..."
Gamma Pans manages to get to his feet, still injured from the ghost attack.
Gamma Pans: "He told me that you'd vowed to help him take my amulet and slay me..."
King Arthur: "If there's one thing I hate... it's bloody liars."