|First printing||May 2002|
Judgment was written by Will McDermott and published in May 2002.
Blurb[edit | edit source]
The time has come.
The day of judgment has arrived.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Ever since the death of his friend Chainer, Kamahl has been in possession of the Mirari. But the merfolk Laquatus is at his trail, manipulating everyone around him against the barbarian. Can Kamahl keep the powerful artifact out of Laquatus’ hands? And can he keep in control of the Mirari’s vast powers himself?
Summary[edit | edit source]
The story starts with Kamahl keeping the promise he made to a dying Chainer: he takes the Mirari orb for safekeeping. He attaches the artifact on the pommel of his sword and prepares to leave the city; several fighters challenge him on the way out, confirming his suspicions that he must now defend it from innumerable foes. He manages to reach his home in the Pardic Mountains anyway.
Laquatus, in the meantime, is still trapped in the underwater bubble created by Llawan's mages. Although he can leave, the bulk of his forces can't, greatly hindering his claim to the Mer throne. He starts diplomatic relations with the Order and the Cabal, hoping to gain their support against the empress, but she has moved faster than he did: the two organizations have already made deals with Llawan. Frustrated by the lack of progress, Laquatus and his jack Burke go personally on the mainland to retrieve the Mirari, while commanding some of his troops to expand the tunnel network beneath Otaria until they reach the Krosan forest. He hopes he is able to ambush his enemies with these soldiers.
Kamahl returns to his Auror tribe, where he thinks he will be safe for a while. The Mirari, however, shows him that many have already mobilised to take the artifact from him. Under the influence of the orb, he decides to unite the barbarian tribes to bolster his defenses, against the judgment of his menthor, the dwarf Balthor, and his sister Jeska. He calls the champions from across the mountains, called the Elite Eight, to duel them and prove his strength. A tournament is set up and Kamahl displays excessive power and no restraint. Balthor and Jeska try to control him, but it is clear that the Mirari has a nefarious effect on him. No one is able to withstand him and he proclaims himself champion; many, however, refuse his rule on the grounds that he has gone mad with power, plunging the tribes in civil war.
Called by the Mirari, an Order contingent led by Commander Eesha herself and a Cabal battalion with Braids at its head make their way towards the mountains. Laquatus tries to play them against each other while pretending to be friend of both. He is greeted in the Order camp, but he still tries to gain the favour of the cabalists.
In the Auror village, Kamahl prepares to fight the dissidents. Jeska is convinced that he must be stopped at all costs, and talking with Balthor they agree that the only way to do so is to steal the Mirari from him. The dwarf proposes to do it himself, but Jeska disagrees, as she has already been banished for quarrelling with Kamahl, and thus she has nothing to lose, while Balthor's betrayal would be met by harsher punishment. To prevent him from interfering, she knocks him out, then tries to take the sword with the orb. Kamahl discovers her and battles her. News come, however, that she has killed Balthor, and the enraged barbarian strikes her. Balthor arrives to clear the misunderstanding, and Kamahl realizes his tragic mistake. In that moment, Cabal troops attack the village.
The barbarians loyal to Kamahl and the rebels unite to fight the invaders, while the pit fighter grieves over the body of his slain sister. The barbarians are victorious, and they decide to put the civil war to the side to defend from Cabal and Order. The more shocking news are, however, that Jeska somehow survived the blow, and, despite being in critical conditions, she is still alive. Determined to redeem himself, Kamahl resolves to bring her to his friend Seton, deep in the Krosan forest, to cure her. Balthor comes with him and carries the Mirari sword, despite the barbarian's decision to never wield it again.
Cabal and Order, led by Laquatus' magic, close in on the duo as they reach the hedge of the forest. The merman and Burke manage to engage them, but Balthor holds them back as Kamahl ventures in the woods. Burke is nearly indestructible, but the dwarf unleashes a great spell that kills them both. Laquatus is enraged by his jack's death, and tries to contact his troops in the forest to ambush Kamahl. However, he discovers he has been betrayed by other mermen who see his rule as tyrannical, and that his forces have been wiped out by Llawan's. Without soldiers, he returns to the Cabal and Order camps, and manages to forge a flimsy alliance to follow the barbarian in the forest.
Kamahl brings Jeska to Seton, who confirms that the situation is dire. He advises the barbarian to talk to Thriss, an enlightened nantuko who lives in the heart of Krosan, while he cures his sister. Kamahl makes his way to the druid, who gives him substantial help in controlling his strength and desires and makes him able to communicate with nature.
The joint Cabal and Order contingent, in the meantime, has a very hard time in the forest. Harassed by nantuko and divided by mistrust, the alliance seems to be extremely fragile. An unknown assailant begins to attack the camps, and the Order leader is killed, but the blame is given to the Cabal. Laquatus tries to keep them together, but the Cabal eventually leaves. Frustrated, the merman ventures alone to meet some of his troops that have escaped the slaughter.
Eesha, Braids and representatives of Llawan's empire converge in the Order camp and reveal that Laquatus was plotting against everyone and trying to play them against each other. They decide to leave the former ambassador to his own devices and abandon the quest for the Mirari. The merman finds out he has no support anymore, and, with his handful of soldiers, tries to retrieve the Mirari once and for all.
Thriss warns Kamahl that Laquatus is reaching Seton's house, where he has left the Mirari sword. The barbarian interrupts his training to run to defend it. He easily dispatches the merman's soldiers, but the unknown assailant proves harder: he is Balthor, zombified by Braids and instructed to kill Laquatus. However, since a part of Burke is lodged within him, he is conditioned to follow the former ambassador's orders, and Kamahl, crying, ends his undeath. Laquatus mocks him, and Kamahl strikes him. The merman dies pinned by the sword. The barbarian's training has proved useful, though, as when he unleashes the orb's power to kill his foe, it is no longer a vision of fiery battle and destruction, but growth and peace. Out of Laquatus' corpse, flowers and grass grow rampant and the forest is rejuvenated. Kamahl is confident that the quest for the Mirari, now protected by the Krosan forest, is over.