Previously: William, Slade, having slain the terrible Grondheim known as Maragoth, faces the kidnapper of Commander Devbeck: Zazek. But the evil Shadow Spawn claims that his actions, past and present, are not ones of malicious intentions. He claims that he wants to save the world from the Toltorg, the Devastator, a being he claims wishes to come and destroy the world. But, Zazek tells William, if that is to happen he will need three objects of power. And he wants The young Slayer to find them for him. He transports William to a snowy land nearby a temple. But before William can get his bearings, he is attacked by a man with a wicked blade. Meanwhile, Zazek watches these unfoldings with grim amusement, knowing all too well that he has doomed the Slayer to a harsh death.
Willaim Slade was mad. Something inside of him told him that Zazek had tricked him, that the Shadow Spawn had sent him to this cold land to be split in half by this warrior. But another part of him told him that Zazek was telling the truth and that this was only a trial he had to face. All heroes underwent trials, and he had already gone through a few himself. The two parts tugged at each other. William couldn't make up his mind. And that was what frustrated him so.
But while he struggled against these two beliefs, his foe had struck. William spread his legs apart, the blade driving itself inches in front of his face. He rolled backwards, lifting his legs and kicking his enemy in the face as he spun back. Clambering to his feet, he pulled out his own sword.
His foe pulled his sword from the ground and faced William once again. While the young Slayer was already shivering from the frigid cold, the other man looked as warm as someone on a summer's day. And the cold would be the deciding factor in this duel. And William had a feeling that he would lose.
He foe leaped forward, and William rose his blade to block. But, at the last second, the man changed tactics, diving to the side and lunging to cut William's left hip. The blow struck true, and the Slayer gritted his teeth in agony. He could already feel the warm blood flowing down his side.
"Please," he hissed through clenched teeth, "I'm not here to make enemies. You have the wrong idea. I don't want to hurt you." And it was true. Unless this fighter was a comrade of Zazek's or some other form of evil, Willaim was a hesitant to even lay a finger on him.
The man narrowed his eyes. "So," he muttered, "you are not here for the Rod? My apologies." He took off a belt of linen he was wearing and wrapped it around Willaim's wound. "That should stop the bleeding," he said after tying the makeshift bandage. "Forgive me. My name is Orto. I am one of the sentries of Terrm. My responsibility is to guard this temple against thieves who would see fit to steal our most prized possession: the Rod of Rojulles. I saw you come out of nowhere and immediately thought you be a thief. But, I see that I was mistaken."
Willaim's face turned white as the falling snow as the pain in his hip began to subside. What could he say? If he admitted to being a thief, this Orto would surely try to kill him again. And if that happened, he would have to stop the guard. And the only way to do that would be to kill him. And William did not want to do that, especially to a man who had shown him such kindness.
"Come," Orto beckoned, facing the temple. "There is the Temple of Terrm. Surely you area traveler seeking to view our grand tribute, yes? It is homage to Gollion, the One Who Created All That Was And Is. We owe Him everything. Our lives, our families, our homes...praise be to Gollion."
"Uh..." William began. "Yes. I am here to see your temple. I have heard many stories regarding its...magnificence."
The young Slayer winced as Orto began leading him towards the mountain. His father would have lashed him several times if he had heard such a deceitful falsehood. "There's nothing so bad that you can do than lie," he used to tell William, "and there's nothing so bad as to lie about." Good advice, William knew, but he had just discarded it, tossed it away, left it lying in the snow.
William followed Orto as the man led him towards the mountain. It loomed above, towering high above the snowy blanket they trudged through.
"This is Mount Sinidrian," Orto explained. "Our forefathers settled here during the Dark Times, the days Zazek tried to conquer the world." He shook his fist in the air. "May the name of the Shadow Spawn be cursed for all eternity. He is a dreaded evil that will forever plague the world until its end...or until the Shadow Spawn himself is destroyed!"
"How do we get into the temple?" William asked.
Beckoning, the man led him around the base until they came to a crack big enough for a man's foreman to fit through. Orto reached into the crack and grabbed a secret lever. He pulled it.
The mountain shook and a section of rock slid backwards to reveal a dark tunnel. Orto led William into the passageway, which snaked this way and that until ending at a flight of stairs.
At the top of the steps, Orto opened a door and led William into a giant, golden hall. Humans wrapped in clothing identical to Orto's walked about. When they passed Orto, they nodded in greeting and continued on their way. William noticed that all of them wore some sort of blade at their waist. He hoped that he would not have to face them. Orto had been difficult to face enough. All of these enemies would prove impossible to defeat.
William followed Orto into another room lit by torches that lined the walls, which were covered in tapestries woven with pictures of a being. The being was a metal, four-armed man with a golden head and ruby eyes. A statue of the man housed a section of the room at the far end.
"This is our shrine to Gollion," Orto explained, bowing in respect. "We pray to our Creator and ask His help and guidance. You see that He holds the Rod in his hand."
And it was so. A golden rod topped with a white diamond was held in one of Gollion's hands. Willima looked at it. He had to steal that rod.
As Orto began to explain how Gollion had formed the world, the Slayer slid his sword out silently and stepped forward. He swung his arm, clubbing the man across the back of the head with the hilt of the blade. Orto fell without a word.
William dashed forward and reached out for the rod. He grabbed it and pulled it from the statue's hand.
All at once, the torches went out, plunging the room into darkness. The ruby eyes began to glow. William was a little intimidated.
In a flash, the Rod began to glow and burn in William's hand. With a cry, he dropped it to the floor. The Rod continued to glow brighter until William had to close his eyes at the brightness.
Behind him, he heard the gasps of the other men, both sentries and priests, as they watched the Rod grow ever brighter. William gave another shout at the blinding light. Then, something struck him across the head and he fell into darkness.