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Plague of Serpents

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Plague of Serpents is
DwarfElders

Gilius and Tyris meet the Dwarven Elders. Art by Mike White.

a 6-part The Legend of the Golden Axe story, beginning in Issue 13. It largely focuses on Gilius-Thunderhead.

Staff

Story

After their last adventure and on their way to leave the Golden Axe at Yuria, Gilius-Thunderhead, Tyris-Flare and Ax-Battler decide to stop off at Rockguard, home of the dwarves. Before they get there, they have to fight off a giant snake, leading Gilius to wonder what a snake would be doing so close to his home. Getting close to the stronghold, he witnesses the bodies of several dwarves and snakes. Worrying, they rush in to find a massive battle with dwarves fighting wizards and other dwarves. High Priest Cobraxis is in charge, planning to find the Queen. Tyris and Ax jump into the battle, but Tyris is almost hypnotised by a snake's gaze. Fortunately, she manages to swing the Golden Axe and kill it. Ax isn't so strong and the snake coils itself around him, planning to control him. However, Ax had his sword raised and, as Ax loses control, the sword falls, chopping off the snake's head. Gilius sees one of the priests battling his father, but he's too slow to stop the fatal blow. Gilius avenges his father and sits with him as he dies. Tyris is left to fight several of the dwarves that have been possessed, only using the flat of her blade, but is forced to use deadly power when she is herself wounded.

She doesn't realise a priest is coming behind her to kill her, but his noisy prattle alerts her, allowing to perform a special move to dispose of him. Tyris and Gilius combine their magic to get rid of the rest of them. As Gilius tries to get his ailing father to the infirmary, Tyris wonders where Ax got to. Sure enough, without a snake to fully control him, Ax is wandering around in a daze, humming down long corridors. Leader of the dwarf elders, Growlus-Stormbreaker, reveals that Cobraxis has forced his way through Rockguard and into Hammerynth to kidnap Queen Silpantia-Dragontamer. A witness revealed that Cobraxis is after the dwarves' enchanted metal, made from magic and only the Queen knows where it is stored. With Ax gone, Gilius volunteers to go and rescue the Queen and takes the Golden Axe, but it is interrupted by a furious Yuki Plant-charmer.

Yuki entraps Gilius in a vine of grapes and Tyris is horrified, jumping into to tackle Yuki. She needn't worry, as Yuki is merely Gilius' sister. With Gilius forced to take Yuki along, his first priority is to rescue the Queen from Cobraxis before he steals all the enchanted metal. They take a pedal lift down to Hammerynth, just as a confused Ax continues on his stroll to nowhere. Gilius and Yuki continue to bicker, leading a snake to overhear and head off to warn Cobraxis. It reaches the snake charmer's camp just as the Queen is trapped in a Cage of Snakes, ready to crush her for information. The snake warns Cobraxis about the intruders, but his reward is to be strangled to death. Cobraxis then calls his wizard-priest, Viprax, to stop the heroes. Sure enough, he rushes to them and uses his "rainbow snake dust" to conjure up multi-coloured snake monsters, ready to defeat the dwarves.

The dwarves battle valiantly, using their axes to keep the snakes at bay, while Yuki uses her magic to trap the snakes in brambles. Gilius finishes them off with a mighty torrent of boulders thanks to his magic. Viprax isn't finished yet, turning his hands into snake heads, which quickly bite his opponents and poisons them. Now unconscious, Gilius and Yuki are hauled onto a cart by other hypnotised dwarves. During this, the hypnotised Ax manages to completely walk over the fallen dwarves without recognising his friend in trouble. As the cart rolls on, Gilius begins to slip off the wagon. He comes round just in time to realise this and uses the Golden Axe to pin himself to the rock bridge he almost falls off, hanging over the chasm below. Viprax and Yuki believe he is dead, leaving him to be smeared across the bottom of the ravine. Reluctantly, Gilius decides to go and rescue his little sister, finding her in grave danger. Cobraxis taunts the Queen, saying that it she does not reveal the location of the enchanted metal, he will kill Yuki.

Gilius makes his way to the camp and begins to save the Queen, but Cobraxis orders the snakes to crush her. Careful, like "peeling an orange", Gilius chops away at her captors, making sure not to cut too deep. Gilius then launches himself at Cobraxis for attacking his sister. The high priest uses his guardian snakes to fend off the hero, so Gilius begins another attack. However, Yuki conjures a bamboo garden, which sprouts out of the floor and brutally impales the evil snakes. Cobraxis decides to lead Viprax and his priests into direct combat, but the newly-free summons dragons to help her. Unfortunately, it seems that the dragons aren't coming, so Gilius tries a physical approach, kicking Cobraxis in the stomach. Yuki shouts that they need to get the Queen to safety, but they are interrupted by falling rocks from above...

Dragons have answered the call and are crashing through the roof of the Hammerynth caverns. The leader, Cloudburner, greets Silpantia and allows her onto his back. A massive battle begins, with the dragons fighting off the snake priests. Viprax summons a ball of snakes, which unravel and being to latch onto the dragon. Yuki ends the priests by conjuring a killer cactus, once again impaling her enemies. Cobraxis transforms himself into a God, really just a massive snake with his head, which latches onto Cloudburner. Gilius leaps up and slashes him with the Golden Axe, cutting him cleanly in two. With Cobraxis gone, the dwarves burn the remains of the camp, only for Viprax to appear with a weapon, ready to kill Yuki. Fast to react, Gilius throws his axe, catching Viprax on the back of his head with a blunt side of the axe.

Finally, the trouble has all ended. Ax has found his way back to the action, now without a snake, ready to dive into battle. The Queen rewards Gilius and Yuki with golden daggers, each with more power than the Golden Axe. Cobraxis had been sitting on the horde of magic metal without knowing it. Soon, back at Rockguard, Gilius and Yuki learn that their father has died (with a fork in his hand) and a funeral pyre is made for him. Gilius, distraught, heads down to the wake with all the good food - where his father would be.

Trivia

  • The last Golden Axe story, 2 of the 3 main characters were largely out of action. Tyris was heavily wounded while Ax was hypnotised, providing the story with some comic relief.
  • Although not shown, it is likely the heroes went on to deliver the Golden Axe to Yuria. It's unknown whether or not Yuki joined the team or stayed to defend Rockguard.

Timeline

The previous The Legend of the Golden Axe story was Citadel of Dead Souls. This was the last story.

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