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(DF) Mordred's Vengeance: A Tale of Grief, Despair, Anger, Heroism, and the Heart

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5/10/2010 22:06:03   

Some info about this possibly long novel. It is technically a fan-fic based on DragonFable, and takes place on Lore and Terra(bit of AQ in there for you). You may require to know almost all of the DF storyline and the Devourer Saga. Just a heads up. Now, while on Lore, it is set in a few years into the future(I'm quite sure DF will be around for quite some time), it is set around the Terran year 3000, but is around the Lorian year of 8015/'20/'45-ish. Comments and criticism can go here.

Disclaimer: All characters used belong to Artix Entertainment LLC. I have merely borrowed them.

Jonny, a little hiker kid of almost no renown, was hiking up the monumental Mount Everest with his father to prove his worth. Racing against his father to see who could reach the top first, Jonny was losing by a few meters. No longer was it dangerous to remain separate on the mountain, for technology was advanced enough to instantly teleport anybody about to die on the mountain to the nearest resting point. Not only that, but Everest could now be hiked in a day, thanks to special apparatuses in the throats of all peoples that allows them to accommodate changes in pressure and oxygen levels. The magic of science, no? Ah, I digress... Little did he know that he was about to witness the beginnings of a quarter-century long war.

Jonny's life changed as the terrible mountain shook tremendously in rage, threatening to tear its brow open for some unknown reason. In a flash, great ravines cut their way through the cold, harsh stone, and lava and fire burst forth violently, swallowing Jonny's innocent father into a fiery doom. Even as Jonny struggled to keep his footing, he was able to look upwards, towards the peak of the mountain. There, gathered around the fiery Gate to Hell, were thirteen ominous silhouettes of dark figures. All but one wore heavy billowing robes that enshrouded them in mystery, giving no inclination of their purpose or intent. The thirteenth, who bore no such cloak, stood all the way to the left, and seemed to have great spikes cruelly carve the air as they rose out of heavy pauldrons.

Before Jonny could intake more of this sight, a fiery wave of heat rushed upon him, and that last image was forever engraved upon his memories of his life...

"...And in other news, it has come to our attention that Mount Everest has erupted only just yesterday. Scientists are scratching their heads in bafflement." a news reporter announced on the holo-screen.

"Who knew Mount Everest was really a volcano?," he replied, combing his all too-perfect hair. "I'd like to ask how nobody knew it was really a volcano. We have all the technology to figure it out. We have satellites that can see these things!!" At this point, the anchorman stopped raving and turning red in the face and tried to recollect his cool. "Anyways, scientists cannot study exactly what happened, because the mountain seemed to erupt so violently that it destroyed itself. Experts say-"

At that point, Harry didn't care what the experts said, and had deactivated the holo-screen. He often had that bad habit of not concentrating on anything, which was why he'd been in so many different colleges. Being a lanky young adult, he had more Fs (or F's, if you prefer) than zits. And his face looked like a pizza. Who cares what they say, anyways? Harry thought to himself. It didn't matter to him, seeing as he didn't even care about his grades, bills, or much of anything. Most likely, nobody would've cared, for in the U.S., where most of the world's population lived, and where Harry lived, everybody was safe in their little futuristic apartments. Who cared what happened in the Himalayas? There were far worse things to be worried about for them in the near future...

You see, recently, and disturbingly, bodies had been disappearing, as well as people. The most disturbing part was that the bodies weren't merely being robbed. The coffins had been clawed open from the inside (if only Artix was there). Terra, having no magic-users (especially necromancers), was not a place where bodies dug themselves out of their graves. There was a far darker force at work...

A week after Everest blew its top, the President (whose name disappeared into oblivion) had stationed troops in all major cities, including New York, where Harry lived. No one knew why the President would do such a thing, seeing as they were complacent, and thought they had nothing to worry about. If only they knew...

What woes befell Terra within those next weeks! Grotesque and decaying, the missing bodies were soon found: as enemies of the United States of America. Rising up once again, fallen warriors took up arms (both weapons and their own) and began to besiege the poorly defended towns and cities they had once lived in. All able-bodied people were forced to join what military defenses the President had stationed and defend their loved ones, including Harry.

So, Harry had to serve under Sergeant O'Connel, who was famous for his bravery in the threat of nuclear war and how he wasn't an aristocrat, but a servant of the people, from the people. So, Harry was given a simple laser pistol, some light armor to protect from ancient weapons, and was told to find any survivors he could in the dark streets.

Why are they sending me out here? Harry thought to himself. It's not like I have any skills in combat. He wouldn't voice these thoughts, for if zombie holo-games taught him anything, you don't talk out-loud in a city crawling with undead when the streets are clogged with a heavy mist. He turned suddenly as he heard a heavy scraping sound from behind him. Turning, all he could see were bright, red glowing points of light that steadily grew larger as they moved closer. The strange groaning was the next sign of danger.

"AaaaRRReeEwwWww!!" it cried, revealing its shuffling, skeletal form. It was severely decayed, with only a few scraps of rotted flesh hanging from its bleached bones. Holding a simple rifle tipped with a bayonet, it limped over to Harry, who was fumbling to raise his pistol, trying to pull the trigger before that bayonet came down on him...

< Message edited by Mordred -- 2/25/2011 14:26:05 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 1
5/12/2010 23:54:40   

With a low hum, the pistol came to life, and fired a deadly, focused beam of light at the undead's arm. In a smoking cloud of bone dust, the skeletal soldier's right arm was cut clean off, leaving the rifle to lie on the ground. After that, Harry acted on instinct; he fired off a few more rounds until all that was left of the enslaved bones was the rib cage. Stunned at what he had just done, Harry stood in the mist for some time before heading back to the town hall, where the soldiers had set up camp...

After that episode (and many others that didn't end nearly as well), O'Connel thought it best they high-tailed it to the infamous District of Columbia in their high-tech airships, where they'd be safe. So, with what survivors were found, the soldiers packed up and moved out...

Upon reaching Washington, the troops were on eternal guard duty. At all times, at least a quarter of all the soldiers had to stand guard at the improvised barricade, which defended the White Mansion. They were the last hope for what would be the last democratic government for some time. All it would take to break them was a little nudge...

Deep in the icy Himalayas, the supposedly destroyed Mount Everest was on the move. How is this possible, you ask? I'm sure you have all heard of Sepulchure and his infamous Flying Dracolich Fortress (F.D.F.). Now, this was on a much larger scale. Imagine a dracolich large enough to support half of Mount Everest, plus a "little package". This is what was flying through the crags and ravines of the majestic mountains of Nepal. To explain why only half, the eruption took out a small chunk, and much needed to be removed for the "package".

Atop what remained of this epitome of necromancy was a sight so wretchedly elegant and villainous that it almost makes me cry thinking about it. Whereas Sepulchure's fortress was crafting of enchanted stone of unknown origins, this superior structure was crafted of pure obsidian and black jade. Yes, atop the newly revived Mt. Everest was a citadel crafted of precious, dark stone. With up to a hundred floors on one of its many spires, it truly challenged the heavens. Worse still, as supports for such a grand monument were HUUUGE bones of ancient beasts, lending to the citadel's miasma. Erected around the buildings was a solid, impenetrable wall, also of obsidian, black jade, and bone supports. Around this was a crag that surely led down to the fiery magma that gave the dracolich sustenance. The only way across was a slender, natural bridge of stone, effectively reducing all forms of attacking such a structure to an aerial assault. Worst of all, what else would hang from every wall, every spire, every window but the horribly infamous black Shadowscythe emblem upon the background of a crimson banner or flag?

Making their rounds were elitist undead; their warriors bearing the heavy Shadowscythe Reaver plate armor, their mages being nothing but necromancers or Shadow Lichs, and archers armed with longbows and crossbows of wood from evil Deadwood trees or standing by catapults. The chances of this great host being caught off guard was slim to none. Below what was visible was a take-along Necropolis of sorts; there, Terrans whose hearts had been corrupted by the Emperor of the Shadowscythe Empire were learning the ways of necromancy from the Necronomicon itself.

< Message edited by Mordred -- 12/10/2011 19:29:03 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 2
5/13/2010 23:13:23   

On the ninety-ninth floor, there was a large, high walled room known as Where Darkness Gathers. The see through, tinted glass walls rose about two-hundred feet into the air, starting from the black jade floor (the bottom of the citadel tended to be made of obsidian, and as one rose higher, black jade became progressively more abundant). In the center of the room was a low lying table of stone that was cut from the floor, so as to be one with the building. Arranged around this low lying table, which rose about three feet off the ground, were thirteen thrones, also carved out of the floor.

These thirteen thrones varied in height by increments of ten feet, in correspondence with the occupants' ranks within the ShadowScythe Empire. Those given low thrones had a lower rank. Simple as that. XIII, with a height of ten feet, was the lowest, and each rank above was ten feet higher than the last. Now, this is the confusing part of their arrangement. Starting at the throne of rank I, as if you were the occupant (highly doubtful, you'd be dead before the thought of impersonating him even came to your weak, mortal mind), and going to your left, you would see ranks III, V, VII, IX, XI, and XIII, which is directly opposite you. All of these are in consecutive order. Continuing from XII, you'd see XII, X, VIII, VI, IV, and II. And now, the occupants of these thrones will be referred to by their rank until their name is made known to you. All but one wore heavy, black, billowing robes with dark hoods that concealed their faces in darkness.

Right off the bat, I will tell you who was rank XIII of the thirteen ShadowScythe Lords. While quite surprising to many of you, it was none other than Sepulchure, the Doom Knight of Lore, and leader of the ShadowScythe forces of Lore. "So..." he began with his trademark, arrogant voice. "How will we finish off these pitiful Terrans? I wish to return to Lore as quickly as possible. Now that the scheming is nearly at an end, I will finally be able to extinguish that last candle of hope..."

"Easy, there, Seppy-Weppy." XI's harsh, feminine voice mocked. "You might get a boo-boo if you ru-ush."

"I can handle myself, Narcissus!" Sepulchure snarled back. "None of you have had to deal with him!" That last word was spat out with such loathing and hate that he almost hissed.

"Your failures on Lore beg to differ..." VII added calmly (all but Narcissus are men in the group). "He is but one human."

"Hey, cut him some slack, Sagurtia." VIII defended the least-experienced of the group. "It's not like you could have done any better, given the circumstances."

"Really, Salvar?" X questioned. "Saying that failure is acceptable is quite the treasonous thing to do." His words slid off his tongue like liquid silver, and bellied a dark accusation.

"Vensura..." Salvar said, as if they were best pals. "Me, a traitor? As if I didn't know what happened to the last guy." From these words, one could easily tell Salvar was more laid-back, throwing in the occasional wise-crack or two.

"I wouldn't be too quick to doubt that you are a traitor." Sagurtia countered. Already, you should feel how cold this guy was. "But, your work in weeding out the traitors is not without merit..."

"And what about me?!" Sepulchure demanded. "I've slaved to the bone for the Empire! Do I get no credit, while you have all been trying to find a solution to the Master's plight?!"

"This is useless!" a young voice raged from XII. He couldn't be more than fifteen. "We do this everyday!"

"Yeah, guys..." IX said lazily. "Listen to Saxor. All this bickering is tiring." he whined.

"Not surprising, coming from you, Lisces." another laid-back, yet slightly serious voice came from III.

"Fancy yourself a peace-keeper, Xarus?" IV said quite cordially. "If that's so, you have quite the task ahead of you."

"Better than what you do, Sychor." he countered.

"That's for sure." VI mused to himself.

V wanted his say in this. "Silence, Shalxe. Such bickering amongst ourselves will be our end." he said gruffly. He was a large man, and quite powerful as well, with few a higher rank than him.

"What does it matter, Belacus?" II asked, more to himself. His voice, like Sagurtia's, was cold and emotionless, but it had a more pondering feel to it, as if he was concealing his thoughts as well as his face. "We are destined to finally become whole and move on, or fade into the darkness we steep into so well..."

While this went on, I (the numeral) simply watched the proceedings. Humph, he thought to himself. Lesser beings think at such a mediocre level... As he heard Stylix's words (he was II), he spoke out. His voice was beyond cold: it was void of all emotion, it gave no inclination of the Supreme's intentions. "I find thy lack of faith disturbing, Stylix." he said in a calm, eerie monotone (not a creepy monotone, but an enthralling one). "I reward those who serve my Empire well with what they desire most. By some mishap, all of thee lost what made thee human. All but thou, Sepulchure. The events on Lore art the past, and were destined to happen. But when we art done, we shalt shape the universe, not some petty Avatars who serve their own plane. All of thee shalt play thy parts, and Enduras plays his. As for what lies in store for these pathetic Terrans, the decision is not up to us. Another shalt choose where to cast this maelstrom of destruction incarnate. Thus, I bid thee welcome our newest ally, Judge Magister Galbradi."

Running through the heads of the lesser ShadowScythe Lords was a single thought: Who are the Judges? As this ran through their heads, a figure appeared at the side of the High ShadowScythe Lord's throne. He bore black, segmented armor trimmed with dark gold. The armor was relatively light, but quite intricate. Dark gold made swirling, symmetrical patters across the black metal, no doubt holding some arcane importance. His helm resembled that of a demon's visage, with a slight overhang casting a slight shadow over the eyes of his full helm. Curved, savage horns arced their way down from either side. Tied with a simple cord around his neck was a light, dark grey cloak with a dried-blood colored symbol on the back, which will be explained at a later date.

"Now, Galbradi," I (again, the numeral) continued. "Thou hast two choices: we could layest seige to the American capital, or assault the elves of thy homeland. In the latter, thy brother and king's life is thine and only thine to take. Now, what sayest thou?"

Galbradi took a bit of time to ponder their next course of action. "High ShadowScythe Lord Mordred, Supreme and Emperor of the all the ShadowScythe, past and present, I say we eliminate the greater threat that is the Kingdom of the Elves."

Mordred smiled harshly under the darkness of his cowl. "Then we make for the Elven Kingdom. The invasion begins on the morrow." With that, the dracolich changed course, heading to Ireland, the last dwelling of the Elves.

< Message edited by Mordred -- 12/10/2011 19:30:44 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 3
5/17/2010 0:39:14   

Now, I won't bore you with the details of that invasion. Needless to say, the ShadowScythe Empire grew even larger, and there was one less king in the universe...

I digress (though you may think it isn't really a digression)... Anyways, after a few weeks of endless drilling and defending, Harry got the hang of exorcising; in a way strange to Lorians, that is. Most of you don't have silly lasers. So, Harry was too busy sniping the undead to notice the sky darken even more (volcanic ash had already darkened it). He didn't notice the wind kick up, or even hear the thunder (he was a tad bit on the deaf side. Or he simply didn't care. I don't. This tale isn't about him, contrary to belief). He didn't notice a thing until he heard a strange whizzing noise pass his ear.

Turning his head, he looked in bewilderment at an arrow embedded in the floor by his feet. It had missed him by mere inches. By using the scanners in his irises to calculate the trajectory of the missile, he discovered the source had to be above him (as if I'd need all that to do it). Not being completely stupid, he gazed upwards. And, rather stupidly, may I add, he didn't know what to make of what he saw. Instead of the airships he was accustomed to, he beheld the Flying Dracolich Citadel (F.D.C.). At first, the sight amazed him. However, the sirens began to blare around him, snapping him into action, along with the other soldiers. With the sound of an old, nineteenth-century air-raid siren ever-present, the soldiers began to take up even more defensive positions (namely, hide behind the wall made out of an almost indestructible titanium alloy). Harry ducked and rolled, adding his own laser fire to the scene. All weapons; turrets, pistols, missiles, lasers, drones, airships; everything was trained on that one, huge target.

The barrage, in all its fury, had no effect on the titan. Instead, it boiled the necromancers' blood, and in turn, forced the undead to make a move. In sync with each other, as if they were one mind, the archers took their bows and crossbows and rained painful death upon the living defenders. The effect was instantaneous. Soldiers reeled and swooned as the solid wall of arrows and bolts ripped through their light defenses and flesh. The screams of dying men became the chorus; and the whizzing of arrows and bolts, the tune. In this melody of bloodshed, almost half the military in the area was wiped out. Yet, the Americans still held their ground foolishly. Harry was among those unscathed by the barrage; he had hid behind the solid barricade.

His moments of life were short-lived. Not only the good die young... As he turned to see the next barrage begin, the catapults released their deadly and explosive payloads. Flaming boulders began their deadly arc, and grown men and women broke down and cried, or dropped their weapons and fled. As he saw this, O'Connel called the retreat; he was authorized to do so because all of his superiors, who had boasted that there was nothing to fear behind their barricade, had been struck dead. Their destination was a portal to an ancient military base, where they could regroup. They forgot all about the survivors.

Harry was stupefied; all he did was stare at the flames as they came down. One boulder was crashing right at the feet of the barricade, at the spot where Harry had taken shelter. He followed the boulder's path through the sky, and made no reaction as the metal before him was ripped open in a fiery burst of death. He made not a sound as shrapnel ripped through him and fire consumed his body...

< Message edited by Mordred -- 1/16/2011 11:30:37 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 4
5/17/2010 19:56:28   

Now that he has played his part, and awaits his requiem, I can introduce our true hero. Or, better, actor, for hero, he is not. For the moment... Here, we go to the quaint town of Falconreach, a place many can claim as "home". Yet you know almost nothing about it. All you know is why it prospered. I digress... It's a bad habit of mine... Anyways, here at Falconreach, there was a "hero" who rose above the others. His name was mentioned earlier, and shouldn't be confused with less... important people in history. He is... Enduras

This Enduras was the Candle of Hope, the Defender of Falconreach. He was a mighty warrior, DragonLord, and guardian. He was one of the few to stand up to Xan, even when he had that silly Pyrominicon, and survive Sepulchure and his burning hate towards the hero. Enduras only lived from the latter due to the wishes of a mysterious master, whom you will become well-acquainted with. He had fought bravely to secure all the Prime Elemental Orbs, and reclaimed those Sepulchure acquired by clandestine means. He tried un-fruitfully to bring peace to land, which had strangely become easier a few months back. Then, Sepulchure seemed to vanish off the face of Lore, and the ShadowScythe had been quiet ever since.

Now, what good dragonlord doesn't have a dragon companion? Note: emphasis on the key word, GOOD. Enduras's draconic partner was a red-horned and winged, black scaled dragon named Akriloroth. Not to be confused with Akriloth. The two had been together ever since that fateful year the Legendary Dragons of Prophecy hatched from their eggs. Right now, the two were standing solemnly on the cliff by the Guardian Tower; they were looking over the golden sunset.

"What do you think is next for us?" Enduras asked his dear friend. "The ShadowScythe are gone, it's the middle of the summer, the Orbs are all accounted for... All is at peace, and it's bothering me." The Dragon Amulet around his neck began to glow as Akriloroth spoke.

"I don't know," his voice rumbled. "but we haven't had any REAL fun since Kathool almost made you an adept."

"Thanks for reminding me." Enduras mumbled, embarrassed that any giant kalamari platter could've twisted his mind. "But, we're better off than Artix. He hasn't had fun since we stormed the Necropolis."

"That's for sure!" Akriloroth agreed, his rumbling laughter growing in his throat like cascading boulders. "But, who knows? Maybe fire monsters have given up on Battleon and let some undead have their turn. Then Artix'll have fun."

Meanwhile, Lord Voidstar of the Darkness Elemental Plane had forced the Avatars and Horsemen to convene in an emergency Council of Universal Significance. Attending were Celeritas, Avatar of Light, Temblor, Avatar of Stone, Khazri, Avatar of Wind, Kyanos, Avatar of Ice, Fiamme, Avatar of Fire, Haeas, Avatar of energy, Neso, Avatar of Water, The'Galin, or Devourer, Lorithia, the Creator, and the Horsemen: Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death.

"Why did you call us here, Voidstar?" Neso asked nonchalantly, reclining in her throne of seaweed and seashells.

"Because I'm paranoid!" he barked back, leaning foward in his throne of shadows. " I feel a presence, one that shouldn't be. It started only a few weeks ago, and it's getting stronger with each second."

"And this worries you, and more importantly, us, how?" Kyanos asked coldly, sitting on his glacial throne. "It's not like it could harm us."

"Oh, you're wrong there!" Voidstar shouted. "This is an old presence. One we once knew. I thought I took care of it, but now, it's back."

"What are you raving about?" War demanded from atop his blood colored war horse. "I know only of war."

"And isn't there a big one on Terra?" Voidstar pointed out.

"So?" War said, waving away the question. "It's probably just World War Five..."

"You know of war, brother, but not of the slain." Death hissed from under his cloak, demounting from his sickly pale horse. "I've only been getting children fom Terra. No adults. And yet, they die every second. All I can think of are necromancers."

"But who would bring necromancers to Terra?" Celeritas asked from atop her plasmal throne (plasma:it's what stars are made of, and now thrones!). She quickly turned on Voidstar. "Is that your fault!?"

"What?! No! At least, not directly..." he defended.

"Explain." Temblor demanded in his stern voice, his mountainous throne looming a bit higher.

"Well, you remember when we agreed not to meddle in worldly affairs?" Voidstar began.

"Yes..." was the simultaneous reply.

"Well, I kinda broke it. But for a good reason! I only tipped off some archmages about a threat. A threat to all of us. I thought they took care of it, but now, I think they moved it to Terra..."

< Message edited by Mordred -- 12/10/2011 19:32:22 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 5
5/24/2010 19:03:14   

"What is it, exactly?" Famine interrogated. He was quite large, short, and was eating a chickencow leg from atop his malnourished black steed. Its greatest suffering was that it was as mortal as its rider.

Voidstar mumbled some incomprehensible words.

"What was that?" Fiamme asked angrily from atop an enlarged replica of Drakonnan's fiery throne. She hated mumbling because she always thought it was about her.

Again, Voidstar mumbled, if a bit louder.

"Speak, man!" the Ga'lin commanded from the center of the room. Having no form because he wasn't Omega, he manifested himself as an orb of red ball lightning beside his wife/ girlfriend (unsure of which one Lorithia is. I don't care for relationships, only the drama that ensues.).

"I think it may be Mordred..." Voidstar finally spat out.

"Him?" Lorithia said with surprise. "He disappeared a few millenia ago. How could he get from Lore to Terra?"

"Those archmages, of course." Pestilence said broodingly. He was on a white steed, and his form was constantly changing between mis-matched parts of various pests of all kinds, even alien ones.

"We all know what he can do..." Voidstar cut in. "He wiped out the Dragon Lord Order, and he's our equal. I knew creating Prime Elemental Orbs was a bad idea! But nooo, my goody-two-shoes sister over there-" he gestured to Celeritas. "insisted that we give the mortals a chance to understand our power! And now, he's going to tear us down from our thrones!"

"He can't be quite as ambitious as that." Haeas said atop his mechanical throne.

"Of course he is. He knows what he is now. He's the same as our kind! We aren't the last. Now, there's one of us outside the circle of power. He slew his own father to try to restore balance to his life, and ultimately, all of Lore! What's stopping him from banishing some gods who abandoned him? Now, he has knowledge and power. He knows it's not just Lore we hold sway over, put the whole universe! He knows about the Void energy, the Eludinari, and his heritage! We must do something!"

"We can't interfere yet." Khazri said, soaking in this information. "He hasn't challenged us yet, and if he's as wise as we know he is, then he won't until he knows he can depose us and create this new, perfect universe of his."

"The question is not why, but how..." Death offered.

"That's easy. brother." War boasted, pounding his gauntlet on his black and red breastplate. "He won't simply overthrow us and hope people will join him. He needs the people first. And people switch sides when they have no hope. And hope is best lost in war. The magnitude of such a war, though, goes beyond even my imagination."

"Well then, we need someone to contain the war on Terra." Kyanos said in a matter-of-fact manner. "All they need to do is stall until we can find a way around our oath, or until Mordred slips up."

Neso chuckled at that. "He's gone to much too great lengths to mess up. No, we need someone to force him into making a mistake."

"Who, though?" Voidstar asked.

"What about Enduras?" Temblor offered. "He's the best there is, a DragonLord, and isn't biased towards any of the elements. And, he has connections with the Old Man of the Mountain."

"Enduras it is, then." Khazri summed up. "But, before we send him to Lore, why is that old pile of rocks so important to you, anyways?"

"I can't tell you." Temblor rumbled. "I don't want to compromise our shaky truce."

< Message edited by Mordred -- 2/25/2011 13:13:22 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 6
5/25/2010 21:46:00   

And now, here we are, back with Enduras. Laughing with his best friend, he no longer felt a nagging feeling that something was wrong. How very wrong and naive he was back then...

Meanwhile, on Terra, undead were pouring into the "impenetrable" defenses of the White Mansion, hoping to find some survivors or stragglers. They came down as Servants of Death on ropes lowered from the melancholy citadel. They overcame the area with their numbers; there had to be at least ten million of the soldiers there. As they pillaged, Mordred, his face still concealed under a hood, beheld the sight from the very top of the central spire. He was not even on the hundredth floor, but defying gravity by perching himself like a raven on the tip of a spike of obsidian that challenged the heavens. All was subjugated to his indomitable will, nothing could go wrong with his elaborate plan that took millions of years to concoct. But he didn't even pay attention to the victory, or the destruction, or the death, or the necromancy. No, it was all a ruse, and a light for the moth that would surely be drawn to it. He saw through it all, expecting the new player, or, in his mind at the time, tool, to enter the game. And he was not left unsatisfied...

Enduras, still laughing, felt that tugging feeling in his mind again. No, wait, it wasn't in his mind, but in his legs. In a great flash, the world around him, the world he had known so well, the world that was all he knew, shattered like glass. All around him was black, silent oblivion. He was falling, falling,falling...

With a jolt, there was something solid under him. He bounced up off the dusty, parched earth. Adapting to the situation, he caught himself and landed on his hands. From there, he sprung up to land on his feet. He slowly took in what he beheld. He was in Artix-palooza. All around were undead, who had been once pillaging strange Lorian-like people. But when he arrived, all ceased. Warily, Enduras pulled out his pistol, a souvenir from his time in Osprey Cove. He didn't yet know what was going on, so he made no motions. But, he turned his head suddenly when he heard a lone set of clapping hands.

Upon turning, he saw a large flaming boulder, maybe around twenty feet in diameter, embedded in the ground. A large plume of flame seemed to conceal the clapper. But, suddenly, the flames parted, and a single robed figure glided forth into sight, his black gloved hands clapping sarcastically all the while. At his sides appeared twelve other figures, eleven of them wearing robes like his. To the farthest left was Sepulchure. Surprised that his arch-nemesis wasn't the head of the party, for this new entity stood at the point of this arrowhead, Enduras eyed the group with genuine surprise.

"A grand entrance!" the man in the center said chillingly. He stood a full 6'1, and yet he was quite thin, about as thin as a human or elf. Under his robes were the ripples and ridges of powerful muscles, giving him a fantastic physique. All of the robed figures were similar in muscle mass, except for IX and XI. All of their robes parted at the waist, giving a coat-like appearance. All seemed to wear close-fitting leggings of dark cloth, with boots trimmed with silver flames. "Superb form!" the clapping figure continued.

"I might say the same of yourself." Enduras commented dryly.

"Ah, such wit!" the figure marveled, ceasing his mocking gesture. "What more could be expected of thee?"

"Who are you, and where am I?" Enduras questioned.

"Oh, you want answers now!" Sepulchure mocked. "Our compliments aren't good enough for you, old friend?"

The figure in the center quelled the ensuing snickers with a raising of his hands. "Who am I?" he said, asking himself, as if he hadn't heard the question for centuries. "I am all that's left. Or maybe... I am all that ever was..."

"Shut up with your riddles!" Enduras demanded.

"Fine..." the figure shot back, even colder than he was previously. Apparently, he was amused at first. "I am the TRUE Lord of the ShadowScythe!" He waved his arm in a dramatic sweeping movement as he said that, sending a chill through the air. "And thou art beholding the future hub of the ShadowScythe Empire!" As he said that, the flames licking at the sides of their party extinguished themselves, and a red ShadowScythe banner unfurled down the boulder's side. But this one was different. It had a new symbol that Enduras didn't pay attention to; thus, I need not go into detail yet. Instead, he noticed the familiar Doom Knight helm banners unfurling from the white structure behind him.

"So, I take it you have no use for me?" Enduras inquired.

"Oh, no..." one of the hooded figures said in a hurt tone, not sarcastically.

"We still need you." another jumped in, a tone of boredom in his voice.

"As if..." a third said, blowing off the previous comments.

"Bite thy tongue, Xarus..." the prominent High Lord said coldly, turning on the man. The man known as Xarus looked away, allowing the Supreme to turn his attention back onto the "hero". "We hath been watching thee for quite some time, Enduras..." he said chillingly.

"Glad to see even people at the top know of me." Enduras said, grinning. His face turned serious again in an instant.

"If thou thinkest that thy reputation proceeds thee, thou art as foolish as a dying man in a mirage of an oasis." His voice rang hollowly like knives of glacial ice. "I knew of thee before thou made a reputation for thineself. Thou thinkest thyself to be a 'hero'. I'll tell thee right now that thou art naught but a man who hath saved lives. It takes far more than that to be a hero. I digress... Down to business. Thou hath good intentions, and shalt wish to stop us. I have nothing against it. Rather, I enjoy the challenge. What use is a one-sided game when thou can play against another, even one as lowly as thyself? So, I have a proposition for thee: thou can play this game of ours, where thou can rise to powers only I hath dreamed of attaining as a mere mortal, or thou can strike me down right now in cold blood, never to find out what the ShadowScythe is really about." At that boast and challenge, his followers disappeared into elliptical portals of darkness.

Sepulchure had a few words to offer Enduras, whose blood was boiling, itching to slay the Master of the ShadowScythe, in whose name was much suffering caused. "'T'is folly to attempt to break the cycle without the means to do so. To throw one's self headfirst at the cycle that enslaves all, even the driving forces of this universe, is imminent destruction. Seek not that void of desolation." Before turning on his sabatoned heels and vanishing into the darkness, Sepulchure motioned toward the Master and shook his head as if to say "Don't even try." Thus, he,too, was gone.

Puzzled by such words, Enduras was at a loss. He snapped back into reality when he heard a light footstep against stone. Above, he saw the Lord slowly stalking back into a portal, his arms spread wide and his gloved fingers outstretched, seeming to invite an attack. At an incredibly slow pace, he retreated into the shadows, leaving Enduras surrounded by an army of the dead. It was his nightmare, and Artix's dream come true...

< Message edited by Mordred -- 2/25/2011 13:19:31 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 7
6/3/2010 22:59:32   

Slowly, Enduras reached for his backpack, hanging on his belt. It was quite weird, actually. Using his mastery over arcane forces, he had shrunk it down to the size of a walnut, and it was a mini pocket-dimension. He enlarged it, and withdrew a golden blade. Upon returning his pack to its previous size and taking the blade up in both hands, a tendril of light sprout from the glowing crystal embedded into the hilt, sending a glow out for miles. In his mind, he remembered what his ninjitsu master, Thyton of the Shadow of the Wind Village, always told him. Now, I will tell you what has been passed down upon our people for years, which originated from a man of great wisdom from far to the west. he remembered Thyton saying. Never make the first move...

At no known inclination, the undead shuffled, making a path to the white structure in the distance. Inside their heads, the same thoughts passed endlessly; never make the first move, keep the hero alive... This path merely left Enduras puzzled even more. He looked all around, and notice Sepulchure high up on one of the battlements of the flying citadel. The resolute villain merely motioned his enclosed head towards the path between ancient bones. Then he sauntered away, out of site. Wisely, Enduras again took his advice, now unsure of the man's true intentions. There, he found a swirling portal kept in check by a strange contraption of Lim's SCIE- ahem, I mean, science. It looked very similar to his black hole thing. So, he took a step inside, sure that it was where he needed to go...

"Who are you?" an angry man demanded Enduras. Upon entering the portal, he found himself in a strange place of metal with metal behemoths at work and men in camo looking tough with Drakel-like technology. Immediately, sirens had sounded, and he was taken away to a room filled with blinding light.

"Who?!" the man demanded again.

Enduras was disoriented, and held his gauntlet up, shielding his eyes. "Could you tone down the light, just a tad bit?" he asked. At that, the light died down a little, and he could see his inquirer. He was a strong man, with broad shoulders and a thick mustache. He wore the same uniform as the others, but on his shoulders was a strange symbol.

"Now, who are you?" the man asked, a little more calmly.

"Enduras Son-of-None from the town of Falconreach, 301st elite Knight of the Good King Alteon the Balanced." was the curt reply.

"Sir, we have no records of any of that information." a voice called out of nowhere, yet everywhere.

"You're lying..." the man seethed.

"He's not..." a familiar voice said coldly from the side of the room. Standing there was Loremaster Falerin in his usual attire.

"How in the name of heck did you get in here?!" the man demanded. "All the doors are sealed!"

"Hey, Falerin..." Enduras said flatly. He was rather embarrassed he needed a god's help to get out of trouble. The god of evil, no less! "What brings you here?"

"Oh, just heard some rumors of an up-and-coming tyrant.", he bantered, twirling his black gem-tipped staff/cane. "But, if you know your history like I do, then you'd know he's not up-and-coming at all."

"What are you two babbling about?!" the man demanded, acting as a third wheel.

"Hush, Terran." Falerin said coldly. "We're the only people who have a chance at saving you."

So, I'm on Terra... Enduras thought idly. "We're in deep trouble, aren't we?" Enduras asked gravely.

"You have no idea." Falerin confirmed. "I've scanned through the Abode, and even he was chilled at what I found."

"What exactly did you find?" the hero asked wryly.

"The possible identity of this Master of the ShadowScythe. Looking back about one thousand years ago, I found that one of the original DragonLords, a founder of the Order, in fact, went insane and killed the whole Order."

"Sounds like a blood-bath." Enduras said wryly.

"It was. Now, these guys are the DragonLord equivalent of the Paladin Lords, and he wiped them all out in a terribly long war. He gathered their Dragon Amulets and the Prime Elemental Orbs, and used them for something. A ritual. Something went wrong, and he destroyed or absorbed the power of all those Amulets. He nearly died, and lost something precious to him. Before he found out, the archmages and paladins gathered and froze him in enchanted ice."

"Guess he couldn't chill out, I gather."

"No. With his mind, he could still wreak havoc upon Lore. Finally, the surviving archmages sent him through Limbo to a far off land."


"It is similar to the Void, to Nowhere, except it bridges all dimensions, times, and universes into one. It's the heart of all that exists. And the birthplace of all demons."


"Indeed. Now, I think this character was sent into Terra's past. And that's all I have. We don't even have his name."

< Message edited by Mordred -- 4/9/2011 9:41:17 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 8
6/8/2010 22:25:54   

"Well, now that we've dispensed of such drivel, can we get down to my questions?" the man asked, his face flushed with surppressed anger.

"Drivel, you say?" Falerin turned on the man with his steely gray eyes. "You write off the knowledge of a Loremaster, who has read more and knows more than all of your so called "super computers" combined, as needless drivel? Such ignorance is not bliss, but complacency and complicit to the avarice that drives men of great evil."

"Well, as Sergeant here, I decide who I listen to." O'Connel, for that was his name, said.

"Oh, a sergeant..." Falerin mocked. "Do you know that this man before you is an Honorary Grand General of the Kingdom, elite ninja of the Shadow of the Wind Villages, Supreme High Technomancer in the eyes of gnomes everywhere, Scurviest Dog of the Lorian Seas, Hero of the Great fire Wars, Vanquisher of Kathool Achoo, Savior of the North Lands, Explorer of Ravenloss, Grand Hunter of Hunter's Paradise, Conqueror of the Necropolis, and Victor of the Sandsea. He should be questioning you. What say you?"

"I say that almost made no sense to me, except that conqueror thing. That seems to actually be some credentials for what we're up against." the man said.

"I couldn't tell..." Enduras mumbled sarcastically under his breath. "So, can you help us? You are the celestial god of evil, after all."

"I'm sorry, my friend, but I cannot." Falerin replied weakly. "As a god, I cannot directly meddle in mortal affairs. I may not abide by your rules, but the rules erected by those illustrious Eludinari long ago are shackles to even the gods. However, I will notify you of what I can in these matters. I suggest that you two get along an help each other. Enduras, craft armor and let a machine scan it so that it can be mass produced. The same for weapons. Sergeant, I advise that you listen to Enduras, and unlike Terran warfare, use him as your greatest weapon. I'll take my leave." And like that, he was just gone...

"So, what am I supposed to do with you?" O'Connel asked.

"Use me to your advantage." Enduras replied smartly. "I'm as much an enemy of the ShadowScythe, or even more, than you Terrans are now."

"What can you do?"

"Well, I'm a specially trained soldier of all known manners of warfare, a master blacksmith, fisher, an adept alchemist, and a decent wizard."

"Why did I ask?" O'Connel said dismally.

"What, you don't accept what you've been told and seen? How strange, a place where people don't listen to their senses."

"The senses of the human mind can be sent awry by the slightest thing."

"I've heard that somewhere..."

"I guess you can make us that armor now..." O'Connel said grudgingly.

"Alright, men!" Enduras shouted to all of the soldiers, who stood before him. "You've seen things no Terran has seen and lived to tell of before! You saw some very old objects, as well. For me, they are incredibly advanced, and your technology is ancient. Well, now, I'm about to combine the two. As you can see, I am wearing a special armor. Only those who fight with dragons by their side and give a generous donation of gold may wear this set of armor." He wore extremely heavy-looking armor. The pauldrons were topped with three spikes, reminiscent of dragon wings. Below those were some light rerebraces, before reaching wickedly pointed couters. Right below these were heavy, thick vambraces made of interlocking plates. In the centers of the top plate were elliptically shaped gems. The breastplate was also made of interlocking plates, and where there wasn't and platemail, there was chainmail. On his thighs were some simple cuisses. The poleyns were small dragon heads, directly attached to the greaves. Like the gauntlets, these were made of heavy, interlocking plates, and in the center of the shin were two more oval gems. Protruding dangerously was a multitude of spikes on each greave. The sabatons were simple, but for the heel being tipped with a backwards facing talon, and the toes were tipped with two, larger talons. Atop Enduras's head was a fully enclosed helmed, in the shape of a dragon's head, with teeth bared in a vicious grimace, glowing eyes, and a shaggy mane. The base was gold, and the trim platinum.

< Message edited by Mordred -- 2/25/2011 14:03:26 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 9
6/13/2010 18:00:29   

"For the sake of time, I will use your technology to craft some armaments. As I do so, the memory of this, this thing will record my actions and replicate them to mass produce these items. I see no fun in that." He turned away from the troops and placed his armored hands on a holographic "keyboard". With quick movements of his fingers, he manipulated many mechanical arms before him. They writhed around a large mass of nearly indestructible alloy, crafting it into new forms. Upon completion, they withdrew to reveal a finely crafted set; there was an elaborate Maximilian style of plate-mail, a dangerous, yet elegant looking flail, an eloquently crafted longsword, as well as a Zweihander, with many curving, beautiful parierhaken that swirled in unique designs, a few daggers, a lance, a battleaxe, a scythe with a blade so sharp a hair dropped on its blade with be sliced, a buckler, a kiteshield, a tower shield, a mace that looked to be as much for royal purposes as warfare, and different styles of helms, such as a nasal helm, armet, and barbute.

"Now, these are all good pieces of equipment..." Enduras continued. "But they haven't been enchanted yet. Which is why I have taught a few, select soldiers in how to do it, and they will teach all of you. What you will need is light enchantments, of course. The element, not the weight. Now, some instructors will show you how to suit yourselves up and use these weapons. You'll find them far more effective than your silly lasers. To your duties, men, and women, of course." With that, he retired to the control room and the soldiers attended to their new tasks.

High ShadowScythe Lord Mordred was traversing in the shadows of his great citadel, aimlessly being drawn to something. It's not that he needed to hide himself, but rather, he felt that undead and their masters were unworthy of seeing their master when unbidden to do so. As he roamed, he listened to the music he had set to constantly play in the citadel. There were eerie drums that beat like footsteps; slowly, and first from the left, the the right. With every third step, there was a sound like a sledgehammer beating on a cathedral bell. And then the electric guitar humming softly, in time with the organ that played long, slow beats. There were no musicians, only the eerie death march. He glided effortlessly, going down, until he was on the ground floor. Still, he went down further, no longer taking passages, but slipping through the obsidian and black jade like it was water, or rather, like he didn't exist.

Finally, he reached his destination. He was so deep into the mountain, he was inside the magma chamber. This was where those archmages sealed such a powerful being when he had not yet mastered his abilities and powers. It was much like an arena, with a pool of lava that surrounded a circular, slightly elevated floor, criss-crossed and ribboned with veins of magma. Embedded into this battleground were thousands of swords, with gray gemmed dragon amulets dangling off their hilts. Four paths split the mass of swords into four equal quadrants; each path led to the center. At the center were thirteen swords, with twelve arranged in a wide circle around the thirteenth. The twelve also bore drained dragon amulets, whereas the thirteenth did not.

This blade in the center was quite marvelous. The blade was at least six feet long, and crafted out of pure platinum by master elven blacksmiths, and enchanted by the best elven sorcerors to retain a sharp edge, extreme durability, and to be weightless. Etched into the blade were elven runes which read: To uphold and protect. The hilt was crafted of gold, and was formed much like that of a rapier, with a guard shaped into a wing carving around the knuckles, and a gem embedded into the handle's end. Never has there been a finer blade.

It was to this Mordred was inclined to, and he drew closer. As he did, he gazed upward to the ceiling. He had enchanted it himself so he could see through all the floors of the citadel; he could see all the denizens of the Necropolis, all his soldiers, and even the lesser ShadowScythe Lords. As he sidled up to the blade, he gazed around sadly, beholding his decrepit collection. The miasma of the place was almost as dark as his. As his eyes fell upon the blade he sought, he whispered a single name: "Ivanur...". As he did so, one of his gloved hands reached up to his shadowed neck, and with a clinking of metal, pulled out a Dragon Amulet with a blackened gem, and held it up to his hidden face. Meanwhile, his other hand moved to the blade, and as soon as his fingers grazed its familiar handles, his vision blacked out, and was filled with four words that glowed a harsh light:

To uphold and protect...

< Message edited by Mordred -- 2/14/2012 23:22:27 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 10
7/3/2010 0:53:57   

Mordred was a young elf, only around 100 years old, when he was allowed to follow his father, Mortimer, and become a miner. He adored his father. He was a hero to him, and his only parent. He had never known his mother. It was a hard life, and the mines were full of terrible creatures, and there was precious little to mine. Down in the dangerous mines, Mordred learned to defend himself from many a monster. But nothing had prepared him for that fateful day, when the face of Lore was changed forever.

Lore was young back then, The'Galin hadn't arrived, and the two greatest Orders you heroes know today, the Order of DragonLords and the Order of Guardians, did not exist. The Guardian Dragon was actually free! Shocking to you, no? You could actually see the Drakel out in the open, mingling with other species, such as the brutish, yet strangely welcoming orcs, the dominant elves, the poor little moglins, and even the warring humans.

I digress, why would you care? You aren't scribes, eager for such knowledge. Such knowledge is frivolous. Anyways, Mordred ventured deep into the uncharted parts of the mine, where resources were bound to be lying in wait. All he had to aide him was a suit of light leather armor, a basic shortsword, a pickaxe, a pack, and a lantern. Being somewhat wise, the young elf held the lantern ahead of him in his weaker left hand, and he gripped his sword with his better right hand. He soon forgot about his own well-being when he came upon his wildest dreams.

As he dived deeper into the dark corridors, the light of his lantern revealed something he never expected to find: running down the wall to his left was a vein of what looked like ruby. Tears ran down his cheeks as he thought of what a treasure could do for him and his father. Those thoughts quickly left his mind as he heard a terrible growl from further down the shaft. Peering through the darkness, he saw a terrible earth dragon snaking its thick, scaly neck from the gloom, and edge towards him. Mordred hastily placed the lantern on the ground and shakily faced his foe. He was backed up against what he thought were rubies, and his hand was behind his back, searching for something to hold him up and give him a better stance. He continued searching while the dragon growled at him, baring its teeth and edging closer. Mordred didn't notice the vein begin to glow, and when his hand grazed across the surface of the precious stone, he didn't believe what he heard.

The dragon was no longer growling, but speaking, in a heavy, deep rumble of a voice. "Get out of these mines, thou puny elf!" it snarled. "These shafts be'eth mine!"

"What didst thou just quoth?!" Mordred exclaimed in surprise.

The dragon was equally shocked. "Didst thou speak'eth in dragon tongue?" questioned.

"Nay, it is thou who hath spoken in Elvish." Mordred countered.

"How strange..." the dragon murmured. "Doth thou know of that yonder glowing rock?"

"Glowing rock?" Mordred said, perplexed. He turned back to see the "ruby" glowing a bright red. "Nay, I know naught of such things. Doth thou mind if I take some of it?"

"Nay, I daren't protest. Thou can take all of it, so long as thou taketh thyself and thy friends away from mine territory."

Thus, a bargain was struck. The mines would be abandoned, and the thirteen miners, seven of whom were human, could have all of the strange stone that allowed one to speak with dragons. However, that meant that they were out of jobs. The thirteen miners were driven into poverty, and tried to peddle their stone away in the streets of Swordhaven, where the Slugwraths reigned over a human realm. One day, Mordred had another streak of luck.

Mordred was in the streets, trying to grab anyone's attention. It was quite challenging, as most in Swordhaven fared even worse that the miners. However, when a lord mounted on a regal horse heard cries of "This stone is magic! It lets you speak to dragons!", he couldn't resist.

"Thou peasant boy, over here!" the lord cried out, pointing at Mordred. The elf wasn't a boy, but he looked quite young, and his shoulder length, disheveled hair hid his tapered ears. The lord spoke to him as he approached."I've got a proposition for thee..."

"And what of my friends?" Mordred asked, desperation and fear overpowering his senses.

"Thou have'eth friends? Good, good, boy! Yes, they will be of great service to me..."

It had turned out that the lord was the king himself, and he was losing a war against another rival human king. When he heard the boy talk of being able to speak to dragons, a plan formulated in his crafty head. He would use those who could speak, and thus, befriend, dragons as soldiers to turn the tide. He had the elves for indirect allies, who saw the rival human king as the greater of two evils. Slugwrath would use his connections to give the holders of the stone what they needed to become the fiercest warriors in the land: equipment, training, and most important of all: dragons.

So, the king made arrangements with the elves. The possessors of the stone were sent into the elven kingdom, and the greatest elves to ever live (besides those who would grow to become greater under their tutelage) gave the thirteen training, dragons to befriend and bond with, and their equipment.

Most of thirteen and those chosen to join their number bonded with dragons that had been around for some time. But not Mordred. He used his special training to quest for his egg, an egg that was perfect in all ways to him, for it had called out to his inner being. The result was his bonding with the dragon, Arthur. Arthur was either a light or wind dragon, or maybe even both, with white scales, golden claws, spines, teeth, and horns, and angelic wings of silver. The two soon became brothers in spirit, and had formed a pure bond.

Fifteen years passed as they trained and bonded. They learned to craft the stone into amulets around their neck, and unlocked their secrets. they learned that they could temporarily grow any dragon to adult size, that the stone was really crystallized dragon breath, and that the deadliest and most potent power was the ability to control dragons. Such a power could be used for evil. Not only did they gain such knowledge, but they became veterans in the art of warfare, and mastered the flight of their dragons. They numbered about a thousand, and they all had some of the best elven equipment.

However, the thirteen, being superior, were given blades and armor that surpassed the others. Really, they were only granted blades, each one unique and amazing. But, they were also enchanted to suit up their bearers in matching armor of equal quality. Each one did not choose their blade; rather, their blades chose them. And Mordred was drawn to the platinum and gold blade afore mentioned. As he took it up, with Arthur, now a well-sized dragon, at his side.

Mordred's armor and blade matched his personality perfectly. He always put others before him, and he was the most dedicated of the group. His armor was crafted of platinum. The sabatons, greaves, poleyns, and cuisses were close-fitting, made of a single piece of enchanted platinum, and light; thus, they did not seem to add much bulk to his lithe legs at all, while providing enhanced protection. The armor had no silly bases, and instead, gave way to a breastplate made of many interlocking plates that also added little bulk to the elf. His pauldrons rose up to his eyebrows, where they tapered down to a fine point. The rerebraces were also from a single piece and close-fitting. These gave way to ailettes that were fashioned into curving wings of gold that wrapped around his elbows. Then, he was wearing simple vambraces of platinum, also in one piece and close-fitting. His hands were enclosed in nice gauntlets. Upon his head was a finely crafted Spartan style helmet, with a plume of gold horsehairs that curved down to the nape of his neck. Flowing like water down his armored back was an enchanted cloak the color of platinum. The mechanics are quite odd. The cloak can wrap around the wearer with ease, and is embedded into the armor from under the pauldrons. Then, it emerges from the pauldrons to come up and form a sort of guard around the back of the head.

Now, while expensive, this armor sounds bland, right? Well, embellishing the armor were wings crafted from gold. Two wings on each foot came up from the ankles and wrapped around the graves, wings sprouted from the bottom of the pauldrons to rise up, and with round rubies held between the two wings on each pauldron, they formed small shields on his shoulders. A wing also came up from each of his wrists, carving up his vambraces and accenting the winged ailettes. To finish it, many of the plates in the breastplate were trimmed with gold, adding a finished feel to the armor. And with Mordred's long bangs falling down on his chest, and his long, smooth, slicked-back, dirty-blond, waist-length hair flowing down his cloak, he looked like a regal Paladin Lord.

< Message edited by Mordred -- 4/9/2011 9:51:10 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 11
7/4/2010 0:25:19   

However, while time was stopped for the flourishing DragonLord Order, the Slugwrath kingdom was engrossed in its death throes. The opposing kingdom's forces were bearing down on Swordhaven. But, the king knew that his earlier "investment" would pay off. He summoned his precious DragonLords, and waited. Fortunately for him, and this true account of events, he was not disappointed. His warriors came as his enemies pounded on the city gates, and rained fiery death upon them. They turned the tide of war, and became the most effective front-line soldiers in the realm. Possibly, the world. They pushed back the invading host, and forced the king to turn over his land to the Slugwraths. It did not end there. Soon, within a few decades, they had claimed all the human lands, stretching from the sea to the far west, and all the way to what is now Lolisia. The Order of DragonLords had accomplished the impossible: they had brought the humans together under one ruler, opening the door to peace.

Now that the DragonLords had established Order, they could settle down and erect their own code, and fulfil their duties to bring peace to the land. They built many outposts along the borders and key places, and set their stronghold, Dracoholme Castle, high up in the Draconis Ridge Mountains. They were perched in the very center of the continent, and the Elders, or the original thirteen miners, weaved their powerful magics to see everything that happened in their lands. When trouble was stirring, they could see it and send an agent or team of agents to deal with it. Often, one of the Elders, usually Mordred, would be sent. The DragonLords became diplomats, warriors, sorcerers, assassins, and judges. They became the most powerful organization on the face of Lore, with Mortimer at its head. And for a long time, they didn't abuse their power.

Over time, things changed. The seven human Elders died, and passes on their chairs and blades to either elf or half-elf students that were with them from the beginning. The Elders built their own caste-like system. There were seven Lesser Elders, who held jurisdiction over the law and the training of new recruits. Then, there were three Elite Elders who acted as masters over diplomatic missions and the bulk of the Order. Then, there were the three Master Elders, Mortimer the Wise, Balthasar the Sorcerer, and Mordred the Hero. The Master Elders controlled all wars and battles in the kingdom, and operated in secrecy. Often, Mordred was sent on assassination missions or into war, while Balthasar oversaw all that went on in the kingdom, and Mortimer looked into every major situation that required logical or ethical thinking. And beside every Elder was a dragon who helped with their decisions.

Unbeknownst to the Elders, their underlings soon became corrupt, with the weight of the even more heavily corrupt Slugwrath rule. While at first the DragonLords never put any charge or price on their services (much like the less effective Paladin Order that was pre-eminent only in matters of the undead), individual DragonLords soon began to charge towns or lords for protection or services. Often, they drove whole towns into poverty, either directly, or through the equally corrupt lords who only took the cost of their own needs from the towns they oversaw. All the Elders, even Balthasar, were blind to this, except Mordred, who saw all injustice...

By the time the Order had gotten to this point, it was several centuries old, and Mordred was even older. His hair had turned silver, showing his wisdom and power. Despite his age, his body never deteriorated, and his steely, ice-blue eyes hadn't lost their keen look. His face was still flawless, and his time as master over many a king had changed him. While he was no less for the people, his voice had turned cold and emotionless, and his manner equally cold and professional. In his travels, he had broadened his knowledge, and had mastered the arts of every kind of force, physical or magical. He trained as a paladin, mastered magic, proved his prowess with a bow, and even advanced the darker art of necromancy. While you may think it odd, it quite fascinated him. He personally knew the man who wrote the Necrominicon, and even created the fabled ritual that transforms one into a lich. He did it not for evil, but to better the world with knowledge. Not only was he a master over all forms of combat, but he was on good terms with the Elemental Avatars and the Great Dragons. He was the only mortal (well, he's really only half-mortal at this point) to know the location of every Prime Elemental Orb.

Deep down inside, Mordred seethed with hate and despised what the Order had become. Arthur, the now fully grown dragon, shared this hatred. It sickened him that the Order that had once stood to defend the people and kingdom now was the very enemy that deprived the people of basic necessities. The Order's despicable acts had actually already drawn the eye of The'Galin. He wasn't yet ready to act out on it, but still...

Mordred was walking through the stone corridors of Dracoholme Castle, on his way to meet up with the other Elders to try to plead his case again. Those filthy, deceitful, despicable creatures that were once my bretheren shalt no longer be a burden upon the people they hath sworn to protect, he thought to himself. No longer shall they blind their superiors!

Easy, Mordred... Arthur told him through their link. I can sense thine anger... It's dangerous to be so hateful.

Mordred thought of that as he turned around a corner to see a large DragonLord roughly snatch a pouch of coins from a man who wore nothing but a barrel. As he strode by, he heard the DragonLord shout angrily at the man, catching the Elder's attention and stopping him in midstep. "I don't care if thy town is penniless! I demand the full payment that thou owe me for my services! Otherwise, I can't guarantee that those bandits shant have any fun with the maidens of thy townsfolk..."

"Please, I beg thee!" the man implored desperately, getting down on his knees and grabbing hold of the DragonLord's cloak. "Mine people have nothing left to give! We have no gold, no tools, no food, no clothing, and no livestock! We have naught but our homes! People are dying every day? Doth thou have no pity?!" The poor man, who was probably a good lord who paid out of his own pocket at first for his town, began to sob.

Mordred quietly knelt down and patted the man on his bare shoulder. It was the middle of winter where he lived, and the beginnings of frostbite were visible on his skin. "All be turn out for the best..." he said coldly, but not unkindly, as he passes a large pouch of gold into the sobbing man's shaking hands. "Take this. It shall be more than enough for thy town and townspeople. Thy needs shall be met, and thou and thy people shall thrive this harsh winter."

"Bless thee, Master Mordred!!" the man exclaimed gratefully, still in some shock as tears of joy ran down his cheeks. "By the Avatars, bless thee! There is still some ounce of decency in Lore!"

"And thee!!" Mordred cried angrily at the DragonLord, who looked dumbfounded and fearful. Mordred helped the poor lord onto his feet before he continued to shout. His voice was still cold and professional, but hate and anger were dripping on his voice like excess blood drips off a blade. "Thou shalt defend this poor lord's town with no regrets, disdain, despite, protest, or complacency, free of cost. Thou hath dishonored me, the Order, and all that we stand for! And this is not for this winter alone! Thou shalt give thy complete services to this town until the end of thy days!"

"B-but, M-master M-m-mordred, sir, I-" the DragonLord began to protest.

"Is that clear, or doth thou need to clean out thine ears with volatile chemicals?"

"Yes, Master Mordred..." the Dragonlord resigned, spitting out the words.

"Good, now give back thy new liege-lord his gold, escort him to the nearest store, take him and his supplies to his poor town, and begin thy duties."

"Yes, Master Mordred..." The DragonLord stormed off to prepare his dragon for the one way trip. Before the lord could follow him, Mordred pulled him back.

"If he or any other DragonLord doth give thee trouble like that again, just send me word, and I shalt clear thy troubles away."

"Thank thee, Master Mordred!" the lord exclaimed, his eyes shining. "Thou hath saved my town! I shalt not forget this!" And with that, he was off to reclaim his life.

< Message edited by Mordred -- 1/16/2011 11:38:07 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 12
7/8/2010 22:56:51   

Mordred burst through the think, heavy, double doors of the Council Chambers haughtily. He was even angrier than he was before, for he felt that he was doing nothing to benefit the world, like he had dreamed since he had met the first Slugwrath. Instead, he felt he was plague upon those he wished to protect. It sickened him to no end.

Inside the chamber was a tall, semi-circular table with thirteen chairs arranged neatly behind it. Mortimer presided over the room at the center, with Balthasar to his left and an empty chair to his right. All other chairs were occupied. The Elders seated in them were staring intently at the last to enter.

"Why art thou so hasty, Mordred?" a younger Elder questioned. "T'is not like we shalt get anything done here today, or any other day." He said that last remark quite seriously. Apparently, they had been through this many times.

Immediately, Mordred put up a facade to hide his blazing fury. "My fellow Elders," he addressed cordially with his cold, professional voice. "we all know of the terrible state of the land of our oh-so-beloved king.'" At that, several of the Elders snickered. "And thou hath refused to believe it is our fault. And I say to thee that thou art blind fools who deny the truth with thine dying conviction. Thou hath carelessly brushed away my claims that our underlings are a benefit to such an atrocious, wicked, and heavily corrupt sovereignty."

"We hath heard thy sob story many-a-time, Mordred." another elder said dismissively. "All of what thou art saying is true."

"Fine." Mordred said coolly and politely. "Then how about this: if thou refuse to believe that our underlings are the perpetrators, then thou should also believe that we should've stepped into the affairs of the kingdom and set things right."

There was some murmuring among the twelve Elders at this. Blathasar turned to Mordred for answers. "What ever doth thou mean to say?" the old elf asked in a gravely voice.

Mordred smirked a little. They had fallen for the bait. "What I mean is that because we didn't stop the corruption, it has become a crippling trouble for the humans. Thus, it is our fault. Mine, and thine own."

Many of the Elders were taken aback by the accusation. "How dare'eth thee!" a lesser Elder cried out angrily. "We hath done naught wr-" Before he could finish, Mordred cut him off.

"Exactly. We hath done naught about the problem."

"And what doth thou propose we do?" Mortimer questioned.

Mordred thought intently for a while. "We could storm the castle and bring the corrupt bureaucrats to justice."

Again, the Elders were taken aback. "Art thou insinuating that we meddle in human affairs?" an Elder demanded.

"No, I am insinuating that we help steer the affairs of the whole continent away from war." Mordred countered. He slowly paced around the room, letting his cloak drag behind him. "The whole human nation is on the brink of civil war. Our Order is in the middle of it all. We cannot, and shalt not stand by while the world tears itself apart again. We saw what it was like before we rose to our heights. Doth thou wish for the world to be like that now?"

The Elder who spoke earlier was flabber-ghasted. "Well, w-w-we would n-never allow-w for such a thing to occur." he stammered.

"And before we can deal with that threat," Mordred continued. "we must to deal with our internal problems of corruption. At the moment, DragonLords are merely hired swords. And don't thou dare tell me that it is untrue, for I hath seen it with my own eyes. I just saw a DragonLord demanding money from a lord who had naught but a barrel to wear. I can stand it no longer. They doth not deserve the gift we hath bestowed upon them." At that, a new plan dawned on him.

"And what doth thou propose we do about that?" another lesser Elder asked sarcastically.

At first, Mordred didn't reply. He was lost in his schemes. When he finally spoke, he was certain and unwavering in his stance. "I say that we take ur gift back, by any force and means necessary..."

At this, the Elders' minds were blown by the sheer audacity of such a plot. The chamber was thrown into chaos in the insuing uproar. It was only after ten minutes of shouting and cursing that Mortimer was able to calm his fellow Elders. "My son," he spoke with tenderness in his old, wise voice. "such actions art unethical and immoral. Such a plan put forth to the Council hath been unanimously denied."

At that, Mordred stormed out of the room, fuming.

"Well, Mordred, it could hath been worse." Arthur consoled his rider. The two were flying far away from the stronghold, off to their home set into Smoke Mountain. They were currently over what you would call Oaklore Forest.

"How could it hath been worse?" Mordred asked.

"They could hath thrown thee out and banished thee from thy precious Order."

"The Order is dead to me. There is naught left for me but the reminder of human flaws, failure, and how the evil of their hearts infects even the seemingly good hearted elves."

"Thou art cheery..."

Mordred sniffed the air a bit, smelling a terrible burning smell. He looked down aimlessly to see a town burning near the forest's edge. "Look down there." he told his friend. In the smoke, a monstrous creature could be seen wreaking havoc. "A Class 5 Demon. It seems that this town hath not paid out to some DragonLord."

"Shalt we be of assistance?" Arthur asked eagerly.


< Message edited by Mordred -- 4/9/2011 10:05:59 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 13
7/11/2010 0:00:55   

Mordred and Arthur weren't the only ones who noticed the burning village. Riding the updrafts was a rookie DragonLord, Riane, and her dragon, Mylythia. "Mylythia, doth thou think those other DragonLords were right? That we should be taking money for our deeds?"

"Nonsense, dear." Mylythia said nonchalantly. "We art helping people the way they should be helped, with nothing asked for in return." Her keen dragon eyes spotted the fire with a dragon swooping down upon a village. "Look, Riane, a rouge dragon! Maybe we should try to convince it to stop attacking those poor people."

"I don't know, it looks much larger than thou art. I think we should turn around. We don't want to be a snack."

"Nonsense. We may be fierce, but we're not cannibals." With that, the two swooped down to the rescue. However, I must point out that Mylythia lied. Dragons are notorious cannibals. Under the right conditions. Not that I would know those conditions... *Hmhmhmhmhmhmhmhmhehehehehehehe...*

The villagers were fleeing in panic, trying to salvage what they could. They had given up on putting out the fires, and the demon made sure they didn't. However, they were instantly dismayed upon the dramatic arrival of the Elder DragonLord.

Arthur came down in a nose dive before pulling out, and hovering so as the gust created by his mighty, angelic wings put out the fires. Such an entrance aroused cries of "Oh no, a DragonLord!" and "Great! Now we shalt lose all our money to have some blowhard get eaten!"

Mordred quickly dismounted, pulling out his naked blade from his belt. Their cries of fear and anger only fired him up more. "Arthur, the demon!" he cried out to his companion.

"On it!" he snarled back viciously, leaping forth and tackling the demon to the ground, where the two titans wrestled each other.

In the meantime, Mordred rushed into the buildings(most were still standing) to evacuate any stragglers. The people resisted at first, for they were sure he was expecting a heavy payment. When they found out that he was the Elder Mordred, however, they quickly realized their folly and fled to safety.

When his task was complete, he rushed outside to aide his friend. In the smoky sky, he noticed an odd shape headed directly towards Arthur, who was on top of the demon. He quickly realized what was going to happen, and rushed into action. He had been in a dark alley, wedged inbetween two widely spaced buildings when he noticed. Without thinking, he had placed one foot up against the wall of one, and using all of his elven strength, he pushed back, vaulting him to the other wall. He quickly turned and repeated the motion, with both his legs this time, and in such a fashion, he had made his way to the roof in seconds. He didn't waste any time, and began leaping from roof to roof in order to stop the flying object. He was at the top of the town hall, which was the tallest building in the village. By that time, the object was dangerously close to its destination. Mordred took a leap of faith, and landed right onto the back of a purple-scaled dragon.

His sudden weight had surprised the dragon, and sent it off course. It ended up crashing right into the forest, where it lay, stunned. Mordred leaped off, ready to slay the beast, when a sword he did not see before suddenly came into view. Being an elf, it seemed to move in slow motion, and he easily parried the death-blow. He then turned to face his human opponent.

She wore cheap armor, made out of thick leather with a few plates of steel sewn in, and wielded a notched blade that had seen better centuries. Wearing no helm, her raven hair fell onto her shoulders lazily. "Thou art obstructing official DragonLord business, assailant, and hath just struck down my dragon. For this, thou shalt die." She began her attack again, showing her training, or lack thereof.

"Then I hath done that town another favor!" Mordred cried between blows. He was simply toying with her, and merely blocking her every strike. "The Order is a shadow, a mockery of what it once was!"

"How dare'eth thee!" the DragonLord cried angrily. "I hath always dreamed of joining the elite, and thou art soiling their name, foul warrior!"

"The elite? What a joke thou art telling me. I know few elites among the number of the Order. All of them art greater than thou."

"How would thou know these elite DragonLords?"

"Tell me, first, fair lady; who could possibly stand before an Elder of the Order as a superior?"

"None, save one of the great powers of the universe themselves!"

Mordred, tiring of the game, knocked her blade out of her hand, and held her neck at sword tip, six feet away from him. "Then why doth thou think that thou art my superior?"

It took the DragonLord a while to figure out what he meant by that. Her eyes widened as it dawned on her. "M-my apologies, Master...?"


She nearly gagged at his name. "Thou art the Great Hero himself?" she asked in disbelief.

"Yes. Strange, if thou know of me, how didst thou not recognize me?" He asked this as he made a beckoning motion to her fallen blade. It sprung up and jumped into his palm. He closely examined it as he replaced his bare blade at his hip, where his cloak quickly hid it from sight. With his right hand, he placed some powerful magics along the blade to strengthen it. As he returned it to her, he asked: "And what may thy name be?"

"R-riane, sir..."

"Well, Riane, I shalt have to find thee a proper trainer. In the meantime, we must finish with the demon." He coldly stalked off to rejoin the battle.

"I bet, someday, we shalt laugh about this." Riane said nervously.

Mordred chuckled a little before responding. He didn't even turn to face her as he spoke. "He who laughs last thinks slowest." He then turned around a corner in the trees, leaving her behind.

Riane, thinking it was a joke, laughed awkwardly. When she calmed down, she thought about the task she had just been assigned. "Wait, didst thou say, 'demon'?" She quickly ran after the Elder DragonLord, not knowing what was about to happen.

< Message edited by Mordred -- 4/9/2011 10:01:52 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 14
7/25/2010 19:37:32   

Mordred emerged from the forest to find himself on a hill overlooking the brawl below. Using his bond with Arthur, he clued him in on his developing plan.

Arthur, hold him off until I'm able to get him cornered on three sides. Then thou shalt take the fourth.

Very well.

After this brief "conversation", Riane appeared at Mordred's left side. He immediately took charge. "Riane, thou shalt go in from the right. Wait for my backup and myself before thou show thyself."

"It shalt be done, sire." She saluted and headed off to the right to await further commands.

With her gone, Mordred prepared his ritual. Taking Ivanur, he ran a single, armored fingertip through the blood that lined the edges of the blade from where Riane had been nicked. He then traced this finger in the ground, drawing a small pentacle out of the blood of a warrior. He chanted an incantation in his mind, and within seconds, the earth began to bulge and shift as something deep below crawled to the surface. Leaving a gash in the earth in their wake crawled forth a band of undead warriors who had long since died to protect the village. Their armor was ancient, and their blades duller, but they had inhuman strength, much like an elf, and unrivaled endurance. Their commands were given to them through Mordred's thoughts. My allies, I hath awakened thee from thy slumber to plead for thy help. I know, by searching through thy very souls, that thou hadst once defended this town. I beseech thee, aide them this one more time. All thou must do is go in from thy left and keep our quarry cornered, and I shalt take care of the rest.

The skeletal soldiers huddled together and clacked their jaws amongst their party. They agreed upon something, and the leader turned back to Mordred to speak in the language of the dead. What he said meant: "Very well, half-mortal, just so long as thou return us to our peaceful stay in the fields."(You should know what fields he spoke of, as he was in the Underworld.)

Mordred responded in kind: "As thou and thy friends request." And thus, the undead sauntered off to the left, and Mordred bounded directly towards the fray. Being an elf, he had speeded ahead of both Riane and the undead, and waited in the shadows. There he crouched, until he saw both coming in towards the scuffle. Before making their presence known, Mordred instructed Arthur of what he was to do when he sees them close in.

Thus, they sprung out from their respective sides, closing in on the roiling mass of scales, horns, teeth, claws, talons, feathers, and leathery wings. Upon doing so, Arthur pushed his muscled, golden-scaled legs against his foe, leaping back and taking a fourth side. Now free, the great demon stood up on its equally powerful legs to eye its new threat. He stood a whole ten feet tall, without including his black horns, which rose another two feet; and both curved to his right. He had a monstrous maw of spiny teeth, and eyes like fiery rubies. Upon his bare chest seemed to be a ruby amulet, which was fused with his scaly flesh. He had four arms, each with terrible claws for fingertips. Sprouting from his back were leathery, bat-like wings that had a wingspan of about ten feet. Below this was a powerful tail, with thrashed about, much like a flail, for it was ridged with dangerous, red spines of demon bone, which is the hardest of all natural bone. Around his waist was a simple, torn, black loincloth. His legs were quite humanoid, except that his feet had dangerous talons at the ends of his toes. He hovered in the air, with an aura of power and malice. His miasma was quite lively, and hung in the air like a summer day's heat.

"Who dares to attack me?" he bellowed, searching for his biggest threat.

"I hath dared!" Mordred cried defiantly. "I am Mordred the Hero, the defender of these lands!"

Recognition passed across the demon's terrible visage, before he erupted in roaring laughter, a terrible, cruel laugh that could be heard throughout the whole forest. "So, thou art the one who hath send me finest generals back to our accursed Limbo, bawling like implings! Thou art responsible for the despair of my people. Well, thou hath met thy match. I am Krag'Triskeroth, King of the Demons, Master of Limbo, Chaos incarnate, and Emperor of Hell! I shalt conquer this world, and use Limbo as the gateway to further conquest of other worlds!"

"Other worlds?" Riane asked, forgetting who it was she was asking. Mordred had the same question, but he hid his lack of knowledge, not wanting to look lower that a demon, even if he was a king.

Krag'Triskeroth roared with laughter again. "Thou know naught of what lies out there, doth thou? I presume I can enlighten thee before I wipe thy existance away from this plane. Limbo connects all times, dimensions, universes, and places." Mordred had already known that. It was simple knowledge to one such as himself. "Thus, I can use Limbo as a bridge to other worlds, and maintain dominion over all of existence."

"A game can do all that?" Riane asked seriously. Krag'Triskeroth didn't understand. "Well, if thou art master of the game Limbo, why don't thou prove it? How low canst thou go?"

Mordred lightly pinched the top of his nose between the eyes out of frustration. He regained his composure, and faced the demon king. "Thou shalt not pass." He said calmly, turning Ivanur toward his foe.

"Then know despair!" Krag'Triskeroth cried, leaping forward at Mordred. With those deadly talons homing in for the kill, it looked like the elf was done for. Even as he leaped through the air, the demon grinned maliciously.

Mordred remained calm in the face of death. At the very last second, he twirled his wrist so that the flat of his blade was between him and the demon kings cruel hands. Krag'Triskeroth could do nothing as his farthest reaching hand collided into enchanted platinum. Upon impact, a wave of fire arced through the air around the combatants, no doubt propelled by the demon's lost momentum. The demon couldn't believe what had happened, and failed to react in time for Mordred's next move.

"My turn." was the only chilling warning before spinning around, whirling his blade above his head. When his back was turned, he brought down Ivanur to his right hip, extending the razor edge past him and plunging it into Krag's hip. A full three feet must have sheared through burning flesh and bone, extending a foot and a half through the demon's body.

The fleshwound elicited a terrible roar of fury from the grotesque creature's maw. Mordred quickly retracted his weapon, sending searingly hot blood all around, leaving drops to bubble and boil. Looking around with his blazing eyes, Krag'Triskeroth saw Riane, and formulated a plan. Limping on his wounded lower body, he slowly paced around his "corral". "Thou mayst be able to stand up to me," he seethed, feigning weakness as he spoke. "But canst thou all?"

Mordred's eyes widened as he realized what was about to happen. As the demon began whirling around his tail at Riane, Mordred erected a magical barrier around her frail human body. There was a great crunch as the powerful tail crashed with the barrier, shattering it in the process. His tail continued, and collided with Riane in her stomach. The went flying back and crashed into a wall with a sickening crunch of breaking bones. She collapsed in a pile of mangled flesh, her limbs contorted into odd angles. Fortunately, thanks to Mordred, she was alive. Maimed, but alive.

The demon was leaping into the air after her, intending to crush her under his bare heels. Before he was even four feet off the ground though, Mordred grabbed onto his tail with his left hand, and with a powerful yank, pulled Triskeroth to the ground unceremoniously. With his arms and wings splayed out on the ground, he was an easy target, especially since all he could see was dirt.

Mordred knew what the demon wanted to do, and permanently took away his ability to take such action. With two deft downward slices, Mordred cut through both of the king's wings, tattering the flesh between the bone "fingers".

Emboldened by the pain, Krag pushed Mordred off of him, sending him crashing into a building. Standing upright on wobbly legs, he looked at his mutilated wings with despair. He then turned his burning gaze on the perpetrator. "Now it's personal." he seethed with blazing fury. He crashed all four of his fists into the hard stone ground, shaking Mordred on his already unsteady footing. But his hands sank deeper than that, and the impact had carved out a rough boulder. Krag'Triskeroth piked this up from the ground and raised it above his head, making it look like he was going to crush Mordred with it. Instead, he smashed it against the earth, rending it in two. As the two pieces fell away, a new form of stone was visible in the demon's hands. Now, he held a weighty, seven foot long blade of stone. It was a broadsword, with dangerously wicked ridges pointing out at the tip, obviously for rending flesh. He sent a surge of heat through the stone, lighting up ridges in the stone with a fiery glow.

As Mordred watched in awe of the craftsmanship of the stone blade, he traced his hand over his blade, layering it with pure magic. Back in the day, magic didn't have to be elemental. Magic didn't have to heal. It could form solid objects, empower items with energy, anything that the caster was capable of handling. Upon empowering the entire length of Ivanur, he made a horizontal slash in the air, sending a powerful shockwave at the demon.

This was blocked with ease by the king's massive blade. However, while he couldn't see through the flat of his blade, which he had brought up to his face to block the shockwave, Mordred charged forward, striking at the gash he had made in his foe's flesh. But, the demon's senses were as keen as any elf's, and he twisted his body away from the deadly blade.

While the demon recovered from the pain of such movement, Mordred called out to Arthur, who stood by, not interfering. "Get the girl to safety! I shalt hold him off!"

Without a word, Arthur gingerly picked up the girl's broken body and ferried her to the crowd of townspeople who had gathered in the fields. As he did so, he used his dragon magic to mend the broken bones.

Meanwhile, the undead had grown restless. They didn't want to see an elf beat down a demon with ease. They wanted to fight. And fight they did. With a terrible death knell created by the banging of bone on metal, they leaped forth, pouncing on Krag'Triskeroth's broad back, holding on for dear unlife.

The king bellowed in rage."How dare thee! Is this how the honorable Mordred fights!? By setting thy dogs of past war upon me, like I were scraps of thy banquet?!" He writhed around, trying to dislodge the six or seven undead with his three free arms. With the fourth, he struck out wildly at Mordred, nearly cutting off his head.

Mordred ducked the third blow, even as he was beginning a spell in his mind. Before Triskeroth could bring his arm down for another blow, Mordred released the magic building inside of him, spraying a sub-zero mist of icy death that crawled over the sword bearing arm of the demon. In seconds, it had completely frozen over, and his chest was partially frozen.

Krag'Triskeroth looked down at his frozen arm, staring at it for a second. He then bellowed again, his fury multiplying his strength. With but a flex of the incapacitated limb, he shattered the ice, and Mordred's plan. Still enmaddened, he succeeded in throwing his foes off of his back, sending all of the undead flying through the air to land in piles of bone and metal. He bent over, balling himself up, before bursting into flame, driving Mordred back at his heat. When Mordred had jumped back a good distance away, the demon executed a perfect backflip, sending the fire on his body in a solid wave at his foe.

Mordred barely had time to dodge it to his left. So close was he to the assault that his cloak was nearly singed. Nearly. Even as he regained his bearings, the king began his next attack. Taking in a mouthful of air, his eyes began to glow in a terrible red aura. He pulled back his head, closed his eyes, and suddenly inclined his head forward, opening his eyes. In that blink, the demon's energy had built up into a ray of death that would incinerate all in its path as effectively as thermite.

Mordred didn't think about his next move. Even as the deadly beam headed for him, he reached with his mind into the earth below the demon's feet. He sensed life, a strange, unkown flow of life that he could not tap into and use, like he could with the flow of magic. Instead, he let it swallow his own, tiny pinprick of life, becoming one with it. He was both himself and a fifty foot deep patch of stone with an unearthly being standing on top of it. All of this happened in milliseconds. Unconciously, Mordred brought up his free, left arm in an upercut, even while he was connected with the stone.

Two things happened. One, Arthur landed on the ground behind the demon, retaking his place. Two, the stone came up in a solid, unflinching fist that uppercutted Krag'Triskeroth, sending him crashing to the ground on his back, where he stayed, panting heavily. The uber energy beam was knocked off target, slicing a house in half instead of Mordred. The second occurrence was so shocking, sudden, and loud that it forced Mordred's spark back into himself fully. He was a bit surprised by what had happened.

The undead, who had recollected themselves and pieced back together, grabbed on to the demon's limbs, holding him down. Mordred came up from between the king's legs, removed his helmet and held it by his hip, and placed Ivanur's tip on the stone set into the demon's chest. This was his heart stone. When a demon reaches a certain height of power, they develop a heart stone, which is an unlimited pass in and out of Limbo. But, it's a one stone deal. If it shatters, the demon's sent back to its prison, and can never develop a heart stone again.

"Go back to where thou hadst come from, or I shalt force thee." Mordred said calmly. But Krag'Triskeroth saw and heard a completely different being before him.

Looming over him, Mordred was still a good 6'1, but his appearance was quite different. Where his armor was once platinum, it had turned into a jet black metal that reflected no sunlight. Where there were once golden wings there were cruelly carved spikes and horns of harsh gold. Inlaid into the black metal were swirling, gold designs of an arcane nature. The gauntlets' fingers now had viciously pointed knuckles that when curled into a fist transformed Mordred's hands into masses of spiked metal. His cloak had turned a dark gray color, and had a strange symbol as red as blood. Not only that, but it was unfurled and billowing in a non-existent wind, along with his now jet black hair. His face had grown pale, almost as white as the moon. His cat eyes had turned from an icy blue iris to irises of dried blood. He no longer held a helmet, but instead, his stance was one of superiority. Now, his left leg was pressing down on the demon's chest, squeezing out his precious air. Worst of all, Ivanur had transformed as well. The silvery-grey of the hilt had changed to a dull gold, and the once blue crystals were now crimson. The blade had blackened with the armor, and now had an edge of eerie, blue flames that didn't flicker, but stayed a solid aura. The runes, now glowing with the eerie flames, now read: To punish and enslave. The blade, while still as wide, had grown a full four feet in length, becoming a ten foot long blade of death that pierced both the demon's heartstone and flesh until the last two feet sank into the ground. It was no longer Ivanur, but the Bereaver. When the real Mordred spoke, this dark illusion spread black, raven wings from underneath his cloak before speaking. "On thine knees, I wish for thee to beg for forgiveness." His voice was colder, more professional, and bellied no emotion except for hate and cruelty. On the stressed syllables, he inched the Bereaver even deeper into Krag'Triskeroth, and pressed down harder with his heel.

The illusion was over after that, but was far too real for the demon. So real was it that his heart stone broke in two, and he could feel the wound from the Bereaver as clearly as the wound on his hip. He flailed his arms about in fear, even as a portal into Limbo opened beneath him. The undead and Mordred backed away as the saw it open into swirling oblivion. Even as the demon sank into it, he reached for whatever he could for comfort. The thing he grabbed was the end of Arthur's tail, who had taken to the skies. The dragon tried to pull free, but for those who know about the Dead Man's Grip, you know it was all in vain. The demon had seemingly become a part of Arthur, dragging him into Limbo with him, until the two were gone, and the earth became whole again, leaving Mordred behind...

< Message edited by Mordred -- 12/20/2011 16:24:53 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 15
7/30/2010 22:17:32   

Mordred dropped his helmet to the ground, in total and complete shock. He could feel nothing. He could hear nothing. When Arthur was dragged into Limbo, their connection was severed, leaving Mordred to rot.

Something snapped inside him that day. Even as he felt complete and utter emptiness, his plan about the Order came back to mind. This time, his own voice was steadily and evenly talking to him in his mind. They doth not deserve our gift... his mind whispered. We shalt take our gift back from all of them. The young ones... the veterans, even thy fellow Elders...

Them? But why? the tiny bit of heroic sanity begged.

Because they art in league with the corrupted. Didst thou see how stoically they defended their underlings? They are just as guilty... and they shalt pay, by our hands.

But how?

Thy power exceeds those of all the others... Thou couldst take on all of them at the same time, and emerge victorious. But first, we need the Orbs.

Yes, the Orbs... Now, the bit of the old Mordred was gone, replaced by this new, dark entity. With each Orb, I shalt bring one of the Orders enemies under my army, until all those who hath been oppressed by the Order hath formed an alliance of such power that no one could stand up to us. Yes...

Mordred's dark thoughts were interrupted by the undead. "Master Mordred, sir, we hath se-"

"Leave me..." the elf seethed viciously.


"Return to thy slumber."

The leader of the undead didn't speak for a while. Finally, he said "As thou wish." With that, they marched back to their graves, and once they had settled nicely, Mordred broke his connection with them, freeing their souls. He promptly sealed up the earth over them with his mind, not caring for how much damage it caused to those sleeping below.

Meanwhile, the townspeople were returning to their homes to inspect the damage, grateful that their village was standing. The mayor had set out to find the brave DragonLord who had saved them and thank him. The mayor walked up to Mordred, who had just noticed him. The poor, foolish man didn't notice the blazing fire in the elf's cat-like eyes as he spoke to him. "Oh, thank thee, DragonLord! Thou hath saved our town!"

"I guess I did, didn't I?" Mordred said absently, gazing up at the darkening sky. Even as he said it, rain began to fall onto their heads, and in moments, it had began to pour, washing away the blood.

"What happened to thy mighty dragon?"

"He's no longer with us..."

"Oh... I'm so sorry... We can compensate for thy losses, though. We can spare thee about a hundred thousand gold pieces. What say thee?"

"Nothing can compensate for my losses. However, my payment," Mordred turned to gaze at the still ignorant man. "shalt be in blood."

When the rain began to pour down upon the land, the water woke Riane with a start. She instantly remembered what had happened, and got up, limping to where the carnage had taken place. She had been in the fields, on the opposite side of the town where the battle was. She took the long way, going around the town to find Mordred. She had just rounded the last building's corner when she stopped dead.

As soon as she turned, she saw Mordred speak some words to a man, before whipping Ivanur around at his neck. She couldn't bear to see what was inevitable. Instead, she hobbled around in the opposite direction, trying to get to where Mylythia had crashed as fast as her weak legs could take her. She only glanced back to see the town walled up in stone, no doubt to keep the victims trapped while they were stalked. Riane grew sick at the thought of what was happening down there. Soon, she had found her way to the crash site. Mylythia still lay unconscious, but Riane wasn't going to let her stay that way.

"Mylythia!" she shouted at the dragon. "Get up! We need to get out of here!!"

"Urrrggghh, just five more minutes..." the dragon murmured sleepily.

Riane knew there was only one thing to do. She grasped her dragon's ear in her hands and bit down with all her remaining strength.

Mylythia roared, now fully awake. "Owwww!!!" she yelled, grasping her ear. "Why didst thou bite my ear?"

"No time to answer. We need to get out of here now, or we're both dead."

"What's going to kill us?"

"I'll explain later. Right now, I need to speak with the Elders at the Stronghold." Riane painfully got up on Mylythia's back, and the two leaped off of the ground, speeding to the west...

< Message edited by Mordred -- 1/16/2011 11:40:45 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 16
8/8/2010 17:24:48   

"Thou have to let me see Master Mortimer right away!" Riane pleaded with a burly DragonLord guard, who stood on watch outside the Elders' Chamber.

"None shalt enter this chamber." the guard said calmly, staring forward. "Only the Elders and human officials may enter."

"But it's about his son!"

There were some movements in the chamber at those words, as if they forced motion. Even the guard's mask of a face was moved.

"Let them in." a stern voice called out from inside. The guard had no choice but to obey, and stepped aside, using a few magic words to open the double doors for Riane.

Upon entering, she was faced with stern, old elves who were either staring at her with annoyance, staring at Mortimer with anger, or nonchalant about the whole thing.

"What about Mordred could possibly deserve our audience?" questioned Balthasar.

"Well, there was a town, and it was burning to the ground. At first, I thought that Mordred's dragon was a rogue and had attacked the village. After he knocked us out of the sky, me and my dragon Mylythia, I found out it was a demon that had attacked. Thus, thy son, his dragon, some undead, and myself cornered the infernal creature, who turned out to be their king, explaining the rise in demon activity. I was knocked out, and the next thing I know, I was injured and it was raining. I found that Mordred's dragon, the undead, and the demon were all gone, and Mordred was talking to someone when he sliced his throat. I ran to tell thee of this when I saw him besiege the village. I was forced to revive Mylythia and flee. But on the way, I looked down on what was now ruins of the village, and he looked right at me. He knew where I was going, and he let us live on purpose. He could hath slain me, but didn't. And then, we came here, and here I stand before thee." The whole time, Riane looked at Mortimer, and was pained to see on his old face shock, anguish, and defeat.

After a long moment of silence, Mortimer finally spoke. "Who else knows of this?"

"None, save for thee."

"Good. Hath thou any speculations on the occurrences of the incident?"

"None, save for that something must have happened to his dragon."

"What course of action shalt we take?" an Elder asked his superior.

"We wait." Mortimer said simply. "Even in the throes of madness, my son would know never to make the first move, unless it is so carefully prepared for that there is no risk. If we were to strike, he would defeat us and retaliate so harshly that he might destroy our Order."

"What!? But why should he do such a thing?" Riane blurted.

Mortimer looked sadly at the poor girl. "My son, he is convinced that the Order is corrupt. His last words to us were those of a plan to take back the Amulets we gave to our underlings. This would, in effect, clear the board for a new DragonLord Order. However, in insanity, I am sure that he possesses the power to execute both his plan, and all who stand in his path of destruction. His condition is only worsened by the lack of a companion to sort his thoughts. I hath been blinded by my pride and love for him." Mortimer stopped as he shed a tear. "I realize now that he hadst been insane for quite some time, now. All that kept him from the brink of delusion was Arthur. Now, he is split with insanity and his desire to correct the world. He will try to recreate everything as we know it, by any means necessary."

Seven long years had passed since that meeting, and now, the Order of DragonLords was on the brink of destruction. Mordred had waged a terrible campaign, using all of his skills and intelligence to assassinate some of the Elders and high figures, and earn the trust of those who were once his enemies. One by one, each of the Prime Elemental Orbs had fallen before him, bringing more allies into his great army, the likes of which had never been seen before in the history of Lore. His great army was composed of elves who had feared the corruption of the Order, the oppressed humans who despised their rich masters, orcs(Mordred defeated their previous leader in combat, making him their new leader), bandits who wanted King Slugwrath's gold, and of course, undead.

Now, Mordred was leading his army through the mountains at the center of the continent, making his way to the stronghold. No longer could Balthasar see all that went on in the land, for the other DragonLords who had acted as his eyes were now dead, leaving him next to blind. Of the Elders, only Balthasar and Mortimer remained, with but a few hundred followers. Mordred had an army of ten thousand with him. He was going to destroy what he once was the face of in one fell swoop. And he felt nothing.

Quite strange, actually. He had personally killed his friends, and he didn't feel a thing, except for the anger and hate he had for all in the Order. His morals had vanished. Or, rather, he hadn't yet done a thing that would force him to face himself. But all of his experiences had taken a toll on him physically. He had long abandoned his helmet, letting his hair flow freely, and his eyes had become sunken and... odd. They didn't look human any more, for they hid his soul from even the keenest eyes. His skin had paled to the point where he was white

I digress. It was around the time Frostval would have been if it existed. The mountains were cold and snowy, making it torture for one to see anything through the blizzard they were in. But Mordred didn't need to see to guide his army. He was so confident in his abilities that he didn't even bring the Orbs with him. He just left them in his Smoke Mountain Lair, guarded by powerful spells that only a group of Archmages could break.

They had been marching in silence when a terrible roar made itself audible over the howling wind. Behind Mordred, the troops murmured in fear and suspicion.

"Don't thou worry, lads!" Mordred cried out behind him, the wind carrying his voice a farther distance than it normally would have gone. "Tis only a dragon. It means we art approaching their hide-out!"

As if on cue, the dragon's silhouette appeared in the sky, blurred by the snow it struggled against. Mordred, knowing dragons could wreak havoc on any army, entered its defenseless mind and uttered a word of death, killing the creature. He watched as the shadow fell out of the sky, smiling with cruel pleasure.

"Onwards!" the conqueror called back to his army, beginning to trudge through the snow again. They continued their marsh for about an hour or two until Mordred held his hand up as a signal to stop. And at his command, his troops stopped, high up the frozen mountains, where they had no help from the outside world and could have died of various low temperature related circumstances. Talk about dedication.

Then, after the longest of times, Mordred made a motion with his hands as if he was brushing something aside. Upon doing so, the blizzard ahead of them parted like the Red Sea, revealing a smooth bridge of naturally carved rock that crossed a ravine and led to the foot of a gray stronghold with banners of the DragonLord Order.

< Message edited by Mordred -- 4/9/2011 9:44:36 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 17
9/14/2010 18:58:55   

Of course, this massive host wasted no time in beginning their assault. They quickly broke down in the snow and began to assemble their war machines, the terrible ballistae. Meanwhile, Mordred, along with a few of his higher ranked followers, stood stoically at their end of the bridge, so as to make it so that they would be the first to shed blood.

Once they had finished all of the preparations, they stood by attentively, awaiting their master's commands to begin. They waited patiently as Mordred just stood there, looking heroic, with his long silver hair and cloak waving in the icy breeze. Then, after what any onlooker would call a painfully long time, Mordred pulled his right arm up into a curled fist. Then, opening his fingers, he silently cut a swathe of air directly in front of him vertically, telling the war machines to begin firing their deadly payloads.

What little sun shone through the icy dagger-like wind was soon blocked by an assortment of boulders, which lazily flew over the ravine, and collided with the walls of the great, impressive stronghold, notifying those within.

This what what Mordred had wanted. Now that the DragonLords knew they were there, they opened their gates of wrought iron, and the DragonLords surged forth, charging to meet their enemies in battle on the dreadfully narrow bridge. The retired hero of the Order unsheathed and brandished Ivanur, holding it up in his right hand while holding up his left hand with fingers spread wide as a signal to tell his troops to stay put. Secretly, he poured raw power into this hand, holding a deadly surprise in store for the onslaught of DragonLords.

As the approaching army neared, this "rebel" army grew uneasy. Some began to handle their weapons awkwardly, some notched an arrow, and Mordred's "generals" grew impatient, wanting to shed blood. But they held their ground, knowing that the mighty Mordred knew exactly what he was doing.

When it got to the point where the thunderous steps of armored feet began to shake the bridge of stone, Mordred made his move. Jumping forward, he released all the energy he had pent up and let it fly from a savage punch directed at his enemies. Bursting forth from his fist was a sphere of blue-ish white energy that even Akira could never hope to match. This sphere decimated the hundred or so DragonLords, and just collected them up as it ripped right through them, before it crashed up against the gate, which had been closed again. I will not describe the bloody mess.

Now that the bridge was clear, Mordred ran up to his regrouping foes, and behind him followed his warriors. The two groups met at the center of the bridge, and all of hell broke loose. Mordred just cleaved through all in his path without remorse, more awe-inspiring than a group of Spartans in a phalanx, and wrought more destruction as well. His generals also fought valiantly, but once Mordred's army had pushed up to the end of the bridge, they began to make mistakes, and would be severely punished for it.

The terrible host burst forth over the defenders, crushing all in their path. They came upon the thick walls of ancient stone, and battered it down with all their might. Through sheer force of will they broke through a hole they made, pouring in like a torrent of scalding water. Nothing could hold them back now. They quickly split and searched the fortress for remaining DragonLords, and bring their Dragon Amulets to their master. They knew not the reason for doing so, only that Mordred demanded the powerful artifacts. If any documents remained of this terrible war, any scholar worth his salt would clearly see the motivations for this: Mordred wished to begin the Order anew.

Mordred was single-minded in his quest. He had to take down Balthasar and Mortimer. He was the only one with the power to defeat both of them in honorable combat. To simply have his minions wash over them would do no good. It would prove nothing. No, it has to be done the right way. He had to dispose of both of them. Family ties meant nothing.

The elf strode into the courtyard idly, seemingly unaware of the chaos that unfolded around him. A foolish DragonLord with a rather large sack of gold hanging at his hip tried to show his bravery and take down Mordred himself. Needless to say, the result was obvious.

Faster than the human eye could see, Mordred parried the warrior's blow with Ivanur in a clash of metal. Whipping the lithe blade around again, he quickly chopped off the burden that was once firmly attached to the man's neck. He then continued on, spying the first of his targets. From the corner of his eye, he saw an orc stoop by the newly fallen head and carry away the treasure that once hung around his neck to the supply lines, where all the others were destined to go.

Ahead in the courtyard was a lone fighter staving off Mordred's forces with blade and spell. He wore heavy purple robes that were adorned with protective carapaces of metal, giving him the look of a BattleMage. And indeed he was, for he channeled pure magical energies through his blade, showing that he was an ArchBattleMage. And all around him Mordred's forces fell by the dozens at magical explosions of energy.

At hearing Mordred's approaching foot-steps, the expert magic-user turned to face this new threat. He revealed himself as a wizened old elf, with sunken eyes, and a snow white beard that fell to his navel. His eyes widened at his new foe.

"Mordred...", he seethed, venomous hatred clearly audible in his voice.

"Ah, Balthasar.", Mordred said nonchalantly. "How long has it been? Seven years? How's the family?"

"Dead. But thou wouldst know that. Thou didst had them killed!" The Elder DragonLord turned around and sliced at an elf who had tried sneaking up on him at that final word, snarling as he did. At that, Mordred's forces seemed to leave Balthasar be. Whether it was out of fear, or knowledge that Mordred would kill him, one cannot say. Unless you're me. But, I'll not be one to destroy their image.

"Hmmm, I suppose I did.", mused the hero."But enough of this drivel. What of thine Amulet. Shalt thou hand it over, or wouldst I have need to liberate it from thine treacherous neck?"

"I'd go for the latter."

With that, the old man lunged, trying to stab Mordred's vital organs. The younger, spry elf to a back-step, narrowly avoiding Death. Quickly regaining his composure, he slapped Balthasar's blade aside, and the two began to spar. They continued in this fashion for some time, but Mordred clearly had the upper hand in swordsmanship.

"Getting tired, old man?"

"Nay, I'm just warming up, knave!" At that, the mage disengaged, and prepared to cast his powerful magics. He tapped into the core of magic at the center of Lore, and felt it's great power and life. He drew on it, coaxing it out of the ground, into him, and at Mordred. The result was, of course, Mordred being battered by pure magical energies. His skin bruised, his bones groaned, and he lost his pose as he tried in vain to minimize the damage. He made a desperate strike at Balthasar, only to find a magical shield deflected his blows.

Mordred then took a different approach. He focused on the clouds above, pouring magic into it that had a very specific target. While hard to do while being tossed about, he managed to succeed. A glorious lightning bolt arced down from the sky, and struck Balthasar head on. But when the smoke cleared, the mage still stood there, proud of his seemingly impenetrable defenses.

"Fool thou art, Mordred!", the mage gloated, pushing Mordred down to his knees with another explosion. "Thou hath finally met thine match. Soon, the world shalt be in need of a new hero! Maybe this one shant turn like you..."

Mordred paid no heed. A deep instinct within him called upon his hatred and rage, and drew upon the core of the planet. He condensed it into him, so much that it would have killed a normal being. Still he built it up, so much to the point where if it had been dark, he would have glowed from the magic radiating withing.

"Good bye, Mordred. It is time for thee to meet Death." Balthasar brought down his blade, intending to take Mordred's life. However, imagine his surprise when Mordred easily knocked it aside with his hand before it made contact. His surprise could only have grown as Mordred stood up, leaped back, and unleashed a devastating ray of raw magic that hit Balthasar head on. It slowly ripped through the magical barrier as it widened and its radius grew larger, until Balthasar was fully engulfed by the glowing white beam. A scream escaped his lips as the searing power made contact with flesh, before being silenced when he was completely vaporized, leaving nothing but a pile of ashes and a Dragon Amulet behind.

Mordred stood there, wide-eyed, panting heavily from shock. He had no idea what he had just done, or even how he did it. It was as if some inner being inside of him had compelled him to do it. The elf quickly regained his composure, took up the Dragon Amulet and hung it on his belt, and strode across the rest of the courtyard to enter the inner sanctums of the stronghold.

< Message edited by Mordred -- 4/9/2011 9:45:56 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 18
1/15/2011 22:46:45   

His path went unbarred, of course. Most of the DragonLords had been slain, and their precious Amulets plundered. The dragons, too, had been slain; struck down by arrows and bolts. They were mighty beasts, but Mordred had made sure all of the projectiles had been coated in a mineral he had found and christened as DragonBane. He had scoured the whole planet for vast quantities of it, and had left little behind. But, that matters not.

Within a quarter of an hour, Mordred had reached the great doors for the Elders' Council Room. The guards lay strewn on the ground, slain, but the seal on the doors, placed by Mortimer, had held. With a quick flourish of his fingers, Mordred dispelled it and proceeded within the dark chambers. Standing there with his back turned to him was Mortimer, adorned in light green armor that seemed oddly turtle-like.

"Good evening, mine son.", the old elf whispered in a melancholy tone. "I suppose you're here to take my life and Amulet."

"It wouldst not have had to end this way if thou hadst heeded mine words, father.", Mordred spat. "But no, the great Mortimer the Wise couldst not see the corruption, the evil that his Order has spread. No, he was too busy searching for enlightenment."

"I was-nay, am, a fool. I was blinded by my love for thee."

"I canst say the same, father. And please, spare me thine lies."

"I quoth the truth."

"Lies. Thou didst choose me over her because she so wished it. She loved me! But as for thine self? Thou hath hated me since birth. Thou despise me. And why? Because thou doth think that she died because of me!"

"At first, yes! But I came to love thee just as much as thy mother! Thou hast grown close to mine heart, just as she is. But now, thou hath turned away from those who doth love thee. Thou hath gone mad with power. Thou art no longer my son." Mortimer's voice trembled as he said that last statement, and he could not help but shed a tear.

"Mad? I shant be denying that. But with power? Nay. I hath gone mad because of a poem I found fifty seven years ago. Wouldst thou like to hear it?"

"Nay! Speak not those words, Mordred! I couldst not bear to know what destroyed thee!"

"'In harmony flows the river of souls
In Creation, Uncreation, and, yea, Void.
The Gift of the Goddess pleasures us to no end.

The river is of these souls sole,
A Cycle of the Created and the Destroyed,
But beyond the Cycle, there is the Friend.

For surely our Omniverse is not the first,
For surely there was One that came before,
In which the God-Fathers were nursed
Long ago in the years of yore.

But the Friend that Is above the Whole
Has with the Whole Creation toyed.
Even Lorithia is by Him penned.

The fabric of space He does control.
The weaver of time is by Him employed.
Even the Infinite He does transcend.

If only from Chaos we could be freed.
But for that, there is a need
For one who could find a Way in.
But not even the Gods dare challenge Him...'

"... This simple poem hath consumed me... It's meaning is clear, but how couldst we be rid of Chaos? I know naught, but I'm sure that the Amulets art the key. And they shalt not be of use in the wrong hands."

"Thou art truly mad, Mordred. Why wouldst thou put thy faith in the words of a raving madman?"

"Because they doth speak the truth. And I shalt liberate all peoples from Chaos's slavery... somehow. If only I hadst the knowledge, or means! But how?" At that moment, Mordred formulated a slight plan. What if I couldst form a link with the Elemental Planes through the Orbs? Yes, it mayst work... To be instilled with all eight aspects of Creation would ultimately grant me limited power over Creation, and thus this "stream of life." One soul shouldst know of Chaos, at least... Yes... This mayst work...

"I must put an end to this before it starts, Mordred. If I allow thee to continue, thine schemes shalt devastate all of Lore and beyond."

Mordred snapped out of his reverie. "Then thou wouldst have to take my life."

"Indeed I do..."

With that, the two clashed blades, ultimately in attempts to control the fate of Lore. Both of them seemed equally matched in every way. Neither could gain the upper hand. They sparred and dueled for hours. And still neither would give or yield. Mortimer stood for the Order, and the philosophy that it should serve under the King. He also knew something about Mordred that had troubled him for eons. Mordred, however, did not stand for anything but freedom from Chaos. He had not yet formed a society, or government, or even an idea to start on the liberation. He stood for hopes and dreams, for aspirations of true freedom, if the gods would allow it.

They entered their fifth hour of dueling before Mordred's forces began to congregate around the opened great doors, watching the battle unfold. Craters dotted the once polished floors, curtains were torn and tattered. The ceiling had caved in in some places, and the high tables the Council once presided over were now in a splintered mess. The two combatants themselves were cut up, bleeding in several places, and quite worn out. Both were on their last ropes, and were extremely desperate.

Mortimer waited patiently, panting heavily. He waited for Mordred to make the next move, as he was too tired to launch any attacks. Mordred was not quite so tired, though. He made a high sweeping slice, aimed at Mortimer's neck, which was easily blocked, sending Mordred reeling back, where he landed in a kneeling position. Then again, rage suddenly consumed him, driving him to do something as only the instincts of an unknown force from within could. Again, he was charging magic within him, but for a different purpose. Again, it got to the point where he could glow in the dark, and because it was dark, Mortimer knew something was up. Before he could react to his glowing foe, Mordred just disappeared. Now frantic for his life, Mortimer whipped his body around...

To find Ivanur now planted in he stomach. Mordred had somehow pulled off teleportation, a study of magic not yet discovered. He seemed to embrace his biological father as he fell into his arms, a silent moan escaping his lips. However, he quickly grabbed and snatched the Amulet at the dying elf's neck, and dropped him down to the ground, where his blood began to pool. Knowing that Mortimer was in no condition to heal himself, Mordred began to stride out of the room. But before he left with his army, he placed a ward on the chamber, so that no magic could be cast to heal the writhing form on the floor. And thus passed away the final Elder...

About a week later, Mordred stood in the center of the magma chamber of his volcanic lair. Here, he had arranged the swords of fallen DragonLords, and on each hung a Dragon Amulet. The whole place was thrumming with dragon magic. More importantly, the eight Prime Orbs slowly rotated in the air around Mordred, who was unsure of what he was doing.

However, again, he was driven by some primal instinct. He opened up his mind, and delved into each Orb with telepathic tendrils. He probed them, feeling the power of the Elemental Planes that they had a link to. He slowly traversed across this link, until he was in every Elemental Plane. He then began to infuse his consciousness into the very Planes, becoming one with them. However, he'd have to sustain the links manually, unless... He made a decision that would alter him forever. Instead of withdrawing as a normal being would, he sliced off those pieces of his mind, forever infusing himself with the very powers the Avatars harnessed, but at the same time giving something up in return.

The Planes could become one with his being, however, they could not accept his love, compassion, his happiness, or other such emotions. These positive forces withdrew from the body that had forsaken them in the form of a small glowing orb of light, which quickly ascended and left the elf. He did not notice, for he was suddenly consumed with rage, hatred, sorrow, and other such negative forces, as well as the power of the Avatars. He had only meant to instill all the aspects of Creation in him in order to gain knowledge from the powerful Void energy of the ill-named Void, but instead, he had gained this and immense power. He was now a god.

This of course had an effect on his body. His platinum armor blackened to the color of obsidian, and on it grew gold patterns of some arcane importance. Golden wings soon became golden horns, wickedly curved for rending flesh. The cloak that had borne became a dark grey, and a crimson symbol bled its dark color into the threads. The knuckles of his gauntlets changed their form so that if he were to form fists, they would would leave half-inch deep gouges in whatever he punched. His hair turned jet black, his skin took on a white pallor, and his cat-like eyes' irises took on a blood-red color. And his Dragon amulet... The golden dragon that connected to the chain remained unchanged, but the gem had turned a deep, dark, unfathomable black... Whether these changes came about from him giving up half of his soul, or from the immense power he now held, one could not say. But Ivanur, which he had planted firmly into the ground within the exact center of the chamber, remained unchanged.

As this happened, a large band of archmagi and paladins had watched in horror. They had snuck into this lair in order to kill Mordred, and were about to make their move when his transformation had begun. The group of 800 had no idea what they were spectating at all. But still, they knew that they had to kill Mordred. So, one of the paladins notched an arrow, and prepared to fire.

Mordred was now a higher being, though. Before the paladin had even notched his arrow, he knew what was coming. Seconds later, he heard the whistling noise of a projectile flying through the air. At that, Mordred whirled around, a new, unfamiliar blade in his hand. It was a massive sword, with the blade at a length of ten feet. It was forged of the same dark metal that his armor was. Its edges were serrated, as if it had been a blazing fire that had suddenly turned into a blade. The edges were crafted of gold, and eerie blue flames danced along the blade passively. Down the center of the blade were elven runes, filled with the eerie flames, that translated as "To punish and enslave." The hilt was quite intricate. Forming a guard around his fingers were three ebony raven wings with excruciating detail and likeness to that of real wings. One was perpendicular to the blade, one formed a 35 degree angle with that wing, and the final wing curved down around Mordred's fingers perfectly, as if it had been crafted specially for him. Also perpendicular to the blade was a smaller wing, completing the cross-guard.

With this blade, Mordred sliced the arrow right in half, to the surprise of all present, including Mordred. As silence hung in the air, the Orbs fell to the ground with loud thuds, almost killing the mood.

Then, the battle burst forth. The paladins charged Mordred all at once, hoping to overwhelm him with sheer numbers. But he cut them down with ease with now two blades; a set of twins. Where either of them came from, Mordred knew not, but they were manifested from his sheer will-power.

Meanwhile, the archmages hung back and cast their spells from afar, hoping to strike down the force they could not comprehend. To no avail though, for Mordred didn't even flinch, he merely cut more men down in the arc of his Bereavers. He did, however, become quite irritated by their ineffectual magic, and remembered that he had some of his own at his disposal. I doth possess links to the Elemental Planes. They shalt quake with fear at the great powers I shalt rain upon their balding heads!

Summoning the near endless rage he had, he tapped into the Planes again, and randomly drew some power from it without caring what element it was. As he danced his blood dance with the pathetic paladins, he released this power in one huge burst, to find that there was now a hurricane-speed gust buffeting the whole battle-ground. A handful of paladins and archmages were carried away, where they were quickly crushed against the walls.

Still, Mordred called upon more power. As paladins boiled in their own armor, and archmages drowned in spontaneously generated tidal waves, the heroes quickly realized it was a losing battle. They were battered, bruised, and running out of mental reserves. The paladins were almost completely decimated by a flurry of remarkable, unsurpassable swordsmanship.

However, the magi had one last trick up their sleeve. With their numbers(only about 200 now), they could place an indefinite time-barrier around Mordred, which would limit him to using his mind to affect the world, until he could find a way to break the spell. There was a catch: They had no source of power. One brilliant archmage, though, realized they could draw mana from the environment around them. And the largest source of mana was inside each of the red gems of the Dragon Amulets. This archmage began pulling the powerful dragon magic from it to him. It was clearly visible in the form of glowing red orbs of light and colorless lightning(Void energy) in a wisping path, much like that of smoke. The others saw this, and began drawing on the free mana to fuel a spell powerful enough to contain a god. They failed to realize that the Amulets lost their sheen, and became an opaque color. They were now mere trinkets.

Mordred at first did not realize this was going on, but he eventually saw what was going on, and went ballistic. "Nooo!", he cried out in insatiable rage. He went from elegantly and gracefully eliminating his foes to knocking away dozens of paladins with a single strike. He trying in frustration to take control of the Void energy as he suspected he was able to, but he had not yet had the time to develop his skills. He could do naught but scream in rage at the fact that all he had worked for was again being undone, this time by lesser beings. the one thing he could do was kill the archmagi, but the paladins were valiantly giving their lives, practically throwing themselves on the Bereavers. They would not let Mordred see the day in his own control.

When he had finally slain the last paladin, he was about to move on to the archmages when arcane chains leaped out of the ground, wrapped around his wrists and neck, and dragged him to his knees. His Bereavers fell to the ground with loud clangs and faded in a purply haze. Soon, the spell was complete, and Mordred was absolutely immobile; not a single tendon or muscle stirred in his body.

The archmages descended upon him. They quickly grabbed up the Orbs, and agreed to send them to new sanctuaries. And while Mordred took no note of it at the time, a single archmage had taken a single strand of hair from him and pocketed it. They then left him to seethe and fume over his defeat.

Mordred would not be denied. He slowly developed his mental prowess, and could soon influence all of Lore with his powers. However, the archmagi soon discovered his involvement, and quickly teleported the whole base of the magma chamber into Limbo. Yes, Limbo. To Mordred, it felt like he had been falling through its passages for centuries. When he finally emerged into reality, he was no longer on Lore, or even in the same time. He was now deep inside Terra, under what would become Mount Everest. Up above, terrible lizards(though not magical, flying, or fire-breathing in any way) ruled the earth. He soon called down a meteor to wipe them out, and began the steps to create man-kind.

He didn't directly control them, because if he had, they would have been much less flawed. Some utter failures were the likes of Hitler and other such hatemongers. However, it was all leading up to his eventual return. He continued to develop his skills, and soon, his presence, unbeknownst to any, stretched across the whole universe. He soon gathered the most powerful beings under his wing(ah, how I love the pun), including the ShadowScythe Lords, Valoth, Sepulchure, and many, many, many underlings. He could've broken his bonds long before he gave rise to humans,but he was preparing to make his move, and found that none could detect his presence in his current state. and thus, he shaped the universe, ever hungry to achieve his ultimate desire of slaying Chaos...

At seeing all this again, Mordred's vision blacked out, and etched in blood were the words:

...To Punish and Enslave...

< Message edited by Mordred -- 12/15/2011 18:37:11 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 19
2/3/2011 21:21:55   

Five years have passed since then. Enduras rallied up more and more troops as the resistance slowly chiseled away at the Empire's hold over Terra. Contrary to belief, they were actually relatively benevolent rulers. They never oppressed the people, or in any way slighted them. The undead were kept in check, and Terrans had actually enlisted in the Imperial army. Some even rose to the ranks of the High Empirical Guard, who defended the Imperial Citadel! So, they did seem to not be the great evil one would suppose them to be. Liberated from their control was England, Japan, the United States, Ireland, Finland, Norway, France, Egypt, Brazil, Israel, Bengal, the Maldives, Cuba, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Russia, and Venezuela. Not only that, but many of the ShadowScythe Lords had been disposed of. The only ones left were Sychor, Master of the Necropolis(located within the mountain part of the citadel), Stylix, the Shadowed Assassin, Sepulchure, the commander of the army, and of course, the Emperor, whose identity had yet to be revealed to anyone outside of the ring of Lords. Enduras didn't even know his name, and yet the two seemed to always be at odds.

The Empire was still a vast super-power. They had adopted the technology of the ages, equipping troops with laser rifles, and even assembling the largest armada of airships in the history of man. Said armada was spread thinly, dutifully protecting the Empire's borders. It took the entire Terran Fleet to gain any territory, due to the vast efficiency, size, and skill the Imperial Armada commanded. If it had gathered up half of its forces, the Emperor could easily crack down on the whole Resistance, with minimal casualties. Yet, he did no such thing, for some reason, and it bothered the leaders of the Resistance. They figured the only reason was because the Emperor wished to keep up a good public appearance by allowing dissent in the world to continue un-reined. Yet, this made no sense, as the emperor was hardly ever seen. In fact, he'd only revealed himself to his subjects once; to tell him that he was their new leader. They never saw his face, or much of anything from inside those shadowy robes. Sepulchure seemed to visibly run the Empire, not this shadowy figure. But, no one questioned him. He was a good ruler.

The Resistance currently kept its base in Russia. they could easily hide in the snow, and the Empire had no claims on the frozen wastelands. And here, the Resistance was making careful plans of the invasion of the citadel. They had grown impatient with the war, and wished for it to finally end, with the Emperor's life. It was a collaborated effort, taking the skill of inside insurgents, O'Connel, Enduras, Mustafa(leader of Egypt), Yojimbo(samurai leader of Japan), Peyotir(leader of Russia), and Bond(leader of England).

"I say, we attack right away!", Mustafa cried out in the meeting emphatically. "The Armada's spread thin, and the citadel's unguarded! There's been a lapse in security, and our agents have been able to get in without raising suspicion! the time to act is now, before this window of opportunity closes itself. We may never get another chance like this in our life-time!"

"Hah!", O'Connel burst out. "And risk everything we have worked for? We will most likely be crushed in an instant!"

"Why shouldn't we?", Enduras asked, an eyebrow rising from beneath his dragon-head-like helm. "If we don't strike, then none of our efforts will amount to anything. Further, we could've been crushed at any point in this war. The Emperor has seen fit not to send his forces after us."

"Then vhat vould joo propose ve do?", Peyotir questioned. "Ve haf no plan."

"That's where my agents step in, Peyotir.", Bond chimed in with his heavy accent. He pressed a button on a small remote, and a holographic image of the citadel and surrounding mountains formed itself over the center of the table they were arranged around. "We have found that the magical barriers have slipped in one certain location. Right here, down by one of the dragon's shoulder blades, is an entrance into the Necropolis. Someone", at this, he glanced at Enduras," could infiltrate the citadel and assassinate the higher ups. Meanwhile, our Fleet will be poised behind these mountains here, ready to strike once we get the signal from Enduras."

"You did this behind our backs?", Yojimbo said angrily, glaring at the smug Englishman.

"Yes.", Enduras said flatly. "We have to take out the emperor on our own terms. This has been in planning for quite some time."

"I see...", Peyotir commented dryly."And ven shall ve begin?"

"Well, our forces could position themselves around Nepal by the morning.", O'Connel said sheepishly.

"Then let us begin on the morrow.", Enduras said with conviction.

And with that, it was settled, and the Resistance made motions immediately.

In Nepal, the citadel loomed darkly over the rugged landscape. New additions had been made; most notably the bustling city that now surrounded the citadel. Around this was yet another wall, this one slightly smaller and less imposing. The banners had also been replaced with new banners depicted the true ShadowScythe emblem, and not the DoomKnight Helm as had been previously used.

Atop the hundredth floor were two figures. They looked quite ominous, standing at the top of a spire, with no walls to protect them from the harsh, chilling winds. their cloaks and/or robes billowed around them freely. One was wearing the traditional attire of a ShadowScythe Lord, and was not facing the man behind him. Instead, his eyes gazed endearingly to the horizon. Perched on his right shoulder was a black-feathered raven, with beady, blood red eyes and a prominent breast protruding outward, as if he was lazily showing off his form to inferior birds.

The other figure was Galbradi. He stood expectantly, not caring for the cold that pierced through his heavy, ornate armor. He was ready to hang upon the words of the man before him, fully willing to lay down his life for his cause.

"Galbradi...", the robed figure said, still turned away. His voice had a familiar monotone and power to it.

"Yes, High Lord Mordred?", Galbradi said finally, now that he was expected to speak.

"They shalt attack upon the morrow. Thou art to be prepared to take the head of the Dragoon."

"Sir, you don't expect me to take control of the Armada, do you?"

"Galbradi, thou hadst better, for thine daughter's sake. Thou hadst no problems with slaying thy kingly brother in the elven kingdom, didst thou not?"

"Well, yes, but-"

"This is different?"

"Yes. I have no official power, sire. The Ninth Bureau, the Sector of the Assimilation and Dissection of Information, doesn't actually exist, sir. The Judges don't officially exist within the Empire. We are too secretive for what you wish. This was what you wanted."

"Thou art to serve as the watch-dogs, and I hold on to thine leash. Thou art but a stray; a loyal, obedient, and efficient stray, but a stray nonetheless. However, I shalt see to it that thou shalt be able to take command of the Imperial Armada, whilst keeping the Judges as secretive as ever, so as for thine continuation of using surreptitious means to ring mine enemies, both outside and within my Empire, from conniving against me. And thou hath served me well."

"Also sir, how would you know that they plan to strike?"

"I possess power far greater than that of any mortal. I know exactly what the beings of this planet are thinking at this moment. And in retaliation, the Armada hath gathered here, and we shalt make a show of crushing this feeble Resistance."

"Making a show? You mean to say, you have no intent to crush them?"

"How perceptive, Galbradi. Thou doth knoweth me well to know how I make extensive use of language. Yes, the Resistance shalt go on, as I intend. Further, I shalt finally leave this world, and begin further motions of mine plans. Worlds shalt be broken, and mine followers shalt begin to amass upon Illaniar, already in the making. After millions of years, mine plans are near the point of bearing the succulent fruit of Order! The pawns hath played out exactly as according to mine design, and they hath played into mine hands to be molded into what I see fit. And soon, the game shalt draw to a close, beginning with my journey through Limbo; this time, on mine own terms."

"I question not your means or intentions, m'lord. You obviously have your reasons for toying with your enemies. And we can dispense of these Lords soon? I tire of how they constantly scheme to usurp your throne for their own intentions."

"It is not entirely their fault. I hath taken away from them what madest them human, and it shouldst be expected that they'd turn on me. And indeed, we shalt soon be rid of them, my faithful dog. Very soon, indeed..."

Meanwhile on Lore, there was a figure within the mountains, seemingly carved out of stone. In fact, he was made of stone. And the expression of deep sorrow that was his face revealed the nature of his thoughts. He vaguely remembered his death in a duel, and how later, he heard the rumbling voice of Temblor, the Avatar of the Earth Lord.

"Mortimer...", it had called out slowly to his spirit, residing in Death's Underworld.

"Who's that?", the spirit said dreamily, ignorant of its previous life.

"Mortimer, thou wouldst do well to look alive."

"But I'm not alive."

"I canst see that...", Temblor replied dryly.

"Who art thou?"

"I am Temblor, Avatar of the mighty Earth Lord! And thou art Mortimer the Wise!", the voice said forcingly.

"I... think I canst remember...", Mortimer's spirit said weakly. "Yes, yes, I doth remember all too well now... I hath failed thee, m'Lord, in keeping the peace, as tho hath ordained us to do."

"Tary not, young one. Thou art needed to teach the next generation in thine ways."

"I am? But..."

"Thou need not worry. I have forged some new Dragon Amulets for thee. Thou art fortunate. I did these things without the consent of my siblings, and I should not be here. Quickly, come with me to thine new body. It's rudimentary at best, but it shalt suit thine purpose... for now..."

At that, a portal to Lore was opened for the spirit, who began to take steps toward it. Suddenly, he felt a chilling, nay, absolutely freezing hand on his astral soldier, and could feel a figure was looming over him. The temperature of the being had to be Absolute Zero, a temperature not possible normally. Mortimer's spirit craned its neck to see none other than Death looming over his shoulder, looking as Grim as one of his titles suggests. The spirit dared not gaze into is astral skull of a face out of terror.

"Thou shalt not be leaving me so soon, Mortimer...", Death said chillingly. At this, Mortimer slapped away his skeletal hand, and scuttled backwards, nearing a pit into Tartarus. "I've been longing for thine soul for ever so long, now... Why not stay?"

At this, there was a loud crash from above and a cloud of dust and dirt obscured vision. When it cleared, Temblor stood proudly before Death in all his majesty, equalling each other in height.

"He is mine...", Death hissed.

"Nay, I say to thee,", Temblor retorted, "for I possess far greater need of this soul on Lore."

"I care not for mortal affairs..."

"This goes beyond mortal affairs, Μαύρη μοίρα."

"This one is
mine!" At this, Death slammed down the snaith of his scythe, and undead began rising from the ground, trying to overwhelm the Avatar.

The Avatar simply shrugged them off, and channeled his power to grow vines from the dead earth to ensnare his opponent's weapon. As the skeletal figure tried in vain to free it, Temblor charged forth like an enraged dragon, and smashed his foe into the ground, flattening him like a pan-cake.

"Quickly!", Temblor cried. "Thou must come with me, before he reforms!"

As the two fled, the black stain on the ground began to slowly rise up and reformed into a furious Death...

And this was how Mortimer came to be the Old Man of the Mountain...

And again, after about 850 years, he again heard Temblor call out to him.

"Mortimer, my old friend. The times has finally come..."

"For what, m'Lord?"

"For you to aide in finally destroying your son... A new body has been prepared for you. In fact, it is your body, fully restored. When you awake, you shall find yourself as much as flesh and blood as living. You'll also be on Terra. I'd wish you luck, but knowing Mordred, it will be of no avail to you..."

Mortimer's vision suddenly went white, and when he awoke again...

< Message edited by Mordred -- 4/9/2011 10:27:55 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 20
3/28/2011 14:38:27   

In the Himalaya mountains, a lone motorcycle, jet-black against the earthy crags that challenged the heavens and the pure white snow and ice, rode up the dangerous mountain paths. Riding the vehicle was a figure clad in armor the color of dried blood. The being was near identical to Sepulchure, but there was a tattered and torn cloak trailing behind him from his shoulders, and he was not nearly as imposing. In truth, the man was Enduras in disguise, so as not to be noticed by the ShadowScythe forces in the Necropolis. He had obtained these dark items in his travels on Lore, and had not used them until now. He could feel their evil stench.

To the point. He kept his eyes down on the craggy paths, making sure he didn't fall speedily to his death. Through his peripheral vision, he noticed he was approaching his target. Before him loomed the ShadowScythe citadel, in all of its glory. He rode on in silence, waiting for when he was close enough to leap from one peak onto the side of the mountain that burdened the massive dracolich. This moment came within the next quarter of an hour, and Enduras gunned it and popped a wheelie, and soon found himself riding up the dangerous slope. He then uploaded the coordinates for the incursion site, and rode up to a dark rend in the earth. He decided to forgo his vehicle, and let it fall off the flying mountain before descending into the darkness.

He found himself in a near-claustrophobia inducing space. He was in the dead-end of a tunnel in the earth, with candles made out of skulls with blue flames adding just enough light to render this dark underworld visible. Far off, one could hear chanting, reminding Enduras of his hunt through the Dark Tower Penitentiary. He paid no mind, though, as he squared his shoulders and stalked through the Terran Necropolis as if he owned the place. Which he technically did, as Doom Knights were the elite members of the ShadowScythe forces. Or so one would think...

The hero instinctively made his way through the maze-like corridors, finding nothing but the occasional T.A. to challenge him. When he did come across the T.A.s, he would glare at them menacingly as he thought his greatest foe Sepulchure would, and sent them scrambling away. Enduras was careful not to let it get to his head, though. He didn't want to be ensnared by the power these items offered.

"Sychor, Enduras hath arrived in the Necropolis." Mordred informed his lesser Lords.

"We may spring the trap, then?" the Master of the Necropolis asked eagerly.

"Indubitably." was the curt reply. At that, the High Necromancer faded in a swirling vortex of darkness to await their guest.

"Stylix, I wish for thee to wait on the fiftieth floor."

"Yes, m'lord." The Lord then also disappeared into darkness to await further orders.

"Sepulchure, thou art free to do as thou see fit until I call upon thee for thine services."

"Yes, High Lord Mordred." Sepulchure then leaped off of his short throne and stalked off with his eternal companion in tow.

When Mordred was sure he was out of range, he cast a spell to make sure no sounds left the chamber. He did not want any ears, friendly or unfriendly, to hear him talk to himself.

"Soon, I shalt be rid of all of those corrupt, infantile beings. They know naught of the true ShadowScythe. They art worse than The'Galin's despised Network."

"We hath only antagonized them." he countered to himself.

"I did what was necessary to free myself. Now, I have need to be rid of them."

"Oh yes, it was necessary to to steal their souls, destroy them, and promise to return them while we stave off Death from claiming their bodies."

"And I continue to stave off Death because even they are not so bad as to die in such an agonizing way."

"They're all Forsaken, just as we art half-Forsaken."

"Sepulchure hath retained his."

"And we took something more dear to him than his soul."

"I hath set this plan into motion since before humans began to crawl out of the mud, both on Terra and Lore. I shalt not let my own personal morals stand in the path of justice and equality. If mine hands must be dirtied, then so be it. I shalt bring order to this chaotic multiverse."

The High ShadowScythe Lord then gracefully floated down from his throne, and as he alighted on the obsidian floor, a few onyx feathers fell free from underneath his robes. He strode over to the table gracefully, and lightly tapped his slender fingers in a few certain places. Upon completion, a certain radius of flooring around the table began to rise up, and the high ceiling above began to give way to it. Soon, it was a spiral staircase that rose up to the spire above, the hundredth floor. The dark being slowly ascended to the spire to overlook his Terran empire. Upon entering the fresh, crisp air, he stepped away from the stair-case, which then descended and left no sign of ever existing. Mordred beheld his wonderful creation with his arms out-stretched as he saw his entire Imperial Armada fly and zip around the citadel, even though they were concealed from all eyes and the Terran Fleet by Mordred's magics.

As he took in this sight, the beginnings of a phrase he often pondered involuntarily escaped his colorless lips: "At the end of the dream..."

Enduras strode carefully into what looked like a large cavity of a chamber. It was large and spacious, with rough, chiseled walls that reeked of death and rot and disease. The chamber was devoid of all ornamentation besides the darkness of the underground. There weren’t even any eerie torches to light the desolate void.

He took cautious steps forward, trying his best to peer through the murk. He did not notice the darkness in the distance grow even darker as a man stepped out of the shadows as if he was one himself. He bore the cloak of the ShadowScythe Lords. The strange man never made a sound as he circled around his unknowing prey, waiting for the time to strike.

Enduras stopped dead in his tracks and his blood turned cold as ice when he heard the darkness whispering to him. “What’s this? A Doom Knight who wishes to scale the citadel? Don’t you have business elsewhere, insect?”

“I have been summoned to the upper levels, sir.” Enduras said warily, scanning for the shadowy voice.

There was a low chuckle emanating from the darkness at this, which then grew to boisterous laughter. “Oh, how you lie! Aren’t you a cheeky one?! Well, I’ll certainly have to take care of THAT!” At that final syllable, the edges of the chamber erupted with eerie green flames, blocking both the tunnel Enduras had come from and the stairway he was searching for that led up to the first floor. He had a very large radius of safe ground from the flames, and the light from them allowed Enduras to see this new threat clearly.

Sychor was about 5’9”, with a lean build that showed from under his robes. He kept his hood up as he floated inches above the flaming ground, weaving between the cursed flames. He actually looked like he was sitting on some sort of invisible chair with his legs bent in a similar fashion. In one gloved hand he held a dark flail with viciously curved metal spikes that hung on a seven foot long chain of metal links. He let the flail’s head drag in the flames, setting it aflame in the process. With his other hand, his fingers weaved arcane runes, summoning up undead from the rocky earth.

These were no ordinary undead, however. Due to the nature of the ground, they were the fossilized remains of monsters of the sea long since dead. Most ranged from the age of dinosaurs, but a few were fearsome beasts that humans had yet to discover. Though not built for land, they lumbered towards Enduras, eager to shed blood for their master.

At seeing the abominations loom closer, Enduras reached for his pack at his belt. It was magically enchanted, of course, so as to be a mini-pocket dimension for him to keep the tools of his trade. From this he pulled out a massive silver hammer that Cysero had sold him. Apparently, the mad weaponsmith had modeled it after designs of the Judgement Wheel found in the Ravenloss Museum. He held it effortlessly as he called out to his enemy.

“Think you these fossils will be the end of me?” he mocked. He then nonchalantly swung his hammer at the nearest beast with superhuman strength(supplied by his evil armor) and cracked its skull open like an egg. The other beasts wavered for a moment before dragging their skeletal forms across the rough earth, even as more dug their way up behind them.

Blow after blow, Enduras downed his foes, looking for openings to get at the man with the flail. Yet he remained elusive and out of reach as he summoned more and more beasts, trying to tire out the hero. However, after besieging Enduras for some time and having countless minions fall at his hands, Sychor began to rethink his increasingly dire situation.

This hero is being quite troublesome… he thought to himself. If I don’t do something soon, I’ll run out of bodies to reanimate… As a solution, Sychor began to take a much more active role in the battle, and began to assail Enduras with his flaming flail as he hovered about.

Enduras ducked and dodged and weaved, avoiding the flail as best as he could. However, he could see that being pressed so hard, he couldn’t retaliate before he was caught off guard. And that moment soon came when upon coming up from a roll he saw the spiked weapon coming for his stomach. Enduras acted upon instinct and cast a quick curse on himself that manifested as a brief pinkish veil in front of him for the briefest of seconds. He was then thrown back with a sickening crunch as his armor was broken up upon impact. The wound was be near fatal, even for him. His hammer fell to the ground with a hollow thud.

“Humph.” Sychor snorted. “That was hardly any fun.” He began to turn and recede into the shadows to notify his master of his success when he heard a susurrus from behind him. He turned about wildly to see Enduras get up on his feet. “Impossible!” the ShadowScythe lord cried out as he watched the blood flow back into Enduras’s torso and the splintered bits of armor reform into a single whole once again.

‘Impossible, you say?” Enduras questioned. “The Dean of the Terran Necropolis knows naught of Doom Knights? Has your master taught you nothing?”

“That armor will destroy you before you will succeed” Sychor seethed from under his dark hood.

“Maybe it will.” Enduras commented dryly, a grim smile splitting his face from under his hood. “But for now…” At this, Enduras raised his claw-like hand against his foe, sending a rush of wind toward Sychor from his back, sending his tattered cloak into a dance upon the flurry. Black spikes of darkness rose up from the ground in Sychor’s direction, threatening to engulf him.

The Lord leaped up into the air and over Enduras’s head, bringing his flail down upon his foe. “I’ll teach you, you insolent li-“ He was cut off as Enduras whirled around and grabbed onto the approaching flail’s chain in his left hand. He gave it a powerful yank, pulling the Lord down to him. While he did this, his right hand formed a fist, and he shoved this full force right into Sychor’s hidden face.

There was a truly nauseating squelch noise upon contact. Sychor was sent flying, and his flail snapped in the middle of the chain, and his hood came flying off of his face. The eerie flames slowly lost their spirit as Enduras approached the limp form.

Enduras took out a dark red gunblade from his tiny pack and gripped it as he approached the man who was revealed to be quite young, and have dirty-blond hair that was cut just above the shoulders. He was fairly light-skinned, and his lustrous green eyes begging for some chance of mercy. His nose was horribly disfigured and bloody, but Enduras could tell he had been quite handsome before this encounter.

“Please! Spare me! I’ll tell you anything you want to know about us!”

“Considering how you know so little of Doom Knights, it would seem you know naught of importance.” With that, Enduras plunged his gunblade into Sychor’s chest and fired off a round. He paid no mind to the fact that the man dissolved into wisps of darkness as he died, leaving him seemingly alone. He gathered up his fallen hammer and made his way for the stairs, not noticing the shadowy figure that watched all that had transpired. The figure’s eyes followed Enduras up the stairs until he was out of unaided sight, and then stepped into the shadows…

< Message edited by Mordred -- 4/27/2011 18:46:08 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 21
9/22/2011 22:52:55   

Enduras had been making his way up the tower for some time, and marveled at the tasteful beauty of the place. Dark, brooding music was ever playing throughout the grand halls, and the carvings inlaid into the ceilings and walls and pillars was masterful, surpassing the works of Michelangelo. And the people inside genuinely surprised Enduras! Yes, the place bristled with Imperial guards, but running around all over the place were great intellectual men and women, burdened with great stacks of scrolls and parchments of either historical, magical, or philosophical importance. It was a hub of learning and scholarly advancements. Clearly, the Emperor was not all about brute force, and had his nuances and refined tastes.

So comfortable was Enduras around in this new environment, and they around him, that he pulled off his hood and let his waist-length hair fall freely. He had no fear of attack here, for his face was unknown to the Empire, and these people had no interest in him. He just weaved his way through the intricate citadel, making his way up to the top in a spiraling fashion. He failed to notice the men and women hiding their selves in the shadowy corners, adorned in intricate armor similar to that of Galbradi in that it was light, ornate, black, and had swirling patterns of arcane importance. They bore no cloaks though, and their armor was all of the same stock, whereas Galbradi had borne a truly unique carapace. Further, the patterns that adorned their armor were almost as imperceptible as they were. These men and women watched Enduras make his progress up the citadel, seen by no one, not even the scholars who were admittedly too busy to take notice or the ever vigilant guard, which says much about their stealth.

This changed when Enduras came upon great double doors of stone with intricate carvings depicting ancient heroes fighting off terrible demons in a great display of grandeur. Atop the arch above them was a single Roman Numeral: “L”. This clearly showed the area beyond to be of the fiftieth floor. Already, as Enduras approached the great doors, the music in the back of his mind began to grow more ominous and urgent with each step.

Finally, he opened the great doors, and as he did so, a great chill buffeted him from within. He ignored both this and the music as he stepped into a much darker chamber adorned with carvings of large, black roses in the wall. Some torches in the shape of roses provided some meager lighting. Enduras strode in warily, searching for signs of movement.

It came as a great surprise to him when the doors he had just passed through shut behind him with no warning. He whirled around to see the great stone doors block his exit menacingly, and he was now worried about what was going on here. He was even more surprised and worried when he heard a smooth voice from behind him.

“Welcome, traveler.” The speaker said eloquently. Enduras again whirled around to see a man in a black cloak/coat-garment identical to the Dean. This man was of slightly stockier build though, and when he waved his hands through the air as he spoke, they gave the impression of being as fluid as water. “You have come a long way to see the High Lord. It might disappoint you to know that you will go no further.”

“Who says I’ll go no further?” Enduras shot back.

The man let out a low chuckle at this statement before removing his concealing hood. Upon doing so, black, translucent rose petals fell from around his head, accentuating his jet black, spiky, shoulder-length hair. “I do. You go no further, ‘hero,’ because you now face Stylix!” As he said this, he whirled his arm behind him and in a showy flash of more petals a heavy, ebony scythe appeared in his hand. He held it in his right hand behind him lazily, as if it were a heavy weight.

Enduras let out a heavy sigh before taking up the Guilt half of the Judgement Wheel replica from his pack. “You asked for it, ‘Lord.’”

With that, the furious battle began between the two. Stylix brought his scythe, the black blade glowing dully, to carve through the air horizontally. It cut through the air, sending an ebony shockwave at Enduras, with translucent obsidian rose petals trailing along. The hero leapt above it, bringing his own scythe bearing down upon Stylix’s neck from behind, so as to decapitate him.

The man saw this coming though, and gracefully moved his scythe upward and flipped it around in his fingers, letting the snaiths of both scythes come together with a loud smack. And there Stylix kept the Wheel back with his strength, the curved, crescent-moon-like blade inches from the nape of his neck.

There was a moment of struggle between the two, each trying to press the other back whilst moving closer to a fatal blow. At some points, Enduras could feel his breath fall upon Stylix’s fell scythe, and at others, Stylix could feel his hair grazed by Enduras’ Wheel. However, Enduras knew he couldn’t endure this struggle for much longer. He had learned some time ago that the Lords were superhuman(at a cost), and that they had the edge in terms of endurance. So he took his scythe and made a motion to whip it back towards him.

Enduras had failed to realize what predicament this would cause though. With a snick, the blade of the Wheel snagged itself against the blade of Stylix’s scythe, entangling both weapons. For a few moments, the two combatants began to try to disengage whilst trying to pull the opponent’s weapon out of their grasp. There was much pulling and tugging upon the snaiths, and the moment was a tad awkward. They paid no mind though.

Stylix grew tired of the game, and suddenly whipped his right leg out from under his coat, striking Enduras in his armored side with all his strength. The hero was knocked to the ground, and his Wheel replica fell from his hands and clattered onto the floor. The Lord was quick to place his foot over it, so as to prevent Enduras from reclaiming it. Thus, the Doom Knight brought his face up from the ground to behold a grim sight; Stylix standing firmly upon the Wheel, his own weapon handing in his right hand ominously and lazily.

“See how your life ends here, ‘hero?’” Stylix sneered. “You are weaponless. Even if you were to get past me-and you won’t-, you’d be powerless before the Emperor. You are lower than lower than dirt! He has many plans into motion before even Lore had existed. You have no chance. Beg for mercy, and maybe Galbradi will merely execute you on the spot as a criminal, instead of subjecting you to the Emperor’s sadistic will.”

“Or maybe I’ll destroy your dark Master, Stylix!” Enduras spat out with confidence.

At this, the Lord scoffed. “Have you been told nothing?!” he exclaimed. “’Dark Master,’ indeed! You know nothing of the true Empire! Now beg, like the dog you are!”

“Never! So long as I still breathe, I will never stop!”

“So be it…” Stylix said with a malicious grin on his fair face. He raised his gloved left hand up to the roof, and between his fingers was a black spark. Suddenly, there was a storm of dark intent in the entire chamber as a powerful gale brought forth black petals, blinding Enduras but not the Lord.

“You coward!” Enduras cried out into the gale. The only response was a flash of Stylix’s scythe passing right over Enduras’s head. It was a do-or-die situation for Enduras, and in this gale, he was forced to call upon some of his higher ninjitsu training from Thyton.

”This is one of our most advanced techniques, Enduras.” Thyton had said to him. “You will be the first outsider to have learned this secret. I am going to blindfold you now, and you will spar with me.”

“But master!” Enduras cried out(he had been much younger and less disciplined then) as Thtyon took a black cloth and wrapped it around his eyes. “How am I to see you if I am blind?”

“You will not try to see me with your eyes, but with your mind, my student. Your senses can be easily cheated, and there will be times when you will be unable to see. I will not send you out without this most useful tool. How will you find the Darkness Orb in your travels? I am sure you will have to seek out the dark places of this world. Now, open your mind, and
feelthe world around you. You can feel the mana all around you in this world as it flows through everything. Focus on that mana, and form the shapes it takes in your mind. Strike me!

Enduras, eager to please his teacher, made a wild attempt at striking the ninja, only to be quickly countered and feel a fist strike him in the gut, and send him to the ground, gasping for air. “Tsk, tsk, tsk.” The ninjitsu master clucked. “You didn’t even try that time! This is a critical skill for you to master! Once mastered, you will even be able to detect my presence if I had chosen to hide from you. Please, take this seriously and try. Now… Again!” And so the two went on like that for hours at a time every day over many weeks.
Eventually, Enduras did master the skill, and he was now glad he had, for it saved his life that day.

The young man tapped into the power of his mind, and was able to “see” the mana in everything around him, un-obscured by the petals and gale. And there was Stylix’s aura, with his fell scythe, bringing his weapon down for the kill. Enduras quickly rolled off to the side, narrowly avoiding death. He then sprung up, and even as the gale buffeted him and tried to knock him back down, he called upon the armor’s dark powers, and unleashed them in a large blast from his body. There was a gruntand a dull thud as something or someone was thrown against the wall.

Enduras was quick to stoop down and feel around wildly in search of his own scythe, and found it just as he heard Stylix bring himself up to his feet. “You do have some tricks up your sleeve, then, ‘hero.’” Stylix sneered from within the blackening gale. “But I tire of this.” This said, the storm of petals parted down the middle, creating a long, wide corridor, with Enduras at one end and Stylix at another. The gale then grew furious, and to step into it would probably mean having the flesh stripped from one’s very bones as they yet lived. “This ends here and now, Lorian.”

The Terran slave took his sable scythe in one hand and rushed at Enduras, a look of pure contempt upon his face, contorting its fair features. With an animal-like snarl, he brought the blade of his scythe down upon Enduras’ head. There was a clash of metal on metal as Enduras raised his own scythe to intercept the devastating blow.

Again, the two were interlocked in a struggle, but Stylix clearly had the upper-hand now. His strength was pushing the Lorian across the floor, where he would be backed up against the wall and slowly crushed to death under the shadow of a man’s inhuman strength. Already, Enduras could feel his heel come up against the wall. Even if it offered extra support of the wall, and the strength his armor lent him, he could not stand up to the Lord’s strength. It was then that Enduras took a risky move. It would require giving up a bit of his own life force, but it might give hum the burst of strength necessary to fend off the cloaked man…

Even as Stylix pressed forwards, Enduras made the pact with his armor. He could feel the life drain out of his as the armor doubled his strength in a burst of dark power. With a savage roar, Enduras pushed back his foe as Darkness came about him, and hurled the unprepared Stylix towards the other end of their battleground.

Bewilderment and hatred in his eyes, the man clad in black renewed his assault on a prepared Enduras. He let out a savage diagonal slash at the Doom Knight, which was easily evaded with a duck. As he came up, Enduras, still with strength empowered by his life force, abandoned his own weapon and quickly jabbed his opponent in the ribs. The grip on the ebony scythe was loosened, and with a kick, Enduras took it from Stylix’s weakening grasp and claimed it for himself. With great dexterity he beat Stylix back with the snaith over to the wall once again, leaving the ShadowScythe Lord defenseless. Before he could react to this reversal, Enduras lost himself in his blood-lust, and flung the scythe over to its owner.

The weapon spun almost gracefully in the air. Time seemed to slow down as it carved through the air towards its master with deadly accuracy, and a blade pointed at his torso. There was a disheartening squelch noise as the blade sank into the man’s heart and embedded itself into the stone wall. Almost immediately, the petals in the air vanished, and the gale died down, to be replaced with gasping and gulping noises as the once mighty now struggled to extract his own weapon from his chest.

Enduras stood there, horrified at what he had done under the influence of the armor. While he would have probably killed the Lord anyways, he would have tried to offer redemption. And he recalled how mercilessly he had offed the previous Lord as well without a second though. He could already hear the armor whispering into his heart, and he had given in twice already.

While Enduras was shell-shocked, Stylix managed, with great pain, to extricate the blade from his torso. There was a little blood, but it had grown dark and sluggish in his years of toil, and flowed slowly through his veins. He was doubled over in pain as he took his bloodied weapon in hand, still intent to slay his target.

“You…” he hissed at Enduras as he pointed at him. Enduras was brought out of his reverie, for he had thought Stylix dead. “So long as his will sustains me, I will fight you…”

At this, the room grew ever darker, as if another presence of power had made itself known. Suddenly, a ring of blue fire, with fiery runes of arcanic nature within, burst forth on the ground before Stylix, casting his twisted face in a horrible, eerie blue light. Endures could then perceive a dark figure in the center of the ring, whispering dark words to the fallen Lord. What Enduras saw was a figure clad in similar fashion as Stylix, with a hood over his head. What Stylix saw, though…

Before him was his Master, Mordred, clad in his battle armor, with his hair and cloak flowing in the air as if some invisible, imperceptible played with them. His face was set into a stern expression of disappointment, and his eyes glittered like some infernal fire. His arms hung loosely by his sides as he spoke to his servant.

“Thou hath carried out thy faithful service, Stylix. Now, my servant, thy need has come to an end. I dost possess no further need of thee; thou hath been a stepping stone for Enduras, as I hadst planned all along. Thus, I release thee from thy service and mine will, and leave thee to Death of this world.”

“No, please Master!” Stylix cried out, his eyes filled with terror. “Do not leave me to this sorry fate! You promised me my heart and soul! I am Forsaken, and Death has hunted for me for millennia! Now, you will cast me out from your protection?!”

“Yes, for that is thy fate. Thou art the last of the eleven I created in this form, and Death stands beside us now, even as I relinquish thee to him. Go now, and suffer thy fate!”

Stylix let out a silent cry of terror even as his body began to fade into Darkness; the Darkness from where Death had set aside solely for him, to wallow in forever without body or soul. And so ended Stylix’s cursed life on Terra.

Even Enduras watched this spectacle take place, the figure within the circle faded from his sight, as if he had never been there. Now alone, Enduras made his way for the doors leading ever upwards this tower. He strode forth, and pushed open the doors, to find himself on the outside of the citadel’s imposing wall.

There on the platform, as if waiting for him, was a man clad in pure white robes, with a white cloak upon his back. He was an elf, with silver hair that came down to his shoulders. Upon his hip was a golden sword with a blade that was curved this way and that, as if the edges were meant to be the ripples of a wave. The guard was in the form of a sun. He was watching the goings on below from the banister of the platform, but turned upon hearing the doors be cast open.

“Hail and well me-“ the figure began, but stopped as he recognized the man before him. He recognized his pupil, Enduras, and yet also saw in him a man he wished never to see. “Enduras, is that really you, here?”

“Er, yes.” Enduras said, caught off guard by the stranger. “But you are?”

“Oh, right, you haven’t ever really seen me.” The stranger mused to himself. “You knew me as the Old Man of the Mountain, but in this form and life, I was known as Mortimer. But pay no mind to that. What brings you here?”

“The Lords saw fit to bring me here to stop the ShadowScythe, of course.” Enduras said, as if it were common knowledge.

“How can you fight them like this? You’ll be ripped to shreds. I see you bear a cursed armor. Please, let me just look into your mind, and see what damage there is that I could possibly undo.”

Without really waiting for an invitation, Mortimer cast his consciousness into Enduras’, and searched around for festering evil. He found none, but he found something that disturbed him. Placed within the young man’s mind was a barrier that cut him off from the deeper recesses of his mind, placed long ago through magiscience of some sort. When he came upon this, he found it prevented Enduras from attaining his full potential, and thus, broke it down.

“There was no evil within you, thankfully.” Mortimer said, breathing a sigh of relief. He made no mention of the barrier, however. “But what folly is this, to send such an innocent man into my own fruit of folly?” he murmured to himself as he bowed his head in shame.

“You have grown much, my student.” Mortimer said to Enduras slowly. “But I see you are no less haughty than ever. Arrogance will be your downfall. Please, come with me, so as we make work together to cast down this citadel and undo the wrongs of this man. For your sake, at the very least, accept my help.”

“I will accept it gladly.” Enduras said has he began up the stairs leading upwards. “Just keep up with me, old man.”

Inwardly, Mortimer cursed at the Lords for choosing Enduras. He saw no good tidings in it…

The two had been making their way up the tower in silence, for Enduras was not one for companions, and Mortimer was pondering deeply over the barriers in Enduras’ mind, why the Lords had chosen him of all people(despite being a renowned hero, he seemed far too arrogant for the task), and how his own foolishness had spiraled out of control into this situation.

They had reached the seventy-seventh floor before anything eventful occurred. Again, they found their selves on the outside of the spire, and the view allowed them to see the Imperial capital in all its glory. The two stood at the edge, overlooking the peace and prosperity the ShadowScythe had brought to these people. There were children playing as if all was well, and men and women conducted their business as they would any other day, and got along quite wonderfully with the troops.

“Y’know…” Enduras began wistfully to his companion. “It’s times like this when I wonder whether we’re doing the right thing.”

“What nonsense is this?” Mortimer said with horror in his voice.

Meanwhile, Mordred, too, was overlooking his subjects, but from much farther above. He felt that something was… amiss.

“That presence…” the usurper mused to himself. “Where hadst I felt it before? Could it be-?” with that glimmer of a thought, he then disappeared in a flash of bright light to confront this unbidden guest.

“Well, just look down there.” Enduras continued. “They all look so… happy. Happier than the people of Falconreach ever did.”

“Happiness is not the issue here, Enduras.” The old elf responded coldly. “It is that their lord and master has deprived them of their free will. This community is an affront to all of Lorithia’s design. They are powerless to commit any crimes, or speak out against the Empire, or even quarrel with their neighbor. Such is what they envision for this universe.”

There was cold laughter at this remark from a figure behind them. The two heroes turned suddenly to face this new arrival. They beheld on the stairs a little ways away the cloaked Master of this citadel. “My, my, if it isn’t Mortimer the Wise.”

At the name and title, the white-clad elf took his blade from his hip in hand and put himself between the figure and Enduras, and his twisted blade between himself and the entity. “Mordred Tumultu…” the old one breathed, as if it pained him.

“I’m surprised that thou hath called upon me by name. Dost the boy know of our kinship?” Hearing this, Enduras let out a gasp in shock. This seemed to please the hooded figure to no end, and brought forth more heartless mirth from his hidden lips. “Of course thou hadst not! Even now, thou doth not dare tell anyone that I am thy son! And even now, I am so much more… See how the blood doth drain from thy face! This mayst be my ultimate triumph; Mortimer Tumultu, powerless before his own son! Surpassed in age, power, and wisdom!”

Enduras could do little but stare agape in shock. That the kindly Old Man in the Mountain should have spawned the entity that had ruined countless lives throughout its life… “I have long since denounced you as my son…” Mortimer said with a voice that sounded as heavy as lead. “As for the title ‘the Wise,’ I have abandoned that, too. I was a fool to not see what was coming over you.”

Hearing this, the figure removed his hood, showing his pale, fair face to Enduras for the first time and letting his long black hair flow freely once more. “Not, thou art a fool for not seeing what came over thy own Order!” he spat out with great vehemence. “Dost thou even now deny what was going on all those long years passed?!”

“Long for thee, maybe…” Mortimer countered. “But for me, it was little more than a thousand years since the old Order, once grand, was destroyed by your own hands. Since then, I’ve toiled endlessly to restore it, as the Earth Lord appointed me to.”

“So, then that is how thou doth yet live… I hath been done a great favor, for it gives me the pleasure of slaying thee again.”

“You’re a monster…” Enduras cut in with conviction in his voice.

Again, Mordred let out laughter. “So I am, according to thee, am I? I do not recall calling upon thee for thy take on the matter, tool. I must admit, thou doth feel… changed… since we last met. No matter, I digress. Yet thou hath wondered why thou doth fight me if I bring such joy to my subjects! Already, I canst tell thou doth wish to join me. And yet, thou doth know naught of what I’m actually accomplishing. Thy companion hath cast it in such a bad light, really, that thou canst not take his opinion seriously. ”

“He’s shed the Light on your Darkness, and I’ll fight by him ‘till the end!” the hero cried out defiantly, taking a golden nodachi from his pack.

“Thou shalt, shall thee? Thou doth truly know naught.” Saying this, the fallen one took his gloved hand, now glowing brightly with the power of Light, and let out a solid beam directly at Enduras. In the blinding flash, the hero was sent backwards and over the railing. Even as he was hit, his armor sent out a terrible shriek in his mind at the contact of the Light, disorienting him so much he almost didn’t grab a hold of the railing. But grab it he did.

Mortimer was quick to drop his blade and reach for Enduras, and pulled him back up over the rail. By the time he was safe, Mordred had vanished. “How did he use Light magic?!” the young hero demanded the old man. “The ShadowScythe have only used Darkness! They can’t use Light!”

“Oh, curse the Elemental Lords!” Mortimer cried out as he fell to the floor and beat his fists on the cold stone. “You have no idea what they’ve put you into! You don’t even know what you’re up against, and they don’t give a damn, so long as they’re safe on their lofty thrones! Sometimes, I do think Mordred is right to challenge them! Damn them; curse them in all their folly!”

Enduras, moved by compassion and sympathy, came down to the old elf and helped him up, and the two pressed on once more in silence.

As they pressed on further, the number of guards and scholars decreased, until by floor eighty-seven there were none to be seen.

“It’s strange, this is.” Mortimer murmured to himself. “It’s quiet. Almost too quiet.”

“It matters little.” Enduras replied nonchalantly. “It just means we’re drawing close to evil.”

Sepulchure was pacing idly on the ninety-eighth floor, tapping the Necrotic Blade of Doom against the hard floor anxiously. “Where is he?” the Doom Lord muttered angrily. “He should have been here by now!”

“Calm thyself, Sepulchure.” a cold voice rang out hollowly from behind the servant of doom’s back. Sepulchure whirled around to face Mordred, whose face was still unhidden. “He shalt arrive quite shortly. I’ve seen to it that none bar his passage now.”

“Then Stylix has been felled?”

“Indubitably. Regardless, thou shouldst know that there is another with Enduras. Thou must take moste exquisite caution, and do not directly challenge his companion. He hails from an older time of Lore, when the Elders of the DragonLords held greater power than thou dost hold even now. Unfortunately for thee, he is one such Elder, and wouldst surely best thee.” And with that, the robed form of Tumultu faded.

When the emperor had taken his leave, the servant smiled grimly from under his helmet. I’m sure he knows that I know he intends to cast me aside, but the plans are all in order… the twisted man thought to himself. I will not die this day, or any other. With these thoughts in mind, he resumed pacing and tapping as he had before.

Enduras and Mortimer finally found their selves at the top of the second highest spire of the citadel. It had risen to the ninety-eighth floor, before the side opened up to a great, wide bridge that connected itself to the tallest spire. The railings along the sides were sturdy, and the wind up here was not so forceful as to pose a threat, possibly due to magic.

They slowly strode across this bridge, feeling and sensing danger nearby. Mortimer took out his twisted blade, named Solesol, and Enduras his golden nodachi. When they were about halfway across, there was a red gleam from the other end, and then the sound of metal dragging along stone. Enduras was able to see a familiar red form before quickly raising his weapon in defense.

There was a clash of metal against metal as the red figure made a savage uppercut with his sturdy blade. The blow sent Enduras reeling back, and the figure was about to end his life right there with a vertical slash from above. But there was another clash of metal on metal as Mortimer’s blade intercepted the evil blade. With a small amount of effort, the elf shrugged the assailant aside, showing he was stronger than his seemingly frail form let on.

The attacker, still in control of the situation, merely stood there, and let Enduras recover from the assault. He bore armor identical to Enduras’, but no cloak was clasped ‘round his neck, and he hid his face under a helmet shaped like a dragon’s skull, which was of the same dried-blood red. In his right hand was a single-edged broadsword with a skull upon the hilt, which was a humerus forming the crossguard and a radius and ulna, complete with carpal and phalanges, forming the handle.

When Enduras had sufficiently recovered, he was able to get a decent look at his opponent. “Sepulchure…” he seethed, his voice filled with hatred.

“Enduras, you seem to be alive and well.” The Doom Lord said nonchalantly as he pretended to check the joints the armor on his fingers. “Who would have thought you would? Good security is so hard to get around here on Terra.”

“Tell me about it,” the hero replied. “They just let me practically walk right in here!”

Sepulchure then dropped the charade, and glared sharply at the young man. “Fool! Haven’t you thought of why that is?”

“Errr, no?” Hearing this, Mortimer clenched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finder.

Sepulchure’s response was to laugh cruelly, his armor heaving and creaking as he sent forth harsh mirth. “It seems I might have nothing to fear of Tumultu’s machinations. You’ll never be a suitable tool.”

“Wait, wha-“ Enduras never got to finish his indication of confusion, for he was rocked backwards by a blast of power from Sepulchure’s free hand that cast him into total Darkness, caught in a swirling cloud. Before he knew it, Sepulchure was up in the air, and came down for a savage hack at the befuddled figure within. There was a clash of metal and a flash of golden light, and the sphere of Darkness around the two withdrew. The two had blades interlocked, and Sepulchure was clearly going to overpower the normal being before him, and let his blade taste flesh once more. However, he saw something out of the corner of his eye, and leap back from Mortimer’s blade, which barely missed Sepulchure’s chin. Enduras was thus freed from his predicament, and went to aid Mortimer.

The old elf was easily besieging the Doom Knight with powerful blows that hammered down faster than human eyes could see and defend against. Yet Sepulchure, no longer being human, was able to fend off all his strikes, but was being backed up against the railing by Mortimer’s onslaught.

Just as Enduras was about to aide Mortimer and attempt to take Sepulchure’s life, the two were hurled back by a powerful blow that had been imbued with a bit of Sepulchure’s own lifeforce. Sepulchure then surged forward, dragging his blade against the ground in his traditional fashion, and struck Enduras with a mighty blow with the flat of his blade, sending his target high up into the air. In an instant, both Sepulchure and Mortimer leapt up, both with different intentions.

Enduras could barely comprehend what was happened, but he was able to see his dreaded foe begin to make the final stroke that would end his life. But again, there was a clash of metal, and a great burst of Light and Darkness energies, and Enduras could dimly see that Mortimer had again saved him.

With their blades interlocked in midair, Sepulchure could do little save grunt from exertion. Mortimer, however, was able to stave off the Necrotic Blade’s bite with a single hand. His free hand glowed brightly, and with a clenched fist, the elf punched Sepulchure’s helm with all his elven strength. There was a loud crack as Sepulchure fell to the ground.

Sepulchure and Enduras both fell heavily onto the floor, and Mortimer as lightly on his feet as if he were a cat. Mortimer and Enduras were now on the side of the bridge that was closer to the taller spire, and Sepulchure on the end closer to the shorter spire. Mortimer had just helped Enduras back up onto his feet when the two heard the sound of metal. They turned to see Sepulchure propping himself up with his sword. His helmet was cracked open on his left side, and would have shown part of his face if he did not keep his head down low so they couldn’t see his face.

“This is the legendary Mortimer the Wise?” the Doom Lord boasted. “He who sired Mordred Tumultu, the Hero? Pathetic!” This said, he then dragged himself up, still hiding his face. “You truly are a foolish old man. If you had let me take Enduras’ life just now, I would have saved the universe! But no! You were far too foolhardy to see how Tumultu draws you on, and uses everyone as his puppets! But not me! I, alone, have broken free from his will!”

“Sepulchure, stop right there.” Enduras said groggily. “If you were really trying to save the universe, you could join us, and together, we could stop him!”

This was met with cold laughter of a similar nature to before, only Sepulchure stopped when he began to cough up some green ooze. “Oh, no, it’s not that easy anymore, Enduras! Even if I failed at my last attempt to retain me self-worth and dignity, and finally see to the end of your life, I will have the pleasure of seeing you struggle to survive as you are used like the tool you so are! You will be twisted into a new man, Enduras, and by the end of your journey, you will come to hate yourself! Suffering and Pain and Strife will be your only allies, and I will try my very best to laugh and watch all the while!” As he spoke, his muscles tensed, and he ever so slowly began to bend his legs, as if to make a jump.

All the while, Mortimer remained silent as thoughts of Sepulchure’s words struck deep into his heart. Would slaying this braggart really save all of the universe? Could it all be that easy? he thought to himself. And would I be willing to lay down one life for countless lives?

“You may be a tool of the gods, Enduras,” Sepulchure continued, ”but I won’t!” This said, he leapt once more into the air. His form seemed to eclipse the sun straight above as he came down, bearing upon the very center of the bridge. There was a burst of red light upon impact, and Mortimer and Enduras were thrown back into the tallest spire. As soon as the building stopped shaking, the two rushed out to see what became of Sepulchure, but he was no longer there, and neither was the bridge. He had brought it down with him, and he had escaped his use as a tool through Death…

Enduras and Mortimer dismissed Sepulchure’s plunge as a throe of madness, and continued. They ascended a short flight of spiraling stairs to find their selves in the room formally known as Where Darkness Gathers. There was no illumination, and the glass walls were so dark it was next to impossible to see out of them. The chairs and small table within the center of the room were barely distinguishable from the shadows of the room, which seemed to move about, and give off unadulterated malevolence at their presence.

Enduras thought little of Sepulchure’s words. He thought them to be of pure lunacy. Even if they were true, why should it matter to him that the Lords were using him as a tool? They’re gods; they can do that, so long as the tool has some free will.

Mortimer’s thoughts were much deeper and darker. Still, he wondered why anyone would have blocked off Enduras’ potential, and further still, what was behind the barrier. Enduras had access to what most other humans did. But it was but a tiny portion of his mind. The rest that had been blocked off was decidedly inhuman. Almost elven, but far more developed than that. Like some higher race of old. Not only that, but he lingered on Sepulchure’s words, and whether it would be best to kill Enduras and save the universe.

Enduras was pacing the room, searching for anything that would lead upwards, to the final level, where he would confront Mordred and overthrow his Empire. If I were a staircase… he thought to himself as he approached the table, where would I hide? The obvious answer, of course, is that staircases don’t hide, but that’s beside the point.

At his approach, there was a sound of stone grating against stone, and the table, and a good area around it, began to rise up towards the ceiling that towered above them. Even as that happened, a hole opened itself up in the ceiling, as if a gaping mouth were waiting to devour its prey. As the stone rose up, a portion of it would stop rising, and a small section would do this regularly until there was a spiral staircase leading up into the hole to the top of the spire.

“Hey, cool.” Enduras said out loud, disturbing Mortimer from his thoughts.

The Doom Knight was already a quarter way up the stairs by the time Mortimer could assess what happened. “Enduras, can’t you see it’s a trap?”

Enduras stopped in mid-stride as he gazed back down to the elf. “Nope.”

“…” Mortimer’s silence was followed with a facepalm that felt heavy inside the chamber. “Do you REALLY think he’d let you walk up there without having prepared himself.”

“Why yes. Yes I do.”

“… Sometimes, you can be the most asinine imbecile I’ve ever seen or heard of. And I’ve seen or heard of some pretty asinine imbeciles.”

“I’m going to pretend you never told me that.” This said rather hotly, Enduras began to bound up the rest of the stairs.

“Why him?!” the Elder shouted upwards in vain before taking his blade in hand and following Enduras.

Despite his head lead, Enduras soon found the wise elf upon his heels, and the two had reached the top at almost the same time. They found their selves within some sort of chamber with a gaping hole, and upon leaving the chamber, they found their selves on a wide open platform of stone, with a great spire supported above their heads only by eight pillars on each corner of the octagonal tower and a large pillar in the center, which they had just exited from. Even as they passed into the open, the opening closed behind them to be an ornate wall of obsidian inlaid with gold embellishments. Straight ahead of them, they saw Mordred’s back turned on them, facing the mountains towards the west. His long hair flowed in the breeze, almost distractingly. His arms were folded behind his back, and he seemingly took no notice of the intruders.

“I see that thou hath also ended Sepulchure’s life.” He said rather nonchalantly, without turning to face them. “I thought as much.”

“Mordred Tumultu, your reign of terror ends here!” Enduras said sternly. “As the 301st Elite Knight of Swordhaven, I hereby put you under arrest in the name of the Good King Alteon the Balanced! Will you come with me to Lore, to await trial for your crimes against all of Lore?”

“Crimes, Enduras Son-of-None?” the robed figure questioned, raising an eyebrow as he did, even know Enduras could not see it. “I hath ever vigilantly served Lore. My agents may hadst slain many under my Empire’s name, but that is no fault of mine. I hold the entire universe’s safety and ultimate Order as my responsibility. I am guilty of no crimes against thee or thy king.”

“Very well, then.” Enduras said coldly. “If you will not come with me willingly, then I will take you by force.”

“Take me by force?” Mordred asked, as if the very notion amused him to great delight. “Thou doth know naught of force, mortal. I already know of thy feeble plan, Enduras. Over there, behind those mountains, lies the Terran Fleet.” As he mentioned the mountains, he pointed over to them with great disinterest. As the words fell from his lips, he turned his hand over, and looked as if he were about to snap his fingers. “I wonder what wouldst happen if thy entire plan came crashing around thy ears…” Upon the end of this utterance, he snapped his fingers, and there was a great rumbling in the earth below the flying citadel, and the mountains towards the west were engulfed in a torrent of water that had burst forth from underneath them. There was a terrible noise as the earth itself was rent open, and rock and mountain torn up and apart and sent flying all about. Such a force had not been seen in the entire history of Terra. A whole ridge of mountains was gone in that burst of water. The mountains thus removed, the entire Terran Fleet was laid bare for all to see. Beyond them, a great storm could be seen brewing and approaching them.

With another snap of his fingers, the air all around them seemed to grow hazy as a magical illusion was dispelled. There was a great loud hum of machinery as the skies were filled with massive behemoth’s of metal floating in the sky. Made of black and gold metal, they were massive airships, bristling with cannons and accompanied by a buzzing swarm of smaller frigates and fighters, also of the same livery. The ShadowScythe Armada was fully amassed, and no other military power on this side of the universe could have possible matched them singlehandedly.

Meanwhile, on the Terran Fleet’s flagship, General O’Connel was sitting in the command center, waiting for Enduras’ signal when the earth below began to rumble. Then, all hell had broken loose, and the glass he was looking through was suddenly obscured by water and earth and rock, and all around his men and women were gazing around incredulously. When all had settled down, they found that the cover of the mountains was suddenly gone, leaving them exposed to hostile eyes.

“Damnit!!” O’Connel shouted loudly, wondering what in the name of America had just happened.

“Sir, multiple hostile targets have shown up on our sensors!” a man over by some whirring control panel shouted.

“And how the hell did that happen?!” the general shouted. He took a quick glance out the glass of the command module, and his heart sank to his toes. Before his very eyes, he beheld thousands of hostile airships and fighters shed their illusions like snake-skin. He stood before the might of the entire ShadowScythe Armada.

“Commander Galbradi, what are our orders for when the rebels are exposed?” an Imperial officer, bent over some readings of their enemies, questioned.

Galbradi, clad in his intricate armor from his toes to the crown of his head, was standing proudly up in the pedestal-like commander’s bridge of the command module of the Dragoon, the ShadowScythe Armada’s flagship. With a crew of over 50,000, 20,000 turrets, a near-impenetrable hull, and a force-field of the latest shielding technology Terra had to offer, the Rank S-Destroyer Class flagship was a symbol of the Empire’s might. And commanding the whole of this testament of power was the Judge Magister himself. No one knew what his importance was, but the Emperor had personally appointed him in charge.

“Our orders are to stand by until the rebel forces make the first move.” His voice rattled harshly from under his helmet. “Today, we take no prisoners. We crush the rebellion here and now. This is our day, men. The beginning of a new order of peace and prosperity.” This proclamation was met with several cheers and whoops.

It was at that moment that there was a deep rumbling in the earth, and the Terran Fleet’s cover was eliminated. “Begin preparations now.” Galbradi said as he motioned towards an Imperial officer. Said officer began pushing a series of buttons, all of which sent commands either to the crew or to the command modules of other ships.

“Weapon systems prepped and loaded, sir.” One officer said dutifully from one end of the line of officers manning the controls.

“Thrusters are all set, sir.”

“Shields are up and fully operational, sir.”

“Fighters formed in attack and defense positions, sir.”

“All hands on deck are prepared, sir.”

“The Dragoon is awaiting further orders, sir.”

“The Hunter is awaiting further orders, sir.”

“The Carabineer is awaiting further orders, sir.”

“The Empyreal Cloud is awaiting further orders, sir.”

And so the officers issued forth similar messages from all the other Destroyer Class ships, even as their illusions dissipated. “All Armada ships are to standby and await my orders.” Galbradi said sternly as his image and voice were projected to all other ships, from the Destroyer Classships to the lowest Swarmer Class fighter ships. In every single ship, his voice and demon-like visage were met with approval in the form of cheering or whooping or some other form of noise.

“Doth thou see it, Enduras?” Mordred continued, still turned from them. “Doth thou see the plight thy allies art in, and realize how it was thee who hath put them there? All thou couldst think of was victory, instead of the flaws in thy plan. And now, the entire rebel forces of Terra shalt be quashed like the scum they art.”

Enduras could take no more of this. He took his nodachi in hand and rushed at Mordred’s back, murderous intent in his eyes. “No, Enduras!” Mortimer called out, but too slowly. The Doom Knight made a swing for the robed elf-like being, but swished through air. Just as the blade would taste his flesh, Mordred had simply vanished without warning. Even as the blade continued its course, Enduras’ face was suddenly impacted by a fist that came from his left side.

The human was sent sprawling to the floor, with a great pain in his left cheek. He looked up to see Mordred standing there, with his arm standing out straight from the punch.

“How did you-?” he was unable to finish, for even as he gazed up at Mordred, he felt someone kick him in the side. Again, when he recovered, he saw it was Mordred.

“Please, child.” He chided “Thou doth know naught of the power thou art contending with.” Enduras got up from his sprawled position on the floor, only to feel a sharp pain in his neck, even as he was eyeing Mordred, who had not vanished. He fell to the floor, his body limp, and was able to see that Mordred was looming over him. A long blade of black metal, with angelic black wings at the hilt and lined with eerie blue flames, was in his gloved hand, poised for a fatal strike.

As the cold, sable blade came down, Enduras rolled to his left, only to fall off the edge of the spire. He managed to grab a hold of the edge with his hands, but his position was far from safe. Once more, Mordred loomed over him, raising one foot over Enduras’ fingers, before coming down with crushing force. With a yell, he was forced to pull back his fingers. Enduras gazed up to that pallid face, devoid of compassion, as he realized he was doomed. He closed his eyes and winced even as Mordred raised his boot from under the coat-tail-like robes.

Prepared for impact, Enduras wrenched his eyes open as he heard a whooshing noise. He beheld Mordred’s form flying off the tower, his sword knocked out of his hand as he was blown off by a blast of Void energy from Mortimer. Enduras glanced back to see Mordred right himself in his descent, and begin to form tendrils of fire in his hands. He turned away from the sight, and reached for Mortimer’s outstretched hand. Just as he was about to grab the hand of support, one of the two tendrils of fire latched itself on Mortimer’s hand and yanked him down to follow his son. Even as Enduras tried to comprehend what had happened to the elf, he felt a searing pain in his shin, and was dragged down as well. And he was falling, falling, falling…

“The rebel forces are moving in, sir.” An officer said to Galbradi. “Do we order our forces in?”

“I want all airships to surround their forces and open fire.” Galbradi ordered with great calmness, his voice and image still projected to all of the Armada. With that, the once stationary Amrada surged forth like a sea of metal, spreading out to surround the feeble Terran forces. This was very quickly achieved without much trouble, and within seconds of the command, they began to unload a barrage of their weapon-fire upon their atrociously prepared quarry.

The rebel forces were outgunned and outmaneuvered, and they were quickly taking casualties from all sides. There were bursts of fire in the air as their fighters were downed, and their frigates could only withstand the onslaught for an ten minutes at best before their shields gave out.

Galbradi, who was able to oversee the whole operation in complete and total safety, was not one to sit by idly while there was work to be done. He could see that while the Armada clearly surpassed the Terran Fleet, but that they could hammer down on their flagship for hours before their shields gave out. While an EMP blast would take them down momentarily, the defense mechanisms would restore power and defend against future EMP technology. “Lieutenant Sark.” He called out to a decorated officer sitting by his side.

“Yes, Commander Galbradi?” the officer said in a hopeful voice as he leaped up from his chair.

“I’m placing you in command of the Dragoon until my return.” The elf said, leaving Sark speechless. With that, Galbradi strode over to the doors with purpose.

“But sir, where are you going?” Sark questioned his commander. As the doors opened automatically for Galbradi’s passage, he turned his head back to Sark and said matter-of-factly:

“I’m off to win this battle for Lord Tumultu.”

He then left all of the officers in the module speechless as he headed down to the fighter prepared for him. As he strode in the corridors of the massive airship, he was secretly joined by men wearing armor similar to that the Judge Magister bore, only less ornate. They were his lesser Judges; men loyal to him and only him who worked as a secretive special forces of the Empire. Trained in the arts of secrecy, assassination, and higher forms of open combat, they were a deadly force to be reckoned with. These men would be accompanying Galbradi on his “bombing run.”

They then made their way to the hangar, where there were several of the highest-class fighters available just for them. The Judges had to their selves several Rank-A Adroit Assault-Craft Class fighters, which were sleek fighters with pointed noses, long, narrow wings, large thrusters, and loaded with hidden weapons. Galbradi’s, on the other hand, was a rather large, aerodynamic thing with heavy armor and some of the heaviest weaponry available on Terra. Being a Rank-S Deity’s Wrath Class fighter, it alone could fight off several enemy fighters.

The ensemble silently slipped into their ships, and took flight. Once outside of the Dragoon, they were thrust into a tumultuous warzone. All around them, Terran ships fell like flies, with the occasional loss of an Imperial fighter here and there. The group of seven fighters rode out on the waves of destruction, destroying all Terran air-ships in their path with weapons that nothing could possibly stand up to, save divine intervention.

And so they came upon the Terran flagship; the Alpha. They circled around the airship once before they located the hangars, which was under the shield. “Alright, men,” the Judge Magister began, his voice projected to the rest of his squad. “We’ll fire one EMP blast. That will give us, at best, five seconds to get into the hangar before the shields come up again. We’ll go down towards the hangar first before firing. Chekhov,”

“Yes, Judge Magister?” a heavy Russian accented voice said over the communication link.

“You’ll fire the EMP blast.”


“Now, let’s move!” This said, they swooped down upon the flagship. A blue burst of energy came forth from the airship on the far left. Upon impact with the shield, which was a translucent blue film around the flagship’s hull, there was a small span of time were the entire flagship went dead. Thrusters stopped, lights and computers and the shield were down, and the entire ship began to slowly descend. Even as it fell, the seven ships pulled out of their swooping dive and slid gracefully into the hangar. Just as they passed into it, power was restored, and the flagship was defended against further EMP weaponry.

As soon as their fighters alighted in the hangar, their pilots leap out, brandishing various weapons. Galbradi bore two gunblades of a strange fashion. They appeared to be backswords of black metal with gold décor, styled like gladii, but running parallel to their backs were four barrels of the gun-part. They were bundled up together, and could either be all fired off at once for spread damage or revolve and act like a miniature minigun. Galbradi’s fellow Judges bore more traditional weapons. One bore a great maul, another a shotgun of some sort, a third a great-axe with mirrored edges, Chekhov two blaster pistols, the fifth judge a rapid-firing crossbow(aided with Terran technology, they could fire off poisoned bolts as quickly as a pistol can shoot bullets), and the last a metal staff for channeling powerful magics. With their weapons and skill, they quickly decimated the Terrans within the hangar, and moved on towards the command module with murderous intent.

With great efficiency and speed, they passed like a deadly plague through the corridors of the Alpha, silently taking out what sentries they found. With a series of hand motions, Galbradi silently ordered his six companions to sabotage the airship while he went for the command module. They went off dutifully, bowed over in their haste.

Galbradi continued alone, knowing the module was near. As he began to take steps towards his target, loud alarms began to sound off. “ALERT; INTRUDERS ON DECK. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. ALERT; INTRUDERS ON DECK,” a robotic voice said in a monotone. Almost immediately, the Judge Magister heard the footsteps of a large amount of enemies running at him from up ahead. The elf steeled himself, and holding the points of his blades straight ahead, prepared to fire off at the first sign of movement.

The footsteps approached closer and closer, and eventually, Galbradi could make out officers in green uniforms with blaster rifles in hand running towards him. His targets sighted, he pulled on both of his triggers, unleashing a salvo of golden-colored blaster-fire. Droves of men fell before him, singed or dismembered, never to rise again. There had been about twenty troops coming for him, but none were able to do so much as see him.

His enemies thus disposed of, Galbradi ran ahead, on blade poised over his head and another held sideways in backhanded fashion ahead of him. The corpses littering the floor were obstructing him, so he leapt to the side of the corridor, where he first ran a bit up the wall, and then turned to his left, running along the wall towards the module.

In moving in such an unorthodox fashion, he caught all his foes off guard, and quickly dispatched them and continued, occasionally leaping from wall to wall. In this way, he eventually made it to a great door of solid titanium, about three feet thick and airlocked so as to be nigh impenetrable. This posed of little annoyance to the Judge Magister, who had with him some small explosives. Reaching for his belt, he pulled out a small bomb which would latch onto surfaces and explode in a small area with a force equivalent to being rammed by a small three ton fighter traveling at over 200 miles per hour. Such force in a concentrated area would crack open near any door built by human hands alone. This was latched onto the great sealed door, and Galbradi stood back a little so as to be out of range.

There was a great explosion of fire, and the thick metal of the door caved and crumpled inwards like paper. The Magister waded through the heavy smoke, blades in hand. Inside the module, there were shouts of confusion and anger. As he strode in confidentally, he announced “Everyone in this airship has been charged of trying to usurp the throne and found guilty! All have been sentenced to death!” As he said this, he fired of several burst rounds, killing a few of the officers operating the flagship. With his presence thus known, several of the men in the module pulled out their own weapons and began to send volleys of blaster fight back at him. Most prominent of the rebels was General O’Connel, who was firing at Galbradi with a large cannon of some sort. In his left hand, he bore a sword of gold.

The elf was nimble and quick on his feet, and dashed through the enemy’s ranks, shooting and hacking his way to O’Connel. No one could get a bead on him; there would be a glint of metal and a flash of his trailing cloak, but he moved too fast for human eyes and hands. In this fashion Galbradi cleaved his way towards the general, who stowed away his cannon and took up his blade in his right hand, prepared to fight off the strange enemy.

Without warning, the burly officer standing right in front of O’Connel was shoved aside and replaced with Galbradi’s visage, blades glinting in the light. There was a clash of metal as the two began their duel, blades flashing as Galbradi dealt heavy blows the human could hardly withstand. The two fought for a while, even as the Alpha was slowly advancing across the field of battle at a snail’s pace without any pilots, each intent to strike a fatal blow.

Meanwhile, the six Judges had successfully made their way to the power grid. The Judge with the crossbow fired a few bolts into the vulnerable machines side. There was a flash of lightning, and a billowing cloud of smoke as the grid died, and power was lost. This ship lurched as power was cut from its thrusters, and it began to slowly descend, and was rocked by fire from the Armada’s fighters. It was then that O’Connel stumbled upon the un-sturdy ground. Caught off guard, now was Galbradi’s chance to strike. The elf leapt over O’Connel’s head, and as he flipped through the air, his blades began to glow a bright white as he cried “You die by my blade!” He landed on his feet and spun around, hacking through the air with his two blades. Each one emitted a bright shockwave of energy as they arced through the air, which then merged into one larger shockwave. O’Connel spun around awkwardly, trying to intercept it with his blade. But the shockwave cleaved through his blade and through his waist.

There was a moment where O’Connel seemed perfectly fine. This quickly passed as he began to gargle, and his upper half fell onto the floor. Galbradi wasted no time to gloat, though. He took his leave even as the ship lurched and rocked, and made his way back to the hangar, where the six Judges were waiting. Together, they took their leave of the doomed ship to sow destruction elsewhere.

Enduras awoke to find himself within a crater, his body sore all over.

“Ugh, what happened?” he mumbled through the insistent throbbing in his head.

“Ah, thou hath awoken,” a voice to his left said. Enduras glanced over sharply to see Mordred sitting idly on a boulder with a disinterested glaze in his eyes. “Odd, is it not, that thou doth hath me to thank for thy continued life?”

“B-but why?”

“Because we art far from done from finishing our game. Oh no, thou doth not get to escape so easily.”

Enduras began to hear a groaning from behind him. He turned to see Mortimer rising from his own crater, clutching at his head while using his sword to prop himself up. It was when Enduras saw Mortimer’s blade that he remembered his own, and began to search for it frantically. He was scrabbling in the dust for it when again Mordred drew his attention with his voice.

“Looking for this?” The hero gazed upwards to see the robed elf offering the handle of his golden nodachi to him. Enduras took the handle in his hands and let Mordred lower his own before making his move. On a sudden impulse, he tried to lunge forward and plunge the nodachi into Mordred’s torso. While an incorrect use of the weapon, it could have succeeded. But just before making impact, Mordred disappeared, and at the same time, Enduras felt a boot pressing down on his head.

“Tsk, tsk,” Mordred chided, before pressing down his boot and knocking Enduras into the dirt. “Is that any way for thee to repay my kindness?” This said, he lifted his boot off of Enduras, who then crawled his way over to Mortimer. “It amuses me to no end to see thee crawl in the dirt like the cretin thou art.”

Hearing this, the Doom Knight leaped up and spun around, his hand reaching out as if to grasp something. But along the ground sprout forth great spikes of Darkness in Mordred’s direction, who again disappeared. Enduras prepared to feel yet another physical blow from the mysterious elf, but instead felt nothing. He looked behind him to see that Mortimer had intercepted a punch from Mordred, holding back his black gloved fist within his grasp. Yet even as Enduras watched, he saw the skin of Mortimer’s hand begin to blacken, as if burned, and the old elf withdrew, crying out in pain.

“Let that be a lesson to thee in regards to meddling in affairs that art not thy own, fool,” Mordred said cruelly, without a shred of remorse within his red cat-like eyes.

“This is my affair!” Mortimer cried out emphatically as he lunged at his son, blade poised over his head to lop off his head. But from Mordred’s hand was a burst of black energy, and within his hand was once more that cruel blade from before, and there was a clash of metal against metal as Mortimer’s blow was intercepted.

“Thou truly art a fool, Mortimer,” Mordred jeered. “I slew thee all those years ago when I was but a mere elf, and thou dare to challenge me when I hath grown infinitely stronger? Not even The’Galin could match me! What chance doth thou posses of besting me?”

“It’s not about prevailing,” Mortimer said through gritted teeth. “It’s about standing up for the free-will of all sentient life!”

“Merely standing up for it will achieve naught,” Mordred countered. “The greatest tool for eliminating free-will stands up for it.”

“You lie!”

“Lie? I hath only told the truth since I was born. This is no lie. Enduras will rise to great power, and when I crush him at his strongest, all the hope the universe has left will die with him then.”

“No!” Enduras cried out as he rushed at Mordred, nodachi poised for a strike. His blade came down upon Mordred’s head, only to be intercepted by another of the impossible long blades, identical to the first. With a savage grin of amusement upon his face, Mordred whirled himself around, pushing back his two attacks.

“Mortimer, you don’t really believe him do you?” Enduras questioned Mortimer, who had a grim look upon his face.

“Unfortunately… I do,” the elf said solemnly. “I now know what I must do… Please, forgive me, Lords, for what I am about to do.” He slowly raised his blade up, pointed against Enduras.

“Whoa, a little hasty there, buddy,” Enduras said hurriedly, a worried and anxious tone in his voice.

“It’s the only way. Prepare yourself Enduras, for I wield power greater than you can imagine.” This said, the elf raised his blade up, intending to kill Enduras then and there.

Mordred, who saw these proceedings, nearly went ballistic. His eye twitched as he realized that all of his meticulous planning was put at risk. He was quick to react, though. There was a tearing noise from the back of his robes as great raven wings began to push their way through the cloth from his shoulders. Even as this happened, the earth began to rumble under Mortimer’s feet. There was a great crack as the rock he stood upon began to speedily rise upwards, with him on it. Within seconds, he was hundreds of feet up in the air. The spire of rock came to a stop so suddenly that Mortimer continued to rise in the air, and it was at this moment that Mordred darted into the air upon his raven wings. He was right up with Mortimer within seconds, and with twin blades in hand, dashed passed his, rending flesh and bone apart. Yet even as the cold, fiery blades tore through his body, his wounds were immediately healed. Mordred wished to inflict as much torture upon Mortimer as possible before killing him. And so the elf was suspended in the air, torn apart and rebuilt by Mordred, suspended between life and death as much as earth and heaven.

Eventually though, the barrage of swordplay came to an end. Mordred rose high above Mortimer, who was magically suspended in midair and completely unmarred. Enduras watched in horror as Mordred’s bird-like shadow fell upon him, before the dark clouds passed over the sun and hid Mordred’s own shadow. The strange being of power’s twin blades were gone now from his hands as he raised them up to the sun as they charged up with a great blue light. He then thrust his hands downward, and from them came pure Ice energy in the form of a great spike of ice. This fell down with great force down upon Mortimer, impaling him as it fell. It then crashed down into the pillar of rock, and continued its path, boring right through the pillar, which cracked and groaned as it was attacked. There was a hollow WHUMP! sound as it came to a stop at the bottom of the pillar, which then began to crumble away, giving Enduras access to Mortimer’s body.

Enduras ran over to the great spike of ice, leaping over boulders as he went. He came upon Mortimer’s frail-looking body, and knelt down beside him, gripping his limp hand tightly. “Mortimer? Mortimer, can you hear me?”

The old elf opened his eyes at Enduras’ voice. They were welled up with tears, and were filled with such sorrow and grief that Enduras couldn’t help but cry himself. “Enduras…” he called out weakly, his voice broken and his face deathly pale.

“I’m here, Mortimer,” Enduras said between sobs. “I’m here.”

“I-I’m… sorry… This w-was all my fault. My foolishness made m-me blind to the d-darkness in my son’s heart. Now, he is lost t-to me… P-please forgive me for trying to kill you. It was the on-ly way I could think of stopping him.”

“Of course, Mortimer. I c-couldn’t have chosen a-any differently.”

“I just ask o-one thing.” At this, Mortimer began to cough up blood. “Would you say that I died a h-hero?”

“I’d have to be crazy to think otherwise.” Enduras chuckled half-heartedly a little, but it was devoid of mirth.

“Hmph. It seems you don’t know me as well as I s-should like, then.” The elf’s eyes glazed over, and his hand fell out of Enduras’. He had passed into Death’s grip once more.

Enduras bowed his head in reverence, but was interrupted by the sound of an explosion. He turned over to gaze at the battlefield to see the Terran flagship’s wreckage upon the ground, and the last of the rebel forces fight in vain. Even as Enduras began to cry harder, the heavy clouds overhead also seemed to mourn Mortimer’s death, and a heavy rain began to fall.

High overhead, Mordred Tumultu was beyond caring. “Enduras, Son-of-None!” he called out in an amplified voice. Not only did Enduras gaze upon his winged form, but so too did all those within the citadel and within the Armada’s airships. “I am done playing with thee for today! The time hath come for Limbo to be reopened!” This said, he raised his hand up to the clouds even as the rain poured down from above. The clouds began to swirl and swirl, until they seemed to be sucked upwards in a funnel. At the center of the funnel was a bright pinpoint of blue light that steadily grew larger and larger. Eventually, it was a bright mirror of blue light that illuminated the entire battlefield. Within it, one could see swirling dark forms of another world; Limbo.

“I take my leave now, Enduras!” the Lord of the ShadowScythe called down. “Thou art free to follow me!” As he gloated over his victory, a dark shape above began to loom larger and larger, casting a shadow upon Mordred, and there was a tiny pinprick or golden light from under Mordred’s robes…

It was not until he cast his head upwards that the emperor noticed the great looming shadow and the golden light from under his robes, which was growing steadily brighter. He reached for something under his robes, and pulled out his blackened Dragon Amulet, which was now burning brightly. He looked up once more, only to see some massive white creature burst forth from the portal, and crash into him. There was a cloud of dust and rock as the creature barreled through Mordred and made impact with the earth, shaking the mountains to the core. Enduras, still kneeling beside Mortimer’s body, was engulfed in the cloud. At first, he couldn’t see anything, but he could then make out shapes within the dust as his eyes transformed without him even knowing. They became cat-like as his pupils became slits, and his vision was greatly sharpened, as if he had the eyes of an elf.

When the dust cleared, he could much more easily see what lay before him. Rising out of a great crater was a large, white serpent of some kind. Its head was pointed, with a sharp blue spike protruding from under a helmet-like carapace atop is head. Leering from under this were two sets of yellow pupil-less eyes, one atop the other. Its flesh was black and leathers, and once might make out scales along it. It had a great maw of teeth, showing the creature to take great delight in flesh. Running down its serpentine body was a great carapace, segmented so as to allow mobility for the creature. About only a quarter way down from its head was a pair of great white feathery wings, with a wingspan that rivaled that of the dracolich the citadel was perched atop. The serpent reared back its head and spread its wings, and bellowed out a great and terrible roar and belched out a plume of flame. It was a dull white in color, and flashes of grey lightning burst forth from it, showing it to be of the Void.

When the creature had finished, it bowed its head and began to growl and snarl in its native tongue, which was translated for Enduras and Mordred, who both bore Dragon Amulets. “At last,” the dragon rumbled in a satisfied and triumphant tone, its voice itself brimming with power. “I am free! Free from my prison! Curse that dog, Krag’Triskeroth; for all my years spent in that demon stink-hole, I couldst not find him and repay him for his deed!” The dragon then began to sniff its surroundings. “Now, where hath I found myself? Certainly not Lore!” It was then that its eyes widened, as if it recognized a scent. “Yet he is here with me!” The dragon lowered its head to the ground, sniffing out a scent, until it came before Enduras and Mortimer. Its breath was upon them, and Enduras nearly swooned, for it was rank with the scent of demons. The dragon could have easily swallowed him whole, for Enduras was scarcely taller than one of its four great eyes.

“Thou doth smell moste familiar, human!” the dragon bellowed, nearly knocking over Enduras with only the ensuing movement of air. “I can see thou art not him, yet thou doth smell almost exactly like him! And thy eyes; thou doth have his eyes! Thou doth seem to be of a similar build, and thy face structure is impeccably like his…”

“Excuse me?” Enduras rasped in draconic.

“Nevermind. Thou clearly art not him.”


The dragon ignored his question, though, as it noticed Mortimer’s body. “Mortimer, too? And yet he doth lie dead! Who is responsible for this crime?”

It was at that time that there was a hazy blur in the distance as Mordred appeared, adorned in his battle armor and twin blades in hand. His face was hidden under the shadow cast by his helmet, but his eyes leered out like flames. As he gazed upon the dragon, recognition crossed his hidden face. He breathed a single name under his breath; “Arthur…” Even as the dragon turned to gaze upon him, he saw a vision of a figure clad in platinum and gold armor who stared back crossly from under his own helmet. Just as quickly, the vision was gone.

“Hail and well met, Arthur!” Mordred called out to the dragon, who leered at him, distrusting the strange warrior.

“How dots thou know of me?” the dragon called out.

“How couldst I forget my old companion?”

The dragon’s eyes widened as it dawned on him who this was. “Mordred!”

“Aye, ‘t’is me, my old friend. How fare thee?”

“I’ve only spent countless eons wandering the Void, until thou didst free me. What of thyself?”

“I doth aim to throw down Chaos from his lofty throne, and bring all of life under my rule.” Arthur was taken aback by this, and seemed to cringe. “The Order was destroyed by mine own hands, and twice, now, hath I slain my father. Such is the fate of all that shalt oppose my will.”

“I cannot let thee do this…” Arthur said with a heavy voice and heart. “I can feel that thou art no longer the man thou once wert, my friend.”

Mordred sent forth great mirth at this, although it sounded hollow. “This is true,” said he. “For I am no longer merely a man! ‘T’is not out of folly that I shalt challenge the gods! And if thou shalt oppose me… Then I must dispense of thee myself.” He suddenly dashed forward, his cloak and hair trailing behind him in his wake, and his blades dragging along the rock.

Arthur saw this, and opened his great maw wide, belching out flames once more. Mordred was nimble, though, and leapt above the flames. He came crashing down upon Arthur’s head with a great force, sending the dragon into a frenzy. There was another flash of fire, and a flutter of wings as he thrashed about, trying to wound Mordred, who darted to and fro, plunging his blade into nicks in the carapace.

Meanwhile, Enduras fled for safety, for he would surely be caught and slain in the fray. He took refuge further up the mountain to watch in safety. Mordred was once more standing before the great dragon, who was glaring furiously from above. He whipped his tail up and brought it down upon Mordred, attempting to crush him. But the ex-DragonLord merely dropped one of his blades and raised a hand as if to say halt. The tail made impact, but amazingly, Mordred bore all of its weight and force easily, as if it were nothing. The dragon was straining to force its tail further, but the best result it got was the earth Mordred stood upon began to cave under his strength.

The great warrior then threw up his arm and the tail, and leapt up high, catching the end of the tail with his free hand. He then pulled himself up onto the tail, and began to dash up along Arthur’s back, sometimes hacking at the carapace as he went, sending great cracks running into it, as if they threatened to break away. When he came upon the great wings, he hewed one completely off, eliciting a roar of anguish from the dragon. He then snapped the fingers of his free hand, setting the other wing alight in eerie blue flames. Being of the Void, the dragon could hardly stand exposure to elemental magic. Mordred then came upon Arthur’s head, and leap down from the end of his horn, to confront the dragon on ground.

The dragon, now wingless, collapsed to the floor, writing in agony. “I offer thee one last chance, Arthur!” Mordred called out, holding his blade behind his back and his free hand’s palm outwards towards Arthur. “Join me, and once more we couldst fight side by side, to destroy Chaos and remove free-will!”

Arthur glared at Mordred with disgust. “Never!” the dragon bellowed. “I’ll never fight with thee to take away Lorithia’s gift! I’d rather die trying to stop thee!” This said, Arthur belched out another jet of Void-flame at his old friend.

The being clad in black armor was completely engulfed. After five minutes of such exposure to Void energy, surely anyone would have been obliterated. And yet, when Arthur’s jet of flame came to an end, there Mordred stood, unchanged. While Arthur was blinking in confusion, Mordred’s free hand formed a claw, and from it came a barrage of blue lightning. The arcs of lightning covered a large swath, and struck at Arthur without remorse. The serpentine dragon writhed as it began to smoke and his muscles contracted, and cried out mangled snarls as his Void-aligned body could not handle such Energy energies. When the lightning came to a stop, Arthur’s head lolled about for a bit before crashing down on the mountainside beside Enduras, barely missing him.

Enduras ran up beside the majestic creature’s face, fearing that he would witness the death of a second hero that day. As he came up to him, Arthur’s eyes opened up groggily, as if he were fighting off a great sleep. “Child…” Arthur called out weakly. “Please, stop him at any cost.”

“But me?” Enduras cried out. “But I could never best him! It’s all but over. He called me his tool! Why should I let him guide my actions further in my attempts to stop him?”

“Thou must, little one. Thou mayst feel weak now, but I feel power within thee. A vestige of greatness. I know naught of why, but thou doth feel like a DragonLord of old. If thou doth not stand up for the universe, no one will! Please; for the sake of the universe, fight on our behalf! Thou canst not let the life or Mortimer or myself be lain aside in vain! Go forth on this path, despite the odds!”

“… Yes…” Enduras said reluctantly. “I may not see the end of this journey, but walk it I must. I was chosen for this for a reason! I must stand before Tumultu, or die trying.”

“Thou doth lighten the burden upon mine heart, little one. Please, tell me thy name, so that I mayst inquire those of the Underworld of thee…”

“I am… Enduras Son-of-None, Arthur.”

“Then goodbye, Enduras. Think well of me, and know that so long as there is a will, there is a way. Keep that will alive!” With these final words, the dragon closed its eyes once more and fell asleep, never to awaken again.

Meanwhile, Mordred had been taking slow strides up the mountain, taking off his helmet as he did so. Unknowingly, he shed a single tear at Arthur’s passing. When he felt its weight upon his cheek, he flicked it away in disgust upon the sheer rock of the mountain. It is said that to this day, a beautiful flower lies upon that very spot, and that if one were to crush it and brew it into tea and drink it, that one would be overcome by so much sadness that they would never be happy again. So it is said. Mordred would have drawn closer to his old friend’s body, but when he tried making another step, he was confronted again by that figure with the platinum and gold armor. Tumultu turned suddenly and leapt up into the air, borne upon his wings once more. He silently passed into Limbo, and the portal closed behind him, leaving Enduras to find his own way.

< Message edited by Mordred -- 10/2/2011 20:21:40 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 22
11/27/2011 21:38:08   

It wasn’t for quite some time that Enduras moved, and that wasn’t until he heard the humming of airships above him. He took refuge in the first place he could think of, squeezing himself under a segment of Arthur’s carapace, hidden from sight. Almost as soon as he was hidden from view, the humming grew louder as a large frigate made a landing nearby. There was a hiss of pressurized air being released as a ramp opened down from the bottom of the frigate. There was the sound of many footfalls as a platoon of ShadowScythe troops, garbed in armor and cloak, came down from the airship in a hurry.

“Damn, would ya look at the size of this nasty thing?” one remarked.

“Holy molé, that’s a big ‘un,” another said incredulously.

“Where’d that chap in red go?” a third troop asked. Hearing this, the troops broke up in search of the man they had spotted. They were crawling all over the place, and soon, they thought of checking under Arthur’s carapaces. It wasn’t long before Enduras was found.

“What’s tha’ over there?” a soldier asked himself before receiving a heavy blow from the Innocence half of the Judgement Wheel replica. He was out like a light. The commotion was heard by the others though, and before the hero was able to make a break for it, he was completely surrounded. Weapons were brandished and all pointed at him.

“Come quietly now,” the officer in command said as he stepped forward as his troops parted for him. “You are entirely surrounded by us, rebel. Escape is impossible. Unless you took down this remarkable beast on your own, you aren’t getting away from us.”

The Doom Knight gazed up and around him in dismay to see the Armada overhead, looming over him like an iron wall. He silently admitted that escape was impossible, and let his hammer drop to the floor. He was then escorted into the frigate, where his pack was taken from him. As he was locked in the brig, he heard the commanding officer send a message to some higher up official.

“Commander Galbradi, this is Lieutenant Ryans, reporting that we have found a prisoner. He was spotted in the mountains, over where Lord Tumultu was last seen. We’re bringing him in for trial now.”

The frigate landed in the courtyard of the great citadel, where Enduras was led forth from the brig and thrown into a cell within the lower levels of the citadel, off to the side of the great spires. They were low and squatty, as if they were meant only to serve as a foundation for the greatness built around them.

As Enduras was shoved roughly into his cell, a guard on his left said: “Commander Galbradi will deal with you in due time.” This was shortly followed by the heavy slam of his thick cell-door shutting up, preventing all chances of escape. Outside, guards could be heard pacing alertly.

And so Enduras was left in his cell. It was not a terrible place to be locked up in. In the back corner was a comfortable bed, and candles adorned the flat walls, granting a more than the necessary amount of light to keep from walking into a wall. While there was little to do, it was far from the cruel and unusual treatment one would expect of the ShadowScythe.

Enduras sat upon his bed, where he would wait for hours. He dozed off a few times, but would always awake to the same scene. Upon the fourth time of waking up, one of the guards outside seemed to take notice. “Heh, prisoner’s up. I’ll just jar him up a little.” At this, the door of the great cell began to open with a hiss. In stepped a black-armored guard, with a golden sash running along his chest, showing him to be of high ranking. His face was obscured under his great helm.

“Wakey-wakey,” the guard said in a mock child voice. “I’m sure you’re thinking of overpowering me and using me as a hostage, but they’d sooner kill me than let you escape. So no go, there, buddy. Hehehehehahaha!”

“Are you done taunting me?” the fallen hero asked sullenly, head hung low.

“First, I got some questions for ya.”

“Oh really? Pray tell what kind of questions? I’d hardly suspect one as lowly as yourself capable of any serious thought.” This last statement seemed to come out unbidden from Enduras’ mouth.

“For a second there, you sounded just like… nah. I’ll simply disregard your blatant insult as mindless anger. Anyways, you believe in these so called ‘Elemental Lords’ and whatnot, right?”

“Believe in them?” Enduras asked, raising an eyebrow. “I don’t believe in them, I know them to actually exist and involve their selves in Creation.”

“Hmmm… Just like Lord Tumultu then.”

“What of it?”

“He’s been throwing the same words at us. Not that I believe in any of that malarkey.”

Hearing this, Enduras stood up from his position on the bed, and looked into the guard’s eyes, which peered out from under his helm. “You listen here…” the hero seethed. “Don’t you ever say that about the Lords.”

“And why the hell not? The Emperor’s been right respectable in how he tried to ‘educate’ us. He wasn’t demanding that we respect them or nuthin’; he just tried to make us see things his way. I don’t believe in any gods; said that right up to his pale, sneering face I did. If there’s one thing you can say of him, he’s a right tolerant bastard.”

“You’re a fool!” Enduras said coldly. “The Lords are real!”

“Really then? I knew I’d get this kind of reaction out of you! You must be one of them religious nuts! Cracks me up to see you guys get so riled up about cloud-people!” The guard forcefully pushed Enduras down to his bed. “If these ‘Elemental Lords’ are real, I challenge them to show their selves to me! C’mon, anything!”

Even as these words were said, the Lords heard this direct challenge directed at them. Most took no notice. But The Lord of energy took great offense to this, and called upon its Terran Avatar to punish the challenger. It came riding down upon a storm-cloud to the flying citadel a being made up of pure Energy, in the form of lightning; ever changing and flashing. It came down with a great clash of thunder upon the top of the greatest spire of the citadel, and boomed out in a deep voice of power: “Foolish Terran who dares to challenge the gods! Feel the wrath of Khellendar, Avatar of the Lord of Energy!” As these words were spoken, the Armada began to slowly turn its many heads towards the threat, but all too slowly. At the same time, the guard heard these words, and began to beat upon the metal doors of the cell, demanding they be opened. There was a peal of thunder as the creature, now revealed to be Khellendar, unleashed a bolt of pure Energy straight down into the citadel. Earth cracked mightily and people were thrown about, and the spire began to collapse inward, as if it had been struck by a heavy hammer blow. The bolt traveled through the citadel, sparing nothing. The guard banging on the metal door was thrown back as he hit the galvanized metal, narrowly avoiding Enduras. The entire citadel began to crumble away, either to the sides or inward, and the massive dracolich lurched in the air as it was exorcised by Khellendar. And so it fell out of the sky and crashed right into a mountain, shattering against its surface. Enduras had miraculously(and likely intentionally) been spared of the Energy, but was knocked unconscious as he crashed against the walls of his cell…

Enduras awoke several hours later to find the floor slanting, and the cell door torn open. He rose up slowly from his stupor, and warily began to make his way through the ruins. The going was slow, for the terrain was hazardous, his armor bulky and cumbersome, and there were Armada scout-ships flying overhead, shining searchlights into the rubble in search of any movement. The entire citadel, once a place of grandeur, seemed to have been struck at its core; the masonry was torn apart, spires shattered to splinters, statues dismembered, battlements crumbling, and a general air and feel of great calamity. Such is the wrath of the Lords when one invites their own ruin.

Enduras eventually made his way into the great antechamber; the base of the largest and once most magnificent of all the spires. Littered about the place were great treasures of art; grand statues of Mordred and tapestries depicting a glorious battle. All were in some way destroyed or marred by Khellendar’s fell blow; such treasures will never again be on Terra. In the citadel’s days of glory, this antechamber would almost overwhelm one in all of its grandeur, moving them in a way they could scarcely predict. It was in here the Doom-clad knight strode about, mourning for the loss of such treasures, even if they depicted his sworn foe. So lost was he in his emotion that he failed to notice the cracks that riddled the obsidian floor like a spiderweb. As he wandered to the center, the ground began to crack and groan under his weight, until it gave way with a loud snap, and Enduras’ vision turned to blackness…

Enduras awoke several minutes later to find himself lying on his front on warm-almost hot-earth. He quickly dragged himself up, cursing all the while, to take in his surroundings. He was in a large chamber carved into the center of Everest, lit by a soft yellow-orange glow from below. The earth he stood upon was cracked with veins of magma, and thrust into the ground were hundreds of blades, each with an opaque Dragon Amulet hanging from its handle. Looking above, the hero saw that he had fallen several hundred feet. Damn it, the Lorian cursed. That bastard’s saved my life three times now.

Looking at the swords that surrounded him, Enduras realized he had no weapon of his own, as his own had all been taken from him. He then went around the place cautiously, looking for the best of blades that would suit him. No, that one’s too long. That’s too wide. Too heavy. Too short, that one is. Too fancy. Too flimsy. To brittle. As he judged the blades, he slowly made his way to the center, until he beheld the thirteen finest blades the collection had to offer. As he gazed upon the sword in the very center, made of platinum and gold, his very core reverberated at the sight of it. It called out to him, enticing him, and he knew that this blade was for him. As if in a trance, Enduras slogged ahead, unaware of all else around him. He made his way up to it, and brushing aside the twelve other weapons arranged around it, began to reach out for its finely crafted handle. As he did, his armor began to crack and snap, and flaked away from his body rapidly, like a quickly shed skin. The cursed armor was completely shed by the time his finders closed around the sword’s handle. Once Enduras grasped it, his vision went blindingly white in an instant, obscuring all else for the next few seconds. When his eyes cleared, Enduras gazed down at his right hand, now hefting his blade lightly, which was clad in a platinum gauntlet made in similar fashion to his new sword. Bewildered, he glanced down over his frame to find himself garbed in regal platinum armor, with gold trim and embellished with golden wings, all crafted as if to match his blade.

Enduras quickly dismissed this otherwise odd situation, for the armor he now bore felt right to him. He took up his new sword and examined it more closely. He then read out the runes etched into the blade in perfect elven dialect, and understood the words as if they were a long lost memory. Upon reading the runes, he felt another thrum in his very soul, and breathed out the name of the blade just loud enough for him to hear: “…Ivanur…” After soaking in the name, Enduras recollected himself, and began to scale the sheer walls of the chamber towards freedom, with the aids of some magic along the way. Within half an hour, he had scaled the entire chamber’s height, and was again in the citadel. As he darted through the mounds of ruin, a searchlight from a scout-ship caught sight of his trailing cloak, and began to pursue him.

“This is scout-ship SR-6798, calling in to the Dragoon; I have visual contact with the prisoner. I repeat, visual contact of the prisoner. He is alive and on the move and armed,” the pilot said into his helmet. He almost immediately got a response from Commander Galbradi himself.

“Very good, soldier. Stay on his trail and apprehend him.”

“Yes, sir!” the pilot said enthusiastically as he closed in on his target. He trailed over Enduras’ head, following his every move until the man running on foot made a wrong turn into a dead end. The passage was just wide enough for the pilot to land his narrow scout-ship in it, blocking off all chances of escape. Even as Enduras whirled around, his plight grew more dire as the pilot leapt out from the cockpit, a blaster pistol in his right hand and a black baton crackling with electricity in his left. He was lightly garbed in a black suit with minimal metal plating, and wore a black helmet that enhanced his vision and reflexes while flying. The airship blocked off the narrow passage, leaving the only chances of escape as capture or commandeering it.

Enduras glowered from under his new Spartan helmet as the pilot pointed the barrel of his weapon menacingly at him. The pilot took aim for his quarry’s shoulder, meaning to incapacitate him, and pulled the trigger. There was a flash of red and a pealing sound of blaster fire as the red bolt of light was released at Enduras’s shoulder. There was a burst of smoke as the armor-clad hero raised his hand, intercepting the blast with his open palm.

When the smoke cleared, Enduras still held out his arm, unharmed and unfazed by the pilot’s attack. The pilot was momentarily confused, and paused before firing off several more shots, all with the same lack of effect. Rather than allowing this to continue, Enduras exerted his will upon the weapon, and summarily crushed it even as the pilot gazed on in fear. Anger then overtook him, and he rushed forward, swinging the baton wildly. His target side-stepped as the baton came down from above, leaving him unbalanced and his wrist exposed. Before he could rebalance and attack again, a flash of metal filled his vision, and then pain ran up his arm. He looked down at his left arm to see a gush of blood where his hand once was. Before he could register the pain of his loss, Ivanur cut diagonally through the air and clove through his torso like it was paper.

Having slain the pilot rather grisly, Enduras quickly leapt into the vehicle, commandeering it for his own purposes. With some difficulty, he managed to get the scout-ship airborne and set off in a random direction away from the citadel’s ruins. Overhead, the Armada loomed, poised to crush any signs of surviving rebels.

As he drew away from the crash-site, his dashboard hummed to life, and a stern voice began to speak from the speakers. “Scout-ship SR-6798, you do not have clearance to leave this quadrant. Return to your duties. Have you apprehended the prisoner yet?” This was followed by silence. “SR-6798, return to the Dragoon now for a search. If you do not comply, you will be shot out of the sky. I repeat, return to the Dragoon.” There was another moment of silence; Enduras merely kicked up the throttle and zoomed off at a greater speed than before. “Contacting Fighter Team 6; the prisoner is escaping on scout-ship SR-6798. Assemble and apprehend him, alive if possible. Fighter Team 6, you are clear for take-off.”

Enduras kicked it into high gear as he heard the pursuing fighters blast into supersonic speed. While his scout-ship could go faster, he didn’t quite know how the pilot the machine well enough to out-speed his enemies. So he sailed through the skies, his pursuers gaining steadily on him. Minutes later, he heard the first volley of enemy fire behind him seconds before seeing it out of the corners of his eyes as it missed. Feeling a tad more confident than he should have, Enduras flipped on the scout-ship’s speakers to project his voice to the pilots giving him chase. “You guys feeling lucky enough to catch me, eh? Good luck; Lords know you’ll need it.” This said, Enduras began to zig and zag erratically, and performed as many evasive maneuvers he could handle, attempting to shake off his enemies.

This went on for some time, and for a while, it seemed it was working. His pursuers began to fall further behind, and no shots were able to touch the lightly armored airship. However, disaster struck when the commander of the fighters scored a lucky shot of Enduras’ wing, clipping it and sending the airship careening off course. When Enduras stopped his scout-ship so that it could hover in place and stabilize, he found himself surrounded by his pursuers.

“Come quietly and you get to live,” the commander’s voice sounded through the air. One could tell he was sneering sadistically.

Before Enduras could reply through either actions or words, a volley of missiles came down from above, destroying several of the fighters and causing havoc. Before the survivors could so much as turn to face he one who attacked them, they too were shot out of the sky; this time with a stream of blaster fire, as if fired from a gatling gun. When the air cleared of smoke, Enduras saw a heavily armored airship hovering front of him. Inside the cockpit was a man clad in grey armor that Enduras didn’t recognize.

“Go to Stonehenge,” the man said, projecting his voice from his airship so Enduras could hear him. “There, you can have someone take you to Limbo.”

“But, wait, who are you?” Enduras questioned, feeling that there was something… off about this apparent savior.

“Never you mind. All you need to know is that I’ve provided you with a chance to follow him and that the Empire’ll chase you no more this day, or any other.”

Before Enduras could so much as offer a thank you, the airship sped off back towards the citadel. Eager to move on, Enduras sped off for Stonehenge in England…

“Commander Galbradi, we’ve lost contact with Team 6. What has become of the prisoner?” one of the pilots operating the Dragoon questioned Galbradi as he sped back to the crash site.

“He lured Team 6 under an overhang, where he then brought down upon them all. They’ll all dead.”

“That’s unfortunate, sir.”

“Indeed it is…” the elf said, smirking under his helmet.

Enduras was pacing along the inside of the Stonehenge circle, awaiting Falerin to appear. His brow was furrowed with intense thought as he meditated on the events that occurred in the past day. As he began to clench his platinum-clad fist and pound upon a stone in anger, Falerin suddenly appeared next to him in his usual, unannounced fashion. The hero jumped a little at his sudden appearance.

“Damn it Falerin, I’ll never get used to that, even when I expect it.”

“I’m sorry, did you want me to walk all the way here? Because I can do that too,” Falerin said half-sarcastically, half-seriously.

“No no! That’s okay!” Enduras said enthusiastically.

“Good,” the elven god said with a smirk. “Now, what is it that you called me fore, Enduras? I’m a very busy person, and it’s more taxing to project myself on Terra as well as on other worlds.”

“I need someone to open a passage to Limbo from here.”

“Why the devil would you want to open Limbo? You’re supposed to keep it closed.”

“Ah, well, yes, only, well, Mordred-“


“Mordred Tumultu, the crazy dragonlord-guy who leads the ShadowScythe. Anyways-“

“He made it into Limbo, didn’t he?”

“Well, um, ah… yes?”

At this, Falerin flew into a tirade. “You let him get into Limbo?! Do you realize what this means?! There’s now a raving lunatic, intent on rebuilding everything that has ever existed, wandering within a section of the Void that’s outside time and allows him to travel between any world in the universe! You were supposed to stop him; you are the hero! This is a grand mess you’ve made! This could lead to a full-out god-war, if he’s successful!! Of all the blunders-!”

Enduras shied away from the god as he began to spew out foul utterances and curses. Falerin went on lividly for several minutes before he managed to calm down. “Okay…” he breathed out slowly as he collected himself.

“I’ve never seen you that angry before…” Enduras said sheepishly.

Falerin threw him a sharp glare that could have sent Carnax running for the hills. “It may not be like me to lose myself like that, but considering the situation, I was quite tame. Do you realize what a threat this man poses? He very easily could start a god war; the likes of which could do far greater harm to the universe than imaginable. Even if he were to be put down, the universe itself would be sundered in two between the opposing political factions. This mess will never be cleaned up, and you’ve already let the oils begin to drench the incredibly dry pile of wood. However, despite your massive failure, we can keep the match from being lit.”

“That’s good, then.”

However, I cannot open Limbo for you.”

“Why not?”

“Doing so could start a god-war. None of us, meaning gods, can have any affiliations with the place. The nature of it being outside time raises the fear that one of us could enter and theoretically change anything. If I were to open it, the pantheons would be upon us faster than you could so much as blink.”

“So, then Mordred won?”

“No. I met the man once, back before anything like this was possible. Had I known it was him behind all of this… Anyways, from what of I garnered of him then, he is a shrewd, calculative being who already understands much of our dealings and workings. He knows that making any dire attempts to change time will go noticed by us, which is the last thing he wants now. He’ll make sure he can stand up to us, first.”

“From your vicious tirade, I’d say you think he can.”

“Possibly. But more important than his own power is who or what is following his ideology, and how many. As of now, his presence was hardly noticeable. If the Elemental Lords hadn’t been so paranoid, you wouldn’t be here now. No, he’ll slowly work his way into the worlds, and press them to his will. Only then will he challenge any gods.”

“Then how can we stop him?”

“I’ll contact Warlic and see if he can grant you access to Limbo.” This being said, Falerin raised his black cane. The gem flashed white, and an apparition of Warlic and the inside of his magic shop appeared. The archmage was pouring himself over an old tome while leaning upon his staff. So deep in his reading that he did not notice that two apparitions stood by him in his magic shop.

“Ah-hem,” Falerin said crossly, attracting Warlic’s attention.

The archmage jumped up, whirling his head about to see who had so rudely interrupted him. “Falerin!” he said beaming. As he clanked upon the expression on the elf’s face, his smile faded away. “Oh, you’re in quite the bad mood. Why can’t you ever call me when you’re happy for once? And Enduras! It’s been a while, y’know. Five years! And look at you! Where’d you find that armor; it looks quite dashing.”

“That’s enough, Blue Mage,” Falerin cut in. “We require your assistance.”

“Can’t it wait for a while?” Warlic pleading as his gaze drifted down to his book. “I think I’ve nearly found out why-“

“No,” the god said flatly, his eyes gleaming with fury.

“Fine fine, suit yourself. Now, what is it you need?”

“We need you to open a portal into Limbo here, on Terra.”

“On Terra! Are you mad?! That’s far too great a distance to possibly-“

“It must be done Warlic.”

Warlic hesitated a little as he mulled over what was possible in his mind. “Okay, it might be possible. I’ll need to channel the spell through somebody already there-it’ll be much less taxing that way-, but it’ll mean-“

“Enduras will do it.”

“But- he’ll surely die! You didn’t let me fin-“

“This is his mess, Warlic. We can find another hero if need be.”

Enduras gazed at Falerin, fear in his eyes. Warlic kept casting his gaze at the two of them, turning his head rapidly as he struggled to accept Falerin’s demands that would kill a friend.

“Very well. If it’s the only way…” Warlic acquiesced, his heart heavy. “Tell me the situation there; are there any objects that might aide in the connection or spell.”

“We’re at this… circle of stone pillars and arches,” Enduras said reluctantly, pointing at Stonehenge. “I was advised to come here for the spell.”

Warlic tried to follow Enduras’ finger, but Falerin had only let him see the apparitions of himself and Enduras. “Falerin, could you extend your spell to let me see this structure?”

With a wave of his hand, Falerin did this for the archmage.

Warlic studied the apparition of the structure, “hmmm”-ing occasionally. “It would seem…” he said slowly, “that this was built to allow even less adept mages to open a portal to Limbo. This bodes well; for the spell, anyways. Very well! Enduras, prepare yourself!”

Enduras seized up as he felt Warlic extend his mind through the spell Falerin was sustaining and graze his own consciousness. The hero thought on how this was possible, only to get an answer from Warlic.

Well, it’s quite simple really. Falerin’s connecting spell provides a link for me to greatly ease the strain of the vast distance between us. Now, this won’t hurt a bit. Warlic’s presence quickly bypassed Enduras’ paltry defenses and took command of his body. While his mouth began to chant out the required spell, Enduras wondered with awe at Warlic’s own mind. He felt a vast sagacity and age behind the archmage’s consciousness, with a streak of shame and regret for some past event. Before he could garner further insight on Warlic’s nature, he felt his consciousness begin to fade as the spell took its toll on him, before blacking out entirely within his own mind.

Mordred was striding through the astral halls of Limbo, taking no heed of the galaxies and stars and events and worlds that were flashing all around and were visible through the ephemeral brickwork. It was all of little interest to him. Instead, he strode forward with determination, his face steeled with concentration and his cloak concealing most of his body from below the pauldrons. Up ahead were two disfigured humanoid forms. They were both demons, but so entirely different you could have mistaken them for two entirely different creatures(which is, of course, the nature of demons). One was huge and hulking, with thick, scaly green skin and bulging muscles. His head was mostly human, despite having yellow slits for eyes and orange-tipped black spikes curving from his head. He wore a simple loincloth that fell to his ankles, concealing his legs with their backwards-facing knees. Lining his back was a spine of wicked horns. The other was a small wiry creature, with leathery yellow skin, a narrow, snouted face and wearing some old tattered robes.

“You there, halt!” the yellow one called out in a sniveling voice as he drew two curved daggers from the folds of his robes. “In the name of Krag’Triskeroth, return to your time and world!”

Mordred ignored the creature as he continued to make his way towards them. Seeing that he would not stop, the large green one reached over his back, as if to grab a weapon. Instead, he grasped the uppermost of the horns on his back, and ripped out the entire spine of horns, which were interconnected by bone underneath, from his back with a sickening sound of rending flesh. Even as it roared with pain, the gaping wound in its back sealed, showing that the creature belied tremendous regeneration. It hefted its massive spine like a greatsword in its two meaty hands before rushing at Mordred’s smaller form.

It cried out savagely as it brandished the natural weapon overhead, intent to shed blood. It brought the sword of horns down upon Mordred with barbarity, only to meet the astral ground when the black-armored elf-like being sidestepped to the left. Faster than one would think possible, the green creature brought up the sword and made a swipe at Mordred’s torso that would have clove him in two. Tumultu was far too fast for him though, and bowed forward under the giant’s blow. Before the demon could make another move Mordred let out a savage punch, sending his fist clean through the creature’s stomach and out the other side, where his companion could see it. The green demon gurgled as his foe withdrew his hand, the golden horns on the vambrace tore through more flesh and left a gaping wound. The green giant fell with a thud. The yellow demon gazed with horror upon Mordred’s form, who loomed over the corpse as he drew his bloody arm back under the confines of his cloak.

Tumultu then stepped over the fallen warrior unceremoniously before marching towards the yellow demon with dark intent. Unwilling to let his fate come to him slowly and unwaveringly, the robed creature rushed at his foe, daggers gleaming in starlignt. He made a mad stab at Mordred, who again sidestepped and thrust out his hand. As soon as his hand was in the open, one of his unnamed blades appeared. The demon’s own motion was its undoing as it ran full on into the blade’s golden edge. It passed right through the blade without any decrease in speed, and continued for a few more steps before stopping mid-stride. The upper body fell to floor as gravity took control, and the magics of the blade came to life as eerie blue flames consumed the creature’s two halves from the inside, like a time bomb that had waited within.

In this fashion he methodically swept through the maze-like corridors of Limbo, eliminating all demons he met. No two demons were alike; each had various physical qualities that set them out from each other. Further, none were purple, as some are apt to hope. Eventually, the assailant came upon the innermost chamber of the demon’s haven, where Krag’Triskeroth sat upon his translucent throne.

Mordred had intended on taking the king by surprise, so when he at last came upon the throne-room, he began to ascend the wall, and latched himself firmly to the ceiling. He thrust his armored fingers deep into the strange masonry, and dug his sabatons in deep, so as he could hang and crawl on the ceilings with leisure. In this fashion he moved silently; even his cloak, which hung below him, did not make a sound as he moved.

Through the chamber he went, until he was right above the throne. It had been carved from the same rock as the rest of Limbo had been, and seated upon it was Krag-Triskeroth. There he lounged, or rather, languished. He seemed to be overcome with boredom, and the index finger of one of his four hands constantly traced the crack of the gem set inside his breast. Standing alertly beside his throne were two guards, garbed in heavy armor that had been twisted and warped like the demons to withstand the Void’s dangerous nature.

Mordred released his grip on the ceiling and fell to the ground silently right behind the throne. Reaching around the sides he thrust his open palms at the backs of the two guards, hidden blades extending from under his vambraces as he did so. These blades easily pierced through the armor and slew the guards. As the guards fell and Mordred retracted his blades, the demon king seemed to snap out of a reverie, and grunted when he noticed his guards were dead.

“Who’s there?” the old demon bellowed into the apparent emptiness. “Show yourself, cowardly dog!”

Slowly, the assassin paced around to the front of the throne and confronted his old foe. “It’s been a while… Krag…” he said coolly while his crimson eyes gleamed like flames.

At first, the demon seemed to not recognize the being before him. His eyes grew wide as he realized that his past has come to haunt him. “’T’is thee…” he breathed almost to himself. “So, my fate has finally come for me?”

“Oh, but of all beings, thou shouldst know that there is no fate…” Tumultu seethed. “It was thy own free will that drove thee to take my only companion from me.”

At this, Krag lowered his head as the events of that day were brought back into his memory. “I’ve made a great deal of mistakes and errors of judgment in my long life… ‘T’is thee I hath wronged the most, I fear…”

“Is that all thou can say for thyself?”

“Aye. That dragon… Trapped here forever, forced to feed upon the blood of my brethren and make peace with his abductors… He left here a good while ago. Him, I hath reconciled with. But of thee… I can only ask for thy forgiveness.”

“Thou doth seek forgiveness? Thou shalt only know of my forgiveness when we finish our combat, one on one.”

“I must deny thee of this, for I hadst long since lost the fervor for battle.”

Mordred’s hand shot out from under his cloak in a flash, and the throne shattered before him, and its occupant was sent flying backwards into the wall as if hit by a wave.

“I want thee to know of the pain I hath felt all these eons! Thou shalt face me in combat and accept Death before thou shalt know of my forgiveness! Thy blood shalt serve as the very sustenance of my universe! Stand and face me, abomination! Thou wert once a great mage, fearless to explore the Void which now serves as thy prison! Art thou now so lowly as to scuttle away from the consequences of thy actions?!”

The demon slowly got up as he was barraged by his nemesis, his eyes gleaming with fury. He strode up to meet Mordred, never losing eye contact as he did, even when he towered overhead. “Very well, elf!” the great demon bellowed for all to hear. “Here, blood shalt be spilt in glorious battle!”

Enduras’ eyes opened to reveal a hazy form looking down upon him.

“Olko, e’sh mocnig ot,” Enduras heard, unable to understand what was being said. In an instant, his vision sharpened, and a buzz in his ear ceased.

“Enduras, how many fingers am I holding up?” the astral form of Warlic questioned, holding up his entire left hand with all his fingers and thumb held out to see.

“Four,” the hero said groggily. “Thumbs aren’t fingers.” His tongue felt like sandpaper in his parched mouth.

“Good. It seems you didn’t suffer any damage then,” Falerin said from the side, attracting the gaze of his companions. “It means we don’t need to waste time looking for a replacement.”

Warlic was horror-stricken. “You can’t be serious!” he exclaimed. “I nearly killed him!”

“But you didn’t. So everything’s fine, so long as Enduras hops into that portal.” Upon saying that, the elf gestured towards the very center of the stone circle, where there was a floating mass of swirling energy. “It won’t stay open for very long.”

“Wait, what happened?” Enduras asked worriedly as he dragged his haggard body from the cold grassy ground.

“Well, I’m… not quite sure, to be honest…” Warlic mused. “When I began to establish the connection to Limbo, I was able to detect a trail from a previous spell from very recently. Very sloppy. It made it much easier to open the portal.”

“Meaning Tumultu must have done it on purpose…” Enduras said with a heavy voice. “He wants me to go after him.”

“And you don’t have much choice, either,” Falerin quipped.

“Anyways, when I was channeling the energies through you,” Warlic continued, “I was sure your body would be unable to withstand it before the spell’s completion. Yet somehow, you coped with no adverse effects, as if your body’s been… used to it… Most interesting. I’d love to study you more closely, but we’re under time restraints.”

“Then why did I black out?”

“Ah, well… Perhaps your mind could not handle the energies. Void magic has nasty effects beyond the physical.”

“That makes sense, I suppose.”

“If you don’t mind, gentlemen…” Falerin said icily, his voice dripping with acid. “I’m ever so reluctant to cut in on what appears to be growing into tea-time, but there is a universe to save, no?”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right…” Warlic said reluctantly.

Enduras strode forth bravely, Ivanur hanging naked on his belt. He hesitated for a bit right before stepping into the portal. When Falerin saw this, he “gently nudged” the mortal, pushing him headfirst into the unknown confines of Limbo…

Enduras stumbled out of the portal to find himself in a place beyond his wildest imagination. He stood within some great stone halls of some building. All of the material was translucent, allowing one to see visions of the cosmos whirl past wildly and erratically, with no rhyme or reason. Sometimes, specific events could be glimpsed just for a fleeting moment.

Enduras began to wander through the halls in pursuit of his quarry, who could be hidden anywhere. As he rounded a corner, he stopped in mid-stride, aghast. At the end of the hallway was a massive splurt of crimson blood splattered all over the wall. It still dripped from the wall, showing it to be quite fresh. There was no body to be seen, for that stain of blood was what remained of the poor victim. The platinum clad man strode on with an expression of utter disgust and slogged through the gory hallway, unwilling to let this deter him. All about were bodies and gore from a terrible act of extreme violence and prejudice that only grew more steeped in blood as Enduras waded deeper into Limbo. Eventually, he made his way to center to come upon a grim scene…

Krag’Triskeroth once more pulled himself from the bloody ground. His arms and legs were weak, and hot blood dripped from gashes running all along his body. His breathing was shallow and strained as he tasted his own blood in his toothy maw.

“Is that the best thou canst throw at me?!” the demon snarled, hefting his four arms with strain. “I expected more from an Eludinari!”

He went silent as he lurched backwards awkwardly, as if he had been kneed in the stomach. If one looked closely, they’d have seen a blur of movement. Maybe. Before the demon could recover, a bolt of pure Cold energy struck his lower left hand, and his arm turned into solid ice from the claws up to the elbow. With a roar of fury, Krag leapt forward into seemingly thin air, as if pouncing of prey. As if on cue, Mordred’s sneering form appeared like a stoic statue in the demon’s path. There was a terrible sound of cracking ice as Triskeroth’s frozen hand struck Tumultu’s segmented breastplate and shattered into splinters.

The armored being gazed nonchalantly about his surroundings as his opponent lurched with agony. “Please, if thou art to engage me, at least put thy full effort into it,” he said icily as he sized up Triskeroth’s condition.

“Why throw myself against an indomitable wall that threatens to crush me against the confines of my domain?” the demon countered. “All I can hope is that Chaos takes pity on my blackened soul…”

“Thou doth claim to be an avatar of that lofty god. Why not prove it here and now, and show thy true power?”

“Thou shouldst know by now that one does not call upon Chaos…”

Tumultu’s eyes flared dangerously. An armored hand flashed out from under his cloak, fingers gnarled into a claw. Light-blue bolts of lightning erupted from his fingertips, striking the king full on. Static filled the air as the arcs persisted well past the point that the demon’s flesh began to smoke. The blast continued for well over five minutes in Terran time before the angered being retracted his hand and freed Krag’Triskeroth of his torture.

The demon wobbled upon his feet for a while before succumbing to his doom and fell backwards, crashing down with a mighty thud. Mordred appeared in a golden haze of light, sable blade in hand and pointed at the king’s Adam’s Apple. “If thou shalt not put thy heart into it…” the Eludinari sneered, “then mayhap I shouldst rip it out from thee and put it into the throes of rage myself?”

At this, the ancient creature let out a hollow laugh that would send chills up the spine of anyone but Tumultu. “Thou mayst take my life… But I shalt have the last laugh!”

“He who laughs last thinks slowest.” Just then, Mordred’s pointed ears flicked in the air slightly as they heard approaching footsteps. “Ah, the entertainment’s finally arrived. I hope thou doth not protest at me for inviting a guest to our reunion?”

As Mordred trailed the tip of his sword down to the cracked gem set in the demon’s breast, Enduras rounded the corner to behold this sight. He stood frozen as he took in the scene.

“Welcome, Enduras,” Tumultu called out without taking his gaze off of his prey’s face. “It took thee long enough. Just wait right there and I’ll be with thee shortly.” This said, he began to plunge his blade through the crevice in the gem and beyond. As he did so, he placed a foot right under the demon’s ribs, crushing the life out of him as his cold blade pierced his heart. Raven wings unfolded their selves from under his heavy cloak as he uttered those same words; “On thine knees, I wish for thee to beg for forgiveness."

The only response Krag’Triskeroth gave was a cruel, hollow, bellowing laugh that slowly built up from the depths of his diaphragm. “I will never beg for anything, heartless dog!” the demon said with his last breath. His message delivered, his red eyes glazed over, and his head lowered to the ground.

All was silent; not even the flickering flames of Mordred’s blade made a sound. Enduras suddenly realized his heart had stopped beating, lending itself to the profound silence. Finally, after what seemed hours but could only have been seconds, the Eludinari pulled out his sable blade from the corpse. “Well…” he said ominously as he turned to face his guest. “Welcome to my latest dominion!” He said this with his arms spread open invitingly. The smile on his face was replaced with an expression of horror as he saw the armor Enduras now bore. The lapse was momentary, and quickly replaced with his usual calm demeanor. “Where didst thou find that suit of armor?”

“Never you mind that!” Enduras shouted back, seeing that his foe was taken off guard, even if only for a moment. He then took up Ivanur from his belt in a flourish.

“Ah, so thou yet intend to entertain me after all. Let us see if thou art worthy of Ivanur.”

Enduras rushed at his opponent at a breakneck pace, holding Ivanur with a steady grip by his side. He made a mad swipe at Mordred, only to have his blade meet thin air. Expecting an immediate counter-attack, he rolled to the side, only to trip over the corpse can collapse on the ground, defenseless.

“Oh, do get up now,” Mordred’s voice said sadistically, seemingly out of thin air. Enduras suddenly felt a force lift him up to his feet. “Wouldn’t do well to lie on the floor like that, now wouldst it?”

Rage overtook Enduras. He summoned up all of his will-power, calling upon some deep, inner power he had never accessed before. His left hand began to tingle and itch and glow, and was soon jerking with a mind of its own. Feeling a rush of power down to his hand, Enduras let out a savage cry, and bolts of pure Void energy began to burst from his hand sporadically. As he felt the energies flow through him, he realized he held no control, and that whatever he had done would kill him.

Bolts of energy pealed in the air, striking the astral stonework of Limbo over and over. Cracks began to appear as a storm began to emanate from the hero’s hand. The High ShadowScythe Lord saw what Enduras was doing, and appeared in a haze of golden light beside his foe. Without any provocation, his hand darted from under his cloak, grasping Enduras’ left hand and forcing the fingers into a fist unceremoniously. Before Enduras could comprehend what was happening, Mordred began absorbing the barrage while he pressed a tendril of his consciousness into Enduras’ own.

When Enduras felt the foreign presence, he tried to mount his mental defenses, only to have them be knocked over like a house of cards in a hurricane. Mordred’s presence immediately set itself to taking control of Enduras’ body, forcing the mortal’s consciousness into a little corner as he delved into the area of the mind that had been the source of this power. It was an enlightening experience for Enduras. As he watched from his corner, he was able to observe a small glimpse of Mordred’s own mind. While it was yet a small tendril, no more a part of his mind than a tip of his finger was of his body, it emanated with a deep, profound sorrow that threatened to consume Enduras and send him into a state of perpetual apathy. At the same time, it seemed a presence of great dignity and grace, like a lone raven, flying in a stark sky devoid of clouds. Enduras could not help but feel a certain… kinship for Mordred, while also observing him with a sense of awe.

While Enduras observed this, Mordred was able to take control of the portion of his mind that held access to these new powers. The more experienced sage deftly took control of the wild Void energies and cut their flow, saving both Limbo and Enduras. As soon as this was accomplished, the tendril withdrew back into the recesses of its own sanctuary and prison, returning control to Enduras. All of this took place within seconds.

Before Enduras assumed full control of his body at a level to return to a physical state of focus, his body was thrust forcefully away from Mordred, who had a stern, unforgiving look upon his face. “Thou hath grown considerably, child,” he said warily, sizing up the hero. “There’s much more to thee than even I assumed.” As he spoke, a mass of Darkness built up and formed a spherical orb; a connection between worlds. “I bid thee adieu, Enduras.” With that, Mordred stepped back into the Darkness, and was swallowed up and gone.

Enduras fell to his knees. I’ve failed… again… he thought to himself in defeat. He fell forward, slamming a fist into the ground. “What am I to do now?”

“Would you like me to give you a hint?” a new voice said from behind Enduras. The hero turned his head back sharply to see a man in the garb of the ShadowScythe Lords, hood concealing his face…

Enduras turned his head sharply to see who had spoken. “Who are you?” the broken hero questioned, slowly rising from his kneeling position.

In response, the stranger pulled away his hood, revealing a man with a face carved by the conflicts of his time, close-cut gray hair, and a well-trimmed beard, also gray. A large scar ran across his right eye down to his nose, in stark contrast with his tan skin and yellow irises. “We have met before, Enduras,” the man said nonchalantly in an eloquent Italian accent.

“That voice…” Enduras removed his helmet as he strode over to the newcomer. The black-clad man was taken aback when he saw the hero’s slits-for-pupils and slightly pointed ears. “You were one of the Shadowscythe Lords under Tumultu, weren’t you?”

The stranger’s gaze fell down in shame as he turned away from the young Lorian. “I have done many things I’m not proud of… You would have known me as Salvar.”

“I do remember you…” the armor-clad man whispered. “You were on that cargo ship I intercepted! But how did you survive when it sank?”

As Enduras strode over to the grief-wracked Salvar, a long, thin rapier was thrust at his exposed throat from the shadows of Salvar’s sleeves.

“You trust far too easily, Enduras,” the assassin said coolly. “You don’t even know what I’m here for, yet you approach me as if I were your friend.”

“Are you not?”

There was a moment of silence before Salvar sighed and withdrew his blade. “Let me tell you what happened on that day. As you know, I was overseeing the transport of some rare orcish artifacts that the orcs of Terra had crafted. Said to give one orc the strength of ten orcs when worn in battle. We were going to try to replicate and mass produce them, and ship them to the other planets of the Empire. Of course-“

“Hold up now,” Enduras interrupted. “Other planets?”

“Yes, but of course. Tumultu has been playing an elaborate chess game with unwitting opponents for quite some time now. He’s been nudging events on countless worlds, and has recently begun to hold sway over some swaths of the universe. Centuries of subversion have turned entire planets against the gods. You may not fully understand this, but these plans were set into motion millennia ago, and are now near complete. Now, as I was saying… We were going to mass produce them, when you, of course, intercepted our ship with your band of rag-tag men. During the fray, someone set off the main reactor core of the ship, causing an explosion that sank the whole thing, with me in it. You left me for dead after our little match… But that’s perfectly fine with me. I actually have to thank you for freeing me.”

“Freeing you?”

“Yes. I am-or rather, was-bound to this plane by Mordred’s will. Y’see, most of us are what you know as Forsaken; our souls have been lost. We agreed to serve the ShadowScythe in return for the promise of our souls. In the meantime, he would stave off Death. I later found out that many of our souls became powerful creatures composed of our negative emotions… And that Tumultu had most of them destroyed. We were to be his puppets until he had no need for us. When I went down with the ship, my time came. Mordred projected himself to inform me of my eventual fading because his will would no longer sustain me, and that he enjoyed every second he spent destroying my ‘dark, corrupted soul like the cretin it was.’ And then I remembered you, and your quest to stop this man… It inspired me, and I found something within myself that I cannot explain, as I should be hollow inside. There’s something that you sparked within me to continue. Now, it is my own will that staves off Death.”

“Touching. But that doesn’t explain why you followed me here.”

“No, it does not, my friend.” Salvar then turned to face Enduras directly. “I know you’re in way over your head here. You need help, training.”

“Why would I need that?”

“If you didn’t, you would have stopped him by now.”

“… Continue.”

“Tumultu knows your every move. Even if he does not have direct access to your mind, he knows you from the inside out. He knows how you react and act. He can detect your presence. Such is the… bond he has developed for his protégé.”

“I’m his protégé?” Enduras asked in disbelief.

“Think about it; he has been guiding you for this war. He’s been raising you for the purpose of fighting him. You are both his greatest enemy and his greatest asset. A… unique situation, no? But can you not feel this bond?”

“I don’t know the man well enough to detect any kind of bond.”

Salvar simply nodded. “They you will need some form of defense. He understands you far too well for you to be able to counter him. See my outfit?”

“Yes, but this is hardly the time to marvel at your taste in leathers.”

“These are not crafted from leather; these were woven from shadows; both Light and Darkness. Tumultu wove them himself; not even he can detect those garbed in them. So long as you wear them, you can operate in total secrecy.”

“That sounds… promising.”

Salvar then began to struggle to pull something out of the confines of his deep pockets. After some moments of fumbling, he pulled out a series of black, leather garments, identical to those of the ShadowScythe Lords. Folded together in a bundle were the robes, leggings, and gloves, with a pair of boots atop the small bundle.

“These are very nice, Salvar…” Enduras mused. “Excellent craftsmanship, and they look like they will hold in combat. You willingly part with these?”

“Yes. I’m certain their concealing magics will save your life on more than one occasion. Come, you have much to learn.” Salvar raised his hand up perpendicular from his body, calling up a portal similar to the one Mordred had escaped in. “We go to a world known as Mithrandril. There, you will don your new garb and begin to learn what I have to teach you.”

Nervously, Enduras took the gifts from his new ally, and took the leap into the Darkness, where his vision went dark, and was then blinded by a brilliant flash of Light…

The Judge Magister was up in the Dragoon, sitting at an elegant mahogany desk while he worked on important documents for business on Terra. His weapons hung from his belt, and his helmet was lying on the side of the table, ready at a moment’s notice. The elf’s face was fair-skinned, and brimming with youth; to his own people, he would still be considered a young bachelor. Well, a widower, rather. His blond hair was cut short so as to fit under his helmet, and his eyes a light emerald color.

The documents he was working on were official decrees that would appoint a representative of the Empire in the Emperor’s stead, so as to maintain order, especially after the crushing defeat of the resistance. Further, another decree was officially renaming the Empire to the Eludinari Empire. It wasn’t until he placed his quill down on the desk that he looked up. As soon as he did, a voice called out to him from within his mind. Come. With the command was a sizzle as another portal was opened in front of the desk.

Galbradi let out a heavy sigh before pulling himself from the comfortable chair. Taking his helmet up into his hands, he called out for one of the guards stationed outside. The woman was carefully instructed to bring the documents to the Grand Overseer, who would upload the documents to a database, instantly spreading them all over the Empire’s holdings. The guard dutifully took the parchments and went on her way, asking no questions about the strange anomaly behind the Magister.

This seen done, the Magister donned his helmet, and strode off into the unknown…

Enduras and Salvar, both in black garb with their hoods raised, were inside a dimly lit room filled with training dummies. They were on the tropical world of Mithrandril; a world comprised of small societies inhabiting islands that dotted the planet’s vast ocean. They had taken up residence in a small hut, and would occasionally venture forth to talk with the locals. While they were inside, Salvar strove to train Enduras in the arts of Darkness and stealth.

“Enduras, you must forget your narrow-minded teachings from Lore,” Salvar berated. Enduras had once more failed to destroy the target through the use of Darkness. “If you are to win this war, you must be able to utilize all of the elements on your own. You cannot rely upon cursed armor-which, may I remind you, was created by Mordred-to utilize Darkness; you must draw upon it on your own.”

“But Artix and the Paladins-“ Enduras began stubbornly, only to be cut off.

“Damn those fools! The Light has blinded them; misconceptions about the elements have permeated and tainted Lore since the DragonLords of old reigned. Elements cannot be evil; they are inherently neutral. Darkness makes up Lore just as much as the other seven elements of this plane; Bacon of course being an element, but not one of this plane. They’re all bigoted fools. Necromancy does not rely upon Darkness. Undeath is a state that can be fueled by any element, or even Void-although, this would be highly unstable and inefficient.”


“No buts! I see that it will take time to break down these walls of ignorance. We will continue on this later. Now, let’s continue on your stealth techniques; you can either control the Light and Darkness around you to render yourself invisible, or attempt to enter my mind and create the illusion of invisibility by preventing me from seeing you.”

Enduras sighed under his breath as he willed himself to bend the elements around him. After some moments of concentration passed, Enduras felt a shift in the air around him as the Light bent to his will. Salvar, however stood sternly, with his arms crassed. He clearly was not impressed.

“I still see you, Enduras,” he said in an exasperated voice. “You obviously aren’t manipulating the Darkness.” The trainer sighed heavily as he turned and made his way outside.

Meanwhile, over in the influential village Iktopir, the chief, Iglak, was talking with his dear friend, Galbradi, the foreigner who had arrived months earlier and saved his life from one of the leviathans of the deep.

“The baby is due within the week,” the burly chief said. He was a large man, with tanned skin and rippling muscles. As chief, he was responsible for all the village’s fishing operations, and as such, had developed a great deal of strength wrestling with the snapping tulla fish and other similar, dangerous creatures. Under his rule, the village had grown to be the most prosperous known village on the small planet, and held a monopoly on the fishing trade. All exotic, deadly, and succulent fish and seafood passed through Iktopir’s port. It was while on a dangerous hunt for the rare and incredibly deadly zillak that Galbradi had appeared seemingly from nowhere to save Iglak. The hunt had been going smoothly until their longboat of ten had been capsized by the massive dweller. It was only the appearance of the stranger at the right moment that had saved the chieftain from the beast’s maws. He then managed to take down the creature all on his lonesome, earning eternal respect and reverence from all, especially Iglak.

The foreigner was now a nobleman of sorts within the tribe, and was free to roam the streets in his light clothing of leather. Galbradi quickly became Iglak’s most trusted personal friend and advisor; their culture believed that salvation from death was paid in eternal friendship that lasted beyond the afterlife. While a “superstitious” people, the natives of Mithrandril did not believe in any gods; only that all of their fruits came from the strength of their own backs and the sweat of their brows.

“Really, my friend?” Galbradi asked with genuine interest, raising his eyebrows. In the two months he had been here, he had quickly learned that Iglak’s wife, Algathi, was pregnant, but thought it rude to inquire too deeply about the matter. “This is joyous news indeed.” This was said with a genuine smile, bright and shining.

“Yes, it is,” the chief replied as he placed a hand on his companion’s shoulder. “And I would like you to be the child’s grathir.”

“You must excuse me, but I do not know what that is, Iglak.”

“Ahahahaha,” the father-to-be chuckled, his other hand clapping upon his booming stomach. “I sometimes forget that you are not of this world. A grathir, you see, serves as the child’s spiritual advisor. He, or she, instructs the child upon our ways when the parents cannot, and is there to offer advice. They serve as a sort of… third parent for the child.”

Galbradi was so shocked by this that he stopped in midstride, his expression blank with awe. “I-I am greatly honored by such a request, Iglak.”

Again, the chief chuckled. “You will, of course, need to be instructed of our own ways. Consider this as becoming an honorary member of the tribe for good, Galbradi.” The two continued through the halls of the building, as equals and friends.

Alone in his chambers, Galbradi’s mind was in great turmoil. His mind flashed back to his orders upon arriving in this world…

Galbradi had found himself enveloped in total Darkness when he had first stepped within the portal his master had beckoned him through. Out of the gloom appeared Tumultu’s face, stark white against all else. And his piercing red gaze…

“Judge Magister…” the Emperor had begun, calling out through the murk. “Thou hath been chosen among several other agents to infiltrate the world of Mithrandril.”

“What am I to do there, m’Lord?” the loyal servant asked as he knelt upon his knees.

“Thou shalt begin y befriending the chief of their largest village, Iktopir. From there, thou art to study them, and determine if they resent their gods or the fates enough to convince them to join the Empire. Use any means necessary, so long as none suspect thee of thy treachery.”

“How long do I have?”

“Thou shalt have as long as it takes to sufficiently determine whether there are any prospective ‘turncoats’ in the village. Thou shalt report to me every week or so when I contact thee. If thou and thy fellow agents find a strong enough of a foothold, then I canst peacefully convince them to join us.”

“And if not? What if they worship no gods, and have no resent?”

The armorclad shadow was struck silence by this. He had not considered that any people could possible feel no resentment for a greater force. “Then… I shalt have to drive them to force, in an effort to convince them that joining me is their only salvation.”

“Excuse me?” Galbradi questioned, a hint of defiance in his voice. “You mean to say that you will attack them, or convince them to attack one another, in order so that they may join?”

“That wouldst be… correct.”

Galbradi considered this for a moment. “Such an action would likely drive them to destruction, rather than salvation.”

“If it must be done, then it shalt,” the Lord said coolly. “It wouldst be… unfortunate, but far better than allowing them to be possible allies to the current order.”

“V-very well…” Galbradi acquiesced grudgingly. “It shall be done, my Emperor.” Hearing this, the white mask of a face faded into the Darkness. At the same time, Galbradi felt a weight lifted from his shoulders as his armor dissipated, leaving him in his lighter leather garb. A sudden light broke through the shadows, and then everything was wet…

I can’t just… betray their trust like that… the elf thought to himself as he mulled over his thoughts. It was then that he realized he had feelings for the people here. I have found no resentment; they worship nothing more than honest, hard work. Mordred was… displeased to hear that. I can only fear for the worst…

It was then that he felt that weekly presence within his room. Within his mind, that dreaded voice brought the dark tidings…

Galbradi… Tumultu’s voice boomed. I have discussed the matter with the other agents.

The elf’s head snapped up, and he stood at attention. “What have you decided, m’Lord?”

The other villages hath been swayed… Convinced that Iktopir’s wealth should be theirs as well… Armies shalt arrive within a week or two to sack the village…. The ensuing strife shalt bring about a time of mass confusion and hardship. It shalt then be easy to convince them to go to Illaniâr…

Galbradi was silent; the news hit him like a rock. I sense that thou art… disturbed by these tidings.

The Judge Magister quickly dismissed this claim. “Oh, no, master. It’s just that… May I refrain from all association with the imminent battle?”

Tumultu was silent as he mulled over the thought. Very well… he finally conceded. Thou shalt not plunder this world. Hopefully, the conditions of other worlds I send thee to shalt be more… suitable…

The heavy presence left the Terran to his silence and inner turmoil. One thought went over in Galbradi’s mind over and over again. What do I do? What do I do? What do I do? What do I do? What do I do…

Eight days later, Galbradi was waiting anxiously by the closed doors of Iglak’s chambers. Within, Algathi’s screams of anguish could be heard. She’s been in labor for far too long… the elf thought fearfully. Something’s wrong, something’s wrong… He then cast his gaze over to Iglak, who was leaning against the other side of the doorway as he chewed relentlessly on his fingernails. The chief noticed this, and stopped chewing long enough to cast a half-hearted smile back. Before his smile could even fade away, the sound of a baby’s cries could be heard within. Within moments, a midwife burst through the doors, her hair tousled and her clothing a mess.

“My chief!” she exclaimed as she turned to Iglak, wiping her furrowed brow in the process. “It was more complicated than we had expected, but I can now tell ya that it’s a boy! Congratulations!”

The chief’s face burst with joy as he pushed his way past the midwife to embrace his wife and son. Galbradi followed behind, breathing a sigh of relief. Within, Iglak first embraced Algathi before cradling a wrapped bundle of cloth in his arms. Galbradi drew near, but refrained from becoming too intrusive. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Algathi beckon him over to her bedside. He drew near, only to be beckoned to stoop over, as if she was going to whisper something to him. Instead, he was greatly surprised to be hugged tightly around the neck like never before. “Thank you for being here…” she whispered faintly into his ear before releasing her hold on him. When Galbradi felt sure she said all she had wished, he leaned back up to find Iglak offering him the bundle. Fearing causing offense to the chief, he accepted the offer to hold the baby with a smile. As he cradled the baby, he felt a sense of joy like he hasn’t since he held his own daughter so many years ago… He’s so… light… the elf thought to himself as he gazed in the boy’s face. He was a ruddy red, with blue eyes and dark brown hair. The baby laughed and gurbled within Galbradi’s arms, taking an immediate liking to him. It wasn’t until the midwife shooed both father and grathir away that Galbradi could put the baby down by his mother’s side. Content, the two of them went off to leave mother and child in peace…

Enduras awoke to the sound of screaming. He looked around his sparsely adorned chamber to see no sign of Salvar. He quickly donned his garb and rushed out of his hut to see Salvar surveying the waters. It was a grim sight…

Large boats were landing upon the beaches of Iktopir. The residents fled in terror as warriors leapt down to pillage the prosperous village, and slaughtered all in their path. The two moved quickly. Left and right, attackers fell below Ivanur and Salvar’s lithe rapier. But they poured out of their vessels far too quickly. Even with the help of what few fighters could defend the village, attackers broke through and began to raze the buildings.

“Enduras, go and try to evacuate everyone you can!” Salvar called out in the midst of battle.

“But-“ Enduras began, only to be cut in midsentence by a wild swipe at his head with a fishing spear. The attacker was soon downed, and Enduras tried to begin anew his reply, only to receive another order.

“You must go, Enduras! We cannot hold them off!” Salvar cried out. “Just save everyone you can; I’ll be fine!” Enduras grudgingly drew back into the village, searching for people he could save…

When Galbradi awoke that morning, he had found his suit of armor lying on the table by his bed. Gods, no! he thought as he hastily began to adorn himself in full gear. By the time he was done, he heard the first screams and sounds of fighting. He put forth a burst of speed as he pushed his way through the cheiftain’s lodgings, making his way to Iglak’s chambers. There, he found the three lying together in bed, sleeping peacefully.

“Iglak, awake, awake!” the elf cried out, shaking the occupants of the bed awake. The boy began to cry heavily due to this unceremonious treatment.

At first, Iglak could not recognize the armored man in front of him. As he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, though, he began to recognize his voice. “Galbradi, whatever’s the matter?”

“Invaders, sir. They’ve come to pillage the village! We must leave, quickly!”

“Leave?!” Algathi said indignantly. “I’m not leaving my home! We’ll die defending it!”

“M’am, I must protest,” Galbradi said over the baby’s cried. “There are far too many; think of your child.”

Iglak and Algathi looked worriedly at each other, before gazing down upon their crying babe. “First,” the chief began. “I must see this for myself. If it is as bad as you say it is… Then it falls upon you to get our son out of here safely.”

Galbradi was hesitant at first He did not want to leave his friend behind. “Very well…” the elf said with sorrow. “But come, quickly!” The two rushed off to assess the battle while Algathi tried to soothe her child.

Outside, they two beheld a grim sight. Building burned as the invading tribes set things aflame; women cried out as they were captured for the soldiers. Although the invaders were poorly equipped with weapons for fishing, much like the defenders, they had the advantage of surprise and numbers, allowing them to kill all of the village’s own fishers. But at the head of the invaders was the man clad in black and gold metal, his cloak flowing behind him gracefully and his face devoid of emotion; Tumultu. He merely waded through the destruction, without partaking in any acts. But his target was clear; the chief’s lodgings.

Iglak was devastated by the sight. He literally deflated before Galbradi’s eyes. “I will stay…” the chief murmured, his voice melancholy and his face twisted into one of great sorrow. “Just please, get my son away from all of this.” The two gazed into each other’s eyes (or Iglak gazed into the eye sockets of Galbradi’s helmet while the elf gazed into his friend’s eyes, rather), before the chief led the defense of his people while the grathir retreated within the low-lying building to save the boy.

When the Judge Magister came upon Algathi, she silently put the bundle into his open arms. He still cried, not knowing that this would be the last time he ever saw his mother. Without a word, Galbradi fled, seeking to bring the child to safety.

Enduras waded through the burning buildings, seeking to find anyone to save. At first, it seemed hopeless; the corpses lying about in the sand or upon the charred wood only discouraged him. He was about to give up all hope when he saw an armored figure with a bundle run towards him. When he drew close, he recognized him as the man in armor who had saved him from the Imperialo fighters on Terra, and then guided him to Limbo.

“Enduras,” the armored man said in a breathless, slightly British accent. “Please, take this child away from here. Keep him safe from… all of this.” When he said “all of this,” he cast his head wildly about. Before Enduras could respond, an explosion rocked the earth. In the distance, a large column of smoke began to rise from where the chief’s lodgings once stood. “Please!” the man said more urgently.

“Wait, why?” Enduras said as he accepted the crying bundle. “Why can’t you-“

“Can you imagine the life he’d live?” the man questioned bitterly. “He’d be taken under Tumultu’s wing, just as I have been. He’d be raised to love the Empire, and to praise its Emperor. He’d live as a slave, a dog. I can’t let what happened to me happen to him. I just can’t.” Right before the Lorian’s eyes, the armored man broke down in tears. “Please…” he begged as he fell to the floor, grasping at the front of Enduras’ coat.

Enduras was greatly moved by who he now knew to be his enemy. “I will take him from here… But please, tell me his name.”

The kneeling man looked up into Enduras’ kind face. “He-he’s-“ the enemy stuttered. Iglak never even got to name him… “His name is Taran,” the stranger said at last, his heart crushed. “Now please, take him!”

Enduras cast his gaze towards the burning lodgings of the chief. In the distance, the flames parting, revealing Tumultu, who was casting his gaze directly at Enduras. Within his arms, Taran began to cry louder as he saw the malicious gaze cast towards him.

“Enduras, we must leave!” Salvar’s voice called out from behind him, snapping him out of his reverie. “This world is lost!”When he looked where the armor-clad man had been, nothing remained. Reluctantly, Enduras retreated into the portal Salvar raised, murmuring to the child in his arms: “Everything will be fine, Taran. Everything will be fine in the end; I’ll make sure of it…”

End of Book One: The Rising Threat

< Message edited by Mordred -- 1/25/2012 22:05:27 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 23
2/8/2012 23:17:38   

Out of the flames rose a pale face, devoid of emotion. Those fiery crimson eyes with red slits glared with malice into one’s very heart and soul. Amid the flames, screaming and wailing could be heard, creating a symphony for this spectre that haunted his dreams…

Taran sat up from his bed without a warning, breathing heavily and in a cold sweat. That nightmare again… the boy thought to himself as he took in his surroundings with relief. He was in his bedroom. It brought him great comfort to see his belongings; his dresser drawers by the closet, clothes strewn about the room, and a computer on a desk by the window. It was only when he looked at the window that Taran realized that the first rays of the dawn were shining into his room. Gah, I’ll be late!

The teen leapt out of his bed in a hurry. He hastily grabbed some clothes from the dresser and rushed to the bathroom down the hall. As he did, one of the small pictures upon a table in the middle of the hall fell forward onto its frame, knocked over by him in his rush. Shutting himself in the bathroom, Taran quickly began his daily rituals to prepare himself for the day. Half an hour later, he was in the kitchen, downing his mother’s homemade pancakes in single bites.

“My, someone’s mighty hungry,” the middle aged mother said as she set down her own bowl of cereal.

“Whaddya expect, honey?” a man’s voice called from the living room. ‘He’s fifteen for Pete’s sake; y’know how teenaged boys are.”

“I suppose so…” the mother conceded with a furrowed brow. “I just don’t like thinking that he’s eating us out of food and house.”

“Bah,” the husband dismissed from the other room. “So, whaddya think of Mr. Obama’s reelection yesterday, hm? Pretty glad that sneaky Romney fellah didn’t get the vote.”

Taran had little interest in politics, and instead stormed his way back up the stairs to his room. He failed to notice that the fallen picture frame had been righted, even though both his parents had remained downstairs…

Minutes later, the boy was out the door, garbed in a hoodie with a pack full of fencing gear hanging from his shoulder. You see, Taran Trueheart was an energetic lad; he had always been in sports, and was ever at motion. Surprisingly, however, he could stand still long enough to fish beside his grandfather when he visited. But above all, his love was for fencing. He could never get enough of it. Ever since he had watched Samurai Jack when he was but seven years old, he had loved swords. When he found out about fencing, he begged his parents to let him. He had been about nine when he finally convinced his less than enthusiastic parents to let him. Working hard at it, he soon became one of the most respected fencers on the east coast; far from the best, but he had a name for himself. Taran usually saved his prize money up for college, or used it to pay for his fencing lessons. But it was more than the money; it was the thrill of the match, and the heavy strategy involved in it. There was also some sense of… pride, to take up a blade like warriors of old and pit one’s self against challengers.

At school, Taran was just a regular guy. He did pretty decently, making Honor Roll consistently, but he didn’t get any special treatment from anybody, and that’s the way he liked it. Much to his own chagrin, though, he was mostly unnoticed by girls. Standing at 5’ 8” and growing, with short-cut blond hair and with a well-cut face, he wasn’t ugly, just not knock-out handsome. He couldn’t fathom why he was single, but he tried to not dwell on it, thinking desperation was the absolute last trait any girl would want in a guy.

Taran rounded the corner as he usually did, knowing it was a shortcut to the town’s fencing club. In the early hours of the morning, like now, it was a narrow, lightless passage between two large apartment buildings. On the bright side, it was kept in a decent state, and there were generally enough people nearby in the buildings that it wasn’t a good mugging territory. So, at ease, the young boy whistled as he made his way down to the first turn in the alley, suspecting nothing.

Oblivious, he turned at his usual pace, only to walk face-first into a brick wall. ‘What the-?” the teen said in an annoyed voice. Annoyance turned to confusion as he noticed where the alley continued was now blocked off with a solid wall of bricks, as if there had never been a passage. I coulda sworn… Taran thought to himself as he tried to find some sort of trick. There’s no way they put this up overnight. Frustrated, he turned back to take the long way, only to notice a man standing in the alleyway. He stood a little taller than Taran did, and wore a black coat/cloak of leather, with large, billowy arms and a concealing hood.

“Er, have we met before?” the boy questioned uncertainly as he strode cautiously towards the stranger, gripping the strap of his bag anxiously.

“Oh, how he hadst hid thee from me…” the hidden man replied with a cold, hard voice that unnerved the child’s heart.

“Excuse me?”

“Callous man. Entangling a wee babe into our game; unfeeling for the life he hast doomed. He didst not even tell thee yet, has he?”

“I’ve got no idea what the hell you’re sayin’, man, but you’d better back off. I can put up a fight!” Saying this, Taran began to unzip his bag and search for something within.

The stranger let out a chuckle of amusement. “Poor, ignorant child. Best not reach for that, mind thee. I know it to be but a weapon for training and amusement, and not bloodshed.”

“I don’t want to have to call the police on you,” Taran growled as he pulled out a cellphone from his pack.

“Thou doth not even know who I am? Such a shame. Our first encounter was considerably less… cordial.” The teen was confused by this for a few moments before he began to dial those three emergency numbers. “Very well,” the stranger continued as the first button was pushed. “I have no choice but to show thee.”

An expression of horror passed over Taran’s face as the stranger pulled down his hood, revealing that same face, those burning red eyes, that had haunted him for years. Even as his cellphone rang, it fell from his hands, breaking upon the floor. In one movement, he threw down all of his gear and dashed past the black-clad man with the long hair and crimson cat eyes, making his way back home. As he did so, he noticed something odd in every single reflective surface; an image of the same man, standing motionless in that alley.

The teen ran all the way home, avoiding every reflective surface he could. He paid no heed to people or cars that crossed his path, so intent was he on getting away from this living nightmare. It wasn’t until after he had run a mile or two that he stopped, and that was only to catch his breath. Looking around whilst panting heavily, he noticed a distinct lack of images of that… man. Comforted a little by this, he sped-walked the rest of the way to his home, hoping to put this all behind him. Home is always a place of safety, no?

When Taran finally made it home, he immediately shut the door behind him and rested upon it, relief passing over him.

“Oh, you’re home early,” his mother said worriedly as she stepped into the corridor. “There’s somebody here to see you.”

“I don’t wanna see anyone right now, mom.”

“He says he came a looooong way to see you, son,” his father said sternly from the living room.

Taran sighed as he dragged himself to the doorway. When he saw a black-garbed hooded man, almost identical to the first, he stood at the doorway agape.

The stranger merely set down his cup of tea and looked up at the boy. “Ah, Taran,” he said calmly, his voice greatly similar to that of the previous man. “We have much to discuss.”

Enduras placed his hand on the Malagath’s shoulder as he looked at the large screen. They were in a large subterranean chamber, crafted out of metal. All along the walls were hanging monitors and screens, showing different scenes. Urgluk was the brains behind the whole operation down here, seated at the large computer. “Are you sure about the nature of the abnormalities?”

“Yesssssss…” the snake-man replied as his yellow eyes traced over lines of code he was typing. “Taran’ssssss been disssssscovered. If we don’t get him out ssssssoon, he may be killed in hisssssss dream sssssstate.”

“Which means his mind will be lost forever.” Urgluk merely inclined his green scaly head in affirmation. “Can’t you just pull him out like in a normal dreamstate?”

“Don’t you think I would have already tried?” the reptilian hissed angrily, his neck flaring out a little, like a cobra’s hood.

“I’m sorry, of course. Is it not working?”

“Obvioussssssly. He’sssssss tampered with the sssssssysssssssstem; one can only get out by manually walking through the ssssssssssieve.”

“Meaning I’ll at the very least need to tell him almost everything so he understands all this, and leaves before it’s too late.”

“But you’ll give yourssssself away to him. Is it worth it, Endurasssssss?”

“Don’t worry, my scaly friend. I’ve… prepared for this. I just wish I had more time! He’s still a child… Do you think he has a chance in this war.” As he said this, he rose up and began to walk off towards a metal doorway leading to the stasis pods.

“I can’t ssssssay. All I know issssss that you will have to pay for what you’ve done to thisssss hatchling. But firsssssst, tell me what you’re up to, Endurasssssss.” The serpentine creature turned away from his screen to look at Enduras just before he exited through a metal door.

“I can’t tell you. Nobody can know. Just put me under, get Luxord and Arianna here, and get out.” With that said, the door rose up for him, and snapped shut as soon as he entered.

Urgluk set himself back to his task, shaking his narrow head. “Bah, humansssssss. I’ll never undersssssstand them.”

“Y-you’re that guy!” Taran half said, half-shouted.

“Who?” the stranger questioned, a worried tone in his voice.

“No way I’m gonna answer that until I see your face!”

Slowly, the hooded man pulled down his hood, showing a face similar to that of the previous man. Taran immediately realized they were not the same, though. This man’s hair was mostly silver and streaked with brown, and his face flushed with life, and eyes a brilliant icy-cold blue. “Satisfied?” the man asked, raising an eyebrow as he raised his tea to his thin lips.

“W-what’s going on? Two guys show up in the same coat, and-“

Hearing this, the stranger dropped his cup, shattering it on the floor. Strangely, Taran’s mother, Vivian, didn’t react in the slightest, and his father, Terrence, continued to read his newspaper. “You saw another?”

“Y-yes. Some dude in the same hoodie. Looked like you too, only he had-“

“Black hair, red eyes, pale face.”

“Yeah, man. But he had, like, the same hairstyle and ears and… are those slits in your eyes?”

“Yes, yes, we’re both weird looking people, like out of some book or game. When did you see him?” With this question posed, the man leaned forward, resting his chin on his arms, as if contemplating.

“Now that I think of it, you look like guys outta Skyrim or somethin’…”

“The other man, Taran,” the stranger said coldly and forcefully.

“Right, right… I think it wasn’t any more than twenty, thirty minutes ago when me and him met.”

“We have no time to lose. You need to be out of here. Now.”

“What? But, why?”

“It’s not safe here anymore, Taran. I’ve kept you safe for the last fifteen years, but now, it’s time you learned.”

“Learned? I’ve been learning-in school.”

“I mean about this. About you.”


“Everything around you? It’s not real.”

“What are you on?”

“You’re dreaming, Taran. You’ve been dreaming for a decade and a half. This was a virtual reality I had created for you, to raise you as a twenty-first century Terran.”

“You’ve gotta be high.”

“All around you, two forces are operating in secrecy, trying to claim worlds for their cause. Some wish to join the Eludinari Empire to overthrow the gods, while others like myself strive to keep the current order intact.”

“You’re crazy! Mom, dad, you gotta kick him outta here!” At this point, Taran was whirling about, his head swimming. This is like some Star Wars crap! It’s gotta be a dream; a nightmare! This can’t be real!

“They won’t do anything, Taran. The entire system’s shutting down. The Empire’s found you; now that I’ve dragged you into this, they see you as an enemy, and will treat you as such.” Saying this, the man stood up, his voice turning stern.

“Y-you’re wrong! This is all a nightmare!” The teen was shying away from the stranger at this point, on the brink of hysteria.

“I’ve thought the same thing myself sometimes. But this is very real, Taran, and if we don’t get out of here, you’ll end up dead.”

“No!” the boy shouted angrily as he backed out into the hallway. “Y-you’re wrong! This is all a bad dream! I just go get some fresh air, and it’ll be all right!”

“Taran…” the man said as tried to draw closer, a look of sympathy in his voice. “You need to come with me. It’s too dangerous-“

The teen had stopped listening, instead opting to make a dash outside, to run from the impossible. This is all some kinda trick! An illusion, of the senses or sleight of hand! He burst out the door and into the sunlight to be confronted with more of the impossible. Arranged on his front arm was a group of beings covered in metal, like armor. They were humanoid, but metal covered most of their bodies, and what little was visible glowed brilliantly, as if they were contained suns. In their arms they held crossbows, loaded and prepared to fire.

Urathil ignar malik!” one of the beings called out harshly from behind the row of arranged troops. As he did so, he cast his arm out, pointing directly at Taran. The boy pulled up his arms in front of him in vain as the soldiers pulled on their triggers…

Taran saw a dark flash out of the corner of his eye in that instant. Before he realized what was going on, the stranger was between him and the mysterious beings. As the bolts passed through the air at their targets, a wall of what looked like a black cloud rose in front of the black-clad man. The glowing bolts came into contact with the wall, seemingly absorbed in an instant. Before the troops could reload, tendrils emerged from the wall and lashed out at the armored beings. Their tips ripped right through their breastplates, striking at their very cores. As they writhed in pain, their bodies began to blacken and shrivel from their wounds. Within moments, there were several piles of ash and bits of armor lying all around, leaving only the commander.

Iamur elithil Enduras!” the being cried out as he pulled a glowing blade from his hip and readied his shield. In response, the solid wall dissipated as the silver-haired man raised up an elegant blade of platinum and gold, held above his head with its tip pointed at his foe. In his other hand he held a rapier. Without glancing back, he tossed the blade backwards to Taran, who caught it by instinct.

“Use it to defend yourself, Taran,” the man said coolly as he sized up his foe. “You know how to use one, yes?”

“Not a real one, you loon!” the teen shouted back. “The world’s going to hell, and you expect me to use a weapon?! I’ve only used fencing sabers for fun and practice, not-“

“Exactly-practice. Practice for this day,” the man said matter-of-factly as he began to draw closer to the armored commander. “Now you need to use what you know to your advantage.”

“This is all so… crazy…” Taran murmured as he held the thin blade ahead of him defensively.

“Just remember; this is not for fun,” the savior warned. “These people and creatures will try to kill you. These are fights you cannot afford to lose.”

The boy nodded and gulped as he stepped out from behind his “ally.” As soon as he did, the commander threw caution to the wind as he lunged out at his target, blade raised for the strike. The boy was hardly able to parry the powerful blow, narrowly avoiding the bright edge of sharp death. Drawing upon his own experience, Taran poked his blade forward while the commander regained his posture, sinking the tip into his glowing flesh.

While he cried out in pain, he forgot to raise his shield, leaving an opening for his other foe. The black-garbed man brought his blade down upon the commander’s shield arm, cleanly slicing it off. There was no blood; the only visible loss of vitality was the arm losing its bright glow. Before the commander could so much as cry out, the man’s free hand pushed out at him. As it did, a powerful gust of wind passed by as if called by some force, hitting the alien squarely and sending him flying into a building, where he crashed through the wall and lay still.

“The hell was that?” Taran shouted more than asked, a look of bewilderment in his eyes. “You couldda done that from the very start, but instead you decided to use some magic wall because it’s cooler and then start a swordfight?! Why would you-“

“Because you need to learn to fend for yourself, Taran,” the man replied as he walked over to the driveway of the house. Lying there was a sleek black motorcycle of some form, only it was so futuristic looking Taran thought it came right out of Tron or the future or something. “Now, we must leave, before the stability of your dreamstate collapses.”

“Dreamstate?” the boy asked dumbly, blinking his eyes.

“Like I said, you’ve been dreaming since infancy. I had a personal dreamstate created for you, but now it’s on the verge of destruction. If we don’t leave now, your mind will be lost, like some other piece of data.” As he said this, the man eased himself upon his vehicle.

“Wait, don’t you have a way to just beam us out or something? To wake me up normally?” Saying this, the boy hesitantly took a seat behind the man.

“Normally, yes. But the anomalies in the system have corrupted the whole miniature system we have for you. The only way out is through a fail-safe backdoor. Normally hidden, it allows dreamers to consciously exit their dreamstate.” As this was stated, the motorcycle roared to life and zoomed onto the street, heading from the suburbs to the inner city.

“So, where is this ‘backdoor’?”

“It’s shifted locations with the times. But it’s always in a place you’d almost never seek out. As of now, it’s in the library.”

“That makes sense…” Taran said uncertainly, suddenly realizing how long it’s been since he’s been at a library.

“Precisely,” the man nodded as he drew his blade in his right hand.

“What’s that for?”

“You don’t expect Mordred to let us leave without any obstacles, do you?”


The man sighed heavily. “The Eludinari Empire is a group that has been in hiding for thousands of years, until recently. Ruled by a being known as Mordred Tumultu, they seek to destroy the gods, and bring in their own sense of Order, right and wrong, and justice to the universe.”

“What’s so dangerous about them, though? It’s not like they could pose any threat to gods…”

”A question, first; Why are you so willing to accept the notion of other gods?”

“Well… I’ve never been much of one for religion.”

“Hmmm… Well, I’ll tell you that gods are real. Most are not like those of Terran belief. There is no Zeus or Poseidon that I know of. But there are gods, and they all have one thing in common.”


“They all believe in the freewill of their peoples. Or at least respect it. And it’s this very notion that Tumultu’s striking out against. He sees freewill as an evil. That if not for freewill, we’d all be living in a utopia.”

“So, if he had his way, we’d all be his slaves?”

“… Yes and no. To a certain extent, yes. There would be no freewill. However, Tumultu envisions a universe where you have pseudo-freewill; you could make a choice between doing good and doing good. That with no currency, and equally distributed goods with no discrimination, evil will be gone.”

“What’s so wrong about that? Getting everything you want or need, no money, no evil.”

“It’s that lack of evil that’s wrong. A choice to do what you want, unless it’s seen as ‘evil’ by the Empire, is not a real choice.”

“But don’t laws do essentially the same thing?”

“No. In Tumultu’s universe, you would lack the capacity to even think about stealing, or killing, or lying, or anything else seen as ‘evil.’”

“But… how’d he do that? And you still didn’t explain how they’re a threat.”

“Well… I can’t answer your first question. The second… It’s difficult to gauge the Empire’s power. They’ve been turning entire worlds against their own gods, which in turn takes away their power. Many gods depend on worship for their power, and a sudden massive cut in that… Not only that, but Tumultu himself has amassed tremendous power. I’m not sure how, but from what little I’ve seen, he very well may be able to take on some gods and win.”

“There’s no wa-“

“There are many things in this universe, Taran. Some beyond even gods.”

Taran was silent at this. He had been so engrossed in conversation with this man that he had failed to notice they were now within what could be considered the city’s limits; tall skyscrapers now began to cast their shadows upon them. They took a sharp turn, heading for the only library, close to the city hall. As soon as they did, they were faced with a street clogged with bizarre beings, made up out of strange materials. Some were hulking figures of ice, figures seemingly made out of water, some lanky creatures that looked like they were made of lightning and unable to stand still. Some others seemed to be masses of flames, and others still as beings simply made up of light, or a dark void.

The man upon the motorcycle didn’t slow down for a second. He zoomed onwards through their masses, slicing at them as he passed by, downing quite a few as they zoomed by. In this fashion they made their way towards the library, dodging foes or hacking at them. Within minutes, they had reached their destination, with a trail of angered elementals hot on their trail. But perched atop the large-marblestone building was a large reptilian creature with leathery bat-like wings and golden scales.

“The hell is that?!” Taran cried out with dismay in his voice.

“A dragon,” the man said matter-of-factly as he dismounted the motorcycle and hefted his blade on his shoulder.

“You seem to be the expert here,” the teen said as he dismounted and held his blade awkwardly. “What are we dealing with here?”

“Well, they’ve spared no hospitalities on us,” the man mused as he held his gloved hand up to his clean-shaven chin. “This one’s real nasty. Pretty old, too. He’s about the length of two busses at least, and will be more than seasoned in battle. I can see several scars inflicted by dragonbane.”

“So, what do we do?”

“’We?’” Saying this, the man turned towards Taran with an expression of bemusement. “I’ll have to handle this one on my own. You need to stay down and hidden until there’s an opening to make a break for the door.”

Taran was more than willing to take refuge in a nearby alleyway. He watched fearfully from around the corner as the man strode up to confront the dragon, who seemed to be craning its neck in search of something. Fear turned to slight awe when a crossbow of sorts materialized in a black flash in his left hand. Crafted from black and red metal, it seemed like an ordinary crossbow, except for the cylinder built into it, seeming to be a revolving chamber, allowing for rapid firing. While the dragon was distracted, the black-coated man took up the crossbow and fired a bolt right into the dragon’s beady red eye. It let out a snarl and looked downward to behold its challenger.

“So, you’re all that Tumultu’s willing to send after me, eh?” the man said calmly as the dragon started him down with its one good eye. “You may seem like overkill for one child, but for me? It seems like I wasn’t part of the plans today. Such a shame… for you.” The man dashed to the left as the dragon opened its maw, bathing the spot he had just stood with golden fire. As he ran, he fired bolt after bolt into the dragon’s hide.

The dragon noted the strategic disadvantage it held on the building and took wing, knocking around several abandoned cars in its wake. Roaring savagely, it swooped overhead, bathing the street with fire. When Taran had the confidence to look again, the stranger stood unscathed amid the flames. Upon noticing the boy, the man motioned to Taran to make his way into the library. The teen skirted through the flames, careful to avoid stepping in them too closely. With luck, he managed to make it into the building only slightly singed. He was just in time, too, for as he shut the old wooden doors, the dragon came swooping down again, this time landing almost on top of the stoic defender in black.

With his flashing blade he fended off the dragon’s jaws and claws valiantly, shedding much dragon blood upon the scorched pavement. As its jaws opened wide in an attempt to swallow him, he thrust his arm upwards, sending his blade through its skull. The creature cried out and whipped its head around, screaming as it splattered its own blood everywhere. It finally seized up and crashed to the ground, motionless. But the victor had no time to savor his victory, for a horde of Imperial elementals rounded the corner in the street he had come through. The black-clad man was then a blur, and two stood in his place. One retreated inside the library, while the other met the elementals head on. Both “failed” to notice the dragon open its good eye and heave itself up. It immediately focused on the one retreating into the library…

Taran listened intently as he heard the battle waged outside. When the dragon let out its final shrieks, he breathed a sigh of relief. His relief grew when he saw the man join him inside.

“So you killed it?” Taran asked, a touch of awe in his voice.

“But of course,” the man replied, ever calmly.

“So, how do we get outta here?”

In response, the man strode over to a bookshelf. From it, he pulled out a book on metaphysics, and before Taran’s incredulous eyes appeared a pinkish-purple portal, as if it had always been there. “Is this what you’re looking for?” the man said demurely.

“I-I guess,” the teen said cautiously. “But before we go… Who are you?”

The man smirked as he strode closer to the library doors. “I am-“ he began, only to be interrupted by the snapping of wood and stone. The entire library wall caved in as the dragon from before, seemingly dead, tore through the wall and chomped down viciously upon the man’s legs, snatching him up into the air. “Leave, Taran!” he cried out, before being swallowed within the Dragon’s maw.

The boy wasted no time in stumbling into the portal, and everything around him melted away, as if…

Taran awoke, finding himself staring at a curved sheet of metal inches from his face. As he blinked in confusion, it began to rise over him, until it turned to the side like the door of a tanning booth. He groggily got up to his feet, only to find that they would not support him as he collapsed onto the floor.

“Easy there, fella,” a woman’s voice called out. Taran looked around to find himself in a spotlessly white room. On the wall was a speaker of some sort. “You haven’t actually used your body in a loooong time. Just take some time to adjust.”

The teen laid back down on the ground while he waited, until he felt like his legs weren’t made out of jelly. This time, they supported him. He then noticed that he was only wearing a medical frock of some kind. At this development, he began to panic.

“It’s alright, kid,” a gruff male voice called out from the speaker. “We’ve had clothes arranged for you over there, on the table.” Cautiously, the boy made his way over to the table and garbed himself in a strange style of attire he wasn’t familiar with. The clothes were brown with orange trim, and seemed to be baggy on him. As soon as he was decent, a part of the wall rose upwards, and a man and woman strode within.

The woman had faint golden skin, with brilliant green eyes and auburn hair that fell midway down her back. Taran noted that she was garbed in similar attire to him, and that she had pointed ears like the man in black did. The man, however, was quite different.

The man walking in now was a hulking figure, standing at about 6’7”. He was clad in armor colored like gold that closely resembled samurai Taran had seen in video games. He even had the suji bachi kabuto helmet. But his face was most startling. His face was fairly humanoid, only his skin was a dark green color, and the tips of his canine teeth showed against the lighter green of his upper lip. While not ugly, it was a shocker for the boy.

“Where’s Enduras?” the woman, whose voice he recognized from the speaker, asked sharply.

“Who?” the teen asked dimly, still confused.

“The man who went in to get you,” the samurai said gruffly, motioning towards a second capsule in the room.

“Oh…” Taran said stupidly, remembering what just occurred. “Well, he was with me next to the portal, when a dragon crashed in and-and…”

“And what?” the samurai demanded, none too politely. As he did, his hand went for the handle of one of the katanas at his hip.

“It gobbled him up!” the boy blurted, half sobbing.

Taran suddenly found himself pushed against the wall and held there. Dazed for a few moments, he couldn’t make out who it was at first. When his vision righted itself, he saw the woman’s furious face right up in his. “Why didn’t you save him?!” she shouted angrily, tightening her grip on Taran’s shoulders.

“Wha-but-I-“ Taran began, only to be interrupted by the samurai, who was tracing a finger around the pommel of his weapon.

“Let him go Arianna,” he said in his usual gruff manner. “He’s just a child. He could do nothing to save him.”

The woman, Arianna, let go of Taran. “Y-you’re right, Luxord,” she said with shame in her voice. “I just-“

“I know,” Luxord replied kindly. “He was a dear friend and ally in this war. But he knew what was at stake. We must take Taran to the main facility.”

Arianna nodded in agreement. “It’s what he wanted, after all.” She then turned back to Taran. “Sorry about that. I just have a hard time reining in my emotions sometimes.”

“It’s alright,” Arianna said bashfully. “This is just all so… crazy.”

“Sanity’s madness, and madness is sane,” Luxord noted. “Come. There is much to do.”

With that, the three exited the chamber, the door closing behind them and the room turning dark.

Some time later, the second capsule opened with a hiss, and the black-clad figure clambered out awkwardly.

“How’d it go?” Salvar’s voice called out in the Darkness.

“It went well…” Enduras replied sourly. “They take me for dead, now, which will make it far easier to operate in secrecy.”

“You know he won’t fall for it, though.”

“No, but at least my trail’s hidden from even him, still.”

“What of the kid?”

“I think… He’ll need time, to come to accept his role.”

“Do you think he’ll forgive you?”

“Who would?” This was followed by a long moment of silence. “Salvar, I need you to do something.”

“Let me guess; watch over him and help him when I can?” Salvar said knowingly.

“You know my heart too well.”

On the Imperial capitol planet, Illaniâr, Mordred lounged in his throne. It lay at the very top of the highest tower of his latest dominion, high above the clouds and open to the stars and giant moon that hung lazily overhead. The throne itself was massive, with a back that rose ten feet above its occupant. Emerging of the sides of the arms that faced outwards were large spikes, creating a throne of thorns of sorts for its occupant. Mordred lay with disinterest in his throne, conversing with a holographic image of Galbradi.

“My intelligence reports that Enduras has been slain, Lord Tumultu,” Galbradi’s image said as it knelt. When this garnered no response, the Magister questioned; “M’Lord, are you not displeased that your greatest tool has been destroyed?”

“Nay, Galbradi,” the Eludinari said heavily. “Thy intelligence is wrong in this case. I know not what trickery he hadst woven around thy eyes, but I do know he lives. I know not where, but I feel him even now, somewhere out there… Thou art dismissed.”

This said, the hologram faded, leaving Tumultu alone with himself. As Mordred gazed up from where Galbradi had been, he saw a man clad in his old platinum and gold armor overlooking the solid landscape of clouds below.

“Must thou haunt me?” the Emperor questioned.

“Art thou willing to put the boy to the sword for Enduras’ crime?” the spectre questioned, turning to face himself.

“Enduras knew the consequence of dragging him into this.”

“But thou shalt still be ultimately responsible for his termination.”

“I care not for one life.”

“Doth thou really? One innocent life that hast not raised a hand against thee?”

Mordred’s heart shuddered within him. “Leave me to mine sorrow…” Mordred seethed. Unsurprisingly, the spectre did not disappear, but instead turned its back on Mordred to gaze upwards at the moon…

< Message edited by Mordred -- 4/17/2012 23:26:30 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 24
2/25/2012 23:49:27   

Taran, Luxord, and Arianna were meandering through the corridors of a massive compound, made fully out of metal. Taran gawked with awe and wonder at the sights around him; technology he’d only seen in movies and TV and videogames, and rows upon rows of capsules like the one he had been in.

“So, lemme get this straight…” Taran began, almost stumbling over his words as he tried to keep up with his new companions. “This is a planet of snake people?”

“Indeed it is, Taran,” Arianna said cheerfully. “The surface of the planet’s super-heated, so they burrowed underground. Over the millennia, early tunnels developed into this maze!”

“And these… Malagath,” Taran said uncertainly. He was encouraged by Luxord’s curt nod, showing he had gotten the name right. “They’re sleeping in dream land, right?”

“One could say that…” Luxord answered cautiously. “They discovered a technology that could let people have the same dream together. The Nhar’jusk company quickly monopolized it, raking in cash to let people use their stasis pods. Business got so good that pretty much everyone outside the company joined in on it. With the promise of a controlled central dreamstate, people could live in a utopia of sorts for the first time, while robots took care of their real bodies.”

“Why didn’t the company itself join in?” Taran questioned, wondering why anybody would forgo living in a dream-like utopia.

“Well, someone needed to watch over the system. Plus, with everybody sleepin’, they figured they had everything they needed right here, only it was real,” Arianna replied.

“Of course,” the orc cut in, “that depends on what one thinks is reality. Some would say that perception is reality, and thus their permanent dream is reality. Others would say that even the way we perceive our surroundings is not reality, but something else entirely.”

“What do you believe, Luxord?” Taran asked, cutting ahead of the samurai and stopping him midstride.

“Harumph,” the green-skinned man grunted. “What I believe is for myself. I forge my own path through life, as you must do in these troubling times.” The orc pushed the boy out of his way gently and continued onwards.

“So, about this dream technology,” the teen questioned, unfazed by Luxord’s rebuttal. “How’d they find it?”

“Well…” Arianna began, holding a hand up to her face, biting one of her fingers, as if unsure of the answer herself. “That’s partly why we’re here. Nhar’jusk maintains to this day that their top-notch scientists were able to tap into the subconscious and find a way to connect them to a single grid. But lately, within the dream itself, some have been… Dissenting.”

“What’s there to complain about?”

“Well, rumors have come up over the past decades. People have slowly begun to think that the origins of the technology are quite different, and far from benign. Claims have risen that the technology was a gift from the god of sleeps and dreams, Ilgathar, around seven hundred years ago.”

“What’s so bad about that?” Taran questioned.

“Well…” Luxord interjected, rolling his thoughts and words in his mouth slowly. “You must have a basic understanding of how deities work. A deity’s power has two primary sources; their worshippers and their specific governance. So, a god of death accumulates power whenever someone dies. A god of sleep and dreams accumulates power-“

“While people are sleeping and dreaming!” Taran exclaimed, excited.

“Good to know you have basic brain functions,” Arianna said sarcastically, patting Taran on the back.

“Anyways,” Luxord continued with a hint of irritation in his voice. “Imagine the amount of power a god accumulates when almost an entire planet’s dreaming all the time for seven hundred years.”

The teen stopped in midstride as he began to understand just what that meant. “So, some people are beginning to think that they’re being used to generate power for this one guy?”

Arianna nodded curtly. “We think the Empire’s placed the rumors in people’s heads. But… There may be some truth to it.”

“So, how do we come into this?”

“Well…” Arianna began uncertainly. “I guess one could say it all started when Enduras started recruiting us to defend free-will. He’d travel to a bunch of different worlds, finding people willing to listen. Like us. One could say that our base of operations is on Lore, where support for the greater deities of the universe is strong. The guys stationed there are called Truthseekers. Others, like us, and you, now, travel across worlds, trying to stop the Empire from controlling the population.”

“But that sounds-“

“Difficult?” Luxord interrupted. “It is. I’ve been doing this for ten years now. On all the worlds I’ve been stationed, we’ve lost every one to Tumultu. This one is only a few weeks, months at best from his grasp.”

“Really? It’s that bad?”

It was Luxord’s turn to stop in midstride, sighing heavily. “It’s a losing battle, Taran. Not only are more people adopting their mantra, but there’s been talk of intergalactic war on the table as well.”

“With who?”

“The Network.” Arianna hissed, punching at a metal wall savagely. “Cutthroats and murderers, all of them.”

“I’m confused…” Taran said wearily, clasping his head as he leaned against the wall for support.

“We could talk about the universe for a very good, long while, Taran,” Luxord noted, “but we don’t have the time. This is all very hard for you to take in. Knowing your own world has been an illusion, that you have no family-“

It was then that it hit Taran-he had nothing left. The world he had known all his life had been an illusion, pulled away to reveal some fantastic dream that was impossibly real. That the family he thought he had was a mix of numbers and data, meaningless amid a universe seemingly about to collapse in on itself. “Wait, what about my real family?”

Arianna looked at Taran with a sorrowful expression. “Oh, I knew this would come up eventually…” she bemoaned.


“Taran, I dunno how to break this to ya, but…” Arianna began, her voice breaking a tad.

“They’re dead,” the samurai explained bluntly. A look of pure horror crossed over Taran’s face, contorting his young features as he fell to his knees. “They were killed on Mrithandril,” the orc continued. “The Empire, in a desperate effort to gain the support of the people, convinced them to turn on the strongest village. You were but a babe when they invaded. Enduras saved you, and brought you here. The planet was destroyed shortly after when it became obvious they would not side with the Empire.”

“That monster…” Taran seethed, clenching his fists. “So, because he couldn’t get them on his side, he destroyed them all?”

“Rather unorthodox for the patient Tumultu, yes,” Luxord noted. “You are the last.”

“I don’t care about any wars or anything now. That monster will pay.” Saying this, the boy drove his fist into his palm with conviction as he got up to his feet. “So, I guess you know my story. What about yours’?”

The elf and orc remained silent. “I don’t think it’s time for that yet…” Arianna said slowly. “If you really wanna find out, though, you gotta beat me to the central chambers!” Saying this, she ran off ahead, leaving the human and orc in her wake.

“H-hey, wait for me!” Taran called out, giving chase as he forgot his worries.

Luxord sighed heavily as he rolled his eyes. “As if dealing with one child wasn’t bad enough…” he grumbled. “What they need is a good, strong herbal tea to calm them down.”

“Welcome to Nhar’jusssssk Indusssssstriessssss,” the Malagath receptionist said from behind her desk to Arianna as she approached, followed closely by Taran and Luxord. “I am Nhar’toor. How may I asssssssssisssssssssst you?”

“Hello Nhar’toor,” Arianna said cheerily. “We’ve got a first-timer here today. We’ll have three stasis pods, please.”

“Very well,” the reptilian woman replied. She pressed a button on her desk, and a door behind her opened for a male Malagath with a single horn protruding from his snout carrying several boxes of equipment in his arms. “Oh, you’re here right when I need you, Nhar’whal.”

The slithering Nhar’whal stumbled clumsily, dropping his boxes to the floor. “D’oohhhhhhh…” he moaned out-loud as he struggled to pick himself up. Having only a tail for a lower body tends to make it difficult to get up from a stumble.

“Don’t mind the boxesssssss, Nhar’whal,” Nhar’toor hissed with an exasperated tone. “Just please escort our clients to the three nearest stasis pods.”

“Yesssssss, sssssssisssssster,” the clumsy snake-like being said sheepishly as he finally righted himself. “If you would follow me,” he said, beckoning the three mammals through the corridors. They followed obediently behind the employee. All the while, Taran couldn’t help but think Really? He has a horn and his name is narwhal? They wove through a maze of corridors and passages, until they finally made it to a room with three stasis pods within.

“Your podsssssss,” Nhar’whal said as he bowed humbly.

“Thank you kindly, Nhar’whal,” Luxord said graciously, placing a fist against his palm and bowing respectfully.

“Wait, what are we doing?” Taran asked as Arianna began to open up a pod.

“Why, we’re going in to assess the situation, silly,” she replied. “We’ve gotta try to stop those rumors. If we don’t…”

“Let’s not think about that,” the orcish samurai said dismissively as he settled into his own pod. Nhar’whal slithered over to his pod, closed the lid, and pushed a few buttons, before moving on to Arianna and following suit. He then opened the third pod, and motioned for Taran to lay inside.

“Well, here goes nothin’,” Taran murmured to himself, gulping. He strode over to the pod, seated himself, and swiveled while pulling up his legs, getting himself into a comfortable position within. Once he was settled, Nhar’whal closed the lid, and the boy felt himself losing consciousness as a device closed around his head…

< Message edited by Mordred -- 4/17/2012 23:31:34 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 25
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