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=AQ= Edge of Extinction War Stories and Poems

 
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1/29/2013 21:34:20   
Elryn

Custodian (DF)


Here is where you may post your war stories. Have fun writing and please remember to follow the rules in both AE forums and the L&L rules.

And for this thread :

1) One post per person. If you have an ongoing story, please just edit your post to continue it. Do not make a new post to add to your story. New major events in AQ will receive a new thread.

2) Please do not comment on the stories in this thread. If you wish to comment on the stories, please go to =AQ= Edge of Extinction War Stories and Poems Commentary
AQ  Post #: 1
1/29/2013 21:51:44   
Muchiha
Member

Necromancer vs Paladins WAR STORY 2013

My armor set for this War ---> CLICK HERE!


Prologue: My father’s letter

I do not know much about my parents. I, Muchiha Mythios, was raised in a foster home by a loving couple in Battleon ever since I can remember. I wondered what life would have been like with my real parents, though I never dwelled on it too much. I moved on and aspired to become a great mage of Lore. I did just that. Being in so many great wars for the last few years has honed my battle skills, while training under the careful watch of renowned mages Master Warlic, Master Sano, and even under Legendary Assassins Wallo and Shii. I became strong. I dedicated my life to the protection and preservation of all that is good in this land. I became a defender of Lore. And I would not have it any other way.

But somewhere, deep down inside of me, I desired to know more about my mother and my father. Who were they? Are they still alive? Little did I know, some of the answers to my questions would come at the most unexpected time……………………………


---The training grounds of Battleon---

- (Two months before the start of the Necromancer vs Paladin War) -


I set my left hand down as the practice dummies burst into a wall of amber flames.

"Another good day of training." I thought to myself

“Sire, sire! There is a package that has arrived from an unknown area, yet it is addressed to you,”

“Ah Tobias, good morning to you as well. Do you know who sent it?” Tobias was one of Warlic’s many Mage-apprentices.

“No sire, it only has an inscription that is addressed only to you. Nothing else is written on the parcel.”

“Alright, many thanks Tobias. Good luck in finding those potion reagents.”

“Thank you sire, have a nice day.” And with that he hurried off towards his next destination.

After arriving at my beautiful mansion estate in the beautiful city of Deren, I began unwrapping the package. In it contained a black-leather bound book, with what seemed to be ancient markings and insignias, decorated with a large Amethyst gem in the centre.

Turning through all the pages, I notice all the Necromantic images, inscriptions, and symbols accompanying each of them. This leather book contained extremely detailed information relating to the field of Necromancy. Arriving at the last page, I discovered a note, written in Amethyst coloured ink:


Dear Muchiha,

By the time you read this, I will have already moved to another location on the outskirts of the city I am currently residing in. It has been far too long since I last saw you. You were only just a baby, never knowing what destiny had planned for you. It was inevitable that we would have to separate from you, but your mother and I knew it was for the best. We made sure you grew up with the best possible foster parents, attended the prestigious schools in Deren, and trained with highly experienced mentors in the ways of combat. The countless tales we have heard, of your triumphs over all these villains threatening to destroy and/or take over Lore. Of how you helped to saved Lore time and time again. We are so proud of you. As you have shown your growth and maturity as a hero of Lore, you have earned he right to know about your past. At least, some important parts of it.

Your family on your mother’s side are distant relatives of King Alteon and are extremely powerful mages. While on my side I am one of the great knights that served King Alteon under his reign in his later years. I believe you realize by now that along with your strong inherent magical abilities from your mother, you also have decent skill in the sword, wielding swords that are magical in property. There is one more thing that you should know about me, your father. I am not only a knight, but a necromancer as well. Your great-grandfather named Etheron on my side of the family was renowned back in Lore’s past. However, unlike so many other Necromancers back then, he was morally good. He served under King Taurus, and helped to establish a good relationship between a kindred group of Necromancers and the kingdom.

Your great grandfather’s practice of necromancy slightly differed from the common methods. Etheron knew the significance and sacredness of the body of a deceased creature. Before he even considered using necromancy upon a body, he made sure that he is granted permission to use them by the owners of the bodies. Whether by asking them in person before they pass away or contacting them via the spirit realm. Preferably, Etheron was looking for ones who has a morally good heart, that wished to protect those that are weak and innocent, to protect everything that is good on Lore and that they could continue to do so entrusting their bodies to Etheron while they move on. Because of his morals and appreciation for the dead when practicing necromancy, he did not conjure as many undead beings as other Necromancers. However, his skill in making due on what he has acquired earned him respect amongst the Necromancer community. The creatures that have given Etheron permission to use their bodies were unique and powerful in their own right. His skills as a master tactician being able to deploy perfectly timed strikes, with the multi-talented undead he used made a mess of armies up to 10 times their amount in numbers. His wonderful talents passed down the generations, although the powers may not be up to your great-grandfather’s level, our family still became gifted with his wonderful abilities, eventually winding up in my hands.

Because of my family's unique background, King Alteon instructed me to go on one of the most important missions of my career as a knight. To infiltrate the Shadowscythe Flying Fortress, and learn as much about them as possible. The Flying Fortress served as ShadowScythe HeadQuarters for Lore. However in order to join their ranks, I needed to be turned undead by Sepulchure to show that I was truly devoted to their cause. I seemed to appear undead in colour but thanks to my genetics, I resisted the change overall and still kept my mortal form. However, it did change my accessories. It changed my once blessed High ArchKnight armour into something sinister. Dark maroon in colour matching Sepulchure’s armor colour. My shield turned to an item of resonating fire and darkness. My High ArchKnight weapon became empowered by a powerful shadow and transformed into a weapon of doom and destruction. My new armour, weapon, and shield, drastically altered by Sepulchure’s power and potent shadows, was indescribable in appearance, yet they emanated power. TREMENDOUS POWER. More than five times the original power of my previous armour and weapon. It rivalled that of the King’s top General.

Beginning my true mission of infiltration, I began to go on errands for the Shadowscythe. Don’t worry son, none of them involved killing anyone. However, I did cross swords with a multitude of enemies. Donning my new armour and wielding my Doom-empowered weapon, I had the capacity to defeat small battalions in a matter of seconds. My necromancy was enhanced to great levels. Although this terrifying power came with a price. It would occasionally try to persuade you into destroying everything that is living on site. For the Shadowscythe, that would never backfire on them since most of their agents were undead. Because of my special abilities, good heart, and strong mind, I was able to resist the dark suggestions of my doom items. Once I had acquired all the info I could get in the duration of my infiltration mission, I left the Shadowscythe during a major war with the city of Sandsea. With the Head Commanders of Sepulchure’s forces thinking I died in the battle, I hurried back to the Alteon Kingdom, handing my intel to the Royal Librarian for study. Once I had been fully rested, I knew I had to do something about my transformed armour and weapon. Asking the help of the top clerics of the land, they did what they could to purify the darkness empowered items. In the end, they were able to remove half of the dark energies and spirits that altered my armour and weapon. Though not as powerful as the first time, they still contained a great deal of power. I used the set enhanced by Sepulchure, now partially purified by the King’s Clerics to lead my battalion to countless victories. With the set’s unique powers, I had the ability to dispatch hordes of enemies in destructive, potent attacks. My necromancy was still empowered to extreme levels, that it seemed like I was a one-man army with an extra powerful battalion at the ready. It was beneficial to the Kingdom; however, my new set stood out, not in the best way. With its blood-like colour and dark abilities, it seemed to create tremendous fear in not only my enemies but also my own soldiers and peers. I chose to revert to the standard ArchKnight armour, shield, and weapon set. I eventually decided to place these partly purified items in a vault to keep it away from the wrong hands. Even the most observant people shall never find them. Knowing that, I moved on with my life, and never looked back on those days until now.


Muchiha, you have proven yourself worthy. Not only just knowing about some of your past, but to wield the armour, shield, and weapon that has been kept from the world. Although the DoomKnight General set has been reduced in original power, it can still cause massive devastation. There are some dark shadow spirits that still lingers within the items. However, the darkness spirits that remain in these items are ones that wish to be used for morally good intentions. As long as you convince them that you mean no harm, and prove that you are strong in mind, body, and soul, they will come to respect you and allow you to wield their full power. The map for the location of these items are in the back of this letter. Find them and use them wisely. Show the other heroes of Lore that not all Necromancers are cold-hearted and seek the destruction of Lore. I have faith that you will know what to do. We will meet each other. Someday, but not now. I am so proud to call you my son. Keep doing what you’re doing. Chosen of Lore, my son.


Regards,

Xavier Mythios



----Outside the outer barracks of the NecroLegion Fortress---


- (One month before the start of the Necromancer vs Paladin War) -

Watching the beautiful sunset, I thought back to my father’s letter. As the horizon faded in colours of bright red, orange, and golden yellow, I wondered what he looked like. I watched the sun slowly disappear, thinking to myself:

“Thanks for entrusting me with this set dad. I promise I will use it for the good of Lore.”

“Commander-General Muchiha, Commander-General UnderSoul and Phrixus, High Necro-Commanders She Ratchet and darksampson, and finally High Necro-Captain smog require audience with you regarding the fourth phase of battleplans for the NecroLegion.”

“Very well, thank you Lieutenant.” I replied

I took one last glance at the scenery and headed inside the massive fortress to finish the preparations for the upcoming war.

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Chapter 1: War Preparations


- (2 Weeks before the start of the Necromancers vs Paladins War) -


I watched as the soldiers carried supplies around the gigantic fortress of the NecroLegion. Carts full of magically enchanted weapons, spell scrolls, crafted potions, with food and drink for the soldiers that were not undead. The checklist that was in my subordinate’s hand held the information of all the items in stock and for the ones that we still had to acquire. For this upcoming battle could take some time depending on the strength of our opponents.

“Captain Fulkur, besides the items we still have to aquire, are all the other ones accounted for?” I asked the Necro-Captain.

“Yes sire, there are just a few hundred more carts to arrive from Battleon and we’re all set,” replied Fulkur.

“Well done Captain.”

My unit was in charge of the NecroLegion’s inventory. The other high-ranking members were tasked with organizing the main armies, fortress defender + combat guards, battalions, stealth teams, and a few other secret weapons should the need arise for their assistance. From the reports that have been relayed to each Commander of the NecroLegion, we were ahead of schedule. I decided to pay a visit to the engineering division of the Necromancer force.

“Tiberias, are the Command battle vessels ready?” I asked.

“Almost sire. The main command-vessel for the waters “S.S. Necrotic Doom” and the main command vessel for land “S.S. Necrotic Dominance” are fully equipped and ready for combat. It is the main command vessel for the skies, the “S.S. Necrotic Destruction” that is still loading. The last of the equipment, foot soldiers, and special artillery that you requested are entering the vessel as we speak.”

“Very well, good work engineer.” I said.

“Thank you, sire.”

I walked down the spiralling staircase to the Main Command Center where the high-ranking members of the NecroLegion and powerful heroes that wished to side with us gathered. Entering the room, I found it to be half-empty. Locating some of the other High-ranked Necro-Captains and Commanders, I called out to them:

“So how is everyone doing on this fine day?”

“Splendid, I believe it is a perfect day to go to war,” answered Commander-General Phrixus.

“You know what, I think we should go to war right now. How about it?” asked Commander-General UnderSoul, also called Lord Scorpio.

“Now? And claim victory in a matter of minutes. Where’s the fun in that?” replied Phrixus.

This caused everyone in the room to laugh.

“Let’s just go over the final tallies of our supplies, forces, and battle tactics, then we can all go out to the bridge. I have a surprise for all of you.” I said.

After the quick briefing, we all went down to the bridge that overlooked the Northern portion of the NecroLegion Fortress. Observing the undead warriors training, undead mages readying their spells, blacksmiths sharpening the last weapons for the battalions, and the newly recruited undead mutants and spellswords sparring for this coming war.

“So Muchiha, what is this surprise you have been keeping from us hmm?” asked High Necro-Commander She Ratchet.

“Follow me everyone.”

After reaching the end of the bridge, everyone came to a halt and observed the three vessels I helped the engineers create. I explained each vessel in detail, their capabilities, weapons, and specialties that came with them. When I was finished with my initial explanations, all the high ranking members of the our order congratulated me on a job well done.

“Yes, it would enhance some of our battle plans to a good extent,” said High Necro-Commander darksampson.

“We have it all covered in terms of all methods of attack. By land, sea, and sky. The three Commanding battle vessels would be controlled from the NecroLegion Fortress HQ. However all vessels are equipped extremely well, can function as separate entities, and Command Centers for our specialized forces and normal battle units. Some of the more important features that these three vessels have are the communication systems that can relay messages back and forth in real time from one another and of course, to NecroLegion HQ. The relaying messages sent by our Communication systems cannot be tapped into or intercepted by our opponents. It can prove useful for any swift changes in tactics, formations, and any emergencies. Another important feature is the escape transports located within the inner chambers of the battle vessels. If need be, there are well trained mounts that are ready at any time to transport every member of each vessel. Of course as High Necro-Captains, Commanders, Commander-Generals and distinguished guests that are on our side, we get the most powerful and best trained mounts.” I said.

“With that settled, let’s do a perimeter sweep on the outer barracks of the Fortress at the Western and Southern sides,” said UnderSoul.

We all agreed and headed to the upper walls overlooking the Western portion of the intimidating fortress. As we started our perimeter check at the top, one of our many Captains came rushing towards us, with panic clearly in his face.

“My lieges, I’m sorry to interrupt you at this time, but…they’re here!”

“Who’s they?” Phrixus asked.

“The Paladins my liege! A large group has been spotted approaching from the East and are making their way to this fortress!”

“Calm down Captain. Tell me, are any of the Paladins in question carrying a banner of the Paladin Order?” asked UnderSoul.

No my liege. No banners of the sort were spotted amongst them.” The Captain replied.

“Hmmmm” said UnderSoul.

“There is one more thing my lieges. The armour this group of Paladins wore was a bit…different from what they usually wear.”

“How so?” asked She Ratchet.

“Well, they all wore the standard Paladin Armour, except that there was a bright red “X” marked at the top left corner of all their armours,” replied the Necro-Captain.

“Are you all thinking what I’m thinking my fellow Necro-comrades?” I asked our group.

“The only way a group of Paladins could approach us in person before the war begins were to show a banner with the symbol of the Paladin Order on it. And yet, this group has none plus with the description of their armour this Captain gave us, it could only mean one thing,” said UnderSoul.

We all nodded our heads and said,

“Rogue Paladins.”


Chapter 2: Unauthorized Assault


“Rogue Paladins my liege?” asked our Captain.

“Yes, Rogue Paladins. Paladins who were once part of the Paladin Order but were banished for not upholding their Order’s Code of Honour on multiple occasions,” I replied.

“However, although they are banished, they are still under the jurisdiction of the Paladin Order,” added She Ratchet.

“A bunch of anger fuelled zealots of you ask me,” said Phrixus.

“Well whatever their circumstances it doesn’t change the fact that they are heading our way,” said darksampson.

“Yes, we shall see to them right now. Thank you Captain,” I said.

We all made our way to the outer barracks on the Eastern Side of the fortress. After quickly spotting the incoming Paladin battalion, Phrixus, UnderSoul, She Ratchet, and Smog, went ahead to greet them. Calling one of the Head Archers of our Legion I said,

“Commander Aurius, have platoons 1 to 6 of our Undead Archers line up along the Eastern towers of the Fortress. If a battle is to ensue by the Rogue Paladins, we need to ensure that it is ended swiftly without any casualties.”

“Go on sire,” said Aurius

“Tell your Archers to wait for the signal which is when UnderSoul, myself, Phrixus, darksampson, She Ratchet, and Smog all raise our weapons high in the air. Once they see the signal, release your arrows. Avoid aiming for any vital organs and other vital spots. We wish to return the rogue soldiers to their respective leaders alive and in one piece.”

“As you wish sire,” replied the Head Archer.

I then made my may towards the rest of the leaders of the NecroLegion. I spotted them in heated conversation with four of what looked like the leaders of the Paladin Rogues.

“Are you insane?!” yelled UnderSoul.

“No necromancer. You and the rest of this foolish Legion shall bow down before the mighty Paladins!”

“Haha. You and what army?” asked Phrixus.

“This one!” replied the tallest of the four Rogues.

She Ratchet then started laughing. Hard.

“What’s so funny?!” yelled the tall Paladin Rogue.

“Tell me…(laughter)….how many men….(laughter)…… do I see…(laughter)…. standing before me?” asked She Ratchet in between laughs.

“500 of us,” replied the Paladin.

“HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!” She Ratchet started rolling on the ground laughing his head off. The NecroLegion leaders couldn’t help but join in the laughter as well.

“STOP LAUGHING!!!” bellowed the Paladin. After the laughter had finally died down (She Ratchet was still in a fit of giggles :D), I took a few steps forward and told the Paladin rogue,

“Listen. We do not wish to wage war this early on. We made an agreement with the Paladin Order for the day this war begins. Are you the leader for the Rogue Paladins?”

“No, I am his second in command. Lieutenant B. Right. Our leader is back in our main headquarters, off the shores of Lolosia.”

“We wish to speak to him. We need to know who’s jurisdiction all of you are under specifically, so we can return you all to your respective Paladin Commanders.”

“NO! We will not be sent back to that silly Order! We are the purest and most powerful of those weaklings we used to call our comrades! Some of our former comrades show mercy and compassion for necromancers and undead that are innocent and peaceful. Pathetic. I’ve never heard of undead and necromancers that were ‘innocent and peaceful’ That’s a major flaw we all don’t have as Paladin Rogues!”

“Well consider yourself lucky. You have found that group, which is standing before you now,” replied UnderSoul.

“We will never accept any one of you as such. You will surrender your fortress, your soldiers, and yourselves to the true and pure Paladins. The Paladin Rogues! Bow down before our greatness!”

“We will not bow down to the likes of you,” said Smog.

“Very well. You wish to be destroyed? So be it,” said the Paladin Rogue lieutenant. Turning to face his men, he drew his weapon and shouted,

“PALADIN ROUGUES! LET US CLEANSE THIS LAND OF THESE NECROS AND UNDEAD SCUM!”

“We are giving you one last chance Paladin Rogue lieutenant. Take your men back to your barracks, or we shall retaliate to your zealotry out of self-defence for ourselves and our soldiers,” I said.

“Retaliate?! We have a grand total of 500 soldiers before you! You and what army?!” laughed the Paladin Rogue.

“Correction. It’s ‘you and what armies?’” said Phrixus.

“But since we are in a good mood today, you Rogue Pallys only have to deal with one of our many armies,” added UnderSoul.

“WHAT?!” asked the frightened Rogue lieutenant.

“Awww UnderSoul, the little Paladin Rogue is scared. Maybe we should just let them deal with one of our battalions instead,” I said

“Well, they asked for an army, so I’m gonna give them an army” said UnderSoul.

“UnderSoul, don’t you think 10,000 undead soldiers is a bit….overkill?” I asked.

“T-T-T-TEN TH-TH-THOUSAND?!” asked the extremely frightened Paladin Rogue.

“Oh don’t worry Paladin Rogue. It’s our smallest army. I’m sure you’re all up to the challenge,” said UnderSoul.

“I still think it’s a bit much,” said She Ratchet.

“I could take care of them myself if you all don’t mind,” said Phrixus.

“………” The Necro-leaders all paused for a moment.

“You know what……..send the army before Phrixus comes in and….”

Before I could even finish my sentence, Phrixus in a series of quick movements, dispatched all 500 rogue soldiers including the lieutenant in a matter of seconds. Re-sheathing his sword, Phrixus then said,

“Let’s pay a visit to the leader of this so called ‘powerful Rogue Paladins’” Phrixus then started walking towards the Main Command battle vessel for the water, The “S.S. Necrotic Doom” As the rest of the NecroLegion leaders followed Phrixus, UnderSoul said,

“Remind me to keep a good distance away from Phrixus when he is in combat.”

“I believe we have all taken note of that my friend,” I said.


The Command Battle Vessel for Water – S.S. Necrotic Doom <--Click there

(It’s the ship on the right side of the picture, but imagine it 10 times bigger in size. The other boats trailing behind are the NecroLegion’s Battle fleet for the high seas)


Writer's note:

Hey guys, I know I promised that Chapter 2 would be the chapter with the intense battle scenes and Paladin introductions, but I made it too long and too epic for it all to be in just one chapter. To the Necromancers and to the guy that keeps PMing me (Death snake1) You will all be shown in action very soon. Paladins that have asked to be in my story will appear in Chapter 5. I don't want to rush things and give a second-rate piece of writing. I want to churn out something of good quality.


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Chapter 3: Confrontation


***2 Weeks Later***

After a full two weeks of sailing, we finally arrived at the outer shores of Lolosia. The 500 Paladin Rogues that Phrixus managed to disarm and knock unconscious in a matter of seconds, were all tied up and stored in the jail cells within the massive ship.

Docking on the outer ports of Lolosia we released the captive prisoners so they would lead the way to the location of the Paladin Rogues’ Headquarters. It was a large stone mansion right next to the ports. However, the mansion was nowhere near the size of the NecroLegion fortress. As we walked up to the large dwelling, the Paladin Rogue lieutenant told the giant guards at the doorway of expected visitors.

Our group was then led by the two Paladin Rogue guards into the inner halls of the mansion. It ended in a large wooden door with silver designs engraved into them. Opening the door, we were greeted by a well-built tall Paladin with a menacing smile on his face. This man wore a different set of armour that stood out from the rest. He still carried the red “X” on his left hand side of his armour. However, the red “X” was made of a collection of rubies instead of red paint like the rest of his men.

“Ah yes, the famed leaders of the NecroLegion! We’ve been expecting you! My name is Tyrus” exclaimed the large Paladin Rogue.

“We came here to return your soldiers. In addition, we want to know why you sent them. Because even though you rogues are banished, you are still under the responsibility of the Paladin Order. That means even in war, if you wish to fight, it cannot happen until the start date negotiated by the leaders of both factions.” I said.

“I sent them there to try to slaughter your forces and take that so called “fortress” of yours in the name of the Paladin Rogues! We are not under that Pathetic Order’s banner no more!” said Tyrus.

“Tyrus, why did you establish your own group instead of reconciling with your own Order? It wouldn’t have caused all this ruckus,” said darksampson.

“The Order is too weak for our ideals! Paladins were made to destroy undead and necromancer alike! Our group was established to cleanse the world of these scum!” said Tyrus.

“Not all of these so called “scum” seek the destruction of Lore. We fight to defend our right to practice this unique dark art and for all our innocent brothers and sisters that have been judged on events in the past that they themselves did not cause, or were never involved in.” I said.

“You must all be purged! Every single one of you! There is no place in all of Lore that you freaks deserve to live in! We are doing the world of Lore a favour in vanquishing your existence!” said the Rogue leader.

“Then I pray that one day, you and your Rogue Order will be able to see the error of your ways. But until that day comes, we will be forced to fight and act on self-defence for the preservation of our lives and the others of our kin.” I said.

“That day will never come, Necromancer!” bellowed Tyrus.

“You must be the leader of the Paladin Rogues I presume?” asked Phrixus.

“That would be me, yes,” replied the leader.

“Good.” Phrixus then began to unsheathe his main weapon and was about to attack when UnderSoul and myself stopped him with our extended arms.

“Phrixus, steady your blade. He’s not worth your time,” said UnderSoul.

“Yes, tell him UnderSoul,” I said.

“He’s not worth your time Phrixus……. he’s worth mine.” And with that, UnderSoul unsheathed two of his blades and charged at the leader.

“Oh no. Not UnderSoul too,” She Ratchet said. Before UnderSoul reached the rogue leader, he was stopped in his tracks by 20 of the leader’s subordinates. Laughing, the Paladin Rogue leader said,

“HA-HA. Do you FOOLS really think you can get to me that easily? I have over 8000 men ready for battle. You only have what, 6? HAHAHAHAA!!”

“If he wants to battle, let’s take it somewhere more…appropriate shall we?” I asked our group.

When I see every one of the NecroLegion leaders nodding their heads, I teleported the six of us to the expansive backyard of the Stone mansion.


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Chapter 4: A Paladin Rogue’s arrogance


“They’re coming for us. With over 8000 soldiers. And we left all our large armies on the ship,”
laughed darksampson.

“Think of it as a warm up to the actual war, if you will,” replied UnderSoul.

“It’s kind of funny. The six of us against over 8000 soldiers and the Rogue leader himself, yet he believes WE are at a disadvantage,” said She Ratchet.

“Ah, here they come now,” I said.

“Took them long enough,” said Phrixus. The large group of Paladin Rogue soldiers surrounded us in a circle. We backed up against one another and formed a circle of our own facing outward to the soldiers.

“Running away are we? Why leave so soon? I haven’t even had a chance to run my battleaxe down your bodies!” yelled Tyrus. Gathering a few deep breaths, I yelled out to the over 8000 soldiers surrounding us,

“Soldiers of Tyrus! I know how much of a zealot your leader is! His intentions are not for the good of Lore! This is the extinction of a faction he is working towards! Is this the true purpose of the Paladins?!” This caused some of the soldiers to whisper to one another. After a few moments I continued,

“I know, heck all the leaders of the NecroLegion know how most of you were banished from your Order. You have been fed lies by Tyrus that there is no going back once you are banished. That is not true. You can reconcile with your Order and you can become a true Paladin again. But please remember, that not all undead and not all necromancers seek to conquer or destroy Lore. This is what the NecroLegion fights for! Tyrus and perhaps even some other leaders of the Paladin Order wish to eradicate all traces of undead and necromancers alike! If you agree with what I am saying, please refrain from fighting us and we will spare your lives! We are forced to fight because we have no other choice! Please do what you believe is right in your heart!” With that, half of Tyrus’ soldiers dropped their weapons and walked away from the large backyard.

“COWARDS! You traitors shall regret the day you left the true group of Paladins! All of you!” shouted Tyrus, now enraged.

“Is there anyone else that wishes to get out of this Zealot Order?” asked UnderSoul. After a small group of soldiers dropped their weapons and left, there was only less than half of Tyrus’ original amount of soldiers still surrounding us.

“You fools shall pay for this!” said Tyrus. Lifting his massive gold-plated battleaxe to the sky, he yelled out to his remaining soldiers,

“PALADIN ROGUES! LET US CRUSH THE LEADERS OF THIS ‘NECROLEGION’ THAT WILL BRING US ONE STEP CLOSER TO THE TOTAL PURIFICATION OF LORE OF THESE WORTHLESS BEINGS!” The remaining soldiers erupted in a loud cheer and started coming at us.

“I’ve had about enough of Tyrus and his men,” said Smog.

“It’s time these Zealots knew the true power of the leaders of the NecroLegion,” said UnderSoul unsheathing his blades once again.

“I’ll start us off,” I said. Taking a few steps forward and raising my shield of swirling dark mana and red electricity, I yelled,

“Sanguis Fulgur!” bolts of crimson lighting flashed before the first four lines of soldiers and connected with their bodies and surrounding area, causing the ground and the air above their heads to explode in red electricity and fire.

UnderSoul with his twin swords, took a special battle stance and calmly said the words that led one of his legendary moves,

“Twilight’s Supremacy: Shadow-wolf Barrage,” A multitude of shadow wolves appeared alongside UnderSoul, and charged at the next 4 lines of soldiers with ferocity and accuracy. When the shadow wolves connected with their targets, they detonated like powerful bombs of dark mana, causing more explosions that shook the battlefield.

“My turn,” said Phrixus. Releasing his potent weapon, Phrixus said the very last thing an enemy fighting against him would ever hear, before they would fall to his blade,

“Flash-kill Requiem: Lightning Blade,” Black smoke with blue streaks of mana surrounded Phrixus. He vanished in an instant. Trying to follow his movements, I only saw afterimages of him. Before I could even blink again, Phrixus returned back in his original position as if he never attacked at all. Looking at the soldiers Phrixus seemed to fly past by, they were just as stunned as we were. As if nothing happened. Then one of the soldiers said,

“Ha you missed Necromancer! Look I don’t see a cut in my bod-” Suddenly deep, severe bright blue cuts flashed all over his body and the rest of the four lines of soldiers, causing them all to collapse in a massive pile on the ground. Lifeless.

“I didn’t miss. It was just that I attacked you all at a velocity so fast, that your bodies could not react to the instant slashes and fatal wounds I applied to every single one of you and your men. That’s why it is called ‘Flash-kill’” replied Phrixus. She Ratchet took a step forward, raised his left arm, and shouted,

“Necro Specialis: Spiral cyclones!” Three large tornadoes with enchanted magical skulls descended on the battlefield, wreaking havoc on unsuspecting groups of stunned Paladin Rogues. When She Ratchet’s spell ended, there were only a third of the soldiers still standing including Tyrus. When the remaining third of the soldiers began to charge at us, we all took our battle stances. Before one of us could act though, a large burst of darkness energy erupted from the ground. We all looked at the caster’s direction. A hooded necromancer came walking towards us. Taking off his hood and showing his face, the necromancer said,

“So. Do you guys really think you can have all the fun without me? I’ve been looking for you Necros everywhere!”

“Welcome to the fray Death snake1,” said UnderSoul.

“Ah, so this is the famed Death snake1. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” I said.

“Pleasure’s all mine, Muchiha,” replied Death snake1.

“Well, judging from your attack Death snake, it seems there are only about a few hundred soldiers left,” said Smog.

“Is any one else with you Death snake?” asked She Ratchet.

Just then, an uncountable amount of spherical creatures started to appear above the rest of the Paladin Rogue soldiers. Some had coloured brown and white fur. Another group had black fur with shining green eyes, and another group that was only the skeleton of the creatures. They all descended upon their targets and began to assail them.

“Gweens, Hallows, and their undead counterparts. I only know a handful of people that uses Necromantic Gween-omancy, but from the large amount of Gweens used, there are only three people capable of doing that on such a scale.” I said.

“Are we too late for the party?!” yelled Tha Killa, CH4OT!C, and Dracolich Rider riding on a Gween dragon. (A Darkness Dragon infused with Gweens and Hallows. Don’t ask me how they did it. They just did. Okay?)

“You always have perfect timing you three!” I replied.

“We’ll see you guys at the main battlefield alright?” said Killa.

“Sure, see you all there and thanks for the extra help!” She Ratchet yelled back.
“Alright see ya!”
the Necro-Gweenomancers then disappeared into the sunset with their Gween dragon.

As the rest of us Necros were about to leave the battlefield, we heard a loud voice behind us.

“FOOLS! I AM STILL HERE! I AM STILL STANDING! ALL MY SOLDIERS MAY HAVE BEEN DEFEATED, BUT I WILL SLAY ALL 6 OF YOU AND YOUR NEW LITTLE FRIEND!” bellowed the Paladin Rogue leader.

“That man has quite the anger problem,” said Phrixus

“Remind me to shut his mouth if we turn him into one of our undead minions,” said UnderSoul.

“And just how are you going to do that?” asked Phrixus.

“Necro duct tape,” replied UnderSoul.

“Fair enough. Let’s see what mister grumpy Paladin Rogue wants,” said Phrixus.

As we neared the rogue leader, we noticed him charging his mana. Stopping in my tracks I said to our group,

“I know this sounds crazy, but I would like to talk some sense into Tyrus, one last time. Everyone deserves a second chance. If it fails, then we can defeat him knowing we gave it our best shot of trying to make him turn away from his zealot infused, destructive path.”

“Very well. We are not as callous as most make us to be. But worse comes to worse, we have to end this battle,” said UnderSoul. I approached Tyrus with caution, before saying to him,

“Tyrus, you have one final chance to turn away from this plan of yours. The Paladins and Necromancers can build a bright future with one another if both factions agree to accept and forgive the other for what has transpired in the past. Will you please reconsider staying your blade against us? It doesn’t have to end this way.” With a smirk on his face the Paladin Rogue leader said,

“Oh I see a bright future, Necromancer….ONE WITHOUT YOUR KIN, AND THOSE SKELETAL FREAKS AND ABOMINATIONS!!! IT SHALL BE A BRIGHT FUTURE INDEED!” Tyrus bellowed as he stood taller, raising his heavy golden battleaxe and shield to the sky. Yellow light started to radiate from Tyrus’ body and into the sky Laughing hysterically, Tyrus screamed,

“AND I WILL BE THE ONE TO LEAD ALL OF LORE INTO THIS BRIGHT FUTURE!” Tyrus swung his Golden battleaxe and stopped midway as a large, bright beam of light quickly descended from the clouds and into our direction. Anticipating the worst outcome, I shouted,

“Contego potens!” A dome of purple energy surrounded the seven of us including Death snake1, shielding us from Tyrus’ magical attack. Angered by the spell causing no damage to us, Tyrus began to hammer my shield with his axe. Aware of what he is doing, I told my comrades,

“It looks like Tyrus has made his choice.”

“Indeed. We all know what we have to do,” said UnderSoul.

“Let’s finish this,” said Death snake1.

I disintegrated by shield and in one swift motion, I raised my right arm and yelled,

“Tenebris Draco: Impetum!”

A dark portal appeared before me and out came a snake-like black dragon with sinister yellow eyes. It then proceeded to lunge at the Paladin Rogue leader, before unleashing a fierce dragon breath attack. Tyrus cried out in pain stumbling back.

“Necromancer’s Wrath: Skull Swarm Overload!” exclaimed Death snake1. A flurry of skulls appeared out of thin air and began to assault the Paladin Rogue with no end in sight. Large bruises were prominent on the Rogue leader.

“Necro Specialis: Frigid Darkness!” yelled She Ratchet. Black and blue energy began descending on the battlefield and diverging towards Tyrus. After a few seconds, Tyrus began shivering uncontrollably. In a fit of rage, he yelled out,

“I will not lose to the likes of you fools! NEVER!” Tyrus massive body, shield, and battleaxe grew up to ten times their original size. Knowing what will happen next, I quickly gathered mana in the palm of my left hand, and said,

“Ianuae Magicae!” clouds of swirling black smoke surrounded our group of seven in an instant. At the same time, Tyrus raised his axe and shouted,

“Holy Might!” and brought the enlarged axe to the ground causing the surrounding area to explode in power and bright light due to the sheer force and intensity behind the attack. After the dust settled, Tyrus shrank back down to size and inspected the miniature crater where his axe struck. Breathing heavily, with a big smile on his face, he bellowed,

“I did it! I crushed them! I crushed the pathetic leaders of the NecroLegion! HAHAHAAHA-”

“Is that what you think Paladin Rogue?” asked Phrixus

“WHAT?! IMPOSSIBLE!!! BUT HOW?!” yelled Tyrus.

“Muchiha teleported us away at the last second. Your moves are too predictable Paladin Rogue,” answered Phrixus.

“It’s over, zealot,” said UnderSoul. “Muchiha, She Ratchet, darksampson, Smog, and Death snake1, NOW!” The five necromancers that UnderSoul named, quickly surrounded the Paladin Rogue and put their left hands on the ground saying,

“Umbra Claustra!” five lines of shadows ran from the five Necromancers’ left hands and merged. Five black barriers emerged underneath trapping Tyrus. The five shadow lines then moved back and forth weaving against one another in rapid succession around these barriers. When the spell was completed, it completely encased Tyrus in a woven prison of dark shadows. Raising their weapons, UnderSoul and Phrixus said.

“Necromancer Art: Swords of Darkness - 300 Strikes!” A Violet portal in the sky opened above Tyrus. With unrelenting speed and precision, three hundred thin blades colored black, silver, and purple rained down from the portal and into the shadow prison made earlier. As the violet portal dissolved in the sky, we observed the results of our combined attack. Tyrus was lying on the ground, motionless.

“So. That was a good warmup battle for me. What about you guys?”
asked Phrixus.

We all nodded our heads.

“Oh yes, definitely,” I said.

“Let’s find that ship of ours and go h-”

“No one is going home today, Necromancer.”

As we turn our heads toward the origin of the voice, Tyrus slowly pushes himself off the ground, battered and bleeding heavily. Smiling menacingly, Tyrus on one knee said,

“I have one more trick up my sleeve.”



MEGA 2014 EDIT (The remainder of this story) Sorry for the wait everyone. Please enjoy!



Chapter 5: Old friends reunited


“*ugh* No one is going anywhere yet!” yelled Tyrus in between gasps of breath and moans of pain. As he was trying to stand up with great difficulty, UnderSoul said,

“So you managed to survive that last combo attack. I’m impressed Paladin Rogue.”

“Fools! I can’t die! Not now! My mission is not complete!” said Tyrus in great pain. He continued,

“If I hadn’t Ressurected myself at the right time, I don’t think I would be standing before you.”

“Ah yes, by your light based necromancy as has been said by some scholars,” said Phrixus.

“SILENCE! I will claim victory, no matter what it takes.” Tyrus raised his bleeding left arm and said,

“Paladin Order Sacred Technique: Complete Restoration of Body and Mind!” A yellow aura emanated from his body and began to glow brighter and brighter as white miniature explosions appeared where his most grievous injuries were.

“I can sense Tyrus returning to complete health,” I said.

“Yes. It appears his mana is returning to maximum capacity as well,” added Phrixus. When Tyrus’ technique ended, he took a few steps forward, saying,

“And now, with all you Necro-fools out of energy and ideas, I shall end your wretched existences!”

“You can’t defeat us Tyrus. This battle had a decisive winner even before it started,” said She Ratchet.

“HAHAHAH is that right Necro-scum? Even with all your pathetic spells and attacks, you could not bring me down! Seven against one, and I am still standing! Even at full power, you fools failed to kill me before I used Ressurection on myself! You were all destined to die by my hands so I shall make that come tr-,”

“Who said we were fighting at full power?” interrupted darksampson.

“What?! What do you mean?!” asked Tyrus.

“Allow me to explain, Paladin Rogue. As leaders of the NecroLegion, we are all extremely powerful beings in our own right. The amount of energy each leader of the NecroLegion generates is so vast, that when we release our full power, the surrounding area is severely affected. Troops would disintegrate instantly under the extreme pressure of the NecroLegion’s leaders’ energy. In order to prevent that, each leader places a seal on themselves, limiting their power considerably but just enough that we can still fight proficiently.” I answered

“And how much power are you fools currently using right now?” asked Tyrus.

“10 percent of our full power,” answered Smog.

“BAHAHAHAHA I don’t believe you! You’re all bluffing I tell you…Bluffing! I bet even your full power could not stop me!”

“Is that what you believe Tyrus?” I asked him.

“Yesss. And now watch as I eliminate you wretched fools from this world,” raising his axe. Tyrus exclaimed,

“Arrows of Virtue!” A slew of bright orange arrows appeared and were approaching us at high speed. However, before the arrows made contact, they turned to dust. Soon after, Dark grey shadows covered in green energy came from multiple portals and wrapped themselves around the stunned leader.

“What happened?!” asked Tyrus as he tries to remove the shadows grappling around his thick neck.

“Chronomancy happened Paladin Rogue, thanks for the binding spell HoTS,” answered kors. He then quickly teleported and reappeared along side us. Another cloaked figure appeared behind Tyrus and dark shadows began crushing him causing the rogue leader to gasp for breath.

“Heroes of the Scape! kors! A pleasure seeing you both,” said Phrixus.

“The pleasure is all ours friend,”

“Well well, a puny little Chronomancer stopped my little attack and another wannabe Necro fool holds me back! Now then, how about THIS!” Tyrus broke through the restraining shadows, charged his bright yellow energy into a large ball of flame of sorts and aimed it right at us.

“Burning Purification!” the bright minature sun of mana hurled right at us at top speed.

“Well here we go again,” said UnderSoul. As we were all about to counter the attack, a golden wall of immense strength appeared out of nowhere disintegrating the spell into nothingness.

“Your foolishness ends now Tyrus,” four figures stepped out from the dust clouds that have appeared from the wall. As they came closer smiles appeared on all of our faces as we all recognized the four famed Generals of the Paladin Order.

“General Popinloopy, Flashbang, Battlesiege, White Knight. Aren’t you four supposed to be preparing for war?”

“Yes we were, until reports from our soldiers convinced us to deal with this matter first.” Answered Popinloopy.

“It was only a matter of time before Tyrus would pull out a stunt like this.” Added Flashbang

“Well then a little teeny weeny party of Necromancers and Paladins gather here to stop little old me? BAHAHAH more bodies to turn to dust then!” Tyrus brought his golden axe down to our vicinity as we all dodged the attack.

“Such a waste of my time and mana,” said White Knight as he drew out his sword and pointed it at Tyrus.

“Blinding spears!” A barrage of white spears appeared in front of The White Knight before launching themselves at Tyrus. The Paladin Rogue let out a roar of pain as the attack pierced his massive body. Flashbang and Battlesiege came charging in front of The White Knight yelling,

“Prison of Righteousness!” A prison cell of golden yellow and white burst through the ground entrapping Tyrus. Flashbang went behind the large man and shouted

“Cross of Justice!” A massive cross of bright blue fire burned Tyrus in and around his own prison cell. Popinloopy was the last to unsheathe his sword.

“This ends here Tyrus” Stabbing his weapon into the ground a bright portal of light appeared above the battleground.

“Paladin Skyblades!” 3 large swords descended to Tyrus and ensnared the battlefield in a light infused earth shattering blast.

We all let our shields down as we observed the scene unfolding before us.

“This battle isn’t over yet. Prepare yourselves,”
said battlesiege as he charged his mana.

“GAH! You damn Necro-weaklings and Pala-fools! This is far from over!!!! AAAAAAAHHHHH!” Tyrus with a yell of anger and pain emitted an overwhelming amount of energy.

“Tyrus look at me….You don’t have to do this!” I pleaded staring at the frustrated Paladin.

Casting his gaze into my eyes, the Zealot retorted,

“Yes, I must…….. I MUST!!!!!!”


- Change of Point of View -


***************

Raising his golden axe once more Muchiha prepared to teleport the newfound group. Tyrus brought his axe back down once more bellowing,

“HOLY MIGHT!” As the ground opened up and gave way due to the sheer force of the impending attack Muchiha finished the spell and the group found themselves transported away a good distance.When Muchiha was about to ask everyone if they were ready for an all out assault, he saw something odd. Tyrus’ Holy Might Attack missed, yet he was…
smiling. Menacingly. Tyrus quickly picked up the axe like it was as light as a feather and screamed,

“Holy Might: AXE MASSACRE!” Throwing it at a tremendous speed, the gilded rotating weapon was headed straight for us ready to deal a fatal blow. The NecroLegion General then watched as time slowed down..

literally…

“Time Mastery: Event Horizon” Kors’ technique created a black hole crackling with sky-blue lighting that engulfed the gigantic weapon and it vanished without a trace. Tyrus didn’t seem alarmed for he said,

“One axe down. 6 More to go,” As we all finally grasped at what he meant, Popinloopy, Flashbang, White Knight and Battlesiege took their swords and pointed them to the sky

“Paladins’ Prominence: Sacred Shield of Brilliance!” A tall gate of solid gold and white marble, adorned with carvings of legendary Paladins burst from the ground and stopped the second and third incoming Axes of Tyrus to the right side of the group. At the same time, Muchiha, Phrixus, UnderSoul, and Smog pointed their swords downwards and shouted,

“Necromancers’ Dominance: Necropolis Fiend Shield!” A Necropolis fiend of gigantic proportions rose from the shadows and carried a shield of black and silver marble with rubies and athemyst jewels adorning it. Thrusting the massive shield forward it blocked the extremely large forth and fifth golden weapons attacking them from their left side.

“Where are the last two axes?” inquired The White Knight.

“Above us!” Phrixus pointed upwards and there he was. With the final two axes in his hands Tyrus said,

“This is the end you fools” And with that he slammed the two gold tools of destruction upon the group, with an intense explosion of yellow fire and burning light piercing the skies and devastating the earth below.

**************

- End of Change of POV -


Collapsing on one knee on the ground of the newly formed large crater from his previous attack, the Paladin Rogue breathed out,

“Well that was fun. Crushing those maggots. Perhaps I should celebrate with a nice cold glass of –”

“Death,” two blades burst from Tyrus chest. One Gold with a white aura, the other blade Obsidan with a purple aura.



Chapter 6: The power of the two factions


“Ugh! NOOO! I killed you all! I SAW YOU ALL CRUSHED BENEATH MY AXES!! I….I -”

“I made you see what I wanted you to see Paladin Rogue. It was over the moment you looked directly into my eyes,” I informed Tyrus.

“NO but it was real…I felt it. I felt the flesh being ripped out of your bodies and bones faltering beneath me! It was real I tell you! IT WAS REAL !!!!!” said Tyrus coughing up some blood.

“And yet, it was only an illusion you foolish Zealot,” said UnderSoul.

“Muchiha’s prowness with optical illusions gave you the impression of us teleporting away, defending your multiple axe attacks, and you “crushing us” In reality Muchiha merely teleported us behind you. And we stayed behind you all this time” added Phrixus.

“We all watched as you were basically attacking thin air…quite humorous really,” said Popinloopy.

“B-b-b-b but my axes! I saw them colliding with your shields! My axes must be - ”

“Out into the sea. Muchiha made you think you were hitting anything at all Tyrus. The golden axes you’ve thrown are now on the outer shores of Lolosia.” flashbang replied.

“Damn you….weaklings the lot of you…..” Tyrus slowly stood up with his remaining two axes in his hands.

“Tyrus, you asked us if you could see our full power. We shall grant you that wish….but only for a moment,” UnderSoul nodded at Heroes of the Scape after he said those words.

The air burned and an earthquake shook the land as vast quantities of energy surged from HoTS’ body. A black and fear-inducing portal of monumental darkness blotted out the sun and torrents of bright green lightning streamed in all directions. A sinister sword shot out like a bullet out of this portal and crashed the vicinity. It landed between Tyrus and the slowly approaching Heroes of the Scape. Fear paralyzed Tyrus in his place as he could not fathom what is happening before him. Picking up the sword, HoTS murmured,

“Darkness Lord’s Revolt: Blade of Night” Heroes made a diagonal right uppercut slashing Tyrus point blank and causing catastrophic damage to the environment around us.

It took a full 2 minutes for the darkness to subside and for the dust and debris to settle down. Though I have witnessed this attack before the damage was a sight to behold. The ground of Tyrus’ estate has been upturned and doused in green fire with the resource buildings left in disarray. The mansion of Tyrus had all it’s windows blown out, with some walls collapsing. Most visible, was a colossal diagonal slash mark strewn across the entire building. Tyrus had his back resting against the crumbling mansion a good 100 metres (109 yards) away. His beaten body blown backwards due to the power. I could see a deep gashing wound with emerald green flames blazing from it.

“I hope that ended it. We have so much more preparations to attend t-”

“AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHH!!!!” Bright yellow and dark red energy emitted from where Tyrus was. In pain, coughing up absurd amounts of blood, and struggling in getting up once again, his glowing red “X” across his Rogue Paladin armor began to grow and spread throughout his body.

“I never thought I’d live my last moments like this, but I guess I’m just gonna take you maggots into the afterlife with me,” said the grinning bloody Tyrus. As we were all astonished at what is happening, Tyrus grabbed the two handles of what was once his gold glittering axes. The weapons began to repair themselves but this time, they took a dominant red color. The handles of the axes changed from silver to black. Tyrus pointed his two axes at us and uttered,

“Paladin Rogues’ Forbidden Technique: Final Light - Blood Execution,”


Chapter 7: Tyrus’ Demise


Tyrus gathered the soaring streams of red and yellow energy and focused it upon himself.
“This is the most powerful skill I have in my arsenal….join me in the afterlife Chronomancer, Pala-fools, and Necro-scum,”

“I can feel Tyrus’ energies fluctuating wildly and increasing at a rapid pace. I don’t think his body will be able to handle it all. What is going on?” asked Phrixus. Popinloopy shook his head replying,

“This technique is Tyrus’ trump card. It channels all his remaining energy and allows him to absorb mana from the surrounding atmosphere magnifying his power to new heights. The one and fatal drawback to this technique is that once Tyrus reaches a certain threshold of the obtained power, his body slowly starts to deteriorate until…”

“Until?”

“The accumulated energy will burst from Tyrus’ fragile body, decimating anything within 2.4 kilometres (1.5 miles),” added Battlesiege.

“What? But that’s basically one third of Lolosia!” exclaimed Heroes of the Scape.

“We have to prevent Tyrus from causing major wounds not only to us, but to the city of Lolosia,”

“I know Smog. We must stop this Pala-Rogue at all costs,” I replied

“We can do this,” said UnderSoul

“Y0L0!” We all stopped in our tracks as we turned to the source of this strange word.

“Y0L0? Flashbang whatever do you mean?”

“You only live once. Y0L0 I have another cool word it’s SWA-,”

“Alright flashbang that’s more than enough “cool words” for today,” said Popinloopy covering Flashbang’s mouth with his hand.

“Flashbang has been very crazy ever since he encountered that word in a conversation with a human from Terra,” said Battlesiege

(Author’s note: Just in case some readers might not know what Terra is, it’s the name the characters of the AQ Universe give for our world in real life.)

“NOW WHICH ONE OF YOU LITTLE WEAKLINGS SHALL I ATTACK FIRST?! AH PERHAPS THE SMALL ONE THAT SAID THAT STRANGE WORD!” Tyrus charged at flashbang causing all of us to dodge. Flashbang dived beneath the Pala-rogue coming behind him and pointed his right hand at Tyrus’ back and fired a volley of light energy spheres, causing the Pala-rogue to stagger forward. She Ratchet took advantage of this and shouted,

“Typhoon of Darkness!” Large black colored gusts of howling wind ripped through the battlefield causing Tyrus to lose his footing and balance ever so slightly. In a fit of rage Tyrus quickly took a certain stance and bellowed,

“Strike of the Pure: Blades of Zealotry!” Multiple Red and Gold spinning energy swords one-half the size of Tyrus appeared in front of him before launching in every single direction. The fighters dodged the omni-directional assault. Phrixus and Heroes of the Scape moved at an incredible speed and began the counter-attack. Phrixus swung his blade repeatedly at the Pala-rogue keeping him on the Defensive. HoTS attempted to disarm Tyrus in between Phrixus attacks. Popinloopy appeared above the trio, pointed his index finger at Tyrus and uttered,

“Laser Light,” An incredibly focused beam of light shot from Popinloopy’s finger and burned through Tyrus’ chest. The Pala-rogue screamed in pain, dropping one of his axes and clutched his chest. UnderSoul and I took advantage of this opportunity and we charged towards the screaming Zealot. I raised my left arm and muttered

“Necrotic Sovereignty: Assault of Shadows!” The battlefield was engulfed in darkness once more. Multiple sword strikes, monster claw slashes, and howls could be heard within the blackness. UnderSoul and I moved back just as quickly as we charged in. Drops of blood dripped out of our blades. Deep bleeding wounds suddenly appeared on Tyrus’ armor and body causing him to collapse on his right knee. Breathing heavily, the Pala-rogue questioned,

“IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT WEAKLINGS?! YOU CALL THAT A COUNTERATTACK. NO WONDER YOU’RE ALL SO PATHETI-OOOMMPH” The ground beneath Tyrus made way for a massive black energy beam infused with red lightning that sent him high into the sky.

“Arrogance will get you nowhere Paladin Rogue!” I said as I pulled my sword from the ground that was used to power the recent attack. Magical Brihaldo wings sprouted from UnderSoul’s back and propelled the NecroLegion General upwards at a blinding speed until he was above Tyrus himself. I pointed my blade upwards towards the zealot and exclaimed,

“Undead Archers: Arrow Storm!” A multitude of arrows pierced the air as the relentless assault came in every direction hitting their mark. Tyrus was still going up and UnderSoul was charging his energy.

“This ends here!” UnderSoul pointed the tip of his sword downwards to Tyrus.

“Darkness Lord’s Judgement: Edge of Desolation” A blackbird formed instantaneously in front of UnderSoul before crashing itself into Tyrus. The Paladin Rogue started his descent into the earth below from his high altitude overwhelmed by UnderSoul’s powerful technique. Popinloopy, The White Knight, Flashbang, and BattleSiege appeared above the falling large man. They put their left hands in a circle and pressed it against Tyrus. Swirling energies of yellow, gold, white, and silver encircled the group. All four Paladin Generals uttered,

“Light Lord’s Punishment: Shattering Sphere!” A ball of rotating light engulfed the group of Paladin Generals and Tyrus. Just then, the sun like sphere started descending downwards at an even greater velocity with the four Paladins separating themselves away from the falling Pala-rogue. Faster and faster the bright sphere mixed with the black bird of energy fell until it reached terminal velocity, erupting in a spiralling large dome of Light and Darkness. As the energies dissipated into the bright blue sky, we all made our way to the center of the blast area. Tyrus seemed melded into the scorching earth looking more battered and bruised than ever before. He summoned another two blood axes and used them for support in helping him get up. Weary and sluggishly lifting one of his final two axes, Tyrus blurted,

“Take this YOU INFIDELS…HOLY LIGHT!!!” We all stood by ready to defend ourselves when after a few seconds, nothing happened.

“WHAT IS THIS?! WHY ISN’T THE SPELL WORKING?! WHERE IS MY MAGIC?!” bellowed Tyrus.

“You have been using your powers for mass destruction of both Paladins, Undead, and Necromancers alike. In your impure quest for “purity” you have lost the values of our Order and distanced yourself from what you should have stood for. The Lady of Light has deemed you unworthy of wielding her element and with our Shattering Sphere, we have stripped you of the ability to perform all light-based and Paladin-based techniques.” Popinloopy replied as his golden yellow aura of power emanated from him.

“Damn you Paladins! You’re supposed to be WITH ME not against me!”

“And mindlessly slay anyone that stands in our war in of path of “purging” of yours? Leave us out of it!” Flashbang said as we all got into our battle stances.

“THEN YOU SHALL DIE WITH YOUR SCUM FRIENDS!” Tyrus screamed and roared to the sky. Blood red energy erupted from every cut and wound in his tattered body into the air creating a pillar of bright red energy.

“Popinloopy, the Pala-rogue’s life essence seems to be fading away,”

“Good observation UnderSoul. Tyrus has nothing to lose. Without the Lady of Light’s blessing that supplements his connection to the Elemental Light Realm as well as his Paladin powers, Tyrus has no choice but to create and utilize a new source for his techniques. As of this point, all attacks used by Tyrus will draw on his blood and life essence,” explained Popinloopy as Tyrus finished

“Here he comes,” Kors raised his staff

“Time Mastery: Chrono shards of Distortion!” Various shards of turquoise energy formed and surrounded the empowered Tyrus.

“I’ve locked him in place but I can only do so for a few seconds. GO now!” The Palapact leaders dashed forward with sealing charms around their weapons.

“Seal of the Heavens: Brilliant Prism!” A surge of rainbow colored energy swirled once again around Tyrus, but before the spell finished, he countered by releasing more of his blood red energy.

“We need to contain that potential explosion,” Phrixus threw his sword towards the Pala-rogue. When Phrixus’ blade went just behind Tyrus, the NecroLegion Commander teleported to where the blade was, grabbed it and began his personal assault. Seeing Tyrus busy with Phrixus, Smog, She Ratchet, Heroes of the Scape, UnderSoul and I began a sealing spell of our own.

“Tyrus is gonna blow apart any minute now, I can feel it. But since the Paladins have removed his access to his Light powers, we must try and eliminate the other sources of his suicide attack.”

“Well said UnderSoul. My fellow comrades, we must make haste. She Ratchet, Heroes of the Scape, Smog you three start sealing Tyrus’ mana supplies. UnderSoul and I shall go for his life force.”

“Muchiha, are you sure you and UnderSoul can handle that much lifeforce?” UnderSoul and I looked at each other for a brief moment and we both smiled.

“It’s a long story but let’s just say that our Sparing sessions with Safiria improved our understanding of the movement of life-energy,” replied UnderSoul. A couple minutes later, we were all ready for the extraction spells thanks to the diversions of the PalaPact Generals along with our talented swordsman Phrixus.

“Everyone NOW!” bellowed UnderSoul. Two blue and yellow portals appeared above and below Tyrus. She Ratchet, Heroes of the Scape, and Smog put their right hands to the ground shouting,

“Portal of the Necropolis: Mana Deprivation!” The two portals shined brightly and hundreds of miniature spheres of dull gold and sapphire energy erupted from the monstrous body of the Pala-rogue. These spheres then began swirling violently around him until they exited towards the portal above or below him. As the first extraction spell vanished, so too did Tyrus’ mana which sent him collapsing on both knees.

“Reaper Summoning!” A flash of yellow light and another portal with the symbols of the 8 Elements of Lore shone high and bright above the battlefield. As the Reaper descended to where UnderSoul and I stood he said,

“So, you both finally decided to cash in one of your many favors. A soul extraction huh? A very interesting request especially from the like of you Necros.”

“Well reaper, we are no ordinary Necromancers. Now, will you assist us?”

“Does it look like I have a choice?”

“No it does not, and without further ado, let’s begin.”
UnderSoul and I, made the necessary hand seals while the reaper began to stretch out his bony hand. A black portal with green, purple, and red lightning surging around it formed before Tyrus’ upper chest. Suddenly, an enlarged, spirit version of the Reapers hand emerged out of the portal and inserted itself into the body of the Pala-rogue. After a few moments, the hand came back pulling a spirit look alike of Tyrus, slowly dragging it out of his body. The zealot screamed in frustration as he attempted to resist the technique.

“It’s no use Pala-rogue. This is the end. REAPER DEATH SEAL! A small dark
vortex appeared in the palm of the large spiritual hand of the reaper and sucked out Tyrus’ remaining life-force. Once the technique was complete, the Reapers body glowed bright purple, dispersing his being into the air saying,

“It is done. Beware Chosens of Lore, the Pala-rogue’s body is still planning to execute it’s final technique.”

“UnderSoul you gotta hand it to the guy. He forced us to use this technique. The last time we ever had to use one of our legendary techniques was…”

“I know Muchiha. It’s been quite some time since I had to use something of that magnitude to defeat an opponent,”

As we all witnessed Tyrus collapsing to the ground for the last time he uttered,

“Enjoy the afterlife with me you fools.” His body started to glow a bright crimson red sending a gigantic red and yellow pillar of energy into the sky with gold lightning surrounding the vicinity.

“Tyrus’ body is gonna detonate itself. We have to move NOW!” yelled Flashbang.

“We don’t have enough mana to use any other techniques. Releasing our full powers won’t do any good since our combined surge of energy would rival that of a large scale explosion. We’ve destroyed enough of this Island already.”

“We may not be able to escape the blast range in time, but we can attempt to weaken the overall blast. Kors, what say you?”

“I can install a dome shaped Time Portal covering Tyrus’ body. This time portal shall “age” the energy causing some to disperse in the air decreasing it’s overall power.”

“The Palapact Generals shall channel as much holy energy within this area and reduce the blast range significantly,” said Popinloopy.

“Then we NecroLegion leaders can channel our remaining mana towards redirecting the direction of the blast coming our way,” added Phrixus.

“Explosion t-minus 60 seconds, let’s do this!” exclaimed UnderSoul.

“Time Portal Suppression!” Tyrus’ body glowed brighter as Kors Time Portal engulfed him completely.

“Divine Pillar!” The Paladins’ mass amounts yellow and white energy formed into a transparent gold and silver obelisk with ancient holy markings engraved in it. It formed on top of Kors’ Time Portal Dome.

“This is it. Tyrus is gonna blow! Now my Necro-Comrades!” The NecroLegion generals stretched their left arms to the sky, yelling

“Necropolis Dominion: Extinction by Darkness!” Individual columns of rising, swirling black and purple energy emanated from each Necro General. These columns grew in size immensely. They were then surrounded by miniature black holes concentrating mostly on Tyrus’ corpse.

Once the last skill was complete, the Paladins, Necromancers, along with kors, sprinted towards the Pala-Rogues destroyed mansion. A few seconds later, A shockwave shook the earth and air, sending a stream of dark red energy into the sky.


Chapter 8: Temporary Farewells

A few moments after the explosion dissipated into nothingness Popinloopy said,

“I can’t sense Tyrus’ energy remnants anymore,”

“Nor do I. It is done,” replied Phrixus.

“It could have ended differently for Tyrus,” said Flashbang.

“I wish we could stay and catch up a bit longer, but we must be off. With preparations to finish we have so much to do, with so little time,” said Popinloopy.

“Of course. Until we meet again, on behalf of the NecroLegion, I bid you all a temporary farewell,”

“Likewise Muchiha. See you on the battlefield,” replied The White Knight and kors.


************************


As the Necro-Generals sailed away in their massive vessel, they reflected on the recent events. UnderSoul spoke up.

“This war, I believe there is something more to it. The Mantle of the Necromancers has kept very quiet in the matter right after convincing many of our kind to fight.”

“All were doing is acting upon what most of the Paladin Order instigated. We will fight to defend UnderSoul. There are many undead villages to defend, Paladin heretics to silence, and countless soldiers coming to end this great faction we are all apart of. I only pray that our efforts will prove to be enough.”

“Let’s hope so Muchiha. Well, you all know what the battle plans are gentlemen. I trust that we are all aware of the meeting place once our tasks are complete?”

“Of course,” we all replied to Phrixus.

“Well then, I shall be off. Long Un-Live the NecroLegion!” proclaimed Phrixus as he vanished into dark clouds dispersing into the setting sun and off towards his destination.

I watched as the famed leaders of the NecroLegion gathered their energies and teleported away through their methods. When I was the last leader left on the aquatic vessel, I sent for my right hand man, Commander Arkeos. When he arrived, I gave him a list of special instructions. When I finished explaining my special request, my astonished Commander questioned,

“But sire! What you ask is..is..,”

“Nothing you cannot handle. I trust you Arkeos. I have faith in you. Will you intend to keep that promise?”

“With all my heart sire,”

“There was a reason why I made you my right hand man. There is nothing you cannot do my old friend if you put your mind to it. You are dismissed”


He bowed his head and went back downstairs to his office. Muchiha pondered as he observed the still ocean waters.
“Whatever this War holds, I must not let the most Zealot of the Paladins have their way with the innocent. Be it Undead, Necromancers, humans.”


And the battle commenced. The Paladins, armed with their Holy items clashed with the powerful Necromancers with their dominion over their renowned Dark Arts. Minutes to hours, hours to days, days to weeks. Darkness and Light energies claimed the battlefield as wave after wave of armed soldiers of Light and legions of undead and Necromancers alike stormed on in a seemingly unending clash of power.

But they weren’t the only ones fighting.

Mercenaries, Warriors of every discipline, Wizards of all elements, Battlemages, and even the legendary Chronomancer, kors himself threw themselves in the heat of battle whether by their decision or by someone else’s. Paladin Strongholds were torn down. Necromancer fortresses caved in.

Muchiha participated in this ongoing event sometimes going days and nights without adequate rest. Along the way, he, along with rest of the NecroLegion were able to save countless Undead Villages, Necromancer hideouts, all the while defeating Paladins that wanted nothing more than to exterminate their kind.

With conflicts resolving themselves through the means of War, strange occurrences began to happen simultaneously.

An odd sighting of Dark clouds emitting strange lighting clustered above the main battlefields. What purpose and reason behind their appearance remains to be seen.


**********************************************************************


Chapter 9: The Consequences of Blinded Ideals


Muchiha trudged through the battered Undead Village, engulfed in fire, smoke, and dust. The sounds of weapons clashing and spells releasing their devastation ceased to a minimum.

“This area is secure sire!” informed Commander Tenebrus.

“Very well Commander. Tell your units to fall back. I’ll take things from here.”

“Yes sire,” And with that he hurried off to carry out his instructions.

Muchiha continued walking towards the entrance of the village when I heard a deafening scream.

“Let go! Let go of my child! Please Holy Warrior let my baby go! I’ll do anything! I have gold, jewellery! Take it and leave us in peace! I beg of you!” Muchiha increased his speed and witnessed a terrible sight.

Bodies of Undead soldiers, Necromancers, and Paladin soldiers littered the ground.

But that wasn’t what got his attention the most.

An Undead woman and husband standing strong amongst a group of a dozen Paladin soldiers. And as he looked closer, he could see that the leader of this little group of Paladins carried an Undead baby, wrapped in a dusty grey cloth. The Paladin leader of this small infantry raised his Axe and answered,

“You abominations make me sick! No amount of jewels or gold can stop me from fulfilling my duty of ridding this world of you kind! On second thought, I’ll loot whatever possessions you have once I have finished dealing with you lot! Yes, I think that’s exactly what I’ll do BAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH!” As the Paladin Captain brought his axe down much to the dismay of the Undead parents, his weapon suddenly met another. The figure wore a battletorn DoomKnight Armor shrouded in a dark black cloak. The blade itself resembled that of Sepulchure’s but it was shaped differently, and radiated immense power.

“Who-WHO ARE YOU?!”

Muchiha grinned through the concealing clothing.

“Your worst nightmare. Give the child back to this couple and no one gets hurt.”

“Bah! You Necromancers think you can boss me around! I guess I’ll have to slay you first before I- ugh!” The Paladin Captain fell to his knees as Muchiha ran his blade through his body. Picking the Undead child gently and returned it to his parents.

“Thank you kind sir, how will we ever repay you?”

“You don’t. Go in peace, and leave this wretched place. Take all the gold and jewels you have in your possession and find one of my men. They will relocate you to a place where all the other Undead refugees are gathering. Take care.”

Turning to face the Paladin Captain and his soldiers once more, Muchiha said,

“I would have offered to negotiate, but you wanted to end with violence. Repent for your actions and leave this village.”

“You think you can order me around?! I am a Paladin Captain! Die Necro-scum!” The bleeding Paladin Captain charged at me.

“I tried offering you a second chance. So be it.” Muchiha dashed forward at a remarkable speed before giving three quick cuts, killing him.

“Captain NO!” one of his soldiers yelled.

“Let me ask you something Paladins. Do you all believe that an Undead is nothing more than an abomination? Below human? One that must be exterminated?"

“Yes absolutely, that’s what are orders are!” one of them answered

“But are those orders the ideals you believe in?”

“Yes!” Another answered.

“Very well. Then let’s put your ideals to the test and see if you can uphold the orders you were given,” Muchiha pointed his right index finger to the deceased Paladin Captain.

“Rise Paladin Captain!” The dead body sprung to life as he claimed his blade and turned to face his former soldiers. All 11 men were stunned and cowered in fear at the miraculous technique that was before them.

“If what you say is true Paladins, then you should have no problem slaying this “abomination” of an Undead. Am I right?” Muchiha questioned.

“You insolent wretched Necromancer! How dare you reanimate our Captain! DIE!” 10 of the 11 Paladin soldiers sprinted towards me, unsheathing their blades.

“Fools! the lot of you!” Muchiha controlled the Undead Paladin Captain with incredible precision cutting down three Paladins with three fatal stikes to their vital points. The remaining 7 of the 10 surrounded their former Captain.

“You’re outmatched Necromancer! It’s 7 against 2! You can’t win!”

“Just who do you think you’re talking to Paladin?”

Channeling a vast amount of mana, Muchiha transferred it to his new Undead soldier. The battleground shook as the energies released filled the air. The Undead Paladin Captain grew in size as Muchiha spoke.

“I can do a variety of things when I am able to utilize Undead. Normally, I fight with a select few of Undead that have given me permission to use their bodies. However, the extremity of this War drained me of energy fighting day and night so I do not have the luxury of having them with me at the moment.” Once the Undead Paladin stopped growing he was twenty times his original size. The seven Paladins quivered in terror but they screamed at the masterful NecroLegion General,

“You must die Necromancer! You are nothing but a disease. We shall cleanse you and our former Captain! Here we come!” they charged at me in one final attempt to take my life.

“Unholy Might!” The Undead Captain brought his sword, smothered in Darkness energy, down blasting the earth and overwhelming the seven Paladins as their bodies disintegrated into nothingness. A black dome of mana blanketed the strike zone. When the dust settled, it showed seven unconscious bodies covered in black flames of dark mana.

The lone, small Paladin soldier who refused to attack stepped forward making Muchiha question him,

“Why did you refuse to attack me? Well in this case your former Paladin Captain? Do you not see me as Undead scum? Do you see your Captain as a being that is unworthy to exist as a deceased individual brought back to un-life?”

“I refused to attack you because…it is against my principles and morals. Although I was trained to defeat and slay undead beings, I was one of a handful of Paladins that sought peace instead of violence to resolve conflicts between humans and undead alike. But my comrades refused to listen to me. They threatened to kill my family if I continued to protect the Undead that did no wrong. And when I utilized my “sense Evil” skill on you… I could detect no Evil within you. Only goodness. If I had the power and strength to save every single innocent Undead on Lore then I would. Everyone deserves a second chance. Even people like my Captain.” Pleased with his answer, Muchiha continued.

“You sound very young, yet wiser than most people from your Order. Tell me your name young one.”

“Alexander, but you people call me Alex,”

“Well Alex, you give me hope,”
Muchiha replied smiling.

“Hope sir?”

“Yes lad, you give me hope. That I would cross paths with Paladins such as yourself that aren’t single-minded, bent on the destruction of all things undead, Necromancer related, and others that do no harm to the rest of Lore. A warrior and protector of all things good. Someone that does not judge based on appearances, and strives to understand the unknown rather than fight it without question.”

“I try, General Muchiha,”

“Ah, so you know who I am?”

“Almost everyone in the Paladin Order knows about the NecroLegion. There is quite a bounty on your heads. Millions of gold would be rewarded should one of the leaders be captured.”

“And do you intend to capture me lad?”

“No. Though the money would help myself and my family, I would never betray a person that has morally good intentions to better this world,”
replied Alex.

“I wish the Paladin Order were led by people like you Alex. Now, what are you planning to do next?”

“Well, I am utterly disgusted and have had it with the orders I have been given. It’s time I put a stop to all this madness. I shall release myself from this faction and truly fight for what is right!”
Muchiha’s smile widened at the young boy’s comment.

“Young Paladin, before you go on your way take this with you.” Muchiha took out a small pouch containing a large jewel and a scroll. Handing it over to the boy, Muchiha explained,

“In this pouch contains the Diamond of the Body and the Deed to one of my previous Cottage Estates on the outskirts of Greenguard Forest. The Diamond of the Body is very sought after since it can only be found in the depths of Dragon Claw Island. A small pendant containing a shard is worth a small fortune in itself. That particular size of this jewel can sell for over one hundred million gold.” Seeing Alex bewildered at the staggering amount, I continued,

“That Cottage Estate in Greenguard Forest has been doing nothing but collecting dust. However, it’s value has slowly gone up over the years. You can sell it to claim a net worth of Z-Tokens and, just like your gold, you may spend it however you like. I trust that you will make the right decisions. I’m sure your family will be happy to hear this good news from you!”

Alex was in tears, not knowing what to say.

“How can I ever repay you?”

“You already have. I see the potential in you Alex. Though we may belong to different factions, our ideals and goals are just the same. I can see a little bit of myself in you. I can’t wait to see how you will change the world of Lore. What I do know is that it will be for the better.”

“I promise General, I won’t let you down!” Alex smiled as he ran back the way he came from, smiling brightly as he paced with a newfound confidence.

“You better not lad or I’m gonna have to haunt you for the rest of your days!” Muchiha called out laughing. As he slowly turned to continue his journey towards his destination, a figure, clothed in Shining golden armor, with a matching cape stood in his way.

“Well now NecroLegion General, that was a cute gesture. Running out of undead soldiers to fight with so you start recruiting from our own ranks?”

Muchiha stepped closer to the source of the voice. When Muchiha stopped in his tracks he got into his battlestance. The Paladin that was known for mercilessly slaughtering thousands of undead and Necromancers alike was grinning ear to ear. This was a fight predestined for these two powerful individuals of the renowned factions. Unsheathing his Father’s sword, Muchiha uttered,

“Long time no see…..Zealot,”

“Let’s see how long it will take for me to cleanse you Necromancer,”

“Not happening Heretic!” The two figures charged at one another, beginning a battle that would three days and two nights.


Chapter 10: The NecroLegion General and The Zealot of the Paladin Order


By late morning on the third day of battle, both Muchiha and Eschaton Thunder were nearing their limit. Mass destruction lay in their wake. Titanic craters dented the ground beneath their feet. The mountains surrounding the war grounds, pulverized by the sheer force of Eschaton’s and Muchiha’s attacks collapsed as a result.

“You done yet, Heretic?!” panted Muchiha.

“Hah! In your dreams Necromancer!” panted Eschaton. The Paladin charged forward and swung his sword at the Muchiha. Muchiha blocked the blade with ease and blasted Eschaton with a bolt of black energy, sending the heretic crashing towards a fixated wall. Eschaton sent streams of light beams at the Necromancer in quick succession, forcing Muchiha to take a few steps back while he parried the light spell. When Muchiha defended the attack successfully, he looked around for his opponent. Looking above, he found the Paladin ready to slam his sword down to the ground dodging in advance. Muchiha pointed his sword to Eschaton and bellowed,

“Swords of the Necropolis!” A multitude of dark transparent blades appeared around Muchiha before launching themselves at Eschaton Thunder. While Eschaton was defending the unending stream energy blades, Muchiha clapped both hands together, slammed them into the ground and said,

“This is the end for you Zealot. Darkness Lord’s Spell of Cataclysmic Destruction: Void Coffin!” A portal of shadows appeared beneath the unknowing Paladin. Large bony hands then came out of the portal and started to squeeze the surprised Eschaton, causing him to scream,

“NO! ugh! I can’t die yet! I must fulfill my mission! I must cleanse the land of the cancer that is all things Undead and Necromancer! I can’t be defeated by some Cancer! I AAAAAHHHH!” The massive hands held Eschaton in place squeezing him ever so harder.

“Look me in the eyes Zealot,” Eschaton’s eyes met mine and I spoke,

“Your “cleansing mission” caused the death of many innocent victims. This ends here, Heretic.” An open coffin of concentrated mana, obsidian, silver, rubies, and bone rose from the portal and engulfed the Paladin. Once the coffin was closed, Muchiha continued,

“Enjoy the afterlife permanently my Arch-nemesis,” The coffin was then dragged into the portal by the skeletal hands.

“Goodbye Paladin.” The portal began to glow brightly and released a dome of white energy, wreaking havoc on the battleground once more.

As Muchiha gathered his strength to stand back up, he smiled a gentle smile.

“Finally, it’s over. I can rest knowing Eschaton…”

“Is gonna finally cleanse a big Cancer from Lore,” replied Eschaton as he drove his sword through Muchiha’s chest.


Chapter 11: The Necromancer’s demise.

The stunned Muchiha fell to his knees, grasping the sword, and yells,

“But..how? How could you have survived that last attack?!!!!”

“I resurrected myself at the last minute, giving me enough power to escape Death’s realm. It’s time for your cleansing Muchiha,” A shining sphere of golden yellow fire appeared in the hands of Eschaton.

“I promise you, your death will benefit Lore immensely,” Eschaton then pointed his spell directly at Muchiha, channelling the ball of gold fire into a massive river of Light, hitting the Necromancer square in the chest. Muchiha collapsed to the ground, ignited with the burning flames. With his last breaths, Muchiha muttered,

“Ressurection…I should have known. I have heard it was nothing but a myth.”

“Not quite a myth my Cancerous Necromancer. Though that skill is pretty cool, I won’t be able to use it for a long time,” answered Eschaton.

“And those are the exact words I’ve been waiting to hear, Zealot” As Eschaton Thunder turned toward the source of the voice, two blades embedded themselves into his body.


Chapter 12: Muchiha’s well-kept secret.

It was now Eschaton Thunder’s turn to fall to his knees after having two blades of bone and refined Obsidan stabbed into two fatal spots on his body. The person responsible for the surprise attack was shrouded in a dark cloak that hid a strong suit of armor. In fact, on Eschaton’s closer inspection, the stranger looked exactly like Muchiha. The only difference was that this stranger was wearing a white mask with red markings covering his face.

“WHO ARE YOU?!” bellowed Eschaton. “SHOW YOURSELF COWARD!” The cloak figure erupted in dark, hysterical laughter.

“FOOL HOW DARE YOU LAUGH ME! THE GREAT ESCHATON THUNDER! I WOULD CLEANSE YOU ON THE SPOT IF I WEREN’T CRITICALLY WOUNDED!” It only caused the stranger to laugh even harder.

“Oh Zealot, you are the fool, not I. In fact, I was hoping you would use your “Resurrection” skill sooner so I could finish you off. Once you’ve resurrected yourself, I knew for certain that your other methods of healing will be substantially weakened momentarily, allowing me to end this fight.” The stranger took off the mask, letting it drop to the ground. The Paladin was shocked beyond words.

“NO! This can’t be! You should be almost dead! I cleansed you with my own hands! WHAT WITCHCRAFT IS THIS?!”

“Optical Illusions, if you would classify that as being “WitchCraft” my dear Zealot,”

“BUT, BUT I….,” Realisation suddenly appeared on Eschaton’s face.

“That time…when you told me to look in your eyes,”

“Correct Paladin, that’s when I cast my optical illusion on you,”

“But, that coffin spell of yours was that..”

“Real? Very much so Paladin. I needed to put you in a situation in which you would finally use that Resurrection skill. The illusion I wanted you to focus on was something else,” he pointed towards the burning figure Eschaton attacked. Once the flames subsided, the figure revealed itself to be the body of the “Paladin Captain” Muchiha had fought earlier.

“NOOOOOOO! What have I done?! How could I have been so foolish!”

“You’ve “cleansed” one of your own. How does that make you feel Zealot?”

“A bit better actually. If I were to be killed and turned Undead I would certainly hope someone would cleanse me,”

“Please Eschaton. Let’s end this madness. End this cleansing mission of yours for good,”

“No can do Muchiha. There are far too many Undead and Necromancer abominations and far too few individuals that can cleanse them from this world. I will not rest until every last one of you sees the light! I must…I MUST!” Eschaton ripped the two swords that pierced his body, showing massive wounds that were healing ever so slowly. He took up his sword once more and ran at Muchiha shouting,

“Holy Might!” The Paladin grew to ten times his original size, striking his sword down at Muchiha. But this time, Muchiha didn’t move. A shield of golden yellow energy with a shining red and white cross sheltered the Necromancer. The empowered strike of the Paladin could not reach his adversary, with the shield sending the attack right back at him. Getting on his feet, Eschaton asked,

“That is…the shield of the Light Lord’s Clerics. Where did you learn that spell? A better question, how are you able to even perform it?! Only the highest ranked members of the Paladin Order know about it! Even then, only a handful has ever been known to use it to its full potential. Necromancer, tell me!”

“Eschaton, do you know someone that goes by the name of Elizabeth the Shining?”

“Yes Necromancer, I believe her name rings a bell. She is a renowned mage that specializes in Healing magic. The Paladin Order sought to have her talents and skills put to use for us. However, she wanted to travel the world and explore the World of Lore. So after three faithful years of service, the Paladin Order released her. “Elizabeth the Shining” was what we called her while she was in the Paladin Order. Wait, how do you know this? You’re not in the Paladin Order. No one except Paladins knew that nickname.”

“Correct again Zealot. Elizabeth the Shining used to work for your Organization. And she is my mother.” As Muchiha finished that sentence, Eschaton could not seem to gather himself as he started hyperventilating.

“Impossible! You ?! The son of a former Paladin Cleric?! No wonder you were able to deflect and dodge my attacks easier than my previous opponents! I felt that my healing was weaker than normal when fighting you,”

“Yes Zealot. Healing magic, like any other magic can be tampered with such as strengthening it and weakening it,” Muchiha answered.

“I see, you have proven yourself to be more Cancerous than I thought. I cannot let you continue to be in this world any longer Necromancer!” Eschaton lifted his sword to the sky and exclaimed,

“HOLY LIGHT!” the Paladin’s blade shone brightly, but abruptly stopped glowing. After a few moments of nothing happening, Eschaton shook his blade,

“Why isn’t the spell working?!” Muchiha examined the crackling sky above. Rainbow colored electricity was surging within them. The NecroLegion leader then attempted to re-animate the deceased Paladin Captain, only to have his remains fall to the ground.

“My Necromancy is getting weaker. In fact, I believe it’s starting to disappear,”

“It matters not Necromancer, I will cleanse you! With or without my Paladin powers!”

The heretic lunged at Muchiha, which the NecroLegion General easily countered. While the two were clashing swords, Eschaton noticed that Muchiha’s strange blade seemed more powerful now.

“I know what you’re thinking Zealot. My blade as well as my sword strikes happens to be more powerful. It’s not. Your blade has gone weaker,”

“But that doesn’t make sense, that blade of yours is powered by your Necromancer magic, why hasn’t your blade weakened as well?!”

“Because my blade is not fuelled by Necromancer magic. It is powered by my mana and with the Elemental spirits of the Darkness realm. These spirits help enhance my Necromancy, but they are separate from it altogether. This battle must come to its conclusion Eschaton, I need to investigate the sudden removal of power from the Paladins and Necromancers. And this storm might have something to do with it.” Muchiha stabbed his sword into the ground and said,

“Normally I wouldn’t use this attack, because I haven’t mastered it completely. But my friends need me and I must hurry,” The ground beneath them glowed Amethyst purple.

“DoomKnights’ Reckoning: Void Strike!” black and purple energy erupted from the glowing ground and shot into the stormy sky. A dark, black pillar of massive energy a mile in width covered the already pulverized battlefield, sending wave after wave of sheer energy. As the last remnants of the attack faded away to the sky, most of the area turned into a sea of black flames. Muchiha picked up his sword and walked over to where the fatally wounded Eschaton was. The Paladin’s armour was burnt, and his injuries were grave. After a few moments of silent observation, Muchiha walked past him, causing Eschaton to speak,

“Kill me. Finish what you started Necromancer,” Muchiha turned around and faced his nemesis once more.

“That’s not up to me to decide your fate Zealot. Your powers have been taken away from you. Not just yours, but the entire Paladin Order. I have been ordered to leave you be. Farewell for now, my Arch nemesis,”

“Muchiha wait! Who ordered you to spare me?!”

“Two very important people. Ones that have been watching your every move from the beginning,”
and with that, Muchiha hurried towards his allies on the other main battlefield.


Chapter 13: Aftermath

Once Muchiha reached the main battlefield, he helped those soldiers on the Necromancers’ side that were injured. The dead were given proper funerals and buried immediately. He eventually met up with the other leaders of the NecroLegion, looking a little worse for wear. They were all deprived of energy and sleep, but in any case held one last meeting. UnderSoul began,


“As you all know, these recent turn of events have resulted in our powers as well as our adversaries’ powers to cease working. One of my contacts has informed me that the Paladin Order has been banished by the Lady of Light.”

“What are we to do now that our Necromancy can't be used?” inquired Smog.

“We move on Smog. There is nothing we can do at the moment now that the ley-lines have been destroyed,” answered Phrixus.

“Until we can find a new power source to use Necromancy, then our faction cannot continue to practice this art,” added darksampson.

“We did all we could. Collectively, the NecroLegion has saved over nine hundred Undead and Necromancer villages and towns from the wrath of the Paladin Order, along with countless other lives,” After a moment of silence, UnderSoul spoke again.

“I, along with Muchiha and Phrixus propose the temporary disbandment of the NecroLegion,” the rest of the Necro Commanders and High-Captains looked stunned.


“Disband?!”

“What?! Why?”

“You all have every right to be angry. I know that this organization means so much to all of you. With the Paladins powerless and confused in their wake, our purpose of defending those of our kind who need us has been momentarily fulfilled. One day, we will find another power source. Until that time comes, we shall go about our own lives. Once Necromancy and the Paladins’ abilities comes back, so too will the NecroLegion.”

“I believe your right Muchiha. I’ve always wanted to do some travelling after this War was over,” said She Ratchet.

“Same here,” said Smog

“And so you should. Go out and see the world, for there is so much of it to explore. Train in a new fighting discipline. Learn new skills, spells, anything really. For when we meet again, we shall be stronger and wiser than we are now. Just because we’ve lost a power source to practice Necromancy doesn’t mean we can’t find other ways to better ourselves.”

“I second what Muchiha said,”
added Phrixus.

“Everyone, hands in,” commanded UnderSoul. The mighty leaders of the elite faction gathered around in a circle. They each put their right hand in the center. A powerful glow encapsulated them..

“It has been an absolute honour and a privilege fighting alongside each and every one of you. I will always remember this group. We have had our share of petty squabbles and fights, though the good times never seemed to stop. No matter where we are and what life holds in store for us, always know that we are here for each other.” Unsheathing their blades in front of their comrades UnderSoul, Muchiha, and Phrixus exclaimed,

“LONG UNLIVE THE NECROLEGION!” A chorus of praise answered back as the rest drew their swords and pointed them upwards,

“LONG UNLIVE THE NECROLEGION!”


************************************************************************


- (Fast forward one year after the events of the Necromancer vs Paladins War) -


I looked out at the scenery before me. I smiled as memories came crowding back in my head.


*Flashback*

“Commander Arkeos, these are the instructions I am to give to you:

Once this war is over, whether the Paladins win or not, you shall be deemed the official Director of recruitment and reconnaissance for the NecroLegion.”

“What am I to do sire?”

“After this war, have any of the surviving soldiers and new recruits trained by the likes of Wallo and Shii in every style of physical combat. Once the soldiers have shown promise, they are to be tutored by the best mages in Deren on offensive and defensive spells.”

“May I ask what the reasons behind this are sire?”

“We need to be ready for any post-war attacks instigated by the Paladins. Whatever happens Arkeos, there will be Undead and Necromancer alike that will need safety and protection. That is why any capable soldier on our side after the war can undergo this training not only to protect themselves, but their friends, families, and ones of others too.”

“What a brilliant idea sire. Is there anything else?”

“Yes Arkeos, just one more thing. A favour if you will. Though I am a General of the NecroLegion, I am not invincible. I desire to learn more about my parents and the powers instilled within me I have only awakened recently. In order for me to do that I need to relinquish my position as General once this war reaches its conclusion.”

“Who shall take your place sire? You are instrumental to this faction! Who could it possibly be?”

“The same person I have always admired to this day. You Arkeos.”

“ME?! Leader of the great NecroLegion,”

“I need some time to figure myself out. There is no other person on Lore suited to the task than you.”

“But sire! What you ask is..is..,”

“Nothing you cannot handle. Be warned Commander, whether the NecroLegion is still together or not you must lead it regardless. Even if our group’s Operation must be continued in secret. I trust you Arkeos. I have faith in you. Will you intend to keep that promise?”

“With all my heart sire,”

“There was a reason why I made you my right hand man. There is nothing you cannot do my old friend if you put your mind to it. You are dismissed.”


*End of Flashback*


I glanced at the evening sky. Feeling for my two weapons, I unsheathed one of the two new ones in my possession. Holding it gently, in my hands was an expertly crafted katana. I was able to retrieve it on one of my many adventures following the war between the Necromancer and Paladins. The weapon was adorned with beautiful designs. The blade coloured light sky blue with a hilt of gold and white marble. It once belonged to my Mother. Re-sheathing it, I watched the sun set over the horizon. Much time has passed, and I have improved myself in so many ways. Reflecting on the past, while looking ahead into the future I closed my eyes taking in the stillness and calmness of the present.



- Fin -








< Message edited by Muchiha -- 2/9/2014 19:03:43 >
AQ DF AQW  Post #: 2
1/29/2013 22:26:08   
flashbang
Member

Pre-War Paladin side
(Mid War)

This war is horrible, I thought to myself. I remember how it started...
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Day before the war)

It started out like any day did. I woke up and got ready, today I was going to see my brother, who is a Necromancer. Due to my interesting background the Paladin Order was pretty skeptical of me, except for popinloopy. When my father died, he had a letter for me saying to go to the Paladin Order. When Artix introduced me, I told them about my background. When Artix had asked for somebody to teach me, he was the only one who stood up. He taught me everything I know. I told him my plans yesterday and he said he would help me. I wore my Luminious Wrym Helm and went to the Darklands to meet my brother. The Necromancer wore his Obsidian Cloak. “I see you made it. You're wearing dad’s helm again?”
“Well, yes. I see you're using Mom’s staff again.”
“Yes I am. How’s training going? asked the brother.
“Fine though nobody knows my name. Just like dad said to.”
“The #NecroLeigion hasn’t been suspicious yet either.”
Suddenly, they hear a rustling in the bushes.
“What was that?” I said
“CHARGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” yelled... popinloopy?!
“BATTLE ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” yelled some Necromancer I had never seen before.
“Who is that Necromancer?” I asked my brother
“He’s my teacher. What about that Paladin?”
“He’s mah teacher.”
“Well anyways looks like they’re about to fight.”
“Commence Fight!” yelled my brother
“Fight Start!” I yelled.
“So, we meet again Lord Scorpio.” said popinloopy.
“Indeed we do.” said Lord Scorpio.
*Fight scene begins*
*popinloopy unleashes a powerful 2 hit attack*
*Lord Scorpio dodges the first hit but is nailed in the chest by the second hit*
“My turn” says Scorpio
*Scorpio unleashes his weapons special*
*Popinloopy dodges the first two hits but is hit by the rest*
“Time to finish this!” they both yell.
*They both take out their Awe weapons and unleash a Power Word Die! on each other*
Me and my brother said “ Thats gotta hurt.”
Then popinloopy was resurrected and Scorpio became a lich.
I talked to popinloopy later that day back at headquarters.
“The #NecroLeigion will be mad now popinloopy. They might launch a full scale attack now.”
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(In present)

popinloopy: Wrym, look out!*/tackles*

Wrym: thanks popinloopy.

popinloopy: No problem, just be careful.

------------------Name Guide---------------------
Wrym=me
Unknown Necromancer= Also me
Lord Scorpio= UnderSoul
popinloopy=popinloopy


Pre-War Necro side

Man, this day isn’t going to well. It started out normally, but well its kinda going kerplode. It all started in the DarkLands. I was meeting my brother,Wrym is his nickname, there and thats where everything got kersploded. People call me Staff for reasons I don’t know. I went their after talking to my teacher and mentor, Lord Scorpio. There, we talked about our past and stuff until Lord Scorpio and some guy named popinloopy showed up and started fighting. We had to go to the Necromancer meeting tonight. We had to tell them what happened, so we will have to attack swiftly and smoothly. Though I think My brother has lost all faith in me...
Madara Uchiha, one of the three leaders in the #NecroLeigion, will plan our attack unless the #PalaPact strikes first. The next day the two new #NecroLeigion leaders had been decided: Michael the Necrospoonomancer and Lord Azurah the Necroassasin. It was a happy day until Pesmerga challenged Michael to a battle. As they began the battle, our hideout was attacked by the Paladins.



Lord Scorpio= UnderSoul
popinloopy= popinloopy
Madara Uchiha= Muchiha
Michael= Smog
Lord Azurah= She Rachet
Pesmerga= Phrixus


Mid-War Paladin side

*CLANG* *SMASH*
"Watch out!" I yelled and tackled Halenro.
*WOOSH! A bolt of Dark Magic had struck a Paladin behind Halenro*
"Thank you for your help, Wrym. If only that other Paladin had been as lucky as I was."
"No problem. Halenro, mind helping me resurrect the Paladin?"
*The two focus their healing powers and are able to resurrect the stricken Paladin before he obtains a life of undeath*
"Thank you Commander Halenro, and*Egh* Wrym."
"No problem. Halenro, I'll be right back. I need to check on the Pala-Mages".
"Aye."
At the Paladin Order headquarters Wyrm checked on the Pala-Mages. He took in a report on the, special project, he assigned them. He then got a report from the battlefield. It wasn't looking good.
Oh god. I might have to do it again. I don't want to but it might help.
He asked popinloopy to guard him and not tell anyone what he sees.
"OK, but only because it helps in this war and you are my friend."
*Wrym focuses. Suddenly everything gets darker. Outside undead appear and start attacking the Necromancers. The Paladins are surprised at this, and the Necromancers realize they can't control these undead*
"Don't tell anybody about this please," pleaded Wrym.
popinloopy was shocked, but realized Wrym would tell him later.

Wrym=me
popinloopy=popinloopy
(The necromancy will be explained in the second to last part.)


Mid-War Necro Side

*WOOSH*
Why can't magic be quieter? I had thought.
Lord Scorpio was focused on getting to popinloopy for a rematch. I went back to the base because the three high Necro-Leaders summoned me. I was very worried because the Necro-Leaders very rarely called anybody and when they do they usually get de-ranked. I fond myself only in front of Madara Uchiha.
"So, you have a paladin brother? Why was I not informed of this!!" It was obvious Madara was FURIOUS!
"I can't tell you everything about my past, but my mother was SilverWing!"
Madara was all o.O after learning that.
"You mean to say your mother is SilverWing? One of the greatest Necromancers of all time?! I don't think so!"
"WELL GET USED TO IT!"
I left knowing I betrayed my mother. I read the battle report then. Apparently, there were undead they couldn't control. I knew what I had to do. I went to the top of my house, which was convinently close to the battlefield.
*Everything grew brighter as Staff focused. Tendrils of light shoot from Staff's hands and take the form of light-attuned enemies.*
"Mother, I'm sorry."


"Undead that fights for us?!?! That is highly unlikely." Said Artix Von Kreiger
"Indeed, yet it is true. We have come to a conclusion one of us Paladins summoned them." Said Halenro.
"Many believe it is Wrym"said Couervarsi.
"Take his background into considiration." said Artix "His father was Rider, one of the most powerful Paladins of all time. If Rider and I combine our powers we could take out an entire 1,000,000 undead army! His mother however was SilverWing, one of the most powerful Necromancers of all time. That is how he summoned undead, from inherited Necromancy powers, if he did summon them."
"ARTIX!" yelled a voice, "Telling them of my past aren't you? Well tell everyone if you want now. Father has spoken and has said it is time."


Out on the battle field a massive clearing in the shape of a circle was made. Within it I found out that the Stadium of Endings shall be rebuilt and that will be where the war ends. I already knew the four who were going to be fighting.
*DUN-DUN-DUUUUUUUUUUUN*
Pala-Side Finish


Necro side
No! I know why the Stadium of Endings has been rebuilt!
"Lord Scorpio and Staff! Report to the Stadium of Endings NOW!" Yelled Necro-leader/Spoonomancer Michael.
"Yes Sir!" said General Scorpio
At the Stadium of Endings My fear was revealed to be the truth.
"Today, we have come here to end the war! The four poeple that started the war must FIGHT! First up Lord Scorpio Vs. popinloopy!"
*Fight Scene begins*
popinloopy and Lord Scorpio begin to strike as evenly matched as ever. The two powerful rivals each meet eachothers strikes with a block. Every Weapon of Awe special was countered with itself. They finaly realized they would only win in one way.
"POWER WORD DIE!!!!!!!!!!" they both yelled.
They are both thrown on the ground defeated.
*Fight Scene End*
"Now It is time for the main event Death Match! Brother Vs. Brother! Light Vs. Darkness! Paladin Vs. Necromancer! Wrym Vs. Staff!"
*another fight scene begins* *Commence epic battle music Now! Duh duhduhduhduh!*
Wrym instantly went on the attack. His skill with the Blade of Awe was incredible.
Staff is getting knocked back with every strike while barely being able to get a single attack in.
"I guess I have to do this." muttered Staff
*Everything grew brighter as Staff focused. Tendrils of light shoot from Staff's hands and take the form of light-attuned enemies.*
Wrym mows them down using a light weapon.
*Wrym focuses. Suddenly everything gets darker. Outside undead appear and start attacking the Necromancers. The Paladins are surprised at this, and the Necromancers realize they can't control these undead*
Staff is barely able to defeat them.
Wrym then quickly flicks ALL of Staff's weapons away and knocks Staff to the ground. The tip of his blade is right above his neck.
"No! I will not kill my brother!" Yelled Wrym, "He is the only family I have left!"
*Fight Scene Ends*
"You must!" yelled the annoncer.
"Never! My brother is the most important person or, well, ANYTHING to me in the whole MultiVerse and I would never end him!"
"I would never kill you either bro." I said.

END OF MAIN STORY.


BONUS SECTION:
"I belive a treaty is in order Kaley." Said Artix, "after all Wrym and Staff have proven it is possible."
"I actually agree with you Paladin."
(One Month Later)
"The peace Treaty has been Signed!"
"Lord Scorpio please come to the stand." said Muchiha
"I wonder what's gonna happen." Said Staff.
"For your remarkable effert in this war, you have been promoted to Commader!"
"Thank you Muchiha. I will not make you regret this decision." replied a thrilled Lord Scorpio.


Meanwhile...
"For your effort in this war you have been promoted to Commander" said Coueversi.
"Thank you." replied popinloopy.


Later...
"Staff, Wrym are you sure you two want to leave the Order?" asked Lord Scorpio and popinloopy.
"We are teachers. We are still part of our orders though. Call upon us when you need it." replied the brothers.
And so the two brothers left as wandering heros.


"DANCE PARTY!" yelled Halenro.
"I BROUGHT THE SPORKS!!" yelled popinloopy.
"Spoons would never combine with the lesser Forks!" replied Michael, "luckily I have my spoons!"


The end. Thanks for all the positive comments my fellow Forum people! Don't worry! The story of Wyrm and Staff won't end here!

< Message edited by flashbang -- 2/3/2013 0:16:57 >
AQ DF AQW  Post #: 3
1/29/2013 22:52:24   
Elryn

Custodian (DF)


Regrets - Our friends are our foes




Prologue

She ran through the street with but one thought in mind.

I have to find him.


Her breaths came quick and short as she bolted right around the corner of house. Her mind raced just as her feet did, light and petite as she was; tears slid down her eyes as she struggled to hold herself together, recent events and their implications again flooding her thoughts. She swallowed hard and formed a coherent thought.

Where?

She looked up. The tunnel of houses ended on what she recognized as Battleon’s main street, the one that stretches all the way from the Guardian Tower at the Northern edge of Town to the Southern entrance. Then knowledge dawned on her, illuminating her innocent features.

Of course!


She took the left down Battleon’s main street, if it could be called such, racing by the miscellany of houses that stood like trees in a forest. Beneath her feet, little dust puffed in the humid air. The land rested nonchalantly and drowsily under the grey, dim and sleepy sky. The quietness that permeated everything gave a sense that time had come to a stop, fossilized in a colourless grey stone and to remain undisturbed for eternity.

One however was different. Around the corner of every house, every little leaves on the trees, through the gaps of every ill-contrived and broken door, the wind darted unseen. Like little fairies never seen to mortals, ever hidden in mystery and fear, small gusts of wind darted around every corner hidden by unseen shadows.

Puff… Puff


Little voices voiceless mutter. Warnings, tidings, the coming danger. Whispered to the leaves, repeated by the trees. No plan, no plan, they cannot understand. It is only…

Elryn!

The calm before the storm.



Divided

Elryn walked with a steady gate down the main road of Battleon.

Phrixus… We need to palaver.

Giant steps succeeded themselves, sometimes hidden by long robes that flailed with the wind. The lightness with which they landed betrayed the heaviness and the hard, brown bark they truly beared.

There isn’t any choice… The Paladins plan to move out in force. I cannot stand idly while my brethren is slaughtered…

Foolish as the Paladins may be in this endeavour, those like you are not their true targets.


The wind behaved strangely. It seemed to gather around as his feet lumbered forwards like dragged through mud or water. As one landed, the wind whipped around briskly for an instant then dispersed, gently carrying whatever dust there was with it.

You are playing right into their hands! The Mysterious Necromancers care only for their nefarious plots. They will use you just as much as anyone else, kin or not! If they are fools enough to take on the Paladins, let them do it on their own! Good riddance to them.

If they are destroyed however… Would the Paladins stop there?

Would they dared touch another hair… They would have to answer to me. Falerin and others would not let it slide either.


The wind whipped the deep blue robes ceaselessly and the silver lines, symbols and ornaments, faintly glowing, that doted the robes came alive in a celestial dance. The robes themselves, animated by the gusts, seem to drive the figure ever forward, pulling before him. One could fear that, had the wind be blowing any harder, the wanderer would be whisked away to the winds as pollen from the trees.

It is too late already… The young and impressionable have dedicated themselves to the cause. Kind and honest hearts, but they know little of the true nature of the conflict. They feel it is their duty to defend. Defeating the Paladins is the only way to prevent them from harm and bloodshed…

The Paladins are not without their own kind and honest hearts however. There are young and impressionable ones just as dedicated on their own side…


Elryn gave heavy sigh as he sat down and leaned against the tree on the hill overlooking Battleon. Usually, Twilly would be here, cheerful and welcoming. But like the ghost of a town Battleon seemed to be at the moment, he was absent as well. No doubt already at the camp offering healing to both parties.

‘’What a mess…’’ gave Elryn unnerved.

He looked up to the sky as if hoping it could perhaps speak and give words of comfort. The view he was privy to however was one quite different than he expected. Where the sky had seemed grey in what seemed only moments ago, dark clouds grumbled and spread over the sky like a disease. The clouds seemed less like clouds and more like menacing shadows reminiscent of a previous war.

‘’This is odd…’’ remarked the mage.

‘’Elryn!’’

The fellow snapped out of his reverie and looked behind. Coming up over a hill towards him was little blond haired girl. She was dressed in the usual attire of those that attended Eukara’s school in town. As she neared and neared, Elryn recognized her from one of his many visits and storytelling to the children of the Loremistress’s school.

It was Sora.



To War


Little Sora ran half out of breath, half sobbing. As she covered the last of the distance to the still sitting mage against his tree, she broke into a walk, her feet stammering heavy like lead again the ground, until she finally stopped and bent over, hands on her knees, out breath. Big breaths came as she tried to catch her own, intermitting with a strange sound. It came in strings, wordless and monosyllabic, describable only in what it was: the wailing of an unnerved small child.

‘’Sora?’’ inquired tentatively the Mage.

Sora tentatively looked up in kind. Her wide eyes were wet; tears still flowed down her cheeks. She trembled as if cold. Her wailing flowed uninterrupted for a moment, then broke with a rub her nose with her sleeve and a sniffle, then resumed.

‘’What is wrong?’’

Eukara’s student remained mute save for her woe. She continued on, a hiccup or two joining in. Finally, Elryn simply inquired:

‘’Hug?’’

Sora sniffled and the wail stopped. Looking up at the mage, wide eyed and wide mouth, she nodded and muffled a sound of affirmation:

‘’Uh.. Huh…’’

In a gentle gesture, the giant picked the little one up off the ground and gave her a good old fashion bearhug, comforting her as best he could. In a moment, he let go, placing Sora gently on the ground again.

‘’Now,’’ said he. ‘’Will you tell me what troubles you, Sora?’’

Sora sniffled again and then said a small voice

‘’Its…Its Daddy.’’


Today was just another day when it had begun. A little girl rolled around playfully in the Two-Bear rug on the house floor lain years ago by her father who had hunted the creature. Today was a boring day. No school, no Eukara, no play. The sun outside was funny too. The clouds had slept too long and forgot to leave when Mr Sun came along. Now the light is sleepy too. The house isn’t very bright too. Oh, what to do? What to do… Bored, bored, and bored. Oh! I know! We can study forest monsters! I could drag Charles along… Hmm… Mommy will get mad then though. Or we could have Jorsht keep an eye on us… And I don’t need to mention the monster part… Hihi!

The little girl rolled around in the Two-Bear skin excitedly with a big grin on her face. Her father looked at her and grin in spite of himself. ‘’That’s my little girl.’’ The reverie was short lived however and soon he regained his serious demeanour and began: ‘’Honey… I need to have a word with you.’’

Sora rolled and rolled, but in a moment however, she stopped when she noticed something was off. Her father was dressed in his paladin regalia; shining white plate mail boarded with gold lining. He spoke in a low voice to her mother. The little girl noticed that her mother, usually radiant, was not smiling; in fact, there was a sad air and reticence to her countenance.

‘’Why is Mommy so sad?’’ wondered Sora anxious.

Her mother replied in the same hushed tone unintelligible to Sora. Her father gave one last reply, kissed her mother on the cheek and headed for the door, heavy boots thumping, armour clicking along the way.

‘’Daddy? Where are you going?’’

The blond hair, blue eyed man turned and looked to Sora. A look of surprise seemed to animate his features as if unexpecting the same query she always asked him on these occasions. He smiled, yet it seemed for a moment that a hint of unease permeated it.

‘’Well, it is that kind time again, sweetie. I am off to war.’’

‘’But… There isn’t any army heading for Battleon’’

‘’Well… Not exactly Battleon, but there is an army of Necromancer and theirs minions close by that needs to be taken care of. I am going to join the rest of the Paladins and make sure they do not get anywhere near here.’’

‘’Necromancers? But isn’t Jorsht one? ‘’

‘’No, not Jorsht. Jorsht is a good necromancer. These are bad ones like the Mysterious Necromancers… A lot of them. I can’t…

‘’What if Jorsht gets caught in it? And those Mysterious Necromancers are scary! What if you get hurt? What if both of you get hurt? Daddy I don’t want y…

Dravan hugged his little girl tight and spoke softly:

‘’As long as those bad necromancers are out there sweetie, I cannot guarantee that you and your mother will be safe. Don’t worry about Jorsht, I have already warned him about it and told him to steer clear from this mess.’’

Dravan kissed Sora gently on the forehead.

‘’Stay with your mother inside and don’t go outside alone. You’ll be safe here.’’

With that, Dravan started and in one swift motion, picked a large sword on the rack next to the door, sheathed it in his back and ran off through the door. Sora’s arms clinged in vain to the father that had been so cruelly whisked away from her like a small girl whose favourite doll has been taken away. She watch helplessly, time almost slowing to stop, as her father ran off, the door closing on his form. The door had almost closed when she screamed:

‘’Daddy!!’’

And the door was shut.

Sora remained stunned. Worry and anxiety swelled within her until she could no longer hold it. On the verge of tears, she turned to her mother and said:

‘’Mommy!!..’’

But her mother did not respond. In her own corner, Sora’s mother held one hand to her mouth, struggling to hold back sobs. She was also holding back tears. Sora’s eyes widen in shock, speechless.

‘’Mom…my?’’ muttered Sora, half afraid of her own words.

She trembled. A cold sweat ran down her neck. She mechanically took one step back then bolted for the door.

‘’Daddy!’’ cried Sora

‘’Sora!’’

Sora’s mother had turned, but it was too late. Her little girl had disappeared out the front door.



Sora ended the story with a sniffle and rubbing one of her wet eyes. There was a moment of silence, interrupted only by the wind in the trees, before Sora finally added:

‘’I… don’t like.’’

She added in a small voice

‘’I don’t want him to get hurt.’’

Silence reign for a moment while neither spoke. Elryn stared at Sora from the depths of the cloak that swallowed his form, his grey eyes an indecipherable tempest. Sora stared down at the ground before her almost as though hoping her father to be lying there or, perhaps instead, hope that he did not already. Elryn pushed himself to his feet and started. Sora jerked her head up and, curious, asked:

‘’Where are you going, Elryn?’’

The mage, continuing his saunter, replied:

‘’Are we not going to find your father?’’

Sora’s face lit up with joy. She capered gaily to Elryn as this one turned around, a warm grin exuding from his hidden features. In moment however, he returned to his arcane seriousness and added:

‘’I like this war no less than you do, Sora. I have my own qualms about the course of action of some of my own friends.’’

Here, Elryn fists clenched. He looked low then turn to Sora again.

‘’But if I may do anything to prevent your father from harm. I would more than happy to.’’

Elryn smiled warmly and inquired:

‘’Where did your father head off to?’’

Sora opened her mouth to reply only to stop midway: she had no idea. The glum face that ensued told Elryn all he needed.

‘’Do you know anyone who might know?’’ asked he gently.

And the solution dawned upon Sora.


*****


They came to a house that sat near the outskirts of town. Nothing set it apart from other accommodations, it was no plainer nor more noticeable than the rest of the houses around it, yet it was the place sought after. Sora knew it well after all. Elryn stared at the abode for a moment, then looked down and inquired:

‘’This is the place?’’

Sora turned and nodded in acknowledgment:

‘’Mh… hm’’

They proceeded to the door. Sora raised herself on the tip of her toes in order to grab the metal knocking ring. She banged the former loudly three times before shouting:

‘’Hey, Jorsht! Come out! Its Sora!’’

Back down on her feet, she waited with Elryn in tow. Time seemed to drag on as they waited. Just as Sora went to grab the ring and knock again, the door creaked open. Sora slipped and almost fell, but through an amusing display of arm flailing, she just managed to regain her balance in time. The door open wide…

And revealed a young boy. He must have been some years older than Sora, he was almost twice her size, but did not seem to be in his teen yet as best Elryn could guess. He had short, rough mud brown hair that jutted out of his crown like a bush, but still with some sense of order, gentle green eyes and a rather muscular build for his age. He wore a combination of brown cloth vestments reinforced with darker brown leather that reminded him slightly of Vephoma’s accoutrement. The suit had a distinct battle ready ring to it. The boy had clearly begun training to become a warrior.

Elryn grinned to himself, the boy was like a mini Cataclysm of sorts. Suddenly, a sense of unease inexplicably made itself felt to him at that last thought, but before he could ken why, it vanished.

‘’Sora?’’ inquired the boy. There was a hint of concern in his voice.

‘’Charles? Is Jorsht there?’’ Sora returned and gently leaning as to see behind Charles and into the house. Elryn peered as well, but little could be made out. The light had increasingly reduced itself during the trip and thus the house was mostly shrouded in darkness. Yet close to a window where some light did penetrate, he could make out a piece of furniture, a chair. The chair was not alone however. On it, partially shrouded in darkness, he could make out a distinctly female shape. An air of sadness pervaded her.

Charles peered back at the shape in the house for a moment then said:

‘’It’s best if we talk outside.’’

After Charles had closed the door, the three gathered at the bottom of the porch. Sora and Charles engaged:

‘’So Charles, where is your daddy?’’

‘’He’s gone.’’ replied Charles in matter of fact, somber tone.

‘’What?! Where?’’

Charles sighed and started:

‘’My father had a visitor this morning…

What do you mean they’ve gone to the front?

‘’I mean exactly that,’’ said the man completely shrouded in a dark cloak in a deep, sinister voice. ‘’Your apprentices have gone and joined the rest of the necromancers. You should be there with them.’’

‘’As if! I told those brats to steer clear from this war. They shouldn’t be there in the first place.’’

Jorsht paced furiously and turned to the stranger

‘’This is your fault isn’t it? You made them go! I should…’’

‘’Me?’’ replied the necromancer in an exaggerated, injured voice. ‘’Of course not… Your students just wanted to make you proud! I just pointed the way to them…’’

‘’Graahh! I knew it!’’

Jorsht stormed into his room. A flurry of noise echoed and, in a moment, he was out again, his own dark cloak and a great wooden staff adorning him. He walked briskly to Charles and murmured:

‘’I am going to have to go out, Charles. I’ll be back as soon as I can fix this horrible mess. Keep your mother safe.’’

Jorsht ruffled the hair of his boy then turned back to his unwelcomed guest, rage seething from his eyes.

‘’As for you… Out of my sight! I will not tolerate your presence a moment longer nor will I play to any of your games!’’

‘’Good of you to come!’’ said the mysterious necromancer ignoring Jorsht. The enthusiasm of his voice rung false. In truth, it sounded more like mockery than anything else. ‘’You should know though… Word goes that the paladins have a secret weapon and they plan on exterminating every last necromancer with it.’’

As if knowing Jorsht would stand for no more, the stranger burst into a terrible, dark laughter. He disappeared, melting into the shadows that were so like him, leaving an eerie echo behind.

‘’Uncreation be damned!’’

And Charles’s father ran out the door after him.



Charles remained silent. He was a tough boy, but the concept of his father in such danger was no easier for him than it was for Sora. Sora seemed to sense this as she went and hugged him though as much for her own comfort as for his. When the embrace ended, both turned to the Mage. Sora started:

‘’Elryn…’’

‘’I shall get them back.’’ Said a determined tone

Charles and Sora looked up. Elryn turned and dashed away.

‘’I shall get Draven and Jorsht back! Do not worry.’’

Sora and Charles were glad. A smile crept on their faces as Elryn was disappearing in the distance.

‘’Good luck Elryn!’’ shouted Sora waving.

As Elryn ran, an image was transfixed in his mind, that of Sora and Charles with their sad air.

‘’…’’

‘’I loath to see that’’ thought he angrily.





Later at Yulgar’s Inn

Elryn stood in the door way as he knocked gently on the door to signal his presence. The usual bustle of the Inn was all but absent. He could have been at the haunted house in Granemor and it would be no different. It truly seemed that the war had turn Battleon into a ghost town.

‘’Hmm.. Yes? Welcome to Yulgar’s Inn. The Moglinberry juice is always fresh and..’’

‘’It is all right, Yulgar.’’ Elryn waved at the blacksmith. ‘’I am not here to have a drink.’’

Yulgar was at his counter just as usual. Unlike normalcy however, a humongous bag sat on the counter to his right. It was so large and heavy that as much of it was on the counter as was on the floor just next to it. On his left, stacks of gold coins of varying height stood.

‘’The sales have been good I see.’’ remarked Elryn plainly.

‘’Aye..’’ replied Yulgar unenthusiastically.

‘’You do not seem pleased about it…’’

‘’I had a hunch a few months back…’’ droned on the Innkeeper. ‘’Trouble seemed to be brewing between the paladins and necromancers again. I could tell because my sales on undead slaying equipment, light weapons, dark weapons, you name it, doubled out of nowhere. I was getting low on those supplies in particular. Couldn’t make enough of them to keep up with the demand…

Meanwhile, Elryn was in a world of his own. Images again flooded his mind. Memories of good time with friends. Jovial nights at the Inn after a successful war, stories being told, the laughs that ensued and the knocking of all the mugs as a loud cheer burst from every warmonger. Times where they would help rebuild after the war had struck home, or other friends far and near.

‘’So I made a gamble. There’s this guy in Granemor I knew. Had a lot of weapons on his hands. Leftover from the undead war on Granemor you see when The’Galin came. Good stuff too! Anyway, no one there needed that much of the stuff so I made a deal with him and bought the whole load of it. ’’

Other times, in training grounds, either watching or taking part in a spar. Learning, watching, laughing at others’ mistakes or our own. Falling down only to have a friendly gaze and hand ready to pull us back up.

‘’Turns out I was right. Bang! This Necromancer vs Paladin war breaks out and my stock sells like hot cakes. I sold everything. All the stuff I bought and all the equipment I made. Sold out! I tripled my profits. I have enough to pay for all the renovations to the Inn and to buy Moglinberry juice enough to have the Warmongers over every night for the next year. I should be happy.’’

And in war… the inseparable and unconquerable team we made. Ardent races to prove each other. The resounding cry of victory from every mouth…

Yulgar eyed the gold coin he had been fumbling with in his hand melancholically.

But now, thing were all wrong…

‘’But I am not…’’

A heavy silence weighted on the Inn then Yulgar shook his head furiously and regained a more sober composure.

‘’Who am I kidding? I am the Innkeeper; I am the one who should be listening to gents rambling on about their own melancholy, not the other way around. Sorry about that.’’ He scratched the back of his head sheepishly.

Friends turned against friends. Needless pain, death…

‘’Elryn? Are you all right boy?’’ inquired Yulgar, slightly perturbed.

‘’Hmm..?’’ Elryn snapped back to reality. He did not realize it, but his hands had been progressively tightening their hold over the side of the counter. A tinge of anger had crept into his mind when he had thought of how wrong things were at the moment. He released the counter, but not without leaving some finger marks… He stared at them for a moment and realized he likely should compensate Yulgar for the damage. He reached for the leather satchel concealed within his robes and took out a handful of gold coins.

‘’Here… That should be enough for the new timber. Sorry about that.’’ gave Elryn apologetically.

‘’Eehhh… I have had far worse. Don’t worry about it.’’ Yulgar paused. ‘’So what can I help you with?’’

‘’I was wondering if you could sell me some of that stuff seeing as Warlic is out of town at the moment. It would be most useful to me on the battlefield.’’ responded Elryn simply.

‘’Finally heading out are you?’’ quipped Yulgar. ‘’Give me a moment.’’ With that Yulgar, trotted off into the backroom. A moment later, he returned, a little grey pouch of leather in hand.

‘’Warlic sure enjoys stealing my money with this stuff, but I just can’t pass out on it. Works wonders in the forge.’’

‘’How much?’’ inquired Elryn.

With one quick motion, Yulgar tossed it to Elryn.

‘’On the Inn, and don’t insist on paying. You can thank me by setting things right. Things can’t go on like this.’’

‘’What do you mean?’’ asked the mage.

‘’I mean this killing has to stop.’’ Yulgar’s brow furrowed. ‘’It’s just senseless. Take Death’s Kidd for example. Reaped the life of two paladins yesterday.’’

Elryn eyes widen in shock.

‘’I suppose it wasn’t exactly easy… He was protecting a village of neutral from a bunch of over zealous paladins. But still… I had to break the news to the families. I can’t say I liked that.’’

In an instant, the door of the Inn slammed open and a torrent of wind engulfed the place. Yulgar braced himself, but the torrent quickly lessened and calmed down to a more gentle gust. Yulgar’s head peaked out from the safety of his arms. Elryn cloak had come alive again, rocked by the winds as was customary.

‘’Thank you for everything Yulgar.’’ said the warmage as he turned and went for the door.

Yulgar smiled. There was a determination in that thanking that was much more like the Elryn he knew.

‘’Good to have his normal self again.’’

‘’There is one more thing you should know before you go.’’ began Yulgar. His features and tone had turned resolutely serious. ‘’Cataclysm has been hired by the Paladins.’’

‘’Cataclysm?!’’ said the mage in a volte-face and dismayed. A memory instantly came back.

‘’You should know though… Word goes that the paladins have a secret weapon and they plan on exterminating every last necromancer with it.’’

‘’Of course…’’ thought Elryn. He looked at the palm of his hand. The small grey leather pouch lied there. He quickly stored it in his satchel and turned again.

‘’One last question: where is the battlefield situated?’’

Yulgar moved from the counter, passed Elryn and out the Inn door. The mage followed.

‘’You will find the battlefield South of Battleon.’’ Yulgar outstretched one hand and pointed towards the direction. ‘’Go over the hills some and you will find it. You can’t miss it once you get near.’’

‘’So close…’’

‘’Thank you again, Yulgar. I must be on my way.’’

‘’Sock it to them!’’

And Yulgar returned to his abode. The dark clouds continued to amass in the sky. The wind, as if guided by Yulgar’s instructions, blew against the cloaked mage southwards. As Elryn was making his way, one last memory manifested itself.


How is it that you might not always be fighting on Battleon’s side?

I am mercenary. By trade, I am hired by the first bidder.

And you will accept any contract?

I can always refuse… but things are not always that simple.

Hmmm…

The first turned and surveyed the setting sun.

Elryn?

The mage in question turned his head

Yes?

What would you do if, despite anything you might say or try, a friend of yours resolves himself to do the wrong thing.

He gaze returned to the sun.

‘’If a friend did that… I would do anything in my power to stop them.’’

Cataclysm turned to his own friend

‘’It is like those foes we meet on the battlefield that are not truly monsters. They are doing something silly, attacking Battleon and its denizen. As a consequence, we beat them to a pulp. We do not kill them. There is no justice in that. They simply made a mistake that is all.’’

‘’Similarly, friends sometimes make mistakes as well. Sometimes, those mistakes are just as grave as our foes. ‘’

‘’Thus, if nothing else works, I will beat them until they stop or until they are no longer conscious enough to do anything. To protect my friends from themselves.’’

Elryn chuckled

‘’So if I end up on the wrong side of the battlefield, you’ll stop me?’’

Elryn winked

‘’I will.’’


‘’Time to fulfill that promise’’ thought Elryn.

Elryn’s pace began to quicken. The steps of his gait, at first light and casual, progressively became harder and more determined. Which each step his pace increased, so did the wind his feet drag change. At first it was limpid, appearing only as a shadow shortly before disappearing as swiftly. But then, it seemed to increase in strength and vigour, as if driven by the same uncanny will and rage the mage possessed. Its form gathered energy. The wind materialized becoming greyer and darker, like the tempest of Elryn’s eyes. The intensification of the storm that was his feet just before one landed was no longer a weak sigh, but a roaring wind, surging and burning brightly like fire of blacksmith’s forge under the breath of the bellows. Another step came forward with a wind so wild it seemed ready to break. It landed, and as it did, a tornadic gust of wind burst from below his feet. The mage seemed to resist the push a moment, bowing forwards. His next storm landed…

And like the wind, he burst into a maddening sprint. Each step gathered wind only to burst again upon impact. Elryn almost seemed to by gliding across the land and his robes fluttered wildly in oncoming wind making him appeared almost a ghostly wraith, flying low above ground in pursuit of some unlucky mortal. In his eyes, a tempest burned brightly.

‘’To war.’’ said he.


Last preparations


‘’KRAAAACK’’

Strange lightning came down from dark and mavolent clouds, illuminating and capturing for a split second the carnage of the battlefield. Swords clashed with staves and bolts of light with bolts of darkness. The blind fury that animated the rivals’ eyes seemed to have come out of the Ninth circle of Heck. One necromancer and one paladin faced off amongst the vast armies.

‘’Henri?! Traitor! How could you join the Paladins in their senseless crusade?!’’

‘’How could you join the evil necromancers in their wake of terror, Boris?! How could you betray me so?’’

‘’If there is a betrayer here, it you!’’

‘’You’ll regret those words!’’

‘’Die!’’

The two raised their weapons and lunged intent on a killing blow. Then suddenly, two fists slammed hard on their crowns, sending them to eat dirt. Elryn gave a sigh:

‘’Dumdums…’’

Elryn eyed the two unconscious Battleonians. It occurred to him that even if they stayed unconscious, they would still be at risk out on the battlefield. Transporting them would take too much time. Creating a portal or enacting a teleportation every time he brought someone down would be too taxing and time consuming. He needed a quick, efficient way of getting the victims gents to safety.

‘’Hmmm.. Portals…’’ murmured Elryn pondering.

The mage reached into his cloak and produced a peculiar sphere. The sphere seemed for the most part to be composed of a metal of a bronze colour. Protruding out of this metallic sphere however, in varying size and degree, were perpetually rotating clock gears. All along the surface of the sphere, were groves or lines of a bright and glowing blue that exuded a magical energy.

‘’Perhaps BlackAces’s gear portal device could come in handy…’’ mused he.

Elryn focused on the device, a blue aura appeared before him as a gear portal manifested itself.


At Yulgar’s Inn

Yulgar stood at his counter as per usual. A clean new cloth rag he had just bought in hand, he wiped the counter and whistled as any other barkeeper might on a busy night. Of course, in his case, not even a fly had blessed him with a visit. He sighed.

‘’YULGAR!’’

‘’Aeuhhh!’’ exclaimed Yulgar in a jerk. After having calmed a bit and let his blood pressure go back down, he eyed peevishly the stranger that had given him such a fright.

‘’For Lorithia sake! Were you trying to kill me? Don’t frighten me like that!’’ said he exasperated.

‘’Ehhh… Sorry about that.’’ offered Elryn apologetically and scratching the back of his head sheepishly. His head was sticking out through a gear portal on the ceiling of the Inn.

‘’I have an idea to make your moments a tad bit less boring.’’ he continued.

With that, Elryn’s head retreated into the cyan blue gate and through the portal fell two bodies which landed hard on one of the tables.

‘’I found Boris and Henri at it over on the battlefield, they were having a dramatic showdown.’’

‘’Again? Won’t those two ever learned?’’

Elryn chuckled.

‘’If you do not mind,’’ he added. ‘’I am going to send those I come across your way. Get them out of danger to wit. If they do wake up, before this is all over, keep them here. No doubt they could serve to remedy your current draught of patrons.’’

Elryn winked and with that he disappeared back through the portal which closed after him. Yulgar scratched his head. The day had certainly stopped being boring. Thus, with a shrug and a merry air, he set about cleaning the table where the two fighters had landed, conveniently rebounding and landing more or less accurately in a sitting position. Were it not for the bump on each head, one might think they had passed out from too much Moglinberry juice. Yulgar returned to his jolly tune, picking up the salt that had spilled and cleaning the table as if nothing were.

Back at the battlefield, Elryn’s focus remained on the gear portal device; within the strange device was locked a permanent spell template. A mage needed only to focus on a location and channel his mana through it and, at will, a gear portal of the desired location would appear. Right now, the device was locked on Yulgar’s Inn.

‘’ArchMagi Spell Template Manipulation…’’ muttered Elryn

The sphere glowed brightly for a moment than settled. The device was now locked on the Inn in particular.

‘’Perfect. Now, just one more thing.’’

Elryn again reached into his cloak and this time pulled out the little grey pouch he had bought from Yulgar. The pouch did not look like much; it was simple and whatever it held was light. Unfolding the knot of the string, he carefully overturned it in his hand…

And was left with a handful of grey, glowing dust. Elryn could feel the wind currents as it sat in his hand. Whatever the dust was, it emanated mystical power. Within the folds of his dancing cloak, Elryn close his eyes and focused:

‘’Primal Air – Minor Spell…’’ muttered he.

A gentle aura gathered about him as he performed this spell of precision. The wind rose and whipped his cloak. Air currents swerved as they changed course and concentrated all within a space above Elryn’s outstretched hand. Soon, an orb of wind formed and the dust, drawn by the winds, was sucked into its vortex.

‘’Wind Orb!’’

The orb of wind shined for a moment then stilled. Its constant flux adopting some form of equilibrium. Pleased, the mage reach for it and thought:

Wind orb of my creation, be my third eye on the battlefield. Soar above and seek out, one paladin named Dravan and a necromancer named Jorsht.

The wind orb hummed. Stranger still, a faint airy laugh escaped it like a chuckle of a fairy.

‘’Fly!’’

And with that, the wind orb soared and began to scour the battlefield. Elryn turned back towards the battlefield.

Now the real fight starts.

He thought of his many friends on the battlefield.

And stormed off into the depths of the battlefield like the tempest that were his eyes.



The Scourge and the Warmage

A paladin lain strewn on the ground. Blood streamed down his pale, pained stricken face from his left temple from a blow that he had previously had. His shining armour, now dull, dented, dirt and blood covered, heaved painfully under his slow and laboured breaths. A tall, imposing shadowy looked over him with wicked grin and light in his eyes. He raised his weapon to the sky with a black aura.

‘’Radcliffe! No!’’ cried a commanding and aged voiced.

Before Radcliffe could end the holy crusader, a blue robe covered giant appeared suddenly behind him and gave him a crushing blow to the noggin, knocking him out and sending him to the ground.

‘’Elryn!’’ barked the same self voice. ‘’I would once again appreciate it if you stopped taking down my lads. I am trying to keep them up not down!’’

Gedzin furrowed his white brow which, accompanied with his snow white hair pulled back behind his head, equally white mustache and piercing blue eyes, certainly explained how he obtained such discipline over his men. It might very well have been that his general demeanour depicted a man one did not wish to get on his bad side. His pale skin told of the many nights he had spent under a full moon in graveyards. The soft scar under his left eye that neatly joined his nose half way along its pointed length made an elegy to the battle harden veteran he was that many other of his scars undoubtedly attested to as well. His age was apparent by the deep furrow his forehead could display, but his strong, jutting chin and the ruggedness that his skin possessed even while clean shaven along with his previously described character all but admonished that he was not a man to trifle with.

‘’And I would once again remind you that preventing needless bloodshed is my priority. Any two bit warmonger could tell that the war craze had taken Radcliffe. Had I not intervened, he would no doubt have taken this paladin’s life.’’ retorted the responsible mage.

Elryn finished what meager healing magic he could do on the paladin. The latter’s pallidness had lessened a degree. Though he could do little else than sustain his stare, so tired was he, the semblance of a weary smile crept into his face indicating to the mage that he was grateful. Crouching down, he addressed the paladin:

‘’I am afraid the war is over for you, Light one.’’ said he in a kind tone.

The paladin struggled and coughed attempting to make a reply in turned. Before he could achieve this however, a large bark finger approach and waved against it.

‘’Keep your strength. You may or may not like it, but you are not doing anyone a favour doing otherwise.’’

The paladin relented. He still smiled as if half regretful half sneering at Death, who likely was quite busy on the battlefield today, but a hint in his pained demeanour showed that he would not oppose the one assisting and caring about his fate. It occurred to Elryn that this paladin was a young man, a very young man. He must have been a new recruit.

He likely has a mother and father still waiting at home.

Elryn frowned, ending his pondering and pursued in a serious tone:

‘’I am going to send you to Yulgar’s Inn. The Innkeeper is taking care of the wounded and… other casualties there. You will not be allowed to leave until the war is over.’’

With that, Elryn took out BlackAces’s gear portal device. It levitated in his above the palm of his hand for a moment while he focused on it. A bright cyan glow gathered about it, then gave off a light burst and dissipated. The ground below the injured paladin began to glow the same colour in turn as a gear portal manifested itself there. Slowly, the paladin sank into the ground in his half crouch position. As Elryn stared into the last of the man’s tired eyes as he disappeared he thought:

Stay safe.

And the paladin disappeared.

Elryn turned and covered the short distance towards the unconscious Radcliffe. Gedzin grumbled.

‘’You still have no right to take down my men like that..’’

‘’If I take out your men, Gedzin, it is because I care. You know how I feel about this. You and your men should not be taking part in this mockery of a war… You lot are good folks. You have nothing to do with this.’’ said the mage, crouching in front of the downed soldier.

‘’I shall be the judge of that, thank you very much. I believe we…’’ grumbled on the commander

‘’You are fighting the Mysterious Necromancers’ war for them, commander, and putting your men on the line for them.’’ interrupted Elryn.

‘’My loyalty is to Lady Obsidia…’’ growled Gedzin through his teeth at the mention of the Wearers of the Mantle.

‘’Who has the unfortunate burden of carrying on their war.’’ supplied the blue mage.

Gedzin was silent. His heart raged in an inner conflict between reason and his loyalty to his Lady and care for those of his good kin. The stalwart leader remained mute.

‘’I am no stranger to your loyalty or care, Gedzin, but you and your soldiers have no place in this war. This war, an error as it may be, is, I tell you again, between the Wearers of the Mantle and the Paladins however.’’

‘’You cannot expect me to leave my Lady at the hands of these fiends…’’ started Gedzin, arms crossed and head perched low.

‘’No, but I can expect you to protect your men and do what the Lady would want best for you. ’’ replied Elryn gently and then added. ‘’Radcliffe requires the attention of a competent healer.’’

‘’…’’

Elryn hands glowed with a soft, sylvan green light and sought whatever wounds the necromancer lad he mend or assist. Though he was never skilled, to his misfortune, in healings magics, he could still use whatever basics he had learned to employ them somewhat as many mages did, picking up basics from various magics, after having dabbled with magic to a sufficient degree. Radcliffe, say true, was perhaps in little better shape than the paladin before him. Both had come to blows, he knew not why, an error of judgement perhaps, the fog of war, and the fight had gone downhill from there. It seemed strange to him how none had intervened; he himself had been busy dealing with group of necromancers intent on finishing off a pack of defeated and helpless paladins and raising them as there undead minions, a frustrating dilemma with Gedzin who was opting for diplomacy. Suffice to say, Radcliffe had not escaped the battle unscathed. A rather young lad as well… Elryn’s gaze never left his patient while he continued to address Gedzin.

‘’There is something useful you can do however. There must be quite a few wounded and grounded warriors at Yulgar’s by now. I believe he could use a hand both to keep the order and help the wounded…’’

‘’Out of the way mage! Let us deal with this necromancer dog.’’ blurted a voice behind him.

Elryn looked behind him. From the corner of his eye, he saw a dozen of strange paladins. They all wore the typical regalia, yet with an ugly read x smeared onto the breastplate. Gedzin addressed the interlopers with his trademark frown.

‘’What do you want, Paladin?’’

The paladin at the head of the group, the one that had addressed Elryn, sneered.

‘’Why to stick a sword through your friend on the floor there of course.’’

Elryn’s hands squeezed into fists. The wind died.

‘’Why you dirty…’’ began the necromancer commander.

‘’Tutt tut…’’ the rogue paladin taunted. ‘’If there is anyone that is dirty here, it is you necromancer freaks.’’

Elryn rose to his feet. As he did, the wind picked up again. It rose slowly but firmly, like pot of water beginning to boil, like a building rage. The paladins were oblivious.

‘’We’re here to purify the dark scum of the earth and that includes monsters like you.’’

The Winds’ rage burned and they rose stronger.

‘’Fiends!’’ barked Gedzin. ‘’You would stab an unconscious man?!’’

The rogue paladin leader smirked though the sudden head winds annoyed him.

‘’I wouldn’t call that a man, but sure.’’

And the winds burst into fury. All of a sudden, the rogue paladins were assailed by angry winds they struggled to hold against. In their sudden fear, it seemed as though the winds screamed at them, enraged. A deep voice, echoed from somewhere in the stormed. The words were terrifying, possessed by a calmness that suppressed a great rage that lied worryingly close to the surface.

‘’You call yourselves paladins…’’ said the Warmage ominously.

‘’Ha! That’s right mage. We’re the true paladins around here.’’ continued on arrogantly their leader.

Primal Magic…

‘’We are be the ones who will truly cleanse Lore of those viles undead…’’

Minor Spell…

‘’And the monsters the necromancers!!’’

In front of the rogue leader, Elryn appeared as raging tempest. He seemed no longer so solid than made of enraged winds that mimicked his form, covered by the symbols of silver linings, as if the Elemental Lord of Wind himself had chosen to manifest through an Avatar.

Third Wind!!

A torrential barrage of wind outpoured from Elryn’s form and rammed the rogue paladins like a speeding locomotive. In a moment, the tempestuous winds abruptly stopped and those that engulfed the Warmage subsided. The dozen rogue paladins were lain on the floor some meters away from where they had originally stood, knock out cold.

‘’Good riddance…’’ said Gedzin with venom in his voice.

‘’Are we at an agreement?’’ inquired calmly the blue mage.

‘’I suppose…’’



Play this music while the reading continues until the end of this part.
http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=gPX1r9GHUNM#Laxus_Theme_Ost_-_Extended



The world changed in an instant. A quick and deadly swipe could be heard as it tore through a contingent of undead and sent them flying in an arch in all pieces. The world slowed to a crawl as they flew. A lone warrior stood in the valley below, a two meter claymore still frozen in the end of its blow, standing tall and fearsome against the necromancers who dared not approach him.

Time sped by. Gedzin and Elryn exchanged glances and the next moment he and his men were sinking through a gear portal towards home. Gedzin last look told Elryn everything. They disappeared.

Elryn turned. The Warrior was small in the distance, but he stared his way as if that distance was no different than had he been right next to him. The wind blew in each’s back as it drawing them to a meeting. Elryn obliged.

Wind puffed under his steps, heavier than the last time for a thud also echoed in the entrails of the earth.

Step

The near armies stopped their squabbles. A pressure was in the air that distracted them, drew them to turn around and watch. The Warmage made his way unimpeded through the masses.

Step

The wind whisked his cloak lightly.

Step

A deep echo from the earth.

Step

And the Warmage found himself facing the Scourge of the Battlefield.

‘’Cataclysm.’’


*****



‘’Elryn.’’

The two giants stood face to face. A weak wind pulled at one’s robes and pushed at the other’s garments trying in vain to separate them. It mourned, not just for these two, but for all those that took part in the grim conflict. The earth, in turn, lamented the pain of the blood spilled on it. Their cries were all silenced by the darkness that dimmed and covered the world. High above, black, ominous clouds grew on the sky like parasites upon an unfortunate body. The world was darker as though light had been sucked away like the vampiric drain of a vampire fiend. Not simply the landscape, covered with destruction and much blood, but the minds of the men, were they still that, that raged on the battle field. Thunder roared as a strange pied coloured lightning bolted from the darkness above. As it did, it illuminated the eyes of the paladins and necromancers on the battlefield.

It was eerie and uncanny. Their eyes seem no longer so much alive so much as glazed like the glass in the eyes of dead man. Their blows were no longer theirs, no longer their will but that of a sinister puppeteer that, from places darker still, toyed with dark and grim pleasure with the lives of these men. The fire that animated their spirits, a devious gear placed by the master. Weapons swung in a mechanical motion.

Yet under this foreboding scene, another figure appeared. Running towards to two that stood was a skinny man of average height and hair of purple tint. He was odd. A light blue coat, similar to that of scientist, with pink trimmings adorned him. Tep Itaki shouted as he neared the twain:

"Elryn! Cataclysm! Why are the two of you in this fight!? Why do you have to face each other, especially on opposing sides of the battlefield when you're obviously comrades of past! At least tell me this before you fight!"

A rough, deep voice but that yet held a calm and measured tone first replied:

"For the same reason I always do. I am a mercenary, and I have a contract..."

The rest of the words escaped the Warmage as he began in turn:

"I fight for the same reason I always fight. To protect my friends and kin from harm.''

He paused and added with a sense of determined inevitability in his voice:

''That means I must protect them from themselves.''

As if those words were the key to activating a spell, suddenly a cutglass flew through the air aimed at Cataclysm whom dodged. At the same time, out of Elryn’s shadow an equally shadowy figure rapidly emerged and attempted to spear the mage. As it emerged, a red pony-tail on a head with female features materialized, a nasty grin painted on her lips. The grin soon left her as she realized her prime target was no longer just in front of her as was but a moment ago.

''Those movements... '' muttered a voice to her right.

She turned to see the mage, standing exactly as he was before her strike, but some meters away from her rather than before.

''You are a rookie, are you not? '' continued the mage plainly.

The deadly woman frowned and dived back into the impostor shadow from which she had emerged. Like water absorbed into the ground, the shadows melted and disappeared. Elryn sighed.

''There is too much interference. It is time to fix that.'' he declared.

Elryn shifted his gaze and turned to Tep Itaki.

''Tep.''

''Yes?'' replied the purple one.

''Run.''



Battle music: http://www.listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=V6dVOPoMmjg



Primal Wind

The wind stilled. Air began to exhude from Elryn form. It swirled around his body, etheral like a ghost.

Normal Spell

The wind faded in and out around his body, ghostly one moment, hard and tempestuous the next, like a power bearly contained, energy ready to burst out. The wind increased in degrees, faster and faster, darker and stronger. The tempest that resided within his eyes burned with rage and spreaded to his body until he was, but the physical embodiment of a hurricane. The winds flickered more urgently and alighted with uncontainable energy.

First Wind

And winds ignited from the Warmage. In an instant, a barrage of crushing winds exploded outwards, creating a massive wind Nova of a few hundred meters in radius. All the paladins and necromancers caught within it were flung aside and knocked out cold. Within the eye of the storm, a figure, no a shape, half human, half wind elemental, outpoured his rage onto all that surrounded him. From there, he heard a boom and cry from the depths of the winds. He grinned.

I would expect no less from you.

The wind ended and dispersed in a flash. The stalwart Scourge of the Battlefield remained before him as ever, blade drawn before him with a hard and resolute gaze.

From the darkness of his cloak, Elryn demeanour took a serious and rigid stance. His right foot before his left slid back in circle. As he did, his cloak took on a more solid and grey shade. As if the world age a thousand years while his foot slid back in that circular motion, his cloak fossilized and turned to stone, the arcane, silver symbols of his garment becoming engraving upon a statue. His hands shifted from outstretched to straight, solid palms facing the ground below that seemed to compose it and rose slowly like birth of great mountains.

Primal Earth

His hands stopped and his foot locked neatly into the natural erection of a statue. A deep, slow and earthen voice pronounced:

Ancient Formation

Like the impact of a meteor, the Warmage’s hands and right foot came crashing down. The impact made the earth quake and sent shockwave outwards. All around the twain, hundreds of meters away, imposing aged mountains of stone jutted from the ground to great height, emprisonning them in an antidiluvian dome. As they locked in place, fire surged from within the Warmage’s cloak, spreading like a wave and setting alight his body. Fire burned from him with the rage of the Deep Earth seemingly as if the stone that had composed him felt the call of its primal, more ancient form; the burning rock that composed Lore long ago. Fire swam from his feet and into the ground, charring the earth bare as it did so. The ground within the dome boiled. A fire rising from deep below.

Primal Fire...

Lines crimson as the heart of a volcano carved and drew themselves into the earth as the spell template manifested on the ground. They glew with the fire nuture by the years of hibernation of the fire mountains. The earth grumbled as an ancient power surge through.

Molten Earth

And earth ignited in flames. The ground irrupted in a pillar of fire, reaching for the distance of the sky. Gravity took its toll as the fire slowed and stopped for a moment and then descended back to the burning ground.

From the ground below, Elryn looked above to the figure, blade extended downwards, seemingly half suspended in the air. As his fall quickened, a violent gust of wind blew away and to the winds the mage’s cloak.

Covered in his bark attire and ram skull helm, he reached for the heavy wodden maul with head rims incrusted with a dark grey metal sitting in the sheath tied to his back. Maul in hand, his hand slid down the leather strap of the handle closer towars the head, angling the butt end of the maul in front of him. He charged towards his friend and foe, Cataclysm, pulling back the maul intent on striking like a spear.

''Cataclysm! '' belowed he as he stabbed forwards.

N.B.: Read the continuation of the battle in Cataclysm`s War Story.



Interlude - The other fight

A solitary, young paladin fought in the thick of the fray. He had lost his group in the pandemonium that was the battlefield and now fought with some timidity, yet still bravely, any necromancer that came on him. He turned and face the next one approaching.

‘’Don’t... Don’t come anywhere near me, necromancer, or I will be forced to fight you! I..’’

‘’Out of my way, kid.’’ cut short rough, raspy voice.

The lad flinched. The man exuded an altogether frightening air. Darkness hung over him and his short cloak like vengeful ghost; he was not in a mood to talk much less compromise. The initiate pulled himself together, charged and lunged with his sword, aiming for a frontal stab:

‘’HAAAAAAH!!’’

But he missed. Like a shadow, Jorsht agilely spun and slipped past to the right of the paladin’s bow. Before the young man could do more than gawk at his prowess, the butt of Jorsht’s staff came down hard on the back of his head and sent the boy to a deep sleep. Jorsht continued on his way unfaltering.

****


Dravan was not too keen on the six necromancers before him. Certainly, he had seen many in his own days, but the eerie air that exuded from these ones was anything but comforting. All six displayed a grin so utterly malicious that one could not help but to feel his skin crawl. It most certainly went well with the shadowy garments. In truth, they seem less to be six individual mortals than one mischievous shadow taking a mock form of human beings. He wondered himself if they were human at all. Either way, the shadows their hoods painted certainly gave them a nightmarish visage.

‘’No matter.’’ muttered the commanding paladin.

Dravan advanced some steps accompanied by the clicking of his armour.

‘’I’ll make this quick. Now just stand were you...’’

Dravan nearly bit his tongue as his left foot suddenly refused to part the floor beneath it. He looked behind; a putrid, dirty hand, emerging from the ground like a malvolent vine, held ravenously to his foot.

Zombie Hands..

In a flash as fast as light, Dravan drew the sword strapped to his back and sliced the ghastly hand. Just as quickly, he about-faced the necromancers. The two necromancers on the edge of the six half crouched forwards, hands extended towards him like the ravenous mouths of the mindless undead. Dark and malvolent energy emanated from their palms. The other four did the same, but instead of focusing on him, they gathered in a semi circular fashion, seemingly concentrating on the ground a short distance before them.

‘’Scum!’’ cursed the annoyed paladin.

The paladin attempted a dash, but then a flurry of zombie hands emerged all around and franctically reached for his person. In a flash of light, Dravan sent flurry after flurry of swings, cutting the hands before they could reach him. Yet, as he did so, more hands emerged from the desecrated grounds to replace the ones he had just culled. He swung his sword frantically, yet he could not gain any ground.

He eyed the necromancers again. Strange bones of various kind had begun to emerge from the ground that seem to be the focus of the foursome’s attention. Dravan watched as they began to band together in a familiar double jointure he had seen several times before.

An Undead Mutant!

The necromancers let out an cold cackle as comprehension dawn on the paladin’s face. In a moment, their deadly abomination would be complete...

‘’Out of my way, worms!’’

A heavy wooden staff crashed into the side of one of the necromancers’ head and sent him sprawling to the ground. The necromancer near him had time only to look at his companion in dismay when he was sent in the other direction. The unfinished construct twitched; a spark in the magic blew acknowledging its instability which was confirmed a moment later when the constructed exploded with bang.

The four remaining growled and bore their teeth like fangs. Two on each side turned and glared menacingly at the intruder that had stormed in and ruined their plans. Their fury paled in comparison to his however. No sonner that he had sense their intent, that, from the darkest of darkness, the voice snarling beast muttered:

Grave Surge!

Darkness surged from the ground on either side of Jorsht and engulfed the necromancers in a cold oblivion. The darkness, in a moment, receeded to the ground, leaving behind the bodies of the four dark ones behind.

‘’Jorsht?! What in the Ninth Circle of Heck are you doing here?’’ blurted out Dravan, dismayed.

‘’Hmm..?’’

Jorsht seemed for a moment to regain a more reasonable composure. He turned to the paladin.

‘’...’’

The necromancer stared hard at the paladin.

‘’Dravan?’’ muttered he dumbly.

‘’Of course it’s me you bag o’bones!!’’ cried the frustrated crusader. ‘’Didn’t I tell you to stay out of this?!’’

Jorsht scratched the back of his hood nonchalantly as well as the sparse black hair of his beard. He eyed the six necromancers on the floor.

‘’Did I go on a blind rage again? I am fairly certain I wasn’t supposed to end up here.’’

‘’Jorsht!!’’

Dravan brought his hand to his face. Jorsht had done it again. The latter looked at the former half perplexed, half unsettled.

‘’Heh, heh... No need to make a scene about it...’’ gave the necromancer.

Dravan stared at Jorsht with an exagerratedly quizzical air.

‘’Besides..’’ continued Jorsht, slightly annoyed by his friend. His demeanour had at once taken a serious and grave air. His eyes were sharp and hard. ‘’I have situation on my hands... My apprentices are somewhere in this battlefield.’’

‘’Did you mean these two fellows?’’ asked a voice from the depths with fake curiousity.

Dravan and Jorsht turned. Amongst the downed necromancers, a familiar veiled shadow stood with two young boys dressed in simple black garbs within his dark hands.

‘’Master!’’ squeaked the frightened boys.

‘’Max! Aonghas!’’ cried the master necromancer.

Jorsht was about to start for his boys when the Mysterious Necromancer warned:

‘’Ah, ah, ah...’’

His hands crawled and grasped the two boys’ head firmly. As he did, colour drained from the boys’ face, their voices turning to a dry rasp, blue veins alarmingly appeared under the boys’ skin as their essence was being drained out of them.

‘’Nooo!’’ cried Jorsht. He added with a snarl. ‘’Released them! Demon!’’

‘’You would do well not to walk any closer, Jorsht.’’ threatened the same self demon idly.

The Mysterious Necromancer increased his grasp on his victims. Jorsht trembled with fury. The shade shifted his gaze to Dravan who looked at him as though he would spit on his face.

‘’Dravan...’’ murmured he with a hollow amiability. ‘’You are powerful member amongst your kind. You are also revered as a commander... You would make a good minion.’’

‘’I’ll kill you first!’’ retorted the good paladin.

The Mysterious Necromancer smirked at the reply.

‘’Jorsht.’’

The beckoned necromancer face was hidden in the shadows, gaze adamantly at the ground.

‘’Kill him.’’

‘’Wretched abomination! Jorsht will never..’’ began Dravan.

Before he could finish however, the shadow of Jorsht swinging his darkness infused staff overcame him. Dravan parried just in time with his own blade, but was pushed back some distance, his feet carving groves into the ground. Jorsht aimed his staff straight at Dravan, putting placing his other hand on top of it. The shadows that swam around his staff increased by folds as he growled:

Death’s Coil

A massive, black skull with firery black mane emerged from the magic and flew straight for Dravan. Fear momentarily tinted his eyes before he focused the light within himself, channeling it to his blade. With light suffusing from his weapon, he stabbed before he cried:

Lady’s Holy Shield!

A spectral heather shield ornated with a graceful female figure, hands clasped as if in prayer or concern, bursted in existence just before him and stood strong against the darkness that hurled itself at him. The last of the darkness was countered to reveal Jorsht again, charging forwards. Dravan this time was prepared as their next blows met with equal strength, his blade and the other’s staff collided in sequence, the deadly dance of the duo. Light clashed with dark and dark with light as energies bursted outwards, the eternal fight between night and day. And like dark and day, the two adversaries knew themselves so well that for a moment, they knew each other’s thoughts.

‘’You do not have to do this Jorsht! He is toying with you!’’

‘’I have no choice... The life of my apprentices is in his evil hands.’’


And so the fight wore on.

****


Elsewhere, two others were fighting their own fierce fight. They had shifted from power to speed, disappearing from the sight of the untrained eye, reappearing only briefly as they blows clashed, a drop in time, a momentary image of a fierce battle, then disappearing again. One mind screamed:

Jorsht! Dravan!

****


High above the battlefield, a small orb of gusts traveled and scanned the battles below. Elryn’s wind orb had been incesantly acting as his third eye, looking for the two he sought better than any other way he devise. Still, it had seemed that naught had come of it until his orb spied particular clashes of light and darkness down below.

What?

The orb flew down closer to the source of the outbursts. The two figures fought relentlessly and it seems it had taken a toll on both. But what surprised the orb were the two candidates of the match. One was a paladin with blue eyes; his proud, blond hair was pulled back behind his head making a sort of crown around his neck. The necromancer, on the other hand, wore a short cloak, seemingly uninclined to have his footing impaired like the rest of his kin. He had a rough scraggy beard that adorned his chin as if he had badly shaven, making his beard stick out in tuffs like the branches of a bush rather than one uniform whole.

Jorsht! Dravan!

The Wind Orb sped to their aid.

Below, on the ground, Jorsht and Dravan still fought under the threat of the death of Jorsht’s apprentices.

‘’You are taking your sweet time...Jorsht.’’ muttered the villain’s voice betrayed by impatience. ‘’Perhaps I should just finish off your boys right now.’’

‘’No!’’ outcried Jorsht.

Jorsht redoubled the frenzy of his attacks on Dravan. Dravan held them off, but he was on the defensive. His left foot stepped back after Jorsht’s most recent blow only to step on a bone of the formerly failed undead. He slipped. He could not defend himself from his friend’s next blow...

‘’Finish him!’’ cackled the cruel shadow.

‘’Jorsht! Dravan!’’ cried an ethereal voice.

‘’What?’’

Before he could react, the Wind Orb impacted and with a burst blew the Mysterious Necromancer to ground some distance away. Jorsht and Dravan turned immediately and hollered:

Coffin!
Sacred Bindings!


Concentrated darkness strapped itself to the helpless necromancer from all sides forming a solid rectangular coffin around his body. On cue, interlocked chains of light flung themselves to the prison and wrapped themselves around, like a whip on a branch, finishing the confinement of the fiend.

‘’Noooo!!!’’ mourned the Mysterious Necromancer.

Jorsht dashed towards his apprentices that had fallen to the ground after their liberation. He grabbed the weak twain.

‘’Aonghas! Max!’’ He shook both his arms. ‘’Say something to me!’’

The boys weakly moaned in reply as they opened their eyes. Jorsht hugged both tight and thanked the Lords they were safe. The boys had recovered some of their colour, but they were definitely still nauseated from their near undeath experienced. Dravan with his sprained ankle was close behind uttering his own sigh of relief.

‘’Not to interrupt your little reunion…’’ intoned another voice.

Dravan and Jorsht both looked curiously to the orb that had come to save them.

‘’Elryn here.’’ warmth exuded from the orb. ‘’I realize this is a special moment, but it will have to wait. I am here on behalf of both your families to beckon you to return home safe.’’

The two friends then remembered their own.

‘’I placed within this Wind Orb a teleportation spell to Yulgar’s Inn. It has just enough energy left to cast it. If you will, gather all your bearing and I shall activate it at once.’’ continued the mage via his orb.

‘’Hmpht..’’ uttered Jorsht with a grateful smile. He walked over to the imprisoned Mysterious Necromancer that struggled in vain to free himself. He stopped to look up to Jorsht, hanging over him with an aura that would scare Death himself, eyes glowing with an eerie darkness and a sinister smile to complete the whole.

‘’This is going to be fun…’’ Jorsht’s eyes flickered with grim intent.

The helpless villain squeaked and struggled with an exaggeration that was all too real this time as Jorsht grabbed the top of the chain and dragged the coffin like an undertaker to his client’s grave, all the while uttering a low, crazed cackle. One might think a necrotic spell might have been cast on Dravan as he paled a degree, unnerved as he was by the sight.

‘’…I will need to take him in to the Order for questioning and to answer to his crimes, Jorsht.’’

‘’Bah… Fine.’’ sulked a somewhat saner necromancer.

‘’Do you need help with the questioning?’’ inquired then the necromancer a moment later. ‘’Questioning a prisoner can be a particularly difficult task. I am… particularly convincing.’’ A dark aura suffused Jorsht as his hand caught darkness and as he grinned and his eyes glowed in a less than sane fashion. The captive in the casket’s heart sank at the idea and he redoubled his protest, hoping frantically and vainly trying to get to flee his crazy captor. Dravan, on his hand, was paler still. Sweat dripped down the side of his head in utter consternation.

‘’…Let us focus on getting him back in one piece shall we?’’ muttered he, defeated.

‘’Get me away from this madman!!!’’

‘’Sure.’’ replied Jorsht simply.

The two, along with the prisoner and the apprentices, gathered and faced the orb. Despite silliness, it was clear that Jorsht and Dravan were bruised and battered extensively. To be expected from a fight of a necromancer and paladin of their caliber no doubt. Jorsht gave a helping hand to Dravan, carrying one arm over his shoulder. As all of them were before the orb, Elryn could see in his mind, the smiles on both of their tired faces. They uttered in unison:

‘’Elryn.’’

The Wind Orb stirred.

‘’Thank you.’’
‘’Many thanks.’’

And the winds spun around them. It intensified for a moment then dispersed, leaving nothing behind. The Wind Orb remained for a moment longer until the magic came to an end and it dispersed as well.



Epilogue


Optional: I could not exactly decide on a song for this one, but this is always an option: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=Vdj0SadAmzM#Fairy_Tail_Sad_Song_Collection



As with all things… this story came to an end. So did the war start that, after several weeks, it ended.

There was no victory. There could be none in such a war. Both sides suffered and, in the end, both sides lost. A vast battlefield laid beneath the dark clouds that poisoned Battleonia’s sky. Mayhap they were not so ominous now, the war past, than they were sad. The battlefield, blades, staff, shield, various other weapons and bodies strewn around it, was not so much desolate as it held melancholy. The winds once again mourned the lives lost freely and carried this story to edge far and near. The earth, sick from injuries inflicted to it by mortals, held no anger, but lamented in turn the many glazed eyes that would soon find home in its caring embrace.

Somewhere, a weapon, perhaps a sword or an axe, laid wedge firmly into the ground. The leather strap that was once wrapped around the handle, perhaps with the care and kiss of a loved one just before the battle, dance lightly in the wind. A half mast flag, courtesy of the gentle gales of the land. Elsewhere, a trinket, a simple cherished one, imbued with a promise of a safe return home, one that will not come to pass.

The dark clouds began to clear. A timid light peaked from behind it. It too lamented, both for the souls departed and the souls injured. Unable to bring the former back, it gave the only comfort it could. To all that crossed its path, it gave a warm, comforting embraced. The eyes of few opened and where their eyes looked, their hearts filled with sorrow. Hands that previously wielded instruments of death now relinquished them to care for the vessels of life. Fair hands grabbed dark ones and raised them. As much, dark took fair and placed it on their shoulder.

Back in Battleon, a door opened onto a forlorn family. A necromancer and a paladin, covered in bandages and bruises, stood at the foot of the porch. Little Sora cried freely in the arms of her father. Jorsht rub the mess of his son’s hair. The glums turned to smiles.

Over the hills, not far from the town, two giants walked together. An arm over one and another over the other, they helped themselves to Yulgar’s Inn. Battered and bruised, faces low and tired. Yet in that tiredness, if only just, laid a small smile of relief and gratefulness.

Business soon returned to usual at Yulgar’s. Everyone sipped their Moglin Berry juice once the appropriate dealings had been tended to. Under the watchful surveillance of her two brothers, Rixi recovered. The three even made new, peculiar friends. Ulthair resumed his own training, ever under the watchful eye of his master, Cataclysm. Matters returned more or less to normalcy except that it was not normal of course. The denizens of Battleon were anything, but normal.

As for Elryn?

Well… Let us say, he decided to act on an old promise he made many wars ago. He sought to better his skill in order to better protect his own. He grabbed a traveling bag, filled it with some of his bearings, slung it over one of his shoulders and, with a peculiar arcane tome in tow, departed on quest to return one day a stronger mage than he had left.



Friends will bicker
And make quite fighter
If only to come arms
But a moment later.
Some will leave
Others return
That we love, we spurn
In the end, we know, we ken
We shall see these friends again


< Message edited by Elryn -- 10/22/2014 20:40:02 >
AQ  Post #: 4
1/29/2013 23:41:49   
Travis Touchdown
Reality Touchdown!


Shaded Sunrise

Death's Kid sat at his windowsill, looking out upon the Derenian sunrise. He had only just returned home from a long night's prowl. No less than a dozen thugs had met their end that evening. By all accounts, it had been a productive night.

And yet he felt melancholic. The psionic tremors of battles to come had been crying out for him for nearly two weeks. Normally, he met this sensation with some amount of glee; indeed, the periodic rise of evil armies often provided a rich opportunity to rid Lore of some of its less agreeable inhabitants. If nothing else, it was an opportunity to turn some of the more pliable back towards a path of peace and prosperity.

This time, however, was different. This time, the visions he saw were not of cackling villains, rampaging demons, or violent monsters. This time, he saw those he had claimed as his friends.

For the first time in nearly two years, BattleOn's legendary army stood divided.

He closed his eyes to shield them from the light as the sun rose between a break in the tree growth. As the bright light shone through his eyelids, he felt himself slipping away as the visions overtook him again.

He saw Paladins charging headlong into a violent fray on top of their noble steeds, striking down heavily armoured Undead. He could see a young Paladin soldier, his face obscured by the fog of war, get struck with a massive flail, and fall to the ground. As he shuddered, taking deep, laboured breaths, a dark figure stood over him. The figure's eyes flashed once, and the Paladin writhed with pain. All colour was being bleached from his skin. Suddenly, he slowly shambled to his feet. It was quite apparent that he had been turned into an undead. However, as he took his first steps in his second life, he was unceremoniously struck down by one of his former comrades. The Undead Paladin tried to climb back to his feet, using his now defiled axe as a support. Before he could look his opponent in the eyes, he was punched square in the jaw. He landed flat on his back, and looked up to see the moon hanging in the sky. His opponent walked into his view, his helmeted head blocking the moonlight. The Paladin rose his axe, which seemed to catch the reflections of the flames on the battlefield. For a brief moment, the Undead Paladin could see tears running down his former ally's face.

"I'm so, so sorry... Brother... but this is for your own good. Rest now, and be with Father."

But before the final blow could be landed, Death's Kid was brought back to his senses by the sound of screaming outside. He quickly drew a scythe from one of the two dangling sheathes at his hip and opened his eyes. While his mind was still clouded with remnants of his vision, he could make out the figures of a sword-wielding figure waving his weapon menacingly at a pair of dark-clothed figures under a tree on the outskirts of the once-abandoned ruins in which he had made his home. He silently opened the window and climbed onto the nearest branch of the nearest tree, before silently working his way towards the ground. As silent as he could possibly be, he made his way behind the swordsman under the cover of the bushes.

"Please... you don't need to do this! She's my sister!"
"Stow it, Necromancer. Don't you see? You've trapped your own sibling in her body. She's dead, ma'am. Let her be at peace."

The second clothed girl pulled back her hood. Her Undead status was quite apparent.

"You don't understand... you could never understand."
"I understand, all right. I understand that you're completely under her spell. Allow me to set you free."

Death's Kid grinned under his skull bandana. It was time for a little fun. He let his Twilight Cloak melt into the shadows, then swiftly shifted himself in the swordsman's shadow.

"Please... Paladin... she's harmless. She has her own free will. Leave her be."
"There is a natural order to these things, my dear. We all have our times to go... and it is time for the Reaper to take her."

Death's Kid reconstituted himself right behind the Paladin. Taking great care to not bring himself into his peripheral vision, he brought his mouth as close to the his right ear as he could, before letting out a guttural growl. "I'd be a wee bit careful about calling Death out, lad... ya might just find him."

Before his target could react, he caught his sword arm in an arm lock. In one fluid motion, he pried the enemy's sword from his surprised hand, then pulled him to the ground with his other arm. He quickly climbed to his feet, pointing the Paladin's sword at his chest.

"Now, then... say 'I'm sorry for tryin' ta kill yer sister', and ya might get ta tell yer friends about yer mistake."

With raw fear in the Paladin's eyes, he turned to look at the Necromancer and her Undead. "I... I... I'm sorry! Please... don't let him hurt me."

The Necromancer turned to Death's Kid. "Very well. I think you've made your point. Thank you." And with that, they turned and left.

"Now, then... ya listen close, and ya listen well, ya wee whelp. Ya try that ever, ever again, and we'll be meeting again. And next time..." He ran his thumb across the Paladin's neck. He tossed the Paladin's sword at the ground between his legs, and then dissolved back into the shadows. He stayed there, just for a moment, in case his victim had decided to test his luck. As soon as he was able to crawl back to his feet, however, he took off in a slow, humiliated walk in the opposite direction.

As Death's Kid returned home, he realized exactly how difficult his decision was going to be. Both the Paladin way and the Necromantic arts had brought pain to Lore's innocents. Soon, he would have to pick a side. With Lore's army divided, he would have to ally himself with the group that he felt would do less harm.

He needed time to think. In the days leading up to the battle, he would have to sit and think hard about the consequences.

As Death's Kid laid himself down to a fitful sleep, he knew that the times ahead were going to be full of hardship-- not just for him, not just for the warring factions, but for Lore itself. As the sun began to rise in the sky and sleep overtook him, his thoughts turned to those caught in the crossfire.

It would be them that he would be fighting for.

Day of Reckoning

Death's Kid had perched himself in a tall oak that overlooked the battlefield from a distance. The war had already begun. He knew that he was not particularly well hidden, as the winter months had caused the leaves to fall. In broad daylight, he would be easily spotted. For the first time in a while, his lack of cover was intentional. He wanted both sides to know that he was there. Watching. Waiting. He had hoped that it would help keep both sides in check.

Weeks of thought had brought no resolution to the quarrel in his mind. Both the Necromancers and Paladins had blood on their hands. This was a morally grey battle, and neither side could truly be called "good." He had left his Chimera napping in an abandoned stone quarry a few hundred steps away. In the event that both sides were deemed undeserving of his help, he would ambush both sides. The fast running pace of his beast of war would allow him to strike either side from behind and make a quick escape before they knew he was there.

He could feel the wind beginning to pick up as snow began to fall. He muttered under his breath. He had set up camp in the quarry days ago, but the protective cover and concealed position prevented him from watching the enemy from the warmth of his campfire. He was used to the cold, but he knew that the weather would make any ranged attacks more difficult. As a sniper, it was difficult to efficiently eliminate enemies from a distance when his aim was disrupted by howling winds, and it was difficult to aim in a blizzard. Worst of all, a storm would force him to get closer to the battlefield to keep an eye on both parties. He didn't fear for his safety, but he knew that protecting himself could cause either side to attack him on sight, thinking that he was an enemy. The last thing he wanted was to inadvertently land himself on a side that he would rather fight against.

Unfortunately for him, the winds had their own plans, and before long the light flurries had turned into a full-fledged storm. He jumped down from the tree, and slowly began an approach to the battlefield.

He had only gone a few dozen feet when he heard voices, shouting to be heard over the storm. He crawled into a hollow log and laid perfectly still on his stomach. He closed his eyes, trying to focus on what they were saying over the wailing winds.

"Are you sure that there's an Undead village this way?"
"Helenro says that there is."
"He had better be right. I'm starting to wish I had taken up Artix on that offer of Holy Wasabi. At least my insides would be warm."

As far as he could tell, there were at least half a dozen Paladins, marching in rank. He waited for the sounds of their voices to die away, and then crawled out the log in their direction. He could make out faint silhouettes in the distance. Taking great care to avoid patches of frozen ice, he stalked them. As far as he was concerned, a group of Paladins entering an Undead village during wartime could only mean trouble.

Sure enough, after only a few minutes, he could make out torches in the distance. The Paladins marched right past them, then reached for their weapons.

"Come on out, Undead! We are here to free you from yourselves!"

Death's Kid growled. He ducked a fallen log. He set his sniper rifle on his new makeshift perch, taking aim at the shouting Paladin with one hand, and reaching for ammunition with the other. Sure enough, the Paladin charged at one of the skeletons as soon as he laid eyes upon him.

He didn't even hear his victim hit the ground.

"Jeffery? JEFFERY!"
"Paladin down!"
"Did you hear that noise? We're being flanked!"

Death's Kid bolted from his cover and moved to ambush his opponents from the side. He wouldn't have time to reload at this distance. He slid the rifle into its holster on his back and reached for his scythes as he ducked behind a stone hut.

"Footsteps, headed back into the village."
"It had to be a Necromancer. He must have followed us from the battlefield."
"Fan out. Find him. Whoever is responsible for this must pay."

He felt a boney hand tapping on his shoulders. A well-dressed Skeleton stood behind him.

"We're a neutral village, boy. We don't want any trouble from the Paladins... or from you Necromancers."

"I ain't no Necromancer. Just consider me a Guardian angel. Now, go find yerself some place nice an' safe. This'll be over fast."

He let his Twilight Cloak meld into the shadows as one of the Paladins charged towards his position. It was then that he caught a glimpse of his face.

It was the Paladin he had stopped the other day.

"You! Undead scum! Did you see him?"
"See who?'
"You know who. You will tell me who is behind this, or I will have no choice but to--"

His voice trailed off as he was tapped on the shoulder. It was then that he saw a dark-clothed figure standing beside him, poised to strike with a scythe. He could not see his face, aside from terrifying glowing eyes and a skull jawbone.

"Well, I did not expect ta see ya again so soon, lad."

He barely had time to realize his fear before he felt a brief pain in his back. As the ground came up to meet him, he could see two dark, hooded, scythe-wielding individuals standing over him.

"Over there! Paladin down!"

Death's Kid melted back into the shadows. He had been right when he had believed there to be half a dozen Paladins marching upon the village, and now the remaining four were closing in on him. It was time to do a little bit of magic.

"Their blind zeal has not yet ended their sight. Leave 'em dazed and confused, Ultraviolent Light!"

A small ball of elemental Light formed where he had stood just moments ago. The Paladins turned the corner to see a small will o' wisp awaiting them, slowly absorbing the light from the surrounding area.

"...What is this mockery?"
"Necromancers don't use light, do they?"
"A few of them do, actu--"

Without warning, the ball flared up, quickly devouring all of the light in the village. It pulsated once.

"RUN!"

As the Paladins soon learned, however, it was far too late to escape the destructive radius. They were sent flying, landing in various pained heaps on the cobblestone roads of the village. The light had blinded them, and the explosion's loud discharge had left their ears ringing. As far as they could tell, however, they were still alive.

As their eyes readjusted, however, they quickly found that they had been disarmed. A grim figure stood on a nearby rooftop, holding their various axes, swords, and crossbows in his hands, as if taunting them.

"Let this be yer lesson. You Paladins are supposed to be the champions of good. Killin' those livin' a peaceful existence? That's not much good, is it?"

The Undead villagers slowly marched towards them.

"Now, you and 'em are both unarmed. Care to try yer luck now?"

Without a word, the disarmed Paladins took off in the direction from whence they had come.

The Skeleton he had spoken to earlier called up to him.

"Thank you, son. What will you do now?"

Death's Kid was silent for a moment. He knew that there were Evil factions amid the Necromancer legion. Siding with them could have dire consequences. However, it was apparent that the Paladins sought the destruction of the Necromantic arts, and those who had been given a new life with them. There was little doubt that Helenro had sent those Paladins there to destroy the Undead who lived here, despite their neutrality. He had faith in the old Paladin way, the way of Good, but it was apparent that the Paladin Order had abandoned it. The Evil Necromancers would suffer for their crimes in due time... but today, the Paladins were in the wrong and needed to be stopped.

"Now? I fight ta bring the Order back ta their senses."

< Message edited by Travis Touchdown -- 2/1/2013 22:38:47 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 5
1/29/2013 23:56:39   
UnderSoul
Member

The Beginning

Lord Scorpio stared out his window. Even though he was a noble Lord, he still only lived in Log Cabin. He preferred it to the extravagant estates. But today, his house was not the issue. Rumours said that the Paladins were preparing an all out attack on Necromancers. Lord Scorpio was one of the generals of the main militant branch of Necromancers, the NecroLegion, so the news did not please him. He decided to call a meeting.

At the meeting were several prominent Necromancers who all agreed that the Paladins were not making a smart move for their future. While everyone talked, Lord Scorpio called something to attention. "I have heard that they have a special general in charge," he said, "one who is currently unknown, though what is known is he is a master of mind games. If you meet a Paladin who seems smarter than the rest, you are not under any circumstances to talk to him. If my hunch is correct, they may be a threat after all."

The War Begins

The Paladin forces were indeed gethering, just as Lord Scorpio had heard. He decided to give a reminder to his comrades before the battle. "Remember," he advised, "that no matter whether we win or die we will remain the honourable NecroLegion." As he said the last part he noticed his tactician cringe at the word "honourable". He dismissed it and continued getting ready for battle. Then, a messenger came to him, "Lord, there's a letter for you." The messenger nervously left as Lord Scorpio read the letter.

Dear "Lord" Scorpio,
I see you've noticed the army and have prepared your troops accordingly. I'm flattered you think of me as the general, but we are a group. Everyone is equal, except for Artix. How did I know that? Let's just say I've got a few friends. The ravens hiding in the myst are my allies. As you know, I'm not bound to your little sense of honour, and as such will not hesitate to sabotage your group. You still have your misconceptions about us, but I know you too well. Think carefully before you strike. Though out of respect for your... intriguing intellect, I wish you, but not your side, luck.
~popinloopy


Lord Scorpio thought for a long time after reading the letter. His old rival had indeed returned. And he was using his birds as spies. he never exactly thought of popinloopy as the PalaPact type, though he'd learned that he is far from an open book. This war will be more interesting than he had ever thought.

The next day the Paladins attacked. They brought artillery and soldiers for the initial strike, but were held off. Lord Scorpio helped summon more powerful undead, as did his friend and fellow general Muchiha. They increased the barriers, and had cake to celebrate a victorious first day. Lord Scorpio knew however, that the Paladins would not resign so easily. Especially with their... special friend. That night Lord Scorpio grabbed something he didn't think he'd ever need, his spoon. "I've got a friend of my own to recruit." he told his confused army.

In the Heat of Battle

Lord Scorpio trudged through the Darkovian forests in search of his friend and former lieutenant Smog. He was ignored by most of the undead, for obvious reasons, but the Lycans stopped him a few times. He made short work of any interference as he continued his search. Then, there was a bright flash of light and a Paladin in pure golden armour appeared. "Halt," said the mysterious Paladin, "Necromancers have no place here. This is a Paladin protected section of Darkovia." Lord Scorpio studied the stranger. "Oh, and who are you to stop me?" he inquired. "I am the golden Paladin Flashbang, apprenticed for now. Don't think just because I'm an apprentice means I'm weak, I'm far... brighter than you'd think." Flashbang smiled as he said the last part. Lord Scorpio wondered how a Paladin found the only safe path into this part of Darkovia. Well, safety is relative, but it's nearly always Paladin free. Someone had led him here. Someone who knew Smog resided here. He asked the Paladin, "Who's your mentor?" Flashbang smirked at the question and simply pointed to the trees. At that point an obscene amount of ravens flew out of the branches. As Lord Scorpio realized the meaning of the dramatic display, he saw a Paladin in surprisingly dark armour and a hat made of... sushi? The dark Paladin spoke, "Well, about time you showed up." Lord Scorpio instantly recognized the voice. "Of course. No one but you could've found out. I din't think I'd ever have to see you again, popinloopy."

With that, the two rivals sprang into battle. Lord Scorpio danced around popinloopy's stabs and slices, doing his best not to be killed. On the sidelines, Flashbang cheered enthusiasticly for his mentor. "Go sushi guy go!" he shouted. As the battle continued, popinloopy started having to go more defensive as Lord Scorpio started to mix offensive magic in with his already more than adequate swordmanship. They were perfect matches. With every stroke from one the other would parry. Each blast of light or darkness was met with a counter. Then, popinloopy spoke. "I see you haven't improved much since our last fight. Your honour is what holds you back. Your pride in it will be your downfall. I know your weaknesses better than you do, and honour is your biggest one. As long as you keep that pathetic belief, you will always lose." Hearing that pushed Lord Scorpio over the edge as he picked up his pace. He was furious at the insult to his honour, and his sword showed it. He used the full extent of his dark powers to hold popinllopy at bay. He managed to defend himself succesfully, though he couldn't call it a win.

After the Paladins left, he made his way to Smog's house. All he found was a note.

Dear Lord Scorpio,
I have escorted Smog to the base using an alternate route, as your path was reported to have an ambush. If you're reading this, I assume you made it out safely. I advise you to return soon, as Smog is distraught at the lack of spoons. The Paladins have been getting more aggressive, at this point they don't care whether the Necromancer they hunt is evil, innocent, or even a child who accidently summoned an Undead. Please, we need you back here.
~Phrixus


Genocide

Lord Scorpio ran back to the NecroLegion base, where he found Phrixus standing next to an enraged Smog. "Here's your spoon." said Lord Scorpio. Smog ran off to play with the spoon while Phrixus talked war with the other commanders. They had decided to go with an aggressive defense, when there was a large boom. The commanders looked around to find the cause, when suddenly a light brighter than a thousand suns filled the room.

Out of nowhere a dozen or so Paladins appeared in the room. Without a word they launched their attack. Two teamed up on Phrixus, though his outstanding battle skills gave them as much chance as a Frogzard fighting Carnax. Muchiha summoned a mutant to hold off three more, though one managed to live long enough to break it apart. As the survivor charged Muchiha, he was hit with a blast of dark energy fired from Lord Scorpio's blade. The remaining Paladins fled, though several were killed by spoons on their way past Smog.

The commanders looked outside to see how their soldiers had fared. Many were dead, some twice over. As they looke on the travesty that occured in the name of the Paladin Order, they were speechless. Muchiha told the others to go back inside as he surveyed the carnage, though Lord Scorpio stayed. He took note of several Paladin bodies, though far less than the Necromancer corpses. Eventually he too went inside, leaving the sorrowful Lord Scorpio on his own. He walked over to the sidelines, where there were neighborhoods which never should have been part of the war. He walked inside one demolished house and found a small girl who couldn't have been older than 8 lying dead on the ground with a golden sword through her chest, piercing right through her miniature Necromancer robes. For the first time in his years as a general, he wept. He would not let such unspeakable horrors be repeated. He was determined to win this war.

Retaliation and Victory

Lord Scorpio got little sleep that night. His head was filled with plans to avenge the innocent that were slaughtered because of their art. When he did sleep, he was plagued by nightmares. Nightmares of what would happen should he fail. When morning came, Lord Scorpio was actually glad to see the sunshine.

The commanders were at the war table considering plans. "I have an idea!" said Smog, "How about we-" Muchiha cut him off, "No spoons." A disappointed Smog trudged out to the battlefield to mope while waiting for the Paladins. "General Phrixus, do you have an idea?" inquired Lord Scorpio. "None yet my friend." spoke the general. As they continued brainstorming they heard a loud shout. "Pala-mages, Ready the Light Nuke!" Lord Scorpio recognized the voice. It was the apprentice Flashbang.

Muchiha went outside to personally see to the "Light Nuke" and reported that so far it was little more than an exploding lamp. Then the army came. Hundreds of Paladins charging across the battlefield, showing no respect for the bodies they trampled. As he watched them, it was then Lord Scorpio had an idea. Using all his Necromantic powers, he called to his deceased legion. "Necromancers, hear my call. Dance to the dark waltz of victory. The Darkness will rise and Light shall fall. Awaken and be engraved in history!" As he said the words, the fallen rose as powerful undead. Like a dark puppeteer Lord Scorpio guided them into battle as they tore through the ranks of the overzealous Order. When the last Paladin fell, Lord Scorpio did something no one knew he could. He created a beam of bright life energy and shot it through his fallen comrades. As the light shot through the Necromancers, they were returned to the land of the fully living. "How did you... Did that just... Explain!" said a confused Muchiha. "Don't you know what the pinnacle of Necromancy is?" asked Lord Scorpio, "It's being able to control Life and Death, I've not yet mastered it, but I'm good enough." They celebrated the astounding victory with Necrocake and went off to bed.

A Midnight Meeting

That night Phrixus saw something odd. A thick mist settled outside of the base, obfuscating his view. He instantly reported it to Lord Scorpio, who realized the only person who could do this. He walked outside and spoke the mysterious cloud. "Brave Paladin, to try and claim the night." His rival stepped out. "Foolish Necromancer to think it belongs solely to his group." "You know you've lost right?" asked the honourable lord. "I suppose we have. Don't think our little rivalry has ended though." Lord Scorpio addressed the mysterious Paladin. "I would never. A midnight meeting between a Paladin and a Necromancer, quite a strange occurence." "Strange occurences are for strange people" Lord Scorpio pondered the events of the war as he answered. "As are we." Content, popinloopy left. As he walked into the mist, he echoed his rival.

"As are we"

< Message edited by UnderSoul -- 2/2/2013 17:23:47 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 6
1/30/2013 1:43:21   
battlemaster25
Member

Prologue: Choosing a Side

Scene: A small cabin in the woods, evening. Storm Silverwing and an old man are speaking.

"....conflicting loyalties. I used to be a Paladin, as you well know."

"Yes, Storm, I understand that. However, you are a Necromancer at heart. Remember all the good it has done you. Remember how happy it has made you. Believe me, you won't regret it."

"How can you possibly know that, Teacher? And if you know what the future holds, then why are you always so vague?"

"I have told you many times. My teaching methods are a secret, and asking too many questions is unwise."


Storm sighed and sat down.

"You know what? You're right."

"You've made your decision, then?"

"Yes. I will head to the Necromancer encampment in the morning."


The old man smiled, and teleported out in a flash of darkness. Storm glanced over at the wall, where a black cloak hung on a hook.

End of Prologue.

-----------------------------------------------------

Chapter I: The Camp


Scene: Darkovia, Necromancer Encampment, morning. Necromancers and undead are bustling about. Storm approaches.

Undead Archers stood watch around the camp's borders. One of them saw Storm, and alerted its master. A necromancer came running.

"You there! Stop! No one enters the camp without passing inspection!"

Storm stopped and looked at the guard.

"Alright. What, exactly, does that entail?"

"You just have to prove that you aren't a Paladin in disguise."

"And how am I supposed to do that?"

"Figure it out."


Storm thought for a moment, then suddenly had an idea. Darkness magic started swirling around his hands. After a minute of charging, he then slammed his hands into the ground, releasing the magic. For a moment, everything was still. Then, suddenly, the ground cracked open, and skeletons began crawling out. Storm simply looked on, as a swarm of skeletons surrounded him.

"....Well then. Paladins would never have the guts to do that. Now, just one more thing."

"Oh? What is it now?"

"I just need your name. We're trying to keep track of everyone involved."

"Ah, okay. My name is Storm Silverwing."

"Got it. You can head inside now. Try not to cause too much trouble, I hear they like to turn troublemakers into zombies."


Storm nodded and walked past the guard into the camp. He saw a large field of tents, and hundreds of men and women in black cloaks going about their business. Undead were running around everywhere, performing chores and fetching various things for their masters. At the center of the camp was a large black tent, emblazoned with a red skull. Storm recognized it immediately. It was the commanders' tent, where the most powerful necromancers and warmongers met to discuss the latest events of the war.

As Storm looked around, he saw people of many different races among the necromancers' ranks. Vampires, Werewolves, Werepyres, Dracopyres. Vartai, Elves, perhaps even a demon or two. For some reason, he felt strangely at home here, among his fellow necromancers, although he wondered whether that feeling would last once the fighting started. He came across an empty space in a row of tents, so he snapped his fingers. A dark green tent immediately appeared on the spot, already set up. Storm snapped his fingers again, and this time a skeletal archer appeared. Storm had "liberated" this particular skeleton a few weeks before, when he was searching for Lucretia. He had inexplicably become rather fond of it, and decided to allow it to regain most if its old personality, on the condition that it continued to serve Storm.

"Isaac, do me a favor, and watch my tent. I'm going to go see if I can't get some food. You want anything?"

"....Master, you know very well that I cannot eat. I don't even have a stomach!"

"Oh. Right. Yeah. That was pretty insensitive, wasn't it?"

"Yes, yes it was. But I'm not complaining, I'm better off here than I was with that undead mage. At least now I can think again."

"That's the spirit. Now, if anyone approaches my tent, stop them. I'll give you a magic rune so that you can alert me. Got it?"

"Yes, master, I know how this works."


Storm's hand glowed with magic. He grabbed Isaac's arm, and a glowing purple rune appeared. Then, he turned around and walked away, wandering around in search of food.

End of Chapter.

-----------------------------------------------------

Chapter II: The Letter


Scene: A mansion just outside Battleon, early afternoon. A gray-haired woman sits, writing a letter.

"Dear Storm,

My scouts report that you were seen heading towards the Necromancers' camp, in Darkovia. You told me when you left the Order that you wanted to walk your own path. I accepted it, but I did not think that path would lead you there. I always knew that you had a natural talent for darkness magic, but necromancy!? That goes against everything that you have ever been taught, and everything that I was ever taught. And not only that, but now you throw your lot in with an army of them. You do realize that several of your peers are hoping to conquer Lore, right?

Our family have been with the Paladin Order for generations. And now you ally yourself with our enemies? I know you don't have any malevolent intent. I know that you're only doing what you think is right. Darkness is your natural element, I understand that. But necromancy is not the only form of darkness magic, and you know that as well as I do. In fact, even if you insist on practicing necromancy, that doesn't mean that you have to join the Necromancers' army. You could practice it quietly, and not get involved in this war at all.

But I know that you could never be able to just stay out of it. I wouldn't be able to either. So that is why I am going to offer you one final chance. Leave the Necromancers' camp, and never look back. Banish all of your undead minions, assuming you have any. And then come and meet me in Battleon. I will try to get you reinstated as a Paladin, and you can fight on our side instead. If you insist on staying with the Necromancers, then be warned: If we meet on the battlefield, I will have no choice but to kill you. I do not want it to come to that, so please, I am asking you, come back to the light.

Sincerely,
Paladin Commander Juna Elexion Silverwing


The woman finished the letter and folded it up. Then, she whistled, and a hawk flew to her arm. She tied the letter to its leg.

"Deliver this to Storm, in Darkovia."

Scene: Necromancer Encampment, nighttime. Storm sits silently inside his tent.

"Master!"

"Yes, Isaac? What is it?"

"A messenger hawk, sir. It has a letter addressed to you."

"Alright, let me see it."


Storm walked out of his tent. Isaac handed him the letter, and the hawk flew off. Storm opened the letter and began reading it silently. After a moment, he folded it back up.

"Who is it from, and what's it about?"

"It's from my mother. She's trying to guilt-trip me into re-joining the Paladins. She also included a not-so-subtle threat of what will happen if I don't."

"I assume that you won't listen to her, will you?"

"Of course not. I've made my choice, I'm not going to go back on it."

"Good. I would hope not. Besides, you said your mother threatened you? That's not very good parenting."

"Tell me about it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go get some sleep. The war will be starting in just a few days, I need all the rest I can get. Keep watch."

"Yes, master."


With that, Storm turned and went back inside his tent, shoving the letter into his pocket.

End of Chapter.

-----------------------------------------------------

Chapter III: The War Begins


Scene: Outside the Necromancer Encampment, Mid-Afternoon. Storm and Isaac stand among a large group of Necromancers.

"So, master, remind me. Why are we standing around here?"

"Apparently, some scouts reported that this would be the first place the Paladins attack."

"And we're just waiting for them to come to us?"

"Yes. Make sure you're prepared."


Isaac nodded and made sure he had everything he needed. Storm looked down at the ground, which was covered in glowing purple runes. As soon as the Paladins got too close, the ground would break open and hundreds of undead would pour out, or at least that is what the Necromancer in charge of this particular group had said.

"The Paladins are approaching!"

Storm looked up suddenly. Off in the distance, a group of several hundred Paladins were marching towards them in formation. Their golden armor and weaponry was almost blinding in the afternoon sun. Several of the other Necromancers began talking.

"Is that really all of the Paladins?"

"Of course not. It's just one squadron, like us."

"Ah. The first wave, as it were."

"Indeed."


The Paladins stopped suddenly. Their commander turned to face them, and was apparently giving the troops some kind of inspirational speech. Storm looked nervously over at Isaac.

"Can you see who their commander is?"

"Hold on, let me get a look.... I can see some vague features."

"Is it a gray-haired woman?"

"Hmm..... No. It's a young man, with red hair."


Storm sighed in relief. He wouldn't have to face his mother yet. Then, the commander turned to face the Necromancers, apparently finished with his speech. For a brief moment, everything was completely silent. Then, suddenly....

"CHARGE!"

The Paladin troops ran forward, their weapons held over heads, screaming battle cries. As soon as they stepped on the purple runes, huge fissures cracked open, leading deep underground. Hundreds upon hundreds of skeletons began to crawl out and attack the Paladins. The sounds of bones rattling and steel clashing and men screaming were deafening. Paladins and Undead dropped like flies all around. If you were to ask Storm to describe the battle after the fact, he would only say two words.

"Utter chaos."

End of Chapter.

-----------------------------------------------------

Chapter IV: A View from The Other Side


Scene: Outside Darkovia, Paladin Encampment, Mid-Afternoon. Juna Silverwing is preparing her division of Paladins.

"Alright you lot, listen up! This is the day we've been preparing for! We've been given the task of marching directly on the Necromancers' base camp. It will no doubt be heavily guarded, so I need you at your best. This order comes directly from Artix himself, so we'd better not disappoint! Are you with me?

"YES MA'AM!"

Juna smiled at her troops.

"That's what I like to hear. Now, let's just go over the basics of what you need to know about fighting necromancers. It never hurts to be too prepared. Remember, when fighting their undead minions, your magic is your most powerful weapon. If you kill an undead with your blade, then the necromancer can just revive it again. However, a good strong light spell should make them stay dead, at least for awhile, assuming of course that these are traditional darkness-undead, and not some other element. Everyone get that?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Good. Now, let's move on to the necromancers themselves. They're a bit trickier than their minions. They usually wear magic-resistant clothing, so don't waste too much magic on them. On the other hand, they are almost always wearing robes and cloaks instead of armor, so a good blade to the chest should bring them down. However, they are well aware of this fact, so they will try to stay as far away from you as possible, and let their minions do the fighting. If you do kill one, and you see them starting to resurrect, that's your cue to blast them with as much light magic as you can, before they become a fully-fledged lich. If you do see a lich, try to avoid confrontation until you can get backup. Did you understand all of that?"

"Understood, ma'am."

"Excellent, you make me proud. We march on the camp at this time tomorrow, so go make any preparations you deem necessary, and report back to me. I'll be in the command pavilion."


Juna turned to walk away, but suddenly remembered something. She turned back to the troops, a look of sadness on her face.

"One more thing. If you see a necromancer with long yellow hair, with a streak of silver in the front, you are not to engage him. Instead, you are to report to me immediately. Understood?"

"Yes, ma'am!"

"Alright, you are dismissed."


The troops all scattered and returned to their tents. Juna turned and began walking slowly towards the command pavilion, thinking to herself.

"Soon enough, Storm, this will all be over.... I wish it hadn't come to this...."

End of Chapter.

-----------------------------------------------------

Chapter V: The Attack


Scene: Necromancer Encampment, Late Afternoon. Storm is sleeping in his tent, while Isaac, as usual, stands outside.

After almost twenty four hours of nonstop fighting, Storm and the rest of the group of Necromancers he was assigned to had finally been relieved of their post to get some food and rest. However, almost every other Necromancer in the camp had been sent out to the battlefield. The Paladins were maintaining a strong offensive.

Storm was covered in cuts and bruises, and his black necromancer's cloak had been almost entirely shredded, revealing simple green-and-white robes underneath. As soon as he had gotten back to his tent, Storm had flopped down on his bedroll and was asleep within seconds.

Suddenly, the sound of a loud explosion rang out. Storm sat up immediately, as the sounds of screaming could be heard.

"Master! Wake up! Paladins have breached the camp!"

"What!?"


With that, Storm hurried out of his tent, and he saw that Isaac was correct. Hundreds of men and woman in golden armor were swarming throughout the camp, which had been left mostly unguarded. They were blasting undead with light magic, and cutting down any Necromancers they could reach. Storm grabbed a fleeing Necromancer by the arm, who turned out to be the guard who had stopped Storm a few days before.

"How did the Paladins get in here?"

"It was a sneak attack. While we were distracted on the front lines, they must have sent a team around the back."

"Alright then. Did you see who their commander was?"

"Yes, it was some woman, must've been kinda old, because she had gray hair."


When the guard said that, Storm's eyes widened.

"Did you see her sword? Was it a huge, glowing yellow claymore?"

"Um, yeah."


Storm let the guard go, who immediately ran off, away from the camp. Storm looked over at Isaac slowly.

"It's her. She's here."

"What? Who?"


Storm ignored him, and ran towards where the explosion had come from. Isaac ran after him, although not before putting some arrows through some unlucky Paladins' heads. Some Paladins noticed Storm, and ran after him. When he saw this, he simply stopped and stood still. The Paladins dashed towards him, brandishing their weapons. As soon as they got close enough, Storm threw his hands out to either side, and a huge sphere of darkness exploded outwards from him. When it faded, the Paladins lay on the ground, their flesh burned off, revealing their bones. It was at that point that Isaac caught up to his master.

"Master, what's going on!? As soon as you heard about that Paladin commander, you freaked out. Who is she?"

"Haven't you guessed by now, Isaac?"

"Well, I do have an idea...."


Storm turned to face him.

"Yes. It seems that the time has finally come. I have to fight my own mother."

End of Chapter.

-----------------------------------------------------

Chapter VI: The Final Confrontation


Scene: Necromancer Encampment, Late Afternoon. The surprise attack continues, as Storm approaches Juna.

Isaac was following his master, stopping occasionally to shoot Paladins with his arrows. Screams could be heard, from Paladins and Necromancers alike. However, Storm was ignoring all of this, as he sought out his mother. He had discovered that the Paladins weren't attacking him, for reasons he did not know. The screams in the background grew louder.

"Oh for the love of Pom-Poms!!!"

The voice was louder than many of the others. Isaac stopped and looked around.

"Master? Did you hear that? Somebody shouted something odd....."

"Not now, Isaac. I'm in no mood for jokes."

"....Whatever you say, sir."


Storm continued running for many minutes, as Isaac trailed behind him. He tried his best not to look at the bodies of Paladins and Necromancers that were scattered everywhere, or at the rows of tents, which had been set on fire. As he continued on, a burnt, badly wounded necromancer grabbed at his leg as he passed.

"Please.... Help me....."

Storm held out his hand to resurrect the injured man, but he stopped as he sensed light magic surrounding the man's body, blocking his necromancy.

"I'm sorry..."

The necromancer looked down sadly, and slowly died. Storm stared at the corpse for a minute before continuing on. Suddenly, a large group of Paladins appeared and encircled him. Storm looked around, darkness magic building in his hands. Then, all of the Paladins scattered, and Juna walked forwards.

"It seems it has come down to us."

"Please, mother. We don't have to do this."

"Yes we do. You know that one of us isn't leaving this place alive."

"Mother...."

"I didn't want this to happen. Why couldn't you have just come back to the Order!?"

"I can't just go back on my choices. You know that."

"Then we have no choice but to fight."

"....Yes."


Storm stomped one foot. A circular barrier of darkness formed around them, sealing out Isaac and any nearby Paladins.

"This is just between you and me."

"Indeed."


Juna sighed and drew a long claymore from her back. It had a wide silver hilt and it glowed yellow with light magic. Storm snapped his fingers, and in an instant, he was clad in shiny black armor with silver trim. He held two long, thin swords, one in each hand. He and Juna stared at each other for a moment, their weapons raised. Then, suddenly, Storm leaped forwards, one sword raised above his head. As Juna moved her blade up to block a downward strike, Storm quickly swung the other sword around at her side. However, Juna's reflexes were quicker. She swiftly shifted her blade, and both of Storm's strikes hit it, letting out a deafening clang. Storm staggered backwards from the force of the impact, and Juna immediately went to counter-attack. She swung her massive sword around sideways at Storm's chest. As it came within a few inches of his armor, however, a deep purple diamond-shaped barrier appeared, repelling the sword and nearly knocking it out of Juna's hands. She jumped backwards and simply stared at Storm.

"I see that your magic is as strong as ever."

"Indeed it is. Now the true fight begins."


As he said that, Storm snapped his fingers again. This time, a large cluster of floating black daggers appeared, hovering behind him. They all flew at Juna at once, and as she braced her sword to block them, Storm teleported behind her and attempted to stab her. Juna whipped around quickly, knocking one of Storm's swords out of his hand. However, the daggers struck her straight in the back. Most of them failed to penetrate her armor, but at least three were wedged in all the way to the bottom of the blade. Blood began to drip on the ground, and Juna grunted loudly in pain. Outside of the barrier, the dark clouds overhead began to strike the ground with multicolored lightning. Storm turned and looked at where the nearest bolt had struck. Juna took the opportunity, and lunged towards him, clearly intending to impale him. She would again find her sword stopped by a barrier of dark magic, but this time, instead of it being knocked away, the tip of the sword pierced the barrier. Storm turned around, a look of shock on his face. Juna immediately blasted the barrier with a large beam of light, and it shattered completely. Storm was thrown backwards, but as Juna charged at him, he teleported behind her again. He quickly grabbed her shoulder and slammed his hand into the pommel of one of the daggers still embedded in her back, causing her to double over and scream out in pain. At the sound of her screaming, Storm's conscience took over and he let go immediately. The lightning strikes grew more frequent, and more vigorous.

Storm simply stood and stared at Juna for a moment, almost as if he was trying to see if she was okay. After a few seconds, she slowly stood up straight again. Then, unexpectedly, she spun around on the spot and swung her sword down at Storm. He tried to dodge to the side, but he was too slow, and the heavy sword smashed into his shoulder, cleaving right through his armor like butter and leaving a deep, bleeding gash. He tried to swing his sword to retaliate, but he was holding it in his injured arm, so he simply stumbled instead. Juna struck again, this time with a sideways chopping motion, directly at Storm's right leg. Much to his shock, the blade sliced straight through it, coming out the other side. He gasped in absolute horror, as he and his now severed leg fell to the ground. Juna looked down at him sadly.

"I'm sorry, Storm. It's time to end this."

She raised her sword above her head, with it pointing down. However, she hesitated just for moment, and Storm twitched his hand slightly. His fallen sword from earlier rose up quietly behind her, although she did not notice it.

"No.... I'm the one who's sorry...."

With that, Storm snapped his fingers. The floating sword sped forwards, glowing with dark magic. It stabbed into Juna's back, and went straight through. She stared down at the blade piercing her heart for a moment, before she collapsed. Glowing yellow reviving magic began to swirl around her, but then one of the multicolored lightning bolts struck in between them. That was the last thing Storm saw before he faded into unconsciousness.

End of Chapter.

-----------------------------------------------------

Epilogue: The End


Scene: A small cabin in the woods, morning. Storm is lying in a bed, Isaac and Storm's teacher stand nearby.

Storm opened his eyes slowly and looked around. For some strange reason, he was back home, in his bed.

"Am I dead?"

"Ah, Storm, you're awake."

"No, master, you aren't dead."

"You know you don't have to call him master anymore. You are free now."

"We had a deal. Free thought, in return for my service. I intend to honor it."

"Wait, Isaac, you're fully free now? How?"

"The old coot said something about magical disturbances. Apparently, necromancy and Paladin magic were both all but destroyed, and the undead all got freed."


Teacher glared at Isaac for the "old coot" comment. Then, both of them started laughing. As they calmed down, Storm moved to sit up. He pulled back the covers on the bed, only to stop and stare at where his right leg used to be. In its place, he saw a shiny silver mechanical leg, sculpted exactly like his old one.

"Ah. Yes. When I arrived at the wreckage of the camp, I saw that it had been chopped off. I took you to Vince the Drakel, and had him make you a prosthetic."

"....I see."

"Something the matter, Storm?"

"Yes. My mother. What happened to her? Did you see her nearby?"


Teacher looked away and said nothing. Storm looked down silently. Isaac looked at him, somehow conveying sadness with his boney features.

"She tried to resurrect herself, master. But it got interrupted by those magical disturbances. Like everyone else, she was stripped of her Paladin powers. She died for good."

Everyone was silent for a few seconds. Then, Storm began to cry quietly.

"....I'll give you some time alone."

Teacher then teleported away in a flash of darkness. Isaac stared at Storm for several long minutes, before he reached down and pulled something out from under the bed. It was Juna's sword, the magic glow on it having faded away, leaving a simple golden sword.

"She had a letter on her person. It said that if she died fighting, then she wanted you to have her sword. And it also said to tell you that you are forgiven."

Storm smiled and slowly took the sword from Isaac, examining it.

The End


< Message edited by battlemaster25 -- 2/17/2013 11:45:44 >
AQ  Post #: 7
1/30/2013 5:36:32   
Tep Itaki
Friendly!


Prologue: My Friends. My Family. My Comrades

Tep sat down and started writing in his research journal on top of the Guardian Tower.

There's a war coming and it has been a long time coming. Two groups were formed ever since hints of the war were recieved, the PalaPacts and the NecroLegions. It has divided our friends, our comrades and even families, whom we struggled together against enemies of Lore that threatens our very lives. Now we must face each other on this final battlefield between the Paladins and Necromancers.

My older twin brother, Artimix, has taken the side of the Paladins and seems to be ready to fight to the end. It looks like he's much more determined now that Cataclysm has joined the Paladins' side. Though it seems Artimix has taken my supplies of Holy Hand Grenades for this war...at least he left my PomPom Grenades alone. My brother also has his serious face on, one that he rarely has on since all he does is blindly charge into the opposition and maul them into oblivion. It seems he intends to fight with all of his wits, instead of blindly lashing out at anything that stands in his way, and fully focus on the Necromancers.

My younger sister, Rixi, has followed after Elryn to the Necromancers' side, even when she swore to fight against him on the opposing side when the war begins. She told me "What's the use competing against him if I can't compete side by side with him on who can defeat the most enemies". She also took my supplies of Unholy Boomerangs, and they haven't been tested yet. This could be prime time to gather data on them if the Necromancers use it against the Paladins. Scientific curiosity aside, my sister seems to be going into this war half-heartedly and that is something I'm concerned about. Those that are not prepared for war will find themselves full of regret and guilt. I hope she finds the reason why she's joining this war, before it breaks her.

Our close frienemy, Zombay, has been missing ever since Frostval and I'm unsure if he will show up to support a side when this war begins. If I know him well enough, there could be a chance of him attacking both sides because the option is there, just to cause havoc. Until then, I cannot be certain as to what he will do.

As for me, I'm one of the few that decided not to choose a side in this war as I cannot bring myself to fight against my friends, family or comrades. Instead, I will write down what I observe from both sides on that battlefield...I can only hope that the battlefield will not be a sight of carnage, despair and desperation, I can only hope until then...


Tep closed his journal and gave out a heavy sigh as he turned his gaze upon his brother and sister as they prepare for war, far away from the other.



Unstable Calm

"Hey, Artimix, Rixi, must we really do this?" Tep broke the tense and suffocating silence at the dinner table, which was the largest table so both Artimix and Rixi could eat as far away from each other as possible.

Both Artimix and Rixi stopped, with spoons near their open mouths. They looked at each other then back at Tep, who had hardly touched his food, and placed their spoons down to their plates. Artimix was the first to speak.

"It's not something we must do but-"

Rixi cut in immediately, "It's something we can't help but do."

Artimix shot a glare, baring his teeth, at Rixi as she shot back a smirk with her tongue sticking out, spiting him.

BOOM!


The large explosion shook the entire place and had both siblings jumping in response. They both turned their head to the cause, a silent Tep sitting on his chair, and saw that his portion of the dinner table was missing, along with parts of the floor. Chills ran through both of their spines causing them to stop their little back and forth.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you," Rixi sighed regretfully as she looked to Artimix.

"Likewise, I shouldn't have tried to start a fight over that," Artimix awkwardly smiled at Rixi then turned to Tep.

"But as I was saying, this war isn't something we can stop as both sides are intent on finishing this. I've been a paladin ever since I started adventuring because I don't believe the dead should be brought back to life at the whim of another. Even after I was afflicted with the werewolf's curse, my beliefs still stand. Though I have met necromancers and undead who are more pure of heart than some in the Paladin Order, I must fight them should we meet on the battlefield because they have taken arms against us. I've resolved myself for the battle and as boneheaded as I am, I must join this fight."

Tep sighed after he heard Artimix's side and turned his head to Rixi, who was quietly eating. He kept his gaze on Rixi, waiting until she explained her reason for joining this war, which only caused her to down her entire meal within seconds then bolted for the door. Tep got up and followed after, leaving Artimix to continue his meal in silence.


* * *

Outside, Rixi sat on the rooftop of the Deren Mansion and viewed the glittering ocean under the half moon's glow. The ocean's breeze gently embraced her as if to calm her down.

She sighed at herself and started to ponder about the war. What was she doing and why did she join the necromancers when she found out that Elryn had taken their side. She swore she would be on the opposing side if he ever took part in the war, just so she could challenge him in a match of most battles won.

She pondered deeply within herself about her half-hearted decision to join the necromancers and how it was so insulting to all those that will take part in the war. Her hate of paladins were just in the heat of joining the necromancers in the war and nowhere genuine. Her own brother had already resolved to join this fight because of his beliefs, even if he must fight his necromancer and undead friends on the battlefield. She curled up and held her legs together as she continued to ponder.

"Y'know," Tep's sudden voice caused Rixi to jump 10 feet in the air and in battle position before she landed, "If you start making that face, you'll age to an old lady quicker." Tep was grinning at Rixi.

"Don't scare me like that!" Rixi slumped down to her knees as she relaxed, "You know that I'm jumpy whenever I'm in deep thoughts." She sat down and turned toward the ocean, pouting.

"I know," Tep laughed as he sat down by Rixi, "But I couldn't help myself with you looking so serious. After all, you're still finding your reason as to why you joined this war, are you not?"

Rixi looked away embarrassed, thinking that she must have thought a bit too hard about the matter if the airhead of the family could realize what she was thinking about.

"For now, you shouldn't think about it that hard. Try to find your reason in this battle. Though I don't encourage this war, or a fan of it, I already realized that I can't stop it. The best I can do is record what happens in that battlefield, from the necromancers' and paladins' side of the fight," Tep spoke as he sighed heavily, "Though I will never join this war, I can only record it so that other may learn from this. I hope."

Rixi smiled as she got up, "Thanks for cheering me up." She jumped off the roof and landed in front of the house, only to see Tep already in front of her, "Hwah?! How did you get in front of me so quickly?" Tep's lips started to form a smile, but Rixi knew better; this smile was his smile whenever he was angry and it was the most sinister and dangerous smile in all of Lore.

"Y'know, before I forget. There's the matter about you and Artimix stealing my supplies of experimental items for the war," his words caused her to have goosebumps that jumped at every word he spoke as she realized what his anger was about, "Come now sister, both you and Artimix needs to reflect on what you two did before going to the battlefield."

Rixi tried to run away but Tep had the guards form a circle around her. After leaving her with no escape, he started dragging her into the mansion as Rixi had a face of defeat, with tears streaming from her eyes.

That night, not a single critter in Deren was uttering a noise.


* * *

At dawn, Artimix had already donned his armor and took all the equipment he needed for the war against the Necromancers' Faction, including a cart full of Holy Hand Grenades. His equipment had all been dutifully cleaned and taken care of the night before. He took off in silence towards the Paladins' Order with a face of valor and determination as he left Deren on a tortress's back.

Rixi had been in the house when she saw Artimix leaving. She put on her Ring of the Sun(made by Tep so she was able to walk in sunlight and live with the twins in Deren, despite her being a vampire) and proceeded to pack her Wizard's robes, spell scrolls and equipment, along with the bags of Unholy Boomerangs, then rushed out of her room. As she passed by Tep's room, she slowed down before dashing down the stairs to catch the boat for the mainland.

Tep had been on the rooftop watching all of this with his research journal out and started writing when the boat left the port.

Artimix has left Deren and prepared for when the war begins. He didn't get much sleep last night because he had been taking care of all of his equipment in his room. He even left his little companions at home to prevent them from joining the battlefield, even the little undead archer was left behind, I guess he didn't want his little friend to become a target for the other paladins or controlled by the necromancers.

Rixi left after Artimix and took the boat to the mainland. Her robes and items packed when she left the house. At least she seems to have a better grasp of why she'll be taking part of this war. That's good because a lady should never wear such a face, even if she is my sister. My only hope is that she finds her reason in this war, of why she's joining the necromancers and, hopefully, she will be able to fight without being distracted like last night.

As for me, I could not sleep nor did I want to. There was too much on my mind about the war and my family's reasons for joining. My heart is heavy right now but I'm certain that both Artimix's and Rixi's hearts are just as heavy as mine. Today's the day of war, of an ancient rivalry between Light and Darkness, Holy and Unholy, Life and Undeath, the Paladin Order and Necromancer Faction. This war will leave a permanent mark on this world and in history.

I pray that it won't take a harsh turn for the worse. I hope Artimix and Rixi return home safely.
.
.
.
I should get going and be ready to record what happens in that battlefield.


Tep closed his journal and safely tucked it in his person then teleported to the battlefield. The Itaki mansion stood silently in Deren. The house guards were still asleep and Artimix's small companions soundly dreaming.



Storm of War

After his seventh attempt at teleporting, Tep finally succeeded when he appeared at the battlefield, only to find himself immediately ducking and dodging every magical spell and swords as he weaved his way through the undead minions and paladins that he came across.

"Agh! This is so not cool!" Tep complained with a flustered face as he kept running towards the open field, while continuing to dodge any and all attacks at him, "Teleportation may be convenient but it has way too many variables to keep track of. I really do wish that Warlic would teach me how instead of me having to figure and test it out for every minuscule location. Long distance travel sucks!"

Tep finally reached the open plains where there were no paladins or necromancers in his way. He gave a breath of relief then turned around to face the mass of fighters in the battlefield.

Paladins, necromancers and undead were fighting against each other, but something was off, they were fighting against their own allies! Paladins attacking paladins, necromancers turning their undead on other necromancers.

Tep watched in horror as he saw the carnage that was unfolding before his eyes, unsure of why this scene of betrayal and bloodlust was unfolding before him. Then, from the corner of his eyes, he saw his brother and sister, standing next to each other, watching the carnage together. Tep quickly approached them.

"Artimix! Rixi! What's happening!? No, why is this happening!?"

"Ah, Tep," Artimix waved as Tep came closer, "You see, after hearing the reason of the war from Artix's very mouth, there were some paladins that didn't agree to that and defected to the necromancers' side."

Tep listened intently.

"Now, here is where it gets interesting, a handful of necromancers didn't take too kindly to accepting the paladins as their allies and couldn't sway their peer's decision so they broke from the mass. There were some necromancers who planned to used this war as a way to finally obtain the secrets of the Paladin Order when they defeat us. Some necromancers who didn't agree also broke off into their own group. When the battle began the necromancer groups focused their attacks on the other necromancers and the paladins who works with the necromancers, are now targeted by their very order. Even they targeted their own allies."

"Not only that," Rixi interjected, muttering, without turning to face Tep, "But it seems that everybody has been placed under an illusion spell. That's the main reason why all of them are attacking their own allies."

"If that's true, then why aren't the two of you affected by it?" Tep tilted his head in curiosity. However, what got him really curious was Rixi's strange behavior.

"We are," Artimix sighed as he showed Tep a tiny marking on his neck, "It seems that somehow, everybody in that battlefield was inflicted with this. We chose not fight because something seemed off about the opponents we were fighting. We're not the only ones who stopped fighting when sensing something was amiss."

Artimix pointed to the others waiting in the plains, watching the battle. "The reason why I stopped was because I smelled the flesh of the living with my undead attacker. Not a single stench of rotting flesh coming from it."

"And I sensed no life within the paladin I was fighting," Rixi muttered as she continued to stare at the mass of confused carnage.

Just as Tep was about to open his mouth, Artimix quickly remarked, "You should know better than to ask that. Who else could make my skin crawl when I'm near them?"

Tep sighed, he was right about that. There's nothing like your family that can make you feel comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time.

After his breath of relief, Tep noticed the markings on Artimix's and Rixi's neck had been constantly getting smaller until it disappeared altogether. At the same time, the noise of metals clashing and spells casting stopped.

To their horror, they found out that they had been fighting against their own allies. One paladin stopped his axe short of another's neck. A necromancer called off his undead servant and helped up his necromancer ally. Realizing what had happened everybody backed off and went back to their encampments to regroup.

"That's our signal," Rixi muttered again as both she and Artimix started to walk toward their designated areas.

"Wait!" Both siblings turned to face their brother, "What about you guys? Why are you still following your side after you discovered your group's intentions?"

Rixi left without saying anything. Artimix continued to his destination but remarked as he was walking, "Because, if I'm not there to stop the ones with blind ambitions, the blood that would shed will be immeasurable." He then pointed to Rixi, "I'm sure the same goes for her, too."

"But I don't think that's it. There seem to be another reason why she's staying with the necromancers," Tep mumbled with pained expression as he looked to Rixi's location, "And it seems to have swallowed her up."



Necromancers' Justification

After hours of sitting on the soft grass of the plains and writing into his research journal about what he observed of the fight, Tep decided it was time to ask both sides their reasons to participate in this war and find out how it all started. However, there was a problem. Which side was Tep going to first. He could go to the paladins' side and find out why they started this war, or, head to the necromancers' side to find out why they gathered almost every necromancer on the world of Lore to fight against the paladins.

"Argh! I hate this!" Tep groaned as he cradled his head in frustration. "Should I go to the paladins' side and find out what was it that Artix said that caused some of the paladins to defect to the necromancers' side? If I head to the paladins side I could also talk with Artimi-"

Suddenly, Tep remembered his meeting with his siblings after getting out of the cluster of fighters he had teleported into. He remembered Artimix was unscathed and stood with both hands on top of the handle of his sword, with the tip of the blade gently on the ground, like the statues guarding Awethur's tomb. Artimix wore a serious but, at the same time, gentle face, which was strange to Tep as he never saw Artimix with such a look before. Annoyance? Yes. Half asleep? Every time. Until this war, Artimix never had a look that came close or similar to the one that Tep saw. His change in attitude was something Tep had observed the day before and earlier at dawn.

The change that Tep was unfamiliar with, however, was the one he saw in Rixi. She was completely different from what he saw last night and early this morning. Something happened, when he didn't see her, to cause her to lose the light in her eyes and the soul in her voice. Even her vampiric skin was paler than usual.

The memory of Rixi's appearance and behavior bugged Tep so much, his mind was set. Tep would head to the necromancers' side of the battlefield and he would ask them why they're participating in the war. Also, he could check up on Rixi and possibly find out what happened after she left Deren without arousing too much of her suspicions. Two birds with a flying pen.

Tep got up, looked to the necromancers' side and dashed towards their encampment. Getting there without grabbing some unwanted attention was next to impossible as several necromancers had took notice of him sprinting at full speed towards their base.

The necromancers, thinking he was with the paladins and came to attack their base, sent their minions to stop the threat. Tep, with thoughts of his sister's well-being running through his head, continued dashing toward the necromancers' base without so much as a glance or acknowledgement to the incoming wave of undead coming to intercept him.

Three undead spellswords and archers locked on to Tep as they readied their shots. At the same time, death knights, banshees and zombies(even a deer, carrot and couple of corns) came to attack and stop him from coming closer.

"My friends and comrades, open the way so I can reach my sister," As soon as the last muttered word left Tep's mouth, twelve beings jumped from behind Tep and intercepted the undead in his way. As Tep passed his little companions, he thanked them for their help and instructed them to find someplace safe to gather until he left the necromancers' base. They gave their signs of acknowledgement as Tep rushed on.

Moments after ducking and weaving through the crowds of necromancers, Tep finally reached the encampment, only to find his way blocked by more necromancers and undead minions.

"Stop right there! State your business paladin!" One of the necromancers barked as he readied his spell towards Tep. With this, Tep sighed as he placed one hand on his hip and rubbed his temple with the other.

"I'm not associated with the paladins. I'm here to..." his mind started to quickly think of a way to get past this wall without force, "join your cause. I do not agree with Artix's methods. However, while coming here I was attacked by your soldiers."

"Ah, I see," the necromancer guard eased up as he heard this, "We'll be more than happy to get more people on our side in this war." The guard gestured the others to return to their positions, "I'm sorry for the rough treatment you came under but we needed to be wary for any attacks by the paladins."

Tep entered and started looking around the camp for where Rixi might be as the necromancer walked with him and continued to talk.

"Although there are ones that came to our side. We marked them with a rune that lets us identify them when they come within three meters of our base. You'll ne-"

"Excuse me," Tep interrupted as the necromancer turned to face him, "Do you know of where a girl named Rixi might be? She's fighting for your side and I was wondering if you could be so kind as to show me her location."

"Rixi. Rixi...No, sorry, I don't know that name. I've been busy helping out with guarding the supplies that come in and discussing strategies to use against the paladin forces." The necromancer then pulled his hood down to reveal a wolf's face. Tep was taken aback by this as he never knew a werewolf could be a necromancer. "I know what you're thinking but I'm a dracopyre. I chose to assume this wolf's form. My name's Ubear. What's yours?" Ubear extended his hand towards Tep.

Tep shook it back and smiled, "Mine's Tep. It's nice to meet you Ubear. Curious name, that."

"It's a long story and has to do with my favorite equipment and becoming a bear." He remarked as they both laughed. Suddenly, Tep remembered one of the reasons he came to the necromancers' side in the first place.

"Excuse me, Ubear, but what is your reason for joining this war?"

"Me? Because being a goody-goody paladin is just not my style. Besides, you ever see a friendly bear?"

One of the necromancers that dispersed removed his hood, grinned and shouted "I have! I've been to a circus!"

"Wild bears, Drakeh! I meant wild bears!" Ubear shouted back before turning his attention back to Tep only to find him gone, "What abo-"

He was rather dumbfounded that this fellow asked his reason to join the war then left after hearing his answer. Ubear then remembered that he had forgotten to place the rune on Tep's arm so that other necromancers wouldn't attack him when he returned to the base.

"Shoot, I hope he doesn't get in trouble here. He sure was rude, though," Ubear sighed as he returned to his post but paused and looked back, "Wait, why did he have that on his head?"


* * *

Tep continued to scan the place to find Rixi to no avail. The encampment was larger than he had expected and it would take Tep at least a day to cover every ground just to find his sister.

"C'mon, Rixi...where are you? I have to know what caused you to look so broken," His voice strained with concern as he continued to look around. Though- he did not find Rixi, he did catch the attention of another necromancer, who thought he was acting suspiciously.

"You there, what are you doing frantically going back and forth like that?" The necromancer that asked the question had a royal aura surrounding him yet it was humble at the same time. He stood tall as his dark blue skin seemingly soaked a bit of the light surrounding him. Tep turned to face the necromancer while trying to hide his embarrassment.

"Ah, I was trying to find my sister but I couldn't find her anywhere."

"What is her name? I could get some of the troops to look for her," The royal-like necromancer proceeded over to Tep's location as he talked.

"Rixi. Rixi Itaki. She's fighting for the necromancer and I thought I should drop by and give her a hand and a family styled greeting," Tep replied sheepishly.

"Ah, her? You're in the wrong area. This is the southwest area, she's currently in the northeast section behind you."

"Ah, really? Thank you sir..."

"I am Lord Scorpio. Just call me Scorpio," Scorpio paused for a second, "You should know who I am as I'm one of the generals in this battle. Who are you?"

"Ah...I'm a new recruit. I just came today." Scorpio simply stood and stared at this new recruit as he was explaining himself, as if to determine whether he was telling the truth or not.

"Hmm...Well as long as you give your best against the fight with the paladins. We could always use more support."

"Thank you, Scorpio. I'll be on my way then," Tep rushed off and just as Scorpio was about to say something, Tep turned to him and asked, "Before I forget, what is your reason for joining this war?"

Scorpio was taken aback by this abrupt question but with a solemn face, "I fight because Darkness has been stigmatized and oppressed for far too long. This attack was the last straw. Until Darkness is no longer ostracized, I will fight. The harsh Light will rule no longer."

"Ah, thank you for telling me. If you will excuse me," Tep bolted towards the location of his sister's general area.

"What a strange recruit. I hope he'll be useful in the battlefields against the paladins," Scorpio sighed and started walking before stopping to look in the direction the young man ran, "Why was he walking around with such a thing on his head? ....No matter, it's time to get back to the meeting." With that he left in the direction towards the center of the encampment.


* * *

After making a mad dash to the northeast side, and getting stopped by a few necromancers along the way, Tep had arrived and was already looking for where Rixi could be. He looked left and right, and at times, peaked inside a tent or hut. There were few empty ones with belongings of the one that stayed there and those that were occupied, had people sleeping inside.

After searching for awhile, Tep came across an undead archer guarding a tent, causing him to stop and stare. From within the tent emerged another necromancer, who, was still engrossed with a letter. He was a peculiar necromancer as he was cloaked in a white robe with green accents. He had long yellow hair, with a streak of silver in the front. Tep approached him in a careful manner.

"Excuse me," The necromancer looked up from his letter to face the speaker, "Do you know where a girl name Rixi is located at? She fights with you guys and is my sister."

"She sounds familiar. Does she have pale skin, blue hair with red highlights?"

"Yeah, that's her."

"She's just about 8 tents down that way," the necromancer pointed to his right, "it's the tent that has the words 'No Boys!' written on both sides of it."

Tep laughed weakly, "That's her alright..." He then looked at the one who helped him, "If you don't mind me asking, why is it that you joined this war?"

The necromancer took the letter completely away from his face this time and smiled at Tep.

"I have a natural affinity for darkness magic and believe that necromancers can be good people, while the paladins are over-zealous in their current campaign. I've never been able to keep my nose out where conflict is concerned, which seems to run in the family," he laughed at this, "More specifically, my mysterious necromancy teacher prodded me into it. Name's Storm Silverwing. Yourself?"

"Tep. Tep Itaki. Thanks for the help," Tep offered his hand and Storm gladly shook it in response.

"You're welcome. Good luck with your sister."

"Thanks. Bye," Tep grinned as he took off again and Storm lifted up the letter to his face but stopped halfway to face his undead archer.

"Isaac, did you.."

"Yes master, I did indeed see what was on his head," The skeleton archer responded to his master's unfinished question.

"Good, I thought I was seeing things." With that he finished reading his letter and headed for the gate.


* * *

By following Storm's directions, Tep immediately found Rixi's tent.

"'No Boys!' Just like he said. Rixi, I know you're a high-maintenance girl but this really takes the cake," Tep sighs as he massaged the area between his eyes before proceeding into the tent.

As he entered, ignoring the text on her tent outside, he had found that there was nobody inside. The only thing he found was a pile of some of her equipment, spell scrolls, most of her wizard robes and the all of the Unholy Boomerangs that she had taken with her.

"Aw poms! Where could she be? She might have left for the the battlefield when I was looking around for her," Tep concluded before realizing that all the stuff were untouched since morning, "No, she never came back and I didn't see her on the battlefield when I was observing it or when I came over here. Where could she be? ...Tch, standing here won't make her appear judging by what this tent say. I'll ask her later when I see her, now I guess I'll head to the Paladins' side." With that, he left Rixi's tent and started towards the gate.


* * *

Before he reached the gates of the encampment, Tep came across a well dressed man with a skeleton bandana, with a cloak wrapped around him, wielding a bloody scythe in hand and a rifle on his back with a little skeleton in a large cloak, wielding a scythe as well, following him.

"You're dressed quite sharply," Tep remarked as the one with the skeleton bandana drew closer.

"Why thank'ya fer that. Ya don't look too shabby yerself neithe', 'specially with ta Peace Zard on yer head," the skeleton bandana man replied with much spirit and cheer. Tep then realized that his Peace Zard was still on his head ever since he came into the encampment. He noticed that the zard was already asleep on his head; apparently the rocking of him running around put it to sleep. Tep gently removed it off his head and cradled the peace zard in his arms.

"I had forgotten about this little guy on my head," Tep looked to the fellow with the skeleton bandana, "Thanks."

"Yer welcome, mate," the man with the skeleton bandana laughed as he listened to Tep's response, "Yer a strange one but yer alright by me. Death's Kid mah name, what's yer's?

"Tep. Tep Itaki. Nice to meet you," Tep smiled then looked flustered, "Um, I'd offer you a handshake but as you can see, my hands are full."

Kid laughed before responding, "s'alright, mah hands are soaked wit' blood anyways. So ya heading out to ta battlefield?" Pointing behind as Kid continued to look at Tep.

"Yes, it's about time for be to get going, but before I go, I want to ask you your reason for joining the war," Tep smiled as he asked the question.

Kid took a deep breathe before answering, "Ah don't agree with ta Paladins' reason fer startin' this war wit ta necromancers. Seems tha' Artix an' Halenro hav' lost ther way...and Ah fear tha' a Paladin victory will send ta entire Order marchin' down ta same path. Fer ta sake o' preservin' ta values that ta Paladin Order was founded upon...Ah must cut 'way ta blinders. Ah must cut 'way ta weeds so that ta flowers in ther ranks can blossom. Ah am concerned as to ta consequences ta Paladins may suffer if they are successful 'ere. They look to eliminate Necromancy, yet ta Lady of Light, who granted them much o' their power, has many loyal subjects who are amon' ta Undead ranks. Likewise, if ta Necromancers go mad wit' power, we can vanquish them wit' ta tools at our disposal. But, we cannot brin' back the legions of peaceful Undead we stand to lose if ta Paladins have their way. Worst of all, Artix's intentions seem to reach even ta creatures of Darkovia, even ta benevolent ones. A Paladin win would brin' even more war, an' do damage that could neve' be undone. Ah cannot, in good consciousness, allow this current course o' action to succeed. Hence, Ah fight against them."

"Ah really? Thank you for telling me so much and so detailed," Tep nodded as he listened intently to Kid's explanation.

"An' what's yer reason to be in ta war?"

Tep paused for a moment then looked to Kid, "The reason why I'm here is because I want to record what's happening here and to learn the truth behind this whole fiasco. Something doesn't seem too right," Tep paused and thought about Rixi, "There seems to be too many unknown elements in this war that aren't accounted for."

Kid silently stood as he somewhat agreed with Tep's words, "Ya may be right, but right naw, ta Paladins' ta one who started it."

"True. Well I have to get going, it was nice talking to you Kid."

"Nice talkin' ta ya, too. Good luck out thar."

With that, they both departed from each other. Kid, into the necromancers' encampment, and Tep, into the battlefield where his small companions were located at. Tep place the zard back on his head so he could take out his research journal. He opened the pages to a blank spot. He started to write as he walked about those who he met on the necromancers' side and their reason for war, be it something quite simple or about the strong emotions and connections they had with this war.

It seems that this war has extremely deep roots with everybody, like I had figured when I had heard about the coming of this war from Artimix. From the necromancers' side, I gathered, from Kid, was that Artix was the one who started this entire thing and from Storm I learned that the paladins have been getting over-zealous in this war. From Scorpio, I found out one of the reason why the necromancers fought back. It's because Darkness has been stigmatized and oppressed for too long and they plan to make sure Darkness is never ostracized again by Light. However, there were some who also fight in this war because they are loyal to the necromancers as well like Ubear. I think he might be the friendliest one of those who fight for this reason.

I've learned a lot from the necromancers' side because I was lucky enough to find a few of the necromancers who were willing to talk with me. The other necromancers I met weren't in such a talkative mood and outright attacked me because I was acting suspicious...However, it seems that even in war time, some people still act like they usually do at home in their base while others also bring the mood of the battlefield back with them to the base. At least that's what I've observed.

I wonder what I'll learn from the paladins' side and if the situation at their base is the similar to the necromancers'.

Also, Rixi has been acting strange ever since I came here. I haven't seen her in the battlefield nor at her quarter in the northeast side of the necromancers' encampment. She hasn't been back to her tent ever since she left her stuff there. I hope I find her soon.


Tep closed his journal and entered the small cave where his small friends and comrades were located at. They all happily pounced on him as soon as he stepped into the cave. Tep smiled as he decided to stay the night in this cave and head over to the paladins' side in the morning. After all, this whole day was quite tiring.


* * *

As Tep was preparing to spend the night in the cave, there was something strange happening within the battlefield. Rixi, with tears in her eyes, was mindlessly attacking anything that came close to her with powerful spells, mauling them before they get the chance to come closer. This magic, however, forced even her necromantic allies to steer clear of her as it attacked both friends and foes alike. Her form began to twist as her tears slowly turned red. She was becoming more of a monster with every use of the evil spells.



Paladins' Resolution

The sounds of steel, cries and spells roared constantly through the entire night, even as the sun peeked over the horizon to light up another day. It's rays permeated into the cave where Tep and his twelve small yet faithful animal(with the exception of his Fairy Godmother and his undead archer) companions nestled through the night. As the sun's ray gently yet slowly crept up on the small group to let them know morning had come.

Tep slowly opened his eyes along with the rest of his little crew to the bright light and warm embrace from the sun. A slow yet gentle awakening was immediately disrupted by the sound of a large explosion, followed by cries of battle. Tep got up, had a horrendous case of bedhead, and, from his magical pouch on the right side of his belt, pulled out a large cloth along with an excessive array of food.

Tep's little companions started feasting on the food as soon as it laid on the cloth. PomPoms, his eccentric gween, immediately went after the candies that was on the cloth.

"Oh no you don't little fella!" Tep dived and snatched the candies before PomPoms could gobble them up. "These are for RainPeace for helping me out the rest of the way yesterday. You're eating healthy again." Tep lectured as he gave the lax little Peace Zard the candies. PomPoms pouted and went to munch on corns, carrots and the likes with Le Poms, a dutiful armored Pomeranian, and Warcon, a rough-around-the-edges warboar.

Tep sat down as he watched his little crew feasting on the delicacies in front of him. Marylynn, his fairy godmother, sat next to him, eating in a lady-like manner. Archie, his silent undead archer, however, stood guard by the cave's entrance to fend off any intruders that would disrupt the morning feast. He had no need to eat as he was a skeleton.

Yuki, his mischievous nerfkitten, was doing a four way tug-o'-war with a meat pie against Spiriza, his playful wraithzard; Dracon, a devilish nightmare vampragon; and Beturker, a rough and wild maple leaf turkey(who would throw everything including the kitchen sink). This was interrupted when R. Twilly, who followed after Tep to the present from the past; and KenChi, a chicken of holy ancestry, blindsided the four by stealing the meat from under and ran away with it.

Tep laughed as he watched the scene unfold on the little breakfast battleground. He smiled as Marylynn handed him a plate of food and utensils to eat.


* * *

Tep emerged from the cave, yawning and stretching, still embraced by the sun's gentle and warm light while ignoring the noisy battlefield. After finishing his morning stretches, he looked over to the paladins' side of the battlefield.

"Welp, time to get going," Tep yawned as he sluggishly pressed on towards the paladins' base, "Information won't just fall on your lap. Though wh-" He didn't even make his third step when he fell forward to meet the ground, snoozing on the way down.


* * *

"..y....ey.....Hey!" Tep jolted up to a form a defensive stance but smashed the back of his head into something on the way up. "Aowh! Ai vih mai thung!" Tep was in the fetal position as he was cradling his poor head before looking up to see who had woke him up and who he hit.

His eyes lit up, like a child who saw the presents under the tree on Frostval morning, as soon as he saw the person in question. It was Artimix! He was crouched down holding his mouth with both hands, facing away from Tep. Tep noticed that he was in a tent and on a floor bed. He looked to Artimix, who stopped holding his mouth, and figured his own brother brought him back to the Paladins' base.

"Hey," Tep waved at his brother, who turned around, with the most serious of faces as he sat up, which only made Artimix laugh.

"Hey to you too, Bedhead Sleeperson," Artimx remarked as he ruffled his brother's hair, "I mean, here I was, just fighting against the undeads and necromancers while making sure the paladins don't try anything at the same time, and what do I see in the far distance? My younger brother, walking like a zombie and plopping back down to earth after taking a couple of steps. So I went and did what any good brother would do. Slay a couple of undeads in my way, punched a paladin, or three, in the face when they were getting out of hand, and prodded my sleeping brother with a stick before hauling him back to the paladins' base. You may also want to look in a mirror later little brother."

Tep's stomach turned at Artimix's last line and immediately took out a mirror from the magical pouch on the left side of his belt.

"By my Pom-poms of Lore!" His hair looked like Dr. Boom's erratic hair, only without the white, but that wasn't the issue. As he looked into the mirror, it was clear Artimix had fun "decorating" Tep's face with items of the food and sticker nature. "Ar-ti-mix!!!!" Tep quickly washed his hair and Artimix's mischief with water magic. Artimix was howling in laughter the entire time.

"Well, it was funny while it lasted!" Artimix's laughter finally died down as he wiped away the tears from his eyes, "now, back to business."

Artimix's voice changed and his face returned to the serious one Tep saw when he arrived on the battlefield yesterday, "You are free to roam around the camp and mingle with the other paladins, Artix gave me his consent to you staying with me under the condition you help out on the battlefield later on. Just make sure you have this pin to show you aren't an enemy."

Artimix pulled out a small pin of a wing on a helmet and placed it in Tep's hands. "Just...watch out for the overzealous ones. There's a chance that if you act or seem suspicious around them, they will attack you without warning, pin or not. Okay, maybe there might be some screams of 'Die spy!' before they attack."

Tep nodded as he placed the pin on the collar of his sky blue coat with pink lining. After he placed the pin, Tep remembered what Artimix explained the other day, "Oh Artimix, what was Artix's reason for starting that war that had some paladins defect to the necromancers' side?"

"Artix saw how there were so many necromancers popping up everywhere and decided to put an end to necromancy since so many use it for evil. The ones who defected took Artix's words as 'the paladins will march and wipe out all undeads on Lore' after this war. The possibility of harm coming to those innocent in Darkovia and Alnaphar did it. Not only that, they thought the order would come after every necromancer in the world, whether they're good or evil because of Halenro's words and Artix's improper example of when Coueraservi was almost forced to serve Donovan. Seems many misunderstood Artix's use of the word 'purge'."

Artimix sighed as he got up, "I stayed to fight for the paladins because I realized Artix didn't truly mean what others thought he was saying and Artix just needs to remember the true ideals of the Paladin Order when it was founded. He's not evil or going for genocide, just a little misguided from fear."

Tep nodded as he watched Artimix leave the tent but stopped for a short second.

"If you're still here when I get back from dismantling undeads and knocking some senses to overly zealous paladins, let's have a chat of what you did the entire time yesterday and...something else." Tep sensed the something else was something dire, judging from his brother's tone of voice, as he watched Artimix leave.

Tep got up and started stretching again and gave a sigh of relief, "Guess it's about time to get going. I'm already behind schedule!"


* * *

Tep's walk around the camp revealed that the mood at the paladins' base was also similar to that of the necromancers'. He had met, and chatted, with friendly paladins and ran from overly, and possibly crazy, devoted paladins that attacked him because they thought he was suspicious. They even failed to notice the pin on his collar.

While exploring, and running away from crazed paladins, Tep came across a paladin who, fully equipped in a white armor with turquoise and gold adornments, was about to return to his tent to rest. Tep thought it was a beautiful armor as he was, and unknowingly, already in front of the armored knight.

The sudden appearance of the wide-eyed, childlike behavior of Tep caused the white knight to fall back in surprise before he could reach for his weapon.

"What in the name of the Lady of Light!? Who are you!?" The knight regained his posture and drew his sword at the still sparkling-eyed Tep. The knight then noticed the pin on his collar and stayed his blade before it it reached Tep's neck.

He turned to sheath his blade, "You shouldn't be going around and sneaking up on people after they're exhausted and still on edge from battle." The knight turned to thin air then realized the person in question was already inspecting his armor and jotting down notes in his little book. "H-hey! What do you think you're doing!?"

Tep snapped out of his little episode and realized what he was doing and apologized to the knight.

"It was just that your armor was so pretty I couldn't hep myself," the embarrassed Tep confessed. After hearing that, the knight sighed and took off his helmet, revealing his "up-righteous" white hair, golden eyes and shining smile.

"That's alright, I guess I should have realized there are many who are captivated by my armor. My name's Paul, my friends call me War." Paul smiled as he offered a hand towards Tep.

"Nice to meet you, Paul," Tep replied as he shook Paul's hand, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"Normally, I wouldn't take the question of somebody who suddenly appear in front of me and so very rudely inspected me without my permission, but since you said my armor was pretty, ask away!"

Tep let out a snicker at Paul's quip, "So could you tell me your reason to join this war and why you fight for the paladins?"

Paul's face became bright and sincere as he looked straight at Tep, "Because I try to protect the good. Defend those who can't do so for themselves. That is my reason for joining this war and fighting for the paladins."

Tep nodded at this response and smiled, "That's a good reason to fight. Thanks for telling me. And I'm sorry for taking up your time when you could be resting."

"It's fine, I had a nice laugh myself."

"Well I leave you to your rest and I wish you a invigorating sleep."

"Thanks, you too. Oh, I didn't catch your name there."

"It's Tep, Tep Itaki." Tep smiled as he left.

"So that was Artimix's little brother, I knew he looked strangely familiar. Can't believe I didn't realize it sooner. Strange guy but he seems sincere and honest. Too bad there's already somebody stranger than him here," Paul yawned loudly as he retreated into his tent, "Now, time for a nap before I stay up for another 24 hours fighting." Paul paused, "Wish he was still with us today."


* * *

As he sang, Tep continued his exploration around the paladins' base.

"War! Huu! What is it good for!"

"Absolutely nothing, yo!"

This threw Tep for a loop as he looked around to find who was the one that shouted those words. A paladin in red, with black trims, armor came up from behind Tep and tapped his shoulder. Tep turned around and saw the culprit. With an inspection, the paladin was sporting a red beard and had a jolly roger hat that sported the same color as his armor. Tep was surprised to see a pirate paladin, especially one with a smile like a Cheshire cat.

"Sup," the pirate paladin in red cracked as he raised his hand in greeting and quipped, "But even when there's absolutely nothing good about war, I can't help but want to see how it will turn out. By the way, do you have two-fitty?"

"No, I don't, sorry," Tep was taken aback by this man. He clearly was stranger than Tep and Tep was successful at being the strangest, until now, "Your name is?"

"Kalle, got it into your memory banks?" Kalle grinned as he crossed his arms in, what seems to be, satisfaction, "And what about yourself?"

"Tep, Tep Itaki," Tep laughed, "I got your name memorized. If you don't mind me asking you this suddenly but why are you fighting in this war and for the paladins?

"Oh! You're Artimix's younger brother? How come I didn't see it! You two look so much alike! I'm good friends with that guy, we even compete with each other every now and then! As for your question, I already told you, I wanted to see how the war will turn out! I can't help myself whenever there's a war!"

Tep drew back a bit, he could clearly see Kalle was a war fanatic, "W-well, I got to get going but it was nice chatting with you. Bye!" Tep bolted but stopped when Kalle grabbed him. Tep turned around slowly at Kalle.

"When you get out there in the battlefield, don't do anything stupid. There's no sense in being gravely injured, or killed, because you weren't being serious," Kalle's easygoing face had turned dark and foreboding, "Promise me that."

Tep promised as he left.

"Well, I think it's time to start taking down some more undeads," Kalle grinned as he pulled out a heavily decorated golden axe, with a lion's motif, and rushed to the gates for the battlefield.


* * *

Tep looked back in the direction where he had met Kalle and thought to himself that there really were people that could be stranger than him and Kalle was proof of that.

Still deep in thought, Tep didn't realize there was a guy behind him when he crashed into the person.

"Ah! I'm so sorry!" Tep shouted as he frantically gathered his bearings.

"It's alright, here let me help you up," the stranger(of course, he was a paladin since this was a paladins' base, who else could be there besides pirates, knights or your werewolf brother?) helped Tep up and laughed as he remarked, "You've got to watch where you're going next time. I'm Golden Emperor, by the way, what's your name?"

"Ah, my name is Tep, Tep Itaki. I find it curious on how you came to call yourself Golden Emperor," as Tep replied, he took notice of Golden Emperor appearance. Golden Emperor was wearing a heavily decorated golden suit of armor in a motif of a lion, not knowing the design was similar to Kalle's axe. Golden Emperor's pale yellow hair was parted in the middle as both of his bangs defied gravity. Tep took notice of Golden Emperor's blood red eyes and marveled at how deep the color of it was.

"It's a long story, but everybody calls me GE. It's nice to meet you Tep. I should have realized you were Artimix's brother when you both look so alike to each other, with some minor differences. So, what were you doing running backwards and crashing into other people?" GE joked as he smiled.

"Just exploring. Oh and if you don't mind, could you tell me why you joined this war and your alignment to the paladins?"

GE's face became solemn as he heard this and a gentle smile was painted on his lips, "I fight for the paladins because we represent honor, justice and good. It's the main reason why I became a paladin."

Tep smiled and nodded, "Thank you and I'm sorry to do this but I do need to continue on exploring."

"Likewise, I need to get back on to the battlefield. I'm well rested enough."

With that, they both left for their designated locations.


* * *

It wasn't long before Tep found himself face to face with what seems to be a NightHunter member fighting for the paladins. He was wearing the standard outfit of all NightHunters, except he didn't wear the hat, and along with his black frizzy hair and black bandana mask; his whole attire screamed "Creature of the Dark!" not paladin.

"Who are you?!" the nighthunter barked as he drew his weapon, "I haven't seen your face around here before!"

"I'm with the paladins and this pin is proof that Artix acknowledges my being here," Now that he knew how to deal with such people Tep showed the weapon holder his pin. The nighthunter withdrew his weapon and apologized for his behavior. Tep realized this warrior was still high-strung because of the war, even when he's in his allies' base. "It's alright, wartime has that effect on everyone. I'm Tep, Tep Itaki, what's your name? Also, could you tell me the reason why you join this war?"

"My name is Flashbang and I joined this war because the undead are HUGE enemies! They were the cause of so much grief and destruction like the Dracolich war and when we fought against those Flaming undeads Zorbak made. Artix is right, we must purge Lore of necromancy so such things will never happen again! And with my training and skills as a NightHunter, I'll be easily able to dispatch those evil necromancers."

Another paladin came up from behind and shouted to Flashbang, "There you are! We have to return to the battlefield, the others are coming back for their break and it's our turn to get into position!"

"Ah, my bad Ulthair, I was just chatting with this guy here," Flashbang turned around and rushed towards Ulthair. The two dashed off to the gate leaving Tep to continue his exploration.

Ulthair looked back at the person Flashbang was talking to and thought to himself, "Wait, wasn't that Artimix? I thought he left for the battlefield a while ago. When did he come back and change into those clothes? ...Forget about it, the battle against the necromancers is a higher priority. I hope I find my teacher there so I can fight alongside him."


* * *

The moon was high and bright in the sky as Tep sighed heavily when he returned to Artimix's tent; the ducking and dodging of the fanatic paladins wore him out. He was ready go to sleep. Tep, as he slowly walked, pulled out his research journal and started writing.

I finally heard the reason why some paladins defected to the necromancers' side and the words that Artix spoke, thanks to my brother. Apparently, Artix wants to end necromancy because of their increasing numbers and many took it as end necromancers and all undead life. Genocide, basically.

After leaving the tent, I met up with some friendly paladins, whom, while still inexperienced, were fighting for good and the light. They followed Artix's command because they realized his words were right and that the necromancers were growing in numbers too large for the paladins to handle.

I also met some overly devoted paladins that thought I was suspicious and tried to make me into stir-fry. Coulda sworn one of them was brandishing a knife and fork as he was chasing after me...


Tep stopped to shudder and continued to write.

I learned that there were paladins who fight because they protect all that are good and those who can't defend themselves like Paul. I've also learned that there was somebody who could be stranger than me! I was so surprised when I met up with Kalle and when I learned he was a war fanatic. Though, now that I think about it, I never did get his reason as to why he fights for the paladins. I may have to ask him the next time I meet him.

Afterwards, I met a paladin who fights in the war to defend all that the paladins represents. Though I still wonder what Golden Emperor's story about his name is. Perhaps one day after this war. However, I met what seemed to be a zealous NightHunter after GE. Flashbang's reason for fighting for the paladins in the war was because it seems he views the undeads as enemies. He gave examples of undead wars we've face together, like the Dracolich war and fighting Zorbak's flaming undeads. At leas


Tep stopped mid-sentence as he saw there was somebody waiting for him in front of Artimix's tent. The person had a face that Tep had not seen for a long time, ever since Death "granted" that person his flesh-less face. Now his old face had returned along with his white spiky hair and forest green eyes. The person had gone missing ever since Frigidere's appearance. Tep dropped his journal in shock.

"Zombay..."

A smile slowly spread across Zombay's face.

"Hello Tep."



Brother My Brother

Tep picked up the research journal and tucked it away into his person still staring at Zombay, who stood in the standard paladin armor but with a black cloak draping behind his armor; questions forming inside his head.

"Come now Tep, you shouldn't be walking around with your mouth open. You'll swallow a fly at this rate," Zombay's bon mot brought Tep back to his senses.

"Wher-, wh-when? Why? How, how?" Tep stuttered as he tried to regain composure.

"Let's discuss this inside Artimix's tent. We wouldn't want cause such ballyhooing where everybody can see."

Tep nodded and proceeded in first, followed by the smiling Zombay. Tep sat down on the floor bed as Zombay conjured up a stool.

"Magic at it's finest when it's being used to make stools to sit on," Zombay snickered as he sat down as well.

Both sides stared at each other, tension building up as silence loomed overhead. It got so dense that if somebody were to come in, they would would be crushed by the pressure between the two.

Tep broke the dense, melancholy mood, "Where have you been ever since Frigidere appeared? Why are you fighting for the paladin's side when we both know very well you support the necromancers and are one yourself? Did you even know Rixi had looked for you for weeks!?" Tep realized he had raised his voice and sat back down with a calm demeanor, "Just what were you up to all this time?"

"All in due time, old friend. But if you must know, I'm fighting for the paladins because I feel it is...for the best."

Tep grew uneasy with Zombay's reply. There was something off about the way he had phrased it. No, something else was off and it was something that needed to be addressed, Zombay's old face had returned. His old face that even Warlic's magic mirror couldn't restore and yet, there he was across from Tep, his face had their flesh and his head filled with white hair, spiked up like a certain super ape-like race from the planet named vegetables.

"Then answer me this, how did you get your face back? We tried everything when you ticked off Death and he 'rewarded' you by granting you that face. Tell me how?" Tep pressured as he continued to stare at Zombay.

Zombay sighed as he let out a small condescending chuckle, "You wouldn't believe me if I told y-"

"Try me"

"Alright. Well, after Frigidere appeared, I went out to look for one of his essences. I simply got lost on my quest."

"Why did you try to find one of Frigidere's essence?" puzzled Tep.

"I wanted my gift," Zombay laughed loudly, which gave Tep a shock, "But while searching for Frigidere's essence, I came across a way to return my face. Now I have to ask, what are you doing here on the paladin's base? You always claimed to be neutral but when such a war comes around, you can't help but pick a side, contradicting your beliefs, eh?" Tep sighed and shrugged off Zombay's chiding.

"I'm not in the fight. I'm just recording this war and try to get to get the true reason behind it, especially with Artix instigating the whole thing," Tep took a somber tone, looking at his feet as he went on, "But the strangest thing is when I arrived on that battlefield, everybody was attacking each other. Rixi told me that everybody was hit with an illusion spell at the start of war, causing them do such things. You should know what I'm talking about, you were there, weren't you?"

Tep raised his head to see Zombay and was startled by the widest grin that was on his face. Zombay's smile stretched from ear to ear as his squinted eyes seemingly gleamed despite the dark lighting.

"Oh? I was there alright. In fact, I was the only one not affected by the illusion spell."

Tep's face was mixed with shock and horror as he heard this. He shot up like a frightened cat after putting the pieces together and, without realizing, Tep was screaming, "You were the one! Why! Why would you do such a thing!? Don't you realize how many people died at the hands of their comrades because of it!? Answer me! Why!?"

Zombay's face convulsed as he roared with laughter, "Because, I wasn't looking for Frigidere's essences to destroy it, oh dimwitted one, I was looking to absorb it; and it wasn't just then I decided to look for a Lich's essence, I've been scouring Lore ever since death stripped me of my face to restore it. Though I could only commit a small amount of my time so not to arouse suspicion. I remembered about my knowledges of Liches and how they defied the laws of life and death; so what better way to restore my face than to use a little Lich magic?"

Zombay got up as he stood in front of Tep, "However, I couldn't find powerful enough essences and I almost gave up, until Frigidere appeared. I knew it was the chance I was looking for when I heard he was from a race of special undead, ones who was born into undeath. His special essence would fuel my magic considerably, along with the other essences I found. When I found one of the phylacteries containing his essence, along with several other Lich essences within the vicinity, I took it into my body and..."

Zombay gently brushed his face with his palm, "My glorious face returned to normal. And as intended, I also received a large amount of magical energies with those essences but with no way of testing how powerful it was against other beings."

"Until this war...." Tep was horrified at what his comrade and rival had become.

"But still, imagine my surprise when I saw little Rixi on that battlefield," Tep's face changed to a scowl as he heard this, "Doing her best to find the one who beat me in a contest not so long ago and diligently subduing all these paladins in doing so."

"How did you know about the war and her goin-"

"Because I attached a small parasite in her before I left," Zombay interjected, "This way, I would be informed about any news and changes in my absence. When I saw her across the battlefield..."

Tep grabbed Zombay by his cloak and threw him on the ground, his hands still clenching on the black cloak, and bellowed, "What did you do to her!?" Zombay smirked as Tep continued, "Answer me!"

"Now that's no way to treat an old friend, especially one as forgiving as myself."

Zombay appeared behind Tep, brushing himself off, and caused Tep to rapidly turn around to face him, surprised at his ability to teleport as he couldn't previously, "If I wasn't so forgiving, you would be dead when you touched me. Now, if you'll excuse me, this talk has turned sour so I will take my leave. I may as well take what I left with Rixi before I disappear again."

"Leave her out this," Tep's voice took a low and stifling tone as he warned Zombay, who looked back with a condescending face.

"Then I guess you'll be fine when she is taken over by my magic and eventually taken by death when her body can no longer handle it's powerful magic?"

Tep's somber face turned to horror yet again "As long as she continues to stay on the battlefield and is consistently using it like I how I instructed her to do; she should be taken over by it and turned into a black beast, sometime around the next hour. I can make it all go away and 'save' her, unless you have the power to do it, there's no way for her to survive my magic; And you can't, from what I've seen of your magick, so I'm your best bet to save her."

With that, Zombay disappeared into the shadows, with his laughter slowly fading, right as Artimix walked in to see his brother kneeling with one knee on the ground, faced away from the entrance.

"Ah Tep, good you're still here," Artimix stopped and realized something was wrong, his instinct was screaming it, "Tep, what happened?"

"Zombay was here...and...he needs to be stopped."

Artimix's face took a serious turn, "Understood. Tell me on the way."

Tep turned around and made a mad dash to the battleground with Artimix following behind. On the way, he told Artimix everything that he and Zombay had talked about and how Zombay was the cause of Rixi's change of behavior, even when Artimix didn't realize it, and the cause of everybody turning on their own comrades.

"Man, I thought he was bad before, he's really taken it to a whole 'nother level." Artimix bitterly remarked as he continued to run.

"Our first priority is to extract whatever it is he's left inside her and the parasite as well. The current me won't be able to do it but..." Tep trailed off.

"You'll have to unseal a small part of that power to do so, I know. Even if you hate using it, right now it's the only option left if you want to save our sister," Artimix reassured Tep, "Start the unsealing process as we head there. I'm certain we won't have time once we find Rixi."

Tep nodded and started making sigils into the air with both his hands as he chanted the words of a dead tongue. Both brothers rushed to their sister's side, ready to save her and punish the one who used her.


* * *

Elsewhere, outside the battlefield, two figures appear over the hill. One of the figure had a gecko helm, his face completely black and bits of green hair peaked out from under his helm.

The other was a red, pony-tailed, haired female, with two large red and gold accessory on either side of her head. The male was tossing and catching a cutlass while the female had a black shadow-like being coming out of her shadow to embrace her. Both of them with a dark smile on their faces as they looked at the battlefield.

"Time to begin the show, partner."

* * *


Tep and Artimix continued searching for Rixi as Tep maintained his sigil making and chanting. They thought they might never find her when they both saw a large amount of paladins being flung into the sky. Looking to each other, they both increased their speed to the source of the flying paladins.

When they arrived, they both were shocked and horrified at the sight of the black beast. It had four black spider-like legs protruding out it's back; it's arms and legs had erratic spikes coming out toward the rest of the limbs. Its body was covered an armor-like crust that extended from behind, seemingly as if there were claws holding onto the beast's body. Its long hair seemed alive as it moved whimsically in the air. But the thing that shocked them the most, was from its green eyes, as deep red tears streamed down its face.

As they both stared, Tep remembered Zombay's words.

...she should be taken over by it and turned into a black beast, sometime in the next hour...

"Rixi..."

"What!? That's Rixi!?" Artimix immediately turned to his brother with horror.

"This is what Zombay was talking about."

As if on cue, Zombay appeared besides her and strangely, Rixi's erratic and fierce appearance suddenly calmed as soon as she saw Zombay next to her. She looked to him like a little puppy, awaiting for it's master's command. Tep's stomach churned at the sight of it, to the point of almost retching in disgust, but Artimix's firm hand on his shoulder snapped him out of it and he carried on to unseal a portion of his evil power.

"Zombay!" Artimix bellowed, "You've fallen so far that I cannot call you my friend or comrade anymore. After today, if I meet you again, you best rinse your neck."

Zombay, paying no heed to the words by Artimix, raised his hand to his head and murmured. His arm glowed a sickly blue as he sharply, and painfully, extracted the evil essence inside Rixi, ignoring of her scream, and devoured it in a satisfying burp. Artimix, now filled with rage, charged and immediately appeared in front of Zombay, sword a-swinging.

"Rixi!" Tep, finally finished with his ritual, teleported to his sister's side, just in time to catch her as she fell over. Her face and body was reverting back to their original state as the black skin covering her evaporated. She started to hack up blood as cuts and bruises appeared simultaneously on her frame and her skin started to cling to her bones.

Tep wasted no time to use his magic to heal Rixi as he found and destroyed the parasite Zombay had placed. As he continued to heal her, Tep searched for more anomalies in her, had Zombay placed back-ups.

Artimix, in his fit of rage, continued to swing at Zombay, only to keep missing, as Zombay played around with him. Small cuts started to appear on Artimix's body, even pierced through his armor, as he continued to attack in rage.

Tep, seeing this as soon as he finished healing and purifying Rixi, shouted, "Artimix! Calm yourself and with intentions pure and true, strike!"

Tep's words opened Artimix's eyes from his rage as he looked to his brother and nodded. Artimix raised his blade in front of him and focused intensely at his true enemy. Zombay, taking full advantage of the chance, quickly appeared behind the surprised Tep as he readied his spell to end the little thorn on his side.

Tep's bewildered look turned solemn as Artimix's blade pierced and retracted from Zombay. Startled, Zombay disappeared and reappeared with enough distance between him and the siblings, his hand over his gushing stomach, gasping wildly, as he watched Artimix fall to his knee.

Tep caught his brother and healed his cuts and aching muscles, "Artimix, I want you to take Rixi to Warlic and see if he can reverse the damage done to Rixi by Zombay. I'll deal with him."

Artimix nodded as he picked Rixi up, princess-style, and dashed towards Battleon.


* * *

When he was already halfway across the battlefield, dodging volleys of spells and undead attacks, Artimix felt a hand grab him and he turned his attention to Rixi. His face convulsed with dread and sorrow as he saw how sickly her face was as her flesh clung closely to her bones. He could not hold back his tears of regret.

"Brother..." Rixi squeaked weakly.

"Save your strength, my sister, I will get you to Warlic so he can return you to your annoying little self again," Artimix spoke with tears streaming down his face, "I'm so sorry for not noticing your change yesterday. Forgive me, for I could have saved you from this predicament."

Rixi slowly shook her head in disagreement, "Artimix...I would have...refused you.....I wanted...to help my teacher so much...that I..." Rixi coughed up blood as she spoke.

"You can tell me later. Right now, save your strength and focus on surviving this," Artimix's tears stopped flowing down his face as his expression took a determined look, "when your life is out of death's grasp, tell me all about it. Just save your strength, I beg of you, I don't want my favorite sister to die."

Rixi's sickly face formed a fragile smile and retorted, "Dummy...I'm your only sister," before closing her eyes and letting go of her grip on Artimix's arm.

"Rixi? Rixi!" Artimix, now afraid he was losing time quicker than expected, gathered strength from every fiber of his being as he slowly but steadily, as to not break his fragile sister, sped up on the way to Warlic. "Hang in there, sister. I won't let you die. I still haven't gotten you back for freezing me in my sleep," Tears freely falling down Artimix's face, "I still haven't..."


* * *

Tep turned around after watching his siblings, "As for you," Tep said in a monotone voice as he faced Zombay, who felt a chill bolt through his spine when he saw Tep's unstable smile, "I will make sure you never do such thing again and revert your face back to its flesh-less visage. You are now my enemy and I will strip you of your newfound powers. And if I find you tormenting my-"

Tep stopped when he saw Zombay had ran away in the opposite direction. He used the time when Tep was rambling on to heal his mortal wound, however, it seemed as if he lost enough of his magical strength to teleport away.

"Guess the talk turned sour," Tep sighed under his breath as he departed after Zombay.



A Dire Situation

"Her conditions have stabilized for now but whether or not she recovers, remains with her," stated Warlic as he finished removing the residual impurities within Rixi, "There is nothing I am able to do as of now so it is best to let your sister get some rest. I will be in my shop if her condition worsens," with that, Warlic left the room to tend to his shop.

"Thank you Warlic," Artimix bowed deeply in Warlic's direction then proceeded to his sister's side, kneeling. He grabbed his sister's delicate hand with both of his and squeezed them ever-so-lightly as he prayed for her safe recovery.

A day had gone by since Artimix arrived late at night in front of Warlic's shop with his sister in his arms, his sweating face painted with fatigue and despondency. Warlic quickly responded and instructed Artimix to get inside, even when he arrived so late in the night.

Under instructions, Artimix had gently laid her down on a bed Warlic had set instantly and proceeded to watch as Warlic did his best to cure Rixi. Rixi was screaming in pain as Warlic applied his treatment. Artimix fought every cell in his body as they screamed for him to stop Warlic, letting Warlic cure her of whatever it was Zombay had done.

"Artimix..." Artimix's head shot up to face his sister.

"Rixi...Thank Lorithia, as well as Warlic, that you've returned from Death's domain," Artimix sighed a breath of relief, "Please, don't do such dangerous things again. You cannot trust Zombay anymore, not after what he put you through."

Rixi pulled her hand away from Artimix and shook her head, vigorously in disagreement, "No, you're wrong. My teacher is not as evil as you think. He wasn't himself."

"But Rixi, what he d-"

"He wasn't himself!" Rixi screamed at the top of her lungs only to proceed to cringe from intense pain as she took a fetal position.

"Rixi!" Artimix tried to help his sister only to get repelled by a barrier. He flew into a wall as the barrier denied him from Rixi. Warlic, after hearing all the ruckus, enter the room to find Rixi, trembling profoundly in fetal position, and Artimix, slowly getting up and revealing a small hole in the wall.

"Artimix, I do not wish to separate siblings but alas, the situation calls for it. You must leave Rixi in my care. I give you my word she is in good hands."

Artimix got up slowly, shaking off the shock to his head, looked at Rixi and clenched his fist exorbitantly as blood dripped down from his fist. Warlic, without looking, cast a healing spell on Artimix.

"Do take care as you leave, anger shall not make your sister recover any faster," Warlic's voice was monotonous as Artimix left in silence. Rixi opened her eyes, revealing sorrow and regret, as she caught her brother leaving. "As for you, young one, you must rest. No more outbursts like the one before or you may never fully recover."

Listening to the wise mage, Rixi closed her eyes as she felt a soothing warm aura surrounding her, as it lulled her into a peaceful sleep.


* * *

Artimix stood outside, the rising sun gazed upon the fifth day of war, depression and rage filled him entirely as he stared into the battlefield. Thoughts of what occurred the past handful of days went through his mind. Of the little fights he and Rixi had when they both picked a side in the war and found out the other's decision.

For an entire week leading up to the war, they proceeded to pull pranks on each other and of the like nature. Then, when he had met up with her, and confirmed her presence through scent and instinct, outside the battlefield when he was still under the illusion spell, she did not even look in his direction. He remembered how she was so cold and distant she was when he greeted her, he dismissed it as her own way of showing her resolve and left it alone when he asked her what happened on her side.

"The illusion spell...Rixi's strange behavior...Zombay was the one behind it all," Artimix remained motionless in front of Warlic's shop as he mumbled on, "then he goes and pulls that thing out of Rixi, hurting her in the process." Smoke started to slowly seethe out of Artimix's skin as he clenched his teeth in a growl, revealing his canine fangs, "And yet, she still defends him."

Sheathing his sword and shield behind his back, Artimix started moving toward the battlefield, his purple cape fluttering in the wind.

A step: His arms exploded in dark oak fur, the armor covering his arms flew, as his hands burst into claws, ready to mutilate.

Another step: His legs turned into a wolf's legs that erupted with even more fur, boots peeled like a banana, and from his pants, a tail shot out.

A step more: His torso bursting as bristles of fur lashed outward, the dark blue armor with mahogany trim remained.

A step further: Artimix's long purple braided tail pulled itself out of the armor to fly in an ethereal manner, his head had transformed into a ferocious wolf.

Artimix's anger had transformed him into a dark oak werewolf.

"Zombay!!!" His shout roared through the heavens as he took off.

Hell may have no fury like a woman's scorn but even that scorn is no match to anger when family is involved.



To Each Their Battle

"Che! The wait is killing me!"

"Zip it gecko head, patience is our virtue and advantage."

"But it's been days! Those dark looming clouds don't help make waiting comfortable either."

"I told you to be quiet! Listen, I don't care what those clouds do as long as it doesn't interfere with the mission."

"Yipe! Did that lightn-"

"Hey! Be like the gecko helm you're sporting and stay silent! You'll give away our positions!.....!!! Quick, hide yourself and your presence, he's headed your way."


* * *

Rixi laid in bed, staring at the ceiling. It had been three days since Artimix left Warlic's shop, three days since their fight. Her mind, racked with guilt, on the events of that day. She knew Artimix was right about Zombay and he was only trying to look out for her, yet she rejected him in the most violent way possible. She could have taken a more reasonable turn in her explanation and yet somehow, she chose the worse possible way to respond.

She bit her lip, unable to rest in a comfortable position. Irritation got to her as she got out of bed, ready to head into the battlefield, only to find her legs could not support her weight as she fell, face first, into the ground. Rixi struggled as she sat in an upright sitting position. She started to rub her nose as tears welled up in her eyes.

"Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow....That huuuurts!" tears trickling down her face as she attempted to ease the pain. Warlic, after hearing her fall, came to check on Rixi and found her sitting by her bed, rubbing her nose.

"I see you tried to escape while you've not recovered. I cannot let you do that as I've promised your brother your well being. You must continue to rest young one, as you are now, you should not participate in the war or any battles for that matter. The side effects of the evil magic still remain within you. A long, healing rest will purge them from your system and your body will recover to its previous state before said events."

Rixi, ignoring Warlic's speech, slowly got up on her two feet. She stood pigeon toed as she flailed her arms to maintain balance. Warlic, seeing this, used his magic to force Rixi back to bed.

"As I've stated before, I cannot let you do that. Now, rest up."

Rixi gave a sigh of defeat as she knew she could not escape, not with Warlic watching her. Warlic, after seeing that she had finally resigned to get more rest, returned to his shop.


* * *

Later that night, Rixi tested her limb's strength and figured they were strong enough to support her weight. She got out of bed, this time using the bed as support to make sure she didn't fall again. Silently, she crept out of Warlic's shop when he was sleeping and rushed toward the battlefield.

"Sorry Warlic but I have to find Elryn and my teacher. I need to apologize to my brother as well," Rixi huffed as she ran, unbeknownst to her that Warlic was standing at his door, watching her leave.


* * *

Out on the battlefield, Artimix's feral rage was unleashed upon the unsuspecting undead soldiers. His figure was beyond a monster as smoke came out of his body. His claws dismantled the skeleton soldiers limb from limb. His overbite cleanly separated a zombie's body from its head. He still had enough of his senses to not attack any paladins in his path, as long as they did not foolishly try to attack him. Luckily, there were none as he left dismantled bones and zombie corpses in his wake.

"Zombay!!" His roar sent chills through both the paladins' and necromancers' back. They knew then that this mighty wolf was looking for somebody and the paladins were grateful he was on their side. Artimix continued his rampage as he swiftly ran through the mass of flesh, bone and steel.

"Foul beast who runs amok in the battlefield, cease your rampage," A wall of undead soldiers rose from the ground and stopped Artimix in his tracks.

"Who...are...you," growled Artimix as he slowly forced his way through the wall.

"My name is Drakeh and you are ruining my plans to use those undead to create more servants," Drakeh walked forward, surrounded by undead knights and spellswords. His pitch black cloak hid his face as it covered his black armor with red trim. A smile seethed through darkness of the hood as he summoned more minions to deal with the feral wolf, "Hmm...through a closer look, you seem to be a prime specimen, worthy to become my servant. Yes, you will do nicely."

Drakeh summoned more minions from the corpses of paladins and zombies to subdue Artimix.

Artimix was brought to his knees by the weight of the the undead dog pile on his back, legs and arms. He could not move and saw the necromancer brandishing a dark blade, its blade aimed at Artimix's heart. He tried to free himself from the annoyances as he roared in anger at Drakeh, who was inching ever closer until he was standing in front of the subdued wolf.

"Raise his chest to me."

Upon command, the undead mob lifted Artimix up to face his death. Drakeh's seething smile showed itself once more as he raised his blade to strike.

Shing!


Drakeh drew back his repelled blade and was immediately surrounded by his undead minions. He looked at the one who interrupted him. A paladin stood between him and the wolf. The person was clad in traditional paladin armor as his white hair seemingly shone, despite the dark clouds hovering over the battlefield. His movements was not wasted as he dispatched the undead, without looking, on top of Artimix before raising his sword to the necromancer.

"Who are you?" Drakeh hissed as he prepared a spell to take care of this intruder, as well as killing the wolf in the process.

"Ulthair. You best remember that as I will stop you necromancer," Fury flared in Ulthair's eyes.

"So you think you can stop me!? Try it!" Drakeh flung a dark lightning bolt at Ulthair, who deflected it with his sword.

"Artimix, I don't know why you're in that form but I do know you're searching for somebody. Go now and I'll deal with this one," as soon as Ulthair finished, his free hand shone with light. Artimix shook off what little undead pieces that were on him as he disappeared into the mass once again, undead body parts flying in his wake.

"So you believe you're my match? I'll gladly show you the errors of your way," Drakeh grinned widely, preparing his greatest spell, as his undead minions stopped Ulthair from reaching their master.

A bright light resonated with Ulthair as he dispatched the undead in his way to Drakeh. His sword was inches away from Drakeh's neck when the both of them were engulfed by a large black sphere, only small instances of light inside the sphere revealed the two locked in heavy combat.


* * *

Rixi had better control of her limbs than before as she continued to run. As she ran, she looked for Elryn's large figure in the crowd of paladins, bones and rotting flesh while sending paladins flying with spells of darkness, persevering through the intense pain of each cast.

In what felt like an eternity to her, she had found Elryn, moving to disable both paladins and necromancers then proceeded to send them through a sort of portal with gears.

She knew she had found Elryn when she saw he was wearing a cloak with no sleeves as silver chains held the cloak at the level of the collarbone. His robes was deep sea blue as it contrasted patterns of silver with a faint moonlight glow as they appeared on the borders of his cloak: the bottom, the inner folds tied by the chains and the contour of the hood. She saw two crescent moons of the same silver on the bottom end of the cloak and on each shoulder as twinkling stars dot the rest of the cloak.

But the main thing that said told her it was Elryn was his massive figure and the hood that was concealed in darkness; within it, two grey eyes swirled like a tempest.

"Elryn!"

Elryn turned his head to see a young, small girl(compared to the 7'6 giant) running to him. He saw she was limping as she ran towards him. Her blue hair contrasted with her red bangs as her pale skin showed her half vampire nature. Her black and purple robes did little to hide her wounds as they themselves were battered.

"Elryn! I want to challenge you to a race of who is able to defeat more paladins! Me or you!" Rixi shouted with a smile as she wheezed.

Elryn ignored this and proceeded to question her, "Little one, why are you in such a state?"

"That doesn't matter! I want to have a race against you, the one who defeated my teacher, Zombay, in a race!" She shouted again, this time she pointed to the giant.

"You stubborn fool..."

"Stubbornness runs in our family af-" Rixi was cut off as Elryn bear-hugged her suddenly. Flustered, she tried to get out of his grip, "H-hey! Let go! Le-"

"Did you honestly believe I would take on your challenge when I care deeply for my friends? Especially when you would be risking yourself in the race with those wounds?" Elryn's pained voice took the fight out of Rixi as she silently stood in the arms of the giant. Then, Elryn struck Rixi surreptitiously on a nerve in her neck, causing her to lose consciousness, "As for your statement, stubbornness runs amongst the warmongers, child."

Elryn opened the gear portal and sent her though to Yulgar but not before telling Yulgar to make sure Rixi cannot escape back into the battlefield during her stay.

"Now, where are you old friend?" Elryn mumbled as he continued onward.


* * *

Artimix had gone through waves of undead, and several foolish paladins, in his rampage as he continued through the mass of fighters. Eventually, he reached the edge of the armies where he met face to face with Cataclysm, who pointed a claymore in Artimix's direction from a sitting position.

"Calm down my friend. Rage will do you no good here," Cataclysm pointed out to the wounds and cuts on Artimix's body.

Artimix was silent as he stood there with the claymore to his neck. As if to agree, Artimix's dark oak fur changed to a golden yellow as his rage subsided, the smoking coming from his body disappeared. Cataclysm pulled back the claymore from Artimix's neck. Artimix sighed as he gazed upon Cataclysm's appearance.

He was a rather large warrior, approximately two meters in height(about the same height as Artimix in his lycan form) as he wore full plate mail(no helm), unadorned. Artimix knew Cataclysm well enough to know why; armor is to protect, not to look fancy. Cataclysm's hair was cropped to a length just above his eyebrows and Artimix took noticed of how stark white it was, especially for one as young as him. The claymore, Cataclysm's signature weapon, was of ebon metal, two meters in length, with the hilt extending another half meter.

"Thank you for calming me down my friend. While I have you, Ulthair has been looking for you. Don't you think you should at least let him know where you've been? Or is it something I shouldn't be meddling in?"

"Ulthar can handle things on his own. He's received his orders, and would be wise to follow them." Cataclysm calmly responded.

"Alright, I understand," Artimix turned around and left to the battlefield, but not without leaving another comment, "Even if he's fighting relentlessly against a pretty powerful necromancers huh?"

"He's received my orders to abide by the Paladins' orders, now there is no need to bring it up again Artimix," Cataclysm got up as he brandished his claymore once more.

"Sorry, stubbornness runs in the family," Artimix chuckled before putting on a serious expression as he disappeared into mass once again, this time in full control of his emotions.

"Time to go," Cataclysm stated as he started toward the fray once more, "Shall we meet again, dear friend?"



Titan Confrontation

It had been nearly two weeks since Tep lost Zombay's trail and was on the path back to the battlefield. He was exhausted after searching throughout Lore for Zombay. Tep took out a small bottle from the magical pouch on his right, its content of glowing turquoise liquid, and chugged it down. He returned the bottle back to its pouch before reaching for his journal.

He began writing as he slowed down his pace.

After learning Zombay was the one behind everything and seeing him extract a strange black and blue orb from Rixi, Artimix confronted him as I healed her. In his confrontation, Artimix had manage to deal a severe wound to Zombay, causing him to put some distance between us.

I told Artimix to take Rixi to see Warlic and after seeing that he got through the mass of fighters, I turned my attention to Zombay. I wish I didn't start to jabber then because he took that time to heal himself and run. I followed after him, of course thinking it was going to be easy, but I found out he had enough magic to increase his speed. Thinking of having my fun and applying despair upon him, I kept my distance as I chased him outside the battlefield. It lasted for 3 days.

On the 3rd day, he immediately ran into the fray. Right as I entered and caught sight of him, he disappeared and I was met with an array of darkness spells and swords. I thought about blocking it when all of a sudden GE came in between me and the attacks. He had deflected some of them but the rest met their destination as they went into him. I was horrified as he coughed out blood, only to ask if I was alright.

Without even waiting for my answer, he went back into the battlefield screaming, disappearing into the mass of undead....I pray that was not the last time I saw him.

After shaking my mind from the sight, I teleported after Zombay, only to end up in Kyrie's heartbroken arms. Apparently she had a date with Galanoth and it had ended badly. Unfortunately for me, I ended up being the first guy she saw after the failed date. I ran for my life...I think this lasted an entire day before I lost her.

Note to self: Avoid Kyrie as much as possible. Artimix wasn't kidding when he said she had screws loose.

Fearing that another failed teleport would take me back to her or worse(though I can't imagine what's worse), I decided to search for Zombay by foot, after getting off Deren and back to the mainland. I scoured as much of Lore as possible but to no avail, even when I tried to locate him through magical dowsing. Zombay had completely disappeared.

Currently, I am heading back to the battlefield, and I'm close, so I can record more of what happened in the battlefield. However, from where I am, I can see dark clouds hovering over the location of the conflict. It's multicolored lightning strikes are the strangest I've seen. I pray this doesn't end too badly. I can only pray.


Tep closed his journal and placed it inside his lab coat as he ran back to the battlefield.


* * *

On his way back, he saw Cataclysm and was about to rush over to question him about his reason for joining when he also saw Elryn on the other side, coming close to Cataclysm. Immediately, Tep remembered they were both on opposing sides. He saw their grim faces and knew then they were going to fight as he rushed to meet the two titans, his mouth opened as he reached the two.

"Elryn! Cataclysm! Why are the two of you in this fight!? Why do you have to face each other, especially on opposing sides of the battlefield when you're obviously comrades of past! At least tell me this before you fight!"

Cataclysm was the first to speak, "For the same reasons I always do. I am a mercenary, and I have a contract.”

"I fight for the same reason I always fight. To protect my friends and kin from harm,'' Elryn uttered after Cataclysm's answer.

They both began to speak at the same time as they finished their sentences.

“When I accept a contract, I always follow through, regardless of what it may mean.”
''That means I must protect them from themselves.''

As soon as Tep heard this, he saw a cutlass fly toward Cataclysm as a shadow being jumped out of Elryn's shadow to strike a mortal blow. Cataclysm had deflected the cutlass as he then turned to the direction of his attacker. Tep caught a glimpse of a gecko helm as the figure disappeared. Meanwhile, a red-haired ponytail female appeared behind Elryn with a dark grin on her face. Her grin disappeared as Elryn appeared before her, causing her to disappear into the shadows. Elryn turned to face Cataclysm.

''Tep,'' Elryn said aloud in a foreboding tone.

''Yes?''

''Run.''


* * *

Elsewhere, outside the battlefield, after the failed attack.

"Che! That didn't work out like we planned," the gecko helm male sighed as he punched a tree.

"It's the least we can expect from such great figures," the red-haired female sighed as she put back on her red and golden accessories, "this mission was a flop and it showed how inexperienced we were." She bit her lips remembering Elryn's words.

"So what do we do now?"

"To wait for them in Deren. It's about time we introduce ourselves."


* * *

Tep had ignored Elryn's words and erected a barrier and a shield made of mana, with both arms outstretched, to shield himself from the shock wave caused by Elryn's condensed wind being split apart by Cataclysm. It took all his might and magic not get blown away like the rest of the paladins and necromancers, even his long braided tail was blown outside his lab coat. Tep had resolved himself to watch the battle between the two titans that unfolded before him and nothing was going to stop him from watching it.

Elryn had taken a battle stance as his cloak turned grey in color and shade. Tep did not know what was about to happen as Elryn's right foot met the land in a booming sound. Immediately, a wall of small mountains shot up around them and Tep as he watched the wall form behind and around them. However, as if Elryn wanted to get him out, the ground where Tep was standing on suddenly jutted upward to the sky, a pillar as tall as the wall. Tep, losing his balance and about to fall off, had no choice but to teleport back down to the fight.


* * *

He had found himself face to face with Kyrie once again and already was to running in the opposite direction. Irritated that he could not watch the battle between the two titans and that his teleportation magic landed him in front of Kyrie once again, like he feared, Tep started screaming at the top of his lungs.

"OH FOR THE LOVE OF POM-POMS!!!"



Author's Note: Look to Elryn's and Cataclysm's story for the continuation of the fight.



Consequences

Tep had finally returned back to the battlefield a couple days later, only to be greeted by a multicolored lightning bolt. Tep leapt forward, barely dodging the strange claw-like lightning. Sighing loudly, he got up as he looked at the dark looming clouds above him. The storm's intensity and density had increased dramatically in the past two days and the reason was clear when he gazed upon the battlefield.

The fighting had gotten more violent and vicious as the paladins pushed back the necromancers into Battleon, with Artix leading the charge. Wasting no time, Tep rushed to get closer to the middle of the battlefield.

The necromancers made their last stand in Battleon as the paladins rushed them, pushing back the necromancers as more paladins came up from behind. Artix took the lead as he demanded for the leader of the necromancers to be brought to him.

He saw Kaley being brought to Artix as they both started talking. Something about locking up the necromancers up and finding a way to rid Lore of necromancy for good but Tep's focus was on something else; he had saw his brother, Artimix, standing beside Artix.

Artimix was in his golden lycan form, his dark grayish blue torso armor with mahogany trim still on him, as the braided tail that was attached to his head was floating in an ethereal way. He stood with determination as his purple cape flowed down his back, almost touching the ground. Next to Artimix was Rixi, this shocked Tep as soon as he saw her. Her robes were battered as she leaned against Artimix for support, who made sure she had it, and her state still revealed she should not have been up and about.

"When this is all over lil' sis, I'm making sure you get some rest," Tep mumbled as he continued to watch.

Suddenly, the storm started to pulse in energy as it unleashed multiple lightning bolts around the area, hitting necromancers and paladins as it sent them flying. Tep could not dodge the strike and was hit dead on. He felt a strange tingle throughout his entire body as he slowly got back up.

After shaking off the shock, Tep saw that Rixi had been protected by Artimix as he got the full brunt of the lightning strike, as well as Artix and Kaley. He ran to his brother's and sister's side when another lightning struck right in the town. A strange muscular being had appeared; its entire body had lines on it like a grid as its body continued to change color like the lightning sparks coming out of it.

Artix and Kaley tried their magic but failed just like all other spellcasters in the area. Halenro was the first to go against the being and was blasted away, followed by Artix and Kaley. Several paladins and necromancers took up arms against the being, Artimix included as Tep held Rixi back from joining.

"My friends and comrades, help those brave people against this mysterious beings," even though Tep uttered the last words, his companions did not appear. Tep was shocked as he turned to look at the compartment on the back of his belt, hidden by his pom-poms(from left to right: blue, pink, red and purple) and realized in the presence of this foreboding enemy, no magic could be used.

As Tep turned around, he was sure everybody else had realized this as they all fought against the being using physical means.


* * *

The dark clouds above Battleon grew darker as the multicolored lightning bolts started to strike more frequently, hitting many buildings and already injured soldiers. It was as if it was setting the stage for the showdown between the being and the many that came to attack it.

The strange multicolored being seemingly glided, leaving afterimages of itself, through the attacks of both the necromancers and paladins.

"Quickly! Form around him and attack!" Artimix shouted loudly as he rushed after the being, only to have it materialize behind him with its fist aiming for his neck.

"Hey! Behind you!" A golden ax flew to intercept the hand. The being disappeared and reappeared with a flash in front of the paladin responsible for the ax, Kalle. Artimix lunged toward the being's back, claws ready, as soon as it manifested in front of Kalle, who resorted to using his fist to meet the multicolored fist.

"Why won't my spells work!?" A necromancer yelled as he tried to blast the being with magic.

"Don't bother with spells," Ubear revealed as he rushed pass the necromancer, "It looks as if he's able to block any form of mana induced magic."

"Just use any physical means of attacking it!" Paul shouted as he pushed onward to the being with a large white lance, catching it off guard as he impaled it.

The being jumped away, leaving trails of afterimages, as it raised its hands to the dark clouds above. Everyone took the chance as they surrounded it once again, their weapons aimed.

In a flash, the attacks were deflected as everybody was sent flying, electricity coursing through them as they slowly got up. Ubear was the first to get on his feet as he grabbed his green ax, with a skull motif, and swung at the being's leg, only to find it already standing to his right.

Flashbang shot a large net at the being, only to have it land on the ground as the being's multicolored fist connected with Flashbang's chest, sending him flying into Robina's shop. It immediately turned to Ubear as it grabbed his snout and slammed him into the ground.

Paul took the opportunity by stabbing the being in the neck, only to realize too late that it had grabbed his neck as it flung him to the Guardian Tower.

Kalle and Artimix approached it from both sides, fist and claws ready, but the being manifested itself behind Kalle and slammed him into Artimix. It grabbed the two off the ground, in both hands, as it raised them to the clouds above. Another multicolored lightning flashed as it struck the two, causing them to roar in pain.

After the screaming stopped, it threw the two into Yulgar's Inn.

The multicolored being stood there, in the center of Battleon, as sparks of aurora-like lightning came out from him. The other paladins and necromancers gazed in horror, their mouths opened, as the stronger ones were trounced like they were nothing. Some were about to turn and run when a shout echoed out at them in unison.

"DON'T RUN AND FACE IT!"

Paul staggered out of the Guardian Tower, his helmet was broken and started to break apart as he marched for the being.

Ubear slowly got up as he shook off the shock to his cranial, his green skull motif ax already brandished.

Flashbang came out of Robina's shop, donned completely in black shadows as long claws formed over his hands and bat wings stretched itself open from his back.

Kalle walked out of the Inn, cracking his neck and popping his shoulders, as he grabbed his ax off the ground.

A roar was heard as a blur of dark oak passed by Kalle and stood behind the being, arms crossed. Artimix had returned to his dark oak werewolf form, smoke seething out of his body.

Instantaneously, Artimix's claws swiped at the being, only to have it re-materialize away from him only to meet with Ubear's ax. It dug deep into the being before it disappeared once more, only to meet face to face with Flashbang's vicious claws as he pounced it when it reappeared.

As it glided away, Paul used his lance to send the being flying into Kalle, who took a low stance as he held his ax to his side.

With a mighty swing, Kalle split the being in half as it flew straight into the sharp end.

A cheer was heard as both necromancers and paladins shouted in joy. The celebration was cut short as they all gasped in horror when they saw the being reforming itself and standing back up, the multicolored lightning coming out of its body grew bigger and wilder as it recovered.

"THE TIME TO STRIKE IS NOW!" The loud boom of command shook the shocked paladins and necromancers out of their trance, all rushing headstrong at the being.


* * *

It was a long drawn out battle against the powerful being but with combined efforts, from both paladins and necromancers, it was defeated and everyone watched as it dissipated back into the air, the dark clouds disappearing as well.

Diviara came in and revealed how the fighting between the paladins and necromancers created it, more specifically, the magical energies of the two. He said he had been monitoring the storm and when it had reached full strength, the magical energies of the two opposing sides had disappeared. He went on explaining the connection to the storm, the magical energies and ley lines.

Tep could have sworn he heard somebody saying "I knew it!" in the crowd, however, he was busy tending to the wounded Artimix, who had returned back to his human form, and helping Rixi, who was bandaging up her brother.

Tep did listen to the part about how the lines to the magic that the paladins and necromancers drew from was irreparably damaged and irreversible. A smile formed on his face without knowing it as he thought about Zombay and how he would be struggling to use his newfound powers by now. Rixi noticed this and pointed it out to Tep, who turned bright red as soon as he realized then he continued treatment on his brother.

As he was tending to Artimix, Tep saw Kalle walk by and, without thinking, blurted out Kalle's name. Kalle turned around and saw Tep.

"Hey," his face was stern and not at all whimsical like when Tep first saw him, "I see you're still safe."

"I never joined the fighting after all," Tep stated as he shook his head, "I never really got an answer to my question the other day, about why you joined the paladins."

Kalle sighed at this, "Persistent aren't you?"

"Stubbornness runs in the family after all."

"So I realize," Kalle looked to the heavily wounded and battered Artimix, "I would say I liked a challenge and what would the point in fighting if one cannot say that one's actions did anything. But if I said that, you would keep pestering me wouldn't you?" Kalle saw Tep nod in acknowledgement and breathed out, "Between the two evils, I merely chose the lesser one. That's all there is to it."

Tep nodded at the answer, "And I won't hunt you throughout Lore for your answer now."

Kalle laughed it off as he walked off into the distance.

After Artimix was taken care of, Tep looked around battleon and saw a necromancer with a wolf's face, it was Ubear from back then, getting into a fight with another paladin, it was Paul in all his shiny(well, sort of) armor goodness; the argument was something about an Ep-pig being better than an Ubear. He continued to scan the area and saw Flashbang talking with another necromancer in a familial tone of voice.

As he scanned around Battleon, he noticed how Lord Scorpio, Storm, GE, Drakeh and Ulthair was nowhere in sight. Tep then thought about Elryn and Cataclysm and the combat the two were locked in before he disappeared.

"I hope those two finished their fight without hurting each other too much," Tep mumbled as Rixi looked at him.

"Who are you talking about?" Rixi looked to Tep with a curious look on her still, slightly, bony face.

"Whom and I was thinking about Cataclysm and Elryn."

"If it's those two, then you have nothing to worry about brother," Artimix sat up and chuckled, "They can survive The'Galin's uncreation and laugh in his face after the failed attempt. Besides, I'm sure they resolved their differences, after all, the bonds of true friendship is as close as ours."

Tep sighed and nodded in agreement, "Alright fair enough. But do you know what happened to GE?"

Artimix stayed silent for a moment before speaking, "I don't have the slightest clue. He disappeared from the battlefield sometime ago. Wherever he is, I wish him well."

"As do I..." Tep got up, helping Artimix up as well, as Rixi hobbled after, "Well let's head on home. This war has been draining and long."

"Agreed," Both Rixi and Artimix replied at the same time as they headed to their home in Deren, leaving the battlefield and the conflict of the necromancers and paladins behind them.



Epilogue: Another Story

"I mean, I was like literally stuck there in Yulgar's Inn most of the time! There were like even paladins and necromancers working together to make sure I didn't escape! I mean, can you believe that!?" Rixi was complaining nonstop, with full body movement to accompany it, on the boat ride home as Artimix, Tep and any unfortunate passengers that were nearby.

"Calm down Rixi," Tep chuckled as he sat his sister back down on her seat, "If they didn't, you would have escaped again and would have gotten hurt in the process."

"He's right, you're more thickheaded than me at times," Artimix smirked as he pointed to Rixi, who was fuming at this.

"What was that you dumb wolf!? I dare you to say that again to my face!" Rixi jumped up and glared at Artimix, who in turn growled back.

"Stop it! Don't just leave behind one conflict to start another!" Tep groaned as he had to step between the two again. He thought the fighting about necromancers and paladins would stop, it did, but he should have realized that the fighting between his vampire little sister and his werewolf twin brother was never going to stop. Tep sighed, "I really wished you two would drink the cure and get along already."

"Feh! With an older brother like him? Forget it! He'd still be the same old annoying guy, even if he was cured of his werewolf curse," Rixi sat back down with her arms crossed, Tep was sure he saw puffs of smoke coming out of her head.

"And I say the same with you, you fairy-sized pest!" Artimix roared as he took a more aggressive sitting stance.

Tep groan loudly as he slumped down, tears in his eyes. This was going to be a loooong boat ride home.


* * *

As the three siblings got off the dock, still arguing loudly as they followed Tep, the siblings went back to their mansion estate. There, they were greeted by two strangers.

Tep's mouth almost fell to the ground when he saw one of the figure was wearing a gecko helm on his head while the other was a red ponytail female. The male was wearing a light array of armor that matched his gecko helm, which didn't hide his eyes(which were entirely red like shadow beings). Underneath the armor, he was wearing pitch black clothing, or were they since Tep noticed a shadowy smoke coming out of his body. It was hard to tell his age.

The female had two large gold and red circular accessories adorned on both sides of her head as she sported a ponytail look. She was wearing a brown coat, the skinny sleeves wrapped around her arms, and black pants, which were tied with strings so they could hug her legs, which were tucked into her brown boots, also tied by strings. She wore black gloves that fit her snugly as it extended under the sleeves and up her arms.

Tep knew they were the ones who tried to kill Cataclysm and Elryn at that time and now they're standing in front of the doorsteps of the mansion.

"Hi, nice to meet you," the female was the first to speak as she waved to the siblings.

"Y-y-y-y-you!" Tep was jumping up and down as he pointed to the two, "What are you two doing here! Don't tell me you're after us next!"

The female laughed as she heard this. Artimix came up to the flustered Tep, "Hey, you seem to know those two. What did they do to have you jumping like Twig going after some fishes in the sea?"

"Oh, we know each other alright," the male replying in a deep voice as he crossed his arms, "and to answer your question Tep, no, we are not after you or anybody this time." Right as he finished, he jumped back when he saw Rixi's face close to him.

Rixi smiled mischievously at this, "Oh~! He's kinda cute." She was immediately brought back to Tep's side by Artimix.

"So, what business do you have here with us?" Tep glared at the two, the male regained his composure, as they came closer. Tep was in battle position, ready to deal with anything they throw at him.

"We're here to ask you if we could live here with you. Also we would like to train with you as well," The female's face was close to Tep's as she smiled. This threw Tep off as he pulled back.

"W-why would you want to stay with us? There are many other people you could ask."

"True, but you guys seem like fun to be around. Besides," the female pulled back as she wrapped her arms behind her back while she leaned back, "you're the only one on Lore who carries pom-poms on you everywhere."

"She's right about that," both siblings remarked at the same time causing Tep to grumble.

"So how about it? We promise to behave. Pretty please?" the female sweetly cooed as she fluttered her eyes, both hands grasping each other near her head. Tep, looking to his two siblings and seeing they had already decided to agree by the sparkle in their eyes, resigned as he hunched over, arms hanging loosely.

"Fine, you can stay. But," Tep stood straight up, "I don't want you to try anything like what I saw back there."

"Alright, I swear," the female raised her right arm while jabbing the male in the ribs.

"Ah, I swear as well," the male following the same fashion as the female, only to realize there was nobody on his left as he jabbed thin air.

"Alright let's head inside," Tep sighed as he motioned everybody to head in, "So what are you names?"

"My name is Caether Stract," the gecko helm male was the first to respond as he took the lead to walk to the mansion.

"I go by Tetra Crasher TC," the red ponytailed female giggled as the three siblings stopped at the same time.

"TC?" questioned the three in harmony.

"T-h-e C-u-t-i-e," Tetra spun around, giving a wink, to the, now shocked and gaping jawed, siblings before running to the doors of the mansion.

"Well, looks like the house is going to get even more livelier now," Artimix sighed as he looked at Rixi.

"Yup, who knows what might happen with them joining us," Rixi looked back at Artimix.

"Well Tep, you're on your own," they both patted Tep's back as they ran after the two new inhabitants.

"W-Wha?!" Tep, flustered by the betrayal of his siblings, stood there by himself as he tried to figure out what just happened. He stammered a bit before chasing after them, "Hey! Get back here! Who said I was cleaning up anybody's mess! Argh!! Answer me before I take care of you guys with my PomPom Grenades!! Hey! I mean it! Get back here!!!"



Special thanks to the victimsvolunteers in my story:

Necromancers' side
  • Elryn
  • Ubear
  • UnderSoul
  • battlemaster25
  • Travis Touchdown
  • Drakeh

    Paladins' side
  • Cataclysm
  • The White Knight
  • Kalle29
  • Golden Emperor
  • flashbang

    And a special thanks to everybody who has read my war story. I hope you enjoyed it as I have writing it
    Also, a special thanks to Trainz_07 for helping me correct a lot of my grammar mistakes.




    < Message edited by Tep Itaki -- 2/28/2013 9:53:45 >
  • AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 8
    1/30/2013 9:14:41   
    Trainz_07
    Member

    The Dead Shall Rise

    The war story of a necromancer on his path of vengeance.

    Prologue: A walk through Darkovia

    A fallen branch snapped in two under his black leather boots.

    It was the only sound that could be heard for miles off, save the sighing wind that reminded him of a song he heard once before. It was a song of love and doom, of broken princes and forgotten ghosts, mournful lyrics blended with a beautiful and haunting melody. Where had he heard of the song…

    It did not matter. What mattered most at the moment to Scion was the exigent need to examine whether he had misplaced his common sense. Few men wandered alone in the forests of Darkovia, and those brave enough to face the eldritch woods would always do so on horseback, or some other means of transport should a quick escape become necessary.

    Yet here he was, trudging on in the dark, mumbling on about his idiocy.

    “I hope you’re happy,” he thought to himself, “That town had stables, and stables meant horses. You had the coin for a decent palfrey, but no, you had to be frugal and decide to WALK. Or had you suddenly grown hooves? Imbecile.”

    Darkovia had lost its sense of terror for Scion, what bothered him that walking had cost him three whole days. His provisions were already dwindling, and game was scarce in the notorious forest, unless you were one who fancied a healthy serving of rotten meat. The undead prowled these woods, deterring any living creature to linger. Even the trees, with their stark branches swaying in the wind, gave off a sense of malevolence.

    Scion pulled his dark cloak tighter about him as the air grew colder. Winter was ever unforgiving, indiscriminant in its cold pursuit to claim the lives of the strong and weak alike. In a howling blizzard, even the stockiest of men were known to succumb to slumber, never to wake again. Perhaps winter was granting them a mercy. The coldness that lulled you to eternal sleep was far less painful that the coldness of hard steel running through your chest.

    Yet this winter had been relentless, courtesy of the dreaded Helfino Winds. Throughout numerous villages, snow had buried hovels and houses, their inhabitants still inside. Ice had rendered roads treacherous, and more and more people went missing in the blizzards that roamed through the lands, claiming highborn nobles and baseborn peasants alike. The world was hazy blur of grey and white, stark and ruthless.

    Frigidere mocks us. His spirit lingers, haunting Lore and blanketing the lands with snow. Would that I had his remains, I would fling those ice-cubes into the mouth of a volcano.

    Scion had to worry about the Ice Lich another time, as a great mansion of stone and mortar stood before him, smoke billowing out the chimney top. Yellow lights shone through the windowpanes, giving the house a warm and welcoming atmosphere, in spite of its grey walls. From within the mansion, the incessant sound of hammering echoed. Clang clang clang. Scion breathed a sigh of relief, he was finally here.

    After knocking on the oaken doors, Scion needed only to wait a few scant seconds before a familiar face greeted him.

    “Well, if it isn’t the great Necromancer,” said the grizzly man, “Please do come in at once m’lord.”

    Scion had to laugh at the man’s mock subservience. Barrett Longsire was not one to bend the knee unless he meant to stab you in the chin as he rose up. A bear of a man, Barrett boasted a barrel chest and a laugh that could supposedly cause tremors. The man’s arms were gargantuan, his rippling muscles a result of years of working in the forge.

    “So,” said Barrett as he ushered Scion inside, “What brings you to my humble home today? A sword to hack your foes? A shield to protect you from harm? If it’s corpses you want , you have my leave to take my dear ol’ sister.”

    “No my friend,” replied Scion, certain that his last offer was half true. “Allow me to show you something.”

    He reached for the bundle of cloth that was slung across his back, unraveling it to reveal its contents. Barrett’s eyes widened in disbelief.

    “The Lurid Malevolence,” said Scion with a smile, “A gift from Stragath.”

    In truth, the sinister scythe was left behind by the demon when Scion had chased him away, after splitting him apart from Ghin with aid from the demoness, Lady Tomo. The weapon was aptly named; no pious man would deign to wield this gruesome weapon, with its grisly blades that exuded malevolence. As it turns out, Scion was not a pious man.

    The blacksmith gingerly took out a pair of small half-moon spectacles to better inspect what was laid out before him. “Fine craftsmanship,” said Barrett.“Who knew demons to be such skillful smiths eh? I don’t suppose you’re looking to sell this to me?”

    “I’m afraid not Barrett, you’ll have to find some other denizen of Heck to sell you something.”

    It was Barrett’s turn to smile, “Ahh well, I expected as much.” He put away his spectacles and regarded Scion with a wry look,

    “Enlighten me then, what do you want of this old, decrepit smith?”

    Scion handed him the scythe, whose weight he underestimated and thus almost dropped it, eliciting a chuckle from the necromancer.

    “The haft is too short for me; out of ten slashes I can miss four.”

    “That’s probably because you had already lopped off the bloke’s head the other six times,” japed the blacksmith, “If you want me to extend it, you have but to ask. The only problem is I don’t think any metal on Lore is compatible with that of the haft…unless perchance you have a solution?”

    Having anticipated this, Scion had obtained a chunk of Stygian ore from the Drakel black market. As he held the ore, Scion couldn’t help but notice how…black the ore was. No light was reflected off its surface; in fact the unearthly rock seemed to absorb any trace of light around it.

    Barrett grunted in approval, “How conscientious of you. Very well then, Master Scion, I will have your unholy toy lengthened by midnight. In the mean time, make yourself at home. Now if you’ll excuse me.”

    With that, the blacksmith went merrily to his forge, eager to get on with his work.

    Knowing Barrett, he’ll be finished long before midnight. Now that that’s done…Scion breathed a sigh, this time out of mild irritation. He ran a few spell incantations in his head, cracked his knuckles, and strode towards the door.

    As he went out and closed the door behind him, Scion gazed at his surrounding, noting that the sun had just set, and night swallowed the world. The wind had died long ago, and there were no snapping branches. All that left him was a disquieting silence.

    Scion braced himself, “The shadows hide nothing from me. Come out and face me vampires!



    Chapter 1: Confrontation


    The silence was shattered by a terrifying howl.

    A shadow leapt at Scion, a blur of fangs and claws and wings.

    With but a flicker of thought, Scion threw the vampire to a dead alder tree. Before his assaulter could recover, four more figures emerged from the shadows, all bearing vicious fangs.

    Scion regarded them coolly. They should have brought a score more if they had hoped to even stand a chance. Still, he found it odd that the children of Safiria would dare challenge him. A pact was sealed between him and the Queen of Vampires that forbade him to draw the blood of her children, as long as they treated him with the same courtesy. Has Safiria renege on her promise?

    Before he could work that out, two more vampires sought to avenge their brethren, dashing towards Scion with inhuman speed.

    Scion quickly sidestepped and leapt away from the threshold, but before he could even land, a vampire managed to slash his shoulder before he fell flat on the ground.

    In unison the fanged undead laughed and jeered at the necromancer, their ghastly voices filling the night air.

    Scion muttered a curse as he stood up, brushing the dirt from his clothes.

    The vampires immediately resumed their assault.

    The necromancer barked a strange syllable, the very air shuddered, and the vampires were forced onto the ground.

    Scion sauntered over to the vampires as they laid down writhing and struggling. As he examined them closely he noted that they were no Lords, only witless fools.

    “Do you even have an inkling of who you are dealing with?” Scion asked in a quiet tone that only served to accentuate the fury that was building up inside him. “When I was but a boy of sixteen, one of Safiria’s Lords once brought a platoon of elite vampires at my doorstep crying out for my blood. No quarter was given.”

    The color went from their cheeks. Well, any trace of it anyways, considering that they were already so ghastly pale.

    “Y-y-you’re h-h-him,” sputtered one of them, the first that attacked Scion.

    “There are many him’s in the world,” replied Scion dryly, “I just happened to be one who can obliterate you before you can – ”

    A powerful presence cut him off, Scion quickly looked up and prepared to unleash one of his spells –

    When he noticed the person standing before him.

    “My, my, Scion, I did not know you fancied yourself a god,” said Safiria, Queen of the Vampires, Mistress of the Dark. She wore her customary gown of bloody red.

    Scion snapped his fingers, releasing the bindings that held the vampires in place. The five of them looked meekly at Scion, before quickly disappearing into the woods.

    “If only you had shown such mercy to Lord Kairlen,” said Safiria in her lilting voice.

    “Unlike you, I have honored my pact and never lifted a finger against your kind until now,” said Scion scathingly.

    “You wrong me, Scion. Those were not of my own subjects - renegades from another clan. They were not just fleeing from you; Had they lingered a moment longer, I would have slit their throats myself.”

    “So you say.”

    Safiria gave Scion a charming smile, the sort of smile that made men go weak in the knees. Fortunately, Scion had grown immune to her seductions. “I come bearing grave news, Scion Feurig. The Paladins have declared war on your ilk. They will cut you down to the last man, ridding the world of your Order.

    “Grave tidings indeed, but ones I know of already.” Scion pulled his cloak closer, uncertain if it was colder because night had fallen or because he was in the presence of the only vampire he could not overcome.

    “Ahh but of course,” said Safiria as she brushed her black hair aside, “Then you would already know that the Paladins will be led by Krieger.”

    “He and his lot have always hated the undead. Somehow that hatred extended to those of the Mantle.”

    “All true, but I don’t suppose you know that one of his generals, his third in command in fact, is Lord Manderly?”

    Scion froze. This piece of information was never passed to him. “Do you mean Rael Manderly?”

    “The one and only.”

    Scion pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration and disbelief. Rael Manderly had slain his friend and fellow necromancer, Hector, Scion’s one true companion. Both of them were apprenticed to Kalen Obsidia at the time, and both were budding necromancers. They were inseparable, those two, one was never seen without the other. Scion cherished their friendship, and they both made a vow to remain friends for the rest of their lives.

    That vow would only last until Rael Manderly came. The paladin was renowned for his skill with the axe, and many a maiden were swooned by his dashing good looks. What they didn’t know was his implacable hatred of necromancers, and how he had single handedly killed at least a hundred of them.

    Scion remembered the day vividly. He remembered how the paladin sprang out of nowhere and hacked mercilessly at his friend, murdering him. The Paladin even cast a spell on Hector’s body that prevented anyone from reviving him as an undead, stripping Scion of his best friend. Since then, Scion had always mused that Lord Manderly made a fatal mistake that day. He let Scion live.

    When Scion was told of the impending war between the two Orders, he had refused to take up arms. He was never a soldier, and would find difficulty in obeying superiors. Besides, there were other, more capable necromancers out there.

    This singular piece of information changed everything.

    Scion appraised the women before him, his suspicion slowly growing. “Let us be candid. You come here to inform me of this, in person and without any guards. It is clear to me that you wish to incite me into joining the war. Why?”

    Instead of answering, she gazed serenely at the moon, her eyes twin pools of liquid gold.

    They turned crimson when she lunged.

    Scion quickly erected a barrier, but Safiria slashed right through it. The necromancer had no idea what was happening, only that she would shred him to pieces if he did not retaliate. He would not be able to assert his control over her like he could to lesser vampires, so he went on the offensive.

    Abruptly, Safiria took flight, her beauty silhouetted against the moon. She unleashed a barrage of phantom claws at Scion, who responded with frozen lances. One claw caught Scion on his thigh, drawing crimson blood, but he had no time to even glance at it, as Safiria sped towards him.

    Right, time to put this cloak to the test.

    Scion focused his mind and invoked the power of the Eternal Twilight. The cloak shrouded him in shadow, rendering him intangible as Safiria swept right through him. She wheeled around and resumed her charge, baring her gleaming, ivory fangs.

    Scion wasted no time drawing an arcane glyph, summoning a concussion of air that slammed into Safiria, knocking her out of flight. She recovered quickly and landed elegantly on the ground. Mumbling incantations, Safiria made several complex gestures in quick succession as she unleashed a barrage of energy bolts in the form of screeching bats.

    I must end this now.

    Time seemed to slow as Scion drew magic from within, gathering the requisite amount of Mana. The incantations were complex and difficult to pronounce, but Scion had practiced night and day on every syllable. He emptied his mind, and forced himself to focus. Distractions of even the smallest degree would spell his death. He raised his palm, dark and crackling energies culminating like a storm cloud around his hands. And then…

    Acheron!!

    A roaring fulmination of sable and crimson energies burst from his hand, rushing forth like a volcanic eruption. The river of darkness rent the bolts apart and engulfed Safiria before she could escape. The air before him shimmered as Scion gritted his teeth, putting all his effort into maintaining the spell. His ears rang with the sound of the explosion, like howling demons demanding bloodshed.

    And then all was still.

    Scion fell on his knees as the spell ended, panting from the effort of it. I had not expected it to be so draining.

    Safiria was kneeling as well, bruised and bloody, wisps of smoke trailing all over her. The spell had not killed her, as Scion was well aware it would not. It took a lot more to vanquish the Queen of Vampires. His spell had, however, weakened her temporarily, enough for her to relent.

    For several moments neither one moved, until Safiria slowly rose, her wounds already healing thanks to her superb regenerative powers. Her eyes had reverted to their usual golden, though Scion was not sure if that meant anything at all.

    “You have improved,” said Safiria, “I expect no less from you, Scion Feurig.”

    Scion stood up, casting healing spells on his injured thigh, “Your praise does little to soothe the wounds from your claws, your Majesty. Might I ask for an explanation?” He spoke without a trace of anger, wary of potentially provoking the Queen.

    “To prove a point,” said Safiria as she offered him another smile. Men said many things about Safiria, some true and some exaggerated. But all agreed that she was resplendent. “I have held my seat as Queen for centuries now, my powers incomparable to those beneath me. Yet I have not bested you, and you are but one man. What shall I do when an army of Paladins decide to cleanse the world of vampires as well? Krieger is many things, but his skills are undeniable. My people still have the Werewolves to contend with, we cannot afford to fight the Paladins. We need the necromancers, and the necromancers you, Scion. Your powers will bolster their own, and you will be a valuable asset to them. I know it is a lot to ask of you Scion, and I do so not as a Queen…but as a mother with her children to protect.”

    Scion could feel her sincerity washing over her. Safiria’s fear was not without grounds; the paladins sought to rid the world of the undead, and the vampires, no matter how one sees them, are all members of the undead. He suddenly remembered all the undead who wanted nothing but peace, to live their undeath without fear. He recalled some of his fellow necromancers, who were a cheerful lot, always curious, always eager to learn. They are innocent in all this.

    It was true that more and more necromancers were wont to abuse their powers, terrorizing Lore and forcibly bending undead to their will. Because of their actions, all who wore the mantle, no matter if they could never hurt another person, bore the scorn and hatred of others. The Paladins will not see the distinction. They will slay anyone of the Order.

    The more he thought about, the more Scion realized that it was inevitable. Besides, he owed his life to the necromancers, who took him in when he was a scrawny boy of ten. He had to fight for them; he had to protect his people.

    “The moon shines bright in the eventide sky, the dead shall rise, and fight for their freedom. I will join them. I will fight.”

    Safiria did not mask the pleasure on her face, “Thank you Scion, I am truly in your debt…When the war is done…if fate treats us well, perhaps we will meet again, Scion Feurig.

    “I look forward to it,” said Scion.

    The Queen gave him one last smile before turning to leave, but just then, she turned back to him and said, “A piece of advice for you, necromancer. Seek the tomb of Vrael Ironfang. He met his demise at the hands of a Paladin; perhaps he will be of aid to you.”

    Scion recognized the name immediately, “Your Majesty is wise.”

    As Safiria disappeared into the shadows, Scion returned to the stone mansion, to retrieve from Barrett his scythe…and to ask the blacksmith the whereabouts of Vrael’s tomb.





    Scion gazed at the trees below him; from that height they appeared no bigger than toothpicks. The air was much colder up above the clouds, and Scion had to continually warm himself with magic.

    He couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever see Darkovia again. This place, no matter how terrifying to some, had been his birthplace, his home, his sanctuary. I will miss it.

    The sepulcher had been fairly simple to find,and after Scion raised Vrael and put forth his request, Vrael proved eager to help, even offering Scion to mount him. Though his wings had long rotted away, Vrael was very much capable of flight. They flew through the night, cutting through the clouds in total silence.

    Lord Manderly had once met Scion atop a noble destrier; it seem only fitting that Scion met him in battle atop a roaring Dracolich.


    Chapter 2: Shadows


    “Rise.”

    The six supine bodies, as if deep in sleep, roused from what would have been their eternal slumber. One by one, they rose, greeting Scion with vacant stares. The redheaded necromancer nodded slightly, welcoming them to the ranks of the undead.

    The ones who stood before him were once the proud members of the Order of the Paladins, clad in the gold-and-silver armor that was their uniform, their holy emblem emblazoned across their breastplates. Small good those armors had been; Scion’s scythe had rent through them as if they were paper.

    The paladins had attempted to slither their way into the campsite of the 3rd Division of the necromancers’ army, Moonlight Capriccio, hoping that the darkness of the night would provide them with an avenue to move unseen. Alas, had they realized the folly of their notions, they would still be among the living. Even in the blackest of nights, the necromancers had ears and eyes everywhere. The shadows hide nothing from me.

    Scion had caught them on the path towards the Command Pavilion, which housed the chief command personnel, without whom the whole army would be in disarray. It was not hard to deduce the paladins’ intentions.

    He had not been too surprised to encounter assassins, but Scion had no doubt that Artix von Krieger played no part in this. The leader of the paladins was nothing if not noble to the core, and he would never sanction any assassination. Renegade paladins then…no, these must be outcasts, trying to win back their commander’s favor through blood.

    Now that he had raised his former foemen, Scion had to decide how best to use them. The answer came sooner than he had expected.

    “Ian,” he beckoned a squire, “Go and summon Master Alfrigg at once.”

    A few minutes later, Ian the squire returned with Master Alfrigg, an elderly mage who boasted a magnificent beard that reached his knees. He had donned a black robe trimmed with blue, complementing the pale blue light that danced in his eyes. Though not a member of the Order of Necromancers, Alfrigg was a friend to Lady Obsidia, and had pledged to them his allegiance.

    “Master Alfrigg,” said Scion as he greeted him with a smile, “Thank you for coming to see me.”

    “You are most welcome Scion,” replied the mage, his voice as gentle as a forest stream, “How may I best serve the prodigy necromancer?”

    After Scion explained his plan, Master Alfrigg chuckled as he stroke his snowy beard, “Why Scion, I never knew you were capable of such guile.”

    Scion merely shrugged, feigning innocence.

    Master Alfrigg looked at each of the six undead in turn, and then began chanting softly, his hands moving in a grandiose manner. A soft, magenta light slowly suffused the air around the former paladins, swirling and twisting. A few seconds elapsed before the light disappeared, and in place of six skeletal warriors, Scion found himself face to face with the six paladins that he had defeated less than an hour ago.

    “The glamour will not last long,” cautioned the sagacious mage, “And I have done all I can to suppress their undead energies. Even Artix will be oblivious to their true nature, at least in the beginning, but soon enough they will see through the illusion.”

    “I understand. You have my sincerest thanks, Master Alfrigg.”

    “Any time, lad, any time.” And with that, Alfrigg retired to his tents.

    Scion bid him goodbye, and then turned to appraise his minions. To the casual observer, they would appear as any other paladins, graced with dashing good looks. If one were to look closer, they would sense that there was something acutely queer about these warriors.

    “These are my instructions: You will now venture into the paladins’ headquarters, you will seek the whereabouts of the paladin known as Rael Manderly. When you come upon him, you will put all your effort into introducing him to the Reaper. Preferably with axes. You are not to harm any other paladins, or any other living person for that matter. Remember, Rael Manderly. Off you go then, and for Lore’s sake show some enthusiasm.”

    The necromancer then gave orders to Ian to accompany his minions until the camp perimeters and vouch for their identity and mission.

    With that, the undead in disguise lumbered to fulfill their master’s wish. Scion knew that the chances of them actually slaying his nemesis were slim at best. But their attempt alone would surely instill apprehension in Lord Manderly, making him fearful that any of his comrades could be a concealed undead, waiting to slit his throat. A man in constant fear was prone to lose sleep.

    Let him fear. Let the ghosts of his crimes haunt him. I will deny him sleep or respite; he can lie down to rest when death claims him.

    Leaving his dark thoughts behind, Scion proceeded to return to his tent.

    The campsite of the 3rd Division was split into 3 major sections: The necromancers and all other practitioners of magic were situated to the north side; the soldiers and generals occupied the east side, while the undead had been given the southwestern side. Scion’s tent was located roughly at the center of the campsite.

    The 3rd Division was positioned a few leagues south of the Crossroads. The generals of the Moonlight Capriccio believed that the Paladin’s main force would utilize the Crossroads to gain easy access into the heart of Necromancer lands. The soldiers of the 3rd Division would be happy to shatter that delusion.

    Two week had passed since Scion Feurig reached the campsite. His arrival was fortuitous for the necromancers, as they were in the middle of a skirmish with the paladins when the shadow of Vrael’s gigantic form enveloped them. The paladins were ill-equipped to face a fearsome dracolich, and with one mighty roar from Vrael, they broke formation and fled. Needless to say, Scion had been welcomed with open arms.

    Many of the necromancers had recognized Scion, some by sight and some by name, for Scion was hailed as one of Lady Obsidia’s most outstanding apprentices. When brought to the Brigadier General, the husky warrior mage had assigned him as Lieutenant Captain of the Howling Hellions, a group of battle mages tasked with harrying enemy spellcasters during the heat of battle, disrupting the paladins’ strategies.

    As of yet, neither side had released their armies, but Scion knew that it was merely the calm before the storm.

    A group of soldiers were drilling in an open space, their grizzly captain barking brisk commands. Even with the nights being so blisteringly cold, they were not lax in honing their discipline.

    Scion could not help but smile at the sight of the men who were so determined and resolved. The undead walk among them, and yet they show no trace of fear.

    As the sounds of the soldiers’ marching faded behind him, Scion reached his modest little tent. He pushed the flap open and went inside, well aware that someone was waiting for him.

    His tent had been modestly furnished, inside hung a single lantern that gave off a soft yellow glow. To his left was his pallet, and to his right was a working table and chair, while the ground was covered by a large carpet. He was also provided with a small bookshelf, lined with books of spells and tactics.

    Standing in the middle of his tent was a figure clad in shadow, his entire body hidden behind his cloak, which bore no discernible designs or patterns. Since his journey into the heart of Alnaphar, Scion had often wondered what manner of creatures the Forgotten truly were.

    “Hello Savarin,” said Scion to the Forgotten spawnling.

    “Greetings, necromancer,” replied Savarin, his voice muddled and deep.

    Scion shifted his weight. “I trust that you have come to relay Lord Navith’s message?”

    The spawnling nodded, “Lord Navith has agreed to your proposal, our forces will gather just south of Dragonstone.”

    “That is good to hear.”

    Scion had previously conferred with Navith, leader of the Forgotten who dwelled in the Heart of Sanctum, and requested his aid in the impending war. He explained that the paladins might very well choose to march towards Alnaphar and unleash their wrath upon the shadow beings, whose undead minions roam the Sanctum. Navith had initially expressed his concern over his people’s well being, but Scion assured him that the risks were minimal.

    While the Paladins would bring the brunt of their forces heading west, Scion had planned for the Forgotten to sweep in from the south, trapping the paladins from both sides and crushing them. After hours of discussion and planning, Navith finally agreed to lend his forces.

    “Necromancer,” said Savarin, “Might I be so bold as to inquire the nature of our task?”

    “Essentially, the plan is to trap the paladins, cutting off their escape routes. When they realize they have nowhere to run to, perhaps they might see the futility of their attack and surrender.”

    Black flames seem to dance around the spawnling, dark and forbidding. “And if they do not?”

    Scion had hoped that the blood of his people could be spared from this senseless war, “If they continue their attack, then the necromancers will not hesitate to respond in kind.”

    Savarin chuckled, and suddenly the room became darker, the air more frigid. “Ahh, but it would seem that you are reluctant to fight. You fear, you fear to go up against the paladins. Your eyes betray you; you are nothing but a craven.

    There was a flicker of motion, and abruptly the Lurid Malevolence was poised inches away from Savarin’s face, the blades gleaming menacingly.

    “Do not presume to cow me, spawnling,” said Scion, his fury punctuating every word, “I do not take kindly to having my name impugned.”

    Savarin slowly inched away, out of Scion’s reach, “You misinterpret my meaning, mantle wearer. None would dare doubt your readiness to leap into the fray. But deep in your soul, I can sense that you fear failure.”

    “Another falsehood from your duplicitous tongue.” He knows.

    “Is it? It is true that I am only a mere messenger…but I know a man with a vengeance when I see one, and yours is a thirst that can only be quenched with blood. And with the stakes so high for you, you cannot help but feel afraid that you will fail that person, just like you did all those years ago.”

    Scion had no words to respond to that. Has he read my mind? No! My people...I fight for them as well, not just him...

    Noticing his silence, the spawnling chuckled, “No matter, whatever you choose to do is no concern of mine. But before I depart, allow me to leave you with a bit of advice.”

    Savarin abruptly materialized just beside Scion, who stood there frozen.

    “Hector would not want your soul to be consumed by vengeance.”

    Scion’s eyes widened in shock, “How on Lore –”

    When Scion turned to the spawnling, he found nothing but shadows.


    Chapter 3: Charming Conversation


    Scion came upon his former master in a field of snow, her burgundy hair glaring against the stark, brumal landscape.

    He pulled his cloak tighter about himself as he trudged through the interminable white expanse. Far off, he glimpsed a pack of wolves garbed in their winter coats, their lithe forms nigh invisible against the background of unending snow, snow, snow. All around him, there was nary a sound save for the gentle breeze whispering in his ear and the crunching of snow under his boots.

    A single oak tree stood guard over the land, its monstrously thick trunk and alpine height striking an imposing figure. Winter had cruelly stripped the tree of its colorful, autumn foliage, and clothed the arboreal giant in a shroud of sheer white snow. And yet the tree remained stoic, never losing its air of majesty. Unbent and unyielding, the tree had weathered a thousand winters, and Scion knew that it would go through a thousand more.

    The day was a mild one, and for once the golden rays of the sun pierced through the grey clouds, basking the land in its warm embrace. For a dozen or so students, it was a perfect day for a picnic and making snow angels, but Kaley Obsidia saw it fit to instruct them in the ways of raising the dead. The disgruntled looks on some of their faces almost made Scion laugh.

    One can always trust Lady Obsidia to pick the sunniest of days to teach you the dark arts of necromancy. How absolutely droll.

    “Now my dear students, you must always keep close to your heart the three core principles of Necromancy. One, treat the dead with veneration, Two, never raise the dead when…” Obsidia trailed off when she heard footsteps. When she turned around and saw Scion, her features softened and she smiled.

    Kaley Obsidia was a lot of things, but Scion had always held a steadfast respect for his former master.

    “Class, allow me to introduce you to Scion Feurig, one of my most stalwart pupils and a prime example of what a necromancer should strive to become. Some of you might have seen him when he rode into our camp on the back of Vrael Ironfang, a most fearsome dracolich. Scion, why don’t you recount to them your famous duel with Frigidere the Ice Lich? I am in dire need of a break.”

    Scion rolled his emerald eyes at the elder necromancer, but complied regardless and recounted his tale. Storyteller he was not, but Scion tried his best to enthrall his young audience. The looks of awe and admiration on their faces reminded Scion of his own studentship. He remembered how his capricious mentor had surprised him with difficult trials and tasks, how more than once he had to flee from the undead that he himself animated.

    And here he was now, revered as a maestro of his art, inspiring fledgling necromancers with tales of his feats and achievements.

    Ahh but there is always something new to learn. And beyond every trickle of knowledge we acquire lies a roiling ocean of ignorance.

    After he finished to a sound of applause, Obsidia dismissed the students, but not before eliciting a chorus of groans as she gave them a most bizarre assignment.

    “I remember the first time I prayed and gave thanks to Lorithia and the Elemental Lords was when I graduated from your mentorship,” Scion said in a playful tone.

    “How coincidental, that was my first supplication as well. Only I did so while crying tears of jubilation,” replied Obsidia dramatically, “It’s good to see you again, Scion.”

    “I cannot in good conscience say that the feeling is mutual.”

    Obsidia threw her head back as the sound of her chortling filled the winter air. “To each their own then. By the by, what did you think of my students?”

    Scion had carried out a mental assessment of them during his recounting, “Two of them showed great promise, while another was naturally talented. One of the lads was gifted as well, but his arrogance does not sit well with me. Three of them exhibited a profound fascination for the art, but had poor magical capacities. Another two were confused when I mentioned phylactery, and the rest are subpar. Send them to the battlefields and all will die.”

    Obsidia nodded solemnly, “War is a gruesome creature, who knows not friend or foe, only its insatiable hunger for the living and undead alike.”

    “How very poetic of you.”

    “Truly? That was a line from a novel I once read,” said Obsidia with a smile, “In any case, you’ll be glad to know that I won’t be sending them to their deaths…Though undead students might be of a more…tractable nature.”

    “I sometimes wonder how on Lore did I survive your lessons,” said Scion as his gaze fell on the campsite that lay south of them. Even from this distance Scion could make out the soldiers that were up and about their business.

    Obsidia waved a finger and summoned a pair of bone chairs from the ground, signaling Scion to sit with her. “One of the many mysteries of the world. So, for what purpose have you sought me out today? To further your education or simply for the charming palavers that only a charming lady as myself can provide?" She ended her question with a single wink.

    Dear Lorithia grant me strength. “Neither, master, but I’m sure Lore is full of dimwitted fools who would take you up on both offers. I have come here seeking your counsel, as a matter of fact.”

    When Scion finished telling his former master of his conversation with Savarin, one of the white wolves he had spotted earlier crept towards them, its ears folded down and tail wagging excitedly. Obsidia did not hesitate to reach down and pat the animal’s head, drawing an appreciate sound from it.

    “Scion, allow me to introduce to you Lupin, my most apt student.”

    “A pleasure to meet you,” said Scion as he stroked the creature’s chin, which prompted it to roll over on the ground, much to their delight.

    Obsidia then turned her attention back to Scion, “Now, regarding the Forgotten. I have heard rumors of their inherent telepathic abilities, but I have never had the chance to validate those rumors. Even if they really could read minds, I would scarcely be surprised. After all these creatures have remained hidden to most of the world for such a long time, who’s to say they don’t possess other unique abilities? Like being able to lick their elbows or recite the alphabet in reverse sequence.”

    “You are just brimming with sagacity.”

    Obsidia made a mock bow as Lupin curled up by her chair. “As for the other matter…I cannot pretend to know all the answers, Scion, and I am poorly-equipped to counsel you on the subject of vengeance, especially when there are a few heads that I would like to personally lop off.”

    Scion sucked in a breath, suddenly feeling profound pity for the fools who had incurred her wrath. One who would dare anger Kaley Obsidia was deprived of their privilege to a peaceful death.

    “This war is a complete debacle. As much as I would love to brand Artix von Kriegar as a genocidal maniac, of which the second part has already been established several times……I cannot. We owe this war to those of the Mantle who have abused their powers, sowing the seeds of destruction and leaving a bloody wake of carnage. It is they who have brought this calamity upon our doorstep.”

    Scion watched silently as Obsidia’s face crinkled and her fists clenched in rage, an unholy aura emanating from the elder necromancer. A few moments passed by before she finally regained her composure, sighing as she gazed at the great tree that stood before them.

    “Ahh, but it does naught to dwell on the past. The war will come, whether we like it or not. Although I have performed countless divinations, I am still oblivious to what fate has in store for us in this coming battle.”

    “What I do know,” she continued, “Is that the necromancers need you. It is true that we will be aided by the NecroLegion, whose commanders are elite warmongers, but I would be an utter fool to discount your own prowess. I’ve seen many who had disputed your caliber, and then lived to regret their words. We can’t afford to have you chasing after one man when another thousand are hammering down on our forces. And as much as I dislike presuming, I’m sure that Hector would not fault you for choosing to protect those still among the living over avenging his death.”

    Scion nodded as he mulled over her words. He slowly realized that the tragedy that befell Hector was a fragment of the past, and right now, at this very moment, people needed him to fight for them.

    He stood up from his chair and performed a flourishing bow, “Thank you for your wise counsel, Master.”

    “You are most welcome, Scion,” said Obsidia as she stood up as well, a serene smile radiating from her visage.

    “We should get back to camp,” suggested Scion as he felt a gust of cold air biting at his skin.

    “I suppose you’re right,” said Obsidia, her voice slowly acquiring a mischievous tone, “I also suppose that in light of our charming conversation and my shrewd advice, you should do the gentleman thing and treat this charming lady to some of those cupcakes they were selling at camp.”

    “…Fine.”

    And so the two redheads made their way back to the necromancer camp, with Lupin trotting enthusiastically behind them.

    Kaley Obsdia was a lot of things, but Scion had always held a…grudging respect for his former master.


    Chapter 4: Silence and Slaughter



    The world was a whirling winter wonderland.

    Scion hated it.

    He sighed heavily when he saw the long stretch of road ahead, his breath a cloud of gossamer white. His hips chafed madly from the hours of horse-riding, and it did not help that the winter winds were especially cruel that day, nipping his skin and sapping his strength. Even with the furs he wore and the Eternal Twilight’s Cloak’s warming properties, Scion had to maintain a heating spell to stave off the ruthless cold. Suffice to say the redheaded necromancer was not in a good mood that day.

    Behind him rode a dozen knights (of which he initially found odd that there had been knights in the service of the necromancers), grim in their sable mail and heavy cloaks. Longswords hung at their sides, ready to be drawn without a moment’s notice. The men under Scion’s command were much older than him, but they had all acknowledged his leadership without question.

    The undead accompanied them as well, riding on mounts of bleached bones. Even when undead, the warhorses that Scion raised were very much capable of keeping pace with their living counterparts. He had been quite surprised with the knights’ reaction when he informed them that he would bring along a few undead warriors. Instead of flinching or showing fear, they had courteously thanked him for the extra soldiers. I guess it matters not if you’re alive or undead, so long as you can hold a sword.

    Scion shivered again when he was hit with another cold blast of air. He stifled the urge to groan when it dawned upon him that he had to endure another two days of this insufferable cold.




    At first, Scion had wanted to refuse when the Brigadier put forth his request that the necromancer lead a small group of veteran knights on a reconnaissance mission. He felt that a task of such subtlety should be left to someone more experienced. But at the urging of some of the captains, coupled with the realization that it would be a boon for himself to obtain even a smattering of the enemy’s strength, he agreed at the end. After stocking up on provisions and supplies and getting acquainted with the knights under his command, Scion managed to get a few hours of respite before heading out at first light.

    They reached the outskirts of the paladins’ camps in 3 days, which was bustling with activity. They learned that both Artix von Kriegar and Captain Halenro were leading the army, while Coueraservi was named the castellan of Rex Parhelia, the castle that served as the headquarters of the Order of the Paladins. After surveying the camps, Scion had estimated paladins to be eighty-thousand strong, twenty-thousand less than the necromancers. Even so, Scion highly doubted that the impending war would be determined by numbers alone.

    Upon further reconnoitering, they also discovered the presence of Cyclopes, huge blue-skinned brutes who had but a single eye, creatures predominantly aligned to Light and deadly with a trident. One of the knights also pointed out it was unusually bright, of which Scion attributed to the Sunrays that were spread about the camps. Even without actually seeing the Light elementals, their overflowing light energies washed over Scion like a gushing river. Another group of creatures did not need to be seen or sensed to be known of their presence – they announced their existence through a more malodorous means.

    “In the name of Lorithia, what is that unholy odor?!” exclaimed a knight with salt and pepper hair, his nose wrinkling in disgust, “Richard! Did you fart again? I swear by the Lord of Darkness if you don’t stop, there is a cork in my saddlebags that I will -”

    “It wasn’t me you old coot!” replied the one called Richard, his cheeks puffed up in outrage.

    “No, the smell comes from the zards,” interjected Scion. The zards, no matter what their elemental alignment, were infamous for their inherent reek. Even so, it doesn’t change the fact that he did indeed break wind…

    Cyclopes, sunrays and repugnant zards hardly concerned him; they were creatures who could be felled through perseverance and a well-honed blade. What worried the necromancer was the presence of several warriors who had joined the ranks of the paladins: Cataclysm, Golden Emperor…those were not men to be trifled with. Scion had heard tales throughout the lands of their renowned skills in the field and their ability to turn the tides of battle; they made a living out of warmongering, each boasting thousands of kills.

    At least our foes are now known to us. Whether we are able to devise a way to subdue them…that is a different matter altogether. Wait, what is that?

    Something was unfolding far off in the camps. After deciding that no amount of eye-squinting would serve him, Scion instead intoned a string of arcane syllables, bending the air before him. The spell funneled light into a focus, thence magnifying it tenfold, allowing Scion to view the scene in perfect clarity. The spell had been taught to him by the famed Archmage Warlic, who dubbed it as ‘The Telescope’.

    To his horror, he saw a group of chained undead kneeling on the ground, ringed by their captors. A single paladin stood out, his golden longsword shining incandescently; Scion identified him as Captain Halenro, who was notorious for his disdain for the undead and his active support for the war. He carried himself with a confidence that bordered on arrogance, his stance explicitly conveying his contempt for the prisoners before him. The captain brandished his blade…

    NOOOOO!!

    …And in one swoop cleaved through all of the undead, the magic in the sword causing them to explode in a burst of golden light, leaving nothing but ashes.

    It took every ounce of will, every shred of reason for Scion to relinquish the urge to speed towards the camps and unleash all manner of hell upon the paladins. He felt his blood boil in his veins, his fury burning like a roaring inferno. Yet he knew full well the distinction between valor and folly, and to charge into the heart of the enemy, even with his scythe and arsenal of dark spells, would mean his death. Still, the hopelessness of the situation left a bitter taste in his mouth.

    “…Is there something wrong, captain? Did you see something?” asked one of his knights, his pale blue eyes filled with apprehension at the sight of Scion’s infuriation.
    Scion closed his eyes and took a deep breath before turning to the knight, “Let’s just say Halenro has a lot to answer for.”

    After deeming that they had gathered enough information, Scion led his men back to their shelter, where their steeds were guarded by his undead warriors. As they crept through the darkness, Scion couldn’t help but feel impressed at how the knights were able to move so silently despite being in their armors.

    As he took one last glance at the camps of his enemies, Scion wondered just how many more innocent undead would be put to the sword before the war was over.



    By midday, they came across a forest glade and decided to stop there to rest. Some of the men managed to find enough dry branches to kindle a fire, but it was a small, sad thing. Feeling a peculiar sense of pity, Scion poured some of his magic into the fire, willing it to grow into a vigorous blaze. The knights murmured appreciative sounds as they huddled together, warming themselves by the fire.

    Scion wrapped his cloak around himself as he stared at the fluttering flames, trails of smoke dancing in the air. The howling winds that had battered them all morning died away, leaving a wake of absolute silence, save the crackling flames as it slowly devoured the wood that sustained it. There were no scurrying squirrels; no hopping rabbits; no dashing foxes chasing after rodents. It was as though the entire forest was hibernating.

    The six undead warriors who accompanied them offered to stand guard as well as tend to the horses. Scion was about to object to the latter when he noticed that one of them was already brushing the steeds. Like their masters, the horses were accustomed to the undead and neither balked nor whinnied in fear, instead relishing the treatment that they were given. Scion smiled and left them to their business.

    “Have some bread, captain,” offered one of his knights, his golden curls reminiscent of wheat. Alester was his name. Though he was older than Scion by a year, Alester seemed to idolize the necromancer, no doubt enthralled by the tales of his dark and frightening powers.

    If only he knew that I once cast a blind spell on myself by accident. Five blasted hours of blundering like the brilliant imbecile that I was.

    Scion nodded his thanks and took a bite out of the bread, disregarding its bland taste. In times of war, food became a luxury that dwindled every day, an indisputable fact that Scion firmly remembered. Hungry men seldom partook of fowl, while crows were always full on rotting men.

    “So, Warren,” said Scion to the knight who had nearly killed Richard for his flatulence, “Do you have a wife waiting for you back home?”

    Warren swallowed a piece of cheese as he smiled, “A wife and five little ones, as a matter of fact, all waiting for their gallant papa to come home to them.” Scion could feel the warmth and affection that colored his tone as he spoke of his family. At the same time, he could see a forlorn longing that lingered in the knight’s grey eyes.

    “I have a lovely lass waiting for me as well,” remarked Richard as he joined the conversation, “A head of lovely red curls, that one. Buxom too. She’s a serving wench at the inn in Granemor. Someday I’ll work up the courage and ask her to marry me.” Richard’s eyes shone with the shimmering light of hope of one who was hopelessly in love.

    To Scion’s surprise, some of the knights groaned, exasperated by Richard’s words. Warren had his hands on his face as he shook his head. The older knight then turned to his younger counterpart, “Richard, my boy, how many times must we remind you? You were drunk that night. Severely drunk. That was not a wench you saw. It was a chair, with a red cloak and a pair of large boots laid on it.”

    Scion found it impossible to contain his laughter. The other men joined in as well, their chorus of guffaws and chortles ringing in the air. One of them fell from the log he was sitting on and rolled on the ground, his hands around his shaking belly. Only Richard remained silent, his face taking on the same shade as Scion’s hair. They were just about to stop when Richard, probably due to his discomfort at being laughed at, unleash a lengthy and sonorous fart. The chorus of laughter that was dying down erupted into a roaring concerto.

    “S-s-stop laughing! I didn’t – ”

    “AMBUSH!” screamed one of the undead before a blazing quarrel smashed into his skull.

    Scion and the knights barely had enough time to react before a storm of quarrels exploded from the forest. Two of them collapsed on the ground with a chest full of bolts before Scion managed to surround them with a barrier, only to have it torn into pieces. The necromancer sank to the ground, overwhelmed by fatigue. What…what is this? Why do I feel so weak??

    The remaining knights quickly adapted to the situation and crouched down, raising their shields against the rain of steel. The tactic proved effective until one of the men took a quarrel to the knee, screaming as he fell to the ground.

    As hard as he tried, the bewildered necromancer could not draw upon any shred of magic. It was as if something was blocking his access to his reservoir of mana.

    Then the sleeping forest woke with a start.

    The enemy surged forth from the bushes, a radiant wave of gold and silver. Paladins! They came upon Scion’s men with brutish axes and elegant longswords, all forged to slay the creatures of the night. The paladins outnumbered them three to one, and Scion had not even included the concealed arbalesters in his calculations; nevertheless, their numerical advantage did little to faze the knights of the mantle, whose battle cries shook the forest as they rushed towards the enemy, naked steel gleaming in their hands.

    Scion wasted no time to join the fray, but as he reached for his scythe, the world suddenly blurred before him. His head swam uncontrollably, his movements becoming sluggish. The sounds of the battle were rapidly fading, the combatants growing distant and incorporeal, until Scion let go of his hold on the evanescent world, surrendering to the darkness…



    Silence reigned once more in the snowy forest, no longer broken by the clashing of steel, the twang of crossbows, and the bellows of mortal men. There was only silence, and the aftermath of slaughter.

    Scion grimaced, his head under assault from a thousand hammers. When he finally opened his eyes, he saw the strewn corpses of his men, their blades still clutched in their hands. The undead had been the first to fall to the barrage of quarrels, while most of the horses remained unharmed.

    He found himself bound, a line of golden warriors standing before him…save one in black.

    Alester’s eyes were filled with a sinister shine as he stared at Scion, his face twisted in a malicious sneer. Scion’s rage flared like the flames of Akriloth when everything made sense to him. He drugged me with the bread! How could I be so careless?!

    The treacherous knight sauntered over to Scion, crouching on his haunches to meet the necromancer at eye level. Scion restrained himself from biting off his nose.

    “I’m afraid we can’t return to the camps just yet, captain,” Alester said in a voice that reminded Scion of a hissing snake, “We’ll be going to see commander Coueraservi.”


    Chapter 5: Troubles of the Living



    The blonde castellan of Rex Parhelia, the legendary fortress of the Paladins, struggled not to yawn as he waited with the patience that only comes with age and years of serving under the eccentric Artix von Kriegar, supreme leader of the paladins.

    Commander Coueraservi shifted in his seat, his signature weapon by his side, glimmering with a rich, yellow luminescence. Amongst the factions of Light and Dark, the Fairche Solais was a weapon of great renown. Some would say it was a pale imitation of the one once wielded by the namesake of the Paladin Order, and in some respects they were right. But the skill that Coueraservi demonstrated whenever he brandished his own hammer was of such great degree that many thought him the incarnation of Commander Paladin, founder of the holy order.

    Coueraservi had accepted dutifully the position of castellan that was bestowed upon him, ignoring the spreading rumors that his appointment was merely a ploy to keep him from the battle, due to his empathy with the necromancers. Nevertheless, Coueraservi had always been a man of duty and honor, and both his superiors and subordinates would never dispute that.

    Life in Rex Parhelia was of relative simplicity for the elder paladin. His day would usually start with training the young recruits, many of whom could not even wield a butter knife properly. He would then proceed to fulfill his patrolling duties, thoroughly examining the castle’s defenses as well as the state of her guards. Afterwards, he attended the perfunctory council meetings, which seemed to address the same issues every day, only in different orders. With eventide came his duty of inspecting the food storage, the infirmary and what remaining weaponry that was left to them. His final duty before retiring to the realm of dreams was to carefully read the endless reports coming from the frontlines, tossing some into the hearth fire while writing replies to a few. Such were the daily rituals of the castellan.

    Today, however, was a different day.

    While he was out in the courtyard explaining to a novice the differences between longswords, sabers and rapiers, his lieutenant informed him that Captain Rudric had returned to the castle with a prisoner and was requesting his audience. A prisoner? I had ordered Rudric and his platoon out on a scouting mission. What kind of prisoner warrants a deviation from their duty?

    Coueraservi thanked the lieutenant and dismissed him. After instructing the recruits to spar and practice on their own, he repaired to his private chambers to don his armor. The chamber was modestly furnished, a reflection of his austere personality. He chose a coat of silver mail with plates chased with gold. The armor was more ornamental than functional, but it would serve his purpose. As he went out the door, a grin of delight crept across his face when he realized that the day’s council meeting had to be canceled.

    At last the twin doors of the audience hall groaned as they were opened, admitting a stream of gold cloaks stained with dried blood. At the head of the column of paladins was Captain Rudric, who boasted cheekbones as sharp as his sword. Beside the captain was another warrior, this one clad in black mail. Coueraservi raised an eyebrow in suspicion at that one, but decided to ignore the matter for now. Behind the column was a man garbed in night, his black cloak and cowl hiding most of his features. He shuffled along cumbersomely, his arms and feet bound by manacles. The prisoner then, a wearer of the mantle. This could prove interesting.

    As the sound of footsteps faded into oblivion, Captain Rudric went down on one knee, pounding a mailed fist on his chest in salute. As Coueraservi gestured for him to rise, he couldn’t help but feel the tension that gripped at his subordinate.

    “Commander,” said Rudric in a loud but deferential voice, “I have returned bearing you a gift. Allow me to present to you Scion Feurig.”

    Coueraservi’s face remained a mask of aloofness, hiding his surprise at the captain’s words. Scion Feurig, Maestro of gramarye, Obsidia’s famed protégé, and the bane of anyone who stands in his way…I was mistaken. This could prove deadly.

    As if on cue, the prisoner removed his cowl, revealing his mane of fiery red hair and his uncanny emerald eyes. The necromancer wore a mask of impassiveness as well, though this one was cast with a seething hatred that seemed to dim the entire hall. His gaze hovered between the man in black armor and the sinister scythe that one of the paladins was carrying.

    “Bring him forward,” said Coueraservi calmly as he suppressed the instinct to reach for his hammer.

    Even in chains, Scion’s reputation was enough to make his captors balk at the prospect of even approaching him; a fact that was not lost on the necromancer, who flashed a smirk at them before coming forward on his own.

    When Scion moved past Rudric, he abruptly swung both his hands at the man in black armor, smashing into his face and removing two of his teeth in the process. The assaulted man fell to the ground while blades were drawn at the necromancer, who seemed not to have noticed them, his eyes focused entirely on his victim. There was a moment of tense silence, before Scion turned his head around to face Coueraservi as if nothing was amiss. The commander waved his hand, signalling his men to sheathe their swords.

    “Good afternoon to you commander,” said Scion, “‘Tis a pleasure to meet you, I have heard countless tales of your good deeds around the realm. A paragon of what your order stands for.”

    “My compliments to you as well, err…”

    “You may address me as Scion, I care little for empty titles and appellations that do nothing else than stroke one’s vanity, commander Coueraservi.”

    The elder paladin nodded, acutely aware that he was being mocked. I see this one is as skilled with magic as he is with his tongue. “In that case, Coueraservi shall suffice as well. Tell me Scion, to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit? I’m afraid Rex Parhelia is currently closed off to those of your own order.”

    “Ahh I understand. Well then, if you would be so kind as to remove these hideous bonds, I will be off quicker than Twig on a fish and ice cream hunt.”

    “You propose a very tempting offer, Scion. But first enlighten me, for what reason were you compelled to strike at that man just now? Has he offended you in some way?”

    The necromancer disassembled his façade and allowed the fury and scorn to pour across his face, “Yes he has. He had the audacity to serve me stale bread.” The tone in his voice brooked no further explanation.

    No matter, I will have Rudric report to me later on. In the mean time, how best to deal with this incorrigible child?

    Coueraservi concluded that he could not afford to allow the notorious necromancer to traipse right through his gates. Though they stood on opposite sides, Coueraservi recognized Scion to be one who valued honor, loyalty and justice as much as himself, and was loath to incarcerate him. Nonetheless, duty overrode any personal feelings that he might have, and the elder paladin had vowed to follow it to the letter.

    “As tempting as your proposal sounds, I’m afraid I cannot abide by it. Until such time that my superiors have decided what to do with you, I will have to hold you here in this castle. I will provide you with comfortable quarters, and you will have all your needs met…save, of course, your freedom. My lieutenant will lead you there.”

    Coueraservi gestured, prompting his lieutenant to carry out his task, though with a certain degree of reluctance. To his relief, Scion complied without resistance, but as he was ushered out of the door, the necromancer turned back and said, “Coueraservi, you and I both know that you are against this war. I am of the same tact. Though I know that it is nigh impossible to stop it, it is my wish that at the very least, the blood of the innocent is spared. You are a man of honor and integrity, and I hope that you will do the right thing. Good day to you.”

    And with that, the necromancer exited.

    Coueraservi mulled over his words for a few moments before turning to his men, “Rudric, I want you to report to me after you dispose of that scythe. Seek out Master Rhelion and find a way to purify it. As for you…” His attention then veered towards the stranger in black who had earned Scion’s implacable ire. “I do not who you are, nor do I frankly care. You are granted free access to the castle’s facilities, but don’t presume to test my patience. Any business you have with me, make it known through Captain Rudric. Now all of you, leave me.”

    The man in black bowed in obedience, thereafter following the other paladins as they made their exits, leaving Coueraservi in the company of flickering candles and conflicting thoughts. He then released the sigh that he was holding on for so long. Scion’s words had hit home. Coueraservi did not desire this war, and admitted that he was of the same mind as the shrewd necromancer. Perhaps there was some merit in Scion’s words. Perhaps the time for inaction was over. Perhaps he did have the power to ameliorate the dire straits that the innocents were caught in.

    Time to call upon the former Loremaster.




    Scion spent the next three days locked up in the room he was given, mourning the death of his men.

    In the past, there were some who found his regard for life to be odd considering his status as a necromancer, who could raise the dead on a whim. Ironically, it was the very nature of his magic and abilities that expanded his capacity to value all life. To him, life was the Creator’s gift, a gift that must always be venerated and protected.

    His grief over their deaths was exacerbated by the racking guilt that denied him sleep. He found it difficult to forgive himself for allowing events to transpire as they did. If only I had been more vigilant, we would be the ones returning home with prisoners.

    Warren would never see the smiles of his family, and Richard would never reunite with the buxom chair. The life that his men had held so dearly had been shattered the moment Alester decided to betray them to the paladins. Scion vowed to vindicate their lost lives. Let the Lords and Ladies bear witness to my oath: I will pass judgment on that traitor.

    The room that he was kept in was far from a lavish suite, but neither was it the conventional dungeon cell. In place of hard, stone floors, thick carpets softened every step he took; there were two velvet chairs that complemented the large canopied bed in the corner of the room; soft curtains fell elegantly beside a pair of windows, of whose glass were tempered with potent spells that prevented breakage. Yet in spite of the illusion of rich furnishings, Scion was hardly fooled; a cell was a cell, no matter the appearance it took.

    Scion had probed the entire room for the good part of a day, searching for any flaws in the barrier spell that surrounded it. Unsurprisingly, there were none to be found; the spell had been woven beforehand with the utmost of care, in the event that the paladins had to detain powerful magical foes. Though he was mildly vexed with his predicament, Scion couldn’t help but feel flattered that the paladins had accredited him with such prestige.

    Two guards were always posted outside his room, replaced every few hours or so. A serving maid was Scion’s only visitor, bringing him his meals and tending to his other needs. Twice he tried conversing with the maid, but she paid him no heed, no doubt under strict orders to refrain from even squeaking in his presence.

    Magic was all but sequestered from him, and he could only manage the smallest of spells. He had wanted to scream to the heavens when he discovered that even lighting a candle was beyond him. It seemed that they paladins were successful in curbing his magical assets.

    But not his ingenuity.

    Some would say that the heart of necromancy laid in the ability to assert dominance and control over denizens of the undead, a result of a necromancer’s natural affinity for the negative aspect of the anima, which was primarily attuned to the darkness element. And since a necromancer’s magic was congruous with darkness, he or she could hold dozens of undead in thrall.

    Scion had considered the option of converting his guards temporarily into the undead so that he could manipulate them, but that would require a substantial amount of mana, especially given the fact that these guards were paladins, warriors of the Light.

    Instead, he decided to gamble on a drastic move: Reversing his magic to allow him control over positive anima.

    On several previous occasions, Scion had wanted to experiment with anima manipulation, for curiosity’s sake if nothing else. Still, Obsidia had admonished him sternly every time he even brought the issue up, warning him that of all the people who had attempted such experiments in the past, only one survived in the ordeal, though his mind had been utterly shattered in the process. Obsidia explained that the major problem, besides the exceedingly complex mechanics involved in such reversals, was the fact that all necromancers were attuned to dark, whereas the positive anima was primarily based on light, the element that almost all necromancers lacked.

    Scion knew the risks all too well, and believed that should he go through with his decision, his fate would almost certainly be fatal…if he had been anywhere else in the world. Rex Parhelia was the heart of the Paladin Order, the bedrock of their holy teachings. The place was practically overflowing with light energies, of which he had spent the last three days siphoning as much as his body could take.

    It’s now or never then.

    He emptied his mind, regulating his reserve of light energies as he intoned the lengthy incantation, sweat pouring down his brow. He felt a surge of warmth as he gradually reached for the guards’ anima. His body stiffened as he delicately mingled the light energies with his own magic; one wrong step and the energies would implode instantaneously. A little bit more…success! With a ponderous gesture, he bridged his hybrid magic with the two anima, creating a link that would allow him total control. And now to put it to the test.

    With a flicker of thought, the door opened, admitting the two guards. Scion proceeded to appraise them; they both appeared normal enough, but their eyes were dim and lifeless, betraying their servitude. Barring that, the necromancer was very pleased with himself. These temporary slaves would be the key to his escape.

    The paladins had made the crucial mistake of leaving him the Eternal Twilight Cloak. As he wrapped it around his person, he invoked the cloak’s power and swiftly melded with the shadows, rendering himself nigh invisible; provided that he stayed in the shadows at all times. Now was the perfect time to make his escape, but first…

    He addressed the guards, “Take me to the whereabouts of that thrice-damned turncoat.”


    Chapter 6: Dragonflight


    (A few days after Scion’s escape):

    Like a forbidding wave of darkness, the forces of the Mantle marched southwards, their destination the famous town of Battleon. After lengthy negotiations, it had been agreed upon by the leaders of each order that their bloody war would take place there, where heroes from various nations would gather.

    Vrael Ironfang flew above in the night sky, his skeletal wings, enchanted with magic, beating with a slow and steady rhythm. The colossal dracolich was cloaked in a spell that bent the light around him, rendering him all but invisible to the naked eye.

    Two passengers were seated on his head: His master, the one they called the Infernal Messenger; his second passenger bore the name Obsidia, which reminded Vrael of the black rocks that could withstand even dragon flames. They were garbed in thick furs, to shield them from the bitter cold, a sensation that Vrael had long discarded. His master conversed at length with the Lady Obsidia as he critically inspected the new scythe he had acquired.

    Sensing an oncoming turbulence, Vrael flapped his wings a little harder, bringing himself higher up.

    From their conversation, the dracolich learned of his master’s ingenious method of escape, as well as the frightening punishment he had sentenced the man known as Alester to. Even he balked at the thought of his master summoning the infamous triad known as the Furies.

    Older than Nemesis himself, the Furies were the primal deities of vengeance, merciless arbiters of justice whose wrath struck fear even in the heart of the virtuous. Theirs was the ultimate castigation, manifested through the vicious torturing of the body and of the mind.

    Vrael had nary a doubt that Alester had regretted his crimes the moment his master called upon the Furies. He had been allowed to run, to flee; to hide in whatever corner of the world he thought himself the safest.

    But running would avail him naught; sealed was the fate of those hunted by the Furies. Such was the price of treachery.

    Vrael remembered the day his master returned to the camps, ragged and on the verge of collapsing. Once he had recovered, the young redhead announced to the entire army of what had happened to him and his men for the past few days. He also spoke of the fate of the traitor, of how he had pleaded for death when he was made a prey of the Kindly Ones. His master’s recounting was a veiled threat to those who wished to walk upon the path of betrayal.

    To everyone’s surprise though, his master also proclaimed that those who wished to defect to the paladins were allowed to do so, under the stipulation that they surrendered their arms and vowed to eschew all intentions of going up against the necromancers. So far, no one had expressed any wishes of changing their allegiances.

    Vrael had been quite impressed. By his words alone, his master had purged the necromancers of any thoughts of betrayal; and by giving the men a choice, he had demonstrated a kindness and generosity that would earn him their undying loyalty. It was a masterly stroke.

    Beyond them, the moon came into view, having shed its cirrose veils, with wisps of gossamer white trailing around it. Aglow with a silvery sheen, its ethereal beauty stood timeless and eternal.

    As they continued their silent flight, Vrael recalled the day when he was raised from the depths of the earth. He had thought little of his master then, dismissing him as any other wearer of the mantle: Powerful and ambitious, yet lacking any trace of scruples.

    The man known as Scion Feurig proved nothing of the sort. From the very beginning, his master had acted honorably and with the utmost of integrity. Despite his affinity with the darkness, he possessed a conspicuous radiance that emanated from his very being.

    He had also treated Vrael as a companion, frequently engaging the dracolich in friendly, one-sided conversations, since the latter could not speak. Desultory though the conversations might have been, Vrael appreciated the sentiment behind them. To many, Vrael Ironfang was the name of a terror that brought about abject destruction; To Scion, it was the name of his friend, a comrade-in-arms.

    And thus was his resolve born; for though the dracolich held no desire to partake of the ridiculous war the humans had stirred up, he would still fight with all his strength, on behalf of the man who had earned his respect.

    Vrael spread his wings wider and glided through the air, towards the war that would change history itself.


    Chapter 7: Infernal Messenger


    Battleon rang with the sounds of screaming steel and flaring fires.

    The armies of both factions had clashed by midday, when the solar disc was at its zenith. Ominous clouds suffused the sky, shrouding the land in a bleak, lurid miasma. Lighting flashed and thunder roared, punctuating the sounds of the battle, as the forces of Dark and Light continued their bloody war.

    Swoosh!

    Fatal rain, fangs of death; the Paladin Artillery unleashed their Scorpions, releasing a barrage of holy bolts that tore through the enemy ranks.

    Friiing!

    Vengeful assault, ghostly beast; jagged spears of ivory bone burst from the ground, perforating armor and flesh alike, leaving a grisly line of impaled paladins.

    Vrahhh!

    Shining white, flaring fury; a curtain of golden flame swarmed the battlefields, burning through the undead, turning bleached white bones into jet black ashes.

    Whirr!

    Sable maleficence, dazzling tempest; a black cyclone raged across the land, shredding the forces of the light.

    Booom!

    Triumphant assault, holy might; enlarged paladins brought their mighty fists down, crushing scores of mantle warriors.

    Scion Feurig stood atop a hill as he overlooked the unfolding scenes, frowning at the rapid advancement of the paladin warriors.

    Past time I rectify that.

    He took to the air, savoring the brief sensation of flight before he plunged to the ground, startling a dozen enemy knights. He had eschewed the Eternal Twilight that day; there was no need to hide. He had worn no armor; speed was of the utmost priority.

    In place of them was his scythe, a frightening weapon called the Death Reaver; an austere battle robe; and a blazing, vermillion circlet that made him visible to all – A brazen challenge to anyone who dared to face him.

    One of the paladins rushed at him, a long saber in his hand. Scion deftly parried his blow, thereafter disarming him with a speed that was almost inhuman. The necromancer quickly grabbed the saber and struck down his first opponent, while the rest of the paladins stared in shock.

    Scion couldn’t help but smirk, “Come then, show me the bravery of the paladins.”

    All at once, the eleven knights charged towards him, a line of steel blades poised to kill. All at once, Scion cut them down with a vicious scythe slash, leaving a phantasmal blue wake and a trail of crimson blood.

    Wasting no time, he immediately flung himself into the fray. He tore through ranks of enemy soldiers in a matter of seconds, his movements polished, his strikes devastatingly precise. His own men looked at him with a mix of fear and admiration, their eyes affixed to the burning whirl of a million slashes.

    Scion flourished in the macabre ballet of death, his steps in perfect alignment with the rhythm of his beating heart. Forward step, diagonal slash. Reverse turn, parry, counter-thrust. Open turn, lash. Feather step, cut, slash, dodge, cut, cut, lacerate!

    His uncanny skill at anticipating his opponents’ moves allowed Scion to deliver swift and fatal attacks, often times in but a single stroke. He practically ploughed through the battlefield, routing his enemies with an immaculate union of speed and strength.

    Scion abruptly rolled on the ground as he narrowly evaded the point of a large trident. As he stood up, Scion found himself face to face with a mass of blue, rippling muscles. The cyclops bellowed defiantly as he renewed his assault, besetting Scion with a flurry of cuts and thrusts.

    As he entered into a string of quicksteps and dodges, Scion quickly took measure of his opponent’s attacks. Haphazard thrusts. Single cut. Low swipe. Now!

    Scion took advantage of the brief opening and catapulted himself forward, sinking his saber into the cyclops’ exposed belly. The monster reared its head to scream in pain, but was quickly silenced by the Death Reaver.

    As the blue creature collapsed on the ground, Scion seized the opportunity and took shelter behind a large boulder. After taking some time to check himself for any serious injuries, Scion skillfully climbed up the boulder to survey his surroundings.

    Things are not going well for us.

    Though the necromancers boasted great numbers, the paladins proved themselves to be formidable foes. Artix had brought along an array of siege weapons including a score of trebuchets, which pelted the necromancers with burning rocks. The sunrays also turned out to be increasingly problematic; despite not being as dangerous as the cyclopes, their nature as Light Elementals allowed the paladin mages to draw an abundant supply of light energies from them.

    Scion estimated that over half over of the mantle forces were gone; worse still, it seemed that some of the men were being pulled back. No doubt under orders from the Mysterious Necromancers.

    Scion placed two fingers on his right temple as he communicated with Obsidia telepathically. Master, how fares the frontal forces?

    Not well I’m afraid, answered Obsidia after a few seconds. The vanguard is being torn to pieces. It’s those damned trebuchets, we already have a hard time repelling their cavalry as it is. Scion, would you be able to do something about them?

    I will try, good luck to you Master.

    He broke the mental connection with Obsidia, thereafter reaching out for his own subordinate. Alamir, where are the Howling Hellions positioned?

    Alamir responded almost immediately, his tone colored with worry. Captain, most of the men are on the western side, engaged with enemy mages. I’ve ordered some of them to spread out and harry as much enemy warriors as possible.

    I see. I want you to take a few of them and focus on bringing down the trebuchets. There will probably be mages guarding them, so stay sharp.

    Understood.


    No sooner did Scion ended the connection did he hear the familiar twang of crossbows. The necromancer barked a syllable, and the earth behind him erupted as a dozen skeletal arms burst from the ground and snatched the flying quarrels that were fired at him. Scion calmly turned around to a group of paladin arbalesters who cursed when their planned attack failed.

    One of them managed to quickly reload her crossbow, charging forward as she fired a second shot.

    “Fools,” said Scion contemptibly as he lazily deflected the oncoming quarrel. “You resigned your fates the moment you joined this war.”

    Scion closed his eyes as he rapidly chanted a complicated verse of incoherent words, summoning a conglomeration of shining purple particles to his hand. He abruptly opened his eyes, raising his hand to the heavens as the particles coalesced into a long, spear-like form.

    “O ravishing heavens, smite the wicked with thy imperial will…Divine assault!”

    Empyrean Fury!!

    An enormous, violet spear of crackling lightning burst into existence as Scion flung it towards the arbalesters, igniting the area with a thunderous explosion that turned the world into a haze of violet. All that was left was the blackened earth and scrapes of torn metal.

    Hundreds of heads turned at the sudden explosion, but before their minds could register what exactly transpired, Scion had already dashed forward, cutting down any foe that stood in his way. The Death Reaver, already stained crimson by the blood of its victims, seemed to glow with a sinister luminescence, as if echoing its hunger for more blood.

    The sounds of steel and fire were gradually replaced with a grating chorus of screams and cries that abounded throughout the battlefields. Scion noted the piling mounds of corpses of friend and foe alike. Ponds of blood were ubiquitous, and the air was saturated with the nauseating stench of decay. Scion muttered a curse when he saw the winged scavengers circling overhead, eager to partake of the banquet of blood and gore.

    What worried Scion the most was the blanket of billowing clouds above them, spreading over the battlefields and denying the sun’s rays. They had appeared but a day ago, materializing from oblivion like a giant Night Horror. Scion’s skin prickled when he detected a subtle yet also chaotic flux of magic emanating from the ominous clouds. Something is definitely amiss with those clouds...

    “Oh for the love of Pom-poms!!!”

    The loud outcry jolted Scion out of his cogitation as he frantically looked around, wondering whose voice it was that could be heard over the din of battle. He sighed when he realized he must have imagined it. How marvelous, this war is stealing my sanity as well. Shaking his head, the necromancer pressed on.

    After dispatching a string of paladin axmen, Scion finally reached one of the gargantuan trebuchets, wooden constructs that functioned by using the energy of a counterweight to throw all manner of projectiles.

    As he had expected, there was a mage standing guard over the siege weapon, along with a dozen warriors who manned it. As soon as the mage saw the blazing circlet on Scion’s brow, he muttered a brief verse and unleashed a roaring fireball at the necromancer.

    Child’s play. “Kneel!”

    As one, the mage and the warriors nearby abruptly sank to the ground as Scion magnified the air pressure above them tenfold. At the same time, he created a vacuum around the fireball which extinguished it almost instantly.

    Having incapacitated the enemy, Scion turned his attention to the trebuchet, its intricate design an architectural marvel. Compared with the paladins, the order of necromancers were considerably lacking of siege weaponry research. Thus far, they had relied heavily on the undead and invested in research of conjuring undead constructs.

    Scion took a deep breath as he prepared his spell, his eyes burning with unflinching intent.

    “Let burn the raging conflagration…Infernal Assault!”

    Aberrant Flare!!

    The flames on his circlet could scarcely compare to the roaring inferno that erupted from his palms. The vermillion flames twisted and coiled, taking on the form of a fearsome dragon as they entwined the trebuchet. The wood quickly snapped and popped, unable to resist the engulfing fire. The dragon of flames gave a guttural roar before devouring the construct, reducing it to cinders.

    That takes care of that. I wonder how Alamir is – Damn!

    With but scant seconds to spare, Scion quickly formed a barrier to shield himself from the sudden onslaught. A blazing meteorite had shot out from nowhere, speeding straight towards the bewildered necromancer. Upon impact, the meteorite erupted into a thousand pieces and raised a curtain of dust and debris. What on Lore was that?

    Scion willed the wind to clear the dust away, then froze when he saw the person standing just a few meters away from him.

    “Artix…”


    Chapter 8: Duellum ad Mortem


    The supreme leader of the paladins stood before him, his red cloak billowing in the wind. Fully clad in the distinctive armor of his order, the high commander cut an imposing figure, his hazel eyes brimming with confidence and authority. He wielded a golden axe of unparalleled craftsmanship, the legendary Blinding Light of Destiny, which he had used to slay manifold undead.

    Artix von Krieger accosted Scion, an illustrious aura of regality permeating the air around him. “Do I have here the fabled Infernal Messenger, Scion Feurig?”

    “The one and same,” answered Scion curtly.

    Artix appraised him with a critical gaze, a smug expression slowly manifesting itself, “Barring the fact that you have single-handedly decimated a multitude of my own troops, I feel like I must commend you. Brazen though you may be, your battle prowess was not exaggerated. A shame that we stand on opposite sides.”

    “Spare me your honeyed words, Artix,” said Scion without malice. Enemies they were, but Scion refused to eschew showing the respect that the renowned paladin was due. “Have you come in hopes of trouncing me yourself?”

    The paladin smiled, “I have not, but that is an excellent idea all the same. Tell me Scion, should you not be pursuing the Lord Manderly?”

    The air seemed to grow colder at Artix’s mention of the name. Scion regarded Artix wryly, “And just what do you know of my vendetta with Rael Manderly?”

    Artix merely shrugged, his face swept with mock innocence, “Nothing more than what my men have told me. I could tell you his whereabouts; he’s currently positioned at the southeastern encampment. Perhaps you would like to head there now.”

    Scion gritted his teeth. Does he think me a child?

    “Save your breath, paladin, you are an even bigger fool than I thought, if you presume me capable of abandoning my people for one man.”

    “Ahh…well I had to at least try,” said Artix as he gave Scion a sheepish smile, brushing a stray brown fringe as he did. The paladin then turned around and move a few paces away from the necromancer. “Though I long to cross swords with you, Scion, I’m afraid I will have to pass for now. Don’t worry, I leave you in…capable hands. Lumina, now!”

    A shining white doorway suddenly came into existence. A portal! Artix swiftly went through the doorway, disappearing from sight. A few seconds passed by before another figure sprung from the magical portal, accompanied by a blazing meteorite.

    Not this time. With a grunt of effort, Scion cleaved the incoming projectile with his scythe into two halves which flew away from him.

    The person standing before him now was a far cry from the high commander. Slender but petite, the person was garbed in the classical white robes that marked her as one of the high mages of the paladin order. Eyes of pale grey were trained on him, sizzling with fury. He recognized her not by sight but by name.

    Scion dropped his scythe and saber; what would come next required more than just steel.

    “Lumina, I presume,” said Scion as he started pacing, “what an honor it is to meet the paladins’ high priestess. I have always admired your infamous skills.”

    Lumina’s gaze did not leave the necromancer, “Then what we have here is a juxtaposition of admiration and contempt. You and your ilk have blighted Lore for far too long. As high priestess, it is my duty to administer redress.”

    “So you say. Let us see you try then.”

    Both combatants swiftly assumed battle stances, strands of light trailing from their bodies as they prepared their arsenal of spells. The nearby soldiers, after sensing the pulse of violent magic, mutually agreed to stay well away from the two spellcasters. The air around them crackled as the ground below trembled. Scion fancied that they were standing above a ley line.

    The paladin priestess began the symphony of battle with a prelude of flaming spheres that illuminated the battlefield. The spheres rushed towards Scion, each vying for the chance to extinguish his life in a burning immolation. The necromancer calmly employed the same tactic he had used with the previous mage, thereafter retaliating with a cadenza of roiling shadows that charged at Lumina like a pack of wolves.

    Showing no fear, the priestess performed a graceful pirouette, bringing a shining curtain of light and hammered the shadows into oblivion. A wariness crept into Scion’s heart; hitherto, no mage had been able to so effectively counter his spells. No more playing around.

    Taking a deep breath, Scion then carried out a phrase of precise gestures as he created a dark, ominous circle on the ground. Tendrils of darkness stirred around the circle, as if eager to break free of their bonds.

    “O Lord of the netherworld, shatter the chains and release to me the beast of pandemonium…Cimmerian Assault!”

    Thanatos!!

    The air seemed to wail with sorrow, as a being of burning shadows emerged from the magic circle, fixing its gaze on the priestess with eyes of crimson flames. Having never casted this spell prior to that moment, Scion stared in awe at the sable chimera, which seemed capable of ripping steel and iron apart. The beast stood well over 7 feet, boasting draconian features.

    “Thanatos, attack!” commanded Scion, prompting the beast to rush madly at the priestess, to rend her apart with its horrible claws. Hunger fueled the beast; hunger to feast on the flesh of the living. This should take care of her.

    To his surprise, Lumina barely even flinched at the aphotic horror that came her way. Instead, she brought her palms together, as if in supplication to her Lady. Her lips moved quickly and silently, no doubt mouthing the words of a holy passage. Faintly, a soft light began to radiate from her, crescendoing into a brilliance that gave the high priestess a semblance of a goddess.

    “O light that guides the fate of men, come swathe the land with thy untarnished glory…Seraphic Assault!”

    Arcadian Hymn!!

    A melodious sound suddenly filled the air, like a chorus of angels serenading. The dark clouds suddenly cleared, admitting a magnificent stream of light. As the ethereal song continued, the light twisted and coiled, transforming into a majestic phoenix. The phoenix of light descended and flew straight towards Thanatos.

    For a brief moment in time, it seemed like night and day had met, light and dark coming together in perfect unison. Then, as if remembering their polar nature, the light and dark energies abruptly repelled from each other, resulting in a chaotic explosion that spanned several yards.

    Scion noticed that both he and the high priestess had habitually raised a magical shield. This will not serve, brute strength is a poor weapon against a foe such as her.

    “Tell me, priestess,” called out Scion, “Why do you find the necromancers so distasteful? Had one wronged you in the past?”

    “I find your very nature distasteful,” answered Lumina with a veritable hint of scorn, “You dabble in the dark arts and rustle up the dead, terrorizing the common folk. You are all evil to the core.”

    Scion patted the dust off his clothes, the circlet on his brow now glowing a sullen red, “That’s terribly unfair for you to say so. What of Amilara and Diviara? Would you besmirch their good name as well?”

    “It is common knowledge that the Brihaldo are the Lady’s fallen servants. That is proof enough that they too deserve destruction.”

    Scion decided then and there that such a dangerous and misguided mage cannot be allowed to live and have her way. “Then it appears that we have arrived at an impasse. Let’s see you escape from this.”

    Lumina raised an eyebrow in confusion, but then flinched as the ground around her stirred. Jagged bones suddenly protruded from the earth, swiftly intertwining and forming an intricate cage of bone.

    With a gesture, Scion conjured up a dozen black, crystalline spears that hovered around the cage before plunging towards it, sinking their razor sharp points in…

    Where did she go?!

    As if on cue, a doorway suddenly flashed into existence just beside the bone cage. Lumina casually exited the portal, a triumphant grin on her face. Curiously, she then held both palms near her face, and started blowing, a stream of golden dust leaving her lips.

    A dainty, golden butterfly appeared in her hands. Tentatively, it spread its tiny little wings, slowly rising up into the air. Once becoming accustomed to flight, the butterfly started fluttering towards the necromancer, who stood there bewildered.

    As a few seconds passed by, the butterfly split into two more, which continued their course towards Scion. The two then become four, and four become eight, and eight became sixteen…the multiplication occurred so rapidly then Scion quickly found himself face to face with a swarm of shining butterflies.

    Picking up a small stone on the ground, Scion experimentally flung the stone towards the golden wave. Upon impact with one of the butterflies, the stone triggered a loud explosion of light and fire. As Scion observed, the explosion also resulted in the birth of more butterflies.

    “You should know by now that is it futile to resist. These butterflies are of my own magic, they will continue to duplicate despite your best efforts. Best prepare yourself for your demise, necromancer!”

    Scion cursed as he tried to come up with a plan. Lumina wasn’t bluffing, the butterflies would never cease multiplying unless she intervened. Worse still, a destructive spell would only accelerate the duplication process.

    As he gradually backed away from the oncoming swarm, Scion tried to nullify their energies. Theoretically, since they were primarily composed of light energy, simply nullifying the flow of mana would eliminate them without causing an explosion and consequently additional butterflies. Practically speaking, it was impossible. Now that they numbered the thousands, the butterflies were simply too numerous for Scion to nullify all at once.

    Scion snapped back into reality when he heard the jarring sound of Lumina’s laughter, “How ironic it is to see the great Scion Feurig baffled by little butterflies.”

    Her words stung. Scion had never encountered such an unconventional spell, much less so countering it. He was taught to deflect all manner of offensives spells; fireballs, energy bolts, frost spears and the like were useless against him, but a swarm of exploding butterflies? What was he to do? Spin a web like a spider and entrap them?

    A web, that’s it!

    Now that they numbered in the ten thousands, the butterfly swarm was so dense that they appeared like a single entity, a wave of spun gold. Scion waited until the right moment, until they were at the right spot…

    “Arise!”

    Two stalagmites of bone suddenly shot out from the ground, one to his far right and the other to his left. Like a master conductor, Scion began waving his hand in a grandiose fashion, all the while muttering the requisite incantations of his impromptu spell. Lines of shimmering blue suddenly appeared, all connected from one stalagmite to the other. With each stroke of his hand, the magical web increased in density and complexity.

    Now was the crucial moment. The swarm approached ominously, the sound of their shrill growing so strong that Scion thought that it was a sonar attack. Scion quickly raised a multi-layered barrier. Should the plan fail, he would sound find himself at the heart of a devastating explosion.

    As they reached the web, Scion couldn’t help but notice that wave of unease that spread across the swarm, as if they sensed that something was wrong. Too late did they realize that they flew right into a trap, the magical web ensnaring all of them. The butterflies did not detonate due to the very nature of the web. Scion had imbued the web with a small current that ran throughout the strands. Upon contact with any of the butterfly, the current would cause the formation of an electric bond between the butterfly and the web itself. Without actually touching the butterflies of death, Scion’s web successfully held them in place.

    As soon as he was certain that he had succeeded, Scion did not even pause for a breath, vaulting over the web and sprinted headlong towards Lumina, who stood frozen on the spot, astonished by Scion’s ingenious contraption. By the time she realized that the necromancer was nigh upon her, it was too late.

    “Writhe in the shadows, thrash in perdition…Cimmerian Assault!”

    Acheron!!

    Expending all of his mana supplies, Scion released hell itself. The river of swirling shadows and howling flames seemed to rend the very fabric of reality itself. Whatever lay before Scion was reduced to nothing; bones, flesh, armor, stone…nothing survived before his onslaught, an unholy requiem of annihilation.

    Scion sank to the ground as the spell ended, thoroughly spent. His muscles were on fire, and a multitude of cuts and bruises awaited treatment. But the battle had not ended yet.

    “A valiant attempt, necromancer,” said Lumina from behind him, her lithe form unharmed. Beside her, a familiar white doorway swiftly dissolved into oblivion. “But I’m afraid that I am the victor today.”

    Scion painfully turned around, his face cast with weary, “Just look behind you, Lumina.”

    “What are you –”

    Her eyes widened in shock at the golden swarm which surrounded her. The priestess’ screams could barely be heard over the roaring fulmination as the butterflies engulfed her. A pillar of light shot out towards the sky, a sign to the paladins that their high priestess was dead.

    Finally, it’s over.

    The last thing he saw before collapsing on the ground was a flash of polychromatic lightning, one that would herald the rebirth of both Orders.


    Epilogue: Destiny



    …ion

    …Scion!

    Scion!!


    Kaley Obsidia jabbed her former apprentice’s ribs, prompting him to wake and yelp in pain.

    “Oh,” said Obsidia with mock innocence, “Did I happen to wake you?”

    Scion tenderly rubbed his abdomen as he shot his former mentor a withering look. “You most certainly did.” The redhead glanced around him. They were in some sort of room, lightly furnished but having a very homely atmosphere. An inn then. “Where exactly are we?”

    “Granemor,” replied Obsidia as she moved from his side to a wooden table, pouring two cups of peppermint tea. Scion noticed that he was lying on a bed, his body practically covered with bandages.

    “You were out for three days, Scion. Some of the men told me of how you completely obliterated the paladins’ high priestess. That was very impressive. Before you, Lumina has trounced every necromancer that she’s ever faced,” continued Obsidia as she returned to his side, handing him the cup.

    Scion nodded in thanks, then took a few sips, murmuring an appreciative sound. Peppermint was always his favorite flavor. “You don’t say? At any rate, what happened after I collapsed?”

    “A lot.”

    Scion had to take an exceptionally deep breath to calm himself. Does she have no sympathy? “Let me rephrase my question. Would you be able to recount to me the happenings of the war after my untimely incapacitation?”

    Thankfully, this time she obliged. Once she was done, Scion couldn’t help but feel a somberness that had draped around the two of them.

    “So…what happens now?”

    Obsidia gave him a weak smile, “Now, we rebuild. I have already established a new base of operations here in Granemor. The Mysterious Necromancers have brought me much grief, and I intend to make them regret it. One way or another, I will hunt them down and make them answer for their atrocities.

    In the mean time though, there is much work to do. The infirmed are many, as are the deceased. There is also the delicate matter of hostage exchange….ahh but I am babbling again. These are the worries that only a leader should have.”

    Scion reached out and held her hand, giving it an encouraging squeeze, “Perhaps I could be of assistance to you, master. It seems unfair that the entire burden should fall on your shoulders.”

    “Why Scion, you have become quite the gentleman, a very charming gentleman.”

    Obsidia laughed while Scion groaned, regretting his words already. Still, it gladdened him that his master was still able to produce such japes.

    “In any case,” said Obsidia as she finished her tea, “Thank you for your kind offer, Scion, but I’m afraid that isn’t the plan I had envisioned for you.”

    Confused, Scion looked at his former mentor for an explanation.

    A twinkle danced in her amber eyes as she grinned mischievously. “Relinquish your title of a necromancer.”

    “What?!”

    “Calm down Scion, let me finish. What I mean is that you should head out there and learn more about other magics, not just necromancy. You are a gifted spellcaster, Scion, and your talents would be wasted if you do not expand your range of abilities. There is much more magic out there that even I am unable to teach you. Magic that can bend reality. Magic that can stop time. Perhaps even magic that can repair ley lines.”

    She patted him on the shoulder endearingly, like how a mother does to her son. “You are destined for greater things, to achieve greater feats and do greater good. I have seen it in the bones, Scion, and the bones do not lie.”

    Scion couldn’t help but smile. Despite her bizarre antics and incorrigible mischief, Obsidia was a well of wisdom. She had a good point; Now that the war was over, Scion held no other obligations. Why not pursue higher magics?

    “Very well, master, I shall do as you advise. Just know that should another war arise, my blade will always be yours to wield.”

    “For that I am grateful,” said Obsidia as she rose from her seat, her person bathed in sunlight. “Good luck to you then Scion.”

    “And to you, master.”




    To the west, the solar disc was making its slow and steady descent down the distant horizon. Like a capricious child, the sky took on manifold colors. Red, orange, yellow, purple and pink…Scion was astounded by the variety of colors that danced and swirled above him. No longer was the sky haunted by the forbidding dark clouds, which were replaced with white, wispy cirri that slithered through the sky, forming elegant shapes and patterns. The unfolding twilight before him was truly magnificent as it was ephemeral.

    Scion stifled a yawn as Vrael ascended higher above the clouds. When Scion had asked the dracolich if he wanted to return to his ancient tomb, the latter surprised him when he expressed to Scion his desire to continue serving him. Not wanting to look a gift horse in its mouth, Scion agreed to his wishes and thanked Vrael.

    Initially, Scion had been anxious to hear of the news of the war, especially regarding the overloading of the ley lines. Though he had access to other avenues of magic, those who practiced pure necromancy would soon find themselves utterly powerless. Still, it heartened him that they were led by his former mentor, who was fully capable of rebuilding the order. And there were also the Brihaldo necromancers, who no doubt were knowledgeable in other areas of magic.

    Scion turned his attention to what laid before him. Destined for greater things eh? I still have my doubts about that but… it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on my magic. Maybe I’ll seek out Warlic, or that warmage every one is talking about. What was his name again….ahh yes, Elryn.

    Taking a deep breath, Scion urged Vrael to fly faster and higher, towards the unknown before him. Towards his destiny.




    What happened to Rael Manderly, you might ask? Well, just before he left, Scion had posed the very same question to Obsidia, whose eyes lit up at the question. She told him that some of her scouts reported to her that Lord Manderly had been cut down by a group of undead disguised as rogue paladins. It was said that he squealed like a pig before being silenced by a battle axe.

    Needless to say, the two redheads had laughed for hours.


    < Message edited by Trainz_07 -- 3/2/2013 0:31:27 >
    AQ  Post #: 9
    1/30/2013 20:48:50   
    She Ratchet!
    Member

    The Age of Darkness


    ISENGARD:


    Prologue:

    “My Lord, we have news from our allies in the North.”

    I looked up from the ancient text on the desk. The undead seemed quite jittery.

    “Well, speak up!” I muttered.

    “Our allies inform us that we have seen Paladin troops gathering near Battleon.”

    I put down the scroll I was reading and looked the Undead in the eye. Well, eye socket.

    “Wait, troops? How many are talking here?”

    “The vampires say three to five-thousand, and more are on the way.”

    I stood up immediately. If the Paladins were gathering troops, that could only mean one thing. My mind
    wandered back to the texts I found in the libraries of Isengard. Stories of a great war hundreds of years ago.

    “…Mortus, send word for a meeting of the Council. This is a matter of immense importance”

    “The Council...but the council hasn’t been called in hundre-“

    “I am aware Mortus. Call for the council.”

    “Yes, my Lord.”

    I sat back down in my chair, the air hissing out from the plush cushion. I gingerly rolled up the scroll on my desk. There was no way I could focus on old, lost magics. I needed to find something of far more importance. I hurried out of my study and descended the winding, stone staircase of the massive tower. Down, I went for what seemed like ages. Finally, I arrived at a dark, rotten cellar deep under Isengard. Dusty, cobweb-filled shelves lined the walls for what seemed an eternity. I began to scramble through the scrolls on the shelves, coughing as the duty parchment was disturbed.

    I need to get these things organized sooner or later.

    Finally, I found what I was looking for. I blew the dust off the grimy paper, and several words were visible.

    The Great Necromancer and Paladin War




    PART TWO:

    I thumbed through the yellowing scroll, careful not to turn too hard, so I wouldn't rip the delicate pages. I tried to read the Old Elvish as fast as I could without missing any detail. It was full of stories, battle plans, and pointless information.

    I’m not getting anything from this…

    Frustrated, I slammed the book shut, causing even more dust to puff up, filling my nostrils.

    I really need to do something with this room

    Meanwhile in Battleon…

    “High Paladin Artix, the troops from Granemor have arrived.”

    A young, blond officer with a boyish face kneeled before the General.
    Artix nodded, his hazel eyes fixed on the golden chess set before him. The pieces were engaged in heavy battle, and neither side seemed to have the upper hand.

    “How many?” asked the General, not looking up from his self-played game.

    “Five hundred spears, three hundred cavalry, six hundred infantry.” said the young man, still kneeling.

    “Good, good.”

    The brunette scratched his chin, deep in thought. Where were they? They should be here by now…
    He glanced at his chessboard. The tide of the match had not shifted. There were five white pieces captured, and three black pieces, however, the black side had lost a queen.
    Artix looked up at the young officer.

    “You’re still here?”

    The youth blinked, taken aback. Then, he shook his head and replied.

    “There seems to be some trouble with whispers among the men.”

    “Really? What do these…whispers…seem to portray?” inquired the General, observing a white bishop in his fingers.

    “W-w-Well the men want to know just how you plan on defeating the..the Necromancers, sir.”

    Artix set down the chess piece with a resonating clack.

    “What is your name, Lieutenant?”

    “La-Landros, sir”

    “Follow me, Landros.”

    The General stood up and began walking to the end of the large, stone room.
    Not sure what else to do, the youth slowly followed. Artix stopped at a large window and gestured for the young man to look outside.

    Somewhat confused, Landross took a look outside the Guardian Tower, and gasped.
    Regiment upon regiment of soldiers stretched out as far as the eye could see, all the war to the red horizon. There must have been at least fifteen-thousand solders lined up on the fields of Battleon.

    That dear boy, is how I intend to win, Lieutenant. You may take your leave.”

    As the blond hastily exited the room, Artix returned his focus to his chess set. He moved the white rook into a new position, putting the black king in check.

    “…Your move.”




    PART THREE:

    The merciless wind blew again, sending chills in my blood. From the large platform that sat above Isengard, I could see out for miles and miles. The world went on forever in all directions, an endless sea of land more awe-inspiring than a bard’s song yet fiercer than a dragon. In the Far East, I could make out the Dark Bastion of Dathnell, which lay nestled between the Jagged Peaks. All the Great Necromancer Fortresses are within sight of at least one of the five, so that distress signals could be sent. But these beacons haven’t been lit since-

    “My Lord, the Council has arrived.”

    I was snapped from my thoughts at the statement.

    “Thank you, Mortus.”

    I took one last breath of the cold, winter air before descending the stairway back into the great tower. The walk to the War Room wasn’t too awful, as it was on the third-to-top floor. I paused in front of the huge wooden doors.

    These are very powerful, very important people I thought to myself. It would be extremely unwise to be on their bad side.

    With a large sigh, I pushed open the magnificent entryway.
    The colossal stone room seemed to depress me with glumness the moment I entered. On either side of the hall stood large stonework thrones, six in total, each over 9 feet in height.

    I looked on the grim faces of each person who occupied the chairs. On the left, there was Lord Scorpio of Dathnell, Lord Muchiha of Terriadoc near Talon Tower, and Lord Keiv of Necropolis, which stood on Dragon Claw Island. To the right sat Lord Phrixus of Deathanor near Keld Naer, and Kaley Obsidia, She Who Walks Alone. Being by far the youngest of the group, I felt outmatched in every way. Trying not to look scared, I walked over to the last chair, my footsteps echoing in the empty room, and sat down on the last throne.

    Lord Scorpio was the first to speak.
    “Why have you summoned us here, Lord Azurah?”

    I tried not to stutter and embarrass myself in front of all these very important people. I took a deep breath before I spoke,

    “I have good reason to believe that the Order of Necromancers is under a
    new threat of attack from the Paladin Order.”

    “We have always been under attack, Lord Azurah,” spoke Lord Kiev.
    “What do you mean by a ‘new’ threat?”

    “I mean that an organized army of Paladins has been seen gathering in the North.”

    A cacophony of voices sprang up as all of the Council stood and tried to speak at once. Kaley Obsidia spoke up over all of the shouting Lords.

    “Are you certain of this?”

    I nodded with absolute certainty.
    “Our friend Queen Safiria has confirmed it.”

    Kaley nodded with a determined look cast on her face.
    “How many soldiers are we talking about here?”

    “Three to five-thousand, as last was confirmed.”

    Kaley seemed relieved.
    “Perhaps the situation is not as bad as I presumed. If we act immediately we can-“

    She was cut off when the doors suddenly opened with a thundering boom. It was Mortus, with a large scroll in his clutches.
    I shot him a confused look.

    “What is the meaning of this, Mortus?”

    “My lord,” he groveled, “We have urgent news from Safira.”
    I reached out my hand and he passed the parchment to me.
    I broke the seal on the pale-white paper and unrolled it.


    “ Lord Azurah of Isengard,
    Our spies have brought us news of grave importance. We have confirmed that the Paladins have greatly increased their numbers, and now the estimate is over twenty-thousand soldiers, and we have news of strange mercenaries from across the sea joining them within weeks. We have begun gathering vampires, for I assure you, you will not be fighting alone in this war. It is impossible to say when we will be ready for battle, but we will come to aid.
    One last word of advice. It has been rumored that the mercenaries from the west are not the only armies coming to fight alongside Artix. However it has not been affirmed.
    -Your ally,
    Safiria, Queen of the Vampires.


    I slowly stood up and looked at the Council.

    “What is it, speak up, lad!” pressed Lord Muchiha.

    To stunned to speak I handed the scroll back to Martus, who gave it to Lord Muchiha.
    He skimmed the letter and turned to the rest of the Council.

    “Twenty-thousand soldiers? We may as well be fighting an ocean!”

    “We need allies!” I declared. “We cannot win this fight on our own.”

    Lord Phrixus spoke finally,
    “You are not aware of what you ask, young one. The other four Fortresses are not as fortunate as Isengard when it comes to allies. You are the only of the Five Fortresses with any sort of allegiance.”

    “No, he is right.” Kaley Obsidia murmured. “Without allies, we shan’t stand much of a chance.”

    “Who will help us?” growled Lord Phrixus. “The Drakels? The Dracomancers? They will stay out of this fight at all costs.”

    “We have to try!” said Lord Kiev.

    Kaley stood up. “We can’t bicker amongst ourselves like this! We have to gather all other Necromancers to the Five Fortresses! Send word to the Brihaldo, the Elves, Werewolves, anybody! We must gather our armies and begin raising our own solders!”
    She scanned the Hall with her ever-watching eyes. “We must begin right away.”

    “Aye,” agreed Lord Phrixus. “We should return to our lairs and send word to all areas. If it’s a war that the Paladins want, it is a war they shall get. ”



    PART FOUR:


    “General Halenro, we are ready.”

    Halenro smirked with merciless glee.

    “Thank you, captain.” He said.

    He looked up at the Fortress of Dathnell, standing one-thousand feet away. The General had been waiting for this moment for far too long. This was his chance to prove himself to all other Paladins who underestimated him. No longer will he be the laughingstock of the Order.
    From the very beginning everyone had doubted him. “Weak” and “useless” the called him. Now he was the new general, and they were measly soldiers.
    Soon, he will be the most respected member of the Order, only second to Artix himself! He looked up towards the unsuspecting fortress of Dathnell. The necro scum will never know what hit them.

    Halenro looked back on his two-thousand five-hundred elite soldiers. Yes, these were the best men available, and they will completely wipe out Dathnell and all its inhabitants. They were in a tight, arrow formation meant to pierce and destroy.

    The general cried out with all of his might, “Paladins! Now we ride to victory! Now is the time we crush the heathen Necromancers! Now we-“

    “Crush us?” interrupted a mocking voice.

    “What?” Halenro glared in the direction of the voice to see a lone man in a gray cloak standing ahead of the army.

    “Who are you? Show yourself!”

    The figure laughed with derisive humor. “You would expect someone to know just who they are attacking.”

    The cloak flew away, revealing the intimidating figure of Lord Scorpio.

    “Soldiers to the ready!” the Dark Lord cried.

    A powerful wind swept through the land as a cloak of illusion faded away, revealing a 700 strong Necromancer cavalry.

    “Forth, Dathnell!!”

    With a great battle cry, the previously invisible force charged toward the flustered Paladins with vicious malice. Halenro watched in endless horror.

    “Magic.” He spat.

    The general turned to his men.

    “What are you sitting around for? Pikes in the front! Archers in the back! Now, you fools!” he barked.

    The Necromancers were nearly upon the Paladins by the time they were ready. Pike-men dug their weapons into the ground and archers had arrows strung.

    “FIRE!”

    Hundreds of arrows whizzed into the oncoming force, killing dozens of men and horses. Horses fell and crumpled into the ground, and men flew off their steeds with arrows embedded in their flesh. Still, the vengeful horde of dark casters rode on, raising their various weapons, from swords to scythes to axes.

    “Fire again!”

    More arrows were unleashed toward the riders. Lord Scorpio quickly raised his sword, and the arrows burst into flame, disintegrating into ashes.

    Halenro cursed under his breath.

    “Pikes to the ready!”

    The pike-men braced their long, deadly weapons against the hard-packed earth.

    The Necromancers fell upon the Paladins like a wave crashing on a shore. Sword clashed with sword, shields were splintered, and man after man fell as weapons were thrust into hearts, limbs and necks. Blood soared into air, soaking the ground and painting armor. The Necromancer's Horses plowed through the ranks of the Light-followers, pushing them, trampling them like the dirt of the earth. Paladins thrust their weapons into the riders, many necromancers falling victim to the pikes.

    It looked as if the Necromancers had the upper-hand, but the numbers of the Paladins were too great. No matter how many people the forces of Dathnell brought down, more came in to replace them.
    Lord Scorpio scanned the surrounding area. His men couldn't win like this, they were taking too heavy loses. He needed....more soldiers. He looked at the corpse-littered ground.

    More soldiers.

    Halenro pulled his axe from the body of a dead Necro. After surveying the ongoing battle, he smiled. It seemed that Lord Scorpio's ambush was doomed to fail. No matter how many Paladins they struck down, more came to take their place. The General
    allowed himself a smile. His attack was sure to succeed. A flash of blue light caught his eye.
    There was Lord Scorpio, arms outstretched toward the sky. Blue light swirled around him in a vortex of power.
    Halenro realized what the Dark Lord was trying to accomplish, but it was too late.

    "Kill him!" He screamed. "Someone take him down!!"

    Two Paladins charged the Necromancer, but two five other necros stepped in their path, and quickly deprived the light-warriors of their heads.

    Arrows whizzed toward Lord Scorpio, but were destroyed the moment they touched the whirlwind of energy.

    Halenro screamed in rage.
    "NO!!!!"

    The pillar of light spread across the battlefield, knocking down Paladins and Necromancers alike. Lord Scorpio dropped to his knees, seemingly drained.

    Silence.





    A creak was heard emerging from the ground. Soldiers began to rise to their feet, only these were not normal soldiers. They were dead.
    The deceased force slammed into the living Paladins, caving in helmets and slashing with weapons. The Paladins could not fight the Necromancers as well as themselves. One by one they were taken into the realm of death, none surviving the prowess of the undead.

    Halenro fumed with fury. This could not be happening. He had failed. He had one task to accomplish, and he could not fulfill it. He turned his horse to flee.

    "YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE LAST OF ME, LORD OF DATHNELL!"

    "Yes we have." growled a Necromancer, raising his bow.

    "Don't" said Lord Scorpio sternly. "Something tells me that we should let the Order deal with him."

    The archer lowered his weapon. He turned to his commander. "What do we do now?"

    The Dark Lord surveyed the blood-soaked battlefield. Arrows, spears, corpses, and other horrors litter the ground for as far as he could see.

    "We ride. If this was a fraction of the Paladin army, then we must act, now."




    PART FIVE:


    "My lord Artix, they have arrived."

    Artix looked up from his battle strategies, which he had been looking through for the past hour.

    "Thank you, Lieutenant."

    Artix rose from his seat. Finally they were here. He had been worried that they wouldn't come at all. Walking down the steps of the Guardian Tower, he considered what he should say. He was unsure of the strange culture of the East, and did not want to come off the wrong way. However, he knew what they wanted, and he could give it to them. That is, if they held up their end of the deal.

    When he reached the main entrance, he noticed Nimrod pacing nervously.

    "Nimrod, what is the issue?"

    The dark-haired Guardian met the Paladins eyes with a strange look

    "Those warriors you've brought here, from across the sea to the east." he slowly spoke.

    "You've seen them then?"

    Nimrod nodded.
    "I don't like them. I get this...awful vibe from them. I don't trust them." he shook his head thoughtfully. "No, not at all."

    Artix smirked.

    "Don't worry, old friend. I have what they want, and they would not dare go against me."

    Nimrod sighed. "If you say so Artix. I still get the chills from them."

    Artix turned to leave, but Nimrod grabbed his arm.

    "Hey, just be careful, okay?"

    Artix smiled for the first time in ages.

    "I will."




    Meanwhile....



    "No news from the Vampires?" I asked hopefully.

    "No, mi'lord. No word at all."

    I frowned. What on Lore could've happened? There hadn't been any word from Safira since the letter she sent me. Could they have-
    I shook my head, dispelling the thought of course they would not abandon us. This was their fight as much as ours.

    Sighing, I made my way to the top of the tower. I can always think clearer there, high above all else. The crisp, chilled air flooded my lungs the moment I exited the interior. I breathed it all in. I looked over the land surrounding Isengard, the large ,open plains, the hills in the distance. Why did all this have to be pillaged by the destruction of war? Why did I have to be caught in the middle of all of this?
    Before I could ponder this, a movement caught my gaze. Horses were galloping this way, bearing the banner of Dathnell. What could be going on?

    "Open the gates!" I shouted, then proceeded to rush down the tower.





    The group of horse riders clambered past the huge iron gates of Isengard, Lord Scorpio at their head. They all looked battered and bloody, some with strips of cloth wound tightly around arms and legs. I ran to meet them.

    "By the Avatars!" I exclaimed. "What happened to you?"

    Lord Scorpio looked down from his horse to meet my gaze. He was as equally torn as his men, and had dark circles under his eyes.

    "Dathnell...was...attacked." he wheezed, barely audible.

    "Attacked? How? When?"

    "The Paladins...attacked us with over two-thousand men. We only...we only had seven-hundred cavalry."

    "Seven-hundred?" I scanned the remaining men. "So few of you have returned...."

    "Only fifty of us survived."

    I closed my eyes. No, this couldn't be happening. They can't start attacking yet, aren't ready!

    "Well have everyone come into the tower, and we'll heal you all up."

    Lord Scorpio nodded. "But what about the Paladins?"

    After a moment of brief thought, I replied. "They have begun their attack. We must do the same. I will gather some troops, and we shall see what we can do to stop the flow of supplies to the Paladins."

    The other Dark Lord made his way into the tower, while I looked north, in the direction of the Guardian Tower.

    They'll regret this... I thought bitterly to myself.




    Meanwhile....




    Artix looked at the tall man. All over his muscular body was red and black war paint, including his face. He was marked with tattoos and scarification, making strange designs on his features. He had multiple piercings on his ears, face, and nose. The body guards that protected him were clothed in black robes, with golden thread embroidered in it. A black head piece covered all of their neck and came up to their nose, hiding half of their face.
    If they were trying to be intimidating, it was working.

    "How many have you brought with you?" asked the Paladin.

    The larger man answered with a voice that resembled rumbling rocks, his accent very prominent.

    "Ten-thousand warriors have come with us, and they will be at your service- that is, if you can promise to hold our agreement."

    "Of course." answered the General. The Kaftnar, as the man called himself, seemed to be very confident in his force. So far, Artix did seem impressed by the power of the Huzgul tribe, but he needed proof.

    "I was informed of war beasts," continued the Paladin. "What sort of animal have you brought with you, Kaftnar?"

    The Huzgul's eyes lit up, as if he had been waiting for this moment. "Yes, the hazaraj have come."

    The easterner pointed behind Artix, "Here is one."

    A little confused, the General turned around. His eyes widened at the sight.

    Slowly walking toward the group was a colossal beast, each step sending tremors through the earth. It had four legs, each as thick as a tree. Its stood at least thirty feet high, with enormous tusks that nearly reached the ground. A long trunk protruded from the animals face, which was covered in war paint, similar to the Kaftnar. Resting on the back of the monstrous beast was a two-tiered wooden structure, which housed about twenty Huzguls, all in black robes similar to the ones worn by the bodyguards.

    Artix was breathless. "How many are there?" he whispered.

    The Kaftnar smiled. "enough."


    So basically the Huzgul are a tribe from across the sea that are incredibly powerful in terms of war, numbers, and tactics. And they ride giant elephants, which is a plus, too. I actually thought this up because I had to learn about Hannibal in school today. Anyway I hope it was good, and I hope I didn't bore you. The next chapter will be up soon, I promise!





    PART SIX:

    The caravan of wagons slowly made its way from Battleon. I watched it from behind the knobby, haggard tree trunk. We had been following the supply train for a while now, waiting for it to make it's way into the forest, where we could ambush it without fear of disturbance. I thought for a moment; sooner or later they'll stop to rest, and let their guard down. But what was the fun in that? The Paladins had five crossbows and seven sword-masters, if they could even be called that, guarding the wagons. Easy. Especially with twenty-seven necromancers under my command. Lost in my thoughts, I almost didn't notice that the supply train had stopped, and every one was awaiting my orders. I looked over to Lord Scorpio , who had decided to join me on the mission, and nodded.

    "Attack!" I cried, and we all charged the unsuspecting caravan. The soldiers scrambled for their weapons, caught by surprise. I swung my two-handed sword over my head and slammed into the chest of one of archers. With a garbled grunt, he crumpled to the ground.

    "Azurah! Duck!"

    Without thinking I did as commanded as I heard a blade fly over my head. I turned and thrust my sword into my attackers stomach, exiting the other side.

    Gross.

    With a tough yank, I pulled the blade out of the Paladins flesh.

    That was close.

    I turned to the rest of the group, surveying the damage. There were still five paladins left. I ran toward the fighting, ready to rejoin the fray.

    Thud.

    What on lore...

    Thud.

    It's getting closer. It sound like..

    Thud.

    ...wings?


    SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE


    A high, shrill cry filled the air, a screech that no human could ever make. I felt my teeth vibrate, and my head felt like it was being torn open. The sound was so loud, I thought my eardrums would burst. All of our hands went to our ears as the sound got closer. I fell to the grassy earth on my knees, the noise completely incapacitating me.

    As I stared at the sky, a white figure came into view. It was- a dragon?

    The long body of the creature was adorned with pearl-white spikes, and its tail was in a similar fashion. It had huge, gleaming-white claws, each at least a foot long. The beast was too small to be a dragon, and its head was a different shape. However, it most significant feature was its eyes. Blood- Red eyes that could pierce soul spirit magic and flesh. On its back was a man, covered in pure white armor. His helmet had two eye-holes, although nothing could be seen behind them but black. Where the nose and mouth should have been covered there was a huge hole, reveal nothing but blackness, a black void that contained the fears, hatred, and remorse of all.

    I could do nothing but stare, stare into the void, completely helpless. The White Knight turned his empty gaze toward me. Without any apparent urging, the pale beast lunged toward me. The creature trapped me under its huge claws, its eyes burning holes in my very being.

    The White Knight spoke, in a voice that resembled a whisper, but was loud and clear.

    "Kill him."



    PART SEVEN: (IN PROGRESS)

    Have you ever had your head bitten off by a dragon? No? Well, it's not fun.
    Not that I would know, I have never had my head bitten off by a dragon.



    The beast opened its massive jaws, ready to rip the flesh from my bones. All I could do was stare into the dragon's evil, ruby-red eyes. I

    < Message edited by She Ratchet! -- 2/19/2013 14:23:29 >
    AQ DF  Post #: 10
    1/30/2013 22:35:01   
    The White Knight
    Member

    Lost in the Dark

    Notes Beforehand: Sorry for spelling errors, I was rushing

    Prologue: In the dead of the night, all is silent, but a young boys food steps can be heard stomping the ground in an exasperated effort. As the boys foots steps calmed, he reached the end of a corridor. A dark, torch-lit room, was now in the boy's line of sight, the only apparent thing was a man, hunched over a map.

    "S-s-sir. I have a... a letter from the town of Battle On." whimpered the boy in a frightened voice. The man slowly turned around so the torch light fully revealed the man's armor. He wore a lustrous, metallic white armor, covered in a white cloak and hood. As the man read the letter his face became more and more grave, "If it is war they want, then it is war they shall get." The man said impassioned. His boots clank on the stone ground could be heard throughout the castle hall. He enters a room, and searches for fervently. He raises a sheathed sword, with a one and a half handed hilt, he withdraws the blade, to reveal a sword that matches his armor completely.

    "Boy, come here!" He yells, as he pulls down 3 axes from a nearby weapon rack. "I want you to deliver these axes to flashbang, Snake, and Popinloopy. They will understand what they mean. Take my horse, it is the fastest of the Castle's great steeds, it is a white horse, with a Red colored main, it awaits your arrival at the stables. It's name is Ruin."

    The man, watched the boy ride off into the night from the Watch tower. As he walked back down the hall, he glared at the paintings that decorated the interior, telling of great war stories of a single White Knight that saved the castle 10 times over.

    He walked to the southern most Guard bridge covering the temple. "Let them come for we are the Great Paladin's and no one in 500 years has breached the great Cloud Ruler Temple."

    Part I:
    Rain was pouring on The White Knight's cloak ever harder as he stared into the distance. The guards that helped protect the castle urged him to sleep. He refused anything, whether it was food, drink, or sleep. Days passed as he stared into the distance. He knew they were coming. As the next day rolled around, his horse and the boy finally returned carrying no axes. As the boy climbed the great staircase leading up to the Paladin Commander, the rain slowly dissipated. "Sir, they asked me to return here once I was done. Nothing else was said from any of the three."

    "You did good, I needed to aware my brothers that it was finally time to fight one last time." whispered the great commander. The boy looked on so intently; unaware of what would happen next. Yet, nothing happened the Paladin continued to stare into the distance; his focus unwavering for even second. He continued to wait until one knight, three cloaked riders approached the Temple. These mysterious riders... were none other than the horse of the apocalypse. His brethren had come to his aide.

    Part II:
    "I have called you here today for a reason my brothers, Necromancers have declared a war to end it all. As decreed long ago, we have to restore balance. We shall fight for the Paladins." Shouted War, (The White Knight).

    "War, brother, it isn't as easy as you would so like to think." rebuttaled Conquest. (Popinloopy)

    "Conquest is correct, brother" agreed Famine. (Snake)

    "Nothing to add Death?" questioned War to the only silent brother of his.

    "What more is there to add? Though I agree, I we do not belong in this war, whether you lead the Paladin order or not. We cannot join for the sake of imbalance. I am sorry War. There is nothing more to be said about this matter. We will not be part of this war. Period."

    With the final statement from Death, the three other horsemen rose, and walked out of the room. Within only a minute's time when the Horsemen were out of earshot, alone War whispered to himself, "You might have forbade me my brothers, but I shall end this War."

    He went to bed that night, knowing what the next 72 hours would bring. Contemplating on what the final result of his action would be. He was ready to face the negative corollary that would be brought by his doltish decision.

    Part III:
    Time was skewed in War's mind, as he tried to rationalize his joining the war. 67 hours flew by without even a moment's notice by War. He edged himself slowly to the balcony. He was told by spies that the army should be here within only five hours. As he continued to creep along the outskirts of the fortress's gate, he could slowly start to hear a synchronized march of what seemed like goats headbutting each other, but when his vision showed him what laid beyond his temple's walls, he knew what he had to do. He saw an army of Undead skeletons, a mile long, and 2 miles deep; within a 3 mile distance from the temple. They would be here on the hour. He could see a group of a 100 strong necromancers cowering behind their summons.

    "Stay here and keep the fortress protected." He shouted at the 20 or so guards standing within the vicinity. With nothing left to say he hopped over the 100 foot gate. Landing unscathed at the bottom as if it were a ledge. "You shall not take what I have created in this world." Through a fiery blaze War's horse appeared as if from underground to ride under his master's jump. As he galloped forward he withdrew the white blade, but as it was revealed, it grew to reflect War's attitude it became an enormous 2 handed claymore of gigantic proportions, with a tip that extended to 8 feet long. What would require a normal man to carry with his entire body, War carried at the edge of his clenched fist. He met the army and in an instant he swung his giant sword in a windmill like fashion, weaving it back and forth on each side with ease, smashing skeletons beneath Ruin's feet and slicing them without a care in the world with his blade. All the while he only glared forward staring at the necromancers ahead of him, within 15 minutes of crushing and destroying skeletons he arrived at the group of necromancers. He jumped off of Ruin's back as the horse magically dissipated into the ground. "You claim to end my order and believe you shall leave unscathed? You are fools."

    From the depths of the Necromancer army, rose 3 Necromancers.

    "It looks as if the Horseman has come out to play." Said the Necromancer wearing a robe with a large scorpion sitting upon his chest. (This is Undersoul)

    "Shadow, what do you think, that maybe we should give him a chance to join us?" (This is NecRomancingTheDead)said the maroon garbed necromancer, and with that the silent final Necromancer stepped forward.

    "You are a Nephilim, you serve a creator who has abandoned you, his most faithful. We offer you this choice Horsemen. Would you serve in Heaven, or would you RULE in hell?" (At DracolichRider look familiar?) "Join us, and you can have the spoils of 1,000 victories, we shall rule this Earth together. We have already captured Battle On, do you believe your order shall fare better than theirs did?"

    "You shall not defeat the Paladins, I will fight you till my last breathe" answered War.

    "Then you shall die here" shouted the one known as Shadow, dashing forward thrusting his blade straight for War's heart. War only had grab the blade with his hand. With a simple kick to the head of the Necromancer War directed his blade at the Scorpion cloaked Necromancer, and as the blade fell, cutting the Commander of the Necromancer army, a bolt of lightning could be seen, being shot from a pair of hands only feet away, directly penetrating War's upper body. Blood spewed from War's mouth, you could see the look on the Maroon garbed Necromancer's face, "You thought you could win this War alone? You were a fool. You ignorance will cost you your life."

    "Heheheh ... Ha" War laughed through his blood garbled voice.

    "You laugh at your own funeral?" Questioned the Maroon Necromancer.

    "No, ... I laughed... at yours" He brokenly said through him coughing up obscene amounts of blood. He weakly pointed a finger at a thunderstorm leagues away, yet for some mysterious reason, the thunder was Purple.

    Part IV:
    War's body slowly disintegrated, the seventh seal hadn't been broken, and he rode to war for his final time. He will be punished accordingly in the after life.

    The Scorpion robed necromancer's body slowly began to sew itself back together.

    "Welcome back Soul" Said the maroon covered necromancer.

    "Thank you, Nec, I didn't think he was that powerful" Said Soul, as he looked toward a battle field with a quarter of their army brought down by but a single man.

    "Soul, help me wake Shadow up, then we continue our march to Cloud Ruler Temple. I fear a storm is coming, and I fear that that purple lightning is getting closer." said Nec, as he scowled at the purple lightning.

    "Do not worry, it means nothing" reassured Soul, as he wakes Shadow up.

    "What happened?" questioned Shadow dazedly.

    "You let a large man in white armor kick you in the face." Proclaimed Soul mocking Shadow in condescending tone, as if proclaiming his superiority over the group. As dozens of Necromancers watched on in fear, of the power that their commanders wielded. Yet, a young girl approached them, no older than 10.

    "Mister, why do we have to kill people? Why can't we help people with our magic, like bring back their dead families?"

    "Because stupid girl, the paladins will kill you for that, and kill the families you resurrect, because they are unjust and corrupt." Spewed Shadow ignorantly forth. You could see the girl slouch down and sink into the crowd.

    "What happened to the thunderstorm?" Nec questioned paranoid.

    "Huh, that isn't possible." Answered his contemporary friend, Soul, who is now an undead lich.

    "Hey guys.... What is that?" Said shadow as he pointed into the sky to see 3 meteors hurling toward the earth at an alarming rate.

    "No, no, no, NOOO!!!" Screamed Nec.

    A purple meteor was in front of the others by a minute headstart. As the meteor crash landed into the center of the army of skeletons, you could see bodies flying all over the place.

    "You FOOLS, you think you could kill my brother and survive?" Shouted a voice, in the middle of all the flying skeletons, "your death shall be slow and painful. I will make you all suffer!" and as the final word was said. A large man wearing dark clothing, could be seen in the distance wielding an enormous scythe. Wearing a mask that only slightly covered his face. The necromancers knew this rider(Flashbang gets to be the coolest rider, since he was first to offer). He went by many names, they knew him by his most famous. Death.

    Paralyzed by a slight look from the most powerful rider, fear struck into the commander's hearts almost immediately. They knew that if Death wasn't dead before the other meteors landed, that their attack would have been in vien. They were powerful enough to barely deal with one of the riders, but 3 or 4 was beyond many of their control.

    "Do we try to kill him Nec? We could always resort to the final plan." asked Shadow frightened.

    "No, only if defeat is assured, we cannot undo the ritual!" Soul cut in.

    And with that final word, the second meteor dropped, and not but a second later, the third meteor dropped. The other 2 riders appeared. Conquest (IF you forgot this is popinloopy) rose, garbed in a green light armor, he drew an ethereal arrow from out of nowhere and strung his bow preparing to shoot. What happened next, no one was prepared for. He faced the army that War had mutilated earlier, and only followed in his brother's work, shooting the arrow through the center of at least 100,000 skeletons, exploding each upon impact as the arrow continued to fly. While Pestilence (Snake) lifted his balance up, and it quickly transformed into a thin, blue tinted blade, covered in black flames that licked the air around. It singed anything around it.

    "If you think we arrived alone, you are wrong children." Taunted Pestilence
    as he drew a large package from a bag he carried at his waste. "You see I have the the seven seals that summon us."

    As the last thing said finally set into the Necromancer's heads they knew what had to happen. They must perform the ritual forbade even by the Necromantic cult. They knew not even what they would be doing. As the Horsemen began their own ritual of breaking the 7 seals, the necromancers joined them, the entire group began chanting something in unison. A spell lost long ago, that should never have been found again. As the horsemen broke the final seal, a red colored meteor appeared in the sky.

    "I told you, I shall make you suffer." mocked Death.

    Unfortunately, as the word left his lips, the entire army of skeletons, vaporized. All the Necromancers joined them as well. With all their particles gravitating toward the center where Soul previously stood. Within seconds of the vaporization, War landed again. he walked up behind his brothers as they watched the molecules form into an inorganic shape, that was constantly morphing and moving like a liquid. Its deep red color, and mass instantly shot into the ground opening a large portal. From the portal rose one of the most powerful fallen angels ever. Satan [Note: Satan and Lucifer are not the same person, Lucifer is the ACTUAL Devil, and or The Dark Prince. He is the original fallen angel, while Satan{Often referred to as Samael in mythical folklore.} Is the second fallen angel] (The character represented by Satan is kors). Satan rose blood red wings that looked as if they were cooling lava, his blood red skin and tail were only complimented by his black pupils and eyes. He donned a set of large, and quite powerful claws.

    "It... is good to be back alive." He said mocking the horsemen, who had been the reason he was sealed away 4,000 years ago. Fire spewed out of his mouth, rubbing against his jagged, sharp teeth. "I shall repay the debt I owe you four, I believe I have 4,000 years of interest to pay you as well. Do not worry Nephilim, I shall make you pay greatly."

    Part V:

    "This world is MINE" screamed Satan, a pure jet of fire bursting from his mouth, "Did it please you children to deny me what is rightfully mine?" he continued shouting as fire streamed from his mouth.

    "We have beaten you once, we shall do it again."

    As the battle ensues between the horsemen and Satan, a young girl, covered in the robes of a necromancer slinks toward cloud ruler temple.

    *Clank* "Foolish War, you are no match for me!" boasted Satan as his claws caught War's sword.

    "Then we shall see how I fare" Said Death as he appeared above Satan swinging his scythe directly into the Monster's skull. And as if to finish it, Conquest shot an arrow straight through the monster's heart. With that Pestilence recreated his balance and began the sealing ritual on Satan.

    "It is not over yet!" Shouted the creature, through his badly mutilated face. Pestilence had casted the spell already, but at the same time a great fire betook the horsemen, the fire burned a dark blue, it was a fire that would burn forever until what it struck was killed.

    It began to rain over head, as the young girl turned her head slightly to see that the horsemen were burning on their deathbeds, with the 7th seal broken already, they could never return to Earth. The girl sat at the entrance of Cloud Ruler temple, crying, she had no one, and she had just watched hundreds of thousands die on a battlefield.

    "Are you ok little one?" Questioned a younger Paladin who happened to be on the same staircase.

    "WAAAAHHHH" bawled the child.

    "It will be ok" said the Paladin reassuringly as he lifted the girl and took her inside from the pouring rain.


    <Many years later>

    "Ayleth where are you?" Shouted a commander paladin, donned in the same white suit of armor as his predecessors.

    "Hold on Gerek I am coming!" shouted a feminine voice in response. A young woman appeared in a set of dark robes, she confronted the Paladin's leader.

    "You still won't change out of your silly Necromancer robes?" Jested the Paladin.

    "No, I watched those men die, and though you have accepted me into the paladin order, I shall be a necromancer too. I shall be the bridge between the two great powers.


    F.I.N.

    NEXT STORY


    Duty

    Part I:
    "Faster! Go, go! Get out of here. We don't have long." I shouted in a dark sewer. "There is a boat waiting for you after get to the exit. You will all be safe, don't worry." I assured the refugees running through the sewers that I was guiding them through. I never expected this outcome, I still had to meet popinloopy, I didn't know what would happen. I waited till I was sure the final refugee had escaped the sewer. My boots sloshed through the murky water, The almost pitchblack lighting made it so I could only see the slimmest view of light that peaked through the exit, I knew there would be no boat remaining for me as I returned. I never expected the necromancers to attack our city. As I exited the sewer leading from the castle, I turned to see the city I grew up in lit aflame. I would make whoever was responsible for this pay.

    I hadn't stopped my journey since I had exited the sewers, my armor was still drenched, its golden sheen mucked up by the mud and dirt from the sewer water. I no longer seemed like the White Knight anymore, I did not look as if I was the commander of the once powerful Paladin Order.

    Something had changed. Popin had told me to meet him at the top of Mt. Cornelius, the thousand step climb would be daunting but we needed to be there to convene in peace.

    I climbed the staircase, as daunting as it was, it posed no threat to me this time around, no monsters even took hint of my journey. I climbed in nothing but my cleaned armor, and a white cloak which hid me in this wretched snow storm. I climbed to the top of the amazing mountain.
    "It has been quite some time, hasn't it old friend? I never expected castle Drakewynd to fall, I never would have expected them to be as bold as to attack you even. " questioned popin.

    "Something changed, someone must have joined them, someone told them everything from the beginning to start about Harvagd, they knew of almost every secret entrance. There was no way. Unless they scouted it while I was gone. No, impossible. Someone was on the inside. I haven't even been in control of the Paladin's Order for more than 8 weeks." I responded glumly.

    "And in 8 weeks, what happened?" answered popin.

    "I can't remember." I sulked as I answered.

    -8 Weeks Ago-
    "Yay!!!!"shouted random citizens.

    "Paul has been the new Communicant of the Divine order of the Paladins!!!" Claimed my predecessor, he soon took me inside the great castle walls to tell me. "Congratulations my boy! I am glad to see you as my successor. I knew the order was growing weak and to see someone of your power take the reigns I fear that the Necromancers will finally be frightful of the Paladins!"

    "Sir, your compliments are of the highest honor."

    "No need to call me sir anymore Paul-my-boy, if anything it should be I calling YOU sir!" mocked Galfio.
    I recollected the feelings of that day as I explained them to popin.

    "I remember your ceremony for Communicancy." Told popin.
    I continued to reminisce, this time it was my first, mission briefing to the new recruits. I feared they wouldn't survive, so I planned on going to the battle with them. That would assure the speed of the mission, be raised exponentially.

    Part II:
    -7 Weeks Ago-
    "Hello new recruits, I am Paul. I am the current High Communicant for the Paladins of the Divines. Unfortunately, I am told you must go on the first mission we received to accept you. This mission though, is ranked for the highest members of us, and since they cannot assist you, I shall be going as a 'Chaperon'." I assured the young paladins as I feared even I wouldn't make it out alive. I knew what this quest entailed, it was a final hint. After this we would have information upon where the necromancer's headquarters is. I went alone most of the time. Gathering the information from quests like this. It was easier, I could fend for myself, I wouldn't have to watch children.

    "Paul, I am coming with you." I turned around to see my apprentice geared up and ready to go. "I even packed essentials. We are prepared to leave our journey as soon as they gear up and get their supply bags."

    "Snake? You want to come along on the mission. If I die, you are next in line for the Communicancy." I returned, trying to persuade a single person less to join us upon this suicide mission.

    "If we die, they can always find someone to take our places, don't worry."
    I had not the energy to fight him, I was stressed enough. I returned to my lavish room once more, I entered my domain in Castle Drakewynd where our order has been headquartered. I knew the one holed up in the cave, we went to school together. He became a necromancer, he betrayed our year and the Mage's sanction. I would hope it won't be my blade that pierces his heart, alas poor Utgar will have to suffer death.

    We prepared to go upon our journey. It would be a 24 hours walking time, I didn't know if the kids would be up for this daunting task so I planned 20 hours of the walk in to let them rest, while I went ahead and butchered the entire cave. As we began upon our journey everyone was silent, as if they had read my mind knowing that they were walking into a death trap. The gorgeous forest around us would have been amazing to admire, had it not been for the eerie feelings of imminent death that would soon follow our little stroll.

    Hours passed almost unnoticed. We all just marched. I had brought along the blade I called Vragray, it had a handle and a half, with a golden winged hilt, follow by a white blade of 5 feet length and of 4 inches width. It had runes running along side of it, runes of a lost Elvin language that I can only vaguely recall. We neared the end of the 20 hour journey I planned.

    "We shall rest here. No need to tire ourselves before we even confront the enemy." I commanded everyone.

    "Yes sir." They responded, with a dead, synchronized moan. I waited for them to sleep. I knew what must be done. When I was out of ear shot, I began to sprint. I was gifted with speed and strength, beyond that of a regular mortal, due to the fact I had been blessed by the Lord of Light. I neared the cave entrance within an hour, I was prepared, I withdrew my war axe, also white, and covered in Elvin runes. I slowly opened the wooden door that guarded the entrance of the cave. As I walked inside I came to find myself at a ledge with a small curved ramp leading down to a center room where I saw a group of four Necromancers chatting. I could handle them. I drew Vragray.

    "Is this what remains of the great paladin order." said a voice from behind me. I was astonished someone ambushed us. With a magical spell, a hooded man held up my four allies, all with dagger wounds in their chest.

    "No!" I shouted alerting the other four necromancers.

    "Well if it isn't Paul." jested the Necromancer.

    "Utgar, I see you are still the same sick twisted fool I last saw you as." I retorted mockingly. The necromancers all fired spells my way. Fools. I had predicted this. My armor was specially made to reflect magic attacks of certain calibers. They met their fate at the hands of their own spell.

    "I see you came prepared didn't you?" commented Utgar laughing hysterically.

    "You laugh at your own funeral fool." I said as a dark expression covered my face. My grip on Vragray tightened. With the swiftest of my movements, I stepped forward 3 steps and placed Vragray directly through Utgar's stomach. The trauma causing the spell to cease immediately. "Where are they?" I demanded keeping the blade firmly into his stomach as he fell to the ground. I dug my sword into his stomach and the ground to assure no funny business.

    "He.. hehah...HAHAHAHA" he laughed as he coughed up blood. "Paul you fool. You are too late, we have assured victory, I can tell you but it will do you no good knowing."

    "Stop speaking in riddles, tell me where they hide." I commanded the dying necromancer. "I will not ask again. I will heal you, and torture you if it comes to that Utgar."

    "No need, I... *cough*... I... ugh.. I will tell you. They have two headquarters one in Gurmolym Mine, and the other is unknown to anyone but the highest ranking Necromancers."

    "Gurmolym Mine is over a week's walk away from Harvagd." They couldn't sneak attack us if they tried. So our suspicions had no justifications.

    Something was off, Utgar had died before I could question him more. I took up to bandaging and healing the recruits and Snake before we prepared for our journey back. Some had to wait at the dreaded Necromancer's cave before I could fully rescue them and take them back to the castle in Harvagd.

    "So the mission in the cave went fine. What happened Paul, how did control slip. It seemed like you were doing fine." popin cut in.

    "I believed I was. Something came up that demanded my immediate attention though. I didn't expect it to happen." I answered grimly.
    Part III:
    "As I began formulating a personal mission to invade Gurmolym Mine, I planned and planned for 2 weeks straight yet the 3 week that passed I was called upon the Elemental Congress. They had said that, I, being the new initiative of the group, had to come and learn the rules. I left Snake in charge." I recollected to Popin.

    "And what makes you believe that it wasn't Snake, Paul? He could have became your apprentice to assure a spot in the Paladin order. I recall going there and numerous times he had the place a mess and everyone was out of control. He wasn't mature enough to handle it in your stead." interrupted Popin.

    "I know, and I am glad you helped him out so much. I owe you one good friend." I thanked.

    "It is no problem we are friends we help each other out. I know you would help me if my clan needed it. Continue on though." Urged Popin.

    "The congress went well. The other Communicants were friendly and helpful. The Darkness Communicant held no word on the current war between paladins and necromancers, due to the fact he wasn't even human, he was a large skulking mass of shadow." I said as I drew my breathe trying to remember what had happened. "

    -Last Week-
    "You, I want to protect here" I commanded as I was pointing to a large map of the world. "Flash and Popin, I believe you too are capable enough of taking this route right?" I questioned my old friend and his new apprentice.

    "Of course we can, I am very familiar with the territory" responded flash almost instantly.

    "Apparently Flash knows the land, there for I can help him with the fighting if he can do my navigation. Don't worry we got it. Are we all staying in the Paladin Headquarters until we move out next week Paul." wondered Popin.

    "Yes, I would greatly appreciate if you guys stayed, I know I can't do this without you, so if I lose you. I will lose this fight." I responded in a sort of melancholy tone, with a tad of fear. I knew this was going to be close. If we didn't get the upper hand of surprise we'd be dead. "I am going to go to the King of Drakewynd and speak to him about this.

    <2 hours later>

    Creeaaaaaakkkkkkkkkkkkk was the deafening sound as I opened the two gargantuan doors to the castle. "Lord Scorpio, I need an immediate audience." I waltzed into the throne room demanding.

    "What is it Paul, I have other things that I must attend to tonight." Responded the king, exasperated.

    "I plan to invade the Necromancer's fortress..." I said blatantly.

    Almost incredulously the King interrupted, "Already!? I mean, now? Could you pick any worse time? I too am going to be away for the next week. I must attend Prince Nero's marriage."

    "I am sorry my lord. It must happen." I responded with my suspicions raised. Why had he said already? Has someone been leaking our plans. This shouldn't be a concern the king is a long time Paladin, and friend, it is ok if he knows, he is trustworthy. Hopefully we don't have a rat.

    "You believe there isn't a rat Paul? I mean obviously someone told Scorpio. Maybe he has spies in your order. Maybe he had guards overhear you. Who knows. You let run, your children rampantly." We must go, Flash has already secured an outpost outside of the city. I am rejoining him soon. You and Snake shall join us correct? We mean to take back the city. " Assured Popin, helping me raise my spirits.

    "Yes I shall join you, give me five minutes to ponder what will happen. I fear this will be dangerous my old friend." I responded with a dull, dead tone.

    "Do not worry friend. I shall see you there." reassured Popin as he opened a portal to the outpost. Something was wrong, who could the traitor have been. I know the traitor is comfy in Lord Scorpio's Throne as we speak. I am fearful of who I might find. Who was missing during the escape? So many, so many had died in the initial invasion. I couldn't even keep my wits about me and recall who died. Foolish Paul. You weren't prepared. You didn't protect everyone and you failed. Popin is right. It is time to reclaim the throne. SHHHHWWWINK, my own portal opened, only to the innermost part of the city, I was tired of this petty fight I shall end it.

    FWEEEAAAAWWWHHHOOPPPP, the portal closed behind me. I was prepared for the worst, I returned to my dead city to see homes burning, stores, destroyed and pillaged, and the land had been destroyed. Oddly not a soul lay in sight. No bodies, no Necromancers. Something was wrong. What that something was, I don't know. I continued my way up the steep slope toward the castle. I continued to fear what I would find as I finally made my way up to it. I again suffered from the deafening sound of the creaking and to my surprise as I looked across the hall, the most unexpected person sat on Lord Scorpio's Throne. Through all the massacre the person remaining in the throne was of the biggest surprise to me.

    Part IV:
    "How can you be here..." I said angrily. "You let your own people DIE!?" I screamed at Lord Scorpio as he sat in his usual throne room chair. "You gave us up to the Necromancers so they wouldn't kill you?! COWARD YOU WILL DIE BY MY HAND FOR TREASON." I shouted at the king.

    "Paul.. you would have done the same in my situation." Said the king in a saddened tone.

    "What situation is that!?" I retorted as I continued to shout.

    "Well, I was set here on the throne to debunk the paladins for good. You let me inside and trusted me. I was told before taking the throne, that if I didn't do this, my children and I would all be murdered. So I took the offer, every time they would reward me. I am sorry Paul. " Answered the king.

    "You are a fool and you shall die." I sad with a dark expression cast upon my face.

    "No, friend, it shall actually be you who will die here tonight." Said a familiar voice as I felt a short dagger blade clash against my armor. I quickly stepped forward avoiding any harm to my body.

    "Popin, it was you who betrayed me." I looked at my once best friend.

    "It was everyone Paul. So many had snuck into the Paladin's Order. It is pathetic." he spat at me.

    "What did it take for you to do this Popin?" I questioned him.

    "It took money." Answered the King. "They offered us more money than you could imagine. They knew you would take the Communicancy. They knew that you'd become more powerful than anything they had ever faced. They knew that if you were let to do as you pleased, that the Necromancers would be dead in there tracks within a year. You were and are a liability Paul. Unfortunately you die here."

    "The king is right Paul give up." Came Snake's voice from the shadows.

    "The lot of you." I mocked. "It is unfortunate they paid you to die." With the final word Popin threw me toward the throne with a spell.

    I twisted in time to deliver a kick in mid air straight to the king's face. Knocking him unconscious was the immediate effect. I then only had 2 to worry about. Popin was at my neck within seconds. I had fended off a stab directed at my face to counter with a body kick, sending him flying down the throne room. I stood elevated by the throne. I made a 20 foot leap to where Snake was

    "HAAAA" I shouted as I lunged toward Snake. I nicked the his right thigh, and as I landed I kicked him in the chest as well, pushing him back nearly 20 feet as he landed and rolled on the ground. I dashed at Popin who dashed at me two, then I realized. We held sister blades. They would never touch each other. With that as the thought passed through my head, our blades were already set to collide, yet as fate had it, our blades would not collide, they shot from our hands before ever making contact. I threw a punch straight for Popin the second I felt my blade leave, and he returned one to me. I could feel the cold metal of his fist connecting with my jaw, loosening numerous teeth. I quickly found my helmet lying within the back corner and placed it on my head, 'I shall not let him win easily' I told myself in my head. I delivered a kick to his newly helmeted head. It sent him flying. Yet as I walked over to him to finish it as he lay there on the ground. I felt my stomach be pierced by an arrow.

    "You will die Paul." Said snake as he limped toward us.

    "No, Snake, it is you that shall die." I said as I sent all my focused mana into a single exploding fireball straight at him. As is made contact I saw his body disintegrate in the fire, I felt myself getting kicked in the stomach unfortunately at the same time as I watched. As I lay on the ground, out of breath and with an arrow through my stomach. I hear Popin say, "Peace has cost you your strength, Paul. Victory has defeated you." As he rested his foot on the arrow. "You will die here Paul." He said.

    "I know I will. Unfortunately you will reap what you have sown, Betrayer. let's hope the end justifies your means." I riddled to him as I prepared for the finale.

    "What is that supposed to mean?" As he slightly pushed the arrow out.

    "It means you are going to die with me." I jeered.

    "No, NOOOOOO!" He shouted as I cast the ultimate explosion spell, I used my power of Communicancy to push it to the maximum. It enveloped the entire castle, and destroyed it to ash. Killing Prince Nero, Lord Scropio, Snake, Popin, and myself all together. As I lay dead, I wondered who the Communicancy would pass to next."

    Part V:
    'He should be here now.' I thought to myself.

    BARRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOM 'Oh god, that was from the castle, Where is Popin and Paul?! They should have been here by now.' I wondered to myself.

    "Flash, the two you wonder about have been killed." I heard a mysterious voice say behind me as I turned around startled. I turned to see the Lord of the Light standing behind me.

    "L-l-l-lugggghhhh." I muttered moronically.

    "No need to speak child. I understand. I am here to help you, the blade of Vragray has been passed onto you, while Popin's blade, Hrathan, has been passed onto a young mercenary that is called Hellblade. He is believed to be the most powerful blade user in all of the Necromantic order. Vragray will never make contact with Hrathan, they are sister blades. Castle Drakewynd has been destroyed. Lord Scorpio, Snake, Paul, and Popin were all that were killed in the blast. You will have to hunt the man down. I assign you something I assigned Paul. I need you to go to Gurmolym Mine, and kill the two Necromancers in charge over there. A young ranger hunts outside the inn that 'Hellblade' is currently resting at, if you would do so, recruit the young man, named Kor, into your journey. It will be a perilous one, but Paul chose duty above all and died for it. Will you do the same when the time comes? The Necromancers will hunt you, for the Communicany has been passed onto you Flash. You will soon find, your abilities are to live up to your name." As the lord of light said that he instantaneously vanished.

    I was to go to Elkfield Inn, hunt down a mercenary, take his blade, and then find a young ranger man, and who resides in the woods near by. This was not a fun task I was asked to do. I knew I must though. So I began south, my home in Drakewynd was gone. I sheathed Vragray, and tightened it upon my shoulder. I knew this journey would be long. I didn't pack any supplies. I hoped miracles will bring me to my journey's end before anything too bad happens to me. I went through the ever continuing forest as I continued toward Elkfield Inn, I knew not what I was getting myself into.

    FSHHHWEEEEWMP DRINNNNGGGGGGG I narrowly dodged and arrow to my head as it flew by I heard it stick into the nearest tree. "What the..."

    "Why are you trespassing in these lands, do you WANT to die?" I heard a mysterious voice come from the forest as if it was surrounding me.

    "No, I only wish to make my way toward...." FSHHHWEEEEWMP I dodged another arrow by ducking. "GOODNESS! Stop it and let me explain!" I shouted. I only wish to recruit a young ranger named Kor, and find Gurmolym Mine."

    "Why are you trying to recruit me exactly?" Said Kor, as he stepped out from behind the shadow of a tree.

    Part VI:
    "The Lord of Light told me to make you my ally, and that we were to stop the Necromancers from causing anymore damage. I am the current High Communicant for the Light Lord and the Leader of The Paladin Order." I explained.

    "Why am I going to be invol..." Kor tried to get out.

    "Because child, Flash is the last Paladin alive. The Paladins of the Divine exist no more. He needs help rebuilding his army, and he alone cannot teach swordsmen and bowmen and mages. You will find your third party member in the Mine. His name shall be Hideyoshi." Interrupted the Lord of the Light.

    "Oh, ok then. Where are we off to?" Questioned Kor.

    "Gurmolym Mine, the leaders of the necromancers are there. We will hunt them down and bring them to justice." With that our journey began. We journeyed for a long while. Staying silent as we crossed valleys, rivers, and mountains. It was when we were climbing up Mt. Thrall that Kor said. "I feel lost. "

    "Hey, I do too, its more like we are the LOST Paladins of the Divine." I said jokingly.

    "Haha, that should be our new order's name!" mocked Kor back.

    "Wait, that isn't a bad idea at all." I returned with all seriousness.

    "Wait you were serious." asked Kor. I nodded a yes. "Oh, well O.K. then!" He said with a quick laugh.

    So we continued to climb Mt Thrall where we knew deep inside near the summit of one of the cliffs, that Gurmolym Mine lay deep inside. We knew that there would be swarms of necromancers in there too. Within an hours journey the Mine was visible, we made camp where a fire wouldn't be seen by a guard necromancer. Tomorrow would be the day. We didn't know if we were ready. We still hadn't encountered Hellblade.

    Part VII:
    Kor and I began to make our way to the entrance to the cave. There was no guard at the open hole. My suspicions were starting to rise. What exactly was it we were going to encounter in this cave? We tiptoed toward the entrance as we final neared the cave. We didn't want to risk losing the element of surprise. Everything was dead silent except for the howling winds of the mountains. We walked into a torch lit, almost ceremonial hall. It was as if the torches were leading to the main chamber we followed, unaware if the torches were a trap or not. We walked down the narrow hallway trying to assure there were no trap in the ground or ceiling. We heard a voice at the end of the hall, faint but we could hear it muttering to itself.

    "Come in here Paladins, I haven't got all day!" It shouted so that even we could hear it. Startled I remembered the voice faintly. As we ran down the corridor, I kept asking myself who the voice was. I couldn't remember and as we got to the main hall. I couldn't believe my eyes, but it was Prince Nero. He had now dawned a black cape and a black armor, almost similar to Paul's in every way. "Hello Flash, and who I presume is Kor. I have been told by the leader of the Necromancers that you would be here... Well not leader, I would say my equal." boasted the young Prince.

    "You are one of the leaders of the necromancers?" I questioned.

    "You know him?" asked Kor.

    "Yes he was the Prince of my mentor and his best friend." I responded.

    "Yes except, in the end. Paul killed them all, Flash. He in cold blood murdered my father, your mentor, his own apprentice, and at the last moment, My father, shot a super charged fireball and exploded the whole castle trying to protect you and I." Told the Prince. "I was told Directly from Shadow himself."

    "That isn't the Paul I have known. Also, that isn't the actual story, I was told by the Lord of Light, he killed them and shot the fireball, in the explosion, because your father, my mentor, and his apprentice had all become Necromancers. Just like you. Unfortunately we will kill what is left of the order of necromancers today. After you there will be no more Necromancers." I said to him as my face took a more serious expression.

    "If only it were that easy, Flash, you see Shadow is out going to the city Murba. He has taken 4 Necromancer elites with him, and he plans to take the city over. Removing the Hero's Guild. For good." Warned Nero.

    "So you plan to...." FWEEEAAAAWWWHHHOOPPPP I heard something shoot past my ear. I watched as an arrow sank into the Prince's face directly through his nose.

    "No more talking, he is the last one here. We need to go to Murba, and protect the villagers." Shouted Kor as he began running back down. I knew he was right. I need to grab something though. I leaped to the table Nero had been working at. It was as I feared, he had the Necronomicon with him. I grabbed the book, and I grabbed the package that was resting near it and I sprinted to back to Kor, with my new speed, it was like a jog to catch up to him. I was astonished by my new speed, but the perks that came with that would have to wait. We had somewhere to go and fast.

    It took use a day's journey to return to the base of the mountain. "If we go to Murba, .... Won't we be passing Elkfield Inn?" Asked Kor.

    "I don't know, I thought we were supposed... We were supposed to pass it before the final fight. If this will be the final fight, we need to get the blade from hellblade, and go to Murba." I explained.

    "What should our plan of action be?" Asked Kor.

    "Can you direct us to Elkfield?" I asked him.

    "Yes, lets hurry." he responded.

    So we continued our journey we ran North towards the city of Murba, and as Kor said we would run into Elkfield inn about a third of our way in our journey. It was a gorgeous in, but we had no time to sight-see. We walked through an Oak and stone gate, and we opened the door. It was near 6 P.M. the dark had near set upon the whole world. As we entered the room was lit by the fireplace to the left under the winding staircase that precedents it. We looked to the right to see a young man, with a skulking figure, drinking at the bar, the bartender greeted us "Hello boys, come sit would you..."

    "Do you know where the man Hellblade is?" I interrupted him. As I said that the young man put his hand on the hilt of his blade that rested at his waist. I whispered to Kor, "I cannot actually touch blades with him, I will need your help."

    "I won't fight you boy. I know you hold the sister blade to Hrathan, Vragray, I believe. I also know that you are the final remaining Paladin, and you come to slay a necromancer, that has long quit that art." told the Necromancer, in an almost depressed tone.

    "If you quit necromancy, come join us in our fight against them, they plan to destroy the city of Murba and the Hero's Guild. To assure no one challenges them." Kor cut in to say before I had even gotten a chance to speak.

    "If you speak truth and they plan to kill the people in Murba, then they have broken their work to the High Communicant of Darkness." Said the young man.

    "How would you know?" I questioned him.

    "I know because I am the High Communicant, I was the one who protected them." He began to raise his voice. I glared at him. If he transformed It would be an all out war right here. I didn't expect him to be the enormous shadow that Paul told us about at the Elemental Congress. This was worse than we thought. Kor had no idea what could happen. I only hoped he would keep quite.

    "Just because you are some High Communicant of Darkness, makes you think you are so good? Either join us, give us your blade, or die." demanded Kor. I wanted to hit myself. There goes our peace offering.

    "Keep your condescending tone down boy, and I will." He said as he swung around to face us. He directed us outside and as he did he transformed into the massive shadow creature that he could be, of 10 foot tall proportions, he had massive 50 inch biceps, and he had 2 enormous protruding horns, with 2 wings that that were blackened and flipped upside down. His long tail whirled around smashing the dirt around us. "Let us go" he said in an extremely low and bellowing voice. "Take my hand" he said. I did so trusting him immediately.

    "Are you crazy Flash? We don't know where he will take us. He could take us straight to Hell!" Exclaimed Kor. I grabbed him and with that Hellblade teleported us. We opened our eyes to see we were in the center of the Hero's guild in Murba. Hell had taken back his Human form. "Let's go, we need to meet the Necromancers outside the city." commanded Hellblade. Kor and I followed as we exited the Hero's guild, with the numerous startled, and bewildered faces just watching us leave. Unfortunately as we opened the door to the outside of Murba, from our ledge of the Hero's Guild there was a 30 foot drop, and directly we could see the entrance, as we saw the exit, we also saw the gates fly open with 2 guards being pushed through and getting lightning shot at them. Hellblade transformed and jumped down the 30 foot drop.

    "You LIED to me" Shouted the super demon.

    "I will stay here Flash, go down and join him the staircase is to the far left." He pointed as he drew 2 arrows from his quiver.

    "I don't need stairs anymore." I boasted as I did a front flip from the drop and landed on my feet with my blade drawn. I looked up and winked at the astonished Kor, I then proceeded to join Hell as he confronted the Necromancer Shadow.

    "I told you to leave the Hero's Guild alone shadow." He spoke to the Leader Necromancer, garbed in a black robe, a hood that lay off of his head. His shaggy hair lay unkempt upon his head, his robes were the blackest I had ever seen, and had strange elvish runes, much like Vragray and Hrathan, but what looked like in Green poison.

    "Shut up boy, how you got the Communicancy is beyond me. I will kill you and the little Paladin boy to your right, and I will take the entire world, after I have absorbed both of you." Screamed the crazy Necromancer manically. The four other Necromancers followed him and instantly shot 2 bolts of lightning at us. Kor shot an arrow through ones stomach and another through his head. I sprinted at one, in what felt like I was moving as fast as lightning. I dug Vragray into his skull in no less than a second, it seemed as if everyone was moving a 10th of their normal speed, even Hell; who was doing something odd, he had placed a portal under his feet, and began falling in it. As time caught back up to its normal pace, I watched Hellblade fall through the portal, and appear in front of one of the two necromancers whose skull he crushed with but a single clench of his fist around the boy's head. Within the same second, he dropped through another portal and appeared and shoved his foot through the other necromancer's stomach, sending the boy into oblivion. I jumped back up to where Kor was, and Hellblade joined us. Kor thought he would end it easily, he shot two arrows at the same toward, Shadow, both arrows passed through him.

    "Physical combat won't work." claimed Hellblade. "We will need to enter another dimension, or blast him with magic."

    "We still need the magic u..." I was interrupted by a lightning blast surging at Shadow.

    "I came as soon as possible!" Claimed a mage, as he ran down the stairs. "I am Hideyoshi, I was told by the Light Lord to come outside and help you guys. I am Murba's court Wizard." He proclaimed out of breathe. The four of us had gathered. Now we needed a way to make Shadow tangible long enough for Hellblade or I to strike him.

    "Are you ready Flash?" Asked Hell in his bellowing voice.

    "Mhm." I flipped down again, sprinting at Shadow, he appeared unmoving, and suddenly I watched in slow motion as Hellblade had appeared right behind him, and I saw as Shadow, had commanded his own Shadow to turn into a spike an impaled Hellblade as he attacked. The communicant dropped and returned to his natural human form. I sprinted at the Necromancer, with all my might yet I only met the same fate, a piercing through my stomach. I lay beaten on the ground a 6 inch hole gaping in the middle of my body. I watched though, as Kor, sent an Ethereal arrow directly through Shadow's shadow's forehead {He shot the arrow THROUGH the shadow's forehead, not the necromancer, but the necromancer's shadow}. I watched in a bloody view my eyesight darkening, I continued to feel warmer and warmer, no noise came from anything. I saw, through my last sight as Kor and Hideyoshi, came to save me and Hellblade.

    <Three days later>
    I awoke in a bed, at the local inn in Murba. Laying next to me was Kor Hellblade, and Hideyoshi. 'What happened I wondered to myself." I recalled the Necromancer Shadow being shot, and then I blacked out. 'How much weirder could this day get? How many days had even passed?' I wondered. As the door opened up I saw a black robe with the same Elvin markings on it as shadow had.

    Part VIII: (Note I am ending the story earlier by combining 8 & 9)
    I watched as the door opened. "Hello all." Said a feminine voice as it walked into our room carrying soup. Her blonde hair was wrapped up into a bun, and her facial features were magnificent, none of the men who lay across from me could take their eyes off this beauty. "I brought you guys soup!" She exclaimed gently, "Some freaky guy that you guys attacked had this cute robe on, so I took it!" She giggled innocently.

    "I need no bandaging woman." Exclaimed Hellblade as her got up and walked out.

    "Hmph, fine." the young woman pouted and waited till Hellblade was out to say "What is his problem?" she questioned me as she handed me the soup.

    "I don't know really" I laughed, in a flirtatious way. "What is your name?" I asked blatantly.

    "I am Samantha." She smiled as she gave Hideyoshi and Kor their soups. "I am a local mage, at the Hero's guild here." she explained. Though as she claimed that Hideyoshi got out of bed, and he gave Kor and I a look; it seemed as though he told us to leave. As Hideyoshi left, I saw Kor get up and leave with him. " Why are they all in a rush?" Said the girl glumly.

    "I don't know, I will stick around and eat some soup, if you'd like, but then I must join them." I told her kindly.

    "Thank you for not being rude like the other boys." She told me as she sat on my bed and I took a spoonful of soup. "Unfortunately, they weren't as dumb as you were." she jeered. I stared at her, tasting something funny in the soup. "They didn't eat their poisoned soup." She told me. I could feel my head spin. Through my blurry vision I saw her transform into the Shadow creature from earlier. TWAAACCCK!, the door slammed open; Hellblade grabbed the Shadow and teleported it somewhere. Kor came running in. "She poisoned the soup. I have to find the ingredients to cure you." He frantically shouted at me. He began feeding me random herbs he found around the cottage. I worried about Hellblade and Hideyoshi. After feeding me Nightshade, though regularly poisonous my body regained movement.

    "Thank you Kor. Sorry for letting you guys down." I apologetically whispered.

    "It is fine, it happens to the best of us." Laughed Kor as he urged me out the door. We walked out together, to find we were in the middle of the woods, and as we took in our surroundings Hellblade was shot across my field of vision and sent flying into a tree.

    "Ugghhhh, you will die creature" moaned Hellblade in his transformed body. The creature only flew at me and unfortunately Kor, protected me with his body.

    "I.... am sorry friend. I can't go with you on our final quest." He claimed as he had the shadow's hand through his stomach; he giggled in between coughs that spurted blood. I sat there unaware of how to react, I watched as the creature withdrew its arm, and flung Kor into a tree that surrounded the cabin. It raised its arm as if to strike me. I sat there motionless. I just watched a friend die.

    ZZZZZTTTTTTTT Hideyoshi, sent a light bolt at the creature. "Die!" he shouted. As I continued to stand dimwitted by Kor's death.

    "You need to kill the Shadow Flash." said a mysterious voice out of nowhere. I looked around, time had stopped. Paul waked in a ghastly figure that was drenched in a golden light. "Protect your friends. You do not want to watch more of your friends die. Take my war axe as my final gift, if it can kill the shadow, it can transfer its life energy to Kor, and all will be well." Told Paul. I continued to stare speechless and he withheld an axe in his hand. I reached my hand to grab it. The axe held more power than Vragray. I could feel it surging power throughout its body, and my own body. "Good luck." Paul whispered as he vanished. I glared at the axe, I knew what I had to do. As I raised it with one arm above my head, the axe shifted to accommodate a second hand, and it grew in size, but remained the same weight. I stared at the four-foot axe that I now wielded. The shadow quickly shoved Hideyoshi aside I stared at it and struck the creature with all my might. It simply grabbed the blade and struck its hand through my chest and grabbed my heart. I felt my self shiver as I fell. My eyes remained open as I stared to what happened next. The shadow threw the axe through Kor's current injury, as if to pin him against the tree. Unfortunately for the creature. The axe only healed Kor's wound. I watched as Kor pull the axe out of the hole in his stomach and as it healed almost miraculously. The axe then began to shift forms into a a sleek bow. The elvin runes remained on the bow as it reformed. We knew not how it happened. Hellblade watched the miracle as the Shadow went after Hideyoshi, who lay on the ground only 10 yards away from me. The shadow drifted towards Hideyoshi, and Kor looked into his quiver to draw an arrow. As he drew the arrow, the Shadow lifted its massive arms to strike Hideyoshi a final time, but Kor shot an arrow directly through the monster's chest.

    "HAHAHAHAHA" Said a raspy, threatening voice. "You think you can kill me children?" Laughed the shadow. We were all struck with fear. "I am the epitome of Dark, and of Fear" It claimed as it withdrew the arrow. As I stared at the creature, mocking us I knew what must be done.

    "Stab me with an arrow Kor! Coat your arrow in my blood! Do it quick." I managed to let out before I felt my eyes closing. Kor ran upon me as he dipped the arrow in my stomach wound. "This will kill the creature. Good luck my friends." I whispered as I felt my grasp on life slipping. I saw the creature sprint towards Kor, it was so fast it was as if he was teleporting. I watched as Kor shot the arrow in the creatures arm. He had missed. The creature though stopped in its tracks.

    "No, this isn't possible." It shouted. "How did you do this?!" It screamed questioning Kor, as its shape continued to shift, it seemed as if the monster was melting. "I...rrrr-Irrr wirrrrl killllll youuuuuuu." It tried to say though its face began to melt, soon it faded into the ground like the other shadows. I felt myself slip towards death for the final time. All my new friends ran towards me trying to help me. I closed my eyes though.

    "Hello Flash. Welcome my friend to the after life." I heard the familiar voice inform.

    "Paul!" I shouted as I turned around. "What is happening down on Earth?" I inquired.

    Start this song before finishing. (start the song at like about 2:00 if you are a slow reader, 1:50, Fast 2:05. 2:15 is what you should hear as you finish the story!)

    "Time moves non-linearly my friend, what happened when is simply unanswerable." he answered. "To be helpful though, here is what happened after your death my fellow communicant. He outstretched his hands to open 3 separate portals showing Hideyoshi, Hellblade, and Kor's lives after my death, and I stared in to see.







    Credits: Thank you to all participants.
    Thank you to Death Snake1 for a few names.
    Special thanks to Popinloopy.
    Special thank to Tep Itaki for grammatical corrections

    Actors in the story.
    Me: Me
    Hideyoshi: Hideyoshi
    popinloopy: popinloopy
    Undersoul: Lord Scropio
    Flashbang: Flashbang
    Kors: Kor
    Hellblade124: Hellblade
    Dracolich Rider: Shadow
    Snake XZ: Snake
    Heroes of the Scape: Utgar
    stratuscone: Prince Nero


    < Message edited by The White Knight -- 2/8/2013 1:51:06 >
    AQ DF  Post #: 11
    1/31/2013 8:43:54   
    Archmopecake
    Member

    Speech for the Paladins

    Fourscore or several years ago we embarked on a quest. The first of the Paladins came to a place called The Land of Rising Evil and thanks to their protections and interventions which we continue today it is called Lore instead, for it is a safer and better place. Yet evil still rises.

    The Necromancers are on the march! When two people dispute we should ask circumstance regardless of who they are. When it is 2 million we must ask questions later. For now warbells ring. In Battleon, in Lolosia, in Granemor, and Darkovia, and Deren and in the Earth, the Sea, the Sky the sound is heard and all we can do is save those dear to us and honour those enemies who are worthy by the swiftness of our blade.

    What is one man, what is one woman in this war? At the battle of Troy a man stood on the field tiny between the shore and the great walls. Gods intervened, demigods fought on the field, and what was one man? But it was one man - Odysseus - who turned the tide, with one idea. And yet alone he was powerless to even sail to Troy's shore. It was every man. So, there it is: one man alone but no man an island, the fate defeating paradox. Everyone counts.

    So loose the gods and their gambits, let myriad Mymridions of fate swing their swords - we will swing our own. So we will Fight!
    AQ  Post #: 12
    1/31/2013 15:07:35   
    Kalle29
    Member

    Kalle's story

    Kalle was reading the porridge and fishing-paper as he was walking along the road to the Paladin HQ. After he had finished the final exciting chapter of the paper, he found himself in the HQ, the Necro HQ. Whilst gasping for dramatic effect, he looked around at all of the surprised faces and skulls that were looking back at him (wondering what a Paladin did there). A figure in a coat that covered his entire body, including his face showed up in front of Kalle.

    "What are you doing here?" the figure said with an angry voice

    "Why are you wearing a dress?" Kalle said with the ignorance of a child

    "Tis not a dress you fool!" replied the figure

    But Kalle was not listening, he was writing a very offensive word in the ground that not even the most stable mind could handle without being startled by the sheer atrociousness of it. As planned, the figure in robes fell backwards with a hand in front of his eyes to block out the sight of what was written. Kalle took his chance and ran away like someone using a speed-hax

    After a great adventure including dragons, time travel, geese and a cake, he got home to the Paladin HQ exactly 2.64 hours after he begun to run away. He told everyone in the HQ about everything, and after that, they were full of questions:
    "How could you not see where you were going?"
    "Is time travel invented yet?"
    "Who baked the cake?"
    "Do I look fat in these pants?"
    And of course, the question everyone was asking: "What did you write in the ground?"

    Kalle took a deep breath, "anyone with a weak heart should go out of this room now; because what you will hear is not pretty"

    Everyone stood still, many of them nervous.

    "OK so you all want to hear eh?" Kalle said in a smug tone

    "Well here it is: 'fiddlesticks'"

    Half of the room fainted the very instant he spoke the hideous word, and the other half fell down in pain on the ground. One of them ran to the window to throw up, because his stomach couldn't handle what was happening. Long story short - they all died, so Kalle had to fight the Necro-something on his own now.

    Kalle went out of the Paladin HQ and headed to Robina's shop. Once he got there, he kicked in the door and jumped in through the window. He picked up an AK-47 and went towards the incoming Necro-army.

    He stood on top of a hill and saw the army aproaching about 2km away. Kalle took a deep breath and pressed 'select' to bring out the Panzerwagen from his bag, but then Oak's words echoed... "There's a time and place for everything, but not now."

    "That's right" Kalle thought, "Not now... But then how am I supposed to be able to fight off an entire army all by myself?"

    The army got closer and closer, and when all hope seemed to be gone, Batman came down from a helicopter and said "You can do it!"

    "Do you really think so?" Kalle replied with big eyes

    "Well I don't know #YOLO" Batman shouted whilst flying away in tha choppa.

    Kalle looked down from the hill, the army was right in front of him now; there was no turning back now.

    "FOR THE REPUBLIC!" Kalle screamed as he took his AK-47 and started shooting into the mass before him. He killed fast, but he was also killed fast. Soon he was standing on his knees in front of the general of the Necro Legion.

    "Any last words?" the general spoke

    "You have something between your teeth" Kalle responded whilst firing away his last round right in the head of a necromancer.

    But wait! When he killed that last necromancer, he got 25 kills! TACTICAL NUKE!

    So a giant explosion went off and killed everyone.

    THE END

    < Message edited by Kalle29 -- 2/3/2013 10:24:07 >
    AQ  Post #: 13
    1/31/2013 20:56:00   
    Cataclysm
    The fanciest of moustaches


    A collection of Cataclysm's tales thus far...

    A Mercenary's Conflict


    Prologue
    The Proposal


    Cataclysm sat at Yulgar’s Inn, conversing with Ulthair about the recent rumors of war arising between the Paladins and Necromancers.

    “Should conflict erupt, which side will you take, Cataclysm?” the student inquired.

    “Who says I’m to take a side? This conflict seems pointless to me. But, if I am to decide, it will be to whichever side requests my aid first. I’m a mercenary, after all.”

    “But the necromancers are largely evil and corrupt! They often wage war against Battleon itself! And still you’d lend them your blade?”

    “I would lend them nothing,” Cataclysm replied curtly. “Nor would I lend the paladins anything, though. My blade is not for borrowing. It is for buying. Though I’ve got limits, this conflict has nothing to sway me. It is baseless and without justification. The only thing that will happen is pointless slaughter, on both sides. It’s in my best interest to refrain from fighting at all, though I’ll consider whichever offer reaches my ears.”

    Ulthair clenched his hands, considering the warrior’s words. “Fine then. But should you ally yourself with the necromancers, I will not hold back if I see you on the battlefield.”

    “You’ve got years of training before you’re up to me. Don’t get ahead of yourself there.”

    “I think I could do some damage,” Ulthair began. A smile flickered across Cataclysm’s face as he stood up.


    “Oh really? Shall we spar then, no holds barred? I’m curious to see if you could even so much as draw blood,” Cataclysm egged on his pupil.

    Ulthair grabbed his blade and started heading for the door. After a few paces, he turned around and started walking backwards, telling Cataclysm “You’re on. I’ll cut you this time, I swear it.” As he turned back around, he bumped into a man clad in silver armor with golden trim.

    “Ah, pardon me,” the man said. “I’m looking for Cataclysm.” His eyes scurried across the patrons before seeing Cataclysm’s imposing figure and unforgettable weapon, the two meter claymore’s blade seeming to fade into the shadows, so dark was it. The newcomer reached into a satchel he was carrying and produced a scroll. Cataclysm reached out and took it, already knowing its contents.

    “So, the Paladin Order comes to me first…” he muttered, putting the scroll down without even so much as glancing at its contents. “I was truly hoping to be left out of this pointless conflict,” he said, this time loud enough for the paladin to hear.

    “I’m sorry to bother you. I’m simply a new recruit delivering an important message. The Paladin Order requests your help in the upcoming conflict against the necromancers. Straits are dire. This conflict may very well push the Paladin Order to the brink of extinction, should things go awry. We’re trying to ensure victory or at least save as many as we can. With your help, we can save even more people,” the paladin said.

    Cataclysm rapped his fingers across the table in a steady rhythm, his eyes closed in thought. “Sounds more severe than I’d thought…” He pondered for a brief while, knowing the potential consequences of his actions. “I suppose I shall have to accept this offer, given the position you’ve put yourselves in. My blade is yours for this war, paladin. But know this: I fight not to stop the necromancers, but to fulfill a contract.”

    “Regardless of the reason, it is good to have your blade on our side, Cataclysm,” the paladin said.

    “How much longer until the conflict starts, paladin?”

    “The first battles are already underway.”

    “Tch. Just my luck. Alright Ulthair, let’s get going. Looks like we’ll be helping the paladins here,” Cataclysm said.

    “Glad to have you on our side,” Ulthair said.

    “A word of warning, Ulthair… the necromancers and others will likely hear of my joining with the Paladins shortly. I would not stick by me in this war. I imagine fights may escalate beyond what you can handle.” He recalled a conversation he’d had with a certain warmage of renown. “On second thought, stake a claim elsewhere on the battlefield. This is not a request. I believe you will be able to hold your own well enough that you will not need my assistance.”

    “I was looking forward to fighting beside you again, though,” Ulthair said.

    “This is not a conflict you will want to be at my side for. Of that, I assure you,” Cataclysm responded, his voice serious in its sudden quiet. Ulthair could only nod, knowing that what Cataclysm said was true.

    “No time to waste, then. Ulthair, let’s get going. We’re needed on the battlefield.”

    Chapter One
    Enter the Fray


    Ulthair and Cataclysm reached the Paladin Order’s encampment after a short time. The paladin who had led them thus far turned to face them and nodded. “You two should report to Artix, Halenro, and Coueraservi. They’re leading the offensive right now. I’m going to go report to my commanding officer now that I’ve completed my duty. You can find Artix, Halenro, and Coueraservi in the tent over there.” He motioned to a large tent towards the rear of the camp.

    The two walked over to the paladins’ leaders’ tent. Artix was enthused to see them both. “Ah, not just Cataclysm, but Ulthair as well? It seems as if fate has smiled upon us indeed.”

    Cataclysm clicked his tongue. “Ulthair was dead set on lending his assistance to you regardless of my decision.”

    “But you were not,” Artix said. “I suppose we ought to consider ourselves fortunate to have you on our side rather than against. With this, things sway in our favor…” He looked at the table and quickly sketched some new lines, indicating changes in troop placement with the new recruits joining the fray. He glanced up inquisitively towards Coueraservi and Halenro and both nodded their assent.

    “You two will make a better team than separate, and so I’d like to place you two here, leading this section. It’ll allow us to redistribute some troops and reinforce the lines elsewhere.”

    “I don’t think I’ll be able to allow that to happen, Artix,” Cataclysm interjected.

    “Oh? And why is that?” Halenro asked.

    “Send Ulthair where he is needed. I need to converse with you, but such can wait until Ulthair is gone.”

    Coueraservi made some quick gestures on the map, tracing imaginary lines. Artix closed his eyes briefly in thought, pondering his fellow’s plans before pointing to a location on the map and saying, “Did you follow Coueraservi’s suggested movements? I think he made a good point. Go here for now. We’ll contact you with magic if we need to change your placement.”

    Ulthair glanced at Cataclysm, a look of worry in his eye, but he followed the paladins’ orders. He ducked out of the tent and hurried off to the front lines, leaving Cataclysm with the three leaders.

    “So, what was it you wanted to talk about, Cataclysm?” Halenro asked.

    “How fast do you think word travels?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I mean at what point do you think word will reach everyone that I’ve taken up your offer for my blade.”

    “Given the prominence with which we did it? I’d say half a day, at best. But subtlety was thrown aside, given the dire circumstances we’ve got here.”

    “I was afraid of that,” Cataclysm said darkly.

    “Afraid of what?” Coueraservi asked, speaking for the first time. He looked bothered before, but his expression had grown more fretful with Cataclysm’s dire countenance.

    “A wise friend of mine, seasoned ally of many conflicts, has told me that, were I to take a side, he would do what he could to stop me. I know his words were true and that he will make good on them… This is something I was hoping to avoid.”

    “To whom do you refer?”

    “To someone who believes this conflict is just as foolish as I believe, or even yourself Coueraservi. I can see it knitted across your brow. Though we both must acknowledge that there are evil amongst the necromancers, we also know there are those who we call our allies and our friends. It is a sad day when the prejudices of old push us to cause strife amongst those who have answered our calls for assistance when we needed it most. Were I a better man, I would have turned down this contract when it came across the table. Yet here I stand, and a damned fool for it.”

    Coueraservi could only look down as Cataclysm admonished him, knowing the words were just as true for him as they were for the mercenary they had hired.

    “I was hoping that a day such as this would never come, that I would never need to fight against one I call my friend. And yet, by my very nature as a mercenary, I knew it would. It was simply a matter of time.

    “Look, I’ll fight this war of yours. Station me where you like, but know this – when he finds me, and I know he will, I cannot guarantee the safety of anyone. Not your troops, not myself, not him. Neither of us will be able to restrain ourselves at all.”

    Artix and Halenro bore grim expressions. Coueraservi’s face couldn’t be seen, his gaze still fixed upon his boots. Artix looked down at the map and thought for a moment, envisioning the tide of battle.

    “I had planned to station you in the center where the fighting was worst, so that you may be most effective,” Artix began. “But if what you’ve just said is true… That would not be wise. Such a fight would cause quite the scene, not to mention the casualties… I will go to the front lines there, then. You should take up a position on the edge of the fighting. Your duty will be to prevent the necromancers from flanking us, and, if at all possible, to flank the necromancers with the troops positioned there already. Do you understand?”

    Cataclysm’s expression had not changed. He had steeled his resolve. “I do, Artix.”

    “Then let’s move out.” The leader of the Paladin Order picked up his axe and slung it over his shoulder. He stepped out of the tent ahead of Cataclysm, his golden and silver armor glistening in the sunlight. Murmurs broke out instantly, whisperings of “Artix is making his move” and “Artix is going to the front lines.” With the dignity and power of a true leader, he walked towards the battle.

    Cataclysm came out after a few moments, his dull gray plate mail catching no rays in brilliance like Artix’s armor. He walked to the edge of the camp, gazing up at the sun, high in the sky. In the blink of an eye, he was blazing towards the edge of fighting, focusing heavily on speed over power. His thoughts, his feelings, his memories all left him as he rushed forth. Only two things remained as he rushed forth. War, and his inevitable conflict with Elryn.

    “To war…” he muttered.

    Chapter Two
    The Confrontation


    The fighting had been going on for a long time, but it seemed so short. Cataclysm had returned from a brief rest back in the camp not two hours earlier, rejuvenated. The remains of undead lay strewn about the battlefield where he stood. Neither he nor the men behind him had given any quarter. Another dozen or so skeletons came forward before him, the fighting still intense on either side. He wanted to push through these, get through it and find the necromancers summoning the undead. Pushing forward, he got in close to the skeletons and swung mightily upwards, the tip of his blade barely biting into the ground as it came around. The lot of the undead were disassembled and destroyed, their remains sent skyward from the strike.

    Off to his right, Cataclysm saw a mighty ball of wind send several flying. He instinctively knew who it was that had cast that spell. The fighting seemed to come to a complete halt around them as the caster stepped forward, approaching quickly.

    “Cataclysm,” Elryn said.

    “Elryn.”

    Dark clouds rolled in, the light in the battlefield dimming as Solaris was slowly covered by deep gray. A storm seemed eminent, both above the field and on it. The battling around them did not halt in this instant, however. Even if time seemed to have stop between the two, around them, the fighting continued.

    The two stared down for an uncomfortable silence, neither side moving an inch, when another appeared at their sides. A man of slightly below average stature stood there, looking up at them. His small size made him look younger than he actually was, though the pom-poms he carried with him certainly helped.

    “Elryn! Cataclysm!” he shouted. “Why are the two of you in this fight!? Why do you have to face each other, especially on opposing sides of the battlefield when you're obviously comrades of past! At least tell me this before you fight!"

    Cataclysm began, “For the same reasons I always do. I am a mercenary, and I have a contract.”

    He overheard Elryn begin to speak, “I fight for the same reason I always fight. To protect my friends and kin from harm.”

    Cataclysm finished his statement with resolution. “When I accept a contract, I always follow through, regardless of what it may mean.”

    As he finished, a glint of metal caught his eye. He swiftly drew up his claymore and blocked the attack, the thrown cutlass falling to the ground at his feet. He glanced at it and estimated the thrower’s location, seeing a man in a gecko helmet. Thinking he would retaliate, he started to move. Elryn had ideas to the contrary.

    “Tep,” Elryn said, addressing the one who had asked them about their reasons for fighting.

    “Yes?”

    “Run.”

    Elryn seemed to be gathering wind around him, whipping around as if he were a hurricane. Even at his current distance, Cataclysm still felt the force of the winds tugging him. Rather than approach, Cataclysm thought it wise to keep his distance to increase his time to react. Just as quickly as the winds had assembled, he shot them forth, a massive ball of wind expanding outward rapidly. Manipulating the wind enchantment on his blade into a wedge and shifting to three quarters power, he swung his blade upwards sharply. A painfully loud boom resounded as the wind met his blade. The wall of wind was dense enough that it felt like he was cutting through stone, but still he managed to split the wind before him.

    He stood and glanced about the field. All those that had stood around them had been knocked back and were unconscious, it seemed. Elryn’s face moved a bit. A grin? It was hard to tell at this distance. Cataclysm knew that this battle would be an intense one. He steeled himself, making his will as hard as the metal in his blade.

    Elryn once more began preparing a spell. His cloak changed colors and began to grow more solid, earth-like. Cataclysm balanced himself on his feet, preparing to jump up if necessary. Elryn’s change in appearance seemed to give the idea that he was going to do something involving the earth, so Cataclysm knew he needed to be prepared for anything. Elryn stomped down, and Cataclysm prepared to leap, but he couldn’t feel a change in the ground beneath his feet. Instead, all around them, massive mounds of rock, more like small mountains, arose, keeping interferences out.

    Cataclysm noticed another change as Elryn’s robes as they caught aflame. He felt the ground below him start to shift as his footing began to change. This time, he knew an attack was coming. He leapt up before the flames burst forth from the ground like it was the maw of an ancient fire dragon. It raced after him, traveling faster than he, and caught up quickly. Using the wind enchantment of his claymore as a wedge again, he managed to blow the flames apart enough to fall down through them.

    He landed and knelt down to better reduce the impact. By the time he stood, he saw Elryn charging him with his maul extended, handle first, intending to strike with it as if it were a spear.

    Not one to pass up a melee skirmish, he moved swiftly towards Elryn, hoping to draw close enough to end this in a single movement. Cataclysm swung his claymore at the maul, hoping to knock the weapon out of Elryn’s hands, but to no avail. Elyrn’s grip remained firm on his weapon. He showed his season when he regained form quickly, but they were now in Cataclysm’s territory: close quarters combat.

    He was quick to take the offensive. Throwing his upper body into the swing, he twisted towards Elryn’s side, his blade moving sharply. Elryn moved his maul in time to block it, which was as Cataclysm had expected. What surprised Cataclysm more was how powerful Elryn was proving to be in physical combat as well. As expected of one who calls himself warmage, Cataclysm thought, drawing his blade back.

    Elryn took the initiative this time, swinging his maul towards Cataclysm’s leg. A strike there would be crippling, but Cataclysm responded well. He stepped back sharply, letting the maul’s short range slide past his knee. Seizing the opening, Cataclysm swung his blade at Elryn’s waist, intending to use the wind enchantment to dull the edge and turn the attack blunt. Mid-swing, however, he caught the flickering illumination of flames and narrowly drew back in time to avoid a fireball.

    Breathlessly, he pushed forward into another attack. Elryn’s maul attempted to meet his swings, but Cataclysm had more power and speed when it came to these close quarters. Cataclysm pushed, swinging fiercely, but always dulling his blade in case Elryn failed to block the hit. Several strikes ended up making glancing blows, inflicting some damage to the warmage. Cataclysm managed to keep him on the offensive, but noticed something was changing.

    Elryn’s swings, rather than growing weaker, seemed to grow sharper. The power was growing stronger, the speed, higher. Instead of knocking the maul aside easier, Cataclysm found it more and more challenging. Was it fatigue? No, no, he’d been through more than this without such a noticeable impact before. It was something else, something he couldn’t place. Even so, this was worrisome. Elryn’s strikes were at least meeting his own, and though he was reluctant to admit it, some perhaps even surpassed his.

    He hesitated, and that was when Elryn seized the opportunity and swung sharp, aiming straight for his ribs. At his current striking, this would very probably break some ribs. He couldn’t get a full swing in time to block, but dodging back would lighten up the pressure, something he wanted to avoid. Instead, he moved directly into the path of the swing so that it was coming at his chest instead of his ribs. In an instant, he’d brought his blade down right below the head of the maul, letting it slide along the length of the claymore before meeting the hilt abruptly. The force was enough to make Cataclysm’s arms move backwards to a painful extent, but he’d stopped the swing and temporarily halted the maul. It was then that he noticed a small flurry of wind around the head of the maul. It seemed that Elryn had been slowly applying a spell to the weapon so that Cataclysm would begin to doubt himself.

    Elryn had to lower the maul and pull back to be able to use it again. Cataclysm took advantage of this situation and released the claymore with one hand and drew back his arm to throw a punch. Elryn had readied another fireball and sent it towards Cataclysm. He managed to stop the small fireball with his fist, but the plate was melted, the heat burning his fingers. Withdrawing his blade, he stepped back and held it between the two of them. His hand stung, but he decided he could fight for a little while at least. Still, he needed to end this fast.

    Staring down the blade, the edge making a perfect line down Elryn’s body, it seemed the warmage had reached a similar conclusion. He appeared to have fully powered the magic he was using to enhance his strikes, the maul’s head quickly wrapping itself in more and more wind, creating a vortex that had taken on the shape of a particularly powerful-looking dragon. Sharpening the wind enchantment on his own weapon to the fullest, he shifted to full power. Cataclysm began to move forward, as did Elryn. Their weapons met in the middle, the collision generating a massive explosion of wind inside the dome, shaking even the earthen walls erected around them.

    Epilogue


    Cataclysm shook his head a bit to clear his vision. He felt awful, his whole body throbbing furiously. He felt at least a couple of ribs were broken and his left leg hurt something fierce too. Fractured at least. His mouth felt drier than it had when he got lost in the Skraeling Desert. Still, he managed to spit something. He wiped his mouth and saw a trail of dark red along the back of his gauntlet. Blood. He was in awful shape. Had he lost?

    He looked up and glanced around. He was still walled in by the stone Elryn had raised. On the opposite side of the crude arena, Elryn was also slumped over, but stirring. The warmage put his hand to his head and shook it, wincing. So he’s in rough sorts too, eh? Cataclysm mused. He pushed himself up, the burns on the back of his hand screaming at him, but he ignored it. Elryn, too, began to rise. Cataclysm limped over and grabbed his claymore, ten meters away. The blade was chipped. Adder would have to repair it later. Elryn had also retrieved his weapon and was speaking into some kind of magic.

    Sheathing his sword, Cataclysm managed to get over to Elryn. As he got closer, he could see the warmage was in poor condition too. “So, Elryn,” Cataclysm began. The warmage had finished his business with the magic and looked at Cataclysm. “I’m certainly not in any condition to fight anymore.”

    Elryn nodded. “Nor am I.”

    “It sounds like the fighting’s stopped. Let’s get out of here, Elryn.”

    Rather than speak, the warmage raised his hand and blasted a pathway through one of the stones that marked their battlefield. He tried to step forward, but stumbled and almost fell. Cataclysm reached out a hand and grabbed his old friend’s shoulder. “Let me give you a hand, Elryn.” The warmage nodded again. Even speaking seemed to be a strain for the both of them. Neither said anything further as each used the other for support and slowly made their way back home.

    *************


    Back in Battleon, Cataclysm stumbled into Yulgar’s Inn. He removed his sword from his back and handed it to Yulgar. When he took it, his eyes widened with surprise. This was a metal that was supposed to be almost impossible to break, yet it was in a bad state. He shook his head, but didn’t ask Cataclysm how the blade got to be in such a state. It was obvious the warrior wasn’t in any mood to talk about it.

    He limped up the stairs and opened the door to his room. Ulthair was already back and sitting on his bed. His spirits clearly raised when Cataclysm came into the room, but after looking at the broken armor and the sorry state of his mentor’s body, his expression changed.

    “What happened?” Ulthair asked. “How did you get hurt this badly? Did you… lose?” He asked the last question as if it was impossible, unfathomable, unfeasible.

    “No, I didn’t lose.”

    “Then you won? What kind of monstrous person could’ve done this much damage to you?”

    Cataclysm chuckled. “No, I didn’t win. And as for who it was, well… Let’s just say I wish I never had to fight him and hope to the Elemental Lords I never have to again.” His gaze shifted as he looked out the window. It wasn’t focused on anything. “But it woke me up.”

    He paused and silence filled the room. Ulthair was about to speak when Cataclysm spoke again. “Your training resumes tomorrow afternoon. Don’t think that you’ll be getting a day off just because I’ve been roughed up.”

    “But my training always began in the morning. Aren’t I still getting a break?”

    “Not at all. You’ll be working harder and longer. Mornings will be for my training, and I’ll be taking a much more… active role in your training.”

    Ulthair groaned. “I liked it better when I thought you were invincible.”

    “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this, it’s that nobody’s invincible. I was naïve and didn’t train as much as I should have. I’ll rectify that. I’ll get stronger, even stronger than I am now.” He started to remove his plate and change into clothes. When he finished, he slowly laid down on his bed, wincing as he settled. “And get Twilly here. I’ve got a fair few broken bones. While I’m being healed, I expect you to detail me what happened.”

    Without another word, Ulthair obeyed Cataclysm.

    < Message edited by Cataclysm -- 3/10/2013 20:32:08 >
    AQ DF MQ  Post #: 14
    1/31/2013 22:32:30   
    Sir Nicholas
    Member

    Right Makes Might

    Part One: Opening Stages

    In the passing winter of this year, there comes a war that threatens to consume us all. It turns brother against brother. While I would encourage that we stand together, this is not possible - and the Grand Master of my Order has declared a crusade that would wipe this world clean of the evil that is poisoning it. With or without those we call brothers that refuse to fight - I charge into battle.

    Though our enemies claim that our cause is unjust - I know the truth. The necromancers would enslave the dead - disturb their slumber for no other reason than their own greed, all for the sake of power. It is with arms that we will stop them - and it is with fire that we will cleanse this filth from the land.

    A halberd whose name is Salvation is my weapon, justice is my ally, and noble is my cause.

    I am Hadrian Tanner of the Paladin Order - and this is my story.

    _____________________________________


    The first thing that Hadrian would remember of the first day on the battlefront was the smell. Though it need not be said the life of a fighter was always fraught with peril, leaving little time for hygiene, this was an odor that churned his stomach - and nearly made him retch. It wafted through the air and into his nostrils even through the visored helm he wore for protection.

    It was the smell of carrion.

    The dead were rising from their graves in uncountable numbers - all manner of dark creatures, twisted and bloated from their time in the earth. The black magic that animated them did nothing to ease the pain and anguish of their souls as they were forcibly returned to the bodies they left behind. In fact, the necromancer's magic seemed amplified by their suffering, and the horde seemed empowered.


    Hadrian thought the sight and smell of these hideous things disgusting, but the revulsion he felt only increased the sense of righteous fury that gripped his heart. It was innocent souls being ripped from the afterlife and returned into a vile parody of a living thing.

    And it had to be stopped.

    With the sun casting a reddish-orange glow over the battlefield, a brilliant light was reflected off the steel plate armor of thousands of regimented warriors marching against the newly risen dead. Wielding weapons ranging from swords and spears to axes and maces, all of which were blessed and made to shine with the power of Light. Amidst the front ranks of the second company was Hadrian, tightly clutching the halberd he named Salvation and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the men and women he called brothers and sisters of the Paladin Order.

    Their assignment was simple - defend the Holy Land against the invading Necromancers and cleanse another battlefield of the unholy dead.

    Far from the green fields and pastures of their homelands, the first of the human knights had marched into the heaving sea of corruption and had to fight simply to retain their minds before such a sight. They had known the risks – that there was a very real chance that many of them would die - or worse, unless the vanguard of the demon horde was drawn into the trap.

    There were some twenty thousand men, some four thousand knights and the rest a combined force of footmen, archers, spearmen and cavalry.

    The host had assembled into companies, which were organized into an infantry square, a phalanx – men and women standing shoulder-to-shoulder with broad shields raised and locked together. Each soldier in the front line held spears of great length tipped with blessed blades. Each company was some hundred men strog and evenly dispersed to allow for both mobility and to make room for the archers.

    Plate wearing soldiers were standing in the companies as they awaited the order to begin – archers and catapults and cannons in the rear ready to support the frontline troops.

    The regiment pushed forward resolutely, unmoved by the horror of the sight. They had seen it a thousand times before - powerful sorcerers casting black magic that would raise the remains of the departed into a makeshift army. What the vile horde lacked in cohesion and fighting skill, it more than made up for with sheer numbers.

    When all the preparations were made and the minimum distance for the archers in the rear had been reached, the company ceased their march and waited. Hadrian was impatient for the battle, but he knew better than to break ranks and engage the enemy. To do so would cause the entire plan to unravel.

    The vanguard of the army consisted of Artix's elite guard; the captains, dressed in gold armor and wielding large swords and shields. These were the most experienced crusaders in the Order, and they had fought against impossible odds before - and triumphed. In the rearguard, there were regular infantry composed of guardians and adventurers - drawn from all nations and races - determined to fight for the Order.

    By contrast - the many necromancers, death knights and liches commanding the undead had yet to appear. In their place was a ragged, filthy army of creatures, from the miniscule to the size of houses. There was no uniformity among the undead ranks - save for their varying states of decay and the acrid stench wafting through the air.

    The first and only warning that the creatures standing in front received was a shadow that appeared on the ground. A boulder the size of a man fell from the skies and slammed into the ground near the greatest concentration of zombies. The boulder struck into the earth like a comet - crushing dozens of the undead.

    The paladins had brought additional ranged support in the form of catapults.

    Only a moment later, the boulder was followed by several others which exploded on impact, spreading terrible destruction among the necromancer's ranks. Rotting flesh and withered muscles were pulverized or scattered into pieces as the catapults' attack continued. Shrapnel and dust splintered in all directions around the creatures standing amidst the horde - though the undead completely ignored the falling rocks - oblivious to their losses, not moving or attempting to flee when clusters of them were targeted. For several minutes the bombardment continued - and the boulders left wide trails in the enemy's ranks as they rolled along the ground when they landed and exploded when they came to a stop.

    Finally the ammunition was expended, and the paladins ceased fire.


    With that, the archers drew up their bows - aimed, and released. What followed was a storm of arrows that fell like rain. Shafts impaled themselves in heads or pierced throats and bodies - causing them to catch fire as the enchantments took effect. Beforehand, the warriors of light had blessed all of their projectiles to ensure maximum damage against their foes - so that when the horde engaged in melee, it might be weakened.

    Several large groups of the undead began to burn - and the stench of burning corpses filled Hadrian's nose, both repulsive and relieving all at once as he saw the effectiveness of the ranged attacks. Many undead had been destroyed by the preliminary bombardment, and more were being slain even before the infantry lines began to advance. At least they would be fighting with a small advantage in superior firepower and equipment, if not in skill and ability.

    These vile creatures may have numbers He thought as he drew his halberd from behind his back. But we have discipline, and the Light and righteousness on our side.

    Under the continuing fire from the archers, the paladin's lines began the advance.
    __________________________________________


    Part 2: In the Face of the Enemy

    The army of the dead has proven far larger than we originally anticipated. Though our weapons can kill many, it simply won't be enough. With our ammunition running low, we need to gain more time by engaging the enemy at close range. To that end, we have gathered our forces in full and are preparing to strike against the enemy's front lines. Our strongest units are arrayed against them, ready and eager to bring justice.

    Salvation is ready, and so am I.

    _________________________________________

    Although the war-machines had claimed a mighty tally of the enemy's number, it was clear that the undead still held the advantage of numbers. No matter how many creatures the paladins cut down, no matter what tricks they had up their sleeves - it took far longer to train, equip and replace soldiers on the front line than the hordes the enemy commanded. It was a simple matter of drawing them out of their graves and sending them into battle.

    The fields where the first engagment was unfolding had now become a swamp. The piles of the undead they had already killed were beginning to sink into the wet soil - creating a filthy marsh of mud and body parts. By now, the number of creatures that were defeated had passed into the hundreds, and yet still more of them appeared from within the earth or from portals that continually opened and closed every time the paladins came close to breaking through.

    Hadrian had joined his comrades in marching through the few areas where there was solid earth - had even picked up a crossbow and began firing bolt after bolt into the enemy lines, but still the situation had not improved.

    Although he wasn't the least bit tired from firing, reloading and firing again into the clusters of creatures still waiting - his mood remained grim. Even when the first lines of infantry began to draw their weapons and engage the enemy at close range - cutting through the filth, his sense of trepidation only increased.


    There came a roar from the undead lines - and suddenly the once-motionless horde now began to move and close in. The humans in the first ranks were still fighting and killing, but it became apparent that the necromancers had ordered their troops to begin their own attack. The battle would now wear down to attrition - whichever side could claim the highest number of enemies, and still survive.

    Although Hadrian was loathe to admit it, this battle might very well end in defeat - for even when his crossbow ran out of bolts, he still sensed no change in the enemy's numbers.

    He drew Salvation from his back and walked in a steady pace forward - his fellows around and behind him doing the same, towards the furious melee still raging. The undead had begun to fight back in earnest, and the second phase of the battle had begun.

    It was with satisfaction that Hadrian cut into his first creature at close range - a zombie that wore ragged clothes and carried a farmer's scythe. Its skin was a sickly pallor - a pale green and grey, and its eyes were dull and lifeless. A jab from the halberd saw the creature impaled through the midriff. He drove the zombie back - Salvation's blade beginning to pierce the rotted flesh and stick out the other side - right through its back. With a snarl, Hadrian wrenched his halberd upwards and sliced the creature cleanly in two, right down the middle.

    The remains slumped in a filthy mess, and he turned to face another opponent - a ghoul. Not one of the undead, this was nonetheless a cannibal that fed on carrion, though part of him wondered if fresh meat might count for a delicacy among these things.


    The ghoul opened its mouth and let out a screech - its greasy face illuminated by the light of Hadrian's armor. More ghouls appeared from within the mist - and their faces too were contorted with the desire to feed on his flesh.

    Hadrian watched hatefully as the unholy procession began to push in around him. He let loose swings from his halberd that decapitated a few of them, though the smell of blood only seemed to excite the creatures further. Immediately he threw himself into the familiar pattern; slash, stab, followed by a spinning attack that removed the heads of the opponents surrounding him. With wide, sweeping motions he slashed or batted aside all of his attackers, alternating between fast jabs and long thrusts.

    The warriors surrounding him fought on too, adding their firepower and skills to it - though several of them were beginning to tire. The undead kept coming, and it was obvious that they were not afraid. Where another enemy might buckle or give at least a brief respite - the necromancer's army only pressed onwards, until finally the paladins began to suffer their own losses.

    Decaying hands reached out and pulled several of his fellows into the reach of their waiting maws. What followed was a repeated scene of humans grappling with zombies and other monsters, and for the most part winning - only to be brought down by sheer numbers, and subsequently devoured by ravenous jaws.


    "Light bless my weapon, give me the strength to vanquish these fiends." He murmured, pushing forward. "I invoke the sacred and terrible rites - by which those down below tremble. Scatter and flee, foul monsters." The halberd brilliantly glowed - and the undead surrounding him recoiled before its power. With that, he swung and downed three more of his foes, continuing the scripture with a calm, steady tone.

    Following Hadrian's example, the paladins around him began to chant and pray - intoning words of righteous wrath as they fought on with sword, spear and axe.

    "Thus, cursed creatures - we adjure you." Hadrian began to shout, each syllable loaded with power. "Every diabolical legion and unholy sect. Cease to poison this world with your presence and give human beings to the curse of undeath. Begone evil spirits, servants of deceit and malice - be humble under the powerful glow of the Light. From the snares of the damned, free us - Holy Light - and make safe this ground that we may freely worship and glorify you. Blessed be the Light, glory to its name."

    The prayers of exorcism continued, and the paladins began to glow with power - and released the spell when it reached its climax with a final shout. Then like a bomb exploding, all the undead in the vicinity were blasted into ash - and only fading screams remained as a wall of gold energy swept through them. Their outlines faded into black dust - which was then swept away by the breeze.

    Hadrian exhaled sharply and leaned on his halberd for support - feeling the mana drain from his reserves. It was the Holy Light spell - the ultimate expression of the Paladin's faith, weaponized. Individually it was a tri-formed beam, but in larger units, it could destroy whole groups of enemies.


    Even with the attack - the enemy's numbers had hardly decreased - and more of them appeared from the portals with little time. Truly, Hadrian thought, this was a massive horde they were facing.

    Weakened by destroying one wave - several more of his brothers were quickly downed and killed - and the fighting continued as the undead lines advanced.

    ____________________________________________

    Part 3: Hadrian's Hundred

    Two days have passed since the war broke out, and the battles have now been raging more fiercely than ever. The front lines have shifted back and forth throughout the conflict; but it's become apparent the necromancers hold the advantage. Entire regiments of undead have perished, but they keep coming until none are left alive to offer resistance. Whenever groups of paladins hold their ground - the scene is repeated: Huge numbers of creatures swarm over their hated enemies in an unstoppable tide. Though the living forces fight bravely, it is simply too much for us to handle.

    Despite our very best efforts - it's become clear that we are losing this war.

    Nevertheless, those in command of the Order have resolved to continue to fight. Many have whispered that the necromancers intend to keep the slaughter going until none of the Order remain, until Lore's last remaining light is extinguished. Though if they have intended to break our spirit - and our will to fight with this threat, it has had the opposite effect.

    To be surrounded on all sides lends a kind of desperate energy to you. To know the end is coming only deepens our sense of righteous fury - awakens the instinct to fight against impossible odds.

    I'm sure you've all heard these kinds stories before - of brave fighters standing in defiance against the coming storm, and now the time has come to create our own tale. We have been plunged into what seems a hopeless situation, but instead of surrendering to despair, the warriors of light are fighting back with even greater strength.

    Truly, if this is to be our end, we will be remembered forever.

    So let them come. I have the Light, a deep sense of righteous fury and my blade. Come, hated enemy - let there be an end!


    _______________________________________


    Hadrian and his men were now living out what might be their final battle - resisting the tide of undead with all of their might, and more. Hundreds of paladins had gathered in a makeshift camp to the northeast of the Order's primary base, to hold out against the enemy that the Keep might be further fortified.

    It was an ideal place to make a stand - a small stone fortress consisting of a few ramparts, a citadel, and a wall that protected their flanks against the enemy's seemingly endless numbers. It had been a field hospital during the earlier battles, but now it had been cleared out - and all the supplies had been sent to the tower, along with all the wounded. The only way the necromancers could advance against the Order's main base was if they captured this keep, and now that the paladins had resolved to stand their ground - the attack would be delayed further.

    And now, it fell to Hadrian to lead his one hundred men in defending this position.

    The paladin and some of his troops were standing on the ramparts when the next wave of creatures appeared - this one consisting of everything from droag to ghost, from zombie to skeleton - and every rank in between filled with necromancers and sorcerers, directing their efforts in preparation for the siege.

    It pleased him to see that such a sizable force had been committed to the task. They had made the enemy exhaust themselves trying to break through their lines, and it would take them far longer to reach the Order's central Keep - and it no doubt would force them to commit almost all of their forces to the assault.

    If that were to occur, it meant that at least some of the Paladins might escape to continue the fight later on, when the scales were more balanced.


    Even with the knowledge there was no hope for survival, Hadrian and his men had already resolved to fight with all their might. It was not their place to see the conclusion of this war, only to take as many of the enemy with them as possible before their end.

    Hadrian whispered a prayer to the Light to give him strength, then stood up to his full height - his armor shining in the sun, and he decided to grace his men with a speech, that they might be allowed some measure of hope in their final moments.

    He raised both arms in a wide gesture while looking down at the fortress' garrison down below, as though he were trying to take in the whole company.

    "My fellow paladins - we have fought valiantly. To lead you has been my honor - and as I stand here now, without fear - I know that we have claimed a great number of the enemy's forces. We have made them tremble and bleed, we have fought them everywhere - in our homes, and on our fields, and in our lands. Even now - our brothers to the south are fighting still - that some of our Order might survive. Whether we stand or fall here today, all of Lore will know that we have done our duty. They will know we have stood in the face of impossible odds and held back the unstoppable. We have looked into the face of evil - and we have wrestled with it to the very end.

    I will not lie - for this battle is even now drawing to a close. The monster that is the enemy's army is now raising its jaws, that we might be devoured. They can already taste their victory - and are now preparing for the final assault that will break us. But I say we continue to fight! We make them pay for every inch of ground. We make them hurt and bleed for every one of us that they kill. I say that we shed a gallon of their blood for every drop of ours! I say we fight on, to the very end - with vigor in our hearts, and righteousness on our side. We fight until we can fight no longer - that we might make their victory taste as bitter as defeat, and let them know we are paladins - and that we will never surrender!!!"


    The men cheered, feeling their leader's bravado in their veins, and some took to chanting Hadrian's name.

    Emboldened, the men on the ramparts faced east - where the enemy was marshaling their forces, having assembled their war machinery: Siege towers, catapults, ballistae and a single massive battering ram that resembled a horned skull.

    A single sustained note from a horn signaled the battle's beginning, and the hideous army went on the attack. Boulders and other large pieces of rubble were fired from the crude catapults - vaulting over the walls and smashing into the makeshift defenses. The paladins launched a counter-barrage; releasing volleys of arrows or throwing rocks, while others opted to cast spells from the top of the wall or from murder holes in the side. Even Hadrian himself had taken up a crossbow and began to fire bolt after bolt into the enemy's ranks.

    He had known this would begin with a prolonged shootout between the two armies - and he had positioned his men that they might all face the enemy from one direction. That worked to their advantage - for every attack dropped some of the undead or landed a lucky hit on one of the necromancers.

    The hundred or so men began to focus their fire on the war machines - and managed to destroy some of them, but the majority had gotten through and launched a second salvo that crumbled a portion of the wall, allowing the battering ram to advance unimpeded.

    "Buttress the door, now!" Hadrian called over the din of battle. "Get more men on the battlements! We must protect the gate!"

    At his command, several warriors had dropped their weapons and leapt down onto the courtyard - where they began to take wooden beams to reinforce the gate. Those that remained on the wall redoubled their efforts - firing crossbows and spells and hurling rocks into the enemy's ranks, trying to slow them.

    A thunderous boom and a crack appeared on the wall, and the battering ram was moved into position.

    Hadrian dropped his crossbow and drew Salvation from his back - instead directing his energies into bolts of Holy Light that fried several of the undead in the front. He directed the fury of the Light into the first creature that tried to scale the wall - hitting it in between the eyes and forcing it down. Dozens more appeared to replace it - having begun to pile their fallen comrades together. The more undead that were killed, the higher the pile grew like a makeshift ramp. The fighting and killing continued, and the corpses kept coming until finally Hadrian and those on top of the wall were fighting waist deep in bodies.

    Some of the undead had begun to scale the wall by using the bodies of their own fallen, and the battle was continuing atop the ramparts as additional paladins rushed from the keep to prevent a breakthrough.

    A final cracking noise - and the door was splintered. The undead had broken through the gate.

    Abandoning his efforts on the wall, Hadrian leaped down and charged into the mass of zombies that lumbered through the entrance, several of his fellows racing to join him in a counterattack.

    The first zombie fell to his blade in a single sweep, and Hadrian moved from slash to pierce in one smooth motion. The halberd lashed out and cut into the creatures, and rotting flesh was cleanly bisected as both weapon and wielder glowed with the power of Light. Under its intangible touch, his blows against these creatures was amplified to untold heights. A simple shove was delivered with the force of a hammerblow - and several zombies went flying. A punch from his armored fist fractured bones and broke the undead's fragile marrow with frightening ease, and some more of them fell with broken necks and body parts scattered.

    Salvation cut through the undead like wax, their bodies neatly severed and remains fading into ashes.

    He moved gracefully through the mass of undead, continuing to fight with renewed speed and stamina, for when he drew on the Light - it renewed and refreshed him. The undead were further weakened by its power, though that seemed to be their only weakness. The tide of the cursed creatures did not slow even as he delivered mortal blows - scattered them, bashed skulls and cut them down by the dozen. It was as if their numbers might well be infinite.

    __________________________________________

    Part 4: The Choice of Terms

    Heavy fighting continued throughout the night as the bulk of the undead were engaged with us here in this small fortress. Though we have managed to maintain a tenuous hold over the keep, the walls and the outer gate were nearly destroyed in the fighting. Sometime before dawn, the undead began pulling their forces back to regroup - and so we were able to launch a massive barrage that destroyed several of their war machines, and killed many of their leaders. So we can expect at least a brief respite from further attacks that will buy both us and the central keep precious time, and so our few workers are able to repair some of our equipment during this period.

    We have also begun resorting to burning the dead - both our own and the enemy's. It is a necessary act; as we cannot tell how many times the corpses we dispatch might be risen. We cannot risk the enemy raising our own fallen to fight against us, so we have no choice but to give them a short send off.

    I should confess, the future looks bleak for this battle. Although none of us here in this garrison have intended to survive - it is clear that if further attacks of such size and magnitude continue, even the defense the central keep has prepared might not be enough.

    Nevertheless, we fight on, strong in the conviction that our efforts will not be in vain. At the very least, the enemy will not see a shortage of courage on our part.

    _________________________________________


    In the space of a few hours, Hadrian had finally gotten some much needed rest. Inwardly he admitted he may have been pushing it too much while on the front lines. The pressure and desperation that drove him gone - he now could at least gather his thoughts. He spent most of the time in a small room that he had cleared out to act as a makeshift planning and map room, while his brothers continued to work outside - using the various pieces of furniture as props for the gate. Even the beds had to be disassembled in order to use their wood for fortification purposes until only the mattresses remained.

    Hadrian spent some time cleaning his armor and sharpening Salvation in preparation for the next attack. When this was done, he spent a few minutes pacing back and forth while he contemplated their next course of action. Though he normally discouraged such an act as a waste of precious time and energy, things had remained quiet for a while - and now at last he had a moment to himself.

    Hadrian wasn't the largest man in the Order, nor was he the strongest - but he was a determined and capable fighter. His every movement bespoke of sharpened combat instinct, honed from years of warfare and endless drilling. All that training had been put to use and had paid off - especially since he was one of the apprentices of Master Halenro himself.

    The thought of his master had made him stop in his tracks, and he remembered that he'd been so caught up in the fighting that he hadn't time to send a messenger hawk to headquarters and see what the Order's high command might be planning. Come to think of it, there wasn't any word from command at all. Although Hadrian himself was a high ranking member of the Order, he wasn't directly involved in the strategy and decision making process, although he should have received some kind of orders by now, or at least a word of encouragement.

    He was so caught up in his thoughts that he almost didn't notice when there came the sound of a single trumpet. It blasted a long sustained note, which he recognized as signaling the advance of a small party.

    At that moment, one of his fellows entered the room and saluted while trying to catch his breath.

    "Lord Tanner." He managed in between gasps. "There comes an emissary at the gates. Too small for an attack. He wishes to see you, says he's come to offer terms."

    Hadrian blinked, surprised. He had thought the Necromancers were all about fighting first, and not even bothering with the questions. Hearing of one of them wanting to negotiate was very much the same as saying a Zard wanted to learn human etiquette. Nevertheless, weighing the consequences in his mind carefully, he decided it was better to show the paladins were reasonable than to shoot down this emissary right away.

    There will be plenty of time for that later anyways, Hadrian thought with a smirk as he jerked his armor on and hurried out the door.

    ____________________________________


    Outside, the Necromancer in command of the army, Lord Hellblade - was indeed expecting an arrow to come shooting out of the keep and pierce him in the throat any second. Though if the paladins were indeed stupid enough to try, the entire force would attack. Doubtful, in any case - a single arrow might down him.

    Standing at an impressive eight feet in total height, what with his being part giant, Hellblade was a sheer mountain of muscle that quivered beneath shadowy armor. Even to those watching him, he appeared more as a figure from a nightmare than a truly living man. His skin was pure black in color, surrounded at the head by a smoke-like substance with red eyes. At his side was a punching dagger that counted among the Nighthunters as a primary weapon - known as a Stalking Paw. Consisting of many blades held together by a single wooden handle, this weapon seemed more fit to be an assassin's than a Necromancer, though it suited his style of fighting well enough.

    Hellblade had killed many paladins in the battles beforehand, but his particular specialty lied in commanding the dead. Ever since he was a child, he had always been fascinated by the concept of restoring life to the departed. That single obsession was what labeled him as a renegade and a heretic by a rogue paladin - who had slain his father when he was a boy.

    Driven by revenge - he had joined the Necromancers to offer his sword on the front lines, though some had whispered his failure and grief at his parent's death had mentally unbalanced him.

    Regardless of whatever concerns, he had been given the honor of negotiating for their side. This was, after all, more of a show of loyalty on his part rather than any diplomatic skill. He never felt more at home than when he was on the front - butchering those weaker than him, all for the sake of revenge.

    Even so, he could still restrain himself long enough to find out if the paladins would respond to his ally's demands. If not, then it would be a simple matter to storm their fortress and extinguishing every life inside.

    Hellblade kept his shadowy features carefully composed as he watched the gates swing open and a lone figure walk outside to meet him. Raising a single hand to signal he was advancing, all eyes were on the pair as they met in the middle of the field - allowing each other a small space between them.

    They locked eyes, and the enemy's commander was everything he had expected and more. He stood a head and a half shorter than himself, with short cropped brown hair and eyes that shined with the power of light. Despite their restrained fury, the shorter man's face was impassive - even when Hellblade smiled and met the paladin's intense gaze with a smile.

    "I am Lord Hellblade of the Necrolegion." He said while outstretching both arms in a wide gesture. "I extend my greetings to the ambassador of the Paladin Order."

    The commander regarded him for a moment while gripping the shaft of the lance at his back - as though contemplating whether to cut him down right then and there. Apparently he decided it wasn't worth the effort, and visibly relaxed when he saw that Hellblade made no attempt to draw his own weapon.

    "I am Hadrian Tanner of the Order. I come in peace." He replied levelly. "What terms do you come to offer?"

    Straight to business then? Hellblade thought, inwardly smiling. Very well then. I'll be up front with you. - "I am prepared to allow you and your forces to live -" He said aloud. "-Unharmed and as you are - provided you meet the demands set forth by my allies."

    Hadrian raised an eyebrow. "Name them." He replied.

    Hellblade's smile widened, and they both knew what was coming.

    "The Paladin Order and its deluded rabble shall withdraw at once beyond the Holy Land. All forces therein shall forever surrender all arms, and shall promise not to take up weapons against the Necrolegion - open or secret. All lands north of BattleOn by way of Darkovia shall belong to the Necromancer's - for ever. Solely. The lands south of the border with Granemore shall be tributary to us, and men there shall govern their own affairs, but will bear no weapons. They shall help to build a new graveyard within BattleOn - and that shall be ours, and its dead to be raised as our servants - to do with as we please."

    Hadrian looked unimpressed by the demands. He did not stir, nor did he move his hand to his weapon, but his gaze was cold and piercing - and Hellblade reacted as though menaced with a blow.

    "I am a herald and ambassador and I may not be assailed until negotiations are concluded." He said firmly. "These are the terms. Take them or leave them. Be aware though that if you do - all of your lives are forfeit, and we shall take your lands by force if necesary. Wrongfully you -" he jabbed a finger in Hadrian's direction. "-have assaulted us, and made war upon those that have lived their unlives in peace. Your self-righteous Order shall cease to exist if you do not accept. Know that you have lost - and that there is nothing you can do to change this. Surrender while you still can - and I guarantee you will live. The choice is yours, Hadrian."

    Again, the paladin did not move - but instead glared with a stare that chilled even Hellblade's heart for a moment.

    "You think me some child, that I would believe a few venomous words and swiftly decide to give up out of fear?" He said dryly. "You want me to look upon your army and tremble? Well I see them. I see thousands of undead - raised against their will by mad sorcerers and made to serve their greed. I tell you now - no soldier of the Paladin Order shall ever submit to you or your ilk - faithless and accursed. Begone you, for this negotiation is over - and as for your terms, I reject them utterly! Begone!!"

    At this, Hellblade said no more - but instead turned back towards his army and stalked away with but a slow shake of the head.

    So be it. He thought. If none of your Order will bow to us, then all of you will die.

    _________________________________________

    Part 5: Remaining Hope

    Not long after my meeting with Lord Hellblade, the undead resumed their attack. This time, they've brought additional support in the form of Brilhado - greater demons of the Light Realm. Once in service to the Network, they switched sides at a critical point in the 'Galin Wars. The waves of creatures that the Necrolegion has thrown into this attack are the largest yet - even now as I write in this journal, they are battering against the defenses we've prepared.

    There can be no doubt, this is our darkest hour. We will make our last stand here. If anyone reads this - know we did our duty and fought well.

    ________________________________________

    Hadrian and his men had gathered in the courtyard of their keep for one final stand. They had all come here prepared to die - knowing this would probably be the last fight of their lives. They were determined to make the enemy pay. When the enemy broke through, they would not face off against a band of scared rabble - but against one hundred paladins screaming battle cries and chants and prayers in defiance to the very end.

    They would pay. Hadrian swore to himself, as he said his final prayers that the enemy would pay.

    There came a final crack - and the doors to the keep swung open. From the newly created breach, zombies thundered in - moaning and trampling over the broken pieces of wood. The horde was briefly slowed as the remaining defenders fired volleys of arrows into them, and every shot downed one of the creatures. From above, on the ramparts - the paladins dumped rocks and pieces of rubble - showering the enemy with every projectile that could be found.

    When the zombies lumbered into reach of the mass of assembled infantry - they were mowed down by furious swords and spears. Whole clusters of them were cut to ribbons as the crusaders vented their rage and turned all of their despair and hope into violence; determined to make one more kill before they died.

    Their commander seemed to be wandering through a gauntlet as men threw all of their weapons at leering faces. His halberd lashed out every so often, cutting into the enemy and severing heads with every stroke. His booted feet stomped and crushed anything that remained into pulp. With every step he could feel the undead continue to pour into the keep and his men growing weary from the seemingly endless numbers.

    Hadrian paused briefly, his breath coming in short gasps and his chest feeling like it was on fire. The end had finally come, he realized - and he was ready.

    He staggered as blasts of magic exploded around him - shreddding the undead nearby and pushing the horde back. The men in the ranks behind him watched in awe as the attack continued. The shockwaves from the impacts rippled in a pattern - deliberately avoiding the humans, and maximizing the damage done to the undead.

    "Hold fast Crusaders!" Came a familiar voice, ringing throughout the walls. "You shall not fall this day!"

    The men were cheering at the furious shout, Hadrian among them, and they renewed their attacks - as though all weariness was gone from them.

    A tall and muscular figure leaped down from the ramparts, followed by several others - weapons drawn and glowing with the power of Light. Fresh and battle-hardened, they turned to face the undead horde and flung their gleaming weapons into them.

    Even as he continued to slash and stab, Hadrian roared in answer to the newcomers; his voice a mixture of fury and gratitude. He pushed into the enemy, Salvation brilliantly glowing.

    "Lord Nathaniel!" The paladins bellowed. "Praise the Light Lord!"

    "At your service, my brothers." The Lightbearer rumbled, his voice deep and full of authority. His ornate plate armor was clean and shining in the sun - which crept over the walls and illuminated his rugged features. "Forward! Push forward! For the Light!"

    A sheer giant of a lycan looming at six and a half feet, Nathaniel Jameson was without question one of the mightiest knights in the Order. He drew a commanding presence wherever he went; a living embodiment of the paladin's nobility and might. In combat he almost always served as a flesh and blood standard - even as he laid into the enemy with strokes from his longsword.

    Hadrian was grateful for the master's timely arrival - and there were other fighters of distinction adding their power to the battle too: Halenro, Janosso, Coerusaveri and even Sanctus.

    At first in pairs, and then in even greater numbers, the fighters began gathering together in dense formations - blasting away huge portions of the horde - even managing to push it back through the gates - and Hadrian, Halenro and Nathaniel led the charge - their blades alight with flame.

    _____________________________________


    Lord Hellblade's red eyes flared as he watched the paladins' reinforcements finally arrive. His features were neutral, but inwardly he was seething. The enemy had broken through their lines and were now pushing forward - even managing to inflict huge losses on his allies. Many undead had been destroyed - and with the appearance of their heroes, the tide of the battle was quickly beginning to turn.

    "Push them back." He snarled while intoning his necromancy to give his minions the extra push they needed. "Drive the enemy back into the keep! Slay them all!"

    In silent, focused determination - the undead began to march against the paladins - but they were losing ground rapidly, and sustaining even greater losses as they tried to push forward.

    Damn it Hellblade thought with a scowl. They're breaking through! How did they get past our lines!?

    He spotted Hadrian - stepping over the corpse mounds of his soldiers - fighting side-by-side with two other paladins and winning, and Hellblade drew his black sword. His rage and all of his attention were focused on the puny human, and he pushed through both minion and enemy to get to him.

    It was now time to end this personally.
    ______________________________________________


    Part 6: Post Tenebras Lux.

    And now the time has come. It will come to one final test. One final moment. All life will wait and see which side makes the last moves in this grand game.

    With the arrival of reinforcements from distant battlefields, the moment of truth is upon us. Whether we are victorious or slain to the last - our actions will earn us an everlasting place in history.

    Whether this dream of mine is true or just an illusion, I shall fight this final battle. I will stare into the abyss, and I will break the grip of darkness on our world.

    I fight in the name of Hope!

    ______________________________________________

    The paladins knew the war was almost over. Their blood ran hot with the dreams of victory - of peace afterwards that would see an end to Necromancy. Artix himself had appeared on the battlefront - along with a number of his officers.

    The lines were drawn, and now the two armies had gathered outside the fortress where Hadrian and his hundred made their stand. Lightning flashed - and thunder rumbled ominously overhead like the wrath of a God. Despite it all - Hadrian and the paladins in the front ranks were calm and at peace. They had fought hard, and they had done their duty. All that was left was to finish this fight - to end the war once and for all.

    The entire front rank kneeled in assembled prayer. The priests and holy men interspersed between each line began chanting and reciting sermons; preaching that those fallen would not face undeath but instead - the eternal rewards of paradise. When it was done and the amens were said, Hadrian rode bareheaded along the front.

    If the troops were expecting another speech, he did not give it. Instead - he raised his halberd - and let loose a wordless battle cry. His iron lungs carried across the whole of the battlefield, and the forces behind him cheered.

    The battle began with a single charge - and both sides knew this would be the final confrontation, and the gore and horror of it all no longer held any sway over the men as they charged into the enemy mobs. They were eager to see an end to the conflict, and if one more battle was all that it took, they would give it their all. The melee was on - and both sides had opted to simply pummel each other into oblivion. Neither had any ammunition left for their war machines, most of which lay broken and forgotten in the fields. The paladin's mightiest heroes marshaled their forces for one final attack.

    All along the lines, human and undead ranks parted and crashed into each other - and the air was thick with the sound of ringing steel and the smell of blood. Admist the carnage, Hadrian had dismounted and now was standing atop a pile of defeated corpses. To his men, he gestured forward - and to the enemy he bellowed a challenging cry. In answer, one of the sorcerers attacked - driving a spear in his direction. A quick parry, followed by a thrust and Salvation carved a gash into the necromancer - and Hadrian ducked low, simultaneously bringing his halberd around in a half spin while kicking the man's legs out from under him. The sorcerer was cleaved in two at the waist - and each half fell to the ground with a wet thump.

    Several more charged in, determined to avenge their comrade - while on the other side, a group of his own knights pushed through the skeletal vanguard and hurried to his side. In only a few seconds at least a dozen others took notice of the furious fighting near the center - and converged on the site.

    Halenro and Janosso were at the front of the paladin's reinforcement - battling together against Lord Hellblade and his retinue.

    The enormous Necromancer was also fighting - and undead warriors rushed at the spearhead he created in the paladin's lines. Every swing of his sword cut down dozens of light-blessed warriors with a single stroke, though they were all battling their hardest, his skin of billowing shadow seemed impenetrable.

    The gap was closed and filled with undead every time a breach was created - and the beleagured defenders drew strength from the fact they had made the enemy pay for every inch. The battle had turned into a slaughter - and few remained on either side. The heroes were now all that remained of their greatest champions - and all were weary, though they still fought on. Despite this, their very best efforts seemed futile before Lord Hellblade.

    The Necromancer was now dueling with Jameson, Halenro and Janosso all at once - and they were equal to him in power, even if blessed weapons could not harm him, their enchanted armor protected them from his attacks. And there was cold hatred in his red eyes as they ducked and dove around him - unable to finish the battle.

    Hadrian cut down the last of the undead before him - and then came face to face with the enemy leader and his three opponents. Despite the recognition in Hellblade's shadowy features, he knew the trio of paladins still attacking him were the greater threat. Better to snuff it out now and then deal with the insolent fool that had interfered with his plans later. The battle was beginning to take its toll on them, and the three were now weakening - having exhausted their energies, and now simply fighting to stay alive. The ground beneath their feet sundered and sparked with clashing light and shadow magic.

    The loud scraping of stones threw Hadrian back to his senses, and he realized exactly what needed to be done. With iron resolve, Hadrian raised Salvation high - and willed all the Light around them into it - and the halberd's head flared and erupted into flames.

    "Brothers! Lend me your power!" He bellowed. "I come for you sorcerer!" And with that, he began to purposefully stomp forward. Each step took in the mana in the leylines beneath his feet - and still more of it was focused and sustained from within his own well of power. What remained of the paladins took notice of him, and began adding their magic too - and Salvation's tip began to glow like a miniature sun.

    "I exorcise you, unclean spirit," Hadrian intoned. "By my will I command thee. By my hand, I destroy thee. By my power do I cast your blackened soul back into the void from whence it came."

    Salvation's power was peaking - and all that was necessary was just one last effort. The three warriors had bought valuable time, and now they too added their energy to the attack - and all of their remaining mana was directed into their brother. Hellblade raised his sword in defiance, and he screamed - railing and cursing against the paladins as the spell continued.

    "Blessed be the Light - and glory to its will." Hadrian forced the syllables out of his mouth - and he felt the tidal wave rushing forth from him and into his blade. "From the snares of evil, free us - and deliver us this day - unto our Salvation!"

    And with that, the spell was completed, and Hadrian took one last leap towards Hellblade, who swung his sword in retaliation. The paladin was carried aloft by the chanting of his brothers, the blessings of the light - and by the righteousness of his cause. He shouldered the halberd, spun around once and delivered the final attack into Hellblade's sword with all his strength.

    Hellblade's cursed sword cracked - and shattered before the onslaught - and he was struck in the chest - and an explosion of dazzling radiance swept through his being - scattering his shadows and consuming his spirit utterly.

    One last fading cry - and he vanished.

    Hadrian fell to the earth - and his senses gave way to exhaustion - his energy utterly spent, and he embraced the peace of death at long last - closing his eyes for the final time.

    _____________________________________________________


    After the death of their leader, the undead forces were scattered and routed from the field utterly. The paladins took this chance to attempt to capture Kayley Obsidia - and though the victory had been costly - they had done it. The Necromancer Order now in ruins, this great victory showed the world of Lore that it no longer needs to fear the undead. Many ancient scriptures were recovered from the field - and the paladin's Grand Master finally declared peace in our time. The shadows that once covered our world had been driven off - and a glorious new dawn - had finally arrived.

    The world rejoiced, and slowly healed itself.

    Hadrian and his hundred would be remembered in the Halls of Glory. His blade, Salvation - which destroyed Lord Hellblade and his evil forever - was recovered from the field - where it would be entombed and buried with its wielder - to serve him in Paradise for all time.

    For though his body perished - his spirit endures and the Paladin Order stands, undaunted and unbroken.


    The End.

    < Message edited by Sir Nicholas -- 3/20/2013 0:47:43 >
    AQ  Post #: 15
    2/1/2013 13:14:47   
    Falerin
    Legendary Loremaster


    Diviara Celegra stared at the reassembled statue of Lorithia that would eventually be transferred from the palace to the New Temple of Hope with a sense of odd foreboding, a sense that had been building ever since the Moglin had left.

    As a communicant, he could call upon the Powers for guidance, but in matters such as this, experience told him that They wouldn’t answer even if They could.

    “You are far too distracted to work, Brilhado; you should join your son on Battleonia…” Myr said, slightly irritated. “Your moping about here actually is hindering rather than aiding my progress. I can hold the fort here until you return.”

    Diviara frowned; for while he wanted to do just that, he questioned the point of such travel.

    The war between the two factions was spreading. On Deren and Vandar, altercations between the Order of Paladins and the Order of Necromancers had escalated to all-out warfare, just as it had on Battleonia. They did not dare violate the sanctity of Tralin’s city, but passage to the fortress at the Gate had been completely blocked by the armies in motion.

    “Why bother? I can see the war here just as easily…”

    Myr looked at the Brilhado with an inscrutable expression.

    “Because von Krieger and Obsidia are there,” Myr answered pointedly. “If diplomatic avenues are to be pursued, it must be on Battleonia where they occur.”

    “What’s the point? I would just be blowing hot air. They seem quite determined in their course. Obsidia will not be happy that we refused her summons to begin with, and Artix wouldn’t even see me, no less listen to me…”

    “He is right, you know,” a voice said from the doorway. It was Slugwrath, who had been spending considerable time with the king ever since Diviara had brought him here. Myr did not particularly care for him, but Tralin seemed to have an odd fixation on the former prince. The prince certainly adapted readily to life in a palace…

    “I know Krieger all too well. He can be quite single-minded,” the prince continued.

    “Hello, Prince Drakath,” Myr said noncommittally. “Do you really think so?”

    “I know so.” Drakath answered with a seeming sense of smug satisfaction over the use of the honorific.

    “So, unfortunately, do I,” Diviara said wistfully.

    “Of course, Brilhado, were I you, I would heed the architect’s advice anyway…”

    “Oh, really? And why, pray tell?”

    “Because your son is there,” Drakath answered somewhat sardonically, “and he is bound to be caught in the crossfire.”

    “Point taken. But I have duties to the crown… And to you.”

    “Neither will have gone anywhere in your absence. I, like Myr, am eager to get out from under your thumb, and the king understands family.”

    “I certainly do,” Tralin said, entering the room. “I seriously regretted not being at Stone Deep when my father died. I would not have you risk the same fate. Go, Diviara.”

    Regret was an understatement, Diviara knew. Tralin had consumed metanoia and very nearly died decimating the army responsible. The fact that Diviara himself had been the general in charge of those armies was not lost on him, either.

    “Were you a lesser man, you might say it would be my just desserts.”

    “Do not be ridiculous!” Tralin snapped, plainly angry at the mere idea, though he was certain Diviara knew he did not feel that way. “You are my friend. What happened there was lifetimes away…”

    “And you are not a lesser man…” Drakath supplied helpfully.

    “No,” Diviara said. “Indeed he is not. The three of you planned this in advance, didn’t you?”

    Tralin smiled; Myr and Slugwrath merely smirked.

    “Whatever gave you that impression?” Tralin asked.

    “Call it a hunch. Your arrivals in such short order were… fortuitous.”

    “Well, you have been uselessly moping around the castle for three days,” Tralin said. “That might make one think something had to be done. Go and witness history, even if this once you are not to be part of it, my friend.”

    “As you wish, your majesty,” Diviara answered, though somehow, he was still unconvinced...
    Diviara surveyed the battlefield with a sense of grim determination and then turned to look at his son.

    "I am sorry," Diviara said. "What was it you were saying...?"

    "I said, I expect Cagliari back with a report at any moment."

    As if on cue, Cagliari Lux arrived on the scene. In spite of Cagliari’s decidedly skeletal aspect, Diviara read a distinctly uncharacteristic somberness in his stance.

    "How goes the war, soldier?" Amilara asked pointedly.

    "You might have chosen a more fortunate analogy, Amilara," Diviara responded quickly, though noting at the same time that it was odd that it would be he correcting Amilara in such a statement.

    "Maybe... but the results of these actions are quite plain..." Amilara responded.

    "Quite so," Cagliari answered. "Losses are close on all sides, but at the moment the Paladin Order seems to be being karmic-ally rewarded for their instigation of this affront. "

    "The Commander must be thrilled..." Diviara said with a frown, something continuing to niggle at him. Something was wrong... but he could not place what.

    "He is less than enthusiastic... How ironic would it be for our own Order to succeed where Father Dhows failed? But he sees the fighting as an inevitable result of..."

    "What in the world was that?" Diviara interrupted abruptly.

    "I beg your pardon..." Cagliari began, and then paused, noting a similar look of consternation on Amilara's face...

    "I felt it too..." Amilara answered. "Cagliari, direct your friends and those who remain loyal to fall back to Darkovia and take no further part in this senseless folly."

    "My friends, perhaps, but I will stay at your side."

    "No, Cagliari, my son is right. You need to fall back..."

    "Why? Amilara would never turn from me in an hour of need; I shall not do so now..."

    "We need to go to the front, Cagliari, and that would not be a safe place for you."

    "And do you think the paladins fighting there will slow long enough to recognize that the two of you are not enemy Brilhado, either?"

    "A fair enough point, Cagliari, except that you are talking about Amilara and I. We can keep them at bay with the Cold alone if it came to that, and I do not intend for it to get that far. On the other hand, if you were there, my son would just be worried for your wellbeing. In other words, and I say this not to be inconsiderate but rather with genuine affection, your being there puts Amilara at greater risk than any aid you can offer."

    "Put like that... I suppose you are right."

    "He is very right, friend. You know me very well. I could not rest for a moment. I would not be on my toes."

    "If you are both sure."

    "We are sure," Diviara answered. "Sound the retreat, Cagliari, and good luck."

    "And to you as well..."

    Cagliari exited.

    Diviara frowned.

    "You were thinking that we may need it, weren't you?"

    "Something is definitely very wrong..."
    Elsewhere: Brilhado Gate Necromancer's Fortress, Eastern Deren.


    The young Brilhado stood before the Fortress at the Gate with a sense of purpose and determination. His attire was typical of the younger necromancers and lacked the more elaborate face paint the older necromancers tended to use as part of their more elaborate rituals. The face paint, of course, served little functional purpose other than striking fear into the minds of those who saw it, and the young necromancer considered himself above such affectation.

    “There are those who will tell you that now is the time to fall back, to rest upon our laurels; those who will state that the Order of Mysterious Necromancers’ guidance is suspect, their purpose manipulation. They are, of course, correct: the Order of Mysterious Necromancers offers us nothing in the long run but deception. They were founded on a lie, and their goals are their own advancement. In the end, the time will come for us to cast off the yoke of these would-be leaders…”

    “But I tell you, these individuals who cling to the tatters of diplomacy as if somehow they could will peace into existence are no better leaders for the Brilhado than those cloaked magi who hide their acts behind the image of another… “

    “These pacifists act not out of vision, but out of fear. The world of Lore is changing. Faced with such a change, and the uncertainty that comes along with it, these diplomats would run and hide like the Drakel of old, who in the hope that they could hide from the Uncreator’s passing, took to the mountains for 1000 years…”

    “My father led the Brilhado in the wake of such a ruler. I’ve seen directly the results of such cowardly guidance… and it is the very same deposed leader whose counsel now suggests that we should turn aside from this conflict.”

    “Were the wishes of the Celegra family realized, the Brilhado would be reduced to an afterthought, a footnote, on the pages of history. Worse, the very creature that slew my father offers the Drakel king guidance at the hand of that same family…”

    “Diviara Celegra may be loyal to the Uncreator, but he is a traitor to the Brilhado, to our people, to our culture, and to our history… and his son Amilara is an apostate who would lead us in a different war entirely, a civil war from within, seeking to liberate the very creatures who owe their continued existence to our intervention but who ungratefully shove us away.”

    “The rightful place of our kind is as the rulers of this weak and failing world and not as afterimages barely able to hold on to their own light… no less lead their new creation and bring life and light to that darkness…”

    “Remember, we did not create this war, and those who say that we are equally culpable in rising to the bait of our aggressors are engaged in a subterfuge. We respond to threats on our very way of living; not responding to such aggression is the same as acquiescence to the aggressor, and I tell you that such action will never stand. It is the Paladins who brought this new calamity upon our heads, and it is the Paladin Order who must pay the levy and tariff that is due for such actions. ”

    “There are those who are calling now for an election among our people. Who would defy the record and wishes of our late great ruler, Shroudbrood, my father, in selecting his own replacement? Who would add to this conflict, a battle of succession? Have we not faced enough in this unprovoked war, on our very livelihoods without adding internal drama to the conflict?”

    “Mark me well. Down that pathway lays the bones and ashes of our enemies. The people of Vandar ruled via acclamation, and their rulership created the very foundations that the Brilhado used to reclaim our foothold in this world.”

    “Ask yourself: What is being sought in such a call? Why might the Celegras and those like them wish to interfere with the orderly and proper succession of the Brilhado people?”

    “I say unto you, it is no wonder that Diviara Celegra would support such a course, it is no wonder because he, as a Wearer of the Mantle, used just such a tyranny of the majority, to control Vandar, Neld, and ultimately Deren…”

    “Celegra is no better than a hypocrite, and he will use just such an illusion of choice to guide our people, not into glory, but into the faded memories of the past that he offers as a false hope of the world to come…"

    "We know that that which has fallen does not simply rise again, but that which has fallen can be made to rise via the very arts we have mastered for so long…”

    “We must stand strong. The Brilhado must respond to any threat to our sovereignty and authority with unflinching determination and single-minded perseverance. We must see through false promises and hopes and build a future based upon the glory of our past station rather than on the memories of a world long since lost to us.”

    “Grimveil, the rightful leader of the Brilhado people and general of her necromancers, has spoken.”

    Grimveil paused to assess the impact of his words upon the assembly. As cheers and adulation echoed through the meeting hall, he saw that they had had the desired effect; he had masterfully played upon the doubt and insecurity of the people and fed them with the sustenance of his father’s truth. In doing so, he had signed the warrant extending his own authority. The Brilhado would stay the course; he was now certain that the election would be at the very least delayed until the aftermath of these events…
    Cagliari Lux stood at the edge of Darkovia looking out into the world beyond. For the moment, the war situation seemed to have abated near this front. Cagliari was struck by the curiosity of this fact—given Darkovia’s long history with the forces in question, it seemed odd somehow that Battleon was locked in combat while Darkovia was in a period of relative calm.

    A strange wall of shifting Shadow enveloped the camp. Cagliari could see readily through the shifting Light and Darkness, but for most beings living or undead, the tenebromantic effect was enough to cause difficulty. Ironically, had Erebus still been a factor in this attack, it was very unlikely that this shielding would have served any effect, even created, as it was, by a servitor of both the Lady of Light and the Lord of Darkness.

    The number of undead and other creatures, which fled from the advance of the armies into the embrace of the forest, was rapidly increasing as well. The word had rapidly gotten out that undead seeking to survive the massacre being rapidly forced upon them by the warring forces of Paladins and Necromancers should seek shelter in Darkovia.

    Interestingly, it was not merely undead that came. A large number of living beings had come as well; whether in support of the undead or fleeing for their own reasons was difficult to say, but the refugee camp was rapidly spilling past its borders and would need to be expanded again in another day or so.

    Cagliari frowned, detecting the movement of a child near the furthest edges of the camp perimeter. What was a child doing there? If he pressed beyond the perimeter, he would quickly become fodder for the roving creatures of Darkovia.

    Cagliari moved to redirect the child, but stopped. As he drew close, he recognized the figure for what, and for whom, he was.

    “Good evening, Loremaster,” Cagliari said to the young boy.

    “Good evening, Brother Lux,” the child stated simply.

    “With respect, Loremaster, why are you here? I was under the distinct impression that the Pantheon was maintaining a policy of strict neutrality in these affairs.”

    “I have never been one to sit around idly,” Falerin responded. “My fellows can make all of the proclamations they want, and the official position does indeed remain one of non-interference, but I have taken the position, supported by those same individuals, that the non-interference paradigm is restricted to the actual conflict. This camp, therefore, is outside of the matter, and I have received calls seeking aid.”

    “It must take a particular individual to contact you.”

    “Once, maybe. I have been a bit less than secretive about my home number and address of late, though. Oddly enough, my requests for aid come from two very disparate sources.”

    “Lady Cenara and her half-brother….”

    “No. That may have been unusual, but it hardly would have been odd, given the fact that Lady Cenara and Lord Donovan both have a standing agreement with me. Interestingly, neither party has asked me for aid in these events. I think they both know that my taking a direct hand would be problematic…”

    “My requests come from one of the higher members of the Paladin Order, the Paladin Coueraservi, and a very particular necromancer, Amilara Celegra. You know both parties, I think…”

    Cagliari looked at Falerin curiously. “Coueraservi sought your aid in this conflict? And what did he seek?”

    “The same thing that Amilara Celegra did actually, which is actually why I have responded.”

    Cagliari frowned. “The same thing…?”

    “The protection of the people who have been seeking shelter here from being caught in the crossfire. Those who have gathered under the banner of one of the various lords and ladies who rule this region have their own protection, but those who have taken up shelter here can turn to neither Donovan nor Cenara, neither Constantin nor Safiria… your comrades here, Cagliari, are the only true innocents in this conflict, and neither Commander Coueraservi nor Amilara wishes to see you caught in the inevitable crossfire.”

    “Amilara, I can understand, but why would Coueraservi involve himself in this way, especially knowing that it might be considered an act of treason by some within his order?”

    “I cannot begin to speculate on the motives of the man. I can only say that those motives are genuine. Perhaps Coueraservi shares more with Commander Paladin than their station or strikingly familiar appearance.”

    “They do look quite similar…”

    “Paladin himself is bound by the same non-intervention that the others are. It is a risk that the Lady even allows you to be involved, but she knows that this is your direct home, that these are your people. What happened in Luminovia is long ago, but what has happened to you here is very fresh indeed.”

    “Yes, I suppose so. I guess I can understand Coueraservi’s motivation, but it seems he takes a grave risk in making such a proclamation publically…”

    “Unquestionably, there are those in the order who would disagree with his choice, but very few in the order would dare impugn his motives. After what Coueraservi suffered for the order, he is viewed as ‘entitled’ to his eccentricities.”

    A buxom Brilhado Lich landed in the camp. Cagliari recognized the woman as the same Lich who had served as the Lady’s harbinger of Commander Paladin’s return. While there was something apropos in that assignment, it seemed that the Lady of Light, like the Caelestian, was fully prepared to skirt the boundaries of the non-intervention order.

    “The Barrier is weak at Quadrant 3, Sector 7, and at Quadrant 4, Sector 9. Are you certain we cannot simply do estate transference as before…?”

    “I am certain,” the child answered. He then shifted form into his more muscular human counterpart.

    “Given my own direct involvement in the Lorian pantheon, transport of large numbers of Darkovian undead and random Darkovian creatures into Caelestia for an unknown duration…” He shifted yet again, this time into his more young-adult form. Here he seemed to settle.

    “It would raise questions I would be unable to answer. Many would consider it a direct violation of the Farpoint, and learning that I did so with the sufferance of Lorithia, but not with her authorization, would only increase those tensions.”

    For Cagliari, this was itself worrisome. He had been around the Powers for enough years to have a pretty strong understanding of Their actions, and if three of Them (for where the Lady of Light went, the Lord of Darkness surely followed) were flaunting the orders of the Creator, there must be a very good reason why. This certainty grew for Cagliari until it was unavoidable, and finally he voiced it...

    “Why?”

    “I assume that the answer is because he fought beside many of you in Donovan’s action; he even fought against many of you, which is bound to have a lasting impact on someone as introspective as Coueraservi.”

    “No, I do not mean that. I mean, why are you doing this? Why are any of You involved?”

    “You have aided us before,” the Lady Lich answered.

    “And Cagliari,” Falerin supplied, “you know very well that war makes for strange friends...”

    "That is not an answer. You know something about this that you are not sharing."

    “If that were so, Cagliari,” Falerin said pointedly, shifting into his Lanfiré form in a manner somehow quite distinct from the lazy shifting that had come before it, “how would your asking aid the situation in any manner, shape, or form? In fact, how would your asking do anything, other than to draw unnecessary attention to the fact that…”

    Giliara Celegra landed at the edge of the field and crossed to the Lich and to Falerin.

    “Hello, Gil,” Falerin stated, resuming normal form.

    “Hello, Fal,” Giliara answered. “Why if it isn’t Cagliari Lux… hello, my friend…”

    Cagliari considered the dead Brilhado with a sidelong glance. That Giliara was present could only mean that the Lady of Light was taking a firm and direct hand in these matters. This made little sense to Cagliari, however; Commander Paladin was excluded by the Lady, and so instead, She sent one of Her most direct servitors…?

    Worse, given Giliara's status, he was one even more likely to be perceived as being Her direct meddling in the affairs occurring here. Why would She do that?

    “I had to be sure neither of my relations was present before landing here. I have been forbidden from direct contact with my brother or nephew in this event. Nor can I aid directly aid or proffer assistance to either side of the warring parties. My attention is instead focused on the plight of my people, and those of the undead.”

    “The plight of your people…?” Cagliari began.

    “The Brilhado,” Giliara answered, “all Brilhado, and not merely the necromancers, have been affected by this war, and in its aftermath, they stand to be affected even more surely. My purpose in regard to them is simple. I was the first Brilhado Communicant of the Lady since the Fall. With the changing face of Lore, we expect others may soon follow my lead; I am to aid the passage of those of our kind who would seek service under the Lady in Aloria.”

    “The changing face of Lore?”

    Falerin shook his head, cutting off any sort of response from Giliara. “We cannot. He is too involved. Besides, your brother is on the front this very moment… They will learn…”

    Giliara frowned slightly, and then, nodding slightly, turned to Cagliari. “Tell my brother and nephew that I miss them; it has been too long since either of them has visited Aloria…”

    “You really intend to keep what it is you know secret…”

    “We must, Cagliari, for all of our sakes. Know this: war has consequences.”

    “I know that very well… better than most.”

    “And you know I would never willingly put my nephew or brother in jeopardy. Don’t you, Cagliari?”

    “That is true, even when Diviara plainly was acting against us, you refused to cleanly choose sides…”

    “So the stakes here…”

    “They must be very large indeed…”

    “I am afraid that they are,” Giliara finished. “The anchors have been placed, Loremaster. We are ready to amplify the maze of Shadows. You are certain this will work…?”

    “I am positive. Given where it was obtained.”

    “How does it work?” the lich asked.

    “It will increase the maze’s complexity and shifting nature, and it will strengthen the shadows themselves into a unidirectional mass. Those hostile to the camp will find themselves turned around completely by the shadows and forced back outward to the edge of the forest. Consider it an opposite variation of…”

    Falerin stopped abruptly, but the Lady nodded.

    “I understand,” she said. “So we have aid from there as well…”

    “Favors have been called; new ones are being formed,” Falerin answered.

    “Cagliari, these undead will need your guidance; not just your compatriots, but all of those who have sought shelter here,” Giliara stated.

    “A number that may soon increase quite a bit…” the lich provided.

    “We have said too much,” Falerin said. “Cagliari understands that they will be depending on him. That is the best we can do.”

    “Yes, I suppose so,” the Lich said. “Giliara we must depart”.

    “Time to leave, Cagliari; send my regards to everyone…” Giliara said, though even as he said it his appearance and those of the other interlopers was rapidly fading into nonexistence.

    Soon, Cagliari found himself once again alone in the encampment, somewhat bewildered. “Just what in the outer planes was going on here?”




    Cagliari stopped at the place that Lady Cenara had indicated with a frown. There did not appear to be anything particularly special about this particular glade of trees that set it apart from others in the Darkovian wilderness. Not for the first time, Cagliari worried that his journey to this place was in vain, but in the absence of Commander Paladin’s leadership, Cagliari found himself faced with the prospects of once again leading his brethren, and he felt it important to remind himself the reasons why he remained with his charge.

    “Uh… Abode?” Cagliari began uncertainly. Before the words were finished being spoken, Cagliari noted with surprise that the trees of the forest had metamorphosed around him into an elaborate hall dominated by a large quantity of odd-looking doors.

    “Yes, Brother Cagliari Lux.” A voice seemed to come from every direction at once. “Welcome to the Hall of Memories. How may I assist you in your journey?”

    “You can trace any memory?”

    “Any for which I have a record, which, given that I access the prime memory store of the Astral Plane itself, is virtually any memory. Some extremely potent entities have been known to interfere with the effect, but such is very rare.”

    “I wish to see the final fall of Luminovia into Darkovia.”

    “That is a fairly broad request, brother… Do you perhaps have a specific place we can start?”

    “Shortly after Commander Paladin’s undeath, when he assumed control of the Lady’s armies…”

    A door further along the hall swung open, a series of runes glowing lightly on the surface before fading into darkness.

    “Proceed at will.”

    Cagliari dug up his courage and entered the door, and all at once the present ceased to be and Cagliari found himself returned to the past from whence he had come.

    A small sunlit grove of trees shrouded in mists took the place of the Hall. It was at once similar and yet very different from the grove in which he had stood before entering the Hall of Memories in the first place.

    Cagliari recognized the scene, but not the perspective, and turned around a bit confused…

    “I am the Commander,” Cagliari said.

    “You are the Commander,” a voice answered, and Cagliari realized with a start that it was his own younger self that was answering. “And the downfall of Seth Cay Dhows has already been set in motion…”

    “Brother,” the older Cagliari, in the Commander’s form, began, “it will not be that easy… Our efforts against Father Dhows may take a very long time to come to fruition. I would not want to give you false hope.”

    “Any hope at all is not false hope, Commander,” the younger Cagliari responded.

    “Cagliari,” Paladin’s voice answered, “Beware of letting your desire for vengeance cloud your vision. Such must never be our purpose. Our form may have changed, but our charge has not.”

    “I know, Commander. Our purpose is the protection of the innocent… as it always has been.”

    “Quite so, Brother. Quite so.”

    “Good day to you, my children.” A melodic female Voice spoke.

    “My Lady,” Cagliari said, his younger self echoing his words nearly immediately.

    “Brother Cagliari Lux,” the Lady spoke. “How well have you served me…”

    “Service to your person, my Lady, has been my honor and my Life’s work…”

    “And your Unlife’s work, too, it seems, Brother Lux…” Another Voice joined the Lady’s, as husky and reverberating as the Lady’s was dulcet and mellifluous.

    “Yes, sir.” The younger Cagliari answered the Lord of Darkness with deference and respect.

    “Would you be free of the burden of your service to us?” the Lady asked then. “Your obligations have more than been fulfilled, and the Commander has assumed his proper role at our side…”

    “Lady?” the young undead priest answered. “Do you mean, do I wish to die?”

    “Of course not,” the Lord of Darkness answered for His Consort. “What sort of payment for the service you have done the Church would your death be?”

    “They do say that there is peace in death and freedom… He may wish such...”

    “I…” the young knight began.

    “If such were your desire, brother,” the Lord continued, “we could accommodate you, though we were thinking that perhaps what you would really prefer would be a return to your life as it would have been had the usurper not interfered.”

    “You have earned this. Take it,” Commander Paladin said, “but you must act quickly; in short order, the armies of the king will take this forest and bring it under the control of the crown. When that event occurs, its fall into corruption will have been completed.”

    “Drageth Slugwrath is no king…”

    “Of course he is. A petty tyrant… but nevertheless a monarch. Luminovia has already fallen Cagliari. Time has just not caught up to the shade’s plans yet…”

    “But the Commander? The Armies?”

    “The showdown between the Commander and Dhows will take place at a place and time far removed from this one. Long will the Commander prepare at our side in Aloria, and when the time comes, the gateway will be reopened for his return,” the Lady responded.

    “But what of the people here? What will become of them…?”

    “That depends entirely by what you mean by that query, my priest. The humans will adjust, as they are prone to do. Dhows himself, we are now certain, will proceed to that very future to which we have tracked him, as for him that moment and this one are forever linked.”

    “The Werewolves and the Vampires will grow in strength and number, the war which the Usurper started growing with them. The children and grandchildren of Luminovia will see other forces rise to take the place of ancient evils.”

    “And the armies I have led here, the people that have joined us. Will they join the Commander…?”

    “On that point, I am afraid that I can offer no answer of reassurance… A few will come to Aloria, but we cannot transport them all, and the longer we fight the shade in this era, the more powerful he will become in that one. We cannot afford to focus our attention for too long here, knowing that it is not here that the discord shall reach its culmination.”

    “There is another option,” the young priest answered. “I remain here as their leader, awaiting the Commander’s return. I live through that which is to come.”

    “To live that long, Brother, you would need to remain undead,” Paladin spoke, Cagliari already knowing what his younger self would answer.

    “And so I remain as the undead. I still live, I still hope, I still dream.”

    Paladin nodded his head respectfully as Cagliari continued his soliloquy. “All that has changed for me is my form. How could I as a faithful servant to the Lady turn my back on these people, on my charge, and still call myself a Communicant of the Light?”

    “You have earned your freedom and your life already, Cagliari…”

    “No… Commander. You have your destiny. I have my own. This is my destiny. These people are my fate. I know their plight better than any other who would take up their cause because I live it daily… My Lady, with respect, I wish to remain in Luminovia. This is my home, and these are my people.”

    “We had suspicions that you might answer that way, Brother,” the Lord of Darkness replied kindly, “but once closed, it may be that that door can never again be reopened. Do you know what you are saying…?”

    “With every fiber of my being, my Lord. I know it. I accept it. These are my people. This is my home.”

    “So be it, then,” the Lady said. “You may return to your tent, Brother. One last thing, though. There may come a time when you have cause to regret your decision. To doubt that you will ever hear my Voice again.”

    “As you live through the ages that others pass through in moments, you will do it for long stretches alone…” the Darkness Lord continued.

    “Know this, my priest. You are and have been loved, and I will ever return for you. Even when it seems hopeless… Trust in the Light and you shall never be truly alone. Trust in the Darkness and you shall always have comfort.”

    “My Lady, my Lord, Commander Paladin… it has been an honor.”

    The young priest left then, and Cagliari was startled to see the Lady of Light and Lord of Darkness made manifest in the grove very directly. Their demeanor and gaze instantly told him that this was not merely a memory that he perceived but something more than that.

    “I never regretted,” Cagliari said. “Not even when the Uncreator came, or the Brilhado or other necromancers cast us under their thrall. I never regretted. Questioned my sanity a time or two, yes, but never regretted.”

    “All this we well know, Father Lux,” the Darkness Lord answered.

    “With respect, Lord, after the fall of the church, I never rose further in station.”

    “Didn’t you, and who is better equipped to promote you than I am, my Communicant?” the Lady answered.

    “None, Lady; I did not mean offense. It is only that Dhows so tainted that title…”

    “Erebus so tainted the title that it will take a truly great man to reclaim it. You are that man, Cagliari Lux. You are that man if only for the ages you served here.”

    “The door has reopened to you now,” the Darkness Lord added. “That door we were uncertain could ever be opened again.”

    “Things once again teeter on a precipice, and once again we offer you release from this. Release as the Living, or should you choose, release as the dead.”

    “No Lady. I am no less alive today than when I joined your church. In fact, in many ways, I only began to learn to live when I died…”

    “I do not seek to change what I am; for in doing so I would change who I am.”

    “Yes, we suspected that you would answer that way. Yet the offer still needed to be made, as the offer was earned.”

    “The journey to this place has been hard for you at times Father Lux. The journey ahead may be harder still…”

    “And as before, there will be times where we will be unable to answer,”tThe Lady said completing the idea Her Husband had started.

    “The future is never certain, Lady, but this is certain. I will always be true to myself. This world is my home. These people are my family.”

    “How rightly we chose you, brother, so long ago.”

    “Very well then, priest, you must return to your encampment. Your people need you now more than ever. When our powers fly out of control and those who wield them have lost their way, someone must remain a voice of reason.”

    And with that, the Voices fell silent and Cagliari noted with a start that he was no longer in the Hall of Memories, nor indeed even in the grove by which he had entered the hall, but rather had been transported to within a stone’s throw of the encampment.

    Cagliari moved toward the camp with a surprising grace for a skeletal figure and with a renewed sense of purpose. There was a war on now, but no war lasted forever. The conflict always ended, and in the aftermath, there were always messes left to clean up.

    And cleaning up messes was something Father Cagliari Lux was very good at…




    Cagliari drew a deep breath of the cold night air and considered the path ahead of him. He had just taken active part in freeing a band of undead from the necromancer that controlled them. The feeling was exhilarating. He might not be able to stop the war, but he could definitely reduce the number of innocent casualties.

    "Father Lux, we must continue; the way back to camp is long…" a voice said, its source disappearing before Cagliari even had a chance to register it.

    Cagliari let out a weary sigh. "Can I never rest these bones…"

    A figure entered the glade from the opposite side, quickly joined by several of its fellows.

    "We can give you rest, demon," the figure stated, the light of the moon glinting off the edge of axe and the full plate armor he was equipped with.

    "We have no quarrel with you—" Cagliari began.

    "Oh, how wrong you are. You are disease that must be purified. We will show you the Light…"

    Cagliari dropped his goblet and pulled forth a sword. "Yacob, take the others and run for the barrier. Do not stop, do not delay, and do not turn back under any circumstances."

    "But, Father Lux—"

    "RUN!"

    The young undead moved to comply with Cagliari's order and quickly had the remaining stragglers charging forward. With their movement, the entire contingent of undead moved toward the barrier with a preternatural speed and agility.

    Cagliari turned toward the paladin who had accosted him.

    "Who are you?" Cagliari demanded of the paladin.

    "Brother Xander of Willow Creek. I see you wish to make a brave stand for your fellows; so be it. You will be cleansed first, and then I shall track and capture your fleeing companions."

    "Just let us go. We have no interest in you or your quarrel with the necromancers."

    "Unfortunately, mate, I have an interest in you."

    "How dare you use the title ‘Brother’… You are a disgrace…!"

    "Parry if you will. You will be cleansed."

    Cagliari dropped his sword.

    "No. I will not join this war. Not even at cost of my own life."

    "Then be purified, brother," the paladin said, swinging his axe in a full circle and smashing it down upon Cagliari's left arm. With an audible crack and screech, the metal pulled on bone.

    "I will not fight…" Cagliari began, and then, seeing the last undead pass into the edge of the maze of shadows, sighed deeply and just looked down at the ground.

    The paladin brought his axe down again—more grinding noises as of bones being pulled from their sockets and separated…

    "I will not fight… But I have bought enough time already. You will NEVER find my friends."

    He barely flinched as the paladin brought the axe down with a resounding crash. This time on his skull.
    Amilara and Diviara crossed the field, rapidly moving toward Battleon.

    "These look similar to the clouds observed during the collision with the Shadow Universe. Do you think that a coincidence? Is something bringing us into contact again?"

    "No, I do not think that a coincidence, but I also do not think that’s quite it… Hmm… The clouds are elementally charged. The mana is certainly flowing here, too… Do you feel that?"

    "Yes. Do you think this was what was responsible for our odd sensation earlier?"

    "I certainly think they are connected. We must collect more data and take more readings."

    "You think you know what’s happening?"

    "Just a supposition at the moment, but if I am right or even close, there is potential for very real damage to the fabric of Lore itself…"

    "You should ask one of…"

    "I thought of it. Apparently, They are not taking my calls right now..."

    "Do you think They know what’s happening?"

    "They know, but They also intend to let events take whatever course they will regardless."




    "We need to go back for Father Lux," one of the assembled undead declared. "He came to save us. Now we must return the favor."

    "No." Yacob answered firmly. "Father Lux ordered us not to turn back. We will respect his wishes and follow that order."

    "But, Yacob! They will kill him…"

    "That is a very real possibility. He knew that when he took a stand there."

    "That does not make it okay! Not if we can stop it. It is completely unfair. Cagliari was saving us from the necromancers! His actions were HELPING those paladins, even if indirectly..."

    "It is not fair, but when has life ever been fair, Yusef? The paladins certainly did not know that. They see us as a large army of undead moving outside Darkovia. We are distant from the front."

    "Then you do not think they followed us specifically to hunt us down?"

    "Do not be ridiculous. There is no sense in that. The Paladin Order has better tacticians. No, they happened upon us while on patrol in this area. They likely worried that the boundaries of the war were expanding or that the Necromancers were using Darkovia as well as Granemor as points from which to launch their attack on Battleon."

    "They are likely right in that suspicion too... The Order of the Mantle has always been active in this region."

    "Their model was active here, too..."

    "All the more reason to go. We have to rescue Cagliari before their mistake costs him his life!"

    "We cannot go after the father. What if we were captured or killed in the process? Then what?"

    "Then at least we tried!"

    "Yes, and then he dies anyway, and he dies for NOTHING…"




    All that remained of him was pain, agonizing pain, that dulled all thought and all other senses.

    For ages neither sight nor sound penetrated through that blistering red wall of agony. Ultimately, the necrotic processes that kept him alive, even in spite of such damage, and that had kept him alive for more than a millenia, made a desperate attempt at repair of his severely compromised physiology.

    Unlike a therianthrope however, he did not possess the faculty of regeneration, and as most of his skeletal structure had been seriously compromised with some of the bones taking considerable damage in the process. Consequently, the most that these natural processes managed to accomplish was the return of his other mental processes: vision came first; then the sense of sound; olfaction and its related gustatory senses, which had been somewhat dulled to begin with returned last.

    With the integration of these sensory pathways came the integration of higher reasoning and the return of memory and cognition and so the blistering pain that still filled his very being gave way slightly to admit identity and to thought.

    "I am the Commander" he said confused, before realizing that he was parroting one of his more recent experiences.

    He tried to move his head to change his field of vision and sound but found himself totally unable to do so.

    "I am still alive. Sloppy. Sloppy. Alive. Sloppy...."

    The mishmash of conflicting thoughts and sensory input finally sorted itself enough that he could ascertain from the various perceptions what his current state was. He has been literally disassembled. No two of the approximately 210 bones that made up his skeletal structure were still joined. And several of the individual larger bones had been shattered, including some considerable damage to his jaw and skull.

    'Why leave me alive?' Cagliari wondered.

    "You were not left alive. You were saved from annihilation, a favor which you will now return."

    Cagliari could hear the voice but not focus on it until a cloaked figure took his skull from the pile and glanced directly into his face.

    "Alas poor Yorick" the figure stated to the skull "I knew him well Horatio"

    'Who are Yorick or Horatio' Cagliari thought, distinctly disturbed by the appearance of this figure which filled him with far darker memories than even his recent disassembly.

    "Iwithnot serve Odauf Mantle "Cagliari tried to speak, but no longer possessing his lower mandible made articulating these noises next to impossible.

    "You should not speak too soon Cagliari Lux" The necromancer responded, Cagliari had the distinct impression that he intended this as a double entendre. Yet he completed the idea then solidifying which of the two possible interpretations he meant "You have been severely compromised. Until repair and healing are effected such only risks more pain and damage. I am somewhat proficient in more mental communication with my undead. It is an area of my people's specialty in fact."

    'You are a Brilhado' Cagliari thought. 'You are using the Cold. Do you intend to try to forcibly make me join you? You may succeed, but in the end that path will lead to your destruction. You should mark me well."

    "I am not an idiot Lux. I know who you are by name. Which means I know WHAT you are. So no... I will not compel you using the Cold."

    "I was of the impression Diviara Celegra was the only member of the Order of Mysterious Necromancers among your people."

    "Oh no" the Brilhado said. "My father in fact very directly rose to the Traitors place, an act which he was aided in by Father Dhows himself.

    My father however chose to keep the guise of a Brilhado, as generally have I.

    I am a wearer of the mantle and not merely a Mysterious Brilhado Necromancer, precisely because I choose to remain unidentified. You however can call me Grimveil. I came all the way from the fighting on Deren. Imagine my surprise to see THE Calgliari Lux, being killed by supposed adherents of his own faith."

    "Young" Cagliari said, and then remembering himself switched to thought 'You are very young... not even an adult...'

    "What does my age have to do with my capability to heal you?" Grimveil asked the undead pointedly.

    'I had heard that the warring was just as bad on Deren. Why would you come here, in light of that fact.'

    "I was summoned by the Order of Mysterious Necromancers. Naturally, I am a member, so I came. Though I am also the leader of the Brilhado so I had to hide the fact that I did so, lest it be perceived incorrectly as abandoning my own people for this front"

    'If you do not intend to force my service, what do you intend? You cannot convince me to join this war.'

    "Again with the soon speaking. On the way to this place I stopped at the City of Deren and looked upon the building site of the new temple. I remained hidden but I overhead the architect, a fellow called Myr, talking to the Derenian king."

    'and?'

    The architect said that he had heard word of some sort of damage, to what I could not ascertain. I did however hear him say that he believed given what he was being told that it was quite possible that the Lords of Light and Dark would not only allow this damage to occur but that they might turn their back on the situation entirely, likely permanently.

    'They do not support your war'

    "No. I gather rather strongly that they do not. That does not matter however, as neither my people, nor necromancers in general are any longer beholden to them. Given what I have seen happening in battleon and what the architect said. I think they have already abandoned us."

    Cagliari did not respond to this.

    "It is not as if they can even harm us, save by them stripping each one of us individually of our powers. And we number far too many for that to be practical. But those who harm their servitors. They will likely see the worst of what is coming. Presently, it seems to me as if the Paladin Xander, and his order are in serious trouble. Had I not chased them off from you, you would be no longer with us at all."

    "While there is nothing that the Elemental Lords can do to harm us as a whole. There is something they can do individually, and there are likewise things they can do to aid us individually. We have discord among my people. At the end of this war I wish the Lady to look kindly upon me among her creation and keep me as the leader of the Brilhado..."

    'And so you intend to use my injuries to your advantage.'

    "Yes"

    'You will heal me but only if I use my station as a communicant to try to advance your position.'

    "Excellent deductive reasoning. I am glad to see your higher functions were not more permanently damaged by the Paladins. For lesser undead may have lost sentience permanently being damaged as severly as you have been..."

    'Typical necromancer, you may not be compelling me via force but you are compelling me none the less. You are a coward just as the Paladin who struck me down was. You are no better than he...'

    "WATCH YOUR TONGUE UNDEAD. OR I SHALL WATCH IT FOR YOU..."

    'Hit too close to home?' Cagliari though deliberately 'You are a coward. You fear the change that you know is coming.'

    "Call it what you will Lux."

    'And now you threaten to harm me. What happened to not wanting to get on the Lady's bad side.

    "The Elemental Lords are irrelevant in this conflict. This is not a battle between the Lady and the Lord, nor even between her churches. This is a battle between the mages known as necromancers and the paladin order. You remain neutral as well. So why choose sides at all. I am only seeking security..."

    'When you seek security via manipulation, what you get instead is stuck in the swampy morass you have created. Will you harm me?'

    "No..." Grimveil said, his words were calm but his tone was the petulance of a teenager who had been denied something that they really wanted "but if you will not aid me. Nor will I aid you."

    'So be it.'

    "I must return to Deren. Good luck.... getting out of your current predicament...."

    With that he lobbed Calgiari's skull hard into an opposite copse of trees. Nothing that would do any damage, but it certainly made his rescue and reassembly all that more difficult and all the more unlikely...


    Grimveil landed with a contingent of Brilhado on the road between Battleon and Darkovia.

    “Auricarius”

    “Yes, General?” the GoldWing answered.

    “You and Argentum will take control of the army. Flank the city and begin your attack from the opposing side. They will not be expecting a war on two fronts. Secure the Guardian tower, and prevent entry and egress from that point.”

    “Respectfully general, I do not think an assault on the Guardian Tower is a wise use of our resources.” Auricarius stated “An assault there would be as foolish as commanding the armies on Deren to take on the palace.”

    “Just such an order is being given…” Grimveil stated

    “What?! Are you a FOOL?!” Argentum declared

    “Which one of us is the General of the Brilhado? You will speak respectfully and follow my directions to the letter or I will have you arrested as a traitor to the Brilhado. This is war, we cannot afford internal discord, and any such discord detected will be rutted out, by force. “

    “Respectfully general,” Auricarius responded, moving to place himself between Argentum and Grimveil, “Are you purposefully attempting to cause the forces that presently remain neutral to this war to join in on the opposing side. Guardians of Lore exist in both our camp and the camp of the Paladin’s but such a forward attack…”

    “Will add the crown of Deren and the city of Battleon to our enemies list!” Argentum finished moving out from behind his relative.

    “Are you refusing my orders?” Grimveil asked noncommittally.

    “Yes… “ Argentum began but Auricarius cut him off with a shake of the head and a quick gesture of the hand.

    “No General, only trying to ensure our people remain secure even after this war ends, and the war will ultimately end.”

    “Fine.” Grimveil grunted “Do not take the tower, just secure the perimeter. Set up a barricade. Only those neutral to the current hostilities, or who remain on our side are to be allowed to pass. Do you think you can manage that? Or will you argue with me on this point as well…”

    “We can manage general. Where will you be…”

    “The Order of Mysterious Necromancers is holding a tactical meeting near the Darkovian forest. I will be attending that meeting and then will return here. Are the other Brilhado contingents in place?”

    “They are general” Auricarius answered.

    “Good. You have your orders”

    Auricarius nodded and Grimveil moved off down the road.

    “That child cannot continue leading us. He would have brought down the entire weight of the armies of two nations and their allies on the Brilhado people…”

    “Yes”

    “What do you intend Auricarius”

    “To follow orders at the moment...”

    “What? You cannot seriously be countenancing Grimveil’s half-cocked effort… The fool knows nothing of sound military strategy. He is but a babe. ”

    “He is a babe, but he is also the appointed general of the armies. So yes I will be following orders. It is the only way I can also ensure that our people behave honorably in this conflict…”

    “Our entire race is in the balance. This is not about the Necromancers anymore. I do not understand why non-necromancer Brilhado are even required to be involved.”

    “Presently, Argentum, it is the Brilhado Necromancers who control the assembly. When the election occurs…”

    “If the election occurs,” Argentum corrected “I do not think Grimveil ever intends to allow that to happen.”

    “The election will occur. Let me worry about that. Grimveil is 13 years old. He can hardly be expected to have the calm or reason of an adult. He is just misguided.”

    “Be careful my kinsman,” Argentum answered “That 13 year old will pull down the world on your head if you let him. His heart is filled with vengeance over Shroudbrood’s passing. It is only because I was his Father’s secretary and acting under Shroudbroods recorded orders at the time of his death that I even am still in any position whatsoever… He is quite convinced that the council was plotting with Drakath to enable this assault.”

    “That belief might not be without basis Argentum. He may have in fact even gotten the idea from me.”

    “What? Of course it is without basis. It is the height of paranoia… why would he have gotten the idea from you”

    “Drakath somehow broke entirely free from the thrall under which he was held. Shroudbrood was fairly adept at the Cold. I wondered aloud how it was that someone could break free from the Cold without another expert on the Cold aiding the effort. I was merely speculating, but he has taken that speculation quite seriously.”

    “You did not do us or him any favors by wondering aloud Auricarius. You know as well as I the only Brilhado necromancers in all of Lore who would have dared stand against Shroudbrood are our cousins and they were NOT involved. “

    “Our necromancers are not the only Brilhado who can learn the Cold. All of our people have the facility, you know that.”

    “Yes but they, and the other magi, are the only ones who are regularly trained in it. And none of the non-necromancer mages would have stood in Shroudbrood’s way either. They called him the Charnel for a reason…”

    “I am very well aware of what Shroudbrood’s pedigree is. I refuse to just paint his non-adult son with the same brush. Grimveil did not choose his parentage.”

    “We will have reason to regret your magnanimity I fear.”

    “We undoubtedly will. That does not stop it from being the RIGHT course.”

    “No. You are right my kinsman. As usual you have thought it out rather fully…”

    “I have. I am only hoping you are not right about his paranoia”

    “Why? Why would you prefer that there is a Brilhado who aided Drakath with the cold

    “Because if you are right and I am wrong then our cousin and the Derenian crown may be in very very serious trouble.”




    Grimveil pulled up to the edge of the Glade closest to the city. A number of Brilhado necromancers landed there.

    “Why have you given the Redwings control of those armies.” One asked annoyed “They are the single party most likely to unseat us in the election. Grimveil you fool you as well as handed the keys to the fortress to them.”

    “There are plenty even among our number who would select the Redwing leadership over my own.” Grimveil noted. “If I failed to utilize them I would weaken my own position.”

    “Yes but why strengthe….”

    “If on the other hand” Grimveil interrupted “They were to be defeated in this war… Or to end up a casualty of our efforts…”

    “I see.” The necromancer responded. “How devious. You are your father’s son”

    “Yes. Yes I am”




    “Good evening Grimveil” The cloaked necromancer said, I see you are once again eschewing the costuming of both our order and your own people.

    “I have no need of costumes or makeup. Unlike you I do not need to hide my true identity lest it be found out by the masses. Imagine if they knew a respectful business man like yourself was a member of the Order of Mysterious Necromancers, such a situation could not be good for your business…”

    “Is that a veiled threat, Brilhado?”

    “No. Trust me when I say that if I were threatening you, you would know it, and by that time it would be too late to do anything about it.”

    “Really. You seem entirely too full of yoursel…”

    Grimveil raised his hand slightly while keeping his arm slack at his side and a diffuse glow reached out from that hand and a single tendril of the light touched the edge of the necromancer’s cloak…

    “Yes of course you are right.” The necromancer said. “I am a second rate necromancer who would not stand any chance against you. Your greatness dwarfs my own by an order of magnitude. Next to you I am an abject failure… In fact I have always been a failure. My shop is in danger of closing due to lack of business, I cannot control my undead properly either. The Light priest was able to rip them from me without nearly enough effort… I should just give in and di…”

    “Hold on… It was your contingent that Lux liberated. And ever the cowards you now simper at the edge of the forest letting the armies of other necromancers take the fore and take the risk…”

    “Yes…”

    “In point of fact our order has been quick to take the cowards’ way out at every opportunity haven’t they…? The priest called me a coward, and how right he was given I associate with the likes of you…”

    “Yes…”

    “You will walk out into the center of the most active combat. You will begin a direct assault from that point.”

    “I will walk out into the center…” The mysterious necromancer began even as he crossed out of Grimveil’s earshot.

    Grimveil frowned severely, even as another mysterious necromancer entered the Glade.

    “Grimveil. And how goes the eff…” The stout necromancer began before Grimveil abruptly cut him off with the Cold.

    “You will not take my people down with you. We will fight your war because we are bound by honor to do so. But know this my association and the association of the Brilhado with the Order of Mysterious Necromancers ends today. Regardless of the outcome of this conflict, our people will not be a party to your cowardice…”

    “You are one to talk about cow…”

    Grimveil increased the Cold’s grip on the rotund and rubicund necromancer. “Deliver the message. You are quite happy to put the Brilhado, the Moglin, and Lady Kaley in the path of harm’s way. Yet you cower at the edge of these forests as if this is some giant chess game… well this is Checkmate, our treaty is ended with this war. Our association is ended.”

    “Our association is ended.” The fat necromancer said stalking off into the distance.

    “Lord Grimveil, is that wise?” A Brilhado mage asked. “Without the support of the Order the Redwin…”

    “GoldWings” Grimveil corrected annoyed. “And you will return to the front, they are my commanders and they need all the support they can get in this foolish conflict and Rhapsteiar…”

    “Yes Lord” Rhapsteiar answered “If I should learn of any treachery or if those two GoldWings do not survive this conflict uninjured. It is you personally I will hold accountable…”

    “Yes Lord”



    Cagliari awoke from the veiled pain and darkness again with a sense of momentary motion he could not see or hear who was moving him but he was aware that his pieces were being gathered near the edge of the Darkovian barrier.

    “Hello?” he called and he was surprised to hear his voice articulate the sentiment clearly and without lisp. His jaw and the associated structures had been repaired completely, a fairly complex task given the damage his mandible had taken and the number of pieces that it had been scattered in.

    “Hello Lux” a voice answered. It was familiar to Cagliari but not very and he could not immediately place it…

    “Who are you? What is my status”

    “A fri… no that’s not accurate, an associate who wishes you no ill, but who had done you a grave disservice.”

    “Grimveil?” Cagliari said mildly confused.

    “Yes, It is I” the Brilhado answered, “I unfortunately cannot finish the job I began here. It has taken nearly two days just to rebuild your jaw and I must return to the fray. I cannot penetrate the Barrier that protects your encampment so nor can I send word of your status here. You have my word however, I will send the Celegra’s to find you should we both survive this.”

    “I will not support your war… or your grab for power.”

    “That’s fine. I do not know that I much support our war any longer either. It has been started though and so now it must be finished. Actions have consequences and the actions began here cannot merely be turned aside. I still cling to the hope of our people. I am still her rightful general and I will do whatever is in my power to see us through this and what is to come…”

    “I see.” Cagliari answered. “Then thank you for what aid you have offered. You are forgiven whatever wrong you have done me.”

    “Your forgiveness means much to me Father. Unfortunately, it is hardly enough…”

    “Grimveil turn aside from your pathway… The Lady would take you again in a moment.”

    “I am a necromancer Cagliari, My people are necromancers this is our identity we cannot turn from who we are in vain hopes of who we wish we still were. The Lady might indeed accept our service, but it would only be a lie. And there would always be those in the service of the Lady of Light and elsewhere that would suspect us…”

    “You can still be a necromancer and serve the Lady Grimveil, which is precisely what the Celegra’s do.”

    “The Celegra’s are better men and women than I, Father Lux. Let us leave it there please.”

    “You sell yourself sh…”

    “Let us leave it there please.

    Cagliari fell silent for he realized the sense of desperation that was contained in Grimveil’s request and the fact that should he wish to force the issue he could do so. He could even use the Cold and Cagliari would let the matter go without even realizing, without a second thought. Yet here he did neither. He simply asked, and desperately at that. And so Cagliari, indebted to the Brilhado for his restoration, as incomplete as it may be, acquiesced.

    “I must go. Good luck in getting out of your current predicament” The Brilhado said, choosing deliberately to echo his earlier words, but with far different connotation “Even should the Celegra’s and I not make contact, you are far closer to aid and far more gathered than you were. You should make it through this fine Father. Thank you for what you have done for me.”

    “What I have done?”

    “You called me a coward…” And with this Grimveil took flight.




    Grimveil was conflicted. Yet he was certain that his actions were the right course. If he was right about the tide of these events, things would never end well for him. Grimveil could not let go, not from his anger over the loss of his father, and not from his anger at the Brilhado being so carelessly used by the Order, of which he was until so recently a member.

    “You are certain in this.” Grimveil asked.

    “You have seen it with your own eyes. Lived it as it happened. There can be no doubt.” The voice answered coming from every side at once, “I know what it is like to seek vengeance, my own master would be annoyed that I got involved. But I saw you moving, I heard you, at my doorstep and I knew you and I for kindred souls. So I acted.”

    “Who are you? Please… I need to see you.”

    “That is easier said than done. I do have a humanoid form but it is not presently on Lore. My name is Case. I am analog of a being far better known to the Lorian people than I
    myself am. Though even my more well-known form is known to only a few.”

    “I know who you are. You are the Caelestian’s avatar… the one called Abode”

    “If you knew that.” Case answered “Why ask…”

    “Because I cannot understand why Falerin would be helping me.”

    “Falerin well understands the hotheaded impropriety of youth… My own pathway assures that understanding if nothing else does. But it is not Ardendor who aids you here. It is I, personally and directly…”

    “Why though…”

    “Because you are correct Grimveil. I have looked at the potential outcomes of your pathway. They are not good. Your fate may have been sealed long before this point. But if you are to fall regardless, I thought it best you do so with all of the information and not the angst of youth clouding a far less than complete picture.”

    “Do the Celegra’s know what you have shown me.”

    “No. And you will neither tell them or show them.”

    “Why? If that figure manipulated this sit…”

    “That figure is in exile and imprisoned. You could not reach him now even with the aid of Falerin directly.”

    “But Slug…”

    “But nothing. The Celegra’s and King Tralin are well aware of the history, nature, and behavior of that family. They will act accordingly.”

    “How does this help. Knowing but being unable to act at all. Have you helped me really? It seems as if you have instead trapped me.”

    “It helps your own honor Grimveil.”

    “My honor is not worth much. Not next to that of my people. Nor next to the loss of my father.”

    “You honor is worth anything, and in assessing it as you do I become even more certain. Auricarius was right.”

    “You have a friend in that GoldWing. You will have cause to fight with him and argue, but never forget that Grimveil. Even when you are the bitterest of adversaries Auricarius is your friend. The best friend you can hope to have.”

    “If you say so, Case.”

    “I do say so. Good luck Brilhado”

    “And good luck to you as well, apartment complex.”




    "Good evening Lord. How can I assist you."

    "Good evening apartment complex.” Falerin answered.

    "Oh. You know about that do you."

    "Of course I do. It is not as if I do not keep track of who uses the Hall. I must say I find the actual information you showed the Brilhado concerning. But I agree with your general assessment of the situation."

    "That's a relief. I feared you would be annoyed."

    "No. I am not annoyed. Though your actions could cause me some trouble. Given my changing stations. I suggest that in the future if you are going to act in a fashion which may open me to charges of violating my station that you at least give me some forewarning Case."

    "Understood. Sorry Fal."

    "How is the wife?"

    "Not fully recovered. Likely never will be really. But in general Cerras is well, thanks for asking."

    "Was there a reason you in particular came to this branch of the Hall."

    "I am afraid so Lord. I was looking for you..."

    "Why do I not like the sound of that."

    "Tirlerion asked me to find you and Eldron both. It appears we have issues with the home pantheon..."




    Diviara and Amilara pulled up short startled by the young Brilhado's signalling of them and they landed outside of Granemor.

    "Grimveil." Diviara stated "Why have you flagged us down. We are not part of your conflict."

    "And I think you know very well general that that is not true. You may not take sides in the war but you cannot avoid the aftermath anymore than I can"

    "You know something of what is happening..." Amilara asked the young brilhado.

    "No friend. Yet I see the storms as clearly as anyone else and I am skilled enough at my art to have notice the irregularities. Have you managed to piece together the what yet?"

    "My father has a suspicion. That is all. So why have you stopped us."

    "The friar. Your friend. He is in serious trouble the Paladin order disassembled him..."

    "What!? Cagliari has been hurt. Where is he..."

    "At the edge of Darkovia. I must admit ashamedly, that at first I tried to use his situation to my advantage... but I have since returned and tried to secure his situation and effect what repairs I could spare. It took me two days rebuilding his jaw alone. But you will need to seek him out as soon as you are able."

    "Do you wish to go" Diviara asked his son "I can likely handle this on my own."

    "You are certain he is secured?"

    "I have placed him within the very edges of the maze effect that protects that camp. I likely could not even find him again myself."

    "Then no. Cagliari's injuries grieve me but we have more pressing and immediate troubles. I will seek him after."

    "Okay, well then Grimveil if there is nothing else we have other needs to attend to"

    "No General." Grimveil answered Diviara. His choice of the honorific both startled and spoke volumes to Diviara about Grimveil's attitude.

    "Good luck General" Diviara answered. "You will need it."

    "I know. And to you as well. Hopefully you need it less. Tell me one thing. Why is it that your family has chosen the pathway that it has... It leads to such ambiguities and uncertainties. Is it not better to make an absolutely firm stand one way or the other. You in particular Amilara. You find no friends among the necromancers or the paladins with such a muddled course."

    "I cannot speak for my father Grimveil. I can answer only for me. I choose the pathway I do because I believe it to be the only right one."

    "But there are evil undead. Even without the involvement of our people or other necromancers. Many among the free willed undead are likewise evil. Even you have been recorded on the record as acknowledging this."

    "That is true, the evil undead however have a voice. They have a voice in their own actions and in the actions of the necromancers. They do not require me to speak for them."

    "Yet by not speaking on the topic do you not support them. How can you reconcile that."

    "Because GrimVeil. I take a very simple tact. It is far better for the cause of justice that 10,000 villains go free than even one innocent be caught in the crossfire."

    "Interesting... Well good luck General, Amilara."

    "Good luck Grimveil"




    Dark clouds, billowing with light moved across the Derenian sky their wake marked by the angry scars formed by arcing flashes of polychromatic light.

    A cold mixture of ice and rain began to fall on the farmlands outside the city, accreting on wet surfaces and forming long stalactite like forms whose extreme weight pulled down on the branches of the trees causing many to bend, break, and even snap under the weight being pulled upon them.

    Myr walked between the palace grounds and the temple build site and noted a particularly large example of the odd weather phenomena hanging on nearby eaves.

    Outwardly, the structure appeared to be an ordinary icicle, but for Myr, a communicant of the Lord of Darkness, the icicles were a curious example of elemental incongruity.

    “Something wrong Shadow priest” Drakath asked approaching Myr from the city and moving toward the palace.

    “I wish you would not use that term. I am a communicant of the Lord of Dark. Shadows are a completely separate issue… and speaking of which… These icicles are all wrong…”

    “Oh believe me I know. I have long been sensitive to the Darkness as well Myr. I detect their oddity as strongly as you.”

    “These are elementally inconsistent. Icicles composed not of ice but of Shadows.”

    “Not to mention that icicles in general do not form this time of year in this hemisphere. On Battleonia maybe, where it is mid-winter, but not here in Deren where it is mid-summer,” Tralin observed.

    The king stepped out of a doorway into the courtyard.

    “King Tralin” you have noticed the odd weather as well.

    “I could scarcely avoid hearing. The clouds are being seen, and have been reported, on every major continent and in the Maritime Provinces as well. These unusual atmospheric phenomena and the resultant weather are global.”

    “Global?” Myr asked.

    “Indeed, furthermore these weather patterns are strongly elementally charged.”

    “I noticed that these icicles are rather strange.”

    “It is as if they are composed of both light and darkness collapsing together and mirroring more normal weather effects…” Drakath observed.

    “Aye. I believe that to be precisely what is happening. Elemental Light and Elemental Darkness are in active collision and the shadow like effects are being formed by these collisions.”

    “What would cause such an effect? Surely we are not in the midst of an elemental collapse of the sort that formed the Shadow Universe”

    “No, but the effect is close enough to cause very real parallels with that event.”

    “So what then”

    “I am not certain, but I have strong reason to believe that the local leylines are bleeding outwardly.”

    “Local? But you described the effect as global.” Drakath asked

    “The effect is global.”

    “Meaning that it the effect is happening repeatedly and independently at each of these locations.” Myr extrapolated.

    “Indeed”, the king answered, “I believe that it is a side effect of the massive draw upon…”

    Tralin stopped speaking when a creaking cracking sound was given by the large nearby structure.

    He stepped aside narrowly avoiding the collapsing “Shadow Icicles” which exploded into pure shadow itself upon collision with the earth, tendrils of the tenebromantic material threading like undulating tentacles through the bushes where it fell.

    “This is disturbing. Where the elements are colliding what is being discharged has elements of void energy.”

    “But void energy is beyond primal, it is non-aligned. What cause would there be fore detection of void energy?”

    “As conflicting forces collide they are suffering massive local annihilation. That annihilation is releasing the combined energy as a single and unaligned burst of power. It is akin to the collision of matter and anti-matter.”

    “But that would mean that the boundaries of the Elemental Wheel have been compromised…”

    “Not necessarily, only that the Lady of Light and Lord of Dark are allowing the events to proceed and are not taking the usual steps to balance them. Hence, elemental integrity is weakened in this area.”

    “What does the Creator say…?”

    “That she may not say anything.” Tralin answered.

    “Isn’t that convenient for her…” Drakath answered somewhat sarcastically, “Her policy of non-intervention gives her a dodge”.

    “I think we can draw only one conclusion.”

    “Something massive is happening”

    “Not only is something massive happening, but it is far too late to stop it. The fuse has already been lit underneath the powder keg. And that only leads to one result…”

    “Explosion?” Drakath asked.

    “Explosion” The king affirmed.




    "Evidence exists your highness that the limited elemental cascade is evoking sentience.

    "What?" Tralin asked the scholar from the school of thought startled by this unexpected pronouncement.

    "The gathering charged energy has resulted in that energy itself beginning to take living form. However the elemental annihilation that is occurring means that which is being created is neutral anima in nature."

    "Living energy, but without direction, that is the basis for the formation of creatures like Salamanders and Water Weird, correct?"

    "Yes your highness..."

    "So what you are saying is that what is being produced is an non-e.. er... a neutral el..."

    "The words fail your highness, but yes I believe your understanding is correct. This energy is gathering over the major conflict zones. Eventually it will reach a tipping point, this tipping point is likely your described "explosion". At that juncture the cascade will be unleashed and manafest... er manifest in some manner.

    "One takes it in a manner not propitious for living beings of either anima."

    "One can only conjecture your highness, however, I personally would avoid being anywhere close to the impact zone. I do not particularly think it would be healthy even for other living neutral anima beings, as such beings generally have a strong elemental charge to go with their lack of spirit energy. This being, in so far as it can be called a being at all, is spirit that has lost all elemental affinity."

    "A non-being? This really does have an untoward ammount of similarities to the Shadow Universe doesn't it."

    "It does majesty but it is decidedly unlikely to follow an identical course because the area of effect is more contracted and because the elemental affinities is being lost. Whereas Erebus maintained his own."




    Case monitored the timing of the hall of memories very closely trying to track and follow the swirling mass of pathways that centered from that point and track any evidence of variation or violation in the integrity of the effect. Finally satisified he stopped and called Falerin.

    "Why are you making me run errands for which you clearly already know the answer." Case asked abruptly.

    "I beg your pardon" the Loremaster asked, seemingly somewhat surprised by Case's vehemence.
    "
    "There exists no evidence of any breaches in any seals. The effect being observed is entirely local. But I believe you already knew that."

    "And why is that?"

    "Because, in order for this effect to not have originated outside of Lore, it clearly must arise with the sufferance of the Pantheon. You know exactly what is happening here."

    "Yes"

    "So then why waste my time with this search. Are you simply trying to keep me occupied to prevent me from doing something else?"

    "That is a tad cynical of you Case. When have I ever done something of that nature."

    "It is not as if we would know even if you had Ardendor"

    "Look. I had you check because I wanted to be certain that Erebus remained contained. There is some evidence that he was involved with the Frigidere incident... and in particular with Drakath even though it happened well after his banishment. The simplest explanation is that he took steps to manipulate the situation even before his exile, but if and when that being returns here, I want to know of it. I knew of the local situation but the parallels to the Shadow Universe are numerous enough to be difficult to deny."

    "Well you can rest easy. The parallels remain, but Erebus does not. I take it you know why the parallels exist then."

    "Yes, I know. But I cannot speak of them now. Not even to you."

    "Not even to your own avatar? That is very peculiar"

    "Your track record for discretion is less then up to the task Case. You opened the hall of memories to a Brilhado Necromancer, even though the position of the pantheon was non-interference and you did so without even discussing the matter with me. You aren't further in trouble for that action, but you can hardly expect I will trust you as freely as before."

    "So something is coming then. Something very big."

    "The two orders caught in this war haven't the slightest idea of the stakes they are playing for. Worse, it would not matter at this point even if they did. Events have been set in motion. The genie has been let out of the bottle. It cannot be halted or even delayed much further now."

    "Will no one be held accountable for their actions then. Will these repercussions just affect us all while the guilty skate on by."

    "No, one way or another each will be held accountable and judged in accordance with their own actions. Yet, the boundary between guilt and innocence in these events is a razors edge... Case. Few are innocent."

    "And who speaks for those few..."

    "The Celegra's and Coueraservi among others. And we have taken action to further their situation including increasing the defensive barrier around their encampment against intrusion."

    "So fate and destiny shall be shaped by these events. Yadda yadda yadda..."

    "Nothing so minor. Fate and destiny shall indeed be shaped. Entire lifetimes shall alter in their course. All of that is true but it scratches just the surface. These events will do more than shape lives Case."

    "Then what."

    "They will shape the world of Lore itself."




    "The damage to the leylines seems fairly extensive" Diviara said with a frown "I am not certain how this can be gotten around. Krieger may have gotten what he sought."

    "It is small consolation that that damage stands to effect his own order equally severely. I take it the Lady is less than happy"

    "You take it correctly, I do not know for certain what will be done, the Communicants of the Church are being called to council."

    "I have to find Cagliari, but dad, what do I tell him when I find him? I cannot help him, like this. I need my necromancy. It's totally unfair that Cagliari should be made to bear the brunt of this..."

    "We will find a way, son. You and I have some unique attributes most necromancers do not. In the interim I suggest we find Dewlok. The damage to the leylines will no doubt have effected him somewhat as well but his skill as a healer is innate."




    Diviara and Amilara landed outside Granemor and pulled up short when they realized that Dewlok was not alone.

    "Is that Coueraservi?" Amilara asked with a frown. "Why would he be with Dewlok?"

    Coueraservi turned around hearing his name and frowned.

    "Diviara and Amilara Celegra, greetings to you in the name of the Lady"

    "You evoke that name quite easily paladin" Diviara said, his words were harsh but his tone was sympathetic rather than judgemental.

    "I am a paladin no longer I am not qualified for the office..."

    Amilara frowned.

    "From what I have heard Coueraaservi you are more entitled to that title then many within your order."

    "Maybe. but though I had concerns I did not stop it. That alone may make my claim of the title suspect. However I fear in this instance I am being literal and not figurative."

    Coueraservi went through a rapid transformation from his normal form to that of a golden colored dracopyre.

    "Donovan's bite got you in the end afterall." Amilara stated neutrally.

    "So it seems. I had hoped that Dewlok could help me but he cannot."

    "I can heal both positive and negative lifeforce, I can stabilize beings whose nature is in transition even, but I cannot fundamentally change the direction of anima. I am a healer, and that involves more than healing, it involves necromancy itself."

    "I see. I am so sorry Coueraservi" Amilara answered

    "I am not to be pitied. I do not know what my pathway will hold now, but whatever it is I am now the Dracopyre ScarScale. That is not to be lamented, but accepted. It is a fact. I am only sorry that I cannot continue my work for the Lady"

    "Do not be so certain on that count friend Paladin."

    "Still you call me by that term Diviara, you seem most insistent."

    "Perhaps you will choose a differing path entirely, but your order is in disarray, it has been changed. You may not fit within that order anymore, even in whatever new form it ultimately takes, but the Lady has proven very forgiving to those who face her with honest hearts. I learned that lesson from my brother."

    As if on cue another Brilhado landed at the camp and Diviara and Amilara were taken aback to discover that it was the very same brother Diviara was just mentioning.

    "Gil" Diviara said with a surprise "What are you doing on Lore, you are dead, how..."

    "I am always doing our Lady's will Diviara, be it here or on Aloria. I was sent to aid in efforts at the undead encampment. I was initially forbidden from seeing you but that was lifted as the conflict has reached its conclusion."

    "Greetings Coueraservi, I am Giliara Celegra, and it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Or do you prefer I call you ScarScale when you are in that form"

    "That you would speak to me at all is my honor Giliara Celegra, call me what you will."

    "Pragmatic and also desultory, all at once, I like him." Giliara answered "And you have reason to like him even more. He is the reason I am on Lore."

    "What?" Coueraservi asked startled

    "You sent a request for aid for the innocent. That aid was heard by Falerin and by the Lady. They acted"

    "He sent a request for aid?" Amilara asked somewhat surprised.

    "Many, including Cagliari, aided me in my struggle against Donovan. I wanted to be sure that at least some measure of protection was granted those who had no fault in this struggle..."

    "The protection worked largely" Giliara said. "Things may have been much worse."

    "Most were protected." Amilara said bitterly "Cagliari was less fortunate"

    "Cagliari is well nephew. You can rest easy. It is on that account that I came here. Dewlok, your aid will be much needed by these people in the future, but not in this instance."

    "I was not yet even asked." Dewlok responded "What has occured"

    "The damage to the Leylines is extensive" Diviara answered, "my son and I could not aid his friend, whom the paladin ordered had disassembled in their struggle."

    "By friend you mean Cagliari Lux?" Dewlok asked "I am acquainted, he is a good man. I would aid him gladly if I could. But reversing such total dis-assembly is likely more than my skills as a healer, no matter how gifted, could accomplish."

    "The Lady realized that, as did the Lord. Lux has served long and well, he has been rewarded. In fact he has been placed in charge of aiding an instructing a new undead who is struggling with his transition quite strongly. As to you Coueraservi..."

    "As to him" a female voice spoke "he must find his own way but would that way lead back to my door, he would find the door open to him and a welcome set out. Dracopyre, paladin, servant, you have acted rashly but you have been true to your call."

    "My lady" ScarScale said suprised and then ashamedly took human form.

    "Do you cower from what you have become my servant"

    "I am an undead lady, I failed at my station, and now my very nature shows that failure. I mean no offense to the undead but..."

    "But how can you possibly be both? Who knows. Not even I at this moment know what the future will bring for any of the groups of which you are counted. But there is one I would have you meet. You will come with my servant to the encampment, and there you will speak again with the man for whom your order is named. He cannot tell you how to act, but perhaps he can give you guidance If there is any who can speak of what it is to be an undead servitor of the light it is he. After which you will need to find your way, but I would that that way did bring you back to my arms beloved"

    "Commander Paladin is here?"

    "For the moment he is, yes."

    "Then lead and I will follow Giliara."

    "As to your friend and my beloved servant Cagliari my husband and I could hardly allow one so dedicated to be simply disassembled and left for dead. We had even offered him a return to biotic life. He rejected it. He still does. So we set him at an even harder task, for the newest undead in our service is very conflicted. Cagliari however did not hesistate. Not for a moment. Such is his nature. Though it may be a bit of a pun since the origin language is not Lorian. Cagliari is truly deserving of his surname."

    "Lux, latin, the light." Diviara explained "It is an old terran dialect. I am not so sure it is such an accident he was named that way. I understand he was an orphan..."

    "Yes, and Paladin himself named him. That is true enough, but how would the commander know Terran dialects"

    "How would I lady?" Diviara asked

    "You have been there" She answered simply and Diviara merely nodded demurely "And you my servants, the two of you, it grieves me that we have wronged you so"

    "Lady" Amilara asked "You have done us no wrong. You could not answer in the current conflict, we understood that."

    "Quite so" the Lady responded "You wonder how the lady of light can have an Undead Paladin in her service, Coueraservi. One might wonder equally how she can have necromancers who use darkness. But nothing is one sided. People are complex. It is part of their beauty. I must return to the council of the pantheon, but know this. I still watch you. Whatever path you ultimately take. I have watched you and I love you, such is true of your Order as well though I have now cast them from my church, I have cast them not to castigate but because they need to find their way, and I cannot be a crutch for the difficult journey ahead."

    "I see. I am honored to be so esteemed Lady"

    "My lady" Amilara asked "a final question. My uncle says that Calgiari has been charged with aiding a new undead. You intimated as much as well. Who is he."

    "One of my former paladins, who fell in the conflict some time before the end, he was a victim both of his own fears and his hubris and the necromancers used this to advantage in ressurecting him, but he was freed by the burning of the leylines, and I was not about to leave that particular one unguided. His name in life was Brother Xander, did you know him Coueraaservi"

    "I knew of him, he was not from this region, he came to the front in response to the summons. He must have been well outside his element"

    "Which is why I have forgiven him."

    "My lady?"

    "It was he that disassembled Cagliari Lux"




    Authors note: And here ends the narrative for the moment, not an ending, merely more beginnings.

    < Message edited by Falerin -- 2/16/2013 21:26:53 >
    Post #: 16
    2/1/2013 17:48:30   
      Dwelling Dragonlord

    ArchKnight AQ / OOC / L&L


    Shadows of the Past


    Ah, how this war makes me recall my youth. Again the paladins and necromancers are fighting for the right to live and undie. I recall how I got caught between those raging forces. It hardly came to me as a surprise to learn it was Artix who began this conflict, especially considering his .... history.

    I still recall the accounts about the holy fires that burned the western parts of Doomwood, oh yes I do. They continue to unsettle me to this very day. Not that I can say I pity the yagas who burned alive in those fires, but rather with the zealotry it was done. There was no hesitation whatsoever. Not that such a thing is surprising coming from soldiers. That's all what paladins are and always have been, soldiers to the church of light. But I digress, soldiers cannot afford to hesitate or they'll wind up dead against those that do not. It is for that reason that wisdom is hard to come by in such a profession. Worse, these men never questioned their superiors. In an Order which preaches itself to be the hands of the Lord of Light such ignorance should not be allowed to abide. Of course, hearing the tales from my master about their temple and holy grounds being tainted by darkness ages ago I could somewhat understand this.

    The initial successes of the Paladin Order were smothered, as the forest of Darkovia smothers all light, when they pressed for the heart of that dark place. Necromancers fleeing ahead from the marching paladins saw themselves forced to ally themselves with the Shadowscythe, seeing they controlled one of the few strongholds which could hold their own against the armies of the light. This caused the production of undead to rise at such levels that the Paladins quickly found themselves outnumbered and cut off from help from the outside. Those that managed to escape returned changed for better or for worse. Many Paladins were broken by the things they had seen, others became even greater zealots than before and eventually returned to the dark forest to hunt its many evils.

    The Shadowscythe gained a foothold as a result of that war, but many of the necromancers did not like their new masters anymore than the paladins. Some towns and villages were able to buy themselves a truce if they stayed out of harms way, but many did so out of fear. The majority of the paladins made their old stand their new stand, guarding the borders of Darkovia rather than attacking it. Then there are the rogue paladins. Hah, I know how preposterous that sounds. They don't even consider themselves to be rogues either, believing to serve the church of light by ridding Darkovia of necromancers and the undead. It is true that they have done many a good deed, but little do they realize what they reenact.


    It is said history repeats itself, but differently every time it does.


    I know this holds truth save for one thing.


    ~THE END
    AQ DF AQW  Post #: 17
    2/1/2013 23:15:08   
    kors
    Member

    Tough Choices


    Part I: Arrival.
    The Chronomancer stepped towards the field were a fight for survival was waiting. Kor could feel the clashing waves of magic as he closed in on his goal. It was quite a sight, Paladins striking down every manner of Undead at the disposal of Necromancers. The Necromancers replied in kind by reviving any of those unlucky enough to fall to their forces, and creating more for the Paladins to chew on.

    Even from his view Kor could easily tell that both forces were to suffer greatly. There would be little time left if he did not start for the Necromancers camp. This was going to be fun. He had not spoken to Kaley Obsidia for a long time, or was it from his perspective only? Time travel always had those little annoyances.

    Kor dove head first into the army of undead and Necromancers, ignoring and dodging many the attacks they tossed his way. Warping time now would only waste energy he would need for fending off the Paladins. Closer and closer to the camp and the tougher the Necromancers became and the fewer the Undead that bothered. Further to the north it seemed to be the exact opposite, perhaps because of the Mysterious Necromancers assistance.

    Obsidia’s war camp was in sight now. He hoped she would be there raising more for her army. Then a shadow, no two shadows jumped him from either side. Kor had realized that there might be guards near one of their leader’s campsite a little too late. They managed to bind him with a large number of skeletal hands they quickly summoned beneath Kor’s feet. He did not resist, after all it would only look worse as they threw him before Kaley Obsidia...

    Part II: A task.
    The two stepped back as Kaley turned around to see her new hostage. As soon as she saw the distinctive brown and blue used by the Chronomancers her right eyebrow rose in wonder. “Nate, Madara, Why have you brought this ally of ours to me in like you would a common Paladin?” She asked as she unbound the skeletal cuffs the two had made.

    Nate was first to answer. “He was running towards your camp, my Mistress. He came from east side, so we thought he might be allied with the Paladins.” The Necromancer’s armor shone red in the dark as he cautiously answered. Kor stood up and rub the area around his wrists. He looked over to see Kalen smirking and shaking her head as if in disbelief. Looked like it was good that Madara had not spoken first.

    The two looked at each other in confusion, having expected a different reaction. The sounds of Paladin boots came to the ears of the four. Without a moments notice Madara and Nate were off and summoning more Undead thralls. “FOR THE NECROLEGION!” Madara shouted at the top of his lungs.

    With the sounds of battle so close, Kor could not help but think of the months before The Reset and him becoming a Chronomancer. Then he would have been stuck with indecision on who was right. Only then he had not choices, just survival. Obsidia interrupted his train of thought when she spoke again. “I am glad you could come Kor,” she said in an oddly pleased voice. “I have a favor to ask of you and your ‘unique’ talents.” She pulled a skeleton from the ground with her magic and began to reanimate it.

    “What could THAT mean I wonder?” Kor thought sarcastically. His Chronomancy tended to make quite an impression on those who watched him fight at full power. Kaley Obsidia was not an exception. He sighed and asked what she wanted to hear, “What's the favor you want?”

    She smiled slyly seeing how easy it was. “I want you to kill a certain Paladin. He is a threat that can not wait.” By now the sound of the war was moving further away as Nate and Madara turned the Paladins back or brought them over. They had began walking back to Mistress of death. “He is called,” Kaley said in a tone that sounded like she was telling a ghost story, “The White Knight.”

    Part III: To the battlefield!
    Kor had heard only a few details of this Paladin. He had rose through the ranks of Paladins quickly, becoming a captain for the Paladin Order in only a few months. They had said he was a war machine capable of breaking whole armies of undead in hours. This would be fun.

    Madara and Nate had walked in at an opportune moment. Madara and Nate asked, at virtually the same time, “May we join him and take the fight to the Paladins?” Both of them seemed more than eager and able to fight on the frontlines. Their entourage of Undead, Skeletons and corpses of humans and a dracolich and a pair of Paladins, all seemed to be willing to follow their masters into more fighting.

    Seeing the small unit of Undead and Necromancers reminded Kor of one of his secret weapons. Kaley did not seem happy to let two of her Necromancers and their summoned Undead go on a potentially suicide mission. Before either of them could say a word a small raven flew down towards Kaley. A letter was attached to its leg. Obsidia let the bird land on her pale hand. The skeleton Kaley Obsidia summoned only a few minutes ago retrieved the letter and showed it to his mistress.

    Kor took this chance to begin calling his reinforcements from Trescol and Kairula. He began opening the portal on his side and his worker at the Estate began to work as well. The pair of portals began to rip through space to bring his mercenary force to Lore once again. The portals opened up beside Kor, and startled everyone nearby. “Stand down, I am only calling in a few reinforcements here!” He shouted over the deafening roar of the portals. It only slightly worked, most of them still seemed ready to jump at the first sign of a fight.

    Fortunately when his band of mercenaries arrived, neither side took a preemptive strike. “Nate Rivers, Madara Uchiha I ask you to go with Kor to Lord Scorpio’s battalion. They are being decimated by a pair of Paladins,” She ordered, completely ignoring the 30 or so aliens that had just appeared in her campgrounds. “The duo needs to be taken out as soon as possible. Kor, head southeast for 3 miles. Lord Scorpio should be fighting there.”

    Kor’s mercenaries started to head towards the sound of the fighting when Kor stopped them. He said, “Stay here with Kaley, there are not enough of you to be going into the thick of the fighting.” Kor turned towards his new team and said, “Lets get moving you guys will need to be quick if you want anything to fight!” And before they knew what he meant Kor was already fairly close to the battlefield.

    Part IV: Raising the dead.
    That was always an issue with time travel. Those without it take forever to get anywhere. Of course it took Kor forever to get their too, but that forever took less than a second in everybody else’s time. Kor shifted to a 1:1 time ratio began to summon an Undead minion. After all he might not get recognized by this Lord Scorpio guy, so might as well make it look like he was a Necromancer in more than just name.

    A skeletal hand pulled itself from the ground only a few feet away. Then a rusty gauntlet pulled out as the other arm pulled more and more of itself from the ground. It looked as if it was an unlucky Paladin Kor was raising. Well now he had a great use for the new axe the Chronomancers created. The armor was still largely intact on his new ally. Fred came in at an opportune moment with all of Kor’s weapons. He took this chance to quickly take out the Timeslayer axe and toss it into the hands at the former Paladin and grab his own glaive.

    The newly made Undead just looked at the new axe in his hands. The skeletal Paladin looked at Kor, almost like he was thinking of whether or not he was the one who raised him and if so what he planned to do about it. He decided against it. The same reverberating whistle of all skeletons came from this one as he spoke, “Why have I been brought back? I did not expect to be pulled from Death’s Domain at all.”

    “I have brought you back because I need to get into a Necromancer’s battalion without looking too suspicious, I figured I would summon something other than a former Paladin into my service,” Kor knew that an Undead Paladin was one of the more unstable when it came to be Undead. Hopefully those words would at least weaken his minions resolve to try and slay him. “May I know your name Paladin?”

    The Paladin shifted uneasily in his new form, obviously reluctant to give his name to a Necromancer. “Why would you like to know? I thought Necromancers would all abuse their magic and take my body as slave for your evil plots. I would strike down if only I could still access my holy magic and still wielded my blessed axe.” The tone he used sounded like one with little belief in his own words. After a moment his resolve to stay true to the Paladin Order broke. “My name matters little at this point, I was known as Sonic when I was a Paladin, and that is all you may know of me. I demand that you release me when you complete your reason for summoning me from Death’s Domain.”

    That did not sound like a half bad deal, if he decided he truly wanted that after all was said and done. Kor held out his unarmed hand, as if for a handshake with Sonic. “Nice to meet you, Sonic. I do as you wish when we are done, if you still wish so after this war.” The sound of a small group of Undead and their Necromantic masters came to Kor’s ears and whatever the Sonic would use to hear. It was Madara and Nate, coming to join them.

    Both of them were riding a pair of skeleton horses, it was quite the sight as they spurred on the horses to hurry and get to Kor. How much time passed since he shifted back to normal time? The two managed to reach Kor quickly. Madara was the one to speak this time. “How did you get here so fast? What sort of magic did you use? I can see why Kaley asked you to deal with the White Knight, if you can keep up with him like that,” Madara said, with more curiosity than amazement.

    Before Kor could even say a word Nate said in an almost urgent tone, “Madara, we have to tell him. Now.” They both glared at each other for a moment. Madara sighed, a sigh that sounded more like he wanted to forget what they knew not one of a man who would rather ignore it.

    “Kor, the White Knight,” Nate was obviously very nervous now. “He has made his move, and Lord Scorpio’s battalion is being hammered by Paladins now. His forces are engaging ours now. We need to hurry.” Madara nodded solemnly in agreement with Nate Rivers.

    The sound of an explosion echoed across the battlefield. Kor and Sonic turned, as Madara, and Nate looked up. A large sphere of light was engulfing everything where Lord Scorpio’s forces were fighting. It looked like the White Knight had made his move.

    Part V: Full speed and beyond.
    Everyone’s jaws dropped at the sight of it, many quite literally. It seemed like it was the secret spell of the Paladin forces judging by the reactions of the three former Paladins in the group. The stunned silence that followed the blinding light of the explosion was almost as deafening of the explosion. After everyone recovered from shock, and the skeletons reattached their jaws, the group began running full sprint to the battalion's aid.

    Kor hoped that he would be able to pull the others with him into the slowed down pace of time. There was no time to spare, but pulling them to a point where time does not flow would be impossible for him or any other Chronomancers. Pulling others would be difficult and tiring but the calverley need to get there quick, and he had the power to speed it up.

    Kor could feel himself, and the others near him, being pulled to a point quite far behind time. Time slowed for them. What remained of the explosions light faded even slower. The band of Necromancers and Undead were not even fazed as they saw the world they were used to slow to a snails pace. Kor leaped onto a third horse that Nate had called up as they ran. It took all of his concentration just to hold them at speed. It must have been quite a sight for all still bound to the normal pace of time.

    Every second(from their perspective) they spent the harder it was for Kor to maintain. Keeping this up would exhaust him. He liked the idea of fighting a strong opponent without the ability to manipulate time. For ages it seemed he had been fighting those with such powers. It was going to be a nice little break from those annoyingly strong monsters.

    The battlefield came into clear view, they could all see the fighting clearly now. They watched as Necromancers pulled up corpses, skeletons, and the recently deceased to their side and aid, and Paladins slaying them just as quickly in super slow motion. “This is amazing,” whispered Madara. “Wish I knew how someone can do such things.”

    Kor scanned the field, knowing full well that it could push them back to everyone elses pace. A trio of Paladins had broken the lines of Necromancers and Undead. Only a pair of Necromancers went to meet them in full on combat. Two of the five going into that fight must have been the two he was looking for, Lord Scorpio and the White Knight. “Perfect, two birds with one stone,” Kor thought as they closed the gap.

    It was about time they got out of their super speed. It would not be much of a fair fight like this. In a burst of mana Kor released the spell he used to slow time. This knocked many of their feet or in the case of the sufficiently rotten blew them apart. Kor drove his glaive through a few Paladin artillerymen as Nate and Madara both cast a necromantic tornado into the Paladin ranks. Their Undead made quick work of those who were still on their feet.

    “Only a few feet more...,” all of them thought. When they made it to the site of The White Knight and Lord Scorpio’s fight nothing could have prepared them for what happened next...

    Part VI: Necromancers and Paladins.
    Lord Scorpio figured now was the time to go over the battle plans his battalion had. He had the best of the Necromancers and few Undead not tied to any one. The battle plan was unfortunately very simple, to hold this position separated from the majority of both armies.

    He, like many others here, were upset with this position. “This is what we get for disagreeing with the Order of Mysterious Necromancers, a position with little strategic value and orders with little chance of glory,” Lord Scorpio opened as the final few joined him in his pavilion.

    The others looked amongst themselves glumly. It was true that they all had some disagreement with at least one of the Mysterious Necromancers over the years. It definitely limited their ability to influence the outcome of the battle. Most gathered here were not even a part of the Order of Necromancers, already decreasing their standing with the ones pulling many of the strings in this war.

    “We shall wait this battle out for now. The Paladins may just come here after they finish with the Mysterious Necromancers, and let us finish them off. That would be a very good luck break my fellow Necromancers, would it not?” Scorpio smiled as he thought of those with the Mysterious Necromancers and their ilk being purged from the world. Perhaps he could start a new order with those with him? It did not seem like such a bad idea at all.

    He was about to float the idea around his fellow Necromancers, when the sounds of bones scattering about the field, and the screams of Undead and Necromancers came. His second in command was the first to go and look.

    Hellblade stood just outside the tent’s flap, looking over the camp. The spellblade was not the best Necromancer, but he could plan and fight well enough that it mattered little to Lord Scorpio. Almost instantly Hellblade spotted the source of the commotion. A pair of Paladins had found their way into the camp. “This,” he thought with a frown. “Can’t be good. How did they get here? It better not be an omen of what is to come.”

    Turning around, Hellblade delivered the obviously bad news. He called, “Paladins! We need to get out there and fight! We can beat them, there is only two of them!” This rallied the group into action. All of them rushed out into the battle, the thirst for a final battle with the Paladins drove them on. Lord Scorpio liked the outlook for this fight. But first he should send word to Kaley...

    ***
    Popinloopy and his apprentice had found a goldmine. A decent sized battalion of Necromancers and Undead. They were going to get a nice little promotion after all was said and done. Flashbang leaped into the camp at the first chance he got. Popinloopy followed his apprentice with zeal, he could not let his apprentice get ahead of him.

    They lost the element of surprise very quickly. The sounds of their axes plowing through their sworn enemies was music to the duo's ears. The bright light coming from their magic would alert quite a few of their allies in no time, so they had to work fast. They darted and weaved among the ranks of Undead and Necromancers, dodging their spells and attacks and replying in kind with their own.

    Flashbang was pulling his axe out of the remains of a rather heavily armed skeleton when he spotted a raven flying towards the rest of the Necromancer forces. He quickly pulled out a crossbow and fired the one bolt he had in it in the hopes of keeping too many Necromancers and Undead forces from fighting them for the moment. When Popinloopy saw what he was about to do he shouted, “What you afraid of a few hundred Necromancers and a hundred times that many Undead? A true Paladin would never fear reinforcements!”

    It did not matter. He fired into the air. It missed by inches. Flashbang swore under his breath. As he joined his master once again, the bird flew as fast as it could. The two were back to slaying in moments.

    They lost track of time. They did not notice anything beyond the undead they targeted. It was not long since they started, and only a little while later did the first few Paladins start streaming in. The White Knight was the first to join Popin and Flash in the raid. He was enjoying this, watching the raised dead return to death. The sound of the infuriated cries of the Necromancers was invigorating.

    He worked his way through waves of Undead. Popinloopy stayed close, as did Flashbang. This newly formed trio broke through the lines as fast as humanly possible, and then some. It was nothing to them. They all had trained for years for this.

    They managed to reach the center of the battlefield. It was the perfect time to take his new spell out for a test run. The White Knight saw the one who seemed like a perfect target....

    ***

    Hellblade and Scorpio were shouting orders left and right. They could barely even get the army into any decent order. At this rate they would be decimated by a smaller force, even with a little extra time to prepare as a they slowly streamed in. Lord Scorpio would not let the battle turn into a disaster for the history books.

    A messenger skeleton came. The skeleton was panicking. “What is it?” Lord Scorpio asked almost fearful of the news. It whistled the bad news into Scorpio’s ear, not wishing to cause panic among those gathered. His eyes widened in shock instantly. He quickly grabbed Hellblade and said, “We need to go, now. The White Knight is here! We need to go and fight him!”

    Before Hellblade could object, a burst of light magic exploded near the center of the camp. Scorpio and Hellblade and everyone there covered their eyes. The burst nearly blew them away, and as the wind died down the sounds of running Paladins became audible once more. The Necromancers called up a few Undead shields to hold off the Paladins long enough to regain their sight.

    It was not enough. The White Knight, Popinloopy, and Flashbang quickly took every one of the Undead out, then moved to the Necromancers. Scorpio and Hellblade only barely guarded themselves in time.

    Light flashed, an odd bluish light, to the Necromancers left. It distracted both sides. They watched as a team of Undead and Necromancers rushed in and took out several on both sides, but mostly Paladins. They never could have believed what happened next...

    Part VII: War.
    Hellblade attacked first, going for Flashbang. His sword, burning black from the fires of Heck, came inches from landing a blow on the distracted Paladin. The blade ended up scattered across the field, broken by an unseen attack.

    “Leave this fight spellsword, or you shall suffer the same fate as the Necromancers here!” stated the White Knight coldly. Hellblade was knocked back from the sheer force of the blow to his sword. “Make your choice,” He said while walking back to the other Paladins after having moved at an impossible speed.

    Popinloopy, and his apprentice had turned their sights towards Kor’s group. They aimed for the Undead horses they rode. The horses ignored the first few volleys of bolts. The Undead behind them were not so lucky. Then Popinloopy made a lucky shot, the bolt pierced the skull of Madara’s horse. It reared in painful awareness of the blow. Madara tumbled into the dirt as his horse crumbled back into the pile of bones he summoned it from.

    Flashbang kept on firing bolt after bolt at the the dracolich once Popin slayed a skeletal horse. They needed to take that dracolich down soon or it’s foul, magic breath would make short work of them. The dracolich came closer and closer still. He fired again and again only clipping the wings on the best shots.

    Sonic did not like fighting against the Order that raised him for his sworn enemies sake. In all the years he was dead, something seemed to have changed. Few were willing to show mercy to the Necromancers, and none to the Undead. Most still fighting were in a blind rage. The axe Kor had given him hummed with strange magical energy as he swung it through the corruption of his former order.

    Kor turned to Madara as he fell. “Nate! Go help Madara! I need to get in there and help Lord Scorpio!” The Chronomancer turned back towards the White Knight and Lord Scorpio. He needed to hurry. This timeline needed the Necromancers and undead to survive this fight.

    ***

    The scout had urgent news. He sprinted across the Paladin’s main encampment. Artix himself should hear it first, only he would be able to determine the proper course of action. He leapt over tents dodged Paladins and horses, sunrays, cyclops, and other beings with a bone to pick with those who would join the Necromancers. It was then he forgot to look ahead, and ran into a fellow Paladin. He looked up at the unfortunate recipient of his inattentiveness, it was Couraservi.

    He only gave the scout his hand, no look of anger or annoyance from the Paladin. “Why are you in such a rush? Is it because we won?” he questioned almost sadly, “Pray, tell me do you carry such news?”

    The scout did not know for sure if it would be wise to tell Couraservi. The news was something that the more zealous among their ranks would rejoice to. He frowned, he realized Couraservi was not much of a zealot in this fight, yet the news would not be taken well by him either. He sighed and relented, “It is important. A group of Paladins have mutinied, the White Knight has convinced the overly zealous to join him in a crusade to slay all those on the battlefield.” He watched as Couraservi frowned in visible disgust. “I must get to Artix soon! He needs to find this band of Paladins and punish them.”

    Couraservi picked the scout off of the ground and spoke, “Then we shall go together. I shall tell him in your stead. He will have to listen us both before he makes his decision.” The scout wondered what that meant. At least now he had a guaranteed way to speak with their commander.

    ***

    Nate and Madara were able to quickly recover from the loss of Madara’s horse. They still had to get to where all the action seemed to be happening. They fought hard against the multiple Paladins who dared to cross their paths. They ended up losing their only other horse to a few stray volleys from Popin and Flashbang. It would take longer but they could make it easily enough. They did not want to miss this fight, it seemed too important to miss.

    Part VIII: The White Knight.
    The White Knight stared into the few hundred remaining Undead and Necromancers, feeling giddy at the prospect of slaying even more of them. It was lucky that his band of true Paladins had spotted the scouts bravely fighting the monstrous horde. If Artix had found the scouts first he would shame the Lady of Light herself, showing mercy to those who deserved none. It was this weakness that lead them to fighting this very fight.

    Popin stopped his ranged onslaught on the Undead for a moment. Through his visor The White Knight glared towards the scout. Popinloopy looked up at his superior and asked, “How did you managed to find us so quickly? We were sent quite a ways off from the main camp. I did not expect any help at all here.” Popin remained paused for a moment, expecting an answer he would not receive.

    As the Arch-Paladin of the new Paladin Order, he realized that those who were unenlightened would likely think he is a traitor. Absolutely false lies spread by those too weak to withstand his brilliance. Telling the scouts would likely only result in them leaving him and being arrested by the Old Order for a betrayal they did not commit. Perhaps after the war was won and the Old Order had fallen to the Necromancers would be a good time to enlighten those two. “I have to ask,” The White Knight said in his most commanding voice, “how did YOU find this place? It would be terrible to find out if you had taken your apprentice here to join the Necromancers or even desert us in our most glorious fight for all that is good.”

    Popin had a look of annoyance at the deflected question and of the new one facing him. He showed only the slightest intention of not answering the question but obeyed his superiors wishes. “We were sent by the Paladin in command of the 14th guard to scout the area for any signs of Necromantic reinforcements. My apprentice, Flash, was over anxious for fighting in an actual war and jumped in when he got his first chance. I admit I followed him and reveled in our chance but I am glad we got a decent sized force helping us now,” he stated almost matter-of-factly to his new leader. It seemed almost insulting.

    The spellsword still had not spoken since his defeat. He just laid there, not dead or asleep, but rather upset at just how weak he had looked just now. The White Knight had made short work of him and given him what little mercy he had afforded to one who had more in common with the Paladins than with the cowardly Necromancers. His broken sword still lay strewn about the area, their unholy flames extinguished.

    Hellblade finally twitched and began to move. The heavily armored spell sword was angry, he did not wish to die but he would not fight for the Necromancers and survive if what the White Knight threatened was true. He had failed to do what he had promised. This time though he would not fail...

    ***

    Artix slammed his fist into the war table. Not only had he disregarded his orders but he had abandoned the very principles upon which the Paladins were founded on. Couraservi only shook his head at his leaders anger. “How, how did we let this happen?” Artix questioned, “How could a captain of our Order just decide to take things into his own hands?”

    One of the White Knight’s former soldiers stepped forward, “I... I don’t really know why. He was angry, but I did not see him until he was leaving. I did not know why, I’m sorry Artix. I...”

    Before he could say anything Artix spoke, “I know, you are not to blame in this.” The Paladin looked up at his leader, surprised by how trouble he was in now. He was glad he had not deserted with his former commander.

    The remaining captains awaited Artix’s judgement on the traitorous group. They watched and waited silently as Artix paced back and forth, thinking on how to best deal with them. They could hardly afford to send their fellow Paladins to fight the deserters, but letting them slaughter all in that camp would not look good for them. They watched and watched some more. Almost an hour passed before Artix finally decided what must be done.

    Part IX: Impending doom.
    Flashbang watched as the left wing of the dracolich turned to ash and scattered into the winds. The rest of the beast slowly fell to the earth, its lone wing flapping desperately. Flashbang watched with glee as it crashed into a small group of undead. The young Paladin looked for his next target with an unnatural smile across his face. It dawned on him he had wandered from his trainer, Popinloopy. “Shoot,” Flash thought to himself, “I should not have focused so hard on taking the dracolich down...” A pair of Necromancers came into his view. He leapt at the chance to fight a pair of Necromancers alone, forgetting his earlier caution.

    Nate through a sphere of dark magic towards the Paladin who had managed to avoid their Undead. It pierced what little defence the Paladin had put up. He was sent flying by the force of the magic and slain. It would be pointless for Nate to raise another weak Paladin. Annoying fodder was all most of them were.

    Again and again the Paladins blocked their way and kept them from getting to the White Knight. It was impossible to get through them all. Once again he and Madara summoned up the strength to cast the Exhume spell, and once again it opened a small path as the twin tornadoes flung several skulls into the Paladins. A crossbow bolt shot through the dissipating winds, it came inches from landing in Nate’s shoulder.

    The dust settled to reveal a young Paladin loading his crossbow for another shot. Madara ran forward, Nate following seconds later. There was something different in this Paladin. Not quite a common weakling like most in the Order, or like those in the golden plate mail of their elite forces. Another arrow buzzed by. It ripped through the robe Madara was wearing. Nate could see the blood slowly bubbling up from the wound. Madara was barely even fazed by it.

    The three closed in on each other. Nate and Madara readied their staves, Flashbang readied his crossbow. It was going to be a slaughter. Dark and Light fighting for supremacy, such a concept was long over played but it was true for this very moment.

    Kor’s horse continued to gallop towards the White Knight, the Paladin he was speaking with, Lord Scorpio, and a spellsword that had only just risen up after being knocked down. He urged the skeletal horse onwards. Wasting mana now would be bad in the long run, he already used quite a bit just speeding up the process. If what he saw happen to the spellsword was right, this Paladin is able to move at incredible speeds.

    Driving his spear through yet another Paladin, Kor noticed that Lord Scorpio was only barely handling the Paladins that had followed the White Knight to him. The Chronomancer urged on and continued assaulting the Paladins who got close enough to him to pose a threat to the horse. His Chononium spear made short work of the Paladins’ armor. “Hurry, Hurry... come on,” Kor used a little of his own magic to strengthen the Undead horse, focusing his thoughts into the horse as well.

    Lord Scorpio had watched as the White Knight almost effortlessly knocks Hellblade away. He could feel his anger at the Paladins reach its boiling point. Scorpio lashed out at the nearest Paladin, angry from watching friends, allies, and even family die, carefully laid plans being threatened. All because of the Mysterious Necromancers and this Paladin’s forces had decided here was the best place.

    The Paladin he struck cried out and attracted several nearby Paladins. As they charged him Lord Scorpio thought, “Let them come, let them come and test who is the right and who is the wrong in this war! I have an Undead army to assist me Paladins, but who do you have?” The Necromancer continued bashing Paladins with staff, releasing bursts of dark-powered magic, and receiving occasional help from nearby Undead. Even through all this, the White Knight seemed to ignore his men’s calls for assistance.

    Cutting down many Paladins did not sit well in Sonic’s stomach. He had lost count at around 30. Each and every one he cut down seemed to be replaced with at least a couple more. He did not wish to die like this. The Undead Paladin continued slicing the Timeslayer through the various Paladins who attempted to slay him. Sonic knew the Undead cleansed by a Paladin’s touch never came back to Death’s domain the same as when they first came or when released by a Necromancer or their own will power. He fought hard against them to prevent such a fate from befalling him.

    Sonic finally managed to turn back several of the Paladins without slaying them. They fled and left him a clear path to a pair of Necromancers in a fight with a Paladin. He sprinted towards them. Never would this new body of his worry about tiring, which he considered a boon. The fight had weakened him quite a bit but nevertheless he could persevere for a while longer.

    Hellblade stood up. His body filled with pure elemental darkness. He had made his choice. A choice he know was more risky but the rewards were far more rewarding than his only other choice. “Lets see just what is in store for me...,” Hellblade thought to himself, “And lets see how you like this!”

    Part X: Demon.
    The young Paladin stepped up to Artix’s war tent. This news needed to be brought to him now. The attack that the White Knight had stopped months ago had more to it than they all knew. The two Paladins guarding the entrance looked at her suspiciously, as if they expected her to be a Necromancer in disguise coming to slay Artix. The guard on the left said, “State your business. Artix is busy right now. Unless you have news of an emergency which requires Artix’s immediate attention, leave and come back when Artix is not as busy.”

    Rinia frowned at the man standing before her. She pulled out the only bit of evidence she needed from her backpack. The White Knights journal. The guards looked at eachother then back to her, confused by what significance the book had to her business with Artix. “Artix needs to read a few pages of this! You would not believe what the White Knight wrote in this! This is far too urgent to ignore,” Rinia shouted to the guards.

    As soon as she said the White Knight, both guards moved out of the way. They had over heard the talk inside the tent and knew what he had done. Now Rinia had given them the reason why. The one on the left announced her entrance. She walked into the tent, not knowing how the leaders of the Paladin Order would react.

    ***

    Kor leaped off the horse. He let it run free for a while, hoping that it would not be slain in this war. An unaware Paladin was unlucky enough to be speared as Kor landed. After retrieving his spear, Kor slashed and stabbed his way to Lord Scorpio. The Necromancer captain called forth spell after spell each one taking their toll but each harming a Paladin or two. He ignored Kor for the most part, continuing to lash out at the Paladins who swarmed the two.

    Eventually Scorpio noticed the new fighter beside him. The stranger wore an oddly decorated armor, large shoulder pads with a single pillar extending to just above his head, a large clock ticking on his back, strange greenish-blue glass on a few pieces of his armor. He recognized the armor. Like many across Lore, he had heard of the Chosen and his strange armor, weapon, and powers. The new fighter at least seemed to be on his side for now.

    The frontlines for this fight had moved considerably since the fight broke out. Kor, Lord Scorpio, Nate Rivers, Madara Uchiha, Hellblade, Sonic, Flashbang, Popinloopy and the White Knight all had found themselves near the center of Paladin forces now. They had the Necromancers on their last legs it seemed.

    ***

    Kaley sat in the old wooden chair she had brought with her, wondering how the fight was going. She may not have been on the battlefield but she still was closer than all of the Mysterious Necromancers who forced her to lead in their stead. “Ungrateful, selfish bastards,” she whispered to herself.

    She was not the only one able to hear her say those words. Her undead servant heard them and replied, “Excuse me? What have I done to deserve your insults?”

    Obsidia was taken aback by the reply she got. The Necromantress had not expected Orzan to hear her. Fortunately the alien beings Kor had summoned were out of earshot, fighting to defend her and her camp. “I... I did not intend for you to hear that,” she stammered out quickly. “I meant it for the Mysterious Necromancers, not you Orzan. Sorry for it sounding like I directed it towards you,” she apologized to the Undead.

    Kaley Obsidia looked towards the horizon near where Lord Scorpio’s camp was located. Something seemed off about the area. Perhaps one of the Mysterious Necromancers had popped in to say hi and got caught in the fighting? Obsidia smiled at the thought.

    ***

    “Why should we trust this? For all we know you could be attempting to spread a malicious lie,” Halenro question after Rinia gave them the journal. She expected this, after all a bunch of proof that relies on a Paladin stealing from another, and then withholding it for a few days? Not suspicious at all.

    Artix paged through the small leather bound book. When he got to some of the more recent dates he slowed down a little. Exactly one month ago was the date that Rinia needed Artix to read, the very day the “demon” had attacked a small town near Willow Creek. The White Knight, Paul(or so the Journal said), had been the first and only one to respond. Some deal was made and Paul had quickly rose up in the ranks afterwards, and his writing became more erratic.

    When he raised an eyebrow was when Rinia knew she had him. Artix tapped Halenro’s shoulder, and pointed to something in the journal. No doubt the description of his encounter with the “demon” that Paul had made a deal with. The Paladin captain scanned the page. He two raised an eyebrow. Yep, it was the writing about the “demon”. She had it memorized by heart after the first few reads.

    “I traveled on foot to the small farming town of Malkoth. The Order sent me to investigate the reports of a demon attacking travelers, and merchants nearby. When I got to the village the villagers kind enough to give me a room in the inn for a few days for free. The day I spent in the village seemed uneventful. They gave me a meal and some not too helpful information on the creature.

    Earlier I consulted my copy of The Paladin’s Guide to the Undead and Demons, the description of the ‘demon’ I had gotten was nowhere to be found. Perhaps in the morning I will be able to find out just what it is I am dealing with.”

    Nothing was written down in the journal for a few days, and his writings started becoming increasingly more and more like the extremists who had taken on the moniker of zealots. All mentions of the “demon” had become praise and thanks instead of mentioning him meeting it and slaying it. It was not a possession, Paul remained in complete control it seemed.

    Artix set the book down. He stood up and said, “If what you have shown us is true, we cannot ignore it. The White Knight had already forfeited his status as a Paladin when he deserted with the zealots following. For this reason, you will not be punished today...”

    “Artix,” Halenro interrupted, “you can not be thinking of letting her crime be forgotten! We must uphold the rules of our Order. If we forsake our rules now, we will become no better than the deserters!” Couraservi nodded in agreement with Halenro, as did several others.

    With a sigh, Artix continued, “I know, which is why she is to go and assist in the capture of the rouge Paladins.”

    Those words echoed in Rinia’s ears. She was not a strong fighter like most in the Paladin Order, and she was still new as well. Rinia silently prayed that enough of the Paladin captains gathered here would disagree with Artix and keeper her inside the camp. She did not care if she got the punishment for stealing from a fellow Paladin, she could handle that. It was fighting in a life or death situation that scared her so much.

    Her fear of going into battle must have been obvious because none of captains, besides Halenro, objected to Artix’s decision. She was to go with a small contingent of Paladins and bring the survivors of the battle to the south west of the Paladin camp. Rinia prepared herself accordingly, she put on her armor and picked up her sword and shield. The troops left only seconds after she joined them. “Off to battle I go, it seems. Oh lady of light, please let me come back alive.”

    ***

    Flashbang’s axe caught itself in the dirt where a Necromancer stood only a split second ago. Those two were more trouble than he originally thought. He abandoned his axe for the moment and drew his sword, intending to slash right through one of the two’s chest. As Flashbang sprinted towards the Necromancers, he could see movement out of the corner of his eye. A Paladin rushed him. He found himself on the ground not long after impact. He looked up to see a skull and an axe looking down on him.

    Hellblade limped closer to the White Knight. His spell was almost ready. The power he had filling him would be able to end this “Paladin”. When he looked at him, Hellblade only felt an empty cold. It seemed right that this one would be leader. A group of zealots who only wanted to slay led by a cold man with no sense of real mercy. Ending him would be a pleasure...

    Part XI: Might.
    Paul looked at Popin, wondering what the Paladin scout was thinking now. The Paladin did not seem to be enjoying the slaughter as much as he hoped. The renegade looked at his accidental accomplice. Popin turned around suddenly. The White Knight followed Popinloopy’s example and turned.

    *CRACK*

    A fist struck the Paladin’s face. The blow sent his helmet flying into a nearby Paladin, distracting him for a second. Paul staggered backwards from the blow. He spat out a tooth and some blood. The Paladin screamed at his attacker, “YOU HAVE MADE A POOR CHOICE, NOW YOU DIE HERE!”

    “No, Paladin, it is you who shall die,” the spellsword said calmly. His words unsettled the Paladins nearby, the words dripped with anger and smelled of wounded pride.

    The White Knight quickly drew his axe. He could feel the magic ready to burst from Hellblade. Paul summoned all his strength and called forth some holy light at the threat with blinding speed. The burst of magic created a blinding light all around Hellblade.

    Popin stepped back and watched in shock as once again this Paladin moved at unnatural speeds. He stood there not knowing what to do. The only thing he could do at the moment seemed to be just to shield his eyes from the holy light. When the light faded enough for them to see, the target of the White Knight’s spell was still standing. And he still looked ready to explode...

    He took a step closer to the false Paladin. Hellbade’s spell was ready and it would end him, he knew it to be so. A dark storm would end almost any near the center. The cost of the spell was great but it would be good to die saving Lord Scorpio. His friend had helped more than enough to justify him giving his life to save those near to him.

    Kor pulled his spear from a Paladin’s leg. The Paladin screamed in pain then passed out. With the last few attackers defeated, Kor turned to Scorpio. “I assume that you are Lord Scorpio?” the Chronomancer asked. The Necromancer turned to him and nodded.

    “Yes I am,” stated Lord Scorpio, “And you must be Kor. I am surprised to see you here, wouldn’t have joined the other battlefield.” Scorpio gave a weak smile and shook his head at just how odd a day it has been.

    The Chronomancer confirmed Scorpio’s suspicion, “That I am. Kaley Obsidia had asked me to defeat the one known as the White Knight, and then when the fighting broke out here she asked I come and help you guys,” Kor looked around at the piles of bones and corpses littering the area. “And I guess I brought the calverley just in time as well.”

    Madara’s shoulder ached from the crossbow bolt. The Necromancer raced towards the Undead, ignoring the pain. Letting that Paladin die seemed like a waste of time. After all why raise the dead for information when you can ask the living? When he neared the skeletal Paladin, Madara used his magic to hold the Undead in place for a second.

    The former Paladin did not take it very well. “What are you doing Necromancer? Why let your attacker live? I did not think any of you had a hint of mercy in your souls,” Sonic shouted towards the Necromancers behind him. Then he noticed the skeletal hands raising up out of the ground. “Are they planning on dragging the poor boy down a few hundred feet and letting die like that?” he thought as he watched the hands grab onto the Paladin.

    Nate was the one to step up to the confined Paladin. “Tell us,” he started. “How did you find this place Paladin?” Flashbang did not know how to respond to those questions. If he did not say anything would they just end him or would they turn him into their minion and force him to answer a question he could only half answer?

    Hellblade was ready for this. It seemed as if the moment of truth had come. Even if he could survive this there was no way he would last much longer, the wounds the Paladins had dealt would leave him dead in a few minutes. At least he would still have enough mana left over to become a lich. “It is over now,” he whispered, “Paladins.” And with those last few words Hellblade released the shadow storm.

    ***

    Rinia’s team was mostly the elites of the Order. It made her feel all the more inadequate if they would have to fight the zealot. Her holy sword was at least still useful but she just did not have the skill to use Undying Might. The captain leading them had said she would do fine but Rinia did not feel like it would end well for them.

    Capturing Paul sounded like an impossible feat for them. They had all heard the stories of how he could move as fast as light, and had become incredibly strong after he met with the “demon”. Hopefully the “demon” was not anywhere nearby. The description the White Knight had written gave her goosebumps just thinking of it.

    The battlefield loomed ever closer to group. They could see all carnage that the lay before them. On the ground sparks of magic, light and dark, came from every part of the field, and in the air the same clouds that covered the main battlefield had appeared here. It was a grim sight for Rinia. They never could have expected what happened next.

    Part XII: Holy.
    The storm of darkness surged through the area. The surge of magic buffeted the Paladin forces. Paul barely kept his footing as the purple darkness tore at him and his true Paladins. “That stupid fool, may he die a thousand times over for each Paladins he harms!” The White Knight mentally shouted.

    The storm weakened enough for his light to pierce through the darkness. It was impossible to dissipate all of it though. He would have to wait it out it seemed. In the meantime however, he need to heal himself.

    Popin tumbled in the ill winds created by the spellsword. Like many others he had the ill luck to not prepare himself before hand. The power of the spell was something to behold though. The strength of the winds hurled at least a hundred Paladins and several for the other side across the plains.

    Kor and Scorpio watched in amazement, horror, and shock. Scorpio could not believe that Hellblade would unleash such a spell. As soon as the storm calmed, the first thing they saw were the only two people left standing. Both of them tightened their grip on their weapons. It was almost time.

    Madara, Nate, Sonic, and Flashbang had watched the spell take its toll on the armies fighting. When they overcame their shock, Flashbang was the first to speak. “What... What have you Necromancers done?” The young Paladin shouted. The Undead Paladin looked towards the two Necromancers in a way that implied a glare.

    The duo both denied any knowledge of the attack. “Listen Paladin,” Nate stated. “We were not involved in this. Not all on our side are with each other. Most of us here are only here because of the Mysterious Necromancers accepting your Orders offer!” The frown on Nate’s face was deep.

    Madara was in deep thought as Nate spoke to the captured Paladin. “Perhaps we can use this Paladin? He seems like the sort to join those in the right...,” swam through the Necromancer’s mind. He called the skeletal hands off of the poor Paladin. “Come with us, Paladin. We are going to find out what caused that spell,” He said and as he helped the Paladin up, pointed towards where the storm originated.

    ***

    Rinia paled when the dark winds tore through the renegade Paladin forces. All those who had come on the task force all were worried. If that is the force that the Necromancers had at their disposal than perhaps fighting them was a suicidal tactic. “No, don’t think like that Rinia. That must have just been the strongest of them. Yeah that sounds about right...,” the thoughts continued to tell her.

    Her horse slowed down as it saw what it was going towards. Rinia encouraged the beast onwards. The storm was calming now. Even though the darkness was fading it still did not seem to like where it was going.

    When the storm had cleared, it looked like clear sailing from here. The clouds that had gathered over the war still had not yet dispersed, but it seemed to slowly lighten for the Paladins.
    ***

    It was not hard to see the White Knight now, a bright purple slush had coated his formerly all white armor. Near to him was another person who had managed to survive the dark winds the storm had made. The four uneasy allies ran towards the two near the center of the destruction.

    “How could those two still be standing?” asked Flashbang. “Who could have withstood such a spell?”

    “We don’t know Paladin!” Nate spoke those words with such venom in the word Paladin that he seemed ready to fight at any moment with their uneasy ally. Flashbang noticed the resentment in those words and drew his axe.

    Madara quickly stepped between the two. It would not due to fight now, when a temporary alliance has just been made. Sonic made no move to quell the two. “Save the fighting for later, finding out who cast that spell should come first,” Madara dragged the pair along the scarred earth. He did not think that finding out who had cast that spell was the right choice, he had more of an interest in hopefully learning how to cast that very spell himself.

    Kor and Scorpio sped along the now destroyed plains, towards the center of the destruction. Lord Scorpio raised a small band of Undead to help him and Kor in the coming battle. The Undead were almost always exclusively Necromancers, raising Paladins to fight their former leader was the best idea to get yourself stabbed in the back.

    He felt very dizzy, sick even. The newly Undead lich looked over his new form. It was largely the same as before, only now he had a few holes going through him. The dark storm had done a number on him. Hellblade began drawing the remains of his unholy sword, Irkazol, to him. He thought as he gathered it, “Shame it could not transcend with me....”

    Once all of his blade’s remains had found their way towards him, he looked up to see how his target faired. Much to his surprise, and annoyance, the Paladin had survived the spell. Casting it again would be a horrible idea, he had used up all his extra lives to cast that spell and could afford no more. It was no longer a time to disregard his every move.

    Hellblade stepped closer as the Paladin drew his axe once again. “I find it amazing that you could have survived Paladin. Even I could not escape the spell’s wrath,” the lich said in a begrudging tone. From all his studies on that spell, it should have killed any near the center.

    The Renegade Paladin smiled. “This,” Paul thought. “Is going to be too easy!” He charged at the lich. The broken blade he was remaking would do no good the way it is now. A spell flew his way, and he dodged it with ease. Then something caught his eye and ended his concentration on the fight.

    A small group was heading his way. In the split second it took for his concentration to falter, Hellblade managed to land a hit on the fast Paladin. He too noticed a small group, only this one did not come specifically to assist the lich. When he saw them he thought to himself, “If only they could help.... I could use some more help soon. This Paladin is... oddly powerful.”

    Flashbang and Sonic helped a Paladin laying face first in the dirt. Flashbang was the only one with any proper non-self healing magic available, so he healed the dirty, unconscious Paladin. As he healed the Paladin, Sonic rub some of the muck off of the Paladin’s face so they all could get a better look.

    When he finally got a good look at the Paladin Flash nearly leaped for joy. Popin had survived and they had just saved his life! It was a joyous moment for the Paladin apprentice. The second he opened his eyes, Popinloopy was regaled with his apprentice’s story of the Undead he defeated and of his temporary alliance with Necromancers. Flash had forgotten entirely of the healing still required for Popin, which spared the Necromancers and Sonic long enough for Popin to relent on his orders to slay anything that assisted the Necromancers.

    Neither Necromancer wanted to break up the sappy reunion the two were sharing. But when their attention turned towards their goal, Nate and Madara realized that they would need all the help they could get. “Listen, Paladins, I know this is a kinda tender moment for you two but we should get over their quick!” Madara said as he directed both of them to look towards where Hellblade and the White Knight were fighting. “We have bigger issues to attend to....”

    Paul focused on his singular goal as he chanted to the Lady he served. “By my hands I promised to slay all those who threaten Lore, the order of our world, and your faithful servants. Now give me the strength to slay all who oppose our Order and wish to wipe us from the histories. HOLY MIGHT!” Those last words reverberated across the battlefield. He began to grow to an almost giant size, and still he grew. All those who watched were stunned at the power he wielded in order to grow to the size of a medium-sized tower.


    Part XIII: DOOM...
    The Chronomancer rushed towards the giant Paladin. Time it self was being manipulated by someone. No timeline he had visited involved such a battle. It was very odd that he had came across the one abnormality so easily. The White Knight would have to go down if the timeline would continue with the path most others had chosen. Kor did not like the thought he had of how such a divergence could have occurred.

    He looked at the gigantic Paladin, “Lords, how are we going to fight that?” The White Knight loomed over the battlefield as his magical growth slowed to a halt. It was impossible for any normal Paladin to use Holy Might to become that big. The coming fight was going to be a tough one.

    ***

    They watched in awe as the traitorous Paul used Holy Might. All of them did not know what this meant for their Order, a traitor able to use one of their strongest techniques. Rinia and her horse stopped dead in their tracks. It was terrifying already for her, now they had to add in a gigantic Paladin heretic who could likely just stomp on them and win.

    Another Paladin put her hand on Rinia’s shoulder and whispered into her ear, “We need to keep moving you know, can’t go and miss all the fun now!” She patted her back and the horse to encourage both of them to keep on moving.

    Rinia only shook her head and sighed. “You call that fun?” She silently said to the Paladin as they continued to what Rinia thought would be their doom. “It looks more like a disaster waiting to happen.” The others had switched to a gallop now, perhaps hoping to join in on the fun. She followed them and speed up to keep with them. It would only be a few more minutes until they reached the zealous traitor.

    ***

    The ragtag band of five ran as fast as they could. The earth shook as the White Knight through all his might into each attack, yet still maintaining his large form. They each took their turn to fall flat on their face and awkwardly get up just in time from the next quake. Each had their own reasons for heading into the center of a massive fight but they all had joined forces for the time being.

    Popin watched both the Necromancers and the Undead Paladin closely. He was still unsure of their honor, like any sensible Paladin who grew up surrounded by the Order as a kid. It seemed like a trap to him, but they were heading in the wrong direction to head into a Necromancer trap. The White Knight was at the spot they were heading. If it was a trap, it was set for the Necromancers not the Paladins.

    “Fighting him like this is...,” Hellblade’s train of thought crashed as he leapt out of the way of the gigantic axe coming down on him. The battle was taxing his Undead body more than he thought. “I really need more help here. I won’t be able to win at this rate!” Hellblade launched a stream a darkness at the Paladin’s chest, hoping it would pierce the Paladin. It only bounced off the White Knight’s plate mail

    Looking down on the coming reinforcements, Paul bellowed, “Necromancers! Stand down and let me give you the mercy of a quick death! That is all your kind deserve. I shall end your kind and show my brothers in arms just how wrong they were to let any of your kind to live!” He smiled in an unnerving grin as he struck at Hellblade once again. Paul narrowly missed the lich as he released yet another blast.

    Lord Scorpio’s face was red with anger at his words. Giving up was not something Scorpio could do. He commanded the dozen or so Undead he had raised to hurry and bring that Paladin down. They looked at each other worriedly, not exactly wanting to go and risk their newly undead lives on a fight like what they saw happening now. Eventually they relented and they sped up. The small band of Undead would at least reach Hellblade before him and Kor could.

    It was odd seeing the reinforcements coming from behind him, but any help was appreciated. He moved to separate himself from the others, hoping that the White Knight would go after them instead. The Undead all shouted in unison, “For the Necrolegion! Die and join us Paladin!” Several laughed quite menacingly, out of fear or genuine threatening seemed impossible to tell.

    Paul knew what those Undead abominations wanted, and he would give it to them. He brought his axe down on them. The burst of light and dirt narrowly missed most of the Undead, but the attack was more than enough to scatter them. He smiled as the Undead struggled to get back up. The battle was going the way he want it to once again. Now he could get a full revenge on those who had slain his brothers-in-arms.

    Kor and Scorpio were drawing closer to the Paladin, “Almost there... almost there,” thought the Chronomancer as they ran to their final fight. The energy that the White Knight was giving off was almost unnatural, but Kor recognized it with ease. “Of course they are involved in this, they always are. Darn Chronocorrupters....,” disliked the possibility before but now there would be no denying it. Hopefully Sonic was going to be nearby, he needed that axe and soon now.

    Sonic watched as the giant Paladin’s axe crashed into the ground and the blast it created. He shook his head in disgust, the if this is what the Order has become he would feel much better knowing he can fight such a corrupt group rather than die like the other Undead he has seen. The Undead readied the axe he was given and charged on ahead of the others. Soon the one who raised him would have to keep his end of the deal, sending him back to Death’s domain as he wished.

    Another quake shook the area, and it brought down several of the Undead fighting the White Knight. They had all been fortunate enough to avoid that attack’s full potential. As soon as they managed to get back onto their feet another attack awaited them, forcing them to do more dodging than actual fighting. By the time Sonic arrived, several had been killed for the second time that day. The battle had been slowly going to the Paladin’s favor from the beginning but now it was an almost hopeless fight for the Necromancers.

    The four managed to stand up and began to charge once more, they all had tried to keep up with the speeding skeleton but had quickly fallen behind. “Come on! Hurry, Hurry!” shouted Popinloopy as he helped his apprentice up. “We can’t let the Necromancers reach the White Knight first!” They managed to pull ahead of the Necromancer duo as they sped along the field.

    Nate watched as the Paladin prepared to strike again. It seemed he was holding back for something. He slowed down to get a better sense of the Paladin’s rhythm. Madara looked back to see his fellow Necromancer standing still and shouted, “What are you doing? We need to move! We have to help them!”

    “No! We need to get out of here! That Paladin still has a trick or two up his sleeve yet,” replied Nate. The other Necromancer only raised his eyebrow curiously. He grabbed Nate’s arm and began dragging him towards the White Knight. Nate struggled to get out of Madara’s deathgrip and study the Paladin a little more.

    Kor and Scorpio started to assault the feet of the White Knight. It was almost pointless considering how tough his armor had become thanks to that purple gunk. The darkness infused dirt had crusted over his armor and made it nearly impenetrable. Kor’s spear bounced off each time he struck at the plate armor of the Paladin heretic. Most of Scorpio’s spells only blasted off a small layer of the gunk, but he was getting tired and would not be able to keep the barrage up.

    The entire time he fought, Kor scanned for the Undead he had called back to this life. Sonic had the one item he needed if they were to truly end the obscenely powerful Paladin. Kor avoided the attention of the zealous warrior with relative ease, only a couple of attacks even distracted slightly from the White Knight’s rampage.

    After several minutes of darting and weaving around the White Knight’s feet, Kor’s goal came into sight. The Undead Paladin was doing his best to keep his unlife safe from the Paladin. Kor took his chances and dove towards Sonic, not letting the skeleton out of his sight. They needed that axe, even the White Knight must have realized it. His assault began to focus on the axe wielding skeleton.

    The pair of Paladins watched as their temporary leader relentlessly took on the Undead that had swarmed him. His determination to slaughter all who opposed him was unsettling to the duo, but they had their honor to their Order to maintain. They both jumped into the fray and started to attack the Undead.

    Kor watched as a pair of Paladins jumped in, worried that Sonic might not notice and end up on the wrong end of their blades. The skeletal Paladin managed to notice the Paladins gunning for any Undead nearby. Then they pulled out the crossbows.

    ***

    They made their way over the bodies of their allies and enemies. It was a concerning sight to Rinia, she had not really had much experience on a battleground of this magnitude before. She had joined a few months after the last Necromancer and Paladin war. Her face had paled quite a bit and the others had noticed her distress. They were too polite to say it to her face though.

    “We are almost there,” the leader observed. The tremors had become stronger as they neared the fighting. “Looks like it will be over soon. Tsk Tsk, I thought we taught them better. He should have been able to handle them if he can use Holy Might for that long,” he shook his head in a disdainful manner. That was when it happened. None of them could have expected what happened next.

    Part XIV: Victory is Bittersweet...
    The fighting across much of the Battleonian continent was over. Only a few isolated pockets of fighting remained. From one of them a shout echoed through much of the warzone. The reports said that the shout said, “Oh for the love of Pom-Poms!” Nobody understood what it meant, nor who had shouted those words.

    Kor was lucky today, the White Knight’s final attack had been impossible to dodge. It was for all involved very obvious as he prepared to strike. He had pulled time to a stand still. Holding time still was going to tire him out too much to get away from the attack, so he had to cross to another timeline long enough to escape the attack.

    Jumping to the nearest timeline was easy, and since no other timeline had any fighting happen in that space, it would be safe for a minute or two. The few Necromancers there were shocked at seeing him and attacked. Kor had little choice but to run from the angry, suspicious mob that came after him. “How odd, first I find myself running through the crowd of Necromancers to get to Kaley so I can join the war, now I run through another crowd of Necromancers. Hmm... looks like it is about time to see if the corrupted Paladin finished his attack,” he thought to himself as he ran.

    Leaping back to that timeline was easier than he expected. The instant he did so he also felt time being pushed forward. It was all in ruins. When he arrived in the timeline again, Light magic permeated the area. It was obvious that none of his various allies made it through that last attack.

    Then a groan came to his ears. Kor looked around to find the source of the voice. The axe he had given to Sonic had come to rest near the groaning body and the skeletal Paladin’s remains. Under several skeletons who had been trying to protect him, Lord Scorpio laid unconscious.

    He quickly got to work on healing the Necromancer. Scorpio had only narrowly survived thanks to the sacrifice of the Undead he had summoned. The Necromancer did not take too well to the healing Kor had tried to give. He had little choice but to take him to Obsidia and hope that he could get better there. “This is going to be a long walk,” he said with a sigh to the unconscious Scorpio.

    ***

    Rinia held the heretic up on the horse. She did not know why she had to do all the hard work here. The White Knight had fallen unconscious almost immediately after his last attack. They had been moving at just the right pace to avoid the blast. Once he fell unconscious it was easy to get him back to the main encampment for his trial. It was a shame that no other survivors had been found.

    Paul was going to be in a lot of trouble once he had gotten back to Artix. Such a blatant disregard for orders, on not one occasion but two separate occasions, would result in one of the most severe punishments Artix could give. Perhaps it had been good that the worst of the zealots had left and suffered a karmic death at a Necromancers hands.

    The war had caused many pointless deaths for each side, neither side truly completed their goal. But now it was all over and each side could lick their wounds until they heal.

    ***

    When Kor arrived at Kaley’s camp to find her gone and the guards Kor had brought were lying on the ground unconscious. He dropped the Necromancer and began looking for any signs of the Necromancers leader. Her servant stepped out of the shadows and got Kor’s attention. “Kor, thank the Lord of Darkness! Kaley has been captured! The Paladins have won,” the skeleton noticed the injured Necromancer. “You go help Kaley, I can help this one here. I may not be able to use healing magic but I have enough healing salves and potions. Please they are in Battleon right now, go and save her!”

    ***

    After the battle with the Mana elemental, Kor could only shake his head in disbelief. Both Orders had been shown just how easily it was to bring themselves to mutual destruction. The fallout of this war was going to last for far too long for this Chronomancer. Oh well, at least he had all the time in the world...

    The End.

    Final stats: 24.8 pages, 12,331 words, two weeks of writing and longest story I have finished.
    Thanks to: The White Knight, Popinloopy, Muchiha, deathsnake1, flashbang, UnderSoul, and hellblade124

    < Message edited by kors -- 2/16/2013 20:31:52 >
    AQ DF MQ  Post #: 18
    2/2/2013 19:43:04   
    Darquess
    Member

    When we go to war...

    A tale of the time when the good and the bad
    the brave and the bold,
    the stupid and the reckless,
    went to war.



    Chapter One
    Murmers from the deep


    "So, what do you propose?"
    The man who wasn't there did not reply.
    "Look, if what you tell me is true, this won't matter much anyway.
    The padlins are coming and it seems the necromancers are not backing down either," said Dyson.
    The shadows curled round him, almost dripping like condesation off glass.

    The man who wasnt there inclined what should have been his head towards the table, on which a dispatch note lay.
    Dyson was nervous, the news was grim from BattleOn, Darkovia had closed its borders, the western lands beyond were impassable...
    The feeling of being trapped by fate was known to him, but now he could not see a way out.
    "What should I do? Artix will speak to his commanders of course, but they will eventualy listen to him. Of course they will. He is right after all. We are too powerful"
    The events of the last year, the wars, the famine, the deaths- all had enriched him. He possitivly crackled with death energy.
    He stared at the haze that was once flesh and blood. It was alright for some, he thought. That...thing could just vanish into the wastelands that spawned him, hiding amidst more evil horrors than all the order of the mantle combined.

    And yet...
    He started forwards, the shadows shifting with him.
    "I know what to do," he said. "I assume you are going to show the Order this? Maybe Obsidian. Even Zorbak if he's willing."
    All were going to be needed for this fight.


    He melted into the darkness that had sprouted from the dying sun.
    The man who wasn't there stayed on, watching the fading sunlight, before going about his work.


    Elsewhere, watchful eyes viewed the world.
    Tonight, at midnight, they were meeting in the old monastery. It was, the figure reflected, an excellent choice. The padlins would never expect the order to meet in such a...holy place.
    No matter. Their foolishness would be their undoing. For months, they had been plotting, planting idea's in the heads of incompetent padlin spies.
    An idea that the padlins strength was being tested, that necromancer forces were nearly as powerful as theirs...

    Well, that was true, years ago. Now, thanks to wars organized by them and others of an even more sublte nature, the necromancers nearly had twice the forces of the padlins.
    The figure smirked, dagger teeth shrouded behind the mantle that was his life, his joy, his calling.

    Tonight, at midnight, they met. And slowly, and surly, they made their plans against us...


    Dyson had heard the call to arms. The order had answered the padlin's challange with all the forces they could muster.
    He allowed himself a quick smile. Artix and his servants were in for a shock...
    He continued his ascent, towards the peak. He had no misgiving about the coming battle, death was fairly insignificant for necromancers.
    Nor was he concerned for comrades... indeed, he had murdered most people he had a particular liking to. They served him much better in death.

    The entire of Lore lay below him. Behind, the maw of the volcano roared, and hid the dragons that lay dead within.
    He resisted another smile. The order were incredibly irritated they couldn't get Arkilioth's body back from the dead.
    The first clash of battle rang out from the tree's, far, far below him.
    He tasted death on his tongue, it filled him, restored the strength he had lost in the climb.
    He reflected for a while on why anyone would want to kill necromancers, it was such a glorious existence, if a bit morbid.
    And wearing black all the time was irritating. You could wear other clothes, but the shadows swirling around you makes white or green look slightly ostentatious.
    The molten magma smouldered beneath him. Dyson sighed, stretched and awaited the coming of war


    End of Chapter One



    Chapter 2
    Darkness from Light


    The padlin's had come. Of course they have.
    All that power and not a brain cell between them.
    One met his end with a dagger through his head, another when his former comrade turned round and tore his head off.
    Overtime, the pile of bodies around Dyson was enriching him so much, the ground shimmerd with darkness coils.
    Once, a female padlin recruit tripped into the shadows, fell into blackness and emerged a towering bone soldier.
    Watching her crush undefoot many padlins allowed a moment of respite for Dyson.
    He had to prepare for the inevitable commander confrontation. The super soldiers.
    The ones who wielded holy might...

    When he came to the crest of the volcano, Dyson almost sighed in relief. He didn't know the face that scowled at him through the armour plate.
    That meant he was a relativly new guy. Which meant he was weak.
    Wasting absolutly no time, the padlin flung three daggers of light straight at Dyson's chest. They rebounded as chains of darkness poised to ensnare the young man.
    The commander withdrew his axe from his sheath. It glittered like sunlight in the early morning darkness.
    Dyson was wary; he had to finish this fight soon, before sunrise, or he would be at the disadvantage.
    He started backwards, towards the maw of the molten magma.
    The man smiled, thinking his foe trapped, in retreat.
    He had never understood that the perfect trap required masterful distraction. Which was provided, when a hail of black spat at him.
    The shield he lifted in his defense buckled under the relentless pounding from the spell.
    He roared, and with the first rays of the morning sun behind him, unleashed his full power. He grew four feet, became bathed in holy light as he rushed forward-now impervious to the weakened tendrils of shadow snapping at his heels.
    He reached the edge of the crater.
    Below, there was nothing but a fiery death. In front of him, floated Dyson.

    "You know somthing the padlins never understood?" he asked.
    The commander was watchful awaiting sudden counter attacks.
    "They never understood, that shadows come from light."
    And then, the crater, filled with the shadows cast from the infant day, exploded into the padlin.
    It reached into his heart, his eyes, his mind.
    Dyson allowed the padlin to view his fate for a few moments, then flicked his wrist.

    The shadows tore the man apart.

    But Dyson had lingered too long. He could feel through the earth he had blackened with his presence that Artix was coming.
    He had no defense against this fight. He was no where near ready to fight the high padlin in the light of day.
    Fortunately, his positioning saved his life.
    As Artix appeared on the crest, Dyson bowed to the ground.
    He sent every single tendril at his desposal through the earth, searching, awakening.
    And, as the great padlin prepared to cast holy light, the ground around them both shattered.
    All across the plains, the ground cracked as creatures long since buried awakened and heard their new master's call.
    Dragons, zards, all manner of fire creatures surrounded the fire mountain.
    Before Artix could look back at his foe, Dyson vanished into shadow.

    And Artix was left on the smoking graveyard, looking into the eyes of the creatures he and others had slain many years before.

    End of Chapter 2



    Chapter Three
    Farewell to Liberty


    "Uhh, stop staring Galnoth!"
    Artix was irritated and tired and winded and bruiesd.
    So was the dragonslayer.
    "Look, you didnt have to come. I didn't need your help back there."
    Galanoth snorted. The sight he saw at the fire mountain actualy made him shiver.
    Artix had been fighting for three hours when the dragonslayer had shown up. In that time, he had lost much of his armour and weapons and was in the process of running away from a collosul undead dragon litch.
    Even he admired the necromancer's powers of reanimation. Up untiill Artix had ran straight past him and the dragon had collided with Galanoth.
    After alot of fighting and oaths, they had managed to extract themselves from the never ending swarm of zards and cobras.

    It was a few hours later and Battleon had been emptied. Every single Guardian had picked their sides, or were retreating to their individual homes to prepare for whoever would win.
    Both the dragonslayer and the padlin had read the first reports. They were losing.
    Badly.
    Artix was no longer sure whether they could survive the aftermath they knew would happen if the necromancers won.
    He had lost his favourite axe and most of his armour had disintergrated.
    He wondered how the order of the mantle could be more powerful than that necromancer he had cornered a few hours ago. A necromancer who tore through eighty of his troops, three special forces platoons and a commander within the space of an hour.
    He had then nearly killed both the dragonslayer and himself.
    The imbalance of power was so profound, Artix cursed himself for letting the necromancer numbers to multiply to this level. It was clear now his spies had been decieved and that the enemy was far, far more deadly than his forces were.

    The head DragonSlayer, for his part, was infruiated.
    Firstly, because he lost a fight.
    Secondly, because it was against dragons.
    And thirdly, it seemed the world was about to end.
    The dragonslayers were not excellent at repelling undead. Apart from the golden dragon slayer eclipse troops, he had nothing that could defend his order if the padlins fell.
    Battleon was peacful, and the two friends looked around the town the two of them had built, raised and defended for a decade. All of it was now going to burn and die under the necromancer occupation.
    The battle here would not happen however, unless Granemor fell.
    They had rallied there for some time, concolidating power with the town militia. It was the only defendable city on the western continent, and therefore could not fall.
    If it did, thhey were doomed.

    The battle for Granemor, unbenoenst to them, had already been set in motion...

    End of Chapter Three



    Chapter Four
    The crossing of paths


    Artix left the dragonslayer at Battleon. The only way his order could survive is by remaning neutral in this conflict.
    The clan leaders had also remianed typicly balanced, but their members were rushing to the defense of the necromancers.
    He regreted his sudden action ow. He wished he had not portrayed the necromancers as the helpless vitims in his annoucement.
    He continued his ride to Granemor, hoping he could arrive before the enivitable violence.

    Dyson was subdued. He rode astride his steed which he had summoned from darkness.
    He hated the war. It was pointless. What would it prove?
    That necromancers were stronger than padlins?
    Deep down, everyone knew that. It stemmed from humanity's basic moral weakness.
    It was far easier to use the darkness within than reach for the light.
    He was still irritated. Not only because of the non stop fighting but the fact he was in the company of a 'mysterious' necromancer.

    The cowl turned to him, as if the figure could read his thoughts.
    He probably could...
    A sharp, cold vioce drifted from the hood.
    "Second thoughts Dyson?"
    It was a threat that was nt lost on the other man.
    "Never. But you should not presume anything in this day and age," Dyson was guarded, the age was certainly one of chaos.
    Not nearly as much as it was now though.
    The forest around them rivebrated the sound of battle, the screams of the corrupted, the cries of the dying, the snarls of the reanimated.
    The war was getting out of hand. If even one battle spilled into the dragonslayer territory, or onto the king's land, and the forces of the world, and some of their own fighters, would turn against them.
    Thankfully, the dragonslayers were wary of them, a reputation that was well deserved. Although it was a bonous it meant that their golden dragons and their owners would not be fighting...yet.

    The horses were mounts, shadows with substance. There was no heat from them, in fact, they drew in energy to sustain themselves.
    No problem if you are shrouded in at least five layers of robe.
    But for people in pratical wear, with a simple elagant traveling robe thrown on top...yes, he was shivering in this blasted winter weather.
    No doubt brought on by the fall of so many light servants.
    The road ahead turned off, leading towards an open plain that the city lay on.
    The other necromancer pulled off the road however.
    With a raised eyebrow, Dyson tightened the shadow mesh that served as his shield and followed into the wood.

    The padlin column dashed across the forest. Hundreds of eyes continued to scan the forest they were crossing. It was prime ambush territory, and it was the dead of night.
    Since meeting up with Artix, they had picked up pace. Now, they ran with all speed to Granemor.
    Horses were bathed in sweat and spittle.
    So were the padlins.
    The news at the front were not good. Obsidian and Zorback had the first and second expiditionary force running across the badlands to escape the onslaught.
    It was with a grim mood that Artix finaly called halt, and everyone settled for a few hours respite.
    The padlin war consel sat in the main tent and looked bleakly at each other.
    It looked hopeless.
    All offensive battles had ended or were coming to an end.
    They were now firmly on the defensive, but had holed up in some pretty well dug in places.
    Everything now rested on Granemor and the road south.

    The man who wasnt there heard all their consel before departing.

    A padlin awoke with a start.
    Was that a whisper in the wind?
    A clak over the leaves?
    She shifted to her side.

    Nothing.

    Then a black arrow fell and buried itself in her throat, muffling her scream.
    The forest itself twisted as numerous shadows came alive and enshrouded the sleeping soldiers.

    End of Chapter Four



    Chapter Five
    Slaughter at Dawn

    The dawn of a new day revealed the extent of the slaughter.
    Pools of blood soaked into the armour and cloaks of necromancers, who shivered as their power replenished.
    Dyson stood in the middle of the wrecked command tent.
    Artix and his generals had long since gone, and they had only hit the outer reaches of the column when the padlin commanders retreated.Still, it was a great victory.

    Every body was being devoured and reanimated.
    The mysterious necromancers were actualy involving themselves in the fight, which was almost unheard of.
    One hovered by a tent post, watching Dyson intently.
    It was the presence of this figure that confirmed they still didnt trust Dyson.
    Which was probably wise.

    A sudden movement sent everyone scrambling for cover.
    Diviara landed lightly on the balls of his feet.
    Dyson had moved not an inch. There were things of more imediate concern than the communicate.
    He bent down and extracted the pitchfork from the ground where he had thrust it.
    It shimmered and subtly flexed. It was a living weapon, and remnent of darker times.
    He slew the previous owner with his own hands, then took this weapon to wield.

    The wise eyes of Diviara looked at him for an instant, then continued looking round at the necromancers who thought they were hiding in the trees.
    "Well?"
    The former mantle wearer looked sharply at him, "Well what?"
    "What are you doing here? You still resist the war, as you resist fleeing and talking. What are you doing?"
    Diviara sighed. No one had on eithher side grasped the bigger picture. Except maybe this one.
    "What I want, and what I seek, are different things...Lord Yasden"
    Dyson prickled, he had abandoned that name years ago. He was ashamed of the so called necromancer hierarchy.

    "Do not call me by a dead name."
    "And yet you ask me what my buisness is? Where do you get your presumptious authourity if not from your station?"
    "You do not wish to fight me, fallen one. You may have praticly invented the cold, but you know how that fight will end"
    Diviara shifted. "I meant no offence of course. Mearly to ask for some reflection on your actions"
    Dyson smiled, "so what do you want?"
    "Peace"
    Dyson waved that away, "we are trying to do that already"
    "Are you? You think they will stop once the padlins are all dead?"
    "No"

    The leading mantle wearer melted into the tent. Trust them to defend their warmongering.
    "If you do not wish to join us, leave us fallen one."
    Diviara smiled wryly at the hooded figure.
    "It seems you havn't forgiven me for abandoning the order."
    The hooded man stared in hatred, "we never shall, you are a traitor to the order, and outcast of your own kind and now even a hypocrite in this war."
    The wearer raised his hand to shoot energy into Diviara.
    He got to the rasing his hand part before a blade sliced through it.
    His howls were extinguished moments later with another fluid swipe.

    Necromancers flew at Diviara.
    Shadows curled around the tree's as a wave of darkness flattened all of them.
    Diviara looked around to see Dyson eliminating the other side other the forest.
    The shadows flicked through weaker necromancers, killing them quickly to get to the more experienced ones.
    They even tried fighting back. A dozen darkness shots rained down on him, transphorming into daggers that lauched into the chests of the casters.
    They removed them only to watch the daggers explode into sticky fluid, coating them untill they choked.
    One Litch fired a lance at Dyson, who caught it, smacked down on the head of the dead mage, then lunged up, nailing the lance through his skull.
    Black lighting burned through the air from the pitchfork, devouring many undead minons and their summoners.
    Diviara skewered one last enchanter, before stepping back to watch the master at work.

    The remaining order members moved from the cover of the tree's, unsheathing blades of fire, ice and energy.
    Dyson even saw the glow of Awe weapons between them.
    One met his end with his comrades spear through his gut.
    The others dashed with inhuman speed towards the lone necromancer lord.
    They smacked into the wall of shadow that had suddenly sprang from the earth.
    They hacked and slashed through to find...

    Nothing.

    An axe, a boot, a swipe, and sword.
    All found their way into the cloaked figures.
    A flash of lightning eliminated another.
    One suddenly twisted as his blood turned to stone, then ice.
    The two remaining stabbed at a darting figure, who cried out before landing before them.
    Dyson walloped the shadow behind the hood.
    He felt it connect, then swept back his other upraised hand and crushed the hand of the necromancer behind him.
    The man fell and Dyson twirled at kicked upwards.
    The necromancer flew backwards and fell into a puddle and lay still.
    A dagger of shadow opened up his back.
    Dyson yelled out as he turned and took the mans kneck in his hand.
    Lifting him up, he unleashed the darkness down his throat.
    Then he oliterated the last enemy, and turned towards the still figure of Diviara.


    "You still hate me right?" said Diviara.
    "Oh certainly, but I hate the order more.
    It's the main reason we are in this mess right now.
    Before them, we just had self proclaimed lords running around.
    We fought each other, not the rest of the world."
    Diviara frowned, "You prefered that?"

    "Well, yes. What do you think we did at the annual summit?
    It was just an excuse to throw bricks at each other from a safe distance."
    "Perhaps, but that chaotic system didnt help us at all"
    "Really? And when you and your Hoods turned up, windled power out of the strong and crushed the weak...that was better?"

    The two men actualy grinned. They could not deny how their kind loved to destroy things.
    Maybe it was time to change that.
    Or at least, remove the order from necromancer buisness.
    Dyson looked at Diviara.
    "This is what you wanted? Me to attack the order?"
    The silence answered the question.
    "Why?"
    "Its time to adjust the structure of necromancer society"
    "You know, we don't have a society"
    "Indeed"

    They laughed a little, before setting down details.
    Dyson had to call a summit, now.
    In this time of war, that would be nigh impossible.
    But he was Lord Yasden.

    And there was a reason the others had tried to kill him 2789 tiimes over the years.
    The rest of the time, they usualy listend to their fears and bowed to his wishes.
    Although, to be fair, the only wish he had ever asked of them was to slit their own throats.
    Hmm, so coming to a meeting seemed fairly reasonable to him.

    As Diviara flew away, Dyson actualy felt a strange sensation.

    Hope.

    End of Chapter Five



    Chapter Six

    Leverage


    The walls held strong.
    The men were steady.
    The baliste were strung.
    The doors were sealed.

    It would not be enough.

    The men and women of Granemor stood and waited for the war to arrive here.


    Commander Grey had been fighting on the plains of the dark forest for three days.
    His troops were losing, dropping like flies.
    The bone troops, now the size of giants, stomped towards them.
    He steadied himself, then charged forwards.
    He leapt onto thearm of one trooper, climbed onto the soldiers and hacked downwards, toppling the giant over and lightly landing next to it.
    Another took its comrades place. This time, Grey blasted it with holy light, before smashing into it with his shield raised.

    They both fell into a ditch, filled with sharpened sticks to break a necromancer charge.
    It stared at him with stupidity.
    He stared back with pity, this thing should not be fighting him or anyone else.
    A moment later, he decapitated the trooper and leapt out of the trench.
    And flew straight back in, forced back by a wave of dark energy from a necromancer feeding off his men.

    His rage exploded within him. He releashed the light within and let it spread through out his body.
    With holy might, he blasted out of the trench, caught the necromancer within his enlarged hand and crushed his life force out of him.
    He threw his axe into the chest of another, batted a blow with the body of the limp necromancer in his hand and then threw it into another squad of undead fodder.
    Orienting himself, he took a curious glance around the battlefield with his new height.
    They needed to get out of here. It was clear they could not stop the advance to Granemor and Krieger would need all the help he could get when they got to the walls.
    Bellowing out, he sounded the retreat, then cannoned into the masses of undead.

    After all, he hadn't planned on going back to Artix alive anyway.
    As the undead struggled to subdue him, the padlins faded away with cires of anguish and fear.
    A hooded man strided forwards and raised his arm like a whip.
    Commander Grey fell silent.


    Dyson was getting nowhere.
    He had the insuferable lords of necromancer round the table, but their attention was...mislaid.
    He restored it by frying one of them.
    They fell silent.
    "Right. Thankyou for your co-operation. We are hear because the Order of the Mantle is driving necromancers down a path none of us are comfortable with."
    He was unsure whether that was true, even with himself. Afterall, the padlins clearly were an irritating enemy too.
    The others were of the same opinion.
    Above their cries, one shouted, "What! Even if we could remove them all, we want this war with the padlins! Once they are dead, we have the Western Continent in our grasp!"

    Dyson sighed. Lord Buloply was always an outspoken member of the necromancer coven. Maybe it was the name...
    Anyway, he couldnt kill him, not without upseting Obsidian, as he was one of her favourites.

    Probably because of the name...

    Eh, the names. Everyone had awful names. Except perhaps Lord Darquess, who as per usual, hadnt bothered to return from the battlefield to listen to him.
    Dyson sighed. He wanted Darquess here. It would certainly have had made things easier.
    Particularly because everyone in the room had seen Darquess trash the vampire queen once for spilling his tea.
    That particularly unsettled Lord Scion, who had always had a close dealing with, and even a grudging respect for Safirina.

    Zorback was another problem.
    He was irritating. Oh yes.
    But he had quietened conciderably since they had put him on a spit over the fire.

    And of course, there was everyone else.
    Everyone hated everyone else.
    Everyone had at least tried to kill everyone else at least five times.
    Suffice to say, there was a layer of mistrust in the room.
    "Right then people. Lets get started"


    The crypt was gloomy.
    Of course it was.
    Now however, it was full of people too.
    Undead minions, too stupid to even open their mouths, held the chains.
    They clattered as the bones moved without lubricant.
    The hooded man continued to pour energy and blood into the husk.
    He reflected, while he worked, that this was truly a beautiful creature he was making.
    Suddenly, he broke the tendrils off.
    He turned and waved his arm.
    The undead collapsed into the rotten bones they were.

    The chains fell to the floor with a clang.

    And Commander Grey opened his eyes.

    End of Chapter Six



    Chapter Seven
    The Negotiator


    "What have we got?"
    The room was in full attention now.
    "The war concil is consulting."
    "Refugee's are fleeing the forest."
    "Commander Grey and Coueraservi have been sighted"
    Dyson whirled round to the speaker.
    "What!"

    Well, the report was poorly defined but from what I gather..." the man muttered.
    "That isnt good. What were they doing.?"
    "Grey was heading towards a battle with a padlin battalion, and the other was seen speaking to the Loremaster..."

    The room exlploded.
    Now there were other forces at work in the war.
    As if wiping out padlins wasnt problem enough.

    Dyson was measuerd as he asked, "And their conversation?"
    "Was unheard of by the scout."

    Excellent.

    Dyson had to regain control be smacking the pommel of the pitchfork on the ground.
    The sound shook the foundations of the room.
    "It matters little. They cannot directly intervene with this war, and surely won't...
    There are other matters to discuss.

    The lords and ladies were not happy with the proposal to back-stab the order, but they agreed to try.
    Dyson left them still talking away, and stroud out the door.
    By the lakeside, he raised the fork, tapped three times on the ground and walked through the parting water.
    It sealed up behind him.
    There was now a bubble of air moving at his pace through the lake.
    Fish fled from the mysterious new object.
    When he got to the door, he knocked politely.

    The study was well lit and cosy.
    The books aligning the wals were glowing with runes.
    Two dragons watched his progress through the lair.
    At a large desk, worked Darquess.
    A map spread out before him.
    On it were the the battles and troop movements for both padlins and necromancers.
    One was getting too close to a refugee train, their slow progres had allowed the battle they had fled from to catch up.
    Darquess traced a line on the map and then focused.
    The line grew red.

    Dyson knew a wall of fire had just sprang between the attackers and the innocent.
    He marveled at the power, the control and even the care the figure in front put into his work.

    Darquess turned.
    He was shrouded in layers of pure white robe.
    A hood covered his head and left no space for eyes to see out of.
    Or see in.

    He gestured.
    "The war grows out of hand."
    Dyson nodded, "The morons up there were of the same opinion."
    Darquess walked so smoothly he seemed to glide.
    On a smaller table lay a letter from Coueraservi .
    Dyson stared.
    "When did this come?"
    "Yesterday"

    Dyson snarled,"But he is our enemy at a time of war! Why are you in contact with him?"
    Darquess inclined his head towards the letter.
    "He contacted me. H eis, despite what you and the others might think, not our enemy.
    He regognises the limitations of the padlin order.
    They and you are both guilty of labling yourselves and others by names which barely cover you.
    What is necromacer and padlin?
    There are evil and good in both.
    There are different kinds of both.
    There are people, such as myself, who are both.
    Therefore, you see, the problem and shortsightedness of this war."
    Dyson nodded slowly, then quickly shook his head.
    "Sorry, no I don't."

    "Hmm, well, there are many necromancers you know of, yes?"
    "Yes"
    "And they are all different, yes?"
    "But of course"
    "So, would you call them all by the same name and therefore judge them the same?"

    ....

    "No"

    "Precisly my point ... and his.
    Now, to answer your question, Falerin will only aid the refugee's escape.
    He has, it seems, decided it is justifiable.
    Now, as you said, there are more worrying thing at hand"
    "Which is?"

    Darquess gestured towards the map.
    Dyson glanced at it, then was suddenly running past the dragon guards towards the door.

    He emerged from the lake to find the fortress in flames.
    The sound of fleeing and dying lords reached him.
    He stared around for the cause of the devastation.
    He found it in the cold black of the hood.

    The mysterious necromancer stood alone.
    Raising his hand, he held it aloft.
    The fortress crumpled to dust.

    Dyson started forwards, but a shadow fell across him.
    He flung himself to the side, put a hand caught his ankle and threw him into the dirt.
    Raising his head, he stared into the eyes of Commander Grey.
    In Holy Might mode.


    End of Chapter Seven



    Chapter Eight
    Burning bridges


    The axe whirled around Grey's head.
    Dyson narrowly avioded being spliced as he dived left into cover.
    He took another look at the necromancer.
    He was the one that he had rode with before setting camp.

    The figure wasn't the head of the order, indeed Dyson was not sure the Mantle had such a leader, but he was very close to the top.
    That meant he was probably as strong as Dyson. Maybe more so.

    Light exploded around him as the spell forged a miniture star around the ditch where he lay.
    He jumped out of the fusion reaction before being hit in the face by the oversized gauntlet.

    Hew grunted and fell backwards.
    "Okay," he muttered.

    He assesed the situation. Normaly he would doge attacks untill the padlin in Holy Might ran out of power.
    But in this case, he probably shouldnt wait around for that to happen.
    He didnt like the hooded figure watching him.
    The man was too relaxed. He was clearly in control of Grey, to a degree at least.
    The commander was not corrupted yet.

    So maybe...
    Dyson stood to his full height and hurled the pitchfork.
    It whistled through the air and found its mark.
    In the suprised necromancer's chest.

    A scream shot through the clearing.
    It brought both the padlin and Dyson to their knees.

    They looked up.
    Stared at each other.
    The necromancer control was gone.
    But the padlin was still in Holy Might.

    Their fight continued.


    The necromancer watched as he lay dying.
    He was not afraid, it was somthing they had prepared him for since birth.
    All that was left of him to do was to eliminate the upstart... and also the experiment specimen.
    Shadow started to leak from the wound.
    Condensing off him, it rose into black steam.
    Black blood was devoured by the ground.
    Tendrils of shadow hunted through the ground, looking for the raw material required.


    Grey was knocked to the ground by a darkness wave.
    As he stood, Dyson slid beneath him, crossed his arms over his chest, then swept them forwards.
    Twenty daggers of darkness buried themselves into the underside of the padlin.
    He howled and swatted Dyson away.
    And then they both turned to stare at the space where the necromacer was supposed to be lying.

    The earth ruptured as bones, rotting flesh and other refuse flew towards the hooded corpse.
    They surrounded it.
    The bones, organs and flesh melded together.
    Shadows provded the lubricant.

    The thing stood onto two legs.
    Eight feet tall.
    Ten feet.
    Twenty.
    Thirty.
    A giant cyclopse skull rammed down onto the massive spinal tip.
    A single eye was rotting quietly inside the socket.
    Dragon orns attached either side in a downwards curve.
    Another skull, a Humkan giant this time, melded over the top of the first.
    Bare sockets here, but it gave the thing three 'eyes' to see with.

    A burst of fire screamed from its mouth.

    The abomination roared and charged towards the two combatants.


    Three seconds into its charge, they looked at each other, raising their eyebrows to mentaly convey 'Truce?'
    Then they sprang to action.
    The padlin seemed to be in a permenant state of Holy Might, so charged straight at the monster.
    Dyson stood further back, and took up the mass of shadows in his hands.
    Then he began to orchestrate with blackness.
    Individual waves hit the monster, which raised one mostly flesh and muscle hand to fend them off.
    Padlin leapt high to chop it off.
    Unfortunatly, the other arm of the beast elongated.
    The mostly bone of that arm tore at Commander Grey for a moments, before being gripped and pulled away by Dyson's shadows.

    A blast of fire (from the clearly dragon in orgin throat) knocked the padlin back nd into a heap on the ground.

    Then it turned towards Dyson.
    Dyson reached for his pitchfork...

    Which was still in the monsters chest.
    It tore it out, roaring in triumph.
    The weapon surged with power.
    Under protest, it elongated to match the abominations size.
    Dyson's arms went to his sides and collected as much Energy as possible.
    He hadn't done Energy Elemental theory for 50 years and was very rusty at matter shielding.
    But it was his only chance.

    Black lightning spurted towards him.
    He unleashed all of the Energy he had collected, and for good measure, reinforced it with shadows.
    It turned concave and produced a magnificent shield that would have made Zephyros poud.
    It was not enough.
    Cracks began to appear almost instantaniously and Dyson knew he was finished.
    The lightning broke through and charged towards the necromancer.
    He stood straight and felt the rush of the blast.

    Commander Grey finaly came too and watched the abomination laugh in triumph before turning and charging.

    In the direction of Granemor.


    End of Chapter Eight



    Chapter Nine
    Here comes trouble...


    As Commander Grrey raced off after the monster, Dyson was falling through darkness.

    No wait, flying through darkness.

    As he adjusted from the shuddering blast that had preceded the lightning, he heard the beat of wings.

    He groaned, "Where you watching the whole time?"
    "Only since the bit when that monster appeared," Divira replied.

    They were flying through the air, following the rampage that the creature had created through the forest.
    "Im going to need some help with this one," Dyson admited.
    "Well, I'm still a neutral party, and will remain so. But take this."
    Dyson had the longsword pressed into his spare hand.
    "Really? This thing?"
    "Appearances are deciving Lord Yasden."
    Divira took the sword back from the glaring Dyson, pointed it at a stretch of trees and light erupted from the sword, producing a powerful beam that obliterated the now lifeless section.
    "Oh, okay then," Dyson said.

    The ambomination had reached Granemor.
    The necromancer's camp lay to the left, the city walls to the right.
    Both sides cried out in horror at the sudden appearance of their doom.
    Then the trees behind the monster rippled as Grey charged into battle.

    Both sides were looking on as swipes, punches, kicks, roars and fire were thrown around the clearing.
    The commander clambered onto the beast's chest, carved it open and pressed his hand to the wound.
    As he was flung away by the bone hand, the star forge spell he had cast blew through the monster's body.

    The padlins cheered on the wall.
    The necromancers watched with interest.

    Dyson landed lightly on the balls of his feet on a rocky outcrop above the fighting.
    He watched as Grey threw absolutly everything at the creature and the creature threw everything back.
    Entertaining as it was, the man was his temporary ally, and so Dyson concentrated.
    Whirling both sword and pitchfork in hand, he suddenly struck both to the ground.
    Darkness and shadow curled around both as he murmered quiet instruction.
    The tendrils wrapped around his body, forming a smooth layer of blackness.
    Then, more attached on and hardened into dark plates of armour.
    Then finaly, his head was coverd and he stepped forwards, enshrouded in the shadow armour, that writhed and breathed with power and life.

    The padlin commander was on the point of collapse.
    The monster reared onto its legs, stared down at him, then took him in one hand and began to crush him.
    The armour plate buckled, releasing lightning strikes of light that the creature ignored.
    Grey stared into the one giant orange eye and the empty sockets of the skull stared back.
    He lashed with his last burst of strength and shot fire into the massive eye.

    The creature screamed.
    Grey was flung aside into the wall of a rocky outcrop.
    The eye had ignited.
    It fell from the skull and burst onto the ground.
    It continued to revolve and targeted the commander.
    It filled with rage and pain, before it began to melt.

    The crature now only had empty sockets to see with, yet loacted the padlin through the unnatural sense that detected light in the man's soul.
    It turned, waited, then stumbled forwards.

    Then Dyson landed in front of Commander Grey.
    The ambomination flew backwards.
    Dyson flicked both weapons downwards and blasted both light and dark energy at the downed monster.
    And again and again, over and over he continued to fire.
    The creature had no respite.

    It pummled the ground with a giagantic fist, sending a shockwave straighttowards the necromancer.
    The armour absorbed all the kinetic energy of the wave, then stamped the ground, sending it all back again.
    The monster flipped onto its stomach.
    It roared as it struggled to get up.
    It's jaw broke and fell off.

    Now tendrils, dozens of them, flooded from the chest of the armour.
    They tore underground, found secure holdings to latch onto, and then carried on towards the monster.
    They became chanins and leashes, securing the creature to the ground.
    It now could not move an inch.
    A jet of black liquid spat into the face of the beast, prefenting any speech, sight or hearing.
    Dyson started frowards.
    He wondered as he walked, what would be effective in killing this thing.
    Decapitation cetainly but then. decapitiation worked on everything.
    Fire perhaps, but that would take a long time.
    A stab through the heart would require a heart and precise knowledge of where it was on the body.

    The creature was still trying for freedom though.
    Tentacles burst from its chest, converting tissue and bone and shadow into impliments.
    They grabbed necromancer and padlin from their respective camps.
    Dozens were pulled into thr chest.

    Silence.

    The gut of the beast erupted and out burst an army of zombies and bonemen.

    Dyson whirled the sword so fast it you could see it cutting the air.
    Then he dived into the fray.
    Slice after slice, block after block.
    The dead minions fell before him.
    Still, he stared at the bloodied sword.
    It seemed these weapons were not his thing.
    He sheathed it in shadow and switched to the pitchfork, as more soldiers beltched from the stomach of the beast.
    Lightning struck from the prongs and Dyson continued forwards.

    The ambomination snapped its chains.
    Rising, it stood up to its full height.
    The damge done to it had been repaired.
    Dyson admired the beast's efficency.
    It took only fifty men to replenish its entire power base, and then it left over some lifeforce in them to attack him.

    It kicked the silent dark knight into Commander Padlin, who was just getting up.
    It produced four more squads of bonemen and zombies from its mouth.
    The two former enemies just stared at the thing.
    They were not going to beat it.
    Not before it leveled the town and killed the necromancer army, walked to Battleon, did the same there and came back again.
    The beast wore the deathly smile plasterd on its skull with conviction, as it and its miniture army grew closer and closer to the wounded men.


    End of Chapter Nine



    Chapter Ten
    In the darkest day...


    They stood.
    Commander Grey dusted off his enlarged eight foot form.
    Dyson rose up beside him, slightly smaller at seven foot.
    He was slightly disgruntled by this; before Holy Might, Grey was half a foot smaller than him.
    He glanced at the elven padlin.
    He nodded back.
    They were on the defensive now.
    Grey hunkerd down below his oversized shield and took blow after blow before sweeping several enemies through the middle with his axe.
    Dyson shadow walked into the middle of the zombie mass.
    They turned dim-wittedly.
    He smiled, shoved a tiny particle of shadow down the throat of a gaping minion, then dashed away.
    The zombie went black, burst open and tendrils of darkness griped everyone in a ten metre radius and pulled them together iin a big crunch.

    The sword flicked from its sheath into his left hand, blocking a pike that was flung wildly at him by a boneman.
    A few black knights charged him with their pikes and shields raised.
    He sidestepped, whiped shadows under thier feet and threw them to the ground.
    Then, their own pikes impaled them.

    Padlin defence training was very good.
    And Grey was grateful for it.
    However, the trainers had not aticipated fighting WITH necromancers, and so Grey was unused to such fluid and powerful attacks.
    He adapted quickly, throwing daggers of light into the section of zombies Dyson had trapped in a shadow whirl pool.
    The necromancer grinned at him, then fired lighting over the commander's shoulder into a archery squad of bonemen.

    The two camps, one Padlin, one Necromancer, watched with facination as the othersides combat streamlined their own.
    They began cheering on the combatants, even firing a few shots themselves.
    All the time however, the commanders of both armies were quiet and staring into the other side's defenses, looking for weakness.
    But the younger generation of both groups were begining to consider joining the fight together against this monster.
    They were held back by the gates on the padlin's side, and the Order of the Mantle's stares on the other.

    Dyson eyed the balliste on the walls of Granemor.
    They could give the monster somthing to think about.
    However, there was a danger of them firing at HIM instead.

    Dark clouds were forming over the horizon.
    All eyes flicked to the development of clearly magical effects.
    The mantle wearers smiled under their hoods.
    They could taste what was in the air.

    The abomination was moving towards the double team.
    Dyson flew at him, the armour increasing his formidable strength as he crashed into the chest cavity.
    He was tearing through the inside of the beast now.
    Diviara's longsword was beaming light all through the body system, ensuring the dark creature was cooking nicely.
    Commander Grey lauched onto the flesh arm, hacking the ligament that was already rotten.
    It came away and the arm hung uselessly.
    He flung himself onto the left arm, using the bone ridges to clamber up towards the shoulder.
    When he reached it, he leaped upwards and cast his full weight down through his axe.
    He sliced through the bone and cut the arm clean off.

    The monster staggered from a sudden blast on its back.
    The padlins were firing on it!
    Dyson suddenly hightailed it out of the body of the beast, leaving behind a small runestone.
    Grey backflipped off the falling arm and sprang away.

    The runestone shone.
    The innards of the abomination exploded into a fiery inferno.
    In a few seconds, its body was consumed in flames.
    It screamed and jumped around.
    Soon, there were only bones and shadows left.
    It stared blankly at Dyson.
    Then curled tightly into a ball and unleashed all of its remaining energy at him, abandoning its former host.
    Dyson stood calmly as it reached him.
    It suddenly changed direction, screaming with fury as it tried to get away.
    But it was too late.
    Inch by inch, it was swallowed up by the pitchfork.
    It gleamed with the energy it had enjoyed.

    Dyson looked fondly at it, then looked to the commander.
    He stared back.
    They both walked towards each other.
    For a moment, they considered attacking.

    Then they extended their hand to each other and shook.

    Dyson let his armour leak away.
    Grey sheathed his axe.
    They spoke to each other for the first time.

    "Seems we have a reason to keep you lot alive."
    "It seems my order judged you too hastily."
    The comrades smiled and turned to Diviara.
    "Your sword," Dyson proffered.
    "You don't want it?" Diviara sounded pleased and also slightly insulted.
    "Not really, swords are not my thing,"
    "Hmm, well at least we seem to have stopped the fighting."
    "For now," observed the padlin.
    "Thats true, I'm heading to Battleon to observe another fight," Diviara said.
    "What about that?" Dyson pointed.
    They all looked towards the blackening clouds.
    "It could be nothing," Grey said hopefully.

    Then multi-coloured lightning spasmed across the sky.
    The clouds moved onwards, towards Battleon.
    Dyson turned back to Diviara.
    "You have your work cut out for you now."
    "Indeed, stop the fighting and get people to observe the clouds," Diviara said.

    He flew off and the two remaining comrades started to walk towards both the camp and the city, hoping to stop the war that would destroy them both.
    There was hope though. There always was.

    Then the balista fired again, shooting Dyson directly through the heart.


    End of Chapter Ten



    Chapter Eleven
    ...Came first truth...


    The body slopped onto the floor.
    Grey heard a soft gurgle from the necromancer, and then a quiet sentence, "...Good shot...."
    Dyson faded from conciousness and the necromancer army roared in anger and suddenly charged from their camp.

    Granemor's fate was now being decided.

    Commander Grey loked up at the approaching horde.
    They split in a wide circle around him and carried on towards the city.


    The feint cries of battle were carrying over the wind.
    The battle was underway, the gate had broken and the necromancer masses swarmed the city wall.


    The commander was franticly searching for an undead that still had energy remaining in it.
    He found one, and threw it on top of the still necromancer.

    The darkness trickled into Dyson, who musterd enough strength to regain conciousness.
    "Ow."
    Grey glanced at him from his snetry post.
    His elf eyes viewed the battle from afar.
    The padlins were losing; the slow crawl up the city streets was wearing down the defense but also the attacking forces.

    "Okay, so how bad is it?"
    Grey looked down to him again.
    "Fairly awful, with a good chance of death."
    "Hmm, okay then. Urgh, seems I have no choice."
    Dyson shifted his memory back to old knowledge, older training and earlier battles.
    He raised his arm in the air and brought it down onto his wound.

    Dyson's hand erupted with light.
    Grey felt the energy used to heal the wound.
    His eyes narrowed considerably.
    This fellow was far more than he seemed on the surface.

    The healing over, Dyson slowly got to his feet.
    "Well?"
    Seems to have repaired your chest very well."
    "Yes..."
    The padlin shifted onto his left leg.
    "You are trained in the padlin arts."
    It was a statement, a fact.
    They both knew it took years for padlins to develope the skill and power to sustain that kind of spell.
    "Yes," Dyson repeated.
    "Where did you learn it? More over, who from? Who did you torture this information out of?"
    The anger was raising in Grey's vioce.
    Dyson sighed.
    "Always the worst thoughts come into your mind. Listen, I had... a different upbringing to most of the other necromancers..."
    Grey waited.
    Dyson sighed again.
    "I am, or was, the son of High Padlin, Fenrialus."

    The padlin commander gawped at the silent figure.
    High Padlin Fenrialus was a legend in the order.
    He had personaly brought down sixteen members of the Order of the Mantle, fought hundreds of battles against undead hordes and founded the modern padlin training regime.
    He was, without a doubt, one of the greatest and finest men ever to walk on Lore.
    The Lady of Light agreed.
    It was often suspected Fanrialus was a communicant, or even the avatar of Light on Lore.
    His name was hallowed by even Artix himself.

    "The High Commander had no children."
    "And he always said Lore needed a better records office."
    Grey growled.
    "You betrayed not just the order but your own father to the necromancers!"
    Dyson, for the third time that evening, sighed deeply.
    "Have you learnt nothing from the fight we just had? We are not paper cut outs of evil you seem to think we are. Do you know how much we helped in the Devourer Campaign? The attack against Carnax? The fight to stop Erebus? No!
    You take comfort in your ignorance of our way of life, our view of life and death. We are not transparent souless monster, Commander!"

    Grey was stunned into silence.
    Then he regained his voice.
    "Are we going to Granemor?"
    "Since you asked, yes. I fear for the saftey of the townsfolk when they get into the hands of the mantle wearers."
    "And you want to find out who decided to take a pop at you too, right?" added Grey.
    Dyson looked blankly at him, then shrugged.
    "Regardless of who did it, I'm going to murder Artix for the things he has made everyone do in this war."

    As they began walking down the slope to the city, Grey asked, "So, have you mentioned this little fact to anyone before?"
    Dyson smiled.

    "I'm over three hundred years old. There is alot I havn't told anyone."


    End of Chapter Eleven



    Chapter Twelve
    ...Then Blood.


    "Run!!!"

    Dyson darted over the wall as Commander Grey was thrown straight through it.
    The both landed and continued running.

    All around them, necromancers where being torn apart.
    Who knew that the padlins had spent the entire time inside Granemor charging their power.
    So when the attack started, every single one shifted into Holy Might mode...even some of the weaker grunt soldiers.

    What happened next could be sumarised by the piles of bodies and shadows pouring from them.

    Artix and five hundred other padlins came charging like a bulldozer into the pair.
    Dyson managed to put three down, but they were just too hard to kill.
    Grey was actualy on the back foot, because he couldn't damage the padlins with his light attacks, and they were almost as strong and fast as he was.

    Dyson leapt up to the main wall, vaulting over several padlin cleric casting light spells that instead blasted into the inn.
    He looked at the battle.
    It was going awfully well for the padlins.
    They were killing legions of necromancers.
    Zorback was being hung up and used as a punch bag.
    Lord Buloply was being dragged across the floor screaming as padlins threw light spears and bricks at him.
    Dyson snorted a little.
    Then he was blocking the sword, mace and axe of three commanders.

    Commander Grey... well actualy, ex-commander now he thought of it, was fighting on the ground.
    It seemed Artic had sanctiond his execution.
    His former squad rushed him and tore at his face.
    He slew them with tears running down his cheeks.

    Dyson was running along the parapit. The thud of boots behind him were gaining.
    He flicked his pitchfork, the night curled around him and he shifted to Commader Grey's position.
    "Time to go, time to run."
    Grey looked at him, "What? No, we have to stay here."
    "They are going to win this fight, and then they are going to burst forth and kill as many necromancers as possible while they have this power."
    "We still cannot leave here like this."
    They paused and killed a charging beserker padlin who was destroying the entire street.
    "Okay, time to go."

    They both leapt onto houses adorning the street.
    Then, onto the wall.
    They took another look at the city.
    It was on fire, but the darkness shroud that had engulfed it a few minutes before was clearing.
    But the onne growing over Battleon was getting larger.

    A ballista took the wall from beneath them.
    Dyson fell to the ground outside the city, the shadows slowing his descent.
    He looked at Grey.
    The ex-commander was broken on the ground.
    Blood gushed from shrapnel from the ballista.
    His neck was twisted and ribs were tearing through his skin.
    Grey was unmistakebly dead.

    The gates opened and the remaining necromancers collapsed onto the road.
    They were crushed under foot as the padlin horde charged over them and headed to Darkovia.

    Dyson watched them go.
    Six hooded mantle wearers stepped from the shadows around the flickering city fires.
    They formed a circle around the sitting Dyson.
    Then they erupted into shrieks and yells as balls of darkness and fire flew into them.

    Zorback came into view smirking, even though he had several large brusies on his stomach from the punching, kicking and other horrors.

    "Oh Dyson, what am I going to do with you?" a breezy vioce asked as Obsidia floated in.


    End of Chapter Twelve



    Chapter Thirteen
    Time to go


    The padlin ex-commander woke up.
    Which, given the situation, as suprising for him.
    He looked around.
    The darkness of a crypt engulfed him.
    His powers of light were bound by the intesity of the death here.
    Dyson walked in, "Oh, you're awake then."
    Grey moaned,"How?"
    A single word, but it required complex explination to answer it.

    Dyson sighed and sat down.
    "You were not just put in a constant state of Holy Might. Your life force provided the energy to keep it sustained. You are trapped between life and death. A thing. An object."
    "A zombie," the commander mutterd.
    "A self healing one too," added Dyson. "You not only have the power of Holy Might at your disposal, but your healing has rendered you invincible as long as you sustain Holy Might. And since you cannot switch off Holy Might..."
    He trailed off.
    "I cannot die?" Grey gasped. This was every padlin's worse nightmare. Being enslaed by necromancer magic for eternity.
    And yet...
    His eyes narrowed,"You killed my previous master..."
    "Ahh, yes. That would imply that I am your master now, yes? No, it is not so. Why your superstious padlin mind is still so narrow minded I don't know."

    Zorback edged in behind Dyson.
    "We still have the... ah...."
    "Ah yes, thankyou Zorback," Dyson withdrew up the staris.
    Zorback was left with the padlin in the dark.
    "Er..yes, you can hit me all you want but..."
    "Oh good!" said Grey as he took out all the pent up rage inside him onto this poor fallen little creature.

    Several hours later, Dyson returned.
    "We do indeed have a problem, commander...er, former commander?"
    Grey grunted from the corner of the room.
    Dyson ignored the dangling Zorback yelping from the ceiling and crossed over to him.
    "Look, the battles across the globe have ruptured the balance between light and dark."
    "What does that mean?"
    "Put simply, the gods have left us. Every single padlin and necromancer is forsaken. The leilines are gone."

    Grey leapt up.
    "What!" he thundered.
    "We have to move. Zorback and Obsisia cannot house us any longer, they too must flee for now. We must hide from the victourious padlins while we try to restore the power to both sides."
    "So, thew padlins won?"
    "Yes."
    "Then the wrong side won. I herby apoligise on behalf of my former order. I will serve alongside you untill I am obliterated or untill we suceed."
    "Thankyou my friend."
    "By the way, I have my inate Holy Might, which I guess has not been affected by the withdrawl because its powerd by me. What happened to everyone else.?"
    "Light magic and dark magic...necromacy and padlins...are extinct. Here...." he tried to flick the shadows, they ignored him as they did every soul in the room.
    "Then, why should we run from the padlins?"
    "Because they still are the best warriors in the land, have massive armies and we ourselves are fairly vunerable for the moment."
    "So what can YOU do now?"
    "Well, luckily, I am not just a scholar of light and dark magic."
    The wind howled into the room, earth erupted around them, fire grew in his hands and water and ice fell from the roof.

    The ex commander stood.
    "Okay," he said, "I get the picture."


    The padlin expiditionary force was gaining on the pair.
    It didnt help that on the other side of the river, the mantle wearers were chasing them as well.
    They too had more at their command than just necromancy.

    "Keep moving!" shouted Grey. He had the speed advantage over both pursuers, but was held back by Dyson, who was understandbly slower than usual.
    They reached the river split and crossed to the other side.
    Now the padlins had to cross and go through the mantle wearers to get to them.
    Dyson however, was not moving anywhere quickly at themoment.
    He whistled into the buffeting wind, Grey now sprinting on ahead to find-
    -a massive cliff edge with nought but desert plain below.

    "Dyson!" he yelled, "we're stuck up here!"
    Dyson kept running, looking up at the sun.
    They crashed into each other and toppled over the top.

    The griffon caught them before they began screaming.
    Dyson clambered onto her back, stroking her feathers as she screeched to the world.
    "By the way," he said," she's called Kerina."
    Grey nodded dumbly, still keeping his eyes rooted on the ground.
    Dyson relised that if the padlin wasnt healing constantly, he waould be green round about now.

    He laughed quietly to himself as our three heros spead off to the eastern lands in search of adventure.


    And the legend continues

    (But that is literaly another story)

    < Message edited by Darquess -- 2/20/2013 16:41:16 >
    Post #: 19
    2/3/2013 1:43:08   
    Heroes of the Scape
    Member

    Thought I would post this.

    To the tune of Still Alive from Portal:

    Not Alive


    This was a triumph.
    I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.
    It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.

    Necromantic Order
    We do what we must
    because we can.
    For the good of all of us.
    Even the ones who are dead.

    But there's no sense crying over every failed raise.
    We’ll just keep on trying till we run out of graves.
    And the Mancy gets done.
    And you make a neat pun.
    For the people who are not alive.

    I'm nowhere near happy.
    I'm being so sincere right now.

    Just because you broke my knight.
    And killed him.
    And tore him to pieces.
    And threw every piece into a fire.
    As they burned it hurt because I was so angry at you!

    Now these new born zombies make some beautiful slime.
    And we're out of runes.
    But we're attacking on time.
    So I'm MaD. He got burned.
    But think of all the things we learned
    for the people who are not alive.

    Go ahead and leave me.
    I think I prefer to stay inside.
    Maybe you'll find someone else to help you.
    Maybe Dragon Slayers
    THAT WAS A JOKE.
    HAHA. FAT CHANCE.

    Anyway, these puns are great.
    They’re so delicious and moist.
    Look at me still talking
    when there's Mancy to do.

    When I look out there, it makes me glad I'm not you.

    I've experiments to run.
    There is raising to be done.
    Of the people who are not alive.
    And believe me they will come alive.
    I'm doing Mancy on the not alive.
    I have an army of the not alive.
    While you're dying I'll be standing by.
    And when you're dead I will make you mine.
    MAKE YOU MINE!
    MAKE YOU MINE!!


    < Message edited by Heroes of the Scape -- 2/3/2013 1:57:55 >
    AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 20
    2/5/2013 18:25:11   
    Eschaton Thunder
    Member

    Prologue:

    While walking through the camp, Sleuth observed the mixture of righteous indignation and gritty determination on the faces of his Paladin brothers and sisters. For far too long had necromancers terrorized the people of Lore with their foul dark magic and undead abominations. Artix finally called them out, and the necromancers were all too eager to engage us in war. Their propagandists claim they are innocent victims of Paladin aggression, which would be nothing more than a bad joke if it weren’t for the fact that so many weak-minded individuals have sadly embraced their lie as though it were true.

    Sleuth entered through the door of General Eschaton Thunder’s campsite headquarters. Eschaton Thunder sat in meditative posture with his eyes closed. The light of his holy aura swirled around him like a dancing flame. Without opening his eyes, he acknowledged Sleuth’s presence.

    “Are the preparations completed?”

    Sleuth stood at attention, “Yes, General, the mega world portals are primed to send out our armies and the camp is ready to engage the enemy. Raza Sol continues his reconnaissance mission, as you requested.”

    “Good. We will be breaking camp in an hour,” Eschaton Thunder replied as he opened his eyes, “Lore is in great need of a deep cleansing. I want you on the front line, Sleuth.”

    Sleuth gave an affirming nod, “It would be my honor, General. We will cleanse the world of the vile necromancy that has so long plagued her.”

    “Do not be overconfident, Sleuth,” Eschaton Thunder replied in gentle yet resolute tone, “With the possible exception of the Brilhado, it is unlikely you will face many necromancers in battle, for most of them are cowards who hide behind their undead hoards. Even with the armies we command from our mega world portals, we are vastly outnumbered by the undead armies of the necromancers.”

    “What we lack in quantity, we make up for in quality.”

    “True enough," Eschaton Thunder agreed, "but I suspect this war will not be won by our superior strength and force of will. I suspect the day of sacrifice has arrived.”

    “You speak of the fulfillment of the prophecy?” Sleuth inquired with a hint of skepticism.

    Eschaton Thunder gave Sleuth a reassuring look, “One should never rule out the possibility. I hope to learn more when Raza Sol returns with his report.”

    Sleuth nodded in acknowledgment, “Until then, we shall do our best to eradicate this cancer and heal our world.”

    “Yes, let the cleansing begin!”

    -----------------------

    War: Day 2 – Muchiha’s Speech

    The intensity of the fighting brought a cruel smile to UnderSoul’s twisted face. He and his necromancer ally, Muchiha, had been sent as spies to ascertain possible weaknesses in the Paladin’s front lines.

    “Such delicious carnage! How entertaining!”

    Muchiha looked at his junior partner with a dour stare, “Do not become intoxicated by the carnage of war. Yes, war is entertaining; the immediate fear and suffering of people is a legitimate and pleasing refreshment for us necromancers. But what permanent good does it do us unless we make use of it for building our undead armies? When I see the temporary suffering of people who finally escape us, I feel as if I had been allowed to taste the first course of a rich banquet and then denied the rest. It is worse than not to have tasted it at all. Our Paladin enemy, true to their barbarous methods of warfare, allows us to see the short misery of such suffering only to tantalize and torment us by their healings; to mock our incessant hunger for power and corruption. Let us therefore think how to use this war, rather than to simply enjoy this war. For it has certain tendencies inherent in it that are, in themselves, by no means in our favor. We may hope for a great deal of cruelty and death, but if we are not careful, we may see multitudes turning to the enemy.”

    UnderSoul shook his head, “I think you are overreacting. Even the Evil One has allied himself with our cause. His subtle charms will win over many, including those who might otherwise be sympathetic to our Paladin enemy.”

    “What you say is true,” Muchiha replied, “But we must also remember that our enemy uses the suffering we cause for their own redemptive purpose, which makes them stronger and more faithful.”

    “We will see who is stronger,” UnderSoul sneered.

    Muchiha scanned the battlefield, “For now we must continue to gather intelligence, so that we might...”
    He was unable to finish his thought. The surprise attack came swiftly and decisively....

    -----------------------

    War: Day 4 – Confirmation

    “General, the necromancers we captured still refuse to talk,” Luminov informed Eschaton Thunder, “shall I continue to interrogate them?”

    “No,” Eschaton Thunder firmly replied, “They offer no value, and having failed their assignment, they cannot harm us. It is time to cleanse them.”

    “General,” a Paladin guard interrupted, “Raza Sol has returned from his mission.”

    “Good, I wish to hear his report immediately,” Eschaton Thunder then gestured to Luminov, “Prepare the prisoners. I will see to their cleansing personally, though likely not until morning.”

    “Yes, General.” Luminov saluted before turning to leave.

    As he exited, he met Raza Sol at the door. The two exchanged nods, and then Raza Sol proceeded inside.

    “Raza Sol, what intelligence have you gathered?” Eschaton Thunder inquired.

    “General, I fear the news is grave. The Evil One has not only allied himself with the necromancers, but a few nights ago I witnessed him enter the battlefield and personally kill several of our Paladin brothers and sisters.”

    Eschaton Thunder’s eyes grew fiery and his jaw clenched, “Then my suspicions are confirmed.”

    “It would appear so, General,” Raza Sol nodded in agreement. He paused briefly and then asked, “Shall I join Sleuth on the front line?”

    “Not yet, I think your next task might be a bit more delicate,” Eschaton Thunder replied, “First I must speak with Artix. Go, and get some well-deserved sleep. We will talk more of this in the morning.”

    “As you wish, General.” Raza Sol departed leaving Eschaton Thunder to his thoughts.

    Lost in contemplation, Eschaton Thunder began to see the war with renewed clarity. He knew what must be done, and he was prepared to see it through.
    “The End is Near!”

    --------------------

    War: Day 5 (Part I) – Brilhado

    Sleuth swung his mighty battle-axe at the undead knight. Hitting his mark, the head of the undead knight flew into the air. The decapitated monster collapsed to the ground.

    Over the past several days, Sleuth had destroyed thousands of the necromancers’ undead abominations. Each small victory increasing his hope that Lore was one step closer to healing.

    “The undead hoard may seem nearly endless,” Sleuth thought to himself, “But we are actually starting to thin their numbers. I pray the necromancers will soon be forced to stop cowering behind their undead armies and come forth to meet us in battle so they may be cleansed.”

    Suddenly Sleuth sensed something… something different… he was detecting a new presence on the battlefield. He quickly scanned the surrounding area. “Have my prayers been answered?”

    Then he found it. Off in the distance, he spotted a Brilhado necromancer engaging in battle.

    Sleuth smiled, “Finally…”

    --------------------

    War: Day 5 (Part II) – Cleansing

    Unable to use their dark powers because of the magically-enhanced chains that bound them, Muchiha and UnderSoul had little to do except think about their current situation. UnderSoul spent much of his time in captivity reflecting upon his present and future condition, and he nervously fidgeted as he pondered his impending fate. Muchiha, by contrast, was seething with anger, using his bitterness and hatred to strengthen his resolve.

    When at last Eschaton Thunder entered their holding cell, Muchiha immediately screamed at him, “If you dare attempt to cleanse us, I will kill you!”

    “Your threats are hollow, necromancer,” Eschaton Thunder replied in a gentle voice, “I have come to offer you healing.”

    “You have come to kill us!” Muchiha spat back.

    “You have such a twisted understanding of what it means to be cleansed,” Eschaton Thunder rebuked, “Paladins are doctors seeking to remove cancerous tumors so that healthy tissue may live without the continued risk of the disease spreading throughout the body. If you cease being a cancer, then there is hope for you being reintegrated into the healthy tissue.”

    “Spare us your lies.” UnderSoul retorted.

    “I do not lie. Neither do I offer you false hope,” Eschaton Thunder firmly replied, “Your destruction is not my preference, but if you refuse to repent of your evil, if you continue being a cancer in our world, then you will be surgically removed.”

    “You wish us to repent for being who we are?” UnderSoul mocked.

    “You were not always necromancers. You chose that path of your own free will. The dark art you now practice only serves to corrupt you further, feeding your lust for power. The real question is whether you have been corrupted beyond the point of all healing. If not, then the cleansing may restore you to the Light.”

    “Restore us? I have never heard such things,” UnderSoul replied.

    “That is not surprising,” Eschaton Thunder explained, “Necromancer propaganda always seeks to twist the truth, rationalizing your evil while distorting our goodness and holiness.”

    “That is your own propaganda, Zealot!” Muchiha countered.

    “You call me a zealot, yet you fail to comprehend your own zealous nature. Tell me, is better to have zeal for good or zeal for evil?”

    “Good and evil are morally subjective,” Muchiha responded with contempt, “You have no right to judge us.”

    “Such an old and tired argument,” Eschaton Thunder replied shaking his head, “You desire to confuse good for evil and evil for good, so you embrace a philosophy of moral ambiguity in an attempt to absolve yourself from guilt. If what you say is true, then my Divine Light cannot harm you. But if what you say is false, then you may learn the truth too late. Is that the risk you wish to take?”

    “Can that possibly be true?” UnderSoul asked with hesitance in his voice.

    “What?” Muchiha exclaimed in surprise, “Of course it’s not true! Do not listen to his lies, UnderSoul, he is trying to poison your mind!”

    “Perhaps,” UnderSoul replied, “But if we are going to die this day regardless, is it wrong to cling to hope? I acknowledge that I have committed great acts of evil, and though I am loath to admit it, I fear my guilt.”

    “You weak fool!” Muchiha screamed, “If I were loose of these chains, I would kill you myself!”

    “Silence!” Eschaton Thunder exclaimed with authority. The glow of his holy aura began to increase in intensity. “The time for talking is past. The cancer must now be removed.” His holy aura illuminated the cell with the brilliance of the sun.

    Muchiha’s eyes grew wide and he attempted to utter a curse, but his voice had abandoned him.

    Suddenly the Light shifted and narrowed like a laser, engulfing UnderSoul’s body. Though blinded by the Light, UnderSoul kept his eyes open. He struggled to speak, but managed to say in a voice that was just above a whisper, “I repent.”

    The Light finally dissipated. UnderSoul sat on the floor in a dazed state. His hair had turned white.

    Eschaton Thunder smiled warmly, “You once were blind, but now you see. You are cleansed. Welcome to the Light.”

    UnderSoul looked up in amazement, “I do see! For the first time in my life, I can truly see!”

    Eschaton Thunder offered UnderSoul a hand and helped him to his feet. The chains fell off him as he stood.

    UnderSoul grinned with delight, “You were right. I was corrupt, a cancer, but now I am healed. Now I understand the truth of the Light!”

    “Indeed,” Eschaton Thunder nodded, “Now you see that being cleansed is not the horrific evil that creatures of darkness profess it to be. The Light always purifies. Whether the purification results in destruction or re-birth is decided by the condition of one’s spirit – a condition resulting from one’s own free choices.”

    “What… What have you done!?” Muchiha stammered in shock and disgust.

    UnderSoul turned to face his former comrade, “Muchiha, if you repent, you will be healed. You do not need to be afraid.”

    Muchiha recoiled in revulsion, “He has turned you into some kind of mindless slave. You are worse than the undead!”

    “You are wrong, Muchiha. I have never been more fully alive!”

    “You will no longer be able to convince him with words,” Eschaton Thunder interjected, “He has witnessed with his own eyes the healing power of the Light. If he chooses to reject it, then his corruption is complete.” As he said this, his holy aura once again illuminated the cell.

    Muchiha began to shake in fear, “If you kill me, I will become a lich and exact my revenge! I will…”

    The Divine Light once again narrowed, this time engulfing Muchiha. He let out a brief scream and was then silent. The Light dissipated, and Muchiha was gone, his body reduced to ash.

    Eschaton Thunder let out a deep sigh, “A cancer has been removed.”

    “Yes,” UnderSoul nodded, “As is necessary for healing of Lore.”

    Eschaton Thunder motioned towards the cell door, “Come, there is much work still to be done.”

    --------------------------

    War: Day 9 (Part I) – Crossroads

    Wanting to secure the strategically important location, Eschaton Thunder led his army to Crossroads. Sleuth had reported his pursuit of a group of retreating Brilhado necromancers to the Crossroads, where they joined an amassing group of other Brilhado, who had gathered there with a multitude of undead minions.

    Upon arrival, Eschaton Thunder issued his orders, “I will be leading the main charge. Luminov, take UnderSoul with you and reinforce Sleuth on the left flank. Hict and Big E, you are responsible for securing the right flank. Make sure no one breaks the line. Our forces are already spread too thin. If we fail here today, the road to Battleon will be left vulnerable.”

    “Our line will be a stone wall, General” Hict replied with steely confidence. “As will ours,” Luminov also replied.

    “I don’t like the look of those ominous clouds, General” Big E stated as he scanned the sky, “There is something unnatural about them.”

    “Yes, I have my suspicions about them,” Eschaton Thunder said as his eyes glanced up to the clouds.

    “Do you suspect the influence of the Evil One?” UnderSoul inquired.

    “Perhaps, but now is not the time for speculation,” Eschaton Thunder replied, “You have your orders, men. Go, and may the Light shine upon us this day!”

    “For the Light!” his officers responded in unison.

    ------------------------

    War: Day 9 (Part II) – UnderSoul the Paladin

    Sleuth’s forces were already engaged in battle when Luminov and UnderSoul arrived to reinforce him. As they approached, Sleuth took down three zombies and a necromancer in rapid succession.

    “Hey, save some for the rest of us,” Luminov joked as he greeted Sleuth.

    “I hope your sword is sharper than your tongue, Luminov,” Sleuth replied not in a joking mood.

    “Of course,” Luminov grinned ignoring Sleuth’s somberness, “Meet UnderSoul, the General’s latest protégé.”

    “It is my honor to fight at your side,” UnderSoul greeted Sleuth with a bow of his head.

    “It is an honor to have you join the ranks of the Paladins,” Sleuth approvingly replied.

    “Here comes another wave,” Luminov observed.

    Several undead creatures and Brilhado necromancers charged at them.

    Eager to prove himself, UnderSoul drew his sword and met one of the Brilhado demons in battle. The necromancer hurled a magical bolt at him, but UnderSoul blocked it with his newly acquired Paladin shield. Before he could cast another spell, UnderSoul closed on the Brilhado and struck him down with a swift stroke of his sword.

    A few feet away, Luminov slew an undead zard and a zombie, and Sleuth took down two more undead and a necromancer.

    “You certainly are fast, Sleuth,” Luminov smiled.

    “Years of experience,” Sleuth replied as he cut down yet another zombie.

    UnderSoul then decapitated an undead elf.

    They continued to fight side-by-side for what seemed like hours. Finally, there was a break in the fighting.

    Luminov looked over at UnderSoul who was pulling his sword out of the chest of a dead necromancer. “You want to know the worst thing about this war?” Luminov asked with a joking smile, “After slaying so many undead, it's nearly impossible not to step in zombie guts. That stuff is hard to scrape off your boots.”

    UnderSoul chuckled, “Do you always make light?”

    “Ha, good one,” Luminov grinned.

    Sleuth rolled his eyes, “You’re a bad influence, Luminov.”

    “Just alleviating the stress of war,” Luminov countered.

    “I hope it helped,” Sleuth said raising his battle-axe, “because here come more necromancers.”

    Once again they engaged in battle.

    As Luminov slew an undead SpellSword, a Brilhado ranger hurled his spear and hit Luminov in the side, knocking him to the ground. The Brilhado closed in to finish him, but Sleuth intercepted the demon and blocked his attempted death blow.

    While Sleuth defended the wounded Luminov, UnderSoul sparred with a Brilhado mage. UnderSoul swung his sword at the demon’s head, but the Brilhado managed to dodge it. The demon then hit UnderSoul with a magical blast of such great force that it lifted him off his feet and sent him hurling through the air. He collided with a tree and fell limp to the ground at the feet of yet another necromancer.

    Sleuth dispatched the demon ranger, but two more necromancers charged him. He saw UnderSoul fall, but was cut off from helping him. He continued to stand over Luminov, who was struggling to sit up.

    The first necromancer swung his magical staff, and Sleuth parried with his axe. The second necromancer began to cast a spell. Wincing in pain, Luminov was able to finish casting his spell first, hitting the second necromancer with repeated blasts of Divine Light. Sleuth hit the first necromancer with a deep slash in the chest. Both necromancers fell dead to the ground.

    UnderSoul managed to open his eyes just as a necromancer plunged a dagger into his heart. His final thought was how he had failed Eschaton Thunder, the man who had redeemed him from corruption. The necromancer then scooped up his dead body and fled.

    Sleuth finished off an attacking giant zombie as Luminov finally managed to stand up, his left hand covering the wound in his side.

    There was another break in the fighting and Sleuth desperately searched for UnderSoul. But it was too late; he was gone.

    --------------------------

    War: Day 9 (Part III) – Crossroads Aftermath

    Eschaton Thunder’s army had smashed through the necromancer front line, while Hict and Big E had collapsed the necros flank and then successfully entrapped them in a modified pincer movement. The necromancer defenses quickly deteriorated, and by the end of the day they were utterly defeated. The Paladins had achieved a major victory and the Crossroads were secure.

    Later that evening, upon returning to the main camp, Sleuth reported his bad news to Eschaton Thunder and the other Paladin officers who were present.

    “I’m sorry, General, I got cut off from UnderSoul while defending Luminov,” Sleuth explained remorsefully, “A necromancer killed him and then ran off with his corpse.”

    Eschaton Thunder frowned, “I fear he will receive a fate worse than death.”

    Big E nodded, “If a necromancer took UnderSoul’s body, then it is almost certain that he will be transformed into an undead abomination.”

    “Most of the necros were unable to escape,” Hict interjected, “but a few of them may have fled to Darkovia.”

    “Yes, Darkovia is most likely their destination,” Sleuth agreed.

    “Unfortunately, there is nothing more that can be done at this moment,” Eschaton Thunder replied, “Unless Artix can send additional troops, it would tactically unwise to attempt to pursue the enemy into Darkovia. For now, we must fortify our position here at the Crossroads.”

    “Then we will avenge UnderSoul another day,” Hict avowed.

    “Agreed,” Big E exclaimed as he refocused his attention on Sleuth, “Is Luminov recovering well from his injury?”

    Sleuth smirked, “When I left him in the infirmary, he was still telling jokes.”

    “That’s a good sign,” Big E smiled.

    “Indeed it is,” Eschaton Thunder chuckled, “Has he told you the joke about scraping zombie guts off his boots?”

    Sleuth rolled his eyes, and they all laughed.

    -------------------------

    War: Day 10 – UnderSoul the Undead Paladin

    UnderSoul awoke.

    He stared at his new surroundings, but his mind no longer functioned as it once had. His higher cognitive abilities corrupted during the turning process, UnderSoul was now nothing more than a barely sentient undead slave.

    He turned his head upon hearing the voice of his necromancer master.

    “Good, you are awake,” the necromancer grinned with cruel smile, “I am Anastasio, your creator and master.”

    UnderSoul continued to stare without speaking.

    “I shall take great delight in sending you to fight your former Paladin brothers,” Anastasio exclaimed, “They will be horrified at the abomination you have become; you will strike fear into their hearts.”

    “Yes, master,” UnderSoul replied almost without thought.

    “Our Darkovia allies are gathering their forces and will soon be ready to retaliate against the Paladins,” Anastasio continued, “You will lead my undead forces in the counterstrike.”

    “As you command, master,” UnderSoul affirmed.

    Anastasio’s grin grew wider, “We shall have our revenge.”

    -----------------------

    War: Day 13 – Free from the Yoke

    Sleuth pulled the blade of his battle axe out of UnderSoul’s cloven chest. The necromancer counterstrike had ended in disaster, and UnderSoul was among the last of the undead to be destroyed.

    “You can now rest in peace,” Sleuth said sincerely to his former Paladin brother.

    Hict, who had been fighting nearby, ran to Sleuth’s side and looked down at UnderSoul’s remains, “What a tragic tale,” he said shaking his head, “To go from corrupt, to purified, to abomination; his story will be long remembered.”

    “I only wish I could have done more to save him,” Sleuth said with deep regret.

    “You cannot blame yourself,” Hict replied, “You were in an impossible situation. If you had saved UnderSoul, Luminov would have been taken instead, and it would be his remains that we would now be standing over.”

    “I know,” Sleuth nodded, “And I also take comfort in knowing that UnderSoul is no longer suffering under the yoke of necromancer slavery.”

    “WE CAPTURED ONE OF THE NECROMANCERS,” Big E shouted at them from a distance, “THE GENERAL WANTS TO SEE YOU.”

    ----------------------------

    War: Day 14 – A Spark of Hope

    Anastasio and his Darkovia allies had vastly underestimated the strength and resolve of their Paladin enemies. Even with their overwhelming numbers, they were no match for the Paladin’s superior battle tactics and fortifications.

    Hiding in the back ranks of the undead army, Anastasio thought he would be safe from direct combat. He was wrong.

    Hit by a Paladin’s spell of Divine Light, Anastasio had been wounded, knocked unconscious, and captured. He was then taken before the Paladin General, Eschaton Thunder.

    Much of what happened next became like a blur in his memory. He remembered cursing and even spitting at the General. He remembered his feelings of anger, fear, and rebellion. He remembered his desperate desire to escape his self-loathing and the feeling of despair that constantly nagged at him. He remembered wondering if this Paladin could really make him feel whole as he was promising. And then he was cleansed.

    Like UnderSoul before him, Anastasio stood before Eschaton Thunder a changed man, radically transformed by the Light.

    “My very being has been turned around,” Anastasio proclaimed as his mind became enlightened, “I am healed! I am whole!”

    Eschaton Thunder smiled with compassion, “Welcome to the Light, Brother Anastasio. Your repentance was a great act of courage.”

    Anastasio looked at himself in wonderment, “I’ve been given a second chance. I should be dead; after all the evil I’ve caused, I deserve death.” He then looked back up, “But I am more alive than ever before! How can this be?”

    “Often one must reach the bottom of the pit of their own shame and despair before recognizing that there is a void in their soul that cannot be filled by their own base desires,” Eschaton Thunder explained, “By acknowledging this plight, a spark of hope is born – the possibility of restoration.”

    “My spark is now realized. It is a blaze of illumination,” Anastasio beamed, “I must use the grace imparted to me to atone for what I did to UnderSoul.”

    “There will be plenty of time for penance after the war,” Eschaton Thunder replied, “For now, we must prepare for the fulfillment of the prophecy. This war is nearly come to completion. The End is Near.”

    “Prophecy?” Anastasio inquired.

    “The day of sacrifice has arrived.”

    ---------------------------

    End of War – Prophecy Fulfilled

    Eschaton Thunder returned to clan Lucian in Paxia. With his leadership, it would become a sanctuary where true Paladins could find refuge from future persecution. The war was over and the Paladins had won, but the day of sacrifice had left the faithful few branded as heretics.

    They had sacrificed their holy magic in order to strip the necromancers of their vile dark magic. With the defeat of necromancy, the Paladins had completed their mission. Eschaton Thunder contemplated the events that had transpired over the past couple of days.

    Many Paladins, including Artix, had become despondent and left, apparently abandoning the Order. Though greatly disappointed, Eschaton Thunder hoped Artix would return. Yet given the current conditions, he feared the worst.

    Raza Sol had returned from his secret mission to Granemor. His report was quite disturbing but not surprising. Leaders among the Brilhado necromancers and undead abominations met with the Lady. Her association with evil (and the Evil One himself), which clearly resulted in her own corruption, had led her to embrace the very cancer that needed to be cleansed.

    It was an ironic twist being excommunicated from the Lady’s church when it was the Lady herself who had become the Apostate. Her corruption so complete - she approved of turning Paladins undead and making them her servants - she had demonstrated her unworthiness of a true Paladin’s devotion.

    Perhaps the Lady would even send Inquisitors to hunt down and kill the “heretics,” Eschaton Thunder pondered. But that was a lesser concern at the moment. More disturbing was the plan of the remaining necromancers to find new magical ways in which to spread their corruption and create undead abominations. If the necromancers succeed, then he and the remaining true Paladins must be ready to cleanse them. And ready they would be!

    His last order to Sleuth was to take the remainder of their army, go to Darkovia, and begin a guerilla-style campaign against the undead. They would no longer fight openly as Paladins, but covertly as ShadowSlayers. The war might be over, but Lore was still in great need of continued cleansing.

    Eschaton Thunder bowed his head in recognition of the sad reality. The Paladins had won, but the forces of evil were stealing their victory. It seemed likely that future sacrifices would be required….

    --------------------------


    My Design Notes.



    < Message edited by Eschaton Thunder -- 2/19/2013 12:41:41 >


    _____________________________

    The End is Near!
    AQ  Post #: 21
    2/6/2013 1:17:23   
    Oddball
    Member

    A lone warrior stood on top of a cliff, his sword was placed neatly beside a tree a few meters away and his armour seemed scratched. This figure was watching the battle going on below him. A voice spoke out in his mind.

    "I heard this war will change the face of Lore forever, are you sure you made the right choice?

    "Of course."

    In that case, what are your reasons for fighting the necromancers?

    "I just..."

    "You're not sure, are you?"

    The warrior looked down and remained silent, he honestly had no reason to fight for either side... but there was something else controlling him that day, he wanted no part in this at all; but something drove him to take up arms with Artix.

    "I thought so"

    "I know there's a reason why I did it... But I... I can't remember a thing"

    "Yet you still remember me. Why is that?

    "I... don't know. I can't even remember my name, or how I got here. The only things I CAN remember are joining the paladins, you, and how to use that sword."

    "That sword was important to someone you held close to your heart. Do not let it escape your sight"

    "Was?"

    "You cannot remember, not yet"

    "Not yet? What do you mean!?"

    There was an eerie silence in the area, not even the sounds of war were heard.

    "Answer me!"

    "Talking to yourself again, eh?" The warrior span around and saw a Paladin Captain stood a few meters away

    "You should really stop doing this, you know? We need everyone down there fighting"

    The warrior nodded "Understood, sorry sir."
    AQ DF AQW Epic  Post #: 22
    2/6/2013 3:08:04   
    Daimyo Daimyo
    Member

    One day, several years ago, Cysero was washing the dishes. Now, while this may seem normal to those who don't know the Mad Magical Weaponsmith very well, it should be noted that nobody ever asks Cysero to wash their dishes again (if they were brave or foolish enough to even ask the first time).

    Cysero scrubbed the plate in a circular motion with a sponge soaked in nitroglycerin. There was also a tea cup in the sink. He had just finished eating some schnozzberry tarts and drinking schnozzberry tea.

    Then the phone rang.

    Cysero answered it.

    "Ugh! What have I told you about messing with time and space?" The voice on the other line said.

    Maaaaan, not this guy again.

    "But I haven't done anything...yet"

    "You know, as well as I do, that the time doesn't really have any relevance. You're going to do it, you did it, and you have done it."

    "Look, I'm kind of busy right now so I'll just put you on speaker..."

    Cysero pressed what he thought was the right button.

    "NO! DON'T PRESS ANY-"

    Instead, the phone booth began to make whirling sounds. Cysero had pressed the button to initiate time travel.

    Several thousand years ago, on a dropship headed to the planet Loreon...

    "Ugh, when am I...?"

    "Sys-Zero? You okay? There was a sudden tremor-"

    A G.E.A.R.S. University student came into the room.

    "Hmm? Hiro? What are you doing in my house?"

    "What are you talking about? This isn't your home. Well, I guess you could say your personal lounge is homely."

    "Personal lounge? Huh. Never knew I had one."

    "Are you alright? Did you hit your head somewhere? We should get Nurse Helia to examine you when we get to Soluna City."

    "Uhh, sure." Uh-oh. They're going to find out I'm not who they think I am when we get-

    "Wait a minute. Is it just me or is there something different about you...?"

    "It's just you."

    "No. I've got an eye for this sort of stuff."

    Oh no. Did he figure out-

    "Did you get a haircut?"

    "W-what? I mean, yes! I did get a haircut!"

    "I hear ya. H.A.L. can make anyone unrecognizable."

    There was an odd door. It beckoned to Cysero. Open me, Cysero. You know you want to... Before Cysero knew it, he was being lectured by Hiro.

    "Gah! You idiot! What were you thinking!? You could've gotten yourself killed!"

    "Sorry..."

    "Ah. No, I'm sorry. I forgot you're a bit short on your memory at the moment."

    "Just don't open that hatch again. Promise me you won't do it again?"

    "I promise." No promises.

    "Good. I can't really imagine you wearing a dunce hat."

    "Hat?" Cysero perked up at the mention of head-wear.

    "Oh? You like hats?" Seeing Cysero nod, Hiro continued.

    "Well you won't like this one. It's for repeat offenders who keep throwing themselves out the loading bay doors. It's pretty humiliating."

    At that moment, a random student called out to them.

    "Hiro! Sys-Zero! Come over here! There's sponge cake!"

    Sponge. Sponge. ...Sponge? Oh! That sponge! Cysero checked his pants' pockets. Nothing. He checked his pockets' pockets. Nothing. He checked in his sock. Ah! That's where I put my leftover slice of pizza! He took a bite of it. Mmm. Still fresh.

    But where was his nitroglycerin menger-sponge?

    ...

    ...Was that hole in his green robes always there? It looks like something burned right through-

    Of course! It must've fell out when he was outside in the vacuum of space!

    He made an attempt for the loading bay door. But someone stopped him.

    "Oh no you don't. Didn't you make a promise to me earlier?"

    "Umm. What promise?"

    "The one where you don't jump out into the recesses of space? Remember?"

    "Yeah, I know. But I dropped something while I was out there and I really have to get it back."

    "I'm sorry to hear that but we just can't turn this ship around. We've already been taking longer than normal to reach Soluna as it is."

    "Can you at least tell me where it'll land?"

    "The thing you dropped? Well, it'll probably get pulled into Loreon's field of gravity. If it can pierce through all the debris, I'd say it'll take about...3000 years?"

    "Thanks!" And with that, Cysero ran off to find the time booth.

    "Wait! Where are you going? There's sponge cake! Don't you want a slice?"

    "Sorry! I prefer schnozzberry cake!"

    "What's a schnozzberry?"

    Cysero skidded to a halt. Hiro didn't know what he was missing. Schnozzberry cake is the best cake and it isn't a lie.

    "Here! Head's up!"

    Cysero threw a wrapper, containing one of the schnozzberry cakes he always carried on his person, at Hiro. Hiro had to back up to catch it...and he ended up falling out the loading bay door which opens upon sensing someone approaching. Whoops. Someone should really put a safety lock on that thing.

    "Sorry about that!"

    The Mad Blacksmith found what he was looking for. Fortunately, he remembered to take the key out of the ignition. It wouldn't be here if he had left it in. Setting the coordinates for 3000 years later, Cysero closed the door behind him and pressed the button.

    Hmm. Well this was familiar at least. He was in BattleOn.

    He was pondering where the sponge might land when he saw a sign on one of the various buildings.

    Warlic's Magic Shop.

    Time to pay an old friend a visit.

    "Welcome to my shop. Here, you can learn new spells, undertake arcane quests, and even use the magic mirror to change your appearance."

    Warlic didn't even look up to see who had just entered.

    "Oooh! A magic mirror that changes your appearance!? You HAVE GOT to show me!"

    Warlic didn't know why, but that voice annoyed him. His brows furrowed as he felt a headache coming up.

    Do I dare look?

    The Blue Mage looked up.

    Then he tried to teleport away when he saw who it was.

    But he found that someone was preventing him from teleporting. No prizes for guessing who.

    "Warlic! Buddy! Roomie! How have you been? You haven't written me a single letter or called me since you moved out!"

    Don't talk to him, Warlic. Talking will only make things worse. This is just a horrible nightmare. You're going to wake up when you close your eyes and open them again.

    ...

    No, this is real. He's still there...

    "We have LOTS of catching up to do!"

    It was nighttime when Cysero left the shop. He had forgotten about what he had actually come for because he was having so much fun getting Warlic up to date with his life.

    Oh, well. It probably wasn't that important anyway.

    Cysero set the alarm clock back a few years to go back to his own time.

    Cysero: There's a wall in his shop, a few halls over from Warlic's bedroom, that REALLY needed that talking mayonnaise cube portrait of me.
    Cysero: It's so lonely and quiet for a wall.

    Later that midnight at Warlic's Magic Shop...

    Portrait: ...because I'm a portrait and I'm made out of mayonnaise and I am called a TALKING portrait so I just kinda keep talking and talking
    Portrait: ...about whatever comes to mind because what I say isn't really important so long as I am talking, It's funny 'cause I don't actually have a mind...
    Portrait: ...I'm just a pair of magical lips on some magical mayonnaise hung on a wall in some place by some guy that looks like me...
    Warlic: OMG WILL YOU PLEASE BE QUIET SO I CAN SLEEP?!
    Portrait: ...SOMEONE doesn't like mayonnaise. What does he have against mayonnaise anyways? Haha, that rhymes...
    Warlic: AAAHHHHH!!!! CYSEROOOOOooooo!!!!
    Portrait: ...right his name is Cysero, which of course rhymes with 'This-a-go', and "Is limo" and also "Steve" if you have a really bad cold, but anyway...
    Warlic: *sob*
    Portrait: ...does anybody remember what I was talking about a minute ago cause I think it had something to do with lemonade or cats or...

    At some battlefield during the time of the current Paladin vs. Necromancer War...

    "Brothers and sisters! This the moment we've been waiting for! Our time is now! We shall crush the paladorks so hard in this war that they'll cease to exist!"

    [Applause, roars of approval]

    "Tonight, we necromancers dine in Heck!"

    At the paladin's side of the field...

    Artix von Krieger was looking through pamphlets on which restaurant he was eating at after the war.

    "Hmm. This place looks like a good one for dim sum. What do you think, boy?"

    He addressed the pomeranian by his side; his undead-slaying dog.

    "Arf!"

    "Yeah. I don't like their prices either. How about-"

    "Commander!"

    A paladin captain entered the tent.

    *Sigh* "This had better be good. You were interrupting my important war strategy." At this, Daimyo rolled his eyes. ಠ___ಠ

    "Forgive me sir, but it's time! All of the troops are prepared."

    "Alright, I'll be there shortly to give them a rousing speech."

    The speech...
    "All necropunk scum will be purged from the world. Who wants dim sum when we win?"

    [Applause, roars of approval]

    The paladins brought their crossbows, their axes, their swords, their spirits of light, their horrible sense of humor. The necromancers brought their staves, their wands, their spellbooks, and their undead minions. The moment was tense. Each side was waiting for just the slightest provocation to begin the war. Just one wrong step and all Heck would break loose. This war was forever to be recorded in history. It was an important turning-point. The choices made by those on the battlefield would decide the fate of many on Lore. The final battle between rival factions. Will the paladins win and cleanse the world of undead or will the necromancers cover the world with their armies of undead? This land-standing feud between Light and Darkness, Good and Evil, will finally come to an end here. Many have come to watch on the side-lines. They've been anticipating this event. They want to know who will be standing when the dust on the battlefield clears. Others want to read the outcome in the papers. And yes, I AM going on a needlessly pointless tangent.

    What's that up in the sky? Is it a birdie? Is it pony? Is it tasty? No, it was Cysero's nitroglycerin menger-sponge!

    "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!"

    "I'll have an issue of the Zardian EZine, please."

    The newsboy took one of the newspapers in the stack he was carrying and handed it to Hiro. Hiro took a good look at the boy. Blonde, no shoes, and oh so very cute with that newsboy hat on his mussy hair. Oh, he was a sucker for cute things, animals, and children. He took out a bag of gold. It wasn't like he needed the surplus anyway.

    "Keep the change. Go get yourself some shoes and something to eat."

    He extended the bag out. The boy stared at it in confusion before he processed what Hiro had said. Then he smiled.

    "Thank you very much, sir! I'll do that right after I sell all my papers. Have a nice day!"

    Feeling rejuvenated, the boy skipped off to sell his papers elsewhere; humming all the while.

    Hmm. Let's see... Ah.

    quote:

    Sponge from Space decimates 90% of both Paladins and Necromancers.

    Several days ago, at an out-of-the-way battlefield where the Paladin vs Necromancer War was taking place, a sponge fell from the sky and exploded upon hitting the ground. It is reported to have wiped out at least 90% of all paladins and 90% of all necromancers on Lore. Coincidentally, none of the "good" or "ebil" necromancers were there when the explosion took place. So far, only three survivors have been confirmed from the paladin side: Coeuraservi, Artix, and Daimyo. Strangely enough, the dog seemed to be unharmed and even unfazed about the situation...The blast has also completely killed all vegetation and wildlife in the area. A massive crater was formed from the impact. The place is now a deadly bio-hazardous zone and has been quarantined indefinitely.

    Usually we ask the Arch Mage, Warlic, to explain how these magical phenomenons occur. However, he refuses to answer for some reason and has locked himself in his shop...

    On a totally unrelated note, shares on foam, cardboard, torches, and pitchforks are going up. In particular, Hiro's schnozzberry cake brand is topping the stock market's charts. The public just can't get enough of those delectable morsels.

    Other Hot Topics:

    NPC Celebrity Gossip: Lord Barrius wears kimono. Turn to page 2.

    Loremaster Falerin explains his thoughts on Twig's fish sundaes and how it's no joke that the moglin could be considered equal to The`Galin. Turn to page 3.

    Beard-grooming: Xarymandias gives helpful advice on how to maintain a healthy beard. Turn to page 4.

    Adoption: Recently, several Pom-Poms and Doom Doggies have been orphaned. Learn how to adopt one today! Turn to page 5.

    Imagination and Creativity: Eukara Vox teaches us how to "think with portals". Turn to page 6.

    Comparison Wanted: Watashig Signal activated! Turn to page 7.

    ......

    Cheating Couples: Thunder Stalker is two-timing on Hiro-
    What!? Hiro spat out the hot chocolate he had been drinking. Interesting choice of beverage. Iced Hot Chocolate: Kamui's special brew. The miraculous fusion between hot and cold.

    The End


    Notes: End dialogue concerning the Mayonnaise Painting is from the Mayonnaise Cubed Quest in Dragonfable. Yes, this story was pointlessly dragged out and wasn't even about the war most of the time. However, I suppose all the interaction isn't completely meaningless. Only near the end is when everything comes together.

    Eschaton Thunder's Excommunication

    Eschaton Thunder could not believe what he had just heard.

    "Pardon me, sir. But I could've sworn you said that I was being thrown out of the Order."

    "That's because you are. You are hereby relieve of your duties as a paladin. Please turn in your badge, uniform, axe, medals, and other things you've acquired during your time as a paladin. Also, be sure not to let the revolving door hit you on the way out."

    "But sir! You can't do this to me! I...without this job, I have nothing!"

    "I can do this and I just did. Do as I've instructed quickly. It's hard to breath the air you've polluted..."

    Eschaton Thunder opened his mouth to argue but decided against it. Slumping in defeat, he unclasped the cape around his shining white armor.

    His superior stepped before him, and right in front of his very eyes, tore all his hard-earned medals off his uniform; ripping the threads in the process.

    One metal gauntlet came off, the other following soon after. His helmet, breastplate, boots-

    "Erm, you can keep your underwear."

    After being literally stripped of everything, Eschaton Thunder walked out of the church. Naturally, the revolving doors smacked him on his way out.

    The sunlight shined and reflected off of his White Knight Armor; the only thing he still possessed that wasn't paladin-issued. The future looked grim but Eschaton Thunder hoped that-

    Suddenly, Daimyo appeared. He stared intently at Eschaton Thunder.

    'What does the dog of Artix want with me'

    He was about to put that thought into words, when the pomeranian's fur began to glow.

    ...


    Eschaton Thunder woke up several hours later. He felt a nice breeze...

    Then he looked and saw that he was only clad in his heart-patterned undies. He had been mugged.

    'Oh, well. Can't get any worse than this.'

    Not long after he said that, a flash of light struck him and an odd sound came after. He paled.

    "Oi, Eschaton Thunder. How has life been treating you?" Muchiha, a necromancer, jeered.

    "Yes, Eschaton Thunder, what have you been up to ever since the Lady of Light excommunicated you?" UnderSoul, another necromancer, added.

    "What are you going to do with those photos...?" Eschaton Thunder asked the two.

    "Oh nothing, as long as you do what we say." Muchiha answered.

    "We'll have a messenger deliver your first orders soon. Don't do anything stupid unless you want these photos all over the Internet." UnderSoul left with camera in tow.

    "Ta-ta, Eschaton Thunder. Oops! I meant Eschaton "Underwear"!" Muchiha said, as he too left to join his friend.

    The End


    < Message edited by Daimyo Daimyo -- 1/29/2015 19:59:47 >
    MQ  Post #: 23
    2/6/2013 9:11:12   
    Seth Hydra
    How We Roll Winner
    Nov14


    The primary character(s) in this scene : Seth Hydra

    Memoir 1: Opinions
    A cold breeze passed through the deserted fields of Battleon’s Border, the site where the war had formed its Epicentre. Seth, looked across the open field, all the paladins and light elementals that had made the mistake of standing up against him, lay motionless. Bodies and ashes painted the once plush, green fields with a tinge of red. He closed his eyes, and relaxed, trying to let go the truth, the bond that he once shared with the paladins, with their leader Artix, with whom he had participated in unfathomable conquests to fight evil, was broken. Now, they stood on different sides, with a blade placed at each other’s throat.
    How could a bond of friendship, that had survived since Seth was a young mage, shattered so easily? He tried to justify his own actions, He had killed over a thousand beings loyal to the Lady of Light, who had conferred upon him Knightship, and granted him a place among the legendary order of the White Knights. While still immersed in his thoughts, he saw a stray zombie pack, entering the battle field. The two pygmy zombies jumped on a fallen paladin, ready to feast on him.
    Seth, gave a stare of loathing and disgust and cast a pair of fireballs towards the pygmies, who reacted to slowly and were incinerated. The necromancer who had raised the zombies, appeared on the field in a blaze of black flames. He turned towards Seth who stood, unperturbed facing the other way.

    The necromancer spoke in a deathly cold voice: “How dare you destroy my minions! We are on the same side...” Seth, didn’t respond, instead turned his attention to his armor, which was covered with a layer of dust, ashes and blood. The Necromancer announced “This insolence, how dare you insult me, Arkyron the Death-dealer! I’m speaking to you Hydra! Seth turned towards Arkyron, and spoke curtly “Friend or foe, You have to respect the dead. Your abominations were going to defile these knights, who only came here on the orders of those above them. I might be fighting on your side in this war, but only because In my opinion, the necromancers here are the oppressed.
    But I wont allow you to mutilate the fallen.” With this, Seth turned his attention towards one of the wounded residents. Arkyron fumed, and summoned an undead giant and spoke “Seth, no-one insults me and gets to live”, and with that sent a bolt of black lightning towards Seth. Seth fashioned a fireball, and cancelled out the lightning bolt. The necromancer gasped” How can you cast an Aleph Fireball twice, you’re a warrior!” But before he could complete the sentence, a Golden spear emerged out from his Heart. He turned around to see Seth standing, clutching the spear.
    Seth smiled and spoke “I am a Hydra, no matter how much I try to change, magic will always be a part of me!” He withdrew his spear and jumped of the undead giant, and onto the roof of a log cabin, as the necromancer and his creation burst into black flames. His spear vanished with a brilliant flash and he drew out a rapier, which burst in to blue flames. He tensed his body, and his Ultraguardian plate blurred and formed into a torn and worn-down carapace. His weapon arm transformed into a black, shadowy pulsating blade and his shield arm transformed into a colossal spiked shield. And finally his face was covered with a black knight’s helm. From his shoulder, back, and his eyes, red flames erupted. Seth thought to himself “I hope what I’m doing is right”. With that he turned towards a fresh regiment of paladin forces, and whispered to himself “Time to dance”.

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    Memoir Two: Twos a company!
    Character introduced in this scene: Sophie

    SLASH! And the captain of the assault squad perished. A gargantuan Cyclops continued the assault. The slow, but lethal beast tried to impale a tired Seth, but its reflexes let it down. Seth fired a stream of dark energy that drained some of the Cyclops’s vitality. The creature looked stunned, unable to apprehend, how it lost its energy. The weakened Seth straightened, and fired the ray again. And this time the Cyclops couldn’t handle it. It collapsed on a heap of paladins. Once again, the field was devoid of any kind of life, and once again Seth was the only one left standing. It seemed wrong to him that the town of Battleon was always caught in the crossfire between two warring factions. This time it was no different; the paladin order was towards the north of Battleon, whereas the necromancers towards the south.

    But this war was different, The adventurers and guardians had always defended together, and fought side by side as comrades. But this war had bought them all at the edge of a sword. Friends became foes; everyone had turned on one another, all because of differences in opinion. Seth grew tired of all this gory. Although he thrived on the thrills of war, this war had a deeply straining effect on him, the very thought of finding his friends against him on the battlefield disturbed him to his very core. He heard a whizzing noise, and out of the sky appeared a young maiden. Her dark locks covered her fair visage, but he could recognize who it was. “Sophie, what are you doing here?” he asked. Sophie said: “I’m here to help you in this war”. She focused herself, and brown robes shifted to form a black coloured gown, and dark energy began emanating from her. Seth shook his head “Sophie, stay in Deren, away from this conflict. The paladins are on the offensive against all undead, and you being a werepyre qualify as one. And shrouding yourself as a tenebromancer will do you no good! Sophie shrugged “I’m not going...I’m your partner remember, we are in this together!” Before the conversation could continue any further, a war cry sounded as a regiment of ten paladins, twenty lightzards and a dozen Cyclops, led by a Paladin Captain rushed towards Seth and Sophie. Seth smirked “You think you can keep up?”. Sophie smiled “It’s like Frostval’s come early this year” Saying that she cast a barrage of skulls against her adversaries. And Seth summoned his void vanquisher, and it began emitting a red glow, signalling its harm energy.

    He lunged straight at the paladin captain who was leading the assault, and clashed his blade with the paladins. Sophie’s barrage managed to claim the lives of a dozen lightzards as well a couple of Cyclops, yet she was still outnumbered by a huge margin. Seth tried to dispatch out the captain as fast as he could, but the paladin resisted and defended the blows. Clearly, he was far stronger than the others. Then Seth went on the defensive, he jumped backwards towards Sophie, who was clearly in trouble with three Cyclops on her tail. He summoned his Eternal Twilight spear, and struck down two of the creatures, whereas Sophie blasted the remaining one away. They stood back to back, surrounded by the remaining zards and paladins. Sophie, slightly exasperated, said “Ok, this is a lot more annoying than I thought.”

    She then concentrated her magic on herself as her black robes once again shifted, this time an armor of solid gold appeared. Seth stared at her, slightly surprised “Is that the communicant’s zeal?” “No” She replied, “It’s the acolyte’s ...something, a lesser version!” “Where did you get it?” He asked. “Long story, some other time” Sophie replied, and she summoned a black skull wand, “Aren’t those blackbones, looks like you’ve been busy!” She raised her wand, and announced “EXHUME!” and a swirling tornado emerged, surrounding the paladins and zards from all sides. Seth spoke “You do realise that, that tornado is going to attack us aswell.” Sophie hesitated “I.... kinda forgot about that”. Seth replied “Good, enough that’ll give me a distraction”. Seth summoned his dread spear, and switched into Decimator mode.

    Armed with his Spear, and his Chieftains Ironthorn, he rushed at the paladins who were still reeling from the tornado. He swiped his massive spear, and sent three paladins flying into the tornado wall, which surrounded them, where they were struck by skulls of pure dark energy. A trio of zards latched on to his armor, and Seth said” Oi! Stupid zards, get of me!! You stupid, brainless....” He went along, flailing, trying to free himself of the voracious bites of the zards.”That’s a custom made armor, hand crafted! Get of me!! “ The remaining paladins were confused, and in their moment of confusion, Sophie cast another spell, and summoned an Ice dragon spirit. “Knock them into the vortex” She commanded the spirit. It duly obeyed her, and sent a blast of icy wind at the remaining paladins.

    The blast sent all but the captain, into the vortex and they met a fate similar to their teammates. Seth managed to set himself from the zards, and even managed to take down the remaining zards. Now within a swirling tornado, Seth and Sophie stood against their final adversary, the Captain paladin. He looked taken aback, after losing all his men, yet he looked determined. Seth observed a hunger in his eyes, the same he had seen in the countless zealot paladins. He grunted “So I see, this is the Power of Seth Hydra and Sophie Heartnet. My name is Zeke, A Golden knight of the paladin order. You will meet your doom if it is the last thing I do!” Saying that, he charged at them both, and jumped. “HOLY MIGHT” He bellowed and struck towards Sophie.

    The tornado had vanished, and rubble from the impact of the Holy Might on the surroundings had created a crater. The paladin smirked “So this is the might of the Warrior Hydra! What a joke”. “I He looked around, smoke and haze surrounded the field. The impact of his attack, had levelled all the houses nearby, and had caused a few houses to catch fire. “Collateral damage”, he said to himself. Then something cold, and hard came and struck him from behind. The paladin collapsed and fell to his feet. “Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure” said a voice.
    As the smoke cleared, he saw two figures emerging. A feminine voice screamed” Rainstorm “ And drops of water started falling from the sky. The water cleared of the rubble and settled the dust showing both Seth and Sophie standing. The paladin gasped “But how! Seth spoke “Mate, no offence, I’d been tutored by Artix himself. You don’t think I’ll know how to deal with a Holy Might’s impact. I know both its strengths and weaknesses.” The paladin, angered picked up his sword and shield, and began striding towards them, When again a flying circular disc struck him and returned to Seth’s hand. The paladin collapsed. "Just a little something I picked up from Lt.Lore!!"
    Sophie called of the rainstorm spell, and spoke “How did you block that attack? That thing destroyed my tornado, and levelled everything within a 100 feet?” Seth replied “Oh, that.. I just summoned light energy” He signalled towards his left hand, where a glowing disc of light circled his hand. “Daylight Savings shield” and it disappeared. Sophie looked disappointed, “You used a shield to block the impact? “ Seth shrugged “Yeah obviously, the attack was powerful, but since I blocked it, it instead created an impact everywhere else. See, fighting paladins isn’t as easy as you think.” Sophie shrugged “I guess so, I think I’ll train some more in the ethereal realm with Sano, before I try taking on them again. “

    Saying that she changed into her brown robes, and summoned a blazing Phoenix. Seth, smiled “Take care, don’t get into trouble” Sophie winked at him, and spoke “DO You have any idea about who you are talking to?” saying that, she nudged the phoenix and it rose, flapping its great wings, and flew of into the sky, towards the rip. Seth smiled. He preferred to do missions alone, but reminded himself how much more fun it was, with his team, Sophie, Sasha, Flynn and his brother Xage. He gazed into the sky, seeing the sun rise . “A new day” he said to himself, as he walked towards the INN.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Memoir 3: The good, the bad and the Paladins.

    The stormy sky grew weary, thunder rolled down the clouds, and lightning lit up the battlefield. It was already nightfall, and things didn’t look to good for the Necromancers. In the past couple of days, they had suffered heavy losses due to the influx of paladins as well as unpredicted, and blitzkrieg attacks on necromancer camps by light footed, fast Paladin shock troopers.
    Sophie stood at the site of her previous battle with the paladin forces. The crater still filled a deep void on the earth, and now a few more had formed to give it company. She had, after much convincing been allowed to take a look at how the necromancers were faring in the war, and chances of their victory looked bleak, very bleak indeed. She turned around to see, a man in golden armor standing, wielding a golden claymore. His eyes looked restless, like a man who hadn’t known peace in his life. He gave her a maniacal smile, and said “Dont worry, I promise it wont heart! Dont be afraid, It’ll be over quickly”........

    Meanwhile on Deren,
    The war had taken its toll on Seth, who lay on h