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Arcane Nites
story


As you make your camp for the evening a old, frazzled stranger leaning on a cane approaches you and asks if he might share the warmth of your fire. He tells you that he has a tale that many have heard whispers of but that few have ever heard in truth. He smiles at you as he sits down and pulls out a flask of some sort of ale and passes it to you as he begins to speak, "Even though this legend is ancient, its still spoken of in awe. Few are the eyes that are empty of tears as this tale is regaled by bards and sages alike. I shall then dispense with my words of foretelling and instead I shall begin this tale of fate, this tale of loss and sorrow, this tale of redemption, the tale of Saeril..."

* * * * *

Prelude

   _______________________________________________________________
  //\\                                                            \
 |||||    Intensely shining with his darkened pain,               |
  \_/|    His dying soul is shown through glistened eyes.         |
     |    While Honor's tempered strength makes him refrain       |
     |    from unforgiving answers to the lies.                   |
     |    Love's truest eternal heart falls once more             |
     |    into the maelstrom of the chaos dream.                  |
     |    The crumbled walls of self have shut the door;          |
     |    Insanity's wicked fires start to gleam.                 |
     |    The whispered wind of fate doth move post haste         |
     |    from Sorrow's bittersweet visions of her.               |
     |    Then somewhere in this blasted, hellish waste           |
     |    his eyes, with pain and tears, begin to blur.           |
     |    The moon is slowly creeping through the trees,          |
     |    as darkened mist descends upon the land.                |
     |    The acrid taste of death is on the breeze,              |
     |    and purple lightning from the sword in hand.            |
     |    The pitiless pair of eyes stare at their souls;         |
     |    the guilty knowing that their doom is near.             |
     |    The wind then whips and soon the thunder rolls,         |
     |    ravaging power releases each type of fear.              |
     |    Hard-lined, the sword of Fate, with haste, does fall,   |
     |    when softly whispers crystal pure a voice.              |
     |    Which tries to end the chaos of the call,               |
     |    and let the madness come down to a choice.              |
     |      Through the mists of fate he sees the end;            |
     |      and brings redemption for his love again.             |
     | ___________________________________________________________|_
     |/\\                                                           \
     ||||>          P R O P H E C Y   O F   T H E   M I S T          |
      \\//                                                          /
       `-----------------------------------------------------------'

Long were the days and nights of the realm when first the gods had visions that brought them to their knees in terror. A prophecy, more ancient than even the oldest god was being realized. You see, amongst the oldest gods there was a legend of creation and destruction. In times long past in the winds of time, a being had come forth. Born of mortal form, this being had held in his hands the power of creation as well as destruction. The power was that of the darkened mist. The gods, sensing this great power enter the world seventeen years earlier had sent forth scouts to find this soul and turn him to their ways lest he discover his true nature and perhaps rival them. After many attempts to sway this soul unto their side through dreams and friends, they realized that his was not a soul that could be easily controlled. In their haste to keep control of their realm, they sent forth a great army of light as well as darkness to destroy this threat and once again bring peace to their own existences. What they didn't realize was that this innocent mortal was naive to the power that he held, as well as content with the life that he lived. There very actions indeed were making the prophecy of the Lord of the Darkened Mist come true...

* * * * *

Sweat rolled off of Diersan's forehead as he awoke from his latest nightmare. It seemed to him as if the nightmares had been increasing since he had fallen into the river and almost drowned a few weeks earlier. Once again the dream he saw showed a darkness closing around him as he tried desperately to hold back his fear and fight the flames that leapt upon the inn. He knew that it was just a dream, but that didn't make him feel that much better when he had it. He slowly crawled out of bed, noticing the sun just starting to lazily come over the horizon.

"Great," he thought to himself sarcastically, "Another long day of helping dad out with the inn."

Diersan's father, Korshan, owned the local inn, a large inn for this area, but a small inn compared to most. Korshan had long tried to teach him the value of hard work and to keep with this; he had Diersan helping him in the inn more of late. As he walked downstairs and into the kitchen, he saw his father already up and preparing the morning's feast for the guests. As of last night there had only been a couple of guests in the Inn, however his father told him that a stranger had come in late last night carrying an infant and carrying on about knights ransacking one of the villages down the river. He seemed very distraught so Korshan had not asked a lot of questions and rather had brought him directly to a room so that he and his child could at least get a good night's sleep. Diersan walked over to where his father was cooking some ham links and fresh baked bread and took a couple of slices of each.

Korshan, frowning at him slightly, said, "You can have plenty of that as soon as you go get some more water from the well. I'm trying to make sure that our guests' morning feast is ready, and if I don't get that water, I won't be able to boil eggs. Now hurry along." He then added with a grin, "and try not to fall into the well..."

Diersan winked at him and replied, "You wouldn't want that now would you. After all, with me at the bottom of the well who would you get to help you chop wood later."

Diersan grabbed the water bucket from the hook on the wall and quickly hurried outside. It's not that he hated helping his father with the inn, far from it, but at seventeen he felt that he should be able to go hang out with his friends and doing nothing at all instead of hauling water around, gathering eggs, feeding chicken. As he walked toward the well he noticed that there were a lot of birds flying towards the east. He had learned long ago from his father that that usually meant a storm was coming. Diersan had always loved storms and had often watched the lighting and clouds thundering by from his room, and wondered what it would be like up there. At least with a storm coming he wouldn't have to go out and pull weeds he thought to himself.

Diersan looked towards a small house not more than a few minutes walk from where he was. His girlfriend, Cerdia, lived there with her parents. He could see her window from here and noticed that she wasn't awake yet. He thought about how lucky she was to be able to just sleep in like that, but he soon gave up his lament and turned to bring the water back to the inn. It seemed like Diersan went through this same drill every morning. Slowly crawling out of bed, complaining to himself about the work, and finally just settling into doing the work so he could have the afternoon off. As Diersan was returning, Korshan noticed him come back in. Diersan was starting to turn into a fine young man. About six feet tall with long brown hair, and broad shoulders, the only thing unordinary about him was that he had violet eyes. That was something that didn't happen very often as far as Korshan knew. Diersan had intensity in his gaze that stopped most people in their tracks until his smile warmed them up. He was also known to have a way of helping everyone that needed help. He had even taken it upon himself to fix old widow Manda's roof a couple weeks ago because he knew that she couldn't do it herself. Korshan noticed a downtrodden look on Diersan's face that most people wouldn't have picked up, and asked him what was wrong. Diersan had made a pact with himself that he wouldn't let his father know about the nightmares he had been having recently. His father had enough to deal with since his mother had passed away due to fever last year and he didn't want his father worrying about him.

Diersan said, "There's a storm coming and I don't think I'll be able to work in the garden today." He then smiled and said, "Not like that's a bad thing"

Korshan snickered and replied, "Don't think that you're getting out of weeding that easy, I'll see to it that I find you a good place to dry off after you finish." Diersan just grinned at him and grabbed a couple more slices of bread and headed off to the common room. When he walked in he saw the man whom he assumed was the guest who had arrived last night. The man took one look at Diersan and told him that if he knew what was best for his father and himself he would pack and get out of the village.

Diersan, intrigued, asked him why, to which the man replied, "There's an army of demons and dragons ravaging villages all across the Spire." Diersan asked him, "How come no one in this village has heard anything of such a force," to which the man replied, "They arrive in the night and kill everyone they see. I was lucky to get out of Leafshire alive. They even killed my wife!" After hearing the name of his village, a village that no more than a couple of days ride to the north, he asked, "Do you know who they're or where they're headed?" The man answered, "No, they just kept yelling to each other that they would find him if they had to kill everyone in this region. Then they proceeded to kill and burn everything they saw. I only got away due to a small amount of magic I possess which enabled me to mask my baby and me in shadows."

Diersan shivered after hearing the man's description of the burning and butcher of his village. Just about that time Korshan entered the common room. Diersan relayed all that the man had told him, and Korshan paled at first at the details of the slaughter. Then after seeing the man, he calmed down and told the man, "You are welcome to stay here as long as you like." The man just shook his head and said he was leaving right away. He paid Korshan and left the inn, carrying his baby in a makeshift pack.

Diersan turned to his father and asked, "What're we going to do?" Korshan simply stated, "That man is mad. It's a sad thing to see when something like that happens to someone. I wish that there was something we could do for him, but he is determined to leave, so we must let him leave. Regardless, you've been working hard for quite some time, why don't you take the rest of the day to do whatever you want." Diersan quickly perked up at this and told his father, "Really? Ok then! I'll see you later," and ran up to his room to get a pack to throw some food into.

Diersan grabbed some bread and cheese from the kitchen, and headed over to Cerdia's house. On the way there, he met up with a friend of his, Remli. Remli was a rough-hewn young man the same age as Diersan. He was about five foot eight, had short blonde hair, and brown eyes that always seemed to be looking for something else to do. He was slight of build, however his slight form held a bit of strength. Throughout the entire time that Diersan had known him, Remli had been getting him into more trouble than he could even remember.

"So I see the old goat let you out to do something other than weed," Remli said. "Yeah, I get the rest of the day to do whatever I want, but it looks like it's going to storm soon," Diersan said while looking at the clouds starting to gather over the trees to the west. "So, you headed over to Cerdia's?" Remli asked. Diersan smirked and said, "Do you really even have to ask?" Remli said, "I guess not." The pair continued on to Cerdia's house where her father, Tayus, met them. After exchanging short greetings, they went inside and up to her room to "gently" wake her up...

As Diersan and Remli ran from her room yelling to her not to kill them for dumping water on her, Cerdia came running down the stairs holding a big walking stick. By the time that Cerdia caught up to them, they were all laughing, and wrestling around on the ground. Cerdia's father just shook his head to himself and thought, "I guess they never really grow up." After a while the group quit wrestling and just lay in a heap on the ground. Diersan leaned close to Cerdia and whispered, "I love you." Cerdia smiled at him and told him, "I know, and I love you too." Remli, still breathing heavily, rolled his eyes, turned to them both and said, "Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You both love each other, now go get dressed Cerdia, so we can go do something before it storms."

As the trio got up and went inside, Diersan wondered how much longer it would be before he could ask her father for permission to marry her. Cerdia was only sixteen years old, but she usually acted much older than the two boys combined. She was a lovely girl; about five foot six with long brown hair and sparkling, sapphire eyes. She always had a smile on her face and a kind word for everyone she met. Diersan had grown up being friends with her and Remli. They had done everything together from the time that they could be yelled at for going into the woods by themselves. It was no surprise to their parents the day that Diersan and Cerdia told them that they were seeing each other. Cerdia's father had even been wondering to himself how much longer it would be before Diersan asked his permission to marry his daughter. As Cerdia went upstairs to change into something more appropriate for screwing around, Diersan and Remli discussed what they were going to do.

"I was thinking we should just take something to eat and go fishing down by the river," said Remli. "I don't know, " said Diersan, "I was thinking more of going up to Oak hill and watching the storm come in, although I agree with bringing some food." Diersan's stomach was already grumbling and growling at the mere mention of food. "Well, make up your mind," said Remli, "I don't want to sit here all day long waiting for your ugly butt to make a decision." "Fine, let's just go down to the river and fish. I don't really care anyway," Diersan said.

The two continued to bicker about where they should go when Cerdia finally came back downstairs and decided that she wanted to go the Oak hill to see the storm. Oak hill was the highest point nearby other than the majestic Dragonspire Mountains, which were a good two weeks ride to the north. More of a mound of dirt than a hill, Oak hill still offered a nice view of the surrounding area. It was aptly named Oak hill due to an enormous oak tree that grew at its summit. The trio walked slowly toward Oak hill, Diersan carrying his pack of food and a blanket. As they came over the crest of the hill and toward the massive Oak, they could see the thunderclouds off in the distance to the west. Cerdia took the pack from Diersan and laid out the blanket and took the food from the pack. They spent their time eating and talking about what was happening in the town lately. How old widow Manda had accidentally left the gate to her pigpen open. It had taken them hours to round all of the pigs up. How there had been the mentions of war from far south, toward the Chulamirian border. A bard that was traveling through had mentioned something of great beasts of wars known as dragons standing on the side of the armies. They even talked about how things seemed to change so much. Remli spoke of wanting to travel someday and see the great halls of the Chulamirian kings and even travel to the southern continent to see the citadel of the ice lords. Cerdia spoke of wanting to someday travel to the top of Infinity's Spire to be able to see the world from the top. She spoke of someday being a courtier in the Chulamirian royal court, attending balls and great feasts, and mingling with other royalty. They basically talked about the normal dreams and desires and goals that all young people aspire to obtain. Diersan however, much to Cerdia and Remli's surprise, said that although it would be nice to do all of that stuff, he would just be happy to run an inn like his father's. He said that in running an inn, you get to see all types of people from around the realm and from different walks of life, all while having the comfort of home. Remli couldn't see how anyone would want to stay here for the rest of their life, but then again Diersan had never been like normal people. He actually enjoyed helping people out and working with his father.

The clouds moved quickly across the forest and the three of them thought it would probably be best if they headed back into town. Better to watch a storm from inside of one's house, rather than from inside of the storm. As they walked back, Diersan asked Remli if he would give Cerdia and himself a little space to talk about something. Remli said, "Sure, I'll just meet you two back at the inn," and started jogging back to the town. Cerdia looked at Diersan and raised an eyebrow in question.

"What do you want to talk about?" she asked. "Well, recently I've been doing a lot of thinking about us," Diersan said while toeing at the ground sheepishly, "I know that we're still kinda young, but I was wondering if you wanted me to talk to your father about the idea of us getting married. I know that I don't have much money, and that we will have to basically work hard to have a good life together, but I can't see going through my life with anyone else." Cerdia smiled happily at Diersan and said, "I was wondering when you were going to bring this up. I love you so much and can't see myself going through life with anyone else either. You are the reason that I smile all of the time. I want to marry you Diersan, and I think my parents would be overjoyed.

Diersan, blushing, continued, "Then we need to figure out when we want to tell your parents and ask for their blessing, as well as my dad's blessing." Diersan gave her a kiss and they held hands as they continued to walk toward the village.

They were almost to the town when suddenly a massive explosion rocked them from their feet. Looking at each other in terror, they looked to see what caused it. Looking up, Diersan saw that a tree next to him was on fire, seemingly hit by the lightning that was dancing in the sky. Fearing for Cerdia's safety, he said, "We need to get back to town as soon as possible." As he said this, rain started pouring and the wind whipped up ferociously. Cerdia, fear plainly showing in her eyes, said, "I think we should just go wait this out in the cave over by the Unda's wood shack." After watching the lightning and wind whip about, Diersan quickly agreed and they headed toward the cave. Once inside, they started to dry off, and watched the storm. It was quite spectacular to Diersan. The winds were almost blowing the trees over as the rain shifted from side to side, coming down straight, then almost horizontal. All the while, lightning flashed and crushed boulders and trees alike. After over two hours, the storm finally passed, and the sun came out of hiding as if nothing had happened. What small fires the vicious lightning, had started, had been drenched in the rain, and there were small puddles of mud and water all over the place. Diersan and Cerdia looked at each other and Cerdia said, "It's a good thing that we got to this cave in time. That was a nasty storm. We had better get back to the village and see if anyone needs help." Diersan nodded in agreement and the turned to go back to the town. As they approached the town, they both noticed smoke rising from many of the houses, and people yelling and running about.

"It looks like things got pretty bad here as well. We had better go help put out those fires, " Diersan said. Cerdia left to go to her house, which was on the edge of the town, and Diersan ran toward the Inn. As he got nearer to the Inn and more toward the center of the town, he noticed armored men riding about with swords flashing. Some of the men were dressed in gleaming ebony armor riding stallions of the purest pitch color. Some held great swords of obsidian, while others carried axes etched with runes. The other men were dressed in brilliantly polished silver armor. Riding along carrying brightly colored banners and lances, some had swords of crystal in their hands. These men were all riding amongst the houses, torching and cutting down everything and everyone they saw. Diersan wretched at the sight of the blood spilling into the town square and ran as fast as he could toward the Inn. As he got to the Inn he saw his father outside, fighting three of the men with an old sword that had been over the fireplace in the common room for years. Diersan had known that his father had at one time fought as a soldier in the Chulamirian army, but he had never seen anything like what his father was doing now. Diersan had after all been brought up in a small town, and had never been exposed to the harshness of crime or battle. His father fought valiantly against the better-equipped men. Diersan grabbed a pitchfork from on one of the walls and went to help his father out. As he came up behind the men, one of them turned and started toward him. Diersan, not knowing what to do, used the pitchfork as he would to keep one of the bulls at bay. The man hesitated slightly at the young man, and in that time Korshan drove his sword home into the man, blood gushing from his mouth. Korshan then yelled to Diersan, "I'm fine here, go see to Cerdia and her parents." "Cerdia!" Diersan thought to himself and ran faster than he had ever run in his life. As he ran away from the Inn, he heard an enormous explosion and looked back to see the Inn on fire and his father lying on the ground. "NO!" he yelled, and as most people who are experiencing this type of horror for the first time, he thought and wished that his father were just stunned. He started to run back to his father, but flames leapt up between them. He tried to get around them but couldn't. His thoughts then turned back to Cerdia.

He dodged the men in armor and townsfolk alike, having only one thought on his mind. To make sure that his one true love was ok. He was almost to her house when he heard Cerdia scream. Fear drove him faster and he came upon her house. Her mother was lying dead outside of the front door, blood pouring from a wound in her stomach. Cerdia's father was fighting one of those men with a wood axe. Diersan, fear and anger driving him on came up behind the man and rammed the pitchfork through his back. The man fell into a heap on the blood-reddened ground, gasping for air that he would never have again. The two ran into the house and barred the door. Cerdia was inside sobbing, and huddled in a corner. Diersan went over to her and just held her hoping that this was just another one of his nightmare.

"Too real, but too like my nightmares," he thought to himself. "Who are those men?" Diersan asked Tayus. "I don't know. Some look like the bard's stories of divine knights, but they're fighting with others who look like terror knights." he replied. "I don't understand. Why would they be fighting together? What're they after?" Diersan asked. "I'm not sure, let's just hope that they find whatever they're looking for and leave," Tayus answered.

About that time explosions rocked the small house. Diersan ran to the window and saw a sight that few ever see and live to tell about. He saw great winged beasts corkscrewing in on the house, billowing flames and swirling acid belching from their mouths. He dove down just as the flames hit and was stunned by the blast of heat and falling ceiling. After recovering, he looked over to Cerdia and saw her lithe form just laying there, a beam lying on top of her, a bloodied gash across her forehead. He tried to run over to her, but fell instantly. Looking down at his legs he saw that his right leg had buckled with a great cut across the knee. Ignoring the pain, he crawled to Cerdia. When he finally reached her, he saw tears streaming from her eyes.

"Tell me I'm going to be ok, Diersan," she stated pleadingly. "You are going to be just fine... I'll watch over you," Diersan said. "I love you so much Diersan. Diersan? Diersan?? I can't see you anymore," Cerdia cried. "I'm right here," Diersan said, tears streaming from his own eyes, " and I love you too. You are my life, my soul, my everything."

Diersan's tears dropped from his face upon Cerdia's and mixed with her blood and tears. He sat quietly as he watched her life flow completely from her body. Finally, realization dawned upon him and he screamed, "NOOOOOOO!" His mind was a numbed mass of emotions. Not caring anymore, he just held her in his arms and cried. After what seemed an eternity, the explosions stopped, but still didn't care. The only thing he could think of was the life he had watched flow from his love.

The door burst open, and one of the terror knights walked into the room. Unlike the other knights, this one had the symbol of one of those beasts on his breastplate. He took a look at Diersan, and picked him up, and brought him outside. When they were outside, the knight threw Diersan on the ground.

"You look promising," the knight said. Diersan didn't even say a word. He just sat there crying, and not caring for his own fate. The knight ordered Diersan to stand, but Diersan still just sat there.

The knight seeing him just sitting there said, "Stand now, or we shall burn your woman where she lays." From deep inside of Diersan, a deepness that few could even fathom, a great, chained anger was starting to break free. Not feeling any pain, he slowly got to his feet, wobbling on his now useless leg. "Good, you look like you want to kill me, " the knight snickered. At seeing the knight mocking him, Diersan lunged forward and threw his fist at the man's face. The knight, a severely seasoned warrior, grabbed Diersan's hand and threw him back to the ground. "It would do you well not to try that again boy," the knight stated. "What do you want of me?" Diersan asked, daggers now plainly visible in his eyes as the strength of anger grew steadily. "Stand, and meet your fate boy," the knight ordered.

Anger completely filled Diersan as he stood once again. His body was visibly shaking, a shaking that the knight took as fear. The knight called out, "Toldran, the words of the gods were to find this boy and deliver him into oblivion for what he possesses can't be controlled by any. I do so now..." The knight slowly started to chant the dark words that his god had given to him. Dark mist slowly descended upon Diersan as purple lightning danced about his form. His eyes, with flecks of silver in them, flashed in the lightning. As the knight finished his chanting, he stretched a single hand out at Diersan and a bolt of pure energy enveloped Diersan. When the mist cleared, Diersan was no longer there.

"It's finished my lord. The boy no longer exists, " the knight called out.

* * * * *

Many years passed, and the signs of the slaughter disappeared from the land and from the minds of the men who lived in the shadow of the Spire. There were stories told by bards that spoke of a great battle between the gods, and even mentioned a nameless town that had once existed, but all that remains of it is a single apple tree in the center of a field. In such a field, two great armies came together to battle for reasons of no great importance. As the two armies stood facing each other, a man of about twenty-four or so appeared beside a large apple tree in-between them. He stood about five foot eleven with long flowing brown hair, and violet eyes and was wearing a long, purple cloak with black-tipped silver fur lining it as well as finely crafted chain mail. In his hand he held a sword that seemed to pulsate with power. Both sides, thinking this a ploy of the other, broke the peace and rushed forward, closing in on the young man, and ultimately each other. As they rushed toward their fates, a booming voice stopped them in their tracks.

"You chose to kill me for what I was. Never knowing that I might be content to just live my life in peace. For this I judge you guilty. At one time I was known as Diersan Veldir, a boy who was content to be an innkeeper, but now you can call me vengeance."

Fear gripped both armies as they looked at the power standing before them. It's spoken that the gods themselves even took to the battlefield to protect their armies, but the battle that ensued is spoken of in awe and fear. The armies, driven on by their commanders as well as their gods, rushed in on him. This God (if such a term would do him justice) merely raised his sword and darkened mist fell upon the lands. With the flick of a finger, purple lightning shot forth from his sword, striking both armies where they stood. A single word of power spoken brought the heavens themselves down upon the realm. His judgment came swiftly and harshly upon a realm that had chosen to destroy something that they didn't understand rather than the let it live in peace.

"On that day, everyone, whether mortal or immortal, felt fear. A fear born of the wrath of a broken hearted god..."

* * * * *

Life within Saeril truly began with that strike of the broken hearted god upon those who had slain his love and killed his innocence. It was through his grief and his sorrow for what he'd done that the new world had come to be. It was through his blood that the men began to walk the realm again, and even through his tears that the rivers and seas filled once again. When life was finally breathed back into Saeril, this God looked upon what he saw and decided once and for all to devote himself to the pureness of what he'd created. What he didn't realize was that his neglect for the balance of all things good and evil would have dire consequences. Through his own actions he had created a world that was too pure, and in a pure world there can be no thoughts for good nor evil, for all life is seen as equal. Through those actions there were born two brothers. One was the epitome of all things good. It was his hand that helped all who needed help, and his soul that cried for the lost lives of all who had come before him. The other was an evil, twisted creature that knew no pity and knew no remorse. He was a soulless being whose very existence was to cause chaos and disharmony in everything around him. The brothers, born of the essence of good and evil were destined to bring conflict to Saeril. The God, upon seeing that Conflict had come into existence, labored for ages to find a way to set things right. He felt that if he were to destroy the brothers, then Conflict too would fade away. Unfortunately though he found that the brothers were a part of him and he could no more destroy them than destroy himself. So he did the next best thing. He gave the people of Saeril a gift in the form of a book. This book was to be the source of all magic, the source of all energy, and the source of the most powerful force to exist... Hope. The God believed that the only way to truly stop the conflict was to give the people of Saeril hope and give them the ability to protect themselves. For ages the two brothers lived in unison, the one creating and healing what the other destroyed. The book had not been opened for there had been no need. The people of Saeril lived in ignorance of the evil that was around them and they were happy. Many years passed and still there seemed to be balance in the good and evil of the realm, a balance that had proven to be a force of renewal within the realm. When one being was killed, another was born in its place. It was around that time that something happened. Though no one before, after, or ever will be able to explain why, the soulless brother felt pity one day while killing a deer. It was pity that for a split second showed him the true nature of his actions, and he began to long for a soul of his own. For years he searched for a way to gain a soul but there were no beings like him that he could destroy in order to take their souls. For all of the beings of the realm were mortal and when they died, their souls escaped like hot breath on a cold winter day. The search for how he too could have a soul consumed him so greatly that he no longer was wantonly killing and rather spent his time searching the planes and the heavens for an answer to his question. In his absence Saeril flourished. Men and beasts alike filled the lands and lived symbiotically, taking no more than the land could handle. So long were the times since the soulless one had been around that the other brother began to become complacent, thinking that good had triumphed over the evils of the world. That complacency bred vanity, and the brother began to believe that evil could never return and even if it did he would single-handedly defeat it. Well evil did return. As a whispered myth in the night, it came back and struck. For the soulless one had found the answer he had been looking for. His brother, in all of his pureness, was an eternal force and as such his soul could be stolen away without disappearing as a mortal's would. So the soulless one came in the night and while his brother slept, stole away his soul. The brother, whose name was Lurch, let out a soul chilling cry that slew every living thing within one hundred miles as his very soul was torn from his still beating heart. And Lok, the soulless one, now had a fresh soul for his own twisted desires. What Lok could not have known however was that the soul brought a conscience with it and for the first time in his existence, he began to cry for all of the pain he had caused. Those tears, tempered by the screams of his brother, forged themselves into a weapon to mirror the pain that both brothers felt and fell to the ground between them. For days their grim duet continued until the tears had run out and the screams had subsided. It was then that Lurch turned to his brother and noticed the sword gleaming on the ground. Both brothers dove for the sword and as they both touched it it split in two. One half of the sword became the unholy sword of blight, "Spinetapper", and the other became the holy sword of justice, "Faith". They picked up the swords and began to fight. Both danced and weaved, matching each other skill for skill until finally Lurch fled. Broken, without a soul, and empty of all that he once was, he hid away for centuries and slipped deeper and deeper into insanity. Lok on the other hand felt the need to right the wrongs he had done and went forth in search of the only thing that could truly save the world now; the book. Traveling for weeks, Lok finally arrived at the Dragonspire Mountains and began to climb Infinity's Spire. Braving the elements and facing the keeper of the arcane, he was finally admitted to the chamber of the Tome of the Arcane. It was then that the God came forth and warned Lok that in so opening the book, not only would the magic and protection of the realm be released, but also so would the chaotic elements of ambition, drive, and power. Lok weighed the gravity of the situation heavily upon what he had seen and done and opened the tome. At first, the words seemed blurred and unreadable, but as Lok looked more closely upon the pages he noticed that on one side of a page was the word 'Damnation', while on the other side was the word 'Salvation'. What started as a twinge of energy that seemed to flow into and through his body, the tome released magic suddenly in a rush that burst across all of the lands of Saeril. The people of Saeril, the ignorance of pureness lifted from their minds, began to see harshness in the world around them. All of the races began to keep to themselves, and settled down into their own homelands. The more pure the race had been, the harsher the fall became for them. The Orcs, once the most pure and gentle of creatures, became twisted, dark, and bent on the destruction of all around them. The dwarves, once keepers of the gardens of the sun, became obsessed with the earth and the darkness within. The elves became xenophobic, distrusting any who were not Elven. Only the humans seemed to be untouched by the magic of the tome. That is of course until they began to crave and desire power. For a thousand years the races warred against each other, hurling great magic and energy in volleys that almost destroyed the realm. Lurch, feeling the power of chaos itself within the realm rose out of his insane ranting and began to walk the realm again, attracting many who followed his lead. His anger and feelings of hate for his brother grew more and more as he worked his way toward Infinity's Spire. It was there that Lok knew that he had been used one last time by the chaos that had ruled his mind and he drew forth his blade as well as the hope that had been instilled within him from the tome and walked forth to meet this army. At his side stood twelve great heroes (men who withstood the corrupting influence of the tome), known only as the Knights of the Mist. They fought on the slopes of Infinity's Spire for three days, holding their own against the overwhelming forces of Lurch's army until they finally fell. When the blood cleared and the battle ended, all twelve heroes had fallen. However, they had slain nearly ten thousand men, orcs, and elves. The only two people left standing were Lok and Lurch. Lok, channeling the pure magic of the Tome, then banished Lurch into the abyssal planes where he would be imprisoned for fifteen thousand years. He then turned his sights on the realm itself and went forth to cleanse the chaos and evil that was tearing Saeril asunder.

* * * * *

Saeril went through the Time of Dreams in the years right after Lurch's banishment. During this time Lok helped set up the great city of Silverleaf which was ruled by Camigwen Veldiran, as well as many of the other homelands. It was during this time that the great halls were built, the Castle of Ultimate Evil, the halls of Grey Death, and the Shielding Hall, which was built by Lok. There were great leaders who had arisen to help mold the ways of the people of Saeril. The Shielding strove to cleanse all evil from the realm and went forth to do the good work of Lok. Ultimate Evil believed in the dark forces of the realm and searched for a way to release Lurch from his confinement, while Grey Death took more of a neutral view and helped whomever they deemed to be the most deserving. During this time, many mortals proved that they were capable leaders and gained so much power that they in time became immortal. These Immortals then bent the clans and worshipers to their will as they began to further structure the realm that they all lived in.

* * * * *

Saeril went through the Time of Betrayal soon thereafter. The Immortals had been gaining more and more power for hundreds of years and had become jealous of the God and his neutral look at Saeril and it's people. The God had retreated to reflect upon why the ills of the realm had come into existence. During his absence the Immortals grew more powerful and unchecked by the God's balancing force. It was during this time that several of the Immortals began to believe that if they could somehow subdue the God, they could gain his power and rule Saeril without anyone to stop them. On a beautiful, moonlit night, the immortal of subterfuge, Silence, as well as the immortal of the night, Darkhawk, went to the God to supposedly ask for his wise counsel. While the God was occupied with helping Darkhawk and Silence, the Immortals Locowolf and Morr took advantage of the situation and struck out at the God. Silence and Darkhawk, the architects of this ambush, also leapt into the fray. A great battle then began. For twenty years the Immortals and the God did battle. Though they could not slay the god nor even harm him, the Immortals were attempting to lock him within the powers of the Tome of the Arcane itself. The God, however proved to be far too resourceful and wily. Though they were rising up against him, he did not wish to harm them. He had spent too many eons suffering over his fledgling actions as a God when he had destroyed the ancient pantheon as well as the realm and he did not want that fate to befall Saeril now. So he bided his time, holding the Immortals in check with the war in the heavens. Only one problem existed. He did not have the foresight to realize that his own sword could harm him. After twenty years of battle, the heavens were torn apart and Darkhawk had a revelation that in order to subdue the God they would need to strike him with an essence of his own power. It was then that Darkhawk stole away the sword of destruction, "Toldral" and turned it upon the God. Darkhawk struck out with the sword, and slit a thin line across the God's face, blinding him on one side and creating a drop of blood which fell to the mortal realm. This drop of blood fell upon a mortal child by the name of Cambrar Blackmoon who would prove in coming years to be instrumental to the fall of Silverleaf. As for Darkhawk, the moment he struck the God he was filled with an insatiable hunger for the very blood that he had spilled. It became ever consuming, and he struck out at many of his followers until he learned to gain control of the hunger. He had become a creature of the night, a ravaged beast that could never again see the light of day lest it destroy him wholly. The God, blinded and harmed, shed a single tear of sadness for Darkhawk and his followers which fell to the very ground of Saeril. From that holy ground came forth the Garou, the wolves. These wolves, whose birth was due to the damnation of Darkhawk's unholy night creatures, banded together to destroy the creatures for they were abominations of the holiness and purity of the Saeril itself. However, the goal that Darkhawk and Silence had set out to accomplish had come to pass for the God was weakened enough to be locked within the very Tome that he had created to house the powers of the ancient Gods before him.

* * * * *

With the locking away of the God, the time of reigning chaos had begun. The Immortals Darkhawk and Silence ruled Saeril with a chaotic, iron grip. Many were slain outright for doing no more than speaking their names aloud. The citizens of Saeril quivered in fear as the minions of the unholy Darkhawk bled the countryside dry. Rising up to take a stand against the Immortals was the young mortal Cambrar Blackmoon. Rising to strength within the Order of the Rose, as Lok had disappeared into the abyss due to a rumor that Lurch was breaking free of his bonds, Cambrar led the Order of the Rose in countless raids against the unholy halls of Darkhawk's minions. He strove to bring justice to the realm even if it meant slaying every evil being within it. Powered by the blood that had fallen onto him, Cambrar soon attained greater and greater power. Unfortunately the young mortal was not able to control the power he was gaining and soon began to be corrupted by it. It was then that he heard a voice within his head that told him that the ultimate power lay upon the slopes of Infinity's Spire. The God was calling out to him through the blood, trying to get Cambrar to open the Tome and release him from imprisonment. The Immortals, catching wind of this occurring, tried to rally the forces of Saeril against Cambrar, stating that he was trying to bring destruction to all in the realm. They chose great heroes to brave the slopes of Infinity's Spire and obtain the Sword of Dreams and put an end to Cambrar's quest to find the Tome. Over the course of the next few weeks many would-be heroes threw themselves at the slopes of Infinity's Spire, some eager to please the Immortals while other's wanted nothing more than the power that the sword contained. After many deaths and vain attempts at obtaining the sword, one hero stood above all in his purity. That hero's name was Bloodstorm and he led the armies of Saeril against Cambrar upon those very slopes where Lok and the Knights of the Mist had held their ground eons past. After weeks of battle, Cambrar was finally found atop the very summit of Infinity's Spire. To this day it is not known who confronted him there, but some stories state that it was a lowly mortal by the name of Tayus Arcanir. Cambrar was caught, but not before he opened the Tome, releasing the God once again. Cambrar Blackmoon and his confronter were fully consumed in the blast that ensued as the God's power was fully released. Upon reaching the heavenly planes again, the God struck down the would-be "Gods", stripping them of all power and sending them back to the realm as pitiful mortals; shells of what they once were. Also during the after math of the battles within Saeril, Camigwen disappeared. Some thought she had been slain on the battle field while protecting her city, others said she lost her mind and just began to wander. In either case, the realm thought that they had lost their most beloved lady and her dear friend Rastan took charge of watching Silverleaf in her stead.

* * * * *

After that, Saeril went through the Time of the Blood Wars. Silverleaf had become a vibrant, growing trade city centered on the continent of Chulamir once again when reports surfaced of a massive army forming across the Great Buanda Ocean. Silverleaf was fortified in case of attack as the army of various goblin races, dragons, trolls, and evil humans spread, destruction was left in its wake. What was called Thalosan was laid to ruin, never to be resettled. Padmasa as well was overrun, and remains occupied to this very day. No city remained untouched by the Shadow. When soldiers began landing on the shores of Chulamir, a great army originating from Silverleaf, made up of gnomes, elves, and humans. The brave but ultimately futile attempt to push the invaders into the sea would have dire consequences for Silverleaf. As the Shadow spread inland, across the Dragonspire Mountains and closer to Silverleaf, the remaining forces of Light rallied and made a stand. Kai Lords, knights of every order, and even farmers and shopkeepers assembled in Silverleaf, to provide for its defense. A long and bloody siege took place when soldiers of the Shadow surrounded the city. Ultimately the town fell, betrayed by traitors. Very few of its defenders escaped, as the invaders ravaged, looted, and razed the city to the ground. The once proud city of Silverleaf was reduced to ashes. The Shadow continued west, and its armies disappeared from Chulamir. The remaining survivors began the reconstruction, and this is when Lok assembled the few surviving knights of each order into one order, dedicated to defending Silverleaf should the Shadow return, and in the meanwhile to spreading justice throughout the ravaged lands of Saeril. These original knights were known as the Order of the Rose and comprised of: Dristle, Thelvyn, Grunvald, Samson, Decker, Mik, Venom, Vale, and founder Lok. Once the rebuilding began, Lok had to leave the realm temporarily, and handed the reigns of leadership to Galin. But Galin betrayed the Rose, leaving it leaderless. Galin was banished from the realm for his crime, and Jayman the True assumed the position of High Protector of the Rose. The goodly knights of the realm had been united with one goal, to defend and rebuild the realm. The most startling event, which however had yet to come to pass, was the Blood Wars. A figure of great power named Kamran invaded Silverleaf, using the power of the Mystic Tome. Kamran sought to rule Silverleaf and kill any who wouldn't submit to his power. But the defenders of the Realm were prepared. The Council of Five (clan leaders from each clan) met and forged a plan of battle. The defenders were split into two armies, one led by Ender, consisting of the Sardaukar and Raven, and an army led by Jayman the True, consisting of the Rose, the Drachenblut, the Black Hand, and freelance soldiers. The battle started off poorly, as Jayman, Ender, and Cedrik decided to make a preemptory surprise attack on Kamran, but the power of the Tome proved too strong and they were quickly defeated. When Kamran launched his attack, the defending forces were disunited, and Silverleaf almost fell. Yet the brave actions of Rastan saved the Realm and provided the defenders enough time to wear Kamran and his allies down to defeat him. Sadly, the Crying Lord, Rastan, lost his life in defense of his city. Although Kamran was defeated, the Tome released its might on the Realm. The land underwent a period of great chaos, and many did die. But order was once again brought to the land when Camigwen, after years being lost, came forth once again in a golden light to return to her rightful role and rebuilt Silverleaf. The city then flourished under Camigwen's just rule, and a new era of hope and peace had begun, although no one knew how long it would last.

* * * * *

It was then that Saeril went through the Time of Armageddon. Lok, sensing that something unholy was happening in the citadel of the ice lords, was tricked into leaving his post atop Infinity's Spire and was waylaid and subdued by powerful magic. Locked away as such, his fear was realized, he was to bear witness to what transpired next and unable to do anything.

"Their defenses are broken let the slaughter begin!" (Arkham ordering his troops through the breach of the Order of the Rose hall)

Tales of the destruction of 4 clans spring from the lips of all those battle-hardened killers who witnessed the fall. The only records I have obtained thus far are as follows. With the mighty magic of Tiny, he, Demonicus, and Quintin, penetrated the depths of Grey Death hall once again. This raid was different, as their target was none other than Berem himself! The details are sparse, but the result was Apex became their new leader and Leia lead a third of their members to join Ultimate Evil. After rigorous tests of loyalty from the Drow Elder Priestess Briza, they were allowed to join.

In the midnight silence the words of power, "IGNAVEOUS VAS USS GRAV TYM AGNAIYA", were heard emerging from the depths of Ultimate Evil castle. - Larius Stryfe, recounting his last memory before the great Cataclysm.

Deep within the bowels of the volcano upon which Ultimate Evil Castle rests I had completed the spell. As many will remember, one of the first things that Drina did after entering the realm of the Immortals was to send her minions on a quest for various items of the realm. Through her research she found a spell to turn transform a mortal to an immortal. Being Drina's most trusted advisor I had found clues to her secret work while advising her on clan issues. Little did she know, but in my construction of Ultimate Evil castle I had made some secret passages that remained unknown even to her. Late one night I entered these passages and made my way to Drina's old chambers in Ultimate Evil castle. I quickly found her notes on the new spell. Using my abilities as Warlock of Ultimate Evil I quickly figured out how to cast the spell. Knowing that my time was limited, I quickly woke my apprentice Tiny, for he would be needed in the casting. Making our way into the heart of the volcano I quickly prepared the spell. Then, just before intoning the words of power, I sacrificed Tiny to gain my own immortality and absorbed his life powers. Using the powers of the volcano I ripped a corridor through the void and connected the mortal and immortal realms. Passage between the realms was easy, and while leaving the realm of mortals in ruins I entered the paradise of immortality. -Lanthade describing his ascension to immortality.

As the spell was completed and Lanthade crossed to the other side, the mortal world was ripped to shreds. Briza, and other Drow of Ultimate Evil were trapped in caverns beneath Ultimate Evil castle. They made their way deep into the earth to the city of Vo'Hren. Once there, they formed the Drow house <^> and quickly came to dominate the Underdark.

Few of those residing in Ultimate Evil castle and the surrounding area survived the volcanic blast. It is estimated that one hundred thousand perished instantly. The few who escaped banded together into a roving band lead by Leia. Together they wandered the realm gathering new members such as the assassin Stem, Tgbubba the warrior, Atheena the rabid, and Darkwolf hunter of the night. This small group served as the core for the next generation to follow.

Though the tales have escaped record four clans did not survive the cataclysm. The Order of the Rose, The fellowship Arcane, The Cow Clan, and Grey Death all perished at this time. Their few remaining members either fled or were hunted down by Leia's small band.

"They flee under cover of darkness, and I welcome them there with my blade, for it is my home" (Darkwolf after a successful hunt). As a result of Lanthade's passing to the immortal realm many holes between the immortal realm and the mortal realm began to open and close across the land. One day while out adventuring across the land one of the holes opened up beneath Leia, Grunvald, Ombrage, and Deano, sucking them into the immortal realm.

The realm felt a dark shudder as the remaining Ultimate Evil members struck out at the weakened citizens of Saeril. With the barrier between the immortal and mortal realms weakened, many mortals passed on to the land of immortality and gained unfathomable powers that they turned against Saeril and the mortals still living there. The time of the Armageddon had come and it bore with it a price that the entirety of Saeril would pay in blood and suffering.

* * * * *

Shortly thereafter, Saeril entered the time of the Eternals. After years of angst and sadness at what had befallen Saeril, the God was consumed by a great depression that seemed limitless. He began to lose control over who he was and for the first time it came into knowledge that he was more than a single entity. More so, he was made up of the essence of the mist which was the life energy of three eternal powers who watched over all things, including the Immortals. As his depression continued to get worse, the energy bonds that held the eternals within him began to break free. Pandorin, the eternal of pureness, love, and justice came forth upon the land. Also released was Keahi, the eternal of hate, deceit, and chaos. Whatever befell the unnamed eternal was never known. All that was known is that it was the eternal of oneness, infinity, and magic. Since the God's depression kept him at bay and since the Immortals of the land were seriously outclassed, the eternals ran rampant over the whole of Saeril. Keahi walked amongst the mortals, toying with their lives and slaying them for no apparent reason other than for the fun of it. Pandorin rallied mortals against Keahi only to have them slain by the powerful eternal. It was then that Lok finally broke free of the powerful magic which had locked him away within the Citadel of the Ice Lords. He strode forward to face the threat of Keahi and met her in secret to try to persuade her to return to the mist and become one with the God again. Keahi just sneered at Lok and smote him upon the chest, thus knocking him into the Abyss. Pandorin realized that in order to stop Keahi, he would need more help than any of the mortals or Immortals could provide, so he went forth in search of Lok and with Lok's help found where the God sat sullenly upon the ground next to a single apple tree. Lok then slapped the God for his apathetic posture had caused so much pain. The God, sensing that he was personally under attack struck out and scarred Lok. He then realized who he had struck and cried out in pain himself as what had long been feared became truth. Lok was truly a part of him and to strike down Lok would mean he would strike himself down. Snapped out of his depression for a moment, the God once again fused with Pandorin and went in search of Keahi who was working her way toward Silverleaf where she had sensed the power of Camigwen flourishing. Hundreds of thousands of Saerilians strode forth to meet Keahi, hoping to keep her from ravaging Silverleaf and killing Camigwen. However, Keahi's power turned out to be far too strong. She easily strode through the armies as if they did not even exist and found Camigwen standing on the steps of the Temple of all Gods. Camigwen screamed out as her very life was torn from her body and crumpled to the ground in front of Keahi who just smiled with satisfaction. Lok, The God, and several powerful Immortals finally caught up to Keahi shortly after this transpired. Keahi turned against them with a sickly smile and said that her fun would continue at yet another time and winked as she turned into darkened mist and became one with the God once again. For thirty years the people of Saeril spent their time rebuilding their lands yet again. Many mourned over the passing of Camigwen whose body was carried by Lok to the summit of Infinity's Spire where it was enshrined. The God and his Immortals after studying ancient texts began to finally see a pattern to all that had occurred over the many years. They saw that one force in particular was behind all of the chaos, as well as all of the sadness and envy that had been felt. Further more, the God finally realized that the very force which had set all of these things into motion (The feeling of pity that Lok had when killing the deer), was that of Chance, Luck, or Fate itself. Determined to put an end to that power, the God strode off into the eternal mist (which is what the time became known as) in search of the fates themselves, leaving the realm to be rebuilt by the Immortals and mortals alike.

* * * * *

The War of the Fates soon ensued. The people of Saeril spent close to thirty years rebuilding the lands and cities before the God finally came before them and let them all know what had transpired. When he went forth into the mist, he encountered not only the Fates, but an army unlike anything that had ever assembled on the mortal plane before. Demons, Angels, and, Creatures of unimaginable power were under the influence of the Fates and being forced to turn on the realm. The God told the people of Saeril to prepare themselves in any manner that they could because he somehow felt that the Fate's would not be sated this time until the entire realm fell. The God then retired to the immortal plane to ready the Immortals for the war that was coming. Lok was seen everywhere in the realm, helping to train troops, and build up defenses. Many in the realm however took a stand of non-involvement. They were tired of all of the attacks that had happened over the years and saw futility in any actions now. For close to one hundred years the people of Saeril trained for this war yet nothing had yet happened. Slowly over the next twenty years people began to forget about the reasons why they trained, and doubts grew stronger and stronger about the war coming at all. Lok himself even went upon Infinity's Spire to watch for the Fates. Two hundred more years passed and the realm became lethargic, mired in it's normal day to day living with nothing to truly worry about since the Immortals were watching over them. No disease nor famine touched the people of Saeril and no wars had come to the land in over three and a half centuries. On a warm summer day it came to pass that a small child was drawing water from a well. When he finally got the bucket to the top of the well he looked down and saw that the well was filled with blood. Soon after, the people of Saeril noticed that all of the water in the realm had turned to blood. Oceans, rivers, lakes, and wells had all become tainted blood. Not knowing what to think of it, they turned toward the Immortals, but for some reason they could not reach the Immortals. Fear began to grip the realm as they were cut off from their protectors and untrained to deal with the force due to their own lethargic ways. For months the waters were as blood when Lok finally came forth from Infinity's Spire. He went to Silverleaf and rallied some of the older heroes together to explain to them what was going on. He had learned in his many years atop Infinity's Spire that there were to be three signs of the Fates coming. The God and his Immortals were engaged in a furious battle in the heavens and were not able to send proper word about the coming of the armies so he had devised the signs so that all mortals would know of the impending doom. The first, "And blood unto water unto blood became as the first of the fates rode forth with darkness it's cloak", had already passed, and yet two remained. It was then that the second sign came to pass. "And life became as death while light and darkness intertwined upon the icy air of winter." Even though it was the dead of summer, the skies filled with icy rain, and snow soon followed. The people of Saeril now truly began to believe that whatever force was coming was far more powerful than anything that had previously set foot on the mortal plane. They began to build up their defenses and sought out Lok who they felt was the safest person to be by in the coming days. For almost a year the snow fell, even the powerful magic of the great sages could not halt the snow fall. Then as suddenly as the snow had began, it ended. Fear gripped the realm as it waited in the calm for whatever would befall them next. "In the wake of the night will come the child of gold to sacrifice all." Deep within the howling woods, far within the Dragonspire mountains, a small child was seen walking. She had golden hair, bright violet eyes, and seemed to not know her name nor where her parents were. She slowly stumbled forward, somehow driven to find Silverleaf for she bore a message for everyone in the realm. When she finally arrived in Silverleaf she came across an old man who was trying to fix a wagon when it fell upon his leg. The girl walked forward, touched his leg, which was broken, and it instantly mended itself. All people who were witness to this fell in awe for no one save the Immortals could contain such powers of healing. Everywhere the girl went, people began to follow her. As she continued to perform more miracles of healing she soon began to glow with a light golden aura, the darkness parted before her as she walked forth. She brought hope with her everywhere she went and soon all of the people of Saeril began to believe that if a child such as this could have so much power, then they too could rise up to defeat whatever was coming. It seemed that the God's gambit had worked. He believed that if he gave the realm something to believe in, some semblance of hope, they would rise once again to protect and fight for their very existence. The time had finally come. The God and his Immortals were locked in battle with the Fates within the heavens while the Fates armies began to pour forth from all corners of Saeril. Darkness was everywhere as the armies rode over hills and villages, destroying all they touched. That however was brought to a grinding halt as the people of Saeril stood up against them. Farmers next to Knights. The great heroes standing next to the meek shopkeepers. They all stood as a sea of defiance that would not be touched as the darkness moved forward and engaged them. Many of the Saerilians fell before the powerful army, but not before destroying all of the invading force. The God and his Immortals also fought within the heavens at the same time. The Fates twisting chance and luck to their favor, trying to corrupt and persuade the Immortals to turn upon the God. The Immortals, however, stood firmly with the God who finally slew the Fates themselves and took their powers within himself. For a brief moment however, he lost control of the eternals within himself and Keahi struck out at the land itself, rending and tearing it. The small child, just looked up at the sky and the darkness that was tearing the realm asunder, a single tear falling from her eye, and whispered, "Their lives for mine." as she fell to the ground, her life spent. Her selfless act however spared the lives of everyone in the realm even as the seas and mountains rose and fell and the continents tore themselves apart.

* * * * *

The final time that came to pass was that of the winds of madness. During the War with the Fates one thing had gone unnoticed. Deep within the abyss, far apart from any mortal or immortal a dark and brooding force had been released. As the people of Saeril began to celebrate their victory over the Fates' armies, as well as explore the new lands before them, no one noticed that the ancient demon Lurch had finally been released from his imprisonment.

The old man slowly stretches at this and takes a deep breath. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a cloth and begins to unwrap it. Within it he has a bit of meat and some cheese. He begins to eat the cheese, starts to roast the meat over the toasty fire, and then turns and asks if you would like some as well. "I know this story is long and full of heartache, but I assure you that it is almost over", he states, "well at least from a certain perspective." He finishes roasting the meat, shares some of it with you, and says, "Oh yeah, where was I."

When the darkness had fled, Lurch had finally been released after 15,000 years of imprisonment by Lok's hand. Though the realm was busy trying to rebuild and rediscover the entirety of the lands within Saeril, Lok had disappeared once again in search of something that was troubling him. He had a nagging sense that something was drastically wrong, but the years had worn the thoughts of his brother Lurch away from him mind and he thought nothing of them. Lurch on the other hand had felt fifteen thousand years of pain, torture, and suffering at the hands of creature so unimaginable that they would make the greatest of legends weep. Lurch, unlike so many of the great destructive powers that had come to Saeril, was actually of the lands of Saeril. Cloaked always in darkness he began to walk the lands once more in search of his brother and his soul. Lurch was in such a daze from the thousands of years of torture that the only thing he cared about was finding Lok. He didn't even raise a hand to harm a single person unless they tried to stand in his way. Rather, he stuck to the shadows and worked his way across the lands. About that time that Lok returned to the realm after consulting with the Immortals. He had stated that something dire was coming but he was not able to figure out what it was. The God, knowing full well the scope of what was to come merely told Lok that he could not help with what was to come for it would destroy him to do so. The God did not however let Lok nor any of the Immortals know who was actually at the base of those dire feelings. It is that nondisclosure that set up what was to happen next.

Lok returned to his home upon Infinity's Spire some months later and was out brushing his horse when he felt a tearing, burning pain in his back. Whipping around and falling to his knees his eyes went wide with shock and fear as he finally realized what those feelings had been. A figure was standing there before him, his blade glistening with blood in the setting sun. The figure then pulled down the hood of his cloak and for the first time in fifteen thousand years, the two brothers stood before each other. Lok just sat in amazement for a brief stunned moment as Lurch spoke in a crackling, rasping voice, "Well met, brother." Lurch smirked as he said these words and rose his blade to his lips to lick some of the blood off of it. "It tastes like victory and redemption to me brother," he said with a frightening certainty. Lok finally rose to his feet and replied, "I see that the years have been bad to you. Too bad they were not longer," and stumbled slightly as he drew his famed blade, 'Justice'.

Every mortal and Immortal within the realm could feel the seething hatred between the brothers as they met each other with cold eyes. Several of the Immortals felt that they had better stop this from happening and appeared on the mortal plane beside the two brothers to try to stop their fight. But Lok, and Lurch ignored their pleas to end the conflict. The God knew that it could never be ended peacefully for the brothers were the very conflict of the realm and so long as they existed, so too would conflict exist. The brothers raised their blades and rushed toward each other, a massive ring of steel upon steel echoing throughout the Dragonspire mountains. The Immortal of time as well as the Immortal of magic stepped between the brothers to stop their assault and were instantly slain as the brothers fought and struck out at any who would stand in the way of their vengeance. Upon seeing that, many of the other elder Immortals drew forth their own powers and leapt upon the two brothers in a massive whirl of magic, energy, and steel. They however fared no better than their two Immortal comrades had. One by one the Immortals fell before the blades of Lok and Lurch as they refused to let any stand in the way of their long overdue battle. Once the Immortals had fallen, Lok turned once again upon Lurch and said, "None shall end this conflict but me." He then leapt into the air and whisked away upon the winds to the summit of Infinity's Spire. Lurch, riding the shadows, matched his speed and arrived at his heels. Lok, however, had a plan. Reaching out to the altar of the Tome, he grabbed the Tome of the Arcane and with a spoken word and a flick of his wrist he unleashed the powers of destruction upon Lurch. Lurch reeled backward as the energies crushed into him, and fell to the ground. It was then that he began to laugh. His laugh was so unsettling that it could be compared to the sound of a million souls crying out in pain. Lurch stood back up and said, "Fool, know you nothing about the Tome?" He continued, "The powers within that book were made to control the energies of this realm. They hold no power over you nor me. You have just ensured the damnation of all within this realm by releasing destruction upon it. I applaud your ignorance... brother." Lok stared in horror as the energy from the Tome rushed across the lands, slaying all living creatures it touched. When the waves of destruction passed, only two living beings still stood upon the lands of Saeril, or rather two living beings, and one devastated God. For the first time in eons, the God finally drew himself up, silvered anger filling his violet eyes, and darkened mist and purple lightning danced around him. Feeling resolve over what must be done he appeared before the two brothers and spoke.

"For ages I have watched this realm flourish and fight under ever opposing forces. For ages I have tried not to interfere other than the counsel those people whose lives were most affected. Your lives exist only because of my failings, and because of my failings Saeril has fallen. I have watched helplessly because I could not stop you two without destroying myself in the process. Call it folly, call it conceit, but I was not ready to do what had to be done. Until Now. I am the only God that is left. For eons I have only known one master, that of the fear of my own destruction. As such you two have held power over me. But no more. I have personally destroyed the Fates and have given destiny back to those who choose to use it and as such I choose to as well. For no mortal, no immortal, and no God has power over me. My name is Diersan Veldir and I choose my own destruction to end the conflict of a realm." With that, Diersan let loose a volley of energy that completely consumed the Tome of the Arcane, releasing all of the power within to breath life back into the realm. He then turned upon the brothers and with "Toldral", the sword of destruction, he slew himself, thus ending the lives of the brothers and conflict as well.

The destruction of Diersan caused all of the stored power that he had contained to be released. Many mortals would soon gain those powers as they proved to be blessed in their own destiny. The eternals, except the unnamed one, were released as well, but with far less power than they had once contained. And between Pandorin and Keahi, they brought a balance of good and evil to the realm.*

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Epilogue

The old man yawns and licks his lips, obviously looking for something to drink. He then pulls out another flask of mulled wine and takes a long gulp from it. He then turns to you and in a whispered voice says, "But that is not everything. For some say that if you travel far enough, and search long enough, you will come across a beautiful meadow that no harm can come to and that time can not touch. In that meadow you will find a single apple tree that is always in bloom. And intertwined with that apple tree they say you will find a tall oak tree. What that can mean is for you to decide. After all, I am just the teller of the tale. For now I must travel on, for I have yet to find that meadow and until I do I will endeavor to tell this story for all who wish to find it as well." With that, the old man stands up, muttering under his breath about old joints and tired bones, and begins to walk away. As he is just about at the edge of the campfire light, he turns back to you and says, "Oh, I almost forgot to say something. Never be content with your luck, make your own destiny and you will find that which you look for." With that he smiles warmly at you and for just a moment you notice in the campfire light that his violet eyes twinkle with flecks of silver and a deep understanding and calmness that seems bottomless. He then turns and shuffles off into the darkness, quietly singing to himself.