“Beneath a faltered sky; cross loamless plains, and watered blight. Where have gone those days, once Glory shone so bright? Fallen beneath baleful wings dark as night. A passing moment, an endless time, shall none hear this soul's tale of a dark and cold design?”
- The Book of The Arrani, passage 8-16
Don’Kallard shifted in his throne uncomfortably. It was not the change in stature for he had accustomed himself quickly, it was his guest; a hulking dark demon covered in veins of blue ice. He had watched this demon render the entire old dark elven civilization to dust, albeit at his request. A single uncomfortable though pulsed through his mind, that now was not the day Don’Kallard wished to discover if there was indeed an afterlife. “Of course my liege lord! Great and magnificent Balfurous! Sunderer of the dark and Destroyer of whole civilizations! We had a deal. You deliver the underworld to me, and I will help you take your vengeance on the surface. You have certainly upheld your part of the bargain…” Don’Kallard’s glance drifted but for just second to a pile of debris in the corner of the room before he continued “…and I would be both honored and gratified to give you the full force of my people to bend to your subjugation and will.” Don’Kallard was now, and performed an elegant, if not overly animated bow before the demon lord.
Balfurous let out a demonic growl of acceptance and then began to speak “All of…”
“BUT FIRST!” Don’Kallard cut off the Demon lord; he cringed at the poor timing on his part and wondered if he would taste death today after all… “First I must ready my people. They are not prepared, and I need just to gather them all and deliver the orders to follow your each and every command, to live and die for you and with my blessing they will do so with great zealotry!”
The dark elf did not lend him the time to ponder, instead he kept the one sided conversation moving forward, fluidly. “Take now my Patron-Imperious Guard!” He said the name with great volume and stomped the hard heel of his boot twice, loudly on the cold stone floor. In poured two-dozen dark elves, each uniquely dressed and armored differently, no sense of cohesion between them other than their movements; each where impressive to behold both in presence and stature. “They will serve you well for the next many weeks until I can prepare the whole of my people for your glorious subjugation. “General Shanharra!” one of the dark elves nodded, as Don’Kallard, motioned toward the pile of debris in the room. “Take with you an Alpha Abagathgar Crystal. When the rest of our people are ready, I will send them to join you.” The dark elf walked over to the pile, and after a moment of shifting through the debris, pulled out and pocketed something. “Balfurous is your master now, and the very future of our people hinge on how well you serve him, so serve him well…”
* * * * *
A very, very long time ago…
Young Fiona was bloodied and beaten from the war, but her resolve was strong and so her focus on the monolith was unwavering; what more, with her sister’s help, she knew that together they would never fail. On the other side of the monolith Miranda also covered in the gore of war, focused intently on “sealing” the monolith.
The war had been brutal, but the cause was just. Some had whispered rumors that during the war a rift was forming between the two sisters, but Fiona new better than to lend them any credence. Their bond was strong, for they were brought into this world together, holding hands as twins, to a father and mother unknown to all but the aspect priest Haramon, who was sworn to secrecy and who raised them from birth.
With one last pulse of energy the deed was done! Both Fiona and Miranda fell to the ground in exhaustion. “The War of Null is over!” Fiona proclaimed with exasperated relief. “We have won!”
“We almost failed! You stopped to save the cobbler’s son and for a moment I thought it was over!” Miranda’s voice was sharp and strained and her brow was furrow with disappointment. “I had to fight harder than ever to compensate for your mistake! For a moment I thought I couldn’t do it! I thought we were going to fail, and for a moment we almost did, and that was you Fiona!”
Fiona was wrought with shock, her jaw agape as the words barely and meekly escaped her lips, “What I did, I had to do; what I did was right…”
“What you did was risk the fate of our whole world for some sniveling brattish child of an insignificant laborer of an insignificant town! We are the sisters of Argentia, and the prophets say that we will change the world, not let it be destroyed!”
Fiona fought harder then ever to hold back a floodgate of tears, for she loved her sister, who had never spoken to her in such a way. She mustered the strength to stand “Give me your hand Miranda. We still have work to do…” Miranda sighed and took Fiona’s hand and stood. They linked hands and softly chanted and as they did, a mysterious amalgamation of both darkness and light enveloped them and the monolith. The sounds of steel bars bending and clanking echoed, followed by the clash of a heavy metal gate slamming shut. As the sounds subsided, so did a gem form in each of their free hands. They touched the two together and then the gem became one…
* * * * *
In a cold, dark stone room, the dragon swords of old each hung on the wall, upon elaborate hooks. In this prepared state, they had a purpose, and that purpose would be met very soon; for long laid plans are finally on the brink of completion. A dark elf enters the room, bundled heavily in cloaks to fight back the cold and carefully tends to the weapons, oiling them, polishing them, keeping them free of dust and debris from the underground dirt and stone dust. The dark elf cringes as a growl and single word echoes through the nearby tunnel. “Soon…”