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 PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Rest, child. The voice in her mind was both comforting and faintly distressing. Allow me to vanquish those who would oppose us. Go and wait for me in the place which we have prepared.
Alexandra obeyed. After all, Andraxal desired what she did, and he was much older than her, and wiser.
Outside, in the Temple, a golden light began to glow around Emarius. He felt a surge of power, and another voice spoke in his mind. Allow me to aid you.
Dauros? How did you come here? I and Alexandra believed that the other gods did not know of the location of the Temple. Emarius spun through the air to dodge another blast from the malevolent being.
Krypta learned the location in her dealings with Alexandra. She finally told the rest of us when it became obvious that something was amiss. She, Agrela and myself have come to aid you. Dodge to your left.
Fine. I gladly accept any help you can offer. But where are your sisters?
Agrela has entered Alexandra's mind to fight the evil there. Krypta is waiting for the outcome of that contest.

Once more, Alexandra flew above the memory of the world as it once was. While outside evil attempted to destroy the dragon Kingdom, within this sanctuary all was quiet. She was alone, watched over by the eyes of Andraxal-Kerlazor.
Suddenly the comforting solitude vanished, replaced by a hostile presence. Alexandra wheeled around, and sawa nother Dragon perched atop one of the mountains. This wyrm was surrounded by searing blue light given off by her scales. Her wings were a burning shade of red; and red fire burned in her throat. Her eyes, by contrast, were a deep, poisonous green.
"Who are you?" spat Alexandra. "How did you come here?"
"You called for me," said the other. "I am Agrela, and I have come to free you from the evil that holds you captive."
"What madness is this?" Alexandra drew back. "Andraxal! Help me!"
"Andraxal is gone. You have been deceived, O Queen of the Dragons! Open your eyes!"
"You cannot fool me, demon. I am no hatchling. Andraxal!"
"I am here, my child. Do not fear!" Another Dragon appeared beside her, his scales flashing with the splendid white and blue of the Ethereal Dragon. The Dragon upon the mountaintop shook her head. "Look, Alexandra! That is not Andraxal-Kerlazor!"
"Stop up your ears against these lies, child," said Andraxal. He swooped forward, and spiralled up above the dragon upon the mountain. "Begone! You are not wanted here!" His jaws opened, and flames spewed down upon his motionless target.
From within the flames, the voice continued to cry out. "Listen to me, Alexandra! Listen to your heart! Do not let the darkness prevail!"
"I will destroy the darkness!" Alexandra fanned her wings in agitation. Andraxal paused to inhale, and the flames cleared. The strange Dragon sat unharmed upon the peak.
"The darkness is inside your mind! You have fallen under the control of an evil spirit! Alexandra!"
The Dragon Queen shook her head. "Silence. Andraxal!"
"Do not worry, child. It will soon be ended."
"That was not my meaning," she said, suddenly iritated with his tone. "Allow me to deal with this intruder. I do not need you to fight my battles for me."
"What was that?" Andraxal turned from his position above the stranger and dived down to hover before Alexandra. She started back; his eyes now glowed dangerous red. "Be careful, my child. There are many things you do not yet understand."
"And I won't learn them hiding in your shadow."
"Shadow?" The red eyes narrowed. "What do you know of shadow?"
Suddenly the peaceful vision dissolved. All around was nothing. Before Alexandra's terrified eyes Andraxal disappeared. In his place was a vast shape, black against the emptiness. Somewhere far away Alexandra could sense the other Dragon, whom she now knew was Agrela, but the goddess was helpless, as was she herself.
The terrible being laughed. "So now you see. Everything you worked for was but a dream. This is the reality -- nothingness, the endless darkness of the Void, the realm where I rule. I am the one who has been acting; you were but a puppet. All your plans, your plots, your schemes -- all were of my design."
"Andraxal ... " she murmured. The shape laughed.
"A phantasm! An illusion designed to keep you in your little dream-world. But now you know the truth. You would have been much happier, child, had you remained in your little fantasy."
Alexandra shook her head violently. "That much at least is the truth. I see that now. But you do not control me. You never have, and you never will."
"Is that so?" The monstrous shape laughed again. "Even now your body moves under my command, while your mind is trapped here in the darkness -- where it will remain for all eternity! But I can be merciful. Behold! A window on the world. You won't be able to participate, but you can at least see events as they come to pass."
Once more Alexandra viewed the outer world, but this time she saw things as they rightly were. She watched in horror as she flung black bolts against her consort, draining away the power he called upon to protect himself.
"Stop!" she screamed, recoiling. The shape continued to laugh.
"Admit it! You have no control! I shall destroy the world, eradicate its existence, all through your body! You can do nothing! Poor, helpless worm!"
"It is not true," whispered a voice. The monstrous black shape turned upon the figure of Agrela.
"Be silent! You can do nothing! By coming here, you have become trapped as well!"
"You are still in command," continued Agrela, ignoring the terrible figure. "This is your mind -- this spirit is feeding on the evil in your will. Reject it, and it will be exorcised! Trust me; I can help you."
"There is nothing you can do! Both of you are utterly powerless against me." The shape turned back to Alexandra. "Reject me? I have already consumed all of your vital power. I am Alexandra now; you have nothing! Reject me? How can you do that, when you no longer exist?"
"Then to whom do you speak?" Alexandra stared into the empty eyes. "I am Alexandra Silverwing. You are nothing but a wraith, less real than the memory of the ancient times. Begone from me! I will have nothing more to do with you!"
The apparition screamed. Flames burst from its mouth, washed over Alexandra, but she closed her eyes and felt nothing. The sound slowly faded, and she opened her eyes. she had finally awakened.

The black Dragon upon the throne screamed. Its scales began to shine; the blackness rose off of them like a mist. Emarius had to shield his eyes with his wings against the brilliance now unveiled.
"Fly easy, my consort!" sang a familiar voice. "I am freed from the nightmare!"
Emarius uncovered his eyes. There upon the throne was the beautiful form of Alexandra. Beside her was another Dragon of blue scales and delicate red wings. Yet another dragon began to take shape, this one sleek with scales of shining black. Emarius snarled, but the black Dragon spoke first in an acrid voice.
"Do not be foolish, Mage. I am not your enemy but Krypta. The so-called 'Nemesis' is there." The goddess of death gestured with her head. All four Dragons looked upon the Orb of Dysjunction. Its surface was now pure black, and deep within a shifting fire burned, now red, now blue, now green, and each colour unwholesome.
"I am Nemesis," said a voice from within the Orb. "You cannot resist me. This world is doomed to oblivion, one way or another. If you reject me, Xyra will not. His people courted me once; he will be easy to lure back. Or if not him, another. Many are those who seek power among gods and mortals."
"Maybe so," said Agrela, "but they will not get it from you."
"Nor do we need your help to destroy the world," said Krypta drily. "I think you have overstayed your welcome. You are so fond of the Void; you should have no objection to my escorting you to the Outer Darkness."
"No!" The flame within the Orb pulsed rapidly. "I have nothing to fear from you! Mistress of Death! Your power cannot counter mine!"
"Not hers." Agrela began to glow as she channelled her power. "This Orb was meant to collect negative energy. What happens if it is filled with the power of Life?"
"No!" shrieked the voice, louder, more desperate. "Alexandra! My Queen! Forgive me for deceiving you! I shall serve you faithfully! together, we can destroy this corrupt world and remake it as it should be! Limitless power will be yours!"
"Do you think I'll let you trick me a second time?" Alexandra nodded. "Proceed."
Agrela channeled her power -- the well-spring of life in Ardania -- at the Orb. The voice screamed and gibbered. Cracks appeared on the Orb. The flame billowed inside, flickered, and scattered. The cracks widened, and the Orb split apart.
"It is over," said Dauros, who now also appeared as a golden Dragon. "Sister?"
"'Nemesis' shall trouble you no more," said Krypta. "I have sealed it out of this world, beyond all spheres of existence. There it can fester until it consumes itself."
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 PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Energy swirled and streamed around the Lycolongus. His form began to pulse, and with pulse the light emanating from him grew brighter. Water from the marshes began to be drawn to him. It spiralled around him, the droplets refracting the light into an array of coloured brilliance. The forces rushing through him lifted Darac from the earth, and he floated upon a pedestal of flashing water.
Xyra narrowed his eyes. Darac's body was now pure light, and waves of power began to radiate from it. They broke against Xyra like waves on a stubborn rock. All the marsh grass lay flat in their power; far away trees bent and cracked. And in the centre of this storm of light and force, Darac's shape began to change.
A pair of wings burst from his back. A tail whipped free and wrapped around him. His antennae grew longer, his shoulders wider.
Slowly the light dimmed. The water fell away, and Darac landed again on the ground. Xyra now saw that his body had been covered with scales; green on his chest and back, red on his belly, neck and limbs. The wings were red membranes stretched between green frames. His face was unchanged; but his hair had lost its greenish tint and was now pure silver. It formed a crest behind his antennae from which it fell around his shoulders. The long, sinuous tail was covered with it. Darac's eyes were closed; they were red, like his scales.
"A transformation?" sneered Xyra. "You wasted all that energy for a transformation?" But in truth Xyra was impressed. He could sense the power radiating from this new form. Here in one body was contained more power than Xyra had felt throughout his struggle -- this Lycolongus dwarfed Amaru, the Tridusa, the Dragons and even Fervus.
Darac opened his eyes. They were still golden, but it was now a molten glow, heated by a new flame. His antennae twitched. "Better than yours, monster," he said. "You're certainly different than the descriptions I've heard of you, but I can't say it's an improvement. You don't seem all that powerful, either."
"Is that so?" Xyra ground his teeth. The crystal in his breast burned brightly. "Perhaps it is because I do not flaunt my power like you!" Light began flowing through his ethereal body. "Foolish mortal! You are but a child when it comes to channelling the spirit! Else you would know ... that I have been holding myself back! Now, feel my true power and despair!"
Darac shielded his eyes against the terrible burst of light. His ears rang with Xyra's hated laughter. His antennae trembled at the power revealed before him. He shook his head. Just as he lowered his arm, Xyra's fist took him in the stomach.
Xyra laughed louder as he saw his challenger plow through the ground. "Pathetic!" he cried. "You are defenseless! For all your power ... you ... "
Xyra's words trailed away. Darac slowly rose from the trench his fall had created. He dusted himself off, chuckling. "Who's pathetic?" he asked. "I hardly felt your blow. You had better have more than that to offer."
"Insolent little dragonspawn!" Xyra rose into the air and dived down upon his foe. Darac ducked aside and threw his fist into the back of Xyra's skull. The green body slammed into the ground. Darac took to the air to avoid the opening crater, and at the same time sent a shower of energy at his opponent.
"Don't tell me that's it!" he shouted. "You must suffer more!"
His answer was the sound of laughter. He felt a massive surge of power, and instinctively ducked aside as an intense beam shot past him.
"Suffer? You would make me suffer?" Another beam shot up from the crater; again darac narrowly avoided it. "Tell, what have I done to you? Killed your parents? Murdered a friend, maybe? But, ah, you said you were the son of Tarac." Another beam. This time it struck Darac slightly, on the edge of his wing. The bone snapped as the hostile energy rushed through him. He crashed to the ground. Above him now the voice continued. "Your father was killed in my first attempt to take Sanctuary. A futile death, actually, since its people decided to serve me in the end." Darac snarled. He began to push himself up, but another powerful beam blasted him deeper in the earth.
"Yes, you have cause to hate me -- but your pain is as nothing to what i have suffered! My entire race -- destroyed! A thousand thousand years lived in darkness! Alone, hunted by all the foul beasts that your kind gods tossed away into their Labyrinth! You would make me suffer? I have suffered enough! Now it is time I shared the gift!"
Darac winced as Xyra's feet rammed into his back, pressing him deeper into the pit his fall had made.
"Now, I will conquer this world, and once I have exacted my revenge on its paltry rulers, I shall extend my empire throughout the heavens! I am destined as the last of my race to rule the stars -- and neither you nor the gods nor the Dragons nor any other power will stop me!"
Darac grunted. Suddenly he wrapped his tail around Xyra's legs. His adversary cried out in surprise as he lost his balance. Darac pushed himself to his feet. Xyra had disengaged himself from Darac's tail, but before he could recover completely Darac spit the earth that had seeped into his mouth into Xyra's eyes.
"Says you. Keep on denying it, but you know that you've met your match. You want to see your destiny? Then here!" Darac lashed out with his foot, kicking Xyra in the stomach. "And here!" He kicked with his other leg, smashing his foot into Xyra's face. "And here!" He spun and delivered a final kick to Xyra's chest, knocking his opponent flying. Darac jumped into the air then folded his wings. He slammed both his fists into Xyra's chest and leapt back.
"There," he panted, "there is your destiny."
"Conceited ... wretched ... " Xyra's body heaved. Slowly he rose up and fixed Darac with a deadly stare. His face was no longer flawless; it was bruised and bloody, and many scales had fallen away from it. He snarled and rose to his feet, then into the air. "You cannot win! Don't you understand? I am a god!" He lifted his hands up. A point of energy appeared, then blossomed into a large sphere. "Your strength, your skill -- it is all in vain! Cast aside your hope and perish!"
He cast the sphere at darac. Darac drew his own hands back. He focused the energy, and sent a blast of his own power into the sphere. There was a titanic explosion. Darac was blasted back. He skidded across the ground, finally coming to rest in the marsh.
Xyra cursed as the shock threw him hurtling through the air. Finally he regained his equilibrium. He floated there, glaring down at the charred border of the swamplands.
"You ... " He clenched his fists. His body began to waver; the crystal shone brighter than ever before. "You ... " The Ether Winds whined and began flowing into him. The crystal's glow intensified, dimming the Sun. More power lit his hands as he slowly rose higher. "You love this world so much? Then die with it! Do you think I care for Ardania? For any of the slime-ridden maggots that infest it? These lands mean nothing to me, are worth nothing! I have all that I need! So die, Darac son of Tarac, you and all your race and all the other insignificant creatures that writhe on the surface of this world!"
Suddenly he shot up into the air. He drew the Ether Winds to himself, unleashed all the latent power within his body. Energy crackled around him. His raised his arm, directing the power to the great orb that was beginning to coalesce above him. First blue, it brightened to white. Larger it grew, until the sky was drained of colour by its brightness. Lightning flickered around them, as Xyra gazed for the last time upon Ardania.

Down below him, almost invisible in the light from his sphere, Darac stirred in the shallow water. He sat up and gazed in disbelief at the awful sight above him.
"By the blood of Cao En," he swore. Grudgingly he knelt down again and reached into the weeds. His hand clasped the black haft, and he lifted the ender's spear from where he had tossed. "This truly is the only way to slay the monster. Amaru was right -- though I hate to admit. Darac spread his wings and take to the air, the Spear aimed upward.
Xyra could withhold it no longer. With a final wordless shriek of hatred, he hurled the deadly globe toward the land below. Unseen through the brilliant orb, Darac flew closer. He was forced to close his eyes against the searing light. It offered no relief, but he could not let go of the Spear to shield himself further.
The tip of the Spear gleamed as the sphere drew closer. As it flew farther from Xyra, the sphere increased in speed, rushing upon the world which it would destroy. But as it hurtled down, it came upon the Ender's Blade.
Energy burned throughout the divine weapon. Darac's hands were scorched, but he did not let go. He thrust the harder with his wings, pushing the Ender's Spear into the great sphere of energy. It continued down, but the Ender's Blade destroys everything -- ethereal power as well as material substance. It opened a path for darac straight through the mighty sphere. Thus robbed of the centre, the energy lost its focus, dispersing back intot he Ether Winds.
Xyra watched in disbelieving horror as his cataclysmic blast disentegrated. Weakened by the exertion, he could not move as he saw Darac come screaming up out of the fading light. The Ender's Spear, no longer red and black but shining white, thrust through his heart. Xyra stared down at the weapon, then his eyes travelled up along the haft and the arm that held it.
"How can this be?" he murmured as his eyes fixed on Darac's. "I am invincible ... my destiny ... "
Darac opened his eyes. Gold met wine, and the world seemed to pause as the two stared into each other's souls. "I told you," whispered Darac. "Your destiny is to die by my hands ... and this spear. But don't worry. You won't be forgotten. You and I aren't so different after all ... and maybe, someday, the destiny you sought will become mine."
Xyra opened his mouth, but only blood came out. Darac released the Spear and allowed himself to float back, leaving blade and haft embedded in his foe's body.
The crystal of Xyra's heart was shattered, and the veins extending from it waned and disappeared. Green light surrounded the fading form. This in turn flowed into the Spear. The Ender's Blade become shot with green. As the last trace of Xyra's corporeal body disappeared, the Spear shuddered. As it absorbed the last of the light, its own form shook and began to dissolve.
Darac's sight began to dim. His eyes had been over-taxed; now they failed. The last thing he saw was the Ender's Spear as it vanished into points of light that flickered and disappeared.
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 PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Here ends the tale of the averted Apocalypse. What follows hereafter is a brief recounting of the effects of the great battles, of the restoration of the land and the darkness which still remained, as Amaru foreboded. Yet not all is told here, for that lies in the compass of other tales.


In the year following the death of Xyra, the people of Ardania quickly rebuilt what had been destroyed. Parliament returned to the capital, where the twin Houses of Parliament were rebuilt by the combined efforts of the Wizards and Alchemists. Foremost among these were Cassandra and Malphax, whose knowledge and power astounded those who did not know their secrets.
The first act of the new Parliament was to appoint the lands of Cheswick to the Dragons as a reward for their services. East Cheswick now became the capital of an independent kingdom, stretching from the Mountains of Sydrian to the borders of the desolate Central Plains.
The second task of Parliament was to deal with the ruined cities of Shadowood and Mayhew. The Xyres Cathedral was immediately razed, but no further action could be agreed upon. Finally they appointed an interim government led by Crimson First Sword Lachryma and a council of Guild representatives. As for Mayhew, that proved to be much easier. A wealthy half-Elf, Viniard Vatheran, offered to rebuild the city in exchange for lordship of the North Coast. Parliament readily agreed, and before the year was over Mayhew was once again a thriving port, not yet as large but already more splendid under the wise eyes of its new lord.
In Sanctuary, Darac returned to the acclamation of those who had remained loyal under Klamath. Although blind and changed in shape, Darac was joyously proclaimed King of the Lycolongi, with Brieva as his Queen. He made Klamath Head of the Sellswords' Guild and Representative to Parliament, although he himself never had dealings with the governing body.
Cassandra, after aidng the rebuilding of Parliament, returned to Sanctuary and founded an Alchemists' Guild there. She was reclusive, and discouraged contact with the others of her profession not native to the city of the teratogenics. Although freed from Xyra by his death, she stil retained her preternatural abilities with matter and its concommitant energy. Feeling that only other teratogenics would understand her, she choose to live out her life in Sanctuary, where she devoted her talents to improving the city.
Another also devoted himself to Sanctuary, or at least to one part of it. Under Jinex's guidance, the Coliseum became more famous yet. There was no region in Ardania where its name was unknown, and every three years people from all over the world would attend the Sanctuary Games, special tournaments sponsored by Darac and his heirs and hosted by Jinex himself.
The Order of Crimson became firmly established, as did the revitalized order of the Sisterhood. The Priestesses became once more an important part of society. Their Representative sat in Parliament and a Temple to Krypta was erected in New Valmorgen. The Order of Crimson, due to its association with the Dragons, did not become as widespread, but was nevertheless influential.


Yet still many evils threatened the land. Fervus, now discredited, was not yet dispossessed. His remaining Cultists rallied and travelled to the Isle of Krolm's Anvil, where they began to raise anew the Tower of Chaos. The Chaos Mages were reconstituted, and contact was made with a band of fanatics who had long awaited Fervus' return. The God of Whim's grip on the northern lands grew apace, though he still kept most of his works hidden.
In the west, a strange sign was recounted. For the Dragons knew of the Tridusa and where it had fallen, and they sent out servants to reclaim it. But the Harbingers returned empty-handed. They reported only that a large swath of the desert had been burned. Now other trace was to be found of the Tridusa, broken or not, nor any sign of Liang.
But, most deadly was a threat that no-one gave any care towards. In the valley hidden atop Mount Sydrian, beneath the rubble of Tyrhail's castle, the entrance to the Labyrinth Dungeons lay breached. From this open portal the oppressive air of the Labyrinth poured forth. Despair continued to stalk the high valley; and that sorrow-laden exhalation was only the forerunner of that which was now released. Throughout the Dungeons, creatures old and terrible stirred as they felt the shift in the airs. Ages of imprisonment had come to an end. Slowly the wind blowing through the stones of Tyrhail's dream thickened with the breath of many hostile creatures, looking upon the night sky that none had ever seen, but which all knew and desired.
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