Prelude: A Flicker of Light Within the Darkness

Started by Jace


In the world known only as 'The Realm,' a desperate struggle raged endlessly. Gods vied for power, their wars pitting followers against followers in a bloody battle that would not end until there was no more breath to draw. The remaining civilizations warily clung to their 'democracy' as the gods flexed their muscles above and around them, hoping against hope that some sensibility might retake the world as they knew it. Day in and day out, week after week, the months became years as time flew by, all without heed to the greater stability that could save this world. Lords had come and gone, dethroned either by aggressive populace or assassins in the service of their enemies, for The Realm had no need for 'leadership,' seemingly. The capital cities became mere hamlets and villages, shadows of their former glory as the gods loomed over them, absolute in their power and dominance.

This battle, as one would venture to guess, just-so-happened to be for the power of the little-known "Mists," a sentient enclosure that kept The Realm locked away from the rest of the greater lands in an infinite capsule of time and space. In eras past, these "Mists" produced creatures of all variations, some benevolent and some not-so-much, leading the inhabitants of the Realm to believe that a new world awaited them beyond the borders, of which the Mists held absolute boundaries against. None who traversed the Mists ever returned to spread word of their findings, and in frighteningly-common occasions, flayed skeletons were found at the Mists' edge, robbed of flesh and organs through and through. Attempts to understand the Mists gradually subsided when it become apparent that there were some sentience to their methods, as if it were a living barrier intentionally keeping the residents, and their gods, locked in place for eternity, while offering only occasional glimpses, for better or for worse, into the world beyond.

Being of self-professed greater standing than the mortals over which they presided, a few of the gods felt no need to cease their own desire for the power over the Mists (and, perhaps, what lay beyond). In particular, Duach, the dark god, directed his foul machinations and considerable power into finding a way to destroy, or at least find a viable passage beyond the Mists, taking such drastic measures as mass expenditure of mortal life in his quest to do so. At times, hordes of fenri, undead and daemons roamed the countrysides, taking mortal prisoners and razing anything that did not serve their dark purpose, albeit with very limited success for the higher purpose intended. Opposite these heinous acts, Enid, the light goddess, directly opposed Duach and his blatant disregard for The Realm's stability, calling upon the seraphs, priestesses and righteous heroes of the Realm to stand in defiance of the dark god's whims. Only by the power of the sacred weapon, known in past ages as "Enid's Blade", were these wanton crusades able to be curbed, and the location of this weapon fell into obscurity, for it was known that only a warrior with absolute purity of heart and limitless conviction for the greater good of the Realm could wield such a weapon. Their battles thus broke into a stalemate, and as the loss of life continued to mount, other gods of the Realm either went about their business without heed or care, or chose a side with the intent to take a claim of the fruits of victory that may've resulted.

To this day, the battle rages on. In the shadows of the expansive Forest of Death, beyond the wide plains of the Killing Fields and past the dire flats of Drear Valley where the last known emission of creatures from the Mists took place, no peace yet comes to the eyes of those who desperately yearn for it. And yet, in the Realm's darkest hour, a daring suggestion is being offered, one that might offer a final chance to turn the tides of this terrible state of affairs, and save the Realm and its people from the horrors it now faces…

"My lord, I am here. Pray, do you still draw breath?" a young man asked, standing attentively at said nobleman's bedside.

"Ah, my good Chesparin…" with a creak, an elderly man struggled to sit up, but lost himself in a fit of coughs and wheezing. A pair of maids nearby hurried to his side, assisting in his attempts to upright himself. The man was clearly in no condition to be exerting extra physical strength, much less of an age, besides. "You hurried yourself much more promptly… than I'd have expected."

"Waste not your words on my speed, sire," the man called 'Chesparin' responded, with blatant concern. "My followers and I await your word on the suggestion we have proposed, heretical though it may be. It is a small wonder the Church has not bound us in chains and carried us off already."

With a forced grin that further depicted his age, the old lord chuckled. "Perhaps… I had something to say about that. My power still exists… to some degree. Listen, now… Chesparin." He blinked a long, slow blink, drawing concern from those in attendance that he might not open his eyes again. "We knew the answer to your suggestion… without having to think on it. There is truly… no other way. The gods will not cease their bickering, and the people… will never come together in the way that the people hope for. Hope… yes…"

Chesparin drew forth, taking the old man's hand in both his own. "My lord, I trust that you have seen it for yourself," he said, looking both relieved and stricken in simultaneous fashion. "But even in your advanced age and these final hours, I wish you to understand the acceptance you are granting us. What it means for The Realm, and the fact that, even as we hope, there may not be a guarantee for resolution. Do you truly condone what will be done? Tell me, now, and thy will shall be done."

With another hacking cough, the venerable man gripped his friend's gloved opposite. "There is nothing left for us here. The Mists have won… which means… that we have lost. If there is a chance, a small ray of light that may shine down upon us… we must endeavor to seek it out. You have served me faithfully for all these years… the great city of Leinster, even as a shadow of its former greatness… this task will be the last… I ask of you…"

"My lord…" Chesparin managed, his head sagging. "… I won't fail you. I promise."

"Remember… Chesparin… the people are your strength… the Realm's strength. Do not let them fall under the sway of the gods… make them… understand…"

And in the second that followed, all life left the eyes of the present lord, the last noble of the old city of Leinster, hidden away from the world for a generation out of fear of the new wars that would result for a seat of power in what had been the old Kingdom. Chesparin removed his hand from the unmoving hand of his liege, and stood tall, attempting to exhibit a new sense of conviction. He looked upon the two maids, who knew what was to come, and yet were sorrowful all the same. "Ensure that he receives a proper burial with all given rights, gods or no gods," he said, sternly.

"Sir Chesparin, with all due respect," one of them ventured, "if your plan is to proceed, will it even matter?"

Chesparin shook his head. "Of course it won't," he said, "but that matters not. In this hour, on this day, he is still the lord of the capital city of Leinster. And he deserves, in death, vastly more respect than he garnered in life. This much, at least, we owe him fully. See to it that this happens, promptly as you must."

The two ladies bowed. "As you wish, sir," one of them stated.

"What will you do now?" the other one asked.

"My lord hid not in cowardice, but against his will, for the betterment of everyone, tragic an outcome as befell us," he said, turning. "It is my duty in his stead, now, to address the people of Leinster and inform them of what has become of this world, and what lies at stake upon the road ahead. Some will understand… many will not. Whatever the case, his words are final. We have no choice."

And with that, the young man known as 'Chesparin' left his lord's bedroom for the last time, intent on fulfilling his dying superior's final wish.

A wish that, for better or for worse, would change the fate of the entire land known as 'The Realm'…

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