Into the heart of the story Chapter 1 = the Prelude
by Scott Baird
Part 1: The beginning
The world is veiled in darkness
The wind stopped
The earth began to rot
The sea is wild
Yet the people wait
Their only hope...a prophecy
When the world is in darkness
Four warriors will come
Lukhan, leader of the 12 sages
He stood on a cliff overlooking the grand city of Corenia, the greatest of the human cities... He stood and watched the people come and go, all with a look of fear on their faces... yet he felt nothing for them.
Corenia was truly the grandest of the human kingdoms, its huge castle sitting at the edge of a large town, the castles graceful white minarets seemed to be almost reaching for the stars themselves, it served a purpose as a beacon of warning to an enemy, the thought of attacking a castle of its size made many enemies think twice about a siege.
The people of Corenia however saw the castle as a beacon of hope...the single greatest structure made by humans and the seat of the single most powerful human of the time, the king of Corenia.
Those enemies who thought they could assault the castle had many other obstacles in their path, the city and the castle were surrounded by a white wall that was 20 feet in height and constantly manned by guards highly trained in the use of a crossbow.
Even then there was a thick forest that surrounded the wall although this parted at the gates, yet even the gates themselves were enchanted by powerful magic’s, it would take a hundred men or the strongest magic to break them down, even then the gates were manned by the best soldiers of Corenia.
The man on the cliff could feel even from the cliff the intangible darkness that was felt in the land... yet it seemed to be emanating from Corenia... something had happened and he knew now why he was there.
He was an impressive sight, young man wearing armour mainly composed of chains over red leather, at his belt he held a large steel sword and carried it in a way that would show any would be bandits that he knew how to use it and use it well.
The mans head was virtually unseen beneath his shock of dark red hair, all you could see was his face which one could see the anger he held in his soul, the responsibility he knew in his heart and the pain knowing that his chosen path could kill him.
The most impressive thing about the man was his eyes, the deep green of his eyes seemed to stare into your very soul, he was a man not to be taken likely and because of this some thought of him as inhuman... and they may very well be right.
His skill with the blade was great, but due to his nature most who saw this did not see him as just a good fighter but the greatest fighter, therefore to the few people he had met other than his friends he was simply called The Fighter and word of him and companions spread like wildfire, they sounded like the ones from the prophecy...
The prophecy which had dominated his existence as long as he could remember... when he was an infant, he and three other children were abandoned at an orphanage in the town of Pravoka, the greatest of the human ports.
He and his 3 friends were different from the other children and everyone knew it......they were isolated from most of the 'normal' people and they considered themselves outcasts...this made them stronger as friends but not as good with the so called 'normal' people.
When he and his friends were 12 a strange man came to the orphanage, he was a tall, well built figure who wore exotic clothes and armour.
He spoke to the head of the orphanage and managed to 'convince' him using gold that the four would be better of with him.
The children took an immediate liking to the man; he was different like they were. Yet he treated them like they were normal... he purchased a house on the outskirts of Pravoka and he gave the children each an orb... and told them to protect the orbs with their lives... the next day they started their training.
The man called himself merely ''the Master'', he said he was from a far of place called Lefain, where he was a great warrior among his people, yet he could not return their and that it was his duty that he should train the four.
The boy who eventually was know as Fighter was trained in the use of weapons, he soon mastered swords and axes and he learned how to use his strength so that he could move faster in heavier armour... every day he ran carrying rocks to increase his strength, by the end of his training he could run many miles with a bag full of rocks and still not feel fatigued.
The second boy was an elf, a member of the light-footed race with pointed ears who normally lived in forests, this elf however seemed more at home within cities, whenever the master had to go into the town the elf boy always went with him, he learnt the art of deception and stealing... yet he vowed never to use his skills for evil gains (he considered stealing from non evil people to be a thing only humans would do).His training considered of minor training with a blade (he accepted that he would never be better than Fighter, yet his skill was by no means bad) and he ran with a mile long ribbon wrapped around his waist, the faster and longer he ran, the longer the ribbon stayed up... by the end of his training the ribbon barely touched the ground.
He was known to most people as Thief (yet he considered this title an offence to his non evil ways, but concluded that it added to his prestige).
The third was the only female of the group, the master taught her about the god of light who all of the good races revered (although each race considered the great god as a member of their race and each had its own specific name for it),humans called this god Odin the protector (for it was believed that the god Odin protects the light of the sun from the Lords of Hades who are his opposite... if the light of the sun goes out then all life will end, that is why his priests are dedicated to fighting evil),her training consisted of minor training with a mace and her studying of the god... due to her faith she was granted power by Odin and she gained a power similar to magic that only a handful of people could use, it was called white magic and it allowed its users to heal wounds and destroy undead creatures of the night.
She was known to most people as White Mage; she considered this an honour and is the most diligent of the four about defeating the evil that plagued the world.
The last was the second human male, but most people could barely tell, when he was young he had a talent for magic that was left mostly untapped, but when the master took him in he was taught the truth about magic, all colours start as white and then split apart and when they come together they make black, therefore most practitioners of magic realised that at the base of the rainbow there was a great source of energy and that could be tapped with the right force of will and science to influence it, when the master told him this his eyes were opened... after a little basic training with a dagger and a staff the boy started to learn how to influence the power that was his all along... by the end of his training his knowledge of magic gave him the ability to create small bolts of lightning from his fingertips and balls of fire from his eyes.
He was known as the Black Mage, he didn’t care much about his title or the people who gave it to him, his only concern was learning more about magic and the cause of darkness which was unnatural and threatened the natural order of things.
When they were only 16 the four went hunting in the woods, when they were there they were attacked by a Red Imp, a foul creature that appeared to be almost a foul mockery of a human, with its small figure, twisted features, long nose and black eyes, seeing the young humans as easy prey it attacked... within two minutes it had been overcome by the four, it had died in a wave of blades, fire and hammers and it was then they realised that they had easily defeated a foe that would make many soldier cringe in fear... that was when they suspected that may have been the ones mentioned in the prophecy... it was always in the back of their minds yet it had only now been clear to them.
Over the next few years they continued their training, but over time they noticed their master weakening, he claimed that it was because he was so close to where the darkness was coming from......one day he could not leave his bed...his condition only grew worse......the four were distraught. The only person they saw as a parent was dying.
Soon after he called the four to his bedchamber and told them what they feared.......
''My students... I am dying... I will not survive to see the sunset, do not cry...for my last few years with you were the best of my life... you are all destined for great things and I am glad to have been part of your training... for I have been training you to be the light warriors... the ones to push back the tide of darkness... that is why I gave you the orbs... so that you may restore the light that once gleamed in their centre... by the day’s end Pirates will have taken Pravoka and if you stay you will be killed... I left a small boat hidden by the river... for you must leave this night and escape to Corenia... when you get there you must see the king... I leave the rest in your hands... Fighter... you must lead them... you will be a great leader... I see that now...Thief... don’t let greed stop you from doing what’s right... helping people is its own reward... White Mage... I’ll tell Odin myself when I see him to listen to your prays... for I can see that you will heal the land that has been ravaged... and Black Mage... with great power comes great responsibility...never let darkness cloud the truth and you will learn what true magic is... farewell my children... farewell.’’
He closed his eyes and fell into a sleep from which he would never wake.
He was buried on a cliff overlooking Pravoka, and even in the darkness they could see the pirate ships in the distance, they turned and walked... never looking back.
Fighter looked at Corenia and said to himself
''Why is there a need for darkness, all people do is kill each other, we don’t need demons in hell... we already have our own.’’
''It is because of the darkness that people kill each other.’’
Fighter turned and saw his friend Thief, he was dressed in black leather armour with wooden greaves and neckgaurd (to stop me from wringing it thought Fighter), he kept a rapier in his belt, but his true weapon was his speed, while bigger and stronger people could kill him in one hit, he normally hit first. And that was all that was necessary.
White Mage came up the cliff to meet them, she was dressed in long flowing white robes with a red trim, the garment of a Priestess, her hood was pulled low but behind it was a face of considerable beauty, yet she kept her hood low as a sign of respect to others as it showed of her reverence to all things (in her own eyes at least) she kept a small hammer at her belt as her weapon.
Then came Black Mage he was dressed in dark blue robes which completely covered his body except for his hands (which he wore brown gloves over) and his face (he wore a large straw hat which almost completely covered his head, all one could see were his bright eyes from underneath the shadows which obscured his face completely) he carried a wooden staff in his hands engraved with runes, his very presence disturbed people.
''So the Thief is the one giving the pious talks now, why should we help those who shunned us and abandoned us.’’
White Mage stepped forward ''It is because of those reasons we must help them, people fear what they do not understand and they do not understand us and how we acquired our abilities that take people lifetimes to hone, we have to teach them to respect us and more importantly each other.’’
Fighter turned to face Cornelia and said ''The only reason I am here is because it was masters final wish, when we’re done here I going back to our house, pirates or no pirates the people of this world will have to sort themselves out.’’
Black Mage lifted his head and said ''Well are we going to stand here all night or shall we go down there and get some rest, we cannot do what is required of us this night, my magic is nearly depleted and nighttimes belongs to the creatures that roam these lands, we must prepare for the trials ahead.’’
This they all agreed on, they moved north towards the gates, it was nearly sunset so the guards were soon going to stop people from entering or leaving the city.
They reached the gates before the night watch was assigned and were greeted by eight crossbows aimed at them and the surrounding area, they stopped and Fighter shouted
''We are travellers seeking refuge within the city.’’
''Get lost'' they heard one of the guards shout ''No travellers this late, especially not Elvin scum.’’
Thief visibly tensed at this, he shouted back
''We are here to help the king, but if the city doesn’t want any 'Elvin scum' helping them then I can go somewhere else.’’
At the mention of helping the king the guards lowered their crossbows and started muttering amongst themselves
''Here to save the princess...''
’’... to fight Garland''
''Open the gates!''
The gates were opened and the four where let inside, they were granted free rooms at an inn of their choosing on the condition that the next day that they would seek the king.
Part 2 = The Kings mistake
The next day came and the Light Warriors prepared to see the king, Fighter, Black Mage and White Mage where in the guest room of a fairly small inn called 'The mask and the crown’, they were awaiting the return of Thief who left on a recon mission (they wanted to know how bad the situation was from different people rather than trusting the interpretation of one man, even if he is a king).
The door opened and Thief came through, he moved to the table and said ''The situation is worse than we thought, even the thieves wont talk about what has transpired, even gold wouldn’t loosen their tongues... and all I could get from the townsfolk was mutterings about traitors and kidnappings... but there is something else.''
''When we entered the town someone must have spotted us or the guards aren’t very good at keeping at their mouths shut. There are mobs out there looking for us… I could hear them shouting things like 'The Light Warriors are here' and 'We’re saved’, so I think we should stick to the back alleys until we can get to the Castle, agreed.’’
Ten minutes later they were surrounded by a mob of people all trying to grab them and it came to no surprise to them that Thief was to blame.
''I thought you said that alleyway led to behind the shopping district!'' Fighter shouted as he pushed away peoples hands.
'' And we are in the town centre!'' Black Mage shouted as he considered summoning his magic to scare away the crowd.
He didn’t get a chance, the town guard arrived and quickly dispersed the crowd, they approached the Light Warriors and a guard with a silver helmet faced Fighter and said
''Greetings, if you are going to the palace we shall escort you, I am Sir Dakaran and I must apologise on behalf of the townsfolk... with the recent events they have had little to hope for, now you are here.’’
''Just take us to the castle,'' Fighter said angrily
''Yes Sir'' said Sir Dakaran, with a knight’s salute (holding his sword blade up in front of his chest)
Fighter only looked at him with disdain.
They were led through mobs of people which seemed to be getting bigger an louder, the guards kept them at bay however... but they could hear shouting coming from all around them.
''Save the Princess''
''Kill the traitor''
''Kill the dwarves''
''Kill the elves''
Thief turned and looked at the man who shouted the last comment, the man realised what he had said and bowed his head in his shame.
They finally reached the doors of the castle and the streets were filled with people shouting.
The doors were opened and Sir Dakaran bade them through.
Thief was the last to go, before he went inside he turned to the crowd and waved, he pulled his rapier out and held it to the sky, the crowd went crazy, even when the thick oaken doors were shut all could hear the shouting of the crowd.
All the guards and Fighter, Black Mage and White Mage turned and looked at Thief
''What'' he said ''were supposed to give them hope aren’t we?’’
The 3 Light Warriors only shook their heads, while the guards smiled....for the first time, they believed that the Light Warriors where here.
They were led through the many floors of the castle before they came to a corridor which seemed to go on forever, it was covered with paintings and tapestries of all manners and forms (including a detailed picture of the castle carved in tree bark which Thief swore was Elvin make) and statues of warriors long dead, they reached a set of double doors at the end of the corridor which were made of the strongest oak and reinforced with metal (the kings last defence in war Fighter fought, because no other kingdom would take him in), flanking the doors were two guards with silver helmets which saluted them as they walked past, they opened the doors and went into the throne room.
It was a large chamber which held the largest tapestry the four had ever seen which had the Corenian national flag on it (A Gold dragon holding a crown and a Griffon holding a Green Rod on a red background), In the room were 4 guards with Gold Helmets on (the kings personal guards) and the King and Queen sitting on Thrones of Gold, Silver and Bronze flanked by golden statues of Dragons.
The King was a middle aged man, yet the problems of the past few days had made him seem much older, he wore long red robes of state with a silver trim and he carried a Gold Sceptre in his hand.
The Queen was the same age as the king yet the problems of the past few days had a greater toll on her, she had barely stopped crying and had eaten very little food, she had only appeared in the Throne room now because of the rumours of the four had given her hope, she wore a red dress as was befitting of her title.
Sir Dakaran stepped forward and said in a loud clear voice ''My liege, I present to you the four who have came to help.’’
The king said ''Thank you Dakaran, stand down, take your men and wait in the main hall, I will send for you if I need you.’’
Dakaran bowed and walked out, his men behind him.
'' Please step forward,'' said the king who leaned forward in his throne.
The four Light Warriors stepped forward and the king turned to Fighter and said ''So. You must be the one called Fighter.''
They looked in surprise at the king.
''We, the royal family of Corenia were the first to receive the prophecy from the great mage Lukhan and his friends... we decided that the whole prophecy be... cut to protect you all.’’
They looked at each other and then back at the king.
''Would you like to know the full prophecy?’’
The King pulled a scroll from his robes and started to read
The world is veiled in darkness
The wind stopped
The earth began to rot
The sea is wild
Yet the people wait
Their only hope... a prophecy
When the world is in darkness
Four warriors will come
One known as Fighter will come in anger
One known as Thief will come in desire
One known as White Mage will come in arrogance
One known as Black Mage will come in ambition
And if they do not defeat the darkness within themselves
Then they will not defeat the darkness that threatens the world
The king rolled up the scroll and put it back in his robes.
''I had a few copies of the original prophecy made, when I heard of your arrival I made sure I kept one... so you would finally realise your destiny.’’
Fighter managed to get past his shock and he said ''Those aren’t our real names... but they may as well be... we have been dubbed those names because of our abilities, people prefer to believe that we have come to save them than to realise the truth, we are just people who want peace, that is why we have come to restore it, what has happened that is so terrible?’’
The king leaned back in the throne and said ''Then I shall tell you what has befallen the kingdom.’’
''It all started during the War of crowns.’’
''As you know it started when the Elvin king Astaron and the dwarf’s chieftain Bartelby Stoneblade had a falling out over trade agreements, war broke out and the human cities were drawn into it, sides were taken and war began.’’
'' 5 years into the war the kingdoms were bled dry, yet the senseless war continued, hope seemed lost, and especially when the General Ragnor disappeared... we continued in despair.’’
''Then one day a young knight appeared, the most skilled man with a blade in the kingdom, he led a suicide mission against the commander of the Elvin armies unit, the commander himself was King Astarons brother, the mighty warrior Calagard.’’
''The unit lead by this knight successfully managed to separate Calagard from his unit, he could have ordered his men to cut him down, but he instead challenged Calagard to a duel to the death and if he lost then his men were to let Calagard go and return to Corenia bearing the news.’’
''After many hours of fighting, the young knight finally won, they left Calagards body unspoilt for his men to find him, then they made there way to the capitol and the last true battle of the war was fought there... all the armies met on the fields outside the Elvin capitol... Garland, for his actions was promoted and it was because of his successful rout of the Elvin-Melmond alliance, after the battle a treaty was finally reached and peace had started to return.’’
''The knight who accomplished so much, his name was Garland.’’
''When he returned he was given the platinum helm and declared the champion of Corenia, he was given money, land and titles aplenty... he led the remaining Corenian army against the bandits and ogres of the land... He wanted for nothing, but then he asked for something he could not have, he asked for my daughters hand in marriage.’’
'' I could not grant this, she was supposed to marry the son of the Elvin king, to forge a solid peace between the two nations.’’
''Garland could not bear the thought of there being something he could not have... he started to grow more distant... and he was seen outside a place to the north known as 'The Temple of Fiends’, a place where worshipers of darkness once gathers and performed rituals. But it was abandoned.’’
''The reports of sightings of him in the temple started to grow...yet I had not the courage to confront him on the subject... he and I were friends and I had to deny him the one thing he truly loved... for the sake of the kingdom.’’
The Queen started to cry again... she knew what was coming next.
''Two days ago Garland entered the city dressed head to toe in a suit of jet black full plate mail armour, his eyes burned an unusual red, he pulled the gates of the city open with his bare hands and broke the great beam that normally blocks the great doors of the castle... he marched into the throne room and yet no one had the courage to stop him... our fears had been realised... Garland had turned to darkness and his hatred of me fuelled his unholy powers.’’
''He marched into the throne room and stood where you are standing now and said to me 'you fool, you put the needs of the weak fools you call subjects in front of the needs of those you called friend... because of your betrayal I have turned to darkness... and now I can have what I desire'
Then he pulled out his blade which shined as black as the night.’’
''My personal guards attacked him while I escaped into a hidden passage that only I knew of, yet he slaughtered my elite guards with barely an afterthought, he then tore through the castle to the princess's room, he was sealed off and was trapped at the top of the highest tower, he climbed to the highest window and leapt out.’’
''I despaired... even though he had turned to evil he was still my friend I did not want to see him or my beloved daughter die...’’
''Yet they did not die... Garland seemed to grow wings made of darkness, he took flight and sped towards the Tempe of the Fiends.’’
''Then came messages of pirates invading Pravoka, had to concentrate on protecting the city from an attack, even then no one would volunteer to save the princess, all had seen Garlands skill and feared him more than any man.’’
''Then you arrived, I ask of you a boon, I want you to save my daughter and release Garland from the darkness that he has surrounded himself with, if you do this then I will make sure you are properly rewarded, it will help restore the peace of the land.’’
''I ask a lot of you I know, but you are the Light Warriors and if you do not help us now then Garland will only get stronger and he will eventually hunt you down.’’
''Will you please help me?’’
The four looked at each other and then back at the king.
Part 3 = the journey to the temple
It was the next day that they were sitting in a forest clearing at the halfway point to the temple, unfortunately they did not know this and they were arguing.
Fighter was shouting at everyone ''We have been following this fool’s directions for how many miles,'' he pointed at Thief ''and we are stuck in the middle of nowhere, in a land filled with Odin only knows how many creatures and wild animals on our way to attack an evil knight who has lead armies to victory, has magic potential that we don’t know about and he lives in a place called 'The Temple of Fiends’, a place probably filled with Dark elves and Ogres... and its all Thief’s fault!.’’
''My fault'' Thief said back ''how did you work that one out?’’
''It was you who got us lost and alerted our presence to the people of Corenia, it was you who showboated to the crowd outside the castle and it was you denied a free map at the city gates because 'I can lead these people to the gates of hell' just to show off to those girls who were waiting to send us off.'' Fighter seemed close to attacking Thief at that point.
Thief moved his hand closer to his blade, Fighter moved his hand to his, and then White Mage stood in between them.
''Stop this, if we are to confront this knight of evil then we need to present a unified front, the prophecy said that if we do not defeat the darkness within ourselves then we cannot defeat the darkness…’’
As White Mage was lecturing Fighter and Thief on the importance of friendship and goodness Black Mage grew bored and sat on the floor, then he noticed a shape dart behind a tree.
He stood up and then he could hear rustling in the woods all around them, he tried to listen closer but he could only hear the arguing behind him.
''QUIET!'' he shouted.
The others looked at him, Black Mage never wasted his time with idle chatter, whenever he said anything it was important and they knew better than to ignore him.
Then they could all hear it, around them footsteps and leaves breaking, they moved back to back and drew there weapons and prepared there magic.
Suddenly the woods all around them burst, they could see child size figures running towards them, then they recognised what they were, they were Red Imps.
Red Imps were evil creatures, only concerned with the death of those who aren’t Red Imps, they were about four feet in height and there features were twisted, black eyes shaped like arrowheads and a long pointed nose that ended at there top lip, the reason they are called Red Imps is because they dye there clothes red and stain there blades with blood, they had a yellowish tint to there skin, they always carried some sort of crude weapon (normally a knife of some sort) upon there person at all times and they all wore a triangular red hat with a symbol drawn upon it (actually the symbol is a word in there own language depicting the word 'warrior',)and there names written above the symbol in there own language.
The Light warriors were surrounded by these creatures, they could see those drawing weapons and shouting to each other in their own guttural language, they waited for the creatures to come to them, if they were separated and there were more of these creatures then they could be in trouble...
The Imps were delighted, very few people came this way since the evil one (their name for Garland) and they were ready for a fight, the first few burst from the woods and charged towards the closest, Black Mage.
As they reached the edge of the clearing Black Mage had already started chanting, the other Light Warriors could feel the magic emanating from him, they could here the words to his spell.
''The power of Lightning bends to my command, Zeus Blade Magic.’’
Lightning bolts flashed from Black Mages outstretched hands, they flew through the air and hit the first few Imps that came through, they fell dead to the ground... Imps came from all around them and attacked.
Three of them launched themselves at Fighter, they shouted and shrieked but Fighter wasn’t scared, he and friends had defeated there kind since they were children, these meant nothing to him.
True to form the Imps attacked with little plan or teamwork, most people saw them charging and ran, but Fighters training kicked in, the three on him attacked him while they were all close together, allowing Fighter to swing his sword at there neck level, nearly decapitating the three, their bodies dropped to the floor and Fighter raised his blade and the next ones charging towards him hesitated, but didn’t run, they approached him with more caution.
Thief was charged by two of the Imps, they charged him the same way the ones on Fighter did, but Thief dropped to his knee, grabbed a handful of leaves and dirt and threw it in the face of the one closest, he parried the second Imps knife and he kicked the first one in the belly while it was blinded, it fell to the floor in pain, Thief knocked the seconds blade out of its hand and quickly ran it through the chest, it fell dead to the floor.
White Mage started to call upon the white magic, she saw a single Imp charge towards her, and then she knew what spell to cast.
''Nature, protect me from the my enemies, Fog.’’
A grey mist gathered around White Mage, the Imp was confused by what it saw but still tried attacking the mist, a hammer crashed into its skull and it dropped, the mist dispersed around White Mage and she saw more Imps charging towards her.
Black Mage realised how many there were, too many, they would more than likely take many of them down and they were was a remote possibility that they could win, but then they would not be in a condition to fight Garland, he looked to his companions for ideas.
More Imps came charging down, they were surrounded, Black Mage thought back to his studies concerning Red Imps, he remembered that although they were killers, they also held a great tie to their land.
An idea came to mind, he gathered his energy and cast a spell that no other mage in the world would risk casting in that area.
''The power of Fire Burns to my will, Imix Hatred Magic.’’
Fire leapt from his eyes and landed on the trees, he had set the forest alight.
''RUN'' Fighter shouted as he charges towards the smallest group of Imps, but they lost interest in them, their forest had just been set on fire, they were in a panic, they forgot about there battle and one of them shouted in their guttural language that a lake was nearby, they ran towards the lake and removed their hats, anyone in the woods who entered after the battle would see a large group of Red Imps with hats full of water running towards a fire.
The Light Warriors were running as fast as they could, with images of a Red Imp army on their backs they quickly cleared the border of the trees, they burst through and they saw open plains.
They stopped and Fighter suddenly lashed out and pushed Black Mage to the floor.
''What do you think you were doing, you nearly got us killed?’’
Black Mage, familiar with Fighters outbursts mearly said nothing.
White Mage stepped in between them and said ''Stop it, if he hadn’t of acted then we would have been overrun, it was a risk yes but a risk we had to take, we probably stumbled across a forest full of those creatures, now help him back up.’’
Fighter pulled up Black Mage but still acted cold towards him.
Thief suddenly said ''Hey everyone. Look over there.’’
They all turned around and looked at what Thief was pointing at.
''The Temple of Fiends''
Part 4 = the Dark Ritual
The temple wasn’t quite what was expected, the Light Warriors had images of a fortress manned by creatures of the night or some sort of unholy cathedral run by priests of evil.
The sight in front of them was very different, it could barely be called a building never mind a temple, it was made of a dull grey stone that was broken in many places, there was debris from what remained of an outer wall scattered in a haphazard fashion all around what remained of the main entrance, a path seemed to have been roughly cleared and it lead into the darkness.
The four prepared themselves, this is what they came here to do, defeat Garland and save the princess.
They gathered their equipment and moved towards the entrance, the Red Imps were no longer their concern, they reached the entrance expecting an attack, but nothing happened... they were almost a little disappointed... then they realised that Garland might have escaped.
Suddenly chanting could be heard from inside the temple, they ran into the entrance, the darkness soon enveloped them, White Mage called upon one of her lesser white magic abilities.
''By the power of Odin, let there be Light.’’
A burst of light appeared in front of them in the form of a glowing orb, they could now see a large black door at the end of the corridor, and they could hear the voice coming from behind it.
Thief pressed his ear against the door but the voice soon multiplied in volume, they could all hear what was being said.
'' Darkness, that which opposes the light...''
Thief tested the door, it wasn’t locked but it was stuck.
''Give me the power that is my birthright...''
Fighter bade the others move, he took a few steps back.
''Enter me spirit of evil, prince chaos of hell...''
Fighter lowered his shoulder and charged.
'' This blade of mine shall pierce the heart of the blood of Corenia''
He crashed into the door, it held.
''Now let a new age of darkness begin with the death of an innocent.’’
They all moved back... they were going to charge together.
They heard a scream.
Garland lifted his blade, preparing to drop.
Then the door exploded.
He turned and realised who had entered, beneath his helmet he smiled, he had been waiting for this for a long time.
The four stood up and drew themselves into a battle stance.
Garland only laughed.
''So the king finally found people willing to face me, I suppose you are all the light warriors.’’
It was then that the magical light settled in the room, they could see what they were facing, the room they were in was made completely of a black rock, light seemed to be absorbed into its surface, in the centre of the room there was an altar and on it a young girl dressed in the clothes of a member of the royal family of Corenia... the princess they realised... but what was standing in front of the altar was what got their attention.
It was a man-sized creature... decked head to toe in a suit of blackened Full Plate mail holding a blue blade in his hand poised over the princess, yet the thing they noticed the most about the him was his eyes... they burned red... gleaming from the inside of his helmet... he turned to face the four and turned his blade to point it at them.
The Light Warriors moved closer.
''Take another step and I kill her,'' Garland placed his sword on the neck of the princess.
They stopped but kept their weapons ready.
''At last my waiting is over, you the light warriors have come to stop me... well, it matters not if you kill me or I kill you my victory is assured, neither bonds of love nor death can tie me to this land, now come fulfil your destiny and let me fulfill mine.’’
He held his blade in front of him and quickly turned to strike at the princess, he pushed his blade down.
A rapier blocked it.
Thief had moved closer while Garland was talking and had leapt when he turned, his blade knocked Garlands to the side of the altar.
Garland used all of his strength to push away Thief’s blade, Thief was struggling while using both hands, while Garland was using one hand, he punched Thief in the stomach with his free hand, Thief fell to the floor in pain, and Garland lifted his blade to finish him off.
Then lightning flashed all around him.
Garland doubled over in pain, his armour was nearly completely made of metal, and he called upon his dark powers to heal him.
Then he could see a sword swinging for his helmet, Fighter had moved in thinking him helpless, with unnatural speed and skill Garland’s blade intercepted his.
Garland and Fighter looked into each others eyes, each could see the unbridled hatred in the other, Garland smiled beneath his helm and called upon his dark powers to call upon a dark shield of pure unholy energy, and it pushed back Fighter.
While this was happening Black Mage was summoning his energy for another spell, White Mage moved closer to Thief and summoned her own power, she held her palm facing Thief and started to chant.
''The power of compassion incarnate, Cure.’’
A beam of white light shot from White Mages hand into Thief’s body, he started to recover.
Fighter was striking Garland’s magic shield with little effect, he pulled back and waited.
Garland closed his hand into a fist and chanted words of unholy magic, electricity flowed from his body, he pointed at Black Mage and chanted quickly.
''Tiamats might empowers me, Electric fury.’’
Black Mage quickly countered with a spell of his own
''The power of Lightning bends to my command, Zeus Blade Magic.’’
Two bolts of lightning shot from each caster, they struck each other and exploded in the centre of the chamber.
Thief and Fighter started to strike the shield at once, it was starting to break.
White Mage realised that combat may start again; she summoned her holy energy and pointed at Thief.
''Nature, protect my friend from the their enemies, Fog.’’
A mist appeared around Thief, Fighter struck the shield one last time and it cracked and disappeared.
Thief struck quickly, his rapier aiming for any available weak spots, Garlands blade shot out and with uncanny accuracy sank into Thief’s leg.
Thief dropped to the floor clutching the wound and screaming.
White Mage started to prepare another healing spell; Garland pointed at her with his free hand and chanted.
''Kary’s anger flow from me, fiery rage.’’
A wave of fire shot from his hand, White Mage quickly changed the spell she was casting.
''Water bless me, Nullify Fire.’’
The fire seemed to hit an invisible shield and then it disappeared, but using that spell had stopped her from healing Thief; she started to summon her energy again.
The effort to create the fire had weakened Garland to, he was using too much power, and if he carried on at his current rate then he would be weakened to a point of death.
Fighter’s blade came crashing upon Garlands arm; unexpectedly instead of bouncing back it severed it.
Both Garland and Fighter stared at what happened, Garland knew this was a sign, his power was nearly gone and his plan was nearly completed.
But he had little time to dwell on this as he heard a spell being finished behind him.
''The power of Lightning bends to my command, Zeus Blade Magic.''
Garland was struck down in a wave of lightning bolts, Fighters blade went through his weakened plate mail and into his chest, Garland fell to the floor, Fighter lifted his blade to finish him.
Garland once again began to laugh; he pulled himself onto one knee and dropped his sword to the floor.
''You fool, I see that there is little chance of you defeating the darkness, my victory is assured... tell the king that I...’’
He sank to the floor and his body started to disappear, his armour crumbed into dust and his sword turned into a pool of liquid metal that sank into the floor.
Fighter felt the floor to make sure Garland had not turned himself invisible; he could hear White Mage healing Thief and Black Mage sink to the floor in exhaustion; the counter spell had weakened him.
Fighter sank to his knees and looked at his reflection on his sword.
''What did he mean,’ his victory is assured'... what did he mean.’’
Fighter pulled himself back up; there was work to be done.
They had just untied the princess and were preparing to leave when they noticed that Thief was missing.
''Hey everyone, look what I found.’’
Thief had just come down the corridor and he held a metal helmet in his hand.
''I found this outside....there was a skeleton amongst the debris and it was holding this, I figured Fighter could use it'' he tossed it to Fighter.
''It seems to fit all right, thanks Thief, although I don’t like the idea of wearing some dead guy’s hat.’’
''No problem... funny thing was I think that dead guy wanted me to have it.’’
''What makes you say that ?’’
''Well when I lifted it up out of his hands, well it seemed to be stuck... but then I heard a noise, I figured it was the wind but when I looked down I saw the skull was staring straight at me... then it let go and the skull fell to its side, then I noticed then name written on the inside.’’
Fighter looked inside and saw the word Lefain written inside, he almost dropped it with fright.
''Lefain isn’t that were the master came from''
''Yes, maybe he's still looking out for us, even from beyond the grave.’’
There was a collective shudder amongst the group, then a relief, they knew that no matter what they faced, their master would be fighting alongside them, in soul if not in body.
Fighter placed the helm on his head; he became one of the few humans to have ever used a piece of Lefain equipment.
The princess merely watched wondering why they were so concerned over a helmet.
They returned to Corenia the next day without trouble (although Thief had a suspicion they were being followed by Red Imps) and they returned to the castle in glory.
They had a procession of guards and civilians waiting, they were led to the castle and then to the throne room.
As soon as they entered the King and Queen ran towards their daughter and hugged her, tears rolling down all their faces.
''My beloved daughter,i will make sure nothing ever hurts you again'' the king whispered into the princesses ear.
He straightened himself up and said aloud.
''From this day forth let it be known that the Light Warriors have returned to us, the Fighter, the Thief, the Black mage and the White mage, due to the return of our heroes we shall finish the bridge between Pravoka, we will raise an army and we will drive out the pirate scum.’’
Fighter looked at the king and merely shook his head.
''We shall destroy the pirates who have overrun our neighbour Pravoka, Fighter will you help us.’’
Fighter looked into the kings eyes and said.
''For nearly all of our lives we have been known by our professions, we are the prophecy incarnate, yet something the prophecy did not say was that we are people, not mindless faces who kill evil beasts and wizards.’’
He raised his sword and started to shout
''I AM NOT A PROPHECY.’’
He thrust his sword into the ground, it was sunk half way into the stone, all the soldiers were aghast at this incredible feat of strength.
He turned to face the king.
''I am a man who fights only to protect those I care about, I am not a prophecy, I am just a human.’’
''My name is Arthur.’’
''We will deal with the pirates, it’s our homeland and it is out responsibility, come my friends, we must prepare.’’
He turned and marched out of the throne room, his friends turned and followed.
The king and the guards could only watch as they left... and a chill swept through the room.