The Rising Storm

          A flash of black and purple shown in the night as blades, covered in black sludge, danced light from the moon. Among the yells the Black Orcs let out and the war cries from those that came to replace the fallen, one could almost make out laughter. A smile came across his face as the fangs of Draven Bloodmoon shown the joy in this new found game that he had come across. Fighting alongside him, with almost fluid movements to his partner, the great shield of Dusthue Liadon parried the blade of his next victim as his flail found its target and knocked off what used to sit on top of this Black Orc’s shoulders, his head. Moving as one, together fighting what seemed like an endless horde, Dusthue circled around to take on even more as Draven poised his blades for even more fun by causing the bodies to pile up and cause the new combatants to climb over an ever growing wall of the dead.

          The two were renowned in their ability to fight together as one within the ranks of the Imperial Guard. The Lord Asashi Sunfire had taken note of this and used them as a weapon to strike out at where ever he wanted to cause the most destruction without being noticed. The two created what an entire unit of Guardsmen could do, with leaving behind no knowledge of what caused the devastation. Together, they created a wound that no weapon could create save for magic, fear.

          Months had passed since Asashi had given them their orders. They were to go into the cursed lands of Belegaria and find what this new fortress of Maegamarth’s purpose was. Standing near the ruins of Reidor, this location was extremely close to the Dark Lord’s fortress of Belegar and a very big risk of ultimate failure for this mission. The Crusade of Eryndor employed Asashi to find out this information, and with the profit received, he employed his greatest covert ops, Dusthue and Draven. The odds of these two together have always stood against fate.

          Going down the River of Belegaria, the two could move much more quietly and much faster than anyone following them. With the skills of the half-elf Dusthue, they remained unnoticed, hiding their canoe unseen and sleeping in the trees, and being passed by the patrolling orcs every night, unaware of their presence. Knowing they were outnumbered, moving into the heart of Maegamarth’s territory, they kept themselves out of combat until it was necessary. If an orc would stray too close, he was easily dispatched by the bow of Dusthue or a thrown dagger of Draven, both using arrows and daggers from Wood Orcs to cover their presence.

          Going into the center of the Black Spell was unheard of, so the two took very special consideration on movements and actions. Hiding in what was left of a completely decimated forest that lied on the rim of Reidor, they looked on under the cover of night. Draven went on ahead, scouting for Dusthue, as the night was his home. The danphire’s senses heightened at night, thanks to his vampiric blood coursing in his veins. The walls of the fortress was made from some black stone, fires raged on the surrounding towers, revealing hellish effigies and bodies hanging from ropes on the walls connected to various body parts, some only legs or arms left swaying there.

          As Dusthue approached behind Draven, seeing the horrid sight of the tower, he named it Agarwaen Sarn, meaning “Bloodstained Stone.” He knew that there was no stone that could be that black and that strong. The entire fortress had been covered in blood. Black Orcs could be seen bringing more and more innocent people into the gates, only to fall prey to unthinkable acts of torture. A group behind them could be seen being led on by a massive mountain troll, pulling this group onward as they were bound and chained by their necks.

          Watching closely, the two had lost track of time and had lingered too long. Draven sensed the presence of another being behind them. They had been seen, but before he could let out a call of alarm, in one swift action Dusthue had pulled out his bow, notched an arrow, and let it lose, aiming straight for the orc’s throat. This half-elf did not miss, nor does he. The dancing blades of Draven found their home buried deep within the chest of the orc, finishing him off. Knowing that this orc would be found eventually, the two made haste for the cover of the dead forest. Once hidden by the cover of a cloud filled night, the magic of the Black Land of Maegamarth continuously changed the very sky, removing the clouds and revealing the two sprinting individuals.

          The feasting crows were very keen to spot the shining glint of metal in the fray in the distance. Sending word to the dark master of the tower, he dispatched his forces, knowing of the intruders of this land and wanting their capture rather than their disposal. The gate opened and out poured waves of black orcs like vomit from the mouth of a monster. Standing to face them, Draven and Dusthue held like a wall as the horde broke upon them. The two, standing a circle of death, rose to meet whatever would come next.

  Underfoot, the earth itself trembled as some unseen force approached. The duo stood facing the orcs surrounding them, waiting for them to charge with what could only be more orcs, marching up to meet them. The orcs held as the trembling became closer, now noticing that it was the footsteps of two beings, rather than a whole new force of orcs. As the orcs parted, two trolls pushed through with crude armor plating covering their already hardened skins, standing well above even the tallest of man. One wielding a piece of jagged steel, not even able to function with a true weapon. The other carrying a heavy mace, ready to bring it down and crush whoever is unlucky enough to be found in the arc of the swing.

 “Finally, the game becomes a little more even. One for me and one for you,” Draven says to Dusthue as they both plan out their next moves. “I’ll take the one on the right,” Dusthue gesturing to the lumbering troll carrying the mace. Both smiling, knowing that this now has turned into a race of who can kill first. Readying their weapons and turning to face the oncoming brutes, Dusthue turned and said “Draven, please try and keep up. I don’t want all these orcs thinking they can take you on just because it is taking you so long to fell this troll of yours.”

     Sensing the blood rushing inside the two, the troll’s charged forward ready to gorge on the blood of these pale skinned intruders. The two moved towards their designated targets, ready for whatever these trolls could dish out. The troll with the sword swung at Draven, who simply sidestepped wild swing after swing. Dusthue, taking on the troll with the mace, simply rolled out of the way of the swings of the troll as it smashed into orcs that had happened to be standing to close, spraying the blood over the watching horde.

     As Draven continued to avoid the blade of the troll, it became more and more frustrated, the swings becoming more violent and less predictable. Flipping under the troll’s bewildered movements, he sliced his ankles simultaneously and dropping the troll to his knees as he emerged untouched with his bloodied blades at his side, staring at the orcs watching and smiling. Dusthue, battling his own troll, parried his blows as he cut into the exposed skin of the troll until one lucky shot crashed upon his shield, throwing him back into the center of the circle. Dusthue rolled into Draven, who was backhanded back into the circle.

     Looking at each other, they both nodded in agreement to do what they did best, fight back to back and kill mercilessly.  As Dusthue bashed the jaw of the downed troll with his shield and slammed his flail into his chest, Draven dodged a blow from the second troll, running up his arm and burying his weapons sliding down off the trolls back, rolling back to Dusthue. As Dusthue was finishing up the second troll, bringing his flail down, letting the sound of its skull splitting be heard by all. The hulking masses of the limp troll bodies fell to the ground, shaking the earth beneath their feet. Looking at each other and breathing heavily, nodding in agreement that it was a tie, they looked on to the orcs standing around them.

     In all of a sudden, two orcs began to scream in pain as their bodies began to swell and wriggle beneath their skin. The other orcs moved away, staring at them, as if they pitied them. In an instant, a sea of blood emerged from the orcs, rising into the air and taking the shape of a humanoid form. Features became visible as a grin emerged from beneath the filth of the orc blood. Before them, a figure floated above the heads of the orcs, looking down at them as a pressure began to fill in their chests. The black clad figure uttered words that filled the very air around them with hate.

     As the air around this man’s hand crackled with energy, he raised his hand suddenly. Draven and Dusthue had no control over their movements as they were hurled into the air, being tossed around like rag dolls. Acting like this new comer was a god, the orcs kneeled down in his presence while he had his fun.        

     As the pressure grew more and more in their chests, he gestured for them to come to him as their bodies involuntarily flew through the air to him. Hovering above the ground, he circled them, studying them. A smile came across his face in approval of his new captives, teeth yellow like the eyes of the crows that followed the carnage left behind him. “Marr tak ishi mundog!” said the black clad figure. Upon hearing this, the orcs went into a frenzy, yelling in excitement. Dusthue, looking to his friend who had experience in the dark arts, asked as to what this man had said. Draven, turning before he could ask, told him the translation. “We are going to be tortured.”

     The necromancer lead on as they moved involuntarily behind him. Their bodies limp, still being dragged by the magic he wielded. The orcs circled them as they moved towards the fortress, madly yelling cries to their god. The invisible chains heavy upon their wrists, they entered the doors to behold the horrors of this new found evil. The walls towering before them, littered with effigies of their lord Maegamarth made of bodies, some decaying, others still pleading for their death.

     Down they were carried, into the very heart of the fortress. Dusthue pointed out to Draven that there were also more prisoners. One was chained to an anvil as his hammer came down upon the red hot iron, the orcs covered their ears, not able to stand the sound of the melodious ringing he let out. More were being forced into a huge room, digging symbols into the very stone itself. A giant stone slab laid before them. The necromancer turned to them, gesturing his hand upwards as the stone rose before him.

     His voice was deep, like that of thunder in the distance. As he spoke, it seemed as though all other sound hushed. “You have been brought here for no other reason but that of your lives. You will be put through a trial of pain. If you do not go mad after that, than you will be deemed worthy of being sacrificed for the plans of Maegamarth. Do you understand filth?” Dusthue raised his head, looking upon the face of his captor. “I do not think you know to whom you speak to threw your black tongue” “You are Dusthue Liadon. I have been told by Maegamarth that you will do just fine and be a great addition to the tortured for the sacrifice.” The figure now looked to Draven. “And you, danphire, we will see just how much evil is within your veins. Draven Bloodmoon will be put to the test indeed.”

     The two were taken to a room with no light, no sound, there was nothing that could be seen. The chairs they were thrown into were stained with past victim’s blood, almost forming into the screaming faces of the recent residents.  As far as they could tell, there were no restraints or devices attached to the chairs. As they were put down into the chairs, they felt the weight of the world hold them down. Hardly able to breathe, they were shut inside with nothing but each other and their minds. After a while, their lungs began to cooperate with this unseen pressure put on them. Their hearing was able to pick out something in the distance. They realized they were not alone.

   Without even the faintest bit of light, even Draven’s eyes could not see what it was. A voice came out from the dark. “So, you boys come here often or is this your first time?” Whoever it was that was in the room with them was either not getting any closer, or wasn’t able to. Dusthue turns into the direction the voice came in, readying for anything that could come next. “You are either here to cause us pain or you are in here just as us.” The voice came back, sounding surprised that someone actually answered them, saying “And here I thought I might have finally lost it and finally made up people to talk to. My name is Floke McBaine.”

     As Draven went to talk, a blinding light flashed in front of their eyes and, in an instant, was gone just the same. With his senses back about him, Draven began to question this new voice in the dark. “Just because you are now named, you are still only a voice in the dark. Why are we here, what was that light?” As Floke cleared his voice, he became serious and one could hear the severity in his words. “You are in what the Orcs call The Mind Butcher. It is designed to cause you more pain than any torture device found yet. And the thing is, you do it to yourself. It is unlike anything I have ever encountered before, and they have tried everything to break me. It looks like you boys were put right at the top.”

     Dusthue began to speak back to Floke, becoming as serious as ever. “Whatever pain this machine can bring, we cannot be broken. War has hardened us beyond whatever pain a blade or brand could ever bring. We are Dusthue and Draven. And we, together, can bring this evil to light and destroy this once and for all.” A slow laugh began, as a rumble of thunder, growing steadily as a rising storm.

   Floke’s voice suddenly stopped laughing, “Whatever you have steeled your body for, nothing will save you from this, besides your own will. This room is designed and cursed for you to torture yourself. Tell me Draven, do you dream? Do you have anything you love above all things?” Draven thought to himself hard, for a life outside of the Imperial Guard was scarce, but then the memories flowed into him. A simple “Yes” escaped his lips before he knew it.

    Floke continued, “This room will take your dreams, your desires, your loves, and it will destroy them. Whenever you close your eyes and fall asleep, the demons of this room will show themselves. Quietly and unseen they will enter your mind and destroy you. Whatever you dream about, it will try to cause your mind to turn against your very soul. What is real and what is seen in your mind begin to blur together. This room will simply take your mind and use it against you as you go mad.” Something told Dusthue that this Floke had already been a regular to this room.

    Dusthue sat quietly for a long while, contemplating how to save his mind from this horror. He thought to his nightmares, what haunted his dreams. He did not want to relive those of which he buried deep within his mind. “You said we can save ourselves from this by using our own will. Tell us how to do this. And what was that light?” Floke answered, knowing the answer would be difficult. “The light which you saw is a magic being. Its only job is to come here every three days and make sure we are still alive and not insane. To keep your mind in whatever condition it stays in now, to keep your demons at bay, you must stay awake. After the first couple of hours, you will start to hallucinate in this dark.”

“Well then, it is a good thing we showed up to keep you company. It is going to be a long night. We might as well get more acquainted.” Draven tried to find out more about Floke, but as soon as he finished Floke spoke up. “Well, before that, we might as well wait for our other guest, as long as he is still living.” At that instant, the door was opened and in came another figure led by Orcs. “Gentleman, allow me to introduce my dear friend, Mathias. Mathias, we have guests”, said Floke as he introduced the newest arrival. “Well Floke, why didn’t you tell me we were having guests so I could clean up the place?”

    Mathias coughed and spat up blood across the floor just as the doors closed and the locks clicked behind them. Now, it was nothing but darkness and the company of each other. For a while, nothing was spoken between the group. Dusthue was the first to break the silence. “Mathias, if you are here, you are obviously being tortured. What were you doing chained to that anvil? Do you have some agreement with the warlock?” Mathias, clearly angered and appalled at Dusthue’s query, snapped back immediately. “The anvil used to be my joy, my life. When Floke and the rest of our company were captured, we were put into a camp and worked. The guards found out that I had been our company’s blacksmith, making the weapons and armor for our… select group. Then the Orcs found out about the sound I make when my hammer hits the iron, I make the metal sing, and they cannot take that. They still keep watch, but now they chain me to the anvil itself so they do not have to stand so close that their ears bleed.”

   Intrigued at the conversation that had been started, Draven began to ponder the words of Mathias. “What do you mean ‘select group’? What company did you belong to, for we have not heard of you until now?” Slowly, Floke began to speak, but the cheer once found in his voice had now disappeared. What once was there was now replace with a touch of sorrow.

     “You know of the betrayal and madness of the late King Leechian I take it. We were his finely sharpened blade. We were always at the ready, to follow our King’s orders until our dying breath. We were the White Guard of the King. Our symbol, a simple cross, showed our willingness to reach out to others whenever they needed our help, in the name of the King. When the blackening heart of the King lead him to burn and slaughter the innocents in his crazed warpath, we also changed. We lost our former uniforms and became whatever we wanted.”

   “Some still followed the King’s orders, to go along and kill and burn every village in our path. They were weak of mind and soul. We could not stand there and willing know that we were letting innocent souls be taken away. That is when Mathias and I decided to give the orders that we must protect these villagers against all enemies, even our brothers.”

   Mathias now lowered his voice, following where Floke had left off. “We began to follow them wherever they went, right into the heart of the fray. We began to hunt them all across Belegeria. When the last traitor of our company had been destroyed, we began to lash out against wherever King Leechian’s hand would stretch out too far. Finally, we realized that we had become on the brink of extinction. We remembered rumors of our childhood growing up, of an old witch who had concealed an island, hiding herself from the world. As a child, they told us the tale to keep us from venturing out into the Ethir Gulf.”

   Dusthue, becoming more intrigued at the story, leaned in closer. “Yes, we were all told tales of giants and trolls and witches just so our parents would not need to chase after us. But sometimes, these tales hold some truth behind them, did this old witch truly exist?” The darkness around them reminded them that they were alone, expected to sleep and go mad. Gladly, the story continued to keep them awake as Floke now told the story once again.

    “Yes, it is as true as Mathias speaks. We took my parents… Late parents ship and sailed down the river until the mouth met with the Ethir Gulf. For three days we sailed into the distance, never leaving our heading of due East until finally, a raging storm blew over us. We furled the sails and secured our life lines, but only Mathias and I were left alive and on board when we looked out and saw only mist. We knew that the storied were true. We had found the old witch’s island.”

     Mathias, eager to take the story over now and thankful that Floke had taken the grim parts, now took over. “The old witch had lived on the island since before the great tree Eryndosis was a sapling. She watched over her island and kept everyone else away with the storm, and let only those who she wished to come pass. We bargained with the witch and that is now where we call home. On our passing’s into the world, we met many people and some of them have come to live with us on our island in the mist.”

   “Draven, confused, asked a question running threw his mind. :If you were safe on an island that only you could find, why is it that you are here. Why have left your island to only end up witting in a blood soaked room with nothing but darkness and voices to occupy your time?” Floke, understanding Draven’s confusion, gladly answered. “What is it that King Leechian did to the rebels in the Everledden Forest? He burned it, leaving nothing but ash. Nothing will stop the will of Maegamarth. He will not stop until every living thing is under his black hand. We did what everyone would do facing control under a tyrant. We rebelled.”

     Mathias began to explain more, “We took those loyal to us and began to train. I made them weapons to cut into the heart of Maegamarth and armor to protect against the blades of evil. Being on that island was like being infront of the mouth of the beast. We began small, until our force began to grow and grow. At first, we were not noticed. Finally, Maegamarth looked and saw us beginning to ruin some of his most important plans.”

   “Finally, we were captured trying to free a train of slaves being brought here. We had no idea Maegamarth had use for slaves, so we began to investigate. He is summoning something, and we all are going to be sacrificed for something. I am being forced to make symbols and effigies I have no knowledge of. Us four are lucky enough to be tortured for a special purpose. What it is that he is summoning, I have no knowledge of.” 

   Now, a long pause came over the group as the silence inside their minds began to fester. Dusthue began to feel the effects of the room on his mind as his thought began to wonder. Shaking them off, he spoke to everyone in the room. “We need to stop this plan. We need to escape. And finally, we need to get to your island so that we might have a chance of doing any good in this war against the darkness.”

    Agreeing with him, the group began to talk and scheme against their captors. None of them knew how long it would take, but the mind can outlast the body as long as there is a will. For the next three days, the four talked to keep from going insane and falling asleep. For three days none of them slept, and as the door opened for the next trial of pain and torture, they felt like they could endure this for as long as it would take to achieve their goal of freedom. They would hold the flame of revenge in their hearts all the while they were put threw tests of the mind and body. For four years they were tortured, being brought infront of death only to recover and stand strong against the will of Maegamarth. For four years they were imprisioned, planning their escape the only time they were allowed together. The nights in the Mind Butcher were well spent, with four years of planning finally coming to one single point in history. They were ready to make their escape to freedom.

    In those long four years, they were put through many different things, including hard labor. Floke and Dusthue were sent with the others to mine and move stone. Draven was studied and put threw trials to see the limits of his danphire blood. Mathias spent his long hours attached to his anvil. All of them had their own jobs that must be done if any of them were to see the sky again. Their hope of one day seeing this fortress in a pile of ruin fueled their spirits day by day.

   Mathias, chained to his anvil, had possibly the hardest task of all. He began to secretly make shivs out of the scrap pieces of his left over metals. He also would take the broken locks and study them, and saw that there was a pattern to them, and forged master keys that would unlock every door, hopefully. Floke was to form alliances with the rest of the prisoners. Once the bonds were strengthened between them, he would give them their shivs and explain to wait for his signal. Dusthue needed to find out where their gear was being kept, and how to get it all. There is only so much damage a six inch long piece of metal can do. Draven, with his enhanced senses, was tasked to find the fastest way out without being seen. Four these four years of planning and torture, they were finally ready.

   One morning, the door to the Mind Butcher opened early; they had not yet had their full three days in the chairs. A pair of Orcs came and took each of the four away down the hallway leading to a giant chamber with symbols carved into the floor. Above them on a ledge stood their captor, the unnamed warlock. Around the circle of symbols stood a hundred men and women they had never seen before. The four of them were taken to four different inner circles and shackled to the very floor beneath them. The warlock came forward and began to raise his arms. A woman let out a scream of fear and was quickly met by the back hand of an Orc.

    At last, the warlock spoke, using his black magic to amplify his voice, bringing all of the fear back into everyone who heard his words. “Gijak tul!” A command for the Orcs. Almost in unison, the Orcs each took their bladed weapons and put their targets to their knees. Each and every one of their throats were cut open, letting the blood pour into the carvings on the floor. As the blood spread, the intricate circles began to pulse with heat. The feet of the four, still shackled, began to burn. The warlock began to chant in a tongue none of them could understand, and then their hearts dropped at what they saw next.

     Being led into the room were the 18 men and women that were loyal to them, being in the plans for escape. They were made to walk carefully, making sure not to touch any of the blood in the symbols. Six of them were surrounded around Floke, six around Draven, Six around Mathias, but none around Dusthue. Each of them had their heads lowered, looking at nothing but the ground, not even acknowledging any of their leaders. With a glance at their eyes, glazed over and unblinking, one could tell that this was the work of the warlock.

     “I have brought you here so that you may be taught what pain is. The four of you have not been tortured in vain. You are to be the final pieces in my ritual. The six around you three are to be sacrificed for his mind, body, and soul. The last ring that you are in is for his power. For four years, countless lives have been slaughtered to come to this one moment in time. You four will not be killed, but traded directly for him. You will not even be here to see your friends die.” The warlock’s voice now becoming darker than ever began to chant again, the symbols began to spark with flames.

    Dusthue at last broke the silence of the tortured ones. “Who is it that we are being traded for? Where are you sending us as if our lives are simply worthless?” The warlock, without breaking concentration, spoke directly into the mind of the four. “You are being given up so that he may come up and lay ruin to this world. He is known as Ashtdrok, The Bone Demon. And you four, you are going to be put into hell, alive.”

   Draven yelled one final demand at his captor before a sinking feeling overtook him. “For all of our time and pain you have caused us, do us one favor. What is your name?” The warlock stopped his chanting and questioned back, unfamiliar as to why, before the moment of being thrown into hell, he would ask this above all other things. “Why is it that you want to know my name?” Draven looked the warlock directly in the eye and answered him with a voice that could echo off of the very mountains. “I want to know your name so that when we crawl out of hell, we can ask for you by name. After that, we will hunt you, we will find you, and then for every life that you took while we were imprisoned, you will die and be brought back to life, only to feel the agony of death again and again until finally, you will go to a place in hell that we set up just for you.”

The warlock grinned and everything hushed around him. “ My name is Gaja Mundus, the Life Tyrant. And now, you will finally be shown how much power over your lives I have. The ritual is complete. You will now be put in hell to bring about the coming of the great Ashtdrok!” As he said this, the four could feel their legs being drawn down, getting hotter and hotter. From the center of the circle, a hand began to rise out of the flames, bigger than any giant they had ever seen.

The fingernails on the hand were made out of human bone, bleached white by the flames of hell. His skin was made up of bodies sewn together, burnt red. With every inch they descended, another foot of this demon arose. With only the arm of the demon out of the hellgate, he reached up and grabbed at the chains that hung off of the ceiling, trying to pull himself out of hell. His hands pulled the chains out of the stone, sending them crashing to the floor.

The 18 imprisoned sacrifices stood there, their minds overcome by Mundus’s spells. As the chains crashed onto the floor, they were awoken, only to see their leaders being dragged downwards and already knee deep. They each took out their shivs and began their work, hacking and slashing at their guard orcs. Mundus, now completely compelled at keeping the Orc blood and the human blood separate so the ritual could continue, could do nothing to stop them.

Baring the doors with the pick axes they were forced to use, no other Orc could enter. Some of the imprisoned ran to pull up the four leaders, with no avail. The others went to work on the demon arm. Slicing into his fresh flesh, the metal burned deep while the ritual was not over yet. His arm fell upon two of the imprisoned, crushing and killing them instantly. As his face began to rise threw the portal, another one of their men jumped down, bringing his blade straight into the eye of the demon. All at once, the mouths of the bodies making up the skin of the demon let out a scream unlike anything ever heard on the Earth before.

Everyone in the room fell to their knees, covering their ears from the sounds of horror. As the demon began to sink back into hell, so did the four begin to rise out of their prison. The stone beneath them began to crack as fire was spewed forth. They ran for their lives as the fire rose. Following Draven to retrieve their belongings, they took only what was needed. Floke took his glaive in hand and a very peculiar glass ball. Mathias grabbed his hammer and the remaining 16 went forth, hacking and slashing every Orc in their path.

Draven lead on as the rest followed his lead, trusting his direction. The flames rose threw out the fortress as the bodies burned. They had finally reached the door out that lead to the river where a harbor lay. Before them stood Gaja Mundus, his black robes and burnt face twisted with anger. If they were to leave this place alive, they would have to get threw him.

Standing, waiting for his challengers to come forward, he was met with what he wanted. Before him stood Dusthue, Draven, Floke, and Mathias, each standing ready to die before this foe in hopes of freedom for the rest. As they readied their weapons, Mundus’ hands seethed in flames. The four charged, fighting side by side as one. Mundus went to throw his killing blow as they charged, but as soon as it left his hand to obliterate them, one of the imprisoned jumped in the way and was instantly disintegrated. The four charged on, not letting their comrade die in vain.

Floke’s glaive was first to pierce his skin, followed by Dusthue’s flail shattering his knee. Next was Mathias’s hammer, breaking his shoulder still in his socket. Finally, Draven’s blades found their marks, slicing into his skin as a butcher cuts meat. They stepped back and Mundus stood, motionless, but kept their weapons ready. Letting out a silent scream, Mundus vanished before them as the fortress began to shake.

They kicked open the door and told everyone to run for the harbor. They looked in and saw everything burning, the evil being washed away in its own flames. Together, they left and forward they walked as the ruins lay behind them, still raging with fire. A sound like waves crashing upon the rocks was hear from within the fires. Behind them, a body, black from being chared, arose from the flames. The anger from within Mundus had kept him alive. Rising into the air, his body rose into the air, going up and up, shouting unheard curses. He turned to Belegar, home to his master, Maegamarth, and in an instant, he flew towards him at speeds unseen before.

The four knew this would not be the end, that this was only the beginning. Maegamarth had made this personal, and it would not be forgotten by those that had lay witness to the horrors. Turning to the harbors, Floke’s ship stood tied up among the fleet of orc ships. As everyone boarded, it seemed as if every Orc had fled before them at the death of their master. The ship was in shambled, but was still able to sail.

  Mathias took the helm, being the best at the wheel of the ship. His long years of blacksmithing had made his hands able to feel he slightest movements of the ship. Draven went up the mast, with his eyes being able to see for greater distances than a human’s. Dusthue took command over the troops, yelling orders about who does what and when. Floke took out his glass ball, a gift from the old witch. It would guide them to their new home. There, they began to work straight away, making a new life for themselves. They knew the forces of Maegamarth would never sleep. They readied themselves as more and more were saved and recruited. Together, the four of them became known as The Tortured, and together, they commanded The Rising Storm


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