Conclusion / End of Chapter 1
Standing in front of these Children of Aren, who have pushed forth the religion of their dead father, you Wardens have stood fast, dealing with demons, and devils that have slowly been bringing the realm into the darkness of the Abyss.
As you stand by the podium, and hearing the grind of the executioner’s axe, there’s little pity any of you feel for Vilmos. A pompous psychopath, who killed his own father for the crown, you all notice a line of armored men, and women being pushed ahead by Golden Hands.
They all wear the long leather coats of the Wardens, their armor and clothing dirty, and bloodied. You can’t see their faces under the filthy black hoods they wear.
Golden Hand troops quickly erect make-shift crucifixes behind the execution podium.
You stare curiously at your fellow Wardens, unsure of their identities.
There’s no room for action, as the Children of Aren ask that you watch, and take part in the birth of the God. Your weapons are stripped from you, and you are pushed back into the crowd.
Standing at face with the Golden visored helmets looking back at you, each Golden Hand wielding spears and tower shields, forcing anyone back that gets close, you all notice Silas, your leader, along with Harzden, and your legates hoods pulled off. Ariakas stands among them. They’re all wounded, tired, and weak.
Their cloaks are ripped from them, along with their armor. There’s one person missing – Cirdan, the Sacred Exorcist. She’s nowhere to be seen.
You all hear a whisper, it’s quiet. Almost as if the wind is speaking.
“My wardens, I am Eldrin. My blood flows through each of you, the rites and oaths you took to become wardens, to protect this realm, will die with you. Sterile, none of you will die from old age, or with families that will remember you. No, those after you will remember your deeds. It may be ages, before we can come back to protect the realm. It will not be today. This is no failure, but simply the cycle taking place. I am speaking to all of you now. Watch Silas, Ariakas and Harzden, along with your comrades. Betrayed by Nash, as you had learned. But learned too late. You had to fulfill the promise to Sekolah, and rightly you did. As wardens, sometimes demons are but ourselves. But our legacy will die today, and come back to the realm, in another time. Perhaps not soon. But the realm will be darker, than what it has been..”
There is a loud boom, and the ground quakes beneath your feet, as you see a mummified corpse. It’s hard to discern at first, but you can see that this is what was once Aren. Beside the four-armed demon, is an older mummy, covered in a shroud, one you’ve never seen. It’s Salun. You need not think, or feel, you feel his essence glowing beneath the shroud.
“We are grateful to have caught Vilmos for his crimes,” says the Prophet of Aren, as she approaches the podium.
The death knights of Drak Al’Than, the Hellhound stand beside you, watching.
He whispers to you, his voice low, and a rasp “I wish we could have fought to the death. Was a shame, back in the fallen city that you got away.”
As you turn your attention back to the Prophet, she takes off her miter, and places it on the ground. Her hair is long and black, and her pale, ashen skin is free of wrinkles. Her violet eyes scan the crowd, but they stop and look at you.
“It’s been a long time, our father passed many decades ago. You’ve all been worshipping the dead idol of our dear father, and savior, Aren.”
The crowd moans, some men and women begin to weep. Demons and half-fiends among them weep alike.
“But we have done research, with our inquisition, to bring forth a new god. One that brings our father, and Salun together.”
“HERESY! THIS IS BLASPHEMY!” A man shouts from the crowd, throwing a stone.
The rock falls short, clanking against the shield of a golden hand.
“Hush, listen. This god, Salaren, seen by few, but this new faith coming from none but a Warden, will come, and lead us, and guide us to become one nation. As we speak, Calenhad is being assaulted by the Yokudans. We had to seize the city by force. The Church of Aren, we want peace. We want justice, and a land not of city states, but a land that is one state.”
“We don’t want your false god!” A woman screams from behind you.
“We understand, as it has been centuries that our father has been dead. But he is here, and has been here, following his path, we guide you to a new one. Not as his children, but as your brothers and sisters. We’ve caught the Wardens, with the help of the Sparrows, who will be tried for treason across the realm. They’ve committed acts of grand treachery against all city states by hunting demons, and half-demons, who are citizens, like the elder races, and human men and women. These mutants will be tried along with Vilmos, and their blood will be the fuel for our true god to come forth. Let the ceremony begin.”
There’s an uneasy silence amongst the crowd, and a drone, as a long line of Arenite priests, wearing hooded robes, and waving sconces of incense, passing through the crowd, muttering a chant in Abyssal. People step aside, as the priests walk to the podium. One of them passes a folded up item to Zoretha, the Chancellor of the Inquisition, who unfolds it. A phylactery.
You hear Drak Al’Than, deathknight, grip at his neck, he curses under his breath.
“They… betrayed me. BLOODY HELLS UPON
Drak is cut off, as Zoretha crushes his phylactery over the mummified corpse of Salun.
A black ooze splashes over the mummy.
Drak and his death knights claw at their eyes. They throw off their helmets, their rotten, skulls become enveloped in an azure flame. The crowd separates, confused, and in awe, seeing these powerful servants of Aren die before them.
They wreathe in flame, dancing madly, and screaming, before crumbling into dust.
The mummified body of Aren is placed ontop of Salun, and the black ooze begins to envelop both of them.
You can’t see past the podium, but Silas, Harzden, Ariakas, nor your comrades put up any fight against the Golden Hands.
The hammering can be heard, and howls as your fellow wardens are crucified. They dangle from their crucifixes, shirtless, and covered in wounds, with Vilmos shoved down onto a large stone. The muscled imposing executioner heaves a massive, sharp axe down onto his skull, not neck, splattering Vilmos’ brains and skull into the crowd.
Arenite priests carry the mummys onto the podium. You see a long jab made in between the second rib of each warden, their blood flowing into a bronze basin, and they each begin to wail and sob uncontrollably. These men, and women, with skills, and resolve that are unmatched, cry, openly before you.
Silas looks up, interrupting the commotion.
“You, I, we will not survive. But we will not die, our thread merely will go on anew. Brace yourselves…”
Silas, is cut short, as the haft of a halberd slews his head off his neck. This is done to each warden. Ariakas shakes on his crucifix violently. “GO ON DO IT.” It takes the Golden Hand several swings to lop off his head.
The basin, filled with the blood of the wardens, is brought up to the stand, and the Arenite priest, still muttering in Abyssal, pours the blood over both mummies.
“This was the last part needed, not the spear, for the birth of Salaren…. hear… see… feel his presence.”
The ground quakes again, violently. The sky trembles, and stark, blue bolts of lightning crackle in the sky. The clouds have turned into a light pink, and the air smells sweet.
The mummies both jolt. Covered in blood, and ooze from Drak’s phylactery, you can’t hear the prophet of aren, but she kneels down, and whispers something. The mummies have become one. A slick, single had shoots up from the shroud, and rips out her throat.
Pushing up from the ground, this single figure, covered in blood, and black ooze, begins to glow. The ground quakes again, and shakes violently. Many fall to their feet, staring at this being.
Tall, with blond hair, his cold ice-like eyes stare at those beneath him. He floats, his arms outstretched.
He doesn’t speak, instead, there’s a voice you all hear.
“I have risen, I am back, from death, the creator of both Void and Abyss, of this plane, and the next. I am Salaren, born of a God, and Demon, and I shall rule you all with the mercy that courses through all our souls. For we are all now one.”
Bilgrum, cowers, and breaks into a feverish state, weeping, and bellowing.
You feel the ground move, and hear ripping, and tearing as the city begins to ascend to the sky.
“Saint Cinnard no more, this will be a city of delight, of worship, of the highest beings, where mortals can live with a God. I shall have it, first, that this city, be bound to the realm by chain, that no man shall be a slave, not ever again. We shall have Yokuda rejoin us, and the elder races become one.”
People are screaming, and frantically charge at the podium, to try and reach this grand being.
The ground beneath you groans, and it’s not soon, that you feel yourselves cascading down, and beneath you, you can see a massive valley, with a hole having broken open from right where you stood.
Many years later.
There’s a woman, cloaked. A man sits beside her, smoking a pipe, his hair is salt and pepper, but a hood covers his face. A single candle flickers in a long hall, with statues of men, built of stone lining each side. Several young men sit before her, listening.
The voice of a woman.
“Orden, of the north, a druid. Frozen, for his actions, forgotten by his tribe, but blamed by his own self, that awoke with him. He was lost from Gavin, and Bilgrum.
Lost in a valley with no name, he headed north, discarding his long coat, wearing furs, and hunting down, this Id, Sif, his name was, that was chasing him like a ghost.
Though he slew this Sif, with years of chasing, he went back to his tribe, seeking repent. They shunned him, and he went back to the one place, the Aegis, the fortress of the Wardens, to see if he could find Gavin, and Bilgrum.
Gavin went on, through the valley, and sought out Stephen. An old friend, once a true knight, ruined, perhaps in fault by Gavin.
Stephen, was a ghost of who he was. Dark, and evil, twisted by a simple sword. It was said, that a group of men watched in the woods, as this mage, and dark knight battled for three days, before the mage left. None knew where. But Gavin went, north to Aedirn, to seek out what remained of the fortress. To see, if his friends, were alive.
Bilgrum, was maddened. His own gospel, and teachings spread like wild fire. He went to try and gain some respect, and threw away his long coat, to teach after what happened, but he was going mad. Delusions, hallucinations. He remembered, a time ago, when he traveled as a Warden. Remembering that he was told to meet at the Aegis, to seek out the traitors in the ranks.
Bilgrum rode for days, alone, finding a burned down, sacked fortress. There he saw Orden, and Gavin, both old, and weary. They shared stories, and told each other what they did alone, and how the Wardens, though once great, were dead.
What they did not know, was I waited for them. As an elf, I live much longer than other races. I told them not to fear, and that though the Wardens were dead, and forgotten by many, the Sacred Exorcists would exist, and put out the flame of which to Salaren had been born. Which is why, each of you is now here with myself… and Vlad.
We are not struggling, no, but we go under the guise of exorcists, an aid to society, we deal with what Salaren deems unworthy, but our goal is to dethrone a God that does not belong. And you now, seeing this hall, where Wardens are entombed, now can see the legacy that lived before you, and the legacy that you will finish.”
Each of the young men look at the statues. They are all wardens, with names engraved beneath them. Silas, Ariakas, Harzden, and last but not least, Gavin, Bilgrum, and Orden.
The woman, pulls off her hood. It’s Cirdan. She looks like she hasn’t aged
“I’ll be teaching you, and making you into what these men once were: heroes.”