Reverie's End: Blades of Malice
Date: 4/25/991; Time: 19th hour
As it was known by virtually everyone in Ethos, but for a few uneducated savages, the world of Ethos is flat. Its four edges drop down into the unknown. Due to the fact that Ethorians are superstitious, few ever get close to any of the borders. To the far north was the Kildar mountain range, a land of perpetual cold, blanketed by a white substance called “snow”, foreign to the rest of Ethos. The mountains lined the entire northern border of Ethos. No man that ever visited came back.
To the south were the Graylands, which stretched all across the bottom section of Ethos. It was a barren land covered in useless gray soil that was not capable of producing anything. Not very many lived there and those that did were not friendly to outsiders. Charon, Ramah, and the Nihil Alliance had their hands full sometimes protecting their borders from these hostile invaders known as the gray tribes. These nomadic warriors would form an alliance with the southern Elm and cause havoc on occasion. It was possible to go even further south and reach the end of the world which dropped off into a blue abyss but that was not something most wanted to see. Certainly no one would ever think of jumping off, except to commit suicide.
The west and east borders were easier to describe: they were giant waterfalls that lead to nowhere. On the west side of the world was Cora Falls, just west of the Minas Federation, and in the east were the great falls of Ethos, created from the various seas that fed into it. It was good sense to stay away from the edge of the world, especially for those brave sailors in Ramah, which were in the far east.
What lay beyond the walls of Ethos was unknown, but nothing stayed unknown forever. It was on this fateful day that two visitors surfaced from below the ground and hovered near Ethos Falls. The two beings were shrouded in a dark purple cloak of malicious energy. Anyone looking at them would immediately know how evil they were. The two hovered over to some dry ground and finally landed. They did not look like they were from Ethos, and this was partially true.
One of them was a tall muscular man, with long red hair and large green eyes. He was clad in green armor and a brown cape. Under normal circumstances, he would have looked like a regular knight from some kingdom, but the dark, sinister aura about him said otherwise.
His partner was a completely different being, a large black panther. They were an odd duo indeed. This was no ordinary four-footed beast. Aside from the claws that could inflict massive damage, it could wield the dark aura surrounding its body. The duo of man and beast would strike fear into any but the bravest men.
The sinister-looking man walked around the land, and admired the desolate gray landscape, as well as the Falls of Ethos nearby. He stretched out his arms and yelled excitedly, “Finally! I have returned after all these years to Ethos!”
The panther looked over at the man and said, “Do you have a plan?” in a cold, dark and snarling voice in a tongue unknown to Ethos. The beast was quite intelligent and not like the average panther.
The man looked over at the panther and said, “Only to make a mess of things, restore Ethos to the beginning, and rid the world of evil,” said the man calmly while smiling. He continued to speak in a melancholy tone, “But right now, I just want to enjoy this light that Ethos brings before it goes out.”
He walked around for a while, slowly and methodically, while examining the landscape before him. Most would see a barren landscape with a few small mountain ranges, but the man saw his homeland of Ethos. He found beauty in even the most undesirable parts of the land. The panther looked on in silence, patiently, while eyeing him with its dark green eyes.
“Six long years have I waited to return. Ethos’ light has diminished since then it seems and it’s only a matter of time before it goes out. Perhaps we should just wait but that would be boring,” said the man while cackling.
“Where are we going to start then?” said the panther.
“I’d love to see the power of the Onyx, but the seasons aren’t right. Perhaps I’ll visit the Fang another day. Meanwhile, these Grey Men and their Elm should prove to be a good sport for us. Maybe we can even coerce a tribe or two to join us!” laughed the man maniacally in his demented voice.
The sinister man looked over at the Whitecrown mountains off in the distance, levitated off the ground and started to fly over there at top speed. The panther had no trouble keeping up with him. They arrived there a few hours later and saw a village at the base of the mountains.
It was a small settlement, perhaps with only 100 people living there. The Gray Men lived in straw huts and rode horses. Most were hostile to foreigners, especially unfriendly looking ones shrouded in darkness.
As the man and his panther reached the village, they were immediately surrounded by 10 men, dressed in tattered brown armor with crimson streaks, riding on horses, wielding bows and swords. They were ready to kill at a moment’s notice and only needed the signal from the leader. One of the men yelled loudly in a cacophonous language.
It was the Zalar tongue, indigenous to Ramah, and very difficult to learn. The evil man and his equally sinister panther did not know how to respond and they looked at each other puzzled.
“You wouldn’t happen to know what they’re saying, would you, Atma?” said the man jestingly.
“I’m not the one who was born here,” said Atma, the black panther after sighing.
“I guess negotiations are off then. Can’t make friends with people you don’t understand, not that I had any intention of negotiating,” said the man as he dodged several arrows shot at him.
The man took out a blue ice-tipped lance from behind him and held it outward with one arm. It was a menacing weapon that produced an icy mist. The man ran up and stabbed one of the gray men through the chest, causing him to fall off his horse. Over the next few seconds, the man writhed in pain as he solidified and turned into a frozen statue. The gray man's expression of horror was forever captured in ice. His horse ran off, fearing for its life while the cruel man walked over and stomped on the statue, shattering it into tiny pieces.
The other gray men looked on in shock with their eyes wide open. This sorcery was out of this world and unknown to Ethorians. The red-haired man had picked up some tools while he was in the lower world and he was dying to use them on any unfortunate soul that might cross his path.
It was fight or flight for the gray men and they chose the former. Several charged at their enemies, swinging swords and shooting arrows, but Atma and his partner levitated out of the way, dodging all of them. It was now Atma’s turn to shine and show off his tricks. He clawed a man in the face and bit another, watching as both fell bleeding profusely. He then enveloped the six men surrounding him in a poisonous gas. None of the men expected this and they all fell to the ground, gasping for air. Their lungs shut down a few seconds later and they died. Some of the horses failed to escape in time and met the same fate.
The duo’s methods of killing were truly horrendous and even though Ethos was no stranger to criminals, there was always someone stronger around to purge the evil. These two denizens that came from below Ethos Falls had power that could not easily be kept in check. By now, the remaining three gray men’s legs started to shake, then they did the only thing that they could before such a display of power; they ran towards the village and started to yell incomprehensibly to the others, most likely warning them that the grim reaper was approaching.
The sinister duo stood still for a few seconds to give them a fall sense of hope. The man then took out his black bow, “Wyrmtooth”, made from the skin of a shadow wyrm, and shot three arrows, each tipped with the wyrm’s teeth. These were no ordinary arrows, for they still contained the spiteful soul of the dead wyrm. The arrows hit all 3 targets in the back and cloaked them in darkness. The gray men and their horses got covered by the sinister aura within moments and they all vanished without a trace, never to be seen again. The Wyrmtooth was the perfect tool for an assassin, leaving no evidence.
The panther looked over at his partner in crime, “You only have 24 arrows left, are you sure you should be wasting them on such weaklings?”
The man laughed and said, “Let me have some fun, Atma! I just wanted to make sure the arrows still worked.”
The panther looked away in disgust and muttered, “Such waste!” Atma was a more calculating fellow than his impulsive comrade, preferring to save his trump cards for the correct occasions.
The two otherworldly compatriots slowly levitated over to the village, savoring the experience. Everyone was running away in fear by now, fathers, mothers, children, and the horses. Those that saw the deaths of the ten riders were especially distraught, and no one dared to fight the powers of darkness now. The duo of darkness walked over to the center of the village, looked around and started tearing it apart. No one was spared; death came upon all that were too slow to get away. Some became statues of ice, others robbed of oxygen, and some just torn to shreds by claws and teeth.
A few lucky souls did get away, if only because the man was too lazy to chase after them. The village was now a hideous sight to look upon but one that was pleasant to the eyes of the two.
The man did some light stretching and said abruptly, “That was great exercise. I hope they come back with more because I could use another round.”
“So, when are we visiting the Fang?”, asked Atma after a while.
“Do you really want to visit your friends that badly?” replied the man snidely.
“My kin are the Neko, not those vile wolves!” snarled Atma.
“Woah… calm down, Atma. We’ll visit your brothers soon. Let’s just enjoy the atmosphere and cause some mayhem for a while. We are going to need to see the Fang at some point though; they have the Onyx.”
“Is this Nihil Alliance you spoke of nearby?” asked Atma.
“Yeah, it’s actually not that far away. We can probably get there in 2 weeks. It’s no fun without the detours though,” replied the man.
The man and his panther ally remained in the Whitecrown mountains for several weeks, causing trouble for its dwellers the entire time. Most were killed, but a few particularly strong individuals were allowed to join them. The red-haired killer felt that having an army of savages at his side would make things more interesting. It was also a good opportunity to learn Zalar from the natives; the man was a scholar in his younger days and loved to learn.
After eventually getting bored, the duo, along with 100 gray warriors and 50 stone-like Elm, left the Whitecrown mountain range. They traveled west, got lost several times, and arrived in the Nekowood of the Nihil Alliance after one month of traveling.