The Immense doors loomed before the downtrodden group.
“So this is what the end of our Journey looks like.” Mused a shadow clad figure.
“If we let our guard down, This is going to be the end of a lot more.”
A red armored young man says, as he breathes deeply before taking a step to the door.
The air around the group was Cold. Stale. Lifeless.
The rest of the group gathered around the door, as a few more bodies poured into the room.
Some no worse for the wear, Ready to take on the world.
Some, already looking as though they already had taken it on.
The hall loomed around them. The Darkness was heavy.
The shadows felt deep enough to cut with a knife.
So burdening, that even light could barely break through.
Following the last of the group stood a woman.
Middle aged, Armored from head to toe.
Looking back Cautiously to the doorway they came from, She slides her helmet off.
“We need to start a fire and rest.” She stated very bluntly.
The majority of the group was exhausted.
However all of them knew that soon it would be over.
“We have no time for that, Harbinger.”
The shadow clad figure slid to the side of the room, Peering out the slits in the stone.
“We need to finish what we came to do. Before the Abyss comes back.“
The sight outside the makeshift windows was nearly impossible for the mind to understand.
Above, rose into an impossible high ceiling, the roof, made of stone,
stalactites hanging like great towers built in reverse.
The horizon stood silent, not moving.
The Umbra shroud bringing an almost palpable despair.
But looking down, That was the dangerous part.
The tower in which the stood dangled from the ceiling, similar to the other stalactites.
Beneath, Sheer Darkness, An endless fall from which there will be no end.
The entry into the endless realms of the abyss.
Roars, Screams, Moans of both pleasure and pain.
And the most vile laughter, that claws at the center of your soul.
The only thing separating this very out of place band and this horrific fate,
Were Stone walkways,
Massive iron rooms
Dangling precariously by giant chains in the ceiling and each other,
“The Suspended Fortress of Sovereign.”
A queen among the gods.
She ruled supreme with those whom worshiped her,
However when she began attempting to rule the gods,
Not even the divine power of the ruler could save her.
The gods banished her.
While unable to strip her of the powers she had.
They were able to seal her into her own realm.
A place where she was the ruler,
a place where she was the Sovereign power that existed.
Where she could have rule over all she wished.
When this was created, It was a Barren cavern.
A pit underneath the earth, Where she could do as she pleased,
Without interfering with the realms of man and god.
Gazing upon it now, This is a world of its own.
A world of Darkness.
The group sat and recouped in the black stone hall.
Torches along the walls produce a black flame, leaving a dull, less than warming light.
Many sat wrapping their wounds.
Others tried to eat, However after most things seen here, It was no use.
Some held vigil, For the souls they’ve lost on this quest.
But most prayed.
Some for Family.
Some for Life.
Some even prayed to wake from the nightmare that is this hole.
But release wouldn’t come, until they could finish the task on the other side of that gruesome door.
Standing nearest the door, Were two figures.
One a tall man. Standing sturdy, The wear of the journey showed clear on his face.
Grey and white spots through the dark brown of his beard.
The lines of worry that outline his eyes,
both wide with Caution and closed with exhaustion.
Even his armor, unable to show its true light under the lingering night.
The other, The armored woman they titled “Harbinger”.
Her face showed little to no care for rest.
Stoic, Silent, Vigilant.
Few could understand how she held strength through these times.
But her faith in Kocena, For the Queen of the Final Rest was Unshakable.
Both gazed upon the door, Standing nearly twenty feet tall,
The ominous aura emanating from behind it could be felt.
No one could rest easy.
Not while being this close to the Queen of Darkness.
Moving from the fire, The red clad young man begins to speak.
“I still don’t understand how we’re even alive.”
Rubbing his hands together over one of the fire’s they’ve built.
He slowly turned, gathering some heat before walking towards the door.
His shaggy blond hair matted to his head with the cold sweat this place brought upon.
His red stained armor slid slightly around his body as he stretched,
Quite obviously, The armor wasn’t made for him.
“The queen of everything that makes the world a terrible place.”
Taking a few steps closer to the door. He let out a frustrated growl, Kicking the door.
His foot hit the stone hard, giving no way under his strength.
“If she’s so almighty, Why hasn’t she come out to give us a proper greeting?”
His innocent smile curved into a grin of deep hatred.
“Or does she know what would happen when we saw her ugly mug.”
The rage reflected in his eyes, showing the malice he felt towards her.
The bearded man walked over to the young man.
“Zyrus… She has us right where she wants us.”
The rage slowly subsided hearing the despair in the senior mans voice.
“While were here, We cant prepare for a true fight against her. Look at the men”
He motioned back to the hallway.
The group had set up tents, and bedrolls and a few fires.
However none of them were resting or recovering as they should be.
The dark light bathed down on them.
Even those closest to the built fires, Barely able to gather warmth.
“While were here, Only a few of us are even in condition to step into that room.”
Sighing he turned away from Zyrus.
“And while were down here, We can’t stop the things she’s doing to our homes…”
The proud mans shoulders dropped, For she’s taken much from the King of Dresiliad.
“These men have taken us this far, But more lives of my people will not be lost in this conflict.“
The king walked back towards the area in front of the door.
On the floor, his blade and shield sat, Staring up at him.
In the past, His arms had seen him through all trouble.
However for the first time in his life, His faith began to waver.
The glimmer in his blade faded from sight, Not even reflecting the flicker of the campfire.
“Drestyn.” Zyrus walked over to the much taller man, placing his hand on the armored shoulder.
“I’ve got respect for you beyond the time we’ve known each other.”
He reached past him, Down for the blade on the floor.
“However that was the biggest load of bullshit I’ve ever heard you say.“
Drestyn’s eyes flew open.
The words hitting him just as hard as if he had been slapped by the flat of the red knight’s blade.
Zyrus stepped forward, Standing in front of Drestyn.
“Those aren’t words that the Frost Wolf would say, Let alone think.”
Zyrus reached down grabbing Drestyn’s hand and turning it palm up.
“And i’m sure as hell not going to follow someone that can’t even win a fight they waited this long for“
Zyrus placed the hilt of the king’s blade into it’s rightful owners hand.
However wrapped around the hilt, was a simple rope, With a stone wheel attached.
Raising the hanging emblem to his eyes, he could barely believe what he held.
The king asked, not understanding how this came to be with Zyrus.
“Erika , She gave it to me before we left.”
“I didn’t even know she had it…”
“I know you didn’t.”
Zyrus walked over to the shield, Picking it up off the floor as well.
The great shield took the form of a Roaring wolf. His fangs bared, Ready to rip through its prey.
“She told me not to tell you that she had it.“
“Your wife gave it to her on her deathbed.
She told Erika when passing it on, that she had to watch over you now.
She knew the darkness that would overcome you when she passed.
And she knew that the only pieces of her you would have left, Were in your Daughters.
But someday, When the darkness seemed unbearable.
When the world seemed at it’s bleakest,
That even the smallest token like this, Would bring you out of even your deepest pit.“
The light that burned within Drestyn’s eyes could not be extinguished, Even by the shadows that surrounded them.
Walking to the Center of the Room, He Clenched the Pendant in his hand.
“Zyrus, Thank you.”
The young man smiled, a genuine smirk crossed his lips.
“Don’t make me regret it. My King”
The words crossed his lips, having never done so before.
A smile between the two, and an acknowledging nod was all they required.
The rest of the room was staring at Drestyn as he approached the center.
His voice dropped low, Speaking dull words, that couldn’t be made out by most.
Upon the end of the first line, a pulse was felt through all living beings in the room.
They began to stand, slowly gathering to circle around him.
Drestyn’s voice grew deeper, and another line sounded from his throat.
A second pulse flooded through the room like a wave.
The group began to murmur. People wondering what was going on, what the warm feeling was.
Drestyn spoke, His hand outstretched, eyes closed.
“I thank you for following our journey this far.”
Light streamed from his palm, The stone in the center creating an intense glow.
His eyes slowly opened, Revealing globes of light.
“However I must ask that you follow no further.”
A hush fell through the caravan. Soft whispers spoke from mouth to ear.
The pendant pulsed forth again.
The black flames of the torches were swallowed.
Leaving only the whole light of the stone.
“You’ve all given everything you have to help us.”
They looked around to the rest of their group, Realizing just how man were truly lost on this quest.
“Some of you have given your blood, Some your money, Even worse, Many have lost lives, Brothers, Sisters, Mothers and Fathers.”
Cupping his hands in front of him, The pendant began to float in front of him.
” Many of you have lost heart and hope. However the queen of darkness will no longer take hold of my people.”
The pendant slid over one of the hooks on the dark iron Chandelier.
“For even in the depths of darkness, The light of hope can shine through”
Light began to slide down the walls, Coating the black stone hallway in a great light.
The armored woman walked forward. she stripped her helmet off.
The light grazing down the side of her cheek, a smile broke through the cold, hard exterior.
“The sunlight feels good, Doesn’t it Gale?”
She stopped and looked over to the voice, The shadow cloaked man walked from the corner,
His hood was down. Revealing a kind young man, short cut black hair, a smirk gleaming in the Sunlight.
“Even us who live in the shadows need to enjoy the light from time to time.”
The shadows stopped at the entryway, Walls of light Created windows, peering into the Night of the abyss.
“I honestly didn’t think we would get to see it again.” she whispered quietly.
Drestyn turned back to the group, His eyes back to normal. The same dark brown of his hair.
“This was my wife’s final gift.” Drestyn said to them.
His face warmed, His worn cheeks smiling.
“The stone of Sanctuary gives us a place of respite. We can now rest. and prepare for what will come in the morning.”
He placed his sword by his bedroll, turning back to the group
“But tonight, We celebrate, We’ve made it far. We celebrate those we’ve lost.”
He reached down for a jug of the finest Crestlian brandy
“But most importantly, We celebrate because if we don’t succeed tomorrow. We’ll never celebrate again.”
Taking a Large swallow from the bottle he tosses it to Gale.
Catching her off guard she drops her helmet to the ground, making sure to not drop the clay jar,
Brandy spilling over her armor, The king let out a Large bellowing laugh.
The spell of sanctuary is much more than a blessing of protection and light.
But a spell that renews you from the bottom of your soul.
The crowd began to get loud, Cheering after their king.
The group from the College of bardic knowledge took it upon themselves to keep the mood going,
Waiting for the queue, The music began to play.
The wounded began to smile, The men could finally eat.
The fires burned long into the night. The men enjoyed their drink, As the women had their fill.
The music rang through the darkness, drowning the sounds of the darkness below.
The light shined bright in the room of Sanctuary, and for once on this journey to hell and back,
There was peace.
Drestyn sat back, On a makeshift throne of blankets and supplies. Watching the merriment, Waiting.
His smile showed to the men, they needed to enjoy their time here.
But his eyes, Showed a determination, A plan that has yet to be spoken of.
The night grew on, and the Music dulled, The wayfarers fell to sleep,
the exhaustion of the celebration taking the life straight from then
Only a few still woke.
They slowly gathered their things, Walking towards the great stone door.
“I see that you all knew what I was trying to do.”
Drestyn strapped his shield to his arm. Tying his scabbard to his belt.
“What? Did you really think that we was going to let you go in there all by your lonesome?” Zyrus quipped,
He smiled over jumping off of the makeshift throne the King sat upon the night before.
His armor jostled around his body as he pulled his straps tighter.
“I’m not gonna let you have all the fun with that bitch alone.”
He strapped his blade to the back of his waist,
Giving a big stretch he opened his finger, hearing each one crack in anticipation.
“I knew your plan before you did my liege.” Gales voice spoke in, Softer than normal.
“I stay with you until the maidens of death come to meet me.”
Her armor shined bright under the sanctuaries sun,
“The lady too needs to have words with this abomination.”
“She will be silenced in the same shadows from which she ruled.”
The cold voice rolled from the corner of the room,
Raynard Zuri, The Shadow walked to the group.
“She has threatened the world for far too long.”
The four stood and looked back at the room, Everyone laying there sleeping, Expecting to wake, and to die.
“If we fail, They wont wake.” Drestyn said, a sullen tinge to his voice.
“Then I guess that means we don’t fail, huh?” Zyrus said back, his crooked smirk hooking at his right lip corner.
“Bwahahaha, If this rag-tag group is going to survive against the queen of darkness, you’re gonna need a lot more help!”
The voice that rang from their backs chilled them to the bone, Most didn’t recognize it, However Drestyn had heard this voice all too often.
“It’s been a long time Brother.”
Turning towards the door, They saw the figure that the chilling voice came from.
“Far too long,” He laughed a loud boisterous laugh again, lifting an apple to his mouth and taking a large bite out of it.
Looking at the man, They couldn’t tell if he was friend or foe. His long blade reached to the ground, standing easily six feet long,
The scabbard around it, was just as black as the shadows of the abyss outside of the room.
His hair, long, hanging down around his face in strands,
Black leathers formed a protective barrier around his body, However it was easy to tell, they didn’t slow the man at all.
“It’s not very often that you get to join me here beneath the surface!”
He walked towards his brother throwing the apple out the window,
Reaching for his brother he took him into a great embrace.
“It’s been far too long brother.”
He put his hands to his shoulders and outstretched his arms, the men taking in the sight that was each other.
The small band of heroes stood around watching, Wondering what in the world just happened.
“So, Is anyone going to introduce us here?” Zyrus asked, tapping his metal clad foot on the floor.
Drestyn broke from his brothers grasp and looked to them.
“This would be my older brother. Archon Frost. Lord of the Grim Battalion.”
He looked to his brother once more. For the last time they had see each other, The terms were not good.
“And how the hell is this the first time were hearing of there being a hidden member of the royal family?” Zyrus asked with his sarcastic, shit eating grin.
Smiling back down at Zyrus, With a dirty little grin, Archon walked back to the throne, throwing himself back, feet over the side, laying down.
“Because, I’m supposed to be dead.”
The tension in the room once more became palpable.
Gale instantly unstrapped her hammer from her side, raising her shield between her and the supposed “Deadman”
“The lady of the dead has no words for those whom defile her and cheat death.”
Drestyn raised his hand to the back of her hammer as she held it outstretched towards her new foe, Lowering it to her side.
“To those in our world, He is but a memory. I’m the only one who knew he was still alive.”
Archon looked to the group, loving the stunned faces.
” I’m guessing they’ve never seen the side of you that can keep secrets, Now have they brother?” He said with a slight bite to his speech.
“You see, The king there and I, We had run many campaigns between the two of us.”
“In our younger years, We were the ones who Assaulted the Titan-home when the Fang of the holy dragon was stolen,”
He said as he looked up and down the blade that somehow appeared from Drestyn’s scabbard into the mans hand.
“We Defended the heaven’s gate. The gateway to the realm of the gods.”
He lifted a small ring, with a gem, that seemed to have captured and entire universe in its small prison.
“We even managed to stop the assault from below the temple of all.”
He grimaced while saying this. “Or at least you did.”
The king looked down at his hand, sliding the gauntlet off, underneath sat the sister ring to his brothers.
“During the Avatar-Storm. We fought deep into the world. So far it was the first time we had ever found a place such as the abyss.”
“We fought hard there brother, We brought much glory, and saved many lives.” His brother bellowed.
“When we reached the bottom, There was an entire other world. We found where she had been seeping the darkness back into our world.”
“But that’s not all we found.”
“That’s where we met the Grim Battalion.”
“Apparently when there were cracks open to the abyss, Not ereyone that fell through the cracks died, Some managed to survive down here, and even thrive, despite the ole shadowy bitch up here ruling things.” Archon said rummaging through a bag for a new piece of fruit.
“That’s when we got our first glimpse of this place, and what i hoped would be my last.” The king said darkly.
“We fought and trained with the Grim Battalion, After our training and tours of war, I left for the kingdom. However he decided to stay here.”
“And now everyone up there,” He says pointing to the rock ceiling of the earth, “Thinks that I been dead about 30 years now.”
He puckered his lips, raising his index finger to cross them, blowing a low shush.
“But that’s our little secret.”
The group silently prepared their gear for the final fight while the two brothers moved away to talk alone.
” You must have come here for a reason, Why did you only show now.” Drestyn looked at Archon with a deep worry of what was about to be said.
A sigh left his mouth as Archon wrapped his arm around his brothers shoulder.
“You’ve come to my domain, To complete a task that we’ve been attempting for hundreds of years.”
He reached to a nearby wine skin from a sleeping party goer, opening the cap with his teeth and taking a deep swig.
“I’ve come because I don’t wish to see my brother dead.” He said looking as stern as the grim joking man could.
“This isn’t a matter of honor any longer.” The king left his brothers embrace.
“Were here only because of the impact she’s had on the world above.”
He snatched the wine skin from his brothers hand, taking a long drink while turning his back to him.
“She’s corrupted all we stood for, All we held dear.”
Throwing the skin against the wall, He looked back to his brother
“First she took Erika. Then she took Anders…” His voice was shaking.
Archon stood silent. Looking at his brother.
“I… I had no idea her powers had reached that far beyond us.”
He stammered. Unable to catch his footing in this previously one sided argument.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there…” his voice dropped.
After a few moments of silence, he slowly approached his brother. Whom now gazed beyond the light into the darkness.
His hands massaging his temples.
“I said when I came here you’d need more help against her than you had.”
The king turned and looked dead into his brothers eyes.
“You said it yourself. You’ve attempted this for hundreds of years. But she’s still alive. What help can you offer?”
“Your words sting for someone who offers help. But i’ll take them as nothing more than the words of a hurt man.” Archon suddenly straightened up,
His persona became more serious, rigid muscles, ready for anything and everything.
“You all gave much to be here, and it seems you lost a few things along the way.”
He turned around opening up his cloak to show the sword sitting on his belt.
“I Believe this belongs to you.” He said pulling the blade out, Tossing it through the air to Drestyn.
The blade shone brighter than even the shield of sanctuary.
A blade so pure, it’s white blade glistened like the white wings of angels.
The hand guard, Curved around the hand, forming a great dragons wings.
The pommel holding a great cats eye diamond.
He now held in his hands, the Lost Fang of the Holy Dragon.
The group stood in awe of the amazing sight in front of them.
The blade that the great hero Kailen Frost pulled from the mouth of the Holy dragon.
The blade that forged the six kingdoms,
The blade said to be able to even slay a god.
“But the shows not over yet folks, If you’d kindly open your eyes and the lid to that chest.”
Pointing over to the side of the group where there was only empty space now sat a great chest,
It’s massive lid felt heavy, And looked heavier.
Zyrus walked over to it, Grabbing on with both hands, flipping the top open.
The look of shock on Zyrus’ face showed that whatever was in the chest, was beyond anything he could imagine.
Gale looked over, For the first time seeing a speechless fire knight.
but when her gaze fell into the chest, her eyes instantly teared up, The drops welling in her eyes.
A weak, meek voice from inside the chest gently called out.
“Hey sis… How’ve you been?”
Her breath caught in her throat between sobs. She cleared the side of the chest, landing directly on top of her brother.
Sitting in the chest were two people.
One had short brown hair, a pair of clear spectacles donned his face and a long brown trench coat with various cloth pieces of clothing under neath.
“Wynd!” She finally managed to get out of her mouth. Clinging around the mans shoulders she was reduced to a crying mess.
“Gale! You’re going to break me again, Please. Get. Off.” He managed to gasp out.
“Between where he’s been and your armor crushing his ribs, I’d suggest you get off of him.”
Next to him, was a faint pale girl. Her ivory skin was almost opalescent,
Her blonde hair ran down in a simple braid, clothed in a sky blue dress and wearing a great gold necklace with Deep red rubies.
Her eyes slowly fluttered open as the king looked over, Seeing what his brother had accomplished.
“Princess Nadia? But how…” He began walking towards her.
“I told you, Not everyone that falls through the cracks dies.”
and with that same grin that breaks all tension
“And I seem to be good at finding things down here.”
Much had been lost in this journey, Friends, Family, And many lives.
Including the two that stood before them.
When the group had first left, There were only six.
Upon reaching the destination, Despite having much help, and all the caravan that had joined the journey,
Only four of the originals stood at the gate.
Gale Lost her Family.
Zyrus Lost his Friend.
And the Caravan lost many people who defended it.
But now the group stands strong,
Ready to face their Final Challenge.
Taking a Deep Breath, The group stepped up to the door,
Creaking open the great stone doors.
A sudden piercing thought entered all of their minds.
Like a burning hot dagger, sliding into the back of their brains.