I awoke in the warm surf, sea water biting my eyes, sand and salt dried in my hair and on my face. I sat up in the shallow water, the gentle ebb and spring lapping around me. I looked around me and saw no other man, save for the dead one. The last I remembered was the storm that had flung our ship through the waves, before it turned over into the dark. The shards of wood surrounding me likely meant I wasn't simply unlucky enough to be thrown overboard, but likely that the ship and crew were gone as well. As I tried to stand, my legs nearly gave out, as I noticed just how dry I felt. My skin had turned red and my mouth to a desert. I half crawled to the body perhaps twenty feet to my left. I needn't check for a pulse, there was no head or neck to place my fingers to. I knew him, though, by the tattoo on his shoulders, those of serpents wrapping around his arms. His name had been John and we had served on the same ship, but there was nothing I could do for him now. The canteen on his hip helped me, however. Now that I had water, I needed something to eat, some shelter, and a way to fill the canteen when it emptied, at least until I built a signal fire.
The Grand Era: Beginning of the End
It was early morning, the birds were starting to wake up. We were crouching in the forest’s vegetation, and approaching the camp entrance, careful not to alert the goblins guarding the entrance. The border fences were crood but lined with stolen pots and pans, crossing them would raise alarm; we wanted to get in and out with as little combat as possible. What’s more, the stench of their waste heaps made my nose burn. I tried to spot Elander to my left, but he was nowhere in sight. What they say about the stealth abilities of wood elves is true. We had been in the same training group for the last 3 years, and this was our last mission before we were accepted into the order.
The Grand Era: Beginning of the End
In the beginning of this world there were two entities. Powerful deities whose central natures opposed the other. One, the Ordered Xalbus, the other, the Aberrant Drishca. One peace and harmony, the other chaos and destruction. The Xalbus sought to create more in this world and so he created the elementals: Fire, Earth, Water, and Air. He created them to help shape the barren existence into a veritable bounty of wonder.
Pact to be Made
Sitting alone in an abandoned warehouse, I finished the last verse of the chant, the blood from my hand already drying black on the cryptic symbols sprawled across the floor. I knew it had worked as the runic symbols began to glow a deep crimson. Ash rose from the floor, slowly amassing, taking the shape of the one I wished to speak to. The surface smoothed, and before me stood the slim figure, wearing a crimson suit, he almost appeared human; save the curled black horns, nine-foot frame, pointed ears, and slate grey skin. Before me stood a demon, warden of the damned, ascended from hell.
Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. But I can promise you, that when your fighter is sent careening into the open void, metal warped from plasma weaponry and your body wrapped in flame as the ruined systems ignite your oxygen supply, you will hear your screams, as will the rest of your squad as your communications transmit to your last breath. I wonder how many heard such screams, all those years ago, when the Terran Domain fell to civil war and anarchy. The old stories say that a million cruisers burned in the Sol system alone. Not an impossible number of course, as in those days, humanity’s power covered a vast number of worlds, and though many have been lost, many have been taken as well by those kingdoms of the stars, born from the death of the greatest empire that mankind has ever built. Mind you, the New Terran Commonwealth, “Terran” in name only as that rock burned with its armies, is rising fast and poised to be the true successor; two hundred thousand worlds strong and growing fats, through conquest and diplomacy, reuniting the human race and rediscovering the god-engines of old.