Curse of a Warrior Preview




The Curse of a Warrior

Prologue


The cold night air outside the secluded country cottage wisped through a small crack in the window. Inside the cottage, a crackling fire kept an elderly man and a young boy warm and comfortable. The elderly man sat in a rocking chair smoking his pipe while staring thoughtfully into the fire. His face was wrinkled and his gray hair was thinning a good deal. Despite his age though, he was strong and appeared intimidating; that was part of growing up in the dangerous countryside where beast and people alike killed or were killed. However, his physical faced was not all that he was. He was kind, gentle, and very hospitable even to the most peculiar strangers.

He helped his friends and neighbors anytime that he could and usually without any reward, or he refused when one was given to him. His compensation was the delight in assisting others. When the old man wasn’t busy helping others, or defending his home against thieves and robbers, he would often be found in the local pub telling many great and fantastic stories to any of the local population that wanted to listen. Everyone enjoyed the old man’s tales so much that it became a tradition every time that he was in the village for as many as could to gather around and listen. Nobody quite knew where the old man had acquired his stories. Some said he was once a great knight in the employ of a foreign king, and that he retired to the country when his service was done. Others agreed that he communed and was close to the Druids and Sorcerers that dwelled deep in the woods sequestered from society. Whatever his past was, people came from all around to hear the riveting tales. However, the old man often saved the greatest of his stories and tales for his grandson, James.

James had lived with his grandfather in the small wooden cottage since his parents’ sudden death when they came down with an unknown illness. He had no other family due to war, famine, and harsh winters so his grandfather took him in and treated James as he had treated James’ father when he was growing up. James was only three years of age at the time when his parents died, so he possessed few memories of them. His grandfather made the best of both of their situations and formed new memories with his one and only grandson. There was a stone path and a lovely flower garden surrounding the cottage, which used to be tended by James’ grandmother, but she died before he came to live with his grandfather. Around the cottage, there was nothing for kilometers except for big green trees and trickling streams of water.

Both James and his grandfather’s relationship flourished the more time they spent together, and it soon became as if his grandfather was really his father. James’ grandfather would take him hunting and teach him how to track animals, bait them, kill them and then prepare them to be eaten. Or they would go on long fishing trips throughout the rivers and catch fish both small, large and in sizes that James would have not thought possible creatures of that sort to ever attain. After his grandfather prepared the fish for dinner the two of them would gather near the fire, and his grandfather would tell him a story. Very quickly, James’ favorite part of what he and his grandfather did together on the various expeditions that they would take was the time when his grandfather would tell stories.

James would always eagerly anticipate each of his grandfather’s tales that he told as darkness began to fall over the sky around the campfire. This however was not the only setting in which James’ grandfather told him stories as he would often do it back at the cottage. James sat by the fireplace writing his thoughts of the day down in his journal. His grandfather had taught him how to write, and he was the only boy for many kilometers that possessed that skill. Earlier that day he had been hiking through the forest when he discovered a rare white flower that grew only in certain parts of the surrounding country. He drew a rough sketch of it in his journal and although he was not a fine artisan where drawing was concerned, he did well enough for the soft edges of the white petals to be recognizable. This flower possessed certain healing herbs people said, so he was quite excited when he had found it.

He was about to pick the flower when he heard a rustling in the grass behind him. James spun around to face the noise and gazed upon a large black horse. At first he was afraid but then a certain calmness overtook him. Both the horse and James just stood there not moving but both intently gazing at the other. Then after a few moments, James extended his hand and stroked the soft head of the horse which neighed softly at James’ touch. Then with as much mystery as the horse appeared it then backed away from James and then rode off in a fury. For a moment, James stood there motionless in a complete state of awe. There was something about the horse that felt alien, yet comforting at the same time. He turned around to collect his flower and inform his grandfather what had happened, but when he turned around the flower was gone. He then quickly looked in the direction of the horse but saw and heard nothing.

When he arrived back at the cottage he did not inform his grandfather of the strange events but pondered them over in his mind. The event seemed so much like one of his grandfather’s tales of which he had heard so often; perhaps his mind had played a trick on him. He then set his quill and book down then looking up at his grandfather who was contemplatively smoking his long pipe.

“Grandfather, have you ever experienced something that you couldn’t explain like the things that happen in your stories?” James asked innocently. The old man thought for a moment as if trying to reason in his head why his grandson would ask such a question.

“There will always be things and events that occur in life that will remain unexplainable, but have I ever encountered anything in my life that was like the stories I tell….” He thought for a moment before responding with a large smile on his face.

“There have been two events in life which I could never explain, one is that I married your grandmother and the other…well I’ll save that one for another night. Why do you ask, James?” For a moment James was about to inform his grandfather about his experience in the woods with the flower and the horse, but something inside him kept him from saying anything. James just shrugged his shoulders.

“No reason in particular.” James responded as he glanced back down at his journal. James’ grandfather eyed him suspiciously, but soon returned to smoking his pipe. James picked up his quill and toyed with it for a moment with every intent of continuing to write, but he suddenly felt too distracted. He gently blew on the black inky letters that he had just written, shut his journal and put it aside.

“Grandfather, will you please tell me a story?” James asked eagerly with a beaming smile on his face. His grandfather ceased smoking his pipe for a moment, and smiled at him.

“It’s a little early for story telling isn’t it, and I thought that you were journaling?” James’ grandfather stated.

“I’ve written down everything that I could think of about today, but now I want to hear something a bit more exciting than my own thoughts.” James stated plainly as he glanced at his journal with boredom. James’ grandfather shrugged his shoulders.

“Very well then; which of my stories would you like to hear about? The Mad Knight who terrorized the kingdom of Wales, or how about the time when your great uncle slew the Titan Lizard of the Scottish Highlands? Or what about the hunt of the Great Wallachian Tiger, or perhaps the ancient holy knights of Byzantium and the defense of their realms?”

“I’ve heard all of those, Grandfather,” James objected and his grandfather scratched his neck thoughtfully and tried to remember all of the stories he knew.

“Well, is there any story in particular that you want to hear?” He asked his eager grandson. James closed his eyes partially and thought for a moment before he answered his grandfather.

“Something I’ve never heard before, and something you’ve never told another person before.”

“Hmm….” his grandfather thought aloud to himself, going through his memory trying to find a befitting story for his grandson.

“That’s quite a tall order, James, as you have heard most if not all of my stories.”

“There has to be something you’ve never told anyone else before, there just has to be.” James pleaded with his grandfather who smiled warmly at him.

“I do believe there is a story that is just what you are asking for. I was actually going to wait a couple more months after you turned thirteen to read it to you, but you seem ready enough for it.”

“What’s it about?” James asked excitedly.

“It’s a very old story that my grandfather told me about an amazing adventure of a man. There is a rectangular wooden box on that shelf over there behind the books; will you get it for me please?” James leaped up from the floor quickly and walked over to the bookshelf. He moved some of the books causing dust to float gingerly in the air as he blew it off the books. His eyes fell upon a long rectangular wooden box, which was quite old from the appearance of the wood. He noted curiously that there was a very strange insignia etched on the top of the box’s lid, a symbol of sorts that he had never seen before. Although the more he looked at it, the more he realized the insignia resembled the flower that he had drawn in his journal. He picked the box up very carefully and brought it back to his grandfather and handed it to him.

“Here you are, grandfather.” James said as he pulled up a stool alongside his grandfather’s chair and waited eagerly for the story to begin. “That insignia on the box, what does it mean?”

“Save all of your questions until after the story is complete; I promise that you will not be disappointed. Now this is a long story so you must be very patient and listen carefully or you’ll miss something important. I also want you to pay close attention to a certain character within the story whose name is Gash, as he is very important to not only the story but something else that I will tell you after I am finished.”

“What do you mean, grandfather?” James asked curiously.

“Just wait, James, and you will find out.” James’ grandfather then pulled out a pair of silver-rimmed spectacles with heavy round lenses and put them on. He removed the lid to the box and set it on the floor beside his chair. Inside the box was a scroll very delicately wrapped with a cloth covering. He gently unwrapped the scroll slowly and once he had opened it he began to read…

Long ago, before our world, there was a place far from here, near the top of the universe. The realm of this place was Dorm-Ra, meaning in our language “dwelling place of light.” The same being that created our world also created Dorm-Ra, except he had another name; they called him the Eternal One. All of the people that the Eternal One formed on Dorm-Ra had a special ability to do what we would call magic, but they called it the powers of the majestic. The people did not use words or create potions to perform divine things, the power they possessed flowed in their very nature; within their very blood. The people who dwelled in Dorm-Ra lived peacefully and in harmony with one another and with all of the other creatures the Eternal One had created.

Something happened though in the skies above Dorm-Ra and soon after that the people became corrupt and fell into darkness. In the realm of the Eternal One a great battle occurred between him and one of his most powerful enemies, the Shadow Lord. This being was pure darkness having no physical shape and no sense of the Eternal One’s goodness or creative desire. Destruction and manipulation was all that the Shadow Lord enjoyed, especially when it came to destroying what the Eternal One had created. After the battle was over and the Shadow Lord along with his army was defeated in his bid for power, he descended with his followers to Dorm-Ra. Once on the planet he began his work immediately. It took a long time for the Shadow Lord’s influence and ideas to take sway on the people but when they did it all of the peace and order that the Eternal One had created began to spiral out of control.

War and chaos had engulfed the entire realm, and there was no peace or stability anywhere. Most creatures that were once peaceful became vicious and sly, and the land that was once beautiful soon was soaked with tears and blood. During this time of violence the people of Dorm-Ra began to abuse their majestic powers performing unnatural wonders and creating horrible creatures. The people also used their powers to acquire wealth and to carry out murder against anybody they saw fit. Because of this terrible abuse of their powers they slowly began to disrupt time and nature, which in combination with the rampant chaos happening offset the balance with which they had lived with since their creation. The sun would no longer rise at the appropriate time, green trees turned black, and the soil, which was once a smooth black texture became ashen and useless. The realm was collapsing all around the people of Dorm-Ra and soon it became clear to the Eternal One that his creation was on a collision course for self-destruction.

Relishing his complete victory the Shadow Lord watched in triumph as Dorm-Ra along with all of the creatures and people began to tear each other to shreds. His jealousy and hatred for The Eternal One was so extreme that he corrupted nearly all of the people on Dorm-Ra and made them turn away from their peaceful ways. If he was not going to rule over the Eternal One and all of his creations, than he would do everything in his power to thwart and destroy all that the Eternal One had. Much time had passed since the Shadow Lord had infected Dorm-Ra with his treachery. Eventually the Eternal One came to the conclusion that he had allowed the chaos and destruction to run unchecked on the planet long enough. He became disgusted with the people of Dorm-Ra and the very sight of his creations made him burn with rage. It was time he decided to punish the people for their wicked behavior towards each other and their abuse of the creatures and of the realm of Dorm-Ra. The Eternal One sent down a plague from his realm to Dorm-Ra and let it begin to fester within the people. It wasn’t a plague of physical sickness and he had sent down no fierce and terrible creature; it was brutal and inescapable insanity.

Many on Dorm-Ra began to kill others and kill themselves without any reason, and the killing continued for many sunrises and sunsets. Blood soaked the ground relentlessly as people mercilessly young and old slaughtered each other with no conscience or thought of what they were doing. Then after a long and bloody period, the plague had done its work and most of the inhabitants of Dorm-Ra were dead. However, during this bloodbath the Eternal One had protected from the plague a small group of individuals who had remained loyal to him and had not become corrupted by the Shadow Lord’s lies. Leading this group were two twins; a brother and a sister, and with them were their immediate family and friends. When these individuals emerged from their hiding place, they began to realize how much damage had been done to their realm.

So with guidance from the Eternal One the small band of people began to reconstruct their culture, their cities, and their way of life as best as they could before the Shadow Lord’s fierce evil. Soon great cities were again standing more gloriously than before, and gardens were growing richly and the water was clear as crystal. However as time went on and the people of Dorm-Ra continued to rebuild their civilization, the brother and sister realized that there was something incomplete about their realm. So taking the responsibility upon themselves, the brother and sister worked together to heal Dorm-Ra, yet to accomplish this great feat they had to stir within themselves all the knowledge and power they possessed. This power was of course the majestic powers that the Eternal One had given to all of the people on Dorm-Ra. These powers were mostly utilized to broaden one’s mind about Dorm-Ra and create a deeper connection with all that was in it.

Caution had to be applied though as there was the potential, if a person desired so, to pervert these powers that the Eternal One had given to the people of Dorm-Ra. The majestic powers were to help the people of Dorm-Ra work in harmony with nature and time and to help create balance, but never to unbalance it. Therefore, with the use of their majestic powers, the brother and sister created two powerful swords. The sister loved living things, and was very nurturing and caring; she created the Sword of Nature to repair the realm’s broken environment and restore the beautiful harmony of life. The brother liked to calculate and quantify; he forged the Sword of Time, thus repairing the time-continuum that encompassed the realm therefore returning it back to its normal state. After each of the siblings created their individual swords and put them together and used their power, much of Dorm-Ra began to change back to its original condition.

However, both of them realized that the swords they constructed were not enough to complete their realm’s full reparation. After much thought and deliberation both of them discovered that they were missing one single element to make the reconstruction complete -- balance. The brother and the sister combined their powers and talents to forge the Sword of Balance to make at last Dorm-Ra whole. With the Sword of Balance completed they put all three swords together and after that the realm then truly became as it was before the Shadow Lord had come. There was a great celebration throughout all of Dorm-Ra and both human and creature alike rejoiced at the complete restoration. The brother and sister were both hailed as heroes and named joint rulers of Dorm-Ra. The people happily served them both. Peace and honor again flourished throughout the realm and it lasted for a long time.

Then up to his old tricks again the Shadow Lord decided that he would ruin the redemption that the Eternal One had given to his creations once he had learned that his plot had been foiled. He descended once again into Dorm Ra, for he had been in his own realm strengthening his powers, and began to seduce the brother. The Shadow Lord began to whisper to the brother lies of deception. He told the brother that he could attain power and greatness if he joined him and obeyed his counsel. Slowly the brother gave into the words of the Shadow Lord and then eventually fell into complete darkness. He then told his closest followers about his encounters and counsel with the Shadow Lord, and convinced them to follow him. Together the brother and his followers began plotting to overthrow his sister so that he alone could rule Dorm-Ra. However, the sister discovered her brother’s treachery. There was a small power struggle that followed immediately, but then the brother and his remaining followers were caught and cast into prison to await their punishment.

The sister pondered what to do about her brother and his compatriots, and although many urged her to impose the death sentence she refused to. Finally she came to a decision and though it saddened her heart to do so, she banished her brother from their home, the center of civilization on Dorm-Ra, and sent him and his small band of followers into the far reaches of the north. After the brother and his followers were safely escorted out of the immediate territory they were never heard from again. Much time passed by after the brother’s banishment, and the followers of the sister still went on living and thriving in the lands of the south. The elders of the original surviving families of the great plague went on and made their own modest kingdoms throughout the southern lands, but each of them swore allegiance to the sister and her central kingdom.

While visiting one of the most northern of kingdoms, the sister peered out of a window in a castle and saw across the horizon a dark shape taking form. It was coming closer and closer to her destroying everything in its path. News eventually reached her that her brother had returned with a fierce army and more powerful and determined as ever to exact revenge on her and those who had a part in his banishment. The brother’s followers were dressed in black cloaks and rode on animals similar to horses, but reshaped and mutated for his evil purposes. There was an unnatural air about the brother and his followers and it seemed that the sweet loving man that once was her brother was no more. Hostilities erupted all across the land as far as to the south, east, west, and even the far frozen reaches of the north. The sister gathered all of the kingdoms in the south together and formed an ironclad alliance with them and agreed to a goal which was to defeat her brother by any and all means necessary. The brother’s evil forces repeatedly assaulted his sister and her allies mercilessly again and again throughout the south, and soon the brother began to gain the upper hand.

All hope faded away for the sister and her allies, but in one last attempt to rid Dorm-Ra of evil, the sister and her allies resolved to expel her brother and his evil followers back to the north. The fighting continued to be fierce and then the tables began to turn in favor of the sister and her allies and together they slowly pushed her brother back into the frigid far reaches of his northern territory. Deep in the north, the sister and her allies came against the brother and his entrenched forces at sundown and the two armies began a climactic battle to the death. The fighting between the soldiers was a firestorm of mangled and torn bodies thrashing at one another. Both sides fought with a variety of weapons, different in shape and size, as well as their uses. All of the soldiers used their majestic powers for battle, but the brother’s forces had perverted their abilities to do unnatural things, which tampered with the precious balance of life that Dorm-Ra depended upon.

Away from the major conflict the two siblings met alone to do battle. The sister knew as the brother knew that one of them would have to die before the duel ended, because both could not live while the other was alive. Though human eyes did not see their battle, legend depicted that it was the greatest duel in history. When it was over, both siblings were dead, and their swords were missing along with the Sword of Balance. The sister’s allies bested the brother’s evil followers, and her son Kael, the new leader of the allied forces of Dorm-Ra, decided to end the bloodshed once and for all. He like his mother did not enjoy killing, and ignored all of his advisors’ pleas to kill off all of the brother’s surrendering forces. Kael allowed the remnants of his uncle’s followers to live in the north, but the key stipulation was that they were remain in the north forever, and if they ever once again crossed over to any other land they would pay for it with their lives. The brother’s closest followers who remained in the north eventually became known as the Order of Mystics, and in their seclusion they practiced the arts of mutation and transmutation. Although they abused their majestic powers none desired more bloodshed so they were left to their own devices. The brother’s less loyal forces formed the Kingdom of Kargon which grew and became the leading kingdom in the north and eventually became known as the Kargonian Empire.

In the south, the sister’s closest followers and the ones most adamant about the complete destruction of her brother’s forces became known as the Watchers. They took upon themselves the task of watching over Dorm-Ra, preparing for the time that the brother’s forces should ever return and weave their destruction. The majority of the allies put their small kingdoms together and formed the kingdom of Caroth-Nor which became the symbol for peace and freedom throughout all of Dorm-Ra. The other members of the alliance that fought against the brother splintered and drifted into the farthest reaches of the east and west and settled there creating new kingdoms and cultures.

After the Eternal One was satisfied that Dorm-Ra was stable, he entered into the Shadow Lord’s realm and battled him. It was indeed a fierce confrontation, but the Shadow Lord could not resist and was captured and all of his henchmen fled. For all of the grief that the Shadow Lord had caused, the Eternal One imprisoned him in a desolate place on Dorm-Ra. In his prison the Shadow Lord waited for the day when his followers would free him, and had at each moment of his imprisonment methodically plotted how he would avenge his pride and destroy the Eternal One.