The first Traveller to arrive:
Beneath the vaulted ceiling of the forest eaves the trees talked of wonders lost for a thousand years, of wars fought against dark shadows with magic swords and mythical things forgotten by men. Yet there was not a soul to hear, slowly quietly, the voices dimmed as a hundred years, a thousand passed. Seasons turned until the blessed spring arrived with delicate flowers, all done up in pastel colours, bringing with it a traveller and his horse. Neither much caring where they were going, together Edward and his horse wandered where they may, simply taking joy from the wood's delight in spring. The horse munched fresh grass from around the roots of the trees as Edward greeted the trees friendly branches with laughter.
A whisper rustled through the leaves, faint at first, the forest's voice almost forgotten. The horse pricked its ears and stopped. The traveller, sensing something had changed, holds his breath; was this the start of an adventure? Foolish hope twisted through his gut as the whisper, stronger now, tingled through the air. The man's eyes widen and a single breath is taken as secrets are whispered to longing ears; burning with a desire to learn, to hear, to know, as places long lost to the world spill across the traveler's inner eye as if they were a dream.
Slowly sound and time returned, the evening sun spilled mellow light across the forest floor as the man looked to the trees with a thousand questions upon his lips. But no answers came and only silence met his pleading gaze. As he waited shadows filled the nooks and crannies of the forest. Lurking in those shadows was something more than just the darkness of the growing night. Foreboding filled his heart as fear settled over him. He turned the horses head towards the dying light and set off determined to beat the shadows rise.
With questions still ringing through his mind, he turned and gave the forest one last glance, the only way to find salvation, to find the answers needed to keep the darkness away, was to seek out power. He let his memory guide him to a place where power rested, awaiting a hand to wield it and in that forests quiet heart, hope for the return of day, lingered with the scent of spring.a
The first to fall:
Edward stood in a small clearing, far from any town, or any person. At his feet a set of crumbling stairs lead into the damp earth. He turned at a sound behind him, there stood his horse, chomping at the grass, the shadows were there too; dancing around the clearing, darkening the light and whispering of danger. The traveler dived down the stair, the only hope now was to reach whatever thing of power was hidden there. Only power would save him.
He dashed blindly through a maze, not caring which way he turned, the shadows biting at his heels. Hidden traps went snicker snack within the walls yet nothing stopped the growing danger. Fear tingled through every nerve, he ran until he came to a hall, dull with dust and remnants of fabric upon the walls. There an object lay upon a stone table, not a speck of dust had settled upon it's dark grey surface. The rough shape of a scepter, it was unassuming, yet power lurked below the surface.
He felt them arrive, he turned around knowing that he would see the shadows weaving ever closer. His fear told him that his only hope was to reach the scepter first. He sprinted across the room, hand outstretched toward that which would save him from the dreadful fate that the shadows had in store for him.
As if in slow motion his fingers closed around the scepter and power, raw and unrefined pored through his body. The shadows paused, weaving in the air, then one by one they bowed before him. They begged and promised allegiance as Edward turned to face what he had before feared.
With a smile Edward twisted them into shapes that pleased him, "Why fear what is now mine to control?" he asked himself.
With a command the Overlord led the way out of the hall into the graying day. With the power held within the scepter he would rule. He would rule over it all and bring to this land wonders like it had never seen before.
In the forests heart, hope died as a breeze swept away the scent of spring.
A second traveller and a second chance:
The Shadows where after him. Althalus had hoped that if he entered the Forbidden Forest that they would leave him be. After all he had seen them turn away before at the forests edge.
Unfortunately it seemed they wanted him more than they feared the forest. Althalus stumbled in yet another snow drift, his legs numb with tiredness and cold. He lay on the ground trying to find the will to get up. He didn't know how long he had been running, long enough that all he felt was tired, the fear having been replaced by the need to just keep moving.
The silence was all about him now and a small bit of will to live, to fight another day against the Overlord and his shadows returned. With effort he recalled the dark empty houses of his small village, he at least had to get up for them, to remain the last one standing, proof that not every soul who had defied the Overlord had died.
With a muttered word he got up out of the snow drift and stumbled on. He did not see the steep slope in front of him. Suddenly his feet vanished from under him and he was rolling down the hill, a flash of white sky and dark bare branches were the last thing he saw.
Althalus opened his eyes and saw roots, there was also some snow and everything was cold, there were also no shadows and he was still alive. While the last two facts where oddities, he had never been one to look to closely at a gifted horse.
Whispers ruffled around him, it took him a moment to focus on what they were saying through the throbbing ache in his head. As the words became clear, his eyes widened, the very trees where speaking. They told him of a mistake made, of power corrupting absolutely, of hope lost. They also spoke of ways hidden and lost, ways to once again bring light again to the land. Althalus sat up, he looked at the dim light of midday and set his stubborn ways to a new course of action. He let go of the idea of revenge, his mission now was to bring the light back to just one place in the land.
Tired limbs shook as he stood, he turned towards the east, the very place the sun rose. It would be a long journey but he would find what he was looking for in the land of the sun.
Althalus stood in an empty hall, in an empty town. It had been a long time since the last person had lived here, the low stone buildings were crumbling with age. He smiled, this was the perfect place to set things right, a forgotten town too be home to a forgotten freedom.
In his hand he held a sword, its power cut stray dust motes in half a good inch from the edge of the blade. With twirl of the sword, he took ahold of the power within, sweeping away the dust and ruin. He turned as the blade sang and walked out of the shifting and rumbling hall, through doors that were fabricating themselves out of nothing.
He looked up at the dim sun and closed his eyes. The sword seemed to need to move, every swing, every turn releasing a little more power, its edge cutting through what was, too create what was wanted... with a final slice Althalus released the magic and slowly at first, light returned to the town. He knew that it wouldn't be long before word would reach the ear of the Overlord. He had not returned quietly. No, he had spread the word of where he was, of what he planned to do. He knew that it would take time before the first people arrived, but arrive they will as there were always those that hoped.
With a shake of his head he turned and set about making the town ready for those few souls who would seek this place.
The importance of light:
As the second day dawned Althalus stepped outside to find the Overlord waiting at the foot of the stair. His back was turned, "Why are you challenging me?" his voice was odd, to loud yet too quiet.
Althalus started down the stairs as he answered, "You have embraced the dark you were meant to fight, you killed all who have questioned your power, your right to rule. Tell me, why I should not defy you?"
The Overlord turned and Althalus saw the madness in his eyes, "Because I am greater than you."
Althalus looked around at the early morning light, "Have you ever lit a candle?" He asked,
"What have candles got to do with this?"
"However great the dark may seem, however filled with fears and monsters, the light always chases it away. However small the flame."
In answer the Overlord commanded the Shadows to attack, but as soon as they touched the sunlight, they crumbled to nothing. Rage sparkled in his eyes as he lifted the scepter, power filled every part of his mind.
But to slow, to ruled by his power, Althalus had already thrown the magic blade, spinning like a throwing dagger, it pierced his hart. With a clatter the scepter fell, the power holding the shadows failed and they dashed away to hid in dark and secret places.
As Althalus stepped towards the fallen man, sadness filled his hart. He had known that this was how it was to end, the evil in the Overlords heart would not have allowed it to be any other way. Althalus gathered up his sword and looked at the fallen scepter. He had hoped to destroy it but such power radiated from it he knew that he would destroy more than just the scepter if he tried. Yet such a thing could not be allowed to live in the lands of men.
With a twist of the sword he sent it safest place he could think of, a ocean that he had seen upon his travels. So deep in places that even the greatest seamonsters have not seen the ocean floor. Here he hoped no hand could touch it and the world would have the time it needed to banish the last of the shadows.
A few could still be seen filtering through the air. But a candle had been lit and hope was there to chase the dark away.