In the city of shadows, only one light could be seen, in the highest tower, a candle burned strongly, allowing the occupant to go about business as one normally would. The figure moved to the room’s large window, and gazed out.
Lightning crackled again, illuminating the tower. The figure was a young man, with robes of flowing midnight blue. His red hair flowed down his back, his silver eyes narrowed with the flash of light. The robes he wore did nothing to hide the broad shoulders he possessed, nor the slender body he possessed past his shoulders.
The sound of a door creaking open, as well as the shifting a shadow could be seen before once again the tower fell to darkness, a gust of wind flowing into the room to extinguish the fire of the candle.
“Lord Arcanist, your presence is needed, another case has been brought to trial in which your presence has been requested to investigate before the final decision is made.” came a voice from the darkness.
“What are the details? It would have to be important for me to be requested, but then again when isn’t it?” replied a soft voice from the window.
“I know only that it concerns the stepping stones my lord, and a man from the mainland.” Replied the voice shakily.
The lord Arcanist stood in shock, a man from the mainland? That was impossible, there were no ways from the mainland here, but how could he have made the ascent?
Without further thought, the lord Arcanist strode from the room, the messenger in tow. He knew the destination well; he would first have to enter the main court, which required him to descend down the tower. He quickly made his way down the winding steps that had become familiar to him these past few years. It took a few moments for him to reach the bottom, and then he strode to the exit of his tower. He had a cloak draped on a peg, which he took and wrapping it around himself, opened the oak door of his home and strode out into the storm, striding quickly towards his goal down the winding street, the great palace of Grynar, the last great building of the once great nation. He strode on, walking quietly through the wet and lightless streets, using his well-adjusted eyes to guide the way to his goal. He passed many of the survivors of Grynar, many of whom were busy trying to find shelter in the alcoves of the buildings from the rain. The way the people reacted always amused the lord Arcanist. It had been a year of almost constant rain in this void they now lived in, yet they all feared the droplets as if they were a plague. He was different however; he had adjusted well to the new climate, being open enough to accept the change.
The palace loomed into view as he walked, the walls were all but obsidian looking. The walls, which surrounded it, glistened from the water whenever the lightning flashed. The lord continued on his vigil, making his way to its open gate, one long since rotted from the daily assault of the sky. He passed the guards and gave them nothing but a curt nod, a motion that was unique to him, marking him for his importance. He broke out into the main courtyard of the palace, a huge grounds which used to serve for festivals, training, and a doorway for many inhabitants. It had been a long time since the last tournament, and the soldiers had all but forgotten their training, the doorway now resembled a treacherous walkway, ready to swallow you in its murky surface.
He carefully made his way across the muddy ground, pulling his feet up with each step with a sickening smack. He pulled himself easily up onto the stone entryway to the palace doors, and then gazed up into the rain, letting it pour down on his face. He let it cleanse his face of any uncleanliness that might have become of it over the day, then lowered his head and continued his short journey. The doors were open, guards motioning for him to proceed as he approached. It would have to be urgent if they were waiting on him he thought; normally he had to wait for the doors to be opened.
The lord Arcanist slipped into the great anteroom of the palace, which led into the great hall. He pushed his way into the hall, gazing all around. The large staircases immediately to his sides expanded upwards, curving along the walls to the second floor, creating a stone canopy above the main archway to the remainder of the first floor’s complex. He proceeded forward, striding through the large archway, and ignoring the corridors to his sides, he stopped at two large oak doors, which separated him from the courtroom, which used to house the former throne room before the raising.
The lord Arcanist gazed up at the large doors, then smiling, pushed forcefully against the doors, pushing them open so he could proceed. He slowly walked into the court, staring in amazement at the amount of people that had shed themselves of their wet attire and assembled to watch the proceedings of this case. He walked down the narrow length of floor, which was surrounded by benches. A member of the city took every seat on the benches. Up ahead he gazed at the throne, it was a large stone chair, which was very simple in nature. The Lord Arcanist recognized the only difference at this spot now compared to the old days was that there was now a large raised desk in front of him, made to fit the throne perfectly, it was known as the Bench. Beside the Bench to the left was two rows of benches, one behind the other, the second one slightly raised higher than the first. A thin wall of oak walled off this set of benches. There was only one exit, which leaded into the wall leading out into a deliberating chamber. Seated in these benches were thirteen people, each wore a set of black clothing as well as a black facemask. Their job was to listen to the evidence provided and make a verdict based on how the majority felt. To the right of the Bench was a chair walled off by a similar means to the benches across from it. Chained to this chair was a haggard looking man, who’s hair was a shade of auburn, eyes as black as night, and a man who still bore the armour of his homeland, the bright silver armour worn only by those of the silver brigade. Around his right arm was an armband signifying his rank, in this case it depicted that he was a captain. Two tables were positioned towards the Bench, one for where a member of the country would speak on the guilt of the person being tried, the other defending the accused.
The lord Arcanist slowly made his way to the top of the throne, and gazing down at the room, sank slowly into his seat, ready to hear the importance of the case at hand. He took a long look at the accused, it was odd, he could understand a Kistarian on trial, but for one to get to Grynar would take some sort of witchcraft. It was common knowledge that since the Raising no one could ascend from the mainland up to any of the floating countries. Untop of that, the man wore the garb of a knight of Kistaria, one of the highest rank at the same time, which only left more questions. The lord Arcanist turned his attention back to the main stage of the court, waiting for both the lawyers to make an appearance. The lord Arcanist sat back and waited, anticipating the trial that was ahead.
He still sat in the throne of the court; the feeling of disgust still resided deep within him. The trial had been nothing but a quick conviction; there were no arguments on either side, just a simple sentence on both sides of “He is Kistarian, let that be what you need to judge him.”
The jury had voted unanimously, guilty. The man was now in the dungeons of the palace, awaiting the sentence of death that had been given to him. The lord Arcanist sat there in the empty court, shocked at the people of Grynar. He had believed that they had changed as a people but with this decision, the hatred and prejudice that had always resided in them was just as prominent as it was before the war, the war that had torn the country to pieces. He had learned that a trial was the only true way to judge someone, a method to judge them based on their own actions over those of their nation.
He slowly stood, and then descended from his seat, deciding it was time to meet the now condemned man. He strode from the courtroom, making his way down the corridor to his left, following it past several corridors and doors. At the end was a circular staircase, which descended downward. He dusted himself off briefly then strode easily down the winding path, following it till it stopped fifty feet below the surface. At the bottom he was greeted with a door, which was open wide. He slowly strode through it, letting his gaze intake everything he saw. The door led into one large rectangular room, which housed fifty small cells. He knew that the new prisoner would be the only one located in the cells, and due to his “crime” he would be located at the furthest cell from the door. The lord Arcanist guided himself to the opposite wall and turning to his right gazed at the cell the Kistarian would be located in.
The cell was a small thing, it had a small cot chained and suspended slightly into the air, and had a chamber pot located just under the cot. The room was bare aside from that. He stared in shock; the prisoner was also missing from the cell. He turned around, gazing into the cell that was directly across from the missing prisoner, and saw that it housed a body, burned beyond recognition. He turned his attention back towards the exit then slowly proceeded towards it, gazing at the cells as he went by, each housed a similarly burned man. Out of all the dead men however, only one had a piece of evidence to who he was. It was a Grynarian soldier. The lord Arcanist cursed then rushed for the exit, passing through it quickly before ascending the stairs at a dead run. He flew back to the main floor of the palace, running for the main gate. He glided down the hall to the entryway then stopped. There was a man slumped over on the ground just past it, he appeared to still be alive. The lord Arcanist rushed to his side, then knelt down beside the man, and rolled him to his back. The man was alive, and still appeared to be conscious, just shocked.
“Snap out of it soldier, you must tell me what happened here.” He demanded of the soldier.
“Wha…wh..O….is it?” wearily said the injured man.
“It is the Lord Arcanist Damien, now tell me at once what happened here.” Damien demanded once again.
“I….t…wa….s…the …Kistarian my lord. He broke free and was unleashing fire upon us. He had no weapon and we had no idea what was happening. He fled the palace, and I could hear the cries of the guards following him south.” Explained the soldier.
“Very well, I think I know where he is headed, thank you soldier.” Whispered Damien thankfully as he stood.
The lord Arcanist figured he knew where the Kistarian was going, and could guess quite well whom it was. It had been a year since he had lost fought the man, and had never been able to glimpse his face in the fray, but he knew now that it was Rybal, the captain of the silver brigade along side Lyone. Damien proceeded back towards his tower to collect his belongings for the chase ahead. He knew that the men of Grynar could do nothing to the man, and it would be his duty to stop Rybal.
The Lord Arcanist strolled away from his home, crossing into the murky swamps that had now plagued his realm. He was able to keep away from the worst parts of the swamp from previous wanderings into the unfriendly terrain. He had made it only a short distance from the city, but was already thankful for his forethought; the less he wore the better for this hunt. He didn’t fear the weight the equipment would have given him, but the weight the heavy cold rain that was pouring down on him would have added.
He kept to the shallowest parts of the fields as he trudged through the dark world, a world that made it almost impossible even for his eyes to see the withered trees across face of the island. The journey taxed him as he progressed, but he continued towards his goal, the great stairs they called it. When the island had first risen to the sky, two giant pillars had risen at the southern edge, with the short beginnings of a staircase winding downwards, stopping a few feet after leading downwards off the island. It had been there that the Kistarian had been found, and most likely would also be where he was headed. The lord Arcanist kept at a steady speed across the face of his country, almost reaching his destination within two candle marks. He knew that to make it to the stairs he would have to break through the only forest with normal trees left in the country. He pushed his way through, stopping halfway in for a short time to rest up.
He spent most of his time of rest gazing at him in the dark reflection of a nearby puddle. He had donned a dark midnight blue mask for the occasion as well as changing his robes and cloak to match. Around his hands he wore thin gloves, which were black as night. He had not brought a weapon, knowing that it would be useless against his opponent. He had no need for a weapon anyway. He slowly began his trek towards the staircase again, pausing only at the edge of the tree line to inspect the stairs.
He stared in shock; the pillars were glowing with a bright light, which did not even break the darkness of the void. The light stretched across the ground and seemed to head down the stairs. His prey was nowhere to be seen. He slowly slipped from the trees, and quietly made it to the edge of his land, and gazing over the side saw a frightening sight. He stared in horror as he watched a hoard of well-armed men climbing up a celestial staircase. The light had created a link between the ground and his home, and only he could save it now. He slowly stood tall, and began to point his hand towards the ascending column when he heard
“Ah, finally you appear, I was beginning to wonder when you would arrive, as was Ryt. You see he’s been itching to prove that his fire is stronger than your lightning. What say you Damien, shall we dance?” echo behind him.
Turning Damien smirked; his quarry was standing between the forest and the stairs, as if standing on a makeshift arena.
“Now Rybal, we both know the answer to that question doesn’t we. Remember it was my power that finally defeated you in the end.” Goaded the lord Arcanist.
“Your power defeat me? If you call attacking me in the back while I was dealing with two of your compatriots then I guess you did, but you lack the ability to do it on your own.”
“Then let us see Traitor, we will see which of us has mastered our element better.” Damien responded while moving to stand across from the Kistarian captain.
Rybal made the first move, he raises his hands and called forth two great blades of fire from his armour into his hands, only to charge right away, slashing ahead of himself sending a fireball ahead of his charge.
Damien moved his hands quickly, drawing a shattering boom across the sky; he called forth a bolt of lightning from the heavens to destroy the oncoming fiery destruction, leaving him to only worry about the captain. He dove to the side, feeling the flames of the blades move across his back. Rolling forward, he leaped upwards turning himself upside down in the air; he clapped his hands, driving a wave of electricity towards his foe.
Rybal roared, and then once again the soldier’s armour glowed, forming a sphere of flame around his body, which easily shattered the wave. The Kistarian then countered, slashing his blades into the ground, they slowly slipped into the soft soil, only to send two columns of exploding hellfire at the Arcanist.
Damien dropped low, once again clapping his hands, only this time calling forth two orbs of crackling thunder, which he flung towards the fiery inferno headed his way. He watched as the two attacks collided, and instantly destroying each other in a blinding heat wave.
“This will go nowhere fast and you know it, let us end this with one last attack Kistarian scum.” Damien challenged as he stood.
“I couldn’t agree more with you, the faster you’re done with the quicker I destroy this pathetic country.” Spat Rybal.
Damien, while rising, raised his hands into the air, channelling the weather around them, causing the storm to increase in its violence; he began to scatter lightning around himself and his foe. He watched as the captain closed his eyes, and let his armour glow to a blinding light, burning the ground he was standing on.
The two exchanged one last look before calling their assaults upon each other. Damien set the land shattering as he drove his lightning at his foe, ripping the earth around, launching them both into the tempest he had created.
Rybal had thrown his own attack as well, setting the earth and fire around them both afire, scorching them both aflame, burning them and the ground asunder. They both flew away, setting silence once again upon the darkness of the land. The pillars slowly began to dim, and the stairs wavered, and then disappeared, sending the men climbing down to their aerial deaths.
The world slowly became the void it once was, devoid of all the screams of the dead, the roaring fire and the howling thunder. Lightning flashed in the distance, sending its strike away from the island, heading downward, and striking the ground deeply at the base of the staircase on the mainland. The light revealed a scorched figure lying by the pillars. The flames had died out, leaving a small crater where he had landed. The figure rose its head towards the island above, gazing at it intently before slumping back to the ground, leaving the world devoid of motion.