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CastShadow


Prologue: The Raid

"I can make no firmer promise. These people need no longer fear the Supreme Master and his Order."


The raiders, at least 50 in numbers, raced across the once beautiful countryside of Tatha, now ravaged after the decade long onslaught by the Order. As the sun's bleeding heart let loose the last of its temporary livelihood, the path of the horsemen remained alight; two riders in back and two in front held torches high above their heads, allowing their comrades to retain at least some sense of directional awareness.


As it always was, the night was counted among the greatest allies for the Order. Throughout his years, Erebus had learned all too well that there was no greater advantage than that of surprise. Teaching this lesson to each of his riders, the poor dwellers of the country soon learned to fear not the night, but the sinister creatures that may find solace in its endless cover.


"I need more than a promise, Rabbit. The entire country is at stake, perhaps more. I need results."


"And you'll get results," Rabbit swore, placing a hand over his chest. "We're doing the work that the Empress and her guards could never do. It's only a matter of time before we're safe from Erebus." Blue looked at Rabbit skeptically, then nodded. "For lack of an alternative, we'll see to it that your plan is put into motion," he said. However, Rabbit had already foreseen this outcome. "No need," he said comfortingly. "I've already activated the golems. Come on, take a look."


The two men stepped outside, just barely able to see Rabbit's new defense mechanism through the aid of the village's dim perpetual light. Indeed, cloaked in shadow was the outline of at least five hulking golems, aimlessly wandering about the perimeter of the village and searching for any sign of danger to those it had been programmed to protect.


"As you can see, this village is now completely safe," Rabbit explained as he emerged from the small home. Rabbit was a young man who lacked the depressed and beaten gaze that so many of Tatha's men had acquired. His short black hair was a sharp contrast to Blue's, whose long gray hair and pale skin looked much more like the norm. "I trust you, Rabbit," Blue assured him, though there was a degree of uncertainty in his voice. "We'll see if your defenses can adequately protect the people of this village."


"You needn't worry about a thing," Rabbit said. "In fact, it seems as if it's already work-" Rabbit's sentence fell apart as a flaming arrow rippled through the air, forcing him to duck. It seemed the arrow still met its target, utterly obliterating an iron golem that was standing directly behind him. Mechanical parts spewed in all directions, forcing Blue to run back inside to avoid injury.


Another flaming arrow landed at Rabbit's feet, then another, until one of the riders finally met their quarry. Rabbit fell backward three blocks, dying instantly and leaving no trace of life behind bar a steaming pile of black ash. Soon, all of the golems had been destroyed, and the riders finally emerged from the night's cover. "Find the soothsayer and bring him to me - alive!" a voice barked.


One by one, the black cloaked riders went from house to house, ransacking every belonging and pillaging endless junk. Wails of submission cried out every few moments, only to be silenced by the cold sting of death. The entire village was now blazing, and Blue stepped out his home in horror before it collapsed into ash.


"What have I done..?" he whispered to himself as his eyes reflected the orange flame that had consumed the village. "You have sealed your fate," another voice answered, the very same that had ordered the riders to find him. The man stepped out from the shadows, sword drawn, and pointed his iron blade at Blue's neck.


"There is no future working under the Supreme Master," Blue uttered, head hung in shame. "You have led yourself down a dark path, but there is still hope. You don't have to do this." The commanding rider stepped closer, nearly cutting Blue's throat. "You know nothing of darkness," he spat. "You have evaded the Master's gaze for some time, and I applaud you for that. But now, the time has come for you to pay for your crimes."


"Crimes?" Blue asked, returning his gaze to the cloaked man. Two more riders stepped forward, flanking Blue from behind. "Ah, so you believe yourselves to be harbingers of justice? There is no justice here, only chaos," Blue said, shaking his head. "Perhaps, for the time being," the commanding rider said. "But justice is sweetest when it rises from the ashes of chaos. The Order will prevail, and you won't be able to stop us this time."


"For the Supreme Master!"


The rider held his blade high into the air and brought it down on the soothsayer's head.


Chapter 1 - Prodigy

Coming Soon...

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