Unforeseen Past and Present
Pressing the leather bag filled with ice against his forehead, he looked at the scroll in his hand. Damages to the library, casualty rates, all adds to nearly a quarter of his current gold. He looked away from the scrolls for a moment, and looked down at the sleeping form lying on the bed at the side of the room. No matter how destructive she may be, she was still a child, his child.
He could not find any reason to hate her, or even blame her. He got up from his chair, walking up to his daughter. He gently placed his hand against her hair, which caused a slight groan from her. He pulled the covers of the bed over her small body, and walked towards the other end of the room, where an orb sat neatly on a stand, held in place by 'claws' from the stand.
He placed a hand over the orb, and it glowed a dull green colour. He concentrated upon the orb again, and the this time, images appeared within the orb. A woman, long silver hair, beauty radiating as clear as the sun. He could only smile sadly, watching the images run by itself, memories of the past.
"Seferia.... your daughter is just like you."
He muttered, stroking the orb, a fleeting hope to be able to feel her touch through the images. He sighed, remembering the past. His past, and how all of this came to be.
He was a young keeper. Sacrificing his body for power, he became one with his minions and dungeon. He was ruthless, feared by nearly all. All that betrayed him were mercilessly cut down, and all that opposed him, were wishing they were never born.
He was once human. A lowly apprentice to a powerful wizard. He made a mistake of reading his master's books in secret, which led to his banishment. Fuelled with hatred, he descended into a keeper's dungeon, and made a pact. Make him a keeper, and he will help that keeper rule the entire world. Foolish, and naive, like all keepers born from pure magic.
His first move, was to push his newly found force into the town where he once lived, killing all, including his own ex-master. He showed no mercy, and tortured those caught alive slowly, and personally. His powers grew with each day, and soon, the keeper who turned him, became aware of his true agenda, or at least, became afraid of his new powers.
The keeper tried to turn his own minions against him, but he knew before hand, and killed everything that opposed him, even his own men. He destroyed the keeper, and started his war, spreading his influence far and wide, recruiting the fiercest of creatures, mining vast amounts of gold, building up his powers.
He was unstoppable. Heroes from the world above tried to hinder his progress, as well as other keepers, but no one could stop him. Heroes were tortured till they died, or they bow down before him. Keepers, however, were not to be turned over so easily, and so they were cut down even in their defeat.
The heart of each dungeon, is the key to the keeper's powers, and their life source. He didn't just destroy each heart, he absorbed their powers. Some keepers tried to appease him, by surrendering to him, but he took the same course every time. Kill. His influence had by then spread to the entire Eastern and Southern regions, making him the strongest keeper during that time.
But, he hesitated. Within a small town, he saw her. A young human, whose beauty was stunning. Her smile was warm and genuine. He had never known that before. He would steal looks towards her, watch her laugh, sing, eat, sleep. He was memorized by her. It was because of her, that he stopped his mad expansion, he stopped mercilessly killing everything.
Because of her, he became human once more. But because of this, the other keepers, forming an alliance, pushed forward, retaking over the South. He came to his senses quickly. The town in which the girl was in, was on the border of the South. He quickly mobilized his forces, and pushed the insurgents back, but not before a skirmish by an ambitious keeper razed that town to the ground.
Angered, he relentlessly sent wave after wave of creatures against the alliance, and quickly brought them down under his grip. No one dared to attack him after that, for he was titled with the highest title in the keeper's world, dungeon Lord. But he didn't care for that. He quickly sent men to search the town, and by luck, he found her.
Unconscious, but nevertheless still alive. He brought her to his private chambers, and cared for her. He recreated his body, to be able to do care for her personally. Many of his creatures saw this as a weakness, but a quick pulse of magic force had ensured that he was still as powerful as always. The girl recovered quickly, awaking by the third day. It was interesting for him.
The girl did not seem surprised or afraid of him. She touched him on his cheeks, and said that she knew him. She had always known him, as someone who was always watching her. It was only later, did he find out that she was actually the daughter of a King from a powerful human nation. But that did not stop the two from falling in love.
The days they shared, were filled with smiles and laughter. He never thought he could feel those emotions. Then, came the fated day. A keeper, as foolish as ever tried to reclaim his land in the South. Amassing an enormous army, far greater than the lord's own, split his forces into two.
One half was to assault the South. The other, was to attack girl's home nation. He, though being a dungeon Lord, could not win on two fronts. He knew that other keepers were silently hoping for his demise, but afraid of taking action, they stood by the side, watching. The girl's nation had amassed an army to defend itself, but it was not enough.
When half of the nation's army collapsed before the onslaught, his army of creatures arrived as reinforcements. She did not ask of him to do this, yet he felt it was only right. With the combined might of his creatures and the human army, they managed to push the enemy off the surface, though the South was another story. His influence was weak to the South, and he knew he was losing.
She pleaded him to stop, to pull back his forces from her own nation, but he refused. He knew that his opponent might send a larger force against the humans, and that time, they would not survive. He was right. A second force, far larger than the first, poured from the caves and ruins, like a plague, swallowing the land.
It would all be over, if it weren't for the timely intervention of other keepers. Hailing from the North and West, the two dungeon Lords of those regions marched their armies to his aid. Keepers from his own territory, the East, rose up and aided his creatures in combat. An amazing sight to behold.
Once enemies, rivals, now stood up to help him. Even the dark Gods seemed to favour him, sending him an army of their own to aid him. An army of horned reapers. As soon as the reinforcements came, it was all over. The keeper who instigated the rebellion was put to death, his power shared among the dungeon Lords. But it wasn't over for him.
While the humans did thank him for his aid, they were appalled by finding that their own princess had eloped with him. He knew he had no choice, and sent her back to her country. But he shouldn't have. Her own people scorned her, for loving a demon, and her own father banished her to a remote village, but even so, she was locked up in a high tower. He could only watch her, once more. Then, came the day, she came.
He snapped back to his senses. The smiling image of Seferia still lingered in the orb. He sighed. Was it really the best choice to send her back? He did not know what had happened to her. Why were the villagers chasing after Mel? He knew that sooner or later, the King would be forced to execute his own daughter, and that was when he had planned to send his troops in to rescue her.
But, villagers? And Mel was a rather unexpected factor. Certainly, it was true that Seferia was an extremely talented magic user, but there was something within Mel, that spoke unmeasurable amounts of power. The very first time he saw her through the heart, he knew immediately, that she was no ordinary girl.
Of course, she wouldn't be, if she was born from Seferia, and himself. Their bloods would make an extremely strong combination within Mel. Yet, he did not know what her powers were to be exact. A slight knock came from the door.
"... Come in."
He said, waving a hand over the orb, silencing it of its power. The door creaked open, and the tall, fragile figure of an elder warlock stepped in, head hung low to him.
"Berilion. What news do you bring?"
"One that may not be pleasant."
He said, though he wished he hadn't. The elder warlock usually never sought him out personally, unless it is of something of grave importance. That usually meant danger.
"Earlier this week, i felt an uneasiness of sorts."
"Uneasiness, you say?"
"Yes. I used the viewing room to search for the answers to my worries. I apologize for doing such a reckless, and unauthorized action."
"There is no need. You did as i would have expected. So tell me, what did you find?"
There was a pause. The elder warlock looked over to where Mel lay, his eyes softly observing the child.
"... 'He' has arrived."
"... This certainly spells trouble."
"Absolutely, my lord. That, and the men of above have begun to mobilize their troops. This will not be a simple invasion. This is genocide."
"What are the counts?"
"The humans have amassed an army of a hundred thousand. 'He', has fifty keepers with him. Without counting his reinforcements, his troop size alone is close to a million."
This news did not please him one bit. He looked over to Mel. There was no way he could guarantee her safety in here. He looked back to the elder warlock.
"Send runners to the other Lords. Rally the keepers. Sound the horns of Quel'vastarof. We move before dawn. We will cut down the humans first, before making our stand against 'him'."
He commanded, standing up from his chair. The elder warlock bowed.
"As you command."
"Get Dais and Vestrof here immediately."
"Yes, my lord."
With his orders, the warlock turned and left the room. The dungeon lord walked over to his daughter's side, running his fingers through her soft silver hair. She does not need to face this nightmare. A few seconds later, the door swung open, with two figures walking in. The large imp with the scar over its right eye, and the rather large dragon who had some of its scales plucked off.
"We have come at your bidding, my lord."
The dragon said, lowering its head to him. The imp did the same.
"Vestrof, i have a very important mission for you. You are the most powerful dragon in the Eastern lands, and you have served me faithfully for nearly half of your life. I ask that you do me one last favour."
"I do not deserve such praise. I will do anything you ask, and i will not fail."
"I know you wouldn't.... The battle will begin soon. You must take Dais and Mel to safety."
"... If that is what you wish. But the battle-"
The dragon wanted to protest, but he silenced it with a glare.
"My daughter is far important than anything in this dungeon. She is hope of this land. She will succeed me when i fall. You, Vestrof, should know by now, what potential she has."
".... But your Excellency-"
"I will be fine. I wish for you to take her to the far East. As far as possible. There is a keeper there, an old friend of mine. Take her there, and guard her. That is the last order i will give you."
"... Yes, my lord."
The dragon agreed finally.
"Yes, my lord."
"You must make sure that Mel grows up safely. I will not tolerate failure. You are the strongest imp that i have created, therefore you are self-supplying in magic. Even if i should fall, you will not."
"My lord, such words are unnecessary."
"But it is. These are overwhelming odds stacked against us. If Mel should ask of my being.... tell her.... tell her that i have to take care of matters."
With the flapping of his giant wings, Vestrof took flight, on his back was Dais, securing the magically-induced sleeping Mel. He could only watch from the top of the battlements of the ruins. Nothing else. He continued to follow the dragon with his eyes, till it was nothing more than a speck in the horizon.
In the same direction, the sun was beginning to rise. He covered his eyes from the glare, not seeing the sun for ages. Now, it was time he face the light once more. The shifting sounds of feet echoed from the halls below. He looked over the walls, watching his creatures lumber out into the light, each ready to fight to the death.
Against the hundred thousand strong human army, his three hundred thousand strong force would be sufficient. By then, the other Lords from the other regions would have arrived to back him up. They owe him too much to let this go by. His eyes scanned the horizon, beyond the ruins from which his dungeon sat below. His creatures descended the slope, towards the main city, where the human army was already beginning to form a resistance.
To the right of the slope, another group of creatures emerged from the Earth, their flag bearers carrying a flag of a keeper under his domain. To the left, another keeper's forces emerged. Two out of the twenty keepers in his land had answered quickly. Others were bound to follow. But for now, it would do. The frail figure of Berilion glided up to him, who was dressed for battle, in black and blood red armour.
"My lord. All preperations are complete."
"Good. It is time we make our stand. Berilion, will you wield your forbidden magic once more?"
"At your call, my lord."
"... Let us march. To meet my father-in-law."