Part One

Sir Syrius of Avalon, covered in full plate armor, approached the fog that had covered most of the land that was apparently controlled by the kingdom of Bolteria. As he did an orb of light appeared before him and he heard a female voice that echoed sweetly in his mind.

"I will guide you brave champion on your quest if you accept my help. Outstretch your hand if you decide to take the help I offer you."

Syrius took a few minutes to think over what the voice said, which he assumed came from the light.

"Well, a guide through this land wouldn't hurt and every help I can get will be important to the cause."

After he had finished speaking, he reached his hand towards the light. As it entered his hand it felt warm and inviting, like the love of a mother to her child, then disappeared into his hand entirely, appearing again at his side and illuminating a small area around him.

"Do not be afraid as you enter the fog, there are many enemies that will do what they can to stop you."

As the voice had finished its sentence, three soldiers approached Syrius.

"Hail to you men, I have come to aid your kingdom in stopping the threat of the Old One. Please lead me to where you have made your home base or to someone who can take me…"

He stopped when he realized something was off about the soldiers, an odd odor was in the air and Syrius knew what it was: the stench of death. The soldiers weren't walking as he had initially had thought, instead their feet dragged against the ground, the points of their swords that they were carelessly dragging as well created sparks as they hit the hard stone. Upon a closer look, Syrius noticed the faces of the soldiers and to his horror that they were zombies. The eye sockets were empty, their noses were clean off, and the sides of their faces had partially rotted away, which exposed their teeth.

"Do not be held by your fear dear champion. Now is the time to test your mettle against the minor horrors, and if you cannot pass them then you shall surely fail in your quest."

Drawing his blade Syrius entered his fighting stance; his kite shield was raised in front of him. He ignored the weight of his armor and waited patiently for his opponents to make their move. The zombie soldiers obliged him; as the scent of human flesh entered the holes that were once their nostrils, they gained speed, rushing towards the young knight. As one was close enough it decided to jump forward with its sword raised and Syrius felt time slow down as he reacted. With his raised shield he lunged forward, pushing it up and swinging it with all his might on the undead soldier, pushing it towards the ground. As he did so he swung his sword arm at the next enemy that approached him. However as he was distracted, he felt a twinge of pain as the third enemy pierced the inside of his shield arm. Pulling out his own sword from the zombie it was plunged into, he kicked the abomination to the ground as he did so, then he swung it diagonally with enough force to cut through the weak leather and rotting flesh.

As the slain zombie fell, the one he had smacked away with his shield had regained its composure and ran towards him once more. The sword collided with his shield as he parried with it, the impact sending shockwaves down his injured arm which sent screaming pain into his mind. He had to ignore the pain, as he lunged with his long sword, pushing it through the head. As the zombie soldier fell, Syrius spun around to see if the third one was still alive and sadly to his surprise, it was. It raised itself from the ground and lunged forward sword point first, Syrius sidestepped to the left and slashed diagonally downwards. As it hit the ground, he wasted no time in driving the blade into its head.

"Well done."

The female voice responded as he took the blade out and sheathed it.

"The situation is worse than I was told."

He responded, feeling a little silly he was talking to a voice that was in his head from a small ball of light. He reached to his left for a small pouch containing the Crescent Moon leaves and applied them to the wound. As their magic healed said wound, Syrius decided to look among the remains to find anything of use and not to his surprise, the zombies had nothing of use on him. However what were strange was the green orbs that appeared out of the corpses and entered in Syrius. He felt the presence of others, and heard the female voice once more.

"Do not worry about what has happened, these are the souls that seek peace and redemption, all will become clear later."

"Well my mysterious guide which direction you suggest I should go next?"

He looked down at the orb at his side as he asked.

"Go straight, and I also recommend you don't sheathe your blade as you'll want to keep your guard up. Other less fortunate warriors that didn't accept my help have fallen to the lull of false peace and security."

Syrius felt a little embarrassed hearing that and took the instructions to heart as he drew his sword from its scabbard as he went forward approaching the ruins of what appeared to be a Boltarian fort. As he explored the ruins, Syrius felt the dread and lifeless silence that surrounded him. At least until more zombie soldiers attacked him. Thankfully they seemed to mindless drones that were victims unlucky enough to not have been spared un-death or were used as food. More souls were absorbed as he dispatched each of the undead obstacles until finally he noticed a strange fog covering the passage way in front of him. The fog itself seemed to completely cover the entire opening of the passage way, as if the fog was a door.

"I warn you brave warrior, once you pass this fog you will confront something far stronger than the minions you have disposed of." The female voice had a twinge of sadness.

"Well then, I shall not keep this mysterious force waiting."

Syrius responded as he entered the fog. When he had crossed through the fog, he noticed that he was in a room that was lit by large burning pits on pillars. That wasn't what made him stand in fear though. The room itself had the stench of death, and the grotesque site of dismembered body parts and pools of blood were on the floor. The walls themselves were decorated by torn banners, skeletons chained to the wall, and the occasional animal trophy. Standing in the middle of the room was the most grotesque monster he had ever seen.

"What is that?"

The female voiced answered back:

"Vanguard."

It was disgustingly obese, with wings that were comically smaller than its body, and the head had three glowing yellow eyes, two of which were symmetrically aligned with the two horns that protruded from the top. In its right clawed hand was a giant battle axe, rusted and coated in blood. When the monster noticed the knight, it awkwardly walked towards him. The steps it took sent small vibrations in the ground, the gnarled bones that were near its feet jumped in the air with each step. Syrius started to gather his courage, and with a silent prayer to whatever god or gods that were able to hear him in this deserted and destroyed land, he rushed forward to the monster with his sword point first and his shield covering him.

"For the kingdom of Avalon and the freedom of our world from this evil!"

With his battle cry empowering him, he charged the grotesque creature in front of him. As the monster swung its' axe downwards in a slant, Syrius tucked and rolled until he was past the space between the monsters legs. As he straightened himself up he swung his sword against the creature's leg, creating a gash. The monster cried out in pain, and swung its' small tail at Syrius, swatting him against the wall. With the wind knocked out of him, Syrius tried to breathe in deeply but couldn't through his helmet.

"I warned you brave warrior, you are facing something far stronger than those minions."

Said the female voice, and Syrius felt that it was mocking him. Taking his helmet off quickly and tossing it to the ground he started to breathe easier.

"I can draw blood from it, therefore it can die like everything –"

Before he can finish his sentence the monster swung the axe again, aiming downwards. Syrius without a moment's thought, sidestepped to the left, but the shockwave from the axe breaking into the wall sent him flying to the ground. As he inhaled while standing up, he started to cough from the dust in his lungs. Wondering if he had time to dodge the next attack, he turned to see the monster struggling to pull its' weapon from the wall. Without hesitating, he shouldered his shield and rushed towards the legs. Plunging the blade deep within what he assumed was the heel of the beast he heard it cry out in pain again. Unfortunately that gave the monster strength to loosen its' axe. Pressing his foot against the back of the heel, Syrius withdrew his blade and backed away, quickly unslinging his shield from his shoulders.

"Come on you ugly beast! You are nothing more than a practice doll for my blade to get dull on!"

The creature's eyes slanted in anger as it charged at him.

"Was that really wise of you to do that?"

The voice said to Syrius as he timed his dodge to the right, watching the beast slam into the wall.

"You were saying?"

He was greeted by silence as the beast jumped backwards, using its' wings to gain height and to stay suspended in the air, it dropped down ass first onto Syrius, who leaped across the room in an effort to avoid the creature's attack, and even in the air he felt the room shake as he landed into a pool of blood.

"Oh you have got to be joking?"

He shouted as his face was covered in blood and his short brown hair was covering his eyes. After shaking his hair and slicking it back, he charged towards Vanguard and slammed his blade into its spine. The beast, roared out as it broke the blade of Syrius' long sword when it quickly stood up. Holding the hilt of his broken weapon, Syrius had to act quickly as the beast swung the axe at him. Raising his shield, knowing it would do little, the impact through him into hole that was made in the other wall, hitting the next wall behind it.

"You seem to be in a losing position."

The female voice said, though Syrius wasn't listening anymore.

"There has to be a weapon among the fallen warriors in there. If I can find one, I can still fight."

However while he was talking, Syrius realized he was struggling to stand. Upon examining his body, he noticed that his right leg was broken and his shield arm was limb. Switching his shield from the left to his right arm, he used it to keep himself standing. The terror finally started to sink back in again as he realized he was going to die if he went back out there. He couldn't walk, which also meant he couldn't run; but it didn't matter as he heard Vanguard stomping towards him. It ripped the rest of the wall, and lowered its face to Syrius level, snorting hot air through its nostrils onto him. It inhaled and let out a roar of delight, smelling the fear emanating from the knight. As it raised the axe high over his head, Syrius started to raise his shield in one final act of defiance.

All started to go black for Syrius. He was surprised at how he felt nothing, not even the blade piercing his flesh and arteries. He figured it was the shock of the impact, and he was grateful for the small miracle that was granted him. Syrius felt the darkness envelop him as flashes of his life started to play in his mind's eye. They were all the good times he had, another kind grace he was thankful for. From the various birthdays he celebrated with his family to his training as a knight under Sir Caveer, one of the lesser known knights of King Lyre in Avalon. The ones that lingered longer were his first kiss from his first true love, Mary and when he had finally been knighted by King Lyre as a reward for becoming "Champion of the Land" in a tournament against other squires aspiring for knighthood, in the neighboring town of Damoclies. As the last of these joyful moments passed on, Syrius finally saw nothing but complete darkness. His soul left his body and started traversing through the darkness. As it did it noticed a light ahead and went towards it. The light was warm and inviting, a low chanting was coming from it as well. It assumed the light was indeed the doorway to paradise in the afterlife. Finally as Syrius' soul entered, the chanting grew louder and was a woman's lone voice. The voice was familiar, and Syrius felt himself being put together painlessly while the woman's chanting grew softer and echoed.

When his sight was returned, instead of a realm of light, plant life, and rivers flowing with water as clear as crystal; he saw a thin woman wearing what he assumed were funeral rags, her head bowed while she chanted; like a woman in prayer for the souls of the dead. Her hair was black as a raven's feather and was done in a ponytail; in her hands was staff used to light candles in chandeliers of a dining hall. As she finished chanting she raised her head, and to Syrius shock, her eyes were covered by black wax giving her the appearance of one who had been weeping tears of dark ink. Around her neck there was a large black ribbon and a silver necklace that had rare black pearls. Her feet were bare, and around her waist was a strange rosary of black diamonds, while on her back was a cloak that reached her heels. Syrius thought she was beautiful, aside from the wax covering her eyes. As he looked around he realized that he was wearing the same full plate armor, without the marks and dents of battle ridden over it. His kite shield was new and had his coat of arms: the hilt of a sword in the middle of a red sun, with its rays straight and pointed; a small scroll with the phrase "Sword of Avalon" written on it under the sun. He looked down on the ground to see a dark void with gold runes in mystic circles. While he was observing his surroundings, the maiden approached him and rest her pale hand on his shoulder.

"Welcome brave warrior, to the Nexus."

She said in a loud whisper, catching Syrius' attention. The light of the candle on her staff illuminated their faces, and Syrius could see a blurry faint reflection of his face. After a short silence he finally gained the sense to speak.

"Why am I here?"

His question was given a small smile as the maiden responded.

"You have been chosen to help save your world, one of the many who will put the Old One back into his slumber."

"Why and how was I chosen for this? I died against a creature that size! "

The maiden chuckled at his response.

"Yes, you were unfortunately killed and had your blade not broken you might have prevailed. However be thankful for the offer I'm giving to you: a second chance at life, power to complete your task, and revenge not just for yourself, but the other fallen warriors."

Syrius was entranced by her voice as she spoke. It sounded sweet like honey glaze, and soft like pillow of goose feathers. As he listened he noticed that it wasn't rags she was wearing, but what seemed like a large black bandage that wrapped around her body tightly to her knee caps.

"Sir knight…what is your answer?"

His attention snapped back to the woman's face as he heard the question.

"I'm not sure, what exactly are you offering?"

She sighed when she heard his response.

"Once again, I am offering you a second chance at life and more."

She sounded more exasperated with him this time.

"You will be given your life back, your armor and weapon renewed to perfection, and the ability to become stronger as well as the chance to take vengeance for the fallen fighters."

"What do I have to do in exchange?"

He responded sounding suspicious, making her smile return as she spoke.

"You are to fulfill whatever Destiny has in store for you."