Chapter 1: The Game

The dice fell, their twin pair of twenty sides gleaming in the fragile light of the otherwise dark space. Together they pattered across a table painted with a map of the planet Ashan, a likeness which was so exact as to be beyond the talent of what any artist could ever achieve. Entities watched closely as the pieces slowed in their tumble, some with eagerness, others with a sense of dread. Finally the dice came to a halt, the red showing fifteen, and the purple two.

A purple scaled fist slammed down on the table in frustration as the player glared at her challenger. "My best piece! Of all the rotten luck!" she snarled.

"Awww, don't you think it's fair for me to get a chance to take him back?" the challenger asked, his playful tone spoiled by his coarse, grating voice. The challenger smouldered at his corner of the table, his toothy mouth grinning at her in a distinctly unnerving fashion as he chuckled at his victory.

"Fine. I hope he causes you no end in grief," the purple player flicked the Game piece in question over to her challenger's side of the table, and it was snatched up by a dark red-scaled hand that trailed dirty black smoke as it moved.

He held it in his hand for a few seconds, staring down at the features carved upon the Game piece; a lean dark elf with black hair falling down to his shoulders, dressed in a long coat in the style that most warlocks of his race wore, with four curved daggers strapped to his belt and carrying a long staff which aided him in his spellwork. Without another word he placed the piece within his territory, meaning that the person it was linked to had been taken prisoner by the winner's faction...

Raelag had barely had time to move before the demons swept into his campsite like a seething, ugly red wave. They had caught him as he was traveling alone in his study of the Dragon Knights, and it was one versus an entire army of demons as it stood now. Horned faces leered at him from all sides as their leader made his way through their ranks; Veyer the Demon Lord set his ax tip in the dirt and crossed his arms over his wide chest. Though he couldn't make out the face behind the demon lord's helmet, Raelag could tell that his old rival was grinning maliciously down at him as he stood there.

"Looks like you're out of options this time, Raelag," Veyer sneered, clearly enjoying this first victory over his old enemy. The demon picked his ax up again and sauntered towards Raelag, who was doubtless trying to find a way out of this difficult situation. Veyer stopped once he was directly in front of Raelag, the demon lord practically shivering with excitement at having been able to defeat the dark elf as swiftly as he had.

Of course, Raelag would not give himself up without a fight. The warlock summoned a meteor shower on top of the thinnest group of encircling demons, then darted through the ensuing death and confusion in order to make his escape. But Veyer was not to be denied his victory after coming this close and the demon lord bolted after him, dodging chunks of flaming rock and shoving aside any underlings that were unlucky enough to get in his way. He spotted Raelag after emerging from the dust and melee and closed in on the dark elf in a few massive strides, swinging his battle ax so as to bash Raelag in the head with the flat of its blade. It was a wild swing and Veyer half expected it to miss, but it seemed that luck was on his side that day.

The flat of Veyer's ax caught Raelag on the right side of his head, and he was briefly knocked off-balance but quickly recovered and continued to run. He only managed to move a few feet further before the blow caught up with him, and Raelag slumped against a nearby rock as blood from his head wound began to flow down his face and neck, staining the fabric of his collar dark red as it soaked into it. Veyer had held back enough to ensure that the blow had not been enough to kill, but it had been just enough to keep Raelag from escaping and to prevent any further struggle.

Raelag wondered if anyone would be able to find him as his vision blurred and darkened. He had been traveling alone, and no one but Isabel had even the faintest idea as to where he was at this moment, let alone wherever the demons would take him.