PROLOGUE

A 100 years have passed since the War of Terra.

A race of unknown origin, called drake-kin by us elves, had attacked the West lands of Rim Se Nu, home of the high elves. The drakekin could be called demons, for so was their outer appearance; thick deep maroon hide covering their huge bodies, talons and fangs that could put a Saber to shame; fast and steady their pace was, and we had hard time protecting ourselves. Long we prayed for help.

Our prayers were finally answered, when from the turgid seas of the East came many white sailed ships with golden hulls, and the forefront was a ship of such majesty that it could only be of the lead. It had a red dragon on its helm and when it made anchor, a powerful entity stepped out. The Blood Dragon had come.

Soon, the war shifted Eastward, between the forces of the Dragon and the drakekin. The drakekin won’t go down easily and although both sides suffered many losses, the drakekin seemed to be growing in number. The captain of the Dragon’s forces sensed an active portal, and helped by his mages, managed to close it.

The last battle, fought between the commander of the drakekin and The Blood Dragon, was legendary. Both immortals, of immense strength and power, sparred for the upper hand. In the end, The Dragon gave the ultimate sacrifice, of his soul and annihilated his body along with that of the commander.

The captain of The Dragon’s army made a deal with lords of hell, giving them the remains of The Blood Dragon in exchange for imprisoning the drakekin, then gave the remaining enemies an ultimatum - Death or Exile. And so it came to pass that many of the drakekin now roam the tortured lands in the realm of hells.

We elves are now almost extinct, as are many of the species that once flourished in these waters and lands. Arda is left barren, forever scarred by the war. The last guardian is gone. But Arda will heal, she will endure. And when the time comes for the reckoning, she will be prepared.

- as interpreted from the dead world scrolls, wcx-0264.

 

Chapter 1

“Kirse qolat isde nashl niniye, lisir asul lisir asul…”

Kelly awoke with a start. He was sweating profusely and his heart rate was jacked. With blurry vision he looked around in the dark; yes, he was in his room and not… there. He felt a calm come over him, as he thought about the dream he just had. But the more he tried to focus, the more of it he lost. Finally, all he remembered was fire… bright fire, spread all over as far as the eyes could perceive. And some strange words that he couldn’t recall. Not much use anyway, as they were not of any language he knew. Still, a chill went up his spine when he thought of them, or what they meant. Somehow, they seemed so important in the dream.

He simply nodded his head; this was the third time this week. These dreams were haunting him since his birthday last week. He wanted to make some connection, but at 2 in the morning, it was just too much. He simply went back to sleep.

  ***  

High up north, on the roof of the world, a polar bear was following an unusual scent. She had been in deep sleep most winter and now had 2 small but hungry stomachs to feed, not to mention her own. Till now, she had no scent of any seal around, and just a while back had stumbled upon this scent. What was it? Thick dark foresty smell, lots of flesh no doubt but her bear senses tingled nonetheless… though she couldn’t just pass on the opportunity for free food, especially now that her kids were so eager.

There, the scent concentrated beneath that thick sheet of ice. No, she couldn’t see beneath it, so she started digging with her front paws. Her children watched from nearby, when suddenly, she squealed as if in pain - lots of pain. Her paws were stuck, getting deeper in ice. The bearlings didn’t understand what was going on, they just squealed for their mother. Their mother was in agony, her paws gone, the ice around covered in her blood. She still couldn’t lift herself off, something was pulling her down, and with one agonizing cry, down she went.

  ***  

“My lord, his powers shall erupt soon. But the boy is ignorant, he’ll succumb.”

“Has it awakened?”

“Yes my lord. Although it was kept under for so long, its strength doesn’t seem to have diminished much; seeing as it just made a big meal of a bear and her young ones. That should keep it for a month or two.”

“Good, keep an eye out, inform me of any developments. I must go now. Much preparation needs to be done.”

 

Chapter 2

Kelly was not a regular guy one sees around. He was an orphan, and he didn’t know how he got so. His earliest memories were of the matron in the orphanage. When he was grown enough to ask who his parents were or where he came from, he just got one answer ‘you were found on the other side of town.’

When he was in his early teens, he really wanted to know about his parentage, although it was mostly fueled by hatred. How can a parent just leave a young one lying on the roadside in rain? Yes, he had dreams of that sort too… heavy rains, lots of crying, being set down under a bright light. He guessed he was abandoned under a streetlamp while it was raining, but came no closer to knowing why or by whom.

At 16, he left the orphanage. They simply didn’t have the resources to fend for grown boys. With no formal education, no money, no destination, he found himself facing the vast world in its entirety.

For a week or so, he made a home for himself on the roadside bench, wrapping himself in newspapers at night when it got cold. He saw the ‘rich’ kids, going about with grace, no fear nor worry about next meal, next breath. He didn’t hate them; neither was he jealous. He simply wished to know the purpose of him being so. Why would god play such tricks? Such inequality? One evening, having eaten absolutely nothing for last 2 days, he decided he’d had enough of sitting around. He needed food, and although stealing it seemed good idea, he had very poor skills for theft. So, money. Where to get money? He knew there was work outside, there must be some, but had no idea where or how he’d get it.

That’s when fate decided to be kind for time being. An elderly man, passing by Kelly’s bench noticed him and enquired about his home and parents. Upon knowing Kelly had neither, the man took him to his hotel, showed him around and told Kelly, he would be given food, shelter and a salary, should he choose to work as a waiter there. Kelly was overjoyed and he jumped on the opportunity.

  ***  

That was 3 and half years ago. Now, although still a waiter officially, Kelly shuffled between acting as the manager, counter, and sometimes as security. He was much better off. How he wanted to believe that he was happy! Yet his heart yearned for more. Could he be a waiter for his whole life? He was scared by such thoughts and now… these dreams were adding to his already heavy mental burden.

He woke up at 4 - his usual timing, did his daily necessities and went down from his attic room to the main hotel floor where he would start with cleaning the tables and sweeping the floors. If needed, the chef would call him. Then he’d work till midday break, have a light meal, and then back to work. His day ended only when the last customer had left.

Today was one of those blissful days when the crowd was especially less. His mid break was overdue by half hour, but he let it slide. It was mostly due to the fact that an attractive girl was sitting on the table behind the pillar with her girlfriends. Now, Kelly was not those types of guys who would holler and stare at every other chick, but this girl simply caught his whole attention. Her cute slightly hooked nose, milky white complexion, straight dark hair that curled at the edges having been lovingly played with by her fingers. When one of the strands fell across her forehead over her eye, he was barely able to resist himself from going over there and showing the strand its place. How he wished her beautiful face erupted into a smile for him, wondering if ever he would even be able to see her again. Then suddenly she looked at him, locking her almond brown eyes with his dark ones. He thought she smiled a bit, and felt a flush in his stomach. She raised her hand, and then he understood, she wanted the bill. Great!

That night, he kept on thinking about that almond-eyed girl. So beautiful… God must be laughing up his sleeve making such beauty and putting her within his eyesight. He knew, that however nice or good or whatever he maybe, he was just a waiter after all. Damn, how he wished things were different! For the umpteenth time, he thought of it. When, or how, his fortunes would change? He couldn’t bear this much longer. It was just like being stuck on that bench. Nothing to look ahead, nowhere to go back.

Chapter 3

Niyensi was far away from her “sleeping” place when she spotted the ships. She had heard of these human creatures that had overtaken the earth several mils ago; after the time when her fellow drakekin tried to take over hell and war had spilled on the surface and destroying some native species. She had heard something about ‘evolution’ though she couldn’t care less then. She knew she’d be trapped here till the end of days, as the solace of death hadn’t blessed this realm or she’d lose herself to ‘hell-sickness’, a polite way of saying ‘being twisted into non-existence.’ Now she wished she’d learned more about surface, having being hauled up here for one simple purpose-

“Find the marked human, kill it.”

  ***  

It all happened just a century ago. She was trying to find some solace from the ever present hailstorm of the 8th circle’s ever-winter when she caught sight of masts. At first she thought it was a mirage, upon squinting her eyes she could make out the high towers and their snowy white tips. Now she was excited. The word around was that the winter-castle of lord Anudîn was only seen when he wished someone to see it; otherwise, everyone in that circle was exposed naked to the heavy all time winter where the cold was beyond what any mortal could bear. Niyensi considered herself lucky, just for the sake of it, as she’d heard that the 9th circle was the most torturous. Bright red flames of soul scalding nature erupted at the will of its lord and it was hypothetically at the centre of Arda where the stillness itself was worth a note.

Shaking all thoughts, Niyensi decided to make for the castle. Something really big must’ve happened, for she knew of no instance where a drakekin was summoned to Anudîn. Making haste, she came forth. The big white high castle was now clearly visible; she noted how the ambience had suddenly changed. The hailstorm was no longer ear-numbing or blinding, although it could still be seen scourging over the lands. She tried knocking on the big wooden fortified doors; in vain, as the door opened on its own. She walked over the highly reflecting white floor, her toe talons clicking and making an almost rhythmic echo, the sound dying out in the dark corners of the hall. There straight up sat Anudîn on his high winter-throne, his eye piercing all the storms of his will, keeping a watch not only on his circle but also on all other, except the 9th. She went up straight ahead, matching his eye. She had been his subject for more than over 250 mils; And although after death of her commander Slasîs, he had been in direct control of her, she refused to accept him as her master. She was on her own now, although that was a thing she couldn’t enjoy… yet.

Then Anudîn had told her about the birth of the mage-blooded human which was soon to be, and how she’d be smuggled out of hell if she accepted his conditions and killed the human before its power became potent. Although she wondered how a mortal, mage or not, could be a threat to lords of hell, she was more struck on the fact that they were ready to break the deal. That would mean the powerful artifacts would no longer belong to the hell-lords, unless… Anudîn was acting on his own. Still, smuggling a drakekin to surface? She knew something was up, but decided to go with the flow for now. She hated the way Anudîn referred to her kind like cattle, but that was beyond her cure. She knew for sure she’d be slaughtered mercilessly later. Now she had a choice, either that or endure the ever-winter or worse, just get hell-sick. Damn!

Soon after accepting, Niyensi was informed that she’d be kept in deep sleep under thick ice in a place on the roof of Arda such that she’d gradually come up as the ice melted and when the time was just right, she would be awakened…

  ***  

These human ships that were afloat the ice-cold water held no awe in Niyensi’s mind. She’d seen the massive navy of the Blood dragon in its peak. The high elves too had much skill in ship-making. On her plane, her home, there were no ships; as there were no seas as such. Water was a priceless commodity, and her kind had adapted to the harsh environment by developing thick hides. She couldn’t remember much, as she’d been stripped of her earlier memories striving against the hell-storms for so long, yet she remembered the place she called home, before Slasîs had been ordered by their king to capture this puny planet. Puny but enduring, she thought. Water, the reason they had come. There was no need for war, this planet held enough reservoirs to fulfill everyone’s needs; but the greed that caught Slasîs’s heart after seeing the lush green surface and abundant flesh was such that he ordered a full scale attack. The rest was history. For Niyensi, the war was nothing but a wasteful event. She shuddered as she remembered the moment when the portal was collapsed. As if her umbilical cord was broken from her home land. She was an arcane drakekin of her regiment and more or less, had rare magical abilities. She was controlling the flow of energy to the portal, when the captain had suddenly appeared out of nowhere and his mages started firing spells and curses on her. She used a block spell, but that broke her connection with the portal, made it unstable, making such concentrated pockets of energy that, if exploded, they’d consume the whole solar system. Then the mages had stopped firing at her and concentrated on securing the portal, or more like controlling it. The captain was a shadowy character, she thought; why else would he try such a feat? But the portal collapsed on itself, taking half the mages into singularity. She managed to get away in the commotion that followed and left the middle earth for north lands, disguised as a night elf. Oh yes! She remembered that time with a small chuckle. Her magic made it possible for her to blend among sentient species. But she was more of a novice then, was caught soon enough and given the ultimatum. She chose exile; but unlike her comrades she didn’t waste a single cycle in hell. No, she learnt, practiced, experienced… how powerful she felt now!

  ***  

The sailors on the ship couldn’t contain their surprise when they saw a woman hailing them from the tip of the berg. She seemed dazed and tired, so they had just taken her in, and after the doc had checked her, put her on the bed in the quarter master’s cabin. There she was now, fast asleep.

Niyensi was wide awake. Boarding the ship had been a piece of cake. She had changed her form to that of a young female human and acted totally lost and disoriented. No back-story required, she smiled to herself. The ship’s captain assumed she must’ve separated from her expedition and got lost, and was lucky to have been found by them. That was all. How really naïve these humans were. Now all she needed to know was where ‘her’ human was. It can’t hide, that was for sure, though it can run. How long can it run? She thought. But eating up her mind were the stark conflicts that she’ll have to confront soon. Why would Anudîn want the human dead? Why did he so specifically choose her, when he had other resources? Was there any way she could come out of this alive? What was so special about this mage-blooded human?

No, she won’t make haste. Patience was the key. She needed more information. Maybe, the human might turn out more valuable alive than dead. Upon that, the conditions that Anudîn had enforced. First was reasonable enough, no revealing of her true nature to any being on surface. But the rest confused her. Well, she will see soon enough. Now she rested in a cautious sleep.