The Arkanist
Author: surfingpanda7

Chapter 1
Prologue

Ekin rounded a rocky stone ridge knowing that he was supposed to be dead. He was not supposed to be alive. He should have died; it was a fact. It was the plan. But why hadn’t he? Why hadn’t Ekin Lightsword, Knight of Abelon, died? Not even Ekin knew, not even the gods, for there was only one left, and he was the one who wanted to kill him.

Contorted volts of blue and white streaked and lanced across the blackened sky, crackling loudly as they played through the darkness. He could feel the clasps resonate through the grey stone ground and ping through his steel greaves. The shimmering silver was tainted with tears of vibrant red, racing down the steel like rivers. The blow he sustained should have killed him, but it didn’t.

As he turned the corner, lying upon the ground was a beastly monstrosity, easily bigger than a whale. It’s immense, rib-like protrusions splattered with thick, grotesque blood. The creature’s thin, web-like skin was sliced open at the stomach in a long sliver thin incision. Ekin recognized the slash, how could he not?

The twirling horns mounted atop the beast’s massive squared head were broken off violently as he marched by. They lay cracked and shattered along the jagged stone ridge in thousands of fragments. He shuddered with an eerie chill. Even after so long he still felt intimidated by the things. After all, they had almost killed him.

Whisking away, leaving the gigantic beast behind, Ekin sped toward the black tempest crackling in the sky, a long piercing spear held aloft over his head, challenging the darkness. A silver and blue flag writhed in the surging wind at it’s peak. I survived, Ekin thought to himself. I’m actually still alive after the chaos. But what was next? What will become of this loss?

Scattered across the shattered stone plates Ekin could see several bloodied and foul corpses littering the ground. It was the by-product of war, the waste it produced. The fetor stench of death and decay hung in the air like mist, heavy and omnipresent. Ekin’s senses had grown accustomed to the foul air. It was normal, constant. He dreaded it, like most things since the cursed wars overcame the land.

A sterling silver cape broke and flapped along Ekin’s back, shimmering in the dancing light. The sky above him was grey and tainted with thick, black smoke and heavy ash swam down through the air like falling snow. It settled on the rock floor in a fine film like dust.

Ekin was clad in a gleaming silver plate armor, scaled and light, that glowed through the grey sky and a long slender sword dangled from his hip. The ancient and powerful blade was sheathed in a magnificent blue scabbard, intricately laced with gilded runes of a lost language. Tipping the hilt, a sapphire gemstone glistened like a star, burning from its heart, deep and true. A silver hood rippled upon his head, whipping in the tearing winds with vigor.

Ekin’s ocean-blue eyes fixed on the horizon, where a thin blade of eccentric sapphire flame licked across the shadowy rock plates. Mountains of rock and stone challenged the dark skies to the west, their pale grey faces laced with silver ribbon that stumbled through the jagged folds. Ekin was soon beneath the swirling black thunderclouds, searing blades of striking white blasting down through the sky around him. The erratic bolts illuminated the barren, rocky earth vibrantly in great flashes.

Ekin halted before a massive rock spire, shooting out of the rock floor and ripping into the sky like a great grey talon. It has never changed. Ekin mused. It will never change. At its base, Ekin slid his magnificent blade from its deep blue scabbard with a hiss of steel. In the flashing white light, the great blade gleamed as if wrought of pearls and crystals. The glistening silver flat was inscribed with the same runes on the sheath, glowing with blue light. It was a work of skill and magic, one that only found its way into the great order of the land.

Gripping the long battered leather hilt, Ekin lifted the sword to the stone spire. There was a sharp clink that sounded when it hit and he traced down the rock with the point of his blade, a golden tail beaming behind. When he had finished, a thin gilded line ran down the center of the spire, glowing in the darkness of the storm.

A deep rumble reverberated the ground, thundering as if the earth was shifting. Before Ekin, the hard stone spire began to split open at the line. The thin sliver grew larger, the rumbling bellowing loudly, until the sliver swelled to a grand opening, falling off into deep shadow. Sheathing his mystical sword with a sharp clink, Ekin entered the rock spire and descended into the bowels of the earth.

Ekin illuminated the darkness with a small jewel he had slipped out of his rough leather pouch. Underneath the earth a thin body height tunnel burrowed deep into the bowels of the land, wending through rock and stone. In time, after several turns and descents, Ekin exited the tight confines of the tunnel and stood in a circular cavern, lit by dim flickering torches bolstered upon the jagged stonewalls, casting a ruddy light over the room.

In the center of the room, wrapped around a large round stone table, seventeen stone thrones rested. At their hearts, a blue glow burned like fire; it was fading. Standing around the table, garnished with the same silver armor and swords, six Knights stood in deep conversation. As Ekin entered the room, the Knights stopped curtly from their discussion and shot their heads at him standing under the jagged threshold. He was supposed to be the last one back. Was this all that had made it?

“Is this it?” Ekin said, his voice echoing through the small room.

A tall, bearded Knight replied. His grey eyes were sullen and morose and his voice morbid, but regal from his days as King. “Sadly.”

“Do you have any knowledge of their deaths? Ekin asked, walking toward the Knights gathered round the stone table. “How could this have happened again? I thought we were protected.”

“Indeed.” The Knight said. “We all thought we were protected. Though there is one who has departed.”

“Who?” Asked Ekin.

“Jirsev.” Said the old Knight. “He left the battlefield before it had even started. Once he saw the numbers we were facing, he turned his back and abandoned.”

Ekin flared his nose, let the Storms take him. “What of Karro?” He asked, noticing his Blade missing. “Dead?”

“Karro, son of Cirro, was slew by a Niron boar during the second assault.” Said the bearded Knight. “It was bloody and cruel, horrid even. He had not the clue that it was coming. I tried, you see, I tried to aid him, but there was just too many to kill. I’m lucky I myself wasn’t killed. The Niron, there must have been a dozen that traveled from Moram. We had no predisposition over their appearance. This battle was a trap, and a good one at that.”

“And Eyar?” Ekin said gloomily, resting his gauntleted hands on the smooth table.

“Slaughtered by an onslaught of Scirr, from the north realm of Vorae above the Mountains of Varrin.” The bearded man said. “It was a brutal demise. We could not have saved him either, for we tried, though the Scirr were too many in number and force. Such brutes they are, killing and killing for the reason of joy and delight.” He bowed his head. “We are dying Ekin, all of us.” He continued. “Our power is dwindling. In due time what do you suppose will happen? Our entire Order wiped clean out? It cannot end like this. Can it?”

There was a long, solemn pause that consumed the room, “I suppose it is, Galivhar.” Ekin broke in darkly. “How many are we now seven? We were once twenty in the days of our reign. In the days when our people obeyed by our commands. Thirteen of our Order have died in the last year from this dreaded and bloody war that is sweeping over the land. It appears as though it isn’t over either. These are grave times we fight in now, very grave. Do you not remember the ancient texts that spoke of His conquering? The dangers and terrors that patrol this world are too great a force for us anymore. We are past our prime. Our reign is ending.”

“I fear the same.” Said Galivhar. “But is there any way we can preserve it?”

“I see no way.” Ekin said, shaking his head glumly. “For we have already tried. There is nothing left for us in this world. We are too weak to protect the people we swore to defend and the force we now fight is too strong. We are now merely soldiers among many. The power of our Order is finished. There is nothing left for us anymore.”

“What shall we do then?” Asked another Knight, his short brown hair curly and wild. “If we fall… so will Runir.”

“We do what is best.” Said Ekin. “I have dreaded the day I might say this, but the day has come and it shall not be abandoned.” There was another long silence filled with sorrow and despair. Ekin resumed, “It is time for us to leave this world. Our aid is needed not any longer.”

“I feared this day as you did, Ekin.” Said Galivhar. “But it has come ever so quickly; quicker than I had hoped; quicker than all of us had hoped. But I now see there is nothing else for us. I wish to defend and shield the people of Runir from this Darkness, but we are fading. Our power and rule is fading. Our Blades weaken and our magic dies off.” He paused. “I agree.”
There was a long, deep silence that engulfed the room, until the five other Knights thundered in unison, “I agree.”

“Very well.” Announced Ekin, rising. “Let us depart and fade into the patterns of the world. Do what you will, but never speak of this Order, for it is sworn upon you. Any knowledge of us must diminish and disappear into the shadows of the land. Take with you your tools and crafts of our creation. We have no need of them any longer, but if in the hands of the Enemy they will be unstoppable. Gather your tools, then depart this room and vanish into the wide world. Our reign and power have now ended.”

The six Knights, following Ekin’s orders, striped themselves of their sterling silver armor and their great ancient swords, resting them beside their thrones. Exiting the secret and sacred room, Ekin glanced back at the empty stone table. The blue light was gone. “Forgive us.” Ekin whispered, then left. It was time.

 

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