• Fierce Ermine hated to admit it but he was lost. For the first time in his life he had gotten lost. Also for the first time, his navigation spell had worn off. He should have listened. They had all said nobody could survive in the Rezök Mountains. Now he knew why. Now, he needed to find his way back. He sighed and mopped sweat from his brow. He took his horn for the ninth time and blew. It made a long trumpet like sound, but no one could hear him. They were all miles away.
    He climbed for hours along the mountain crests until finally he stopped to rest for the night in a small indent on the side of the mountain where he built the fire, for he had no energy left in him to conjure it, and laid to sleep shadows dancing on the wall in the flickering flame.
    He dreamed that night. He was climbing up a steep plateau and was making good progress. Then he saw the shape at the top. The shadow bento over and pulled out what looked like a knife.
    “NO!” Fierce Ermine shouted as the man started to saw the rope with the blade.
    But the shadow wasn’t listening. He continued to cut the rope as Fierce Ermine tried to climb as fast as he could, but alas the weight of him was too much for the few fibers holding the rope together and it snapped, and he fell.
    Then he woke panting, sweating, and yelling.
    An omen was his first thought, and then what does it mean
    He packed up camp as quickly as he could and set off down into a valley.
    He saw a plume of smoke rise from over the crest of the valley. The camp! He nearly whooped for joy. He showed them, he made it out alive. He started trudging up the sloped face of the valley sides. It took him about 5 minutes to climb the steep side when he saw, not the camp but a magnificent castle. The smoke was drifting out of the five story chimney.
    Why was it here in the middle of the mountains? He pushed on the door. It creaked and squeaked as it slowly swung open on rusty hinges.
    He was standing in a large empty foyer with pillars lining in rows all the way down an almost immeasurable distance accounting for the darkness of the room. And unaware as he, knew that none could live in this section of the mountains, he walked down the hallway he noticed a slight chill to the air as he listened to the thumps and clacks of the hardened boots hitting the marble floor and echoing off the walls.
    Then the end of the hall came into focus. There was an unrecognizable grey shape in view along with another, slightly larger black shape sitting, no, standing next to it.
    As he got closer, and closer the shape came into focus, it seemed to be a man, maybe a cripple; Fierce Ermine put his guard up even though he sensed no danger it didn’t hurt to be cautious.
    “Hello there child…” the old man said “you must be weary. Come, rest your aching muscles.”

    * * *

    Lavanio saw the man laying there, his dilated pupils narrowed in disgust at Lavanio as he lowered his hood to reveal the last thing the man would ever see. Lavanio took his sword out of the sheath, and with one quick jab it was all over. He felt the soul flood into him as the man lay still. Almost enough. He thought. Only a few more souls were needed for him to return to full power. He had taken the lives of hundreds who had come to his castle. He would kill as many men as he needed to until he regained all the power he had once been able to use.
    A wandering mind may wonder why he was doing this. It was because of what the guardians did to him. They had betrayed him and left him. He had been one of them once, but that was many, many years ago. He had been the guardian of shadows. Then they had started to question his loyalty to them. The light had even doubted there should even be a guardian of shadows.
    He may have killed many in his reign. But he had saved many more in the process. Then they left him, they betrayed him and stripped him of his power. Now he wanted vengeance. He would kill them all and make Mordain a great power once more. He would lead the nation with his power of shadows. He would destroy the nation that betrayed him. Gallamore would fall and Mordain would rise to rule Earth.
    The pitiful mountain man was one of many to become a part of him. He laid his head onto the throne. And slowly fell asleep. For next month there would be armies at his doorstep. He would smite them all with one blow of his sword. He would be able to kill a dragon with his bare hands again as he used to before the war, before Tristan. He fell asleep, ready for the next day.