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Lanterns, a pre- emphatic to the full story


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The heavy wind carressed the surface of the earth, stroking it gently along the jagged reaches of the towering mountains, in the lightless pits filled with the bones of the brave and the foolish and on the vast fertile plains, sprouting after the considerable spring rains now densly populated with the queer breed of bison that frequented the area. They grazed as the heavy wind danced its way through the enormous beats and scampered, startled as the wind flicked up spectres and demons of dust, throwing them briefly and making them jut along the dusty plains before gravity reassumed control over the light particles and the shadows and their masters dispersed once more into the warm ground. The sky from which the wind descended was blue, a deep azure blue so stark against the rich red of the vitamin rich, crimson earth that it appeared luminscent and antipathetic. Streaking the beauty of the azure sky were slits of white cloud, corrupting the beauty of the sky, breaking an endless and infinate plain that mirrored the vastness of its earthly counter part with. The small wisps of suspended ice and water lumbered aimlessly in the sky, often clashing with other small or large groups and forming a larger cloud that cast a long, daunting shadow over the land before the heavy wind once again seized its property, dispensing of it in a cascade of purity that stetched to the horizon and to the sea. The smaller, unsegregated clusters of cloud milled often and tornadoed in bizzare and untraceable patterns, spinning left then right before unifying in a massive spirl above the plain that grew with seconds passing. Far below, but irrelevant to the eye, vultures and other birds of plunder mimicked the clouds. Carrion birds wheeled purposefully in the sky, howling and screaming as they pursued another and dived before pulling up before the blood of the ground. The same birds would plunge out of the sky and dive steeply to smaller Bison, staranded away from their herde and peck at them until the other bison became aware of the lone stragglers plight and charge at the willy birds which would the wheel away cackling as the bison returned to their oblivious state.

The wind returned, bring with it the taste of blood. This time is flew veritically from the ground itself, bringing with it the vile taste of steely blood, rushing it into the open mouths of vultures who gaped stupidly at the phenomonen before fleeing fearfully. A second gust buffetted those who had remained, the few birds, tossing them carelessly into the sky, tearing feathers and wing alike before the hapless creatures plummetted back down like stones in a Myridian pool, to the cold, hard, red earth. A final gust of wind more powerful than all the others was released. This time it came more naturally, from the now darkening sky, but stronger then all the previous. This wind, in fact, was the strongest the continent of Wiscot had ever received. It sang quitely at first, then howled, screaming of evil so despicable, the bison cowered, unable to flee because of the pressure mounting on their muscular backs and the screaming of the demonic wind in their primal ears. The pressure rose, steadily at first until it slammed down from the gathering clouds in bursts so powerful, the bison gathered and trapped were forced onto their pink, soft bellies. The ground pushed as the wind stamped the terrified animals into silence. The pressure rose again, and again and when it seemed it could grow no more forceful, it id so. Finally it reached its maxim. A sharp crack rang out in the center of the loose ring of bison as the spine of the binson shattered under the immense weight of the devestating, insidious wind. Crack, crack, crack went the powerful backs of the bison as more and more fell prey to the voracious wind and its incessent screaming. Eventually, the last, strongest bison snapped and all was silent but the sound of the wind slamming perpetually into the cold and stalwart ground.

Without warning, the wind ceased and all that remained were the corpses of the deceased animals in a circle. At the center of the circle, a single virgin bison lay crushed alike its kinsman. For a while, there was naught. Not the slightest breath of wind, not a carrion bird streaking across the now cobalt, scintilating vault of heaven. Even the gathering clouds had dispersed leaving all but endless, brilliant, maiden uniformity of the sky. Not a single blemish brushed the cheek of the purity of the celestial stratosphere.

The ground spoke of a different tale. The ground, at first unmoving and unmovable, had resisted the momentum of the wind, holding its way against the seige of the sky. Now, however, the ground had cracked, fissures ran in all directions. The measure of the directions, however, was not arbitary. All ran east or west, along a predefined line set before the time of man, chasing an unknown foe beyond the horizon. The point they crossed over was in perfect linearity to the circle of bison and at the center lay the virgin bison.

The crack widened. They expanded slowly, like metal glowing in a forge in Myre, shrinking and distorting before unexpectedly shooting outwards 3 ft and repeating. All the cracks did this, from the east to the west, rumbling and twisting. Spaces where there was an absense of air writhing like snakes in a pit of molten lead, jutting out at obscure angles before slamming back into the ground and squirming around. A stink emanated from the cracks, a vile odour of corruption and degredation that permeated the very earth. Never again would crop or animal flourish here. The bison were flung into the air or consumed by the vortex forming as the cracks expanded and joined much the like the clouds gathered only an hour ago. Occasionally, the cracks would spit out a bison, ejecting the massive beast as if but a rag, sending it sallying into the glowing sky before it would plummet back to earth to land in another growing crack.

Eventually, the cracks stopped their inccessant movement and halted, as if on command. The bison were vanquished and in their place, massive gaping holes that stank of death sat, commanding the stark and featureless landscape of the plains surrounding it. A faint black light radiated from the soul of the cracks. The light baked the earth hard as to obsidian and sucked the life from the surrounding lands. On this day, farmers would report the death of thousands of farm animals and peasants, the death of the young and old alike and the frail and the sick equally. The ragged, blackened obsidian edges began to coalesce into one, binding them selves with hideous tendrils of darkness. Whispers of unspeakable evil floated up through the midday air, imprinting the air with the fabric of pain itself. The whispers travelled on the wind to nearby villages, unlucky enough to be in the path of the indescribable evil. THe villages would proceed to burst into flames or collapse in piles of unidentifable rubble. The inhabitants themselves initially remains untouched but would later report children born in the happenance of dragons and imps and men would be found screaming in a pool of noxious acid, clutching and clawing at enormous revolting abberations attached to their face before disintergrating into a pile of jelly.

As the edges grinded into each other, generating wisps of black fire as they clashed and vibrated on another, the voices became chanting which became screaming which became uluating which stopped eventually to give way to a deep, gutural growling. The sound was so malevolent and wicked, the little flora on the plain withered under its injurious presence. Eventually, the sound stopped. The crack stopped widening. The glow subsided. Everything returned to normal, but for the immense gap in the earth, leading directly to the bowels of the earth.

The gap was enormous. Three triemes would fit bow to prow along its width and an uncountable number along its length. Its depth was so that the darkess of it sallied from the hole, rather than light entering its domain and its presence so profound, it changed the aesthetical nature of even the fartherest mountains. It is from this hole in the Great Astol Plains that the 7 demons of the Under Tome launched into the world of Free men, followed by the Screaming Horde with but one goal, to rid the world of the Free Men and their erronous ways.

A volumentric fog creept into the walled city of Myre, slinking south from the great Astol Plains, seat of the God Kings. It came early, before the first bell, slithering with great tendrils of frosted death, sliding malevolently into the nostrils and gaping mouths of exhausted guards, nearing the end of the night toil. The frost permeated the walls of the great city, seeping into the ancient sand stone and thick blocks of mined quarry stone from the far north, turning it soft and spongy. Guards toppled over from the chill as it entered their blood and minds alike, numbening them to the slash of silent demon swords across their blue and vulenerable throats, sending head careening over the 50 ft wall to land amongst the streaming masses of the Screaming Hordes, silently impacting with the ground, moist from a night of dew and frozen from the imprints of a thousand evils. The Horde waded through each other, slightly transparent, yet reflecting the light of the diminishing moon and refracting it into one another, creating a awesome illusion of one luminiscent body moving as one. They shy'd away from the heat and natural light of the mounted wall torches, fearful of its incandescence and warmth. Silently, they moved through the village, entering homes before quickly stealing away the warm, human breath of its innocent inhabitents, mostly women and children. Men were scarce in a warring nation.

The glass spectres had advanced one-third up the slopping hills of Myre, with its cobblestone paths, now slick with ice and moisture which resonated from the dead and demons alike. Myre with its hulking, towering palace which stood at the very north of the great walled city and its flat low single story huts and squat houses built from mud brick at the very south and limestone to the very north. Myre with its vaccant barracks places, its empty watch towers, Myre with its one hundred thousand inhabitents and yet, only six hundred fighting men.

Myre who was assasinated by the Screaming Horde in the beginnning of the day, before the Sun rose and moon set. Myre who only died screaming at the end when the first bell rang to the east, but none to the south. Myre whose men already stretched thin, ran from their posts scattered loosely throughout the city to engage a abhorrent and wraith-like enemy, charging against masses in small bunches of humanity against the inpermable density of the dark with short swords for the footmen, spear men for the vanguards made of Holonhome steel and longswords for the rare few commanders, all wearing mismatched sets of iron armour and helms of tattered leather. Vambraces and greaves of harden hides, chest plates of battered, uneven iron, rusted on the extremities, more likely to bite its wearer with a tongue of corruption then deflect the stroke of a deft swordsman. Men from noble yet increasingly obscure families whose experience stemmed from the small local bouts they had participated in or the irrelevent engagements with even more irrelevent brigannds and bandits. Green men, rushing valiantly yet with great futility against the innumerous hordes of the 7 Demons to slay a few but fall in devestating numbers.

"Foward, think not, foward" A commander would implore over the din and clash of battle before being sliced by the black metal of Demon metal. For a while, the men of the Free earth struggled, but the initial burst of momentum is all they had at their disposal and slowly, the blade of woe and felony was thrust into the heart of Myre. That early morning, the songs and screams of terror would float in the wind, lost as the children and women who would flee and the great walled city in search of refuge, escaping unspeakable horrors, but falling prey to the evil of society or the inconquorable elements of nature. Myre would not burn, it would not crash and tumble around the ears of humanity but crumble and distort under the intent gaze of the 7 Demons, sinking and dipping silently into the earth, as if no city, no civilization had ever existed. In its place, great black thistles would rise from the earth, clutching at the infernal, unreachable sky with tiny flowers, black spotted with red and bodies white as the face of death. The sky would hush its children, breathing a light wind which would grow heavy, crashing onto the earth, releasing the horrors of hell to join its already earth lingering breathern.

Darkness lifted from the greatest city in the Kingdom of the Freemen and with it, streaks of golden light poured down on the earth, bestowing the greatest purity on the hallowed soil. Hodol, the seat of the empire sat glistening on the apex of the greatest land bound platform in the continents, fastened by massive clips of Holonhome steel and titanium forged in the deepest furnaces and cooled in the frozen, sightless pits of the Assrium sinkholes and carried, ac

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