Rayn advanced quickly and silently. It was dark; there was no moon
to be seen on this night. The sky was unnaturally bright, however,
with thousands of glittering stars acting as lanterns hung upon the
heavens. He felt very tense, his body very stiff; cold sweat was
visible on his face. The stranglehold over Nareth was growing
tighter every moment he delayed. The Elves had struggled greatly to
muster up even the slightest resistance. The future lay upon his
Within the besieged castle was Arendel, and he was even more
fatigued than when the journey began. It was dire that they avoid
the fight at all costs. Arendel could not simply escape the fort
either, for the Hunter was always alert. His ability to track the
Divine was impeccable. It would not escape his attention that the
Divine had left Castle Nareth. There was only one option left. Rayn
needed to find the Hunter-alone-and kill him.
����������� Rayn drew his sword. The Sword of Syra and the Sword
of Adain had been shattered by Segvault. Rayn found aid in from
the Moon Elves, who forged a new blade from the remnants. Like a
phoenix rising from the ashes, Rayn felt a new power surging in
his sword. The Moon Elves called it the Sword of Aegis because of
the startling similarities between his and the original. Upon the
hilt, they embedded the Jewel of the Elves, a gem with an
appearance similar to the Divinity Crystal, thus creating the
perfect balance of beauty and power.
Damien had conversed with the Hunter privately, in an attempt to
coax the Hunter out of an attack. The attempt failed, but Damien
learned that the Hunter would be on top of a hill nearby. The
Hunter had been tracking the Divine well throughout Arcia. Fleeing
from him was no mean feat, and it was only due to Damien's wisdom
that they had made it this far alive. There was no purpose in
doubting him now.
Among the Guardians that remained, there were only three: Rayn,
Damien, and Gale. Damien was in constant pain; illness had seized
him. He was not up to his full fighting potential. Gale had been
eternally transformed. He abandoned his earthly mount for a loyal
wyvern; his countenance had changed dramatically. His eyes, which
before the journey began were like stars, were now merely shadows
of their former being. He had lost his sanity for a brief period of
time, and he returned a different person. Arendel was very weak
now, often not staying conscious for more than an hour. Rayn had
lost his closest companions, Addler and Scion. He was desperately
trying to maintain control. He would weep for them in the end.
����������� Rayn climbed the nearest hill with incredible agility
and speed. The Hunter stood still, not moving the slightest bit.
Rayn advanced stealthily from behind. Rayn treaded carefully, but
it was not enough. He stepped on a small twig which snapped ever
so quietly. But that was sufficient; the Hunter stirred to life.
Without a moment to waste, Rayn charged.����
The Hunter turned and raised his hand. Suddenly Rayn felt as if
someone ran into him, he jumped back and planted his feet on the
ground. The Hunter summoned his bow and instantly shot his two
ivory arrows at Rayn. But the Wielder of Aegis had now become very
proficient in the arts of magic. Rayn lifted his free hand and
abruptly the arrow, in mid-flight, snapped. The Sword of Aegis did
not waste and time and he quickly charged.
The Hunter was silent; his inhuman eyes glowed with a burning
ferocity. He dropped his bow and drew a long, sharp battle dagger
from his waist. Rayn attacked relentlessly, attacking opening after
opening. But the Hunter was always on guard, closing every breach
just as fast as it manifested. He managed to beat back Rayn's
offensive, and was prepared to imitate his own attack when Rayn
again surprised him. The wielder of Aegis slammed his fist into the
Hunter's bare chest. It was through the fist that he channeled his
magic through, and summoned a gust of wind that sent the Hunter
reeling back. Rayn charged again sending the Hunter back on the
����������� The Hunter's face changed from apathy to anger. His
eyes flared as he tapped into his hidden power. The Hunter broke
Rayn's offensive instantly in one powerful attack. Rayn was
vulnerable. The Hunter moved in for the kill, but it was not as
easy as he thought. Rayn had become very adept in Wind Magic. He
was advancing much further than the other Guardians, and was able
to channel wind through his body or his weapons. Rayn jumped away
from the Hunter's blade and used the wind to fuel his jump. He
landed several meters away from the Hunter. In stead of using his
bow, the Hunter charged. It was to be a contest of blades.
The Sword of Aegis' mind raced, there was no way he could match the
Hunter's speed, the very impetus of the attack would be jarring.
And yet there was no other way. Rayn pointed his hand towards the
Hunter, just meters away. Rayn concentrated with all his will. If
he could not do this, then the contest would eternally be decided
in the Hunter's favor.
Suddenly, the Hunter was confronted by a wall of flames. The Hunter
halted in his tracks as the flames surrounded him. The
conflagration was wildly thrashing in the air, struggling to
release itself from the magic that bound it. They burnt the ground
instantly, and the heat they emitted was utterly agonizing
����������� Dark Fire. Rayn was sapping his own strength by the
second. Almost immediately, Rayn felt his legs weaken, but he
held onto the spell. The flames grew stronger and roared into the
sky. Minutes passed, and the flame wall grew taller. The Hunter's
face could barely be seen. The wielder of Aegis looked up to see
true fear etched on the face of the Hunter. Rayn smiled, and
released his grip on the flames. Freed from their magical
shackles, the blaze surged towards the Hunter. His end was
����������� "Hunter! You cannot die today!" Someone cried. Rayn
looked around frantically. No one was near them. With a sense of
foreboding, Rayn looked into the sky. It was him.
����������� "Segvault!" Rayn shouted. Segvault was atop a wyvern
that blended into the black night's sky. However, the Hero's
silver armor was clearly visible. He held a diamond studded lance
that even kings would envy. Without a moment to spare, he
summoned a blue orb into his free hand. The Hero flung it at
incredible speeds towards the enormous fire that Rayn had
summoned. He barely saw it in flight; the blue orb shattered
directly above the flames. Blinding white light erupted from the
shards; streams of light arced towards the flames, extinguishing
the blazing inferno.
����������� As the fire extinguished, Rayn was flung backward as
though he was lifted and tossed by some unseen juggernaut. Pain
coursed through his body, at the same time, what little was left
of his strength abandoned him. He barely found the strength to
����������� "Hunter!" Segvualt cried again. The Hunter dropped to
his knees, sweating profusely and breathing harshly. He too was
extremely weak now. "The Master has demanded your presence. Get
back to him at once. Your business here is done, I will complete
the siege. Now, begone!" The Hunter looked at the Segvault
furiously, and then slammed his fist into the earth. A storm of
dust rose from the ground, cloaking him. As the dust vanished,
the Hunter was nowhere to be seen.
��� ������� Segvault descended closer to the earth, but did not
land. Rayn was exhausted, he had gotten carried away. He used too
much magic, magic that required massive amounts of energy to
tame. Rayn also felt the effects of Arcane Resistance, as
Lysander called it. When magic was broken by another magician,
more energy is sapped from the caster.
The wyvern rider watched the enervated warrior intently. Segvault
the Hero was an enemy completely beyond Rayn. It was he who
shattered his previous swords in a single blow.
����������� "How foolish, Wielder of Aegis." The Hero muttered.
"You nearly killed yourself."
����������� "What brings you here, craven, if not to fight?" Rayn
said through gasps of breath, angered by his own inability.
����������� "It is not me who is at the point of a blade; it
would be prudent to mind what you say. Such pride before death is
����������� "Can murderers speak of honor so boldly?" Rayn said
through his gritted teeth. He struggled to get up, staggering
����������� "Hah. Your words are as strong as your blade, and
your words are weak. Insults are only borne of failure. But be
silent. I did not come here to cross blades with you or exchange
any discourse. Return to your camp. Today I grant you a moment's
reprieve." His face was unreadable, however. This mercy was
uncharacteristic of Barkai. "On your return beware of the path
you may take. There is a gathering of life and death upon that
road." Segvault added with what was the beginning of a smile.
����������� "Another riddle!" Rayn shouted furiously. "If you
wish to aid me, speak it terms that I can understand!" Segvault
����������� "Hearken to me, Wielder of Aegis! I will lead the
attack upon Castle Nareth. At dawn tomorrow, those legions will
surge forth. If you wish to complete your journey, leave tonight
and do not stop for all that you hold dear!" With that Segvault
ordered the wyvern to ascend. They flew off into the night sky,
and towards the besieging army's camp.
����������� He rested and recuperated for quiet a while. When he
could finally feel legs again, he felt ready to collapse. Rayn
could hardly move. Despite his efforts, his mission had ended in
failure. He would have to return to the camp with the terrible
news. If the Hunter had died, it would have greatly upset the
But now, Segvault the Hero was to take his place, an enemy even
Damien feared. Rayn began their miserable march back to castle. He
took fastest route, Rayn knew that he had failed, but he was not
the kind of person to avoid his fate.
Rayn rested by a tree, half way through his journey. There was a
trench nearby, but Rayn did not have the energy to pay it any
attention. As he sat he gazed about him. The forest of Nareth had
been scarred by chaos and war. It would have been beautiful should
the Relics never have existed. Rayn saw a white piece of cloth by
the side of the trench.
Rayn walked to the side and looked into the trench. Within were
corpses of two knights. They were both shot with ivory arrows, the
emblem of the Hunter. It was clear that they were both dead, and
that they bled quite a bit. Rayn looked away, hoping for something
else to steal his attention. Could his day possibly get worse?
But as duty had it, Rayn slid slowly into the trench to confirm the
obvious. They were dead; they had no pulse. Rayn disgustedly looked
aside and saw something strange.
�There was another body amongst them. Rayn approached the corpse.
It seemed to be a young woman. She was wearing a brown travelers
cloak smeared by mud and soaked with blood. Rayn checked its pulse
gloomily. To his shock, she was still alive. The tired warrior bent
down to move her from the puddle of blood which she laid. But he
suddenly recognized her. Rayn felt, strange and sickly. He finally
knew who she was. Syra.
As soon as the word entered his mind, pain erupted throughout his
body. There was nothing he could do to stem the tide, the force was
too strong. The flood gates were opened; Rayn fell onto the ground
and waited death to come and grant him peace. But death did not
come, the torture continued long after he lost consciousness. His
dreams were tormented by perpetual torment. Suddenly, Rayn's mind
cleared. Everything went dark.