|The Ancient Prophecy
Pt. IX: The War, Won, yet Lost...
by Vipers ©
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
stood before the massive building. The town center stood before him, completely
dwarfing the rest of the buildings around it. The giant stone pillars held
the front part of the structure. The design was magnificent, showing how
high the architectural technology at that time. Every curve in the building
was perfect, although a little bit damaged by the test of time. But he had
seen the building prior to the raiders attack. It was indeed magnificent,
yet it had been more magnificent before.
Now the building looked more like a deserted haunted mansion. It might not actually be haunted, but the building kept a hideous memory of the terrible event many years ago.
Anna appeared beside him, eyeing the building carefully. "Be careful. The power of evil is incredibly strong here."
Atrus heeded the advice. After seeing the vision half and hour ago, he decided that the force of evil was not to be underestimated. He held his sword tightly and advanced inside the mansion, Anna following behind him. The mansion was uncomfortably silent. The beasts that had been giving them a hard time were nowhere to be seen. Whoever or whatever was distracting them, Atrus gave his warmest thanks.
The first door led to a huge ballroom. The majestic room was now covered with molds and dust. Multiple old paintings hung on the high walls, portraying many great men and women who were responsible for the greatness of Salthi. Most of the paintings were already ruined and torn, yet they still gave the sensation of how grand the lost civilization had been.
Atrus opened the next double door. It led to another huge room covered by old, dusty carpet. The blood-red color had slightly faded by age. Multiple banners of the same color decorated the wall. Yet the main attraction of the room was the great number of statuettes in the room. They looked more like victims of the demon's spell. Instead of representing great heroes, they represented figures in awkward postures and frightened face. And they had been fated to carry the expression forever.
"This is it." Anna said slowly. "The gallery room."
"Whoever you are!!" Atrus yelled. "Show yourself!!"
"Why, I'm here..."
The man with the long dark cloak was hovering on the ground, staring at them. He hid his smirk under his high collar. He kept most of his body under the cloak, not eager to reveal too much.
"I must welcome you to my sanctum, heroes... the word of your exploits has traveled far..."
"Let's get over with it, demon!" Atrus grumbled.
"Ah... The Prophet of the Guardian... I'd never thought I would ever see you in person..."
"Why did you do this...?" Anna asked.
"Why, that's a very interesting question..." His voice turned sour suddenly. "I'd never thought someone would care!!"
"Why did you do this?!" Anna repeated. "Why did you do this to the race that helped you?!"
At this point Atrus didn't know what Anna was talking about, but he kept silent. He cursed himself as the demon read his expression. "See... You've made both of us confused now..."
"The spirits!! Those lost souls!! You manipulate them!!"
"Lady, I don't know what you're talking about..."
"I know who you are, Gareth!!" The demon and, of course, Atrus, were shocked at the mention of the name. "It's really you, isn't it?"
"Anna, how do you..."
"She spirits showed me more." Anna replied. "They have revealed everything."
The demon stayed quiet for a while, so Anna continued. "There is a man named Gareth Lightbringer, the member of the Great Magi Council in northern Aragon, years before the council was disbanded. He has heard the news about the destruction of the city of Salthi in eastern region, so he went there and found the city lying in ruins. Yet the citizens lived around the ruins, tirelessly tried to defeat the demons they had invited through the Gate. So the mage joined hand with them and fought the demon.
"Yet they were losing the fight." Anna continued. "The demon came to him and offered him power beyond imagination. He decided that the fight was already over, so he took the offer and betrayed those innocent citizens who put their hope in him. He killed them all. To cover his crime he erected massive city walls around the ruins and locked the lost civilization, including himself and the lost spirits of the citizens inside the pyramid. Then he became the leader of the great ruins of Salthi, with the lost souls as his slaves, and the entire ghost city as his empire." Anna stared at the demon. "That man is you."
"Those damn culprits..." The demon cursed. "They talk too much. "I'll deal with them later."
"There is one more matter to address..." Anna added. "You're still as young as ever, so I conclude that you've sold your soul to the demon... Correct me if I'm wrong..."
"FINE!!!" The demon roared. "You know about me now!!" He slid one of his hands off the robe, and to everybody's surprise, the hand was no more than bones and rotten flesh. "Perhaps I need to introduce myself. I'm Gareth Lightbringer, a Great Lich and a general under Lord Daemon, the supreme leader of the Army of Darkness."
"You're an undead creature?!" Atrus gasped.
"Two hundred years..." Gareth barked. "I asked my fellow wizards to assist me in my battle. Two hundred years I waited for them to show up... No one came... They really didn't care about me... They said I'm a geek... They said I'm incompetent... I showed them... I withstood those demons... Yet they abandoned me... They urged me to take the mission because they wanted to dispose me..."
He tightened his knuckle, flashes of lightning bolts crackling from it. "Now I must have my revenge... They shall pay for ignoring Gareth Lightbringer... The forces of the underworld will succeed and they will see me as a victor of war!!"
"You won't win, demon." Atrus said. "You're fighting the wrong war."
"That's right. You're not a victor of war." Anna added. "You're the victor of your own war."
"What?!! I'm stronger now!! I'm a full, competent mage!!"
"You killed innocent citizens to get your ambition." Anna replied. "I believe your friends will not approve that..."
"THEY'RE NOT MY FRIENDS!!!" The ground shook as he roared in anger. "They abandoned me... Now they will see that I can do something. The entire realm will acknowledge me as a great man."
"Or a great traitor." Atrus shot back.
"I don't care what you think, Humans! You are all nothing but my filthy preys!"
"Don't do this, Gareth..." Anna pleaded. "Please turn back before it's too late..."
"SILENCE, YOU ALL!!!" The Lich roared again, and produced a long vial he'd been keeping under his robe. "I believe you want this..."
Neither Atrus nor Anna countered it. "Good, now that I have your attention, I can ask what I want." He pointed at Atrus. "I want you, Prophet of the Guardian. You will come with me in exchange of your friend's life. You will meet your ultimate destiny, your death!"
"Wait a minute!" Anna said. "How you we know you're not betraying us?"
"You will know," Gareth responded, "that I'm a man of honor, despite my betrayal. I will fulfill my ambition. Your friend's life will not affect the ultimate outcome of war, so I don't care. If you give the potion in time, she will live."
"Why do you have to do this, Gareth..."
"No more discussion, Lady!" Gareth turned to Atrus. "This is it, Prophet of the Guardian. It's your choice. Is it your friend's life... or yours...?"
"You don't need to ask." Atrus answered. "Take me to your master."
"We've had this discussion, Anna. I will not risk Maya's life."
"But the fate of the realm is in your hand!" Anna insisted.
"And now it's in yours." Atrus answered. "I'm just a messenger. But you must continue to forge the alliance. You must find the Champion. Our survival depends on it." He paused for a while. "I'm sorry, Anna... I've broken my vow. I can't be with you anymore."
Anna just stared in disbelief as Atrus walked slowly toward the Lich. She couldn't believe it was happening. Atrus couldn't die! He's her best friend. She wouldn't want to see it. Tears sprung from her eyes when she saw that Atrus was taking off his sword. I have to act! Or else everything is lost.
The Lich looked annoyed. "Now what?"
"I want to raise the stake." Anna said, wiping the tears off her eyes.
"What do you propose?" The Lich looked interested.
"I want you to raise the bet. I want you to free the souls you've enslaved in this pyramid. I want you to save our friend Maya. Lastly I want you to shut down the Gate in this region."
"That's a very hard bargain, Lady." Gareth snorted. "What do I get in return?"
Anna hesitated for a while, then answered. "You can have me."
"You know you don't need Atrus." Anna continued, purposely avoiding Atrus' stare. "I know you want me. I know that you want to get rid of me from the realm, because you know that you will meet your ambition better by doing so. A fast and surgical strike, am I right?"
Atrus just stared at Anna at lost of word. The Lich also couldn't say anything. Anna choked on her word for a while before continuing.
"Go ahead... Take me... And let my friends go..."
"Anna, you can't..."
"Agreed." The Lich grinned. "I will make you feel sorry for your decision."
Atrus charged the demon, but an invisible force pushed him against the wall, destroying a few statuettes in the process. When he recovered, he saw the vial hovering before him. To his horror, he saw Anna standing next to the Lich, staring at him with determination and grief.
"Go and take the vial." The Lich said. "You still have an hour. Drop the content to your friend's mouth and she will survive. I have fulfilled the first part of the bargain."
Then he raised his hand. A deep blue glow appeared, and the room was suddenly filled with thousands of ghouls that they knew were the lost souls of the former occupants of the city. With a wave of his hand, the ghouls vanished instantly and the room was silent once more.
"The souls are free. The bonds I've fastened onto them have been broken. Therefor I have fulfilled the second part of the bargain."
Atrus just watched in horror as the agreement was made. He couldn't break it. They have made an agreement with the demons, and they have no way to break the seal.
"As for the third part, I don't know how to close the Gate. All I can tell you is that the Gate lies inside the city sewers at the eastern part of the city. Do whatever you want with it, but be careful with the monsters. There... I have fulfilled my part of the bargain."
"Anna... don't do this..." Atrus found himself pleading.
"Atrus... You have to go back and save our friends... You have to forge the alliance and find the Champion of the Guardian... He's our only hope..." Anna began to weep. "I'm so sorry, Atrus... I can't be with you anymore..."
"Anna... why did you do this...?"
"Because I love you..." Anna answered finally. "It's a love that will never come true... Atrus, I can't win you... Please take care of Maya for me... Her love is true for you..." Her tears fell freely from her eyes. Her hands reached out and touched the earrings Atrus had given for her birthday. "I will always remember you, Atrus... But forget me... Go on with your life... Forget me..."
Atrus looked at the Lich expectantly, and he nodded. "Although I'm possessed, I'm not a man without compassion. Do whatever you like."
Atrus approached her and wrapped his arms around her. "Anna... I..."
Anna cried in his arms, her tears wetting his shirt. "I will miss you, Atrus..."
And he kissed her lips fully, making sure that this is the moment he would never forget. Anna grasped his neck and pulled him closer, wanting to enjoy every single moment they could spend together. She knew this moment might never come again, yet Atrus knew otherwise.
"I'll come for you..." Atrus said finally. "I'll rescue you..."
Anna stared at him lovingly; her soft fingers wiped the tears off his cheek. "I know, Atrus... But don't... The fate of the realm is in your hand... Go and find the Champion of the Guardian and my soul will be at peace... May the Guardian speed your way, Ranger Atrus..."
And against Atrus' consent, Anna broke the hug and stepped back from him. And all he could do was stare helplessly as his very best friend departed from him. Anna stood beside the Lich, unable to look at the man she'd always loved. It was over for her. Her destiny had been fulfilled.
"I'm sorry, Prophet of the Guardian, but I have to go." Gareth spoke up. "Survive the war long enough and you will see me again. Then you can have your revenge."
"I will see to it personally, demon!"
A large, swirling hole appeared behind them and the two figures walked inside. Anna stared at him for the last time and waved her hand.
"Good bye, Atrus... May you find joy in all your live..."
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
|Another top quality story by Vipers.|
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