In the land of Arthos, there lives all manner of mythical creatures. The elves, the goblins, the orcs, the humans... but one race was banished; the primordial dragons. Sealed within those whom they saw fit for power, the dragons have begun to reawaken in their hosts to save the country of Arthos from a growing demonic threat.
Kulgan briskly walked into the room, waving the doors open with his hand. He pulled out a chair and sat down, resting his face in the palm of his hand and his elbow on the edge of the diamond-shaped mahogany table. He sighed, tapped the desk with his fingers and sighed again.
A few minutes later, the other three doors opened, followed by two cloaked individuals for each door. The room was round; the ceiling a dome held up by columns and the doorways that led to bridges that connected to other towers. Each doorway had a different color scheme and design; one with gold and red flames and outlined with white, another with green and brown trees, animals and mountains, another with purple and black clouds above grey mountains, one more with azure waves and silver sea birds.
The individuals that walked through the doors each wore cloaks that had their respective colors. Their faces were hidden in the shadow of their hoods. Each had their own weapon, a unique design that were as deadly as they were beautiful.
As they sat down, Kulgan straightened in his chair and resumed his kingly demeanor. He was the host of this summit; and he had to keep his anxieties a secret.
The first pair of leaders sat down on the green corner of the table. “Greetings, Paxton and Mar, masters of Earth.” Kulgan said. Paxton and Mar nodded in acknowledgment.
Kulgan watched as the purple-cloaked leaders sat. “Greetings to you two as well, Io and Tate, masters of Air.”
“And to you, Master Kulgan.” The purple-and-white one, Tate, replied.
A blue-cloaked leader, with bright blonde hair that fell out from her hood, almost literally bounced into the room. “Hiyas, everybody!” She said cheerily.
“Cryo, please keep it down…” The other blue leader sighed, as Io chuckled.
“Hello, Cryo and Will.” Kulgan said, his mood lightening a little at Cryo’s cheerfulness.
Kulgan watched as the Light master of Fire soundlessly sat in his chair. “Ailen.”
“Kulgan.” Ailen replied.
A few minutes passed. The sun’s light flooded in through the holes in the ceiling and from between the columns, causing the white and other-colored marble to sparkle. The room they were sitting in was at the top of the highest tower in the grand city of Arthos. If someone walked between the columns that held up the ceiling, they would fall one-thousand and fifty feet onto a round platform of stone. And die.
“Damn, where is Set? He was supposed to be here early.” Io, the Dark master of Air, said with distaste.
“I hope he arrives soon. We can’t commence without all eight masters.” Kulgan said.
The clacking of metal on stone began; getting louder as the source neared. There was also something that sounded like bone hitting the floor, making some odd melody that warned of something dangerous. The guards at the doors turned and looked down the hallway, then jumped back from the site.
They put their spears down, level with the newcomers, and charged. The black-cloaked stranger drew his sword faster than any normal swordsman, and parried each of the guard’s attacks. He sheathed it and continued walking, while the soldiers stumbled in shock. All the leaders at the table stood up and Io pointed two fingers at the intruder.
Then they all saw the source of the bone-like tapping. “Kill the goblin, quickly!” Kulgan yelled. The leaders whipped out their weapons at almost invisible speeds. The black-armored, black-hooded, black-cloaked warrior once more unsheathed his sword, but his left hand went aflame with an unholy-looking black fire, the tips of which was a deep purple.
“This is my loyal friend, Gremel. You can try to kill him, but you won’t easily.” His voice was even and deadly serious.
The others sheathed their weapons, a feeling of realization passed on all of them.
“Salutations, Set, master of the Dark Flame… may I ask, who is the beast that accompanies you?” Kulgan asked, his fear-slash-anger disappearing quickly, turning into curiosity.
The green-skinned goblin looked up. “Gremel’s name is Gremel! I is not like my brethren; I is friend to humans.”
Cryo popped out of her seat. “It can talk English! Oh, it’s so cute!” She announced. Cryo seemed ready to almost pounce on the thing to hug it.
“The creature can speak human tongue? What is the meaning of this, Set?” Kulgan asked, becoming somewhat angry again.
“We have no time for this chatter. What is this meeting about?” Set said, taking his seat at the red corner of the table, next to Ailen. All the masters sat down.
Kulgan looked around at all the leaders at the table. He waved to the guard behind him, whispered an order, and turned back to the visitors, his fingers going back to their rythmic tapping.
After a couple minutes, Io started looking at the knives she had hid in her sleeves. Cryo kept eyeing Grimel, and seemed positively excited that there was a goblin in the room. Ailen started humming an odd tune.
After another few minutes, Cryo started to open her mouth, but was interrupted by the doors behind Kulgan slamming open. The guard he gave orders to came back with a stack of scrolls.
“I think you already know, Set. According to reports from our forward scouts, there was a battle with orcs on the high road. Most of the recorded orcs had severe burns; something beyond the average fire user. There were also immaculately placed cuts on their vital organs.
This report also mentions numerous fresh claw marks on their calfs and shins. From this, I can take it that you and… Gremel… were responsible for the death of fifteen orcs?” Kulgan emphasized the fifteen orcs part, but said the name Gremel with distaste.
Set did not reply.
“Do not underestimate those of the Fire, Kulgan. Especially the Darks.” Ailen spoke up. “There are almost none better than the Clan of the Dark Flame. He also travels with a goblin…”
“Gremel had nothing to do wit those orcs. Master kill them all before Gremel get to kill one.” Gremel poked his head up over the table. “Stupid human furniture! All too tall.”
Cryo laughed and Io chuckled. Even Kulgan had to smirk, but it wasn’t long before they were all back to business.
Kulgan looked at Paxton, who nodded in reply. “I and Mar have witnessed oragnized orc raiding parties in the southern territories. The typical orc tribe is loose and based on honor, but these are complete military troops. They’re acting coordinated, but we do not know who or what is pulling the strings.” Paxton explained, letting the news sink in.
Mar was the next one to speak. “We also saw a small orc raiding party ransack a village further into the mainland. The villagers attempted to flee, but a larger party slaughtered them on the road.”
All of the leaders took pensive faces. This was a big threat. Orcs were as strong as five men, and, at least, two feet taller than the tallest soldier. The average elementalist wouldn’t be able to kill an orc party; especially not a coordinated one. While orcs weren’t that grand in intelligence, they were brutal, strong and fast.
Kulgan sighed. “I called all of you here today to know your opinion on this matter. You are the greatest elementalists in the realm, and for generations you all have halted the tide of war. Faced with this new threat, it seems that we must take action. What say you?”
None of the leaders spoke. The silence and dread of the news fell on the room.
Grangel was the first to stir. “We have lived hundreds of years, Kulgan. We have stopped many wars, and kept a relative peace in this world. Asking us to take sides in a war… that goes against our creed.”
“And yet you have participated in many! Before Arthos was created, the nations Ozaria and Cunia had begun a total war. Death and destruction rampaged across the land, but you stopped them, decimated their armies and forced them into a pact to create Arthos!” Kulgan was getting furious now, but the leaders laughed.
“Is that what the history books say?” Will —the master of Light, user of Water— asked, amused. “We didn’t force them into a pact, Kulgan. We killed almost every last one of them. We put the ruler’s heads on pikes, displayed our power. The remainders of their people formed Arthos, and we appointed whom we saw fit to govern it at the time. Your great-great-great and so forth grandfather was the first of Arthos’s rulership.
We gave him a set of rules, a guideline for everything. There has not been one change to this country that we did not give consent to or have knowledge of. The kingship of Arthos has always required a majority vote among us to approve the laws. We weren’t as picky on peace as we are now.”
It was now Tate’s turn to speak. “That is why there is the occasional revolt. Some remember our conquest. It is too dangerous for us to take sides; we could cause a civil war in such an instance.”
Kulgan sighed and put his face in his palm. “I understand, but if we don’t act then many human lives could be lost. This isn’t merely human rulers against human rulers; this is a battle of races. The orcs will not stop until every lest one of us is either dead, or their slave.”
An odd breeze swept through the room, causing the various banners to flutter. A few seconds later, Set jumped from his seat, and turned towards the door of Fire.
“Down, NOW!” Set yelled just as a huge mass of rock and fire destroyed the door and hit the table the leaders were sitting at. Ailen moved to the burning rock and drank the fire, leaving it as a smoldering boulder. Mar walked over to the boulder and touched it, causing it to shape around her body and create a suit of rock armor, covering her from head to toe, with only super-thin slits in the helmet so she could see.
A guard rushed in through the main doors. “Mi’lord, an orc army is attacking the city! It is estimated to be two-hundred and five-score strong!”
“We kinda figured that out.” Will muttered, bringing his sleeve up on his right arm, revealing a shining, steaming cold limb made of ice. He moved his fingers, and the ice turned to water and shaped into an icy spear in his hand.
As another flaming boulder flew at them, he threw the spear at it, breaking it into peices. Cryo bounced up next to him and muttered something under her breath, and water flew from the door of Water and caught those peices, and then flung them back at the attackers.
Io walked to a column and made slashing motions with her arms, causing the air around her to move violently and fly towards the enemy, while Tate used a mechanical bow, enhanced with the power of Wind and shot down more of the enemy’s fire.
“Scramble the reserve forces, get the militia readied!” Kulgan started shouting orders to the guards, who ran down the hallway.
Set watched the events, his arms folded across his chest. Grimel hid behind Set’s leg, muttering Grimel don’t like big boudlers, Grimel don’t like big boulders.
“I think it’s time we made a counterattack.” Mar said, walking over to Set and smiling at him.
“I think so.” Set replied.
“No. We can’t fight. I forbid it, Set.” Ailen’s tone made it obvious he was not joking.
Set walked to where the columns used to be. As another boulder flew at the room, he readied himself and caught it. He skidded backwards some ten feet, then stopped. He pulled his arm back, and with a huge grunt threw the massive boulder back at the invaders. He then ran and jumped out the hole in the wall.
Grimel ran to the edge. “Master, no! Wait for Grimel!” Gremel then darted towards the stairs that led down to the city.
Mar jumped after Set, and used some of her rock armor to propel herself towards Set. She landed on his back, and Set almost tripped trying to supply more fire for their flight. “Good catch, Set.” She said, giving him another sly smile.
Io jumped as well, using Wind to carry her after the first pair.
“I always hated heights…” Will said, forming a board of ice. Cryo slapped him on the back.
“Don’t be such a baby! It’s just a few hundred feet!” She said, pushing Will onto the board and jumping on. They used the plank of ice like a hoverboard, and went right after the others.
Ailen sighed, obviously displeased that the others had not heeded his words. “Tate, Paxton… what do we do about them?” He asked.
Paxton gave a light-hearted laugh. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”
“The Darks have the right idea, at least.” Kulgan grunted.
As they landed in the battlefield, Set drew his sword. It’s obsidian-black edge radiated with years of killing, and almost seemed to be alive with a desire to rend flesh. The hilt, which had an inlaid insignia of the Clan of Dark Flame, glowed red with power. Set’s famous Black Fire ignited in his left hand, and he began his assault.
Dodging and weaving through the massive group of orcs, and their crazy-large battleaxes was easy enough. He burned them and chopped limbs off effortlessly, not getting the slightest blood on his pure black cloak.
Mar formed a greatsword from the ground, compacting it until it was harder than any orc steel, and started rampaging through their ranks. Her rock armor was dyed with red blood, making her look like she had odd desert camoflauge. No matter how many times the beasts bashed her with their weapons, the armor didn’t even chip.
Io landed behind the orc forces, after rallying the city’s soldiers to flank the army so they wouldn’t have the chance to flee. Orcs fell to peices as Io’s invisble blades of wind ripped through flesh and bone alike.
Will and Cryo jumped into the battle next. Cryo took a pair of odd, glowing blue daggers out off the holsters of her short shorts and used water to freeze peices of her enemies, while slicing them in all vital muscles and organs. She laughed loudly and continued smiling the whole time.
Will reformed his ice time after time, creating new weapons after each attack. Sometimes he chopped his enemies down with a sharp blade of steaming cold ice, or shot them dead with frosty glass arrows. Everytime he attacked, a new weapon would form in his hands, and he seamlessly launched attack after attack.
As they slaughtered the orc horde, some of the other skirmishes weren’t going as well; many of the Capitol’s soldiers had died, and were then used as weapons by the orcs. The dead bodies of green beast and city guard alike were strewn about the battlefield, dismembered arms and legs found themselves in odd place, missing the rest of their body.
Grimel finally managed to run into the battlefield, where he ran —or rather stumbled— to his master. “Master, why you leave Grimel behind? I wants to kill too!” He panted.
“Sorry, old friend. But now is not the —“ Set was interrupted by a —comparitive to his brethren— giant orc with a battleaxe, who swung down on Set. The collision between the axe and the sword caused dust to blow from under them and surround them, while Set’s feet dug into the ground from the pressure.
Set used both his hands and pushed the orc’s blade off his own, and threw fire at it’s chest, but only then realized his mistake. The fire bounced off the orc’s armor, and flew back at Set, who deflected it with his blade. He dashed at the new opponent, and tried to cut through the armor, but his sword only left a scratch in the plating.
Will saw part of the fight, and threw an ice spear at the orc, but the spear only dented his armor. The spear returned to liquid form and back to Will’s hand in the form of a crossbow, which shot a bolt at the same enemy, again only leaving a dent. The orc roared, and charged at Will, but Io shot lightning in between the orc and it’s target before the beast could get close enough.
The orc was stunned, so Cryo froze it’s feet to the ground while Set charged in once more, jabbing his blade into the hole in the orc’s helmet.
“That,” Set pointed to the orc, “was interesting.”
The others nodded in agreement, and went back to their killing. Kulgan came up to Set and tapped him on the shoulder, but ducked when Set’s blade came whirling around. “Aye! Be careful, I still need my head.” Kulgan rubbed his neck.
Set grunted. “Don’t interrupt me, then.”
“Well, sorry, but you just finished the last of the orcs.” Kulgan said, pointing around the battlefield with his hand.
Set looked around, and saw what Kulgan was talking about. All the orcs were dead, and the other masters were picking up dead city guards with their powers. They moved them into a pile, which Ailen flew down from the tower for and ignited. The bodies burned, leaving no trace of their fallen comrades. They destroyed the few catapults that the orc raiding party had stationed, and disposed of the broken machine pieces.
The leaders sat down at the replacement table in the middle of the destroyed meeting room.
“This might have just interrupted the balance of power between the races.” Ailen sighed. Set’s rash action might have cost them peace.
“I had to act because you couldn’t. That… army… you sent out there to fight the orcs? More would have died if they were all you used to fight them.” Set replied, keeping his even but obviously frustrated tone. He used the term army reluctantly.
“While Set may have acted rashly and might have costed us a few skirmishes on the borders, at least we saved most of the Capitol. This room will be rebuilt quickly.” Kulgan said, going back to tapping his fingers on the table.
“Question is, what do we do now?” Will asked.
“The order of Light should not take part in this.” Ailen said. “We must continue to preserve peace. We cannot go after the orcs offensively.”
“If we try to preserve peace, more villages on the outskirts will die, Ailen.” Now Mar was speaking. “If you are willing to sacrifice thousands of innocent lives, then so be it. But the Dark will not allow them to continue!” Her fist fell on the table, making Kulgan flinch.
Io thought on this a moment. “I have to agree with the hot-heads.” She said. “We can’t let the orcs move freely.”
“But they got here without our knowledge. That means it doesn’t matter what methods of containment we use now; they’re already too widespread to stop.” Mar stated.
A pause. No one said anything, as they thought.
“Is anyone questioning,” Will started, “why they specifically only targeted out tower?”
This got everyone to stir a bit.
Set sighed. “Someone is after us. We’re probably the only ones who can stop whatever or whoever this is.” He said, putting his feet up on the table.
Cryo slumped in her seat. “Urgh… this means we have lots of work to do…” She moaned, displeased that this meant they had a mission.
After a few minutes of silence, Io stood up.
“We can’t let them continue. In this game, it’s our move.” She said.
Just as Io finished her sentence, the main doors burst open once more. “Sire, sorry for the interuption, but our scouts have given us reports on an orc army outside the city of Ashbere in the north-western province.” The guard panted, meaning he must have rushed to deliver the news.
“I guess our move is decided.” Set said, standing up.
“We’ll prepare the army. We’ll have them follow after you.” Kulgan called a guard over and gave a few orders. “It’s time to go.”