Sunset: Precursor to the Dawn

Conquest, knowledge, a place to call home, banishment, or to protect their own. Five characters each with their own reasons for leaving their homes. But these five destinies are fated to cross each other as they travel.

Allereus settled into her hammock and sighed, setting it gently swinging between the thick jungle trees. She lazily cleaned the blood off her fingernails and looked at the stars appearing one-by-one, a rare sight below the thick forest canopy.

Dinner had been messy.

But it had been good.

She'd had to fight for it.

Her thoughts travelled back to early evening. She had injured several others during the dinner rush, a fact that the elders had both noticed and frowned upon.

There was a crack, and Allereus looked up. By the being's decourative paints, it was a messenger from an elder.

"You are wanted at the Council at dawn for disorderly conduct."

She did not acknowledge the messenger or the words he had spoken. He disappeared soon, assuming she had heard.

Disorderly conduct.

Allereus hated that phrase. She intended to disregard the summons altogether.

Soon enough, however, she rolled over, intending to get enough sleep to attend.

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"Come on, come on." Lykantio scrolled down the old parchment carefully for the fortieth time, looking for the final piece to the Line. He had been studying this section of the Score for ages, hoping to master it. He knew he was on the verge of success, just one more thing needed to snap into...

He suddenly bolted to the extensive notes he had taken, struck by a stroke of inspiration. “Yes! This is it!” he whooped. “That’s what I was missing. Now I’ve got to test it.” Lykantio hurried to the window of his hut to see if there was still time left.

“Darn it,” he said as he watched the sun sink below the horizon. He sighed. “Guess I’ll have to wait till tomorrow,” he said with a yawn. He blinked and yawned. Just as well, he thought, he hadn’t slept much these past three days working on his pet project. He could wait until tomorrow to test it.

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The swarmlord paced the small antechamber impatiently. His empress had summoned his presence as the second oldest living male of the entire swarm. Due to his age, the rank of military commander had been granted to him.

Although other races would have frowned upon having an elder commanding them in battles, Nixxian princes struggled daily to survive against their rivals. He wouldn't have still been alive if he was defenseless.

Next to him, a captured slave sang for his 'enjoyment' which irritated him even more for he didn't share his queen's view on these lesser creatures. She sought to bring them under the swarm's service and construct a society of mutual cooperation.

If it had been his choice, he would have had most of them executed, keeping only those who ensured the hive was fed and maintained alive.

Finally, after hours of waiting, the empress' chamber opened and another male waved him in, the current consort prince. Both shared a venomous glance at each other, knowing they would one day have to fight for their rank.

"Greetings to you Qliphoth." The empress spoke. "You must know why I have summoned you here... Your presence at the head of our army is required. You will leave our empire immediately and take command of our legions. A scribe will brief you on the way out."

The summoned warlord bowed lowly before his master before leaving. As he stepped out, another slave accompanied him, holding tablets with the details of his new mission. Upon hearing the details, he grinned sinisterly, it was going to be a bloodbath...

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Alaric moved like the breeze across the dry savanna plains; the exiguous, tattered outlines of the sapling acacia trees dotted his view, shielding almost nothing from his ever-alert gaze. The string of his bow was drawn back, stretched tight, his fingertips clamped on the feathered tip of his arrow, his spine curving to hold the weapon in perfect form. His breathing was regulated and meticulous, his heartbeat steady and calm. He would not miss. He loosed the arrow and watched as it cut through the air, hissing quietly as it rushed with remarkable speed across the wide open plain.

He could almost smell the fear of the wildebeest as its instincts fluttered wildly for the narrowest of seconds and it fought to pinpoint the danger; Alaric was too far off, standing in the middle of a patch of tall grass, the paleness of his skin becoming nothing but a strange, shifting whiteness beneath the blazing sun.

With a wet puncture the arrow sank in and the horned beast crumpled to the ground with a few desperate, weak twitches.

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Aurora was worried, out of her mind worried. She didn't know why either, only that something big was going to happen and she had to be there. Anyone who didn't know her would think she looked peaceful, bored even, sitting in that white chair waiting to be talked to by very important superiors.
 
 Why were they summoning her? Did they need her? Why was she so special? Sure, she can fight, and she is a singer, but there must be others as well, right? She just wants a peaceful life, simple, blissful, but the elders want something fom her. Why couldn't she just continue on her journey? All questions, no answers; her brothers would know what to do, they could figure out any problem, too bad they were dead.

Aurora felt like pacing, she was so agitated, she felt like screaming, crying, punching. She didn't, she was known for her level headedness, no matter how strong her feelings were. Her pale blue eyes were twinkling, her long white hair shining brightly, wanting to be let out of her braid. The door creaked open, and heavy foot steps came closely to her.

She'd seen him before, a very important elder indeed, one of the most powerful. Aurora wasn't sure if she trusted him or not, so far she did. He had gray, silver hair, his eyes were of all colors, wearing odd but very clean and superior clothing. His face showed no emotion, like a statue, but Aurora could tell he had once been happy and peaceful.

She rose slowly, gracefully, to her full 5 feet and 3 inches; she was going to get through this. She looked at her scars, long and ugly, no one knew how she got the scars, she would never forget. It had been a horrible experience, but she had learned that looks can be deceiving, just like this elder can be deceiving.

"Come." One word. one gruff word and she followed as if there was nothing wrong in the world. She would be watchful, patient, and she wouldn't leave without answers; she would give this elder her doubts. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Five lives, each scattered across the land, yet all united under a single sunset.

Five lives, each following a different road, yet all of their paths were fated to interwine.

Five lives, each different in nature and form, each with a different purpose, and each with different expectations for tomorrow, yet for all of them, the coming day was the dawning a journey destined to change the vast forest known as the Pentaglade.

The End

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