Victoria, alongisde Mystikas, walked across the desert sands, making her way home to Bremen from her long stay at the Crescent moon as a diplomat. The remains of their escort and command trailed behind the two, having been weekened by a Qabal ambush and later an attack by Tark Max'son. They were all tired from a very long day of marching across the seemingly endless sands, still no sight of Holden Pass, and it was beginning to get late. Sooner or later, they would have to stop and make camp, and prepare for another long day of walking.
The scout Victoria had sent out to sweep their right flank returned on her horse, and dismounted in front of Victoria. The scout bowed, and remained bowed until finally Victoria became impatient and told her to stand up and report. There was nothing unusual, just the ramblings about there being nothing seen or heard except the sands sweeping across the surface of the desert. The same report as always. Victoria almost wished something would go wrong. She had seen no action since Max'son had made his attack at the Hidden City of the Crescent Moon. Maybe the next scout would bring tidings of something going wrong.
But the next scout did no such thing. The scout who had been sweeping up front had found absolutely nothing wrong, and still no sight of Holden Pass. Victoria called out to dismiss her, and the scout turned. Before the scout had faced the other direction, an arrow lodged into his throat, and he collapsed spurting out blood and gasping for air. Victoria had her sword out before she even realized the scout was dying. The sight of blood had triggered years of intense training by the Lord Commander, her very own father, Valius Magnus.
Another arrow zoomed past her as she removed her shield from her back and lifting it to protect her from the oncoming volleys. Mystikas had already gone to see who he could save, and others were panicking or fumbling for their gear. The onslaught of arrows hadn't only taken the scout, but many others too. She began ordering commands to strike up their shields and advance towards the direction of the volleys. Few listened.
The attackers finally revealed themselves when it was only Victoria, Mystikas, and maybe a dozen others circled around them still alive, when there had been 6 dozen on their voyage out. Tark Max'son and his troop of mercenaries walked out confidently, swords in hand, and gazed happily upon the band of survivors. Just behind them was a demon with massive wings, and a body that would obviously had been very beautiful had it not been corrupted by the presence of Chaos. Lilianth had come along with the mercaneries, and she did not look very pleased. She began walking to the front of the group as the mercenaries cleared a path for her.
"And here, Lilianth" Max'son began. "Here is your prize I promised you."
"Quite a bit late, Max'son. The Archdemons shall not be pleased." Lilianth responded. She looked with disdain upon the survivors. She glared at Mystikas and Victoria the most. "Bring me the heir. Kill the rest."
The mercenaries took up their swords and attacked, but did not expect the resistance the survivors would put up. Dead men would fight long and hard to come back to life, but they were outnumbered 6 to 1 at least. When the last one fell, they surrounded Mystikas. Finally, someone got a lucky cut on his hamstring and he fell. Before he could attempt to rapid heal it, the mercenary that had brought him down swung his sword over his head and began to bring it crashing down.
The earth shook. The sword missed. Mystikas took the opportunity to take out a hidden blade and slice the mercenaries throat, and then immiditely healed himself and took back his sword. Outnumbered so greatly, he would not die without a fight. Max'son and Lilianth rode up to Mystikas.
"It truly is a shame." Max'son began. "That you, such a great fighter, must die. It is an even greater shame that my pathetic men couldn't kill a single man. I shall deal with you myself." Max'son was about to lunge forward into an attack until Lilianth stopped him. She began to speak.
"Let us see just how powerful his holy arts are compared to my power. Priest, come fight me, the Overlord of Desire."
Mystikas saw his way out of this with a 1 v 1 combat. If he declined, he would die. If he accepted, most likely, he would die. But it wasn't a definite. He took up his sword and directed it towards Lilianth. The tension grew as the two waited for the other to make the first move. Before either of them sprung to attack, the earth shook again, knocking Mystikas and Max'son from their feet. From the sands, not very far away, something was rising. It was a giant something, and it only seemed to grow bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
"What is that!" One of the mercenaries exclaimed. The giant being turned towards the group, still rising from the sands. The distraction was all Victoria needed. She grabbed Mystikas, and before Max'son could regain his feet or Lilianth tear her eyes off of the monstrosity rising from the earth, they began to run. They were running towards the beast, the only direction Max'son and Lilianth would not dare to follow.
Over the distance, the two survivors could hear Lilianth hiss and scream in rage. They began to retreat. The monster overlooked the two beings in front of him and directed his attention to the large group of mercenaries. When they were safe, they stopped running and began gathering their breath. Victoria removed her helm, shield, and all removable parts of her armor. The heat had suddenly gotten stronger around that....thing. It was a terrible being, similar to what the reports described of some giant treefolk prowling around. Except this seemed to be bigger, and certainly not a treefolk. It was made of rocks and branches and boulders and vines and dirt and stone and many other things.
"We must get back to the Bremen as fast as we possibly can, Victoria" Mystikas declared. "They must be warned."
"Oh, my dear Mystikas. Do you not see? The being is moving towards the Alliance realm. Something of that stature will not be easily missed. It will reach the Alliance long before we do. All we must do now, is survive long enough to come and help fight whatever that was."
Lilianth waited impatiently while the idiot mercenary set up his ambush, that was bound to fail, for Victoria. Humans were worthless. Send them to perform a task for you, and they were bound to screw it up. No, this time she would not let the mercenary screw it up. She would be there during the ambush, making sure it went off perfectly, and then she would take victoria and kill Max'son. He was worthless. So worthless. Send him to do one thing and he comes back empty handed and without wounds to prove he had even tried. Her anger began to boil even thinking about the human she was forced to deal with. She had no army or force. He had, at the very least, a small force.
Lilianth waited, festering in her anger, for multiple hours, until finally the unsuspecting target walked straight into the ambush. The mercenary leader made some signals, and the archers began launching the volleys of arrows. She watched, taking a small pleasure in the deaths of Victoria's troops, and then surprise, when Victoria herself started advancing towards the arrows. Smart human...not gonna die without a fight. Don't worry, we want you alive. The arrow volleys stopped, and the mercenaries began advancing themselves. For every one of Victoria's party the mercenaries had at least half a dozen, probably more. This would be a quick massacre.
The mercenary walked up confidently, the walk only a man so close to victory can walk, and declared "Here is your prize I promised you." Lilianth was angered by that comment, as if it was him giving her a gift.
"Quite a bit late, Max'son. The Archdemons shall not be please." Lilianth gazed upon the survivors, hating every single one of them. "Bring me the heir. Kill the rest."
The mercenaries engaged, killing almost all of them. The mercenaries took a surprising amount of hits. The dead men did not die without a desperate fight, a useless fight, but a fight nonetheless. Only this priest and the heir still stood, and no doubt the priest would fall quickly. With every new attack on the priest man Lilianth expected him to die, and each time he emerged victorious. Finally he was brought down to his knees, and the killing blow falling down. She would relish his death.
The earth shook. The sword missed. In the confusion the priest slit the throat of his would-be executioner and continued his fight for survival. Lilianth was fuming in her anger. She decided she would kill the priest herself. She began to move forward, and realized Max'son was moving with her. His sword was ready. The fool mercenary was planning on attacking himself. As if he could manage the job after every one of his underlings had failed. He began to speak before Lilianth could stop him.
"It is truly a shame." Max'son began. "That you, such a great fighter, must die. It is an even greater shame that my pathetic men couldn't kill a single man." On that point Lilianth could agree on. It was no shame that this priest must die. "I shall deal with you myself." Max'son finished, preparing for his attack. Lilianth stopped him. The mercenaries were too incompetent.
"Let us see just how powerful his holy arts are compared to my power. Priest, come fight me, the Overlord of Desire."
The priest seemed to ponder the idea for a second, and then lifted his sword to Lilianth. Perfect. She began preparing for the fight. Regardless of how much more powerful she was than this lowly priest, she did not want even a scratch to remind herself of the pains she took from the failures of her underlings. The priest tensed himself, waiting for her to make the first move. Fine, she would. She began her attack...
...and the earth shook again, knocking the priest, and of course the mercenary, off their feet. Off in the distance, Lilianth could see the sands shifting. Then the shifting went upwards, and the sands began to rise. And rise, and rise, and rise. A giant being, bigger than any demon in Asteras, was rising. The sands began to shake off the creature, and its form, a form of boulders and branches and roots and stones, began to emerge. "What is that!" Lilianth heard someone exclaim. She could not take her eyes off the being rising from the sands to identify the speaker. And when she did, Victoria and Mystikas were gone.
Lilianth hissed and screamed in overwhelming rage. They were in her grasp, she was about kill the last of Victoria's guard. She had been so close to success...and then they just disappear. She franticly searched for them, and then realized, they were running towards the monster. And the monster was heading straight towards them.
"RETREAT!" Max'son shouted. Lilianth had no desire to argue. This was not a monster they could take like this, unprepared for such a creature. Lilianth hissed one more time, turned, and fled back into the mountains. The Archdemons would not be pleased. She was not pleased. She had failed. But she would go back with some new information. The Archdemons would know what to do to best take advantage of this, and what to do.
Necromancer Ryx continued his walk around the eastern border of the Nature realm. Ever since the attack the Twilight had led upon the the Eastern border, the elves had heavily reinforced the border. But that did not stop the necromancer from getting through the patrols and into enemy territory. Secrets were a necromancer's trade, and of the many secrets Ryx knew, a few of them were hidden passages into the forests. The Council wanted to find a weak spot in the nature's new defenses, and only a master of secrets could find it.
A border patrol came across the necromancer, and passed not 10 feet from him. All he had to do was hide in the shadows and remain still. People did not see what they did not expect to see. Only the smallest of camouflage, his dark robes, were needed to mold him into the shadows. The patrol continued forward, and without a sound, Ryx continued on his search. So far every outpost he had come across had been heavily guarded, which had not stopped him from walking straight through them, and patrols were extremely common between each outpost. The only things not guarded were the secret passages that were too small to get a small group of people in a reasonable amount of time. An army? never.
He continued to the next outpost. Making his way through the archways and the shadows of the trees, the necromancer found a comfortable spot that gave him a clear view of the outpost. Since he clearly was not going to find a weakness in the border, he might as well get some information. He began to listen to everything he could pick up.
"I'm bored. There's nothing going on."
"D'you hear about Lady Aelys?"
"I heard that an army of twilight is going to attack in 3 days!"
"Supposedly the beast lords have left to prepare for some attack"
The necromancer tried to locate where the speaker about the beast lords was, but he could not find him. He began to try to listen to everything again.
"Supposedly Lady Aelys is cheating on the lord Aelys"
"And everyone but the husband knows it"
"I'm still bored."
"Lunch is in an hour, you can wait."
Nothing but chit-chat, this was a waste of time. Ryx was about to leave this outpost and continue his scouting mission, but at the last moment he heard something that caught his ear. He began to ignore everyone else except a conversation between two elves, that were about 10 meters away but slowly walking closer. At first, he could barely make out what was being said but it got clearer as the elves got closer.
"Apparently the Primal Force has returned."
"Yah, reports from the scouts have they've seen at least two of the primal giants."
"The earthquakes and the sighting of some giant treefolk, bigger than Eroth, sure make it seem as if the Primal Forces have returned."
"What was the last count of the risen ones?"
"I've heard some say 3, other 5, some 10, and others hundreds. Its all just hear-say."
"Still pretty cool. Think they will side with us? The primal forces and all."
"I don't know, were just soldiers. We don't even really know what the Primal Forces are, only hear-say."
"But what if we can ally with this new force. Imagine the advantage we would obtain!"
"Let the superiors figure this stuff out. They have the knowledge, we have the rumors."
"Alright. Still, its nice to be able to dream about it."
The two diverted the conversation to other topics that held no interest in the Necromancer. He let the two elves pass him, and then began to move out of the outpost. To late. An earthquake rumbled across the outpost, at least the seventh the Necromancer had witnessed in the day, but this one was stronger, far stronger. This one was strong enough to throw him from his feet, as many others, and knock him directly into the light where everyoen could see him. In the confusion, he was not seen for a few seconds, and he attempted to become rehidden, but it was too late. He had been spotted.
An arrow streaked right by him. Damnit, I have to get out of here. Ryx began to run, trying his best not to get caught. A second earthquake, and Ryx lost his balance again. He fell, and an arrow that would have hit him directly in the back went by just above him. He got back up and continued running. He looked back.
He should't have. It seemed as if the entire outpost was running after him, shouting "Kill the spy!" "Attack!" "Defend the Outpost!". But that wasn't what caught his eye. In the distance, deep into the forest, two giants were rising. They were bigger than anything he had ever seen, larger than castles, and it seemed as if they were endlessly rising. Until they stopped rising and were standing uprigh. The giants were made out of everything the earth contained, and one of them groaned. It was so loud, any creature near the giants were probably bleeding from their ears.
The other elves saw the giants...and had the strangest reaction. They cheered at the monstrosities that had risen from the earth. The necromancer took it the distaction as his only chance to escape, and tore his eyes off the fearsome giants. The Twilight Council had to find out about the new force, a force that might ally with the Nature realm. If it were true, it might turn the tide of thwar between them.
The scout came to Kael to report of a Twilight spy that had been at a small outpost on the south-eastern border. He had also reported of the Primal Forces that had arisen from the northwest, but Kael had already known that. He had recieved hundreds of those reports and had seen them with his own eyes. Giants of that stature are hard to miss for many kilometers.
So the signs were true. The great earthquake, the many mini earthquakes and the appearance of the Primal Guardian. The Primal Forces had come again, after a millenia of slumber, to wipe civilization and let the world start anew. Kael had already done much research, going through his oldest records, and found only traces of tales of the Primal forces. It seems that most writings of them had perished along with the old civilizations, and only a few had remained for the new civilization of elves to discover.
The Primal Forces was an army with more power than any of the factions possessed alone. All together there could be hope for victory, but alone the factions would perish. The question was, would the evles, the fae, the treefolk, and the beast lords, the protectors of nature, be spared? The Primal Forces were led by a single purpose: to protect nature, the same purpose the inhabitants of the realm of Nature shared. Should they attempt an alliance with the Primal Force?
The energy form that led the Primal Army did not own the same form of sentience that everyone else did. No, it was a sentience either far more advanced or far more basic than the creatures of Asteras. Which of the two is unclear. Most information revolving the energy form were. The only for sure thing is that not a single civilization survived its onslaught a millenia ago. Did the old elves and old beastlords and old fae and old treefolk attempt an alliance back then? Were there even elves and beatlords and the rest back then?
Kael couldn't answer any of the questions. He knew the purpose the rising army had, and he knew many men, especially the beast lords, wished to ally and fight with the Primal Army. Others shared Kael's hesitation, not trusting something led by a mind that they could not hope to understand. But more and more Primal Forces were arising from all around the world, and as they were rising Kael could not help but think maybe the only option was to ally with them.
Nature would preserve, regardless of his decision. He was master tactician, but this wasn't about protecting borders or stopping armies. This wasn't about nature. This was about the survival of nature's civilizations. And for the first time, Kael was unsure of the path to take. Regardless of his choice, infighting and perhaps civil war would ensue. The beast lords were dead set upon joining the Primal Army in hopes of completely destroying the Twilight, and the Treefolk wished to fight with their elder cousins as well. But the Fae and Elven courts were not so certain about this alliance.
No, from everything Kael could see, the Primal Forces do not care of the creed of a civilization, their purpose. They care only that they are civilizations, and commit mass genocide. They do one thing only: destroy. All for protecting the world. The Primal Energy would not negotiate, not ally. If they fought with him, they would be used and then destroyed.
Kael made up his mind. Nature would fight the Primal Forces. Better the enemy you knew than the ally you don't. Kael called the envoys and rulers of the 4 courts.
Elandria came first, and accepted that it was time to fight the Primal Guardian. The Elf King's envoy was sent to give the message to the King. The treefolk remained unsure of their stance.
The Beast King did not take the news lightly. He and the rest of the beast lords wanted an alliance more than anything.
"Absolutely not!" The Beast King roared. "You can fight the Primals all you want. The Beast Lords will not follow! We will fight with the Primals and we will be victorious! This is the way to protect nature. This is the way nature can flourish into the rest of the world. This is the key to true end of the Crystalline War, finishing the second stage before it even stops."
Kael attempted to speak, but was interrupted. "NO! Do not speak, fool. You will die fighting their power. But we will thrive. Now I take my leave." And in his rage, the Beast King disappeared.
Kael still awaited the answer of the Treefolk Elders. The treefolk would be the key between in-fighting and civil war. Nature would bear the wounds of this new enemy, regardless of if their lands were damaged, regardless of if they fulfilled their duty.
Chranos had been preparing for this for a long time. The scouts and watchtowers had seen the giant many hours ago, but the distance the giant had to travel was still great. But now it was at their doorstep, ready to attack. Around the Giant were many small versions of it, at first unnoticeable but now could be seen. Some were as small as a person, others as big as 3 people. This would be a real battle.
The first blow came when the giant brought his arm crashing down upon the protecting wall. Everyone began attacking the arm, to no avail, and then it rose out of reach. The gap in the wall now allowed for all the small saplings to rush through and begin attacking themselves. Chranos attacked, and lost himself in the battle. For a while he did not think, losing himself in the dance of war. But in the breaks that came he began to think. Was this some attack from Nature? The Alliance had never done Nature wrong. Their enemies lay with Chaos and Twilight. No, this had to be something else.
Chranos hadn't realized how much damage the giant had made around the base. The giant alone would have been a huge match for them, but with a small army as well? For a brief second, Chranos seemed to lose all hope. He saw no way of winning this. And then he was reemersed into the battle, and he stopped thinking on such dreadful things.
Swords and arms and stones and branches were going every direction, and it was all Chranos could do not to get killed. All of a sudden a giant arm smashed right to his left, missing him by a few feet. He snapped out of the dance, and fear flooded through him. The giant had come to Chranos now, and there was nothing Chranos could do to stop the giant from bringing one final smash down and crush him. Chranos just stared at the giant, and the giant stared back. Slowly the giant raised his arm, staring blankly at Chranos as if he were just a bug to be smashed.
Chranos threw down his sword in defeat. He was as good as dead. He closed his eye expecting to find death any second. It never came. Chranos heard a crashing sound and a groan. He opened his eyes and looked up, and saw the happiest thing in his life. Thanatos was standing there, locked to the giant, in a battle of great proportions. Thanatos had come to fight, and Chranos noticed that the giant was larger than the biggest golem in Karn history. Thanatos attacked, and attacked, and attacked, taking many blows himself, until finally he knocked the enemy down.
Thanatos roared in triumph, and Chranos took back up his sword.