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Prologue

 

Bright orange flames shot heavenward, thrusting their burning tendrils almost to the stars. Men flew about frantically. They could only watch. Homes, lives, dreams, all purged by the blazing fire. Never once could any understand the events in whole.

A dark figure stood silent upon a hilltop. His icy personage, if freed, could most likely extinguish the fire within moments by itself. He stood, in thought, disturbed for the first time in so many years. Memories seemed to float through his mind, as if some dam inside himself had been broken, freeing years of untamed memories.

The smell of death drifted through the air. The lone figure could only watch as the small figures rushed about below. A small pile of corpses lay still outside the border of the flames.

The figure turned, facing away from the inferno. Another man stood in front of him. With a look of distaste on the man's face, a companion stared at the icy figure.

"There are reports of 50 dead. None of the attempts to extinguish the fire have succeeded."

The lone figure stood silent, then nodded, "As expected, unfortunately."

"They need good men down there, Severin."

"What help could we offer?" Severin, the figure asked. "The fire is untamed, wild, beyond any of our control."

"We could be of help to those who survive it."

"You mean of comfort, of which there is none. I will not offer lies to them."

"Damnit, you refuse to offer hope to these people?"

"Byron, you forget, only those who have hope may offer it." Severin sighed. The night had tired him. A lifetime of his exploits had frozen him worse than any fire could thaw.

Severin's eyes wandered to Byron, his companion. Byron could never understand things in the same manner. He'd been born to a house of nobility. He would never understand the burden of true pain.

Something had drawn the cold personage here, though. Here, to this village. To a pit in the heart of an endless Earth. To a place he once called home.

"Surely there must be some way we can help!" Byron shouted.

"High Sorcery." Severin whispered. "That is what caused this. Any help we offer will be in vain."

"And what do you know of High Sorcery?!"

"Enough to know when it has been used." Despite outward appearances, Severin was deep in thought. It all confused him.

High Sorcery, a skill of mages. Some said only elves were masters of it. Man could not utilize it to its full potential without being consumed. And only the highest of mages could use it to any purposeful effect.

So a question hung amidst. Why would someone go through so much effort to simply burn a village? Yet, a more important question hung unanswered. Who would be skilled enough to do such an act? The Elven lands were far from the village. If the mage were human...who would be able to do such a feat of magic?

"Come." said Severin. "Let's rest for the night."

Reluctantly, Byron turned from the hill and the fire. The flames crackled on into the night. As the two walked towards their camp, Severin noticed a hint of contempt in Byron's mood. He couldn't deny it was a reasonable feeling.

As the two sat in camp for the night, Severin pulled, delicately, a small book from his pack. Its worn cover and darkened pages spoke of years of use. However, it was going on 10 years now since it had last been opened. Never before during his travels had Severin relied upon the solace of the book, until tonight. Slowly, as if reacquainting with an old friend, Severin began to scribble in the book:

For days have gone by

And times flown past

Lives forever changed

Hearts never at rest

A blazing inferno

Round the night sky

Dreams remembered

Oh, so slowly die.