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The Shadows of Itzal

 

     Many of the world believed they could influence their respective element through dedication and devotion. While not all did so through magic, there were still those fanatics of the world who preached day after day about the power one element had over the others. Eventually, possessing all that a single element had to offer was simply not enough for the knowledge hungry Elves. 

     Prophets had long feared that a day would come where someone would try to combine the primary powers of one element with the secondary powers of another and they predicted such a move would be the beginning of the end of the world as they knew it. These predictions were never given any real consideration by the majority of the world however. They were more often than not dismissed as yet another attempt to promote one element over another.

     It wasn't until Itzal, the Elven arch-mage of fire, discovered that through alchemy the properties of fire could be manipulated with the air element to create a type of magic the world had never seen before.  He became so devoted to his newfound magic that he left his position as arch-mage of Fire and took up residence on the outer banks of Pyrous.  Itzal invited leaders of each Goblin tribe to come be witness to his new powers. After the display, Itzal proposed a deal to those 12 tribal leaders. Their entire tribes would have to renounce their elemental religions and swear an oath to Itzal.  They would serve as his army and protectors of his tower, and in exchange for their loyalty, they would be given a promised gift that is beyond their wildest dreams.  All 12 leaders agreed to the deal without hesitation.  As soon as they renounced their Gods, the shift in balance of the elements began to tumble -- unnoticed by all but the Gods.

     Until this point in time, the Gods had little direct influence over their followers, a deal agreed to when Archai was first created.  It was Pyrous that would first break the silence when he visited Itzal, his once loyal Arch-mage.  Because of his increasing paranoia, Itzal wished to meet each potential follower before accepting them.  His newly developed magic had begun to warp his mind, filling him with thoughts of deceit and mistrust.  He felt as if no one could be trusted with the knowledge of his new discovery.  Pyrous used this to his advantage by taking on the appearance of a newly converted Goblin.  His look was that of a seasoned warrior.  Like other Goblins, he looked malnourished.  Despite their meager appearance they have thrived by adapting to poor living conditions.  Goblins who have enlisted in any kind of organized army are highly sought after because it is the only place where they may get the training and development needed to match their aggressive nature.  Pyrous presented himself to be exactly that type of Goblin.  He wore a full set of thick leather armor that bore the crest of the King of Archai.  All weapons had to be surrendered before meeting with Itzal but this did not make a Goblin of this size and stature any less dangerous.  His leather breastplate was purposely cut tight to make his muscular figure more noticeable.  On his left arm just above the bicep was a scarred image of a solid skull.   There were no gaping holes for a mouth or eyes in his branding, the sign of a captured pirate.  

     Pyrous was escorted by three heavily armed guards up the spiraling stairwell of Itzal’s tower.  Upon reaching the top, one of the guards pulled a strange key from his belt and unlocked the steel-banded wooden door.  Two guards entered the room first, followed by the disguised Pyrous and the key holder in the rear.  The door was closed and locked as soon as the third guard entered the room.  There was little light in the spacious chamber atop the tower.  A lack of light was hardly a problem for the Goblins or an Elf, but it still seemed to serve some purpose other than comfort or solitude.   Four slits in the stone wall provided just enough light during the day to cast shadows across the floor.  The shadows flickered almost constantly regardless of any motion being made by Pyrous or the guards.   After a brief moment of silence, Pyrous was jabbed roughly in the back by the blunt end of one of the guard’s sword.  “Step into the center of the room and don’t speak unless you are asked a question,” ordered the guard.  At once all three guards backed away from Pyrous and toward the locked door.   There was a slight scuffle between the three as they fought to be the first one out the door.  The door slammed shut as soon as the last of the three was out, followed by the sharp click of the lock.  The sound echoed throughout the chamber until all was silent once again.  A coolness began to crawl down Pyrous' back and down to the stone floor, carrying with it the faint whisper of someone’s breath.  He knew he was no longer alone.  Suddenly, a demanding voice spoke out from the surrounding shadows, “a Goblin stands before the voice of uncertainty and does not tremble.  Tell me, what makes you so brave compared to the others?”  The Goblin shifted his weight from one leg to the other, but did not respond.  A soft cynical laugh broke the eerie silence.  “You are either very brave or a spy sent here to learn of my work.  I have no use for either as it were.”  As soon as the words yielded to silence another click came from the lock on the door.  As the door  began to open, the quiet spoken Goblin raised his scarred hand toward it.  He uttered a single Elven word causing it to erupt into flames.  The fiery blast knocked the inbound guards back, sending them tumbling down the tower stairs.  As soon as Pyrous turned back to face the shadows, he was confronted with a tall, slender figure cloaked in shadowy black robes.  The figure's outstretched arm was nearly to the Goblin's throat before he narrowly evaded the attempted choke.  Realizing his disguise was no longer to his benefit, Pyrous chose to reveal his true identity.  The room erupted into a blinding display of fire.  It quickly consumed the Goblin, leaving a fiery figure in his place.  The figure began to grow in both height and width.  It soon towered over the cloaked Itzal.  The fire slowly crept from Pyrous' feet along the stone floor, forming a protective circle around him.  Despite the display, the room still kept its darkness.  Pyrous looked into Itzal’s eyes for the first time as his true self and he saw something unexpected of any mortal in witness to a God.  Itzal's indifference.

     Instead of being in awe of the God he worshipped for so long, Itzal became enraged.  He thought back to all the times he had called on Pyrous to help his temple or save someone close from dying.  All those prayers went unanswered.  Itzal’s mind raced through all the failed attempts to ask for guidance.  His breathing became heavy, his chest heaving rapidly as his entire body began to lose control in the presence of the God of fire.  The shadows of the room began to creep toward the cloaked Elf as he chanted several words in the Elven language.  The shadows formed into a pitch black ball in front of Itzal.  Before Pyrous could react, Itzal lashed out at him with a display of magic unlike anyone had ever seen before, even a God.  The shadowy ball pierced through the circle of protective flames like an arrow through an apple.  Pyrous was unharmed, but his mortal figure engulfed in shadows was sent far away from Itzal's tower.  Because of this shadowy magic, a magical warding prevented Pyrous from returning to the tower.  It was this warding that allowed Itzal to perfect his discovery before unleashing it on the world years later.

 



 
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