| With the defeat
of Cypher the green fog lifted and the jubilant Pianna
Knights rode home to find the whole of El Morad in celebration
awaiting their return. Tales of their adventures spread
quickly among the people of El Morad and very soon shrines
and temples dedicated to the god Logos were raised in
his honor. Humanity began to prosper once again and for
a time not one remembered that Cypher vowed revenge.
Now that peace reigned many began to venture out of the
city, at first little farms sprang up just beyond the
scarred walls and battlements that once protected them,
soon plantations growing crops of every kind and villages
to support the farming community mushroomed along side
them. With the blessings of Logos all prospered.
But peace was not to last long in the land of El Morad.
Twenty years has now passed since the defeat of Cypher,
and El Morad has become the capital of humanity. Gone
are the makeshift houses and simple establishments that
served the defenders during their bitter struggle. With
the advent of peace and new found prosperity, beautiful
boulevards and magnificent sculptures raised in remembrance
of those who gave their lives during the "dark times"
filled the newly constructed and expanded walls. Many
new towns and villages graced the countryside. While the
villagers pledged their loyalty to the crown those who
roamed the highways did not. Wealth brought about greed
and bands of brigands preyed on the trade routes and hijacked
many a caravan foolish enough to travel unguarded. While
King Manes still lived these incidents were few and far
between and all in all his citizens were content.
Paul set on an empty wheelbarrow as he watched the commotion
around him. The king had just passed, having died suddenly
in his sleep. Many believed it was old age but some weren't
too sure. It was a popular rumor that the council of lords
were eager to take command seeing that King Manes had
no heir. Either way the villagers were taking no chances
and were preparing rations and packing up daily necessities
in case the latter was true. Violent changes in establishment
very often had equally violent consequences on lower society.
Being only nine years of age Paul did not understand most
of what was happening but he reveled in the excitement
of it all. There was sound of riders approaching and a
woman, probably his mother scooped up the nine year old
and taking him ran to the basement under their home to
hide. The riders may be friendly as was usually the case
but no one was taking any chances. Only the men, all armed
stood in the village square to receive the riders. They
turned out to be soldiers from the city, here to officially
proclaim the king as dead and the council taking command.
These riders were friendly but soon it would not be so.
The Council was in power not yet a year when taxes were
raised and large portions of the army were retired. Without
sufficient protection bandits grew braver and even caravans
running under guard were often attacked. Those who could
not afford guards or mercenaries were at the mercy of
the goddess of luck, if there was such a god.
While peace was still largely kept it was obvious that
it was deteriorating. Besides the rise in highwaymen the
common populace also felt less inclined to be cooperative
with one another and especially with ranking officials,
whom made unreasonable demands while doing next to nothing
to ease the troubles of the common folk. Petty in discrepancies
became full blown squabbles and more than once a person
of rank found himself dead and the perpetrator hauled
off to the gallows.
Over the years Paul grew up just like any other boy, thin
and of average height and just like all boys his age he
had often listened to the soldier's talk of heroic battles
and awesome adventures. Now that he was of an age to take
up a profession, he hoped he would be accepted into the
ranks of recruits and one day win glory for himself just
like the soldiers in the stories. He imagined himself
one day sitting under the village cherry tree telling
children of his great tales and adventures in much the
same way he used to listen.
Full of hope he wrote down his name on the log book used
for such matters, it already contained countless names
of those who had visions such as he. Signing his name
he took one last look at the book and walked out of the
army registrar's office. Now he only had to wait for the
"All of you are called to serve your people, you
will serve until you are no longer needed or until you
die", the herald intoned the call traditionally used to
call civilians to take up arms for the good of their country.
"Do you accept this call"? he asked looking over those
assembled before him.
A loud shout of agreement confirmed their acceptance and
Paul, standing behind everyone else felt the surge of
emotions as all gathered took the first step towards a
life of daring and adventure.
That was so long ago.
Paul snapped out of his reverie as prisoner began clanging
his metal cup against the bars which held him. The prisoner
indicated he was thirsty, and though it was not allowed
Paul took the cup and walked towards the back of the room
which housed the many cells. He was only allowed to get
them water, but walking up towards a keg he filled the
cup with ale reserved for those who were to have their
last meal. It was a small gesture but the prisoner took
the cup, he did not speak but his eyes showed how thankful
he was. "The prisoner" as Paul thought of the man he was
keeping an eye on was nothing like the hardened criminals
in the next room. He may look ragged and dirty but his
features did not possess the mean streak common among
the thieves and murderers. He was just a poor shepherd
who was a few months back on his taxes. There was a time
when the law was more lenient towards those such as he.
Inside the merchant's quarter a large crowd had gathered
to protest against the taxes which increased significantly
every year. The taxes could be tolerated if the leaders
did something to curtail the rampant rise in bandit activity
on what was called the traders "highway". Many had begun
whispering that greedy officials were actually masterminding
the bandit activity and that some of the bandits may even
be soldiers in disguise. This however was unlikely since
there would be more money to be made through taxation
rather than the utter ruination of the livelihood of the
merchants. But either way it was ready fuel for the already
raging emotions and many were inclined to believe it just
because they wanted to.
As the crowd grew, drawing in both supporters and those
curious enough to stick around soldiers were dispatched
to break up what was slowly turning into a violent mob.
The next morning there was no market. The entire space
was taken up by what would be the first public execution
in the history of El Morad. The executioners were masked
men clad totally in black if not for their green tabards
marking them as members of the council's newly formed
secret police. It was their unit that had so efficiently
caught and convicted the masterminds behind yesterday's
demonstration. The secret police had the power to judge
any man guilty on the grounds that he may be a threat
to the peace.
Those gathered around the raised platform stood in silence
as the "guilty" were brought forward and their crimes
announced. A total of twenty men stood on the platform
awaiting their fate. Some showed fear and not a few openly
wept. But most of them stood silently standing proud and
erect as their last act of defiance. Once their crimes
were read they were unceremoniously beheaded, one by one.
The crowd was shocked but many seethed with long pent
Flame engulfed the center most portion of the city. Citizens
ran in all directions as armed men advanced towards the
Center Precinct where many council members and those in
support of the rulers resided. The center of the city
also housed the wealthiest and the most influential men
in the city. These were the ones the raiders were aiming
for, those who had been not only unjust, but greedy and
corrupt. The raiders numbering many times the number of
city guards and soldiers stormed through the streets chasing
down and butchering all those who had oppressed them.
No one saved the soldiers stood in their path, for in
truth there were no men left. All not sworn to defend
El Morad were among the rebels.
Civil war had begun.
The wars did not last long, but many who found themselves
on the wrong side died. Paul was among the casualties,
the idealistic young man who was forced by circumstance
to fight his countrymen. He was killed at the doors to
the council chamber, the last barrier between the council
and the revolutionists.
If that victory spelled long awaited peace Logos would
have been pleased, but as hard as he tried to think otherwise
he knew that his sons and daughters were forever changed
by Cypher all those years ago. When the old council fell
all rejoiced but many outlying towns took the opportunity
to declare independence, never again did they want to
bear the yoke of being ruled. But when the new council
or "The Just" as they fashioned themselves to be called
consolidated their power they to were unable to give in
to human nature. They wanted control and had effectively
convinced themselves that a united race, united by any
means, was to the benefit of all. Thus conquest began.
A presence hovers over a small village. It surveys the
surroundings; no more than a hundred live here. They have
a mill to grind the wheat and an inn for the weary to
have a drink or the have a game of dice, this was all
they had. The presence pauses, and looks down at a crowd
The crowd were made up mostly of men, they were armed
and many were veterans, the revolution being hardly a
year ago. But when the newly formed cavalry charged through
their ranks every lance found a target. These men some
were old soldiers of the previous regime and many were
highway bandits now in the employ of the city. They excelled
at fighting from horseback as they would have done when
they hijacked caravans. Facing men of such caliber the
defenders did not stand a chance. As an example to the
others, not one who stood their ground was spared.
The presence rose higher and higher until the blood soaked
ground was nothing more than a pinprick below the clouds.
This time the presence vowed never to return.
More destruction followed but fearing for their lives
and families most re-pledged their loyalty with minimal
While the human race was once again united albeit through
force of arms, life began to return to normal. But Logos
had given up on humanity once and for all and without
his presence and power of Cypher's long forgotten curse
began its' strangle hold on humanity. But it would be
a generation before the first noticeable signs of the
curse took hold and before then a new race would come
into being, the Elves.