Everdark Pt 1: In The Beginning...

A ferocious midday sun bore down with the weight of summer, lending a shimmering aura to the world. Roiling like an ant hill kicked by a child, the city streets of High Murkadia seethed with humanity. Rutted cobbles fell victim to ten thousand pounding feet, hooves and wagon wheels. Merchants, travelers, beggars and nobility all came. They all made the journey through the willow forest for a festival rumored to be beyond imagining. From all seven cities of man had the people come, for it was the day the heir to the empire became a man. They had begun to arrive nine days hence, and still they came.

The latest source of mass commotion and guesswork was a rumor that a legendary bard would perform from the Emperor’s own balcony thus starting the ceremony. Any news brought a stir among the antsy wash of people. They all loved their emporer but most knew very little of his son, so they waited in much anticipation to be introduced to their next ruler.

As darkness finally lay claim to the sky, the crowd began to gather. Emporer Vaughn Fedge made his residence in an ancient temple, built by the early druids, which sat upon the highest point in the city. A vast fan-shaped plaza sprayed out in the front, from the base of the building. It was truly little more than a massive granite cube perforated here and there with windows and bearing a great balcony from which he addressed his people.

As the courtyard began to fill, ancient eyes smiled down. A man with the look of middle age to his face but the spryness of youth in his step strode forward and bowed deeply. Cacophony became silence with one fluid movement.

“WELCOME!” a thunderous voice broke over the crowd, eliciting startled gasps and a smattering of curses. “Greetings people of the Empire, I am here to tell you all a tale.” Cheers burst forth and several suggestions were flung toward the lone man.

Silence oozed back in as the unknown bard held up a hand. “I am happy to have your enthusiasm, and I did hear the names of several great tales, but tonight is for young Lord Jael, and he has chosen. This is no tale of fancy, it is the story of your ancestors and their war to win freedom from the Centaurs. The end of the entire race of horse-men and my own death!” Wild elation was quickly subdued by thousands of annoyed shushes. When he was satisfied that all were attentive, he began.

“In the early days of the war

The fighting seemed to be just
Men gave faith unto the centaur
Who then betrayed our trust

They enslaved even our children
To try to break our will
They pushed the men and women
Until it came the time to kill

With tools of hearth and harvest
Bloody was the day
But man rose from the ash and gore
To bring the children away

Twas just a fight they came to learn
A skirmish, nothing more
Years after that the horse-men came back
Once more equipped for war

As man went forth with jaws hard set
They knew that they would win
The four magics they had come to learn
They’d be not slaves again

Wizards flung fire and bolts from the sky
Ripping the centaurs apart
Then there were clerics healing our own
With Prayer from their soul and heart

Druid came next, ripped open the ground
To swallow the horse-men up whole
Then came the bard with powerful song
Made strong the will that these creatures once stole

Stricken with fear, the rest turned their backs
Beating their hooves to their far away lands
They wont be back the humans thought
But the centaurs had other plans

A third of their army was all they’d sent
To retake their puny slaves
The Centaurs underestimation
Had kept two thirds from their graves

They knew of the four magics,
Though mastered only one
Their priests had learned to draw their strength
By praying to the sun

This was not enough they knew
For the humans had all four
They would have to use their prayers
To open a very ancient door

So they performed an ancient prayer
Said to have destroyed the Elves
With a binding chant they called to infernal lands
And demons to themselves

With sacrafice aplenty
They bound six by mind and soul
From these unholy killers
The centaurs did wrest control

Twice a man their height at least
And twice again as broad
They seemed cut from the elements
It seemed each was a God

Though thy were but six it was enough
To strike a mighty blow
The magics by themselves had failed
To make them even slow

It seemed to man that all was lost
Then a child shed her light
A little girl approached a mage
And gave him true insight

‘The magics that you have’ she said
‘They are useless as can be
Can’t you wrap them all together
And set those poor things free?’

This was just what the humans did
As the enemy drew near
The centaurs lost their magic reigns
Then they knew the name of fear

As the humans had been years before
The Demons were irate
They swept through the horse-man army then
Killing with lust and hate

They hunted horse-men all that day
Brought them extinction by the next
When they returned we gave them gifts
The demons were perplexed

‘By your might we live today’
Man’s king said unto them all
‘If it had not been for you salvation
That would have been our fall’

The magics then combined again
Woven by the hands of man
To open up a gate once more
To the infernal lands

Five stepped through without a word
But the sixth did hesitate
To lay a blessing on a bard
Who sang to hold the gate

‘Look, you, up into the sky
For you’ll see the sun no more
You will die yet live on still
As I take me through that door

You will walk the lands at night
Sing your songs and tell your tale
Tell all the races in all the lands
In every village and dale’

With that he stepped himself right through
And vanished from my sight
That is why I come to you
Only by the cover of night"

“I AM DONNEGAN, THE BARD IMMORTAL!” and before the echo died, he flung himself out over the balcony and landed silently, some three stories below. With a bow to his stunned audience, he vanished.

Everdark Pt 1: In The Beginning...

Dalton Sayre

Buckhannon, United States

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Artist's Description

A brief introduction to a world that has been many years in my soul.

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