Evil plans to destroy Etias. The king, known as the Reaper, must save the realms.
The search for Azara ran dry over the years, with every pursuit Etriz and Krextia attempted reaching a dead end. Though they continued their search by reaching out to other sources, they turned their energies to training Kaziel and Aurae. The two fire daemon children were growing stronger by the day, and Etriz knew the time of hiding them neared to an end.
Krextia stood before her home, her eyes distant in thought. Her hair had grown longer over the past few years, but she did not appear that much different. Undry, the dragon, lay curled as he rested near the home. His size had nearly quadrupled over the many seasons, the top of his head near Etriz's strong shoulders. Etriz was nearby to Krextia, sparring with his children to practice melee combat. His continuing emphasis on teamwork was evident in their fighting style, the siblings working with each other to subdue their father.
A movement in the sky caught Krextia's attention. She raised her white eyes, lifting her hand up as a messenger hawk landed on her arm. She pulled the small letter strapped to its leg off, scratched its feathers affectionately, and sent it on its way. She turned to open the scroll of parchment, her eyes scanning its contents carefully.
Etriz ceased the sparring match with his children when he noticed the messenger hawk on Krextia's arm.
"Is everything all right?" Etriz called out to her. Undry opened a sleepy eye as Etriz approached the Faceless Daemoness of Wind.
The daemoness held up the letter for him to see. "I have been corresponding with Sir Casimir Armond, Paladin of the Reaper's Royal Guard." She lifted her gaze to look at Etriz. "He says they will be departing for the Astral Athenaeum in a few ten-day."
Etriz glanced over the letter before he nodded. "We should make rendezvous with them at the castle once they return. We must share our collective information." The fire daemon glanced back at his children before returning his gaze to Krextia. "They still have work to do, but they are both powerful. However, I cannot help but worry about bringing them into battle."
Krextia nodded in understanding as she looked over at the children. Kaziel was fully grown, his body finely honed with rippling muscles. Aurae, now a young woman, appeared so much like her mother except thinner, not having Azara's same curvaceous figure. Her long black hair fell down her back, even when she pulled it up in a ponytail.
Undry lifted his head to look at Aurae, bounding over to her and nudging her hand with his snout. Aurae grinned as she reached out to stroke Undry's scales across his neck, settling to rest against the dragon. Undry curled around Aurae, shielding her with his body. Even when he first met her as a baby, he was drawn to the young daemoness.
Krextia turned to look at Etriz again. "You have been training them. But the only way they will learn how to fight in a battle is to be in one. They need to be a part of this now. I know you're scared, but you cannot hide them forever."
"You're right, Krextia. I cannot keep shielding them from potential danger. They want to find their mother just as much as I do." He turned his golden eyes to look over at his children again. Both Kaziel and Aurae had grown and matured much over the past years since their mother's disappearance. Etriz smiled at the sight of the dragon with his daughter.
"Undry will not let Aurae out of his sight. However, I worry he will draw unwanted attention."
Krextia gave him a little grin. "He will, yes... and with the increasing number of dragon attacks, people might be wary. But he is still just a babe. Besides, I'm sure Prince Kyvan would appreciate having a dragon on his side."
Kaziel's pointed ears perked at the name as he spun to walk over to them. "Prince Kyvan? What about him?"
Etriz raised a high eyebrow as he turned to Kaziel. "Why so curious, son?
"I heard you mention us meeting him?" Kaziel folded his arms over his chest. "I've always wanted to meet the royal family, ever since I was young."
"I heard Prince Kyvan is quite handsome, so I wouldn't mind traveling with him," Aurae teased with a grin.
Etriz rolled his eyes, shaking his head. "Let us not waste any more time. Gather your things so we can push out."
At dawn the following morning, the siblings stood side by side. Both appeared exhausted, dark circles embedded under their eyes. Bleiz let out a loud yawn as he stretched, ruffling his hair as he did. He cracked open an eye to spot the prince and the knight move in their general direction. Trailing behind them was the palace-woman Aneira leading a horse for each of them. Melina noted strapped to the woman's back was a staff crafted by the most beautiful wood. The stick widened at both ends but narrowed in the center to allow Aneira a better grip.
On the bottom end sat three spikes made of obsidian, decorated with intricate designs with thin, spiky shapes that intertwine and dance around each other. A sizable green gem-adorned the asymmetrical top. Melina noted the jewel appeared alike to Aneira's own emerald orbs.
"Greetings," said Casimir as he gave them a polite bow.
"Let's get this trip over as fast as possible," interrupted Prince Kyvan as he brushed past his knight to take his black stallion.
An otherworldly presence surrounded the horse, from its sleek black coat and beady red eyes. Melina wasn't sure, but it appeared as if fangs protruded from the beast's mouth. Kyvan hoisted himself on the horse who stood for him. Bleiz glowered at the rude prince, but he said nothing. The rest of the group clambered on their own steeds, and soon they rode off along the road at high speed.
It took two ten-day before the companions arrived in E'athkadi. The entire town appeared barren, save for the few dozen townsfolk who remained in the scattered structures surrounding the area. Down the road stood a castle-like structure that was half-buried from the mounting piles of snow and ice. Four oversized, square towers surrounded the construction in a perfect circle with connecting tall, thin walls made of granite. Dull windows scattered around the walls along with small holes for archers and artillery. No bowmen or ballista of any kind sat at the ready for the building's defense.
Casimir's white fur cloak rustled around his eyes. He wore a cloth mask on the lower half of his face to further shield him from the icy bite of the flurries. He pointed to the castle-structure with a gloved hand.
"There is the Astral Athenaeum," he said, his voice muffled from both the material covering his mouth and the howling wind.
"Why couldn't the library have been on a tropical island somewhere? Or at least somewhere warm," Melina grumbled as she shivered, her brown hair hidden underneath her thick fur hood.
"What security are we looking at?" Prince Kyvan addressed Casimir. The prince wore a furred black cloak with a scarf wrapped around the bottom half of his face. "I intend on knocking those walls down if they do not cooperate."
Casimir raised a hand as he shook his head, turning to glance at the inexperienced Prince Kyvan. "I want to approach this without hostility, if possible. We will speak with the Archsage of the library first. We don't want to appear as if the throne only ever uses an iron fist."
He turned to the other two to follow him, Melina and Bleiz walking a few steps behind him as they stepped through the snow which piled up to their shins.
"Remember when we were children, and I would shove you into snowbanks about this high?" said Bleiz to Melina as he walked behind her.
"If you do that now, I'll smother you in this stuff," she added, watching her steps through the thick substance. The companions passed through the first gate without hindrance, entering an open circular courtyard.
Casimir turned his eyes forward to note a tall figure stand before the double oak doors that led into the Astral Library. The giant man's blue skin and white eyes were noticeable right away. He stood closer to eight feet than to seven, towering the group as he glared down his long slender nose at Sir Casimir with disdain.
"Who are you to be entering our library?" he asked in a melodic but stern voice.
The raven-haired prince stepped forward. He extended a hand as his palm emitted a blue aura. From it blossomed a considerable scythe, Kyvan's long fingers wrapping around the great weapon the instant it materialized. Melina could not help but stare at the thing. It was the first time she witnessed the beautiful symbol of the Reaper herself. It was as haunting as it was breathtaking.
"I am Prince Kyvan, the heir to the throne of the Reaper," Kyvan called out, eyes narrowed and intense. "I demand to speak to the Archsage."
The cryo-giant gave a scoff at this, waving a long elegant hand at the prince. "The throne has no business with the Archsage. Leave now."
Casimir stepped forward, his hand on the hilt of his weapon, his eyes narrowing at the giant for his cynicism. "Do not speak to His Highness in that tone, or I shall cut your tongue from your mouth!"
Kyvan scowled, calling back to the giant as he lifted a hand to calm his knight, "Under normal circumstances, we would never associate with the likes of you. But the dragons have been rebelling across Etias. This will involve you and your people. I must speak with the Sage!"
The cryo-giant opened his mouth as if he was about to give another remark, but a melodic voice spoke over him.
"That is enough, Orist."
The giant turned to another as an older cryo stepped beside him. The second giant appeared much calmer and content than his younger counterpart. His long white hair framed his beautiful features, even with his advanced age. His skin was the same deep blue and eyes milky white as his companion. Melina wondered if perhaps the entire race was blind.
"I am Archsage Tezar. Welcome to my library," he said with a bow.
Kyvan turned his attention to Archsage Tezar, bowing his head. "Thank you for your kind welcome. May we enter? My human tagalongs are not accustomed to this weather."
Melina and Bleiz glanced at each other in annoyance at Kyvan's remark. As rangers, they endured the vastness of all-weather conditions. Melina mused it was Kyvan who was unaccustomed to this extreme coldness.
Tezar turned with a nod of his head, gesturing for the group to follow him. The double doors opened before them as they stepped inside the stone walls. The moment everyone was inside, the opening closed again to shut out the cold. Tezar turned to them in the center of a circular room. Huge windows sat on the opposite side on the wall, allowing them a view of the vast snowy wasteland beyond the library.
"Now, you spoke of the dragons rebelling against the other races of Etias? I thought they struck a deal in the Equinox Concordant?" said Tezar.
"They sat still for centuries, content in guarding their hordes of treasure. But something is making them rise from their sleep," said the prince, his scythe still clasped in his hand.
"Hm... Interesting. Come, we will speak in my study."
Tezar turned to a flight of stairs that led upwards to the second floor. The Archsage gestured to his guests to circle around the massive table set in the middle of the room. He walked towards a few bookshelves, scanning the various tomes carefully before turning with a particularly large book. He set the opened book on the table in front of the group. The blue giant had to double over just to be close to the height of the others. Tezar ran a long slender finger over the text as he read aloud.
“From the shadows of the forgotten planes, the Three will open the Eye once more. From its sight, fire shall rain from the heavens to bring forth the darastrixi. The blood of the moon will rise the hollow being, cascading discord with corporeality returned to the one who cannot perish. When death sleeps forever, the worlds will descend into blackness, bringing rise to another. The grim will topple leaders, thus the new age begins. Spirit and flesh will bear the silver progeny, and the people will rejoice. What once was whole will be no longer, parting of the Three, leaving only the heir the path.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Prince Kyvan asked with a scowl.
“I believe the first part makes reference to an ancient dragon named Xarsunon.”
"Who is Xarsunon?" Kyvan questioned, eyes narrowed in concentration. His expression reflected concern. Tezar turned the page to reveal an illustration of a monstrosity. It was a dragon, but its scales had rotted away from years of decay. Melina shivered at the sight.
"Xarsunon is a darastrix-anatar, otherwise known as a dragon-lich," he explained. Kyvan scowled at this new information.
"What is a lich?" Melina asked.
"A lich is a powerful undead being that has separated his soul from his body to achieve immortality," said Tezar as his light eyes directed towards the human. "The Reaper himself is a lich, although he is not evil. This is a rare occurrence, as most liches do not come out that way." He folded his slender hands in front of him, the long sleeves of his robes embellished with stars. "Xarsunon can travel through the material realm and the spirit realm just as the Reaper. He feeds off souls to gain power. I do not know where he has been hiding. I assumed him destroyed before they had drafted the Equinox Concordant."
"The Equinox Concordant was a treaty written when the Reaper first became king," explained Casimir to the rangers' confused expressions. "It swore the dragons would cease attacks against the other races. In exchange, the dragons would have their treasures without disturbance."
"Long before your grandfather's reign, Xarsunon was the king,” added Tezar. “There are old followers of the dragon-lich, most being dragons. There was one follower, in particular, that is still around… Madame Medri.”
Kyvan's blue eyes flashed at the mention of the infamous lich. He growled, "Madame Medri? What does she have to do with this?"
"If anyone has to do with the dragons uprising, it would be her. The Madame was a high priestess to Xarsunon, who believed himself to be a god. It is rumored she plans to seek revenge for her fallen Lord, though that has yet to come to fruition. Since the dragon-lich’s downfall, Madame Medri has obsessed over the books of prophecy.”
“And what are those?” asked Lady Aneira.
“There are three Tomes of Kaegro that speak of a prognostication called the Crimson Lunar Prophecy," replied Tezar. "Munthrek, Kothar, and Athear. They created these tomes to represent the three separate realms of Mortal, Daemon, and Spirit. The ancients wrote them before our time, and each one contained a piece of this prediction. It was said it foretold the downfall of the lands by a being so powerful, so monstrous, that no one can stop it, as the Blood Moon would provide the monster with unimaginable strength. To have all three in one's possession would give them a full telling of the prophecy.”
The group glanced at each other before looking back at Archsage Trezar, waiting for him to continue.
"Though she has been unsuccessful, Madame Medri is focusing her energy on creating perverse creations to duplicate the ancient prophecy, the most famous being the Faceless Daemonesses."
"The Faceless Daemonesses?" Melina asked.
"Correct. They were created from the elemental planes. Fire, Wind, Earth, Water, and Shadow. They were meant to be her puppets, created for the destruction of Etias and the Reaper. However, she gave them too much free-will, and four of the five severed their connections to the lich. Supposedly, she has been trying to track them down once more."
No one noticed Aneira as she shrank back a little, her hand reaching up to trace the emerald on her prayer beads.
Kyvan paced the room. "There are so many pieces to this puzzle. We do not have the time to be solving riddles."
"I can only recommend you track down the tomes," suggested Tezar as he turned to the prince. "I heard your grandfather's tome, the Book of Kothar, was stolen many years ago by a treasonous daemon named Astiroth Razorsiac."
Kyvan's eyes narrowed at the mention of the name, the memories still fresh in his mind. "Yes… you are correct. Astiroth stole the tome when I was but a youth."
Archsage Tezar nodded, his expression grim. "I do not find it coincidental that the tome was stolen, and now the dragons are becoming restless. I believe Madame Medri has something to do with this."
"Can you suggest any place we may begin our search?" Aneira questioned as she nodded to the book on the table.
"Yes. Before Dragonbreak, the current capital of Etias was formed, Selirius was the raining capital and thus, the home of Xarsunon and his generals. I can only recommend you start there, but I must warn you, it can be dangerous.”
Kyvan stopped his pacing as he pondered for a moment. "It is a clue to start somewhere, so that is a risk we will have to take." Kyvan pulled the hood of his cloak back up. "We shall leave for Selirius now. I thank you for your help, Archsage Tezar."