Chapter One: An Alliance of Evil
In a world parallel to Earth, there lies a lush green continent. This is the land of Great Germaine, rich in plants and animals. In this land, humans have learned to co-exist peacefully with creatures like dragons, dwarfs, fairies, and other magical creatures.
These creatures wield tremendous power that few humans have learned to harness, even through exhausting years of study trying to master that power. In the land of Great Germaine, magic is still carried in the blood of these creatures, unlike on Earth where, thanks to the greed of men, magic died during the medieval ages.
The people of Great Germaine live in small villages scattered across its vast continent in houses built from rocks and trees. The rooftops, covered with tightly wound strands of hay, barely shelter them from the harsh rains that sometimes fall. They retrieve their water from wells and cook their meals in large stone furnaces.
Some villages farm food, while others specialize in breeding sheep, using their wool to make clothing. The inhabitants of Great Germaine know nothing of money; everything exchanged by way of trade, between humans and similar species, and no one goes hungry.
Though life is often harsh due to the extensive work, still, the people live happily in peace.
A single king--King Demas--has been in power for three decades, the throne having been bestowed upon him by his father as a last wish of a dying man.
However, there is a law that governs the land--the strongest shall be king and at any given time, a challenge may be made. The inhabitants of Great Germaine respected the wishes of their fallen king--whom they loved dearly--and Demas went unchallenged for years.
Though the creatures of Great Germaine live in peace, there is one man who wishes to rule the land with an iron fist. His name is Balthazar Despot.
On his fourteenth birthday, Balthazar's father challenged the mighty King in an attempt to acquire the crown. The duel was a magnificent display of courage and technique, but in the end, his father fell victim to the King's sword.
At the moment he witnessed his father's demise, he swore vengeance against the King. Since he also lost his mother at a very young age and with no loving family to support and nurture him, he grew up to be an angry and bitter man.
He was jealous of the innate ability of the mystical creatures to wield powerful magic and sought to destroy them all.
For the next seven years, Balthazar desperately tried to learn magic, yet failed in every attempt. He was not a muscular man; in fact, he was a bit on the scrawny side. Magic was the only way to level the playing field against the skillful hand of the King, with each failure to wield magic serving to intensify his hatred of all mystical creatures.
When his hatred grew so much that it completely dominated his every move and thought, a dark and insidious force paid him a visit to make an offer, knowing it would not be refused.
Our story begins...
As Balthazar stared out the window of his house, enjoying a blue sky, he saw three Ogres traveling in the nearby forest.
"Filthy creatures," he said, slamming his hand against the windowsill as he watched them. "What I would do to rid the world of your kind."
His eyebrows wrinkled as he gazed upon the thick, light green, mottled-skinned behemoths with disgust.
"What the..." he said as his body began to vibrate, the ground beneath him shaking.
Looking out the window, he noticed the Ogres continuing on their merry way.
"How is it possible they don't feel this? The tremors must be coming from here." He spun around.
He kept focus on the center of the room to retain his balance when the floor shook again, nearly knocking him off his feet. The shaking intensified, splitting the ground open before him. A deep crack forming by his feet while a black, fowl smelling gas filled the air.
He covered his mouth and nose with his sleeve but it did no good. The smell was too strong to block, and it stung the delicate skin inside his nostrils.
His cheeks began to puff in and out as he coughed.
Balthazar, a malicious voice echoed inside his mind.
Keeping silent, he searched for the sound's origin, but all that was in the room with him was the black cloud, hovering before him.
"What are you?" he said at last.
His shoulders stiffened as the creature laughed, the sound penetrating his body; a coldness swelled deep inside him. Goosebumps formed along his skin and his stomach twisted and turned as the coldness spread all over.
I have a gift for you, the voice said.
"Who are you?"
I can give you what you desire--Power!
"And in return?" he asked.
Your sssoul, the dark voice said, hissing.
"That would mean--"
Clever boy, the voice said, cutting him off. Did you not say you would do anything to rid the world of those creatures?
The dark voice was obviously losing patience with him.
Do you accept my terms or have I wasted my time
"Y-yes, I accept them," he replied, without fully comprehending the magnitude of his decision.
Excellent, the voice said.
Before Balthazar could react, the black cloud entered his body through his nostrils. He immediately coughed, trying to rid himself of the foreign substance. However, he could not protect himself from what he volunteered.
As the entity coursed through his body, a burning sensation like no other pushed his tolerance to the breaking point.
He screamed in agony as his threshold for pain was breached, then the entity expelled itself, though the burning sensation remained for a brief moment longer.
With a sigh of relief, Balthazar spoke. "I don't feel any different."
The black cloud reformed before his eyes.
I have given you the power to steal the magical energy that resides inside all mystical creatures. You will not feel different until you've stolen some of that energy. With each victim, you will grow stronger, until you are the most powerful force in this world or any other.
"Excellent," he said with an evil grin.
If you serve me well, I shall also grant you eternal life.
"How can I serve you, Master?"
Go forth and absorb all the mystical energy you can and conquer this world. Deliver to me the souls of every living creature and I shall absolve you of your debt to me. But if you should fail me--
"I will not fail," Balthazar quickly said, not wanting to know what would be in store for him if he failed. "It shall be done."
With those words said, the black cloud descended back into the crack in the floor. Once the entity was out of sight, the crack sealed itself, leaving no trace.
Satisfied the dark presence was for sure gone, Balthazar grabbed his sword and rushed out of his house in pursuit of the three Ogres.
Upon entering the nearby forest, the cracking sound of breaking branches broke the silence.
Stopping abruptly, he looked up; the trees in the forest were ancient and stood nearly sixty feet tall. Their leaves were plentiful, and the trees appeared to be holding hands as their branches intertwined with each other. As he stood there, he could see the branches give way to something large and heavy.
Suddenly, a dragon pierced the thick foliage. Falling out of the sky, it crashed through the underbrush and landed several yards away from him.
He barely ducked in time before the dragon soared over his head and crashed to the ground.
The great beast unleashed a painful moan as it tried to stand. Balthazar merely looked on in disbelief as its legs failed to support its weight, and it fell to the ground yet again.
A large ray of light from the gaping hole in the under brush surrounded the dragon.
"What's wrong?" he asked the dragon, keeping his distance, afraid of the razor sharp claws that could slice through his skin and bones as if they were butter.
"I'm dying, Human, leave me be," the beast replied.
"Perhaps I can help," Balthazar said, stepping in its direction.
"I don't think so, but thank you for the offer. I am old, and it is my time to depart this world."
He stood before the dragon and stared in awe. It must have been nearly forty feet in length, its scales a deep shade of purple with splotches of black and its smooth underbelly a lime-green. On the end of its tail were three sharp bones; two horns stood out from its head.
Reaching out his right hand, Balthazar placed it on the side of the dragon's chest. As his hand touched the dragon's flesh, a sudden rush of power surged through his arm and into his chest.
"What are you doing?" asked the dragon. "Stop it!"
The dragon raised its left talon into the air, preparing to deliver a fatal blow, but before its claw came crashing down, the dragon's life slipped away.
The talon fell to the ground, inches away from its intended target.
Balthazar slowly removed his hand from the beast and stared wide-eyed.
"I can feel it, the power coursing through my veins," he said, then quickly turned around, remembering why he came into the forest. "More."
Quickly he faced the direction the three Ogres were traveling in and peered into the thick brush. Though he couldn't see them, he could hear their large boots snapping twigs just ahead.
He ran as fast as he could after the three Ogres, but it wasn't necessary; they were traveling at a slow and steady pace, and in no hurry, no doubt heading home after a day of hunting. Two of them carried their kill--a large buck and its mate, still with the arrows from the crossbows sticking out from their sides. The doe was a lot smaller than the buck, but together they would provide plenty of meat for the Ogres and their women.
Though the Ogres weapon of choice is a heavy wooden club, they were forced to learn how to use a crossbow if they wanted to successfully hunt for themselves.
Ogres are quite large and bulky; their green, scaly skin tough and thick, almost impenetrable, with their size making them naturally slow and clumsy. Nevertheless, Balthazar knew if they were successful in landing a punch or striking you with their club, chances were you wouldn't get up.
Although Ogres have magic in their bodies, over the years they chose brute strength over magic and lost the ability to control the elements. His fear was displaced.
"You there. Stop!" he said as he came upon the Ogres.
"Who dares talk to us in such a manner?" asked one of the Ogres as they all turned around.
"It's just a puny human," said another and the three of them burst into a fit of laughter.
Balthazar was a tall, slender man with long black hair, sporting a moustache and a goatee, hardly something to make an Ogre afraid.
"How dare you mock me," Balthazar said, taking immediate offense to their rudeness.
"What are you going to do about it?" asked one of the Ogres as Balthazar raised his right hand.
Just by thinking, a single bolt of lightning shot out of his fingertips and struck the Ogre in the chest, answering the question.
"What was that?" the Ogre asked, brushing his hand across his chest where he was struck. "That tickled."
The other two laughed.
How can that be? Balthazar thought then realized the dragon had little magic to give and his powers were far too weak to conquer these mighty foes.
"Foolish Human. I'll teach you a thing or two about messing with us," replied one of the other Ogres as he removed a club from his belt and started to run at Balthazar.
Panic set in.
As the Ogre approached, a fire fairy fluttered out of a nearby bush. She wore a red robe that drooped just below her little knees, matching her fiery red hair. She stood four inches tall and her body radiated a reddish glow; her wings the same shape of a butterfly's, but pure white with trails of red streaming across them.
"You better run for it. They look very angry with you," she said, hovering before his face.
"Wh-what?" he said, snapping out of his petrified state.
"I saw that feeble attack. You can't be foolish enough to disturb the peace. I'll hold them off while you run away." She turned her back to him.
"I have a better idea," he replied, lowering his sword.
He grabbed her with both hands. She let out a painful cry as her life force began to drain away and the Ogre stopped his stride, unsure of what was to happen.
"I only wanted to help," she replied as her face contorted in pain.
"Oh, but you are," he said.
Seeing the fairy in pain, the Ogre charged once more. "What are you doing to her?"
When no answer came, the Ogre tried to speed up his movement, but try as he might, he just couldn't go any faster.
Before he could reach her in time, the natural glow of the fairy faded away. He watched in horror as her lifeless body plummeted to the ground upon its release.
When she hit with a thud, everyone watched closely for any sign of life. There was none.
Slowly, the Ogre lifted his head, his unblinking eyes filled with rage as he stared at Balthazar.
Balthazar enjoyed seeing the hate swell behind the Ogre's gaze. "What's wrong, Beast? Are you afraid?" His confidence soared with the sudden rush of power.
"I'll squash you like the bug you are!" the Ogre shouted, raising his club high into the air and charged forward again.
With a wave of his hand, Balthazar ignited the club in flame. He was surprised by how long it took for the heat to penetrate the Ogre's thick skin, but when the Ogre realized it, he dropped the club and waved his hand in attempt to cool it off.
"You'll pay for that," one of the other Ogres said as he lay the dead deer down.
The third Ogre followed his lead and the two joined their friend.
"Three big, strong, smelly Ogres against little ol' me? Oh, I'm so scared."
His comment only intensifying their fury, the three charged as one.
As they rushed in, now within striking distance, three bolts of lightning, much larger and brighter than the first one, fired out of Balthazar's right hand. Each Ogre hurled into the air upon impact and crashed to the ground.
Without thought, Balthazar ran over to the closest one, placed his hand upon its chest, and quickly absorbed his magical energy. The Ogre lay unconscious and passed on painlessly.
Unfortunately for the other two, they were coming to and were about to endure the pain of dying. Their screams of agony echoed in the forest as Balthazar placed his hands upon them.
With the Ogres drained of all life, Balthazar returned to his home.
After placing his sword in its protective sleeve, he retrieved his horse--which was grazing on a bundle of hay in his stable--and rode off to the King's castle.
The castle was almost a day's ride away.
Nightfall was close at hand and Balthazar thought about waiting until morning, but decided against it, assuming the roads would be clear of any wagons thus allowing him to accomplish the ride quickly.
Besides that, he knew if he tried to sleep it would be of no use.
When night did fall, the light of the full moon lit his path and as he thought they would be, the roads were clear.
He rode quickly, stopping only long enough for his horse to rest and replenish its strength. He had no need for food himself; his lust for power kept him nourished.