Chapter 1: The Reawakening

It had been two hundred years since the Dark Master was sealed away. The knights that had served him had formed their own schools and kept their traditions alive. The priestess who had sealed him away had also trained a successor who had trained a successor and so on. She was the high priestess of all the different religions and even now there is one who sits in her place.
So it was and is. The lands that the Dark Master once sought to rule lived in peace, though under that peace was fear that he might come back one day and finish what he started.
Not that everyone felt that way. There were a few, only a few mind you, who wished for the days of war again. And so they sought endlessly the resting place of the Dark Master so that they could break his seal and unleash his power once again.
It was on that cool spring day two hundred and thirteen years after the Dark Master had been sealed away that his prison was discovered. Underneath a small church dedicated to the god of justice, Hasterlin, the group calling themselves the Dark Ones finally reached their goal. They grabbed the priest who was in charge of the temple and slowly and methodically dismembered him over the tomb.
Seems they were under the mistaken impression that you needed a human sacrifice to wake him up. When they finished and nothing happened they were completely shocked. It took them half a year; they moved the coffin that held the Dark Master to their own base, to figure out how to wake him up. You had to read the inscription on the coffin. The Dark Ones weren't exactly the brightest group in existence. It took them another half a year to find someone who could read the writing and then coerce them into reading it. And so it was after two hundred and fourteen years of slumber, the Dark Master rose again.
When he saw the ragtag group of idiots who'd awakened him he hissed. This was not what he'd expected. He'd thought that his knights would come and free him, though his secret hope was that the priestess would realize how much she needed him and come and unseal him. Of course there was no a chance of that. The priestess hated him. Or had hated him as she was quite dead now.
The Dark Ones prostrated themselves at his feet, which caused the Dark Master to kick them and order them to get up and take him to his knights.
"Uh, my lord? Your knights are dead. We can take you to their successors."
"Dead! That's impossible they are the greatest warriors ever born! No one can kill them."
"My lord no one killed them. They died of old age. It's been more then two hundred years since you were sealed."
"What!!! It took that long for you to unseal me?"
"You were hidden, my lord. We found you a year back but it took us time to find someone capable of reading the script on your coffin."
"Idiots. Pack of useless idiots! Take me to these successors to my knights! I wish to see if they are worthy of my knights' names."
Suddenly realizing that maybe everyone else had been right about not wanting him to be awakened, the Dark Ones led their master towards the nearest of the knightly orders.

"Dini. Dini!" Limare called searching for the high priestess. She'd slipped off again and no one could find her. This wasn't good. She had a meeting with the highly volatile Priest Gastrop of the Fire God, Ziltox.
The only place Limare could think that no one had checked yet was the hug oak in the middle of Dini's private garden. She sometimes climbed up there to think.
Looking up at the tree, the high priestess's aid and friend sighed. I ought to get in shape, she thought ruefully looking down at her plumpness. "Dini!" she called trying to see if the high priestess was up there. Limare couldn't see or hear anything, about to leave, a sudden cracking sound from above gave her enough warning to jump aside as a large branch came tumbling down and Dini right behind it.
"DINI!" Limare cried rushing forward to see if her friend was all right.
The high priestess turned and stared at her aide without seeing her and whispered, "Evil. So evil. How could he? He promised it was for good. All for good. Lies. All lies!" She shrieked the last part and started crying.
"Dini? What's wrong? Who's evil?" Limare asked worried that her friend had taken leave of her senses.
"Viswren! He swore to me it was for the good but he's just a tyrant!" came the tear-filled reply.
"Who's Viswren?"
"The Master. The Dark Master as everyone else in the camp calls him. I brought the priesthoods in to unite our lands and bring an end to all the wars but he lied! It's not for anyone's good but his own!"
Limare took a step back. "T-t-the Dark M-m-master! What about the priesthoods?"
Dini said nothing for the next few minutes just sat slumped over and stared off into nothingness. All at once she seemed to regain herself and sat bolt upright. Turning slowly to face Limare, her voice shaky, the high priestess said. "He's back. I, because I'm the high priestess I got all of her memories. I saw it. All of it. I know how to seal him again, but I must find him. Soon."
"Who's memories did you get?" Limare asked, truly afraid her mistress had gone mad.
"The great high priestess, the one who sealed him away, Sevrina."
Limare drew the sacred star on her chest at the mention of the great one.
"Dini you should not speak so! It's disrespectful! I think you need to see the healers. You must have a fever."
The high priestess looked at her friend, her eyes calm and serious. "I did not hallucinate. His coffin was stolen a year ago and we knew it was only a matter of time before he was reawakened. That time is now. He will once again raise an army and try and control all of the lands. I'm the only one who knows how to seal him away again. I must go and find him."
"But. . ." Limare protested weakly, not wanting to believe it but knowing deep down it was true.
Dini smiled. "It will be alright. I know what to do. Explain things to everyone I had meetings with today and spread the word to all the priesthoods. I want at least one group of mages or warriors from each ready to join an army."
"WHAT?!?!? You can't be serious! You can't join his army! You have to seal him away, not help him!"
"I know. That's why I have to join the army. The only way to seal him is to have him betray an oath to me and the only way I can have him swear one is if I join him."
"But. . ." Limare repeated.
Dini chuckled. "Oh don't give me that look. I need to go pack, now will you please send out the messages?"
"Alright. I hope you're right about this."
"Oh I'm right, I just hope I can make it in time."

Aster, leader of the Order of the Horse was busy drilling the new recruits when his secretary came running over, pale under his tan. Signalling the troops to continue on their own, he loped over to Niry.
"What's wrong? You look like you just saw you dead ancestors."
"Sir, there's a man to see you. He says he's your master."
"Master? I don't have a master. None of the Orders do. Why didn't you send him packing?"
"Sir, he greatly resembles the description of the Dark Master. Very tall, long black hair pulled back into a tail, goatee and eyes of pitch black. Please sir, he scares me."
Aster started. That sounded exactly like the man from that dream he'd had after he'd dozed off a week ago. The dream was like the stories of the Great War and he'd been a general. It couldn't be that the Dark Master had truly reawakened? He'd heard rumours that his coffin had been stolen but he hadn't believed that the priests would be so lax that they'd allow that to happen. Still, if it truly was the Dark Master he'd be honour-bound to serve him. All the Orders were sworn to him. Except the Order of the Dragon but they would never accept a master. They were masters in their own right. The leader of their Order was the one all the other leaders of the other Orders answered to.
Aster trotted after Niry. The young secretary and sometime warrior led him into his formal reception room. Wishing he had time to change into something more appropriate then his work-out clothes, Aster entered the room and found a man precisely matching not only the description of the Dark Master from the stories but also matching the person he'd seen in his dream. Any doubts still remaining on the identity of the person were dispelled immediately. Aster knelt before him hand on heart.
"My lord and master," he intoned solemnly "What service do you require of me?"
The man smiled. He was pleased to see that he hadn't been forgotten, nor that his knights had switched allegiance while he'd been gone. "You may rise. I am in need of your troops. My plan has not changed. We must unite the lands so that everlasting peace will come. Gather your troops and meet me at Danclin Castle in a month. The other Orders will be present as well."
"Of course, master." The leader or the Order of the horse replied, bowing. "I have but one question. Will the priesthoods be joining us for many of my troops are very religious and will not go against the orders of their respective religions."
The Dark Master stiffened. "I will see. I have yet to visit the high priestess."
Aster bowed again. "Well then master if you will excuse me, I need to go start assembling troops and supplies if I am to meet you at Danclin Castle in a month. We, of course, will supply all the horses you need. Is there anything specific you wanted?"
"A warhorse. A large black warhorse for my mount. Do you have a suitably trained one?"
Aster stiffened ever so slightly at the implied insult that he would not be capable of training a warhorse. "Of course my lord. I am the leader of the Order of the Horse. We know all there is to know about horses. Another question before I take my leave. Do you plan on using spurs or using your voice to control the horse?"
The Dark Master suppressed a smile with great difficulty. This man was an almost exact copy of the original Horse Knight. He replied to an insult in the exact same manner as his predecessor. "My voice of course. I do not wish to ruin the fine animal I'm sure you'll be supplying me with." He replied with, using the compliment to take away any remaining venom from his earlier statement.
Aster nodded. "Of course master. I will see you in a month. With those final words, the leader of the Horse bowed and left his reception chamber feeling as if the whole world was about to end. That priestess had best pray to all the gods I don't get a hold of her, he thought to himself angrily. It was her job to make sure he couldn't come back and she failed!