There is a legend about a great and wonderful king. Many thousands of years ago, he ruled his land with his people in mind, as a good monarch should. He had no need for court nobles, tax collectors, advisors, and the like. He trusted his people, and they trusted him. It is said that the king himself would go out and farm with his own people to know what hardships they went through. He did not call them subjects, for they were people, not property in his eyes.
The other monarchs in the surrounding countries, how ever, looked down upon this, and viewed him as weak and undeserving of his throne. But, soon these monarchs began to loose people in large numbers to their rival king.
"This must stop!" said one king during a private conference among the other monarchs. "We'll lose all support and will be taken over by him!"
"I agree." Said a second. "But he has such large support and a much larger army than any of us. We would surely be crushed even if we combined."
"Then we work from the inside." Said a third. "We get a spy in his court. Learn his weakness and exploit it."
"I get it." Said a fourth. "Kill him slowly from the inside."
"But how?" asked the first, quite worried. "He has no advisors, for he claims that he needs no man to advise him how to treat his people."
"Then we send a spiritual man." Said the third. "A spiritual man we can trust." The monarchs smiled at one another.
"And I know just the man." Said the fourth. "He is wise in the ways of our gods that is unmatched anywhere in the world. He'll bring about his downfall, for a considerable fee of course."
"A fee we're willing to pay." Said the third. "How much is he worth?" The fourth monarch shrugged.
"I estimate around 10 percent of our total vaults."
"We'll pay." Said the first. "Anything to get my subjects back and paying taxes again."
So, the monarchs tracked down their spiritual man, who agreed to take on the task of bringing down a powerful empire. Of course, this was nothing new to him; he had done it before.
"I will begin at once." Said the spiritual man. "Of course, I expect my payment up front. I do no work until I have been paid."
Within a few weeks, the spiritual man had wormed his way in to the king's castle and sat at the most powerful position in the land; at the right hand of the king. An older man who died a few weeks earlier previously held the position, although the people suspected foul play, no one came forward. If their king trusted him, why shouldn't they?
One morning, the king started out his morning like any other: a morning stroll about the castle to make sure nothing was out of place, breakfast, then a brief chat with the spiritual man about the day's tasks. But, this mornings chat turned to something else other than the day's tasks.
"You know sire," said the spiritual man, "The gods look upon you with favor today."
"Really?" said the king, holding back laughter. "I don't much care for what the gods say about my day."
"You don't believe in the gods?" asked the spiritual man in disbelief. "That is not wise sire. There could be grave consequences."
"It's not that I don't believe." Said the king. "I just really don't care. There is no god that stands with the people. There are only gods for the monarchs and conquerors. There are gods for the dishonest and the cheats. There are no gods for the honest, kind, caring, hurting, or those that are going through a hard time. That's why I am here. Some one or thing put me here for a reason, and I believe in fulfilling my destiny."
"Do you know what your destiny is?" asked the spiritual man quietly. The king eyed him suspiciously.
"What are you getting at?" he asked.
"I have a book, sire, that I would like you to read." The spiritual man waved his hand and a book appeared with a puff of smoke in the king's hand. "I think it may help you find your purpose in life." With that, the king was left alone.
What happened once the king was left alone, no one knows but the king himself. Outside, the sky grew dark, as clouds began to form out of nowhere. The early morning temperature dropped dramatically, as the grass and all the plants suddenly froze over with a frost that would only appear in midwinter. Instantly, the people knew something was wrong with their king, and began to flee the country, leaving all of their possessions behind. The animals smashed their way through any and all fencing as the people began to empty the country thousands every minute. Even the most loyal of all people in the castle fled.
Over the next few days, the situation had worsened. The monarchs desperately called for the spiritual man, but he was nowhere to be found. Conflicting reports among the people all seemed to end with the eyewitness report that spiritual man never leaving the upper level of the castle that belonged to the king. They all ended with the spiritual man starting to exit the king's room, but being beckoned back by the king.
"After that," said one man, who had worked in the castle, "things started to go wrong. The fires all around the castle went dark, the temperature dropped, the animals busted through their enclosures, and the ground covered in frost. None of us bothered to stick around to find out what was goin' on."
As the monarchs looked out over the balcony to their rival's kingdom, all had become dark. The sky, the ground, even the castle itself was nowhere to be seen.
"It's all disappeared into the darkness!" yelped the first monarch. "We've doomed ourselves! We should have never done this! Oh horrible wretched fate that is ours!"
"Stop your wailing!" snapped the fourth monarch. "Send out for the priests of the light god. They'll put a stop to this madness."
So the priests were fetched to overlook the situation that was soon to be out of control.
"It seems," said the head Abbot of the local monastery, "that the country has been over taken by the shadow god."
"This is very serious." Said the local head priest. "If the shadow god continues to maintain this rate of growth, all of your kingdoms are at risk."
"What can we do to fight this monster?" asked the second monarch.
"Nothing." Said the Abbot. "You must prepare your armies and equip them with their weapons. All of the priests here will bless their weapons and armor to ensure their safety. I will send for the avatar for the light god."
"The avatar?" said the first monarch. "Is that a little much?" the Abbot and the local head priest both shook their heads.
"This is very serious." Said the priest.
"Were it anymore worse, we would send the avatar to the light god and ask for his protection against this monster." Said the Abbot.
So, the Abbot sent his pleas to the avatar to come as quickly as possible. The avatar arrived in one day later.
"There." Said the Abbot, pointing over a hill near the kingdom's boarder. "The monster grows quickly. The avatar nodded, and began his work. He began to summon the powers of the light god and focus them into his hands.
" Light god, " he began to pray in the divine language of the gods, " send me your power and your blessings as I prepare- " but he was cut short as he was dragged to the ground by a long black tentacle.
"Fool." Snapped a voice from within the darkness. "Your prayer will not reach the gods. I will make sure of that." With that, another tentacle appeared, wrapped itself around the avatar's throat, and snapped his neck. The avatar hit the ground dead and the Abbot backed away from his body fearfully. "Silly Abbot." Laughed the voice in the darkness. "It will take more than an avatar to destroy me."
"Stay back foul demon!" he said shaking all over as two arms formed out of the tentacles and began reaching for him.
"Or you'll do what?" asked the voice in the darkness. "Bless me with your holy water and cut me with your oh so scary swords?" the Abbot backed into a tree and stopped, as the hands of shadows turned into swords. "Tell your god that he is no longer welcomed in my world!"
When the Abbot or the avatar failed to return that night, the local head priest knew what he had to do. He left the castle quickly and went to the main temple of the town. There in a secret room far below the temple there was a girl there being trained for this sort of task. Although her training wasn't complete yet, he was sure she could handle this task. He entered the temple and walked down a long hallway filled with statues of the different avatars that were chosen by the light god. He approached the altar and muttered a few words. Magically, the altar disappeared to reveal a long and narrow stairwell leading down in to the darkness.
"It has happened." He called out into the darkness below him. "The avatar and the unfortunate Abbot are dead." There was a moment of silence.
"Then, I am needed?" asked a small voice from with in.
"Yes." Said the local priest.
"But, people will die if I fail." Said the small voice.
"You won't fail." Said the priest. "Your training ensures that much." Footsteps came up slowly from the darkness.
"Then I shall go." Said the small voice, poking her head out from the darkness.
"Good." Said the priest. "There is a tree out near the edge of the country. That is where the shadows will gather; Bring your weapons." The girl nodded her head and disappeared back in to the darkness.
The local priest returned to the castle to find that mostly everyone was dead, or missing. There were no traces of blood, so the people were killed from behind. Probably suffocated or had their necks snapped. He shuddered to think about it.
"Silly priest." Whispered a voice in his ear. "You are fighting a loosing battle, and the fighting hasn't even begun." The priest turned around slowly to be facing the once kind hearted king. He could tell that he was corrupted by the powers of the shadow god.
"I will not lose to you." Said the priest. "The shadows will be beaten back, like they always have." The king smiled a demented smile.
"This time is different." Answered an unearthly voice from within the king. "Your avatar and abbot from your sacred order are dead. How can you possibly win?" The priest did not move or react.
"Where you killed the abbot and the avatar, there shall the final battle be held." He said. " There shall the fate of the world be decided."
"Like lambs to the slaughter." Answered the king in his normal voice, backing away from the priest. "Under the tree where two have died in vain." The king's body slowly became covered in blackness. "That is where we shall see who is victorious." His whole body was covered now, and all the priest could make out was a faceless, male humanoid form. "Don't bother with your holy weapons, they have been proved useless against me." With that, he faded into the shadows behind him.
That night the priest waited beneath the tree where the abbot and the avatar lay dead nearby. There was no point in praying over them; once you were dead, you were dead. The gods would take care of you once your soul reached the afterlife, but these men had no souls; the shadow being took them before killing them.
The moon was high in the sky and the evil clouds circled around it like vultures over carrion. This would truly be the test of time for all the people.
"So, you are here." Came the king's voice from within the shadows behind him.
"Yes." Said the priest. "And I see that you are too." The king laughed as he slowly appeared from the ground near the priest.
"Very perceptive of you." He said. "But I grow tired of these games. Let us end this now!" from behind the priest, a shadow sword appeared out of the tree's shadow, ready to strike him through the heart.
"I agree." He said calmly. Out of the tree, and arrow flew quickly and struck the sword, causing it to recede back into the tree's shadow. The king let out a painful growl. "Let us see who has the advantage here." The girl jumped from the tree and landed on the ground to face her opponent.
"So, you've run out of able and willing men, and sent a little girl instead." Sneered the king. "Do I sense a scent of disparity?"
"Only when you'll be bleeding out of places you didn't know you could bleed out of." Hissed the girl. The king snorted.
"Little girls should be seen and not herd." He snapped back.
"Same for dead demons." The king roared angrily and attacked with a wave of shadow beings that popped out of every shadow on the ground. The girl easily ducked and dodged her way through them, slicing each one of them in half with her two elbow daggers. The shadow beings were gone in a matter of seconds.
"I must admit," said the king, "you have her trained well priest. But do you know if she can keep on dodging me?" from behind the girl, five shadow hands appeared and restrained her. "Maybe I'll keep her around." He said, walking over to her and eyeing her up and down as she was disarmed. "She'll be my play mate. I've always wanted a play mate."
"Catch me first." She said. With that, there was a bright light, annihilating all the shadows around and blinding the king, who hissed in pain, while the priest stood by and watched. "You are now in my court," said the girl, her voice changing into that of a true avatar's voice, complete with wings of pure gold, " and you, Shadow King, I find guilty of crimes against the people of this world and the next." The light faded to reveal the now deemed Shadow King tied with chains of pure light. "You have stolen souls and killed many people, innocent and not. To the light god, these lives were precious things to be taken away. Therefore, I deem you to exile beneath the earth's crust."
"No." hissed the Shadow King.
"You are to live in this exile for sixteen millennia, and are to have no contact with the outside world."
"No!" he hissed again.
"You sentence is to being now. Your kingdom will be locked away with you, while the rest of it will be removed from the face of the earth." There was a loud rumbling as the castle began to sink below the horizon.
"NO!" yelled the Shadow King. "I will come back, and I will bring my kingdom with me!" the castle was half way below the horizon now. "I WILL NOT DIE ALONE! THE WORLD WILL DIE WITH ME!" he screamed letting out a blast of his own, and knocking the avatar to the ground, as he was teleported to the castle which was now almost all gone. "I WILL BE BACK!" he cried, as his castle was now fully gone, and the land began to repair itself, and cover where the castle of the Shadow King once stood. The priest walked calmly over to the avatar.
"How are you feeling?" he asked, as the avatar folded her wings behind her back.
"I will not survive." She said, lying down to face the sky that was now clearing to show the stars shining brightly. "I absorbed all of his blast to prevent him from affecting anyone else." Her skin grew pale as the light from her wings faded to an off-white color
"I will pass this down as a warning to future generations." He said. "I will write your heroics down and make sure they are studied with the most diligence." The avatar smiled weakly, and gasped in pain.
"Thank you." She said, as she turned her eyes up to the sky, and closed them taking her last breath. The priest knelt down and kissed her forehead, making the sign of the light god across his chest.
"Thank you for your sacrifice little one." He whispered, as her body faded from sight, and the land began to return to normal. "The world will be safe for a little bit longer.
The day started out normal for Princess Eilonwy. Waking up to the early morning sun slowly creeping in her window, as the mist slowly disappeared from sight. Then creeping down to the kitchens for her solitary breakfast, and if time permitted, reading in the library. Then it was off to lessons with her latest teacher, Nonie, a kind elf who taught her things beyond her required subjects. Things like how to build a make shift boat, what plants are poisonous, and even how to sword fight. Once lessons were over, Eilonwy and Nonie had lunch together in the courtyard, Nonie on the ground and Eilonwy on a tree branch. Afterwards, Eilonwy would rush off to either the town market, cleverly disguised as a normal person, or hide in the library and read. Eilonwy was always careful to eat an early dinner, and then use what remaining daylight there was to study maps and charts in her room.
But today's afternoon was different; today there would be no afternoon lunch with Nonie or reading in the library.
"There are dignitaries visiting and a new ambassador arriving." He father said. "I expect you to behave and none of this dressing up in all black."
"Yes," said her older sister who was much fairer than her, "It makes you look weird."
"But she always looks weird." Said her middle sister who was as equally fair as the eldest sister. Both sisters laughed uproariously at their comment.
"Why can't you be more like them?" asked her father. "A little less smart sometimes You're scaring off all of your potential husbands."
"So, you want me to act like an air head so you can further your own political agenda?" she asked. "Forget it! I'd rather gouge my eyes out with a hot poker and go jump off a cliff than act like them!" Her father sighed and put a hand to his forehead.
"When will you ever learn?" he sighed.
"When will you start being a better father?" She muttered.
"What was that?" he eyed Eilonwy suspiciously.
"I said 'Gee, I hope there's a good starter'." Eilonwy said
"It's commentary like that, that is prevents you from finding a good husband." He said, as her sisters giggled with a brand new comment for their sister. "Could you just for once act like a normal princess?"
"No." Snapped Eilonwy, as she stood up and left the room. She was an average looking girl, but she was plain like white paint. She had no interest in what was considered best for her. She was more concerned with the masses that kept the kingdom running, than the people who ran it. She rounded a corner, which led to a flight of twisted stairs. She had better things to be doing, like reading, instead of dressing up and meeting strange men from far away kingdoms with foreign customs, like having more than one wife or not eating certain food during certain times of the week.
"Might as well go and get this over with." She said, making her way up the stairs and into her darkened room. "It's not like I can make the day go by any faster."