The Demon Lord

Prologue

The world is Gaia, the year is fourteen hundred and eighty-eight, and for thousand of years the forces of light and dark have fought. Their place of combat: the Plains of the Dead, the ground is black and lifeless filled with fallen soldiers, the sky is covered in a thick blanket of black clouds, the foul repugnant smell of the air is so haunting that one will never forget. The treaty that the Trinity formed states: that both sides must fight at the Plains of the Dead, and nowhere else. If the humans are the victor then things remains as they are, but if the demons are the victor then they gain unlimited access to the human world. Kings of Marden, capital of the Kargas kingdom, have successfully protected their home from the reign of darkness. Marden has always had a hero to assist in its protection and the hero for King Cornell is Bael a young strong druid. He has valiantly fought for King Cornell, and the King has been very gracious in allowing Bael and his family to stay at the castle for his service.

"Melia, soon it will be time for Thorn and Link to start their training. I fear that they will not handle the time apart, too well. They haven't been alone since I found Link abandoned on the road so many years ago." He stood by the open window his black hair blew gently in the wind.

"Bael, 'tis best that they spend this apart. They need to learn that they can't always be together, and someday they may be required to separate for a time."

"I'm sure they will be fine. Some feeling I have tells me that Thorn and Link are special, and the power they'll possess will be far beyond what anyone could imagine to attain. I can only hope that they will be able to control the power, and that they are taught how to use it wisely." He walked over to her and placed a kiss upon her cheek. "I love you."

"I love you too. I am sure that Thorn and Link will be fine, and I hope that they live in a world that is not filled with fear and war." She brushed her lips over his. "A war is coming? My heart hurts when you leave for battle, must you go?" She embraced him.

"You know I must, my love. But you know I will come back to you and our sons. I have to go, but I will come back before you sleep." He kissed her one more time before he departed from the room.

Once he was in the corridor he headed to the west courtyard. The castle was quiet, his footsteps echoed throughout the corridor. He attempted to be less noisy but was unsuccessful. He reached the courtyard, and a giant white maple tree stood before him. With a smile on his face he crossed the courtyard to stand in front of the tree. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

What troubles you, my friend? The tree's voice came to his mind it was deep and thick of one whom possesses great wisdom.

I fear that I will not return from the coming war. I have come with a request: Eden, will you help Thorn when I am gone? For soon I will send him to train with, Master Cyrus, and I know one day neither one of us will be there for him. He opened his eyes to the sky above.

Of course, old friend, when the boy comes to me I shall guide and enlighten him, you have my word. His words were heartfelt.

I thank you for your kindness, old friend, with that peace I will sleep well tonight. Bael placed his hand on Eden's rough bark then he headed back to Melia.

Once there, he found her asleep, and he didn't wish to bother her. He walked to the window and gazed blankly out at the full moon that danced in the clear sky with the stars. He was restless every time before the battle of war, and since he had an overwhelming fear that he'll meet his end there. Sleep was impossible. After he tired of looking at the sky, and the swallowing darkness of the forest. He went and knelt beside Melia to admire the beauty of her. He wanted to frame her peaceful face in his mind, in case he doesn't come back, he'll have a memory of her without dread. He refused to promise his return to her because this war felt different, and he felt as if his life had already been taken. He laid beside her and slept.

He awoke by himself, he quickly got out of bed and dressed then he headed to the front gate to see Thorn and Link off. As he exited the room into the corridor he noticed that it was a lot busier than the night before, and he would've prefer to walk the corridors at night. Nevertheless, he dashed off trying not to trample over anyone. He walked out of the castle to the warmth of the sun, fresh air, and the laughter of children playing. Indeed, this is what he fought for: the peace and harmony for all that called Marden home. With a sign of relief, he approached Melia, Thorn, and Link.

"Father, I'm glad to see that you are finally awake," Thorn said. "I did not think I would see you before I left."

"Indeed," Link agreed. "Though, I am happy you can see us off."

"So am I," Bael said.

"Why are you waking at such a late hour?" Melia asked Bael.

"I was troubled and sleep was impossible."

"Did Eden help you find the peace you needed?"

"Aye, but we'll speak of it later."

"Yes. Well, do you boys have everything you need? Like provisions? And waterskins?" Melia took a quick look through each of their bags. "Good, you have everything you need, and here is something to remember me while you're away." She handed them each a necklace of a small wooden sword that she carved herself.

"I thank you Mother for the wonderful and thoughtful gift," Thorn said, as embraced her.

"Aye, thank you, Mother," Link said, though he did not her embrace as Thorn did.

"Now, that you have everything I think you two should be on your way." Bael extended his arm, and Thorn grabbed hold of his forearm and should shook. He did the same to Link, as well. They said their good-byes and then Thorn and Link walked through the gate and into their future. Melia wrapped her arms around Bael as she watched her sons leave to become men. She already felt lost and they were still in her sight.

"It will be fine, my love," Bael said, feeling her sorrow and grief.

"I know…."

"Let us return to our bedchamber. You need your rest. I need to see King Cornell." He kissed her forehead; he loved the feel of the soft skin beneath his lips.

"You're going to leave me, as well." It wasn't a question.

He remained silent for he didn't know what to say. He couldn't assure her of his return because it was never a definite. With his arm around her waist he nudged his back to the to their bedchamber. Once there, he had her lay down and promised to return soon. Then he left to the King and Queen's throne room. The room was busy with maids cleaning. Stone pillars were along both sides of the red carpet that trailed from the door to the platform. Three ten-foot stain glass windows were on the two sides and back walls, and when sunlight dance through them the room shone in brilliant colors. At the opposite end, the King and Queen sat in their throne chairs. Bael approached them stopping when he reached the three stairs to the small platform that their were on. He knelt on one knee and bowed his head.

"Bael you may rise," King Cornell said. "Have your sons departed for their training?"

Bael rose. "Indeed, Your Highness. I wish to know when we leave for the Plains of the Dead."

"My watchmen have told me that demons have arrive, and will reach in two day's time. We'll leave after nightfall and march all night. If my calculation is correct we should have a few hours rest before we march to battle." King Cornell sat up and walked over to Bael, he placed a wrinkled hand on his shoulder. "Faithfully, you have served me and Marden. Bael, I thank you for your service."

"Your Highness, I do this not only for you nor the people of Marden, but for those who call Kargas their home. So many people incapable of defending themselves I must do what I can for them. I will meet you by the front gate at twilight."

King Cornell nodded and excused him from his presence with a wave of his hand. Bael went to his bedchamber to make sure that Melia had finished weeping. Of course, he could understand if she hadn't. What would she do when he left? Deciding that he rather not thinking about it he cleared his mind as continued to the bedchamber. Quietly, he opened the door and saw her lying on the bed. He noticed that the skin around her eyes were red and irritated. She had cried herself to sleep. Not wanting to wake her just yet he went and laid beside her. He brushed his hands through her hair and placing kisses upon her face. Eventually he slept. He awoke, still embracing Melia. He looked out the window and saw that it was almost evening. Without waking her he got out of bed and dressed, his face was covered in a film of sweat. He walked over to the water basin and splashed the cool water over his face and neck. Before he left, he brushed his lips over hers, but she wasn't asleep. She kissed his back. He looked into her eyes, and she knew that he couldn't say goodbye.

"I love you," she whispered.

"And I you." He could not say, war left no place for emotion.

With that, he left and headed for the front gate. As he walked, he tried to clear his mind if he wasn't clear-minded than he would surely fall. However, if he were to fall he knew that Thorn would take his place, and he would continue in the protection of Marden. Link would be at Thorn's side and assisting him in battle. Furthermore, Bael knew that Thorn and Link would have, above all others, immense power once they completed their training.

Although, he couldn't say without a doubt that he would fall, but the feeling that rose in his gut told him otherwise. He always relied on his instinct and that it has never failed him before. He shook his head as he continued out of the castle. He grabbed his provisions and waterskins, and took one last look around his beautiful home. Closing his eyes, he listened to the things around him. He heard: children playing, people arguing over the last apple in the shop, and the sound of armor clinking in the distance.

Prepared and ready to fight, he strolled over to the front gate. The gate stood twenty feet high and was made of black iron, he knew well of what laid beyond it. Since the King would not arrive for quite some time and there was no sense in charging into battle with a dull sword, he sharpened it. Disappointed that it took such short amount of time to get the deed done, he decided to meditate for a while. Sitting in Indian-style, he thought of nature and all of its glorious wonder, and how he yearned to roam its beauty again, thinking of that, he thought of Thorn and what his training would ensue. He could've easily ask the plants, wildlife, or Gaia herself how Thorn was doing, but decided that he'd let Thorn tell him of adventures. Besides, in doing that he would be worried if something had happened, and therefore his mind would be clouded.

Before his mind could wander farther the King and his men approached. King Cornell wore gold armor that shone brilliantly in the sunlight, especially during a sunset, it's like heavenly light. The King's men stood in formation, wearing shiny silver armor. Bael could tell that the men were eager for combat, and it was obvious that most of them has never seen the sight of war. He pitied them, for most would be unlikely to return, however, he'd wish for the best. Furthermore, their lack of experience left them exposed as easy targets, of course, they've had training but that does not matter unless one has seen actual combat before. As the gate was ordered open, Bael rose, and they marched to the Plains of the Dead.

It would be a day's march before they'd reached their destination, and since the demons were only two days away. They traveled south. They would have a day to rest and prepare themselves for what lay ahead. Twilight had come, but Bael didn't mind: for he could hear the wolves hunting in the forest to their right. They would march along the side of the forest until it broke off into the lifeless land. Many fear to travel this path for they know, all too well, where it leads.

Bael thought of Melia and how sorrow-filled she was when they departed. Wishing not to leave her alone he had no choice in the matter. Her sons and husband were gone he wondered how devastated she was. He for one, knew how loneliness felt and how to keep his hopes shinning brightly. She was strong, as well. Then he thoughts turned toward Thorn. Sadness froze him like a winter's chill, for he sent Thorn away to a place that he has never ventured before, and to people he's never met. He'd worry for Link if it weren't for the fact that he was happy to leave. As those of the necromancers way like their silence, and although Link was raised by them. He sought the quiet.

The green grass would soon vanish from their sight, the sweet breeze would soon become foul, and the warmth of the sun would soon fade to darkness. Bael inhaled the fresh air, savoring it before it would no longer be a pleasure he could indulge in. The only thing he dreaded about going to the Plains of the Dead: was that it seemed to drain one's life force. Harmony and purity would be lost as long as he remained in the accursed place.

"I fear that unholy place, as well." King Cornell looked at him.

"Your Highness, do you ever feel if that cursed land drains the life from of you?" His deep voice was thick was stress.

"I must admit that I always feel weaker upon returning from a battle. Though, one would say that the war had caused it. I disagree, I think the land so evil that it not only killed the life within its border, but it will leech the life of any poor soul foolish enough to tread its ground." King Cornell placed a hand on his shoulder. "Fear not, for we won't be there long."

Bael went silent and tried to clear his mind. If he thought the Plains of the Dead were a living being waiting to devour his soul. He would be distracted. His thoughts wondered back to Melia, for if he remembered her the night before of when she was sleeping and the way he framed her face. The fullness of her lips, her soft skin shimmering in the moonlight, and the beauty of her. Her eyes, though closed, were golden. Furthermore, she was not deem a beauty to the world but, to him, she was the only beauty he need worry about. Seeing her face with mind's eye, he smiled.

Lost in his nostalgia, night had befell them. They turned and headed southwest. The night's air was crisp and slightly chilly, clouds hid the moon behind their embrace, and darkness reigned over the land. He knew that he wouldn't see the sun until he returned from the war. He heard a wolf cub on its first hunt. Bael decided to help the poor thing, and direct the wolf to his prey. It thanked him after finishing its meal. The wolf cub's mother came stand by him; she was proud of her child. The clouds set the moon free, and it lit the earth below with a whitish pale silver. The wolves howled at the moon. Just at the end of his vision. He saw the Plains of the Dead waiting for blood to be spilt on its soil, and it almost seemed that the ground was shaking with impatience.

Truly an evil place.

Soon they would arrive and rest then wait for their enemies. However, Bael was less concerned with his enemies than the ground that he had to tread. They reached the border and Bael hesitated before taking his first step. When he did, it felt as though some of his life force had drained from him. Unnatural black clouds cloaked the sky, a blood red light shone from the sky lighting the accursed land. The origin of the red light eluded Bael, and he rather not give it much thought for fear of his discovery. They made camp and the King and his men slept, except those who had to keep watch. Bael closed his eyes and reluctantly drifted off to sleep.

He awoke to someone shouting at the demons' arrival. He quickly got to his feet and grabbed his claymore as headed out of his tent. He immediately sought King Cornell, he stood in front of men, already in formation, Bael hurried over to him.

"Where are they coming from?" He drew his weapon.

"They are coming from the south. Although they are not in sight we heard their roaring screams. I do not understand why they would want us to know of their presence, but I care not for us the advantage." With his right hand he drew his sword and his left held a shield.

"Your Highness, 'twould be a good strategy to have archers ready to take down the first line." Now, Bael faced south.

In the distance came the blur of red skin and black armor. King Cornell gave the order to the archers then turned to face the same direction as Bael. Within mere moments the demons arrived and came to a full halt. Silence swept the land. Bael gripped his sword with both and took his stance.

King Cornell raised his sword vertical. "Ready men." He swung down, his sword horizontal. "Fire!"

Arrows flew gracefully toward their aimed targets, and in seconds the first line fell. Preparing to charge his enemies Bael saw a raven fly majestically between him and the demons. With disregard to the raven, he, King Cornell, and his men charged the army.

Bael raised his hand, his palm facing the demons. "Lecite!" he shouted. Lightning shot forth from his hand, and flew through the air and killing ten demons that lay before him. He knew that didn't have enough energy to cast spells to significantly weaken their flanks, but he'd use whatever he could to defend his home: magical or physical. He took a deep breath as the two army merged together, and the bloodshed thereafter. Casting his lightning spell over and over he killed twenty-five demons.

The humans were trying to gain ground, but no avail. King Cornell ordered his archers to prepare to fire, and when the fourth and fifth flanks were within fire, he ordered them to release their arrows. Slaying all of the fourth line, and most of the fifth, they covered the open ground before them.

He threw sword in the chest of a demons ten feet in front of him, then he ran to reclaim his weapon. Along the way, he raised his hands pointing them outward and then he used his lightning spell to take down the demons. He gripped his sword removed it and beheaded the demon. Bael tried not to stray to far from King Cornell. Taking quick glances at his King, he resumed killing of his foes until a path led further into the demon horde. Mortals make mistakes and he just made one; he was surrounded by a circle of demons without escape.

"Ortha!" he shouted. The earth beneath arose into sharp, jagged spikes and impaled them. The humans were winning. Everything they had was poured into assuring their victory. But was it enough? Bael thought so, and that is all he needed: was hope. He felt pain as his blood tickled down his body in ruby beads.