The man strode calmly across the stone walkway, high above the ground

The man strode calmly across the stone walkway, high above the ground. The wind, searing hot, whipped at his tawny brown hair, tousling it into his eyes. Brushing it aside, he repositioned his grip on his staff, casually. Lightning crackled in the black clouds as he proceeded down the precarious walkway at a steady pace. His face betrayed nothing, but his eyes glowed with an inner fire.

Around him was chaos. Shouted commands mingled with the roar of flames and the screams of the injured or dying. The cries, muted somewhat by distance, were swept along with the enraged wind and carried to the man's ears. He paid them no visible heed, save that his jaw tightened. Even in the skies around him, winged shapes and fireballs broiled in a chaotic melee that threatened to consume all. Blood spattered the walkway, and the man did not flinch. He had seen worse, these past few decades.

It was impossible, from the shouts and screams, to tell who was winning the battle. In a way, that didn't matter either. It would all be the same in the end. Lives would be lost, blood would be split, and perhaps an inch of ground would be gained on their enemy. His troops-for they were his troops, for all the good it did them-fought valiantly, in the name of their goddess, and they died with her prayers upon their lips. They fought against a host of unfathomable evil, who would stab each other in the back as soon as fight his forces, and who would go to any length to achieve power and victory. If it had been a story, they would have won a hundred times over by now. But he had learnt some harsh lessons over the years. He knew that there was no easy victory. The war raged on.

What's worse, he thought, it was likely that he was immortal. There was no end to the conflict, no peace to be had. Not for the first time he rolled his eyes at the futility of it all. Why even bother? he thought.

An answering thought came back. Because you must.

He sighed. Why must I? Why not obliterate myself, and take him with me? Then there would be an end!

You cannot. Your people need you.

Hah! My people? All they need is an end to this. I can give them that.

At the tip of his staff, within the centre of the carved claw pommel, a light began to shine. It started off soft, and quickly flared to white-hot intensity. The man gritted his teeth, pouring more and more of his energy into the staff.

What are you doing? Fool! You'll ruin everything we have fought for!

I have fought your cause for twenty years. Now at last, I'll fulfill my oath. He thought the last with a sense of pride. He would not abandon the cause.

You swore to fight the bearer until the last breath in your-

"And so I fight!" he yelled, and the battlefield was still at his thunder. "To my last breath!"

As the staff flared, and he lost himself in white-hot power, his last thought was of his wife, and his last breath a sigh of memory.

Released, his essence flowed to end an era.

Down on the battlefield, one figure cut a swath of devastation wherever he went. Righteous defender or corrupted assaulter, it made no difference. Wherever he went, he sowed panic and horror. Smiling, he licked blood from his lips, his jet black hair falling in dirty locks around his shoulders. He carried no weapon, but bodies littered the ground just the same. He felt...alive. He paused to savor the moment.

Fool! Do not relent! Crush them!

He crooked a finger, and spines broke. He clenched a fist, and defenses crumbled. He barked a word, and friend and foe alike turned on one another in fear-driven coercion.!

He frowned at a voice inside. This one was different from the others. This one did not mock, or bully. This one...pleaded. He cocked his head and attempted to listen to it, attempted to focus the seething insanity that was his normality.

You fool! Kill!

He forced the other voice aside, though it cost him in agony as the unseen manipulator punished his defiance. But still he focused.

Look at this! Look at what you have done! And for what? Power? No. You are a slave to this torment! A slave to this...demon! End it! End it now!

He clenched his jaw. What was this new thing? End it? How? he demanded.

You know how. Focus your essence. End your life, to destroy his. The ultimate victory.

The man scoffed, and then a calculating look came over his face. He had seen the other side of life. It wasn't that difficult to comprehend. And, once dead, he would be free of his oaths. Free of his compulsion...


The man grinned, and the corruption rose in his eyes. "I obey. To the last breath."

As his body finally collapsed under the weight of its own decay and his mind succumbed to the taint of insanity, his last, disjointed thought was of power, and his last breath a mocking sneer.

Released, his essence craved to begin anew.

Written by Yosarin, Keeper of Knowledge in the Endless City.

And so it came to pass that the two most powerful men of our time tired of their conflict, and sought to fulfill their oaths once and for all. All present witnessed a bright flash, and a shuddering in the ground. The very fabric of the world seemed ready to split asunder, and all fled the field in a panic. The battlefield itself shuddered and sunk down, and now a crater lies where the site once was. By the forces of good it is called Eviltomb, by the unholy, Dragongrave. It was here where the two greatest men ever to exist met their ends at the hands of each other, in service to their gods. But even this great sacrifice did not end the bloodshed. The war will never cease until one side is utterly destroyed, and the gods will not allow their causes to go without heralds. So soon, very soon, the Bearers will be Reborn...and the world will enter a fresh era.