A/N:

Hi. This story is very complex so please note that there will probably be a lot of rewriting to be done. Constructive criticism highly appreciated!

Btw I'm going to edit this prologue a lot more. I'm just getting a bit sick of rewriting it so I posted it. Will revisit it sometime.

Thanks and review! :)

~ SEKINE HANA


Prologue

It was dark. The night sky was void of starry diadems, and the silvery face of the moon too chose to strangely disappear, leaving the entire land blanketed in darkness, with not a single trace of light peeking out from the curtain of a blackened night.

Above, the once fluffy clouds had abandoned their usual scattered spots across the horizon and gathered in a misty spiral, the thin diffused lines of grey meandering to a gentle point in the centre. An unnatural formation.

He drew his cloak closer, shivering in the cold as the chilly wind whispered softly in his ears. Many called him a fool to believe in omens, but hard as he tried to heed their advice, the phenomenon in the sky frightened him; he knew it forbode no good tidings.

Curiously, he once again looked up at the sky to stare at the strange nimbus. The clouds moved, he realized, with the wind. They were spiralling continuously to an unknown source. A shiver ran down his spine, and this time not from the cold. He brought his gaze back to the road and hastened his steps.

Leave KingStorme and go to the grassland just before the emergence of the Orienwood, alone, if you wish to know the truth.

The note had been placed in his solar when it was locked and guarded. He knew it was no ordinary note, for it disappeared from his desk the moment he tore his eyes away from it, even when it had only been for a fraction of a second.

It was a cruel note, to have been so short. He had questioned it, had paced his room in a dilemma, and had struggled with the decision-making, but with a surge of impulse he got dressed, grabbed his cloak, and left KingStorme. Alone, as instructed.

He understood that it might be a trap. He very well knew the truth, but the weight of it made him speculate his own derived answer. Perhaps I am playing the fool again. But no, he could not let his courage flag. With no solid evidence, the truth would have to come with risk.

The road emerged a fork. To his left, the lights of warm, welcoming fires glimmered, and standing out in the eerie silence were the sounds of merriment. It was tempting, but he tore his gaze away from the left and turned right.

It grew darker as he strode down the quiet route. The usual sounds of the night chose to accompany the light in their absence. Even the crickets are silent tonight. The thought made the night far more ghostly than before.

As he treaded on, grass grew more wildly, their long blades rustling in the wind. He thought a little noise would relieve some fear, but such eerie sounds were cold comfort. They only accentuated his unsettledness, in truth.

He began to see the grey sentinels of the Orienwood in the distance, their greenness obfuscated by the night. When they were closer in view, he went off the path and into the grassy foliage. The taller ones tore at his face, and he swiped his hands at them in frustration, trudging closer to the forest where the grass grew shorter, the taller blades reduced to moss and weeds.

Leave KingStorme and go to the grassland just before the emergence of the Orienwood, alone, if you wish to know the truth.

I'm here, he wanted to call, but he was too fearful. Questions bombarded his mind. He thought he had gotten rid of them, but no, he was still far from the truth.

Then, a dark figure emerged from the woods.

The stranger too was cloaked, but in a black of a darkest shade, the hood drawn over his face, obscuring it. He moved with a grace beyond human ability, such that his walking could be easily mistaken to be floating, the black cloth that hung about his frame swirling in the breeze.

He watched the figure draw closer. Every step the stranger took was slow and deliberate, and with every step more terror was struck into his heart.

When the cloaked stranger grew close enough, he paused before him, still as a statue. Then, through the hood he croaked, "Lord Andrew Farys. You took a longer time than expected."

Andrew's eyes grew wide in recognition of the voice, and he trembled, colour draining from his face. "V-Varyn Kresch."

The hooded face titled to the right slightly. "My," rasped his hoarse voice, "you seem surprised. I've waited long, and supposed you were astute enough to have found out the truth yourself. But you came after all."

Andrew felt anxiety pulsing through him, but he summoned as much courage as he could, standing taller and calming his pounding heart. Still, his eyes gave everything away. "I expected the master, not the servant."

"I serve no one." Varyn retorted. "What I do, I do at no one's bidding but my own."

Andrew felt his fear give in to anger, and his expression grew cold. "Including casting that horrible disease upon Luke?"

Varyn rumbled a chuckle. "My my, accusing me? Why me?"

"Because you're a…" he froze. I cannot let my courage flag."A…"

"A what, milord?"

"A Maeroth."

"Oh, you too?" Varyn lifted his head, and smiled. "Luke Hyne had called me the same. I wonder, did he perhaps tell you about it while he was still healthy enough to speak?"

He knew. Andrew stared straight into Varyn's face, the pallid flesh and thin cracked lips, the dark circles of his eyes, the way his eyes were a cold pale blue of ice, and the black pupils that tainted it's iciness with a darkness that stood out boring into Andrew's own green eyes. It frightened him even more.

"You… M-Magic has been banned for five hundred years… What are you doing… Maeroths shouldn't exist…" He could manage no more than broken sentences.

Varyn laughed, making low soft croaks. But suddenly, they changed into a giggle, and then a high pitched melody of sweet laughter. Andrew's eyes grew even larger.

"It seems there is no need to hide now." Varyn's voice was no longer its usual grate, but a flowing series of airy, monotonous notes. "A Maeroth has a voice too beautiful to hide, much more beautiful than that of humans."

"How…" Andrew stared at him bewildered, his olive eyes dilating in fear.

"You should know that we manipulate the human mind, to deceive," the Maeroth sang. "I have fooled all of you with human voice."

Andrew was shaking; it was too much for him to believe. Theories were one thing, but to see the truth before one's very eyes…

The Maeroth laughed a melody again, pulling back the hood that shielded his face. Andrew's breathing grew quick and shallow as his heart beat a faster pace. Black hair, pale white skin, icy blue eyes almost a shade of white, dark black pupils…

"Varyn, you frighten the man too much."

Andrew whirled around to see another approaching them. "Ghamsor." He breathed.

"You are a fool to show yourself, milord Ghamsor." Varyn chided, the airy stream of words from his voice floating to Andrew's ears.

Ghamsor laughed a deep chuckle. "Varyn, we're to get rid of him anyway. The least we can do is to give him the little truth that he seeks."

"You are too kind, milord."

Andrew felt the weight of the truth upon him. Maeroths, the Ghamsors, Magic, things so unthinkable…It was all unfolding before him.

His Grace…A pang of urgency swept through him as he finally grasped the consequences which he had forgotten in his trepidation. Clumsily he pulled out the dirk he had brought with him, shaking as he pointed it towards Ghamsor.

Suddenly, an invisible force slammed his hand with great strength, and the dirk was sent flying. The Maeroth smiled at him, his eyes slits of ice…

He turned to run. He was a fool to have come; it was a trap, a trap from the very start. Flee! A voice in his head cried. Flee! Far away! And it will be as this never happened!

But strangely, his strength began to fail him. His limbs grew numb and weak, and he was sent sprawling to the ground. Pathetically, he used whatever strength remained in him to crawl, and he tasted the tang of earth in his mouth, the grass cutting his face.

Then he felt nothing left. He was conscious, but could feel no pulse, no warmth or cold, no power over the muscles and bones of his body. Utterly helpless.

"A coward, this one." Ghamsor bent over him, but Andrew only saw his legs. "A foolish coward."

He squatted next to Andrew, grabbed his shoulders and turning him to face him. Even in the dark, it was visible that his face was carved like an angel's. "My sweet Andrew Farys. What a noble man to have served the King so loyally." He patted Andrew's cheek, before grabbing his face in his hand. "You are a fool."

Andrew trembled. He could not feel it, but he could see himself shaking in utter despair. Ghamsor thrust his head towards the sky, and he saw the swirling clouds again.

"Do you see that?" Ghamsor said. "Tell me, what do you think it is? What does it portend? You are the King's advisor. You should be wise enough to know. Or was only Luke Hyne the smart one?"

Andrew found himself regaining the ability to speak. He rolled his eyes to look at the Maeroth behind Ghamsor, who smiled at him again as he worked the magic that bound him.

"C-Clouds, m-milord. F-Foretelling D-D-Disaster." A disaster that has already begun.

Ghamsor chuckled. "Yes, foretelling disaster, but they are no clouds. Too misty, too diffused, to beautiful."

He heard the Maeroth speak in his sing-song voice. "The gods of ancient darkness are stirring…"

Ghamsor grinned a broader smile that before. He leaned forward to whisper into Andrew's ear.

"They are no clouds… they are the souls of the dark, crying, shrieking…

"Coming back from five hundred years ago…"

A terror like no other seized Andrew, his breath coming in short gasps as he stared at Ghamsor. No…

"Get rid of him." Ghamsor said as he threw him back to his sprawled position in the grass.

The last thing he saw was Varyn's cold, icy eyes staring at him, before the world before him faded into darkness.

For a moment, he wondered if what he had seen was but a dream, if he was back to the safety of his solar.

He stood, but realized he was standing on nothingness. He looked around him. There was naught but black, all around, absolutely boundless with nothing to taint it.

He began to run, as far as he could, for as long as he could. It was an endless chasm of darkness, slowly closing in on him, his legs pumping like a puppet controlled...

He felt terror again, a fear indescribable. He ran, he trembled, he screamed, he cried, he ran…

Then, he saw a cliff ahead. A cliff of cold blue ice.

He wanted to stop, but his feet kept moving. As he drew nearer, great white ghoulish creatures, their faces bloodied and their mouths dark caverns gaped wide, swooped down upon him and tore at him. Pain shot through him, terror seized him, and the worst of his memories came back to him.

Then he saw what lay beyond the cliff. It was the clouds, white streams swirling down and down.

He ran past the edge of the cliff, shrieking an anguished cry as the clouds consumed him.

And he spiralled, down and down and down…