A gentle breeze twirled the leaf around, carrying it as it travelled down the twisting, dusty road. Riding the wind like a carefree bird, it whirled round and round and finally striking against the gates of Taldon city, drops to the ground. Temporarily distracted by the rustling leaves, the guard’s attention returned to the dusty path. It had been rather quiet, of late. The Taldon Armed Forces had been successful in restoring peace after the Great War and their heavy-handedness had convinced rogue groups to leave Taldon alone. With time, Taldon prospered and became the central city of Seldeon, much like its predecessor, Darkhaven, once was.
Drumming his fingers on the hilt of his sword, he closed his eyes for a moment. He had had a restless night and now felt the weariness catching up. Moreover, the recent lull has given everyone a sense of security and peace, and perhaps, carelessness. For, even as he dozed gently at his post, four human outlines appeared on the horizon, and progressively grew bigger. Snapping out of his reverie, the guard stood up to confront the four strangers, who, dressed in colourful and expensive robes, seemed to be aristocracy. A mistake which was soon rectified.
“State your name and business.”
A wave of the leader’s hand and all that remained of the guard was molten slag on charred bones. Within moments, Taldon was engulfed in chaos. The Taldon Armed Forces were battling the four strangers in what seemed like a one-sided battle. Wave after wave of the armed forces were struck down, and the four strangers seemed like the four elements personified – wielding the powers of wind, fire, water and earth. All hope seemed lost, when reinforcements started coming in. Heroes from near and far, explorers, warriors, mages – all who held Taldon dear, had arrived to battle for their city. The assemblage of power was impressive indeed and yet, one by one, they fell. The Immortals watched impassively as the proudest city of Seldeon was slowly razed to the ground.
Frost was the last one standing. His mythical armor had kept him alive so far against the barrage of elemental spells. He couldn’t even get near the Shokers to land a blow and already his armor showed signs of giving in to the terrible damage being inflicted on them. Determined to stop these terrors, he hurled spear after spear at the four brothers in front of him, four whom he had recognized. He had heard stories of the Elemental Shokers, the elite of the Shoker clan, children of and second only to the Apocalyptic Shoker and his horsemen. He had heard stories and rumours of their power, but this was beyond anything he had ever imagined. All his comrades have fallen, even some of the most powerful mages Taldon had seen in recent times.
Seeing that only a lone warrior was left, three of the Shokers stopped their attack, and allowed their leader, the mighty Pyro Shoker to enjoy the kill alone. They circled each other, Frost looking for an opening, and Pyro Shoker, amused at the other’s attempts. Throwing his last spear at Pyro Shoker, Frost whipped out his sword and leaped on him with a roar. He never connects as a powerful fireball caught him in the air and threw him back several yards. Coughing up blood, he looked down and saw that his armor had cracked and smoke was rising from the opening. His defensive force field had been ruptured and a good deal of his torso was burned. He looked up to see Pyro Shoker looking down on him with a cruel smile. Lifting his hand, Pyro Shoker aimed it at Frost’s head. Refusing to close his eyes in fear, Frost glared back at him and commanded his burned body to rise, but to no avail. Gritting his teeth, he waited for the killing blow. Fire particles start crackling around the villain’s hand and a small yet intensely hot fireball forms in the small of his palm. Finally, with a roar, Pyro Shoker lifted his hand high ready to smash the fireball down on the helpless form in front of him, only to have his hand detach itself in a gush of blood and fall down to the ground. A robed, hooded figure shimmered and solidified in front of them and pointed one sword at Pyro Shoker’s neck.
“Touch him and I will rip your heart out.”
Shocked, Pyro Shoker looked helplessly at the stranger, while the other Shokers jumped to their brother’s rescue with a barrage of spells. A sweep of the stranger’s hand and the spells and their creators were knocked back.
“Your fate is not for me to decide, and yet you have slain those who would’ve judged you. So it is left to me to deliver justice.”
With a sweep of the stranger’s hand, the four terrible mages were turned into stone statues, statues with a look of disbelief on their faces.
The robed stranger kneeled down near Frost and moved his hand over the charred torso. The flesh instantly healed and skin grew to cover the raw flesh. Relived of the pain, Frost looked up in amazement at his rescuer and asked, ‘Who ARE you… ?‘
Removing the hood, the stranger looked into Frost’s eyes and said, ‘Had time been so unkind that you have forgetten your old friend?’. Frost looked in amazement as recognition dawned on him. The stranger who stood in front of him was none other than the legendary Xion, slayer of Txachimitchual, and the one who had brought an end to the Great War that had levelled half of Seldeon. With a smile, Xion said, ‘Doubt not, for it is indeed me, Xion. I have come back to you now, though a tad late’. With the last word, Xion’s face grew sad and he looked around at the destruction around him. He was indeed late. He had saved the city, but not the people within. More than half the populace were dead and the rest wounded. He closed his eyes, the pain of being late growing too hard to bear.
After healing the wounded, Xion helped bury the dead. It was a grim day indeed, but the arrival of their saviour had offered some consolation to the people. Much of the living were engaged in mourning the dead. Xion stood alone on the city walls brooding, far from the crying and the mourning. War was coming to the land of Seldeon again. He knew that Apocalyptic Shoker wouldn’t forgive the death of his children easily. Taldon desperately needed aid from other cities. They had to be prepared for war. He had to be prepared. Dark times lay ahead.