Elebrad looked to his fellow geomancers for support but found little. The four mages, older than him by more than forty years, stared at the doorway in front of them with grim faces and dead eyes.
A crash and a deep rumble from outside the door grabbed Elebrad's attention. The ornate walls of the room shook. He saw the hands of Galoniel, his teacher and master, shaking. The thundering of huge footsteps approached the door, each louder and deeper than the last. Elebrad's nerves crawled in his arms. Panic swelled in his stomach. He felt nauseous.
"Steady." Elebrad looked to his mentor. Galoniel's eyes were bright and he smiled. "We have lived good lives. We defend our city from the enemies of Fire and Hate. Many old men on their deathbeds would give their whole lives to be where we are now."
Elebrad's stomach calmed. He felt a serenity flow into him. Death was inevitable. He would die in a few minutes but so had thousands who did not die as well as he would. A tear fell down his tan cheek. He did not want to die.
The door exploded. Black acidic gas poured around the five mages but their spells of protection held. The beast entered. Torches and light crystals reflected off of its black shining scales.
Elebrad had never seen a dragon before. It was smaller than he imagined but when its burning green eyes fell on him, he wanted to flee. The wyrm opened its mouth revealing rows of shining teeth and screamed. Pain exploded in Elebrad's head and he felt blood run from his left ear.
Each of the geomancers held their arms to their sides and chanted the words that had never been said. The dragon roared again and raked a foul claw into the third mage in the half circle, Frolmeia the Greyhand. Horrible wounds in the elf's abdomen spilled the wizard's organs onto the floor but the power of the spell would not stop.
The ground exploded into a column of earth and dust. Elebrad saw nothing but a sea of sand . His skin cracked and the dust filled his lungs. The roar of the storm dwarfed the shrieks of the dragon. When it settled no movement or sound broke the dead silence of the chamber. Five figures of stone sat around the petrified black dragon, stuck with its mouth screaming and wings wide forever.
The demon stood massive on the scorched earth. He looked through the visor of his planar helm, enchanted by the darkest wizards of hell to give him sight in the brightest day and darkest nights. Beyond physical sight, the helm allowed Xuzl to see into the souls of mortals. Good or bad, powerful or weak, Xuzl saw all.
Jagged plates of enchanted steel armored his left shoulder and arm. He stood fifteen feet high on twisted black hooves. Thick red skin covered his massive muscled frame. His extended wings stretched thirty feet across.
In his hand, Xuzl carried Kathramg the Soulburner. The serrated sword, filled with the essence of a demon even older than Xuzl, dripped with evil. Black flames writhed off of the sword's runed blade. For two hundred years the lich-demons of Fire forged the weapon. Now, in the demon's hand, it bathed in the blood of five hundred elves.
The world of Norrath never felt an evil as strong as the demon general. All mortal beings that saw the demon unleashed on Norrath felt their hearts sink. Even the dark elf wizards who summoned the demon and his minions questioned their decision.
Xuzl turned to the small figure standing next to him.
"The Wyrm has failed. The geomancers have sealed off the corridors and filled their blood with sand." The demon's booming voice rattled the bones of the hooded dark elf wizard that leaned on his long runed staff. "They have sealed us off from the rest of the city."
"What shall we do, Bloodlord Xuzl?" The wizard's ancient voice cracked but held authority and confidence even when speaking to the demon-prince of Fire. Few mortals had the courage to address the demon at all.
"Bury it." Xuzl turned and the arch-wizard glimpsed the blazing green eyes of the demon from within the depths of Xuzl's war-helm. "Bury them."
Loral stood above the swirling sandpit that led to the ruins of Takish Hiz. The wayfarers gave Loral the general directions but the burning of the shield was all the confirmation he needed. The cursed shield, a piece of the demon-lord Xuzl, knew where the elves had fallen. He knew where Loral's ancestors fought and died to protect the city of Takish Hiz. Xuzl should know these things. The demon had been there.
Xuzl enjoyed feeding memories into the elven cleric in dreams and visions. The massive demon enjoyed feasting on the elves of Takish Hiz. Xuzl commanded Solusek Ro's demon army when the dark elves summoned them from the depths of Fire. Xuzl swept across the black cloud-filled skies of eastern Tunaria armored in the finest enchanted armor and wielding Kathramg. Xuzl filled Loral's mind with a vision of the demon gliding fast over the ground and hewing an unwary scout in half at the waist before the young elf knew what hit him. The wake of an ocean of blood followed in the path of the grinning armored demon. The blood of a thousand more would splash on the burning steel of Xuzl's armor before the end.
But then he fell. Xuzl never showed Loral how that had happened. Loral's dreams ended with the demon standing on a scorched hill overlooking the burning ruins of Eiddar Forest.
Now Loral stood in the same place. His golden armor gleamed under the burning sun and his enchanted hammer hung heavy in his hand. He turned to his companions and then back to the sand vortex in front of him. With a prayer to Tunare, Loral leaped into the pit.
Yeolarn Bronzeleaf recognized the seal on the letter at once but its delivery method gave him a strong clue. Loral still used the Antonican Bards when all of Yeolarn's other priests used wizards and the new Wayfarer agents to deliver their reports.
Yeolarn sat in his thick oak chair and broke the seal on the letter. The first words hit the five hundred year old elf like a hammer.
Elves still live in Takish Hiz.
The golems did not surprise me. They had been commanded to stop any intruder. We intruded but did so five hundred years after the geomancers expected anyone to enter Takish Hiz.
The geomancers live. They became something else after five hundred years under the sand. Sand flows through their body like blood. Their eyes shine like burning emeralds. They command the same mysterious power they had when the city fell. Their minds are broken.
They fight a war against Ro and the Dark Elves that ended centuries ago. They see no difference between the hellish knights of Ro and the elves of Felwithe. They are not spectres or demons or golems. These are our ancestors. They fight with a power lost to us and they fight as though the invasion of Takish Hiz continues.
We killed them.
I know that the Felwithe council cannot tell what we have found in Takish Hiz. I wish I did not know myself. The people of Felwithe will be told that the armies of Ro and Innoruuk have filled the ruins of Takish Hiz with demons and spirits. They must be told this. The truth is too painful and answers no questions.
I tell you this truth because someone else must know. My hands bathed in the blood of our fathers this night.
Tunare Help Us.