Chapter 66: A Return to War

One by one they fell.

The invaders of Taelosia fell first. The generals of the Muramite army ruled from the fallen temple of Tacvi with their field commander, Tunat Muram. The guild, Vinceremo, led by the dark elf priest, Grizzat, and his trusted lieutenants, swept through the shattered temple like a cloud of daggers.

The elite of each of the Muramite sects faced the powerful guild; the two-headed demonic Huvuls, the Ikkav serpent sorceresses, and the Aneuk death-priests.

The Tunat Muram himself, a lich known as Cuu Vauax used a telepathic power never seen upon Norrath. Huge chained metal flails roared at the raiding force, smashing into the armor of their fighters and crushing the life out of those unfortunate to stand in their path. Lava poured from dimensional rifts, runed blades bit into his protected skin, blue waves of healing light flowed into the wounded. With a roar to gods unseen, the Tunat Muram fell among the rubble of the temple he had destroyed.

The dragons were next.

From their ancient temples buried within the deep secluded mountains of the Broodlands, the Five held together their dark circle as they had for centuries. Now, however, a black taint had flowed into their rivers - a curse from the vengeful lich-emperor, Venril Sather. Now cursed, these draconic beasts threatened Norrath with fire and destruction.

The twins, Kessadonna and Rikkikun battled Vinceremo among the snow-covered peaks of the Ascent. Cones of flame and clouds of acidic gas tore through the guild, but the healers countered with their own magics and prayers. Blades of hell-forged steel cut into their scales and the twins died upon their peaks.

Yar'Lir, the Mistress of Storms and mate of the dragon king, Vishimtar, ruled from her temple of Thundercrest. Her winds tore into the guild, turning blades of grass into steel-like needles. Roaring cyclones threw the invading mortals, crushing them against the walls of the temple. Arrows pierced her skin, one tearing through her eye. A blade pierced the scales of her belly and touched her heart. With a roar to her mate, Yar'Lir died.

From the seas between worlds lay the Asylum of Anguish, a citadel of twisted steel and melted stone. From arches of barbed iron hung the twisted shapes of tortured creatures from worlds well beyond those known to Norrath.

A column of red fire touched the sky, sending clouds of black ash into swirling torrents. From within, the commanders and generals of the Muramite army plotted their next attack and conferred with the demonic councilers who burrowed through space and time to drop the Muramite shock troops onto another unsuspecting world.

One by one the commanders fell. One by one, the generals toppled. The great Armageddon Beast, Ture, a weapon of devastating power unleashed upon the worlds with the strongest defense fell under the magical blades and trembling magics of Vinceremo. The Arch Mage Vangl, guardian of the Overlord's sanctum unleashed necromatic powers so horrible that armies once fell under his single word of death. The combined and synchronized protections of two dozen healers countered the Arch Mage's necromancy and, with a blade across his throat, the Arch Mage died in the halls of his master.

From within his chamber, the Overlord, Mata Muram, continued to hold his position. As powerful as this guild had been, even they could not break through his devastation. His commanders, generals, and his power base, however, lay in pools of their own blood all throughout his hall.

Loral sat on a volcanic rock at the edge of the river that cut through the depths of Darkhollow and into the underground sea below. The roar of Stoneroot Falls echoed throughout the massive caverns of the underground land. All around him, Loral's companions, the champions of Vinceremo, rejoiced. Within one evening, the powerful rulers of two werewolf clans had been cut down. Loral wiped the blood and soot from his golden armor, now runed in sigils of power recovered from the Muramites, the dragons, and other powerful beasts.

In his lap he held a leatherbound book found in the hoards of the Muramites of Taelosia. Within it was a sketch made nearly a thousand years ago, inked with iron-gaul ink on sheafs of stretched animal skin. It was a picture of a spire, a stalactite carved hollow and shining with unknown lights. It was a keep, a dwelling of a darkness unspoken and undefeated. It was the same keep under which Loral sat now, the keep that constantly drew his eyes and sent a chill of darkness through his skin.

Towering above the victors of Vinceremo, the Dreadspire waited.