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May 19

The Eternal Blade Saga Book 2, Chapter 6: The Beginning

The Eternal Blade Saga Book 2, Chapter 5: Fight or Die

291 Season of the Colossus 1073AE

I write this first entry three days after it has come into our possession. My family has now been named the blade’s warden and the following account is for future descendants when it is their time to take over this duty. It is imperative that whomever becomes its warden, take upon this calling with the highest sense of responsibility.

My sisters and I never thought we were meant for anything bigger than our existence as homesteaders, growing a small, but successful brewing pub in Lion’s Arch. However, Grenth must have thought otherwise. It was He who got word to me through King Frozenwind’s ambassador in crossing over into the mortal realm to call on us. I imagine if Grenth had come himself, his actions may have given away his intentions. Regardless, my patron god called for my help, so I answered, but my sisters refused to let me go alone. So, the three of us set off to participate in a dangerous and secret coup to unseat a merciless god.

I remember it was raining the day we crossed over into the Underworld. King Frozenwind’s ambassador had instructed us to wait near Grenth’s statue for the five others we were told would be accompanying us. When we left home the day before, our middle sister, Maiar, had tried to convince our youngest sister, Nessa, and her Melandru’s Stalker, Bane, to stay home, but Nessa was young and eager. I told Maiar that it was Nessa’s choice to make, just like it had been hers and mine. This choice was very important and bigger than any one of us. They had to make the decision for themselves. Maiar didn’t want to accept that and instead, she remained silent the rest of the trip to the Temple of the Ages, angrily flicking small flames from her fingers at the occasional foliage side of the road. She was always so stubborn.

It didn’t take long before the others showed up. We were joined first by two warriors clad in leather and heavy armor plates. The dark-haired warrior carried a sword on his belt and a shield on his back. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and walked with a confident swagger in his step. The other warrior was shorter, but also broad-shouldered and had light brown hair. He carried a spiked hammer on his back and kept his gaze mostly downward at the ground. They exchanged uncertain glances with each other when they saw me and my sisters waiting for them. Maybe they thought the three of us were not up to the task at hand.

Our group was then joined by a small blonde female elementalist and a pair of identical twin monk brothers, each with their dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. The three of them already knew each other and politely introduced themselves as the proprietors of a small inn in Lion’s Arch. However, there was something about the way they held themselves that said otherwise. They seemed all too comfortable under the weight of their armor and weapons. I didn’t bother asking questions though. I trusted Grenth knew what he was doing when he assembled us. After all, they were all working towards a common goal.

The dark-haired warrior paid our monetary bribe to the Voice of Grenth, the guardian of the way, and he allowed us to cross over. I admit, my nerves were a wreck. Every part of me wanted to turn and run back home, to forget this crazy mission. What was required of each of us could potentially cost us our very lives, but we all knew if we didn’t try, His cold and unrelenting reign would continue in the Underworld. It wasn’t even His domain to rule.

With Nessa leading the way, we began our long and arduous journey through lands each distinct and more challenging to traverse than the last. We followed the maps and information King Frozenwind’s ambassador provided each of us when he came with the proposition of this mission. Our first task was to find all seven Reapers trapped in each of these lands, who could aid us in our final task. They were vital to the binding ritual so if we failed, our final task failed. We all felt the pressure, and as we continued freeing one Reaper after another, the friendly chatter between us grew sparse until it reduced to only concise communication.

We were weary by the time we reached the final land: The Ice Wastes. It was a land much as it sounds. Ice covered just about every surface with the exception of the worn path we travelled on. Long, sharp pieces of ice hung off of the leafless trees like teeth and glittered with a deceiving beauty. Poor Maiar was shuddering uncomfortably. Being an elementalist partial to fire, traveling in the presence of so much ice penetrated her more deeply than the rest of us. I gave her my cloak, but I think it only helped her a little. She put on a brave face, despite her constant shivering.

Deep within this land, King Frozenwind waited for us. He was a magnificent ice elemental, with the tallest of his ice crystals standing at least ten feet high. I had never seen anything like him before and neither had my sisters. We couldn’t help but stand in awe. When we were younger, we had heard stories about an elemental in the Underworld, but he had been known as the Nameless King. But with his recent decision to help unseat the ruthless ruler of the Underworld, I suppose he thought it was time to reveal his true identity as King Frozenwind.

Our group silently ventured north from the Ice Wastes as we escorted King Frozenwind and the Reapers to the Hall of Judgement. Although no one said anything, the anticipation of what was to come hung heavy in the air around us. The reality that we may not make it out alive hit us hard, but still we pressed on. He had broken free once already after an unsuccessful attempt at binding him and seized most of the Underworld from Grenth. If allowed to continue his cold rule, he would hunt all who escaped death and would rule with an unforgiving reign. He was the Ender of All. The Final Death.

He was Dhuum.

The Hall of Judgement loomed before us, a glorious structure made of pale stone. Once Dhuum’s prison, it was now merely a structure. Strong enchantments had been carved along the edges of the front arches, but they no longer held any magic. The air was so still, allowing every sound to echo throughout the grounds surrounding the hall. But, stealth no longer was a concern. He knew we were coming and even left the hall’s front doors open for us.

I looked around at our group and saw a sea of brave faces, but the thunder of their racing hearts painted a more truthful story. Who could blame them? My own heartbeat raced just as fast as theirs. We were a group of mortals about to take on a god. The odds were not stacked in our favor.

We quietly filed into the hall, following the marked entrance path lined by roaring braziers. Each of us were paired up with a Reaper, save one, and were to act as their guardians while they prepared the binding ritual. If it worked, it would place Dhuum in a state of dormancy and seal Him within the hall, unable to exhort his reign over the Underworld. Nessa entered at the front of the group, Maiar the middle, while I brought up the rear. But before I entered, I felt a presence nearby and looked to find Grenth hiding in the shadow of the hall. He gave me a little nod, which I returned in kind before stepping across the threshold. The hall was immense, round in shape, with pillars accenting the outline of the room. The ceiling rose high above us, higher than any hall I had ever seen before, but despite the heat coming from the braziers, it felt so very cold.

The Reapers took their places at each of the strangely runed circles around the center of the immense chamber. I followed my assigned Reaper as he took his place at his spot near the front of the circle and stood by as he prepared. Everything was too quiet and Dhuum was nowhere to be found. Something felt very wrong.

A sharp cry broke out through the still silence and I looked up to find a hooded figure emerge from the hall’s floor as if it were nothing more than air. Shrouded in robes of material and leather darker than night, Dhuum rose to his full height, looming over all of us by more than twelve feet. His dark hood shadowed his visage, but I saw his glowing green eyes illuminating his sinister skeleton of a face. His cold and absolute power filled the hall, and I’m ashamed to say that I froze, both in awe and in fear of what I saw. It wasn’t until one of Nessa’s arrows sailed by my face that I snapped out of my trance.

“HOW CAN YOU HOPE TO VANQUISH DEATH ITSELF?”

His deafening voice rang in my ears and I felt myself buckle under the weight of the sound. As battle erupted all around me, I stood my ground near my assigned Reaper where he knelt. The Reapers had started the ritual, focusing their energy into the runes around them and I saw them each begin to illuminate, one after the other. There was a flash of light surrounding Dhuum and from the floor, He raised a small army of skeletons to do His bidding. One rushed at me and I pulled my scepter from my belt and called on the power of my patron god before sweeping it towards the skeleton. The summoned energy struck the skeleton in the chest and stunned the creature, giving me enough time to strike him again and it fell to the floor in a pile of bones.

“PATHETIC MORTAL! THE VOID BECKONS!”

In an effortless sweep, Dhuum ran one of the warriors through with his scythe, lifting his body up with the great weapon and flinging him to the floor like a discarded rag. I couldn’t tell which one it was since they had their helms on. Thinking back on it now, it didn’t really matter. One of the twin monks ran through the fray to the fallen warrior’s side, calling upon the goddess Dwayna, but I knew it was hopeless. Many people knew the stories about the blade, even though most treated it as just a story to keep overzealous adventurers from the dangers of the Underworld. I knew better. A substantial wound from the blade meant the chances of recovering were nonexistent and you were never coming back. Death was death. There was no resurrection.

The battle continued all around the hall and those of us remaining fought fervently to protect the Reapers, but one by one the others fell under the god’s blade until only my sisters and I remained. We did our best to keep Dhuum and his minions at bay, and even though the Reapers sustained great damage, they held on. I didn’t think we were going to make it. I called out to my patron god for help, but Grenth did not answer. Later, I found out the hall had been warded against him. It seemed hopeless, but my sisters and I refused to give up.

I found myself knocked back onto the floor, having been hit by the backside of Dhuum’s scythe as he raised high above his head, poised to strike our youngest sister. Maiar managed to thrust Nessa out of the way with a burst of hot air from a wave of her hand, but our fiery sister fell under Dhuum’s blade. I don’t remember crying out, but I heard a scream drowned out by Dhuum’s chilling laugh. Then it was just Nessa and I. All felt loss.

Then, there was a sudden, bright light and an unnatural wail filled the great hall. I do not know how it happened, but the Reapers had prevailed and their binding ritual began to take hold on Dhuum. Somehow, we had managed to hold out long enough and Dhuum was bound. The god fell to his knees, and his whole body slumped as his hooded head bowed. His scythe clattered to the floor next to him.

My limbs were weak and wobbly, but I pushed myself up anyway and stumbled towards Nessa. I never made it more than a few steps though. With one last act of vengeance, Dhuum threw his scythe at me and it hit me square in my back, thrusting me forward onto the cold, stone, floor.

There was no pain. Instead, I was enveloped by a bitter cold that tore into my very being and ripped the life force from me. My vision tunneled, but I heard Nessa’s voice as she tried to heal and comfort me. I could feel my eyes grow heavy, even though I didn’t want them to. With my life slipping away, I told my sister I loved her before letting my eyes close and as my body began to relax, I vaguely remember feeling something being pulled from me. Later, I found out that Nessa pulled the scythe from me, but not without cutting her hand on its blade.

I did not die like I thought I was going to and as I felt my life returning to me, I sat up and found myself in Grenth’s presence, Dhuum’s bloodied scythe resting at his feet. He bent down to grab it, his boney fingers reaching out, but He instantly recoiled.

“He has warded it against me,” Grenth said as he swept his bony hand gracefully along the length of the blood-covered scythe. “However, I can use your mortal blood to make it safer for you to hold. I can shield you against some of its power. It is the best I can do for now.”

He did as he promised and as my fingertips touched the handle, I felt an overwhelming primal energy that consumed me immediately. Frightened, I pulled my hand back. Nessa asked me what was wrong but I didn’t answer her. How could I explain something I didn’t have words for at the time?

We used my cloak to cover the blade and Nessa used a strip of leather from her armor to fashion a strap I could sling over my shoulder. Together, we carried Maiar’s body from the Underworld as Grenth himself escorted us back to the mortal realm, but not without a warning. He had determined the blade to be Dhuum’s source of power and so we were told to keep it hidden in the mortal realm at ALL TIMES, but not to let anyone else have it. It was still a dangerous weapon and if it were to come into the wrong hands, many could die.

Our family are now its wardens and we must keep it safe, no matter the costs. Why Grenth chose us, I still don’t understand and I don’t know if I ever will. I wish our decedents the best of luck and my sincerest apologies.

The Eternal Blade Saga Book 2, Chapter 5: Fight or Die

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