By Nathan Steen
Edited by Alicia Steen
Ecalai. Dark Moon, Jeshrun.
Mykl doesn’t face Ecalai directly, but is gazing upward to watch the battle in the skies. Ecalai can just see over half of his face. Mykl wears very lightweight but complete warrior’s battledress, though he carries no visible weapon. Ecalai enters the dark swirling clouds, and after a moment Mykl speaks. “Beautiful, is it not? After thousands of years of terror in the skies an ancient evil finally meets its long overdue end. Lord Dragon has at last been silenced and now his greatest legacy, the shadow dragons, will perish alongside him.”
“Do you know how the first traces of shadow came into the world?” Mykl asks as he continues to gaze at the skies. “It wasn’t always this dark, you know. Long ago, in an age forgotten, one man’s betrayal opened the way for this nightmare to begin. As the darkness increased in the hearts of men, so did the shadow like a physical reflection. All the while the betrayer who started the mess, Lord Dragon himself, nurtured the shadow as it grew stronger. His own dragons, which he once commanded as the Dragon Lord, then followed his lead and also descended into the darkness, forsaking their natural flames. The many horrors Lord Dragon had a hand in unleashing are almost beyond count.
“Those horrors and the darkness that brought them are what started the Shadow Wars. Many worlds and peoples have felt its sting just as Nagaster did.” Mykl pauses for a short laugh. “All this time Lord Dragon thought he was in control of the shadow, but the kings of the darkness, the Nephilim which you know as Nightbringers, had long been conspiring against him. In the end, without him realizing it, he became a powerless fool – a mere tool of the darkness he had allowed into the world.
Mykl takes a long breath. “Lord Dragon has long since served his purpose. What you are witnessing here is the destruction of the last remnants of his power. How fitting that, in the end, the betrayer has been betrayed.”
Ecalai studies Mykl carefully before speaking. He had not known Mykl previously, yet he can tell that something is changing within him. Ecalai feels with certainty that Mykl is not as he seems. As Ecalai gazes back over the battlefield as the shadow dragons are being shredded, a chill begins to creep through his bones.
“Do you see it, Ecalai?” Mykl asks, gesturing to the battle field.
“Yes, I see it,” Ecalai replies. “I see the end the shadow dragons are coming to, but I see much more. There is destruction everywhere I look. Houses, villages, and countryside are burning before the onslaught of shadow. Cities are in danger of being overrun as Dark Moon fights for its life, yet the shadow does not let up. It is just like what happened to by people on Nagaster when shadow came on us unaware.”
“So it is, but you still do not realize what you see. Long have they and the people of worlds beyond lived their lives ignorant and unaware of the danger creeping up around them. All this time none have wondered and few have cared about the darkness growing in the world around them. Now they will endure the just fate they have brought on themselves. Fire and wrath can no longer be restrained. Shadow has come to claim its own as is its due.” Mykl turns to face Ecalai with a black sword now in his hand. “In the end, all must fall into shadow, even you.”
Ecalai quickly grasps the two halves of his staff, one in each hand, and forms his magic blades around each of them while assuming a combat-ready stance. Now he knows what it was that he felt earlier. Now he understands what Mykl has become.
Ecalai and Mykl circle one another with caution, but neither moves to initiate the first strike.
“What is the meaning of all this, Mykl?” Ecalai asks as his anger begins again to rise within him. “Do you not see all the destruction the shadow is bringing?”
“The shadow will claim its own, Ecalai. It has the right to lay hold of all that lives in this world. No matter how hard you fight or how fast you run the Contract of Ages must be fulfilled. The time has nearly come. The age when heroes like you could prolong its coming is over. Shadow calls and darkness will soon come.”
“Why Dark Moon? Why must the shadow come here of all places?”
“You poor fool, don’t you understand? None of this is about Dark Moon! The Contract of Ages is universal. Shadow will soon be everywhere.”
“How is this? What contract are you speaking of?”
“Something else happened long ago before even Lord Dragon and his betrayal sent the worlds into chaos. A contract was signed between the Ancient of Days and the Dark Prince. The Contract of Ages governs everything in every world. The time for the Contract to be fulfilled will soon come and the darkness is to receive all that it has been promised. Thus, the shadow is now rising up.”
“Stop speaking in riddles and say it plainly.”
“Darkness and Shadow are much deeper than you realize. Haven’t you guessed it yet? Don’t you feel it? Don’t you understand what the shadow really is? Darkness is more than a power. Darkness has a name.”
“And what is that?”
“His name…” Mykl begins softly, “… is Myzrath.” As the name leaves Mykl’s lips his eyes flash with a glow of dark light.
“Whatever his or your name now is I will not let you have this world. If you now stand with shadow, then it will be my pleasure to see that you fall with it.” Ecalai smiles. “Finally, I can make the shadow pay for everything it has done. I’ve been waiting for this a long time.”
Mykl laughs. “Yes, just try to fight against it. It will be my pleasure to take you apart.” Ecalai and Mykl’s weapons scream though the air as their blades clash.