Dark Prophets Prologue: Malakai, Archangel of Holy Fire
Written by Sean Decoy
“I have always been a loyal servant,” argued Malakai, highest of the angelic host. “Their adoration of me is merely a pale reflection of the worship they offer up to you.” He paced the room, folding his wings behind him. Asyra sat in the golden throne above and peered down at the angel. It was true: he had always been loyal. He had cut down swathes of heretics with a sword of blinding light many times over the years. But this time it was different.
“I love all my children,” Asyra spoke. “And I love you most of all, Malakai.” She stood from the throne and walked down the lighted steps to Malakai as he bowed. He held his hand up to shield his face from the blinding aura of light that surrounded her.
“However,” she said. “Your story, though it is true, tells a lie.”
“Divine Mother, I merely—“ Asyra held up a hand to silence him.
“I am, above all things, a healer,” she said. “And your followers, above all, are warriors.”
She touched his head softly, but the weight and heat of her light made him sweat. He couldn’t think straight this close to her, to the throne. He knew why they worshipped her: even her mere presence was more power than he had ever held in his entire life.
“The more they love you,” she continued, “The more they will follow your passion and fury, and the less they will follow my ways of peace and life.”
“I have cast out many demons, destroyed many heretics,” he replied.
“And for that, I will always love you, dear child,” she turned from him now and headed up the steps to throne. He breathed deep, finally regained his composure, and stood.
“But your way lies the way of war,” she said and sat. “My way is the way of peace.”
Malakai turned from the throne and spread his wings.
“You’ve been away from Etheria too long,” he said. “Your way doesn’t work.”
Dark Prophets Chapter One: Death of a High Priest
Written by Sean Decoy
The enchanted wings carried the assassin atop the tower to the High Priest’s chambers. He climbed in through the stone window and saw the High Priest Fathion, leader of the followers of Malakai, asleep, wrapped in white linens and golden silk. Pathetic, thought the Warlock. The Asyrans preach of meekness and humility, but their leaders sleep the sleep of the wealthy all the same.
It was night and a priest of this high order would have the Victorian Guard outside his door. Better to do the deed somewhere else. He muttered a spell under his breath and a flash of blue engulfed them both. They teleported to a much smaller room, enclosed – a tavern in town. Downstairs, the music and patrons were loud. No one would hear them.
The High Priest fell out of the air and yelped, but the Warlock was already upon him. Even the most powerful mage, unequipped, un-enchanted, unprotected, was easy prey. The Warlock recited quickly and the room filled with burning light. The light condensed into a beam and struck the High Priest several times in the chest. The High Priest screamed and spat out a spell of his own, but the ray bounced off of the Warlock, rebounded through the air, and struck the High Priest again.
“I came prepared,” the Warlock spoke, and then thrust three more pillars of light down on the priest. The holy man was dead.
The Warlock teleported back to the High Priest’s room with the body. He laid the burnt corpse upon the sheets. To use only Holy spells had cost him significantly, but the illusion would work. He took a Staff of Asyra, stolen and kept secret for these last five years, and dropped it to the ground. Then he hit the priest one more time with a blast of light to alert the guards, brought back his enchanted wings, and jumped out the window.
Written by SeanDeCoy
“You killed him!” cried the crowd. From a nearby alley, Beastmaster Mikal McKay watched the riot unfold.
“Please, brothers,” yelled a Priestess over the rabble, “Please, return to your homes. We are investigating the High Priest’s death at this very moment.”
The crowd had been gathering for hours around the Asyran Temple. Inside the temple, on a stone slab, laid High Priest Fathion’s body. A murdered High Priest in Westlock, thought Mikal. This will be good for no one. His followers will fight for the truth, the priestesses will fight to regain order… the Royal Archers and Knights of Westlock will squash this rebellion, and Victoria will lay in ruins.
“Don’t listen to her,” yelled a man in brown robes. “The Asyrans hate those of us who follow Malakai!”
“Malakai is a favored angel of Asyra,” the Priestess tried to explain. “We consider you as brothers and sisters – please understand—“ a small stone struck the Priestess across the forehead. She winced, and placed a healing hand on her wound.
She just wants to keep the peace, thought Mikal. The Asyrans are haughty and judgmental, but they are innocent here. The Beastmaster squawked at a low flying crow – the crow spun around and landed on his shoulder.
“Bring me wolves,” said Mikal. The bird flew away and Mikal stepped out of the shadows. He whispered a spell and felt his strength surge. He cut through the crowd and made his way up to the Priestess.
“Return to your homes,” yelled Mikal. “You will have your answers soon enough.”
“They kill our leaders then try to silence us,” yelled a woman in the crowd. She picked up another stone and threw it at the Beastmaster.
“Enough talk,” yelled another man, “Let us take back our leader’s body!”
The crowd roused and surrounded the two mages. Mikal turned to the Priestess.
“You look above for help,” he said. “But my help is right here in this world.” He blew a sharp whistle, and heard a growl in response. The wolves had arrived.
Written by SeanDeCoy
Fools and fanatics, thought Laddinfance, and watched as the mob burned down an Asyran Library. The crowd jumped and danced by the flames, tossing in torches, rocks, whatever they could find. And at the center of it all, a tall man, robed in the traditional red and purple garb of a priest of Malakai, pressed the mob to further action. The priest directed four men to light a nearby home. He sent the women to fill urns with oil. When they returned, he muttered spells to light the urns and sent them out again. Victoria burned, and this priest laughed.
“Put them through the crucible, brothers!” the priest yelled. “When Victoria is ash only the truth shall remain!”
Curious, thought Laddinfance. He called his raven to him and uttered a spell in its ear. The raven flew off and towards the priest. The raven granted Laddinfance a secret eye, and the Priest’s glamour fell. Underneath his illusion, the priest was covered in scars and old burn wounds. Arraxian runes were branded to his chest and a lash of pure hellfire swung at his side. Laddinfance stalked into the crowd.
“This Priest,” he yelled to the crowd, “Has deceived you. He is no priest of Malakai!”
A few men and women stopped to listen, but largely the carnage continued. The Warlock pointed to Laddinfance.
“Don’t believe the lies of Sortilege,” the Warlock said. “They prize only their own minds – they are trapped in a cage of their own making, where they alone are lord. They do not follow our holy Gods!”
“They’ll believe your corpse,” said Laddinfance. “When I have killed you, and your enchantments fall away, they will see you for what you really are.”
Laddinfance spoke a spell and pictured the Warlock’s lash. In his mind, he saw the weapon turn to dust and crumble.
“Didn’t think I saw that, did you?” he said, advancing on the Warlock. “People of Victoria, go back to your homes!”
The Warlock called out and a great fiery orb formed inside his fist. Laddinfance wrapped himself in his cloak as the Warlock threw the fireball – and the fire dissipated as it hit the garment.
“Run away and save yourself Wizard, back to your godless studies!” But Laddinfance had already made his choice and called down lightning to strike.
Written by SeanDeCoy
“Your city will lie in ruins!” cried Mikal. His wolves had torn into the mob and dispersed them. Many ran back to their homes. Some went to find mores allies and weapons. Several lay dying on the ground. The Priestess moved among them, laying hands and speaking soft spells to soothe them. “You waste your time,” Mikal said. “If they had the strength they’d claw your eyes out.”
“No scratch is too small for the Goddess,” the Priestess said, and continued her work. The buildings around them raged with fire. The heat grew, as did the stench of the freshly charred corpses.
“The fire here is too great,” he said. “My animals will be trapped and unable to breathe.”
“Then run back to your forest,” said the Priestess. “You have done goodness here. Return to the wild.”
Mikal grabbed the Priestess by the arm. “Listen, you zealot,” he said. “My people always protect the pack, but your people tear each other limb from limb. And here you sit mending cuts and bruises while the city burns. I can leave now, and return to the wild…”
“Or?” she asked, setting another balmy hand on a rioter. Mikal sighed. He wanted to help. He didn’t understand these people or their customs. He didn’t understand saving traitors while innocents still cried for help. He didn’t understand any of this, or even why he helped this Priestess whose name he did not know.
“Or, we can leave this mob and focus on the fires. I can conjure geysers in the city squares – bring down water from the sky. I can turn your gardens into regenerating groves of life,” he said. “I can—“
“Bring the wild into my city,” she replied and looked up at him. She had golden eyes and she shone brightly in the fiery light. She stood and looked at the buildings down the road. Every one of them cracked and popped with flame.
“There is much work to be done,” she said, walking to the nearest building. “Come with me.” Mikal watched her go, shielded by a protection spell. The fire seemed to bend around her. What a zealot. There’s no way she can save them all, thought Mikal. And then he ran into the fire.