The Great Wall of Norman lay on the southern border of the kingdom like the spine of a great dragon. As one of the wonders of human civilization, the wall had foiled countless attacks from beasts of the Abyss, and caused its maker D’Arcy to be venerated as a savior, if not a god.
But right now, the savior had a little problem. At midnight each day, his right arm would begin to ache – more than the pain of mortal flesh, it was the pain of one’s soul being torn apart.
Since he returned from the Void to Athanor, D’Arcy’s right arm had been plagued by a strange stinging pain. For a while he had thought that it was just the lingering effect of his battle with his former mentor, the infamous dark mage Lorion, but as work on the Great Wall progressed and the attacks by Abyss monsters intensified, so did the restlessness in his arm, as though something was trying to escape from it.
This was more than just a little ailment.
Drawing on his decades of research on dark magic, D’Arcy called on the power of the Void, with which he was becoming increasingly familiar, to suppress whatever presence it was that dwelled in his right arm. But at midnight, when the Abyss and Elsonor are closest to each other, the indescribable stinging pain would return.
D’Arcy guarded his secret carefully, not even sharing it with his closest allies, Sephera and Dirak. The expenses and effort that went into the Great Wall had yet to fully demonstrate their worth. D’Arcy must present a visage of strength, so that the Southern Legions and the kingdom would believe that he and his Great Wall could keep the human world safe.
Tap, tap. The sound of boots stepping on dirt interrupted D’Arcy’s thoughts.
“Who goes there?” D’Arcy put his left hand on his right arm. A silver glow flickered in and out.
“Er…” perhaps surprised and intimidated by D’Arcy’s wary tone, the visitor paused briefly before continuing, “my apologies for interrupting, sir. My name is Errol and I serve under General Edmond. The general wants me to tell you that there have been unusual movement from the south lately and a night attack is expected. The army is on alert and General Edmond asks you to prepare for battle.”
“Understood. Tell the general to expect me presently.”
“Yes sir. I’ll report back to him immediately.”
The footsteps faded away into the night.
With him went the stinging sensation in his arm. D’Arcy was slightly surprised – the pain disappeared much quicker than usual tonight.
“Could it be that…young man…”
D’Arcy had seen Errol a few times with Edmond and his impression has been generally a positive one – the young man was not particularly imposing physically, but his heart was both kind and strong, not an easy thing to maintain in the brutal environment of the army. He reminded D’Arcy of his younger self – even though Errol was a Demon Hunter.
D’Arcy typically avoided anything having to do with dark magic for reasons that were well known. And the Demon Hunters were the most successful products of the school. Errol and his friends joined the Southern Legion in no small part to prove that they have severed any ties they had with dark magic, just like D’Arcy defeated his own mentor, Lorion.
The sound of battle broke the peace of night. D’Arcy rised from his reverie, donned the robe that the Council made for him, and recited an ancient incantation.
After several moments, he appeared in the air above the Great Wall accompanied with a silver magic halo. In an instant the battlefield was awash in powerful magic as both sides of the battle stopped fighting looked up at this intimidating new presence. The ceasefire was short-lived, however, as fighting quickly broke out again, with the monsters of the Abyss charging into rains of arrows and walls of spears at D’Arcy’s direction, oblivious to the danger, seemingly drawn by an irresistible lure.
“Perfect,” D’Arcy thought to himself as he opened his arms and draw innumerable dots of light in the sky, linking them magically and putting each one in its place. Within moments, his enchantment was complete.
“Now you shall taste the power of the Void – Mark of Sealing!”
In an instant the Abyss monsters fell to the ground as though pinned by an invisible hand. Some of the stronger monsters tried to struggle, but their movements were slow and ponderous. The weaker monsters were simply crushed by the power of the Void.
“Now!” Watching from the battlements, Edmond turned and barked his orders at his messenger, “Archers, fire! Give them three volleys of all that you have!”
“Cavalry, move out and hit them on the flanks!”
“Infantry, go to offensive formation and follow my flag!”
“Huh? Oh, yes, sir!” The young man was a split second late on the uptake, his attention focused on the battle unfolding before his eyes.
“Demon Hunters, you are free to engage – focus on the beasts that still move, and clear a path for the infantry!”
“Yes sir!” Errol took the orders and quickly set off.
D’Arcy had no idea any of this was happening, his full attention focused on maintaining the enchantment. All he knew was that these allies, comrades and friends, who have been with him since the first stones of the Great Wall were laid, have never failed him.
“Now – carve out a path with your own two hands!”