Into the Void

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King Ulric paced upon the carpet before the throne in his castle in Calanhelm. Agitated as of late, but unsure why. Dreams, more like nightmares, haunted his sleep in recent months. His hand moves to the pommel of his sword, Destiny, almost absentmindedly, a reflex of a seasoned warrior. He has heard the whispers, heard the rumours that abound the city. “He is not all there”, “He is not fit to lead”, “He has issues of the mind”, “He’s more a rogue than a leader”, and more, and worse.

“Bah” he called out to no one, as no servants or allies stand within the great hall, his voice echoing out the chamber. His hands thrown up in disgust, he looks upwards, not at the ceiling, but past it, through it. He is lost in thought as one of the many servants rush into the room to see what the King could need. King Ulric stands motionless for several long heartbeats. The servants understand his foul mood as of late and quietly back out of the room, leaving the King to his own inner thoughts.

Finally, he relaxes his arms and his gaze follows them to the ground. Inspiration suddenly strikes at him. “I will prove to them once and for all that I am worthy of this crown. This crown I fought any and all who would oppose me those many years ago.” He says to himself as he pulls the crown from his head and slowly turns it within his grasp. His hands flow along the lines of gold from front to back.

King Ulric replaces the crown upon his brow, the weight seemingly lighter now. He calls out “Send for the ArchMage.” He does not need confirmation that his order was heard, his voice echoes through the halls enough so that all within can hear. A sly grin crosses his lips. Again, his hand absently falls upon the pommel of the Sword of Destiny. He pauses, then seats himself upon the throne, impatiently waiting for Az’Caine.


Az'Caine enters the throne rom through the portal linked between his room and the castle. King Ulric is agitated, pacing back and forth like a hunting dog waiting to be unleashed. As Az'Caine enters, King Ulric whirls to face the ArchMage. "Where have you been?" he asks, clearly agitated.

"Ocupied by other matters, Your Majesty." Az'Caine says with a slight bow, "Matters that are vital to the survival of the kingdom." he continues as King Ulric sits back upon his throne, clearly unimpressed. He waves his hand dismisively. "I have been patient, but no more. I believe it is time to take the fight directly to this, Al'Zoon." he boldly states as his hand drops to the Sword of Destiny strapped to his left hip. Az'Caine notes the motion and steps forward cautiously. "Al'Zoon is a mighty threat" he begins, "he cannot be taken lightly or without plan." the ArchMage replies, trying to guage the mind of the King whose face has become like stone. "To do so would be suicide."

"I am prepared." King Ulric stated coldly, his hand absently grasps the hilt of the Sword once again.

"Your Majesty, why exactly do you believe you can succeed alone, a threat that took the combined forces of the Elves, Dwarves, the Sanctum and.. others?" the ArchMage asks leaving the last word hanging.

"You mean your dragon consort?" the King asks, a smirk crossing his visage as he watches Az'Caine's expression darken.

"Ai.. She, was never my constort, and His Majesty should speak more carefully where Dragons are concerned." Az'Caine's hands tighten around his Staff, power begining to channel in his hands.

Leaping to his feet, the King draws the Sword of Destiny, its power glowing brilliantly. Az'Caine brings his staff up defensively, preparing for the unthinkable. Quietly he summons all of his defenses, layering their protectives for a possible attack.

It does not come. The King stands on his dais, hesitation in his eyes. Something else, Az'Caine notes. Confusion perhaps? "We must strike at Al'Zoon now!" the king shouts.

"We?" Az'Caine asks, almost not comprehending the statement. "If you believe I would walk into certain destruction, you are greatly mistaken."

"Your duty is to me Az'Caine!" King Ulric states.

"My duty is to Calandonia and the Kingdom first Ulric." Az'Caine retorts, not using the proper title of the King. An omission that does not go unnoticed. King Ulric's features grow dark once again.

"I am Steward the the lands, and if you decide to take a fool's erand into the Dark Reaches, I cannot go with you." Az'Caine states, as calmly as he can muster.

"Coward!" King Ulric roars. "I can do what the other can't! I wil succeed where others have failed!"

"And how well did that work when Kara Vale's forces overran the Breach? Your overconfidence made you order the defenders through the portal and you and I were lost for months. You ended up in the clutches of the Syndicate. It took us months to launch a rescue. It took everyone's best efforts to then find a cure for your mental ailments. You spent months with the Stone Elves and Biata to strengthen your mind. Brews, concoctions, spells, rituals and dragon fire were needed to heal you. And now you would run off to face a foe that not once, not twice, but three times brought these lands to ruin and enslavement?" Az'Caine replies.

"I have the Sword." the King remarks, his face lightening just a bit. "It bends to my will, my desires. It will aide me in succeding where the others have failed." King Ulric straightens up. "By order of your King, you wil open a portal to the Dark Reaches. I will take it from there."

"I will not."
Az'Caine states in no uncertain terms. "The Dark Reaches is vast, and I do not even know where to send you if I would. Be patient. Let us do what is required."

The King, furious now, states "I know that Al'Zoon is weak. I know that he has not gathered all of his strength." and before Az'Caine could ask the source of this information King Ulric continues "while you play with your new pet, Mobeus and the Sanctum, trying in vain to put your girlfreind back together, his strength gains exponentialy."

Az'Caine, now more angry than he has been in several centuries, turns and begins to leave the throne room, knowing that if he were to stay a moment longer, the Kingdom may not have a ruler. The King, taking Az'Caine's leaving as another sign of defiance, leaps from the dais.

Az'Caine feels the blow, meant to splay his innerds upon the floor blocked by his Magic Armour. He wheels around, just in time to deflect the next swing. The force of it pushing him back a step. Quickly recasting his protective, the King, just as quick, lands another blow, crushing the Magic Armour once again.

"Ulric, stop this!" Az'Caine half pleads, half commands. Again the King's swing colides with the staff, unleashing a ring that shatters nearby windows and other glassware. The King hesitates, only for a moment. That moment is all the ArchMage requires. Arcane Dominate and a bolt of energy leaps from the ArchMage to the King. Caught completely off guard, the King sucumbs to the command. "Stop this." the ArchMage commands. As Ulric's weapon dips, Az'Caine once again sets his Magic Armour.


Once more Az’Caine sets his defenses into place, more annoyed now than angry. Why? Is the only question going through his mind. He looks to the Sword of Destiny, its glow fading now. Yes King Ulric is hot tempered. Yes he is impetuous. But the King is also a soldier. He knows the threat of Al’Zoon. He must know that this can only end poorly, even with the Sword at his side.

A sudden pulse and glow from the Sword snaps the ArchMage from his thoughts. Out of instinct he brings his Staff up and once again intercepts a blow meant to sever his head from shoulders. “Damn it Ulric.” The ArchMage shouts, knowing full well the Sword has snapped the King from his command.

The King again is on the offensive, swinging almost wildly. Not his normal style at all. “ArchMage,” he growls, his voice deeper than ever before. “You must allow this to happen.” Az’Caine, now thoroughly confused by Ulric’s tone, inflection and use of only his title again looks to the Sword. It glows now, brightly like an Illumination was cast upon it.

“Who, or what are you?” the ArchMage asks, not to King Ulric, but the Sword of Destiny. He understands now that the King is in its grip, and not the other way around.

“I am the King’s Will.” comes the answer.

“I do not believe you.” Replies Az’Caine, as he begins to prepare more potent magics to unleash. “Why would King Ulric wish to commit suicide? That is the only outcome of a confrontation with the Dragon Mage.”

It is not. Your fear of him and your feelings for the Dragon cloud your judgement and foresight.” The Sword states through the King. “The King wishes to defeat Al’Zoon and prove himself worthy of the throne. He hears the whispers of those around him, those claiming loyalty and friendship. He hears them call him a fraud, a delinquent and not worthy of his Throne.”

“The King, I think is still unwell mentally.”
Az’Caine states. “He claimed the throne through trials of combat and has done his best to rule firmly but fairly.”

“The King is as mentally healed as he can be currently” the voice continues. “He wishes to be more. He wants to rid the lands of these constant threats. It is his desires that guide me to help him.”

“By walking him into the heart of the greatest threat these lands have ever known?”
the ArchMage asks, gaining more understanding of the Sword with every word it speaks. “You understand that I cannot allow this to happen.”

“You cannot avoid Destiny, ArchMage. I must do as his will commands. Allow us to pass. Let us use your portals to the Dark Reaches. The King will return a much wiser man.” The voice states adding some magical weight to its words.

Az’Caine’s eyes narrow. He can feel his defenses draining from the subtle assault. “A good effort, but nothing I cannot stop.”

The King’s eyes begin to focus once again. More anger crosses his face. The ArchMage sees the change and begins his incant “Arcane- Destroy Magic Sword of Destiny” and a bolt of energy races towards the King. Striking him center of the chest. The Sword glows fiercely, resisting the call to be sundered.

King Ulric’s assault begins again. Slays, Eviscerates, Stub Limbs, everything he has is thrown quickly at the ArchMage. Several connecting. Some blocked, many absorbed but a couple get through the ArchMage’s defences, leaving gashes, blood and more. The ArchMage responds with Prisons, Dominates, and more all in an attempt to stop the King without harming him. They all prove to be deflected, absorbed or removed almost immediately by the Sword.

Az’Caine understands now. Unless he wishes to outright destroy Ulric, he must be allowed to follow his path. Dropping his Circle of Power Az’Caine relents to the King and the Sword. “Fine. You wish to follow this path of lunacy, so be it. Be warned. If the King does not return I will make it my life’s work to find you and utterly destroy you.” Az’Caine states as his wounds begin to close a bit. “Go, seek Magi Kurak at the Sanctum. He will open a portal to the Dark Reaches if you so order it.”

With that the King turns and begins to walk out of the throne room. Az’Caine, regaining his strength quickly, drops is Circle and quietly incants a Ritual to Mark the King. This time, he will not be lost to the ArchMage completely. The Dark Reaches are vast and uncharted, but hopefully his magic is strong enough to pierce the veil and look upon the King when required.

Az’Caine immediately heads to the Portal room and activates it, taking him to his Chamber for rest and reflection on this matter.
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