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Demon Tide


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NOTE: Chapters one through six are in this post, seven through twelve are in my second post in this topic, thirteen through eighteen are on my third post, nineteen through twenty one on my fourth, and my fifth post will contain the remaining chapters.


Demon Tide


Chapter One


The sun was absent from the skies as Finway continued to trudge along the road, his long blonde hair waving as he walked. The clouds almost completely covered the skies, casting a grey blanket over the world. Rain had fallen the night before, and some of its leftovers still refused to dry as they clung to the leaves.


How pretty, he observed as he noticed the wind blow through the damp trees. The breeze was chilly, a remnant of the winter that had just passed. An adventurer like Finway, however, had survived much more than mild winters. As the son of a noble Varrockian family, despite being orphaned at a young age, it was his duty to be commissioned by the king himself, an honor he had undergone on many occasions.


His first quest of such nature was to rid the city of a resurrected demon, Delrith, which he had precisely executed. The abomination, which had appeared at the stone circle just south of the city, was easily dealt with: all Finway really had to do was obtain a key, open a chest and reclaim a sword. The actual battle with the creature had been a joke; with the sword itself being enchanted by Misthalin's most powerful mages and blessed by the royal city's priests, Delrith hadn't stood a chance.


The young noble laughed when he thought of how nervous he had been at the time. Almost more comical, however, was the recognition he had received afterwards. He had been dubbed a 'Defender of Varrock,' and gained instant fame throughout the city. All that, he thought, for such an easy task.


His second commission had been slightly harder: he, along with another, had to reclaim two halves of the Shield of Arrav, one of the most treasured objects in all of Misthalin. Such quests had granted him much favor with the king, and all of the benefits that came along with it, including even more assignments. In fact, Finway had just finished a short, royal mission three days earlier. As cumbersome as they oftentimes were, he learned to appreciate such quests, each one giving him a wealth of knowledge, as well as hefty reward.


A gust of wind brought down a small torrent of leftover rain from the trees, gently splashing them across Finway's face and effectively bringing him out of his reminiscing. He was traveling to the house of Lord Rinious Vanthin, a prominent aristocrat in Varrock and a fellow acquaintance of King Roald himself. Vanthin was a wealthy man, and held much valuable land north of city. He rented the countryside out to farmers, and he even held a small part of the southern mines, the two combined giving him a substantial income. The influential nobleman lived in a magnificent mansion that dwelt on his estate north-west of the city, and was hosting a celebration that night.


Although Lord Vanthin did not openly disclose the reasons for the festivities, virtually every attendee knew the reason: the wealthy man was looking for a husband for his daughter, his precious Abigail. She was by no means a renowned beauty throughout the town, and no one could accuse Vanthin of attempting to flaunt his daughter before the young men of Varrock. However, in his old age he knew that Abigail must find a spouse, and a ball held at his home would be the perfect opportunity for it.


Finway once more gazed up at the trees and appreciated their beauty. He could see Vanthin Manor up ahead in the distance, so he sighed with relief and continued to walk along the cobblestone path. Another breeze came by, chilling the late afternoon air. He hadn't seen Lord Vanthin or his daughter in several months, and so he looked forward to being in their company once again.

Hopefully, he thought, Abigail's feelings for me haven't changed since I last left.



Abigail stared out her westward balcony, towards the road that traveled around the Grand Exchange, the massive financial marketplace her father had helped set up. She once more glanced into the mirror and observed her outward appearance, making only the slightest changes to her brown, curly hair.

"Abigail," her father said as he came knocking at her door. "Abigail? Your guests are arriving. You wouldn't want to be rude to them, would you?"

She opened the door, revealing to her father her gorgeous black and silver dress. "Must I go down now?"

Lord Vanthin ignored the question and simply stared at her. "You look beautiful. I just wish your mother was here to witness this."

Her face broke into a smile of pride and self-assurance, accompanied by her cheeks reddening sharply.

Before she could respond, her father asked, "Is there anyone in particular that you wish to see this evening?"

"Every single lord and lady in the city will be here, who won't be here to be seen, father?" she replied wittily, her grin ceasing to fade.

"I know, I know," her father sighed as he stepped into her room, taking a seat on a chair. "I just want you to be happy, that's all. Find the right man, settle down…these are things that I want to see happen to you."

"They will, they will…" His daughter knelt down beside him. "Just be patient and let me take my time, father."

"Time?" the lord broke into a laugh. "I'm afraid I don't have much of that left anymore."

"Father, you have plenty," Abigail scolded, standing up. "You're impatient, that's all."

"That I am, that I am. Just tell me, please," he pleaded, "is there someone that you're looking forward to seeing?"

She turned away, smiling as her face grew increasingly warm. The aging nobleman stood up as he, too, grinned, placing his arm on her shoulder. "Whoever it is, I'm sure he'll be here," he consoled.



By the time Finway had reached the main entryway, it was nearly dark outside, with just the slivers of light piercing the horizon behind the mansion.

"Sir Finway Minarch, an honor to have you arrive!" a greeter proclaimed proudly, obviously trained to do so. "May I take your coat?"

"Of course," the young man replied, taking off and handing his overcoat to the man.

"I hope your visit is quite enjoyable, sir," the servant declared, referring to the young lord incorrectly. However, such was the custom for possible suitors of the maid of the house: despite their proper title, they were all simply referred to as 'sir.'


Once Finway stepped inside, he felt a warm draft billow towards him. The heat attempted to escape through the open doors, but fortunately, a servant promptly shut them. Soon enough, another guest arrived and the cycle repeated.


The mansion did not lose a single spec of magnificence once one stepped inside it's gates. A grand chandelier loomed down from the ceiling, illuminating the entire foyer. The entryway was adorned with pictures of famous and influential lords and ladies. Finway recognized two prominent paintings as that of Lord Vanthin's father and grandfather, as Abigail had informed him at an earlier meeting of the two. It was quite noticeable that they were the two most venerated pictures, each one hanging on the wall of the double staircase, visible for all to see. Suddenly, a household butler procured himself from the top of the grand staircase, summoning all the attention towards himself.


"My Lords and Ladies, may I present to you Abigail Vanthin, Lady of the House." With two maidservants carefully attending to her dress so she wouldn't trip, the young woman presented herself before the guests, most of whom had already arrived. After she had finished processing down the staircase, the ball officially began, with the fancily dressed musicians starting to play their instruments.


Although Finway yearned to dance with her, he knew that he couldn't, not just yet. He could easily have approached her and asked her, and she would have undoubtedly said yes, but he needed it to be more than that: he needed it to be a surprise, totally unexpected, as was characteristic of him. While he was quietly contemplating what to do, he noticed that another young lord, Geoffrey Diminus, had beaten him to the chance: he was already talking with the noble lady and the two had begun dancing.


I can deal with that, Finway comforted himself. He knew that himself and she would share their time together before the night was through.

"Lord Finway!" a larger man approached the adventurer. It was Lord Dimintheis, a wealthy man who dwelt in the large Southeastern homes of Varrock. "Glad to see you here!"

"Lord Dimintheis, what an honor!"

Although the man seemed happy, Finway knew his story and of how he was depressed that all three of his sons had left him. He longed to help him reunite the family, but his present duties were always to the king and his various tasks, thus leaving him with no time to do so.

"So, are you like the rest of the young men here at the court?" the noble asked, smiling with his narrow eyes.

"I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean," Finway lied as he grinned back.

"…after the young lady's hand in marriage, I suppose?"

"Perhaps, I guess I'm just here for the sake of being part of not being absent."

"A-ha, I can tell, boy, you're lying through your teeth." The two of them let out a chuckle. "I remember when I was your age, I was always chasing after women."

"Women are women, but adventures, that's what I long for," Finway responded with a lie, wishing to change the subject, not because he was uncomfortable, but for the sake of the conversation. Although outwardly adventure might have delighted him, it had morphed into something that increasingly tired him.

"Ah, I remember those days," exclaimed the old man as he wrapped himself in memories. "I never quite saved the city from destruction as you have, but I did do a few diplomatic missions here and there for the king before I settled down." There was a small pause in their conversation. "At first I longed to be an adventurer such as yourself, but then after a while I realized that such quests weren't meant for me."

The conversation broke apart there, as Dimintheis drifted off towards others to talk to, others that were closer to his own age than Finway was. The young man looked over and once again caught a glimpse of Abigail. This time, however, she was not dancing with anyone, and seemed rather lonely as she stood by the steps. Although he agreed that she wasn't the slimmest woman on the streets, no one could deny the adorable nature of her face. The youthful Geoffrey had himself taken an interest in other, thinner women.


He noticed that she started walking towards her left, and so Finway used it as an opportunity. Quickly pacing through the crowd, he started towards her. She suddenly turned, right into him, and so he grasped her hand and put the other at her side.

"Oh, I'm so glad you'd like to dance with me," Finway exclaimed. Abigail nearly laughed from the unexpected nature of their reuniting.

"I didn't know you were coming," was all she managed to say through her huge smile.

"I was on the guest list, wasn't I?" Finway smiled at her, tilting his head sideways to give off a confused appearance. She giggled.

"Of course, I just thought you were out on commission for the king." The thought of leaving once more brought about a great depression inside Finway, but he nonetheless forced a brightened facial expression to show.

"Maybe the king works around his own schedule so I can attend these celebrations?"

Abigail giggled once more, and so he held her as tight as ever as they danced. "Is the king really that generous?"

Finway looked back at her deep, brown eyes that matched her curly hair almost perfectly. "I wish it were so."

She leaned in and placed her head on his chest as their conversation fell silent. Finway, looking for something to say, noticed Lord Vanthin nearby, smiling at the two of them.

"I'm sorry if your father is disappointed, I'm sure you could do better than an adventurer like myself."

"Don't worry," she consoled, "you're exactly the type of man he wants for me."

"It's warm in here," Finway observed, changing the subject once more as he spun her around to the dance and held her tightly. "Do you want to go outside?"

"Finway!" Abigail interjected as she separated herself from him. "It's freezing! We'd catch a cold!"

He just kept starring at her, a smile on his face. "Are you coming?"

"Alright, just let me get my coat…"

"Get your coat? That would take too long, let's just go," Finway grabbed her and lifted her off the ground as he carried her toward a side door. It led them into the gardens, where there were several fountains and many bushes surrounding them.

"I like the garden here," Finway complimented. Apart from one other couple by the evergreens, they were the only souls out that night.

"It's not nearly as beautiful as the Palace's," Abigail rejected. Finway brought her to a bench beside a stone fountain before laying her upon it and sitting down himself. "Are you going to be back for a while?"

Finway knew that that question was coming towards him, so he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "No, I won't be."

She stared back at him, her glowing brown eyes widened with disbelief. Before she could ask why, he spoke again.

"My last commission didn't even take two weeks, and so because it was so short the king wants to give me another as soon as possible."

"Why?" she asked, shaking her head. "The king has plenty of young men to spare, why does he have to keep using you?"

"I don't know," Finway said.

"You've done plenty, you've helped Varrock many times, why can't he just send someone else?"

"Well," Finway said jokingly, "I guess I just am better than the others." No sooner had he said it than he regretted it. She simply stared back at him with longing, her gorgeous brown eyes as large as ever before.

"How can you joke about this? This is your life that's being…you know, being…"

"Wasted?" Finway inquired, and there was a pause.

"I don't know what it is, I just wish I could see you more."

For a long moment he just held her in his arms, saddened by the fact that he would have to leave again, probably for a longer time than the last.

"After this…after this I'll ask the king to…postpone any further adventures. That way, I'll have time to propose and we'll be able to get married. How does that sound?"

"Finway, I don't want you to just be here when we get married, I want you to stay here while we are married."

He nodded. "I'll do what I can." He turned her towards himself. "After this, I'll ask him to retire me so that I can settle down. My family owns plenty of land, so I can afford it."

She smiled at him. "Where would we build our home?"

"I'd like somewhere just east of here, close to the River Lum."

"As would I," she leaned against his chest, but he turned her once more.

"And one more thing," he told her.

"What's that?" she asked. Neither of them spoke as their eyes closed and lips met.


Chapter Two


Finway's eyes opened, revealing his large master bedroom. He sighed as he leaned forward in his bed, remembering what had happened the night before. He felt great, but inwardly depressed that he had to receive another assignment from the king that day.

When will it stop, he wondered to himself, when can I have peace from all these adventures? Outwardly, he was supposed to be a brave hero, always ready for a new quest or mission, but he knew that it could not go on forever. He soon got ready for the day before venturing down the stairway, into the foyer, and out of his home.


Although the inside may have seemed small at times, the exterior of the house boasted of the glory of the Minarch line. Finway was honored to be of such a noble family, his forefathers being close friends and allies of the king, tracing back to the founding of the city. Another notable characteristic of his heritage was that, through his mother's side, he was partly barbarian. His great-grandfather had been a barbarian child taken in by a Varrock family. Many other influential families had such a connection with the foreign invaders, if they could be called that anymore. The Vanthin family, for instance, also held some barbarian blood.


The day was much like it's predecessor: cool with the sun partly shining through the clouds from time to time. It illuminated the entire Southeastern corner of the city, the large homes and their spacious yards receiving plenty of light. The city of Varrock was very diverse, the Southwest and South central areas being characterized by poverty, gangs, and civil unrest. The Southeast and Northeast sections, however, were composed of carefully gated communities where the wealthy dwelt. The Northern section was overshadowed by the royal palace, and the Northwest was dominated by the massive Grand Exchange and the financial district.


The adventurer continued pacing northward, towards the gateway that separated the secluded wealthy families from the rest of Varrock. A guard, without saying anything, recognized him and opened the gate as one of his comrade's stood by, spear at hand. On the other side, dozens of people scurried about, some heading for the gate, some heading towards the bank and the shops, and some just standing idly as they chatted.


As he walked, he observed the famous smithy, run by a man known as Horvik. Horvik, along with his assistants at his guild, crafted the armor for many noblemen and knights throughout all of Misthalin. Finway himself had purchased his first sword there, and he remembered the time that he had gone in with his father to buy it. It was when he was thirteen, the year that his mother died. The sword was strongly wrought of steel, a fine blade. Of course, it had been replaced by Silverlight when Finway had slain Delrith as it was rumored to be incredibly powerful against such demons. He glanced at the shining saber at his side, the very one he had used three years ago for his first quest. It had served him faithfully since then, and he had no thoughts of acquiring a new blade.


He then entered the marketplace, the crowded center of the bustling city. Shops lined the entire perimeter, the glorious fountain standing in the middle. Merchants were busy shouting things through the busy market, advertising their stalls behind them. Occasionally, someone would get caught stealing from the stalls, but only rarely-the guards on duty usually patrolled the area satisfactorily.


"Halt," one of the royal guards said routinely as Finway neared the palace grounds. "Identify yourself."

"Lord Finway Minarch," he raised his right hand, revealing a ring with the Minarch seal upon it.

"Welcome back," the guard said, opening the gate to courtyard, just wide enough for Finway to step inside. The interior was, as usual, crowded with off-duty and patrolling guards alike. Walking through the line of trees, the young lord soon entered the interior courtyard, a large gathering place with a flat stone surface. Once again, Finway was stopped. This time, however, it was a fancily dressed knight adorned with a brilliant suit of steel armor.


"Lord Minarch, is it?" the knight asked.

"Yes, that is I," Finway responded. "I received this letter from the king after I returned from my last commission." He handed an envelope to the knight, who proceeded to read it.

"Yes…yes, it has been three days," he folded the letter again and handed it to a guard nearby. "Three days is not long at all in between commissions, is it?"

"No, sir," Finway replied, "but since my last one was so short-not even three weeks-the king has requested another of me shortly after my arrival."

"I understand. Follow me," he motioned for Finway to accompany him, as well as a small unit of guards, into the Palace.


A guard each held a door to the magnificent citadel open as the adventurer and his escort stepped into it. Once inside, they were greeted by a massive room with a double staircase, reminding Finway of the Vanthin mansion he had been at the night before. The knight began walking towards a large doorway in the west part of the palace, and so Finway followed.

"Wait here," his escorting knight instructed as he stepped inside the court room of the king. Listening in, Finway heard him ask the court if they wished to see the young, adventurous lord. He heard some murmurs in the court before the door opened again.

"The king will see you now."


Finway had presented himself to the royal court many times before, but each time he felt a wave of nervousness. He tried to hard to suppress it, and he did manage to do so to some extent. Glancing around the courtyard, he noticed several notable figures. Geoffrey Diminus, too, was present, perhaps waiting in line to ask a favor of the king, perhaps receiving another assignment as Finway was. There were also several other figures, some of whom he could recognize, and others that he could not.

"Ah, Finway!" The king smiled from his throne down onto him. Finway observed his carefully trimmed beard and moustache, truly royal in it's eloquence. "It's been quite short, hasn't it?"

"Indeed it has, Your Majesty," he replied.

"It hasn't yet been three weeks since I last sent you out, and again you impressed all of Varrock with the swiftness of your mission!" King Roald cried out with great joy. "What do you say to that, eh?"

"My last mission was merely diplomatic business," Finway forced a grin. "It is my honor to serve the kingdom." He wasn't making it up, even though such honor had become tiring in the last three years for the young noble.

"Talk to my minister afterwards to arrange a fitting reward, but as your last commission was indeed quite short, I have another one planned for you." There was a pause.


Feeling the urge to speak in the silence, Finway inquired, "What is that, Your Majesty?"

The king's smile beamed down upon the adventurer. "I have another…diplomatic mission for you. You are familiar with the people of Al Kharid, are you not?"

"I have visited the region twice, Your Majesty. Does my next assignment bring me there?"

"Indeed," the king began stroking his beard, turning towards his right, where a dark skinned, clean-shaven youth was standing, perhaps half a foot shorter than Finway and not as large. "Jamal," the king stated, "please explain the situation to our young Lord here."

"Your Majesty," the boy, Jamal, bowed slightly to the king before facing Finway. With a thick Kharidian accent he began, "Well, you see, the people of Al Kharid are facing many difficulties with the Southern Bandits. They sometimes will sneak through the Pass of Shantay and raid the Kharidian people. This is something that must be solved, you see."

"And am I to solve this?" Finway questioned.

"Yes…" Jamal sat in thought, confused. "No…no, you don't." Several members of the court laughed, and Finway noticed that the boy was sweating from nervousness. The king simply stared onwards at them.

"You see, I have realized that the bandits want four certain diamonds…" he stuttered, "…diamonds that were taken from them unjustly many years ago."

"Do we know where those diamonds are at?" Finway asked.

"Yes," Jamal replied, surprisingly confident. Before he could ask where, the young Kharidian boy opened a pouch, revealing four sparkling gemstones. "Here they are."

The king was once again smiling atop his throne, and several of the court's members leaned over in astonishment. Finway's eyes widened, then narrowed again in confusion.

"I traveled greatly around the world to obtain each one," he stated, a hint of pride in his otherwise nervous voice.

"If…if you have the diamonds, then why am I needed?"

"You see," King Roald adjusted himself in his seat as he spoke, "that's why I said it was a diplomatic mission. I want you to accompany Jamal to the southern bandits as a token of good will. I want to show that Misthalin doesn't want war with them."

"Alright, I understand, Your Majesty," Finway spoke. "When does our envoy depart?"

"I'd like you to leave as soon as possible," the king informed him. "Accompanying the two of you will be one of my magicians, Falken." A man wearing a wizard gown stepped forward. He was as short as Jamal but was quite large and plump, with a double chin extending from his neck. He reminded Finway of the wizards he had encountered before in his quests, yet the man seemed incomplete without a hat.

Maybe I could buy one for him on the journey, he joked to himself.

"Is there anything else you'd like for me to do, Your Majesty?" Finway inquired of the king.

"Since this is just diplomacy and relations, I'll give you four weeks, and I want you to write a letter back once you reach Al Kharid, understood?"

Finway nodded.

"Alright, good. You may leave now. Jamal, Falken, you two are dismissed as well." King Roald waved them out of the court. "Come back with good news and don't disappoint me, Finway, you never have before!"


Once he had exited the court, once again accompanied by the knight who had led him in, Finway turned to Falken and Jamal.

"Do you need anything before we leave?"

"No," Jamal muttered quietly.

"I'd like a new staff," Falken scoffed, hitting his wooden rod lightly against the ground. "I've been stuck with this one for eighteen years, and the Royal Guard still hasn't allowed me to get another!"

Before Finway could speak anything else, one of the king's royal ministers approached him.

"Lord Finway!" he exclaimed, racing out onto the steps. "Lord Finway, aren't you forgetting something?"

"Oh, yes, the reward," the young man sighed. "I suppose I'll go in and negotiate it. Falken, Jamal, wait for me in the courtyard."

"'right," the fat mage turned, but Jamal continued to stare blankly, as if he didn't hear. Observing this, Falken hit him in the legs with his staff. "He said go, boy, so go!"


Chapter Three


The day was steaming with heat, as were most days from the spring to autumn in the region of Al Kharid. Finway's feet were killing him, and he knew that Jamal and Falken felt similarly.

"Damn heat," the overweight mage commented. The blue fabric composing his robes was beginning to fade as the sun beat down upon it. Finway's red traveling shirt faced similar problems. Jamal, obviously accustomed to such difficulties that living in the desert bore, was well-prepared, wearing a brown tunic that nearly matched his skin.


The party had made it to the border of the desert by the end of the first day, but afterwards their progress had been impedingly slow. They spent one night at a local oasis, and the next at the duel arena, where they had gotten used to the site of blood on the mats they had borrowed. That past night they had been guests of the Hassan in Al Kharid, where they were treated to a feast as they were greeted as the 'redeemers' of the desert, ones sent by Saradomin himself to solve the problem of the bandits that plagued the city.


They had thought that the northern desert had been hot, but south of the Shantay pass was significantly worse. They had stacked themselves with completely filled water skins, but they had still had found the need to cut cacti open for the precious liquid held inside the thorny plant.

"Al Kharid was nothing compared to this," Finway stated, hoping to start a conversation, but the others were too hot and bogged down in sweat, and they had no interest in speaking.


Thoughts briefly drifted the young lord regarding various things, but not of his wonders were consistent. As the sun brightly sent it's raging rays upon the sandy soil, he tried to find something to think clearly of, something to truly grasp and take from, but his reflections always were coming and going. The second he solidified something to really think about, the thought went out on a tangent, serving no purpose whatsoever. Perhaps, we wondered to himself, it is the sun that is preventing me from thinking clearly.


Among his many ponderings was the thought of his future life. It seemed assumed to him that he would marry Abigail eventually, as he had courted her for several years, and all of her responses were positive. The only problem was, when? Maybe she has gotten tired of me and my lifestyle, he thought briefly. After all, Geoffrey Diminus had taken a liking to her as well. However, he too was an adventurer under the king's commission. If she had gotten tired of him, why would she have gotten tired of Finway? She seemed happy with him at the ball, the Varrockian noble rubbed his face in thought. This attracted the brief attention of Falken.


Suddenly, Finway's mind took a turn towards the later portion of that night, where he had taken her outside. Surely the occurrences that night were an expression of their love, but he never was sure. All things considered, his reminisces and accompanying thoughts were inconclusive; he was not sure on which path to take to further shape his life. All that he was certain of was that the king would be waiting upon his return to lay yet another quest upon him.


After continuing on for some time, when the setting sun was partially blinding them from the west, they spotted an encampment in the distance.

"What is that?" Finway questioned.

"Whatever it is, they better have real water, and not just this cactus filth," Falken exclaimed rudely. After a slight pause, the young lord turned to his right, towards the mage and Jamal.

"Well? Do you know what it is?" he asked.

"Yes," Jamal stated timidly, his face growing tense and he started sweating again. After another silent moment, he began again, "I think that is the bandit camp."

"You look nervous," Falken observed. "What have you got to hide?"

"I have something to tell you both,"

"Well of course you do, out with it!" the mage demanded. Finway responded to him with a glare before turning back towards Jamal.

"I am not from Al Kharid," he spoke silently, leaving the other two wide-eyed. "This is my home-I am a bandit."

"You stupid boy! You led us into a trap, you-!" Falken raised his staff and struck the boy in the jaw, causing him to spit out blood. In a flurry of anger, totally uncharacteristic of him, Jamal withdrew his curved scimitar and attempted to strike him. Afraid, the mage ushered in a wind spell, stirring the sandy ground and knocking the boy down.


Before things could get any worse, Finway withdrew his sword.

"Enough! You two, stop this!" Both of them just stared at him.

"This is not a trap," Jamal explained with his accented voice, sheathing his saber. "I truly did need the diamonds to appease my fellow bandits, and they will cease with the raids. There is only one thing I did not tell you."

Finway and Falken glanced at each other, and Finway attempted to swallow his fears away as silently as possible. "What is it?" he asked.

"These diamonds will free a certain…creature…"

"Oh, and I suppose this creature will do the bidding of the king, won't it?" Falken sarcastically remarked, his staff gripped tightly.

"No," Jamal said, misinterpreting the mage's tone. "It is not a creature…he is more of a…hero," he tried to explain.

"Finway," Falken turned to the young noble, attempting to sound as reasonable as possible, "don't trust this boy! He's lied to us so far, how do we know there isn't a trap waiting for us in that encampment?"

Finway hesitated for a moment before he opened his mouth. "Why would he lie to us this far, and just tell us the truth now?" He looked back at Jamal, who was starring directly at him with his dark, brown eyes.

"I am trying to keep you alive," Jamal's words were short and simple. Although Finway sensed the reluctance of the royal mage, he knew that the boy was truthful.

"There's no other explanation, now let's go complete this mission that the king has given us," Finway concluded, appealing to the mage's sense of loyalty. "I'm not one to go against a royal order."

"The second I sense anything strange, I'm leaving," the mage commented.

"Listen carefully," Jamal spoke silently as they began pacing towards the village once more, "remove all of your gear that bears any religious significance…my people will kill you if they find that you worship a foreign god."

Finway glanced down at himself, and, noticing his Saradomin Symbol around his neck, removed the pendent and placed it in his bag.

"Foreign?" Falken seemed alarmed. "Who do you worship here?" He placed his hand roughly on Finway's shoulder and leaned in. "If their Zamorakian," he whispered, "they'll slit our throats in our sleep!"

Simply ignoring the remark, he continued on.


Within several minutes the trio had reached the bandit camp. There were only two souls in sight: a black-cloaked man sitting in front of a tent, and a white-robed woman that exited her home, but then went back inside once she spotted them. The man continued to stare at them, his face as dark as Jamal's, but with a thick brown beard accompanying it. The wind started kicking up, and a wave of sand passed between the encampment and the travelers. Once they had entered the sandy center of the camp, they stopped. The desert bandits, men and women alike, began peering from their windows, and some even dared exit their homes to better observe these newcomers.

"Jamal," one of the men, a larger one with a dark beard, approached them. His smile was weak, but it faded altogether once he got a better look at the two accompanying the boy. "Who are they?" he asked harshly.

"They wish to…help us free Azzanadra, Uncle Elbis," the boy said, revealing four diamonds from a pouch on his belt. They were colored red, black, dark green, and a shimmering, pure white.

Finway glanced at Falken. If he said something, it could mean doom for the two of them. Fortunately, the mage kept his mouth shut.

"Alright, then they are welcome here," the man said, although his joy seemed forceful at best. "You two," he motioned towards two men standing nearby idly aware of the situation, "take their bags up to their quarters for the night." He turned back towards his nephew. "Do you need anything for the night, my boy?"

"Just a room for me and my two friends," Jamal replied. "Tomorrow we will go to free Azzanadra."

"And once that is done, Jamal, we will celebrate. Tonight you will rest, but first you must tell me of your travels."

"They are many," he commented, and Finway sensed his ease while around this man, his apparent uncle. "First, can you show us where we might stay?"

"Yes, yes, immediately," the man briskly stated, not glancing back at his nephew.


There was something dreadfully strange about this location, although neither of the two Varrockian citizens could put their fingers on it. The meeting between uncle and nephew was short, although it had probably been months, if not years, since they had seen each other. The friendliness was not genuine; instead, it was an almost eerie type of forced behavior that frightened both Finway and Falken. With these suspicions in mind, the two cautiously followed their dark skinned companion into their quarters.


Chapter Four


Finway woke up the next morning after he heard a loud pounding on his door.

"Get up, you are to leave soon!" the voice shouted bluntly. Obeying the command, the adventurer nudged his companion, Falken, awake as well.

"Couldn't sleep at all…" the mage muttered as he stretched his plump arms. "As if the heat isn't bad enough during the day, it's ice-cold all night!"

Ignoring the remark, Finway paused, glancing out of the window. It faced west, down onto the village, so as he looked through it he saw Jamal exiting a tent, presumably where he had stayed the night at. Quickly getting himself dressed, Finway left the room and headed down the crude wooden ladder, closely followed by the mage. Once the two had arrived in the main room of the adobe home, Jamal entered through the red curtain that served a doorway.

"Are you ready?" he asked them.

"Yes," Finway stated, and the mage nodded grudgingly. With that, the trio exited the household and stepped into the sandy center of the bandit village. The place seemed empty, as it had the previous day, but there was something unusual about it, something that made the place seem deserted entirely, although they knew that that wasn't the case. Even Jamal appeared to have a worried look on his face.

"Is something wrong?" Falken asked, surprisingly calm.

"No," Jamal forcefully stated. "I hope not."

Changing the subject, Finway cleared his throat. "Which way are we going?"

"Over there, just beyond the cliffs," Jamal pointed towards the ridges south-east of the encampment. It appeared to be several miles away, but they still seemed impressive. "There is a small pathway that will shorten the journey, just follow me."

After continuing on for several long minutes, the cliffs not seeming to get any closer, Falken spoke, wiping the sweat from his thick brow.

"Where exactly are we going?" he rudely commented. Finway felt strangely at ease seeing the mage return to his normal self, as he felt that the strange uneasiness that had previously descended upon them had been lifted.

"There is a pyramid, that's what we are looking for," replied Jamal calmly.

"Pyramid?" Falken scoffed, glancing towards Finway. "What is that?"

"What does it look like?" The young adventurer clarified.

"Like a pointed shrine, made of stone," Jamal attempted to explain. His efforts were in vain, for when he looked back at the two they seemed just as confused as before. "You will see."

Although Falken sneered, Finway accepted the answer, not wishing to embarrass Jamal further.


By noon, they had almost reached the top of the ridge. The pathway that they followed Jamal on was much less steep than the actual cliffs, but it still was quite a climb for the three.

"I'm out of water," Falken remarked. Finway absent-mindedly tossed him his own water skin.

"Don't worry, we are close," Jamal consoled the two as they all stopped to take a small break.

Resting on a large boulder, Finway noticed a small pointed object peaking just above the rocks. "I think I see it."

"Do you see a point?" Jamal asked, a slight grin on his face. The adventurer nodded in reply.

"Let's go!" Finway shouted enthusiastically.

"Give me a moment's rest, for Saradomin's sake!" Falken cried, although he, too, felt a certain degree of exultation that they would soon reach their destination.

Finway and Jamal half jogged, half ran towards the top, the mage close behind. However, once the former two saw the downward slant towards the pyramid, their delight immediately ceased.


It was not the pinnacled shrine that ended their joy, but the men that stood near the base of it. There must have been forty, all clothed in bright white robes, clubs and scimitars in their hands.

"What are they doing here?" Falken asked, confused. His bewilderment was shared by Finway, who also turned towards Jamal. The bandit boy turned back at them, a frozen masque of terror upon his visage. Amongst the bandits was Jamal's very uncle. His own countenance had a look of disgust and hatred on it.


"What is it, Uncle Elbis?" Jamal inquired, worried. Elbis had crossed his arms.

"You said that they were going to help free Azzanadra," Jamal's uncle raised his head with repulsion.

"They are, uncle, what is the problem?"

"This," unfolding his arm, he let the shiny symbol of Saradomin slip from his wrist. The white, four pointed cross struck the dust. The trio stared with awe and confusion at the religious emblem.

"How did you-" Finway's brow furrowed.

"We searched your bags, and found it in his," he pointed at the Varrockian adventurer.

Jamal turned towards his party, then back towards his uncle once more. "Uncle, you must stand back, you've witnessed my magical power." The statement surprised them all: Jamal did not appear to be a wizard of any sorts.

"True, I sent you to the academy in Al Kharid," he retorted, "and you were very well trained. But I understand where your power comes from. That is why I broke your wand."

Neither Finway nor Falken had seen the object before, so their curiosity came before their concern. However, if Jamal's anxiety was noticeable before, it multiplied tenfold. "My wand?"

"Broken," reiterated Elbis. "You're magical potency does not exist without it."

"Uncle, I can…I can explain-"

"-there is nothing to be explained, Jamal!" Elbis declared boldly, his volume and anger rising. "No man who worships foreign gods can leave our encampment, this is one of our most sacred laws! For this you three will die."

Dozens of bandits began approaching them.

"Why did you not kill us down there in the camp, then?" Falken spoke up, his last act of defiance. "Why did you make us crawl up these cliffs, and then ambush us?"

"If we struck down there, you would have been well rested and would be able to make an escape. Because we rose early this day to get up here, we have had time to recuperate our strength while you are weak."

"But you outnumber us!" Finway declared, upset. "Why would that matter?"

"We know that you are no ordinary travelers. I myself trained one of you," Elbis glanced at Jamal, then towards Falken, "and we know that you are a mage, as well."

A bright look in his eye, Finway quickly turned towards his stout companion. "Conjure up a spell, get us out of here!"

"He's right," the wizard responded solemnly. "I'm too weak right now to cast any powerful spells."

"I thought you could do without rest! You're a mage, you have runes!"

"It does, but runes without rest mean nothing!"


The bandits began encircling the adventurers, who tried to back out, but found that they could not. Several archers appeared in their midst.

"Good-bye, Jamal," Elbis sighed, and he, too, withdrew his weapon: a shining, brilliant scimitar. A tear running down his cheek, Jamal removed his own curved blade. The two weapons clashed in the air, and soon several men were upon Falken and Finway, hostile to the fullest. The mage attempted to cast a fire spell but he was quickly struck down; as he had stated before, he was too tired for his magic to be effective.


Finway's shining blade, Silverlight, was unsheathed as it's blade crashed upon the bandits' weaponry. The metal clanged as it met and screeched as they slid apart for a split second before the next blow was delivered. Noticing that he was surrounded, the adventurer swung the blade beneath his hands to deliver an uppercut with such force that his aggressor fell to the ground, his club shattered.

Turning back to his original foe, Finway quickly turned the point of the blade one hundred-eighty degrees and thrust it at the bandit. The man parried the blow and drove it to Finway's left, so the adventurer used the force already driving the blade the chop it into the sides of the bandits further encompassing him. With the second he gained from his swift action, he glanced around at his comrades.

Falken had seemed to be doing well defending the bandits, but the archers had finally found a clear shot: two arrows pierced the mage's robes, spilling his crimson life onto the earth. Jamal seemed to be fighting gallantly, but finally one of his attacker's clubbed the back of his head, effectively knocking him to the earth where they proceeded to cease his being.

Finally, all eyes were on Finway; his momentary rest was over as he prepared to meet his fate. He drew Silverlight back as he grasped it tightly, ready to strike down the next aggressor the made eye contact. His senses became heightened, yet all still appeared to be a blur as his eyesight rushed around at the bandits, examining their now blood-stained robes, their roughened hair, their wide eyes, their sweaty brows. His head rose as he took a step forward, ready to fight to the death.


Unexpectedly, all eyes turned towards the south-east, from where a camel-backed rider appeared. Finway glanced over, but it was his mistake: two clubbed men instant fell upon him. Unable to hold them back, Finway instantly fell to the ground. Felt one of the men club his abdomen, knocking the air from his diaphragm.


Suddenly, the adventurer sensed a strong heat pass of his neck, and then he saw that one of the bandits' robes had strangely caught fire. The earth proceeded to shake. From the earth just inches below his weary head he saw the scene unfold through his blurry eyes.

The men were in an uproar, and it seemed as if all the attention had been temporarily taken off of Finway as they attempted to slay the camel riding sorcerer. Their attempts were no avail, as he continued to conjure up the magic necessary to defeat them all. It seemed like only a moment before the bandits' threat to Finway's life had ended: they were either dead or had disappeared into the desert sands as they fled from the magician's wrath.


Turning upside right, the blazing sun blinded him. The adventurer then unexpectedly felt a searing pain in his eye as the gateway to his soul became blinded by a stinging sensation. He cried out in pain, not understanding what had caused half his vision to disappear. He heard the camel rider walking nearby, and a cold sweat came over him. He attempted to calm himself down, and for a moment he believed he was successful. He got on his hands and knees, his right hand over it's respective eye, and then he tried to stand up.

His endeavor failed, his body weak and his mind in disarray, and the ground rose up to meet him. His last memory before slipping into blackness was that of a camel groaning, and the voice of an old man, gently saying, "easy there," as he laid a hand on Finway's shoulder.


Chapter Five


Finway's eyes opened up, an isolated stinging sensation in his right eye. Within a moment, the adventurer recalled the events that had happened to him. Sitting up, realizing that he was in a clean, white bed. He leapt out of it, only to be knocked down by a crashing wave of vertigo. He stuck his hands out, managing to half-catch himself from striking the wooden floor beneath his feet.


Tiny bright lights dominated his vision, at first blindfolds, then a dim light could be seen in the center of his vision. Soon, the dots became but glasses, a lens by which to see the world. Another moment passed before his sight returned to normal, and he succeeded in pulling himself back up into the bed. When he did so, he succumbed to exhaustion, and once more laid down upon the bed.


Suddenly, he heard a noise, causing him to sit up. Before a moment had passed, an orange robed man with short, silver hair walked into the room, a tray in hand. Finway glanced around in search of his sword, but he saw it nowhere.

"Who are you?" he asked, in a half-harsh, half-curious voice.

"Saraboam," the robed figure replied nonchalantly, not glancing at the adventurer. He approached a small table near the bed and set the tray down, revealing a strange cup filled with a dark brown liquid and a wooden plate with a large biscuit. "I'm sorry this isn't much of a meal, but your stomach injury will prevent you from eating certain foods for the next few days."

"You didn't answer my question," Finway stated, his eyebrows nearly touching in confusion. Saraboam turned towards him with a perplexed a countenance. "I mean," he tried to explain, "I know your name now, Saraboam-?" he reassured he knew the name, and the man nodded, thick white eyebrows furrowed and wrinkles upon his face. "What I meant was, what happened? The last I remember, I was lying half dead in the sand, and then someone came, and-"

"I came," Saraboam interrupted.

"What happened to my eye?" Finway asked, not pausing between questions.

"That, I'm afraid," the mage sighed, "was my own fault. After I came to your aid, my camel mistakenly took you for an adversary, and he accordingly spat at you."

"Spat?" Finway inquired.

"Yes," was his simple response. "The Ugthanki camel has poisonous spit, and it's venom got in your eye. It's all red and swollen, now, and I'm not sure how long that will last."

"Alright." There was a pause in the conversation. Suddenly, he remembered his weapon's absence. "What did you do with my sword?"

"It was severely damaged, I'm afraid," commented the mage. "One of the bandits broke it, and I saw it's shards lying near you. I saw no use in bringing the remains of it back."


Once more, an almost awkward silence entered the conversation, but neither really noticed. Finway in particular was unaffected, still in shock over the events that had occured; nothing, in all of his previous experiences, had ever ammounted to this.

"You used…" Finway hesitated, "…magic, correct? Those were actual spells you were casting, weren't they?"

"You shouldn't be too surprised," he said in reply. "You're friend, the pompous one, was a magician as well."

"I'm aware of that, but he didn't even attempt to use his powers."

"Use his powers?" scoffed the mage. "Of course he wouldn't. Most wizards rely solely on their physical capacity for their magic, in addition to the runes. With such state of affairs, one shouldn't even try to cast a spell while exhausted; they'll simply kill themselves trying."

The young man nodded, comprehending his late companion's lack of prowess. "How long was I asleep for?"

"You were unconscious-in a coma I believe-for three days, if my memory serves me correctly. Your rushing heart beat was the only reason I knew you were alive."

Finway stared, wide-eyed in disbelief. Had it really been that long?

"Now, who are you?" the mage said abruptly. For the first time, Finway noticed that there was no smile, not hint of hospitality on his face. It almost distracted him entirely from replying.

"Oh, forgive me, I am Lord Finway Minarch of Varrock," the lord responded, attempting to sound as professional as possible.

"A lord, eh?" Saraboam raised an eyebrow. "Such fancy titles mean nothing here, I'm afraid, at least not until we get back through the Shantay Pass."

"Where are we now?" Finway questioned.

"We are in my home, in Pollniveach, several miles east of your last…excursion."

"You mean the ambush?"

"What it was, I'm not sure," the mage said, "all I know is that I arrived just in time to save you."

"Why?" their eyes met.

"Why did I save you? Because I witnessed the whole thing, and I know of the bandit's brutality. I have something of a quarrel with them myself."

Shocked, Finway pushed him further, ignoring the second statement of his savior. "You saw us being attacked?"

"Yes, I saw you."

"But, from where?"

"If you really must know," Saraboam sighed, "I was praying at the shrine I built on the mount just east of the pyramid. It was an odd coincidence, as I only travel there once every month. When I saw the bandits gather there, I knew something suspicious was going on, and so I took a path down towards them. It looks like my suspicions paid off, so to speak."

"I have so many questions, so many uncertainties…why has this happened to me?"

"Fate is not written, you chose it yourself." Saraboam spoke strongly, seemingly passionate about his beliefs.

"Either way," Finway took a deep breath, "I'm confused. The bandits attacked us because they found my Symbol of Saradomin. Why would they do this?"

"Perhaps they do not take kindly to foreign religions," outwardly out of place, Saraboam made a gesture to the tray, and Finway took a bite of the biscuit before tasting the drink. "It's not secret that you northerners persecute the Zamorakians, and they are, in fact, as native to the land as you Saradominists."

"True," he replied, "but their ideals are distorted, any one can see that. Society must have order, chaos leads to lawlessness and immorality."

"Does it?" the magician asked. It then appeared as if he realized his idle standing, and he began walking towards the door. "One moment, please."


He exited the room, but within a few minutes he entered through the doorway once more. This time, he bore a chair in one hand and a crumpled heap of notes in the other.

"To answer your question," Finway stated, "Chaos is a pathway leading from stability to discord and thus destruction. Without proper laws and structure in a society, it will crumble upon itself, a mess of immorality and injustice."

"Do not immorality and injustice exist today in your society?"

"Yes, they do, but not on the same scale as what the Zamorakians would have."

"I disagree," Saraboam refuted. "I believe that a society based on either order or chaos will only function as long as each and every one of it's members agree with that ideal. It's the same for everything."

"Well, which would you have," the adventurer inquired, "order or chaos?"

"Preferably neither, but to each man his own," For the first time, Finway saw Saraboam smile, a conclusive tone in his voice.

"What's that?" Finway asked, pointing to the papers loosely held together by a small leather knot.

"I was hoping you could tell me," Saraboam's grin faded and he stared intently at the crumpled heap in his hands. "I found them in your friend's bag when he died, and their contents are quite shocking."

"Jamal's bag? He was the one who was darker, a native to these lands."

"Yes, that was the one," Saraboam nodded, "Jamal, you say? Yes, it appears as if he has had quite the exploits in this world of ours."

"What do you mean?" Finway asked, confused. In his short travels with Jamal, he had never really learned of the boy's background or past. "I know he was a mage, but I did not learn that until it was revealed during the ambush."

"He was a very powerful mage, trained at the same academy that I myself attended. Of course, I saw his broken wand after I rescued you, but anyway" he continued, "tell me, are you familiar with the Mahjarrat?"

"The Mahjarrat?" he asked. "Yes, the demons of old. They are all dead, an extinct race they, are they not?"

"No, I'm afraid you're quite mistaken." Saraboam solemnly shook his head. "They are alive, and according to your friend, Jamal's, entries in these notes, their actions still greatly affect our realm."

"Who are they? I've never seen nor heard of a living Mahjarrat; where I come from, Misthalin, they are only the talk of tales and myths."

The aged mage thought for a moment. "Tell me, have you ever heard of Zemouregal?"

"Yes, I have," Finway's attention changed dramatically as he recognized the name, "the Scourge of Avarrocka, a Zamorakian chieftain from the Fourth Age." His eyes widened. "He was a Mahjarrat?"

"Indeed, and a powerful one, too. In fact, he is still alive today."

"So they are immortal?"

"The Mahjarrat?" Saraboam recollected. "No, they are incredibly powerful, but the eternal chains of death bind their race as well us ours, thus preventing them from immortality and the divinity of gods. However, this should not detract from their strength: the weakest of their number could obliterate a hundred human armies."

"How many of them are alive?"

"At least a dozen, if Jamal's notes are correct. Do the names Hazeel, Khazard, and Lucien sound familiar to you at all?"

"I know that Hazeel was a warlord in Kandarin, and Khazard was one of his successors," Finway replied honestly.

"Calling them warlords is an understatement. They, too, are Mahjarrat, and it appears as though King Lathas of Kandarin has taken a blind eye to their undertakings."

"But Hazeel has been dead for a hundred years!"

"Dead? No, it takes much more effort than an assassination to kill a Mahjarrat. His physical form had been put to rest, but his spirit had not been sent to the void. It appears that, once more according to Jamal, that he has been brought back into this world by his cult of followers. Khazard, although a powerful general on the outside, is young by Mahjarrat standards; he is but a pupil under Hazeel's tutelage."

There was a moment of silence, Finway attempting to soak in all the knowledge that had just been shared. Finally, he spoke up. "Who was that last name you mentioned?"

"The last name was Lucien, and it appears as though he is the one we must fear the most."

"Why is that?"

"Jamal states in his notes that he has obtained an object of incredible potency: the Stone of Jas. Such a powerful artifact is no mere talisman, for it has the capacity to throw a mere mortal to divinity."

Finway's eyes widened in disbelief. "How?"

"First," Saraboam began, "one must obtain the stone itself. According to these papers, it was protected in Guthix's temple by disciples of Guthix, Saradomin, and Armadyl alike. Its power is extreme, granting great strength and temporary immortality to any who come near it, and because of that, the three gods' followers all thought it best to keep any from obtaining it. It appears as though their efforts were fruitless, as Lucien has taken the stone for himself."

"How is this possible?" Finway asked direly. "Wouldn't the stone be aptly defended?"

"It's hard for a band of humans to fend off Mahjarrat and other demons, so their greatest advantage, I have no doubt, was the secrecy of the location."

"Where was it hidden?"

"That, my friend," Saraboam replied, "I do not know. Jamal's notes do not tell."

"Well, if his power is only temporary, why should we worry about it?"

"Because, once more according to the notes, Lucien ahs obtained a way of storing the power: the staff of Armadyl, a very powerful object from the second age."

"I've heard of him-Armadyl. He was a god, wasn't he?"

"Was a god? He still is one, it's just that his following has fallen after being decimated by the Godwars."

There was another pause, and Finway glanced away, once more attempting to fathom all that had been said. "Who are the other Mahjarrat that are still alive?"

The wizard took a deep breath. "You know that pyramid, the temple, you were near when you were attacked?"

Finway nodded, still wide-eyed. "Yes."

"That was the dwelling place of Azzanadra, the most powerful Mahjarrat ever to have lived."

If Finway was surprised at the knowledge he had learned just previously, his shock expanded to a much more intimate relation with him. He opened his mouth, yet no words came out. "We-we…we almost freed him!"

"Why so surprised?"

Once more, the adventurer's eyebrows nearly touched. "Why shouldn't I be surprised? It's a miracle that the bandits attacked us when they did!"

"Don't say such things," Saraboam cut in sharply. "Not all of the Mahjarrat are as evil and destructive as you would like to believe."

"They must be! How else-why else would they constantly attack and pester mankind?" Finway stood up, his temper rising.

"Do humans not do the same amongst themselves?"

"Yes, but not one the same scale!"

Saraboam grimaced, and there was momentary silence. "If humans had the powers of the Mahjarrat, would they not commit similar atrocities?"

Finway sat down, his head hung downwards in shame. "I suppose they would." He forced himself to gaze once more at his robed rescuer. "What other Mahjarrat must we be concerned with."

"Jhallan, a coward who dwells in the north, had an encounter with Jamal, and-"

"Wait, an 'encounter'?" Finway once more interjected. "That's impossible! How did Jamal survive?"

"As I said before," Saraboam stated, increasingly frustrated, "not all Mahjarrat are as evil as you believe them to be."

"But are they necessarily friendly?"

"They can be."

"This is incredible. It's just that," he began, "the perception in my land is that they are vile, horrid creatures that delight in human suffering."

"I'm sure some are," he expressed, "however, certainly not all of them."


Finway was completely taken back; Jamal was magically gifted and had known so much, but he had shared so little in the week that they had traveled together. What an adventure his life must have been, thought the adventurous lord. After a brief moment, he opened his mouth once more. "How do we know which Mahjarrat are good and which ones aren't?"

"It depends on a variety of factors."

"Such as?" Finway pressed.

"Religion, race, social values and such."

Once more, a silent pause came over the two. "So they are not united?"

"United, as in…?" the mage questioned further.

"What I mean to say is, do they all share in similar beliefs?"

"No, not at all. In fact, there is a huge division since the fall of Zaros."

"Zaros? The ancient god?" The adventurer had heard of the god in his various quests, but very few people knew much about him. In fact, knowledge of him was seemingly suppressed.

"Yes," Saraboam smiled once more, perhaps at Finway's lack of familiarity with such names. "The ancient god."

"Did he not die during the Godwars?"

"He died before the Godwars, on the eve of their awakening and destruction."

"If he died, why do they worship him still?"

"When a god 'dies,' he is simply banished from the realm. There is always a possibility that they can be brought back from another dimension."

"What will that take?"

"Much power, which I'm sure they don't possess at the moment."

"So what created this division after Zaros' fall?"

"Well," Saraboam stated, "they were all followers of Zaros until he was overthrown."

"By Zamorak, wasn't it?"

"Yes, that is how the story goes. But did you know that he, too, was a Mahjarrat?"

Finway's head shook. "No, I did not know that."

"Yes, and many, probably most, of the Mahjarrat chose to follow him instead of remaining loyal to Zaros, the old god, and thus the conflict started: Zamorakian traitors versus the Zarosian loyalists."

"You speak bitterly of Zamorak," Finway observed.

"Yes," for the second time, Saraboam smiled. "That is because I am a Zarosian."


The young lord was surprised, but he did not let it show. "I am a Saradominist."

"Obvious from the symbol you had, the symbol that the bandits found and tried to kill you for."

"Yes, yes," he opened his mouth to speak, "but tell me, why have you aided me so much if we do not have the same interests?"

"We do." His savior's reply was short and simple.

"I don't understand."

Saraboam leaned in. "You and I both have one thing in common: opposition to Zamorak."

"I've never really been passionate in my beliefs, I must confess to you, but-"

"Then why have them?"

"Why have what? Beliefs?" The mage nodded in response to Finway's question. "Well, I don't know, I've just always had them."

"They are not really beliefs if you do not truly believe in them, wouldn't you say?"

Perplexed, Finway nodded. "I suppose you're right."

"Anyways," the mage said, "will you at least accompany me to the pyramid of Azzanadra?"

"To free him, as was Jamal's goal?"

"Yes, that would be the reason."

He gulped. "Is he a…friendly Mahjarrat?"

"To those who do not act impulsive and foolish, I'm sure he will be."

"I do not wish to go," Finway admitted, "but I know that I owe you for saving my life. Yes, I will go with you to the pyramid."

"Alright, then get some rest. We won't leave tomorrow, but within the next few days we shall certainly depart."


Chapter Six


Several days after initially coming around, Finway woke up, at first perplexed by his humble environment. However, it all flooded back to him in a moment as his memories returned. Everything seemed so much more tangible and genuine then before the ambush. As he looked back, everything-from his childhood to his last dance with Abigail-seemed so ethereal. Abigail, thought Finway, as he wondered how she was. He had scarcely thought of her since his departure from Varrock. He had thought that the journey would only last around two weeks, and he had been absent for nearly that length of time already.


The more he thought about it, the more Finway realized that he had taken his relationship with her for granted. She longed to settle down, and he would be lying if he had said that wasn't his desire, but there was something about adventure he couldn't give up, some part of his commissions that he needed to keep. All of his other undertakings for the king had turned out to be trivial, and any successes he had were based off of either luck or were because of his strong assistance during his exploits.


On the way south, towards the Al Kharid and, later, the bandit camp, he never would have thought about anything so in depth. The journey from Varrock had seemed so brief when he thought of it, and it lacked depth: he had not taken the time to properly plot out his life, only thought about it briefly.


What Finway truly wished for was one last quest, a magnum opus that he would remember forever. Once that could be achieved, his desire would be fulfilled and he would be able to settle down with his lover, his Abigail. He had never thought this much about his life before, and he had simply let his earthly time pass by. Regret filled Finway's mind, regret that he had not entertained such notions earlier, and regret that he had entered a cycle of questing for the king that would be quite difficult to break.


"Good morning," the mage greeted Finway as he entered the door, abruptly ending the adventurer's train of thought.

"Good morning," he replied.

"How did you sleep?"

"Well, I suppose." The mage carefully set the tray of food down. Today, however, was different: instead of simple biscuits and tea, there was a steaming, spicy kebab on the platter.

"I figured that your stomach should have healed by now, but how is your eye?"

"It stills stings quite a bit," Finway admitted. Saraboam stared at it for a brief moment.

"The swelling appears to have gone down quite substantially, but it's still very, very bright red. The acid saliva must have leached under your skin."

"Do you have any idea how long it will take to heal?" he asked. "I mean, from experience or anything?"

The wizard simply laughed. "I've never treated one of my camel's victims before, I'm afraid."

Finway, too, grinned, appreciating the mage's sense of humor.

"Tell me, what is your life in Varrock like?" Saraboam questioned quite unexpectedly.

"Well, it's quite…" Finway searched for the right description in his mind, thinking critically, "…restless. As a young noble, I'm expected to perform many tasks and commissions for the king and his court, and it is very difficult to refuse-"

"Have you ever tried?" Saraboam interrupted.

"Well, no, but it just seems like it would be problematic," the adventurer explained, and the mage nodded, apparently understanding. "Anyway, I own a large home in the southwestern corner of the city, so when I stay in it-which is only about every other month or so-it's quite comfortable. Have you ever been to Varrock?"

The magician nodded. "Yes, several times, actually. I was partially schooled in magic there when I was a youth. Now tell me, what do you do to afford such a living? Do the king's commissions pay well?"

"No, although they do sometimes have rewards," Finway took a deep breath. "My father, before he passed into the void, was very concerned with my mother's and my own well being. He owned much river-side farmland south of the city, and he had also invested in a large lumber mill in the north-west woods. He rented the land out to farmers, and was quite successful because of the River Lum's fertility, and the investments in the mill have multiplied tenfold."

"Interesting, interesting…" the mage nodded. "Do all noble families send their young men to the king for such perilous quests?"

"Many do, but not all," the adventurer explained. "Some of the families allow their children to grow fat and pompous, and they receive jobs in the bank, or else managerial duties in one of the many businesses. Because I was orphaned at a young age, I had not the knowledge of my family's connections, so I trained most of the my life and was privately educated to become a seemingly perfect adventurer."

"And are you?"

The question came as a blow to Finway's own self-esteem, an inquiry that he himself had never made before. "I'm not perfect by any means, but I suppose that I am a good adventurer."

"One of the best?"

He thought for a moment, starring at the mage's olive eyes. He considered the others like him in the palace court, such as Geoffrey Diminus, and how King Roald himself always seemed to favor him over them.

"Yes, I suppose I am."

"Anyway," Saraboam said, changing the subject, "I think that leaving today would be the best option."

"Alright," Finway replied. "How soon should we leave?"

"As soon as we can," the magician stated, and the adventurer believed it; his attitude did not make for dawdling.

"I can leave right now."

"All the better," the wizard smiled, "I've been packed since earlier this morning. Gather your belongings and we'll leave for the pyramid."

"Will we be returning?"

"No, I don't believe so."

"So then let us depart."


The two soon left the mage's home, and for the first time Finway saw what the town of Pollniveach actually looked like. Each house looked similar, with white adobe walls, sometimes a wooden fence for those who owned camels, and curtains that stood in each entryway and window. The humble village was surprisingly filled with people; a dark-skinned child played with a toy horse outside one home, while a man desperately tried to calm his camel outside of another. Towards the center of the town were a collection of buildings that formed a square around a marketplace, where a few souls traded goods. Overall, the place looked as peaceful and ethereal as any location could get.


"It's so…otherworldly…" Finway remarked. Saraboam grinned at him.

"It is, the two gangs haven't been causing much trouble lately."

"Gangs? You mean, gangs of thieves and murderers?"

"Yes, I do means gangs of such people," the mage clarified. "There are only two of them in Pollniveach, but they are relatively weak. They hold influence in the town, yes, but they rarely enact it."

"We have two major gangs in Varrock," Finway replied.

"Really? I remember one of them…the Phoenix Gang, I believe. Is that still in existence?"

"Yes, but it split," explained the adventurer. "There is now another, called the Black Arm Gang."

"Is that so?" Saraboam seemed strangely interested. Finway turned toward him, but then glanced forward, at the vast landscape opening in front of his eyes. "What prompted them to divide themselves?"

"They had stolen an invaluable object from the Varrock museum, the Shield of Arrav. Afterwards, they had a disagreement regarding what to do with it, so they split up. In one of their battles, the shield itself was broken, and each gang received one half."

"What a pity that such a treasured object would be demeaned by such thugs and thieves," Saraboam remarked.

With pride, Finway spoke, "I agree. In fact, the king commissioned me to bring back both halves, and I managed to do so."

"Is that so?" the mage seemed pleasantly surprised. "How did you do it?"

"First, I befriended a wary Black Arm Gang member, one who longed to leave the gang safely. I promised him Royal protection, and he managed to obtain half of the shield. Then, I myself joined the Phoenix Gang. I had to sneak into one of their back rooms in their hideout, and then stole the shield from a chest."

"I expect the king handsomely rewarded the two of you?"

"Me, yes," Finway hesitated, "the gang member whom I had befriend was not."

"What happened to him?" the two turned towards each other again, their eyes meeting. Finway's eyes filled with some sort of anguish. He gulped.

"He was taken by the guards sent to protect him, where he was tried for several murders. He was found guilty, and was hung the next day." Remorse filled the young lord's voice.

After a while, Saraboam spoke. "Reasons such as those are why I disagree with traditional forms of law."

"What do you mean?"

"By the regret in your voice, you must disagree with the fact that your friend, the gang member, was executed unjustly, correct?"

"Yes," he responded, "yes, I do."

"I agree. I believe that a person's past is irrelevant, with the exception of abuses of trust."

"So murderers are to be forgiven their crimes?"

"If they are truly repentant, then yes."

"But how does one know if they really are?"

"The conscience-stricken, if they regret their action, will do something of their own free will to make up for it."

"But what if one continues to commit such crimes?"

"Then they will be hunted down and found. If one expresses no remorse for their offense up to the moment they are killed, they are to be killed."

"But, but…any criminal would say that they are regretful, simply to get out of punishment!" Finway protested. "And to add to that, who would decide what is true regret, and what is not?"

"There are ways to tell; special techniques can be applied, each unique to each case."

"Who would be responsible for this?"

"The community, or more specifically, those with the power to do so."

"I'm afraid I do not follow. Are you saying that the rights of justice belong with the powerful?"

"Yes, allow me to provide an example," Saraboam began. "Imagine a man commits an offence that is punishable by death. One designated with power will pursue him, and once the man is within death's grasp, a test will be administered to determine if the man is truly repentant or not."

"What is this test?"

"It is different for each case. Let us say that the man killed his father. Once he is caught by the one designated to bring justice, the tribune will proceed to create a momentary illusion of the man's father. In that moment, the man's reaction will either display amazement at his father being alive, or fear at what the consequences might be for he himself. Based upon his performance, the judge will either slay the man or pardon him of his crime. This gives the man a chance for atonement."

"But what if the tribune, as you call the judge, is biased?" an objective Finway questioned.

"Then he will answer to another, higher official," replied the magician.

"That would require a supremely just being, one who knows the ways of fairness and balance perfectly!"

"Balance, no. The characteristic of reasonability is what I would consider fitting for such a being, one who is intelligent in restorative justice, instead of discipline."

"In my opinion," started the adventurer, "your system is open for corruption."

"Pure justice is not moral in any way, and that is why the system that the people of Varrock use is fundamentally amiss. The gang member you befriended is an example of this; his good deed, returning the shield, certainly reflected his current view of the world and principles. A man's past does not exhibit his present state."

Finway opened his mouth to argue, but he could not think of anything to say. At the same time, the two turned their heads back towards the empty terrain ahead of them. "But a supremely reasonable and restorative being does not exist in the world," he finally managed to say. Saraboam glanced back at the adventurer.


Their path was exceedingly dismal. They had since passed out of Pollniveach's boundaries, and the sandy land in front of them was but a bright blur under the hot sun. A few miles to the north was a string of cliffs and mounts, each of them hundreds of feet tall, but much farther to the south were the slopes of mountains that stretched up and peaked their heads into the sky, gaining eternal, undaunted sight at the valley the formed.


Such monuments of nature were nothing new to Finway, but there was something strange about it all: this mountain range, unlike the others he had seen, bore no snow at the tops; their peaks were forged entirely of rock. At first, he considered it to simply be the warm climate that did not allow snow or ice to exist. However, the difference created a strange aura about the mountains, a mythical feeling that caused him to stare at it. Their dark walls steeply contrasted the ground below them in a manner than seemed supernatural, almost paranormal. He decided not to dwell on it, however, and he simply trudged along beside the mage who had saved his life.


They went on for a wile without speaking, perhaps because of their recent disagreement, perhaps because of their exhaustion under the desert heat. There was no denying that Saraboam was more fit for such a climate, as he was simply breathing heavily while Finway was practically panting. Thoughts of Abigail entered the young lord's mind once again.


There is so much that we could have, he thought to himself. When he returned to Varrock, he would have to ask the king for no more commissions and quests. Determination set in his mind. His days of adventure were over, and no matter how much he longed for one last, grand quest, he could not risk losing Abigail, whether she would become disillusioned with him, or whether he would die before having a chance to marry her.


When he was done questing once and for all, the two would probably settle down. My home is not big enough for a wealthy family, Finway supposed, so he wondered how he would obtain a larger, superior home. He could sell his father's investments, either those of the fertile farmland near the Lum River, or else the lumber mill northeast of Varrock. With that money, he would construct a grand mansion for himself and Abigail to live in and raise their children. The estate would have a fancy garden, similar to the Vanthin's own allotment, along with water fountains and sculptures from the finest craftsmen in the land.


As Finway glanced up, he noticed that they had just passed the final, tallest of the northern hills. It was a large mount that bore a rounded edge. It seemed unlike either a hill or a mountain; its shape was truly unique.

"Do you see the flat peak there?" Saraboam asked, ending his train of thought. Finway nodded.

"Yes, what of it?"

"That is where I made a shrine to the Empty Lord, Zaros. It is from there that I saw the bandits amassing, and from there I witnessed your ambush."

There was a moment of silence before the young nobleman spoke again. "How far is it until the pyramid?"

"Not far at all," the mage spoke. "In fact, we're practically there. We should see the tip very soon."

Indeed, Saraboam was correct. Within a few minutes, the simmering tip of the massive temple peaked about the crescent dunes of the desert. A surprisingly cool wind blew the sand, thickening the air with the tan colored dust so familiar to the area.

"Is that it, up ahead?" Finway asked.

"Yes," was the mage's simple response.

"How will we get in?" the adventurer asked. He had never thought about it before, but it seemed almost impenetrable from the outside. Maybe we won't find a way, he thought, so I won't have to face this demon, after all.

"There is an entrance. In fact, there are two," he replied. "The first is at the top, and judging by the construction of pyramids, that way will take one through a long, dark tunnel filled with all sorts of atrocities and horrors."

"What do you mean, monstrosities and horrors?" Finway immediately thought of his own adventurers, specifically the menacing sewers of Varrock, and the horrific zombies, rodents, and other creatures that dwelled within it's tunnels. Is this pyramid, he thought, similar to the sewers?

"Most pyramids are protected by enchantments and curses…mummified corpses are in place to attack and kill whoever's enters, for example. Also, there is no doubt that the dark god Scabaras has placed his dark minions. He always was a strange one, that god, who both distrusted the desert pantheon and hated Zaros."

"Scabaras? Was he not one of the desert pantheon?"

Saraboam smiled, a seemingly rare occasion. "You know much for a northerner. Yes, he was one of them, but he was not truly of them. He preferred isolation to all else, and that is why, up until he was banished, it was not discouraged for intellectuals to worship him, if it would help them in their studies."

"What happened?"

"He was banished, but we'll speak of that later. Here we are, the pyramid of Azzanadra!"


As he spoke, the sand cleared from the air as the shining, bright-stoned walls of the great shrine came into view. It was extraordinarily tall, well over a hundred feet into the air, and had four obelisks surrounding it. The pyramid had three different levels, each with a curve, that formed steps up to the peak at the very top.

"Wait, Jamal had said something about diamonds needed to free him." Finway halted in his tracks. Saraboam only nodded.

"Yes, it's a good thing that I found this pouch after I had driven the bandits off. I had not realized that they were inside until I had returned here to my home."

After the mention of the bandits, the two both glanced at the side of the pyramid that the ambush had occurred at. There were no bodies there, only sand, one of the few constants of the desert.

"So you have all four diamonds?"

"Indeed I do. Now, there was something I forgot to mention…"

"The second entrance?"

"Yes, that would be rather important. All pyramids have a secret entrance in them, usually towards the back. First, however, we must place these diamonds in their correct locations."

Finway opened his mouth to speak, "And where do they belong?"

"Each obelisk bears a resemblance to one of the diamonds. You see this one here-" the mage approached the nearest tower, "-bears a symbol of a drop of blood." There was a square inscription, depicting a single drop. It was truly simplistic, but easily decipherable. "If the legends hold any truth, this red diamond belongs in this space here."

He slowly placed the crimson gem into a slot at the heart of the obelisk. Immediately, the entire structure began to glow, reflecting it's scarlet nature onto the sides of the pyramid.


"Here, follow me." Finway, not saying a word, intently remained close the mage, who walked at a swift place towards the next obelisk. There was a similar inscription of a snowflake. Saraboam took the white diamond and placed it in the spot similar to the blood diamond's. Immediately, the obelisk began to illuminate, very similar the way the blood obelisk had. They continued in circumference of the pyramid, placing a dark green gem representing poison in one, and a black diamond of shadow in another. The poison and shadow were darker in color, so they did not glow; instead, a dark hue was given out from both of their obelisks. When their task was finished, Saraboam motioned for Finway to follow him. They proceeded to circle the pyramid as the returned to the back side of the massive structure.

"There should be a secret entrance here somewhere…" the mage said. Once more, Finway did not reply. He was half astonished that the mage's plan was working, and half in shock that he was helping to free a demon.

"Is this it?" the adventurer asked, touching an almost unnoticeable square block that lacked proper mortar around it.

"Yes, that is it!" Saraboam exclaimed. "This is what my ancestors have only dreamed about…" he added silently.

"It seems like I can reach my fingers around it, but it looks as if it will be incredibly heavy."

"Step aside for a moment."

Finway did so, and the wizard proceeded to cast a spell. A sullen green glow shot out from his staff towards the ground, and the two felt a slight tremor in the earth beneath them. The sand dulled it's effects on them, but the earth spell proceeded to crack the block into two pieces.

"That makes things quite easier," acknowledged Finway. He had successfully tried to grab the cracks, and once he got a hold of it, he pulled with all his might. It was heavy, but not too heavy for the skilled young lord. Within moments, the two cracked parts of the secret doorway laid upon the sand at their feet.


Darkness seemingly protruded from the entrance, sucking away any light that tried to entered it.

"Let's go," Saraboam crept inside the tunnel, crawling on his hands and knees. Finway followed him. After a few minutes, they reached a large chamber. Darkness was strangely absent; although it was not nearly as bright as the sun-lit desert outside. Suddenly, an amazing apparition began to emerge.


The phantom's appearance was otherworldly: its skin was as pale as now, and its muscular body was incredibly huge. Upon its head was a jackal-head helmet, deep, dark and crimson.

"I am Azzanadra," the specter spoke as it materialized. His voice was deep and commencing, and his tone was as serious as one could possibly perceive. "Who has come to free me from my imprisonment?"

Edited by Finway
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FINNY!!! Beautiful entrance to a story. Simply beautiful. :) Although I would've liked a prologue with suspense, I suppose this shall do. I shall point out some things. :)


I'll start off with grammar; your style, right?


How pretty, he observed as he noticed the wind blow through the damp trees.


"How pretty" is a thought, correct? Therefore, it should be italicized.


As the son of a noble Varrock family, despite being orphaned at a young age, it was his duty to be commissioned by the king himself, an honor he had undergone on many occasions.


"Varrock" should be "Varrockian."


The abomination, which had appeared at the stone circle just south of the city, was easily dealt with: all Finway really had to do was obtain a key, open a chest and reclaim a sword.


The colon after "with" should be a semi-colon, right?


The actual battle with the creature had been a joke; with the sword itself being enchanted by Misthalin’s most powerful mages and blessed by the royal city’s priests, Delrith hadn’t stood a chance.


The semi-colon after "joke" should be just a comma.


All that, he thought, for such an easy task.


These are thoughts, and therefore should be italicized, right?


His second commission had been slightly harder: he, along with another, had to reclaim two halves of the Shield of Arrav, one of the most treasured objects in all of Misthalin.


Take out the colon after "harder," and replace it with a period. Capitalize the "h" on "he."


As cumbersome as they oftentimes were, he learned to appreciate such quests, each one giving him a wealth of knowledge, as well as hefty reward.


I have bolded "each one" because they do not flow well. Replace them with "as each one," or "becuase each one," as you are answering the question of, "Why."


A gust of wind brought down a small torrent of leftover rain from the trees, gently splashing them across Finway’s face and effectively bringing him out of his reminiscing.


The comma after "trees" should be replaced with a semi-colon.


He rented the countryside out to farmers, and he even held a small part of the southern mines, the two combined which gave him a substantial income.


The bolded area is worded wrongly, read it over and you should figure something out. ;)


She was by no means a renowned beauty throughout the town, and no one could accuse Vanthin of attempting to flaunt his daughter before the young men of Varrock, but in his aging he knew that Abigail must find a spouse, and a ball held at his home would be the perfect opportunity for it.


This is a run-on sentence, right??


Hopefully, he thought, Abigail’s feelings for me haven’t changed since I last left.


These are thoughts, and therefore should be italicized. There is something wrong about the paragraphing here.


Abigail starred out her westward balcony, towards the road that traveled around the Grand Exchange, the massive financial marketplace her father had helped set up.


Starred>stared :P


Lord Vanthin ignored the question and simply starred at her.


You like your "starred" don't you? I'm pretty sure "stared" is jealous! ;)


Her face broke into a smile of pride and self assurance, accompanied by her cheeks reddening sharply.


self assurance>self-assurance, right?


“I just want you to be happy, that’s all. Find the right man, settle down…these are things that I want to see happen to you.”


Dot dot dot after "down" should be replaced with by a comma.


“They will, they will…“ his daughter knelt down beside him.


The "h" on "his" should be capitalized.


“That I am, that I am. Just tell me, please,” he pleaded, “is there someone that you’re looking forward to seeing?”


The "i" on "is" should be capitalized.


The mansion did not lose a single spec of magnificence once one stepped inside it’s gates.


spec>speck. it's>its.


After she had finished processing down the staircase, the ball officially began, with the fancily dressed musicians starting to play their instruments.


The first part doesn't make sense; how can you process down a staircase?


I can deal with that, Finway comforted himself.




“I remember when I was your age, I was always chasing after women.”

“Women are women, but adventures, that’s what I long for,” Finway retorted with a lie, wishing to change the subject, not because he was uncomfortable, but for the sake of the conversation. Although outwardly adventure might have delighted him, it had morphed into something that increasingly tired him.

“Ah, I remember when I was your age,” exclaimed the old man as he wrapped himself in memories.


Dimintheis uses the words, "I remember when I was your age" too many times. Also, I don't think retorted would be the correct word to use here.


He just kept starring at her, a smile on his face. “Are you coming?”


Starring: I prevail once again!!!


Staring: :)


Finway grabbed her and lifted her off the ground as he carried her toward a side door.


"Toward" would sound better if it was "towards."


She starred back at him, her glowing blue eyes widened with disbelief. Before she could ask why, he spoke again.


Wabbit starts spazzing as he realizes this is the fourth time Finway has used the word "starred" in place of "stared."


She simply starred back at him with longing, her gorgeous brown eyes as large as ever before.


Wabbit's spasm peaks as he realizes this is the fifth time.






Well, in other words, this was a great beginning to your story. I really have no idea what has to do with the Demon Tide, but I suppose we can sort of connect Finway's adventures to it. The description was there, and, in fact, I have no idea about the language. Please, no more starred, or you shall trigger more spsams. :rolleyes:


9.5/10 (mainly for the language, everything else was perfect, in my eyes)



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NOTE: Chapters seven through twelve will be in this post.


Chapter Seven


They were simply amazed. This hero of the Mahjarrat intimidated the two humans in every aspect possible.

"Oh great Azzanadra," was all Saraboam could manage to say. Both he and Finway's eyes were widened at the sight. "We are…humble adventurers. We sought to free you from your imprisonment, for we know and understand your value to the Cause."

"You have indeed freed me, and I thank you for that." There was a pause as he examined the two travelers, his red eyes illuminating through his jackal headdress.

"It was not by ourselves. There was one known as Jamal who had gathered the four diamonds. However, he was ambushed and slain. We merely collected the diamonds and put them in place in order to free you."

Seemingly ignoring the mage's statement, Azzanadra spoke proudly, "What news is there from the world today? Do the glorious towers of Kharyll still proclaim the greatness of Zaros? What of the glorious halls of Carrallanger?"

Finway sensed an unease in Saraboam's nervous movement. What, he thought to himself, are these places that are being described?

"I am afraid," Saraboam solemnly stated, "that many of those places have been destroyed."

Once more, there was a silence that fell over the trio. After a significant amount of time, Azzanadra nodded. "Indeed, I have seemingly lost my sense of time while in captivity. Are the God-Wars still raging?"

"No, they have been gone for an age, over two thousand years."

"Then we have time to plan a re-emergence into the world, another battle for the Cause."

Finway wondered what the Cause was that they spoke of, but was too afraid to speak. In fact, he was amazed that Saraboam could speak as easily as he could with the otherworldly demon.

"How are the followers of the Empty Lord? Are they as strong as they were in my imprisonment, or have their ranks weakened?"

"I am afraid," the magician began, "that they have been greatly reduced. With the opposition of every deity in the world, their role throughout history has been intentionally forgotten."

"A crime that the world will pay for," observed the great Mahjarrat demon. "What followers are left?"

"There is a tribe of bandits that live just north of this great pyramid, they are followers of our Empty Lord."

"What of my race, the Mahjarrat? Do none survive?"

"Yes," Saraboam stated. "Jamal, the one who obtained the diamonds, was a great adventurer. He traveled far and wide, and he gained a wealth of knowledge. He also took very detailed notes on the Mahjarrat which I found on his person after he had been killed."

"Show them to me," Azzanadra requested. The wizard took a moment to retrieve them from his bags. Finally, he revealed them to the great hero of Zaros. He handed the crumpled heap towards him. After glancing at them for a brief moment, a sigh could be heard coming from the Jackal headdress. "I am afraid I can not interpret this language. Please, read them to me."

"Certainly," he responded. "Whom would you like me to read about?"

"How is Sliske? He always was a great ally of mine."

Saraboam shuffled through the notes for a few seconds before coming to a partially folded piece of paper regarding the mentioned Mahjarrat. "It says very little on him, only a few lines. He is an expert shape shifter, correct?"

"Among all of us, none had such an ability to transform as he had," the great demon commented.

"Yes, yes, that is included in these notes. They also state that he has been seen or heard from very little, and that Zemouregal may be after him."

"Zemouregal after him? It would be a matched fight, as both are incredibly powerful, even for our number. What do these notes of Jamal's say regarding Zemouregal himself?"

"Quite a bit," Saraboam acknowledged, flipping back to the front of the stash. He skimmed the page with his eyes. "In fact, Jamal managed to sneak into the a fortress in the north occupied by him! He succeeded in capturing Zemouregal's own personal notes, which he used as a source for these!"

"How remarkable! It appears that Zemouregal has become lazy, letting his defenses down now that the God-Wars do not rage across these lands."


Astonishment set into Finway's mind. The thought of Jamal, who appeared to be but a frightened boy in the king's court and elsewhere in their travels together, having such a history was incredible. He immediately wondered how he had accomplished the feat of sneaking into a Mahjarrat's fortress. Zemouregal was a scourge to Varrock and had long since tormented the citizens of Misthalin, so it seemed especially amazing to the adventurer that Jamal had done so.

"Tell me, do those notes mention Bilrach? He always was a follower of Zemouregal, going along with whatever he instructed."

"The notes concur with your conclusion." Saraboam seemed as if he was going to add a title to the statement, but he seemed confused as to what exactly to call Azzanadra. Finway noticed that the Mahjarrat, too, had noticed.

"You may address me by name, I have no quarrel with either of you." He immediately turned towards Finway, who had been passive and had not said a word throughout their entire encounter.

"You have not spoken. Are you in fear of me?"

Trembling and terrified, Finway panicked. "In all honesty," he managed to confess, "yes, I have been in some sort of fright."

"I will not harm unless provoked, so you should have nothing to fear."

"Yes, Azzanadra," Finway replied, and after addressing the powerful being, things almost immediately became more relaxed. It appeared as thought his name was a barrier that had to be overcome, and in retrospect, Finway thought that it seemed almost comical that there had been uneasiness to begin with.

"Now, tell me more of the Mahjarrat movements. What of Akthanakos and Enakhra and their rivalry?"

"It appears as though an adventurer, although the notes do not clarify, freed them both from a sort of dual-imprisonment…" Intrigued, Saraboam read on. "Enakhra had tricked Akthanakos into believing she, too, was a Zarosian, and had done so in order for him to enter a temple alongside her. However, in her treachery she cast a spell on him, effectively trapping him for thousands of years. Needless to say, Akthanakos would not let himself be overpowered so easily, and he fought the spell. They had been locked in a mental struggle for ages, thus trapping their physical states as well. How incredible!"

"Yes, they are both worthy warriors. Did Jamal record how they were freed?"

"No, all that is included regarding that is that he interviewed an adventurer who had done so and did not wish to be identified."

"Which ones of my race are there left?"

"Jhallan is alive," the mage stated. "He-"

"Jhallan is a coward," Azzanadra seemingly interrupted. "He has no power to speak of. What does it include on him?"

"He is hiding beneath the ritual sight, hoping to absorb the power released in order to rejuvenate him."

"At least he is loyal to our Empty Lord," the great demon commented. "On another note, I amazed that this Jamal has acquired such knowledge. How did you come to know him?"

Saraboam and Finway both glanced at each other.

"You see," the magician explained, "I never met him. It was Finway who had been acquainted with him."

"Finway, you say? And I take it that you are he?" he turned towards the adventurer.

"Yes, I am Finway," he replied, anxious, but not nearly as nervous as he had previously been. "However, I had only known Jamal for a short while before we were ambushed, just over a week-"

"Who ambushed you?" Azzanadra, once more, interjected.

"Bandits," Saraboam hurriedly explained. Neither of the two travelers felt a need to inform Azzanadra that they were attacked by fellow Zarosians, as Finway was not of their number. "They lurk the desert, and we were victim to their hostility."

"Indeed, they must be a pestilence in these regions of the realm. Tell me, what other Mahjarrat are mentioned in those notes."

"Hazeel is one of the last ones. It appears as though he is quite powerful, and his followers have recently resurrected him in order to fight in the upcoming ritual."

What is this ritual? Finway thought to himself. He had heard it mentioned twice now by Saraboam, but he was afraid of asking.

"He always was strong, and his allegiance to Zamorak is a bond that none can hope to shatter. Even if all of Zamorak's own wretched warriors are killed, Hazeel would remain in our opposition. What else do the notes say in his regard?"

"He has another, younger Mahjarrat under his tutelage. Unknowingly, Palkeera had begotten a son late in the God-Wars. His name is Khazard, and he has quite a following amongst the mortal humans."

Finway was absolutely shocked: he had heard that name before. General Khazard was a powerful warlord from Kandarin who held much influence and power in the region.

"Interesting. However, his skills must not be too great, as he is still under the guidance of Hazeel. What others are spoken of?"

"Lucien is discussed quite significantly, as-" Saraboam suggested from the notes.

"Lucien?" the powerful Mahjarrat cut in. "That is most remarkable. He was always regarded as the weakest of our number."

"It appears as though he has obtained two powerful objects," the mage gravely stated, "the Staff of Armadyl and the Stone of Jas."

"The Stone of Jas? That artifact is one of legend and lore, I long doubted it's very existence, but the Staff of Armadyl is the only weapon known to slay a god." The powerful demon's tone was solemn and angered.


Saraboam threw a glance at Finway, and the young noble immediately understood. Zaros was killed with that very rod.

"If he is left alone with those objects, he will soon take in so much power that his godhood would be inevitable. This must be stopped, and the Demon Tide will be the time to cease this pursuit of his."

At this mention of a Demon Tide, Finway seemed confused and shocked. Azzanadra noticed this, and for some reason, fear once more grasped the young lord from Varrock.

"You are not Zarosian, are you?" the Mahjarrat asked. Amazed at his perception, Finway only stared back at the demon as he shook his head.

"No," was his simple response.

"Surely, that is a crime, but you have traveled here in order to free me. Surely, you are not this man's slave-" he motioned towards Saraboam, "-are you?"

A bit more perplexed than before, Finway once more moved his head left to right. "No, I am not a slave."

"Then tell me, why have you come?"

"This man," Finway stated, attempting to put on a mask of courage, "saved my life. He rescued me when Jamal, myself, and another were ambushed. The other two died, but this mage, Saraboam, managed to save my life. He took care of me and nurtured me back to health-" he realized he was rambling, so he wrapped his statement up quickly, "-and for that, I thought that I was in his debt to at least accompany him here."


"So which god do you follow?" Azzanadra's glowing crimson eyes appeared to narrow slightly. "I know you cannot be Zamorakian, for no follower of that traitor would dare come near this place."

"I follow Saradomin."

"Not as bad, not as bad," the demon repeated, "but you must know that it is a sin to defile this place that is consecrated to our Empty Lord. However, seeing as you are good and faithful to your debts, I cannot kill you. First off, you, Saraboam, is it?" he turned towards the mage, and the magician looked up.

"Yes, Azzanadra?" Once more, the mention of his name brought about a certain break in the tension that filled the shrine.

"I am going to travel north to the ritual, where I shall slay Lucien and prove the Empty Lord's power. In order to do this, however, I must conserve all of my supernatural potency and thus refrain from all magic. Therefore, I will be forced to travel in a human form to avoid any unruly activity. Although I am by no means inept at this, I do not know these lands or these people as I once did. I need a guide and accompaniment. Will you join me?"

"I will," the mage immediately responded, an obvious sign of reverence towards his god. Azzanadra seemed satisfied, and he jolted his head towards the Saradominist in his midst.

"Now, Finway, seeing as I am in a dilemma of sorts, I offer you a choice," There was a pause as Saraboam and Finway looked at each other with relief and confusion: relief that he would not slay the young lord, and confusion at what the choice might be. "Because of your loyalty to this man, Saraboam, I cannot kill you, but by allowing you to leave, I would be going against my god's law regarding this sacred shrine. Your choice is this: will you accompany us?"


There was a silence that overcame them. It could be easily seen that Finway was attempting to weigh the options in his head, but was simply overwhelmed. In this regard, the Mahjarrat offered him some assistance. "You can leave now and be satisfied with your choice, and it will not be troublesome, but you will not only miss the rewards but the experience and adventure. The alternative is to join us as we travel on a harsh journey northwards, where we will face many obstacles and adversaries. You will gain much knowledge, you will witness much, and the rewards may be endless depending on your worth."


Azzanadra's lines seemed to capture Finway's thoughts so perfectly that he was simply amazed at the depth of the demons perception.

He understands so much, noted the adventurer. This could be his last, grand quest, his magnum opus that he had longed for. After this, he and Abigail could settle down and live a happy remainder of their lives. He would be satisfied indeed.

He opened his mouth to speak, and the words flowed up almost unconsciously. "I will join you."


Chapter Eight


Everything seemed a blur after Finway's statement. He thought that they had talked some more, and that they had said good bye, but he wasn't sure. All he could clearly remember was that Azzanadra said he would finish paying respects to his god for the night, and that he would catch up to them later. He also vaguely recollected the Mahjarrat saying that he would need to transform into his human form, but it was very hazy in his mind.


Not soon after they exited the pyramid, regret filled his mind, regret that he did not ponder the decision longer before he made it. The more he thought of it, the more questions he had regarding it. However, he did anticipate the adventure he would take part in and the role he would play.


"You seem troubled," Saraboam commented. They had walked several miles away from the pointed shrine, and the structure had all but faded into the horizon behind them. It was twilight in the desert, or as close the sandy region got to it. The temperature had dropped significantly, and the sun seemed to glow less radiantly than it had before.

"Yes," Finway replied, almost forgetting to answer, "I've been wondering about the decision I made."

"I would not think that Azzanadra would force you to carry it out if it was not your intention," the magician replied. The adventurer nodded. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that the powerful demon seemed lax, loose and open to change but still dedicated to the Cause. The Cause, he thought for a moment, what was that which they spoke of?

"I have a few questions for you," Finway said.

"Ask away, I have nothing to hide."

"First off, what is the Cause? I heard you and Azzanadra each mention it while we were in the pyramid."

"The Cause," began Saraboam, "is the ongoing quest to free Zaros and restore his kingdom to it's former glory. It started immediately after the Empty Lord's fall, but Zamorak and Saradomin's forces prevented us from fulfilling it. Now that we are more or less an underground movement, one with the powerful Azzanadra at our head, the Cause will be fulfilled more easily."

"How exactly will that go about?"

"The restoration of his temples and shrines, particularly his major ones, and the destruction of any who would oppose this task."

"Such as Lucien?"

"Such as Lucien," reiterated the mage. "Indeed, any potent Mahjarrat that does not follow the ways of Zaros is a threat, Lucien being the current epitome of that role."

"Do you believe that he has the power to become a god, as is his goal?" Finway questioned.

"Yes, he has the power: with the Stone of Jas containing unimaginable power, and the Staff of Armadyl to transport that power, he has almost all it takes."

"What else does it take?" the adventurer inquired.

"Time," Saraboam slightly grinned, "which is how we shall triumph. Surely Azzanadra and his fellow Zarosian Mahjarrat will slay him at this next ritual, seeing how threatening he is to the Cause."

"What is this ritual? I've heard you speak of it many times, and as far as I can comprehend, one Mahjarrat must die at it. Please explain this."

"The ritual," began the desert wizard, "is known as the Demon Tide. It is a powerful rite of the Mahjarrat in which they sacrifice one of their own. Typically, it is the weakest of their number, but sometimes it is the most convenient or the most feared that is killed."

"What is the point of this ritual?"

"Not only does it give them powers, but unnaturally long life, as well. Their race has much power, both physical and magical, but much of it is due to this ritual. It has been going on for ages, and their eighteenth one is fast approaching."

"I see," Finway stated, "so only a Mahjarrat can be sacrificed? I mean, no humans could possibly be killed?"

"Not for the sake of the Demon Tide." A figure approached from behind them. "For that, a Mahjarrat and only a Mahjarrat must die."

"Who are you?" Finway demanded to know, turning towards him. Saraboam was equally concerned, his staff gripped tightly in his hands. The sun was setting, and a brief twilight was descending upon the desert. The man who had spoken was quite large, wearing a scarlet shirt, tan pants and had on large brown belt with a shining brass buckle. His long hair and beard was as orange as fire, vibrant even as the sun was setting.

"I am Azzanadra, and this is my human form, Nabanik." The figure stated.

"Human form?" Finway inquired.

"You know little of the Mahjarrat; very well, I shall inform you of some of our powers. We possess the ability to shape shift, to become different beings at will."

"But," Finway began, "I thought you were attempting to conserve your magical power?"

"Indeed, I am, but shape shifting is a rare talent that requires skill, not necessarily power." Nabanik, the human form of the ancient warrior, halted his advance towards the two. "It is quite confusing to grasp, but imagine a blacksmith: he has the skill to shape a formless piece of metal into a weapon. However, he uses very little power to accomplish that task: instead, he utilizes his skill. Teleportation, on the other hand, uses mostly power and takes very little skill; such spells are what I wish to cut back on."

"I understand," Finway said, truthfully. Azzanadra, or Nabanik, had made the concept much easier to grasp.

"The sun is setting," Saraboam explained to the others. "We should try to cover as much ground as possible before nightfall."

"Agreed," Nabanik stated, and Finway nodded.


The next day was relatively cool for the desert, but that still meant it was quite warm. The sun, however, was relentless as it continued to illuminate the world with its powerful rays.

"How far is the Shantay Pass?" questioned Finway. Saraboam thought for a moment, and Nabanik seemed confused.

"This is the pass we are heading for, correct?" the Mahjarrat's human form inquired. "My sense of direction seems askew since my imprisonment. In that age, there were two known passes, but I believe one was destroyed during Thammaron's desert campaign."

"The one we are heading for is towards the eastern side of the desert," Saraboam explained. "It should be on the end of the cliffs, so it won't be too far."

"Indeed," Nabanik spoke. "We should try to limit talking, and instead focus our energy on the journey."

The two others complied, and they proceeded in silence. By the time the sun sent it's last rays across the dunes, there were only a few miles left of desert to cover. Because of the relative coolness of the day, they had spent much less time cutting the cacti for water, although their own water skins were nearly empty.


The last few minutes of the journey provided a seemingly comfortable environment in which Finway found it easy to think. It was quite different than the journey south, towards the bandit encampment; back then, just a week earlier, the desert's bitter heat had prevented his thoughts from clearing up at all, and he had come out of it with nothing.


Finway's thoughts drifted once more to that of his future. What would he do to occupy himself? I could practice skills, perhaps learn magic, he thought. Under expert supervision, he had managed to cast a few spells. However, perfecting it would be much different. As a renowned adventurer, he would have the opportunity to meet the finest wizards and be taught by the finest instructors in all of Misthalin, so any sort of art he wished to participate in would be at his leisure.


What of Abigail? Finway thought for a moment. We would have to raise our children together, and experience neither of us had, he thoughts. It was true: her mother had died when she was young, and Finway was orphaned at a young age. The adventurer didn't want his own child to face the same suffering-all the more reason to give up his adventuring way of life.


"We're almost there," Saraboam observed. It was true, as the trio could almost sense the tall cliffs towering above them in the darkness. Soon enough, they reached the stone passage.


"Halt!" one of the guards exclaimed, a torch in one hand and a lance in the other. "Isn't it a little late for passage from the desert?"

"I am Finway Minarch of Varrock, I am on commission from the king," explained the young nobleman, stepping forward.

"Do you have a sealed letter?" the guard further questioned. Finway searched it, but realized it was missing. He had not even seen it since he had left the palace of Hassan on their journey southwards.

"I'm afraid I don't," he replied.

"Then you'll have to wait until morning, I can't accept strangers in the night."

Sighing, Finway turned back towards his companions. "I'm sorry, it's just that-"

"Wait a minute, you're not from the desert, are you?"

"Me? No, I am not." The adventurer turned back around towards the entryway.

"I see one of you is," the guard held the torch ouch, illuminating the three adventurers' faces in the night. When he passed over Nabanik, he seemed surprised, almost frightened: the appearance was otherworldly, but he couldn't put his finger on it. The Mahjarrat's human form almost seemed to fit the scene too perfectly.

"You don't seem too suspicious or anything, so I guess I could let you through. You better not tell my superiors about this."

"We won't, don't worry," Saraboam consoled him, and the guard sighed.

"It's quite dark, as you can tell, so just camp here in the pass. The large tent is set up here to keep out the wind, so feel free to make camp inside," the guard informed them, adding, "as long as you don't need a fire for anything."

"We won't, thank you for allowing us to pass," Nabanik stated, a slight grin on his face. "How far is it to Al Kharid?"

"Less than an hour, we'll get there well before noon tomorrow," Saraboam said. "Hopefully, it won't take long to report to the Hassan, so we should be on our way to Varrock by mid afternoon."

"Indeed, let us now get some rest."


The next day, the party awoke to the howling of the desert wind. It was relatively cool, as it had been the day before, but the wind came in torrents across the sandy dunes, coming from the west and the sea.

"Wake up," Saraboam said, placing his hand on Finway's shoulder. The adventurer arose, not surprised to see Nabanik already well-prepared to travel. There were a few other travelers around them, along with a host of guards and desert merchants.


A gust of wind brought a huge wave of sand into the canopy.

"We better start off now," Nabanik observed, and the other two nodded. It was but minutes before they had exited the small pass and were heading through the desert torrents towards the town of Al Kharid.


The journey was much more difficult than that of the previous day. The wind was staunchly opposing them, blowing fiercely from the sea in the west. Finway noticed that both Nabanik and Saraboam, both seemingly accustomed to such desert weather, had taken a shirt from his bag and used it as a scarf to ward off the blowing sand. The adventurer followed suit, as well, grabbing a grey one from his bag.

"We are expected to meet with the leader of this desert town, Al Kharid, correct?" Nabanik asked.

"Yes," Saraboam replied, glancing and Finway, who nodded, "although he is not the true ruler. He is the steward of the Emir, the ruling family. Because they are in hiding due to threats against them, he has become the temporary authority."

There was a small period of silence before anyone spoke.

"I think we should compose a story," the young lord finally stated. "I'll tell them that a separate group of nomads attacked us, killing Jamal and Falken, the mage I was with on our return journey, and that you two were traveling by and found me a few days ago."

"Will have to be specific, no doubt," Nabanik interjected.

"We could say," Saraboam began, "that we were merchants traveling from Pollniveach. Such operatives are not unknown, and we do have a set of belonging that would suit the tale." He shook his bag of runes, which contained hundreds of the small, magical stones.

"I also have some valuables," the Mahjarrat's human form smiled, pulling out of his bag a small collection of gold and gems that he had in his hand. "I probably will not show them all, lest the authorities get suspicious."

"That is a good idea. I believe that we can successfully pull this story off."


They trudged along for over an hour before finally catching a glimpse of the Hassan's glittering marble mansion that towered above the small huts and tents that composed Al Kharid. The trio proceeded to enter the town, although the howling wind and flying sand did not subside once they did so.

"This way to the palace gates," Saraboam informed the others, and both of the two others began following him. They soon reached the entrance, which was guarded by two guards. One immediately recognized the young, Varrockian noble.

"Hail Finway! Has your mission been a success?" he inquired, relaxing his grip on his spear, as did his comrade.

"Yes, for the most part. I am here to report to the Hassan."

"Very well, move along. Are these two with you?" the guard nodded towards the other two in the trio. Finway nodded.

"Yes, they're traveling with me."


A gorgeous water fountain adorned the palace plaza, and the Hassan, the spokesperson of the Emir, strolled with his chief guard, the black-bearded Osman, out of the front door. Osman had formerly been a diplomat, so Finway had met him while the two were in the king's court in Varrock. He had also been known to act as a spy occasionally, but this was just an unconfirmed rumor of the Varrock aristocracy to which Finway belonged.

"Finway, good to see you back, I just heard that you had entered the town. How did it go?" the Hassan casually questioned. Finway looked at the ground for a moment in thought. He noticed that the guards seemed a bit clustered around the courtyard, probably suspicious of Nabanik and Saraboam. When he glanced upwards, he saw the inquisitive look both Hassan and Osman possessed. Then he remembered his swollen eye. It hadn't bugged him at all since his journey northwards began, so it took him by surprise.


"It was technically a success, but a great loss at the same time," Finway spoke solemnly. "While traveling back, a group of nomads attacked the three of us, killing Falken, the mage, and Jamal, our guide. The marauders beat me and left me for dead, leaving me with this swollen eye." He paused for a moment to add effect. "It was the following day that these two found me and helped me return." The lie was awfully short, but the adventurer had certainly made it believable.

"How wretched," Osman commented in his deep Kharidian voice. The Hassan's brow furrowed.

"That is indeed terrible. I swear, we will pursue those responsible and punish them accordingly. At the very least, we will notify the southern cities to be on the lookout."

"You can count on the Kharidian Guard being prepared," Osman stood proud and serious. "First, the Emir is threatened and forced into hiding, and now our diplomats are being preyed upon; surely, there must be an end to this madness." Then, the chief of the guards noticed his sword's absence. "Finway, where is Silverlight? Surely you did not lose an object of such power?"

"I'm afraid it was damaged, and I so no use taking it with me," Finway explained, actually telling the truth.

"Was it beyond repair?"

"I'm afraid so," Saraboam cut in. "I saw the damage myself, and it seemed as if it would be much easier to make a new sword then to re-forge it."

"A pity. It seems that when bandits are appeased, more rise up to take their place." The Hassan sighed. An almost awkward silence came upon them. "What were you two doing traveling in the desert?" the Hassan inquired curiously, effectively ending the pause in conversation. Saraboam opened his mouth to speak, and he did so with confidence.

"My name is Saraboam, and this my partner, Nabanik," the two nodded, each with a smile. "We are merchants, traveling from Pollniveach to Al Kharid to trade. We have a few items in our collection that may interest the people of this great town."

The Emir's spokesperson scoffed, then smiled. "I should have expected. Certainly you are with Ali's trading company, correct?"

"No, although I am an acquaintance of him," Saraboam replied with a grin. "He is certainly an interesting man."

"Very well, I wouldn't want to hold you two up," the Hassan said. "You are merchants, after all, and I'm sure you are busy people. You may be on your way."

"Thank you, your Excellency," Saraboam lightly bowed and backed away, followed within a second by Nabanik. However, once they exited the courtyard, the two remained wary as to what Finway would do.


"As for you, Finway," the spokesman turned towards him and took a deep breath. "I believe it is in order that we treat you to a feast. You can stay with us for the day and night, if you like. We are indebted to you for freeing us from the bandit's raids."

"I am truly grateful for your offer, your Excellency," the noble adventurer answered the proposal, "but I promised my two rescuers that I would accompany them to Varrock."

"We can easily arrange for a royal escort of some sort," Osman entered the conversation, his deep voice offering a startling contradiction to those of the Hassan and Finway. "Unless, of course, it is a matter of honor that you go?"

"I suppose it is," Finway answered, staring back at the two with a distant expression. The Hassan nodded.

"Very well, if there is anything you want, just ask the people of Al Kharid. We are in your debt, Finway Minarch."

"Indeed, hopefully I shall return soon to this-" He almost uttered the word 'desert' "-oasis," he sighed, relieved that he did not go with his initial instincts. "I will take my leave now, farewell."

"Hopefully our next meeting shall not be as brief, but good-bye," the Hassan said before turning around. "I'll write to the king immediately and inform him that you just departed safely."


Once Finway exited the courtyard and was out of the palace grounds, he grinned and approached Saraboam and Nabanik. The wind had died down substantially, becoming nothing but a gentle breeze.

"That went well," he muttered.

"Indeed," Nabanik agreed.

Saraboam glanced down at the ground, almost laughing. "I had no idea that Ali the trader was prominent here in the north." Finway broke into a grin, and even Nabanik granted so much as a smile.


Chapter Nine


The nights were cold, and the days were warm as they traveled northward for three more long days. The wind never offered any brutality as it had on their entrance to Al Kharid, and so their travel time was good. They stayed in the Duel Arena once more on the first night, the hospitality quite improved since Finway's last visit, rested at an oasis just south of the great Kharidian gorge over the second, and the third they had spent in a clearing in the forest twenty miles south of Varrock.


It was quite a relief to see the Varrockian forests, at least for Finway, because it meant he was nearing home. Dread suddenly entered itself into his mind. How, he wondered to himself, can I convince the king to let me go from my commissions, even temporarily? Certainly he will expect more out of me!


He glanced nervously at Nabanik, then to Saraboam, as if they could read his thoughts. The Mahjarrat, for one, noticed this, but seemingly took nothing of it. Finway took a deep breath of relief, trying to cool his senses that were becoming increasingly aggravated by his anxious state. He anticipated getting the meeting with the king over with, but he did not know when such an audience would be held. If we arrive early, Finway thought, then possibly today…


"How far, Finway?" Nabanik calm words broke the adventurer's train of thought, startling him at first. However, he reacted smoothly.

"Not very far, only an hour or two left before we reach the Eastern Gate." His reply was simple, and he thereafter launched an attempt to return to his succession of thought. Because of his increasing anxiety of the future meeting in the king's court, that succession never returned to him. Eventually, another fear crept into his mind. What would Abigail think?


He had just been gone on a commission, one which had just followed another. She expected Finway to inform the king that this was it: a bold move indeed. The alternative, in her mind, was that he would continue on the king's quests, much to her dismay. However, Finway's plan was neither to continue his commissions or to retire from them contently. Instead, because of his agreement with Azzanadra and his debt to Saraboam, he would journey northwards, however far, to reach the ritual site. Those reasons, however, paled in comparison to his true motive: his need for one last quest to truly satisfy his adventurous nature.


"Wait," Nabanik stated abruptly, halting is forward advance. He seemed incredibly tense, hate filling his red pupils. "I sense something that I have not felt for a long, long time."

"What is it?" Saraboam inquired inquisitively, both he and Finway totally perplexed.

"It's Lucien," the Mahjarrat seemed to calm his senses, loosening his human body. However, the abhorrence in his eyes remained intact. "He is very powerful, much more powerful than ever before-and he is somewhere near here. I can detect his aura of power to the north-west."

"Perhaps he is in the village of Barbarians? That is north-west, is it not?" the Kharidian mage suggested.

"No," replied the Varrockian noble, "their settlement is almost straight west from here. Is he in the city?"

"I do not know," Nabanik responded, "but I know that I must confront him. If he truly has the Stone of Jas, I cannot wait for him to gain any more power."

"We will join you," Saraboam declared.

"No, it is far too dangerous. Besides, you, Finway," he turned to the adventure, "are expected to return this king of yours, are you not?"

"He is right," Finway stated, glancing at Saraboam. "We should probably go our separate ways."

"If the city is not far, I will travel along the western walls…there are walls, correct?"

Both Saraboam and Finway nodded after a second, caught by surprise by the question.

"We will meet north of the city-don't worry, I will find you. When will your conference with this monarch occur?"

"Seeing as it's past noon," Finway concluded, "it will most likely be sometime tomorrow."

"I will meet you in the afternoon or evening, then. However, I have a few things that I need done."

"What are they?" Finway asked.

"I need a weapon, as my sword has been lost for over four thousand years," he stated. This reminded Finway of his own lack of weaponry. "I will require enough gold and silver to forge one. You two should also buy the proper materials needed for the travel. The northern fringe of this world, even in spring, is hostile."

"We will prepare," Saraboam acknowledged. Without saying another word, the Mahjarrat's human form took off to circle Misthalin's capital city. The two stood for a moment in thought. "I have a few coins, but certainly not enough to purchase gold or silver."

"I will be able to cover that," explained the adventurer. "You'll need a place to stay, right?" Before the mage could respond, Finway continued, "you can stay at my home. I'll have to depart eventually for the palace, but that should not take long."

"Alright," the mage complied.


The two continued onward for shortly under an hour before catching a glimpse of the grey, magnificent walls of Varrock. They had proudly withstood the test of time: within the centuries of their existence they had repelled three invasions of undead hordes, a truly great feat. The ferocious Mahjarrat Zemouregal had long eyed the territory to become his possession, but his attempts were thus far futile. The walls, forty feet high and a dozen feet thick, were nearly impenetrable. The kingdom's defense budget had not been wasted.


The Eastern Gate stood lonely when compared to the others. Mostly used by travelers from Al Kharid and the Salve River Valley, no shops adorned the entryway inside the city. Only a few merchant stalls stood in the gate's midst, none of them particularly busy.


The large wooden doors were opened, and so Finway and Saraboam simply continued on through them. Nearly a dozen guards were stationed in various places around the city's entrance. They all bore the standard guard attire: iron chain mail covering their upper body, and a bronze-colored helmet upon their heads. Their headgear used to be forged of bronze, but had been upgraded within the last few years to iron or steel. However, in keeping with the tradition, the royal army had ordered the painting of the new helmets to resemble the old. Such customs were frequent in Misthalin, particularly in the capital.


Amongst the guards was a knight, easily distinguishable by his full coat of armor that he wore. He had a sword at his side, sheathed in his scabbard, and a kite shield nearby. Unlike the others, he was sitting upon the steps of the wall. He was watching intently at those passing by. When Finway passed through the gates and caught sight of him, the knight rose immediately and hastened towards the adventurer and mage.

"Lord Finway Minarch?" he addressed the Varrockian noble.

"Yes?" Finway asked inquisitively.

"The King would like to inform you that he received your message the day before yesterday about your departure from Al Kharid, and he expects to see you shortly before noon tomorrow." The knight's message was seemingly well-rehearsed and straightforward. "We also heard of your ambush, and would like for you to know that the city is in your debt for your exploits."

Finway nodded. "Thank you," was his simple response before he and Saraboam continued onwards. Neither spoke for a few moments, but eventually the mage began to speak.

"The Hassan's messengers were fast, reaching here two days before us," he commented.

"That," explained Finway, "was because they travel at night, as well. The tetrarch of Al Kharid has a series of outposts that dot the desert and nearly reach Varrock. When one messenger reaches the outposts, another carries the message northwards in his stead. It speeds up communication without tiring the initial carrier."

"I heard of such a system a few years ago," remarked Saraboam, "but I did not know it was ever put up. Similar functions exist in the desert towns of the South."

Before Finway could speak again, the mage again spoke.

"Where will we go to now?"

"To my home, probably," Finway responded. "It's large, with plenty of room. I'm sure you won't mind staying there."


Varrock's south side was primarily lower class housing and small shops, along with an occasional church. Blocked off east of there by a substantial wall were the dwelling places of many royal, aristocratic families, at least those who did not own private estates outside the city. The Minarch's residence was one such inner-city mansion. After showing himself to the guard, he and Saraboam were both allowed entrance to this walled in community of refined residents.


Finway's home was not far, just past a shimmering fountain, frequently used as a wishing well by the inhabitants of the community. A large collection of coins dotted the beginning. The lustrous gold reminded him of the items Nabanik had required of him: enough gold and silver to forge a sword. Because he, in his Mahjarrat form, was quite large, it would take twice as much gold and silver to craft; indeed, he would have to pay a hefty sum for such materials.


As soon as they reached the large mansion, Finway reached in his bag and withdrew a large, brass key. Saraboam stood for a moment and admired the craftsmanship noticed in the gutters, three sculptures standing poised at the top of the house. After unlocking the door, the two walked in. Finway could tell that the mage thought that the foyer did not do the exterior justice.

"Whom are the sculptures of?" the mage asked, an odd break in the silence being presented. "Outside?" he added in clarification, noticing his patron's bewilderment.

"Oh, yes, those," the adventurous noble recalled, "they are of my father and his father. Saradomin is in the middle, meant to keep order and stability."

Saraboam's silence stood in place of scoff. For that, Finway was grateful.


"Do you have a butler, or other servants?" inquired the magician.

"Yes," Finway, "although they must be out. I ordered at least one of them to check in every day I was gone to ensure the order of things."

"It's a safe community around here," he further observed, "so you're correct in thinking that nothing will be stolen."

The adventurer nodded. His security was something he almost took for granted. "Yes, it is."

There was a pause before Saraboam spoke again. "I think I will go and purchase a few things here in the city before we embark on our journey."

"Do you need money?"

"Not unless your willing to give it," smiled the mage. Finway grinned as well, quickly scribbling "five hundred" on an exchangeable bank note bearing his personal seal.

"That an enormous sum!" Saraboam exclaimed. "I certainly won't use of all of it."

"That's alright, just bring the note back here with the subtracted total on it," the noble youth explained. "Let me show you where you can stay for the night. A house servant of mine will stop by, so tell them that you escorted me here. I'll leave a note, as well."


After showing his companion the upper room where he might stay, he gave the mage a key, quickly pacing down the stairs afterwards. He entered the kitchen area, where he found a parchment and an ink pen near it. He jotted down an explanation of who Saraboam was and that they had returned, and then he started writing a list for the items necessary for their journey.


The first things that Finway wrote down were those that Azzanadra had instructed him to get: three gold and six silver bars. They would certainly be more than enough to forge an extravagant sword for a human, and he hoped that Akthanakos would not require more. However, the adventurer soon found himself in a dilemma. What, he wondered, should I bring?


He felt like there were plenty of items he should bring along, but anxiety within him grew increasingly, causing him to lose concentration.

Food, we'll certainly need food, the adventurer suddenly realized. He scribbled the words "flour" and "yeast" on the list for his butler. They could use the ingredients to make bread, which, he hoped, Saraboam would be able to properly cook. He was about to write some sort of meat down, but he realized that they probably would have to hunt while in the northern wilderness, anyway, so he refrained. Not thinking of anything else to get, he was about to be finished, when another thought hit him.


Fighting! I'll certainly need to anticipate battles and such, he thought as he contemplated on what to write down. He needed a sword, but he would have to pick something like that out himself. A weapon was a commodity that required the buyer to actually get a feel for what he was purchasing. He simply couldn't have his butler pick one out for him. He would have to do that himself later on.


Armor, on the other hand, was a different story. In every one of the king's commissions that he had gone through, fighting was rare. Every time that such violence had actually taken place, the party he was helping had always provided his battle gear and such. Now, he was not going on an assignment from the king. Instead, he was going off on his own, and that meant that nobody could supply his protection.


His servants knew or else could easily figure out what size he was and such, so having them pick out the armor wouldn't pose any problems. Finway knew in his mind that there would be no actual wars with battle lines and charging knights, so he figured that it would be useless to bring a burdensome chest plate, leggings, or a large shield. Of course, it also would be incredibly heavy to carry, slowing his pace significantly. Instead, a lighter coat would suffice, and so he wrote down "chain mail" on the list.


After briefly thinking about which type of metal he would like, he jotted down "mithril" next to it. He would have liked to bought one of the adamantine variety, but those were quite rare and expensive, and that would cut deep into his budget. Also, mithril was rumored to be light weight, even lighter than inferior metals, so he figured that it would serve better on such lengthy journey. He then scribbled down a message to his servant to fetch his bow and half a dozen arrows, in addition to a tinderbox with proper fire starters.


Finway couldn't think of anything else to write down, so he finished his note by saying that, if needed, his butler could take out a loan from the bank in his name. Although he had plenty of money, he did not know if it would be enough to pay for the expenses, the total amounting to several thousand coins. His rent from the land he owned was not due until the autumn harvest, and he did not know if his revenue from the mines had been deposited into his account yet, so he felt as if it was a wise decision. He promptly signed the note with his signature, got up, and carefully placed the list behind on the kitchen table. Surely the servant will notice when he checks in, he sighed, Now I have to go meet Abigail.


He immediately set off. It took him nearly an hour to pass through the city, the marketplace being quite busy. He exited out of the western gate, and, walking hastily all the while, traveled along a road to the circumference of the great Grand Exchange. Just north-west of the great financial institution was the Vanthin's manner. Although the journey had been long, it seemed to pass quickly in Finway's mind; he was determined to see Abigail.


Eventually, the well-kept gates came into view. As he drew nearer, a servant, immediately recognizing the approaching young man, came out and opened the gates. Finway saw a figure disappear from one of the manor's many balconies. Knowing who it was, he paused at the entrance. Just as the servant was re-entering the mansion, an adorable brown-haired girl wearing a light, violet dress raced outside to meet him. Finway and Abigail gave one another a prolonged embrace; he felt satisfied, albeit temporarily.


Chapter Ten


"You've been gone for three weeks," commented Abigail. "We didn't know what happened! When we heard about the letter from the king, we were shocked."

"Who exactly is we?" Finway asked in with a smile.

"My father and I," she replied. Finway seemed a little inquisitive about her father. "Yes, he knows our plans," she added, "and he fully supports a union between us."

"I knew it," Finway grinned confidently. "Where is he now?"

"He's been sent to Edgeville, he'll be there until late tomorrow night," Abigail answered. There was a pause, and so Finway spoke.

"I think we should go inside," he said. No sooner had he said it then the two carried it out as they entered the glorious mansion.


Inside, the splendor of the Vanthin's residence seemed diminished compared to what it had been at the ball. The banners were gone and the portraits seemed to be rearranged back into their normal positions, where they sat comfortably. Suddenly, as they were proceeding across the foyer, Abigail turned to her lover.

"You've been gone for three weeks," she stated unexpectedly, taking Finway aback.

"Yes I have. Why are you so surprised?"

"I don't know…it seems like too long," she responded.

"It's no longer than any of my other commissions," he explained. They had just begun heading up the stairs; Finway was unsure where exactly they were heading.

"That's not my point," she stopped halfway up the steps. The adventurer followed suit.

"Well, what is, then?"

"I want to be with you more," she said, starring at him directly and seriously; her brown eyes piercing his heart.

"I know."

"No, you don't," she started walking up again ahead of him. "You're going to go get another assignment from the king, I know it!"

"No, I'm not!" he exclaimed, pursuing her upwards. "If everything goes well, there will be no more commissions!"

"So you're staying?" she inquired, turning back to him with a smile. Then his own grin faded.

"No," he gulped, "I had an agreement, that I'd travel north with my companions."

"North?" she asked, wide-eyed. "To the wilderness?"

"It's not that dangerous," he replied. "I can survive-I've been there before."

"With the Varrock guard! That was very different, and you know that, Finway!" she was nearly shouting. Not wanting to alarm the servants, he attempted to calm her.

"It was," he admitted, "but I won't get hurt or…or anything like that. I promise."

"That's not always for you to decide," she once more turned away and proceeded up the steps.

"No, it isn't, but I can certainly do my best to avoid getting hurt."


"Why are your companions going north?" she suddenly exclaimed once she reached the top of the steps. "That is a place for bandits and thieves, not for decent men! Weren't they merchants?"

"There business involves the north, and I don't even know what it involves exactly," he stated. Unknowingly, it was the truth. "But I made an agreement. I can't go back on that, Abigail, but I know it will turn out alright." I wish, he thought regrettably, that I never agreed to join Azzanadra and Saraboam.


There was a pause. Finway placed his hands on her arms, then attempted to wrap them around her, but it was no use. She was simply starring off into the distance, but she had to realize that. After a long moment of silence, she at last spoke.

"Promise me one thing."

"Anything," he replied. He prayed that she would not ask him to stay, because he would hate to break her heart.

"That you will ask the king for no more assignments, and that you will marry me when you return." His worries were relieved, and he sighed with thankfulness. A grin soon encompassed his face.

"That," he retorted, "is two things."

The two laughed, and in a heartbeat the young lord swept her off of her feet, carrying her in his powerful arms. He knew exactly where she wanted to go, and so he headed for the bedroom. It is indecent, he thought, but if her father would like for as to be married, his disapproval would not swell because of it.


Finway awoke the next day to a cool wind blowing from Abigail's window. They had danced on the balcony just outside of it, and they had forgotten to close the glass door leading to it. Because of that, occasional gusts of air would burst through the open frame and spout through the emerald curtains, causing them to gently wave.


The adventurer glanced down at his love, the gorgeous Abigail Vanthin. He sighed, admiring her beauty. Her brown, curly hair was thrown across her pillow. It truly is a shame, he thought with regret, that I never realized how wonderful she was until recently. It was true-the young noble, along with many of his peers, had mocked her for being overweight. That problem was all but nonexistent from her now; it was not even noticeable.


After a long moment, Finway decided to get up and get going. He dressed himself while she was still asleep. Realizing that Abigail would not wake up anytime soon from her dream, he chose to leave. We managed to exit the glorious estate without troubling any of the servants, none of whom would think highly of his spending the night.


Shockingly enough, Finway caught sight of two Varrockian guards at the gates. The pair had noticed him, as well.

"Lord Finway?" one addressed him, a puzzled look on both their faces.

"That is I," the young lord declared proudly. Then he remembered: the wealthy estates outside of the city were given royal protection by the king. It was a way of thanking his Majesty's loyal subjects and sponsors. The guard shrugged, a nervous twitch in his eye. Finway grinned, almost amused at the confusion the two soldiers were facing. They were guarding the Vanthin's estate, after all, and not the Minarch. Nonetheless, he continued onwards.


The way around the Grand Exchange's proud wall seemed longer than it had the previous day. Finway recalled that not long ago, there was discussion about creating another gate to allow the northern estates, such as the Vanthin's to be more accessible. Of course, the measure had been shot down and deemed a waste. A pity, Finway thought to himself.


As he turned the final corner alongside the wall, he caught sight of the palace's gleaming towers in the distance. They easily dwarfed the Varrockian skyline, with few buildings having enough height to challenge their dominance of the skyline. After making the turn, the length of the trip towards the palace grounds did not take long at all. The merchants were just beginning to attract their morning customers as the capital of Misthalin broke into it's regular morning ritual.


There were a host of guards at the entrance to the royal gardens, more than usual. Finway suspected something was wrong, perhaps another attempt on the king's life. There must be some kind of threat, thought the adventurer. When they caught sight of Finway, they seemed to organize themselves slightly, hurrying into place.

"Lord Minarch," the head of them addressed the young noble, "your actions are noteworthy in the archives of Misthalin. The king is incredibly grateful, and he wishes to see you immediately."

"Alright," Finway replied. "Is he in right now?"

"He is in the court with Lord Raispher and diplomats from Draynor Village," the chief guard replied. The adventurer nodded.

"I'll head straight there," he stated. He followed through with his word and entered through the gates, the guards not bothering to halt his advance or question his identity. He was Finway, a well-known adventurer and now a hero of Varrock and Misthalin.


He noticed the carefully aligned trees once more as he passed through the courtyard. He passed another wall which led to the interior stone pavement that made up a secondary court. There were more soldiers stationed around than usual, and they all seemed busy bustling about. However, unlike the others he had encountered, these guards did not immediately straighten once they noticed him. Finway continued past them, soon entering the sturdy palace doors.


"Lord Finway Minarch," an elegantly dressed knight addressed the nobleman. It was the same soldier that he had seen several weeks earlier when he had entered to palace to get his last assignment.

"Yes?" Finway asked.

"Your heroic deeds have been most proudly noted by the king," the knight spoke. It seemed rehearsed, albeit believable.

"Thank you," the adventurous lord managed to reply.

"Follow me," he said. He swiftly turned and directed the young lord through the foyer, leading him to the right and down a short hallway. Within a moment they were before the grand doors of the court room. Without a moment's pause, two stationed guards opened the exquisite entrance.


"Lord Finway!" the king exclaimed almost casually, the entire court standing by in amazement at the approaching adventurer. Standing beside the king was his top religious advisor, Aeonisig Raispher. There were a few diplomats around him, as well, and Finway took them to be from Lumbridge or Draynor. "We've heard about your incident, and are truly amazed and grieved by it. Your journey has been astounding. Have you anything to say?"

"No, your Majesty," the youthful nobleman spoke. "However, I would like to commend both the mage Falken and Jamal. They fought valiantly in their final hours."

"Indeed," the king leaned upon the right arm of his throne. "Tell me, how exactly did the ambush occur?"

The question surprised Finway. He had not expected to lie in great detail, but now it was necessary that he did so.

"We had just returned to diamonds to the bandits," he started, "when a group of traveling nomads came upon us. It had been incredibly hot, and my memory does not entirely serve it's purpose regarding the attack. We noticed them and were wary, and at first they did not seem aggressive. However, after surrounding us, they launched their assault."

"How wretched of them," the king consoled. "I am sure that the Hassan is doing everything in his power to subdue them?"

"He has said so, your Majesty," Finway replied. "Jamal and Falken were both slain, and I was knocked unconscious and left for dead. They took several items from me, including Silverlight."

"So we have heard," the king nodded, twirling his finger through his beard. "The Hassan informed me of that in his letter. That is why I wish to present to you a gift."


The ruler of Misthalin turned towards several of his servants that were gathered to his right, where a small door connected the court room to a chamber filled with valuable artifacts. One of the king's aides entered the door. Finway had seen the chamber's door opened before, and he knew it contained part of the royal treasury. Certainly not all of the king's treasures were in there, just a small portion, but it was another one of Misthalin's traditions to always have the room filled. I wonder what he could be retrieving, thought Finway. His immediate thought was a new weapon, perhaps a silver blade to replace Silverlight?


The servant exited the chamber, a sword in hand. It was elegantly adorned with a sheath composed of silver and accompanying crimson leather. The palace aide knelt down at the king's throne and handed him the weapon. Curiosity built up inside Finway.

"Behold, one of the world's most valuable weapons!" King Roald exclaimed dramatically. Unsheathing the saber, a beautiful, cyan blade appeared before the court. Everyone in the room was in shock, especially Finway. Rune was the rarest mineral known to man, costing tens of thousands of coins for just a small piece of it. This sword, forged entirely of the metal, would have cost the royal treasury a fortune. "You have served Varrock and the kingdom of Misthalin nobly through your quests and assignments, and this is our way of rewarding you."


Finway could only gaze at the beauty of the sword. The king motioned for him to approach the throne, and he did so. The ruler handed over the prized possession, and a smile lit up the adventurer's face. The king returned the grin. After stepping down from the raised throne, Finway looked up at King Roald once more.

"I am incredibly grateful, Your Majesty."

"You have earned it. Now, we understand that you may still be in some sort of shock, your senses not quite resuscitated from the ambush…" the king turned his head and looked quizzically at the young noble. "The court is granting you one month's leave of absence, including all major and minor assignments." A month away from responsibility and commissions was normally a significant amount of time. However, Finway knew that it would not be enough to fulfill his promise to Azzanadra and Saraboam.

"I am truly grateful, Your Majesty," he petitioned, "but could I ask that I have two months away from any commissions?"

The court chamber was quiet. The servants around, along with the other adventurers that were present for their own assignments, were shocked at the question. Two months off was long, far too long to spare the kingdom's most prized young lord. Lord Raispher looked especially distraught, wearing a cruel frown of disagreement. He turned to whisper something in the king's ear.

"You have served me very well, Finway," the king stated after being counseled, a casual tone in his voice, "and I understand that this last task has left you tired and ill at ease. However, I must ask, why would two months be more sufficient than one?"

"That is another matter I wish to discuss with you," he responded. "When the adventurer's saved me from the desert sands, I promised them that I would accompany them in gathering various items and rarities for the summer. This undertaking will lead us into the Wilderness, and I seek your permission to travel there."

"The Wilderness?" gaped the King. "What would you be collecting up there?"

"The traders, the ones that I would travel with, expertise in northern wolf furs, and they also sell other oddities they come across. I myself am not entirely sure, but if they saved my life, I believe that they must be decent men."

"I hope you understand that the Wilderness if filled with danger. Bandits, thieves, raiders-not to mention horrible creatures-dwell there," without waiting for Finway's response, he continued after a brief pause, "but you know that-you've been there before. In the weeks that you have been absent, much has happened, with both Lord Raispher as well as the Duke of Lumbridge seeking your help with various tasks. However, these commissions can and will wait. Yes, Finway Minarch, I will allow you and your companions to travel to the Wilderness for strict business purposes."

Finway grinned. "Thank you, Your Majesty."

"My aide will give you the necessary papers. Report to me two months from today, and enjoy your leave."


The trip back to his home passed by in a blur for the adventurer. He had gained a new sword, an extremely powerful one at that, an extended leave of absence, and permission to carry out his promise to his companions. After spending the night with Abigail and later gaining so much from the king, it was hard to contain his joy. The journey home seemed much quicker than normal that afternoon.


Chapter Eleven


By early afternoon, Finway had entered his separated, aristocratic community in the southeastern side of the great capital. His mansion seemed the same as ever, with the large sculptures upon the walls being illuminated by the sun's rays. The depictions adorned the lord's home even more so than ever, set against the blue, partially cloudy sky.


The adventurer stepped inside, and immediately trotted into the kitchen, where he had left his note. The letter was absent, so Finway sighed with relief. Soon enough, he would have everything he needed. He then proceeded to walk up the large staircase leading to the upstairs. Within a moment, he had reached the guest room.

"Did you know if any servants came by the house?" Finway asked Saraboam, although he already knew the answer. The mage was sitting up his bed, sorting his various items. "Yes, although I never saw him personally, as I was resting in my room." The answer was short and precise. How typical of him, Finway began to think. The adventurer then was at a loss of words-he was still half shocked from all that had occurred.

"I have some good news," he began. Saraboam turned, wondering what Finway might say. "The king has granted me two months leave from any further commissions, and he also has given us permission to travel into the wilderness."

The wizard smiled. "Good, is there anything further hindering our plans?"

"Not that I know of," Finway returned the grin. "My servant should bring my items by sometime later in the day. Have you eaten yet?"

"No, have you?"

"Not at all. Would you like to?"

"Certainly," the mage replied.

Perhaps I should tell him about my new sword, he thought. No, he then reasoned, I shall keep that as a surprise until he asks. "There is some bread in the kitchen downstairs, and I believe we have some tea leaves, as well."

"Remember that we must meet Azzanadra tonight north of the city," Saraboam reminded him. Finway had almost entirely forgotten about that.

"Will he be Nabanik or…or in his Mahjarrat form?" The adventurer realized how odd it sounded when one person was referred to with two names.

"Most likely Nabanik, as there are still a few humans who might see him if he travels in his liche form."

"Liche form?" Finway wondered aloud. "Is that what his normal appearance is called?"

"Yes, it is the state that Mahjarrat are born in. However, they have the ability to shape shift, as you know, so it probably is not wise to get used to Azzanadra in any one form."

"I see," he responded. "Well, let's eat dinner. I think that there's some meat we can cook, as well."


After they had eaten supper, the two heard a knocking at the door. The young nobleman arose from his elegant table to answer it. One of his servants-a lesser one-answered, so he didn't know him by name.

"I brought you your items, my lord," he said.

"Thank you," Finway replied.

"I had to take out a small loan from the bank, if you did not mind," the servant began. "The armor was expensive, and the money from your mines does not arrive for another week. Due to the weight, I had to take two trips, so I dropped the gold and silver by earlier, and left it in the kitchen."

"It's alright, thank you," Finway gathered up the items, and closed the door. "He brought my things, I think we should be on our way north, now."

"Then let us depart," Saraboam solemnly concluded. The two soon set off.

"Could you carry a few silver bars?" the adventurer questioned. "They aren't terribly heavy, but I don't think I could take all of them in addition to the gold."

"Certainly," the mage nodded. Finway exited the room for the kitchen, and soon reemerged with a heavy handful of standard, bank-issued bars. It would make more sense to make a sword of steel, Finway thought, but silver must have some significance in Azzanadra's eyes.


The two were soon on their way. The metal bars were heavy, obviously weighing them down, but Finway noticed that Saraboam was doing alright for his age. This surprised him, as even the young noble himself was having difficulty. How, Finway wondered, is he managing? It soon hit him that he was carrying twice as much of the materials as his companion was.


As the two travelers passed through the eastern side of Varrock, several prominent buildings could be observed, and the heaviness of their bags not refraining the travelers from doing so. They gazed upon Horvik's smithy, which produced the majority of the city's weapons, the barracks, where guards were always kept on reserve, and the sacred Church of Saradomin. The chapel was kept up in an almost royal fashion, a fact that stood in clear contrast to the Zamorakian temple that stood in the southern, run down part of the city. That shrine had been forced to close because of Saradominist children defacing and vandalizing it. Soon enough, they had passed most of the well-known structures that side of the city had to offer.


Suddenly, an overwhelmingly horrid smell arose. Saraboam coughed it was so strong, his lungs reacting the wretched scent. It was coming from a small entrance to their left that led into the depths of Varrock's sewers.

It's interesting, Finway observed, that such an ugly thing would be so close to the famous structures of Varrock. He had ventured into those areas several times throughout his lifetime, every occasion being when he was on commission from the king.

"Is that the infamous sewer system?" Finway's magician companion asked.

"Yes," he replied. "The entrance is right there," he added, pointing to the pothole that led downwards do it.

"I see."


Their trip to the northern wilderness' edge was passive, and seemed to go by slow. The air began to cool as the spring evening spread its wings, encompassing the city. Soon enough, they had passed through the northern gates, and were nearing the protected border of Misthalin. Beyond that was the uncontrolled, untamed lands of the north; ravaged by the Godwars, they were totally uncharitable to all human life. It is certainly not a place that I would like to return to, Finway sighed.


A sudden feeling of despair began to ravage him. The second they stepped outside the city limits it hit him: he might never see Abigail again. He successfully attempted to hide it from Saraboam. What would she do if he died up here in the North? What would Varrock do if its most beloved and bravest adventurer perished? Such questions plagued him.

"Are you alright?" Saraboam asked, noticing the worried mask the young lord wore.

"Yes, I'm fine," was the simply reply. "Do you know how long we will be gone?"

"Perhaps weeks, perhaps years," the mage replied. He then smiled. "I'm guessing the former is more likely than the latter." The two shared a laugh as they continued onwards. After a few minutes, Finway opened his mouth again.

"How will Azzanadra-or, Nabanik-know where we are?"

"His kind have an almost magical sense that detects the presence of others. He can feel the existence of others around him, as all Mahjarrat can."

No sooner had he spoke then a red-bearded traveler came out from the trees. His face bore a look of concern upon it, his scarlet jacket looking as faded as ever.

"Nabanik," Saraboam and Finway acknowledged almost simultaneously.

"I have found something terrible indeed," the Mahjarrat's human form spoke. "Lucien has been operating from Varrock."

This particular news shocked the adventurer. His home town was now in danger-a Mahjarrat had worked within it's very protection! Perhaps I should go back and warn the court, he thought, albeit with little conviction.

"Perhaps we should warn the town?" suggest the noble.

"Finway, it is understandable that you wish to preserve your home," Nabanik began, "but you have nothing to fear. Lucien cannot afford to waste his power on harming the city this close to the ritual-he must save all his strength for the coming battle."

Finway sighed. He's right, he thought, Lucien wouldn't waste his energy on the eve of a great battle.

"Besides," Saraboam reasoned, "surely he would have attacked the town earlier if he had wanted it done."

"Very true," Nabanik explained. "Are there any more humans we must encounter?"

"Yes," Finway explained. "The wilderness is protected by a ditch, with certain outposts allowing entry at certain points. This area is governed by Misthalin, so I have permission from the king to cross into it. But please, tell me more of what Lucien was doing."

"Indeed, I do not know entirely," the Mahjarrat's human form sighed. "I sensed that he was in the North-West of the city, so I traveled there. At first, I thought it had something to do with this great pillar, where a large crowd was gathered, but then I detected his presence even further north." Saraboam and Finway looked at each other, confused. Then the younger of the two opened his eyes and let out a sigh of relief.

"The great pillar-the Grand Exchange," he said. "It's a financial center for trading and such, so there is usually quite a few people gathered there."

"Yes, yes," Nabanik responded. "Anyway, after I was on the northern side of this…Grand Exchange, I found a small hut. I knew he was in there, and I entered. Sure enough, I caught sight of the villain. He was powerful, and exclaimed that I was no match for him and that he would meet me at the ritual." He sighed. "Then he summoned two tormented demons, tortured creatures from the netherworld. They attacked me, and I easily defeated them both, but it is amazing that he has amassed that much power. Imagine the havoc he could wreak upon the lesser races!"

Finway and Nabanik were simply amazed at the story. Wait, Finway thought, the Vanthin manor is in the north; they're lives are in danger if Lucien succeeds!

"Are you confident he will not attack?"

"Certainly," Nabanik replied, curious at the adventurer's anxiety. "It would be very poor planning on his part. Lucien was always known for being very technical and precise-he would never allow such a blunder in his plot to godhood."

Finway was almost shaking, being trapped in a nervous state as he wondered about his future and the future of Varrock. Nonetheless, he forced his feelings aside, something he did on almost all of his adventures.


The trio continued their travels northward for roughly a mile before encountering a large stone structure. Atop it was a stack of wood that was to be lit in case the creatures from the North ever crashed down upon the human kingdoms. There was a host of guards present, all of them sitting or leaning against the massive beacon. It was in a small clearing, and the ditch that segregated the Wilderness from Misthalin could be seen just past it. Not a single one of the soldiers took notice of the three, and so Finway spoke up, his anxiety long gone.

"We wish to pass through," he boldly declared. Immediately, all of the guards fixed their eyes upon the trio.

"You're…you're Finway, correct?" inquired one of the men. He bore no markings or decorations, but the adventurer assumed he was the captain of the outpost.

"Yes, yes I am," Finway stated.

"We 'eard about you coming up 'ere, and we're all quite honored, you see."

"I have permission from the king to pass," the young noble felt confident: the guards seemed to be in awe of him. "Are you the captain?"

"Nah, cap'n got sick this morning'-" some of the men sniffled at this, "-and he won't be back tonight. Gave the torch to me, he did, in a manner of speaking."

It's easy to see that they don't look up to their captain very much, Finway thought. He smiled in appreciation of this guard's play on words. 'Passing on the torch' was quite literal in this sense.

"Here are my papers," he said with a smile, showing the signed and sealed documents to the man. He simply nodded aggressively.

"You can pass, return safely, now."

"I'll try," Finway glanced with a grin at the guard before heading northwards, Nabanik and Saraboam right behind him.


As soon as they were about a mile past them, with thick woods covering their path, Nabanik halted them.

"Here, let us forge the sword now before it is too late," he stated. The two others nodded, and they each removed the gold and silver from their bags. "Can you heat this item?" the Mahjarrat asked Saraboam.

"I can heat it, but I certainly do not have the power to shape it," the mage replied, almost shocked.

"That is alright, but you must heat it for me to craft."

Nodding, the magician placed his hands upon the precious metals, removing several runes form his pouch. Instantaneously, the materials began to glow, consumed by an invisible fire. Finway stood in awe of the spectacle, watching as Nabanik placed four gems, the white, red, black, and dark green ones he had used to free the demon, upon the burning metal. He then placed his hand upon it, and the shape of a sword could be seen forming within a second.

"There," the mage spoke, his task complete. The blade began dropping to the ground, but Nabanik caught it with near-perfect reflexes. It was a huge weapon, nearly five feet tall. An eerie, magical glow came out from it-it was an enchanted blade, probably more powerful than even Finway's own rune sword.

"It's so large," commented the adventurer. "How will you fight with it?"


The Mahjarrat let out a deep breath, a smile upon his face. His whole body began to glow, and with a gust of powerful energy, he transformed back into his natural liche form. His raw, white body was covered once more by a scarlet jackal headdress, his crimson eyes glowing from within it's depths. In this form, Azzanadra stood roughly seven feet tall, and the sword easily fit into his muscular hands. Engraved into the bottom of the blade were the four diamonds that had previously bound the powerful creature's essence, the diamonds that Saraboam and Finway had used to free him, the precious stones that Jamal had retrieved.

"I thought…I thought you were trying to conserve your power," Finway bluntly stated.

"I am," Azzanadra spoke, his natural voice much different than that of his human form's. It seemed as if every word he said somehow echoed through the headdress, producing an eerie, almost frightening echo. "However, shaping magic is much different than using it. What Saraboam did was provide the energy, while I merely directed its flow."

"The latter requires much practice and patience," the magician explained, "and few humans have ever learned the art." Suddenly, the mage's eyes widened. "Finway, did you ever replace Silverlight?"

Smiling, the young lord nodded. "Indeed, the king himself gave me my new blade." He reached in his bag and unsheathed his rune sword, gazing at the powerful weapon's piercing aura.

"Rune metal," Nabanik commented. The magician was simply too amazed to speak-the material to craft this sword would cost enough to bankrupt a nobleman. "I remember that it used to be rare, even in my time. Humans would often fight and kill over such a prize."

"This is incredible," Saraboam stated. Finway could only grin with pride.

"Yes, I know."


Chapter Twelve


Finway steadied his sturdy oak bow, aiming the arrow for the chest of the wolf. The North was cold, much cooler than he anticipated, and even the summers would prove to be a chilling challenge. This animal, the beast of the wilderness, was sniffing the ground, most likely searching for an animal to devour.


Although the adventurer was no archer, he had some practice under his wing. Once, while searching the forests near Lumbridge, he had been forced to use a friend's bow to put down a giant rat that endangered his life. When he was in training, archery was a practice not neglected by the trainers.


However, that was years ago; this was now. He hadn't realized the intensity of the nightly frost, underestimating it's potential. A strong fur coat was a must, especially as they traveled deeper into the wild lands in their quest northward. With that in mind, he released his first shot.


It was a dead miss. He had gone over a year without having to use his bow once, and that had it's consequences. He sighed, and fetched another arrow from his quiver. He fired, but the deadly missile struck a rock several yards away from the wolf. He creature looked up, hearing the noise. He turned, realizing the danger he was in. The beast was stiff with confusion, probably unsure whether to attack this human or to flee. Saraboam approached the adventurer. "Finway, how goes it?"


"Fine," he muttered.

"Hunting for the meat, or the fur?"

"The fur," Finway sighed, growing frustrated. "There's no way I can survive these tundra nights without it."

"Very true. Would you like me to get it for you?"

"No," the adventurer glanced over at him, "I'll get it."

"I can finish him with one strike," the mage persisted.

"No," Finway reiterated. It seemed almost awkward leaving the conversation at that, but he decided it wasn't worth continuing. Another arrow went, and another arrow failed to hit its target. The wolf began to relax, no longer sensing any danger. What a blow to my mentality, Finway thought. After some time, the young lord let up and began to speak. "Last night was wretched, and I don't want to put myself through it again."

"And it's only your third day into the journey-there's much yet to come. At least you're taking the proper precautions."

"You should've reminded me about the cold," Finway stated with a deep breath. Saraboam opened his mouth, as if to speak, but then closed it for a few moments.

"We'll be heading out of this area soon. Azzanadra wishes to reach the ruins of Carrallangar by this evening."

"Where is he?" Finway asked, attempting to change the subject.

"Scouting the area. You must understand the feelings he's going through: this was his homeland, and it is completely changed from when he was here last."

The adventurer nodded in agreement. "That's understandable."

He released his grip once more, and the arrow met its mark. The wolf now paid the price for its relaxation: a piercing arrow in his chest.


"Are you two ready to depart?" Azzanadra said as he emerged from a patch of dead trees. He had crafted a sheath for himself upon his back, and his proud, massive sword rested inside it with pride.

"Almost," Finway replied. "I just need to skin this wolf."

"We might be able to cook the meat for lunch, as well," Saraboam advised.


The remainder of the morning passed by quickly. None of the three had anything to say, so they kept quiet. Finway sort of liked it: the silence gave him time to reflect. He had already experienced remorse earlier for taking his life, wealth, and lover, Abigail, for granted. Now, he was beginning to plan out what his future would be like. He already knew where their home would be located: north-west of the city, where elegant estates sprang from the rolling countryside and trees. He could picture his retired rune sword hanging up in their grand foyer, overlooking the entryway. There would be two staircases, each one curving along the wall as they lead to the second level. The mansion would be splendid indeed.


Outside its gates would be a wall-not a guarded, protected, and defensive wall, but a wall that would serve the purpose, more or less, of a fence. Their gate would be made of solid steel. No, Finway thought, steel would not do the estate justice. Instead, he wanted adamantine bars, their green texture a proud complement with the light grey walls they would have. He smiled in delight, and Saraboam looked over. In an effort to avoid an awkward explanation, Finway's grin instantly faded, the adventurer hoping the magician did not see.


If the mage did, he did not show, and simply glanced back forward. Finway then reasoned that it was best to interrupt his fantasizing to inquire as to the length of their journey.

"How much further do we have to go?" he asked.

"We're already nearly halfway there," Azzanadra responded, his hollow voice coming as a shock. However, his statement was what took Finway by surprise-it was hardly noon. This day, the young lord reckoned, would be shorter than most of their other ones.

"Was Carrallangar a large city?" he questioned. "I mean, before the God Wars?"

"It was a proud, strong city," the Mahjarrat spoke, raising his head. "Sliske, another Mahjarrat of great power, was placed in charge of the region by the Empty Lord himself. He was heartbroken we it fell to Zamorak's wretched demons. He was forced to destroy the city so that the Zamorakians would not take control. He also cast a spell through which the shades of that battle still haunt it today."


Finway nodded, feeling temporarily satisfied. Jamal spoke very little of Sliske in his notes, but he knew that further questioning the Mahjarrat might frustrate him. He then realized how strange it was that Azzanadra was traveling with the two humans: he didn't need them in any way at all. If anything, both he and Saraboam relied on Azzanadra. He wondered why he had joined the quest again, recalling the promise he had made to Saraboam in return for saving his life. But why would the mage himself be accompanying Azzanadra?


There must be some deep-felt loyalty between these Zarosians, Finway reasoned. There was no other explanation for it; why else would Saraboam be taking this journey? The Demon Tide was a ritual that only the Mahjarrat could undergo, so that couldn't explain it. Azzanadra had mentioned that he needed a guide through the human kingdoms, but they had already passed through Misthalin safely. What further tasks were required? Lucien needs to be killed, Finway thought. Their powerful accompanying Mahjarrat, however, planned on doing this in the ritual. What would the two humans' purpose be, then?


Then it struck him: the Stone of Jas. The powerful object was in Lucien's possession, so, while all of the Mahjarrat would be distracted with the ritual, the humans would have to find it. A power-hungry demon such as Lucien would surely not remain parted from such a prize for long would he? Then he realized another shocking truth: the fiendish Mahjarrat would also probably have it highly guarded. Or would he? Perhaps he wants none to know its location, Finway wonder with optimism, for fear of them stealing it from him. He sighed, his brain beginning to throb from his wandering thoughts.


A new thought entered his mind: how did Jamal acquire the diamonds that freed Azzanadra? They must have been highly guarded if they could potentially unleash such a powerful creature into the realm. The question started pounding in his brain, and he felt the need to ask the others as to their opinions.

"I have a question," he stated. Saraboam turned, but Azzanadra continued forward, although he knew that the Mahjarrat, too, had heard him. "Weren't the diamonds that free you, Azzanadra, highly guarded?"

"It is more than likely," he stated in reply. "I was not here, however, so I would not be entirely sure."

"If they were," Finway continued, "I would like to know how Jamal could have obtained them."

"Did you not remember the broken wand he had?" the magician spoke up. "He was truly a potent and gifted wizard to have acquired the Master Wand, a highly prized object! I myself could not have obtained it."

Finway stood, wide-eyed. Jamal must have had much power, as Saraboam himself was gifted in the ways of magic. "Do his notes say anything of it?"

"Shockingly, no," the magician responded. "He includes the names of those he killed-Damis, Dessous, Fareed, and Kamil-and a few notes about how he found them, but not much. He used a series of mystical mirrors his Uncle Elbis had arranged to find the diamonds locations, and then he sought each of the four demons out."

"Demons?" Finway inquired with curiosity. "They must have been extremely powerful."

"I vaguely recognize one of their names," Azzanadra began. "Dessous was a ferocious and powerful ally of Lord Drakan. I recall that, before my imprisonment, a host of Zamorakian forces, mostly vampyres and werewolves, invaded Hallowland. Are they still there?"

The Varrockian noble was confused. Saraboam, in stark contradiction, was not. "Yes," he spoke, "and the entire area has been renamed Morytania."


Morytania, thought Finway, a land of clouds and gloom with a foul odor of misfortune about it. Misthalin had been at "silent war" with that country and Lord Drakan's forces for nearly a year, quietly funding the rebels known as the Myreque. Aeonisig Raispher, the priest and religious advisor of King Roald, was especially keen on the issue. Due to his urging, the king enacted a mercenary protocol, through which floods of rogues and small-time adventurers crossed the Salve River to fight for the liberation of Morytania.


Perhaps that's why Lord Raispher did not want me to be gone for long, the adventurer concluded. The advisor of the king probably wanted him for some venture involving the dreaded east. That must be too bad, he thought, because I'm done with the commissions after this.


The group stopped for lunch. Neither of the two humans had seen Azzanadra eat before, so it was strange-he fed himself wolf meat and drank through his otherworldly headdress. It was incredibly strange seeing the powerful Mahjarrat feed. It made Finway realize how odd it was that he was traveling with a being of such great power-enough not only to transform at will, shape molten metal on contact, or annihilate two powerful demons, but enough, supposedly, to destroy an entire army of humans. However, he had to keep in mind that the Mahjarrat race was not based purely off of destruction-he had learned that much when Saraboam read Jamal's notes to him back in the desert.


The rest of the afternoon passed by in a daze. Similar to the early morning, little talking took place. While on their journey northward, they encountered a great stone temple-ruined, of course. Surrounding it was an entrenched moat of molten lava, bubbles in the liquid rock forming periodically. The site was very warm, even if they stood a dozen yards away from the earthen trench. The roof of the temple was collapsed, and the walls were silently eroding away. Finway thought about asking to whom the shrine was dedicated, but he figured it must have been Zamorak. No other worshipers, he thought, could possibly inhabit this area.


The more Finway thought about life, the more detached he felt regarding reality-almost awkward. Ever since they had entered the wilderness, an almost ethereal trance overtook him. Perhaps it was this free time spent walking-it was, after all, the longest traveling distance he ever encountered-or perhaps it was the mysteriousness of journeying with such a powerful being that forced him into silence. Either way, his mental distance from the world truly gave him a unique, open, and full perspective of his life, which was something he direly needed.


Finally, the adventurer realized he needed a break from the awkward quietness that had covered them.

"I have another question," he began. Saraboam, as he had earlier, turned towards him, while Azzanadra continued forward.


"Why were the bandits so opposed to foreign religions to the point where Jamal, their hero, would be killed?"

"Those bandits, too, are followers of the Empty Lord," the Mahjarrat, oddly enough, spoke, "and so they are keen to follow his ideals. It is-or was-known that humans are the most treacherous of all the lesser races, and so this opposition towards foreign gods serves as an indication of their loyalty."

"But perhaps it's too extreme?" Finway half questioned, half pleaded.

"Killing must be appropriated as is due," Azzanadra stated, his voice easily overpowering that of the humans'. "If they kill all outsiders regardless of any condition, then I do not support it. However, if they are killing one who tries to convert, it is justified. I know not your case, and so I will not be the judge of it."

"I grew up amongst them," Saraboam stated, almost out of place. "I know their ways, and this very disagreement resulted in me separating from them. I left my family as a young man in order to study at the great Wizard's Tower of Misthalin, but my father ordered me not to go. He feared that the Saradominist magicians would learn of my Zarosian upbringing and either kill or convert me."

"I am glad to see," the powerful Mahjarrat responded, as if content, "that his suspicions did not pay off. Here we are, Carrallangar, the city of shadows!"

Unknowingly, the group had finally come across the ruinous, deserted graveyard that once was a great Zarosian stronghold. Finway stared at it; the dreadful sight was eerie indeed, crowded with fallen stones-the remnants of a proud civilization.


I must, he thought, prevent Varrock from coming to this-at any cost.

Edited by Finway
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NOTE: Chapters thirteen through eighteen are contained in this post.


Chapter Thirteen


Standing in the graveyard was odd; it did not seem as if it was meant to be a cemetery, but it was.

"Beware," Azzanadra exclaimed with wariness, "that the dead are still known to be present here. Shades from the past still haunt these grounds." His red eyes shown through the jackal headdress, examining the broken world around him. "This once was my home," he said, as if explaining something to the humans.


The statement shocked both Saraboam and Finway, and so the two glanced at each other. Seeing the most powerful mortal in existence express such sentimentality was shocking and overpowering. In a way, it struck awe into them-what else would a great hero, coming out of imprisonment, feel when he returns to a city he once called home? Finway realized something at that moment: all beings, no matter how strong, have feelings about something. A warrior may love his sword like a captain does his boat, but everyone, everyone had something.


"I require a moment of time to gather myself together," the Mahjarrat champion declared. "You may set up a camp here, for I feel as if we will not go on further today."

The adventurer and mage simply nodded. They might have felt fear for being left alone in the wild, untamed north, but it would be a much better idea than imploring the demon to stay.


"I'll gather some wood and try to dry it out," Saraboam stated, walking away amongst the dead trees. The woods that surrounded the dead city were eerie, a windless silence overtaking them. An odd breeze blew from the north, sending a shiver down Finway's spine. He glanced south, the wind carrying itself through the dead branches. It made the adventurer wonder how old the trees were. Perhaps, he wondered curiously, they have been frozen in this same, perpetual state since the God Wars ended. He dismissed such a theory immediately; that would mean that they had been untouched for thousands of years.


Suddenly, Finway heard a branch crack to his south side. He glanced over quickly.

"Saraboam?" he asked, hoping that the magician would reply. His question went unanswered. "Is that you?"


A distant thumping sound could be heard. He gulped. What was this new devilry? The cracking of branches could be heard, as footsteps started drawing nearer.

"Saraboam!" he shouted, praying the magician would appear to help combat this approaching enemy.


A mumbled cry overtook the running sounds as an undead creature, the corpse of a human, appeared from the woods. He raced towards Finway, not giving the adventurer enough time to withdraw his sheathed blade. The demonic fiend tackled him, the two of them striking the ground with a thud.


The zombie half roared, half gurgled, his pale, white body overtaking Finway's. Struggling the adventurer managed to strike the beast in the head. This seemed to have no effect; the zombie continued grabbing, clawing, and hitting, attempting above all to sink his teeth into Finway's flesh.


Finally, the magician emerged from the woods. He sent a powerful spell against the undead monstrosity, although Finway's eyes were too distracted to look at it. It his the back of the zombie with full force, and even Finway felt the blow. After gurgling, the creature fell over, facing the void for a second time.


"What happened?" Saraboam inquired desperately, clutching his staff with both hands.

"I don't know," Finway replied, unsheathing his precious blade. "Whatever it is, it's after us." More thumping noises could be heard, and both the two humans felt a sardonic laughter in their minds. You'll never defeat me, it seemed to be saying, but they had no time to think of it after it struck them, for by the time it had, they were surrounded by half a dozen undead fiends.


The creatures were menacing, growling at the two. Where, thought Finway desperately, is Azzanadra? His abilities could have surely proven useful at that moment. Before they had time to think any more, one of the zombies lurched forward, throwing himself about Saraboam. The mage launched a powerful fire bolt at the creature, burning his torso to a crisp. The monstrosity was knocked down, but he had started a trend: the others followed suit.


One of them attacked Finway. Wielding a rusted, iron sword, the creature proved deadly. He lifted his blade above his head, and within seconds it was crashing down upon the adventurer. Finway, however, easily parried the blow. He threw the beast's saber to the side before lunging with his own; the results proved fatal. Saraboam eventually found the necessary runes to launch the crumble undead spell, and he was far more than a match for the undead. The young Varrockian noble notices this, but he immediately had to find his next target.


One of the creature's grasped a sturdy battle-axe, seemingly well made. Finway noticed this in shock; even more surprising, the beast bore chain mail with a Varrockian sigil. He had been a Royal Guard in his lifetime, Finway wondered, awe-struck. What horror could be summoning these undead? He gulped, and raced towards the creature.


The zombie saw this and began pacing towards him, as well. He raised his axe and swung. Finway easily maneuvered himself back to avoid the blow, and he dodged out of the next upper-cut. This creature was fast, and each swipe of his seemed to be more powerful than the last. Clutching his powerful, rune sword, Finway decided to make his move immediately after one of the creature's missed attacks.


He leapt towards it, slashing the zombie in the left arm. He half-expected it to fall off, but it only left a cut. The gash was sizeable, but not nearly enough to cleave through the limb. It was then that he realized that this monster's skin was not as pale as the other's: he had not been dead for as long. The creature gurgled in anger, throwing his weapon again at the adventurer. Finway, because of his proximity, could only duck. He did so, but the zombie kneed him in the face.


The adventurer fell over, and within seconds another undead fiend rampaged his way into the fight. This one was smaller, and was approaching fast. It stopped when it realized that his demonic partner had already beat him down. No, Finway panicked, no! He was seconds away from being overtaken by the two. The lager, armored one threw his battle axe up into the air. It was then that Saraboam noticed the struggle; a wind strike easily knocked the weapon out of his hands. Confused, the zombie still attacked, but with only his robust hands.


Finway, thinking fast, stuck his sword perpendicular to the creature's blow. It resulted in the zombie gashing his own hands against the razor sharp blade. The adventurer kicked his shin, then his knee, in rapid succession. The second blow knocked his legs out from under him, but the armored, undead fiend almost fell upon Finway. He swiftly rolled away, propelling himself with his left arm and leg. However, the creature fell upon his arm.


The adventurer nearly screamed in pain, but distress overtook his mind. He glanced over, but Saraboam was having a hard enough time trying to fend off the half dozen zombies that were surround him. How, Finway thought frantically, can I be struggling against but one? He looked up, and the formerly confused zombie, the smaller one that had entered the fight but had not actively participated, was growing restless and impatient. It was seconds before he would attack, as well, perhaps to feast upon the flesh.


His mind raced, I can't let this happen! Using his free right hand, he let go of his sword and punched the zombie, the one that had landed upon his arm, in the head. He reeled back before letting another such blow be unleashed. The menace growled, but his own arms were far too damaged to retaliate adequately. After one final strike, Finway managed to free his arm.


He got up, taking his sword. No sooner had he done so then the smaller foe ran towards him. It was insufficient, and Finway, much superior in physical strength and combat, threw him to the ground, near the other zombie. He aimed his sword at the armored creature, dropping himself upon it. With one final growl, the being passed onto the void, for the second time. By that time, the second one had gotten up, but with a quick blow to the neck, his head fell to the ground.


Finway nervously glanced around, observing the three dead corpses. He had slain but three, while five zombies laid at the feet of his companion, Saraboam. The sixth one hit the ground with a thud soon after.

"Did you…" was all Finway managed to ask before the magician nodded.

"I heard it too, the laughter, just before the zombies arrived."

"Where is Azzanadra?" the adventurer was shivering. He wanted to believe it was the cold, but the truth was that his nerves were on end. Adventure might have been his passion, but this sort of dread, uncontrolled danger was not what he had been used to on each of his commissions. It was the same feeling he had encountered when the bandits had ambushed him: insecurity, the lack of protection. The whole idea seemed to come back to him, manifesting itself as a fear that seemed to overtake his current state of mind.


"They're gone now, at least for now…" Finway muttered, noticing that Saraboam had not responded since his last comment. His adrenaline rush began to die down, and he placed his hands on his knees. "We need Azzanadra. I can't take any more of this fighting right now."

"You must do what you can to survive," Saraboam exclaimed, half-shouting, half-demanding. "Do you understand?"

"I will try," the adventurer replied, his tone rising, "but I am limited by my abilities."

Saraboam simply sighed, but no response poured forth from his lips. They waited anxiously for half a moment, a time that seemed to fly by, before the familiar, dreaded sound of thundering could be heard again. No storm was near, but new creatures were amassing. Once again, a sadistic laugh pulsed in their minds. What, a panic-stricken Finway wondered fearfully, is happening?


Within seconds more zombies appeared, many more than last time. Each of them seemed to either growl or gurgle, their vocal chords not capable of producing a more-intelligent sound. The horrors almost complete surrounded them, the ruins of Carrallanger eerily quiet behind them. Finway gulped, believing in his mind that this battle would be his last.


After a brief moment, they all leapt forward. The two hardly had time to react when the first blows struck them. Finway found himself parrying one swing while trying to dodge another in a futile attempt for survival. One large zombie bore a powerful, steel mace in his hand. The adventurer blocked this creature's first attack successfully, but his foe then smashed a fist into his abdomen. The blow completely knocked the wind out of Finway, and he fell to the ground instantly.


From this new perspective, Finway tried to observe the undead monstrosities that were beginning to come upon him. He pointed his sword straight into the air, then threw his hands forward. The slicing motion cleave a massive gash into one of the zombie's foreheads. He immediately tried to get up, spinning his rune blade around like a madman.


His tactic worked, and he seemed to be almost fully recovered from his fall. The zombie with the mace-the one that had knocked him down-had mistaken him for dead, and moved onto Saraboam. With revenge in his mind, Finway reeled his sword in before lunging it through the beast's heart. The creature screamed before he fell to the ground.


As soon as his opponent was defeated, Finway swung his blade around ferociously in a semi-circle. This gave him a few seconds to observe the situation: the two humans were hopelessly outnumbered by the undead. How, he thought with depression, can we ever hope to win this?


He started to parry another blow launched by yet another oncoming aggressor. He was relatively easy to fight off, but two others came up from his right and left. Finway slashed at the rightmost one's hand, then tried to jab at the left one. By that time, the middle zombie began attacking once more. Hope was running thin when a sharp breeze from the western woods seemed to carry a mysticism of power within it.


A sudden roar froze all of the combatants, including Saraboam and Finway. Azzanadra emerged from the trees, his Liche form proudly wielding his powerful sword. He pointed his weapon forward, and no sooner had he done so then two magical orbs surrounded the adventurer and his mage companion. The zombies, left out of the mystical sphere, starred with curiosity and awe at their new foe.


The Mahjarrat growled once more, his jackal headdress seeming to shake from fury. A blazing, almost pure white flame began manifesting itself along his sword's blade. He lifted the weapon up, then launched it forward, still retaining his grip. This motion seemed to throw the flame forward, but it did much more. An explosion of fire and epic brightness poured forward, burning and disintegrating the undead creatures. Finway and Saraboam, safe within the confines of their respective orbs, remained unharmed.


Within seconds, each of the zombies, along with much of the surrounding environment, were smoldering embers. The bubble Azzanadra had summoned to protected the two humans disappeared, and they both beheld the powerful demon. He was breathing heavily.


The strange voice they had encountered minutes earlier seemed to re-enter their minds. What is this, it was asking, one of my Mahjarrat kin dares oppose me! Both Finway and Saraboam glanced at each other, nervous. Azzanadra simply growled.


"I am not your kin, Zemouregal," he spoke sternly. With both hands he grappled the sides of his headdress and lifted it up, revealing the most terrifying, hostile face a human had ever seen. "I am Azzanadra, servant of the Empty Lord."


His face, like the rest of his body, was deathly pale, a whiteness that could be compared to frost. It bore no hair that could be seen, but a red hood stood in it's place, probably to buffer his head from his helmet. The Mahjarrat's crimson, menacing eyes were no less fearsome, but they grew altogether more frightening when put with the rest of his countenance. The only thing that gave him away as a mortal was the slight wrinkling of his face that could be observed just beneath his deathly eyes.


Finway's eyes opened with shock, horror, and awe. This, he thought with amazement, is what he truly is-a terrifying being! Azzanadra grimaced into the distance, showing his teeth. The being that had spoken to them, seemingly through their minds, went for a long time without speaking. This prolonged silence gave the young noble enough time to study his Mahjarrat companion. The more he saw of him, the less realistic he became. After a few moments, he had to stop himself from believing that it was a dream, a fantastic fairytale.


You will never get far! the voice, coming from Zemouregal, came through in their minds. Lucien has amassed much power! He shall slay you at the Demon Tide! Azzanadra appeared to laugh.


"Lucien will not possess the Stone of Jas for long," he exclaimed, "nor the Staff of Armadyl. His quest for godhood shall fail and he will die before this moon has ended."

Zemouregal gave off a menacing hiss, leaving it screeching in their ears. At the ritual! As for you, human boy-Finway gulped, knowing it was a reference to him-You shall perish, as well, and your beloved Varrock shall fall forever! Once again, Zemouregal chuckled, the laughter manifesting itself in their minds. At the ritual! he reiterated.


It was too much for Finway. He can't win, he thought with anger, he can't! Everything was now at stake-it was no longer a quest for glory, a quest for excitement, adventure, and tales to tell. Now his life, Abigail's, and that of the entire city of Varrock was at stake. He began breathing heavily. He couldn't let Lucien, and now Zemouregal, win the coming battle. But what could he, a mere human, do to stop them?


Chapter Fourteen


The week after the incident was filled with anxiety and depression for Finway. The fateful words seemed to echo and re-echo through his head. His city, his nation, and everyone could easily be destroyed if Lucien and his followers, including his foul cousin, Zemouregal, were to succeed. Azzanadra must slay him, Finway thought with anxiety, he simply must!


There was little, however, that he could do. His helpless situation got him thinking once more of his quest, and what, in essence, it truly was. Out of gratitude, he was following a wizard through the untamed, freezing wilderness of the north with the most powerful mortal in existence in hopes that they might be able to assist him with slaying Lucien at this ritual, this Demon Tide. The very name sent shivers down the adventurer's spine. Clutching his wolf fur even tighter, he pulled the hide closer in.


Not only was the ground hard and the temperature bitter, but the landscape itself was mostly dull and uneventful. Occasionally, they would catch sight of some wolves or goblins, but their journey was filled for the most part with eerie forests and rolling, dead hills. The most 'exciting' thing they had yet seen was a ghost, a revenant specter from the great wars. Azzanadra, growing stronger and allowing himself to use more power, was easily able to shield them from the phantom.


The soil had transformed into permafrost by the second week in their journey, and although Summer was dawning on the southern kingdoms, winter was eternal up in the North. The cold nights, thanks to Finway's heavy wolf fur, became less of a hassle, but traveling throughout the day always presented a chilling, northerly wind against them. The two humans began to dread the travel, as night was their only time for rest.


As for Azzanadra, nothing, not even the freezing climate, could dim his resolution. His strength seemed to be growing stronger daily, even after being forced to use much energy saving Finway and Saraboam's lives from the undead. Upon his upper body, the Mahjarrat warrior only wore his jackal headdress. The rest of his torso and the entirety of his arms was left uncovered, unprotected from the elements. This caused Finway to speculate that he did not feel pain, or at least not the cold.


The dreariness did not help subdue the adventurer's doubts or worries in any way. If anything, the wretched landscape just gave him more time to think about them. Oftentimes, he would picture future scenarios, imagining that it might come to a final battle between Lucien or Zemouregal, one that he would surely lose. Such ideas soon became another cause of his depression. He eventually had to force himself to stop thinking about them.


In a half-hearted attempt to console himself, Finway began wondering about Azzanadra and his power. The Zarosian champion was a legend, easily the most powerful mortal in existence. He had been weakened by his imprisonment, but his magical prowess only seemed to be getting stronger. Apart from shape shifting into a human and back into his Liche form, he had encountered Lucien, slain two powerful demons and had rescued them from a horde of zombies sent by Zemouregal. When he fully regains his power, Finway noted, he must be as strong as a god.


He watched the Mahjarrat warrior as he walked along. His massive arms, his huge, frosty white torso, and his headdress all seemed to possess a certain mysticism about them. He seemed different now that both Finway and Saraboam had seen his face-not just his crimson, blazing eyes, but his actual skeletal face. Just thinking of it sent chills down the adventurer's spine; it truly was a terrifying countenance.


Suddenly, Azzanadra's steps ground to a halt. He lifted his left hand, his right reaching for his sword.

"There is an awry presence nearby," he spoke. Saraboam and Finway glanced at each other.

"What do you mean?" the magician questioned.

"I know not, but it appears to be hiding," was the reply.

"Hiding? You can sense him, correct?" asked Finway. The powerful being shook his head.

"He is not hiding by physical means, but by magic. He must be a being of extreme potency to be able to do so. Normally, I could have easily distinguished every feature about such a presence, but this is all a blur."

"So he is magically powerful?" wondered Finway aloud. Saraboam, knowing the answer, nodded at the young Varrockian lord. Azzanadra noted this, and so he made no attempt to clarify.

"Stay close."


The minutes slowed down to a crawl, the three travelers staying alert all the while. The Mahjarrat warrior would occasionally stop them in their tracks while he used his mind to scan the environment around them. Every time he did so, he would utter some confirmation that the creature-whatever the being was that he had sensed earlier-was still present. It seemed to be going on forever until he halted them for a different reasons.


"Do you see that rise in the land up ahead?" Azzanadra asked of them, halting his pace.

"Yes," Finway responded, and Saraboam soon uttered the same word.

"Just beyond that is a patch of dragons, an entire nest of them," said the powerful demon.

"Could they be the creatures you sense?" inquired the adventurer.

"No," Azzanadra quickly responded. "I can easily detect them, while this strange presence cannot be sensed so easily."

"Perhaps Zemouregal or Lucien has been following us," Saraboam suggested.

Azzanadra nodded. "I would not believe that Zemouregal would be this powerful, but I have been away for a while. Lucien, with the might of Armadyl and Jas at his fingertips, could easily blanket his own power from our view."

"Should we divert to the west to go around the dragon patch?" Finway questioned. The anxiety of the situation was building up inside of him; after their surprise encounter with the undead, he didn't want much combat anytime soon. Besides, Azzanadra would have to be the only one fighting the beasts, as a dragon's breath could consume a human in an instant. Only the Mahjarrat could shield himself from such an inferno, and that would be a waste of power for him. After all, Finway thought, he still is regaining strength from his imprisonment, isn't he?


"We will, we will," confirmed Azzanadra. It seemed like he was slightly annoyed, but their was only a subtle hint of it in his voice. Despite any sublime message the Mahjarrat was trying to give, Finway was consoled, at least temporarily. He was still as worried as ever about the pending threat against them, but at least they wouldn't have to ward off any dragons. At least not today, he half-thought, half-joked to himself.


Chapter Fifteen


"It's growing stronger."

No other words could have given Finway the same gut reaction. Uttered by Azzanadra, they caused the adventurer's stomach to sink. This anxious bout of depression gave him mixed feelings of despair and frustration.

"Why can't it just show itself and be done with it?" he blurted out. By that point, he wouldn't have minded a fight; At least then they would no longer have to carry on their journey in fear.

"Is that what we really want?" Saraboam asked him. Before anybody else could speak, a blitz of sheer magical power engulfed the traveling trio.


Dozens of trees around them were uprooted and blown across the deserted wasteland. Azzanadra once more conjured several powerful magical orbs to protect them, similar as to what he had done when Zemouregal had attacked them. White flames shot out from the north, the same direction that the initial blast had arrived from. The wind which preceded this fire was nothing in comparison; this new spell encompassed the entire region. The menacing forests that had formerly surrounded Finway, Saraboam, and their powerful Mahjarrat companion disappeared in an instant. Nearly half a mile in diameter, this magical attack had annihilated everything and scorched the earth they stood in.


Once that first attack was over, Azzanadra seemed to be in pain. His massive, pale muscles loosened from their tense state, and the spheres that had protected the two humans and himself disintegrated. His deadly red eyes starred forward, to the north. There, nearly one hundred yards in the distance, was a dragon-like being, clothed with scarlet robes, its wings above its head poised to strike.

"A member of the Dragonkin," the Mahjarrat champion muttered. His glowing eyes narrowed. "What are you hear for?" he growled, loud and clear.


"You," the beast roared in return. It's voice was indeed a strange sound, coming in between two grunts. The creature roared, its head turning towards the sky upon its long neck. It was a monstrosity that paralleled every other fiend Finway had encountered, successfully fulfilling its role as a member of a powerful species.


"Me?" Azzanadra remarked. His deep, hollow voice came in stark contrast to the Dragonkin's.

"I will kill you, and return with your corpse to Lucien," the demonic menace cried. Although none of the three could clearly make out its countenance from that distance, Finway knew that he was grimacing.

"Not this day," the Mahjarrat muttered in return, unsheathing his newly forged sword. The diamonds glistened as bright as ever, reflecting the power of the wielder.


With an epic cry, the Dragonkin roared once more, this time a deafening throat cry, similar to that of a bear. His body levitated several dozen feet up in the air; unfamiliar with the ways of his race, Finway didn't know if he was using his wings, or utilizing his powerful magical capabilities.


A massive ball of fiery mass was unleashed by the draconic foe. As it drew nearer, the two humans thought it would make impact with them. Saraboam tried to launch a water blast to parry the spell, but his attempt was futile. When it seemed as if it were only a few yards away, Azzanadra raised his sword and brought it swiftly down upon the conjured spell. With intense, mystical powers at play, the flames disappeared from view as the attack disintegrated.


Shockingly enough, the Mahjarrat warrior seemed strangely drained from parrying the blow. It could easily be heard that he was breathing heavily, and his grip on his weapon seemed to loosen. He turned his masked headdress towards the adventurers.

"Flee," he stated, pants surrounding his statement. Without hesitation, the young noble and his mage companion darted for a boulder on the edge of the devastated forest. They successfully managed to hide behind it, looking back to make sure nothing was in pursuit of them. It was empty, except for Azzanadra and the Dragonkin, both standing hundreds of feet apart in the middle of a burned, charcoal-colored wasteland.


"Your magical potency is great," their powerful, embattled friend stated to his opponent, "but let us see how well your physique holds up!" With that, he began racing towards the creature. Within seconds he had reached him and launched a bold uppercut at the monster's torso. Frightened, the beast lurched back. His wings appeared to tense up, and, one at a time, began picking mercilessly at Azzanadra's body, attempting to avoid his headdress-protected face and midriff. Although it tried, he was easily subdued by Azzanadra's superior physical strength. During one of the bouts of such attacks, the Zarosian champion cleaved off the tip of the Dragonkin's wings.


The monstrosity cried out in agony and pain, flying back and upwards to give itself distance from the attacker. His first attempt was unsuccessful: Azzanadra grabbed his foot and slammed him into the ground. The resounding thud was so loud that even Finway and Saraboam, from dozens of yards away, could hear it clearly. Despite this, the Dragonkin managed to claw and scratch its way from the Mahjarrat's ferocious physical bombardment.


"What's happening there?" Finway asked, knowing that Saraboam probably only knew as much as he did.

"It appears as if Azzanadra's physical capabilities outmatch those of the Dragonkin's."


Once free, the creature summoned another spell. This one started as a round ball of pure energy between his hands, which he slammed into the ground with great force. It caused a near-earthquake in the ground, knocking down the burning embers that remained of the trees around them. One of the tremors caught Azzanadra off guard, and he fell to the ground. Seizing the opportunity, the Dragonkin spread its wings and flew directly above his opponent, conjuring up powerful spells right and left in an attempt to keep Azzanadra down.


The technique seemed to be working at first, with white balls of energy raining down upon the humans' companion as they looked on with dread. Suddenly, several of the spells began to be repelled, bouncing back towards the overhanging creature. The Dragonkin ceased it's blitz, and within a moment, all became clear. Azzanadra stood poised under it, with a barrier orb surrounding him, similar to the one he had conjured up to protect the humans twice before.


"Incredible," Saraboam muttered. Finway, overhearing the statement, could only stare at the ensuing conflict with awe. The magical bubble disintegrated into the air, and the Mahjarrat concealed beneath it leapt up at his powerful adversary. His strikes were swift; three in a row, the majestic blade blurred in the air as Azzanadra cleaved at the Dragonkin. However, the beast cast some sort of magical shield at his heels, successfully blocking the attacks.


A frustrated Azzanadra landed on the ground. He growled, looking up at the draconic menace gliding above him. The creature landed on the ground in front of him, unscathed. It hissed, displaying its cruel, serpentine tongue. It almost seemed as if the hiss was a mocking laughter at the Mahjarrat's futile strikes. Azzanadra roared, and in an instant came back towards the Dragonkin. This time, Finway knew, his fury will overcome any spell the monster could conjure!


The noble adventurer was right. Azzanadra chopped at the beast's face, twirled around, and then slashed at its left arm. Unsuspecting the latter blow and caught off guard, the creature tried to block the attack with his arm. The results might have saved its life, but it left a massive wound, with thick, black blood pouring freely from it. Infuriated, the Dragonkin retaliated by summoning a massive surge of wind to knock his foe down.


The wave came crashing at the Mahjarrat, but Azzanadra knew exactly how to handle the spell. He allowed to the mighty wind to carry him roughly a dozen yards back, but was not pushed any further. Landing safely on the ground, he snickered at the fiend, his enemy. It was almost as if he was trying to say, "Do your worst" to the beast. The creature must have known this, for it was planning on doing so.


The Dragonkin was enraged, its wretched, green-hued eyes looking every which way. It seemed maniacal to Finway, the solemn witness of the carnage. The beast glanced up at the sky and let out a hideous cry. Both of the two humans covered their ears at the painful outburst. Soon enough, the creature faced Azzanadra, its eyes focusing on their target once more. The wings on the creature twisted in an arc and met together over the monstrosity's head, creating a circular dome. A glowing, purple orb manifested itself underneath, right in front of its chest.


The sphere that was appearing to grow large, casting a bright violet illumination onto the Dragonkin's otherwise dark red robes. Azzanadra, champion of Zaros, even starred with wide eyes. Finway, nervous and anxious as he was, glanced at Saraboam.

"What is that?"

"I do not know," returned the mage. "We will find out when Azzanadra slays him."

The remark gave the adventurous noble an aura of confidence, but he soon realized that was what the wizard intended to do. In truth, neither human knew who would win the fight. Attempting to conquer his anxiety, Finway forced himself to continue observing intently.


Within a moment, the Mahjarrat recoiled. He raised his sword up to chest level and held it, perpendicular to the ground. The diamonds started to glow, as if they were signifying the power of the wielder. Then, he closed his eyes in meditation.

"He must be calling upon the power of Zaros," Saraboam noted, still glancing onwards. Finway nodded, also watching the engagement. This meditation is a strange way to pray, he thought to himself. However, it was not as unusual as other such reflections. Some Zamorakian cults were known for their self-abuse, sometimes going as far as to torture themselves. Saradominists, on the other hand, usually prayed in shrines dedicated to their god. The thought process he was following made Finway wonder how Saraboam was so confident about his last statement, but then it hit him that he, too, was Zarosian.


They stood there for minutes, but the time dragged by slowly. The purple orb under the Dragonkin appeared to be growing larger and its brightness increased. The beast seemed to laugh mockingly, but Azzanadra remained unaffected. He simply stood with the sword in front of his torso, the blade extending in height to be on par with his jackal headdress.


The anxiety-filled moment of truth ended with an explosive sound echoing from the Mahjarrat's foe. The mystical, purple sphere headed at incredible speeds at Azzanadra. His eyes opened with the commotion, and he reeled back. Less than a second before the dark, conjured spell would reach him, he slashed at it. With his enchanted sword, the powerful being simply cleaved the spell in half.


Although it was truly incredible feat to witness, it appeared as though Azzanadra was growing weaker. His chest was rising heavily. Finway could almost swear he heard the Mahjarrat's heavy breathing. The Dragonkin, however, screeched with distraught. The menacing creature's spell had failed.


Before it could notice Azzanadra's fatigue, the Mahjarrat charged at it. Catching the draconic being off guard, he appeared to hold the upper hand. He launched a series of volleys in quick succession: an uppercut, a slash across the right wing, and a stab at the chest. Although the first two attacks were extremely successful-Azzanadra hitting his mark perfectly both times-the third one was not. The Dragonkin had managed to back up enough so that the fatal lunge could not be accomplished. As it withdrew itself from the engagement, it kicked Azzanadra's headdress, temporarily knocking him down. Within a split second, the beast managed to fly several yards back.


Prospects still looked good for the Zarosian champion, who instantaneously arose to pursue his adversary. The Dragonkin looked all around, his eyes once more in a manic state, searching for a possible escape. It attempted to fly backwards, but Azzanadra was too quick. He grabbed the creature by the leg and smashed it into the ground.


Once more, his foe got up and attempted to dart left, but with an epic cleave, Azzanadra took of a sizable portion of its wing. Screaming in agony, the Dragonkin was seemingly defeated; crippled and suffering intense pain, it seemed as if Azzanadra would finish it within seconds.


Then the beast laughed. The Mahjarrat paused, confused. Why would a creature so close to death do such a thing? Was he attempting to mock the conqueror?

"You fool," it hissed at him, in the same coarse voice it had used earlier. "You might slay me, but you will die! Lucien will destroy you!"

In response, an enraged Azzanadra growled. Soon, it became a roar as he pointed his sword down at his chest.


All of the sudden, a blinding light overcame all of those present. It only lasted a split second, but it was enough to make anyone notice. A crackling thunder followed it. Although physically, nothing appeared to be changed, and the battle still remained the same, something was different about Azzanadra.

"His sword!" Finway exclaimed. "The gems aren't glowing!"

Saraboam's eyes widened. It was true: the magic that had formerly caused them to illuminate was no longer in play.


"He's still standing, though," the magician stated. "I don't know what is happening."


Although the humans were unsure what happened, they definitely witnessed one thing: Azzanadra stabbed the Dragonkin through the heart. The creature's skin turned to a dusty pile of ashes as his bones crumbled under them. The Mahjarrat victor looked around, as if searching for the two of them.


"We're here!" Finway shouted to him as he stood up, Saraboam doing the same. Azzanadra turned to approach them, but he seemed confused. His breath was loud and he was panting heavily. His eyes met Finway's, and he took his headdress off.


The magician and the adventurer were in a state of joy at the victory and confusion as to what happened, and for that reason were not overcome by the same terror that had seized them when they first saw his face. However, instead of seeing a menacing, demonic visage above his shoulders, the two humans saw something that frightened them even more. Azzanadra bore a heavy, solemn look of concern.

"My magical abilities…they're gone."


Chapter Sixteen


"What?" muttered Finway, only a whisper escaping his mouth.

Saraboam, extremely alarmed, inquired, "Why?"

"That spell, it was…" the powerful Mahjarrat was almost entirely out of breath. "It was a suicide spell," he managed to pant.

"A suicide spell?" Saraboam muttered, half to himself. "He killed himself?"

"But we saw you kill him!" Finway exclaimed.

"Yes, I physically slew him," Azzanadra stated. "By casting the suicide spell, the Dragonkin have a way of destroying their own magical power-as well as their opponents. This reduces the battle to a physical one."

"Yet you still overpowered him," Saraboam stated, with astonishment.

"Yes, but there was a deeper motive involved."


Finway's heart sank. "The Demon Tide," he stated. The Mahjarrat nodded. His face no longer struck fear into the hearts of the two humans, but instead despair. His grave countenance bore the eyes of a being knowing full well what would happen to him.

"As you have guessed, human," he uttered, "I am no longer able to cast magic."

"But your magical capabilities…they will grow back, won't they?" Saraboam inquired.

"Yes, but that will take weeks, months, perhaps years," Azzanadra responded. "I have not the time for that. I must face Lucien, as well as the others, without the bulk of my powers."

He lifted his hands in the hear, his headdress residing between them, and landed it gently onto his skull.

"That means I will no longer be able to offer you the same protection. Lucien will most likely send his minions after us-even if they won't kill me, they may certainly overpower you."

"We are warriors," Finway stated, "we can defend ourselves."

"I hope you can," Azzanadra nodded. His crimson eyes glared down at the young adventurer. Normally, this type of behavior would terrify him, but now, Finway felt no fear. There was something that the Zarosian champion was trying to convey, something he could not simply state, and Finway attempted to decipher it. However, before he could even start to do so, the Mahjarrat straightened himself.


"Speaking of such things will do little good," he stated. "Let us being northwards once more."

"I have one more question, Azzanadra," Finway stated. The mention of the Mahjarrat's name no longer struck the same awe into his heart, knowing that he was now vulnerable and weakened.

"And what is that?" the enfeebled being asked.

"What was the purple spell-the one you sliced in two?"

Azzanadra seemed to sigh, but the adventurer wasn't sure. Saraboam looked on, as curious as Finway.

"That spell was meant to contain me," Azzanadra responded. "Powerful beings-such the Dragonkin and my tribe, the Mahjarrat-were known to use it on the lesser races to imprison entire groups. It wasn't until the end of my lord Zaros' reign that it was implored on us, as well. Many Mahjarrat were captured and killed."

Finway starred up at the crimson eyes through the headdress. There was a longing in Azzanadra's eyes that sent shivers down the spine of the humans, not because of fear, but because of the overwhelming emotion they conveyed. He's been around for thousands of years, Finway thought to himself, his knowledge must eclipse that of any human!


"I, too, was imprisoned," Azzanadra spoke, with a controlled anger building in his voice. "The Zamorakian faction-the traitors-thought that after siding with the petty Saradominists they could wipe us out. We loyalists proved them wrong, so they had to conform to a new strategy. Instead of attacking us outright, they devised a plan in which I was to be captured and held for thousands of years until my power faded away, and afterwards I would be sacrificed at the Demon Tide."

His eyes narrowed.

"If it had not been for you to rescue me, I may have been offered at this very ritual."


Finway's eyes, if they had been wide earlier, grew to an unprecedented size. He was truly grateful for us freeing him, he thought, even if he had not shown it! The Mahjarrat disguised his emotions perfectly. It made the adventurer wonder, what other feelings could he be keeping from the two humans?

"My imprisonment was horrific, as it stole my sense of time as well as my strength," Azzanadra growled. "And now seeing that Lucien has taken such lows to prevent me from attending the Demon Tide, it is as important as ever that I do so, and slay him there!"

The determination in his eyes was great, overpowering every other sentiment felt by the trio.

"Let us go northwards towards Ghorrock. The ritual is held near the ruins, and although the city no longer exists, the wretched traitors cannot break this tradition!"


The weather only seemed to grow colder and colder as the trudged northwards during the following days. Frost, at first only covering the ground, manifested itself on their clothing and bags, as well as Azzanadra's headdress. It seemed like a miracle that, despite his loss of magical powers, the Mahjarrat still acted as if the cold did not effect him. As they went deeper and deeper into the wilderness, snow began to fall regularly during the day, with howling winds continuing at night.


The freezing temperatures drained their energy, and little speaking occurred. For the first time, Finway's thoughts were not of Abigail, but instead of Azzanadra. Although he occasionally pondered as to what his lover might be doing at that point, he never gave her much consideration. She'll be there when I return, he thought with determination, I just need to make it out of this alive to see her.


Azzanadra, however, was the key to the lock on his emotions. If he was slain at the ritual, which was likely due to his weakened state, Lucien and the others might be able to overpower him and offer him as the sacrifice. He turned towards Saraboam, but the mage didn't return the glance. They both knew that this Mahjarrat's survival was key to their own. Suddenly, the magician looked to his left. Finway attempted to hide the fact that he had turned to him, but Saraboam easily caught on. In that moment, they both could almost read the anxiety in each other's faces; the fear for Azzanadra's life, as well as their own, was on their hearts.

"I have a theory," Saraboam stated, willing to change the subject, "that the Stone of Jas is the key to understanding rune essence." He pulled out a rune stone bearing the fire emblem on it. He lightly tossed the fire rune in his hand. "I speculate that the Stone of Jas, whenever it makes contact with ordinary stone, transforms the quality of the stone into rock that be crafted into the runes we use today."


The Mahjarrat champion didn't respond, leaving an awkward silence for a few moments. Neither of the two humans knew if he was listening or paying attention in any way. Finway decided to step in and end the quietness.

"What makes you think that?" he asked.

"As we know runes are crafted at altars that possess strange powers. Although we don't exactly know how these altars function, we do know that only the unformed rune stones can be shaped there. Those stones come from distinct, separate quarries, the locations of which are kept a close secret by an inner group of Saradominist wizards."

"What are you inferring, exactly?"

"Those quarries could be places that the Stone resided before being moved. The Fremenik barbarians in the north were the first recorded humans to encounter magic through rune stones, and it was later discovered that the Stone of Jas had been hidden in that same area for years."

"Until it was discovered by Zamorak," Azzanadra spoke up. Silence filled the air once more.


"Yes," muttered a solemn Saraboam, "until Zamorak found it."

"It is an interesting theory, one that may hold truth to it," the Mahjarrat continued, "but one should not become absorbed with such power. Things of great magnitude will give one delusions of strength that they do not possess. Such an artifact must be kept hidden and safe from such people.

"That is why Zamorak hid the Stone for millennia. He was afraid of power-hungry mongrels, such as Lucien and Zemouregal, to obtain that supremacy. As we now see, his efforts were futile."

"What will we do with the Stone of Jas when Lucien is killed?" Finway questioned seriously, with an undertone of optimism.

"We will hide it and guard it. A Zarosian knows the meaning of loyalty far better than any treacherous Zamorakian. We will keep it well-guarded from any outsider, be sure of that."


Finway turned forward to face the upcoming slope. The wind had picked up, and the snow that had been gently gliding down was now blowing directly into their faces. He used his frost-laden robe to cover all of his face, with the exception of his eyes. No sooner had he done so when he heard a the biting clink of metal upon metal. He turned to see an embattled Azzanadra with two ice warriors at each side - frost covered men that had been repossessed by a strange magic. The Mahjarrat, despite his weakened magical powers, easily brushed both of the creatures down with his physical might.


This brief display of his strength made the young adventurer feel satisfied, but the feeling was temporary. He turned up ahead to see more of the armor-clad creatures descending upon them from the plateau that they were scaling. He heard a roar from a farther up elevation, and his heart sank. That's not Azzanadra's battle cry, Finway thought with fear.


Chapter Seventeen


One after another they came, the possessed, frozen warriors crashing upon them in the dozens. Finway managed to strike a few down with his rune sword, and Azzanadra took more than a fair share, but it was easy to see that he was saving his full abilities for the approaching ritual. Saraboam seemed to save the day, launching scores of scorching fire spells against the aggressors.


A humanoid ice giant, towering at least ten feet above the heads of the humans, manifested itself, a massive chunk of ice grasped between two powerful, enormous hands. With a half growl, half gurgle, the beast swung its weapon at the magician. Luckily, Saraboam escaped an untimely death with a leap backwards, but he tripped and stumbled upon some rocks He slid down two dozen feet upon the icy slope, lying unconscious at the bottom. The monstrosity roared at this achievement, and began marching towards the barely breathing wizard.


"Finway, take out it's legs!" cried Azzanadra, seemingly fearless. At once, with a bold wave of courage, the adventurer charged towards the huge creature. With a powerful stroke from his rune-forged blade, he cleaved a mighty laceration into the flesh of the giant's left calf muscle. Immediately, the large beast fell upon his weakened leg. Finway had run far enough away to escape the giant creature's tumble, and as soon as he felt comfortable doing so, he turned around. However, it was now looking directly at him, and the adventurer was nearly within the grasp of the creature's extended arms. Thinking fast, he gripped his sword with determination. As the large hands reached to grasp him, Finway ripped his sword through several of the creature's fingers, cutting through the thick bones.


The ice giant moaned, clenching his wounded fingers with his other hand. Seizing the opportunity, he rushed up to the monstrosity as it laid sprawled about the frozen ground. Finway noticed that several crimson spots dotted the snow from the giants wounds, but by the time his mind processed it, he was already on top of the creature's body. With several slashes to the face, his rune blade ruined the beast's vision. It roared as it reached it's hand up to it's bloodied face, but before the limbs touched, Finway impaled the sword into the giant's chest.


Finway glanced over to see Azzanadra decapitate two ice warriors with one mighty stroke, several other bodies of the strange, possessed creatures laid around him, with Saraboam just a few feet away from it all. It appeared as if the Mahjarrat had been defending the unconscious body of the magician, who looked unharmed since his fall. A sense of astonishment overcame Finway: he had defeated the giant all on his own. He smiled, almost obliviously, until he saw another host of ice warriors crashing upon them.


With one last the wave, the attackers proceeded to fight and fall. After that, only several other animated ice warriors remained alive, all of them separated from each other and alone. Finway figured that they must have fallen back from the rest of their group. Thankfully, Finway wondered with delight, they're easy to slay. As soon as no other threat presented itself, he turned to Saraboam.


As he got a closer view, he realized the mage had a gash in his temple, with blood steadily pouring from it. Azzanadra was standing over him, his hand against his forehead. The young lord was confused at first, but he eventually realized what was going on: the Mahjarrat was healing him with magic.

"You don't have to do that," Finway pleaded, "you can save your strength for the ritual. I have bandages-"

"No," Azzanadra stated forcefully. "I need you two both fully healed to find the Stone of Jas before Lucien can reclaim it. He will have it close, so he can use it's power for the ritual, but he still will have it hidden fairly well."

"Why do you need us to find it for you?" Finway asked. "You will help us once the ritual is over, correct?"


A pause overtook their conversation, and Finway realized the severity of the situation.

"You understand that one Mahjarrat must die at this ritual, correct?"

Finway nodded.

"In this weakened state," he sighed, "I can make no guarantees." With a surge of magical power rushing through his veins-courtesy of Azzanadra-Saraboam awakened. Finway glanced again at his swollen, bruised temple, but was astonished to see regular skin in it's place.


"Are you alright?" Finway asked the mage, and the wizard nodded as a response.

"I'm alright. I just need a moment," he said, looking at the adventurer, then the Mahjarrat warrior, "then I'll be ready."

The two looked up at the Mahjarrat with amazement and thankfulness. For the adventurer from Varrock, however, a puzzled look overtook his visage.

"Why did you do it?" he asked in a simple, sincere voice.

"I am but a pawn, now that my powers are weakened," Azzanadra spoke, his words meaning more than they had ever meant before, "and as a pawn, I must act accordingly. I will distract Lucien and Zemouregal long enough during the ritual for you two to locate the Stone. It will be nearby, and as we grow closer, I will be able to sense it's power more accurately. I suspect it will be hidden, most likely by ice. I will attempt to divert them long enough to buy you the time needed."

Then it hit Finway. Azzanadra, the proud, ten-thousand year old Mahjarrat warrior, was now useless in comparison to himself and his mage companion.

"Let's get going then," Finway stuttered, albeit forcefully. He needed to get going, they all did, because the anxiety building up inside them was immense.


As the forcefully marched onwards, the trio realized that the landscape had flattened out-they were atop the icy plateau that encompassed the north-eastern most part of the wilderness.

"The stronghold of Ghorrock once stood near here," Azzanadra stated casually. It was an unusually informal remark, considering the direness of the circumstances surrounding their setting. "The Demon Tide always occurs at a location just north-west of that fortress."


They moved onward towards the climax of their journey. The Mahjarrat's ritual of the north was soon to be unleashed. The last few miles passed by Finway in a daze, his trance-like visage deep in contemplation as to how their fate-and perhaps the fate of countless others-would turn out.


It was just over half an hour in travel time before an eerie, frozen gate came into view. The snow-covered remains of the stone entrance was not spectacular in the slightest. Azzanadra identified the fortress as Ghorrock, but both Saraboam and Finway could have reached that conclusion on their own. The young adventurer felt that he should have been excited for the occasion, but was actually glad that he hadn't been: the chilling, glazed walls were barely visible unless one was looking for them. Perhaps a child might find such an occasion exciting, but for hardened trio, it signified that the end of their journey was rapidly approaching.


"Just past this small rise," the Mahjarrat observed. A nervous knot twisted itself in Finway's stomach, and the anxiety made him want to rush up and get his task over with. But he needed to wait: he knew not where the Stone would be hidden. Only Azzanadra had the ability to see where, and the fact that he would use his little, slowly-recharging powers to do so only worried the adventurer all the more.

"Have you…uncovered where the stone is located?" he asked, and the powerful Mahjarrat halted, closing his crimson eyes. After a brief period of several seconds, he opened them. The illumination cast an eerie red glow on the falling snow in front of his headdress.

"There is a cavern, just south of the site. It shall be easily distinguishable on the left, on a precipice overlooking the ritual." He spoke with a newfound solemnity that caused Finway to remember every word. The wizard, however, seemed as if he didn't notice anything. "I will show you the path just before we come into sight of the ritual. Remember to stay low to the ground for if the other Mahjarrat catch site of you, they will surely kill you."


The anxiety building up inside Finway caused his stomach to flip, turn, and form knots with itself, or at least that's what he felt was happening. He wanted to just run forward and get the entire ordeal over with, whether he would live through it or not. He was definitely nervous about outcome, but anticipation was not something he wanted to put up with, and most certainly not at that level.


After a few moments of silent walking, the snow beginning to fall heavier than before, Azzanadra stretched his left arm to the south-west, towards what appeared to be a small cliff. "There it is. May the Empty Lord be with us," he muttered in his powerful voice, neglecting to turn his headdress to the other two. However, they heard his voice nonetheless, and they did so. Finway had thought that he would have had to scale a rocky outcrop in order to reach the cave entrance, but he felt relieved to discover that that was not the case. The pathway merely branched off into two separate parts, one on the higher ground the eventually formed an overhang, the other leading down a snowy pathway to what appeared to be a frozen crater.


Following the Mahjarrat's instructions, they followed the path to the left, which eventually transformed into a cliff. Azzanadra had begun traveling downwards, and they couldn't even see him through the snow-filled air. Several times, Finway slipped on the ice beneath their feet. Saraboam was much more alert, but he even stumbled a few times. As they trudged onward, they noticed that the sides of the crater-shaped basin became steeper and steeper as they moved forward. They cave was only several hundred feet away by that point, but the slippery ground had to be covered with caution.


Suddenly, the heavy snow seemed to dissipate, and the two humans could glance clearly down at the area below the cliff. It was indeed crater-shaped, which seemed quite unusual when the landscape was taken into account, and they could see the other side roughly a quarter of a mile in the distance. The geographic feature was surprisingly large, but what was at the bottom truly shocked them.


"Incredible," Saraboam muttered, and although Finway was silent, he agreed. A massive stone altar, much larger than any the two humans had ever seen. It was circular in shape, and bore a strange, glowing symbol at the top. It illuminated a bright cyan color, which reflected off of the few, miniscule snowflakes the dared to fall from the grey sky above. Also at the bottom of the crater were several dark shapes. At first, Finway couldn't make them out, for the brightness of the rune atop the stone altar had skewed his vision. A moment later, however, he saw them clearly. They were Mahjarrat: similar in skin color to Azzanadra, and all of them wearing black or crimson.


There were ten of the powerful beings altogether, and it appeared as though their companion was to be the last to arrive.

"We've been expecting you," a voice stated from one of the nine already present. The basin provided a perfect amphitheater for the two humans atop the cliff to hear.

"Of course you have been, Lucien," Azzanadra responded, his voice even clearer and louder than the first. "Your Dragonkin put up a fight before I slew him." The others looked around in surprise. Could it be possible that the Dragonkin, the powerful, ancient, draconic beings, were unleashed once again?

Murmurs swept through the handful of Mahjarrat gathered around the altar. A silence pervaded soon after.


Get on with it, though Finway, start the fight! He hadn't realized it before, but they had paused near the cavern's entrance in order to watch the ritual ensue. Although he knew they were wasting precious time in watching the events unfold, he couldn't miss it. Such an opportunity would never present itself again.


Although neither of the two could quite make out Lucien's eyes, Finway could just imagine the two beaming green orbs narrowing. "Let it begin!" the powerful Mahjarrat muttered. Azzanadra grinned, clutching his sword tightly.


"Let it," he muttered.


Chapter Eighteen


To start the sacrificial Demon Tide, the empowered Lucien leapt into the air, using magic to propel himself rapidly towards Azzanadra. Although he was the only mortal in the world that could possibly match Lucien's strength, Azzanadra himself was not prepared for such an impact, and as a result was knocked back over a dozen yards as the accelerating Mahjarrat struck him head on.


The champion of Zaros growled. Lucien had knocked him quite a ways back, but the dust had not had time to settle before he charged back at his opponent. Running at a nearly unimaginable pace, he raised his sword and brought it down on Lucien as the two Mahjarrat collided. Lucien ran to meet Azzanadra, and parried the blow with the stolen Staff of Armadyl. Mustering all his might, the Zarosian overpowered his adversary and used his jeweled sword to force him back several yards.


As he flew backwards, Lucien leapt up and spun in a complete revolution before landing and facing Azzanadra once again, a wicked smile across his demonic countenance. By this point, every other Mahjarrat in attendance was fighting with one another. Zemouregal had found Sliske, the lord of the shadows, and the two had started on their own intense struggle. Bilrach had attempted to chime in on Zemouregal's part, but it was evident that his own powers couldn't quite compare to the other two. Instead, he sought out Wahisietal, who had been reluctant to join any of the fighting until that point.


Enakhra and Akthanakos had continued their centuries-old rivalry as soon as the battle had begun, and Hazeel and his pupil Khazard had avoided any major confrontations initially, but eventually the two realized the benefits of jumping in the battle between Zemouregal and Sliske, as neither of them supported Zamorak. After a moment of Hazeel whispering such to Khazard, the younger Mahjarrat nodded, and they each joined in the fight.


Finway and Saraboam watched as Gielnor's most powerful warriors made battle to see which one would be sacrificed. The ridge was lined with a bank of snow and ice that they observed it from, only exposing their foreheads and eyes to the view of the Mahjarrat as they watched. There was a ridge jutting out from the mouth of the cave above them, so any potential loose spells would not be likely to harm them.


Lucien soon broke out of his grimace and rushed towards Azzanadra once more. Raising his diamond-bearing blade, Azzanadra unleashed a terribly powerful blow upon his foul foe. Although Lucien used a magical spell to block the attack, the blunt force of the blow itself sent Lucien flying across the altar; it was clear that any battle of physical might would render Azzanadra the champion.


Crumbled up and injured after being slammed upon the stone walls of the crater, Lucien cast a rejuvenation spell upon himself. Getting up from his crumpled state just as powerful as he was before the battle began, he laughed. "I see you still outmatch me physically, but let's see where your magic powers have gone!"


With that, the treacherous Lucien raised his arms, and a massive fireball manifested itself above his figure. Throwing his arms forward, the meteor of flames launched itself toward Azzanadra. Crying out loudly, Azzanadra managed to conjure up a counter-spell, and a barrier formed between the hurling comet and his body. As the fireball struck it, it's flames spread out and dissipated into the frosty air of the north.


Although he had successfully manipulated his own magical powers to deflect the attack, it was clear that his energy was being drained at an alarming rate. Lucien laughed at this, and was about to conjure up another spell to further weaken Azzanadra when his adversary suddenly picked up a rock and curled the boulder at him. It was a weak attempt, and Lucien scoffed at it, wondering how low Azzanadra's power had dropped to. He easily dodged the projectile and turned to watch as it impaled the wall of the crater behind him.


But by throwing the missile at Lucien, the strategy had been a success, for the second Lucien turned around, Azzanadra was upon him. Right and left, the powerful Zarosian Mahjarrat hammered his opponent with blow after blow from his majestic blade. What he lacked in magical potency, he easily accounted for with his corporal prowess. Forced on the defensive, it was clear that Lucien had to contend with Azzanadra's physical might, at least temporarily.


From the shelter of the cave entrance high above the raging Demon Tide, the two adventurers observed all of the battles that were being waged below. Azzanadra and Lucien, locked in a physical scrimmage, were clashing bitterly, with Azzanadra not allowing his opponent any room to take the advantage through his vast magical potential, thus successfully keeping it a battle of physical might. On the other side of the massive altar were four others immersed in a battle that was nearly as engaging.


Hazeel and Khazard, having joined in the struggle between Zemouregal and Sliske, were all fighting ferociously. From the ridge, Finway noticed how at times they looked like speeding arrows, using magic to enhance their own physical abilities. This allowed them to run faster, jump higher, and react much more rapidly than any other mortal's physical attributes would allow. Although their ensuing battle was not quite as intense as the one between Azzanadra and Lucien, it was equally hard to disengage from.


Bilrach and Wahisietal seemed to be flying all over the place, and Finway noticed that who he assumed to be Bilrach was usually in pursuit of Wahisietal, whom Saraboam had identified due to the emblem upon his chest of a circle surrounding a cross. It appeared as though he was not interested in fighting, while the traitorous Bilrach wished to engage in the struggle with him anyway. The Zarosian kept jumping and dodging around, using spells to propel him off the ground as he pranced around the ritual site. Bilrach, growing frustrated, followed his laps around the place as he hurled numerous poorly aimed spells at him.


Finway was about to once more watch the unfolding conflict between Lucien and Azzanadra when he noticed Khazard knocked out of his former struggle: it seemed like Zemouregal had kicked him several yards, the youngest of the Mahjarrat landing upon one of the altar stones. Seeing the closer struggle between Bilrach and Wahisietal - two of the weakest members of the tribe - he leapt in and joined their fray.


Suddenly, a brilliant green light enveloped the entire area. From the Staff of Armadyl--with Lucien's tight grip upon it all the while--an illuminated sphere shot forth into Azzanadra, knocking the Zarosian champion several dozen yards. He slammed with a brutal force into the wall surrounding the altar. Although it was across the entire ritual crater from Saraboam and Finway's location, they could still feel slight tremors from the impact. For several moments, Azzanadra lay there, not getting up.

"It's over," Finway muttered, and he appeared to be correct in his assertion. Several others, most notably Bilrach and Wahisietal, had paused with their own rat chase and observed the occurrence. Lucien stretched his arms up high in the air, sensing that victory was his. The emerald-colored orb at the end of his staff shown freshly from the last spell. Sliske landed on a dislodged boulder than was roughly a dozen yards from the two humans' location. They watched his expression; Finway noticed a sense of disbelief through his demonic visage.


Then something unusual happened; the frozen earth around them began to vibrate, similar how it had done so upon Azzanadra's last impact into the wall of the basin.

"No," Saraboam stated, a hint of a grin upon his face, "it's not over yet…"

Several more seconds of vibrations occurred. Looking around, Finway noticed that Lucien's hands were no longer outstretched, and he had retreated them back into a more secure position, as if preparing for a new wave of aggression. Then he glanced upon Azzanadra's fallen figure, laying upon the ground across the altar from him.


Squinting, he took a closer look at him. The pale, muscular build that constituted the Zarosian's body no longer possessed the aura of magic that it had bore before the Dragonkin's attack, but that was not surprising. He wasn't entirely devoid of life, and Finway knew that beneath the jackal-headdress there was still strength to fight left in him. Around him, a purple hue seemed to illuminate his body, gleaming off his brilliant blade. The glow would flash semi-brightly and fade slightly, each time fading less than the last. This pattern continued, and all was silent around the site.


Saraboam and Finway had remained silent the entire time, but this total lack of sound was foreign to them. Every Mahjarrat had ceased with their individual skirmishes and were intently focusing on some foreboding attack that was about to be unleashed. After a second, Finway realized that the dim purple flashes that occurred roughly every other second corresponded to the vibrations, which immediately followed them.


Then Azzanadra stood up. It appeared as if his headdress, which draped slightly over his chest, was bent slightly inward. Finway could hardly notice it, but he figured that a likely explanation would be that Lucien's spell had hit him there. Azzanadra's pale, Mahjarrat muscles seemed to ripple with the vibrations, as if they set the pattern to his breathing. It could be observed after a moment that the violet illumination's source was the hilt of his magnificent weapon. Raising the sword up and slightly behind him, he grinned sadistically.

"Lucien, you fool, to think you could end my life that easily!"


With that, he slashed into the air until the blade was pointing directly at his opponent. The second the sword became perpendicular to Lucien, each diamond began to glow brightly, their individual colors being absorbed by the purple hue that had reached overwhelming proportions. Lucien froze, fearing the worst.


A bright violet explosion rocked the entire ritual site as a stream of purple, translucent light beamed from Azzanadra's sword and struck Lucien square in the chest. The spell hit with deadly precision, and it knocked its target back, flinging him into the wall with an even more powerful impact than what Azzanadra had withstood. All the while, Lucien clutched the Staff of Armadyl tightly. Azzanadra roared.

"Lucien, your time has ended!"


With that said, he leapt forward and ran furiously towards Lucien. Using a combination of both his physical prowess and his ever-charging magical potency, he dealt a powerful uppercut to his opponent, which the treacherous Lucien barely managed to parry with his own weapon. Seeing the newfound fury, Zemouregal abandoned his own skirmish with Sliske to join in the unfolding battle between the two powers.


Sliske took a moment to realize the course of action his own foe had decided upon, but as soon as he did he was attacked by Hazeel, with the assistance of Khazard. Sliske's first reaction was to knock Khazard out of the way, which he did: conjuring up a store of energy, he unleashed a blackened, wave of shadowy substance upon the youthful Mahjarrat. Hazeel attempted to knock his apprentice out of the way, but barely even nudged him by the time to spell hit. It struck him in the shoulder, and immediate paralysis set in. Hazeel growled, vowing not to let the weakened, inexperienced Khazard become the sacrifice of the ritual. With that he unleashed a volley of potent spells against Sliske, which the shadowy, serpent-like demon barely could avoid. As soon as the attacks subsided - albeit temporarily - he glanced at Azzanadra, to see how he was doing. The results amazed him.


Azzanadra's magical powers that had been drained by the Dragonkin's spell had recharged to an unexpected level, and Finway, Saraboam, and all of the Mahjarrat witnessed his lethal blows that he handed out to Lucien in rapid succession. Twice he smashed his sword against his opponent, knocking him deeper and deeper into the stone wall of the ritual site, and several times his powerful blade came close to stabbing him in the heart. Zemouregal jumped in to assist Lucien, but his blows were mostly misplaced, and Azzanadra was more than capable of dealing with him as a side-note.


Realizing that Azzanadra wasn't truly fighting him, and knowing that he had to prevent Lucien from bearing the full brunt of the fury, he lunged at the Zarosian. Sensing the presence of Zemouregal's shadow blade, Azzanadra backed up several feet, and the sword's moment threw Lucien's ally in between the two. Completely unaware of what occurred, Lucien's staff grew brightly as he cast a spell, and Azzanadra immediately did the same. Zemouregal, caught between the two opposing forces, tried to shield himself, but to no avail.


Both spells landed squarely upon him, and he barely managed to survive it. It was Lucien who quickly ended his own attack and attempted to aggress more against Azzanadra, but his attempt was unsuccessful. Zemouregal lay on the ground, in an utterly weakened state. Dismissing the idea of such a pathetic creature being used as the Demon Tide's sacrifice, Azzanadra simply kicked the body up against the altar, humbling Lucien's most powerful ally to a powerless bystander, at least for the time being.


Lucien, however far on the defensive, was cunning and swift. He would occasionally strike back at Azzanadra, and for the most part it appeared as if he was simply biding his time. After several minutes of witnessing the Zarosian champion wreak havoc upon him, Lucien realized that his foe's adrenaline rush had began to subside, and he was growing more and more weary as the blows went on. Seizing the opportunity, he jabbed upwards into the chin of Azzanadra. He immediately stabbed at the Zarosian's unprotected body, but he dodged partly out of the way. The staff's sharp gemstone managed to pierce his side, which further enraged him.


The anger building up inside of him, Azzanadra used solely his physical might in grabbing Lucien and hurling him roughly a dozen yards behind him, until he struck the stone altar. The impact shook the ritual grounds, and even the two humans noticed a slight tremor from the ordeal. Azzanadra raced back and jumped to gain an advantage over Lucien, but his opponent cast an incredibly strong wind spell when he was directly below him, effectively hurling the follower of the Empty Lord several dozen feet in the air.


Further taking advantage of his height, Azzanadra stored up much of his magical energy in his sword, and pointed it downwards, directly towards Lucien. For several seconds that seemed to last much longer, Finway watched him hover high above the ritual crater in the icy air of the North. His form was perfect, almost picturesque as he marked his target after being thrown so brutally into the air.


He soon came crashing down, and as he did so Lucien attempted to turn out of the way. Azzanadra couldn't change his direction fast enough, and instead struck the earth right beside his target. A massive explosion of violet color followed, knocking almost all of the Mahjarrat to their feet. Even Sliske and Hazeel temporarily halted their conflict to see what was the outcome of the blast. Lucien, however, remained untouched, as he had used the staff's energy to create a magical shield around him. Finway noticed a similar bubble surrounding Zemouregal's fallen, weakened body. He almost laughed to himself, noting that the bond of cousinhood existed between the two - an element of their relationship he had completely overlooked.


Not waiting for another break in the fighting, Lucien did something completely unprecedented: he began levitating upwards, but he accelerated as he did so. Perhaps he was trying to gain a height advantage as his nemesis had just done, or perhaps he was simply attempting to overview the conflict. Either way, Azzanadra followed suit, and leapt up into the air only to remain up there. It was clear that they were using their distinctly Mahjarrat magical abilities to remain hovering above the earth for so long.

"I will end you!" Lucien shrieked. This was the first dialogue that had been exchanged in some time, so it took Finway by surprise as he saw them each thrust upwards, about to his elevation on the ledge overlooking the ritual crater.

"Your days have ended Lucien; you will not outlast the night," Azzanadra growled in return. Lucien bent his arms and legs, and then leapt forward from the air, traveling extremely fast into the cold, overcast sky above. With a dramatic roar, Azzanadra did the same, chasing after his opponent.


For a few moments, there was nothing, and the clouds above the ritual seemed as eerily calm as before. Fighting continued going on in the basin as it had been, but it was quiet without the powerful blows of the Mahjarrat tribe's two most powerful members. Zemouregal, weakened from the failed assistance he had leant Lucien, stood up. He clutched his sword with his red eyes squinted upwards. After a brief moment, a stray spell from Sliske and Hazeel's conflict gave him an excuse to join in their fray.


Scarcely another minute went by before a green flash beamed out from the heavens, followed by a resounding boom. Several more could be seen amongst the clouds, and then purple ones as well. By this time, Finway had already concluded the nature of the two colors. Being a Zarosian follower, Azzanadra's spells were always purple; Lucien's treacherous nature produced those that were green. Finway could only wonder at how powerful Azzanadra truly was, seeing that he had been depleted of all his power just days before, and was now seemingly stronger than ever.


After several exchanges of blows from their levitation amongst the clouds, a mighty purple blow flashed. The illumination so bright that it distracted all of the Mahjarrat at the ritual site from their own petty fights. A battle between two Mahjarrat of average power could level a great city, yet at that moment their squabbling was nothing in comparison with the raging fight between Azzanadra and Lucien. As all could witness from the ground below, a small, dot-like figure seemed to fall from the heavens.


The clouded sky seemed to part for this freefalling spectacle, one who would almost surely become the Demon Tide's sacrifice.

"It's green!" Finway muttered, and Saraboam nudged him harshly to silence him. Realizing his mistake, Finway didn't say another word, but just starred with awe as the falling, emerald-colored being approached the ritual site from the heavens. It has to be Lucien, he half thought, half prayed to himself, it has to be!


Finway's wish was granted: the figure was easily identifiable as Lucien, and as he fell nearer to the frozen earth his markings and stolen staff became unmistakable. After several prolonged moments, the treacherous Mahjarrat landed in the tundra just north of the ritual site. Azzanadra, with a victorious demeanor, landed from the sky upon the very stones of the altar; he was turned northward, toward his fallen opponent.


Finway and Saraboam glanced at each other nervously. Neither was aware of what had happened; all they knew was that Lucien's body - warm with the flowing of life, or cold with the sting of death - was a league past the ritual grounds in the crater before them. The adventurer just then realized how inadequate the ledge was. He almost wanted to step down into the Demon Tide simply to watch it, but his caution would never allow his curiosity to control him so.


"Lucien, I will avenge you!" Zemouregal cried, ignoring his paused fight with Hazeel and Sliske. Propelling himself forward with magic, the powerful Mahjarrat charged forward with full speed at Azzanadra. "You'll pay for what you did!" he added, and he pulled his shadow sword back and prepared to thrust.


Azzanadra turned from facing Lucien in the north; his white body was giving off a sense of power - not just any power, but a majestic display of potency. He, the champion of Zaros, once again proved his worth at the ritual. As Zemouregal drew near, he further exhibited his ability: with a clean strike from his diamond-embedded blade, the Zarosian Mahjarrat deflected Lucien's lunge and sliced at his back, throwing him upon the altar.


Not willing to give up yet, the debilitated Zemouregal turned once more jumped upon Azzanadra, this time from the stones of the altar. Azzanadra easily humbled the perpetuator of such an attack: being the stronger of the two, he simply dodged Zemouregal's charge, raising his own blade to parry the shadow-like weapon of his foe. The Mahjarrat champion applied so much force upwards to counter Zemouregal's sword that it flew several yards in the air before landing on the eastern side of the altar.


The weaponless enemy made an even easier target for Azzanadra. In the same swift motion that he had disarmed Zemouregal, he swung around from the side and cut off both of the treacherous being's legs at the knee. Zemouregal only could writhe in the agony of such a blow.


Finway saw the whole thing, as the conflict between the two was on the south side of the altar, just down the ledge from where the two humans were crouched. But as the adventurer witnessed the events unfold, as he saw the might of Azzanadra proven once more, he noticed a far more foreboding occurrence. In the distance, straight north of the ritual site, something was giving off a green light. It was glowing brighter and brighter, and the illumination seemed to be coming nearer. His eyes widened with disbelief. It's Lucien, he thought, he's not dead!


Azzanadra did not, could not notice the ever-approaching fate behind him. He was facing southwards at his demilitarized, humbled, and absolutely mortified fallen opponent, Zemouregal. Finway wanted to scream to warn him, but he could not do it: such a bold move would give his position away, and even that might not give Azzanadra time to save the two from Lucien's diverted wrath.


Damn Lucien! Finway thought, I'll tell Azzanadra, I must! He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. The vastness of the moment caught up with him, and he choked on the emptiness inside his throat. Saraboam turned and noticed, and reached out his hand. He grasped Finway's forearm tightly, in a warning yet consoling fashion. Finway knew what he was trying to say: what would come would come.


Azzanadra's blade was in the air, pointed down at the crippled Zemouregal before him. Maybe if he kills Zemouregal first, the ritual would be over, Finway wondered, his mind racing through different emotions. Azzanadra could not, would not die, he knew it. The champion of the Empty Lord was far too powerful; surely he would triumph. The ever-nearing green light was growing bigger and brighter as Lucien drew near. The crater walls prevented any of the other Mahjarrat from seeing it. Stab him! Stab him! Finway ordered Azzanadra in his mind, Stab him now!


The blade was coming down, in the process of the kill. Yes, Finway thought thankfully, he's going to slay Zemouregal! That will end the ritual. Lucien couldn't stop that - if it was over there would be nothing he could do. Each of the Mahjarrat would be strengthened, including Azzanadra.


The distance grew shorter and shorter as time ground to a halt. The tip of Azzanadra's sword was halfway to Zemouregal, whose heaving chest rose up to meet it. Finway's eyes darted back and forth between Lucien and Azzanadra. Anxiety crept in, giving way to mixed feelings of despair and hope.


Finish it! Finway thought a million times per second. End the Demon Tide! Save your life! He was half begging Azzanadra in his mind to speed up, but he knew it would do no good. He accepted what would come would come, and he closed his eyes. By the time he opened them, the anticipation had ended.


To Saraboam and the others that witnessed the unfolding events, the Staff of Armadyl shown brightly as Lucien flew over the altar. The emerald glow emphasized his demonic nature, giving a poisonous, toxic feel to the treachery boiling over inside of him.


Finway's eyes opened just in time to see the green jewel of Armadyl's staff pierce through Azzanadra's white chest, his own diamonded-encrusted blade mere inches from Zemouregal's heart. The Demon Tide had ended.

Edited by Finway
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Hm, interesting.


Correct me if I'm wrong. But Arrav is the Defender of Varrock, right? Or can there be more then one?



Mikez, it was just a title, like a nickname.

Correct, it is more or less a title. At least, that's how I'm using it in the story.




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NOTE: Chapters nineteen through twenty one will be in this post.


Chapter Nineteen


He couldn't believe it. Azzanadra - the most powerful mortal ever to walk Gielnor - the champion of the Empty Lord - Zaros' most capable servant - the greatest warrior of ages past - the strongest of the Mahjarrat tribe - was dead. Finway gasped with the realization, attempting to scrape the surface of the unfolding truth that encumbered him.


The body fell down to the side, just at the end of the decapitated legs of Zemouregal. The latter's chest was heaving fully, obviously in excruciating pain from his failed battle with Azzanadra. An evanescent light descended upon all of the Mahjarrat present, and their white, skull-like faces began to radiate with the illumination. Finway almost half-noticed his own skin giving off a dim glow, but he knew his mind was playing tricks on him.


Glancing back at the site of the Demon Tide, the entire place had taken a much more calm aura now that the fighting had ended. Logically, the adventurer concluded that the light represented in some way the rejuvenation that all Mahjarrat present would feel. It was at this moment that Finway noticed Bilrach, an obscure being whom sided with Lucien, crouched at a corner of the altar. He was mortally wounded with a gash slicing open his pale flesh from his shoulder to the side of his chest; the wound was deep indeed. Khazard stood, sword in hand, facing him from several paces. Finway figured that he had missed their mortal duel while he was engaged in the one between Azzanadra and Zemouregal, just before it all ended.


The newfound radiance that surrounded the site continually grew in power, almost as if the strength was a light snow that collected upon all who were in the crater below. Suddenly, a bright flash of light - like a silent lightning - took over the sight of all present for a brief moment. The evanescence dissipated immediately following the flash, and the only evidence of it was a strange, indecipherable marking upon the altar itself. The hieroglyphic almost resembled two wings, but Finway wasn't sure. At that point, he wasn't really sure of anything.


Then he noticed it: Azzanadra's body was missing! He struck Saraboam lightly to get his attention. The wise old man nodded.

"Yes…" he muttered quietly. Despite his hushed voice, the fact that he was speaking still took Finway by surprised. "He has gone to the void…"

The thought of death and the void overwhelmed Finway. He wanted to cry out, or to break down into tears at the overwhelming nature of it all, but the shock from such an experience prevented him from doing so.


"So it is done," Hazeel stated boldly. The newfound power now seemed to flow within all of the Mahjarrat. They no longer glowed from a strange magical rain, but instead from their rejuvenated strength. Zemouregal, body still shaking with shock, cast some sort of spell upon himself with that power; in another, minor flash of light he had his legs returned to him. Bilrach performed some similar revitalizing magic on himself, restoring his abilities to what they were before the war.

"He was the strongest," Wahisietal stated, the first time he had spoken. "He shouldn't have died," he continued.


"You are wrong!" Lucien roared, half-terrifying Finway. This time, however, the humans had no potent being watching over them. "This changes nothing! I will become lord of the Mahjarrat, there is no halting this; it is inevitable."

"Zamorak is our lord!" Khazard roared back. Despite his thousands of years of experience, he was ill-prepared to deal with a being of such immense power. Lucien pointed the staff of Armadyl at him, and an emerald-colored orb shot out and knocked the relatively young Khazard to the ground. Hazeel, his mentor, propelled himself to catch his pupil, growling his teeth at Lucien's impropriety.

"Master," Bilrach half-crawled, half-dragged himself towards Lucien, who stood perched upon the altar stones. Unlike the others, the rejuvenation didn't seem to have affected Bilrach as much. He no longer bore the scar the Khazard had inflicted upon him, but it must have taken most of his regained power to heal it. Lucien looked down at the devastated being at his feet.


He was closer to death than Zemouregal! Finway thought with pent up anger. Any Mahjarrat's death, even Bilrach, would have saved Azzanadra! It understandably infuriated him that one so insignificant in comparison could have taken the Zarosian champion's place as the Demon Tide's sacrifice. In fact - in the human's mind, at least - Bilrach should have taken Azzanadra's place. It's too late now, Finway thought with despair, it's just too late.


"You call him 'master'?" scoffed Wahisietal. It was the first time that he had said anything. "He is no master! He is a treacherous imposter! Your plan will not last, I know it!"

Lucien launched another spell, similar to the one he had cast towards Khazard. This time, however, the target expected such a retaliatory action, and Wahisietal easily dodged the attack.


Without saying a word, Akthanakos teleported away from the site. Enakhra, whom he had been battling throughout the Demon Tide, approached Hazeel and the humbled Khazard. It was clear who the factions were now: Lucien stood upon the altar, overlooking the entire crater, and Zemouregal and Bilrach were at his feet; Hazeel, the most powerful Mahjarrat still loyal to Zamorak, stood beside his apprentice Khazard, and Enakhra's approach proved that she, too, sided with the lord of chaos; on the south side of the site stood Wahisietal, and Sliske was but a few yards away from him - both loyalists of Zaros. Akthanakos, who just left, was additionally with them.


"It's two against three against three," Finway silently whispered to his magician companion. "Will they fight?"

"No," Saraboam responded, continually starring at the groups. "Lucien is far too powerful for the others to contend with, and they won't want to waste the power that they gained at the Demon Tide so soon."

"Then they will leave soon," the adventurer concluded. His assumption proved correct: Enakhra teleported away, followed by Khazard and Hazeel. When they had all done so, Lucien glanced towards Sliske and Wahisietal.


The second he did so, the latter vanished into a purple haze of teleportation. Sliske stood alone, opposed by Lucien and his two Mahjarrat henchmen. Finway remembered Jamal's notes on Sliske: he was incredibly manipulative of the shadows, and had a shape shifting ability that no other mortals could contend with. In fact, Azzanadra had once stated how incredibly powerful he was, even for a Mahjarrat. He truly did put up a matched fight with Zemouregal throughout most of the Demon Tide. But how could the lord of the shadows hope to compete against Lucien, in addition to Bilrach and Zemouregal's forces? Such an attempt would be suicide.


"I'm not as powerful as you," Sliske stated boldly, directing his words at Lucien, "nor am I suicidal. I will not fight you." The words, despite Finway agreeing with every one of them, still struck blows to his heart. Not only could nobody stand up to Lucien, but the fact was that nobody would stand up to him.

"You fool," Zemouregal muttered, "you will die. Lucien will become our god, and I his vizier!"

"As I," Bilrach agreed, much to the annoyance of the other.


Sliske just stood his ground, boldly. "We are all shadows, passing through the night that is life, are we not?" he asked them. Confusion for the others followed; Lucien's eyes narrowed.

"Out with the riddles! Speak what you mean!" Lucien ordered harshly. Sliske laughed.


With a grunt, his hand slid up his staff, and immediately hundreds of shades appeared in the crater below. They all launched themselves upon Lucien and his two followers. The three treacherous Mahjarrat cried with frustration as the shadowy creatures attacked them.


Sliske half jumped, half levitated up to the ledge from where Saraboam and Finway had witnessed the numerous events occur. He easily established eye contact with Finway, the leftmost of the two humans. At first, both the mage and adventurer were terrified: first, they had been discovered, and second, Lucien and his minions were giving off chilling shrieks of anger just below them.


Azzanadra told you what you came here for, a voice entered Finway's head sharply - an invasive force in the chambers of his mind. At first he was confused, but not another moment went by before he realized it was Sliske who was communicating with him. Saraboam simply starred wide-eyed and pale at the shade-like demon.


Finway glanced up at Sliske, this time starring straight into the being's empty eyes. Lucien and the others were still struggling with the shades he had conjured, but their cries and shouts became background noise to this new, terrifying yet enlightening event. Sliske nodded, The shades - even after they perish - will effect Lucien, Zemouregal and Bilrach's abilities to see and think clearly. Lucien's connection to the Stone will be gone, but only temporarily. Now is the time. Do what you must. With that, he, too, teleported off.


Saraboam simply starred for a second. It was the first time he had ever come that close to a Mahjarrat before - Azzanadra excluded. Finway shook him out of his trance.

"We must go!" he exclaimed. He glanced down at the crater; Lucien and Zemouregal had already disposed most of the shades. Bilrach was in a terrified stupor, fleeing away from several that were hauntingly chasing after him.

"Saraboam!" he shook the mage again. "Listen to me: we must go! We have to find the Stone of Jas! We've stayed here far too long!"

This time, the wizard reacted. He looked up at Finway, who immediately helped the old man to his feet.


"This is too much!" Bilrach insisted. He was evidently still weak from the wounds inflicted upon him at the Demon Tide. The rejuvenation had not affected him the same as it had Zemouregal or Lucien, both of whom were almost radiant with their restored powers.


"Coward! Traitor!" Zemouregal cried out, raising his shadow sword. Finway noticed something about it: he was aiming slightly off from Bilrach. In fact, even Lucien appeared to have poor coordination as a result of Sliske's spell; he almost fell when he stumbled upon a stone which he apparently had not seen.

"Ignore him!" Lucien roared, "he's useless now! We must find the Stone!"


The Stone of Jas! We have to find it! Finway's thoughts raced. He turned to Saraboam, and they both nodded before turning into the cave and racing against two powerful Mahjarrat in an attempt to stave off their wrath.


Finway's first thought as he and Saraboam plunged into the cave was about the air; it felt warmer and almost lively. Despite this, the maze they had thrown themselves into was still as black as tar - the only light that penetrated the darkness was from the cave entrance behind them. Neither of the two could see where they were headed, so they came to a halt less than a hundred yards in.

"Is there any way you can light our path?" Finway asked of his companion. Without responding, Saraboam grasped several cosmic and fire runes in his fist, and put them up to his staff. With a bright, white flash, the orb at the end of the weapon was illuminated.

"It's only temporary," Saraboam stated after completing the incantation. The light from the staff was more fluorescent than the sun, but its range was far more limited. It pierced it's surroundings more than adequately, but behind each rock formation in the caves was a shadow that stretched a great length into the labyrinth.

"Hold your staff up, let's get a better look at the cave," Finway requested. Saraboam immediately did so.


The cave entrance had not been very high, but the ceiling had grown taller as they proceeded inwards. It was roughly twice the height it had been when they entered. Several large holes could be seen along both the left and right hand side of the cave, and despair sank Finway's heart. The labyrinth was constantly splitting off into several different trails, and they didn't know which one to follow.


The two began walking again, but at a much slower pace than how they had began.

"We should just follow this main pathway," Saraboam explained. "It's our safest bet."

"If I had a light source, we could split up, and cover much more ground," Finway stated rather hopelessly.


A speckle of light reflected off the wall, catching both their eyes. The younger adventurer took nothing of it, but the older magician stopped to gaze at the reflection.

"What is it?" Finway asked. "Even a gem would be of no use down here."

"No," Saraboam stated in a manner that drove the curiosity of Finway, "but perhaps this may give us some assurance." He raised up the back end of the staff, bringing the illuminated end to waist-level, and he struck the location on the wall where the reflection had been. Nothing happened, so he did it again, this time scraping the butt of the staff against the wall several times while applying pressure. Since the wall was composed of frozen earth, small pellets of ice and dirt came lose.


"What is this, then?" Finway half-asked, half-demanded, growing impatient. "We have to get moving! Lucien and Zemouregal will be coming through that entrance at any second, and we're staring at the cavern walls!"

They felt as if they were going nowhere, and hope was beginning to fade for the adventurer: what if Sliske's spell had already faded, and Lucien regained his connection with the Stone of Jas?


Saraboam simply grasped a handful of the frozen earth that had come loose and examined it in the palm of his left hand. He held the light up close to it, in a way that placed his head between the light and Finway's face, casting a shadow on the younger one.

"Saraboam, there is no time!" Finway shouted, wondering what could possibly create such an obsession in the wizard.

"This is rune dust," Saraboam stated matter-of-factly. "There has been much discussion about it in the magical community regarding it's origins: the biggest theory is that when simple rock is placed near the Stone of Jas, it turns into rune stones from the magic of the Stone." He turned, paused and glanced up at Finway. "This proves that theory, but also tells us something else."

The young adventurer's eyes widened. "It's nearby." Saraboam nodded. They both immediately took off in earnest down the main tunnel.


"It must be down here," Finway stated after a while, "how else could this happen?"

Saraboam, who was several paces behind his younger companion, only nodded in agreement. Both observed the walls off the passage as they grew continually lighter in color, with more and more glimmers as the staff's light reflected off of it.

"There are as many runestones here as in the mystic essence mines!" Saraboam shouted, stopping to catch his breath. He turned his head to the cavern wall, reached out his hand and grabbed a sample of the enchanted earth. Finway, not noticing this, kept on going.


In Saraboam's hand was the non-crafted essence that composed runestones.

"Finway, you must see this!" he exclaimed. "Finway!"

There was no response. He looked up to see that the younger adventurer, his only friend for hundreds of miles, wasn't there. The main pathway had taken a rather sharp turn to the left, and he guessed that Finway had rounded the curve.

"May Zaros protect you," he muttered, before continuing onwards, attempting to match the pace he was at before.


Finway, not noticing the absence of the magician, continued to run through the cavern for a brief while. He observed the reflecting light more and more along the walls of the cave. It was growing increasingly narrower, and he was worried it would result in such a small tunnel that they would not be able to go on.

"The ceilings growing closer," he stated loudly, thinking Saraboam was not far behind him. "We're running out of room. Saraboam?" He stopped to listen, but he could hear nothing behind him. It dawned upon him: he was alone.


Anxiety once more crept upon him. His thoughts raced, as if he was subconsciously attempting to find a mental pathway away from the despair he feared would encompass him. After a moment, his involuntary endeavor failed, and he thought of Abigail. He wondered where she was, and if she worried about him. She's probably moved on, he despaired, and is looking for someone else.


He thought of Geoffrey Diminus, who had sought her hand at one point. Although in reality, his attempts had been half-hearted and futile, envy still panged Finway's heart for that moment. He wanted to be with her, as he felt total loneliness in the caves. Saraboam was nowhere in sight, and his staff was the only light source. Or did he?


Finway glanced around, and an epiphany came upon him: despite the absence of the mage - and especially his staff - the walls were still glowing brightly. The rune dust which Saraboam had spoken of was everywhere, casting a luminous glow upon the tunnel, with infinite sparkles dotting each wall, the ceiling, and even the ground upon which he walked.


This new revelation ignited a flash of heroism, and Finway withdrew his sword. The rune blade, too, gave off an ominous glow, which perplexed him. The cyan colored weapon easily mirrored light, so without a second thought he dismissed it as a simple reflection. Gripping it tightly nonetheless, he proceeded onwards. The glowing walls guided his path; apart from the bends and curves in the tunnel's path, he could see everything clearly.


Eventually, Finway came upon a split in the cavern: instead of just a small tunnel shooting off from the main cavern, both looked roughly equal in size. Pausing only for a moment, the adventurer leapt into the passage on his right. Interestingly enough, instead of a continuation in the vein of runestones, the wall upon the left side of this passage gradually shifted from a coating of rune to a sheet of pure ice. The ceiling, ground, and right wall kept up the glow of magical essence.


Such an oddity hardly could daunt Finway's renewed perseverance, particularly when the glow from the other three sides of the tunnel adequately lit his path. In fact. his pace barely slackened as he noticed it occur. Several seconds later, however, his peripheral vision caught sight of a large, dark form beneath a thick confine of ice. Thinking it could possibly be the legendary Stone of Jas, quickly halted and turned suddenly to get a better glimpse at it.


The sudden jerk sent a stinging whiplash up the left side of his neck. He cursed and began rubbing it, closing his eyes as a reaction to the pain. When he opened them, he remembered the mysterious object, attempting to make out what it could be. Frozen in the ice was a set of dark, grey sleeves, connecting to a red robe torso. Only then did Finway look upon the face of what he now knew to be a living being; when he did so, he discovered the pale, deathly face of a Mahjarrat.


Not expecting such a shock, Finway's eyes widened. He jumped back, but his feet could not sustain such a surprise and he tumbled to the ground. The second he stuck the ground - still staring upon this new devilry - the creature opened it's eyes, revealing a demonic and piercing crimson gaze.


Chapter Twenty


There were no words that could describe Finway’s fear at that instant. In an instant, the creature beneath the ice came alive and broke the barrier between his human target to pieces. Shards of ice were thrown everywhere, some even penetrating the adventurer’s flesh. As the Mahjarrat roared to life, he leapt from his resting place and grasped the young lord by the throat. Holding him above the world, the demon’s eyes flared with rage. Finway struggled, attempting to wedge his fingers between those of the menace and his neck, but the result was the beast’s tightening of its hold.


“Who are you,” the Mahjarrat demanded, “to disturb the slumber of Jhallan?”

Jhallan, thought Finway, immediately recognizing the name. He had heard it somewhere, not too long ago...

“Speak now, intruder!” bellowed the beast. The direness of Finway’s situation led to his mind processing his memories faster. Jhallan had something to do with Saraboam, he remembered. He thought hard, and as he began running out of oxygen he witnessed the creature’s eyes narrow, as if attempting to recognize something in Finway

“You know Jamal…” he gasped in reply, struggling to remain conscious.

“Jamal?” Jhallan stated perplexingly. After a pause, he continued to further the interrogation. “How do you know Jamal?” he inquired, eyes narrow.

“I met him…” Finway started, but felt he did not have enough air to continue. Sensing this, Jhallan loosened his grip ever-so-tightly, and the adventurer utterly gave up flailing his arms to fight against such power. “I met him in the court of King Roald…of Misthalin…” he managed to heave out, but needed to pause. Jhallan’s menacing countenance remained the same.


Finway swallowed hard, still fearing the wrath of the new demonic being upon him. He stared at the feet of the creature as he spoke. “Jamal was an acquaintance…a friend,” he explained “he left a journal, in which he mentioned discovering you.” He looked up to see if this had loosened Jhallan’s chilling gaze.


The young adventurer had expected, at best, some slight hint of appeasement to be seen in the Mahjarrat’s face. Instead, there was a look of sadness, almost mourning, which served to shock him beyond belief. “He was a friend, you say?” Jhallan asked. His voice became much more sensitive, and it’s previous coarseness was forgotten. He let go of the adventurer, allowing him to slide gracefully onto the cold, rune-enchanted floor of the cavern.


Dumbfounded by this newfound sympathy, Finway could hardly contemplate the question. After a brief moment, the question and its meaning rang in his mind. He nodded, almost embarrassed that he took so long for him to think clearly enough respond.


“So he is dead then, is he not?”

Finway could only move his head gently down and back up once more at the question, his eyes set solemnly on the crimson set of Jhallan.

“He was a true hero,” the Mahjarrat continued. “When I was trapped under ice and spell, it was Jamal who managed to restore me to my true self. He found for me this very cave in which I reside,” the demon opened his arms to signify his surroundings. “Tell me, fortunate intruder, what is your name?”


“Finway,” the adventurer restored to boldness to speak. Recalling that Jhallan was aligned with the Zarosian faction of the Mahjarrat, he felt a significant sense of relief, although his fear still remained somewhat entrenched in his mind. Another blow struck Finway’s morale, as he realized that this new acquaintance would want to know about the ritual that had just taken place.


“Finway…” Jhallan’s eyes narrowed once again as he surveyed the young nobleman from head to toe. “Tell me the story, about how you met Jamal, and why you are here…”


Finway gulped, thinking of what to say. After a moment, his lips parted as he began quickly. “Jamal was of a tribe in the south desert…he traveled afar for several years, and his ultimate goal was to retrieve four diamonds which he would use to free the Mahjarrat warrior Azzanadra-” at this, Jhallan’s red gaze widened, yet remained fixed on Finway with intrigue, “-and for the most part, he was successful. He managed to collect all the diamonds by slaying several powerful Zamorakian demons.”


He stopped his story to take a heavy breath, realizing that he was talking extraordinarily fast. Neither that nor the pause daunted Jhallan’s attention, and his mind was still firmly set on the unfolding story.

“After accomplishing those great deeds - any many more,” he added quickly, nodding to Jhallan, “he returned to his people. However, he was stopped at the court of King Roald of Misthalin, who then instructed myself and a magician companion to join him in returning the diamonds.”


Finway paused for a moment once more, deciding to clarify what he had just stated.

“Jamal had informed us that the diamonds were intended to appease his tribe so they would no longer pester Al Kharid, a settlement in Misthalin’s possession, with their frequent raids. He did not reveal the truth of the matter to my companion and myself until we were nearly there.”

“Azzanadra was locked away in a pyramid, I recall…” Jhallan’s eyes narrowed, as if looking into the distance. Knowing how limited the view was in the cavern, Finway assumed he was remembering events of ages past. The adventurer only nodded in response. “I am familiar with the story of the diamonds, how he was locked away and allowed to wither…a truly pathetic way for a Mahjarrat to die…” After a brief moment of reflection, the demon parted his lips once more. “Continue.”


“We met with his tribe, and the next day traveled to the pyramid. However, we were ambushed by his tribesmen, who turned on Jamal as well as killing my companion.” In solemnity, Finway observed a moment of silence. “They had found an amulet in my bag, one which they took for one of religious affiliation.”

“Was it indeed such a pendant?” Jhallan inquired.

“It was,” Finway stated gravely, “but that was not the purpose for which I used it.”

“Then why did you have it with you?” The question came more harshly than the last.

“In Misthalin, my home country,” the adventurer began, “it is commonplace for all to follow Saradomin and observe his teachings. Although I am not an active disciple of his beliefs, I am indeed guilty of wearing the emblem for my own standing and recognition in the court.”


Jhallan, somewhat satisfied with the answer, took a step back, his crimson eyes relaxing once more. “You say that your mage companion died, did you not?”

Finway nodded.

“Then who is searching the tunnels with you?”

Amazed at the Mahjarrat’s incredible sense of detection, the Varrockian noble’s eyes widened. “Your abilities are truly incredible,” he remarked.

“My senses seem heightened, which is another tangent of discussions. Explain to me who your new acquaintance is.”

“That is Saraboam, a Zarosian who rescued myself from the ambush. He was unable to save the life of Falkan - my initial companion - or Jamal, but he did come across Jamal’s journal. In fact, much of what I know about Jamal and his travels comes from that journal. That is how I knew who you were,” Finway added, a hint of a smile gracing his countenance.

“And you freed Azzanadra?”

“Yes,” Finway replied. “My companion - Saraboam - and I accompanied Azzanadra northwards, as the ritual was drawing near-”

“The ritual of rejuvenation?” interrupted Jhallan.

“Yes, the Demon Tide.”

“That would explain my increased awareness, then, would it not?”

“Indeed, it would,” Finway gravely commented.


“So you traveled with Azzanadra, the Empty Lord’s greatest warrior? Incredible how mere mortals were granted such a privilege!” the Mahjarrat stated, a glimmer of disbelief.

“In all honesty, it is not that we earned the honor of his acquaintance so much that we were of practical use.”

“And what use might that have been?” the creature asked.

“Azzanadra had been imprisoned for thousands of years – for two entire ages in human time. He did not know the land, nor the people,” Finway explained.

“He no doubt was forced to travel in human form,” Jhallan assumed, “to conserve his power by not teleporting. Telekinesis before the ritual is generally unheard of for my kind.”

“Yes, that is correct,” the adventurer replied. “We additionally served as a guide, not only through Misthalin, which we had to cross, but also through the wilderness. Although he had known it millennia ago, the landscape has changed-”

“This I know,” Jhallan interjected. “Azzanadra, not I, has recently arisen from his confinement. I have walked these lands freely without any sort of imprisonment.”

“I apologize,” Finway said hastily. “May I continue?”

“Do so.”

“As a young lord in the court of the king, I was expected to undertake certain quests on his behalf. I did so on several occasions in which I was forced to travel partway through the wilderness. It is for this reason that I knew the lands so well.”

“So I see why you served such a practical purpose,” Jhallan noted, “but for what reason did Saraboam accompany the two of you?”

Finway’s eyes furrowed, thinking of an explanation that would again satisfy the Mahjarrat. “That is something I do not know. It seemed only natural for him to accompany us as well, seeing as he - not I myself, admittedly - follows the path of Zaros. I was additionally in his debt, for it was he who saved my life. I cannot imagine going through such a journey without him.”


“Your story seems to be plausible, but why are the two of you still here? Why have you not gone back to your homes, now that the Demon Tide has ended?”

“That was something else,” Finway observed gravely. “Azzanadra instructed us to search for the Stone of Jas, the powerful weapon that is behind Lucien’s rapid empowerment. He knew it would be hidden in these caves for the traitor to draw power from during the ritual; he also foresaw that it was so close that Lucien could reclaim it swiftly in the immediate aftermath if he turned out victorious.”

“Then there are two explanations for your presence here,” Jhallan concluded, a slight smile crossing his otherwise deathly pallor. “Azzanadra has slain Lucien, and you are searching for the Stone for where Lucien had hidden it - or else you have lied to me this whole while, and are searching these caves for the Stone of Jas for yourself.”


Deeply distraught, Finway’s face became devoid of all color. He wanted to tell Jhallan right then the truth about how Lucien had killed Azzanadra, how he had sent out the Dragonkin just days before in an attempt to weaken the champion of Zaros, but he didn’t know how.

“Unless,” the demon began, presenting a third option, “there is another motive you would like to redeem yourself with?”

“Yes, there is,” Finway stated, mustering his strength. Completely ignorant of how his new acquaintance would react, he took a deep breath. “Azzanadra is dead.”


It would be impossible for Jhallan’s face to fade even whiter. His complexion resembled the snow of the tundra outside the caves. His countenance loosened and his eyes widened. He stood for a moment, eyes closed. Finway knew he was trying to find any sign of Azzanadra’s life, but his attempt yielded nothing.

“Your story...true after all…” was all the Mahjarrat could say, acknowledging how all of the information Finway provided carried through. “If that is the case, then you will need my assistance. The rejuvenation has given me the power to sense things of great power, and I can feel that it is nearby.” He turned to leave, but then shifted around to get a glimpse at Finway again. “If Lucien is alive, why does he not already have the stone?”

“Sliske cast a curse on him which blinded his ability to sense the Stone’s presence,” the adventurer explained. “It’s only temporary, and time is running out.”

Finway was dumbfounded, not knowing what to do or say next to initiate their search. Fortunately, Jhallan summed it up for him. “Then we move, now!”


They started to move along at a hurried pace; Jhallan seemed to rush quickly as he attempted to detect the Stone’s whereabouts, and Finway was forced to run to keep up. “There is one more thing you must know,” Finway exclaimed not long after they began running, “Zemouregal is with him!”


Jhallan stopped for a moment to process this new information. “Then we must hurry all the more!”

Edited by Finway
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Although I just promised that I'll try to have a new chapter every Sunday, I don't know how well I'll be able to implement this course of action within the next few days: with Easter, I doubt that I will have any access to my computer starting tomorrow and lasting until Monday. However, the day I get back, I will release the next episode of Demon Tide (assuming it's after Easter Sunday). I will then proceed with the weekly releases until this story is finished. :rolleyes:

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Although I just promised that I'll try to have a new chapter every Sunday, I don't know how well I'll be able to implement this course of action within the next few days: with Easter, I doubt that I will have any access to my computer starting tomorrow and lasting until Monday. However, the day I get back, I will release the next episode of Demon Tide (assuming it's after Easter Sunday). I will then proceed with the weekly releases until this story is finished. ;)


Your a torturer. :rolleyes: :) :) :) ;) You see? All my friends are crying D:

Edited by rabbitfuzzy0
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Seeing as I have temporary access to the computer, I released the second chapter of this story today, as now tomorrow is Easter and I questioned my availability for that day. Enjoy! :rolleyes:

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ZOMG they're gonna free Azzandra!!!!


Lol. I'll give a review.




Language first!


Outwardly, he was supposed to be a brave hero, always ready for a new quest or mission, but he knew that it could go not go on forever.


The last part of that sentence isn't worded right.


“’right,” the fat mage turned, but Jamal continued to stare blankly, as if he didn’t here.






All I found :rolleyes:


Anyway, there were some parts I thought needed some explanation.


Jamal finds the four diamonds of Azzandra. Slightly wrong. You give no explanation on if he's fit, or anything about him. Besides, you have to fight Kamil, an ice barrager in the north of troll territory, kill an undead man and retrieve one from a vampire, find an elusive visibility ring, which requires you to steal some loot with poison locks, and then kill a extrmely powerful man, and finally, go into a smoky well and kill an extremely powerful fire being. Think about that. As far as I know, Jamal is just a boy. That's it.


Your ideas flow smoothly, and the story is going at a slow, steady pace(which is good). It's good that your not jumping from topic to topic, like some other stories. Anyway, I thought everything else was satisfactory, good work.





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I went through it and found a few mistakes.


Finway was honored to be of such a noble family,
its honoured


crafted the armor for many noblemen and knights throughout all of Misthalin.
its armour


when Finway had slain Delrith as it was rumored to be incredibly powerful against such demons.
its rumoured


He glanced at the shining saber at his side, the very one he had used three years ago for his first quest.
its re not er


. Geoffrey Diminus, too, was present, perhaps waiting in line to ask a favor of the king,
its favour


“I traveled greatly around the world to obtain each one,” he stated, a hint of pride in his otherwise nervous voice.
double L


You repeated a few of this throughout the story. :rolleyes:

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I went through it and found a few mistakes.


Finway was honored to be of such a noble family,
its honoured


crafted the armor for many noblemen and knights throughout all of Misthalin.
its armour


when Finway had slain Delrith as it was rumored to be incredibly powerful against such demons.
its rumoured


He glanced at the shining saber at his side, the very one he had used three years ago for his first quest.
its re not er


. Geoffrey Diminus, too, was present, perhaps waiting in line to ask a favor of the king,
its favour


“I traveled greatly around the world to obtain each one,” he stated, a hint of pride in his otherwise nervous voice.
double L


You repeated a few of this throughout the story. :rolleyes:


Delred, both spellings are correct, it's just that Finny's probably American and your British or Canadian. (like me :) )

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I went through it and found a few mistakes.


Finway was honored to be of such a noble family,
its honoured


crafted the armor for many noblemen and knights throughout all of Misthalin.
its armour


when Finway had slain Delrith as it was rumored to be incredibly powerful against such demons.
its rumoured


He glanced at the shining saber at his side, the very one he had used three years ago for his first quest.
its re not er


. Geoffrey Diminus, too, was present, perhaps waiting in line to ask a favor of the king,
its favour


“I traveled greatly around the world to obtain each one,” he stated, a hint of pride in his otherwise nervous voice.
double L


You repeated a few of this throughout the story. :rolleyes:

We Americans spell a few words differently than you brits.

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I went through it and found a few mistakes.


Finway was honored to be of such a noble family,
its honoured


crafted the armor for many noblemen and knights throughout all of Misthalin.
its armour


when Finway had slain Delrith as it was rumored to be incredibly powerful against such demons.
its rumoured


He glanced at the shining saber at his side, the very one he had used three years ago for his first quest.
its re not er


. Geoffrey Diminus, too, was present, perhaps waiting in line to ask a favor of the king,
its favour


“I traveled greatly around the world to obtain each one,” he stated, a hint of pride in his otherwise nervous voice.
double L


You repeated a few of this throughout the story. :rolleyes:

Delred, both spellings are correct, it's just that Finny's probably American and your British or Canadian. (like me )

Rabbit's right. My spellingsa are correct, too! :)

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I went through it and found a few mistakes.


Finway was honored to be of such a noble family,
its honoured


crafted the armor for many noblemen and knights throughout all of Misthalin.
its armour


when Finway had slain Delrith as it was rumored to be incredibly powerful against such demons.
its rumoured


He glanced at the shining saber at his side, the very one he had used three years ago for his first quest.
its re not er


. Geoffrey Diminus, too, was present, perhaps waiting in line to ask a favor of the king,
its favour


“I traveled greatly around the world to obtain each one,” he stated, a hint of pride in his otherwise nervous voice.
double L


You repeated a few of this throughout the story. :)

We Americans spell a few words differently than you brits.


Or Canadians. :rolleyes:

Edited by rabbitfuzzy0
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