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By Jessica Duckworth All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Prologue: Demons


On the southern tip of Rowanoak Island, the crumbling city of Saranade spread out across the desert. Claimed by the demons after an ancient war, they allowed the once beautiful city to fall apart. Rising above the houses was the likeness of a palace, in the same ramshackle condition by appearance, and the city’s crowning jewel. Several buildings combined into one, it was mostly built of stone, its base an old mansion. It had once been a grand thing, but now it was barely recognizable surrounded by all the makeshift expansions.

The palace was traditionally granted to the Darkray, and was Alakar’s abode. He sat curled up in a corner of the roof’s rafters, his wings wrapped around him like a bat’s, the lack of light allowing him to disappear in to the shadows. He stared down at the tiled floor below, his dark eyes unfocused. It seemed he liked to seclude himself in this corner, especially when revenge occupied his thoughts.

Why is it that we still remain on this retched island? He wondered, despite the fact that he knew all too well what stood between him and freedom—the Auraes. For hundreds of years his ancestors struggled to conquer the Auraes so they could finally be free, but their enemy had always been more numerous, and more powerful.

But he was determined to be the Darkray to succeed where so many others had failed. Surprisingly young for a Darkray, he felt the need to prove himself to his followers, despite their natural loyalty to him. They had been under the rule of a Darkray for so long now, it was embedded in their very beings, just as the need to consume auras was.

Maybe we’re strong enough now, Alakar mused. The Auraes definitely seemed weaker, and the demons only grew. It didn’t take much encouraging to convince Alakar; for so long, all he had thought of was destroying the Auraes.

“It’s time,” he announced to no one in particular, and then spread his wings and flew to the ground below, landing silently. Glancing to the doors, his gaze rested on an older woman, who stood as still as a statue, stiffened by long hours of the same practice. Noticing his gaze, she dropped hers out of respect and asked, “Yes my master?”

“Gather my people,” the Darkray commanded.

“Right away sir,” the woman agreed, and then bowed before leaving the room. Turning on his heel, Alakar followed the worn carpet to the throne at the other side of the room. It sat on a lifted pedestal, with a few stairs granting access to the chair itself. Far nicer than anything else in the city, Alakar allowed only himself such luxuries. Lounging back into the soft cushions, he tapped his long fingers impatiently on the arm of the chair while he waited.

Distantly he acknowledged the bells ringing in the tower above him. By law, the people of Sarako were required to gather outside Alakar’s palace whenever it rang. It was unclear to the demons what exactly he’d do if they defied the laws he set, but they feared him enough that they would come whether they wanted to or not.

After a while, the woman informed him they had gathered. He dismissed her, and then strolled across the room to the balcony. Swinging the double-doors open, he stepped out into the early morning light. Below him, hundreds of pale faces stared upward, a mixture of interest and boredom displayed on their expressions. He could sense the auras of the demons below, intermixed with their vampire brethren.

“My people,” he began, drawing their attention. “For many long years, we have remained trapped on this island. Several generations have passed away without being allowed to taste the freedom of a world without Auraes. Gifted to be better in every way than the Auraes, it is our right to rule, yet their greater numbers have kept us trapped here. No matter how hard we’ve tried, our hatred of them has not brought us the strength to gain victory.” Grumbles of agreement passed through the crowd. There was one thing he knew they all shared; their hatred of the Auraes and want for freedom was as equally strong as the Darkray’s.

“Despite how gruesome the truth looks, some good has come from them trapping us here,” he continued. “We have grown in numbers, and have only become more powerful over the years. We are almost double them in numbers now, an advantage I feel we can use to finally ensure our freedom. In a few months’ time, once we are ready, we will attack them. Their pathetic city shall fall, and we will roam the world once again!” As his words echoed out over the crowd, a cheer erupted from the demons below, broadcasting their deep need for the freedom he promised. This was exactly what the Darkray wanted. “Go now, prepare yourself for battle!”

The demons scattered as the sun rose over the cursed city of the demons. He watched them leave, smiling wickedly at the plans he had made for the future. War would come, and then he would finally taste freedom.

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