Chapter 1: The Tenebris
301 years ago. . .
Runo walked calmly down the dark corridor; he had traveled this way countless times before, but never so late at night. He turned a corner and proceeded towards a separate pathway that was far less used, hidden behind an overlap in the wall that hid this area from the view of any casual walker-by. The moon was already setting but daylight was still a few hours away; this was the darkest time of the night, a time when no one would expect him to be walking around. There were several windows and a few candles that light Runo’s way as he walked, his shadow darting along besides him.
He looked down towards the end of the hall which ended in a dead end; there was nothing special about this place; cobwebs clung to the corners and a musty, dank smell filled the air. The only thing that appeared out of place was a large man with a huge sword standing quietly against the wall.
There was nowhere to hide in the corridor; it stretched for nearly 100 yards without any turns, leaving an approaching figure visible for the whole walk. The guard recognized Runo instantly, for he was a brilliant young sword master within the Rimontarian army, some said he could possibly join the Twins as a Commander someday.
Runo continued walking until he was face to face, or at least face to stomach; with the large Captain guarding an empty wall, not speaking as he approached him.
“Lieutenant Runo, I didn’t expect to see you this late, or early I could say,” Captain Chestmore said gruffly, “Are you here to bring me an update on that Pirate raid? Cheeky bastards, disappeared from what I heard, but if I had to guess I’d say they were hiding around Lost Lake, there are countless escape routes to…”
His speech was stopped mid-sentence as a dagger thrown by Runo pierced his throat. The movement had been too fast for the Captain to see; he was a powerful warrior, in a fair fight he may have been able to defeat Runo. But, he let his guard down, which the young fighter seized upon instantly, not wasting any time.
Runo looked down at the dying soldier, no remorse on his face, he glanced over his shoulder for any signs of movement; he had aimed the blow at his opponent’s vocal cords, silencing him from making any sound. The walls could echo loudly from even the tiniest noise; Runo did not want Kentu and Gratus notified of his actions this early, he could not handle those two yet…
“But soon..." He thought to himself with a sneer, “Soon I will be the most powerful fighter in the land…”
Runo studied the vacant wall in front of him; remembering the clues he had been given, no one knew how to open the door that was supposedly hidden here, but there were rumors of telltale signs to look for that could help.
The bottom two corners of the wall were smooth and clean; not like the rest of the wall which was rough and dusty. Runo looked back and forth between the two points, they were several yards from each other. Nodding, he bent down to pull the dagger from Chestmore’s throat.
He stood to the right side of the wall above the smooth corner before flinging his dagger back at the dead body. The dagger struck the Captain in his left knee, causing his leg to jerk out and kick the bottom left corner of the wall, at the same moment Runo kicked the bottom right corner and stood back.
The wall fell straight back as dust sprang out from around the edges; a blast of stale air hit Runo, causing him to cover his eyes. He peered into the darkness, past the hidden door when the dust cleared; no light escaped from the tunnel that greeted him, no sound of any movement either. Runo walked forward without hesitation; pulling out a small torch he kept with him, he lit it and revealed a short tunnel that stretched only thirty feet or so in front of him, ending once again in darkness.
Runo passed through the tunnel quickly; walking in long strides towards the darkness before him. As he entered this new chamber he held the torch high to get a clear view of his surroundings, and even he was taken aback by what he saw. The room was large and stacked floor to ceiling with a wide array of objects. Weapons of all kinds were lined around the room; beautiful swords with golden blades adorned the wall, intricate spears in a rainbow of color were stacked on racks around him, hard oak chests overflowing with gold were too numerous to count. Runo forced himself to look away from all this, walking past everything towards the back of the chamber.
All the way on the other side it was darker still; this is where Runo walked, the closer he approached the far wall the smaller his flame seemed to glow. The fire was absorbed by some hidden chasm along the wall; no light could escape its grasp. Runo moved with breathless anticipation, knowing what must be the source of this phenomenon. He had heard rumors and whispers of a secret weapon, hidden deep within the armory, tales of an ancient blade which could cut through any object and give the wielder unparalleled strength. Closer and closer he crept, moving silently pass the objects around him, not daring to make a sound.
Finally, he stood before it, it was so hard to see through the darkness, but he reached forward and felt the sword hilt against his fingers. The instant he touched it a symphony of voices rang out in his head; he let go of the sword and jumped back, pulling out his normal blade and looking for an enemy. The voices were gone; silence clung to him as thick as the darkness which gripped the chamber. Runo let out a long breath and wiped sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. He set the torch he carried onto a spear rack and switched his sword to his left hand, using his right to once again reach out for the blade.
His fingers wrapped themselves around the hilt again; the voices flooding back into his mind the second he did so. There were so many of them talking at one time; it was difficult to separate them from one another, they were battling with each other, pushing to be the dominate voice…
“Remember me… do you… remember?”
“... find her again, help me find her…”
“Tenebris… what have you done?”
Runo concentrated, pushing the voices from his mind, silencing their cries by asserting his will over them. One by one the voices faded; falling back into the darkness of the sword. One voice sprang up louder than the rest for a final brief moment before Runo pushed it back down too:
“Release now, it is your only chance…”
When the voices were gone Runo studied the blade; it was remarkable, unlike anything he had ever seen. The blade was made of refined diamond; sharp and pointed at the end, but curved slightly along its body, perfect for slashing open an enemy. The sword was blacker than black; a dark hole which sucked the light from his torch. The power that radiated from it was immeasurable, it felt almost alive in his hand, very light but so powerful as well. Something caught Runo’s eye at that moment, he looked back to the wall to where the sword hung, a second spot was empty next to where he took this blade; a second sword was meant to hang next to this one it seemed.
Without warning; a rush of wind exploded around Runo; his cloak he wore fluttered violently as the ground trembled beneath his feet. He sheathed the Black Diamond Sword and switched his other sword back to his right hand. The gust of wind blew out the torch that was the only source of light; shrouding Runo in darkness. He breathed heavily, groping about in the dark to try and reach the exit when light suddenly sprang up behind him. A flash of sunlight gleamed through the far wall; bright light that lit the entire area of the chamber; Runo could feel heat coming from the wall also; like a door had been opened and hot, humid air was filtering through. The hole in the wall closed as quickly as it had appeared; but not before something came forth from within it.
Runo looked up and gasped; a huge creature now loomed above him, twelve feet tall it stood, but the size wasn’t what made Runo gasp… the creature was made entirely out of Crystal!
The body of the beast radiated light, shining in the darkness and glowing in an array of yellow and emerald green. The creature seemed to be carved straight out of stone; its body was rough and jagged, it was bulky and the joints on its arms and legs were blocked pieces of crystal. The head was its most ominous feature; four great spikes stood straight up, like a crown, dangerous and sharp. The face itself was blank, narrow slits hung where eyes should be but the creature had no mouth, nose nor ears.
It noticed Runo immediately and lurched at him; Runo leaped back quickly, unsure how to attack this enemy. Usually he could gauge his opponent’s strength and sense how strong the being he fought was, but this creature was not a normal foe. He could not sense any power from this thing; but Runo was sure it was not to be trifled with.
The Crystal beast swung out at him with its massive arm; Runo nimbly dodged it and struck back with his own sword, but his attack bounced harmlessly off it. He dodged once more as it again struck out at him; toppling over a large trunk of gold coins, spewing its contents over the floor.
Runo used a different chest to catapult himself up at the monsters’ head, swinging his sword at the beast with all he could muster. Once more, his sword bounced off his opponent, causing no damage at all.
Runo fell back to the ground and was unable to move in time as the creature backhanded him; flinging him out and into a rack of spears. One of the blades nicked his shoulder; pain erupted forth from it; Runo could feel his hot blood flowing down his back. He threw away his useless blade in disgust; he had no choice now it seemed.
He pulled out the Black Diamond Sword, raising it up in front of his face and staring down his enemy. The Crystal monster tensed up when the blade was revealed; but it charged head first at Runo, trying to impale him with the spikes on his head.
Runo somersaulted over his foes attempt as the beast slammed hard into the wall Runo had stood in front of a second ago. Runo jumped back towards the being; slicing the sword across its back. Its Crystal skin sliced open instantly, a crack opened up deep within its body, the monster made no sound, but turned back at Runo to charge him again. Runo didn’t hesitate; he dashed forward and drove the sword through where its heart should be.
The Crystal soldier turned a different hue of color, a darker shade of emerald green. It lurched backwards as a dark matter began flowing through its transparent body, like vines roping along a tree with accelerated speed. The creature cracked and finally shattered all over, falling to the floor in pieces, its head stayed intact, landing upright on the ground.
Runo stared at it as the color faded from its skin; breathing heavily he brought back up the Tenebris, staring deeply into the blade. One of the voices was beginning to creep back up from within it; it was laughing at something but Runo couldn’t understand its meaning:
“Ha Ha Ha… Join us in the darkness deep; where we go to never sleep,
Lose yourself in this mystery; steeped in our long lost history,
For while you keep me close at the start, death shall forever stalk your heart,
Until one day when we break free; haunted voices we shall ever be…”
The voice faded back into the sword; Runo felt a cold chill grip his soul, the blade sucked something from him he could tell, he felt a part of him ripped away from his physical body, as he stared into the depths of the blade he felt himself become a part of it… lost within the deep crushing blackness of the terrible sword… the Tenebris.