When the final dragon awakens
When a spirit’s heart falls
When an angel lies and a devil cries
The world will surely end
The various human civilizations of the world each had their own version of this simple prophecy, warped and embellished as the original was forgotten. A story foretelling the end of the world. Some called it Ragnarok, others the Second Coming, or simply the Apocalypse. Different names, but the same dreadful meaning.
Beyond the mortal realm, in the dark underworld that where other creatures dwelled, they too had a prophecy. Millennia ago, when man was slowly realizing their rulership over the material plane, this simple prophecy was left behind by the greatest oracle of her age, the Pale Dragon. Her mysterious disappearance left many confused, and over time even her true name was forgotten. Shortly after she left, the other great dragons fell into a deep sleep, hibernating for hundreds of years.
With the guiding hand of the great dragons gone, the other species that lived within the other planes began to quarrel and bicker, disputes over territory and cultures leading to a devastating war. No world was safe, save the Material plane, and island of peace in a universe of war. Mankind flourished as the angels, demons, and spirits spent years destroying each other and their worlds, each side too proud to accept that all they were doing was hurting themselves. It was not until the first dragon awoke once more. Seeing the devastation wrought during his great sleep, the Midnight Dragon became enraged at what they had done. His breath decimated armies as his claws rent the very fabric of the planes, their inhabitants cowering before his wrath.
But a dragon was a being of peace, not war. They were meant to nurture and guide the other races, not slaughter and conquer them. When his rage calmed, he realized what he had done. Knowing he had disgraced his kind and his ancestors, the Midnight Dragon quickly brokered a peace amongst the battered species. The moment he had forced the Unity Treaty through, with the agreement of all three species to abide by its commands, he flew off into the depths of the Spirit World, diving down as far into its core as he could. Believing he could never be absolved of his crimes, he impaled his heart on his own claw, ending his life in an attempt to atone for his own destructive outburst.
But dragons are tied to the very fabric of the worlds, and the death of one by their own claw rocked the very foundation of them. A pulse of sickly energy flung outward from his being, corrupting sections of the Spirit World entirely, turning them from a lush, green world into a sickened miasma of darkness and plague. Creatures were born of Midnight’s anguish, twisted abominations that hungered for the life essence of any and all species. They became known as Scura.
No species suffered more at the hands of the Scura than mankind. Angels, demons, and spirits could fight back, could defend themselves. But man was weak, and did not have the powers that the other species possessed. Knowing that this entire situation was their fault above all others, the three came together and made a pact. Together, they would fight back the forces of Scura, these hungering beasts of darkness. Until the day came when they could find how to revert the changes that created the Scura, they had to fight. Or so, that was the plan.
While the war was short lived in the eyes of species who measure lifetimes in millennia, the memories of it festered. Such prejudices were not so easily forgotten or set aside, and even those newly born were indoctrinated in the ancient hatreds. Time and time again, a dragon would awake and try to bring the species together once and for all, but nothing could seem to absolve the great hatred. In disgust, each of them would slowly give up and fly off into the darkness, never to be seen or heard from again.
Now times are dark. Of the six dragons who went to sleep when the Pale Dragon disappeared, five have woken, including the Midnight Dragon. The Sunset Dragon, the Noon Dragon, the Harvest Dragon, and the Star Dragon. Each had tried to help, and finally gave up. Only the Wildfire Dragon remains sleeping, as angels, demons, and spirits still quarrel and snarl at each other, even as they try to hold back the never-ending onslaught of Scura.
But the Scura grow ever more clever, becoming more and more intelligent, and learning how to blend in amongst their ancient foes…and especially their favorite prey, mankind. The Three have also learned how to blend in with mankind, sending out their best and brightest warriors to hide in the Material Plane, so they can be ready for whenever the Scura attack.
This, o reader mine, is where our tale begins...
“…also, make sure to keep your tail hidden. Don’t let it slip out, no matter what happens. Remember to keep the mist up at all times! Humans panic when they see stuff like that. And don’t do any magic where humans can see! And-”
“Ugh I got it Wayne! I’m grown up now, I can do this!” The exasperated interruption came from a tall and slender young feminine demon, her black leathery wings held tight against her back. A lithe, barbed tail swung behind her, sticking out from the back of her ruffled red skirt. Two small red horns stuck up in her black hair as she rolled her eyes at the tall, brunette demon before her.
He sighed at her, looking down at her with an indulgent smile. “Ok, ok, fine Jenn. But do the mist now please? And hide your tail!”
Jenn sighed. Quickly moving her hands in a complicated series of gestures, red lightning crackling around her hands as the magic took effect. A black pulse of light flung out from her, hiding her obviously demon attributes. Her grey eyes glinted as she grinned up at her mentor, twirling in place. “See! I look just like one of those human girls now!”
Wayne snorted at Jennn, ruffling her hair. “Alright, you’ve been a good student. Just remember, your mission is simply reconnaissance. If you see Scura, kill them by all means, but be careful to do it where humans can’t see you. If you have to, you can trigger the Shift, but you know how much of a pain it is to clean up after them, so try to avoid it. And please try not to completely trash your apartment? We’ve procured one for you at the edge of one of the largest human cities, and your bills will be taken care of, so don’t overdo it, ok?”
Jenn grinned up at Wayne, practically bouncing as she quivered in excitement. She finally was ready to go out and become an elite warrior in the human world, helping defend humans from the darkness of the Scura! Wayne just rolled his eyes at her again, turning away from her to begin the chant to open the gateway.
Jenn watched in fascination as the runic circle on the ground began to glow, each symbol within the outer ring slowly lighting up one by one. As soon as the final circle erupted into blue light, a massive crackling bolt of energy shot down from the ceiling above, crashing into the center of the runic circle. It flared white for a brief moment, before splitting apart, creating a wound in space filled with a deep, swirling purple mist. Taking a deep breath, Jenn stepped forward, but a clawed hand on her shoulder stopped her. Turning around, she met Wayne’s eyes once more.
“Jenn, your weapon?” Damian nodded to her left hand. Jenn’s eye traveled down, widening as she noticed that she was still holding her massive halberd, the sleek black blade glimmering in the shifting lights coming out of the portal. With a sheepish smile and a nervous chuckle, Jenn quickly willed it to disappear. The blade burst into black smoke, swirling around her for a moment before swiftly coalescing into a black and silver ring on her right hand. He smiled down at her softly. “Good luck little one. We’ll be rooting for you.”
Jenn nodded sharply, spinning about to face the portal. With a steadying breath, she strode forward confidently, vanishing into the swirling mists.