It was a storm unlike any storm people in those parts had ever before seen. It seemed less the result of nature and more the result of being conjured from pure hatred for the land. Rain fell with such ferocity that drops became like needles that stabbed at the tender flesh of the Earth. And a ferocious wind tore across the valley like a rampaging beast. It snapped limbs off trees and ripped some of the weaker plant life from the soil. So savage was the night that even the stars had gone into hiding.
But even through a raging tempest, the sound of metal clashing with metal resonated. The sound was every bit as furious as the elements.
Within a cave two combatants engaged in fierce swordplay. A bonfire cast their shadows upon the wall, tripling their size and making the two seem almost mythical.
The warriors battling so desperately for their lives, neither much older than twenty years, were Sir William Hunter, the youngest ever appointed general to lead King Lionel’s royal forces, and a mysterious young man known only as Sage.
So grueling had the battle become that the fighters needed a reprieve just to catch a few desperate breaths. The expression on William’s face showed that the battle was indeed taking its toll, but Sage had a stoical, almost calm demeanor to him.
“This fight isn’t going to end anytime soon,” said William. “Our skills are equal. So why not make this easy for the both of us and give yourself up? I’m sure the council will show mercy if I tell them you surrendered.”
“Those close to death are always quick to cut a deal,” replied Sage.
With nary the slightest of warnings, Sage went back on the attack. An instant before Sage's blade could slash his foe, William blocked it. So close were the two now that William and Sage could see their reflection in the other’s eyes.
“I commend you on putting up such a valiant effort,” said Sage, trying to force his blade through William’s defense. “It’s no wonder you were able to attain such a rank at your age. But I’m growing weary of this, so it’s time to bring an end to this struggle.”
“If you refuse to surrender, then I will have no choice but to take your life,” said William. “For it is my sworn duty to fulfill the order of my king.”
“You really are a fool,” said Sage. “You weren’t sent here for me.”
“What do you mean?”
“You were sent for me,” said a man’s voice.
It wasn’t the fact that the mysterious voice had seemingly come from out of nowhere that frightened William so. It was that the voice sounded more evil than any voice he had ever heard, making William believe it had come from the Devil himself.
Doing his best to keep Sage at bay, William diverted some of his attention to where the voice had come. Waiting for him was something William never could have expected. A man dressed as a priest was standing within the fire, though the flames could do nothing to harm him. “It can’t be,” gasped William.
Using the distraction to his full advantage, Sage rammed his head into William’s face, badly dazing his opponent. He then made no hesitation in running his blade through William’s chest. The shell of the once mighty warrior slid off Sage’s blade and fell to the dusty cave floor.
“Your king would be proud of you,” said Sage.
“Tell me, my loyal Sage,” said the man who had long ago relinquished his real name so that he could be known only as Shadow Kahn. “Now that you have taken your first life, has your opinion of this changed?”
“You are my master,” said Sage. "Your will is my will. Whatever you ask of me I will do. I would walk through the fires of Hell just so I could stand by your side. I will be with you until the very end.”
“Now,” said Shadow Kahn, “we just have to make everyone else feel the exact same way.”
And with that, the fire extinguished itself, ushering in a cold and empty darkness.