Prologue: Memories of King Tyrel Salvidawn
I wearily push the golden doors open and drag myself across the threshold into the Sanctuary. Each step is in the uncertain. Should this be my last thought, then I wish to share it with another so that our fight, our sacrifices, may give you hope in despair. The battle will not end, not while there is one last Sentinel to fight for the safety of Anmor. Although I do not know what may become of me, my faith in this soldier grants me the strength to take this final walk to my end. If this dark shroud is to consume me, it will not find me begging for mercy in the dust and ruin around me.
My recent journey through time to Zynoo has taken the last of my energy, but my resolve has never been stronger. Despite the fire in my soul, I am no contest for the evil that is on my trail. Neither fear nor nostalgic delusions cloud my vision. I know that I am no longer the powerful warrior who once held the mantel of King of the Aetherealm and Supreme Guardian of Anmor. I was once able to wield the power of the Light, but now it is impossible for me to carry my sword. The mighty Dawn Shard drags along the dusty, marble floor behind my shuffling feet as they carry me to a familiar destination. I set the blade beside the magnificent golden throne of the Aetherealm and lower myself wearily into the seat that I have occupied these many years. My armoured hand rises to comfort my tired face, and I close my eyes, finding respite in the cold metal of my gauntlet. This is the first time that the suit has been void of the warmth of the Light, a sign that all is not well in the Aetherealm. A glance around the throne room echoes this omen. There is a deft chill in this sanctuary of peace. Out in the courtyard, the tree that Sarganium magically conjured stands barren, stripped of the lush leaves that symbolised the lifegiving power of the Guardians of Anmor. Scorches mar the walls of this ancient sanctum, serving as a morose reminder of the fierce battle between Sephiron and Arlen within this once hallowed place. We found strength in friendship and through this, we ensured the longest era of peace across Anmor. Now that fellowship lies shattered, fading into nothing but a memory amidst the allconsuming shades of war.
Lightly I trace my fingers across the cloak pin I received from Luminara at my coronation. Even the kindness that she brought to this realm has withered into the encroaching shadows. Ironically, I was the one who started us upon this path of destruction; yet I am the only one that remains. If my old friend wished me to experience this suffering in solitude, he has succeeded.
I rest my eyes as I reflect upon my journey. I remember when it began: when honour, loyalty and justice were virtues that bound our fate. When we lived what has been lost to legend. I remember the day Alaris, the mighty and benevolent Scion of Light, charged my brethren and me to protect Anmor from the terrors of the Obsidious. She christened us the Guardians of Anmor, her final act of grace in the protection of her beloved Galaxy. My fellow Guardians appointed me their King shortly after our victory over Nethriziin. I was to lead them in protecting the Four Realms from whatever evil arose. Sadly, I failed in my duty even before I started.
Some would say that it was the Exiled acting alone, but my conscience knew better. When Thaedis learnt of my deception, he forwent all reason. He believed I had betrayed our friendship, but all I intended was to protect him. I attempted to explain this to my former student, but he would have none of it and swore vengeance upon the Guardians. He sought to destroy everything that was precious to me; my friends, the realm that I ruled and the peace that I fought to maintain.
His first assault was upon the Guardians themselves. United, we drove his army of Edarians back into the depths of the Obsidious. With the Aetherealm free from the taint of Thaedis’s dark magic, we converged upon the abomination. Yet we could not have fathomed the depths of the Obsidious that Thaedis had traversed, for hatred beyond comprehension fuelled his power. He had been the most powerful among us, and it was with great difficulty that we finally defeated him using a shard of the Valinthian Stone to strip his Guardian powers. I recall looking down my blade as I pressed it to the neck of the Zenorian who had been my closest friend. I stared into his eyes and saw the flame of his hate burning so fiercely, despite his broken body and his power now trapped deep within the shard. I knew I should bring my sword down upon him and put an end to the horror. Every part of my being urged me to do this, but I could not kill him. He was my friend. Blinded by the echoes of our brotherhood, I failed to realize that the Zenorian I had befriended all those years ago no longer existed. He was now nothing more than a vessel overflowing with an insatiable thirst for vengeance. The very venom from which I tried to save him now corrupted his essence. I could not kill him; he was my friend. To slay him in cold blood would make me no better than what he had become. Choosing to spare him, I banished Thaedis from the Aetherealm. I believed that without the immortality his Guardian Powers granted him, he would die. Once again, I underestimated my protégé.
Thaedis disappeared from my sights, and I believed him to be dead; but he was far from surrendering to an eternal rest. I could not have imagined the extent of his obsession with the powers that lived within the Obsidious. Thaedis cast his soul into the oblivion. Within this dark embalming, he survived the ages. Where he sought refuge I knew not, but an uneasy feeling surfaced that he was biding his time, awaiting the opportune moment to strike.
A little more than three thousand years ago, a Zenorian sorcerer named Lord Aeron attempted to cast a veil of chaos upon the galaxy. Although he ultimately failed at the hands of the Vokarii, his magic reminded me of Thaedis. I foresaw the return of my former friend. In that instant, I knew I must break the vows I took when I became a Guardian, to avert the doom that would befall the people of the Maelinthian.
After the defeat of Lord Aeron and the army of Dorassi, I assumed my Zenorian form and returned to my home planet. A shadow crept across the land. Though merely a wisp, I knew what the future held because of it. I had to act immediately. I took the Valinthian shard I had used to defeat Thaedis to the Order of the Vokarii. I knew that I was breaking yet another of the Guardian laws, but I had no choice. I revealed myself to the Head of the Order, a powerful Mage named Kashari Alda-Fyre and to King Regarius, ruler of Kel-Ardimus. I requested them to commission the forging of a powerful sword as well as an innocuous artefact. I returned a few days later and placed Thaedis’s power into the artefact, which I entrusted into King Regarius keeping. He had the artefact sealed deep below the palace. Kashari infused the sword with her spirit, and the Order became the custodians of the weapon. However, this was just the beginning.
I did not know what Thaedis was planning, but I learnt that a thirst for vengeance was a primal facet of his being. I knew he would seek revenge upon the Guardians for his exile. Our strength was beginning to wane, and our sight into the galaxy diminishing. The magical bonds that tied us to the Maelinthian were weakening, and I was certain that Thaedis was responsible for this.
Shortly after the defeat of Lord Aeron, I felt a stirring within the darkness. I sensed that strong magic had converged as a single entity in the pit of the Obsidious. The uneasiness that crept upon me as I sensed Thaedis’s death urged me to seek out this entity. With this apprehension, I ventured into the depths of the Obsidious and walked among the corrupt souls as they endured their penance. Their pained, weary eyes followed my every step. They waved their arms feebly, perhaps to warn me to leave that forsaken place, but I could not, for I wanted to know what was happening. I needed to know. I had foolishly stepped into a trap.
Something attacked me from the darkness with a sinister laugh that could only belong to Thaedis himself. I retreated from the wretchedness, seeking instead the sanctuary of the Aetherealm. The wounds from the attack healed rapidly beneath the holy Light of the Valinthian Stone. It was only then that I began to see the true extent of Thaedis’s scheme.
Upon my return to the Aetherealm, the curse began to seep into my heart and those of my fellow Guardians. We began to experience blackouts, followed by hallucinations of a hooded figure commanding us into battle. Sometimes, we would regain consciousness and find ourselves on planets wrought by devastation born of our powers that we could not control. As we looked around in horror at what we had wreaked, Thaedis’s chilling laughter would fill our minds. We could feel the claws of guilt and fear tearing into our souls, but we could do nothing more than watch helplessly.
Occasionally, the Guardians would display an uncharacteristic hostility towards one another. Arlen and Sephiron were the first to disappear from our realm. After a brutal battle between the former friends, they fell to the curse and became the eternal slaves of the Exiled. Perhaps, if we had worked together, we would not have fallen into the darkness. It was too late now for us to save ourselves. With each passing year, we felt the curse growing stronger. We resisted as best we could, fighting to resist the shadows within our hearts and minds; but Thaedis proved too cunning for us. He had learnt of the demons within each of us, and forced us to face the one enemy we had never taken the time to fight.
Eventually, I was the only remaining Guardian, and I could feel my strength deserting me like steam into a cold night. As with those before me, I could see what was happening; but I was powerless to stop what Thaedis had set in motion. I knew that I could not defeat him again. I had had my chance, and I had allowed him to evolve into a power that would terrify Anmor unopposed. But, this was only for a brief moment. I saw that there was one last chance for our salvation. Using my little remaining strength, I travelled through time to do what was needed to preserve this hope.
Now as the final remnants of my being dissipate into the cold and unfriendly shadows, I leave you, my friend, with my final memory. I pray to the Spirits that it is not too late for the young Zenorian I foresaw to be the last great King. Only he can challenge the Wrath of the Exiled.