Angry that he's been hit so many times during his stay in Morgelyn's caves, Marko enters a blood rage and attacks the white wolf-man.
He rips the claws from the guard's arms...
... and begins to savagely rip him apart.
Patrick runs by, grabbing a sword from the ground.
He runs up to the orb and powers up the sword before he strikes.
After taking a breath, he pulls back...
... and obliterates the fragile sphere!
Marko continues to devour the white wolf-man. BACK IN THE GREAT CAVERN...
Falir's spell has temporarily disabled Lyrffrech. Hammermann decides it's a good time to strike.
Using all the strength he can muster, he throws his hammer at the dragon.
The hammer deals a heavy blow as Lyrffrech's black blood spills from a wound.
Hammermann doesn't believe the wound is great enough. He hovers the hammer just above Lyrffrech and prepares to strike again.
"Thelen hai gwareth!" shouts Falir as he casts a spell to make the next hit more powerful.
Success! The hammer deals a critical blow to Lyrffrech, who is now missing a limb. More black blood spills out.
With the orb destroyed, Morgelyn feels her power abandoning her. The stranger takes advantage of her weakened state and bashes her with the pommel of his scimitar. Aoishi runs past to attack Lyrffrech.
The young warrior from the Yatsu Shogunate leaps into the air, preparing his mind to deal the strongest attack possible.
Another success! Aoishi's blade pierces deep into Lyrffrech's flesh. Dark energy flees from the wretched creature.
Suddenly, Lyrffrech is kneeling on the ground in a weakened form. The others surround him.
"Enough... enough... *cough* It is over..." he wheezes.
"I submit to-" Lyrffrech stops talking and begins to shake as he looks past Aoishi's shoulder. "How is this possible?! Th- the elf's blood was never spilled!"
The others turn around and find Lord Baeddan staring directly at Lyrffrech.
"It was my own blood that freed me from your curse!" says the dragon in a thundering voice.
"The rest of you will stand aside while I deal with the traitor." commands Lord Baeddan.
"M- m- my lord, you must understand-" says a quivering Lyrffrech.
"Silence! Your loyalty was bought by the darkness in Rend long ago! You sought to take my power rather than cultivate your own!" shouts Baeddan.
"Your actions have betrayed all who are kindred to the scale!" he continues.
"But my lord-"
"Through manipulation and deceit, you forced the poor Duathan girl to do your bidding! You knew that to turn one of our chosen from the path we have set is forbidden!"
"It would have been better for her to have never been born than to live and suffer through your lies!" says Lord Baeddan, his voice full of sorrow. "Since she could not act by her own will, I send her to the Powers Beyond so that she may know pain and suffering no more."
Morgelyn, a tortured soul, passes to the Powers Beyond.
"For acting as an agent of Rend and disgracing all scale-kind, I banish you from existence!"
Lyrffrech's screeches fill the mountain as his very soul is torn asunder.
The screaming stops as Lyrffrech's essence is ripped apart forever. He ceases to exist entirely.
After the thunderous sound of Lyrffrech's banishment echoes across the cavern, silence descends upon everyone. Lord Baeddan looks to Aoishi.
"I would speak with you, great warrior." he says calmly.
Aoishi cautiously approaches the great dragon.
"I shall speak with you as an equal, for equals we are until time is undone" says Baeddan.
He transforms into someone familiar.
"Aoishi, to the Duatha I am known as Baeddan, but to our people I am Beidashi Heika and your ancestor. Long ago I served the Sky Ruler and was given the honor of becoming one with scale-kind. Now, your country has need of you. Return to our homeland and seek out the Tengu. They will guide to the correct path. However, before you contact them you must offer your sword to me at my shrine so that I may know my family line will not break with you."
"I give a gift for the services you all have rendered here today. May all of you never succumb to illness and poison again."
The group feels their bodies changing as the energy caresses them. Lord Baeddan fades away.
"To be banished from existence..." laments Falir "I'm not sure even Lyrffrech deserved such a fate."
Patrick and Marko wander into the cavern.
The group remains silent while they go over the events of the day in their minds.
"Marko Hund." says a creature that mysteriously appears behind the wolf knight.
"My master, the Lord of Rend, bids thee his greeting and commands that thou approachest him so that thou mayest know the true meaning of torment". he says.
"Be gone, wretched and accursed being!" shouts Falir. "You have no authority here!"
"I remind thee, elf, to keep thy silence while an Agent of Rend speaks on behalf of the greatest of lords". As the being lifts his hand, Falir is unable to speak.
"Your savagery and forsaking of life hath bought thee favor in my master's glorious eyes." continues the being. "I am bidden to provide thee with a way to enter my master's presence unmolested."
He glances to his right. "The gateway is command to approach."
Suddenly, a beautiful woman appears next to him.
"Where am I?! Why are you doing this to me?!" she screams. Her accent is easily recognizable to all. She is from the Kingdom of Myrindol.
"The gateway was never commanded to speak. It shall be punished for it's sin."
"No! Please! Help me!"
Her screams fill the cavern as hellish fire engulfs her.
Though she does not appear burned, the woman's face shows she is in a great deal of pain.
"I present to thee, Marko Hund, the gateway to Rend. Enter it and that shalt receive my master's glory and torment. Reject his gift and thou shalt know no greater agony than my master's wrath."
"The gateway is commanded to open the way to Rend."
"...please... please, make it stop..."
Her cries fill the air again as the snapping of bone and twisting of muscle becomes clearly audible and visible.
After a brief, but very disturbing moment, the woman is no more. What remains of her carcass has become a pyre of unholy light.
"Enter the flame and thou shalt greet my master. To reject his gift, thou must extinguish the gate."
The creature disappears as Marko stares into the fire. His nostrils, being much more sensitive while in wolf form, are filled with the scent of the dead woman's burning flesh.END OF CHAPTER 1