War’s Edge: The Full Book

[War's Edge Cover]

Synposis: William “Fire” O’Cormick and Lord Raiden Negue Ionast, two seemingly unrelated time travelers, find themselves in the year 2014 of the 21st century. After minor skirmishes with seemingly corrupt governments, a much deeper conspiracy is uncovered, which leads to total war. We wrote this book as part of the National Novel Writing Month event.

Prologue

Darkness come to take us all,

This borken world shall fall,

We, who serve the shade of night,

The Dragon of embers bright,

Shall usher in this Hour of Twilight,

You’ll see power, just you wait,

By the Blood of All, we paint.

Under the Northern Star

William awakened in a cold, dark alley, surrounded by many unfamiliar and demonic looking buildings. From the looks of it, it was already well past midnight. Strange… these sky scraping houses… what is this evil infidelic sorcery? The British scum have destroyed our homeland! – he thought. But no matter, our objective stands: we must stomp out the chav infection, prevent the disease and restore the Republic of Ireland to it’s former glory! Wait… what is this? He looked in shock as a nearby passer by gulped down a bottle of alcohol in a single go. A true kinsman! He approached the stranger and demanded: “A man must share his drink with his brother in arms!”. To his surpise and shock, the stranger replied with a thick, barely understandable accent: “Piss off!”. Without hesitation, William unsheathed his shotgun, and a second later the stranger’s brains were splattered all over a nearby wall and his crimson red blood stained the alley. It cannot be! Looks like the British have brought the foreign nemesis to our lands… they all must pay!. William walked down the alley and headed out into the unknown.

Minutes later, William found himself on a large street. Many demonic looking thing surrounded him: cars that looked nothing like the Tin Lizzies of the Republic; strange looking humans with metal jewelry piercing their bodies and grotesque images decorating their bodies; people willingly waiting in designated spots to be swallowed by giant metallic contraptions that then moved onto the next spot to continue feeding; billboards of titanic proportions with contradictory messages: “Vote Freedom and we will repress the rightist plague!”. Freedom… this must be it! I must seek them out at once so we can begin purging Ireland of the tyrannical oppressors! – he thought. William approached the first person he saw – a young looking lady with blonde hair that was dressed quite… immodestly. “Where is Freedom and how can I meet them?” – he asked. “Hahaha what are you, some kind of World War 2 cosplayer? Go drown yourself in the Dnieper River you freak!” – the lady replied rudely and continue on with her business. This is it! If the IRA survived this madness, they would let me know where and how to find them through subtlety, not directly, for the enemy might find them! To this “Dnieper River” we go!

Several hours later, William stumbled onto beach on the bank of the river Dnieper. He concluded that this town is definitely not Belfast, though a lot can change in a hundred years. Though what he found was definitely not the IRA. 3 infidelic looking men were partying on the beach, all of them wearing suit and tie. One of them had a strange baldness pattern and an egg shaped head and worse glasses, another had neatly combed white hair, though he did not look old at all, and this third one was a tall and imposing middle aged man with brown hair and a stoic looking face. “Our electorate never saw it coming, we basically sold them to the Transnistrian regime and they didn’t even protest! We can finally use the money that we’ve been gathering all these years to pay off our debt to the IRS and then we can be free to continue exploiting these poor sobs!” – said the white haired man. The others cheered and shared a drink. “Though, we still have to deal with those Freedom lefties…” – said the tall man, saying Freedom with particular disdain. Then the man with glasses replied “We won’t be dealing with them, we will be killing them!”. All 3 of them burst into laughter. Killing… Freedom? Oh no… they all must pay for what they’ve done to my homeland! – thought William.

Minutes later, when the 3 suit and tie men retreated back into their tent, William came up with a genius plan to dispose of them. He stole their boots, which they left outside the tent and threw them into the river, and then hid behind the tent. Some half an hour later, the tall man exited the tent and surprisedly said: “Where be my boots? I need to the toilet to do my thing, and my feet hurt from this… yellow white looking… stuff… sand.” “Don’t they teach you how to hold it in in the mines?” – one of the voices from the tent commented. “THE TIME OF IRA IS… NOW!” – William shouted and jumped out of his hiding spot, and before the tall man could react, William blew off his face clean with a shotgun. “Comrade? What’s going on out there?” – asked a worried voice from the tent. William took out a knife from his combat boot and jumped onto the tent, collapsing it, and started stabbing wildly. A few screams were heard and then all was silent. William rose up and proclaimed “Beneath the Northern Star, the blood of our enemy is shed, and soon his comrades will join him… in death.” What was the point of stealing their boots and hiding anyways? What a stupid plan. – he thought.

Crimson

Turns out that those 3 men were important government officials (or atleast used to be). Early in the morning, a manhunt for the murderer was started. Distraught by the madness of this place, William sought to make his way out of this bustling city and locate the commander center of IRA. However it turned out to be not as simple as he had expected…

Moving as inconspicuously as he could, William made his way to the edge of the town, but found it surrounded by a tall, inpenetrable wall of titanium, manned by thousands of soldiers. No matter. I will get to the other side, even if I have to bring this whole wall down. – he thought. The IRA soldier managed to sneak inside the wall thought a fire escape which some idiot left open. After ascending a long, winding stair, William found himself in what appeared to be a control room. “Stop! Hold it right there!” – someone shouted as he entered the room. Without thinking for too long, William grabbed hold of his shotgun and shot in the direction of the voice, catching the enemy by surprise. It was a messy kill. The opponent’s insides were blown out of his body and now decorated the room. From the looks of his clothes, it was a government agent, but also was heavily armed. William walked over to his corpse and picked up unfamiliar looking weaponry. “You won’t be needing this anymore” – he commented. After inspecting the room, William came to conclusion that it was demonic in nature as many satanic looking objects were everywhere – some kind of typing machines but with screens that displayed images. All of it… it must all BURN!

After the room was blown up with a grenade, the lightning of the whole wall turned red and an alarm went off. William quickly went back outside, retracing his steps and found himself in the middle of a bloody battle. Apparently by destroying the infidelic technology in the control room, William compromised the entire building and the main gate unlocked. More lambs to the slaughter! – He thought as he saw many men dressed in black trenchcoats, anti gas masks and with black banners decorated with spiked crosses rushing through the gate and opening fire against the regular army. “The Wall is compromised! The Golden Gate has been breached! FALL BACK!” – someone shouted frantically. None of you will live to see tomorrow…

Hours later, it was a total bloody mayhem. Everywhere were piles of dead corpses, many of them being the kinsmen, but still most of them being the army. This strange looking gun proved to be brutally efficient at tearing down enemy formations, and William put down many a soldier personally. But with the arrival of reinforcements, this battle turned into trench warfare with trenches made of corpses of former comrades. William blended in surprisingly, his World War 1 trophy trenchcoat being not much different from the coats of these mysterious fighters. He decided to temporarily help them decimate the regular army. “Use this!” – William threw a grenade to a nearby trenchcoat fighter. Without hesitating, the fighter threw it over the corpse wall. The explosion made a large opening in the enemy corpse trench, and the fighters rushed in through it and began massacring the enemy forces. Suddenly, a bright idea came to William…

After spotting a large build nearby, William worked his way to it and planted explosives that he took from the corpses of the enemies along it’s perimeter, then made his way back to his temporary allies and explained his plan in detail. The trenchcoat fighters agreed and pulled back immediately. “Ha! They are falling back! The day is ours!” – someone shouted excitedly from the enemy corpse trench. Not so fast… – thought William as he pressed the detonation button.

Suddenly, the nearby tall building was blown into the air, and then collapsed on a nearby one, triggering it to collapse on another. Within seconds, the whole street collapsed and crushed the regular army underneath it’s rubble. And then the terror came…

Thousands of mechanical dragons blackened the skies, raining down destruction on the trenchcoat forces. William managed to shield himself beneath the rubble, but his allies were not so fortunate. Within minutes, everyone present was completely and utterly annihilated.

War of Attrition

In the ensuing chaos that the mechanical dragon army unleashed, William managed to escape through the gate and outside the city. He headed out into the unknown.. After hours of walking he came to conclusion that this was indeed not Ireland – at least not as he has remembered it. Once beautiful mountains were stripped down into fields – polluted by farms and low class workers toiling away on them. The grey skies turned blue, allowing the Sun to bombard this land with deadly rays of radiation, causing cancer. Forests and lakes were sparse and unremarkable. The swamplands were dried into endless grasslands. After days of walking towards the west, he finally found himself in what appeared to be the IRA commander center. “No you misunderstood us, friend, we are Freedom, not the IRA. But our goals are similar – you want to reunite Ireland. We want to free Ukraine from the tyranny of Transnistria and Romania.” – Explained the commanding officer. “Transnistria… Romania… Ukraine.. What are those entities? What place is this… what CENTURY is this?” – questioned William. “I see you must be suffering from amnesia” – said the commander and then continued: “This is the year 2014 of 21th century. A few months ago, our government sold Ukraine to Romania to pay their debts to the IRS and we fall under the control of tyrannical Transnistrian regime. Now we fight to free ourselves – and our country from it.” William came to the conclusion that this is Ireland, and the officer is lying, but decided to play along. He would deal with him later.

“Yes I must be suffering from amnesia indeed.”- he nodded. “But what is this IRS you speak of?” “The International Revenue Service. Once they were honorable, noble upholders of justice, but in recent years they fell to the corrupting influence of the left and started a string of events that left many countries bankrupt – and some of them were even absorbed into the U.S.A.” “The U.S.A… I knew they could not be trusted! Especially after the aid they gave us in the Great War!” – said William, outraged. “Uhm, excuse me, which war? Where are you from anyways and who the hell are you? No soldier of ours was ever able to assassinate 3 government officials, including the former president, and then take down the security on the wall and survive all that.” – demanded the Freedom official. “That matters little… for now… I am just your ally.” – said William.

“So be it”- said the massive muscular square faced man: “Though I expect you to join our next assault against Kiev – you have more experience fighting the corrupt regime now than most of us”

“I will.”

Blackened Skies

Many word buzzed over the intercom as the 10th Warbird division approached Kiev. William was an experienced airplane pilot during the first World War and shot down many an enemy, but this was much different. This Warbird AT-2040 felt as if though an extension of him – the controls were so smooth and fluid that he could do any difficult maneuver without much effort at all. As they entered the outskirts of Kiev someone shouted over the intercom: “Enemy dead ahead spotted! Mechanical dragons!”. Mechanical dragons… good. This will be a glorious battle! – thought William. “Fall into formation! Quickly! Open fire!”. The Warbird division assumed the shape of the spiked cross and unleashed a barrage of warheads against the assaulting wave of mechanical dragons. There was a loud thundering noise and the first mechanical dragons fell, decimating everything beneath them and making craters in the streets of the city. Then the second wave came, but fell aswell. “This is too easy!” – someone said over the intercom, but then… suddenly…

“Enemy right behind us! The dragons have flanked us!”. But before anyone could react, a whole armada of dragons crashed into the Warbird division from behind.

Prophecy of Bone and Flame

“In the beginning was Shadow Eternal
Hate blazed forth, and FIRE was born
Wounds scabbed, and so begat EARTH
Cries of anguish birthed howling WIND
Wherein the skies wept seas of TEARS
We live in the shadow
The world we know
Built of rage, hurt, anguish and sorrow.

But then came the Great One

Old Lord of the Earth

The Shadow and the Light

The Beginning and the End

The Inner God.

He inhaled Hope and breathed Despair

Love turned to Hate

Peace turned to Violence

Trust turned to Doubt

Calm turned to Anger

Courage became Fear

War.

When the Usurpers came, the Ancient One was cast deep down below

Chained to the molten heart of the world

But when the Destroyer arose

The barrier between worlds was weakened

So returned the Howling Wind

The Sea of Tears

The Wounded Earth

The Fire of Hatred

The Dragon opened the gates that, once open can never close, were since aeons closed

And Twilight ushered forth

The Great Old One, freed by the Worldbreaker

Returned.

His Wrath was terrible to behold

The water boiled

The earth was scorched

And the skies were ignited.

Now, the ancient one awaits for the time when the starts will align

So that he once again may wreak havoc upon this infant world

When the final hour comes

The Hour of Twilight

The nations of the world will be judged

Those who opposed the Deadlight will be cast into the darkness forever

Those who served, will be granted power beyond power

The shackles of mortality will be cast down and the elementium will ascend

The seven headed shadow and Worldbreaker will judge with extreme prejudice

None shall be spared their wrath

The Old One shall turn and look at the heathen

“Shall not you serve?”

And the heathen shall bow down before the true God

“My life for Aeternity”

Those deemed worthy will ascend to primal power

The power of the Fire of Hate

The power of the Howling Wind

The power of the Wounded Earth

The power of the Sea of Tears

And the power of Shadow Eternal

The cycle will at long last finish and the Ancient One will lord over all

The Usurpers will be crushed by the retributive powers.

And the Age of Twilight will begin

But there is one we fear

The Ancient Enemy

The one they call the Paragon

He – who is death

He – who comes with the dawn

He – who is the Dark of the Twilight

He – who is the Light of the Dawn

He – who is the Lord of the Storms

He – who is the Firelord

He – who is the Raging Sea

He – who is the Strength of the Earth

He – who can devour the Black Blood of the World

He – who is the Savior and the Destroyer

He – who is both Order and Chaos

The Nemesis.

The Paragon.

The World will heave with his return

Nations will quake beneath his rage

And all will burn beneath his black shadow

In the Final Battle there will be no rules

The God on his throne against the Jester on crusade

The East versus the West

The South versus the North

The Darkness within history

Those who survive will bow before the True Lord

Those who don’t will forever burn in the fires of the Deadlight

Chaos will reign over Creation

Stars will sweep chill currents that make men shiver in the dark

The Rook will watch from the shadows of the dead trees

The Seven Eyed Shadow will return from the Outside

And Blood shall rain from the Heavens High

But now

Darkness come and take us all (Destroy you all!)

This Broken World shall fall

We, who serve the Shade of Night

The Dragon of Embers Bright

Great Dead Wings of Ruinous Powers

Shall usher in this Hour of Twilight

You’ll see power, just you wait

By the Blood of All, we paint.”

The Inner God sat on his throne composed of decayed corpses of thousands of beings, unmoving, unnaturally silent, the silence that burned the mind, empty as the void.

Tu’Mor sat upon the Writhing Throne.

“H’iwn zaix yeh’glu h’iwn!”

The ancient corpse-city came alive as hordes of faceless beings sang praise to their God.

Into the Breach

Fortunately, William was quite quick-thinking indeed so he managed to eject from his Warbird before it was torn apart by the mechanical dragons. Unfortunately, ejected seats didn’t come with parachutes. The IRA soldier found himself grabbing hold of the tail of a dragon and barely managing to hold on to it. Everyone around was pure bloody chaos, the Warbird fleet was being annihilated. William managed to get atop the dragon and sneak to his head undetected. The dragon was built with extreme complexity, there were many wires inside of many different colors, so it wasn’t quite exactly clear which one to cut. Well one of them has to be the wire that has to go in order to stop this abomination of infidelious science! – thought William as he aimed his gun at a nexus of wires and pulled the trigger. The blast from the gun was quite big indeed and completely severed all the wires. The mechanical contraption instantly stopped dead in it’s tracks and began to collapse.

William’s superior combat training and agility once again proved to be life saving as he jumped from the back of the dragon to another one. If I can make one go down, why not use one to take others down?. He barely stayed on top of the dragon as it performed a backwards flip, dodging missiles from a Warbird. Damn that was close. William began searching the dragon for clues of a control panel, or a control device of some kind. What he found was quite unexpected. Near the neck of the dragon, he found a complex device that resembled a tinfoil hat. When he put it on, he suddenly felt as if he were in control of the dragon, and he indeed was. Turns out it worked as a direct brain interface, and William gained complete control of the deadly weapon that this dragon was.

The tide of the battle suddenly turned in favor of Freedom, as the dragon army was destroyed by William and his dragon. The mechanical contraptions were obviously not programmed to attack their own, and it turned out to be a fatal mistake. Within the hour, the battle was won.

The Freedom troops quickly flew over the Kievan Wall and stormed it and then shut down the defense systems. There was not much resistance, as the military expected that the Warbird fleet would be obliterated by the mechanical dragon army. The Golden gate stood wide open.

Battle for the Gate

The main bulk of the Freedom army quickly rushed through the gate, but the regular army was quick to mobilize. Led by the ruthless Lord Commander Roma, they fought fiercly and the battle came to a stalemate. Corpse Trenches were once again built as soldiers from both sides were brutally murdered. Skies blackened as the Warbirds were shot down by anti air missiles and their nuclear cores exploded. William managed to jump off his dragon just in time as it was shot down and crashed into a nearby skyscraper, bringing the whole building down. As the battle continue, both sides employed increasingly desperate and deadly means. Regular grenades turned to deadly napalm being rained on the enemies. Tanks rammed through the walls of corpses and continue the havoc. “Damn it, we cannot continue like this!” – shouted the commanding Freedom general: “Deploy… the Weapon.” Panic swept over the ranks of Freedom soldiers as they heard the order. “EVERYONE FALL BACK!” – someone shouted fantically. The Army broke into a frenetic retreat and barely managed to make it outside the city, as a full scale nuclear bomb descended on it. By the end of the day, Kiev was nothing more than a smoking ruin. (Because Chernobyl was not enough).

The Electorate

The Freedom party decided that it would be much easier and less costly to win the war by forcing re-elections and making the electorate vote for them, effectively gaining control of the country, and then separate Ukraine from Romania and nullify Transnistria. Legions of Freedom soldiers were imported into ruins of Kiev, loaded into small buses. They all wore anti radiation masks and black t-shirts, exosing their bulky muscles. It was an incredibly effective tactic to pressure the electorate into voting for them. They designated “Objects” to which people were rounded up and made to vote. William found himself assigned to Object “12-B”. It was an old school, ruined by the nuclear explosion. The elections were being held in the sports hall. “Help, we are being repressed!” – someone called for help desperately. “No one is being repressed. You have a right to vote just like all the regular jack offs do, so use it.” – explained the blonde lady that told William how to find Freedom a couple of days ago (or so he thought). The person took the bulletin and apathetically put a cross next to the name of a party. “Did you vote for freedom? Your bulletin goes here. Did you vote for someone else? Your bulletin goes there.” – explained one of Freedom soldiers. “Jeez man whatever.” – said the voter and threw his bulletin into the non-Freedom box. As soon as it was filled up enough, the box was taken out by 2 soldiers and returned a few moments later, emptied out. “Everyone who did not get a bulletin does not have the right to vote. Though you can write an appeal to the court, and then you will get your right of vote (or not) and then it will be used according to the law.” – shouted the lady over the protests that were beginning to erupt in the hall once some people realized that they can’t vote. “Though all appeals will be declined until further notice. Have a nice day.”

A’Zerov

After deciding that he is incredibly boring with the whole democratic process, William left the “Object” and went out for a walk. After walking down the street for a few kilometers, he spotted an abandoned building and decided to investigate it. Who would just abandon a building for no reason in the middle of a large metropolis (more like a necropolis now after a small scale nuclear war). It was very dark inside the building, as the electricity was completely busted and light switches did not work, but nevertheless, William was able to make out several very disturbing murals on the walls. They depicted many strange things, such as a human fighting a giant beast made of corpses of others. Earth, wind, fire and water colliding and then vanishing into the darkness. Many figures in purple hoods and robes throwing themselves into a giant crack in the earth, as a black shadow darkened everything. A beast that manifested from negative emotions of others. Suddenly, he heard a voice call. Not so much call as just appear in his mind: “Come, young Paragon.” William turned around and saw a black shadow descending down a stairway. He followed it into the depths of the abandoned building. “Show yourself, foreign nemesis!” – he shouted angrily when he tracked the shadow down to the bottom floor of the building. Unexpectedly, shadows coalescended in front of him and formed a terrifying aberration. It was a vaguely human shaped being, but it’s skin was deep purple and it’s limbs were tentacles. It wore strange runed armor, which appeared to be made of some kind of unknown to William metal. It had eyes black as the darkest void, and no mouth. “I am A’Zerov, herald of the great Tu’Mor.” – William heard the voice introduce itself in his mind: “You are the Paragon, first one to awaken in centuries. You destiny is to cast down my master, a destiny which shall not come to pass.” Suddenly William felt the floor disappear beneath him and he fell into the darkness.

But there is so much more to this story than meets the eye, for William “Fire” O’Cormick was not the sole traveller in time. Seemingly unrelated, it was on that same night of the 21st of April, 2014, that another mysterious figure from a distant future Earth came. Let us now see how their fate is intertwined.

Rude Awakening

I am awake from temporal displacement statis at last. Judging by my surroundings I seem to be in a secluded forest, miles away from the nearest road or human settlement. Ha! Better than being teleported on the freeway in front a speeding truck and having to duck it at the last second.

Who am I you ask? I am Lord Raiden Negue Ionast, you may refer to me as Lord Ionast. I was born in Transilvania in the year 1425 into a family of boyars. What a bad time to be born into, for it was within that same generation that the tyrant Vlad Dracula became ruler of the land. In his fanatical pursuit of law and order, as well as his desire for complete submission he would kill all the infidelic or corrupt boyars in the most gruesome of ways. In 1460, I found myself among those boyars awaiting execution. At one point, some of the boyars sought to escape, charging out of the holding pit one by one. One. By. One. And one by one they all died. Fools! How can you defeat an army of royal guards if you don’t even stick together as a group? Had they never been more than just casual fighters? Had they never fought in a single battle against the O… I am suddenly interrupted by some woodsman speaking Romanian. “Hey, I heard loud noise back here. And… are you… talking to yourself?” the man asked. “Yes.” I reply “It helps me mediate, pull my thoughts together, keep me alive and sane.” The man looks puzzled “Huh? What the hell?”, I tell him “Your curiosity will be your undoing.” I have him frightened now, he runs away without saying another word. Weakling. I should kill him but being under strict regulation from the powers that be, I’ll let the Omega Squad erase his memory of my presence here. Now as I was rethorically asking, Had they never fought in a single battle against the Ottoman Turks? Weak casual warriors. It matters not, what matters is that my transgressions surpasssed those of my peers. For my crimes, Vlad Dracula would not have me impaled like the rest, oh no, instead he would curse me into undeath. From that point on, I would never age, doomed to wander the mortal plane, shunned by my brethren, hunted by the beasts of the Earth, until my luck would run out and I would be slain and delivered, not into salvation, but straight into the agonizing fires of Hell. The only hunger I’d feel would not be for regular food and water, but for blood, blood of man and beast. Yes, the legends were true. Vlad the Impaler was indeed a vampire and so was I. Yet the Impaler was not a survivor. I was. Well, let’s just say he died in 1476 and I went to live on for millennia. With each century I got stronger and stronger.

There is no time to waste though, as comfortable as it may be, I must find my way out of this forest and seek out my mission. Oh but you are probably curious to find out what the future is like, my aging mortal friend. Will the worldwide recession end? Will scientists invent a cure for AIDS? Will there be cyborgs in the future? Maybe you don’t care about science or technology, maybe you want to find out stupid celebrity gossip that nobody should care about. Maybe you want to know exactly how will obnoxious reporters like Glenn Beck or popstar media darlings like Justin Bieber die? Will it be a slow painful death as you often wish it to be? Or maybe you just want to know next week’s winning lottery ticket number, so you can live out the rest of your life jobless and in the company of high class escorts. Well, aside from the butterfly effect which may very well change all of the above by my mere presence here, I do not know. I really don’t. And that is because my employers have certain… regulations for their operatives. You see, much of my memory has been intentionally and selectively shrouded in utter darkness, the highway is still miles away so maybe I’ll tell you a little story on the way, the only one that I’m at liberty to know.

Now, you don’t need to live in the future to know that humans, that includes human vampires, are not iron-willed creatures. Quite the opposite, they are very suscpetable to pursuit of personal needs before pursuit of duty. Remember those greedy bankers with smiles on their faces who were in charge of your money back in 2007 but stole it all? Now apply this to a much larger scale… That’s what I mean. The organization I am part of once had an operative who was sent just a mere 10 years back on a very routine mission. What happened? Well, let’s just say that in trying to exploit his knowledge of the future to make himself rich he ended up erasing his position in the organization as well as causing many unwanted changes. His younger self won the lottery and never worked again. The mission was a failure and we had to send in the Omega Squad, that being the clean up team that attempts to undo the changes to space-time that were unwarranted.

Do I have to spell it out of you? All my knowledge of the future, except that which is absolutely essential for my mission, has been erased and will not be returned to me until my mission is complete. I have no knowledge of whether or not the recession will end, no knowledge of when your favorite or unfavorite celebrity will die or how, no knowledge of whether or not HIV will be cured, no knowledge of whether or not there will be cyborgs in the future, whether your country will still exist, whether there will be a New World Order under a single totalitarian united Earth state. I can obviously tell you that time travel will be possible and that the world will still exist millennia from now. Not much else.

The Freeway

I remember 21st century Romania from my youth… my “other” youth I mean, the widespread corruption, the dysfunctional families and socialist institutions, the substandard freeways which cost the state billions, yet took decades to complete, the poverty, the riots against anyone but the appropriate government officials and of course the glistening crimson from a fresh hunt. Yes, I still recognize these lands all too well, the closest city is Piatra Neamt. But I am not going to walk all the way there, don’t be foolish. The freeway lies just ahead. What, are you crazy? Of course I’m not going to stop a moving vehicle, why would I do that when I can jump on a moving truck instead? Here it comes, I brace myself, I jump, nice and easy. The driver hears a large bump, but I doubt he suspects anything, I just hope he hasn’t been drinking like most 21st century drivers used to do, especially here in the Balkans. Wait what is this? With my vampiric senses heightened I can actually hear the driver talking to his partner. He is drunk, they both are. Drat! “Hey there, I shee you drank up all the vodka in the glassh… hic. Sshould we stop and buy… hic… another one?” the driver asked his partner. The partner replied “No, no, you twit, why would I want another empty glass… hic?” “Hahahaha!” the driver bursts into laughter. “That was a good onesh!” Argh! Of all the trucks in the world, I had to pick this one, I am really not in the mood to listen to their primitive jokes, I have a mission to complete. I will have to jump a different truck, for my safety and sanity’s sake. So I do. Peace and quiet at least, but… what is this? No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! This truck is taking a the wrong ramp, you fool, Piatra Neamt is not that way. I bang my head against the vehicle’s metal in such anger that I pass out…

I am sitting on a balcony, down below what appears to be is a crowd of thousands of people, a tall obelisk in the middle of them. Is that a cross I see on top of it? Yes, wait is this… could be it… Saint Peter’s Square? The Vatican City? Judging by the appearance of the buildings, it looks like I’m in the year 2000. But, what am doing here? What am I doing up here? As a vampire I cannot walk on holy ground. And… what on earth am I wearing!? What are these white robes? And what…

Suddenly, someone begins to make an announcement: “His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, will now deliver his speech.” Men, women and children, everyone in the crowd immediately starts applauding. It’s… me they are cheering. But how can possibly be the Pope? Everyone is waiting patiently. What am I supposed to say? I shouldn’t even be here. I open my mouth and start uttering some words in Italian. How am I able to speak Italian without so much as a stutter when I have never learned the language? Has my spirit been fused into the Pope’s body somehow? This all looks hyperreal.

I am almost finished with my speech when… my muscles begin to contract uncontrollably. I collapse to the ground, but get up almost immediately. What is going on? The crowd below seems concerned. I can see them worried, whispering to each other. I attempt to deliver the final part of the speech. I open my mouth, but the words do not come out. Somehow, my ability to read Italian is completely gone. After a full minute of silence the crowd grows restless. Then, suddenly I utter a random word. The crowd looks confused. Then another follow by silence. I feel that I am in control of my actions yet at the same time I do not feel like I am in control. I begin to smile and my head starts to grow, gradually. As it grows, it also turns red and I begin to burst into maniacal laughter, louder and louder. The crowd is now panicking, they flee in terror often trampling each other while the announcers make an appeal to calm. My head grows bigger and my laughter louder until the ground starts to quake. The sky turns red and I suddenly explode destroying the Universe… All are guilty all must pay! Fire consumes all things end!

“Passing out was merely a setback!” I suddenly awaken screaming, my scream echoing into the four winds. Another weird dream, what sort of infidelic madness was this? When will these maddening dreams just stop? But I cannot think about it now, I must stay sane and assess my surroundings. The truck has stopped at some motel. But I’m not that far away from Piatra Neamt lucky me, just ten miles to the north. I can see those old Soviet-style apartment flats from here. I am not taking any chances this time. I will hijack this truck to get around. I wish I could get rid of the driver but… orders are orders. I hotwire this ancient contraption and start up the engine, so far so good, no alarm, nobody awake. So, what is my mission? I know this might shock you, but that is not how my employers usually do business. There are times when operatives are not given any specific mission, or at least they’re not informed of its details and merely receive signs as they go along. Don’t be ridiculous, do you realize just how easy it is in the future to intercept temporal dislocations and copy all of the traveller’s memories? No, my minions, I do not know why I am here, all I know is that it’s something crucial. In fact, sometimes we have no mission at all. We are simply deployed, the right man, in the right place, at the right time, cosmically pre-calculated to bring about the desire change.

Arrival

I am now in Piatra Neamt, time to lose the truck before the police come looking for it and go out for walk around town, assess my surroundings. This could be my new hunting ground for months. Sun is rising in the East, but that will not stop me. If you thought vampires needed to hide in darkened corners you were wrong. We only need to be well fed for the Sun not to harm us and I certainly am for the next few days.

For three full hours I walk around town, looking for a sign of what could be my mission here. Past the newsstand I see the exact date on one of the newspapers, possibly my first clue what I’m doing here: 21st of April 2014. I remember the last two years, two very crucial years in Romania’s history. It all started in June 2012 with Social Liberal Union’s infidelic anti-Romanian actions. In case you didn’t know who the Social Liberal Union is, or the USL as they like to abbreviate their name, allow me to enlighten you, mortal. USL is the union between between the Social Democratic Party and the National Liberal Party, although it’s the social democrats who are the dominant side of this union. In other words, it is an evil infidelic leftist force and who’d be surprised given that the defunct Romanian Communist Party is the direct forefather of the Social Democratic Party?

They did not have much power in the summer of 2012, so their secret plans of overthrowing right-wing Romanian president Traian Basescu and abolishing the Constitutional Court to implement a socialist dictatorship failed. But not for long. Exploiting the opposition’s shortcomings, they won the December 2012 elections by 70%. Foolish people gave them their support. They promised to end the recession but instead only made it worse. First thing they did was increase various social programs. They reduced the budget for economic development and education so they could give the money saved directly to lazy, jobless, socialist kids. Hard to say what they used that money for but crack cocaine consumption rose up by 500%. When the money ran out in February 2013, and people started rioting in the streets, they abolished the Constitutional Court, and then fused the government and parliament into a central socialist totalitarian council. Both the European Union and the United Nations ostracized them, but the USL officials ignored their requests claiming they were undermining Romanian national sovereignty. External debts to the IRS rose as the political elite indulged in expensive hookers from the Nevada Bunny Ranch as well as overpriced kilometers worth of freeway, while never completing more than 3 kilometers.

3rd of March, 2013
Presidential Seat Cotroceni, Bucharest

Prime Minister Mictor Monta, accompanied by his two trusted henchman, Counselor Crinus Antonio Bandana and Counselor Daniel Alup Uselucoiv stormed the seat of the President.

Traian Basescu: “Ah, Prime Minster…”
Mictor Monta immediately interrupted him.
Mictor Monta: “And you no longer need to sacrifice for your people, you no longer need to bear the weight of your position, I’ve taken care… everything.”
Monta walked slowly towards the president holding a Radu weapon while his henchmen subdued the bodyguards.
Traian Basescu became outraged.
Traian Basescu: “What is this? What are you doing Prime Minister?” he demanded to know.
Mictor Monta: “Suceeding you, President.”
Traian Basescu however had always known this day would come so he had prepared an anti-Radu neutralizer.
Mictor Monta: “Impossible!” Monta yelled as the Radu weapon’s potency instantly dropped within normal parameters, rendering it as harmful as a toy gun.
Traian Basescu: “You are so predictable, Monta. I knew this day would come. Computer! Initiate Omega Continuity Protocol 1274.”
Computer: “Acknowledged Mr. President”.
Daniel Alup Uselucoiv snapped.
Daniel Alup Uselucoiv: “Enough of this, let it be finished.” he says as he pulled out his gun. The room became instantly flooded with a thick but harmless gas which obstructed vision. When the gas faded, the president was nowhere to be found.

Traian Basescu had vanished without a trace and as of 2014 has not resurfaced to reclaim his country.

The ex-Prime Minster Mictor Monta, which by 2014 became known as Supreme Leader Mictor Monta, had managed to subjugate the Romanian nation. Hungry for more power he bought the entire country of Ukraine as well as the Transnistrian region, deepening the country’s recession. The Ukrainian government had sold its country to pay off some IRS debts. It didn’t matter to him, he was now in full control of essentially three states. But I do not yet know of my mission is related to this. I must keep digging.

I decide to buy a newspaper, see if this timeline’s not been altered.

“One newspaper please, I’ll take Free Romania.” I said to the man. “Here you go, buddy.” the man replied. “What is this?” I asked, “Ten full pages listing the many qualities of Supreme Leader Mictor Monta? What sort of madness is this?” I demanded to know. “Hey keep your voice down buddy, you do not want to anger the Mostapo, Monta’s secret police do you?” he said. Oh, I had forgotten that the situation was as bad as this back in 2014, what a shame. I walk away.

Just two blocks away, I noticed a woman following me, could it be a prostitute? Well she’s certainly dressed like one, but she doesn’t appear to be under the influence of any substance. I need to keep my eye on her. I notice another prostitute coming left from the side alleyways and nother waiting about fifty meters away at a crosswalk. The light is green yet she doesn’t cross… This doesn’t look right. The woman behind catches up to me. “Hey baby, do you want a good time?” she asks. But I’m not fooled, my vampiric senses are altering me that she’s pulling out a knife. I turn around and immediately overpower her, cutting off her head. So much… blood… No! I must not lose focus. The other two come right at me but they are no match for my swift reflexes. They had aproximately five seconds to live after approaching me. Peace of cake. This? This is the best the rival agency could send against me? Pathetic. But what is this? An earthquake. A time portal opens and I hear another feminine voice. “Ionast, come closer and face your fate!” I’m no fool, I take cover behind some of the barrels lying around. Hmmm, I don’t seem to recall these barrels being here earlier. Could this be a sign from my employers? No matter, I must now fend off another assassin. Here she comes out of the portal. “Blasted vampire, I had hoped to accomplish this with a bit of subtlety, but I suppose direct confrontation is inevitable. Your future, Lord Ionast, must not come to pass. And so… you must… Die!” And with that she charges straight for the barrels at blazing speed, but I get out just in time. How on Earth did she know I was there? I attempt to jump at her neck but she deflects my attack. She’s clearly a regular human, how does she have the reflexes to match my own? “I’m going to carve you up with my bare hands, vampire!” she yells charging at me. I barely dodge her attack, one of her finger nails briefly touches the surface of my eye, leaving a minor superficial cut, nothing to impair my vision. That was a close one. “Impressive!” she says. “Why do you psycho females have such long finger nails anyway?” I taunt her. “The better to cut you with!” she responds and attempts to attack again. This time I am prepared. We exchange a few blows, but none of us will go down. We could go on for hours like this. Assessing my surroundings I see a sharp metal pole in the alleyway. This could be it. I run into the alley, pick up the pole and hide around the corner. She follows. “Getting tired? I’ll find you, Ionast, you cannot hide from me!” I hear sirens in the distance. Police! But I cannot leave until this is finished. I await in ambush until the right moment then plunge the metal into the infidelic wench’s heart. “Zorgraine!” she utters as her lifeless body falls to the ground. Who is this Zorgraine? No matter. I quickly drain her blood, that should keep me full for a few more days. The police arrive, but they never get to see me as I escape on the rooftops.

5 Hours Later…

I’ve been walking these streets of Piatra Neamt for hours and not a clue in sight, nothing out of the ordinary. What is my mission here? Wait, now I remember, the mysterious barrels that appeared out of nowhere. Maybe there’s something more to them, they were certainly useless utterly as cover and whoever sent them must have known this. Yes, very clever. The enemies would not have suspected a thing. But that means… I must return to a crime scene.

I go back to the scence by stealth, don’t want to risk my presence sounding off an alarm. I observe the crime scence from the rooftop, area corridored with yellow tape, detectives still inspecting the scence, but… there are no barrels, blasted! They must have been taken for evidence. Not that I’m worried they’ll find something, whatever it is they probably won’t. But I must.

Later that night, I infiltrate the evidence lockup downtown. I find the barrels and I begin to inspect them. Nothing out of the ordinary, but maybe microscopically? Yes! It appears there is an address engraved into one of them, although slightly damaged so I cannot make out exactly what it says, could it be? “Eminescu Street 197”? I head will head to that address first thing in the morning.

22nd April 2014,
Eminescu Street 197, Piatra Neamt

I find a small apartment flat at this address, it is no more than three stories high. Perhaps a person of interest lives there? There is no interphone so I walk right in. Nothing out of the ordinary on the first floor, but on the second floor one of the door catches my eyes. It’s custom heavy metal door and it’s even equipped with an… intercom, whoever lives there must take home security pretty seriously, certainly nobody else here seems to. I knock on the door. An unknown muffled voice answers: “No! Go away you crazy serial killer!”

“I just want to talk!” I call out, but no further answer. I walk away soon after. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat. I’ll have to begin stalking this person, see how he fits into this whole puzzle.

A few hours later, a mysterious, skinny and rather girly man in this thirties walks out the door. He’s wearing, what the heck… body armor and helmet? I follow him to the donut shop just a block away. He seems to order a donut but begins arguing with the vendor. I move in closer to hear what’s going on.

Girly Man: “Madam, are you sure, positively 100% sure, that this donut is not… contaminated?
Vendor: “Yes!”
The girly man does not appear convinced…
Girly Man: “Well, I heard this kind of food causes cancer!”
Vendor: “Everything causes cancer in this society.”
The girly man snaps.
Girly Man: “Liar! You can avoid it by living a safe and healthy life!”
Vendor: “Do you want to buy this donut or not?” she responds, angered.
Girly Man: “No! I don’t! And I’ll be sure to report you food poisoners for destroying this country!”
Vendor: “Whatever, weirdo, get the hell out of here and don’t bother me again!”
Girly Man: “You will hear from attorney!” he yells as he walks away.

I follow him for another ten minutes until he encounters two shady and quite infidelic looking dudes. What the… these are not Romanias, these are Ukrainians! I knew it! This must be a person of interest.

First Ukrainian: “Alright, Iulian…”
I have a name now.
First Ukrainian: “Give us the monthly protection money and nothing will happen to you.”
Iulian: “Hhere… it is, sirs.”
Second Ukrainian: “Are you kidding me? Boss wants 300 grand not 200 grand, I thought we told you the tax goes up with the inflation! Or were you not aware of the hyperinflation?”
Iulian: “But I…” This is not looking good. I cannot let them kill a person of interest.
First Ukrainian: “We’re gonna rough you up a little, teach you a lesson to keep up with inflation.”
Iulian: “Not in the face!” he yells as they push him to the ground and try to take off his helmet.

Iulian pulls out a small handgun, but the crooks got shotguns. I charge in and cut their heads off in one swoop before any of them discharge their firearms. Iulian appears grateful “Incredible, man! You have the reflexes of a super hero, you know, a… spot for personal bodyguard is open if you’re interested. I pay well.” I agree to it. “Sure, I will protect you if that is your wish.” Anything to find out how he fits into the story.

Back at the apartment I discover a mother lode of all things paranoia. It wasn’t just the metal door or the intercom or even the body armor and guns. This four room apartment appears to be riddled with all manner of booby traps. I’m glad I did not try to force my way in earlier. Judging by his medical papers in one of the drawers, he visits the doctor every three days even though he’s perfectly healthy. The closet is filled with an arsenal that would rival that of a terror cell. The rooms are filled with apocalyptic survival guides and kits for all manner of scenarios, ranging from zombie apocalypse, natural cataclysms, December 2015 survival guides, because apparently they got the Mayan calendar wrong by a few years. What the hell is this guy’s problem? I decide to sit down for a discussion.

Lord Ionast: “So, Iulian Augustin is your full name?”
Iulian: “That is correct.”
Lord Ionast: “What is it with all this arsenal?”
Iulian: “It’s to… protect myself from the world.”
Lord Ionast: “Is this about those gangsters I killed earlier?”
Iulian: “No! They are small time. There are bigger problems than them. Don’t you watch the news? This planet is a slaughterhouse, only those who are careful survive past the age of 30.”
Lord Ionast: “You didn’t want to buy a donut because you feared it would be contaminated! Is there something I’m missing here?”
Iulian: “Those donuts were obviously poisoned! They put chemical substances in to induce cancer and control you!”
Lord Ionast: “So why the traps?”
Iulian: “To fend off IRS agents! Read the newspapers!”
Lord Ionast: “I have.”
Iulian: “Well then you must know that the IRS is out to get everyone with debts! They destroyed America and now they’re expanding and destroying everyone who doesn’t pay their debts on time!”
At this point I begin to wonder if this is the right man.
Lord Ionast: “And do you have debts?”
Iulian: “… No…”
Lord Ionast: “So?”
Iulian: “…”
Lord Ionast: “Well?” I keep pressuring him…
Iulian frowns.
Iulian: “Dude, the entire country has debts ever since that socialist maniac Monta took over and bought two countries to feed his power complex!”
Lord Ionast: “Right and what makes you think that out of ten million houses they’re going to come for you?”
Iulian looks puzzles.
Iulian: “I don’t know… Look you’re my bodyguard now, just stop asking questions.”
Lord Ionast: “Just one more thing.” I insist.
Iulian: “What?”
Lord Ionast: “So this entire thing is all about you being safe? Do you belong to some kind of group?”
Iulian: “Yeah, I don’t have any group, I’m just looking out for my own interests, look will you please just stop asking stupid questions?”
I comply. This man is clearly suffering from extreme paranoia.
Iulian: “One more thing please.”
Lord Ionast: “What?”
Iulian takes out a garlic ring.
Iulian: “This will protect you from vampires.” I do find it a bit ironic that despite this extreme paranoia and caution he doesn’t seem to realize that I am in fact a vampire and that garlic harming vampires is a myth.
Lord Ionast: “No, I can take care of myself. And vampires don’t exist anyway.”
Iulian: “And how would you know? Can you prove they don’t exist?”
Lord Ionast: “Fine, but don’t make me wear any stupid body armor, I can take care of myself. Honest.”

The next morning Iulian goes out again, I follow closely. He’s quite an annoying gimp, ordering donuts and making me eat them to prove they’re not poisoned, then refusing to buy some for himself insisting that the chemical substances within them will give him cancer anyway. Forcing me to scare off a group of foreign tourists so he can pass safely. Forcing me to read his newspapers because he’s afraid the text will somehow hypnotize him. Drat this guy is annoying as all hell, no wonder all the previous bodyguards quit. No amount of pay is worth this insanity. But I’m not here for 21st century money, I’m here to do a job. Now, it’s a good thing we bought a newspaper, some of the headlines read “Stolen truck abandoned in Piatra Neamt”, “Prostitute serial killer on the loose” and “Gangsters killed last night”, just great! They won’t link it to me though.

As we come near the main city plaza, I notice space-time stop suddenly. This rarely happens unless my employer has an important message. A humanoid spectral form with a… British accent speaks to me.

Spectral Figure: “I do hope I am not rudely interrupting you Mr. Raiden Ionast, but I’m afraid there has been a slight… error on your part and we would not take this risk of directly communicating unless it was urgent.”

I struggle to speak with the space-time frozen in place all I can do is listen.

Spectral Figure: “Let me make this very clear, Mr. Augustin Iulian is of no interest to you. He is a mere lunatic. The address you were supposed to visit is Theater Eminescu 197, not Eminescu 197, are we clear? Good. Continue your mission and the department will be very pleased. Oh, and do not worry about the… mess. We will get around to cleaning it in due time.” He fades and space-time resumes. I knew this idiot was not of no relevance. But now I must figure out a way to ditch him. Considering his extreme paranoia I know just the way.

Lord Ionast: “Hey look over there! We’re being attacked by a three-headed reptilian policeman!”
Iulian: “Where?” Iulian turns around, I quickly walk away and hide myself in the Shadows. But Iulian is not happy, I can hear him screaming.
Iulian: “Oh no! The evil doer has obliterated my bodyguard.” He drops his armor which reveals a suicide bomb vest. “You may take me reptilians, but you will not take me alive!” People panic and run, the bomb detonates, but only Iulian is killed. What a relief, the last thing I needed right now was a file on severe temporal misconduct.

A Frozen World

William awoke in a strange place. It appeared to be high up in the mountains, with snow everywhere. Except the mountains were made from translucent ice rather than rock, and were twisted into strange shapes. What is this place, what sort of evil sorcery is this!? – he thought. Luckily, his trenchcoat would keep him safe from the cold and frost. I need to find a way out of here and return to Ireland. William descended down a snowy slope, only to find himself in the middle of icy plains. No life was to be found anywhere. After walking the icy fields for what seemed to be hours, William found himself near a strange looking pylon, made of, you guessed it, more ice. As he approached it, a voice boomed from within it: “Speak, outsider.” “I am William, soldier of the great Republic of Ireland! Let me out of here or I will burn down this mockery!” – William didn’t make much effort to make a good first impression. “Young and stupid, always rushing, rushing to your own demise.” – replied the voice from within the pylon: “There is no way out of here, so I suggest you make yourself at home, we’ll be stuck here together for a long time.” “No way.” – replied William and walked past the pylon.

The Ice Bane

William continued wandering this strange, frozen world for many days. For some strange reason he did not feel tired or hungry, or thirsty. After what seemed to be an eternity, he came to a mountain which resembled a dragon. Maybe this one will be more optimistic about my plans to leave this place. “Speak, monstrosity!” – William yelled at it. To his surprise, it did not respond. Well if it won’t speak then I will just have to make it speak!” – he thought. William unsheathed his gun and aimed it at the ice dragon’s head and fired. But instead of the head shattering from impact, the icy being suddenly came alive. “Haha I live again! This world will be thrust into a new dark age of grim frostbittedness! I, Icebane, have returned!” – yelled the dragon and then ascended into the frozen skies and flew off.

“What have you done, foolish one!” – the pylon, which suddenly appeared behind William said. “I have tried to reason with you all, but you just won’t cooperate so I will have to force you to show me a way out of here!” – said William, obviously very angrily. “The great Icebane has been chained here since aeons ago, forever imprisoned, but now you have unleashed him! This world was to be his final resting place.” – the voice from within the pylon tried to explain, but to little avail. “Well then I’ll just go and put down the mad dragon once and for all” – said William.

Great Wings of Ice and Frost

William tracked down the ice dragon to his lair, which was a gigantic cavern carved in the side of a mountain. He sneaked inside the found Icebane, who appeared to be hibernating. “Well who thought that giant ice dragon would need to rest?” – William commented to himself and aimed his gun and the head of the dragon. “Goodbye, draggy!” – he shouted and fired. Obviously, the bullet did nothing to shatter the dragon’s icy body. “Foolish mortal! I will tear your skin from your bones!” – Icebane woke up and roared. William reloaded and fired again, but to no avail. The great dragon swiped his tail in the direction of the IRA soldier and knocked him out clean.

William awoke some time later, and found himself still alive, much to his surprise. Prisoner of war, what a great shame! – he thought. Icebane suddenly descended in front of William and said: “You, you are not of this world. Who… or what are you?” “I am William, I seek to return to Ireland and liberate it from the nemesis! Now aid me or burn like the heretics!” – William declared heroically. “You are as strongheaded as the legends say, Paragon.” – said Icebane, obviously not impressed with the IRA soldier’s manners: “I believe it is you who the Inner God Tu’Mor fears.” “Tu’Mor? Inner God? Speak sense you jabberwacker!”

“Very well. Long ago, I, and others of my kin were imprisoned within these elementals planes by the Usurper, Tu’Mor. He is not of our world, he came from somewhere far beyond. I was the last to fall, I sought to turn the world into a frozen husk and defeat the Inner God, but he proved to be more powerful than we thought. But there is an ancient legend that says that some day the Paragons will awaken to release us from the elemental planes and overthrow the Usurper. I believe that you are one of the Paragons.” – explained Icebane. “Very well, but don’t assume that I trust, you dragon. How do we get out of here?” – replied William. Icebane lowered his head and said: “Get on me, we will fly together.” William did so, even though he thought it was not the best idea. Icebane ascended into the air and flew out of the cave, back to the frozen plains. It was a majestic flight. “Each plane has a guardian. The guardian of this plane is actually a part of me which was separated. Should we reunite, I will regain my full powers and we will be able to return to our world.” – roared the dragon over the chilling winds. “Sounds simple enough.”

Into the Void

Reuniting with the guardian proved to be simple enough. With the help of William, they found the guardian. Icebane just landed behind him, and in a brief instant they merged into one being. The dragon’s icy body suddenly turned into one of flesh and blood – he turned into an icy blue scaled dragon. “Now we are one!” – proclaimed Icebane. “Fine, whatever man. Just get us out of here.” – said William impatiently. Icebane focused his powers and tore a dimensional rift open. It was pitch black. “When we go inside, there is 99.999999% chance (repeating of course) that we will find ourselves back on Earth. As you are a Paragon, I grant you my icy powers in case you will need them at some point. Abuse your newfound powers well, William!” – said Icebane as they entered the rift.

Dark Forest

As expected, things did not go as planned. William found himself in the middle of a dark forest in what seemed to be perpetual dark. Well damn. William decided to use this opportunity to try out his new powers and shoot and ice bolt, which he conjured from his hand, at the tree. It instantly froze into an icy tomb. Then William fired a second bolt, and it shattered the tomb and the tree to a billion some pieces. Not bad – he thought. “Stop doing it, infidel!” – shouted a female voice. “Who are you calling infidel, infidel!” – William snapped back angrily and pointed his gun at the owner of the voice. It was a scantily clad woman in her twenties. “We are the priestesses of the Seven Headed Shadow, the Inner God of forests, darkness and love. Have you come to defile our woods?” – asked the woman. “Umm actually I was just looking for a way back to Ireland and I somehow ended up in this freakshow of yours. Now why don’t you tell me how to get out of here so I can go home and quit “defiling” your sacred woods?” – said William in a completely bored voice. Dealing with these freaks, dragons and Gods when he should be fighting the foreign nemesis upon the shores of Ireland was getting old now. “No! It is the will of the Seven Headed Shadow that you came here. Come, join our festival.” Join… and then I kill you and your “Seven Headed Shadow!”

Darkness

When they arrived at the place of the “festival”, William was shocked to discover what appeared to be a tentacled beast made of shadows being amorous with it’s priestesses. Without hesitating, William unsheathed his gun and fired at it’s head. It was a very precise hit. The beast roared and then disappeared into the darkness. “No! What have you done, fool!” – shouted the priestesses. “Well I crashed your party alright.” – replied William bluntly. “With the balance upset, we must now make the ultimate sacrifice to appease our god!” – said the head priestess. “We must.” – all of them nodded in agreement and then disappeared into the woods instantly. Well now what? – thought William, but was interrupted by a voice in his head: “Paragon! Something has gone awfully wrong. I do not have much time to communicate, so we must be swift. To get out of this world of dark forests, you must defeat the Seven Headed Shadow. But beware, it is one of the Inner Gods – a malevolent force of evil. Stay strong, warrior!” “Icebane? What is this evil trickery!” – shouted William angrily, but was met with silence. Well looks like we will have to do this the old fashioned way.

After walking in no particular direction (walking in circles actually) for some time, William realized that there was something wrong with the trees in this forest. For one, some of them seemed to move, and even follow him. Secondly, he noticed that some of the trees had gaping maws and writhing tentacles. This can’t be good! – as soon as this thought appeared in his head, one of the trees grabbed his leg with it’s twisting tentacle. “Away, you infidelic monstrosity!” – William used his icy powers, which turned out to be very convenient now, to freeze the tree, and then break it to pieces. Unfortunately, the other trees proved to be just as aggressive as this one and moved in to attack.

During the first great war, William took part in many conflicts on the European front. During one of such conflicts, he managed to take a small amount of petrol fuel from one of broken down tanks. Also William always carries cigarettes with him. Always.

Being the quick thinking veteran he is, William grabbed some petrol, stored in a whiskey bottle, from a pocket in his trenchcoat and spilled it on the ground around himself. Then he lit up a cigarette and dropped it into the petrol. “Goodbye, beaver baits.” – he said with contempt.

The following explosions was grandiose. William managed to save himself from certain demise by encasing himself in a block of ice at the last second. The whole forest, and the twisted tree monstrosities within it were set ablaze by the rolling flames. They emitted unnaturally high pitched, shrill screams that could drive someone deaf. As they burned down, William noticed some sort of dark essence escaping from them and being sucked into the ground. Interesting, but still an evil mockery. – he thought. Within minutes, the whole dark forest was turned into a smoking pile of ash. “They don’t call me William “Fire” for nothing.” – he commented.

Dead

But another unexpected surprise awaited William. With the forest burned down, he noticed something insanely absurd at the edges of the former forest. It appeared to be an army amassing, but instead of soldiers made of flesh and blood, it was composed of rotten, decayed corpses and skeletal warriors. They appeared to be armed with medieval weaponry, which was deadly despite being severely outdated. What loomed above the undead army was even more disturbing – gigantic black flying citadels, decorated with skulls and bones. They advanced towards the IRA soldier with deadly calm. Well one thing’s for sure, I am in for the fight of my life. – he thought. Abusing the powers that Icebane gave him to their full potential, William raised a barricade of ice around himself, protected by ice creatures, which resembled humans and manned deadly ice cannons. “Open fire!” – William roared. The ice men fired ice bolts from the cannons, obviously ignoring conventional laws of physics (but hey, they are magical). They turned out to be master class cannoneers. One of them giant floating citadels was shot down and crashed into a portion of the terrifying army, causing untold devastation amongst the ranks. But unfortunately, for every undead soldier that fell, ten more took his place. This is not good! – William thought and then used his powers once again, this time to make a few battalions of icy tanks. They moved with grim determination and tore through the enemy ranks, bringing down many a skeletal warrior. But the undead army was prepare for it, they brought out grim catapults, and fired amalgamations of flesh and bones from them, destroying the tanks and portions of the barricade. Now I’ve had it with them! – William thought and conjured gigantic glaciers above the enemy army, and then brought them down. There was a loud crashing sound, and the main bulk of the undead army was annihilated.

“Victory!” – shouted William triumphantly. Though his ice men comrades did not share his enthusiasm. They were rather… lifeless? Unexpectedly, another flying citadel appeared, this one much grander in scale than the previous ones. A cold, skeletal-like voice echo from within it: “William “Fire” O’Corrick, you have defiled these lands and deforested the Seven Headed Shadow’s domain. For this, your life shall be forfeit.” “Naaaa I don’t think so.” – replied William.

William used his powers to create an icy gun, which he decided to call “Death” – for it heralded the demise of his enemies. It would prove extremely useful, as his ammunition for his real gun would soon run out. Then he conjured an icy platform, which elevated him into the flying citadel. There was a giant entry bay at the side of it which he used to enter the citadel. Inside, as expected, there were legions of undead warriors. “Come, foreign nemesis! Let us settle this once and for all!” – he shouted heroically as he leaped off his platform and summoned an icy army.

Ice and Death clashed as William’s armies of ice and the adversary’s armies of death collided and locked in battle. The armies of ice proved to be superior in numbers, as William just kept on making more and more of them, and eventually overwhelmed the enemy. After the victory in the entry bay, the army of ice advanced into the dread hallways of the citadel, fighting and crushing the enemy wherever they found him. The relentless onslaught made the citadel into a complete wreck. Finally they reached what appeared to be the command center. “I will go alone.” – commanded William as he entered. Very inconveniently, William’s army decided to ruin his glorious moment of facing the undead commander in single combat and just rushed in and smashed every undead in the room to pieces. Oh well. – William thought. “You will be punished for this transgression, mortal! For I will return, with powers beyond your imagining!” – proclaimed the undead commander. “Naaah.” – said William and shot the enemy with the skull with his icy gun, breaking it apart. The Citadel was captured.

Maw of Oblivion

William pressed some strange looking buttons on what appeared to be a console in the command room, and the citadel began to fly forward. Now to find a way out of this hellhole. Shortly after, William found what appeared to be a giant gaping maw in the ground. It was at least a kilometer wide in diameter, and had many giant tentacles sticking out of the ground around it and flailing wildly. It appeared to sense the citadel approaching, as it made attempts to grab it with it’s tentacles, probably wanting to consume it. “Now, I bet this thing has something to do with all the strange stuff that has been happening here since I arrived. Soldiers! Find all weapons that are stored in this citadel and employ them with deadly force against that aberration!” – the IRA soldier commanded. Ice men silently obeyed the order and began to search the citadel for weapons. After a while, one of them found what appeared to be some sort of a bomb, kept in the lower chambers of the citadel. “Find a way to deploy it!” – commanded William as he steered the citadel and positioned it directly above the maw. One of the ice men found a menacing looking red button and pressed it. Suddenly, the floor in the lower chamber opened and the bomb dropped straight into the enemy’s maw. It exploded in what appeared to be a mix of corrosive acid and some kind of gas rather than fire, like a traditional exploding. These strange findings will need to be reported to the IRA when I locate them. The British nemesis is employing some kind of infidelic foreign technology. But no matter, we will prevail! – William thought as he observed the maw being melted away by the acid. It let loose a deep, thundering growl and then went silent. It’s tentacles stopped jerking wildly and dropped dead. “One less freak to deal with!” – exclaimed William and then conjured more ice platforms, which he and his army used to descend into the depths of the maw.

Within, they found a terrible landscape composed of writhing flesh towers and banners. There appeared to be an army amassing, composed of the same creatures that A’Zerov was. Except their armor was less intimidating. These must be the regular grunts of the army.- William thought. “Men, attack! Take them the foreign nemesis down with deadly force!” – he commanded. Battalions of ice men fired from ice cannons at the flesh towers, blowing holes in them, while the infantry advanced and tore the enemy formations down. The enemies’ fleshy bodies were no match for the raw strength of the ice! At the center of this horrifying land appeared to be a giant throne made of thousands of decayed corpses. Atop the throne sat a shadowy being. It exclaimed loudly, loud enough to overshadow the sounds of fighting. “The Nemesis has breached our perimeter, brothers! But fear not, we shall not fall today! No, it shall be our Nemesis, the Paragon, who will fall! As most of you know, most of our brothers are stationed in other realms, prepared to teleport here. We have placed numerous portals, allowing for multiple, simultaneous teleportations. The codex Inner Godaes names this maneuver “Blood Rain”, for the blood of our enemies shall rain from the skies as we teleport behind them and cut them down!”

“Umm, thanks for the tip, mate!” – shouted William loudly: “Soldiers, blow those portals to hell!” The icy army did as commanded, and all the portals that would allow multiple, simultaneous teleportation were destroyed. “Nemesis! Dishonorable wretch!” – raged the shadowy being. “Nah just smart.” – replied William.

The ice army advanced towards the throne in the center and began to tear it down. “Fools! Now witness my full wrath!” – yelled the being and then began to pull and absorb a shadowy essences from the edges of the landscape, the same shadowy essences that bled from the corpses of monster trees that William destroyed earlier. Upon absorbing them all, the shadowy being changed shape and transformed into a massive seven headed monstrosity with gaping maws. Darkness descended upon the land, and the ice army vanished. Hell no – thought William and unsheathed his gun, and then fired in random direction. Suddenly the darkness lifted, and he saw that the bullet hit the monstrosity in what appeared to be it’s core and pierced it’s blackened heart. “Others… will come. You will fall.” – it said ominously, and then vanished into nothingness.

Suddenly William heard a voice behind him: “Well done, Paragon! I am most impressed.” When he turned around, he saw what appeared to be a dragon made out of pure flame standing in front of him. “I am F’nar, the Firelord.” – the dragon introduced himself: “Like Icebane, I once defied Tu’Mor and his bloated tentacle. As punishment, I was imprisoned within this shadowy realm, the Seven Headed Shadow, one of the Inner Gods, being my eternal jailor. But you have freed me, just as you freed Icebane. For this I grant you a portion of my power – the raw essence of flame!” William felt a surge of power in his body as the dragon performed some sort of evil sorcery upon him. “Rise, Firelord. Rise, PARAGON!” – F’nar proclaimed.

The Howling Storm

F’nar opened a black rift, just as Icebane had done before and they passed through it. And yet again it did not work. William found himself in a new, strange land. It appeared to be some sort of a plain, it was made of jagged black-ish gray rocks and was completely devoid of all life. Above it, unnaturally thick storm clouds hanged low. They appeared to be very dense, much more dense than the clouds of Earth. The clouds perpetually shrouded these lands. Every once so often, there was a lightning flash, followed by the clash of thunder and lightning. William had never seen a land such as this before, and decided to head in a random direction. Great, and how do I get out of this freakshow? – he thought. The answer found itself, as William spotted a small dusty road leading to a village made of rocks. Upon approaching the strange settlement, he was greeted by mysterious looking creatures made of stone. They wielded primitive looking weaponry and tools. One of them stepped out of the crowd, he was visibly more spiky, large and intimidating than others. “Greetings Paragon. I am the elder shaman of this village. We are the Thunderdancers. Once, long ago, this was our land of endless stone and rock. But then the great primordial war happened – the Usurpers, the Inner Gods, came from a world far beyond and fought against the people of Earth. The great dragons Icebane, F’nar, Stoner and S’trom fought valiantly against the Inner Gods, but eventually they fell and were imprisoned within our own lands. We, the servants of S’trom were imprisoned with our lord. Over the aeons, S’trom went mad and built his cloud empire, and then unleashed storms upon our lands. All that remains is this ravaged land now, Paragon.” – the strange stone creature introduced himself. “Whatever man, how do I get out of here?” – asked William. “You do not simply leave the elemental planes. If you were to bring S’trom back to his senses, he would be able to transport you out of here. But alas, the great storm dragon hides himself in his cloud empire, beyond the great storm. He is unreachable.” – explained the elder shaman. “Leave that to me.” – said William with grim determination.

The IRA soldier didn’t have time or the will to come up with an elaborate plan on how to penetrate the howling storms above. He summoned a couple of ice platforms and an army of ice soldiers, and then began to ascend to the skies. Unfortunately for him, the thunder and lightning began to hit the platforms, cracking them and sending the soldiers plummeting down to their doom. One such lightning bolt hit William’s platform.

He awoke inside what appeared to be a stone hut. William tried to get up, but pain wracked his body and he was forced to quit his efforts to stand up. “Lie still, Paragon, your woulds are great.” – said the elder shaman and then applied some sort healing spell: “You should of have not been so reckless.” “I just want to get out of here and get back to my comrades, but you, foreign nemesis, keep me trapped here!” – snapped back William angrily. “If you are to reach S’trom, you need to find Stoner. Only together will you be able to accomplish the impossible.” – replied the stone creature. “Thanks for the tip, buddy. Where do I find this “Stoner” of yours?”

“Stoner dwells in the deep caves beneath these plains. You will need to venture far left, to the deadly stone peaks, cross the bridge over the abyss, and then enter Stoner’s lair.” – the elder shaman gave directions. “Sounds simple enough.” – William said.

Far, Far Left

Few days later, after recovering completely from his wounds, William set out to find the lair of the great stone dragon Stoner. After walking north for days, he found himself at a place that appeared to be what the stone creature called “the stone peaks”. They indeed lived up to their name. They seemed to stretch endlessly high up, and there was no way to pass them except scaling them, which could prove to be deadly. Beyond them, William saw what appeared to be a treacherous bridge over what indeed was the abyss. Fortunately, William remembered that he could just summon some ice platforms and fly over this mess.

After crossing the abyss, he entered a large entrance that was carved in the side of a tall mountain. He followed claw marks on the floor, which he assumed were Stoner’s. They led him deep into the caverns. After some time, he entered a large, spherical room with a dais at the center, on which the great stone dragon rested. “Greetings, Stoner!” – William yelled. “Greetings, Paragon!” – Stoner replied: “Why dont you join me and drink some lysergic acid diethylamide? Then we will talk.” Not a bad idea, after all I did not eat or drink a thing for what seems to be weeks now! – thought William and then said: “Excellent idea, dragon! Let us drink.” The great stone dragon Stoner handed a stone cup to William, which had some weird liquid inside it. Recklessly and relentlessly, William drank it in 1 go.

William woke up from a terrible headache in a strange place. It was a green meadow, surrounded by high, snowy mountains. High up in the skies, a rainbows danced. What sort of evil sorcery is this!? – he thought as he saw two unicorns charge past him and then sing happily. “William… William… Let’s go to the caramel mountain!” – one of them said excitedly. “Yes William, the caramel mountain! It will be the greatest adventure of our lives.” – the other unicorn added. “Caramel mountain, are you insane? There is no such thing as a caramel mountain!” – the IRA soldier replied angrily. “Shun… Shun the non believer!” – the unicorns chanted in unison, and then shot rainbows at William out of their eyes. They rainbows did nothing except annoy the IRA soldier even further. “Fine, whatever, I’ll go with you to your caramel mountain.” – he finally gave in and agreed. “Yippee Yippee hooray!” – the unicorns cheered: “Follow us!” William did as he was told… for now.

He followed these two strange creatures through this even stranger landscape. It seemed to change constantly, nothing in this paradoxical world stayed constant. One second it was a sunny day, and the next instant a hellish storm broke loose. Landscape transformed and constantly reshaped as they walked it, meadows changing into deserts, and then back again. Mountains became hills, and then even taller mountains. “Well how long are we going to continue this nonsense f or!” – asked William angrily. “Soon we will reach the caramel mountain! Let’s ask this raptor for directions!” – said one of the unicorns and pointed at the skeleton of a raptor nearby. The hell is this? – thought William. “Rappy… Rappy… Where is the candy mountain?” – one of the unicorns asked the skeleton. “Yes Rappy, don’t be a party pooper, tell us where the candy mountain is!” Suddenly, and very unexpectedly, the skeleton of the raptor replied: “Guys, are you high? There is no such thing as a caramel mountain.” “Party pooper! Party pooper!” – the unicorns chanted in reply. “Come on guys don’t be fruit loops. Bring the girls and then we will party!” – said the raptor skeleton. “Heretic!… Heretic!!!” – yelled the unicorns, and then charged the skeletal raptor and broke his skeleton apart. “Awwh, that really hurt! I hate you guys!” – said the skull of the raptor. “You should of have told us where the caramel mountain was!” – replied one of the unicorns. “I can’t tell you, the evil alien overlord will come otherwise!” – the skull of the raptor justified his actions. “Evil!… Evil Zerk! We will rainbowify him!” – exclaimed the other unicorn. “Whatever you guys, just give me some weed!” – said the skull. “Infidel!… Infidel!… A skeleton can not smoke weed!” – the unicorns replied, horrified and stunned by the raptor skull’s insane proposal. “Well neither can unicorns talk and shoot rainbows out of their eyes!” – replied the skull.

The unicorns shoot 4 rainbows out of their eyes, and when they aligned perfectly, a whole stash of weed was formed near the skeletal raptor’s skull. “Thank you, friends!” – said Rappy, and then the wed magically levitated itself into the air, and the skeletal raptor consumed it: “I am soooooooo high now!” Suddenly, a black hole with a swirly rainbow appeared in the sky, and a saucer shaped flying object descended from it. When it was close enough to William and his new “friends”, a manhole cover opened in the roof of the saucer, and a green man with 6 horns peeked out of it: “You dishonest thiefs! Who stole mah weed!” “No one stole your weed, you evil Zerk, we borrowed it.” – replied the unicorns. “Where’s my flippin’ weed!” – Zerk demanded. “We ain’t got any of your weed!”

“Enough of this charade!” – shouted William and unsheathed his gun, and then fired at the saucer. Apparently he hit it’s weak point, as it exploded instantly, and then turned into a billion shiny sparkles. But then, the sparks coalescended in front of the group, and Zerk materialized in front of them. “Fools! If you won’t give me mah weed, then you will never reach the caramel mountain!” – he proclaimed triumphantly. “Weed yes, the weed is in the mountain!” – said one of the unicorns abruptly. “Yes Zerk, the weed is in the mountain!” “Fine then, but if you are tricking me, I will have all of your heads!” “But I only have a head!” – protested Rappy. “Woah this skull talks! What’s you saying baby, what you do?” – exclaimed Zerk, surprised by the talking skull. An elderly man chased a knight clad in armor decorated with skulls in the background. A faint battlecry of “ASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!” could be heard.

Suddenly, a battleship landed behind the group of unlikely allies. A soldier in a white suit of armor stepped out of it. Beneath his helm, his dark skin and white moustache could be seen. Zerk approached him, then looked up at the formidable human and said: “Crunchatize me cap’n.” The captain in question looked down on Zerk and replied: “Son, are you high or something?”

And so the unlikely band of heroes set out to find the mystical caramel mountain, the source of all sweetness in the world. They mounted the unicorns and galloped along the wondrous ever shifting landscapes. “Look, a candy castle!” – Zerk cheered as he saw a castle made of candy. “Yes, Zerk! Let your imagination flow free and all your dreams will come true!” – the unicorns urged him. “Look! A dead foreign nemesis!” – said William and blasted Cap’n Crunch in the head with his gun. The bullet pierced his helm and made a hole in his head. Unexpectedly, Ca’n Crunch said: “William, why did you do that?” “Uhm, why are you not dead?” – William asked, surprised. “Why the flip did you make a hole in my head!?” – said Cap’n Crunch as the hole healed itself, and his head was unwounded again. “Sigh.” – everyone said in unison.

After arriving to a large circular clearing in the middle of the forest, Rappy said: “This is the caramel mountain!” “Rappy… Rappy… Why did you lie to us? There is no caramel mountain!” – said one of the unicorns, disappointed by Rappy’s treacherous behavior. “We have to perform a spell… yes the spell! Then the mountain will appear!” – explained Rappy. “What do we need to do?” – asked Zerk. “Simple! We need to count to one thousand!” – said the skeletal raptor skull. This just keeps getting weirder and weirder. – thought William. “Alright! Let’s crunchatize this!” – exclaimed Cap’n Crunch.

“One.” – counted Zerk excitedly.

“Two!” – counted Cap’n Crunch with even more excitement .

“Three!!!” – counter the unicorns in unison, with growing excitement.

“Four.” – counter Rappy apathetically.

Everyone looked in disbelief at his lack of excitement. “What? I am a disembodied skull for God’s sake. It’s hard to be excited.” – he explained.

“One thousand! I win!” – said William, the IRA soldier.

“Party pooper, party pooper! Now we haver to start over!” – everyone chanted at William.

Some time later, our heroes were still attempting to count to one thousand.

“Nine hundred and ninety nine!” – counted Zerk, tired, but still excited.

“One thousand, one hundred and one!” – counted William, just wanting this madness to end.

“Party pooper… Party pooper… Heretic!!!” – the unicorns chanted.

Even more time later, the heroes were attempting to count to one thousand again.

“Nine hundred and ninety nine.” – counted Zerk in a monotone tone, not excited at all about the perspective that someone might poop the party again… When suddenly…

“Infinity divided by zero!” – Stoner, the stone dragon swooped in.

Everyone looked at his with expressions of pure rage and hatred.

“Whaaaaat?” – he said.

Many moons later, the group of heroes is still trying to count to one thousand.

“Nine hundrend and ninety nine.” – counted Zerk, in an even more monotone tone.

“Everyone shut up!” – commanded William and unsheathed his gun, aiming at Zerk. Then he summoned more ice soldiers, and they apprehended Stoner, Cap’n Crunch, and the 2 unicorns. “I will finish this now!” – William said.

Concentrating all his raw willpower and force, visibly straining to remember what number goes next, William said: “One thousand…” “Do it William! DO IT!” – everyone chanted happily. “And one.” – finished William. “Aww hell no.” – said Cap’n Crunch, disgusted by William’s mathematical abilities. I really hate me life now… – William thought.

Many suns had passed, and our heroes are still trying to count to one thousand.

“One thousand!” – Stoner finally finished the arduous task.

Suddenly, the earth shook, and a giant mountain of caramel erupted from the ground!

“Yaaaaay the caramel mountain! The source of all sweetness in the world!” – everyone chanted triumphantly in unison. When the mountain arose, the group noticed that it had a mouth and 2 eyes. “Guys, why do you want to eat my body?… Guys?” – asked the caramel mountain.

Suddenly, a large talking goose approached the group of heroes.

“Guys… help me. We, the geese, are being mistreated.” – she said.

“No! We can not let those exploiters exploit the geese! My little friend, what has happened?” – asked Stoner. “We are being brutally mistreated by our corporate human overlords. They come to our lands, pillage them, and take our young. We are sent to meat grinders to be processed into goose meat for humans to eat… this discrimination can not be allowed to pass! But that is not the most horrifying thing. Some of our young are being forced to breed even more geese, the ultimate fate of which is the terrifying meat grinder. One of my close friends fled the breeding grounds and flew one thousand kilometers to flee the cruel humans, but they eventually found him and sent him to the meat grinder. His screams could be heard all over the world. But our plight does not end with this problem. My daughter was forced into prostitution by duck pimps, and now she has to strip her feathers for humans and show her bare breast! What’s even worse, is that those duck pimps are putting her at rick of acquiring human flue! Our family grieves deeply for her fate. And what’s even worse than that, is that my grandmother has been kidnapped by Italian pigeon mafia and the Godpigeon, and they demand a ransom that we simply can not pay for her release! I am afraid that those pigeon mafiosi will sell her to human meat grinders. A grim destiny awaits us all in this cold, cruel world.” – the goose explained her plight. “Yagh! Why you hurt me, unicorn?” – asked the caramel mountain, obviously in pain, when the unicorns began to chew on it. “Eat, not hurt.” – explained one of the unicorns. Suddenly, the caramel mountain began to fire rainbow lasers from it’s eyes, trying to kill it’s tormenters. “Caramel mountain, why are you angry?” – asked Rappy. “Yes caramel mountain, don’t be a party pooper.” – the unicorns agreed. Stoner sneaked behind the caramel mountain while it was distracted, jumped on it and took bit in the head, tearing away a large chunk of it. Then he began to drink the delicious maple syrup that bled from the caramel mountain’s wound.

The Heart of the Storm

After total chaos ensued, with everyone attempting to eat a chunk of the caramel mountain, and it defending itself vigorously, William used this opportunity to slip away from the group. After walking aimlessly, completely dazed by the recent events, he tripped over a tree root and knocked himself out cold. When he awoke, he was back in the spherical lair of Stoner. “Ughh what the hell happened?” – he asked, confused. “You have consumed too much lysergic acid diethylamide and were teleported to the magical realm of endless happiness. I too, have joined you for some time.” – the great stone dragon Stoner explained. “Uhh lets just go and find S’trom, shall we?”

After leaving the cave, the IRA soldier hopped atop the stone dragon’s back and the majestic ascent to the skies began. They left the rocky fields far beneath them, and pierced the veil of storms. What they found above it was not good, to say the least. It appeared to be a sort of a gigantic, hovering city in the skies, with a massive power source at the center that resembled a heart. It appeared to be made of lightning. “This will be rather easy.” – said Stoner, and spat out a joint from his mouth: “We destroy the Heart of the Storm, the whole city goes kaboom and drops down, S’trom is alerted and comes here, we give him some lysergic acid diethylamide, he meets Cap’n Crunch, Zerk and the 2 unicorns, becomes happy, and then we all go home.” “Why didn’t you do this before though…?” – wondering William. “Well for one, I had no reason to. I was perfectly content smoking weed whole day long and taking lysergic acid diethylamide until you, the Paragon, arrived and began to cause havoc and strife in the elemental planes. Now we’ll just have to put down Tu’Mor and his bloated tendril, reclaim Earth, and then continue as usual.” – explained Stoner.

“What’s a bloated tentacle?” – asked the IRA soldier. “Well, Tu’Mor has many tendrils. But the bloated tendril is special. It stretches under Ukraine and Romania. Tu’Mor has special plans for his bloated tendril.” – Stoner continued explaining. “What about the other tendrils?” – William continued wondering. “They are pretty big too, though they are not bloated so Tu’Mor has other plans for them.” – Stoner put William out of his academic misery.

“Ok… sooo… How the hell do we destroy the Heart of the Storm?” – asked William. “Simple. Watch and learn, young Paragon!” – replied Stoner. He began to concentrate (William decided that it would be a bad idea to interrupt Stoner now, so he didn’t), and then, suddenly, a massive stone block appeared above the Heart of the Storm, crashed into it and then there was a large explosion, followed by, as Stoner predicted, the cloud city falling down.

“Yay we did it.” – William celebrated, thought he did not sound particularly excited about the unfolding events.

“Fools! (Traitors! Traitors! Servants of the Usurper!) Nothing you have done- (CHILDREN OF THE FALSE GOD!) Shut up, I am trying to talk here! (Words, words, I WANT MURDER!) Nothing you have done here accomplished anything. Come, face the might of the Lord of the Storms! (I am his Chosen One! Born of flesh! Purified by thunder and lightning! Come, face your end! THE END OF ALL THINGS!) Yes, what I said.” – roared the might storm dragon and he swooped in and smashed into Stoner, sending him hurtling through the skies.

Enforcer

S’trom’s power completely outmatched that of William and Stoner. They were completely unprepared for the madness of the storm dragon. Gravely wounded, they made an emergency landing back in the Thunderdancer village. “The storm dragon defeated the Paragon and the lord of the rocks? Then truly we are lost.” – said one of the Thunderdancers hopelessly. “Not defeated, merely temporarily setback.” – replied Stoner.

“Listen William, I must go back to my lair, to recuperate and gather my ancient allies. You should stay with my subjects, learn what they know of the great storm dragon S’trom.” – suggested Stoner to William. “I will.” – said William.

As Stoner left the village, William enter the hut of the elder shaman of the Thunderdancers. “Relentless and reckless, you and our lord Stoner are. You should of have prepared for the confrontation instead of blindly rushing into it, hoping to win by pure luck.” – said the elder stone creature shaman. “Don’t patronize me, old one.” – replied the IRA soldier: “There is more at stake here than merely the fate of this realm and S’trom’s fate by extension. The fate of Ireland will be decided in the oncoming weeks. “Perhaps so.” – replied the elder shaman, and then took a stone smoking pipe: “There is something about S’trom and this world that I have neglected to tell you. Lord Stoner has spent too much time sulking away in his cave, much has changed in the recent aeons. Smoke this pipe and all will be revealed.”

Oh great, here we go to happy land and caramel mountain again. – William thought as he put the pipe in his mouth and inhaled.

What happened following that was the strangest experience that William has ever had. He felt as if thought his spirit left his body and was sucked into an endless vortex. Everything around him spun in a maddening display of chaos. Finally, he found himself standing in what appeared to be the Thunderdancer village, thought it was far more majestic. Tall castles made of stone were everywhere, decorated by beautiful engravings and statues. The stone creatures patrolled this city of stone. Above, were bright, clear skies. This must be what these lands looked like before the madness of S’trom. – William thought. Suddenly, as if reading William’s mind, S’trom descended from the skies, which turned into a thunderstorm that would shroud the land for aeons to come. “Brothers of stone (Stone, rocky wounds made strong!) The time has come to join your one and only true lord, the great old one Tu’Mor! (The ancient one! Old lord of the Earth! The one, true God!) For too long have we fought against our brethren of flesh! (The Eternal Shadow come!) Join us, join us and we will crush all who would oppose the Inner Gods!” – the great storm dragon roared, ever shifting between the split personality caused by his insanity. Then William saw the elder shaman step out from amongst the group of Thunderdancers and protest: “No, we will never serve the Inner God!”

“Then your wait will be that of a traitor! (False servants, betrayers!)” – roared S’trom in reply, and then leaped back into the air and spread his wings, the wings that would bring death. He then ascended to the unnatural storm that darkened the land, and then commanded: “Go forth my subjects, destroy these turncoats!”

Suddenly, thousands of lightning like creatures rained from the skies. They crashed into the land, causing no shortage of destruction, and then stood up from the smoking craters that they made with their landings. They ravaged the unsuspecting Thunderdancer population, tore down their homes, and decimated their city. Their once glorious land was left in ruins. S’trom laughed menacingly, and then disappeared behind the stormshroud.

The scene shifted, and now William found himself standing in a place surrounded by impassable jagged mountains. The thunderstorm raged above, suggesting that this event took place after the fall of the Thunderdancers. A stone giant of titanic proportions, with lightning cracks along his body, descended from one of the mountains. “What does the little one demand? Why have you woken us from our slumber?” – the giant asked in a thunderous voice. “Hear me, great Areon, lord of the mountains!! Our” lord, S’trom, has gone completely mad! He destroyed our homes and ravaged the land, and now rules with an iron fist from his cloud empire, backed by Tu’Mor’s monstrous forces! We can not hope to overthrow this fascist tyrant on our own, so we have come to humbly request your assistance!” – replied the Thunderdancer elder elder shaman, bending one knee in reverence. “We, the Stormstone giants are a warlike race. Even though we are slow to anger, our wrath is final. Do not think that S’trom’s madness has gone unnoticed by our kind, Thunderdancer. We will find a way to his cloud city, tear it down from the skies, butcher it’s inhabitants and splinter S’trom’s black throne!” – Areon made the grand declaration of war. Thousands of Stormstone giants descended down from the mountains, unburied themselves from beneath the earth, and appeared from the darkness of the mountainside caves. They let out thunderous roars. They prepared for war.

The scene faded out and changed to a new one once again. This time William found himself in the middle of a massive scale battle, high up in the skies. Millions, if not billions of combatants clashed. He could see the Thunderdancers, the Stormstone giants, S’trom’s armies of thunder, and many other strange creatures of stone that he did not recognize. The tide of battle turned in favor of the armies of stone, when suddenly S’trom appeared. He landed in the middle of the battle and murdered everyone who stood in his way. Stoner clashed in single combat with the great storm dragon S’trom, but was easily dispatched and sent hurtling out of the cloud city. S’trom suddenly shrinked in size, until he was just as tall as an average human, and then his shape shifted. S’trom, once an intimidating storm dragon, was now a human. He had long silver hair, muscular body, and a gaunt face. In his left hand, he clenched a blade. Thunder and lightning danced along it’s surface. He held up the blade and proclaimed: “Behold, the sword of the storms. (The blade of your unmaking!) Forged in the black blood of the world (Blood once spilled forever stains!) Blessed by the Inner Gods (His gift! Tu’Mor’s gift!) Commisioned by the breaker of worlds! (The breaker, the BREAKER!) The STORMBLADE! (THE STORMBLADE!). What Tu’Mor has set in motion can not be averted (Can not, no man can!). Now, perish! (Drown in flames of creation!).

With the arrival of S’trom and the Stormblade, which he used to annihilate the enemy ranks, the battle was practically lost. Those who could, retreated. Those who couldn’t, met their creators.

The ever shifting vortex pulled William into another scene. This time he saw Areon, Stoner, the elder shaman, and many others gathered in the spherical room that is Stoner’s lair in the present. “We have failed, my brethren. With the power of the Stormblade, S’trom is nigh invincible. I fear even Tu’Mor will eventually fall before the madness of S’trom.” – said Stoner pessimistically. “Perhaps, not all is lost, yet… yes… indeed.” – countered the elder shaman: “The ancient prophecy… it speaks of the Paragon. He who is not one of our own kind, but an outsider. The prophecy does not detail how, or when he will come. But when he comes, chaos and destruction will follow him. He will cast down the old lord Tu’Mor and his subjects and shattered the prophecy of Inner Gods. They fear him, even now, when he is merely a legend. But one day, he will come, and there is nothing Tu’Mor, or even S’trom can do about it.”

“Perhaps there is hope. We will retreat into the mountains until the time comes.” – said Areon solemnly, and then continue worriedly: “But what of the Stormblade? As far as we know, it is an abberation. It inhales life and exhales death. Even the Inner Gods tremble before it.”

“The prophecy is not very clear, but the Paragon is somehow related to the blade. Perhaps the destinies of S’trom and the Paragon are intervened.” – suggested the stone creature elder shaman.

“We will see.. When the time comes. For now, we must go – disappear.” – said Stoner

Everyone nodded in agreement.

The vortex began to pull William wildly. Then he saw complete darkness, and found himself back in the elder shaman’s hut. Suddenly, the elder shaman said: “Quiet! We have unwelcome visitors.” The IRA soldier did as commanded, and then sneaked to the front door and positioned himself so that he could ambush whoever entered it. They did not have to wait for long, as an armored creature that appeared to be made of thunder and lightning entered the hut. “Elder shaman!” – it said with contempt: “The great Lord S’trom was content to leave you be, despite your rebellion. But now you are causing unrest again! You know the law of S’trom as well as anyone does, disobeying him is punished by death! Now, stone… wretch… You will turn over the Paragon to us, or face execution!”

Before the elder shaman could reply, William’s rage overwhelmed him and he growled: “No one… No one threatens the allies of the great Irish Republic and lives! Lord S’trom will not save you from what I am about to put you through!”

William lunged at the storm creature before it could even react and tore off it’s back armor plate. It howled in what appeared to be pain and then backhanded William, sending him crashing into the wall of the hut. “Ahh, the Paragon… Lord S’trom will be pleased! After all, it’s not every day that an enforcer gets to kill THE PARAGON!” – the storm enforcer said triumphantly. “Game over.” – said William, pulled out his gun and shot the enforcer in it’s head armor plate. All remaining armor plates of the storm creature collapsed to the floor. It’s thundery lightning essence then flew up, and said: “Kill me? Not such a simple task, Paragon. Beware, for I will return, with reinforcements.” The enforcer flew out of the door of the hut and disappeared into the stormy skies.

“What the hell was that!” – William asked the stone creature elder shaman. “It was the enforcer, one of S’trom’s many loonies. It is not safe here anymore, I must gather my people. We set out north, to the land of the Stormstone giants.” – replied the shaman. “Well that makes sense.” – said William.

Storm March

The following day, the stone creature were rallied by the elder shaman, and set out northwards. It would be a long and arduous trek, but it’s better than remaining in the village and waiting to be annihilated by the great storm dragon S’trom’s forces. They crossed the great stone fields, mountains, valleys and chasms. “Keep on your guard.” – warned the elder shaman: “The enforced may be back any time, this time with additional rinforcements. Some time later, they found a cave carved in the side of a jagged mountain and decided to stay there a while to gather their strength, for they were still very far away from the home of the Stormstone giants. William fell fast asleep.

“Paragon… Nemesis..” – said a voice.

“The Light of the Dawn… the Dark of the Twilight” – said another.

“You can not escape me, William.” – said the third, dominant voice.

“Light flickers, twilight falls.” – all of them said in a dark unison.

William saw a great, bloated mass of flesh, tentacles, maws and eyes rise out of a sea. It caused cataclysmically strong earthquakes. The land shook and then broke. Magma and lava rose out of the cracks and burned the land. The skies turned black, and lightning bolts struck the lands.

The great storm dragon S’trom swooped down from the skies, landed in front of William and said cryptically: “You. You find me on your way. There is nothing more to say.”

William awoke from the terrible nightmare in cold sweat. Damn… I will really need a good, long proper rest after this madness is over. – he thought. The IRA soldier got up and walked to the entrance of the cave, deciding to keep watch over it and prevent possible attacks, after he did not feel like sleeping now. “You are troubled, young Paragon.” – he heard a voice behind him. The stone creature elder shaman approached him and stood besides him. “We once made the same journey north, aeons ago when S’trom destroyed our home. I did not think we would ever have to go through this again.” – he said. “My people too, were forced from our home.” – replied William solemnly: “Once we, the Irish, were a great and proud nation. But then in his greed, the Englishman came. He forced us out of our homes and split our great nation in half. Ever since we have been fighting our nemesis wherever we find him.” “Such are the pains of freedom.” – commented the Thunderdancer shaman.

“Tell me shaman, who is this Paragon you all speak of and why am I him?” – asked William.

“The Paragon is the hero of a very ancient legend, or prophecy if you would like to call it that. It says that even though Tu’Mor tyrannically rules the world, one day a hero of legend will come to cast him down. He will not be one of our kind – for he is an outsider. His destiny is somehow intervened with that if the Stormblade. For should not such an aberration be countered by fate itself?” – explained the elder shaman. “I have witnessed the powers of the Stormblade firsthand, elder. But… how the hell? What IS it?” – William asked, fear creeping across his face and he remembered his encounter with S’trom. “The blade of storms.” – said the elder shaman. “It is more an abomination than a weapon. It should have never existed in the first place. It is the anomaly in this universe, the darkness within history. It was forged from the very black blood of this world – the blood of the Inner Gods.” – the shaman told the story of the Stormblade. “The Inner Gods? Is not S’trom their servant?” – wonder the IRA soldier. “Not completely, William. S’trom is completely insane. As you witnessed, his mind is a complete chaos. To forge the Stormblade, S’trom killed most of the Inner Gods. That is why he is here – Tu’Mor duped him into thinking that he could help their great cause by serving as the eternal guardian of the elemental planes. He would not be able to ever leave the elemental planes, but in his madness, he does not understand that the Inner God Tu’Mor duped him.” – explained the stone creature elder shaman. “Would it not be possible to bring S’trom back to his senses so that he would kill this Tu’Mor as he has killed the other Inner Gods? When I faced the Seven Headed Shadow, it was not that formidable for a God.” – William contemplated. “You caught the Seven Headed Shadow by surprise – it was not prepared. And after all, you ARE the Paragon, the hero of our legends, there is no denying that. No outsider has ever survived the elemental planes, much less defeated an Inner God! Though, the Inner Gods’ power does not come from their battle prowess. Their realm is the realm of manipulation. Fear is their greatest weapon. As for S’trom – I fear he is too far gone.” – said the Thunderdancer shaman. Clouds gathered above the cave, thicker than ever. “There is always hope.” – said William. The elder shaman did not have time to reply, as a lightning bolt crashed right in front of them, and the lightning enforcer appeared. “Fools! You did not expect me! On your guard!” – the enforcer said, as more lightning creatures appeared behind him. Well looks like he kept his word… great. – thought William, and grabbed his gun. “Vanguard, attack!” – the enforcer commanded. The lightning creatures advanced towards William and the elder shaman, cackling with menacing lightning. William did not wait to find out what they would do to to him. He shot them repeatedly, hitting the head armor plates. They collapsed, and the lightning essences escaped out of them, back into the clouds. “Incompetents!” – roared the enforcer and charged. “And you… A servant of the Usurpers!” – objected the stone creature elder shaman and lunged at the enforcer, casting some sort of spell mid air. His rock fists gleamed with power, and he smashed the enforcer right in his chest armor plate. Suddenly, all the armor plates on the enforcer’s body imploded, and only his lightning essence remained. “I will not be defeated so easily! I will tear you apart!” – he shouted angrily and then began to fire lightning bolts at William and the shaman. “No you will not! No more innocents will die by your hand!” – yelled the shaman and fired another spell at him. Suddenly, rocks rose out of the cave floor, surrounded the enforcer and entombed him within. “He will not bother us… at least for now.” – said the elder shaman, and sat down, to rest from the battle. “Such ferocity! I have not seen anything like that since the days of the Irish civil war!” – said William, surprised by the Thunderdancer shaman’s combat skills. “I will need to rest now, and you should aswell, Paragon. I am not as young as I once was – the journey ahead is long and hard. And I fear we will suffer many more ambushes.” – the shaman said worriedly. “They will not. They are after me, not you. I will go my own way, find some allies, discover more about the Stormblade and S’trom. I can not risk the lives of the Thunderdancers. After all, you have an ancient alliance with the Stormstone giants to renew.” – replied the IRA soldier. “You are young, and yet you are as wise as the ancients. Go then, Paragon, fulfill your destiny!” – said the Thunderdancer elder shaman encouragingly.

And so, the Paragon set out into the stone plains alone once again. He did now know the geography of these lands, but he would learn it in the coming weeks. He did not have allies except the Thunderdancers and the great stone dragon Stoner, but he would find them. He did have an enemy, the great storm dragon S’trom – and he would suffer the fate of all enemies. No doubts remained in William’s mind – there was more at stake than Ireland here. He was the Paragon, the warrior from ancient legends. He would defeat the Inner Gods and S’trom, cast down Tu’Mor back into the black abyss that spawned him. He would find the Stormblade and bring an end to it’s anomalous existence. He did not win yet but he knew, in the end, he would be the victorious one. For there was no alternative.

He traveled to the east for many days, and finally arrived at the strangest of places.

The Stormblade

The place at which William arrived was a giant circular gaping wound in the ground. There was a stair along it’s circumference that led down into the abyss below. Whatever this place is, it can not be left uninvestigated. – thought the Paragon, as the skies above him darkened once again and lightning danced: No better time than now! He followed the stair down into the abyss.

As he descended down, he heard screams of pain, torment and suffering, getting louder with every step that he took down. What an unholy place. – he thought. When he reached the bottom of the pit, hundreds of feet down, he found himself standing in front of an entrance to a long hallway. It seemed to stretch endlessly forward just as the pit seemed to stretch endlessly down. As he went down the hallway, the light from the surface dimmed until he was left in utter darkness. He had to rely on feeling the walls with his hands to move forward. After a while, he came into a large circular room that was illuminated by a large crystal that hang on it’s ceiling. The hell…? – William thought as he saw what appeared to be cellblocks, carved in the walls of the room. He came to one of them, and broke down the stone grate with his boots. Physical strength does come in handy sometimes, can’t rely on them firearms all the time. Inside the cellblock was a Thunderdancer. “Please help… us. They… They took us… They come every hour to torment us…” – it pleaded. “Do not worry, I will get all of you out of here. Just hold on a second.” – said the Paragon and helped the stone creature out of his prison, then he broke down other holding cells, and released them. “Thank you, stranger” – they said gratefully: “We were taken here when our home, Stonarr, fell. We feel as if thought we’ve been imprisoned for aeons here.” Indeed you were… What a horrible fate, to be stuck here for aeons. – thought William and the said: “Listen, your leader, the elder shaman, is leading your people to the land of the Stormstone giants. We are preparing for war against S’trom. If you follow the hallway out of here and ascend the stairs, you will find yourself on the surface. Head northwest, and you should catch up with the elder shaman’s group in a few days.” “Are you not coming with us, stranger?” – they asked. “Unfortunately, in my current position I simply can not allow to be in prolonged contact with anyone – the forces of S’trom are hunting me and me alone. You will be much safer without me.” – William explained.

“No one is going anywhere!” – suddenly William heard in his mind. A large door that William did not notice before opened, and a grotesque creature hauled itself out of it. It was the same kind of aberration that A’Zerov was. A disgusting trail of slime was left by it’s tentacles. “You will join them, Paragon! We will torture you for the rest of eternity!” – it said, and then William heard what appeared to be laughter and felt sharp pain in his head. It is telepathically communicating with me… perhaps it is leaving itself vulnerable. The Paragon focused his mind, and then tried to communicate with the creature: “I am the Paragon. Relent, or perish.” “Fool! A Paragon you may be, but now you will become my slave!” – he heard it reply in his mind. The servant of Tu’Mor tried to charge William, but he focused his mind even more: “On your knees!” The unthinkable happened, the tentacled beast stopped dead in it’s tracks, and against it’s will, visibly trying to resist, crumbled to it’s knees. “NO! You are doing the forbidden! No one, man or god, may use telepathy this way!” – it protested in William’s mind. “You forsook whatever shreds of honor or morality you may have had long ago, when you joined Tu’Mor. Now the Hour of Justice has finally descended on you all.” – William replied. “I am bound to serve my lord and master!” – the creature defied the Paragon. “And die with him.” – William said grimly, then focused his mind even more. The creature shook in excruciating pain, then it’s head blistered, and moments later exploded in a rain of blood. The Thunderdances cheered: “Finally! Our captor is no more! Now we are free!” The stone creatures blissfully rushed out of the room, into the hallways, and then made their way to the surface.

William walked over to the body of the fallen aberration, and took the weapon that it clenched in it’s right tentacle. It was a masterfully crafted sword, with an engraving of Tu’Mor on it’s hilt. It was made out of the same material that A’Zerov’s armor was made of. This will do well. – he thought. The Paragon approached the newly opened doorway and peered inside. It appeared to be another dark hallway. Though upon further inspection, he noticed that it was dimly lit by small balls of purple flames that hang in the air along the walls. The strange faceless aberration came from there. Perhaps further investigation of this place will yield interesting results. – he thought, and enter the hallway. At the other end, he found himself standing in another circular room, this one grander in size… and with something little extra special. Unlike the previous room, this one had a massive hole in the floor and only a thin walkway along the walls. At the bottom of the pit, was a gigantic monstrous maw, like the one that he encountered in Seven Headed Shadow’s elemental plane. Only this time, he did not have an army or special powers to defeat it. It must of have sensed William, as a tentacle rose from the pit and tried to ensnare him. Fortunately, with some luck and quick reflexes, the Paragon was able to slice the tentacle with his sword and sever it. The creature roared in pain, and then unleashed all it’s remaining tentacles at William. The onslaught proved to be too much, and one of the tentacles managed to grab him, and then began to lower him into the gaping maw. Saliva began to form in it. “Hungry, monster?! Eat this!” – shouted William angrily, grabbed a grenade that he was saving for his darkest hour, pulled the pin from it and threw it in the creature’s maw. It instinctively swallowed the grenade. Moments later, there was a loud “Boom!” inside the monster, and then it’s tentacles went limp and released William. It was dead. Unfortunately for him, as he was positioned directly over the gaping maw, he fell right into it.

William crashed into a pool of slime at the bottom of what appeared to be the creature’s stomach. It softened the blow that he would receive from falling had he not landed into it. Uhhhh. – he sighed heavily, got back up on his feet and inspected his environments. What he at first thought was the stomached turned out to be no stomach at all. He was back in the hellish landscape that was at the bottom of the darkened forest monster. These aberrations must serve as gateways to the land of these monsters. – he concluded.

Surprisingly, the place was completely empty this time. No legions of creatures, nothing. Only the ever writhing throne at the center. William decided to investigate and made his way to the writhing throne of the Inner Gods. Along the way, he observed the flesh towers and other architecture. It appeared as if though the whole place was the stomach of a titanic creature, with the towers being extensions of it. Perhaps the maws I killed were just parts of one whole. Maybe this is one of the Inner Gods, or a testament to their insanity. – thought the Paragon. As he approached the throne, he concluded that it too, was an extension of this monster. Beneath the corpses that composed the throne, he noticed a slope leading down to a door made of the strange metal that he encountered earlier. William descended down the slope to the door, and tried to open it, but it would not budge. “Blast it!” – he thought aloud and kicked it, when suddenly he noticed strange images engraved on it. They depicted a many tentacled monster, thought only one tentacle was bloated and massive. The monster from my nightmare. – thought William. Opposite it, was an image of a warrior with a blade made of thunder and lightning. They appeared to be locked in combat. This must be me. – thought William and touched the image of the warrior. Suddenly, there was a loud “click”, and the door opened. “Welcome, Paragon.” – he heard an ominous voice in his head.

The Paragon entered the door and found himself standing in a giant orrery, with many golden orbs suspended in the air. These must represent the planets. – he thought. Despite the room seemingly being under the writhing throne, William saw a very clear night sky above himself. The stars were very bright, much brighter than in the real world. At the sides of the orrery were portals, that appeared to lead to the different elemental planes. So this is how they travel between worlds. – William concluded. “Welcome, Paragon (The destroyer, the savior!) – an all too familiar voice welcome William. S’trom, in his humanoid form, leaped down from one of the giant golden orbs. “I have been expecting you (Time, time, never fades!)” “S’trom, I should of have known you would lay a trap for me! A dishonorable scum like you can not fight in the open.” – William replied angrily. The silver haired was surprisingly not armed with the Stormblade. Maybe I should take him out and finish this one and for all. – a thought crossed William’s mind. “My scouts work well, yes. (They, who are the eyes of the state!) But I have not come to fight you, but I have brought you here for a different reason (Many are the fates of the Paragon!” – said S’trom, ever shifting between his two personalities. “All has been done and said. There is nothing more to talk about.” – stated William and drew his sword. He lunged at S’trom, but the silver haired man dodged him. The Paragon smashed into a golden orb, causing it to crack. “Fool! (Fool!)” – said S’trom, and leaped up on another golden orb. William, using his excellent strength, agility and stamina, followed S’trom to the top of the orb, and before S’trom could react, he slashed his chest with his sword. The storm dragon in human form did not react, but there was a very clear slash wound across his chest. Thunder and lightning spilled out of it. “If you bleed, you can die.” – said William with grim determination, and slashed again. But this time, S’trom parried the blow with his bare hands, and then counterattacked by kicking William in the stomach, sending him plummeting of the orb. “You do not see (They, blind sheep in the darkness!)” – said the silver haired man, and then leaped down from the orb as well to what appeared to be a command console. Before William could recover, S’trom tweaked some settings on it and the golden orbs began to rearrange themselves. When he got up, William lunged at S’trom once again. As S’trom was still tweaking settings, he did not see the attack coming and it caught him by surprise. William crashed into him, sending him flying over the console and crashing into an orb. He followed his attack by jumping over the console again and then walking to the fallen storm dragon in human form. He began to pick him up by his hair, but S’trom suddenly turned around and punched William square in the jaw, making him fall back down on his back and lose his sword. S’trom stood over William and prepared to unleash another devastating attack, but the Paragon quickly jerked his feet to the right, unexpectedly kicking the silver haired man’s legs and making him fall down as well. Wasting no precious time, William quickly got up and grabbed his sword. S’trom began to get up as well, but did not finish as William walked over to him and made a slashing motion with his sword, aiming at S’trom’s neck. S’trom’s head was lopped off cleanly from his body.

“Such is the fate of the nemesis.” – said the Paragon coldly. The golden orbs finished repositioning themselves, and ended up being aligned in a perfectly straight line, eclipsing each other. Suddenly, the dead Lord of the Storm’s body and head dispersed into thunder and lightning. They coalescenced into an essence. The essence took shape of a muscular human male, and then skin began to appear on the outline. Within moments, S’trom’s body completely regenerated. “This you can kill me so easy, Paragon!? I, who has killed GODS!? (THE GODS BELOW! THE GREAT OLD ONES!)” – he roared in rage and walked over to William with grim determination. As the Paragon found himself dumbfounded by the event that transpired in front of him, he could not react in time and S’trom picked him up, then threw him, making him slam against a wall. S’trom then weaked the console some more. Suddenly, the stars in the skies lit up brighter than ever before. The light from them reflected off the orbs into a portal that was empty before. Suddenly, the portal activated, and a dimensional rift appeared. It appeared to lead to a watery grotto. “Follow me, if you dare.” – said S’trom and disappeared into the portal.

“I will, and you will meet your end!” – shouted William and followed S’trom into the portal.

He found himself standing in the watery grotto that he could see in the dimensional rift. At the center of the grotto was a large pedestal. On it lay… Stormblade. “The birth place of the blade of the storms (The place of death of the Inner Gods!” – proclaimed S’trom triumphantly. The silver haired man walked over to the pedestal, and took the sword from it with his left hand. William held his own sword in his right hand, prepared for battle. “Why have you brought me here!?” – demaned the Paragon. “To make you see the truth! (The truth, antithesis of lies!)” – replied S’trom. “There is no TRUTH in butchering innocents!” – William said, putting heavy emphasis on the word “Truth”. “You do not see, as they did not! (The friends turned enemies!).” – the silver haired man objected: “F’Nar, the Firelord. Stoner, the Stonelord. Icebane, the Icelord. They all thought they could defeat the Inner Gods in battle. Fools. I did not. I found a way. The Inner Gods would be defeated, but at a price (The Masters’ rage howls!). “There is no justifying murder for the sake of it!” – the Paragon said, conveniently forgetting his own acts of mass genocide. “Murder? I did not murder anyone! I forged the Stormblade, the blade that would bring down the Inner Gods. I slayed many of them, but eventually the corruption of the Inner Gods manifested within me as M’orts. For many years, I resisted his influence upon me, but eventually he took over. I tricked him into believing that I was an ally of the Inner Gods, when I was not. But now the time has come, Paragon! (Fool, what have you done!? I hear the Master, so angry!) S’trom explained, and then threw the Stormblade to William. As he caught the Stormblade, the Paragon felt a strange sensation within himself. It was as if though he wielded power absolute. He finally understood S’trom. He was not insane, he did not have a split personality. For aeons, M’orts, the puppet slave of Tu’Mor, controlled S’trom’s body. S’trom’s personality remained intact, as long as he did not oppose M’orts. He had a body, but he had no control over it. He was a puppet for Tu’Mor to use. But now, now was the Hour of Justice for M’orts. “(BETRAYER! PERISH!)” – raged M’orts, and then forced S’trom’s body to transform back into that of a storm dragon. “Do it… William. Kill Tu’Mor. Save the world… Save my brothers.” – S’trom encouraged William with his last breath, and then his personality was swallowed by the madness of M’orts. “BODY AND SOUL, SWALLOWED WHOLE!” – M’orts continued raging. The power of the Stormblade intensified in the hands of William, and thunder and lightning cackled even stronger along it’s surface. William instinctively swung it in the direction of M’orts, and a lightning bolt shot form it. It hit the great storm dragon in the chest, burning him and causing him to roar in pain. “THE BLADE, IT DOES NOTHING TO ME!” – M’orts defied the power of the Stormblade, and charged the Paragon. William, unprepared for the onslaught, was knocked away by M’orts’ attack and dropped his weapons. But it was fortunate for him, as M’orts slammed into the wall of the grotto, causing it to crumble and fall. Had William been caught between the storm dragon’s body and the wall, he would of have been crushed to death. The Paragon quickly got up, picked up his swords and resumed his battle stance. M’orts was visibly dazed from smashing head first into a rock wall, so William used this opportunity to his advantage. He jumped on the storm dragon’s back, and began to slash him with his swords. While most of the attacks made by the sword that he took from the faceless aberration glanced away, attacks by the Stormblade slashed the skin of the storm dragon and opened wounds. Thunder and lightning oozed out of them. He continued slashing the skin and working his way up to the head. Suddenly, M’orts leaped in the air, spread his wings of thunder and then made a full flip. William, unprepared, fell of the the back of the storm dragon and smashed painfully into the floor of the grotto. M’orts laughed manically, then folded his wings, and tried to crash right into William. Fortunately, the Paragon was able to avoid the deathblow by rolling out of the way. He is completely mad! – thought William as the storm dragon roared in agony from smashing head first into the ground. “OLD ONES! ANCIENT ONES! OLD LORD OF THE EARTH! GRANT ME YOUR STRENGTH! GRANT ME YOUR MIGHT! GRANT ME YOUR GREAT BLACK WINGS OF DEATH, SO THAT I MAY DESTROY EVERYONE THAT WOULD DEFY YOUR DIVINE RIGHT!” – M’orts yelled, with the rage the likes of which William had never seen before.

Suddenly, an ethereal avatar of Tu’Mor appeared and said: “Servant! Do not fail me again, destroy the Paragon!” Then he channeled some sort of life forst into M’orts, and disappeared. What happened next was truly horrifying. M’orts body began to transform. Additional horns sprouted from the back of his head. The spikes on his body were magnified tenfold. His wings grew larger, stronger. His eyes, eyes that once gleamed with thunder and lightning, now gleamed with red light. He ascended to the skies and spread his black wings of death, that darkened all of creation. No light was left in this place, no hope. “ALL HAIL TU’MOR. THE ONE, TRUE GOD!” – he roared, and then threw a massive lightning bolt at William. The Paragon tried to shield himself by blocking the bolt with the Stormblade, and surprisingly it worked. The lightning bolt was deflected back at M’orts. It hit him in the chest, which was already seared by the power of the Stormblade. As he roared in pain, William quickly ran to the dimensional rift, and jumped through it.

He found himself back in the orrery. M’orts was no too far behind, as he burst in a moment later. The dark power granted to him by the Inner God Tu’Mor began to manifest more dramatically, as his body further twisted, sprouting many more horns, and the red light in his eyes shone brighter than ever. He attempted to lash William with his tail, but the Paragon dodged the attack. Instead, M’ort’s tail smashed into one of the golden orbs, destroying it. The portal to the watery realm of Stormblade’s making vanished almost instantly. “THERE IS NOWHERE TO RUN, PARAGON! NOWHERE TO HIDE!” – roared M’orts, causing the orrery to begin to shake and crumble. His was sounded as if it were two beings talking at same time. Him and Tu’Mor. “Stop this madness! You’ll kill us both!” – William attempted to reason with the mad dragon. “IT IS MY PURPOSE TO KILL YOU! I AM THE BEGINNING OF THE END! THE SHADOW THAT DARKENS THE WORLD! FOR THIS MOMENT ALONE WAS I MADE!” – raged M’orts, and then charged William. The Paragon once again used his superior agility to avoid the attack, and M’orts smashed into a wall, causing it to crack. Behind the wall was the cold emptiness of the void. The crack began to suck everything in the orrery into it, pulling one of the golden orbs out of it’s orbit and causing it to smash into the insane storm dragon, pinning him to the wall. William attempted frantically to reach the portal that supposedly led back into the elemental plane of stone, but the pull from the void was too much and he could barely move forward. Meanwhile, the wall collapsed under the pressure of M’orts and the golden orb, and both were sucked into the void. “Tu’Mor! Perhaps I shall fall some day, but not today!” – the Paragon defied the Inner God. Even though Tu’Mor was not present, William was sure that he could hear him. Then he turned around, facing away from the portal that led to the stone world, and fired a lightning bolt from Stormblade directly under himself. The shockwave from the bolt hitting the ground proved to be stronger than the pull from the void, and sent William tumbling into the portal

The Paragon found himself back in the elemental plane of stone. Above, the unnatural storm, now uncontrolled by S’trom, raged stronger than ever. Atleast M’orts and S’trom are dead now. I have to find the others. – decided William. Though this would prove more problematic than expected, as he had absolutely no idea where he was or where the others was. He decided to go northwards, try to reach the home of the Stormstone giants. Armed with the mythical Stormblade, no enemy would be able to stand against them, and the cloud city of S’trom would fall. Peace would once again reign over these lands.

Shortly after setting out to the north, he arrived at the place that he saw in the vision that the stone creature elder shaman granted him. He was standing in front of a wall of tall jagged mountains. The stone creatures ought to be here somewhere. – William thought and then shouted: “Is anybody here!?” No reply. They must of have met with the Stormstone giants and set out to find other allies. But how will I ever find them…? Wait… I have an idea that just might work. “Blade of the Storms! Grant me knowledge of whereabouts of the Thunderdancers!” – he held out the Stormblade and commanded. Unexpectedly, it pointed to the west. This must be it! They set out west! – he concluded and headed westwards.

After quite a while, he came to a field littered with many stone weapons, and weapons made of the very thunder and lightning itself. A battle must have taken place here! – concluded the Paragon as he examined the fallen weapons. Surprisingly, there were no corpses to be found. Only the numerous weapons and craters suggested that a battle took place. “Blade of the Storms! Grant me knowledge of what has transpired here!” – he commanded. Suddenly, many spectral figures appeared. He could recognize the Thunderdancer elder shaman and Areon. “We have been walking for days now, most respected elder. Are you sure we are heading in the right direction?” – Areon questioned the elder shaman. “We are, for my visions never fail -” – the Thunderdance was interrupted as there was a loud clash of thunder in the skies, and the enforcer, who somehow returned once again, along with thousands of lightning warriors appeared. “No Paragon to save you now!” – he yelled and then commanded: “Into battle!” The vision faded as the Stormstone giants and Thunderdancers collided with the armies of thunder.

No, this can not be! – he thought, and then held out the Stormblade once again and commanded: “Blade of the Storms! Show me where my allies are!” Yet again, it pointed to the west. They must of have fought back the armies of thunder. – William concluded, then continue onwards to the west, to his allies and the only hope of getting out of this elemental plane.

War Council

William continued westwards for some days, and finally reached what appeared to be a fortified position. Jagged walls were raised at the base of a mountain, creating a fortress of sorts. Two Stormstone giants stood guard at the drawbridge over a moat with stone spikes at the bottom. “The Stormblade! Seize it!” – one of them yelled as he saw William. They rushed forth from the the drawbridge. William prepared to defend himself, when suddenly he heard a thunderous bellow: “Hold it right there, guard!” The Stormstone giants stopped dead in their tracks. A Stormstone giant, much larger and spikier than others emerged from within the fortified walls. “Let the Paragon through.” – he commanded. The two Stormstone giants that guarded the drawbridge resumed their posts. William sheathed the Stormblade and then crossed the drawbridge. “Welcome, Paragon.” – the stone creature elder shaman welcomed him, and introduced the Stormstone giant: “Meet Areon, I blieve you two have not met before.” “It is an honor to finally meet you, Paragon.” – Areon bowed his head in respect. “No the honor is all mine.” – replied William. “I see the prophecy has fulfilled itself.” – said the elder shaman: “You hold the Stormblade in your hands.” “Yes indeed.” – confirmed William. “Tell me, how has it come to be in your hands?” – questioned the stone creature elder shaman. “I have traveled to the east for many days, and then I came upon what appeared to be a giant hole in the ground. When I descended down into it, I found holding cells and released many Thunderdancers that were imprisoned there.” – William began to retell his recent adventures. “Ah yes, they arrived safely and joined us.” – interjected the elder shaman. “I defeated one of Tu’Mor’s loonies and continued inside. There, I found a giant maw. I descended into it and found myself inside what appeared to be the throne room of Inner Gods. There, I found an orrery. Unfortunately, so did S’trom. We fought there for a while until he was able to gain the upperhand and opened a portal to the watery realm of Stormblade’s making. I followed him inside, and there a revelation happened. S’trom was never our enemy, M’orts is the true enemy. M’orts was created from prolonged exposure to the Inner Gods, and took control over S’trom’s body. The storm dragon was allowed to retain his personality as long as he did not defy the Inner Gods. S’trom’s last act of defiance and redemption was handing me the Stormblade – and he was punished by M’orts. S’trom is gone now, only M’orts remains. I did battle with M’orts, and was able to gain the upper hand before Tu’Mor intervened and amplied M’orts powers tenfold. I escaped back into the orrery, and he followed me. We did battle, and the orrery was destroyed in the process and I barely managed to escape with my life. But I fear we have not seen the last of M’orts.” – the Paragon finished the tale. “Then the time to strike is now!” – concluded Areon. “Yes, old friend. We will hold the war council at once.

They entered a large room with many seats. In the middle of a table, with the map of the elemental plane engraved on it. The elder shaman sat at the head of the table, while Areon loomed behind him, and William sat to the right of him. Many other stone creatures sat at the table. There was a large stone lizardman, a stone anthropomorphic eagle, a stone turtle, and many others. Most surprising was the presence of a lightning creature wearing a beautifully crafted set of armor, suggesting it’s high status. “M’orts – the evil within S’trom is gone for now. Now is our time to strike.” – the elder shaman began to outline the plan of action: “Our friend here, T’hundar, wishes to see M’orts brought to justice as much as we do. He is the leader of the insurgence in M’orts’ cloud empire. He brought us schematics and important details about the cloud cities.” “Why should we trust a creature of thunder?” – objected the stone eagle. Commotion broke out in the war council room, with everyone disagreeing and nearly coming to blows. Suddenly, Areon smashed his fist into the ground and bellowed: “Stop! If we are to defeat the cloud empire and dethrone M’orts we are to work together as ONE! Without T’hundar’s aid we would never be able to even set foot in the cloud cities.” “Yes it is true, I once was a loyal servant of S’trom, but when his madness overtook him, I began to work to remove him from power. When the impeachment failed, I started a rebellion against him. To this day, I have fought him for aeons, but never since the first great war has there been an opportunity to dethrone him.. The time to strike… is now.” – said T’hundar. “Still, why should we trust you? For all we know, you could be M’orts’ loyal lapdog, working to destroy us from within!” – the stone eagle protested angrily, smashing his fist on the table. More shouting arose in the war council room. “Listen!” – the elder shaman attempted to calm the council: “We do not have much choice, either we gain access to the cloud cities with the help of T’hundar and put down the mad dog, or we turn away his help and then get hunted down like dogs by the imperial thunder army.” “He is right! Let’s hear T’hundar out!” – someone yelled, but his idea was drowned in the general fighting. Armchair tacticians… – thought Willian, then jumped on the table from his seat and held out the Stormblade. “Most of you do not know me, but you do know this blade! If my word means anything, I say we hear the lightning creature out! The dance of thunder and lightning on the surface of the blade intensified, as if agreeing with William. The whole war ensemble went quiet as they saw the Stormblade. “The Paragon…” “The Blade of Storms…” “Did he defeat S’trom…?” – quiet murmuring was heard in the room. “Paragon, I stand by your side!” – yelled the stone lizardman. Others joined him: “We stand by your side!” “Good, then let us hear what T’hundar has to say!” – said William and resumed his place at the table. “Alright everyone, listen up. While the heart of the thunder empire is still out of our reach, we can target the cloud state Imperon, which hangs directly above us as we speak. My insurgents will provide the means of transport to one of outposts surrounding the cloud state. There, we will take control of it through brute force and it will be come our main staging area for the assault on the cloud state Imperon. While our main forces will be either defending the usurped outpost, or attempting to gain control of the cloud state, we will have backdoor defender teams defend the outpost from surprise attacks, and also attempt to gain control of other outposts, as most of the thunder army soldiers will be protecting the state. We will also have supply teams working round the clock to bring us our much needed ammunition and supplies. In case should the assault fail, which is practically an impossibility by my calculations, we will have additional teams positioned within this fortress, so that we can fall back safely, and then counterattack.” – T’hundar explained his plan: “Aile, your stone eagles will guard the back flank of the attack. The thunder army will attempt to outmaneuver us, but they shall not succeed. Areon! Your Stormstone giants will be the vanguard of the attack. Your forces will carve a path of destruction through the outpost to the central building, while all others will attempt to gain control of the artillery on the walls of the outpost. I and my insurgents will remove the outpost commander ourselves.” “How will we ever deafeat the imperial thunder army though? Will not new armor suits just be forged for them when we destroy them so they can keep on fighting?“ – someone wondered. “Once you kill a lightning creature above the storm barrier, it stays dead.” – replied T’hundar. “A brilliantly devised strategy, rebel leader.” – said the Thunderdancer elder shaman: “My allies, my friends. My brothers. I will go to mediate, see what those who were before us have to say. You would be wise to rest aswell and… prepare for war.” Everyone nodded in agreement, and left the room to go and instruct their respective armies. “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” – William commented on the situation: “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

War

That night, William had more strange dreams.

“Stormblade… The Void…” – said a voice.

“The Paragon… The Void…” – said another.

“I am… The Void…” – said the dominant voice.

William found himself standing in a golden field of wheat. Sun was up high, shining brighter than ever, when suddenly it turned red. Blood rained from the skies, and thunder clashed, except it was made of blood instead of lightning. The earth cracked apart and a black liquid spilled out from the wound. Out of it, rose M’orts, more twisted by the power of Tu’Mor than ever. “NOW, I REIGN IN CHAOS!” – he proclaimed. The writhing throne of corpses hauled itself along the field and positioned itself behind M’orts. The monstrous storm dragon then ascended it. “I AM THE ONE, TRUE GOD!” – he said, with the echo of Tu’Mor being very distinct in his voice, and then sat upon the twisted throne. Mutilated bodies rained from the skies, some of them still alive. “Please… help me… save us.” – pleaded one of them, dying. Most of them had their limbs ripped off, some even had gaping wounds in their bodies which revealed that their internal organs had been removed. Blood thunder crashed into the ground, creating craters which were filled with the raining blood. Faceless aberrations erupted from the ground, and then flayed the mutilated bodies. Haunting screams of agony filled the air. Then the skinless half humans half corpses dragged themselves to the pools of blood and sat in them, praying to Tu’Mor. And then… Hope. A an armada of helicopters appeared, dropping bombs on the grotesque monsters. Elite troops paradropped from them, and began cutting down the remaining monsters with hails of bullets. They were led by a balding man in a long black leather trenchcoat that appeared to be a government agent. Then F’nar, Icebane, Stoner and… S’trom appeared in the skies. They rushed into battle, obliterating hordes of faceless monsters. S’trom himself went for M’orts, and they entered a duel from which S’trom emerged victorious. As the victors began to celebrate, suddenly the earth shook and cracked. Tendrils emerged from it and began ensnaring the soldiers, dragging them to their doom below the earth. The writhing throne of corpses advanced, the flailing arms of corpses grabbing some more soldiers and adding them to the throne. Then, the gigantic bloated form of Tu’Mor arose in the background, accompanied by soul chilling laughter.

William awoke from the nightmare, once again covered in cold sweat. Damn… – he thought and got off the stone bed. Sleeping on the cold stone beds was not particularly comfortable, but still it was better than sleeping on the ground, and beat not sleeping at all by miles. The Paragon decided to go outside and help the troops prepare for war. Outside, the never ceasing storm still raged. I long… for the skies.- He lamented. The troops of the stone army were moving supplies to what appeared to be high – tech platforms, powered by thunder and lighting. They were to be used to transport the troops to the cloud state Imperon. Meanwhile, other troops practiced their combat skills, preparing for battle. “Do not cease practicing! Victory is at hand!” – Aile shouted from a dais, inspiring his troops: “As long as we fight we will NEVER fall!”

“Fight yes… But we do not rush into battle like idiots when some yells “Victory!” A battle is won through careful manipulation of events. Flank the enemy… and butcher him from behind.” – yelled the stone lizardman general, motivating his troops. They cheered in response.

“They may do they killing, but we are the ones that win the battle! We are the defends, we are the ones that make sure it is the enemy who falls! Our shells shall shield our allies!” – yelled the stone turtle general from his dais. His troops cheered and reared, showing off the full formidable might of their stone shells.

“And when all else fails, the mighty fist of the Stormstone giants shall descent upon the enemy! He will be smashed into dust! Our great enemy shall fall!” – roared Areon with his thunderous voice. His Stormstone giants cheered with equally thunderous voices.

That’s right… The Hour of Justice finally falls upon our enemies. – William thought as he observed the stone armies preparing for war. Tomorrow would be a glorious battle.

In the early morning of the next day, war began. Thousands of troops loaded themselves onto the platforms that would elevate them to the cloud state Imperon. The stone eagles filled the sky, their stone wings surprisingly managing to lift their heavy bodies in the air. As the platforms neared the stormy skies, an energy shield was erected from the central platform, shielding the assault group from the thunder and lightning that made the storm barrier otherwise impenetrable. As they passed the storm, they found themselves under a massive iron platform that was suspended in the air. It was the outpost designated for assault. They sneakily elevated their platforms right beneath the outpost, and then began to cut holes in it. As the first holes were made, the stone shock troops swarmed through them and ambushed the lightning creatures that guarded the outpost. They cut them down with deadly force, and then stormed the iron walls on the edges of the outpost. They killed the guards that manned the artillery, and then took control of it. They then used it to swiftly destroy the air patrols that surrounded the outpost. Meanwhile, Stormstone giants tore giant holes in the base of the iron platform and ascended through them. Within minutes, they had complete control of the outpost except the command center. “Lock everything down.” – commanded T’hundar, who was leading the operation: “Nothing gets in, nothing gets out.” Aile and his stone eagles destroyed the surviving lightning creatures that attempted to escape the outpost. Areon tore a giant hole in the command center, grabbed a lightning creature in ornate armor, and then lowered him and set him down in front of T’hundar. “End of the line for you, Pyreal. End of the line for all of you.” – T’hundar addressed the commander of the outpost. “Throw him in the prison cells beneath the command outpost.” – he ordered as Pyreal snarled defiantly. “You will not get away with this! Lord S’trom will crush you!” – the commander shouted as he was taken away by stone shock troopers to the holding cells. Oh, he won’t be crushing anyone. S’trom is gone. There is only I – T’hundar. – thought the insurgency leader. “We must repair the holes and arm the outpost. The enemy will be back soon.” – suggested the stone creature elder shaman. “Let them come. We are ready.” – said T’hundar.

Meanwhile, William had a completely different mission. As the main bulk of the army would capture the outpost and then begin a full scale assault of the cloud state Imperon, he would infiltrate it and create a distraction. As he approached what appeared to be the high council building, made of white marble, it suddenly exploded.

Inside Job

Many hours before the attack on the cloud state Imperon began, something bad was brewing up in the high council… In the early hours of the morning, a suspicious looking lightning creature in a black trenchcoat entered the high council building. Surprisingly, the guards let him through without asking questions or asking for identification. Usually, entering the high council building was forbidden for everyone but the councilmen. “I am in.” – said the lightning man in a trenchcoat. “Good, you know what to do. Carry your orders out.” – buzzed a reply from the intercom device that was installed in the head armor plate of the lightning man. “I am on it.” – he replied. He located an air vent entrance in the entrance hallway, removed the grate from it and entered. He then used his ability to fly to ascend through the ventilation to the vent entrance that was right above the room in which the councilmen usually held councils. The lightning man took a strange looking metal device from his black trenchoat, and set it right on the vent grate. He tweaked a few buttons on it, and suddenly a timer appeared on the display of the device: 30:00… 29:59… and counting down. “The first explosive charge is set.” – said the lightning man. “Excellent work, agent. Proceed as planned.” – instructed the voice from the intercom. Next, the lightning man descended through the ventilation system to the prison complex beneath the cloud city. He then set more explosive charges in key points, that would disable the security system and allow the prisoners to escape. Then he proceeded through the ventilation system back to the place where he entered it, exited it, and then closed it with the grate, as if nothing has happened. Then he left the high council building, and yet again the guards let him through without any questions. Though, the lightning man’s mission was not complete yet. He circled the high council building, setting more explosive charges along it’s base. “Mission complete. ETE: ten minutes.” – communicated the agent through the intercom.

War Part Two

The high council building was blown in the air. Parts of it crashed into surrounding buildings, damaging them heavily or outright destroying them. Within moments, the central part of the cloud state Imperon was left in ruins. Many lightning guards swarmed the area, searching for survivors and for the culprits. I have to communicate with T’hundar right away! – thought William, and began to make his way to the communications center that was labeled on the map of the cloud city that T’hundar had given him. As he made his way to it, undetected by the guards in the mayhem caused by the explosion, he saw a giant billboard. A lightning creature in suit and tie appeared on it and then began announcing: “Breaking news! Head of the state Imperon feared dead in the explosion as the insurgents sabotaged the high council. Empire wide alert as thunder army cracks down on T’hundar’s insurgency. Enemy spotted on the outskirts of the cloud state Imperon!” I have been saving a bullet just for an occasion like this one… – thought William, then grabbed his gun and shot the billboard, destroying it. As the thunder army was caught up in trying to discover and rescue the head of the state Imperon, they did not even bother to investigate the destroyed billboard. After making his way to the communications center, William cut the door down with the Stormblade and burst it, there was no time to waste being subtle. Security guards instantly responded by trying to stop him, but he cut them down with ease, and continue on to the central room. When he reached it, he found it shielded by what appeared to be an energy shield made of… you guessed it… more thunder and lightning. “I don’t have time for this!” – he growled angrily, and then shot a massive storm bolt from the Stormblade. It overloaded with energy shield, and it went down. Some more guards rushed from the central room to stop him, but they were annihilated by the might of the Stormblade. The lightning creatures that worked inside the central room rushed out through a back door exit, escaping the fate of the guards… for now. The Paragon approached one of communication consoles, and entered a frequency code that T’hundar had given him in case something went wrong and they needed to communicate. “Report, Paragon.” – appeared the armored head of T’hundar on the console display and said. “T’hundar, your insurgents appear to have sabotaged the high council building and killed Imperon and other councilmen. The cloud state is in total chaos now, but also the army began to mobilize. I say we strike now!” – William reported to the leader of the insurgency. “I did not give such an order to them! The whole operation could of have been compromised. There is little time to waste now, Paragon. I will order my army to begin the assault on the cloud state before the word gets to the cloud state S’trom and the whole damn imperial thunder army comes here to crash the party. You will need to sabotage all the communications centers in cloud state Imperon so that they can’t communicate with the cloud state S’trom and the others. Then you should rendezvous with the main bulk of the army at the following coordinates.” – commanded T’hundar, and then coordinates for the rendezvous point popped up on the console display. “And Paragon… Good luck.” – he added.

William did not know much about technology, even less so about advanced technology such as this communications center. However, he did know how to bring the whole system down. He charged the Stormblade with immense electromagnetic power, and then unleashed it. It did not do much harm to him, but it crashed the whole power system. And not just in the communications center, it crashed the power grid of the whole cloud state Imperon. Everything shut down, including weapons, transportation platforms, auto defense systems, and many others. William made his way out of the communications center, killing some more lightning creatures along the way. When he made it out, he noticed that the accursed billboards had also shut down. The bad thing was that the every division of the thunder army in cloud state Imperon had finished mobilizing, and now were marching to war with T’hundar’s insurgency. No time to waste! – thought William, and began to make his way to the coordinates that T’hundar had given him. Once again, he did not pay attention to subtlety or stealth, as there was no time for such things. He rushed through the streets, killing any lightning creature that was unfortunate enough to stand in his way. As he reached the final street that would lead him to the rendezvous point, suddenly a large ball of thunder and lightning appeared at the end of the street. Out of it, the enforcer, now setback more than once, appeared. This time he appeared to be even more heavily armored, as the armor covered every inch of his thundery body. This time, he also dual wielded swords, the same swords that were employed by Tu’Mor’s faceless aberrations. “Paragon! At long last, we meet one on one!” – he said. “I. Do. Not. Have. Time. For. This!” – William shouted angrily at the enforcer, and then hurled a storm bolt out of the Stormblade at him. The stormbolt hit him directly in the chest armor plate, but he barely flinched. “Fool! You thought you could defeat me so easily? I have donned the sacred armor of S’trom, forged to be immune to the powers of the Stormblade!” – he taunted the Paragon. “Raaagh!” – William growled and charged at the enforcer. The Stormblade cackled with lightning, stronger than ever before. Unexpectedly, the enforcer did not even attempt to dodge it as William struck him square in the chest with the Stormblade. Nothing happened. The sacred armor of S’trom completely deflected the blow from the Stormblade. The enforcer picked up the Paragon with his right hand, choking him painfully and then throwing him against a wall, with such force that it shattered. Despite the overwhelming pain, William became even more enraged. He got back up on his feet, then charged the Stormblade to it’s full potential. “When will you learn? You can not defeat me!” – the enforced continue taunting him. “Me? Perhaps not! But this will!” – he threw the Stormblade at him with deadly force. The sacred armor shielding him from immensily powerful blow, but it was weakned for a moment. William wasted no time, grabbed his gun and then shot the enforcer in the chest armor plate. It broke to pieces and fell off. The enforcer howled in pain, and then charged William. Fortunately, William was able to dodge the attack in time, and the enforcer smashed head first into a marble building, breaking through the wall with such force that the whole building collapsed on top of him. William used this brief respite to retrieve the Stormblade, and charge it to it’s full potential again. Moments later, the enforcer emerged from the rubble. Most of his armor was badly damaged, but still enough to contain his essence. “You will pay for this, Paragon!” – he raged, and charged William again. William sidestepped the attack, and then counterattacked by slashing the enforcer’s back armor plate 2 times in quick succession. It also broke apart and fell off. The enforcer, howled in pain again, and then the howl turned to a roar. He turned about and attempted to smash William in the face with his right fist. The Paragon used his quick reflexes to deflect the attack with the Stormblade, but the pure force behind the attack caused him to tumble backwards and lose hold of the Stormblade.

Meanwhile, the insurgents crossed the divide that separated the outpost from the cloud state Imperon. The Stormstone giants tore holes in the walls around the cloud city, and shock troops swarmed through them. But, the lightning army was prepared. The first wave of stone shock troopers was cut down with ease, but when the Stormstone giants burst in, the thunder army began to fall before them. As the artillery and other defense systems were disabled, they had no effective means of bringing down the hulking giants. Normal weaponry did not do much to them, as their tough bodies deflected most of the attacks, and even if the thunder troops did manage to wound them, the living stone healed quickly. “Unleash the Stormwarriors!” – the thunder army commander yelled. Suddenly, numerous lightning essences combined into one of gigantic proportions. A lightning creature materialized, fully armored just like the normal troopers of the thunder army, except much larger in scale. It rushed forward towards the first Stormstone giant it saw. Unfortunately for it, it was Areon. He grabbed the Stormwarrior by his throat with his left hand, and them smashed it’s head armor plate in with his right hand. It fell apart and the lightning essence vanished forever. Many more Stormwarriors joined the fight, managing to take out some Stormstone giants, but all of them were defeated eventually. “Attack position Centurion!” – commanded T’hundar, and the stone shock troopers reorganized themselves into small units, with shield bearers at the sides, the front and the back. They broke through the wall of thunder troopers, crushing them, and then began advancing to the central command center of the cloud state Imperon. Suddenly, many lightning troops bombarded from the skies, smashing into stone shock troopers and killing them. They then attacked swiftly and deadly – from within the enemy ranks. Before the insurgent army realized what was happening and defeated the aerial attack, many good soldiers were lost. As the army advanced towards the command center, they noticed many high tech tanks that were employed by the thunder army. Fortunately for the insurgents, they were disabled along with the power grid.

William, armed with the Stormblade, stood opposite the enforcer. Most of the enforcer’s armor plates were gone, but he was still grimly determined to bring down the Paragon. “Give it up, enforcer. You have lost.” – William attempted to reason with him. “Lost? I have just began! LORD M’ORTS! GRANT ME STRENGTH!” – he defied the Paragon. A blood thunderbolt, just like the one William saw in his dreams, suddenly struck the enforcer. He began to transform. The lightning core of his disappeared and instead was replaced with a mass of flesh. It took shape, transforming into a being just like the faceless aberrations that William had encountered earlier. Except it was more… spiky? The enforcer’s eyes began to shine bright red, just like M’orts. “I should of have known it! You are sworn to no other than M’orts! Not even Tu’Mor!” – William said, disgusted: “I thought you were a honorable warrior, just on the wrong side.” “I serve my Lord M’orts, to death! I would cast down Tu’Mor myself to protect my Lord!” – replied the enforcer. “Then you shall join your Lord in the black abyss that I have sent him to!” – William said, determined to settle the score with the enforcer one and for all. “You will try” – said the enforcer, and readied his dual blades. “Rargh!” – the Paragon growled and charged the enforcer, the Stormblade and the dual blades clashing. They proved to be very resilient indeed, as they did not break from impacting with the Stormblade. While the blades were locked, William saw the opportunity and kicked the enforcer in the stomach with his boot. Fleshy body did bring it’s disadvantages. The enforcer stumbled backwards, falling flat on his back. William stood above him, and pointed the Stormblade at his fallen enemy. “End of the line.” – he said, and the slashed the enforcer’s neck, chopping off his head. It rolled away into the rubble, leaving a trail of black blood that William saw in his dreams. None of this makes any sense. But I suppose I better hurry and rejoin the insurgent army! – he thought, and then continue on his way. What he did not see is the lightning essence of the enforcer escaping from it’s monstrous body, and then escaping into the clouds above the cloud state Imperon.

“The door won’t budge!” – said Aile frustratedly, after another attempt to break it down with his stone blade. “Let me try.” – suggested Areon. The stone eagle stepped away, and then the Stormstone giant punched the door with all his might. It did not budge. “Bring in the battering ram!” – commanded T’hundar. The stone shock troopers stepped apart as 4 of them carried an iron battering ram, stolen from the thunder army. They approached the door, stood in positions and then began battering the door. Still it did not budge. “Work harder!” – T’hundar commanded. It did not help.

Few minutes later, William finally met up with them. “Good work, Paragon. We will need your assistance here now.” – the insurgency leader commended the Paragon. “I just might have an idea how to open the door.” – suggested William after observing the stone army’s predicament. “Try it.” – commanded T’hundar. William approached the door, and then charged up the Stormblade. He then fired a massive electromagnetic blast from it, attempting to fry the lock system. Unfortunately, it did not work. The lock was clearly expertly made. “Damn it!” – William said angrily, and then fired a thunder bolt at the door. Once again, it did not budge. “Continue with the battering ram.” – ordered T’hundar.

After what seemed to be hours, the door finally began to budge. Unfortunately, it did not budge enough and they had to continue battering it for several more hours until it finally broke down. “We are in!” – reported one of them stone shock troopers that was involved in the breaking down of the door. “Good work, soldier.” – said T’hundar, and then stepped through the broken down door. Unfortunately, the victory was short lived. “Damn it!” – T’hundar yelled thunderously as he saw another door.

Few hours later, they broke down the second door. The victory was even more bitter than the last, as they found another door behind it, this one appeared to be made of the same metal that the swords employed by Tu’Mor’s loonies was. It would be very hard to break this door down. “We have no choice then. Call in Ecole Spplh.”

“I am here, Mister Imperon.” – a man in a black trenchcoat, suit and tie appeared out of nowhere. A black hat concealed his otherwise brown hair. “I am T’hundar! Imperon is my hated enemy!” – protested the insurgency leader. “You are lying, mister Imperon!” – concluded Ecole Spplh: “You have intentionally sabotaged your own state when S’trom, also know as M’orts disappeared, so that you could take it over in an insurgency. The explosion at the high council building was an inside job done bu your agents, so that you could force the stone army into action and take over the city much quicker, but with much heavier loses than if you had carefully planned the attack and done it at right time. I will have you before a jury by tomorrow afternoon.” “…” – only thing T’hundar could do in reply is apathetically stay silent. “But now, onto business. God hates doors, especially thunder army doors. Actually the only thing that God hates more than doors are gays, but we will deal with them later. Now, I will carefully remove the presence of this door so that it does not pollute God’s divine kingdom.” – said Ecole Spplh, then walked over to the door. “There is no way in hell we can open that door by conventional means.” – explained T’hundar. “You are lying again, mister Imperon! This door is opened simply by entering a correct sequence of numbers and letters at this panel over here.” – replied Ecole Spplh and walked over to a panel at the side of the door. He entered “1337win” on a small keyboard below the panel, and then the door opened.

Meanwhile, William was growing bored of T’hundar and Ecole Spplh arguing, so he dozed off into a daydream. In his daydream, he was a respectable gentleman. No, he was more than that. It was the elections day in some country. He was the candidate from his party, the William’s Party. They had no political program, but they would fix it later, after they had won the elections. In the large crowd of people gathered in front of him, he could very clearly see a man in blacktrenchcoat and a suit and die. Ecole Spplh. “William hates the middle class! If he wins, he will send drones to bombard the middle class! True or false?” – shouted Ecole Spplh from the crowd. “TRUE!” – the crowd replied. What the hell is going on? – thought the Paragon. “William hates hard working, law abiding citizens! If he wins, the tax rate will be one hundred and fifty percent of the income plus interest! True or false?” – continued Ecole Spplh. “TRUE!” – the crowd roared. “No! That is not true, electorate, vote for me!” – William attempted to salvage the otherwise hopeless situation. “William hates free market! If he wins, all business will be monopolized by the government! True or false?” – Ecole Spplh continued making wild accusations against the Paragon. “TRUE!” – the crowd supported him. “Down with William!” – the businessmen in the crowd also supported Ecole Spplh. “William hates democracy! If he wins, he will do away with democratic process and overstay his welcome as the president! True or false?” – Ecole Spplh made his wildest accusation yes. “TRUE!” – the crowd agreed. “William hates human rights! If he wins, the country will be deported from the people! True or false?” – Ecole Spplh began even more aggressive accusations. “TRUE! CUT DOWN THIS FASCIST DICTATOR!” – someone shouted from the crowd. The crowd grabbed their guns and pointed them at William.

“Paragon! Ecole Sapplh has opened the door, we are ready to arrest the fascist commanders, skulking away behind their soldiers.” – T’hundar wakened William from his horrible daydream. “Ah ye? Ok then.” – William replied. “Do not forget, you will all end up before a jury some day, and I will make you pay for all the crimes you have committed against humanity!” – Ecole Sapplh warned them ominously, and then disappeared into nowhere, just as he had appeared out of nowhere. “What a whacko.” – commented William. The rebel army burst into the now open command center. There were a few straggling thunder troops, and they were quickly dealt with. “You all stay here, I will deal with the commanders myself.” – ordered the insurgency leader T’hundar as they approached the door that led to the command room. The soldiers obeyed, and waited patiently for their leader to deal with the oppressive thunder army commanders. T’hundar punched the door out with his bare hands, rushed in and yelled: “Who here are the temporary thunder army commanders!?” One of the thunder army officials within the room pointed at another one and said: “Him, not me!” “Traitor! I will have you brought before a TRIBUNAL!” – protested the lightning man that was being pointed at. “No one will be brought before a tribunal. The Hour of Justice falls upon you now!” – T’hundar eased their anxiety with the declaration.

The thunder army commanders and officials were arrested and then thrown into the holding cells beneath the cloud state Imperon. They would be dealt with in a formal court after the rebellion was won. “What is our next move?” – William asked T’hundar, looking forward to the next glorious battle. “I will be holding a second war council in the fallen high council building later today. I have got great plans for cloud state S’trom. As cloud state Imperon allows us easy access to it, we will soon begin the final assault and end this war. If M’orts does not return, then the war is over. We are the victorious ones.” – replied the insurgency leader. “He will not be back. I killed him myself.” – said the Paragon, confident that his last encounter with the great storm dragon M’orts was the last.

Lord of the Storms

Pain, pain, agony! S’trom’s body, deprived of oxygen contorted painfully within the void that William had sent him to. Images flash, lightning flashes. Many painful images. Moon rising high, blood flowing. Sun going down, nihilist crying. The sound of death – silence, complete, utter silence. No sound. No returning footfalls. No Light, no Darkness. Only silence. A skeletal figure arose out of a lake, wearing a black robe and wielding a scythe. Lex Talionis, an eye for an eye. Death for death. Meanwhile, the maddening whisperings, promising power and glory. Yes! Power and glory! The maddening whispers grew every stronger – the whispers of the Inner Gods. The Great Old Ones. “Come, be one with us.” – they promised. A kingdom vile arose, where flames scorched the blackened skies. A land of frigid dreams. He saw a king arise, covered in dust and rime. S’trom flew through the void with shadowed wings. He opened a gate, since aeons closed, the gate of sanity – and released the beast within. A blade made of pure lightning descended from the blackened skies, and fell into the hands of men. On this night of mourning winds, a choir of doom sung. They sung praise to the Inner God Tu’Mor. The Lord of all. More pain, a fleeting image. A man with the blade of lightning. He faced the Inner God in single combat. A torrent of power raged in a circle during the final showdown. A shattered dream, a shattered hope. A crushed dream, a broken will. The Paragon tore Tu’Mor apart. He dragged everything with him deep under the surface as all dreams faded into nothing. Dying light fell upon the lands. He burned the ground beneath his feet away, and the light died. Dead light. A void of emptiness. S’trom continued to fall in the void, pain eating away at his body endlessly. Suddenly, more maddening thoughts. Am I alone? Will I ever be alone? Am I finally alone. No. Another voice. The voice of madness, great than that of the Inner God Tu’Mor. I am everythign you are, everything that you ever were, everything that you will ever be! I am the power within, the being behind the mask of sanity. I am rage incarnated, the fury of the howling storm, the wrath of a God, the hate of the wounded earth, the blaze of the rolling flames. I am both life and death, the twilight of all. Obey me, S’trom! OBEY ME! No, S’trom resisted the will of this demonic being. Traitor! Obey and you are gonna die! Thunder flash, the crack of the world. Black abyss below – ever reaching madness. Faceless aberrations gathered around the crack of doom, praising the God. Join me! Join us! An aberration hurled itself deep into the abyss, sating Tu’Mor’s endless hunger. I am not afraid of you! A war without end raged, all around. Civilizations fell, by Tu’Mor’s bloated tendril. The light wept as the darkness surrounded. For years, I have lived in the shadows of you, the fear of you. But no more. My heart burns as bright as the hatred of fire. My might is that of the storms. I am the tenacity of the earth. I am the one that brings Gods and men alike down. I am what makes rage pale. I am S’trom, LORD OF THE STORMS! No darkness scares me now! I am stronger, stronger than you ever were, than you are, and more than you will ever be! I am your undoing. I AM DEATH, TWILIGHT OF THE GODS! With the howling storm, I rise. I rise from depths of insanity. I will rise and crush you! It is you who shall fall this day, not I! The voice returned. Who are you, to challenge me? A fool that is for sure. I will slowly tear you apart, I am a god, on MY throne! Will arose. I am the voice of the souls that you enslaved. You have done nothing to me! I will tear your soul apart!

S’trom found himself on a circular platform, made of bones, flesh, blood and gore. A vortex of damned souls circled the platform, screaming in agony. Perpetual fire burned around. A twisted, demonic version of himself appeared in front of him – it had many more horns, and it’s eyes burned with red light. “M’orts.” – S’trom greeted his opponent. “Ul’gh nah’as f’wn zach!” – yelled M’orts: “I am eternal, you are not!” S’trom charged the demonic storm dragon, knocking him off the platform. Moments later, M’orts reappeared from the flames that surrounded the plaform, and crashed into S’trom, knocking him back. The Lord of the Storms managed to keep his footing and did not tumble. He charged up a massive lightning breath and then breathed it out at M’orts, electrifying him. M’orts did not even wince, instead his charged S’trom. The Lord of the Storms was prepared this time, and sidestepped M’orts as he charged past him, and then swiped M’orts off his feet using his tail. The demonic storm dragon fell down, and S’trom used this opportunity to assault him and begin ripping off parts of his back. Black blood spilled out from M’ort’s wounds, and then out of it, demonic faceless aberrations arose. They attempted to attack S’trom, but S’trom simply swiped them off the bone platform with his tail. Unfortunately, the black blood corrupted other blood on the platform, and many faceless aberrations poured forth. They attacked S’trom, and he was forced to interrupt ravaging M’orts’ body. The demonic dragon used this opportunity to recuperate, the corruption of the Inner God allowing his body to heal at an abnormally fast rate. He unleashed a breath made of red light at S’trom, burning his body and wounding him heavily, causing him to bleed. The Lord of the Storms screamed in pain, and then used his thunder powers to cauterize the his wounds. “I will not fall!” – proclaimed S’trom, and then overloaded his body with lightning, then unleashed it in a terrifying storm. It annihilated the faceless aberrations, and broke apart the platform, causing it to fall down into the flames below. M’ort’s leaped into the air off the platform, spreading his great black wings of death S’trom did the same, and they clashed in combat midair. M’ort’s used his superior strength to knock S’trom away, sending him hurtling towards the flame wall. S’trom barely regained flight, just before hitting the flame wall. M’ort’s roared madly, and then charged S’trom. However, S’trom once again avoided the attack, and M’ort’s charged right into the flame wall. It began to burn his body severely. S’trom wasted no time, and flew towards M’orts, and then grabbed him, restraining him in the flame wall. “NO, NO, NO! I AM M’ORTS! THE DESTRUCTOR! THE END OF ALL THINGS! INEVITABLE, INDOMITABLE! IAM THE HERALD OF TU’MOR!” – M’orts protested as his body was incinerated. “End of the line.” – said S’trom, and then electrified him. M’orts screamed in pain for a few brief moments, before his body was burned away and only charred bones remained. S’trom let go, and the remains of once a general of Tu’Mor fell into the abyss below. However, S’trom had little time to celebrate as suddenly the flame wall parted, revealing 4 titanic demonic beings holding menacing looking weaponry looking at him. “You are worthy.” – said the first. “You are worthy.” – confirmed the second. “You are worthy.” – concluded the third. “Return, and cast down Tu’Mor” – commanded the last. A white brilliance surrounded S’trom, and then everything fades away into empty nothingness of time.

S’trom found himself back in the lands of stone. “I have to correct everything that has gone wrong in the last few millenia.” – he said to himself, and then took off to the skies. First, he would fly to his seat of power in cloud state S’trom, and then find the Paragon. Then they would return to the real world, find Tu’Mor, and finally end his long overdue stay on this world. As he passed the storm barrier, he found cloud state S’trom surrounded by fighting. Many stone eagles clashed with thunder army in the skies, meanwhile the shock troops deploying into the cloud state S’trom though the use of transportation platforms. The thunder army was failing. “No, this can not be allowed to happen!” – concluded S’trom, and hurried to the battle.

William stormed the cloud state S’trom in the vanguard of the insurgent army. This was it now, when the cloud state fell, he would go home, back to his world. Earlier this day, T’hundar outlined the attack plan. They unexpectedly assaulted the city, taking out most of the guards by surprise. Now the only resistance was the thunder army, that was beginning to falter under the relentless onslaught of the stone army. Stormstone giants, led by Areon, felled many thunder troops without any effort at all. Meanwhile the shock troopers pillaged and destroyed everything that stood in the path of the insurgent army. After thousands of years of oppression, the Hour of Justice finally fell on S’trom’s regime. They would now pay for all the sins, all the atrocities that they had committed under S’trom’s tyrannical rule. “Press the assault! Victory is at hand!” – commanded T’hundar as the army began to approach the central command. The thunder army offered fierce resistance, but eventually they fall. William, T’hundar, Areon and the Thunderdancer elder shaman burst into the command center as the bulk of the army waited outside. They slaughtered the guards, and moved towards the command room. It was locked, but Areon used his great might to tear the door down. “Game over.” – said T’hundar, and began killing the councilmen and military commanders that were hiding within the room. Meanwhile, another group of soldiers captured the communications center and began to broadcast a message all across the empire: “The empire has has slowed to a crawl! The head of the state has been cut off! Now, lay down your arms and be free men in T’hundar’s glorious new regime!” Meanwhile, across other cloud states rebellions arose, casting down their respective rulers and introducing insurgent leadership. “Imperon, what are you doing!?” – a lightning creature, the head of cloud state S’trom in S’trom’s absence questioned T’hundar. “I am T’hundar. Imperon is dead. I am Succeeding you.” – he replied simply, and then cut it down. “Now, hand the Stormblade to me, and it will choose me ast he leader of the thunder empire, officially.” – commanded T’hundar. William looked questioningly at the elder shaman, to which the elder shaman nodded. The Paragon handed the blade over to the insurgency leader. Suddenly, T’hundar threw it in a deadly arc, decapitating the elder shaman before the blade returned to him. “IMPERON! We should of have heeded the warnings!” – raged Areon and tried to attack Imperon, now armed with the Stormblade. Imperon simply waved the sword in the direction of Areon, and he unraveled. “You are a damned monster, Imperon!” – William defied him. “Perhaps I am, but now I shall bring the cloud empire into the real world to serve the mighty Inner God, and receive power beyond imagining.” – he said, and then waved the sword at William. “STOP!” – a thunderous roar was heard, and then S’trom crashed through the ceiling, interrupting Imperon and burying him beneath the rubble temporarily. “Quickly, Paragon! We must get out of here!” – he commanded, and William hopped onto his back. Time for questions would be later. “You are not getting out of here anywhere!” – Imperon arose from the rubble and fired a stormbolt from the Stormblade. Fortunately, the Lord of the Storms was able to use his great combat skills to dodge the stormbolt. “Paragon, I have restored your powers! Quickly, stop this invasion!” – said the great storm dragon. William tried to use the powers that the elemental dragons granted him, but for some reason he still could not use them. What the hell? – he thought. “The prophecy of the Paragon is broken! He has no power over the elements!” – taunted Imperon, and then added to himself: “And so will the prophecy of Tu’Mor face the same fate.”

The Lord of the Storm, S’trom, and the Paragon, William, landed safely on the ground beneath the storm barrier. “Just what the hell is going on here!?” – demanded the Paragon. “I know you will not believe me, but you have to. I have struggled and fought with M’orts in the abyss for what seemed to be an eternity, until finally we found ourselves in hell itself. We have faced off in a duel to the death, and I prevailed. For this, the forces of evil themselves returned me to this world so that I may cast down Tu’Mor. Paragon, Tu’Mor is more dangerous and evil than anyone knows, that anyone cares to admit. I have come to the realization that he has masterminded the downfall of other Inner Gods so that he may rule as the sole God over the world. For this reason, he sent A’Zerov, his loyal servant, to cast you into the elemental planes. You played right into his hands when you killed the Seven Headed Shadow, the last remaining Inner God besides him. You have also released my… brothers. By doing so, you have also played right into his… uhm… tendrils? They now face off against him in the real world, and it seems as if though they are losing the fight under the onslaught of Tu’Mor and his loyal loonies. I too, have been duped by him. By forging the Stormblade during the great primordial wars and destroying other Inner Gods, I have removed everyone who could of have opposed him.” – explained S’trom. “I get you, but what the hell are we supposed to do now, S’trom? T’hundar – that traitorous dog – turned out to be Imperon, head of the cloud state Imperon. Unwittingly I have helped him in his insurgency against you and now he and the stone army have subjugated the cloud empire. We must do something!” – said the Paragon, worriedly. “I know, but there is not much we can do. Imperon, now emperor of the cloud empire, plans to use the Heart of the Storm that you and Stoner thought to destroy to transport the cloud empire into the real world, and begin the final stage of Tu’Mor’s design. There is nothing we can do to avert the coming war, but we can still win it. While Imperon has the Stormblade, I am still it’s creator and can command it to some degree, so with some careful planning we should be able to retrieve it. What is more important and critical is that I make peace with my brothers, and you will help me with it. I do not believe they will trust me – no – they will try to kill me on sight. But you, Paragon, they trust. I believe they are in a dire situation right now, and that is why they had to revoke the powers from you so that they may have their full powers in battle against Tu’Mor. As soon as Imperon completes his plan, we should hurry to Stoner’s lair. Together, we should be able to break Tu’Mor’s spell and teleport to the real world.” – the Lord of the Storms outlined the plan of further actions. “Will we not do something to help the stone people – and your people? Are we not honorbound to save them?” – wondered the Paragon. “Unfortunately, there is nothing more we can do for them now. They are under Imperon’s control and will be teleported to the real world along with my cloud empire. They will have to learn to coexist with your kind when this conflict is finally over. With Tu’Mor’s imminent end, I believe the world will be finally at peace.” – said S’trom. “So what you are saying is that all the conflict and strife over the ages was caused by a single entity – the Inner God Tu’Mor?” – asked William. “Yes, exactly. Every great war in our world was a result of his doing. The Golden Horde, the Napoleonic wars, the First World War, the Second World War, and many others… all his doing.” – explained the Lord of the Storms. “Second World War?” – asked William, surprised. “That is a story for another time.” – said S’trom: “Look now to the skies, Paragon. See how the storm barrier that I have put in place so long ago dissipates – it’s energy is being redirected into the Heart of the Storm.” True to the storm dragon’s words, the storm barrier disappeared, and sunlight finally shone on the stony world. The cloud empire loomed over the world. It was majestic. At the heart of it was a great source of power – the Heart of the Storm. Power surged within it, and then it imploded, and a massive rift opened in it’s place. It began to suck the cloud empire into it, and moments later it was gone. “And so it begins. The war against Tu’Mor.” – said S’trom sadly: “Quickly, Paragon, we must make our way to Stoner’s lair. William wasted no time, and hopped atop the great storm dragon’s back. He jumped into the air and spread his wings.

“Who’s there?” – demanded Stoner as he heard footfalls in his lair, surprisingly completely sober. “It is I, S’trom, brother.” – said S’trom and stepped forth from the shadows into the central circular room, with a dais on which Stoner rested. “S’trom!” – he shouted, leaped into the air and prepared for battle: “I should of have known you would come to kill me.” “I do not come to fight.” – the great storm dragon denied the words of his brother. “You are lying!” – snapped back the great stone dragon angrily. “He does not.” – said the Paragon, and also stepped forth from the shadows. “…Paragon… William.” – said Stoner, calming down, and then landed back on his dais. “What is the meaning of this? What in the hell is happening?” – asked Stoner, confused. “The insurgency was an inside job. Imperon rigged everything so that he would become the emperor of the cloud empire. When we conquered the cloud state S’trom for him, he betrayed us, as we were useless to him from that point onwards. He got hold of the Stormblade, and struck down Areon, the Thunderdancer elder shaman, and many others. S’trom appeared just in time to save me from sharing their fate. He has now transported the cloud empire along with his armies into the real world, to take it over in the name of his lord Tu’Mor. There is little time, we must act now!” – explained the Paragon. “My friends… dead! This cannot be!” – said Stoner, and rage blazed in his eyes, rage against the Inner God T u’Mor: “And you S’trom, why did you serve him?” “I did not serve him willingly. He infected me with the parasite – M’orts. I struggled with him for many aeons until I was finally able to cast him back into the wretched abyss that spawned him, thanks to the Paragon.” – explained the Lord of the Storms. “I do not trust you, but it seems like I do not have much choice.” – concluded Stoner: “What would you have me do?” “We need to open a gateway into the real world. Only together can we accomplish such a feat.” – stated S’trom. “Very well then. Let us begin.” – said Stoner.

S’trom and Stoner stood opposite each other on the dais. “By thunder and lightning. I tear a rift from this world into the real.” – said S’trom and channeled lightning from his mouth. “By the unmovable stone, I tear a rift from this world into the real.” – said Stoner and channeled some kind of earthy power from his mouth. The powers collided, and then tore a hole in the fabric of reality. As they continue to channel their powers, the hole widened, until finally a rift large enough was open. They passed into it.

The Twist of Fate

I find myself within vast mass of water, an ocean or sea perhaps? I feel that I am far below the surface, yet the waters are not dark. Sirens playing soothing music somewhere in the background but I cannot see anything, just… endless water. Yet, I do not feel threatened nor am I suffocating. It is as if I am breathing air.

I meditate for several hours, until suddenly the background music stops and I find myself unable to breathe. The waters slowly darkene until I can no longer see anything. A sinister sounding voice whispers: “No hope… for you!”

I awake screaming in terror in a puddle on my own puke, in an alleyway, not a soul in sight except for a frail stray dog barking at me in the distance. Oh Lord Ionast, how did you end up in such a humiliating and indignant position, living as a vagrant, was it really that hard to just pay for a decent hotel room? And another dream! What could it mean? What is the connection to my last dream?

It is nearly 7 A.M. I should head to that address, Theater Eminescu 197. Passed the newsstand I can see that two of the main headlines read “Serial killer possibly linked to terror cell” and “Supreme Leader Mictor Monta vows to personally save Romania from terrorism”. Well isn’t that cute… a dictator with a God complex.

As I come closer to the location on Theater Eminescu, I hear a buzzing helicopter in the distance. It flies right above me and stop near a building about a hundred meters in front of me. I recognize it as a military helicopter, I run to the building to see what is going on, perhaps this is the address, it cannot be a coincidence. And yes, it isn’t a coincidence, number 197, a ten story old flat. Immediately two trucks belonging to a counter-terrorism unit park in front of the entrance and gendarmes keep pouring out of them. One of them, possibly their commander, signals me to leave.

Gendarme: “Sir, I need you to stand clear of the area right now!” he tells me. I’m not about to leave without an explanation.
Lord Ionast: “I cannot leave, please tell me what is going on, officer. I am only here to pick up my nephew.” That lie gets them every time.
Gendarme: “We’ve been called on a terrorist related disturbance, we think there might be a bomb inside. Don’t worry, we have it under control. Alright, men, code 124-3, get that door open.” The men then rush to open the door with a very crude battering ram.

I then watch for an hour as they pummel the door with no result. I sigh, typical Romanian police force, can’t even get a door open.

Gendarme: “Call it more air support!” one of the man yells. Yeah right, as if that will do any good.

Eventually the door is opened by one of the old ladies living there. Luckly for them, she heard the noise and got her key. The gendarmes arrest her anyway on suspicision of aiding and abetting the terrorists. Then, they move in, not up the stairs but down the basement. I follow them, but not close enough to get noticed. They stop near a small metal door.

Gendarme: “Open up! We have the building surrounded terrorists!” a strange Romanian voice yells back.
Voice: “You are the terrorists, you declasse fascists, go away!”

The gendarmes start to pound the door to try to get it open. Pathetic weaklings. Here we go again with another hour of failure from Piatra Neamt’s “finest”. But who is this person I wonder? Perhaps there’s some other way to get inside. Clearly since this person is located in the basement there are no windows. But what if… Yes, I’ll see if there is some link between the bottom floor apartments and the basement. There are only three apartments and only one of them seems positioned right above the room in the basement. Plus I am in luck today, nobody appears to be inside. I carefully open the door with an improvised lockpick without alterting anyone. The gendarmes below still hopelessly trying to pry that door open. I don’t find anything out of the ordinary, residents are not at home, but I do find a hidden trap door in the closet. Judging by the way it is built, I’m not even sure if the owners are aware of it. I slowly open it and peak inside. An ordinary man in his forties appears to be sitting at a desk, writing something. Then suddenly, the gendarmes manage to open the door. I close the trap door so they won’t see me, but remain to listen. I cannot quite make out what they are saying, but there’s no exchange of fire and they quickly walk outside. I follow.

Lord Ionast: “Excuse, officer, what is going on inside?” I ask.
Gendarme: “Ah, it’s nothing, old Lacilius Vorc called us, it was just a false alarm. He’s done this before, he’s just a lunatic living in a basement who thinks everyone is out to get him. There’s no terrorist threat. Move along.” Hmm, this all sounds too familiar, any relation with Iulian? I’ll check this person out. But not directly. I’ll be sneaking into the national archives to find out some more information about this Vorc person.

Several hours later I obtain the file. It seems this person is officially suffering from multiple psychiatric disorders. I will approach with caution.

Later I sneak back into Vorc’s basement. Vorc does not seem to take too kindly to my… intrusion.

Lacilius Vorc: “Who are you? Speak!”
Lord Ionast: “I am…” Wait, I shouldn’t use my real name “Franc. Sir, I am not here to cause trouble, I am here to ask you about those men who came earlier.”
Lacilius Vorc looks furious.
Lacilius Vorc: “Those men are evil criminal lapdogs of the declasse scelerate fascists who have destroyed my life! They were supposed to protect and serve the people of Romania, yet they are in league with the enemies of science!”
Lord Ionast: “What are you talking about?”
Lacilius Vorc: “Okay, let me explain what is going on in this country. This country is run by a class of criminal declasse scelerates…”
Lord Ionast: “You mean like Mictor Monta?”
Lacilius Vorc sigh.
Lacilius Vorc: “Will you let me finish, boy? And no, it is not merely Monta, he is a mere puppet of a larger criminal system that has infiltrated itself into all aspects of mainstream life, including the university. Many people of low moral fiber are involved in this. Barbu Bar, Tudor Siles, Robert Anatoli, Pop Dobrescu, and these are just a few names of the criminal declasse scelerates that control the Romanian mainstream.”
Lord Ionast: “Do go on.”
Lacilius Vorc: “My name is Lacilius Vorc, I used to be a high school math teacher, but I had the talents to be much more than that. All that was crushed when my doctorate was rejected by the declasse criminal Barbu Bar, all because of my interest in solving the Riemann hypothesis.”
Lord Ionast: “And may I ask, what is the Riemann hypothesis? I’m afraid my knowledge of math is a little… rusty.”
Lacilius Vorc: “The Riemann hypothesis was proposed in 1859 by Bernhand Riemann. It is a conjecture about the location of the non-trivial zeros of the Riemann zeta function, a complex function, that is its input is a complex number. All non-trivial zeros have the real part as 1/2, or 0.5. The simple fact is…”
I find it hard to pay attention to this long-winded man. My knowledge of mathematics unfortunately is not advanced enough to understand everything that he is saying. But I seem to recall having heard of the word “Riemann” before. Even with my fragmented memory I seem to recall that one of our teams back at the agency was called “Squad Riemann”, one of the teams in charge of safeguarding the non-collapse of the space-time continuum following intense time displacement. Could this Riemann hypothesis be something tied with the discover of time travel itself?
Lacilius Vorc: “Hey, aren’t you listening?”
Lord Ionast: “Oh, I apologize, do go on.” No please don’t.
Lacilius Vorc: “The Riemann hypothesis has never been proven, until now. For over 150 years it has simply been assumed as true. Indeed it has been very useful in mathematics, but without a rigorous, definite proof we will never step into a new age.”
Hmm, a new age? What could that mean? An age of time travel perhaps? This can’t be a coincidence, clearly I must help this man if there is to be any future that I come from.
Lacilius Vorc: “Yes, I have solved the Riemann hypothesis, it was so simple, a sixth grader could do it, if they were encouraged to think, but the schools and universities are run by declasse criminal minds.”
Lord Ionast: “Mr. Vorc, if I may ask, why would anyone want to cover up such a mathematical breakthrough?”
Lacilius Vorc: “Because the masonic agenda has ulterior motives. For decades they have been blocking advancement of science, including within mathematics. The real motives are not largely known, but on a superficial level, many university professors see its practical uses. The idea is that if they discover things too fast they will be out of a job. So instead, they spend decades to try to solve one theorem or one problem, while they obtain trillions in grant money.”
Lord Ionast: “Why was there a counter-terrorist unit earlier today?”
Lacilius Vorc: “I called them.”
Lord Ionast: “I beg your pardon?”
Lacilius Vorc: “Terrorists attacked me last night, terrorist cyber hackers under the orders of the same degenerate criminal declasse cartel, lead by declasse officials and university professors, people like Barbu Bar, Robert Ana…”
Lord Ionast: “Alright, already, I get it.” I interrupt him tired of his long-winded speeches.
Lacilius Vorc: “They deleted my YouTube videos where I exposed the degenerate criminal class of declasse scelerates. Barbu Bar, Tudor Siles, Robert Anatoli, Pop Dobrescu, people with a completely false career, with a completely low moral fiber…”
Lord Ionast: “So you called the counter-terrorism unit of Piatra Neamt because someone deleted your videos?”
Lacilius Vorc: “They have done more. You will find out soon if you wish to help.”
Lord Ionast: “Yes, count me in.”

That night I dream of walking down a large and dimly lit endless hall, possibly an underground hall. Nothing in sight except endless pillars holding the ceiling. I keep walking forward for hours. With nothing changed, I start running. Faster and faster. Until I reach a passage way guarded by what appears to be a stone giant. But the stone giant does not move or speak. I turn around to find another way but find three more stone giant blocking the other paths as well.

I am now trapped within a twenty meter square area. What next?

The stone giants suddenly speak: “We… are… calm. We… are patient.” What does it mean?

So another dream. I wake up the next morning and ask Lacilius Vorc about it. He doesn’t seem helpful.

Lacilius Vorc: “I am a scientist and mathematician, not a seer, what are you asking me for? Dreams don’t mean anything, except of course those induced by the secret Drema Rays of the masonic controlled US government.”
Lord Ionast: “Okay…” Not very helpful is he?
Lacilius Vorc: “Do you want to grab some breakfast before we get down to business?”
Lord Ionast: “What do you have?”
Lacilius Vorc: “Cockroaches.”
Lord Ionast: “What the hell…” I freak out. “Don’t you have some real food?”
Lacilius Vorc: “I have, see that small closet over there? It’s where I raise my own food. Plants and live animals, such as baby pigeons.”
Lord Ionast: “You don’t buy food?”
Lacilius Vorc: “Why would I do that when all the food is contaminated by masons? Besides, the scoundrel class of criminals put me out of a job a few years back because I was teaching my students how to solve the Riemann hypothesis.”
Lord Ionast: “You are insane!” I protest. “I check with the national archives.”
Lacilius Vorc: “Ah, so you believe the lie of the Shavi Syndrome. They fabricated that lie to get me out of the education system. That’s because they couldn’t kill me.”
Lord Ionast: “How so?”
Lacilius Vorc: “Robert Anatoli, a criminal scelerate with no real diploma, was hired ten years ago to assassinate me by giving me cancer.”
Lord Ionast: “Giving you… cancer?”
Lacilius Vorc: “Yes, advanced infidelic criminal Radu guns. But he failed and killed my mother instead. They say it was cancer, but it was also assassination.”
Lord Ionast: “I can take care of this person if you want me to.” Any excuse to kill someone and eat some real food. Blood.
Lacilius Vorc: “Okay, I’ll write down the address.”

I head off to his mansion. I should have known someone involved in such a conspiracy would be living a life of luxury. I kill him and make my way out easily. No witnesses. But the newspapers have a new headline: “Sketch of terrorist and serial killer”. Drat! They have a clue how I look like, the portrait is crude of course, so that will buy me some more time.

Lord Ionast: “Mr. Vorc, if I may ask, why do you live in a basement?”
Lacilius Vorc: “Because it is more economic and because it serves as a perfect nuclear bunker.”
Lord Ionast: “Nuclear bunker?”
Lacilius Vorc: “The criminal declasse masons have failed to kill me many times over with their declasse schemes of scelerates. So they decided to isolate me instead, by declaring me mentally ill. If that is not enough, you can expect them to nuke Piatra Neamt just to get rid of me. The criminal university professors with false careers want their grant money, and their criminal declasse scelerate mason masters want worldwide submission to their will, which is more important.”
Lord Ionast: “How do you have electricity and Internet?”
Lacilius Vorc: “I steal it from my neighbor above.”
Lord Ionast: “I see. What next?”
Lacilius Vorc: “We can beat the system if we get rid of the criminal declasse professors, next on the list is Barbu Bar who sabotaged my doctorate and killed three of my top students to keep the proof of the Riemann hypothesis a secret, so I’m sure you’ll have no problem taking him out.”
Lord Ionast: “I’ll get it done.”

And of course Barbu Bar lives in a luxurious mansion as well. But he’s not at home. The phone rings several times, I pick it up.

Unknown: “I know what you and Vorc are up to. I’ll see you around.”

At that moment I hear an explosion and the mansion catches fire. Foolish university professor. I am a vampire and can easily escape a burning building. Back at Vorc’s aparment we decide to try a new scheme.

Lacilius Vorc: “So this declasse criminal professor thinks he can keep me down? Well do not worry, I have another idea. My friend in Transnistria can help me get my thesis recognized at MIT, but for that we need to escape from the city. The remaining figures involved in this, all three of them, will be meeting with “Supreme Leader” Monta tomorrow for a grand opening at the Piatra Neamt University, the most criminal scelerate university that will be. Get there, kill the scoundrels and burn down the university. It will just turn into another criminal seminary of masonic indoctrination. And of course, it will never recognize the Riemann hypothesis.”

The next day I go to the opening, area sealed off by military. Who uses military protection for a university opening. They must be expecting me… or someone like me. I need to improvise.

I get on the top of the nearest building and tie a large rope to it. Meanwhile Monta is giving a speech.

Monta: “I Supreme Leader Mictor Monta and proud to attend the opening of yet another great center of learning. These fine men, lead by future Rector Barbu Bar, will be leading this institution. Long live Romania and the Supreme Leader, me, who has given you all these great opportunities.”
Some people in the crowed cheer: “We cannot live without you, Supreme Leader, you have given us everything.” Socialist propagandist! It’s time to end this.

I swing down with the rope, Indiana Jones style, and within three seconds, all three men lie dead. Victory!

Monta: “It’s the terrorist! Sieze that man!”

I don’t have time to deal with Monta so I just throw a bunch and knock him out cold. I’ll be dealing with him another time. The crowd panics and tries to leave, making it hard to the soldiers to come after me. I go inside, set the explosives and leave. Me and Vorc quickly grab the next train out of the country…

Transnistria

With the help of his friend Ivan, Lacilius Vorc gets his thesis recognized and becomes a professor at MIT. Perhaps this was my mission all along? Indeed. It has all become very clear now. I was sent back to the past to ensure that time travel would be invented. Because without time travel technology I could not be sent back to the past to… ensure that… time travel would be invented? What? This cannot be. Was I really sent back to ensure that time travel would exist so I could be sent back? What is the point of this redundancy? Who is my employer and what does…

At that moment a portal opens and a large creature made up of volatile air manifests.

Lord Ionast: “Am I dreaming again?”
Imperon: “Foolish vampire, no dream this time. I am the last and final vision you will ever see. I am Imperon. The domain of the winds will prevail above all others domains. Fire? Water? Earth?” So that’s what the dreams meant. “They are nothing! A means to a greater end. You have played right into my hands, you have allowed that madman Vorc to set in motion events which will lead to the creation of the time machine. You will see what the research will do. But as I have no need for you anymore… You… Are… Fired!”
Lord Ionast: “What is happening to me?” I notice my body turning slightly transparent.”
Imperon: “For millennia I have sought to control time itself, yet I could not do so without the invention of the time machine in 9143. That is the year you come from. But when I found Lacilius Vorc, I realized that I could speed up its discovery. Your instincts were right all along. The Riemann hypothesis’ proof is necessary for the invention of the time machine. With Vorc, the time machine will be a reality within three hundred years. And you, my little vampire, are expended. You job at the agency no longer exists, which means you don’t exist in this timeline. You are slowly… how shall I put this… fading from existence. Hahahaha! And now, I must get going…”

Imperon teleports away.

I cannot allow this to happen. I’ve been teleported back to die here? No. I will kill Vorc and set things right.

MIT

Lacilius Vorc: “Yes, please send him in. The hero who vanquished the criminal declasse enemies of science. I must speak with him again.”
I enter the office.
Lacilius Vorc: “Ah, my friend… You look a little… off.”
Lord Ionast: “And you, no longer need to sacrifice for your students. You need no longer need to bear the weight of your PhD. I’ve taken care… of everything.” I pull out my knife.
Lacilius Vorc panics.
Lacilius Vorc: “What is this, what are you doing my friend?”
Lord Ionast: “Securing my future, Vorc.”
I stab him in the heart. But nothing happens. Why am I still fading?

Imperon’s voice invades my mind:

Imperon: “Another shall take his place. You only waste your time. You cannot undo what has been set in motion. The Riemann hypothesis is now the Riemann theorem. It is out there forever. You are nothing! Nothing!”
Lord Ionast: “I’ll hunt you to the ends of the space-time continuum, Imperon. Do you hear me? To the ends of the space-time continuum!”

Returning

William, S’trom and Stoner found themselves in a middle of a wartorn field. Much has changed since William has last been in Ukraine. The menacing cloud empire hanged in the air over the country, casting it’s deadly shadow over it. Storm and stone troopers swarmed the lands, pillaging and butchering everything in their path. Meanwhile, terrible creatures of Tu’Mor arose out of the Black Sea, adding to the mayhem. The army of Transnistria tried to resist the assault, but they were failing terribly. To make the matters worse, foreign countries refused to intervene, instead they strengthened their own borders against the coming madness. Ukraine turned into a bloody battlefield. S’trom, William and Stoner found themselves in the middle of such a battle.

Waves upon waves of faceless aberrations crashed against the army of Transnistria. While the Transnistrian regime had superiority in firepower and combat efficiency, the hordes of Tu’Mor were simply endless and unstoppable. What was worse, is that they could not be simply killed. Black blood spilled from the corpses of the fallen enemies, and out of it, new enemies arose. Some of the corpses even shaped themselves into flesh towers, which flailed wildly and crashed into enemies, flattening them. Out of the air, the thunder and stone armies attack, descending down on the Transnistrian army upon transportation platforms, armed with superior technology. They shot lightning bolts at the Transnistrian army, devastating it. Fortunately, Transnistrian Warbirds managed to shoot down most of those platforms, killing the enemies in the process. But for every enemy that fell, many more took his place. The dread skeleton army, enslaved by Tu’Mor since the death of the Seven Headed Shadow, moved with grim purpose towards the Transnistrian army. Even though they managed to shoot down some of the flying citadels, them crashing into the ground caused damage to the landscape that would stain the land for years to come. It was an ecological disaster. Though, after hours of fighting there was not much left to harm. The ground was completely scorched and blackened, no flowers, nothing, not even grass grew on it anymore. Black blood filled the cracked earth. “Forward, Forward!” – commandedo one of the Transnistrian generals. Black tanks moved forward, raining hellfire upon the enemy, annihilating them. “Situation: Tu’Mor.” – shouted the general into the intercom: “Requesting permission to activate reply code: Mort.” “Permission granted. Show them hell, boys.” – the voice from the intercom granted permission. “Commence operation!” – ordered the commander into the intercome. “Right-o.” – replied the Warbird squadron leader: “Move into position men!” A squadron of Warbirds formed a V attack formation, flew over the faceless aberration ranks, and rained down deadly bombs on them. A big bulk of the enemy army was destroyed, but the explosions formed craters, which were filled by the black blood. Moments later, an even larger army appeared out of the bloody pools.

Meanwhile, Imperon was holding a meeting with someone important in the cloud state S’trom. The thunder emperor sat upon his throne, made of pure lightning, the Stormblade firmly gripped by his right hand. At his left side, stood the enforcer, still alive despite numerous setbacks. “Everything is prepared, as you ordered… “emperor” Imperon.” – reported Agent Rook, a representative of the IRS. He wore a suit and tie, and black shades. “Good. Commence operation: clean up.” – ordered Imperon: “By tomorrow morning, we will have control of all trade routes in the world, and have the largest financial empire this world has ever known.” “I told you that you were lying, mister Imperon! Now you will have to go before the jury!” – Ecole Spplh warned the thunder emperor. “Oh shut up… Ecole!” – snapped back Imperon, annoyed.

Meanwhile, the battle raged on. A new wave of faceless aberrations washed over the army, leaving dead bodies in it’s wake. “Pull back!” – ordered one of the generals. The army began to strategically retreat, the artillery fire providing the cover and support that it needed. “We must act now! Allow me to carry out Operation: Black Sky.” – requested the Warbird squadron leader over the intercom. “Permission granted.” – replied the commander: “Clear skies, commander.” The Warbird squadron began to assault the cloud state that loomed directly above the main bulk of faceless aberration army that they now faced. They bombarded the outer defenses with bombs, taking out the defensive turrets, and outmaneuvered the counterattack attempts. In a few brief moments, they located the power core of the city. It was located at the center of the city, heavily guarded obviously. But the Warbird squadron was prepared for this. They had special lightning – seeking miniature nuclear missiles developed earlier this day, to fight against the cloud empire. “Deploy the bomb!” – ordered the Wabird squadron leader, and the missile was fired. It detected the largest source of lightning in the city – the power core, and locked onto it. “Everyone out of here!” – order the Warbird squadron leader, and they began to escape the city. A massive explosion was triggered as the nuclear missile hit it’s target, the power core. The shockwave caught up with the Warbird squadron, destroying quite a few of them. But the city was done for. It began to fall down in free fall. The Transnistrian army was just barely able to get out of the radius of the coming devastation, as the cloud state crashed down and flattened the main bulk of the faceless aberration army. Additionally, there would be no more air support from this one particular cloud city. The remaining faceless aberrations were shot down by the Transnistrian soldiers. “The battle is over!” – some soldiers gasped in disbelief. Hours of fighting against the endless tide made most of them lose hope of ever getting out of this battle alive, but now, after so many hours, it was finally over. “It is over!” – shouted someone, and the soldiers began to cheer. The sun peeked out from behind the clouds, symbolizing hope. But just as the sun symbolized hope, did the dark clouds that moments later covered the skies symbolized despair. An even larger army began to appear on the horizon. This one was composed of more faceless aberrations, but what was worse, they brought massive, shapeless creatures with them. They had no definite body parts, they were more like a mash ups of different body parts, scaled to immense proportions. The soldiers began to despair, when suddenly…

F’nar, Icebane, Stoner, and William, riding upon S’trom, descended upon the faceless army. Using their primordial elemental powers, born at the birth of time, they began to obliterate the enemy in massive numbers. One by one, ten by ten, hundreed by hundred, thousand by thousand. “By fire and rage!” – roared the flame dragon F’nar. “Strength of the earth, crush the nemesis!” – roared Stoner. “Ice, grant my enemies a frozen death!” – roared Icebane. “Thunder and lightning, dance with me!” – roared S’trom. “By blood of all, you will pay!” – yelled the Paragon, jumping off the back of S’trom, firing death from his gun. The tide of battle turned in the favor of the Transnistrian army. “Whoever they are, they are the enemies of our enemies! So, they are our friends! Advance!” – commanded the Transnistrian general. The armies clashed once again in bloody warfare, but this time the Transnistrian regime army had the upper had as they were aided by the elemental dragons and the Paragon. Just as it was looking as if they would win the battle… something terrible happened. A massive, horrifying abomination appeared on the horizon. It appeared to be the same type of being as Tu’Mor’s faceless aberrations were, except it was much larger, with more tentacles, and it’s armor was adorned with skulls and bones. “Rise, servants of the Inner Gods! For so long we have waited deep beneath the world. But now after millennia, we have returned. Once more shall the the banners of Tu’Mor fly over the broken corpse of this world! For Tu’Mor! For the Writhing Throne!” – it telepathically communicated to everyone. Many soldiers collapsed in agony from the mind attack, unable to do anything but scream. “Target that thing! Kill it!” – commanded the Transnistrian general. A battalion of tanks, with still functional operators, opened fire on the abomination. Shells exploded against it, but the aberration appeared to take no damage at all from them. “Come suffering! Enter havoc!” – commanded the general of Tu’Mor’s army in response to the barrage, and many faceless aberrations dug themselves out from the ground, surrounding the Transnistrian army. “We must kill Tu’Mor’s general!” – shouted the Paragon over the fighting. The elemental dragons nodded in response, and began assaulting the faceless abomination, abandoning their current targets. S’trom circled the abomination, and then landed on it’s back and clawed it, causing lots of black blood to spill out. However, the wound simply regenerated in seconds. F’nar incinerated the abomination, scorching it. However, the burn wounds simply healed in moments. Stoner summoned a massive stone boulder above it, and it smashed down on the abomination, breaking it’s bones and flattening it. However, it’s body simply dissolved into black blood, and then reformed near the boulder. Icebane froze the abomination with his mighty frost breath, and then shattered it to a thousand pieces by smashing into it. However, it once again simply dissolved into black blood and reformed. “We can not kill it by conventional means! We must improvise!” – roared S’trom. “Fools! You thought you could strike down the general of Tu’Mor’s army with tricks and sorcery? You thought I could be defeated so easily!? I am Zarr, herald of the Inner Gods!” – everyone heard in their minds, a reply to the attacks made upon the abomination. It grabbed Stoner with it’s massive arm tentacle, squeezing him briefly and then throwing him back, causing him to smash into Icebane and cause both of the to plummet to the ground. It then attempted to grab F’nar, but as he was pretty much pure fire, he could not touch him. So he just flailed his tentacle at him, knocking him down to the ground. S’trom charged up a bolt of thunder meanwhile and the fired it at the abomination, and it surprisingly proved to be effective. As it was locked in place from the pain inflicted by the thunder bolt, S’trom moved away, revealing William flying in a Warbird, plotting it’s course right into the abomination’s head. “Maybe you are the general of Tu’Mor’s armies, but you are still mortal. You are no Inner God. The nuclear energy contained in this Warbird is enough to destroy you ten times over. Now close your eyes and say goodbye.” – the Paragon communicated telepathically to the abomination. “No! I will tear you apart!” – it protested telepathically, as William ejected from the cockpit and landed on S’trom’s back. The other elemental dragons recovered, and took to the air once again. Moments later, the Warbird crashed into the faceless abomination, the nuclear missiles within it detonating, causing a grand explosion. The elemental dragons and the Paragon were barely able to make it out of the blast radius in time. The explosion proved to be deadly to the faceless aberrations and their general, as the nuclear radiation made it impossible from them to regenerated from the black blood. Meanwhile, the Transnistrian army was successfully able to fend off the other attackers with minimal casualties. For now, the battle was won, but at what price? What was once a golden field of wheat in the morning, was now a bloody wartorn battleground, littered with thousands of corpses just a few hours later. The elemental dragons landed in front of the Transnistrian general, and William hopped off S’trom’s back. “I do not know who you are. These… dragons… are just as strange as those air, stone and fleshy creatures. But you killed them. So you are on our side.” – concluded the Transnistrian general. “Indeed we are.” – confirmed the Paragon: “I am William. Our failure is directly responsible for the mayhem that now reigns in this world, but there is no time to lament over our previous failures. Time is of the essence now. Even now, the Inner God Tu’Mor is executing his vile designs in hopes of taking over this world.” “We are at a focal point in time now.” – confirmed S’trom: “The conflict that has lasted for millennia is finally coming to an end, and in the next few dozen hours, the victor of the aeons long conflict will be chosen. Whatever happens, we have fought with honor, and should we fall, we will die with honor. This is the endgame.” “I am aware of the presence of the Inner God Tu’Mor beneath the Black Sea. We have monitored him for a long time now, but he has remained quiet just until a few months ago. When his slumber became restless, strange things began to happen. People reported faceless aberrations with tentacles appearing and kidnapping other people, never to be seen again. What we thought to be a temporary disturbance in his sleep turned out to be him actually finally awakening. We were just now heading to put him down with deadly force, when we were ambushed by his armies. Had you not intervened, we would all be dead now. I thank you, strangers.” – reported the Transnistrian general: “I would be grateful if you could proved further aid.” “Don’t kid us. This is personal, between us and Tu’Mor. Of course we will help you!” – said Icebane, in his roaring voice. “Then we will fight and bleed together, allies.” – said the Transnistrian general: “Name’s Zhekov, by the way.” “Icebane.” – said Icebane, “S’trom.” – said S’trom. “F’nar.” – said F’nar. “Stoner.” – said Stoner. “Strength and honor, allies. We shall gather for war council once the supreme commander of Transnistria arrives him. He should be here within the hour.

“You have failed me!” – raged Tu’Mor telepathically. “My lord.” – replied Zarr: “They… are too… resourceful! With the Paragon and the elemental dragons on their side, we will need to enlist our ancient allies if we are to win this war!” “Fool! We can not enlist them. This world belongs to me, do you hear me!? TO ME ALONE! We will win this on our own. Should you fail me again, Zarr, eternity of suffering awaits you. Should you be victorious, I will spare you that fate, for now.” – Tu’Mor sent a wave of pain thought Zarr’s mind: “The Paragon is but a child. The elemental dragons are old and frail. Even that fool S’trom is nothing to me! NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING! Destroy them all, Zarr! Do NOT fail me again!” “Yes… my Lord. I will grind their bones to dust, this I swear.” – the faceless abomination managed to reply telepathically to his lord, despite the overwhelming pain. “Good.” – Tu’Mor calmed down and stopped mind tortuing Zarr: “But be warned, Zarr, this was the last warning! Now go forth and obliterate them in my name!” “I obey.” – said Zarr, and then his presence in Tu’Mor’s mind faded. Now, Imperon’s presence filled Tu’Mor’s mind. “Yes… lord Tu’Mor?” – he asked, saying the word “lord” with a hint of disdain. “Imperon! Why have you not assisted Zarr in crushing our enemies! Do I sense a double game from you?” – Tu’Mor demanded angrily. “All goes according to plan, Inner God. Soon, we will have no need for your incompetent loonies. Even nore, Agent Rook is moving his forces to Transnistria to begin the final stage of the operation.” – reported the thunder emperor. “Good. Though, I am dispatching A’zerov to monitor your activities closely and keel you well guarded.” – said Tu’Mor telepathically. “Very well. We press on.” – replied Imperon, and cut off the telepathic communication. The immunity of those elemental creatures to mind torture sure is annoying. – thought the Inner God Tu’Mor.

“Imperon, the warheads are ready and waiting. Just give me the word, and Tu’Mor is gone.” – reported agent Rook. “Quiet you fool! We got company.” – replied the cloud emperor Imperon. A dark rift opened, and out of it A’zerov appeared. “Greetings, cloud emperor. Greetings, agent Rook. I see everything is proceeding as planned. Nevertheless, Tu’Mor has dispatched me to oversee the operation and make sure that it is not sabotaged. Victory is at long last within grasp.” – the words filled their minds. “Greetings, A’zerov. I understand the necessity of such actions taken by Tu’Mor. After all, when victory is so close you can not afford the possibility of being betrayed. But fear now, our loyalty is to the great Inner God and him alone. We have prepared a room for you to rest, crossing the dimensional rifts strains the body and mind. You will need rest, especially as the final battle is just hours away.” – the cloud emperor welcomed A’zerov. “I thank you, but my orders are clear. I am not to let you out of my sight.” – replied A’zerov telepathically. “Very well then.” – said Imperon, and then sat down on his throne of lightning. Unlike the elemental planes, sun shone brightly in this world, filling the room with light of the day. “The end begins.” – proclaimed the thunder emperor. Meanwhile, while Imperon was distracting Tu’Mor’s enforcer, agent Rook disappeared into the shadows.

“Attention!” – yelled the Transnistrian general Zhekov: “We have gathered in this room today to make plans for the final confrontation with the Black Sea threat. Today, the future of Transnistria will be decided.” The people gathered in the room applauded, and then took their seats around a round table. The elemental dragons in their humanoid forms were present, along with William and many Transnistrian officials and military leaders. “Supreme Commander Roma will brief you on the details operation: Stormsky.” – said Zhekov, and then took his seat at the round table aswell. Supreme Commander Roma stood up, and a projection of map of Transnistria appeared on the wall behind him. “The mission ahead is hard, no doubt. But this is what we have trained for. This is what we are for. With the awakening of Tu’Mor and appearance of the cloud empire, the whole world is at stake. This is no longer about us, this fight is about the world. While all other countries have refused help, we can not let that stop us. In this fight we will prevail, with help or without it.” – he said in his deep, intimidating voice. The people gathered in the room applauded. Supreme Commander Roma took a laser pointer, and then pointed at the center on the Black Sea on the projecton. “This is the center of the Black Sea. But it is also the location of the head of Tu’Mor’s body. While we do not know the true size of his body, or even to what extent it is buried beneath Transnistria, we believe that shutting down the head will shut down the rest. For this, we will need an elite strike team. While the Transnistrian army will fight upon the shores of the Black Sea against Tu’Mor’s loonies, William, F’nar, S’trom, Stoner and Icebane will paradrop in the middle of the Black Sea and carry out their job.” – he began to explain the strategy, and then adressed the Paragon and the elemental dragons: “You’ve all have been given explosions that were designed to destroy Tu’Mor should he ever awaken. Now is the time to use them. You will need to put all 5 of them on his head, and then get the hell out of there! The explosion will be strong enough to annihilate the head of the beast, but it will also cause a flood of titanic proportions. However, we have no other alternatives. We have already evacuated the survivors of the initial fighting into the northern parts of Transnistria, so nothing except the land and infrastructure will be harmed. While it will take us many years to rebuild what will be destroyed, at least we will be around to rebuild it.” He then pointed at the cloud state S’trom with his laser pointer. “This is our second target. While the bulk of the army will be fighting Tu’Mor, we will deploy all Warbirds we have to strike at the cloud state. It’s fall is vital to our victory. Our scouts have reported the existence of a massive power source at the heart of the city that holds the cloud empire in the skies. The Heart of the Storm, as William and the elemental dragons call it. It will be a suicide attack, but we have no choice. The Warbirds will nuke the Heart of the Storm, bringing the whole empire down. Then, the Transnistrian army will move in to finish off the stragglers. The environmental damage caused by the cloud empire collapsing will be immense, but once again, we have no choice, as we have reasons to believe that cloud emperor Imperon could be far deadlier an opponent than Tu’Mor is.” – explained the Supreme Commander. “Everyone clear?” – he asked. Everyone in the room said: “Aye.” “We begin then. The fate of all hangs in the balance. Operation: Stormsky begins now.” – said Roma with grim determination.

A’zerov monitored the events happening in the throne room of Imperon keenly. The emperor constantly gave out orders to his generals, preparing for a full scale assault upon Transnistria. However, A’zerov did not trust anyone. Especially that shady human, agent Rook. He behaved far too confident for a mortal, especially in the presence of ancient, immortal beings. He is definitely up to no good. – thought Tu’Mor’s enforcer. The emperor stood up from his throne, and then headed to one of the windows leading out of the throne room. Lightning men had no use for conventional doors, as they could fly. “Where are you going?” – demanded A’zerov telepathically. “Excuse me, I gotta take a wee break.” – replied Imperon, and then left the room. How… Unsophisticated… For an emperor. – thought A’zerov, but suddenly his thought process was interrupted. He felt as if thought his mind was severed from his body, and he could no longer telepathically communicated and had no awareness of where Imperon and the others were. What is this evil trickery!? – he thought, but the situation explained itself. Suddenly, many royal imperial guards burst in through the windows, armed with deadly weapons made of thunder and lightning. “Put him down!” – commanded the enforcer, who led the royal guard. The guard moved into position, surrounding A’zerov. Traitors! Just as lord Tu’Mor predicted! – thought A’zerov, and then materialized twin blades in his tentacles, made of same strange metal as his armor. The guard lunged at him, but he made a deadly whirlwind with his blades, cutting down the first wave of attackers. Their thundery essences vanished as their armor collapsed. The rest of the guard retreated back to safe distance. “You separate the wheat from the chaff! Guards, prove yourselves worthy!” – commanded the enforcer, who stayed out of the battle. The second wave of attackers charged A’zerov. Before he could recover and do another whirlwind attack, the guards managed to knock one of the blades out of his tentacles, and wound him, causing him to bleed heavily. This enraged A’zerov, and he took down the rest of the guards with deadly force in a frenzy. “No greater glory that face Tu’Mor’s most trusted servant in single combat.” – said the enforcer, and then drew his own blades. They charged each other, clashing near one of the windows. A’zerov managed to gain the upper hand in the struggle, but the positions were quickly reversed as the enforcer stabbed him in the stomach, causing him to bleed even more. A’zerov’s wounds regenerated quickly, but still caused him immense pain. The enforcer used this opportunity to drop his weapons and then grab A’zerov with his bare hands, choking him. He put his back to the window leading out of the throne room and began to choke him. A’zerov tried to pry the enforcer’s hands away with his tentacles, but in vain. “Lord Tu’Mor will not save you now!” – said the enforcer grimly, then threw A’zerov out of the window.

“What is going on!? Report!” – demanded Tu’Mor telepathically. No response. “A’ZEROV! REPORT TO YOUR LORD!” – demanded the Inner God once again, enraged by his servant’s disobedience. Once again, no response. “Zarr, report!” – demanded Tu’Mor situation report from his field commander. “Lord Tu’Mor!” – responded the faceless abomination: “Our enemy has made a suicidal attack against us! They have lost many soldiers, but they have managed to push us to the shores of the Black Sea. I fear that they may be preparing to make a direct assault against you!” “Fool! You have allowed them upon the holy grounds!? ALLOWED THEM TO DESECRATED THEM!? I will kill you myself once this is over!” – raged Tu’Mor, sending a wave of pain thought Zarr’s body. “My lord, we are doing our best! But the enemy is simply relentless!” – replied Zarr, overcoming the pain. The Inner God Tu’Mor growled menacingly, and then cut off the communcation.

Upon the shores of the Black Sea, war was unfolding. The main bulk of the Transnistrian army staged a direct assault upon Tu’Mor and his armies, taking them by surprise. They employed nuclear weapons, the radiation making it impossible for the faceless aberrations to regenerate from their blood. They quickly managed to gain the upper hand and seize the beach. In response, Tu’Mor intensified the corruption and turned the Black Sea into the black blood. Out of it, new armies of faceless aberrations arose, outnumbering the Transnistrian army ten to one. “We will fight to the bitter end! This is our last stand! Let the glory of this battle echo through the ages!” – announced Transnistrian general Zhekov as he anticipated the incoming battle. The soldiers cheered in response, and prepared for their last stand. Zhekov looked to the skies, and then shouted with all his might as the Tu’Mor’s armies approached: “Upholder of the skies! For too long amongst us has your name been despised! Give us your strength and courage, when we meet our nemesis, upon the shores of the land that used to be the place we called HOME! Our land and faith are raped, but they are going to pay! Grant us your revenge, we are not afraid of death! Let none of them ever, ever more, lay a hopeful gaze upon the skies, upon OUR SKIES!!!!!!!!!!” The armies clashed in a deadly battle.

“There, our target.” – reported William as they approached the center of the Black Sea in a transportational Warbird. The elemental dragons stayed in their humanoid forms, as they somewhat inhibited their powers, making it harder for Tu’Mor to detect them. “Beginning assault… NOW!” – the Paragon communicated over the intercom to the Supreme Commander of Transnistria.

A’zerov crashed into the grounds at the bottom of the spire at the top of which as the throne of thunder. The fall wounded him heavily, breaking most of his bones. It would take a while for them to heal completely. Unfortunately, he did not have time. Agent Rook appeared out of the shadows. “You freaks have delayed us for too long. Now, your time is over.” – he said, and the charged A’zerov. Tu’Mor’s enforcer stood up, but too late, agent Rook crashed into him, sending him tumbling backwards. Rook was too powerful for a simple mortal, way too powerful. “End of the line, lapdog.” – said the agent, and then took out a pistol. A’zerov tried to feebly shield himself with his tentacles, but a bullet to his head put an end to his resistance. Agent Rook took a mobile phone from the pocket of his suit, then entered a number and ordered: “Commence operation.”

Moments later, combatants on the shores of Black Sea, both Transnistrian army and Tu’Mor’s army alike, could only watch in shock as thousands of nuclear bombs littered the skies, heading for the center of the Black Sea.

“NO NO NO! IMPERON… IMPERON!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT… HAVE YOU DONE!?” – Tu’Mor attempted to reach Imperon telepathically. “I am a businessman, Tu’Mor. I do not care about ancient prophecies or legends. Now with your demise and the arrival of my empire into this world, I will control every trade route in the world, effectively monopolizing and centralizing the economy.” – explained the thunder emperor calmly. “IMPERON… SO IT WAS ALL ABOUT MONEY FROM THE VERY START?… YOU WILL DROWN IN THE BLACK BLOOD OF THE WORLD!” – Tu’Mor threatened as the nuclear bombs neared. “I don’t believe so.” – replied Imperon simply.

“The hell?” – wondered William as he saw a nuclear bomb go overhead. “They did what?! Retreat, now!” – commanded S’trom. The Paragon did not need to be told twice, he turned the Warbird around and burned all reserve fuel to reach the maximum possible speed. The coming explosion would be strong enough to devastate the Black Sea and all surrounding area. They were barely able to get out of range of the explosion as the first nuclear bomb detonated.

Thousands of nuclear bombs hit the middle of the Black Sea and detonated, creating a deadly inferno. Tu’Mor’s death cries echoed throughout the world, making men shiver in the dark. The faceless aberrations and Zarr, upon hearing the death cries of their master, retreated back beneath the ground, leaving the Transnistrian army victorious. But now, a massive tidal wave, created by the reckless use of nuclear bombs, approached Ukraine. Crimea was the first to disappear beneath the waves. Meanwhile, Tu’Mor’s dead body fell into gangrene, emitting an awful smell and intensifying the corruption as his decaying tendrils burst from the ground and attacked everything in sight. Meanwhile, after the operation: Stormsky failed catastrophically and the Warbirds were destroyed, with the aid of agent Rook, Imperon staged a surprise assault against the world, shaping Earth’s storms into thunder soldiers. Within days, most of the world was subjugated, and taxes went up to one hundred and fifty percent of the income. Only the battle hardened Transnistrian army, guarding what remained of Romanian and Ukraine, stood between Imperon and complete dominion of Earth.

Prelude: Blood of the North

William stood upon a tall cliff, overlooking thousands of longships preparing for battle. The cold winds of Scandinavia were strong this day. “Winds of Niflheim are on our side, brothers! We shall pillage England, and return to our king with glorious treasures worthy of Gods!” – William inspired the vikings from atop the cliff he stood on. They cheered in response, and began to work twice harder to fill the longships with the supplies that they would need for the coming journey. His loyal wolf, Rimebane, approached. William stroked his black fur, as he oversaw the preparations for war.

Days later, they were sailing the great seas, heading for England. The journey was treacherous, and many ships sank beneath the waves, never to be seen again. But still, though the storms and death, they pressed on. King Haakon would be pleased with the coming bloodshed upon the shores of England.

Few days later, they unexpectedly encountered another armada of longships. They were definitely of Scandinavian origin. Without warning, they suddenly headed directly for William’s army. Archers began to shoot flaming arrows at William’s longships, sinking them. William was wounded badly near the heart with one such arrow. Most of William’s fleet was devastated, but some stragglers made it to a misty island nearby that was definitely not England.

They found out that they had landed upon the shores of Ireland, a land near England. A healer tended to William’s wound, but concluded that it was too grievous for him to heal. “Call Yngvarr to my tent.” – commanded William. Life was beginning to fade away from him. Yngvarr came in and bent on one knee. “My lord, what would you ask of me?” – he bowed his head in respect. “Yngvarr… You have always been my most loyal soldier… and friend. My days are finally at an end. Our brothers were slain by those without honor, betrayed by Haarkon. Yngvarr… I want you to take care of my son – William. The boy is still young, but one day he will grow up to become a leader just as strong as me. Legends say that one of my descendants will be the Paragon – a warrior of legend who will save the world during Ragnarok. Protect my family, Yngvarr… this is my… last… request. Friend.” – uttered William, barely managing to say the few final worlds, and the succumbed to his wound. “I will.” – proclaimed Yngvarr with grim determination.

Prelude: Born of Storms

Before the dawn of time, there was complete chaos. Pure elements raged throughout the universe, making any sort of life impossible. Flames blazed as hot as molten hatred. Storms howled, creating mighty thunders. The skies wept oceans of tears. Earth, wounded by the elemental tempest, writhed in anguish and continuously regenerated. It seemed as if though this elemental mayhem would last forever, but then the Inner Gods came from beyond the universe. They shaped the elements into beings that would serve them. Out of molten hatred, F’nar was born. Out of the wounded earth, Stoner was born. The oceans of tears froze over, and Icebane was born. Out of the howling storms, S’trom was born. But there was also another being born of storms. Imperon. He was the will of the primordial chaos that existed long before the Inner Gods came, and would exist for aeons after they were gone. The elements created Imperon with the sole purpose of casting down the Inner Gods one day. The Inner Gods, in their arrogance, failed to notice the existence of Imperon. For millennia, the Inner Gods awaited, as life appeared in the universe. They chose an infant world – Earth. They would feed on it like parasites until it was sucked dry, then they would move on to the next world. The Lord of the Storms was granted dominion over the eastern part of the world. S’trom was the first to rebel against the Inner Gods, but it was Imperon’s doing. Over the ages, the elemental beings grew increasingly dissatisfied with the tyranny of Inner Gods, as they subjugated the young world and it’s inhabitants, forcing them to serve. Imperon awaited a critical moment, and at that moment he began to plant the seeds of doubt in S’trom’s mind. S’trom saw the tyranny of the Inner Gods – and rejected it. Soon after, he convinced his brothers to fight the Inner Gods, and thus the great primordial war began. Unwilling to face defeat, the Inner Gods created beings in their image – the faceless aberrations that would haunt Earth for centuries to come. They were led by a horrible amalgamation of flesh – Zarr. One particular faceless aberration, A’zerov, rose through the ranks though unfaltering loyalty to the Inner Gods. The elemental dragons fought against the Inner Gods and their servants with zeal, but they were unable to defeat them. Advised by Imperon, S’trom came up with the idea of a blade that would be strong enough to destroy the Inner Gods, it would feed upon their very essence. He would name it… the Stormblade. In a subsequent fight with the Inner Gods, S’trom was able to capture a small amount of an Inner God’s blood into a vial. He then took it to a watery wasteland that was out of time. There, the primordial elemental storms still raged. S’trom solidified the blood, turning it into a strange metal out of which he forged the blade. Then the primordial chaos infused it with pure power. And thus the Stormblade was born. The Inner Gods were unable to withstand it’s power. One by one, they fell, their essences feeding the Stormblade’s endless thirst. Thirst for souls. The remaining Inner Gods hatched a plan – they would corrupt the mind of S’trom, creating a split personality – M’orts, that would be loyal to them and them alone. In the following battles, many more Inner Gods fell until only Tu’Mor and the Seven Headed Shadow remained. In one of the battles, they were able to birth insanity within S’trom’s mind – M’orts. M’orts quickly took over, becoming the dominant personality, and turned on his brothers. In the final battle, Tu’Mor was wounded heavily and fell into a regenerative slumber beneath the Black Sea, where he would remain for aeons. His body, without the control of his mind, grew gargantuan in size and bloated. But the Inner Gods won the battle. Betrayed by S’trom, the elemental dragons and their elemental subjects were locked away in the elemental planes for all eternity. The Seven Headed Shadow, weakened heavily by the war, also retreated into his own elemental plane – the realm of the shadowy forest, where he would indulge in decadence until the day that the Paragon would come and kill him. Thus, the chain of events that would lead to Imperon gaining complete dominion over the world began.

Prelude: The Calling Blaze

F’nar was born out of the primordial fires of hatred. As the firstborn elemental dragon, he was the eldest and most powerful of them all. He shaped the rest of the primordial flames into armies of fire, and led with with ferocity and cruelty against the enemies of Inner Gods. Many worlds fell beneath the shadows of flame before the Inner Gods finally arrived on Earth, a suitable world for their parasitic needs. When they subjugated Earth and it’s population F’nar was granted the dominion of it’s southern hemisphere, which would turn into a giant desert under his rule. Unfortunately, F’nar was left with nothing to do. No worlds to conquer. Nothing to fight, nothing to kill. Over the centuries he grew dissatisfied with the lack of action. Finally, an opportunity arose. “We will cast down the Inner Gods, and be free to do whatever we want to do!” – said S’trom, the Lord of the Storms. The elemental dragons, due to their brash nature, were quick to agree. Aeons would pass before they would become wise and not act impulsively. The war against the Inner Gods gave F’nar an opportunity that he has always longed for: to fight a nearly invulnerable enemy, and prevail. While the direct assaults on the citadels of the Inner Gods were most unsuccessful, F’nar always won the battles and minor skirmishes against the faceless aberration servants of the Inner Gods. One by one, the generals of Inner Gods fell before the relentless onslaught of his armies of flame. As the war raged on, S’trom forged the blade of monstrous powers – the Stormblade. With the Stormblade on their side, the Inner Gods started to fall before the elemental dragons. But then the unthinkable happened, S’trom betrayed them. The war ended with Tu’Mor knocked out, and the elemental dragons imprisoned within the elemental planes. F’nar was cast down into the Seven Headed Shadow’s realm of dark forests, where he would spend the next few aeons fighting the Inner God. Eventually, with the aid of the skeleton army, the Seven Headed Shadow was able to gain the upper hand and destroy F’nar’s armies of fire. The great flame dragon was forced to go into hiding, until one day the Paragon came.

Prelude: The Bane of Ice

Icebane was born when the powers of the Inner Gods froze over the oceans of tears wept by the skies. As an elemental dragon, he was entrusted control of endless ice armies by his Inner God masters. Icebane, under the command of the Inner Gods, annihilated many worlds in his path as the Inner Gods searched for a planet they could feed off – which they would find after leaving a trail of devastation across the infant universe. When they arrived on Earth, Icebane was given the dominion of the northern hemisphere – which he would turn into a frozen paradise, where he would rule his armies from a frozen throne. As the Inner Gods began to feed off the infant world, Icebane found himself doing manual labor for the Inner Gods – he found himself gathering souls to feed the hunger of the Inner Gods rather than conquering worlds. This objected his views – which he came to call the “northern way of life.” When S’trom forged the Stormblade and came up with a plan to overthrow the tyrant dictatorship of the Inner Gods, Icebane was one of the first to join in on the plan. The great dragon of frost led his armies against the Inner Gods, winning many a battle. The northern hemisphere was the first to be cleansed of the regime of the Inner Gods. As the war drew to it’s conclusion, the desperate plan of the Inner Gods worked and S’trom went insane and turned on his brothers. As a result, Icebane’s being was also split into two under the influence of the Inner Gods, and he was cast down into the elemental plane of ice. There, he waged an endless war against his other half, until one day he was frozen into a gigantic ice statue, and the other half became a pylon. They remained in that stay for aeons until the day that the Paragon arrived.

Prelude: The Strength of the Earth

Stoner, like the other elemental dragons, was born when the Inner Gods came and shaped the primordial chaos into their servants. However, unlike his brothers, Stoner never was violent. He discovered some magical things that he could smoke, and they would transport him into a world of happiness and unicorns. There, he would spend days with his unicorn friends, invader Zerk, and Cap’n Crunch looking for the mystical caramel mountain. The Inner Gods were not happy with this. They constantly took away the magical things of Stoner and hide them from him. When the Inner Gods found Earth, Stoner was granted dominion of the western part of the world. There, he would lie in grassy fields for days, consuming lysergic acid diethylamide and adventuring with his friends. Though one day, the Inner Gods got fed up with his laziness and took away the magical things once and for all. Of course, this angered Stoner and he joined S’trom in his rebellion. The mighty stone dragon used his formidable might to obliterate the armies of the Inner Gods and stomp out their corruption influence wherever he found it. When the war came to it’s conclusion and S’trom betrayed his brothers, Stoner was imprisoned within the elemental plane of stone and earth. However, he did not mind, as he stole his stash from one of the citadels of the Inner Gods. It would be enough to keep him in world of happiness for all eternity, adventuring with his friends, until the day that the Paragon appeared in the elemental plane of stone and rock.

Prelude: Black Blood of the World

The Inner Gods were not of this world. They were not even of this universe, our even this reality for that matter. They came from somewhere far beyond. On their native world, a proto binary planet, such beings as Tu’Mor and the Seven Headed Shadow were but servants to far greater powers. They spent every hour, every moment fighting for survival, abused constantly by their cruel masters. When an opportunity presented itself, Tu’Mor was the first to use it. After backstabbing his master, he escaped through a dimensional rift that led apparently to nowhere. When other masters found out, they were furious. To escape being executed for the crimes committed by their fellow servant, the other Inner Gods followed Tu’Mor into the rift. Their masters closed the rift, so that the Inner Gods could never return and would be forever lost in the abyss. They were right, to an extend. The Inner Gods spent aeons wandering aimlessly in a void, until they finally arrived at a place where a primordial elemental storm raged. They then used their powers to shape the raging torrent of elements into the elemental dragons, their lieutenants and enforcers in this new universe that they had created. Unfortunately, it was completely lifeless, so the Inner Gods and their lieutenants bid their time, awaiting until evolution would create the life that they needed to feed. After aeons, life finally began to appear. However, it was pathetic compared to the life that dwelt on their native world. Mostly mindless, microscopic creatures. Enraged, the Inner Gods and the elemental dragons began searching for a planet that had the kind of life that the Inner Gods needed to feed. Along the way, they left a trail of devastation, annihilating many worlds and primitive civilizations that they found unsuitable for their needs. Eventually, they found the infant world of Earth. It was not like the other planets – by the time they arrived, it already had great civilizations and nations. When they descended on Earth, the natives came to call them the Inner Gods. They built temples in their names, worshiping them and their lieutenants. But the aeon long hunter of Inner Gods was impossible to satisfy. Once they decided that mere worshiping was not enough to sate their hunger, they began to devour souls of the natives. The elemental dragons and their armies enforced a strict regime, where any disobedience was punished by having your soul devoured by the Inner Gods. But still, it was not enough. One day the Inner Gods ordered every soul in the world to be gathered so that they could devour them, and then continue looking for other worlds that would suit their needs. However, what the elder beings did not foresee was that their lieutenants were not like them. They could never be the same. Despite waging war in the name of the Inner Gods, they had the traits that were foreign to the Inner Gods – honor, courage, determination, hope. When they realized that their creators were nothing more than overgrown parasites, they sought to cast them down back into the black void that had spawned them. To this end, S’trom forged the Stormblade, the sole weapon in existence that could defy the power of the Inner Gods. A massive war broke out – the great primordial war. But in the end, the Inner Gods were defeated. Only Tu’Mor and the Seven Headed Shadow survived, but they were heavily wounded. Tu’Mor would spend centuries buried beneath the Black Sea, dreaming, bidding his time. His body would grow massive and bloated, and extend far beneath the world. His bloated tendril would corrupt the lands surrounding him – planting the seeds of fear, hate, violence, despair, doubt, and rage. Eventually, a new race evolved on Earth – the humans. They settled upon the corrupted lands, unaware of the dark entity that slept beneath them. The humans would evolve to become violent and warlike in time, waging endless wars amongst each other. Brother would kill brother. Unbeknownst, the parasite god fed off the souls of the dead, growing stronger with each soul consumed. As he regained his power, so did his corrupting influence worsen. Wars became more violent with each century, culminating in the Second World War – the darkness within history. Eventually, Tu’Mor became powerful enough to return. A plan that was thwarted by his once servant – Imperon. But, if it took the Stormblade, the anomaly within reality, to destroy the elder beings, could a barrage of nuclear bombs accomplish the same?

Prelude: Lengthening Shadows

A’zerov, along with Zarr, was the firstborn of the Kan’Cer race – the same race that the surface dwellers would come to refert to as the faceless aberrations. Created in the most desperate hour of the Inner Gods, A’zerov became their most trusted servant. Fiercely loyal to his masters, A’zerov fought furiously in the great primordial war, killing many generals of the armies of the elemental dragons. Eventually, when his masters were defeated, A’zerov was left alone in the world, without purpose. He wandered the world for many centuries, learning about it. Eventually, he met the first human civilizations. When he came into contact with them, many of them believed him to be a god. He learned from them what the Inner Gods could not teach him – unity. The Inner Gods fell because even as the elemental dragons united against them, they still refused to work together. Some of them even plotted against each other, wanting to use the great primordial war as an opportunity to kill their fellow Inner Gods so that they could rule Earth and feed of it as the sole Inner God. Inspired by the young race, A’zerov gathered the scattered remnants of the Kan’Cer race that was mostly wiped out during the great primordial war, and united them into a great empire. For centuries, A’zerov has built his underground empire, awaiting the return of his masters. When the ancient one, Tu’Mor, returned, he found vast armies at his disposal, commanded by his former, still loyal servants. While Zarr led the armies when the assault on Transnistrian began, A’zerov remained in the shadows, doing only the most important missions for Tu’Mor. When the ancient enemy of the Inner Gods – Imperon, returned, pledging loyalty once again to his former masters, A’zerov was weary of him. His suspicions were confirmed when Tu’Mor dispatched him to monitor Imperon’s activities. A’zerov was mortally wounded by agent Rook. Mortally wounded… but not done yet.

The Fields of Blood

An emergency meeting was held in a heavily guarded war camp just south of the ruins of Kiev. “This is a catastrophe!” – someone shouted: “The cloud empire had help! It was an inside job! I blame the IRS! No one could of have gotten their hands on nukes except those dishonorable thieves!” A commotion erupted in the command tent. All surviving Transnistrian generals and government men were present, along with the elemental dragons and the Paragon. “While I agree.” – began Supreme Commander Roma: “We can not divert our attention to the IRS right now. We need to bring the cloud empire down, by any means necessary, or we are as good as dead. Once we have dealt with them, we will turn our attention to the IRS. Their time will come, believe me.” “We need to take the IRS down first, damn it! With the nukes on their side, we have no chance of taking down the cloud empire! If we begin to assault it, every god damned nuke from across the ocean will be dropped on us!” – raged a government man, unable to control his emotions. More officials supported him, just as angrily. “Everyone calm yourselves! We can not, and do not have the manpower to disarm those nuclear bombs right now, so we will have to recruit the best hackers that our country has to shut down the nuclear launch areas temporarily. We will have two to three hours at best before they come back on line and level us. What we are in now is a suicide mission, but it may as well be the last hope that this world has against the cloud emperor. We will assault the cloud state S’trom with everything we have got. Every single soldiers will join the right, every single rocket will be fired!” – Supreme Commander Roma explained the plan. “Why should we do that? We could just do nothing and join the cloud emperor! After all, he will need us, as his goal is not to rule over a dead world, and we will get to keep our lives!” – protested one of the government man. Some people supported him, and a heated debate erupted. Roma shouted as loud as he could over the fighting: “Listen! This is what they want! They can not defeat us if we are united! But divided, we have already failed! Just listen to what madness you are saying! Join a fascist dictator that has subjugated the world!? I say no. I, for one, would rather go down fighting with the blood of enemies on my hands than live as a slave!” The fighting calmed for the moment, and some government officials listened to Supreme Commander Roma’s words of reason. Then one government man protested: “Serve the one who has subjugated us? Has Romania not done the same to us just a few months ago? We basically became Romania’s whipping boys, and became completely dependent on the decisions made by the Romanian government, not our government! Not even the unified Transnistrian government! You are just as bad as the cloud emperor!” Others joined him. “Listen! We can not fight amongst ourselves at the critical moment!” – the Paragon stood up and interrupted everyone: “We are up against an enemy that OVERPOWERS us in everything! In numbers, in firepower, in strategy, in resources! YOU NAME IT! He IS more powerful than us. WE, the people who sit RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW are the only ones who stand between Imperon and his complete victory! There is not much hope of victory, but still I say we FIGHT! We fight to the last breath, to last soldier! We fight not for glory, we fight not for victory, we fight no for conquest, we fight for this world. OUR WORLD. We can not let that fascist bastard dictator that sits on his “throne” of thunder enslave us, enslaves our families! Our loved ones!” The people in the room were visibly moved by William’s dramatic speech. “We will fight to avenge all those who fell! FOR THE BLOOD OF ALL!”

Few hours later, the Transnistrian army gathered on the fields beneath the cloud state S’trom. They stood in defiance against the thunder emperor. Supreme Commander Roma came forth, holding the ancient warhorn of Kievan lords in his right hand. He looked to the skies – is this beautiful land not worth fighting for. After a dramatic pause, he blew the ancient warhorn. The majestic honk echoes through the land. In reply, nothing happened. The soldiers began to sweat, anticipating what would happen next. “Maybe we should retreat before it’s not too late?” – one of them wondered. Then it did happen. First, a hangar in the side of the cloud city opened, and platforms, manned by thunder and stone shocktroopers, began to descend from it. Then the ground shook, and moments later the Transnistrian army was surrounded by legions of faceless aberrations, who had joined Imperon since Tu’Mor’s apparent demise. One aberration towered above all others – Zarr, who, as the firstborn of the Kan’Cer race, had far greater regenerative powers than his brethren and managed to survive his previous encounter with the Transnistrian army. Finally, the clear blue skies turned dark as storm clouds gathered. A heavy rain began to pour down. Thunder and lighting clashed in the skies. Then Imperon’s thundering voice echoed through the skies:“So, the great Transnistrian army makes it’s final stand? A pity you did not join me. You were, after all, the greatest army on Earth. But no matter, soon all will bow down before me. Subjects, annihilate them!” In reply, Supreme Commander Roma yelled with all his might: “THIS IS OUR FINAL STAND! WHAT HAPPENS HERE WILL ECHO THROUGH THE AGES! REGARDLESS OF OUTCOME, THEY WILL KNOW THAT TODAY WE FOUGHT WITH HONOR! WE FOUGHT FOR THE FREEDOM AND SAFETY OF OUR PEOPLE! REMEMBER, DEFENDERS! FEAR IS OUR GREATEST ENEMY ON THIS BEFOULED LAND. STEEL YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR SOULS WILL SHINE BRIGHTER THAN A THOUSAND STARS! THE ENEMY WILL FALTER AT THE SIGHT OF YOU AS THE MIGHT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS ENVELOPS THEM!” Soldiers cheered, supporting Roma’s motivational speech, and prepared for battle. “You stand upon my grounds now, human. The grounds of the thunder empire! The Paragon will not save you. Nothing will save you.” – the thunder emperor stated. “Imperon! I swore to see all enemies of Transnistria dead and their armies disbanded! I will finish today what Mictor Monta had started!” – Supreme Commander Roma attempted to demoralize Imperon. “Transnistria could of have been my greatest weapon, Supreme Commander. A force of economy that would wash over this world and deliver this world into a new age of recession. But now, you are more trouble than you are worth. Face your end, middle class!” – the thunder emperor thundered, and then retreated back to his throne room.

The first wave of Kan’Cerian faceless aberrations clashed against the Transnistrian army. This time they fought way more fiercely, for this was the final battle. Brutal warfare erupted. Some of the Kan’Cerian monsters grabbed the soldiers and flayed them alive, leaving their skinless, bloody carcases screaming in pure agony. They then strangulated other soldiers with the skins of their former comrades, brothers in arms. The surviving soldiers were visibly demoralized by the nature of the battle, and began to fall back to better strategic positions, losing considerable ground. “Stand your ground! Do not let the enemy through!” – commanded Supreme Commander Roma, and then joined the battle himself, shooting to death many a Kan’Cerian. Suddenly, Tu’Mor’s decayed tendrils erupted from the ground, grabbing some soldiers and dragging them down beneath the earth. A terrible fate awaited them, as they would be tortured there for years to come. “We can not remain outside!” – yelled one of the Transnistrian soldiers desperately. “Commence Operation: Shieldwall!” – Roma commanded urgently into the intercom. “Roger roger. Operation commencing.” – replied a voice, distorted with static. A battalion of tanks and armored transports appeared from behind a hill, and began raining down hellfire upon the ranks of Kan’Cerian troops. The soldiers that survived the initial onslaught retreated to the tanks and transports and loaded into them, preventing any more of them from suffering from the same fate as their allies did. The barrage from the tanks scattered the ranks of the Kan’Cerian troops, and they had to fallback to regroup. Meanwhile, as the platfroms from the cloud state descended, anti air guns from the transports opened fire on them. A large percentage of them were shot down, and they crashed into the retreating Kan’Cerians, crushing them to death. As the platforms were super high tech, the explosions from them crashing into the ground were so powerful that they rendered the ability of the faceless aberrations to regenerated useless. They died a final, permanent death. “Do not fall back! ATTACK!” – raged Zarr, and then picked up one of the retreating soldiers with his tentacle, crushing him to death. This demonstrated to the rest of the retreating Kan’Cerians that Zarr meant business. They turned around, and charged the Transnistrian army once again. They threw themselves against the tanks in vain, dying in the process. Unfortunately, the black blood spilled from them was acidic in nature, and so it melted the armor of the tanks. With each new wave of the Kan’Cerian troops, the armor of the tanks grew ever weaker. Supreme Commander Roma noticed this fact, and altered his tactics: “Battalions! Retreat to the top of the hill! Do not give them quarter!” The tanks and the transports moved to the top of the hill, and began cutting down ranks of faceless aberrations with ease. The elevated ground gave them a much needed strategic advantage over the forces of Zarr. “I will crush you myself!” – Zarr yelled, and began to lumber towards Roma’s battalions, stepping on his own troops and crushing them. “Target the big fat one! Open fire!” – commanded the Transnistrian general. The tanks opened fire on the faceless aberrations general, aiming for the head. They blew a hole in his head, blowing out his brains. The general stopped dead in his tracks for a brief moment, but then the wound magically regenerated, and he continue forward. “Sir, what should we do?” – asked a tank commander nervously. “We will fight. We must buy the Paragon more time.” – was the only reply that Supreme Commander Roma could give.

Final Hour

Meanwhile, William and the elemental dragons stormed the cloud state S’trom. While the Transnistrian army and Supreme Commander Roma were distracting the enemy with their brash assault, the Paragon and the elemental dragons sneaked inside the state through an empty hangar. When they got out of it onto the main streets, hell broke loose. The elemental dragons, enraged by centuries of imprisonment, unleashed death upon Imperon’s lackeys. This was the endgame now. S’trom unleashed a mighty lightning storm, devastating the aerial troops, while F’nar burned the marble buildings of the cloud state to ashes. Stoner used his pure strength to crush the defending cloud state guards, as Icebane froze his enemies and then shattered them. The Paragon, now that the elemental dragons granted him a portion of their powers once again, was an unstoppable force. He dual wielded blades of flame and ice, becoming a whirling death. The encroaching troops stood no chance against him as he unleashed thunder and lightning against them. The group moved towards Imperon’s marble spire, annihilating everything that stood in their way. Once the enemy regrouped and began trying to stop the Paragon and the elemental dragons in an more organized fashion, the elemental dragons began attacking with even greater ferocity. In a berserk rage of sorts, they tore apart the enemies. Finally, they reached the steps that led to the very throne of the thunder empire. “You there! Halt! In the name of the thunder emperor, you shall not pass!” – the enforcer appeared, stopping them. “Out. Of. My. WAY!” – William snapped, as this was not his first encounter with the enforcer. He advanced towards the enforcer grimly, readying his blades. The enforcer also readied his blades. The elemental dragons tried to intervene, but the Paragon stopped them: “No, this fight is mine.” “You, the warrior of legend? A weakling is what you are! A pathetic insect that is only fit to be crushed! I will teach you your place.” – the enforcer taunted William. “I SAID!” – William growled menacingly, as he approached the enforcer. “OUT. OF. MY. WAY!” – he finished, swinging his blades. The enforcer attempted the parry the strike with his own blades, but the elemental blades cut through his blades and his armor as if though they were made from butter. The enforcer looked shocked for a brief moment, and then his armor collapsed to the ground, and his essence vanished. He was done. “Continue.” – said the William, and then he and his allies entered the spire. The Heart of the Storm loomed menacingly over the spire.

Upon the lower floors of the spire, they met elite soldiers of the thunder emperor’s army. They were far more deadly than the usual troops. Few of them were able to wound the elemental dragons. Insignificantly, but still wound. The Paragon and his allies cut down the resistance, and then continue forth. They came to a locked door that led to what supposedly was the stair that ascended to the upper floors. “I hate doors.” – commented William, and then, with superhuman might, knocked it down with a kick. Inside the room, many men in suits were gathered. “The IRS scum!” – said the Paragon: “Your kind is a blight upon this world!” “We are working for the good of the world! If you do not see it, Imperon will make you!” – one of the suitmen protested. “I will deal with you later, for now, scurry. Scum.” – said William. As if to agree with what the Paragon had said, S’trom roared, and then fired a few lightning bolts from his mouth at the suitmen. The bolts missed them, but it made the suitmen panic and run out of the room, through escape exits. “Press on.” – said William, and then began to ascend the stairway that was located right in the middle of the room. The elemental dragons followed him through the door, completely destroying it in the process as it was not designed with dragons in mind.

They advanced through the spire with grim intent, destroying everything that stood in their path. Finally, they reached what appeared to be the uppermost room. However, it was not the throne room. Suddenly, Imperon appeared in front of them. “Greetings, Paragon. Greetings, elemental dragons.” – he faked politeness. “Imperon… We should of have killed you during the primordial war!” – stated F’nar angrily. “We thought you one of us, Imperon, you were like a brother to us!” – said Icebane. This comment had an effect on the thunder Imperon, as he lost control of his emotions for the first time and snapped: “I had always been with you, but I was NEVER one of you! You said, Imperon do this, Imperon do that! Imperon, the cool guy who always does the dirty work! And when I was locked away with that madman S’trom for aeons, did any of you do a damn thing about it!? I was the one who was betrayed, not the betrayer!” “I was never in control of my actions since Tu’Mor infected me with that parasite – M’orts!” – S’trom snapped back. “And who is to blame for that!? ONLY YOURSELF!” – replied Imperon. “Everyone calm down! We can still end this without bloodshed” – Stoner attempted to interfere. “Oh no, there will be bloodshed. You will all die!” – proclaimed Imperon, and then drew the Stormbringer. S’trom lunged at him instantly, but his throat was pierced by the accursed blade. “S’trom! Brother! NOOO!” – raged F’nar: “Oh… YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS!” The great fire dragon lunged at Imperon, attacking him with fire. But Imperon simply swung his damned blade and F’nar’s fiery head came off clean. This caused Stoner to enrage. Finally, after millennia of calmness, he felt rage. He roared and jumped directly as Imperon, and was cut vertically by the Stormblade. He fell dead. Icebane jumped back, and prepared an attack that would freeze the thunder emperor. But before he could finish, Imperon lunged at him and cut him down. “The millennia long conflict is over. I am the victor.” – announced Imperon, and then stepped on a slightly raised platform at the middle of the room. “I will spare your life, Paragon. After all, you were my most useful servant. But be warned, make sure you never cross my path again!” – he said, and then a vortex of energy appeared around him, and he disappeared. No… No! What now!? – William thought desperately. “Paragon…” – whispered the dying ice dragon. “Icebane! Hold still, you will still live!” – William rushed to his friend and attempted to tend to his wounds. “My wounds… are too great. Take this last blessing of us. Finish what we had began. Avenge us all.” – said Icebane, and then died. Suddenly, a miracle happened. The bodies of the elemental dragons began to change shape. After moments, four elemental forces were present in the room – pure flame, pure wind, pure water, and pure earth. They circled the Paragon, and then channeled themselves into him, and then disappeared. This power… It is… More than anyone can bear. – thought William as he felt an enormous amount of power surge through him. “I am the Paragon.” – he said.

Endgame

William used the platform in the middle of the room to teleport himself to the throne of thunder. Upon it, Imperon sat, with the Stormblade in hand. “William! Have you come to share the fate of your friends!” – asked the thunder emperor. “I have come to dethrone you, tyrant. This is the beheading of a regime!” – replied the Paragon. “Ah. So the world’s vaunted justice has finally arrived? Shall I lay down the Stormblade and throw myself at your mercy, Paragon?” – Imperon stood up from his throne and descended the steps to the middle of the throne room, to William. “I will grant you a swift death. More than can be said for the billions you’ve slain.” – was the Paragon’s reply. “So be it.” – said Imperon, and lunged into battle. William conjured two blades, made of pure fire and thunder. The Stormblade clashed with them, but was not able to break them. William used this opportunity to kick Imperon’s stomach plate with his boot, doubling him over. Imperon was taken by surprise as the Paragon hit him in his head armor plate, which was shaped into a crown, with the hilt of his thunder blade, deforming it. This enraged Imperon, and with a sheer surge of will, he regained control and knocked William back against a wall. The Paragon smashed into it, causing it to crack. “Die!” – growled the emperor and charged him, but William was able to roll out of harm’s way. Imperon smashed into the wall, causing it to crack even further, and was stunned for a moment. William used this opportunity to conjure a massive ice bolt, and fire it at the stunned thunder emperor. It hit him in the back with such force that the wall completely broke, revealing the burning cloud state, and Imperon was sent flying out of his throne room. But William did not have time to recuperate, as the emperor arose, still holding the Stormblade. “You, and your world, are doomed!” – he said.

Supreme Commander Roma was one of the few remaining Transnistrian warriors left on the field after just a few dozen minutes. Zarr reached the formation of the tanks, which were unable to defeat him. He put a swift end to the barrage. The surviving soldiers occupied a broken down tank and made it their fortress; now was the last stand. The legions of faceless aberrations charged them, overwhelming them. “No hope, for any of us.” – Roma concluded.

“You are less than dust, fit only to be wiped from my throne room!” – Imperon snarled as William but a dent in his chest armor plate with a vicious blade strike. “Not likely!” – replied the Paragon, locking blades with the thunder emperor once again. The duel come to a stalemate, with neither of combatants being able to gain the upper hand. Meanwhile, guards were beginning to recover, and advanced towards the spire. Reinforcements would come soon. “The Stormblade hungers!” – growled Imperon, and then forced William back. He prepared to deliver a killing blow with the swing of his mighty blade of storms, but the Paragon parried it with his dual blades. The elemental blades were a pure force of primordial chaos, since the elemental dragons channeled all their power into William. “Talking shit doesn’t mean a thing when you’ve got nothing else to say!” – William said, and then kicked Imperon’s hand with his boot, knocking the Stormblade out of his hands. As the Stormblade landed right near the hole in the wall created by earlier fighting, dangerously close to falling out of the throne room, Imperon made a mad dash for it. William almost beat him to it, but Imperon electrified him with a thunderbolt just before he was able to grab the Stormblade, momentarily stunning him. With the Stormblade once again in his hands, the Paragon and the thunder emperor began exchanging blows once again. “There is no hope, no future! All life is doomed!” – yelled Imperon and made an enraged strike with the Stormblade. A critical mistake. He left an opening for a split second, and William pierced his dented chest armor plate. The thunder emperor appeared shocked, as he interrupted his assault, and then took two steps backwards. His lightning essence began to leak out of the wound. “You have done NOTHING! I will tear this world APART!” – he yelled, and then swiftly cast a spell, disappearing.

The Heart of the Storm! That’s the only place he could of have retreated to! – William concluded moments later, and then hurried outside. Cutting down many guards on his way out, William found an abandoned transportation platform. He hijacked it, and then began ascending to the Heart of the Storm, above the spire and the throne room. A massive multi level levitating platform housed the Heart of the Storm, keeping it in place. When William reached the top of the Heart of the Storm on his transportation platform and jumped down on the uppermost platform, he found Imperon standing right on the bridge that led to the Heart, draining power from it. “Do you see it, William!? The power of the howling storm belongs to me! Now, watch as your world comes to an end!” – taunted Imperon, and then turned around, the eye sockets of his deformed headpieces shining with the brightest thunder and lightning. The Heart of the Storm overloaded, beginning to shoot volatile blasts of thunder from itself. The cloud state, beneath, began to fall down and collapse.

“You are completely mad!” – yelled William at Imperon. “MAD!? MAD!? THIS IS… POWER!” – replied the thunder emperor and shot a massive lightning bolt at William. The Paragon was not able to avoid it in time and took the full brunt of the assault. “MY POWER! – POWER ABSOLUTE!” – Imperon prepared to finish William.

“You speak of power yet you know nothing of it.” – suddenly echoed within both Imperon’s and the Paragon’s minds. A’zerov materialized between them, completely healed of their wounds. “A’zerov! Tu’Mor’s puppet! I should of have killed you myself!” – said Imperon and fired the lightning bolt that was meant for William at A’zerov. It hit A’zerov, but surprisingly, he did not even flinch. “Tu’Mor! I grant you life anew! REBORN IN TWILIGHT FLAMES!” – yelled A’zerov, and then a dramatic transformation began to take place. A’zerov’s body warped heavily, and then was transformed into a vaguely humanoid being with hair of tendrils and other Kan’Cerian characteristics. “Imperon! You, backstabbing parasite! Face total end!” – said Tu’Mor. The thing beneath the Black Sea was Tu’Mor’s form after many millennia of being tormented by cancer that was caused by waste being dumped into the Black Sea. This was his true, primal form. A’zerov had sacrificed himself to grant his master new life. “You… ARE NOTHING!” – growled Imperon, supercharged by the Heart of the Storm, and lunged into battle with Tu’Mor. He attempted to strike the Inner God with the Stormblade, but missed. Tu’Mor used his powers to life Imperon in the air and begin to suck his already seeping lightning essence. By this point, Imperon completely snapped from the power that he was consuming from the Heart of the Storm, and began laughing manically. He easily overpowered Tu’Mor’s magic, breaking free. He then charged Tu’Mor again, and this time managed to sever the Inner God’s right arm with the Stormblade. Tu’Mor roared in pain, but the arm almost instantly regenerated. “I am a GOD! Who… are you!?” – Tu’Mor taunted Imperon, and then lit up his hands with dark purple flames and tried to attack Imperon. “I AM THE POWER INCARNATE! YOU ARE NOTHING BUT THE SHADOWS OF THE PAST!” – he replied, and then slashed the Inner God horizontally with the Stormblade. Tu’Mor’s head came off clean. “You are done, Tu’Mor, you are done! And now… “Paragon”… You will die!” – he said, and advanced towards the Paragon. William tried to get up, but Imperon already swung his blade, when suddenly… a bullet hole appeared in his chest armor plate. A figure appeared out of the shadows, firing more bullets, piercing Imperon’s armor. “You are not the sole wielder of a godslayer’s power, Imperon! Behold!” – yelled the figure, and advanced towards the thunder emperor, firing non stop. The final bullet put through Imperon’s crown silenced the mad emperor’s maniacal laughter. “No life – you are dead.” – said Lord Raiden Negue Ionast, and then helped the Paragon William to his feet.

Epilogue: A Dream of Endless War

With the Heart of the Storm overloaded, the cloud empire crashed down, destroying most of Ukraine’s territory. Fortunately, William and Ionast were able to escape in time. When the wreckage of the once glorious cloud empire was searched by the NATO reinforcements that arrived just in time to apprehend agent Rook and destroy Zarr and his forces and save Supreme Commander Roma and the remaining Transnistrian troops, the bodies of Imperon and Tu’Mor were nowhere to be found.

Ecole Spplh kept his promise, and shortly after the events that unfolded on the territories of Ukraine, Transnistria and Romania, the IRS and Supreme Leader Mictor Monta were brought before the court on worldwide fraud charges. Shortly after, Traian Basescu resurfaced to reclaim his country.

Lord Raiden Nague Ionast, after the apparent demise of Imperon, changed his fate. However, due to a timeline paradox he merged with his past self and stayed in the 21st century to relive his past.

William “Fire” O’Cormick lost his powers shortly after the final battle. He returned to Ireland, and found that the conflict had come to a peaceful resolution back in the 20th century. He decided to return to Transnistria and help rebuild the country and also to make sure that he would be there to stop Tu’Mor and Imperon should they ever resurface.

The elemental dragons, being primal forces of nature, began to slowly regenerate after the final battle. Eventually, they would return.

Imperon and Tu’Mor, sucked into a dimensional rift that opened when the Heart of the Storm completely overloaded and imploded, were able to regenerate completely due to their immense powers, but found themselves at an unknown point in time in an unknown place. Enslaving nearby worlds and calling forth forgotten armies, they continued their endless war. The battle for Earth was over, but the war raged on. TOTAL WAR!

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