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Memories of Shadow

The Don

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Dagan looked out from the top of the city walls. For a full mile north, the grass was kept short. Past that was a cold dark forest. Past even that was the Blight, where his Masters were plotting and planning. It was still hard to imagine that the Chosen were out there… somewhere. He was used to Trollocs and Myddraal and Dragkhar, but the thought of the Chosen was unnerving to say the least. One of the Eyeless had actually spoken to him. And Friends of the Dark were commonplace. He knew of only a few, as was allowed in any Darkfriend Circle. They were his peers, and in many ways inferior to him. He had only been a Friend of the Dark for three years, but he was also a soldier, and had the favor of an exreamly high ranking Friend. Xander do’Rain was the one who showed him the way. In a way, though, his path to the Shadow had started much earlier.


He was the son of another high ranking Darkfriend, supposedly as high as one could get since the days of the Trolloc Wars and the powerful Dreadlord. His father was the Master of the Order of assassins, a blademaster of the highest caliber. He never knew the man, though Peaten al’Kar knew his son. He had watched over him since birth, and Xander since he was very young. Xander was his father’s Apprentice, and eventually became the second in command of that very order after Peaten’s death.


Three years ago, Xander came to him and persuaded him to the Dark. Dagan had the dagger that was given to him that night still hidden in a trunk in his mother’s house. It was his father’s once, one of the many things Xander managed to salvage after Peaten’s death. Xander had said there were others, some of which he brought back, small bits of armor… the hard leather mask he always wore. He could do little with those, his father was a larger than normal man. His armplates could fit around an average man’s leg. Xander had described him as a Trolloc minus 2 feet. There were more items promised, but he had not seen the Illianer in over a year.


He looked over at the young men in his command. Eight years in the army had given him the rank of Squad Leader, one of the youngest in recent history. He knew somehow his future would be one of commanding men, but not for Shienar. His armies would fight side with Trollocs and Myrddraal. He couldn’t help but wonder which of these men would be fighting with him. Xander had told him he wasn’t the only Friend of the Dark in Shienar’s army. He had learned now that they looked just like any other person. In fact, his Circle Leader was a grandmotherly woman that had been in the Shadow for over 40 years.


“Shift change.†He barked. “Get back to the barracks and get some rest.†He would get no such luxury. Dagan had other duties to fulfill.




Dagan al’Kar

Dark Initiate

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Dagan dismounted his horse, deep into the western woods. "You are late, worm." A scratchy voice hissed behing him.


Dagan stiffened, the Halfman's gaze held him, even from behind. He clenched his jaw. Everyone was late, according to the Eyeless. If he wasn't half frozen, he would say so, like he was another man that had too big of a mouth. But this wasn't a superior officer or a know-it-all Darkfriend... one word and he was dead, plain and simple.


The Myrddraal seemed to sense this and came in front of him. "You are displeased with my words?" Its eyeless gaze was set straight on him now. Dagan tried to shrink away, but he was helpless to do so. He had fought and killed Shadowspawn even after he had turned... he liked it. He hated Trollocs. He hated Myrrdraal even more, mostly because this was what happened when they looked at you. He was no stranger to fear, if you had none during a battle you were either dead or a careless fool who soon would be. But he had learned to control it, to use it for caution and motivation. This... this was something he had not puzzled out how to handle yet. He didn't know if he ever could. "Speak, if you have something to say."


"I meant no disrespect. I was only wondering why I was called here."


"Questions and idle thoughts can be dangerous for you. Most of my kind would not be so forgiving." Dagan had to almost laugh inside. They were all the same in every way. In a way, he could almost see an advantage. The Fade didn't kill him because it needed him for something the obviously only he could do. Again, it was almost as if it could read his mind. Could it? "You are summoned. But do not think yourself to be above any other human scum. You can be replaced as easily as could any weapon made by the hands of men. Your father has worked with your summoner before. You were chosen only because of your name. Go to Fal Moran. He will meet you at the 'Borderman's Hope' in three days. Your room has been picked and is waiting for you." The Myrddraal walked behind him and was gone into the shadows.


Dagan noticed that his hands were clenched. There was still fear in him. It wasn't the Eyeless anymore. There were few men who could ever have hired his father for anything, unless it was when he was young. But whoever this was obviously had known him at his apex if he trusted that much in a name. Now not only would he have to meet with a man so powerful as to command his father, but also he now had to live up to those lofty expectations... or probably die trying.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The road to Fal Moran seemed longer when it was travelled alone. Dagan had found it suprisingly easy to leave his duties back at Fal Dara. Obviously the one who summoned him ad connections in the army, because instructions were already given to send him on his way before he had even gotten back to the barracks.


He had the entire trip to figure out who could pull enough strings on both sides to make this possible. Any conclusion he thought of didn't make him feel any better. A noble maybe. One that had been a Friend of the Dark long enough to have some sort of pull.


It wasn't long after he had arrived in his room that the door swung open. With a shoack, Dagan bowed... now it all made sense, "Highness." the flaming King of Shienar himself. Now he realised why there was such a need for secrecy in and indiscreet place like an inn. But how did he get in here without being noticed by the general public?

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Tel Janin Aellinsar’s lip curled as the squad leader bowed before him, and at the look on the man’s face. Surprise was clear, it was obviously a shock that the honourable king of Shienar was sworn to the Shadow. If only he knew. But Darkfriends were cautious people, any doubts in the al’Kar man’s mind were dispelled when a Myrddraal put a foot to the back of his knee.


“One such as you,†it hissed at him. “Would do well to kneel in the presence of one such as he. The Chosen are not to be taken lightly.â€


The soldier’s eyes bulged, but he kept them trained on Sammael’s feet. In moments there was a light sheen of sweat on his forehead. Sammael waved a hand at the Myrddraal and it stepped back, clasping its hands behind its back, awaiting further orders.


Sammael watched Dagan al’Kar. Surely the man realised the significance of a Myrddraal walking so brazenly within the walls of Fal Moran. He had known little, this man. His view of the world was receiving some rapid restructuring.


Despite the uneasiness, the fear, on the soldier’s face, Sammael could see some resemblance to his father. He had seen Peaten al’Kar without that leather mask, and while there was no shocking similarity in their features, it was there for one who looked for it.


Sammael grasped the One Power, saw the repressed twitch in the Myrddraal’s lip, wove himself a throne of Air, almost completely invisible, with just a touch of emerald in it that let its outline be seen. He reclined in it, further regarding the kneeling soldier. He still bore the signs of his journey south, not surprisingly. He had come as he had been told to, he looked like a soldier. He followed orders and he could fight. From him, Sammael needed

little else.


“Your father… he was a man of legendary status.†Sammael began.


The squad leader nodded, swallowed. “Yes, Highness.†He seemed afraid to say more, and rightly so. The Chosen were thirteen of the most powerful channellers of their age, who had been imprisoned for three thousand years and now were free, gods among insects. They were not to be trifled with easily.


“He was an Assassin, however.†Tel Janin made sure the capitalisation was audible. “You are not.â€


“No, Highness.â€


The soldier still had his head down, looking no higher than Sammael’s ankles.


“Fear not, al’Kar. I have not called you here for your legendary skills in stealth or combat. You have no unique traits which I need, I merely found your father to be good at what he did. Some of his strength may run in your blood, though you are not… quite his size, shall we say? If so, all the better. If not, it is of no consequence. You are a soldier, Dagan, and an officer. That is what I intend to use.â€


The Chosen stopped for a moment, thought about something.


“Do you know who I am?†he asked.


Al’Kar blinked, licked his lips. “I-â€


“Look at me.†Sammael interrupted. “Look at me! Do you know who I am?â€


Dagan’s head shot up, momentary anger at being addressed in such a way, quickly suppressed. Good boy.


“The King of Shienar.â€


Sammael scoffed. “You have one more chance.â€


“Chosen. You are one of the Chosen.â€


Sammael smiled and leaned back in his Power-wrought throne, a semblance of reality. “I am Sammael.†He said, one hand rising to touch the scar across his face. “I am the Destroyer of Hope. I have fought the Dragon and the Light. I have fought many battles, I have served the Great Lord faithfully. I have lived three thousand years, sacrificed much for our cause.


“And I have orders for you, Dagan al’Kar. You know of what happened in Kandor, the destruction of Chachin and the Trolloc armies. Not as well known is my involvement in that. There are politics in the Shadow, al’Kar. Things you would not dream of. Chachin’s fall was a product of that, not any engineered strike against the Light. Your mission is. Chachin was destroyed for reasons you don’t need to know, but Kandor is still a nation. It still has many towns, villages, people, particularly in the south.


“You will go to Kandor, Dagan, at the head of two hundred men. They will do your bidding, and you will do mine. You will kill everyone you come across. You will burn every village you find. You will cause chaos and destruction. That which you cannot easily destroy you will sabotage and betray, and it will be taken care of, for you will not be the only force at work there.†Sammael’s face began to change as he spoke, his serious manner hardening even more, the complete lack of mercy he had been famous for shining out. They had named him Destroyer of Hope, for his ruthlessness.


“You will only show Shienaran colours if you encounter larger forces, and pass yourselves off as a group sent by me to investigate the rumours of Chachin’s destruction, and provide aid to the people of Kandor. In such a situation, you will be contacted, and further orders be given. Chachin has fallen, but Kandor may yet rally itself. You will... silence Kandor. Leave no word of your passing. Let no one live, no one escape. You will leave tomorrow with your men. Do you have any questions?â€


Sammael realised he was clenching his fist, and consciously relaxed it.


Dagan thought for a minute, and asked “Where will these two hundred men come from?â€


Sammael nodded, having expected the question. “They have been hand-picked for you by a capable lieutenant of mine. Shienar has been… changing, recently, you may have noticed. People’s allegiance is more to me now than the nation, to the Light. These soldiers will do what they must, in my name. There are some Darkfriends among them. Some will make themselves known to you, others will not. I will be watching you, Dagan al’Kar. Do not forget that. There is a room prepared for you at the barracks for tonight. You will meet your men and leave in the morning. Captain Mikhov,†the Chosen gestured at the grinning soldier standing at the other corner of the room, “will escort you there. Now.â€


As Mikhov left with their new servant, Sammael began to wonder again about the meeting he would attend that night.





Tel Janin Aellinsar

Destroyer of Hope

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It took a long while for Dagan to recover from the shock of the meeting. He had expected a nobleman, obviously a Darkfriend. To realize the King himself was a Darkfriend shattered nearly everything he had ever knew about the world. Discovering that one of the Chosen, the Destroyer of Hope himself, ruled Shienar broke him completely. The Chosen! Burn him. Even as a Friend of the Dark, it was a nightmare come true. The Chosen. A man so powerful and so ruthless that Dagan's very life could end at any whim, and Sammael would have as much remorse (and as much trouble) as if he was stepping on an ant. Sammael had spoken, and he mus now obey... to become as ruthless as a sword in the Chosen's hand.


He now had to harden himself. Failure was not an option. Sammael may hold the sword, of which Dagan was a part, but Dagan was the hilt that had to lead the rest of the sword. 200 men had to see that he was worthy of their command. If Dagan couldn't prove himself to the hardest of all, 200 blades might stab him in the back. The protection of one of the Chosen might not stand in the heat of battle.


Captain Mikhov open the door to the barracks where his men were waiting.


"Aten-chun!" a voice barked from inside. 200 men stood at attention, waiting for Mikhov to speak.


"At ease." the Captain ordered. "This is Lieutenant al'Kar, your commanding officer for this mission." Dagan would have been taken aback if the statement of his new rank had come an hour ago, before his new Master had made himself known. This, he just took in stride. It made sense anyways. 200 men was four squadrons, a Squad Leader couldn't very well lead four other men of the same rank. He was still in civilian clothes though, so maybe nobody would notice that he wasn't a Lieutenant five minutes earlier. "An order from Lieutenant al'Kar is an order from myself, his word is absolute. Lieutenant."


"Thank you, Captain." Dagan stepped forward to address his Banner. Most of these were younger men, though grizzled old veterans dotted the barracks as well. "It is an honor to be given command of such a mission. I'll keep this short and sweet for now. I want a meeting with the Command Staff at 1800 hours at the 'Borderman's Hope'. Each squadron will recieve their own briefing from their Squad Leaders at 2000 hours. So use your time wisely. I'm assuming you've all known about this mission for some days, so our leaving at sunrise tomorrow shouldn't be any kind of a problem." Easier said than done. Dagan had to figure out all he needed to talk about before his meeting with the Command Staff. He had no idea this was his mission coming here.


"Aten-chun!" a voice barked again as Captain Mikhov and Dagan turned to leave.


"At ease." Mikhov yelled out as he left.

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