The fortress of Kroan stood like a bleak beacon against the sky. It reeked with night, wind, and rain on a cliff. Three hundred feet below the Malistraan Ocean pounded against the razor-edged rocks, sending columns of spray into the air.
Much was uneasy. Kroan was restless.
In his Great Hall, Count Molkai was fuming. He paced back and forth over the cold stone floor. He had spent so much time pent up in this place! So much of his brilliance, his unsurpassed evil, had been wasted! His lips curled in a hideous grin, and he ran his finger over a curved single-edged scimitar.
He would be imprisoned no longer. He would have his kingdom, his power.
He would have his revenge!
Disgusted, he approached the one illuminated place in the hall besides his great throne. It was a pool, tranquil and it glowed a phosperecant blue. It was called Nu'til Drumma, the Dark Pool. It was one of a few such places used for the art of scrying. Molkai was certain that his plan would work, knew it could not fail! It had to succeed! It had to!
But something in his core told him it might be best to check. He could always future-scry, an actual abuse of the art's purpose. In future-scry, the words allowed the viewer to peer into the future, but at a great price, for by doing it made the viewer vulnerable to the Spirits. With luck, many of the failed attempts to future-scry left the magician hopelessly insane. With luck.
Molkai bent low over the pool and saw his reflection. His hair was blond and unruly, his skin as pale as death. His face was gaunt. His brilliant green eyes blasted through a red mask that hid his disfigurement. His mouth, topped by two short, sharp fangs was still stained with the blood of his last victim, a young, blossoming girl he had called to his chamber for the night over 5000 years ago. He could still remember the taste, the sensation of biting her neck and the way her life had drained through his fangs.
He called his mind to the dangerous task at hand. Softly, silently, his gloved hands picked up some mortar from the cracks between the stones and he flung them into the pool and began to chant in a low, guttural voice.
"Nu'Til Drumma! Nu'Til Da! Nu'Til Drumma! Nu'Til Da!"
The waters began to boil and churn. But before he could finish the last part of the chant, he was interrupted by the clatter of something falling in the darkness nearby. He stood bolt upright and his gaze pierced the void. He turned back to the pool only to find that the water had calmed again. His anger and disgust filled him again so that he threw his scimitar into the darkness. It hit his throne and quivered in the wood.
Thunder clapped somewhere in the far off ocean, which had for so long been his chains! Trapped on a miserable rock of an island, he and his followers banished from the world of Life for all time. He retrieved his sword and pretended that Delanor was there before him. He swung his blade, and imagined the elf's head falling from his shoulders. His own shoes would be dipped in the noble blood! Then, when the body hung limp on the ground, he, Molkai, would slit the belly and drink of his enemy's blood!
He wet his lips, licking back his parched throat. It had been much to long since he had tasted the sweet intoxication of blood!
"Chumdroy! Beel!" he called into the darkness. His two personal minions appeared at his side, cowering. They were both Juzelites, short, blue scaled amphibians, who had long last any sense of individuality. They clutched the shattered pieces of the vase they'd dropped.
It was illegal to not cower before Molkai, in presence or by name. It was an unwritten law to plot against him in the shadows.
"Are we ready in the caverns?"
The two minions looked at each other, and cringed.
"Yes, all is prepared."
A cruel smile was on the Dark Master's lips.
Miles from Kroan, an un-named river poured into a underground passage miles long. It travels its way to the cliffs of Kroan completely en-tunneled, and over the millenia, cut hundreds of uncharted caverns that Molkai had found great force for.
Master and minions stood above a pouring mass of thousands! They masses cringed, barked, bit, hit, and destroyed, all before breakfast too.
Molkai was pleased with them. He laughed at the simpleness of his plan. Chumdroy and Beel laughed with him in relief. He glared at them, and they stopped. As he turned, they cowered before him. He hated them, was disgusted, and laughed at their fear.
"Pathetic fools." He turned back to his army and addressed them.
"Foul of the Dead! Filth and decay! Listen to me, your master!" all ears were his. He pointed to the east. "Out there! Out there is the World of Life, those who have chained you hear in misery and torment to rot! And rot you have. Rotted we all have.
"In Calanery they feast on fruit and bread, sipping wine to their hearts content! Their females are clothed, and purity reigns! Their men are heroes, and thus are weak, for they earn nothing! They, who had the gall to banish us on this light-forsaken rock, have forgotten us!
"But we have not forgotten THEM! Look! A portal, conjured by Assin and perfected by myself, is ready!" he pointed bony finger to the far wall, where a skeletal witch stood. A round portal suddenly appeared and glowed a sickly green. "We will swoop upon the world of the living, and take no prisoners! We, the rotten of the Realms, will conquer! We will feast on the fruit of their flesh and rape their women! We will grow drunk on their blood! WE WILL CONQUER, AND ALL CALANERY, ALL LIFE WILL DIE!"
The army of death roared at the climax of his speech, and chanted his names.
"Molkai! Prince of Death! Bane of Life! Lord of Kroan!"
Molkai threw open the arms of his robes and a thousand bats flew out. They collectively served as a cloud, lowering him to the portal and victory. He entered.
He could smell life, and it tortured him! Flesh without the decay he was, drink without intoxication, all were finally within his miserable grasp!
And then, something happened the Bane of Life had not expected. He was repelled from the portal and thrown a hundred feet back. He screamed a blood-curdling "NO!" that echoed through the halls.
He stood and watched the portal collapse. The witch was dead. So were a hundred others. How he had survived shocked the others into silence. His own face was puzzled, and angry. The portal had rejected him. The question was not how it had happened. The question was who had done it, and how was Molkai to kill them.