The Cavalier - By Jason McWhirter Page 0,1

dark stones. Gullanin’s long scraggly gray hair was held back by a silver skull cap. The cap was plain except for a single white eye, the symbol of his dark lord, Gould the Tormentor. Gullanin knew that Gould would be pleased with him, the excitement of this prospect making him smile broadly, exposing yellow rotting teeth, his thin pasty skin stretching from the expression seldom gracing his withered visage.

Turning the corner he came to a large door of thick oak held together with bands of black steel carved into the shape of clawed hands. Two massive orcs stood before the door, blocking entrance to all who were forbidden in this part of the castle. The orcs were thick of limb and their misshapen features appalled Gullanin. These were not ordinary orcs; they were called the Gould-Irin, orcs bred by Gullanin himself, deep in the pits of Banrith Castle. It took him many generations to perfect the breed. He had succeeded in creating impressive beasts that were larger, stronger, and with inexhaustible endurance in comparison to their brethren. Powerful magic and much time were required to create these beings, resulting in the relative scarcity of the Gould-Irin. There would be more, however, once the Dark One returned.

The Gould-Irin were excellent soldiers who did Gullanin’s bidding without question. These orcs were guarding the altar room to Gould himself, and only powerful followers were allowed here. The orcs, seeing Gullanin, quickly stepped aside. No one in Banrith questioned Gullanin, especially now that he had found a way to bring their lord back.

Gullanin waved his hand, whispering a word of power. Without even breaking stride the door opened and he walked through, the thick door swinging shut behind him.

The altar room was large and simple, the focus being a massive raised dais roughly five paces in diameter. This dais was as high as a man’s waist and the edges were covered with carvings of demons and other denizens of the lower planes. The top was polished black and glistened like oil. The entire floor of the altar room was carved into a giant eye, Gould’s mark, and it was painted white in contrast to the dark stone in which it was made. The black round altar was the pupil of this eye, the eye that saw all thought Gullanin, as he shuffled into the room.

Around the outer edge of the circular room were six suits of magnificent black armor. At least that is what they looked like. Gullanin glanced at them as he always did. The armor was as dark as midnight and covered in intricate runes and long serrated spikes. The dark helms were also spiked and ominous in appearance, matching the malevolent feeling permeating the entire room.

The armor stood like statues, but Gullanin knew that inside each suit was the withered remains of the black knights of legend. The dark warriors were called Banthras and they were created by his lord during the great wars many years ago. When Gullanin’s lord was banished by the long dead Ullis Gavinsteal, the ancient king of Finarth, the Banthras also left the material plane, waiting for their lord to return. Only their shells remained behind.

Normally the altar room was empty, but not today. Today was the day for which they had waited for over a thousand years. Gullanin could barely remember that far back. It seemed that he had been alive forever, the years melting together as memories disappeared and new ones formed. His magic and Gould’s power had kept him alive, and today he would be rewarded for his long service. Today his lord, Gould’s general on this plane of existence, would rise again and bring darkness to the lands of Kraawn.

Gullanin moved toward the altar where he was greeted by three men, each wearing long robes similar to his, but much different in every other aspect. Gullanin was a wizard of great power; these men were high priests to the Forsworn. They were given their power directly from Gould, Naz-reen, and Dykreel, whereas Gullanin harnessed his power directly from the Ru’Ach, the energy of all things.

Most people lived their entire lives and knew nothing of the Ru’Ach, and some, like Gullanin, spent their entire lives learning about the secrets of the Ru’Ach, and yet knew very little about it. Gullanin understood that everything had energy, and that this energy made up the Ru’Ach. He liked to think of it as a river of energy, a flow that powered everything, and if you had

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