Sword of Caledor - By William King Page 0,2

succeed and this world will change forever.

She felt her age sometimes. She had lived long enough to see the shape of continents change, to watch the great rivers of ice advance and retreat, grinding mountains down as they went. She had watched nations rise and fall. There had been times when she had given them a push. It kept her amused.

She was perhaps the oldest living being in the world. Only the gods were older and they did not dwell in this place as she did and were not bound to it as she was.

All of those around her were moving shadows, alive for a few flickering moments and then gone. How many were there now who remembered the days of ancient glory? Herself, her son, a few daemons and the mad ghosts who guarded creation from destruction and rebirth.

It was a shadow-play but it afforded her some entertainment as she waited for the end of the world. She still pursued her pleasures as relentlessly as her son pursued his dreams of empire.

It had all seemed so different when she was young. Then the world had been bright. The shadow of Chaos had not yet fallen on the land. The elves had been at peace. It had been disgustingly boring but she was too stupid and naive to know it.

Or at least she had been until the visions came.

They had been her gift from her eleventh year, tormenting her with glimpses of the apocalypse to come. She had seen the dark, daemon-haunted future and no one had believed her. She was a prophetess whose gift it was to see and yet not be heard. Or so it had seemed back then.

The elves had not believed her visions of destruction because they could not believe her. Their lives had been so sheltered during the long golden reign of the first Everqueen that they had no idea of just how dreadful the world could be.

She had told them and they had not listened, simply because they were incapable of understanding. They were cattle grazing in summer fields, unwilling to believe in slaughterhouses because they had not yet been inside of one. The sun was shining, the grass was tender, and their alien masters looked after them and fed them well.

Long before the other elves had learned what the world was really like, she had known. She had seen the coming bloodbath and she had tried to warn them.

And no one had believed her.

Sometimes that thought could still outrage her. Mostly now it just amused her.

She had tried everything to get their attention. She had prophesied, she had seduced, she had used her great beauty to get the attention of princes, of the Everqueen herself. No one had taken her warnings seriously, because they had not wanted to. Their world was golden and it was ending and they had wilfully blinded themselves to its coming destruction. They had been taken by surprise when the daemons of Chaos came and the Old Ones had fled or been destroyed.

None of the people who had refused to believe her were alive now and she was. She would live forever and she would remake this world in her own image. The day would soon be here when she was a goddess and these barbarians would help her bring that dawn.

The huge metallic arm of a daemon-forged siege engine sent an enormous boulder arcing towards her. The rock hit the ground a hundred strides ahead of where she stood, bounced forward and came to rest not too far from her feet. It was close enough so that she could see the cursed runes scratched on it. Behind her, her legion moaned with anticipatory terror. She knew they only stood their ground because she did.

They were among those who worshipped her and adored her as something like divine. But that was not what she wanted. She did not wish merely for the empty gratification of her ego, although she enjoyed it. She desired the real, actual power of a god and she knew how to get it. All she had to do was destroy Caledor’s masterwork, the Vortex.

Her visions had shown her that too. In the beginning, the knowledge had horrified her. She had thought that daemons sent them. She thought what she saw was evil beyond imagining, but over the long lonely years she had come to see the power of the daemons as well as their horror. She had realised that they too could be manipulated and

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