The fall of Stravos’ hooves carried Azoloth east through the nearby village. In the early hours of the morning before daybreak, the streets were not empty. Those who were able to complete their work under the pure light of the moon did so, avoiding the sickly green pall of the day. Passing by the dark buildings, he found no resistance awaiting him here. He approached the edge of the village and saw a lone figure on a horse.

Sword still in hand from his flight, Azoloth approached the cloaked figure. Relief flooded him, realizing Trinisc was the one waiting. Pulling back the reigns, he brought Stravos to a stop. Crimson sniffed the air and looked around, his eyes falling on Trinsic as he let out a deep bass growl. Azoloth hushed this unusual behavior less it draw attention to them.

“It’s good to see you survived, I can’t believe the Queen betrayed us, “ Azoloth said to Trinsic in a hushed tone.

“I know. What do you plan to do?” Trinsic asked.

“The more distance we put between ourselves and the royal guards, the better. I am heading east to the crossroad. I’ll make my decision on where to go from there.” Azoloth stated before urging Stravos to trot past Trinsic.

“Wait. We need a plan first, “ Trinisc protested behind him. Yet Azoloth did not slow. Fleeing as much from his own cowardice as from the Royal Guard he urged Stravos into a gallop. In the distance he heard Trinsic and his steed struggling to catch him. Not slowing his pace, Azoloth pushed eastward. He appreciated Trinsic’s friendship, but, right now he just needed to be alone with his thoughts and the sensation of wind caressing his face.

Farm land stretched out the first five miles out of town. He passed silent wheat fields and grazing cows. The air, still damp from the rain, was chilled and invigorating. Soon the fields ended, and the forest closed in around him. The night was a magnificent night to ride, with the pure moonlight playing across the land.

How the moon held its silvery radiance was one of the great mysteries of the world. The darkening of the sun, it had cast the lands into an eerie and sickly green light during the day. Eldritch powers of black and green energy swirling within what remained of the sun. Yet the moon, it still gave off a soft silvery glow. It was when the silvery glow lit the lands that the people could breathe easier, the oppression of the sun lifting.

The crossroads were a full day’s hard ride from the castle and village. By the time Azoloth slowed Stravos near dawn, Trinsic was nowhere to be found. The ride proved long enough to collect his thoughts and come to terms with the events of the day. Feeling somewhat guilty for leaving Trinsic behind, Azoloth sighed.

Sir Gregory always favored helping the people, often lamenting the fact the Demon Lords controlled so much of the world. Azoloth would not allow yet another Kingdom to fall under the sway of a Demon Lord. If a Demon Lord was the cause of the Queens betrayal, and he could think of no other reason, then it was up to him to put an end to it. That thought nearly made him laugh out loud. Keeping his stoic resolve, he shook his head. What could he alone do against the might of the entire Kingdom, to say nothing of the Demon Lord who likely pulled the strings from the darkness?

Sir Gregory said it was not the fact that men were too weak in arms to resist the Demonic hordes. It is that men without the light of the Gods were so readily corruptible. If that were true, maybe there was a chance. He should find Trinsic and other like-minded men and women. They could confront the Demonic Lord who had usurped the rightful rule of their Kingdom.

“The Demons are terrible masters who invaded our realm long ago. Yet they were not responsible for the darkening of the sun or the defeat of the Gods. A powerful Eleven mage enraged by the death of his son cast a forbidden spell. No one knows how he came by such terrible magics, but when he was done the land was shattered for miles around, and the sun was dark and rimmed with green flames. With the Gods no longer there to answer the prayers of men, men slowly crumbled. The Elven nation shattered by the blast, and the dwarves retreated. Day by day the Demons encroached further and further into human lands. Yet many believe the true enemy is much more terrible than Demon Lords. Another darker power from beyond the veil who sought entry into this world provided the mage with the spell” Sir Gregories voice seemed to echo in Azoloth’s head as he thought back to one lecture he had received about the Demon Lords and the nature of their world.

Azoloth wished he had paid more attention to Sir Gregories lectures on the subjects of Demons over the years. Only a shadow of the lessons imparted to him remained. Like most teenagers, he was not the most attentive of students. Now that Sir Gregory was gone, he dearly wanted those lessons. The ones he believed there would always be more time for.

Looking up to the moon, he realized the decision made back in the Keep was the right one. He would confront the queen, fight the Demon Lord, and save the people of the Kingdom from Demonic oppression. It is what Sir Gregory would have wanted. He voiced those words in that moment. He knew not why he spoke the words he did, but they felt right in his soul.

“I swear by the pure light of the moon, and all that may once have been holy. I will learn what Sir Gregory tried to teach me, and I shall strive to right the wrongs he always desired to right, ” The words uttered while the world held its breath for a full heartbeat. The air vibrated around him like a ringing bell and a single moonbeam pierced the trees and fell upon his chest for an instant, upon the silvery amulet of a crescent moon he wore. It was the symbol of the Knighthood, and he wore it always upon his breast.

When the moment had passed, Azoloth looked around, startled. He was unsure what had just happened, yet it felt important. The forest was as quiet and still as ever, Azoloth had changed. A hope he had never comprehended before was born within his heart and soul.

Leaning lower in his saddle he urged Stravos to a gallop once more, eager to reach the crossroads. What, he wondered, would it take to overthrow the night and darkness encircling the world? It was a task so monumental no one had ever managed to do it in the history of the world. First time for everything, he thought to himself as he pressed forward.


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