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Aravyan Nocturne

Dark Age Chronicles


A fanfiction of Midways Mace: The Dark Age

By Giuseppe Ng

Ahh! A sharp pain rattled the head of a young Aravyano servant girl, rousing her from a slumber deep in the night. Surrounded by the riches of the royal harem, she found no solace nor escape from the agony that tortured her. Splashing her face with cold water and wrapping herself with a large robe, she snuck out for some air in the harem courtyard, hoping to find a moment of peace for her throbbing head. With the cool breeze of the night gently blowing, the servant girl stood in the balcony of the harem, admiring the starry skies and the cityscapes far away. The calmness of the evening soothed her pains little by little, making her hum a little tune. Everything around her helped make her forget the torture her head went through, but she would soon find out, her solitude would not last. Namira!, a concerned whisper called upon her, prompting the servant girl to turn back and look. Seeing who had come gave Namira something to smile about. Khitam, what are you doing here in the middle of the night? I should be asking you that!, Khitam quickly snapped back at her. The fellow servant girl always was an honest and caring soul. Her eyes showed an innocence that was trapped in that frail and work burdened body. Her concern made Namira appreciate her more. Its just my headaches again..., Namira explained shaking her head with a sigh. If the panguian sees any of us wandering here in the harem, she will have our heads!, Khitam nervously pointed out a fact that both of them knew very well. Havent you gotten enough bruises from her? The wife of the Sultan by and large ruled the harem and oversaw everyones duties. Nobody walked in without her knowing. It was after all, a sanctuary to her and her female relatives. Now that Aravya was locked in wars with other nations, her grip had toughened as if the mere servants were part of military servitude. I know that, but Im always careful about the guards... I know every corner of the harem..., Namira insisted, but her friend was having none of it. I have a salve that may help your headache, Namira..., Khitam offered. quarters. Lets go to my

Swiftly, the two servants slipped out just as guards were making another of their rounds. Once they were finally safe in Khitams small quarters, Namira instinctively hummed the same tune once more. You know... Ive heard that before from the other servant girl who died some time back..., Khitam quipped while readying her salve.

Nadia?, Namira immediately recognized who she was referring to, prompting for her friend to nod. She knew that very same song... so beautiful... do you know where you heard it from? Namira frowned when faced with that question. I dont know..., she replied with great disappointment. For as long as she could remember, there were a great many things she wanted to know and just couldnt. She was trapped in here in a royal cage with no means of setting herself free from the bonds of servitude. Tomorrow is going to be a special day, Namira... the sultan brings his guests and we will be in the royal palace serving them..., Khitam pointed out while sitting down before her friend to apply the medicine. Deep in her voice was a tension that Namira quickly detected. Youre afraid, Khitam... its just like any other day here... its just work... Khitam nodded. Yes, and I fear many, many things, my friend... like the headaches that you seem to have and Nadia had before... Im afraid I might catch it soon... Dont be silly!, Namira quipped before having her forehead rubbed with the medicine. Dont ever think about it... you wont catch it... I promise. It was an empty promise, as far as Namira could tell. This affliction she seemed to suffer from was like nothing she had ever experienced. Yet what else could she tell her friend whose only constant in life was fear? The best she could do was provide false hope, just like the one Khitam gave her to lure her here. A sharp pain rattled Namiras head anew. This was a pain that no simple salve could cure. As she clasped her head, she stumbled on the floor. Why? Why?, Namiras mind screamed in agony. This torment was a burden she had to bear every single day and all she could do was take it. ~o~ Why?! Why father?! The eyes of a young lady glared into an agitated old man in expensive robes as he sat on a throne. Her limbs quaked in anger at what had just happened. What did you do to Azur?, she pressed on, but her father continued to dodge not only her inquisition, but of her searching eyes. King... your majesty..., the vizier called upon his attention. ... the rebellion is going out of control...

Just kill them all!, the king snapped back at his advisor, the pressure and stress reaching a boiling point. Weve been doing that for a while now, your majesty... its not quelling the rebels... its making them more fierce... There was seething anger in the eyes of the king, but perhaps the words that the vizier pointed out made him realize how things werent so simple now. Trapped between the conflict outside and the one within his household, he would decide to pick the one he felt easier to handle. Get out., he spoke towards the vizier with clear agitation. The vizier respectfully bowed low before the princess and the king before taking his leave, but the lady of royalty did not even acknowledge. Where is Azur?, she once more pushed her father. What did you do to him? Shame and grief fell upon the hardened eyes of the father. You are blind, my dear..., he mutters, recognizing that passion and rage had poisoned her. Do not ask me what Ive done, Tulwara my dear... I didnt... he left you. No!, Princess Tulwara snaps back at her father. Do not treat me like any of your blind advisors, father. I see the truth about you! I know what you are capable of... just look at the people who live here and what you do to them! The kings spirits sank at her words, but he was never one to back down to anybody, even one of his own flesh and blood. You do not see what Im trying to do! You will get married to the prince of Dascos! I am doing this to hide the shame youve brought me! Rage coursed into her limbs as Tulwara swung and slapped her own father. How dare you?! Shame?, she snapped back with fury. Youve doomed him to die! You killed him! Shame Tulwara remembered what it felt like to lay there on her soft bed while her father stood there with a grim look. A physician was there whispering words into his ears. Was he like any of the other spineless rats that clung to him and whispered poison and lies? Her thoughts swiftly shifted to Azur with a chilling dread creeping into her. His words echoed in her mind, words that she would never forget. I have to go there... I have to... For many nights, it was the same dream. Below the dark skies and steep mountains, Azur stood there before the great black gates. There was an impenetrable darkness that shrouded him far beyond any shadow the great mountains could cast.

The gates stirred. It was finally opening. Tulwara could see Azurs eyes turn back to her with excitement building. His voice was weak, but it reached deep and touched her soul with despair. Goodbye, my dear... but not for long... ~o~ Who am I? Ive asked myself that question many, many times. They call me Namira, but that name has no meaning. Every corner of my room, I have tossed around hoping to find a hint. Yet, no matter how hard I try, I am no closer to my answers. I remember the mad slave, Nadia. She claimed to be my friend and when I wouldnt believe her, she grew obsessed about me. What does she know of me when Ive never seen her in my life? What would she know about me? A mere slave like I am, trapped in this hell made of gold and diamonds. Her presence started off as an annoyance, but her desperation for my recognition in the days leading to her end was as much torment as the walls of this place, so much so that when she let the rope that bound her neck take her life, it felt liberating. I was free not from my lifelong servitude, but a seeming endless torture and harassment. In this horrible world of slavery, I found to trust only one person. Khitams innocence and naivety was a beacon of light in this rat hole of the rich. The poor girl was dragged in by the men of the Sultan Khalid Aslan Rashid to serve Panguian Izzah, his wife, till her last breath. Khitam seemed blindly happy to serve her, never wanting to know beyond what she needed to. She never asked me of what my past was either. Was she always afraid of everything? Part of me wonders what Khitams life was like back then, just like I wonder now what my life before was. None of it matters in the end though. As a slave all you ever worry about is whats happening now. ~o~ Faster! The words of Panguian Izzah echoed deep in the halls of the Sultans palace as the servants busily prepared the food for the banquet table. Sultan Khalids guests were said to be of great importance in his military campaign. To her, everything had to be perfect. Anything less would be a crime. Namira quickly picked up the plate of food once the deadly stare of the panguian fell upon her. All the lashings and punishment had taught her to be nimble when under the gaze of her mistress. Scurrying to serve the guests the food, she hoped to finally be free of the panguians sight. Unfortunately for her, that was simply not to be.

You, pretty one., the panguian gripped Namira by the shoulder. You will stay in the dining hall and personally attend to every guest in the hall. It was all Namira needed to hear to know that she would be there with the panguian for much of the night with her guest. Her heart sank, but like every time, she had no choice but to do her mistresss bidding. The royal banquet was always a wonder to behold, full of riches and exquisites that masked the demons that lurk in the deepest bowels of the palace. Sultan Khalid sat there, laughing away with his guests, seemingly with no worries at all despite the atrocities he had carried out. Aravyas ruler was no saint, ruling his nation with a large army of trained fanatics. Namira had heard how Aravyanos used to call him The Hand of the People when he rightfully dethroned the oppressive king, but those days were long gone. Ever since the war broke out, the sultans true colours were in full display. Even more puzzling was how everyone seemed willing, joining his ranks to serve him and fulfill his greedy aspirations. In a way, he was a fitting husband to Panguian Izzah. Together, they were a couple blessed by the devil itself. Over at the table was the prince Al Rashid, famed master swordsman and rumoured to be the sultans personal courier of death. His sharp looks veiled a conceited man with a ravenous appetite for women. As he hungrily devoured his food, he eyed the assets of a fine and mysterious lady at the far corner of the table despite the constant warnings from his own father. That lady was the Contessa of Ebrio, Taria de Castillo. Much of her youth and beauty seemed to exude a seductive aura around her. Even Namira felt drawn to her, though she herself could not explain why. Tarias emerald eyes seemingly glimmered when they met the young prince. As she smiled back to him, the young master had to forcefully restrain his excitement. There were three other men in the halls. One was a horrifyingly skeleton warrior, his flesh seemingly on endless decay. Behind him was a large hooded man with an executioners axe and the last one was a man in armour with a large fiery sword, the man they called Lord Diemos of Bavra. I offer to you, my father... the ring of the Potentate of Dascos!, Al Rashid boasted before the sultan while revealing a gold ring. He fell on his knees begging for his life like a dog!, he quipped before turning his eyes back onto the contessa. Your son has shown impressive skills., Taria smiled while leaning back on her seat. Perhaps, one day... he will be a worthy ruler such as yourself. Sultan Khalid laughed nervously before giving his son a serious stare. Only if he can keep his hands off the women that will no sooner kiss him than stab him at the back. The contessa gave out a laugh as the abashed prince fell silent. Al Rashids eyes would eventually catch the beauty of the slave girl Namira as she refilled his chalice of wine. His hands immediately reached for her thighs, smiling hungrily before whispering for a personal visit

in his chambers. Any disgust that would have shown from the maiden was quickly repressed knowing the ever watchful panguian loomed behind her. As you wish, my master..., she replied to the greedy giggles of the prince. Vitulia will fall in a matter of days..., the undead knight spoke with a cruel rasp in his voice. Medlum and Torboli are now but smoldering smoke and ruinssss..., he hissed though one would seemingly feel anguish in his voice. And the Dark Lord Asmodeus will be pleased to know that the campaign to Ruffun runs smoothly., the contessa added before sipping her wine. You have done well, sir Dregan... Her words seemingly drew the ire of the undead knight, but he said nothing in return. Panguian Izzah drew a deep sigh hearing what Taria had just uttered. I still pity the young fool who chased us..., she uttered with a hint of regret, drawing a surprised look from the sultan himself. There is much determination in his eyes... its an admirable trait, but to take ones memories is something I fear... its like taking ones identity... Who are you without them? ~o~ Death... Death is the penalty, if they find out what I have done..., the lonesome voice of Azur stirred Princess Tulwara into fear. I will always stay here for you, my dear... but the day you dont see me... you know the reason..., he closed with a sense of dread creeping in. Swiftly, the princess recalled herself lying down on her bed, eyeing her fathers expression as the physician whispered into his ears. She was tense, wondering just what was happening between the two, the very same nervousness that courses through her now. I can still try to convince him..., she uttered, but the man beside her simply shook his head. Nay, my love., Azur replied regrettably. They will kill you as well... you know how things are with the king... But Im his own daughter! He will listen! If you so believe it, then you truly do not know him., Azur drew a sigh. Perhaps when I am gone, you will finally step out of the harem youve been locked up in and see the cruel world for what it is. Dont say that, Azur..., Tulwaras despair was evident. If you are gone, how do I find you? Azur plunged into deep thought, unsure as to whether it was the right decision. reached for his robes to reveal two precious jewels. He then

This is the Jewel of Smarati..., he explained. I am but a novice in my craft, but this is one enchantment I have studied very well while researching for the means to take me to the Gates of Tanis. What does it do?, the princess asked with a renewed sense of wonder. I have wanted to know how to get there the quickest... the Jewel of Smarati is said to have enormous power of taking a person to another place in an instant... but for it to work, the destination must have another jewel of similar power. So if I have one of these, I can instantly go to where you are!, she deduced quickly. Not entirely... the bearer of the jewel must be able to transfer his or her energies into it to make it work. It can range from literal magic to more mundane things like extreme emotions... once the magic is triggered, the jewel will crumble... Everything seemed set as far as the princess was concerned, but there was more that the apprentice wanted to impart. My love, I do not know whether this will transport you to me when I am finally through the Gates of Tanis though... do you remember the music I taught you? I hum it every single day, Azur... It is the music that opens the gates. You have to remember this if you need to gain entry. Princess Tulwara nodded, feeling the great urgency her lover stressed over the instructions. She took the jewel and peered into it with a sense of purpose as she recalled lying down in her bed. Her father had finished speaking to the physician. The king turned back to her with a great sense of displeasure. She realized the physician spoke no lie. It was the truth and it was only a matter of time now. ~o~ What?! The Sultan Khalid slammed his fists on the table in his private quarters, shocking the nervous servant Namira that served as the attendant. Before him was the Contessa, but she showed no signs of intimidation, even when faced with the leader of the entirety of Aravya. You think I can figure it all out this instant?, Taria snapped back at the sultan in agitation. You seem to have all the answers all the time, Contessa..., Sultan Khalid mockingly responded. It looks as if this time, you dont.

Taria frowned, feeling the sting of his words. I dont appreciate the tone of your voice, proud sultan. You show wisdom and patience much, much lesser than your offspring. At least, he can admire what real beauty is. Your seductive games do not work on me, sorceress. Because I dont need you, Khalid. Who would want to be with you except that witch?, she mocked with a sly smile. Remember, oh great sultan... remember that much of your strength comes from me. Even the floor you stand on now is my gift to thee. Ultimately, the sultan knew she was right. The war of words would soon prove to be his own undoing if he was not careful. I understand, contessa... but if the Dark Lord finds out... He will not., Taria asserted herself. And you will not interfere with my research. Crash! Namira had dropped a vase, drawing the ire of the sultan, yet she was not listening to any of that. The splitting headache once more tortured her threatening to tear her mind into two. Her agony drew a sadistic smile from the contessa. As the slave girl stumbled onto the floor, all she could hope was for it to cease. ~o~ Ahh! Chaos had descended in the royal harem at the break of dawn. Many of the ladies screamed in terror as Khitam stood at the balcony taken by hysteria. Namira dropped everything she was working on and immediately went to see what was happening to her friend. Khitam screamed about the headache that had just begun to torture her. Her anguish shocked Namira, never realizing that the fears she had once dismissed had turned to reality. Namira called upon her friend to calm down, hoping to impart her own experience as strength for the young slave. Khitam barely listened to her, completely taken by the agony that tortured her. The slave girl took a peek at what lie beyond the balcony, before warning anyone who got in close while wielding a butcher knife in hand. Seeing the panguian summon for the guards to quell this mad piece of drama, Namira knew that time was running out for her to stop her friend from the madness. Once more she called out to her to get her attention. Khitam, stop this! Im your friend, Namira! The slave girl simply crossed her brows at the words Namira uttered however, as if never remembering about their fellowship. You lie! Ive never seen you once in my life!, she snapped back, shocking Namira tremendously.

Just then, the guards marched in, breaking through the crowd and surrounding the mad slave girl. As they approached her, all Namira could do was stare. Khitams screams echoed as she made a leap for her freedom, just as Nadia did when she could no longer bare what was happening to her. Namira ran to the end of the balcony, to see Khitams dead stare. She remembered what it felt like to meet Nadias with no sense of grief nor guilt. Seeing her only friend make it to the other side gave her more to ponder on, about Nadia and about her. ~o~ What does it all mean? Was Nadia telling the truth? Was I her friend? I keep asking myself that after my dear friend Khitam met her end. For a long time, I was called a friend but that had no meaning to me. Every corner of my heart I sought and could not find any truth to it. When Khitam fell, I realized that soon, I would not have anyway to find my answers. I remembered well, the lady Nadia. The ramblings she had that I saw as mad before now seemed to have a different ring to them. What if she knew who I was before my time in slavery? What if she was indeed a friend? How could I have condemned her all those times? How could I, a mere slave, trapped in this hell of gold and diamond, judge her as mad? I realize now that her leap to the other side was not liberating. It condemned me to my own doom, a lifelong servitude with no inkling of a life I could try to escape to. Khitam, poor Khitam. The beacon of light in this rat hole had been twisted into dark madness. She was dragged into this abyss, but now sees no future for herself. Everything around her she feared very much and while I was the pillar of strength she sought, in the end, she wanted none of mine. Khitam cast me away, just as I pushed Nadia off once. Part of me wonders just what her life couldve been if she was still alive. Part of me wonders just where am I going. All that was in the past now does not matter. This time, I seek my answers from one that could tell. ~o~ You seem to have all the answers all the time... Very softly, Namira closed the door behind her, before turning to the very personification of beauty. The Contessa of Ebrio had altered much of her private quarters, surrounded now by books, gems and mirrors. One of those in her collection glimmered before the eyes of the slave, as if beckoning her to come near it. The contessa would soon turn to her visitor, her emerald eyes soon meeting the frightful stare of the slave girl.

So you seek me for answers?, Taria quipped while softly closing her large tome. Everyone does... even the young prince... questions of love... of power... , she adds with a delightful smile. Tell me, slave... how did he treat you that night of passion? Namira had a lump on her throat upon hearing the contessa speak. Deep inside, she was bewildered at her own fears when finally faced with the lady from Ebrio. The young prince likes to boast... dont be surprised that I know, slave., Taria spoke with a soothing calm that seemingly released Namira from her fright. I seek to find the truth about my condition..., Namira uttered while the dead faces of Nadia and Khitam flashed before her very eyes. I want to know what is happening to me. The contessa ran her finger on her luscious red lips before touching the slave girls lips with it. Quickly, she broke out a wry smile before speaking. I know about your headaches, slave... what was it the witch said? Who are you without your memories...? You want to know who you were, do you slave?, the contessa devilishly smiled at Namira who simply nodded in silence. Taria's fingers ran from the slave girl's lips to her nape, a tingling sensation rippling inside her body. Namira gasped as a strange energy pierced every nerve in her. Image upon image flashed before her eyes, piecing together a life she never knew. As the wind was being sucked out of her, she remembered the hundreds of hands that pinned her down on the floor. In vivid detail, she remembered how they stripped her of her royalty and desecrated her body. With every bit of respect and honor mercilessly ripped away, the lady was no longer a princess. She was now a slave and whore to a new regime. With the tears building in her eyes and the rage that scorched her soul, a blinding light emanated from the jewel she bore with herself at all times. Then, she saw no more. When Namira finally regained control of herself, she had collapsed from complete exhaustion. Her throat was burning dry, her eyes were dilated, and her mind was rattled to her absolute limits. Much of her memories, seemingly buried deep inside had been forcefully pried open, disorienting her but only for a moment. "You know who you are now... do you, slave?", Taria whispered into her ears. "Your headaches are from your loss of memory... I have simply tapped into them... the rest is up to you, fallen forgotten princess..." Namira struggled to her feet, her eyes gradually finding their focus. She could tell the contessa had a smile on the entire time, as if admiring her own handiwork. Slowly, her limbs found their strength to steady herself, much to Taria's delightful wonder.

"Your mental toughness is to be commended, slave... but I wonder if it was truly worth it to know who you were. Was it worth it to see how death follows you where ever you went, Namira? Was it worth it to know that you are very much locked in this cycle of death?" Still catching her breath from that magic that shook her, Namira could only mumble in response. The scent of the dead was familiar to her even without knowing all that happened to her before. Now with those recollections however, she remembered the hundreds and thousands of men doomed to die in that rebellion. There was indeed no escaping this legacy. It was a part of who she was. For all the memories that now roamed free inside of her, she could not remember a thing about Nadia, her fellow slave. Perhaps, she needed more time to sort through them. If anything was clear in all of this, however, it was the rage of a lost princess. "I am Princess Tulwara...", she muttered to herself, her mind slowly piecing together the past she never knew. When the entire picture formed, a tragic realization struck her, and in an instant, a murderous rage coursed into her veins. No longer did she wonder what purpose she had in her seemingly pointless and meandering life. With her past, there was finally clarity in her thoughts and actions. It was time to complete her destiny. ~o~ "Die!" A tremendous rage blinded Princess Tulwara from all rational thought. Standing tall before the throne, she found her father sprawled on the floor with blood bubbling out of his mouth. Her eyes fell on the blood drenched blade of her knife, realizing what she had done. There was no sorrow in her heart however, for she was so certain that her father had condemned her lover. Where Azur was, she couldn't tell. The Jewel of Smarati never seemed to work for her and that building rage inside drove her to wield a dagger against her own father. Without even realizing what her intent was, the cruel king of Aravya had been slain, not by armies, but by a single woman. When the deed was done, Tulwara turned to see an empty throne. In the next few days of the rebellion, she would be thrust upon that seat of power with little knowledge and preparation for the responsibilities that would become shackles on her. In a matter of days, blood flowed into the rivers of Shiraq. Hundreds and thousands of her brethren perished in that war. It all started with that dagger in her hands. This was her legacy. The princess recalled what the final moments of her reign were. With hopelessness and fear in her heart, she sat on the throne, waiting for her doom. Soon, the great doors to the throne room would swing open, with the rebels young and charismatic leader in full view. There was confidence that bordered on arrogance in him. Amidst the chants of the frenzied Aravyanos, he walked towards the princess with a deadly smirk in his face. The Hand of the People had

finally overthrown the government. It was now the age of a new leader, a sultan that would eventually fall into the same dark path as her father did. It is time to end the oppression you whore!, Khalids voice rippled through the hall. It is time for your tyrannical family to meet its reckoning! The princess sat on her throne, unflinching before the new masters of Aravya. In the days leading up to the fall of her reign, one by one, her advisors left her side, including the vizier that her father relied on. There were no respectful bows for her. She was no longer a princess. Cast her down! End the oppression!, Khalid Aslan Rashid declared as his men angrily stormed in and dragged her out. The violence they unleashed upon her wounded her body and soul. Their merciless torture took away the seed that Azur had lovingly sown inside her. There was nothing left for her. Hundreds of hands pinned her down and cruelly began to strip her of her dignity. Tulwara was no longer fit in the royalties of the palace. Within the deepest bowels of the dungeons, she was being raped of her honor by her very own people, pushed to frenzy by the atrocities of her king and father. Her eyes would look past the lust driven eyes of her captors and into far corners, where a familiar little slave girl observed in fear. Try as she might to cry for help, all the slave ever did was watch as she got ravaged. When Azur told her she was locked in the harem, never really seeing the awful state of the nation, she didnt think it was as dire as he described it. When he finally disappeared however, she finally ripped out the blindfold that deceived her. The realities of a cruel world tore her heart and soul. In that darkest of hours, the Jewel of Smarati glimmered for the first time since Azur had given it to her. Its brightness blinded her, saving her from witnessing her own desecration. Tulwara was now a slave in the halls of Sultan Khalid and his devil of a wife. This time, she vowed to be his reckoning. ~o~ Namira gripped the tray of drinks in her hand while vengeance coursed inside her. The sultan and the panguian were in the royal chamber at this time, expecting their tea. This was their moment of weakness and the time to strike. Having witnessed the dead stares of Nadia and Khitam, her resolve toughened. She had to continue the cycle of death. When the slave finally stepped in, seeing the Panguian and Sultan Khalid seated made her limbs tense for a moment. Namira had gone past the point of no return. It was time to fulfill her destiny. Sultan Khalid's glare at the slave gave her chills. Her nervousness drew the ire of Panguian Izzah who screamed at her for meeting the stare of her husband. Namira stepped back as the

nervous tension dissipated. A burning rage from her heart filled her immensely. A second had past before chaos finally descended. The great sultan clutched his throat as a great pain seared his body. He looked at his cup, only then realizing the venom that he willfully consumed. Izzah called out to him, but her voice was fading. Swiftly, his sight blurred until there was no more to see. Sultan Khalid would be released from his agony. His death was swift and painful one. Before the Panguian could act, Namira lunged at her with a knife at hand and struck her down mercilessly. It took a simple knife to tear down Tulwara's world apart. It was the very same one that would end another's reign. After all the bloodshed that had happened, Namira found herself staring at the two bodies before her. Tulwara's vengeance was finally complete. Suddenly, guards came out to meet the king slayer, apprehending her as Al' Rashid stepped into view. There was very little remorse in his eyes for the death of his parents. As the guards dragged Namira away, she saw the prince smile with a lady beside him, whispering in his ears. The Contessa of Ebrio wrapped her arms around the soon-to-be crowned Sultan of Aravya as he sunk his lips on her neck. He was under her spell, that much was for certain. I am Tulwara! I am the lost princess of Aravya! I am the Agent of Murder and Destruction! All of that was irrelevant to the proud slave girl, Namira. Proclaiming her heritage for everyone to hear, the only thing she cared about was her legacy fulfilled: a legacy of death. ~o~ There in the chambers of the Great Contessa of Ebrio, Namira lay unconscious for her observers. With her laughs echoing throughout the chambers, Taria stepped in before caressing the slave girl's face. "You have served me well, pretty slave...", she whispered into her ears with a smile. Suddenly, Al Rashid stepped in, wrapping his arms around the contessas waist before covering her neck with kisses. His passion made the contessa smile, but she quickly turned and gently pushed him back. Now... now... my little prince... very soon you will have what you seek. But now is not the time., she spoke, her words seemingly binding the will and lust of the young prince. I have to attend to my little minion..., she spoke with a devilish smile. When the two turned to the slave girl that rested on the slab, Al Rashid wondered just what Namira had proclaimed herself to be. Taria, she calls herself Tulwara... can it really be? Taria de Castillo laughed at the suggestion made by the prince. Simply a slave with a foolish ambition, my prince., she replied before running her fingers on the slaves forehead. She is no

more a slave than the frightful girl that stared from the far corners of the dungeons... seeing how the proud men of Aravya devolved into animals as they ravaged their own princess and turned her into a whore before killing her. Turning back to the prince, she continued her explication. Your fool of a father had given me resources to play with in my research... the slave girls of the Panguians harem. For what purpose...?, the young prince asked. To find the truth about Azur and his secrets, my hungry little prince..., she replied with great condescension. Azur was never a competent apprentice of magic. When he attempted to create the Jewel of Smarati, it did not teleport Tulwara, it merely trapped her mind and memories inside this very gem., the contessa revealed before showing him the great jewel that glimmered on a nearby desk. The jewel did not dissolve like it should have... because the energies are still trapped inside this imperfect stone. So my father had this gem all this time..., the prince deduced, prompting a cheerful laughter from the contessa. Very good, my prince... you are much smarter than your foolish father..., Taria whispered into his ears, all the while teasing and seducing him. Each of the slave girl lost their past when I injected Tulwaras memories... but all of them went mad shortly after. I needed a proper host that could take it... and now, I have found her. So, now we will know more about this sorceror?, the prince wondered. Much, much more, prince... much much more..., she spoke as her emerald eyes stared intently at the young slave before her. Namira was no longer a slave of the harem. She was now simply a tool for her new mistress. ~o~ I have made the sacrifice! A man stood before the great gates at the foot of the mountains. Behind him was a crate full of dead carcasses, the price of entry within the Gates of Tanis. I now weave the threads that will summon thee!, he continued before pulling a strange musical instrument from within his robes. From its steel pipes, music played with a tune that Princess Tulwara was once taught. Music filled the air, pulling in dark clouds from the skies. This was the key to the gates of Tanis. Soon, the great gates stirred open giving way to impenetrable darkness. A low voice from within the bowels of Earth echoed back to the young man. Weaver of the Aravyan Nocturne. Who dares step foot into the these walls? I am Azur Halabaster. I am the heir of Tanis.

With those words, he stepped in, the darkness engulfing him completely.