Interlude - a second story begins elsewhere

The girl wakes from dreams of the end. A dream of a terrible, decaying visage that she had hoped she would never see again. She stood, alone, holding her sword. Standing before her was a mountain of death. A gigantic towering colossus that loomed over not just her, but the world below it. It's form hidden under robes of swirling night. From underneath its dark, shadowy cowl, twin pinpricks of ember burned brightly, transfixing her.

The girl was far from the frozen winterlands of the north. Here, in her dream, she was far from where she lay. In fact, the girl was back in the green, rolling hinterlands of the Dales. It was the last place that she had fought the colossus. It was the last place she had seen her closest friend alive.

The girl, Celenis, had returned home.

The colossus moved, raising its right arm. Celenis faced it head on, and from the depths of robes of night came forth a creeping tendril of green.

She knew her enemy. She had faced it once before. Only that time, she had stood with her friends. And that fight had cost her the life of her dearest companion.

This time she stood alone.

Overhead, the skies were clear, and a cool breeze floated through the grassy clearing in which she stood. Despite the spring weather, Celenis could not see the sun. The towering, looming form of death in front of her blocked her sight. Words swirled around in her mind, words spoken by another long, long ago.

When the good man teaches wisdom to the fool, only then will the Darkbringer die.

Celenis closed her eyes. She had believed with all her heart that the Darkbringer had been destroyed. Yet, looking upon the colossus as it approached her, she knew deep down inside of her that the monstrosity that towered in front of her was her nemesis restored. The death of her closest friend was not enough to fell the terrible being.

The dark robes shimmered and bulged. Things fell from the shadowy interior, from the folds of cloth around its arms as it raised them. Creatures. Shadowy, wriggling creatures. Glistening worms fell, striking the ground and as they did so, they expanded in size. These monstrous, slimy worms wriggled towards her, opening their cavernous jaws, revealing row upon row of razor sharp fangs. From the robes of the Darkbringer came more tentacles, writhing as they shot towards her. Each of the tentacles ended in a mouth of snapping teeth. Swinging her blade, Celenis severed one of them as it probed to her. Diving into a forward roll, she went under a second of the tendrils. Coming to her feet, the warrior woman twisted, lashing out with a devastating backhanded slash. A second severed stalk landed on the grass, still twitching and wriggling.

The first of the monstrous worms came to her. It reared, opening its mouth. Spitting something towards her, the warrior woman brought her shield up. A thick, viscous liquid hit her shield. The metal began to twist and melt as the liquid began to eat away at it. Cursing, she threw the shield away.

You cannot stand, nemesis of mine.

The Darkbringer's intrusive presence inside her mind. Yet Celenis knew the words to be true. As more worms came to fight her, as more tendrils sprouted from the gigantic humanoid form cloaked in swathes of night, she knew she was lost.

***

Celenis woke in a cold sweat. Blinking, she rubbed her eyes. Only a dream.

Around her were four walls, a sparsely decorated room. Painted in white, the room was almost devoid of furnishings save for the hard wooden bed on which she slept and one dresser table situated at the far wall. Throwing her covers aside, Celenis swung her feet round, placing them on the floor. The coolness of the wooden floor was reassuring. She took in a deep breath, holding her head in her hands as she whispered, "I need to lay off that moonshine. Its giving me bad nightmares."

The woman who sat on the side of the bed was both youthful and pretty. Her olive coloured eyes shone brightly. For all the fact that the warrior woman looked no older than her mid twenties, the truth of it was that she was far, far older than that. A side-effect of her unusual "origins." Indeed the memories that floated around her head, returned to her by the nightmares were memories of events that had happened a century ago. Memories of a battle that had cost her dear.

"I miss you," she whispered quietly, remembering the fallen.

And indeed, despite the passage of time, Celenis had not forgotten those she had cared for deeply. Every year, on the anniversary of his passing, she had lit a candle to remember him and honour his sacrifice. A sacrifice that had led to the destruction of the being known as the Darkbringer.

It was at that precise moment in time that Celenis, as she moved her hands away, glanced towards her right arm. Normally, from the base of her wrist, snaking up the entirety of her arm was a bright blue, azure tattoo. At the base of the tattoo was a beautiful crimson rose, a symbol of beauty and perfection. The rose was a symbol of the friends and family she had lost, granted to her by the goddess Tymora in recognition both for what she had lost, and what she had done.

A small gasp of shock came from Celenis though. For above the rose, a second symbol was now displayed. That of the palm of a hand. Within that palm was a fanged jaw full of razor sharp teeth.

It was a sigil. One that she knew very well. It was the sigil of the Darkbringer.

Now, after all these years, her master had returned.

Celenis shook her head as the horrified realisation of what that meant came to her.

It had begun again.

Celenis stood. Dressing herself quickly in her chain armour, she belted her scabbard and sword around her waist. Opening her olive eyes, a look of fierce determination settled on them.

"I cannot bring back what I have lost, but I can give you justice if nothing else."

Her heart was settled. She knew what she had to do. But first, she had to speak to one far more knowledgeable in the ways of the Darkbringer than she was. She slung her backpack over her shoulders and left the room, closing the door behind her. There was no doubt in her mind over her destination.

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