It was twilight, and the sky had turned that ugly grayish color that reminded one of drowsiness, the kind that obscured the sun from direct vision, the kind that was often accompanied by drifting fog and high humidity. Indeed, fog there was, clinging, binding fog, so thick you could swear it tried to reach out and snag you to be its eternal companion, frozen in the same moment of time. The fog slowed my travel considerably, but no nearly as much as the snow underfoot. It was cold, but it was not as cold as it could be. All I saw around me was my cloak, lightly dusted with snow and hanging loosely over my own frame. The path lay before me, worn and beaten and snow-covered. I noticed the only tracks in the snow were my own. I was alone, so alone.

He walked between the trees, metal coif concealing his face. Ahead were twin towers; soldiers spotted him and hailed him. He smiled and lengthened his stride. Onward went the man in dark armor towards the city.

On the long walks on the path I could not help but think about the events that had taken place; it was hard for one not to think, for there was no one to talk to and the mind tends to wander when left alone for someone reason. The seemingly endless road was my only companion, a silent one at that, and with each sullen crunch of my boots entering the snow I thought again. It had been two years since my mother, Serelen, had her life taken by a man named Ryten to extract unholy vengeance on my father, the great Dereaux. I was still uncertain as to exactly what happened between my father and Ryten, but all I know was that Ryten snuck into my home while I was assisting my father transfer a half-side of beef to a local tavern. He killed my mother, which sent my father to his deathbed because of a broken heart. Revenge I swore, and revenge was what drove me through two years of mourning and wandering the cities, searching for Ryten, so that I might avenge the unjust murder of my parents. Somewhere out there, a man in black armor resides, and that propelled me forward, fueling my muscles with the rage that makes a man ten times as strong as he truly is. And I was alone, so alone.

He passed through the gates of the city, his second skin of midnight steel glistening in the faded light. The people saw his approach and scurried back into their homes, terrified. He took in this detail and moved on. In a moment he found he had reached the immense, rusted gates before the mansion made of stone so dark it seemed to absorb every drop of light. At some point in time the gate itself was overgrown with vines that seemed to be a putrid mixture of black and dark green. Now the plants seemed to back away, as if in fear of the mansion, leaving dead vines as morbid reminders of life and warnings to what lay ahead. Tilting the head encased in tempered iron upward, he could see the soldiers standing guard. They saw him and opened the iron gates. As the gate opened it revealed the spacious courtyard, with dark lotuses in flowerbeds, turning his mind to gloomy, dark thoughts. Come to think of it, the entire town was dreary in this way, just like the weather. A step into the castle and he noticed a figure approaching, apparently to greet him. He was handsome, dark-haired young man. Father,? the man called, you have returned home.? He spoke, ?Son,? he paused, ?what is my name?? ?Father, why-? Answer!? The lad, puzzled, said, ?You are Ryten, father of I, Sydlis.?

I stopped as soon as I noticed the twin towers rising out of the mist. I dropped my heavy sack and began to don the heavy, dark armor.

Dice, born Faelin, Dereaux?s only son, undid the chain-link coif across his face and sheathed his bloodied sword. The one they called Sydlis looked down at his hand, clutched over his bloody gut, then at the man his age standing before him. This man was not his father, nay, he was hardly older than Sydlis himself. Trying hard he managed, ?Why?? He laughed. Why? Dice?s brain nearly exploded at the very thought. I?ll tell you why. For two long years, Ryten, slayer of my kin, has had the comfort of a family. Where was Dereaux?s son? He was wandering the forgotten pathways eternally, prowling the crooked streets and black nights. And I am alone, so alone. Even with a gaping hole in his body large enough to stick a man?s fist through, Sydlis managed a last-ditch effort. He lunged in a desperate attempt to land a punch at Dice. He blocked the blow easily, catching the fist in his palm, and shoved the dying man back onto the ground. The whelp of evil twitched involuntarily once, then relaxed with an expression of relief on the dead man?s face. Dice turned away from Sydlis and the growing dark-red pool around him. He felt no remorse for the vengeful deed that he had just done, but rather hoped that the father had loved the lad, cherished him. He wished that the boy was Ryten?s pride and joy, and that he had struck a hard blow to him. For now, at least in Dice's mind, there would be two people, eternally at war. At least to Dice, though, there would be nothing left to lose. He oriented himself in the direction of Iridine, his home, and began to walk. And he was alone, so alone.

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