From Chapter 1

Our story begins many years ago with a ten-year-old boy named Rand and his dream. He stood before a body of still water that reflected a light from an unknown source. He stood on a firm marble tile. He believed he was indoors, but he wasn't sure. He didn't know where he was, but he knew he was sleeping. There was a different feel to this place. It was peaceful. It felt more genuine than the real world.

The water acted like a moat that ran around a stone throne. The throne was massive with steps that led up to it. Sitting on the throne was a magnificent being that looked like a man but wasn't. The being had eyes of fire that frightened the boy, but somehow he knew that this person of royalty wasn't his enemy. The eyes watched him, but the being didn't say anything.

Rand looked around some more. He saw some grass nearby and a tree with a very young dwarf sitting under it. The dwarves were a race of people that were very short, and they were often considered inferior to the other races. But the rules of society didn't exist in this place. The toddler under the tree was playing with a baby lion. The mother lion was watching nearby, but she didn't move or interfere. She wasn't at all concerned.

Rand saw something else that caught his eye. He saw a woman approaching him, yet she wasn't really a human at all. She had long, dark hair and moved with unnatural grace. She wore a simple blue dress that clung to her body but didn't reveal any of her feminine features. She was both modest and beautiful at the same time. Looking at her closely, Rand realized that she was partially transparent. Some light passed through her but some of it was reflected, giving her the appearance of a glowing sheet of blue glass. Who was she?

When the woman got close, she smiled down at him. She lowered herself to the ground so they were eye to eye. She had beautiful blue eyes and a plain, simple face. Rand felt he could trust her. He asked, "Where am I?"

"You know where you are," she replied. "You're sleeping in your bed at home."

"Yeah," the boy said sheepishly. "What's your name?"

"Why do you want to know my name?" she replied with a chuckle. "It's a little beyond you, little one. The king brought you here. He wants you to know this place is real. He knows what he wants you to be."

Rand looked over at the being on the throne. The man who was not a man stood and slowly descended from his throne. He moved with extraordinary grace. He wore a great white cloak that trailed on the ground behind him as he walked. He had a simple gold crown atop his long black hair, and a silver sword sheathed at his side. He was fearsome, yet the boy felt he could trust him.

The king of the dream spoke with a low voice: "I brought you here. I have chosen you."

The boy woke up in his bed. Feeling the dream was more than just a dream, he wondered what it all meant. The dream filled him with hope that he could bring about equality, peace, and justice to the world. He had been chosen for something. He didn't yet know that the real world was a cold, hard, dark place full of brokenness and pain.

From Chapter 3

The cave wasn't large, and there wasn't much in it. There was an image of the black dragon Abaddon on the wall. Thomas didn't know much about the dragon, but the followers of the Dark Lord had always worshipped him. It was the reason the fortress in Morke had been built in the shape of a dragon, and the reason why they often used the shape of a dragon symbolically.

Against the wall, the rock had been cut in such a way as to leave a makeshift table and chair. There was a sack beside the table. Thomas examined the sack but found only some bread and apples in it. Thomas ignored them and turned his attention back to the table. A note had been left behind on it. Thomas grabbed it, but then paused when he heard a voice say his name. Puzzled, Thomas looked around the cave, but he couldn't see anyone. Then he heard the voice again: "Thomas."

"Who's there?" Thomas asked. He looked around the room and drew his sword. "I'm watching you," the voice said. It was coming from the image of the dragon on the wall. Thomas turned and held the torch close to it so he could examine the image of Abaddon carefully. "That's right," the voice said. "I'm watching you. I've always been watching you." The voice laughed.

Thomas was surprised to hear the voice, but he wasn't afraid. He said to the dragon, "Then you will watch me crush your skull." He touched the tip of his sword to the skull of the dragon. Darkness spread across the image until the wall was completely black and the image was gone. Thomas smiled with satisfaction. Then he left the cave with the note.

From Chapter 3

"What did they do to demand your wrath?" the lord continued, despite the malice in the emperor's eyes. Only a fool wouldn't fear the greatest wizard of their time. Apparently, this lord was such a fool.

"They questioned me as you are questioning me now." The emperor smiled as he said it. Thomas wondered if the Fire Emperor enjoyed the war. He wondered if he enjoyed killing others. Was it pleasure that drove him to kill, or madness? It could be a combination of both.

Thomas decided to intervene. He moved forward, saying, "You should go."

"I will not!" the lord responded. "Someone has to stand up to-"

The lord didn't finish his sentence. The emperor reached out and touched him. Instantly, a bright flash filled the room and momentarily blinded Thomas. When his vision returned, the Andorian had been incinerated and was nothing but a cloud of smoke. Thomas's hand had instinctively gone back to his sword and had begun pulling it out. He stopped with the sword halfway out. The Fire Emperor was watching him. Those dark eyes looked into him, pierced him to look into his very soul. Thomas's mind raced. Part of him wanted to respond in a rage, but he wouldn't get the sword out in time. He wouldn't even get close.

"What are you going to do?" the emperor mocked.

Thomas regained his composure and slid the sword back into its sheath. "I serve the empire," he replied coolly. "I fight to bring an end to the Dark Lord's malign will."

The Fire Emperor nodded with a wicked smile. "You serve me well." He paused and made an odd comment. "Is it really murder to kill someone who's already as good as dead? If their life means nothing, then can they really be called alive? What I did was no worse than destroying a rock."


The Fire Emperor

They believed the fate of the world had been decided in the Final War. The Fire Emperor and the Dark Lord had destroyed each other, but this history has proven to be untrue. The peace of a hundred and fifty years will come to an end when two wizards and two armies will stake their claim on world domination.

"I sought to end all that is evil. Seeing the broken world, I made it my goal to set things right. Young, ambitious, and full of folly, I woke up and realized that it was only just a dream. The souls of men and women are buried deep within them and are rarely seen. Like a candle, the dream of a soul is lit in the child, it flickers when it tries to love, and in the end, it chooses either to smother itself in the dust or to burn like a raging wildfire."
-The Fire Emperor.