A storm tears the skies asunder. In the peaceful land of Tarvos, storms are not a common occurrence. Deep within the Temple of Kord in the capital city of Telvasin, a Deva sits in quiet contemplation. Though his kind is rare in the world, he has found some amount of companionship amongst the followers of The Temple of the Storm God. Light flashes through the opening in the marble, domed structure, and as the Deva raises his eyes to the ominous clouds above, a figure forms before him. Though the figure is large, and seems to be made of the unbridled fury of the storm above itself, the Deva simply raises his eyes to meet the gaze of the immortal being. The figure only stares back for a moment before a lightning bolt crashes into the building, crackling and pulsing with energy around the God’s hand. “Go forth with my strength added to yours, for the task before you is of more importance than you could possibly fathom,” speaks the figure in a thundering baritone that echoes and crashes along with the storm above. A slight smell of ozone is all the Deva has time to recognize before the lightening cascades from Kord’s hand to the Deva’s body. Power surges through the Deva’s form. Crackling bits of Kord himself leap forth from the Deva’s eyes. A new invoker is born…

Some time before this raging storm, a rift opens in the deep of night. At first, through the tear, a land of heat and fire can be seen. The waves of the heat pulsing and undulating against the brief rush of cold air from this plane. “This way,” a female speaks with the voice of one who is lost in worlds of her own design. From the lesion in the gap between the worlds a male Genesai, and a female Tiefling step out into the vast wilderness. A sword at ready, the Genesai casts his gaze to his surroundings. Majestic mountains float lazily with the breeze among the deep green of the forest below. “As good a place as any to hide for awhile,” the Genesai mutters to himself under his breath. And the words are truly to himself he realizes shortly, as the Tiefling warlock, staring up at the vast stars above, begins walking purposely towards the west. The portal to the Elemental Plane vanishes as quickly as it had appeared behind her. The Genesai gives a curt nod at her slender form and his eyes wander down to take it all in briefly, before his eyes turn toward the east and the mountains. “I shall start my training there,” he speaks to himself, “And I shall have my vengeance.”

The young dwarf gasped for breath. Water was not a comforting area for one of his race, and the strangling seaweed of the Grasping Lake dragging him beneath the surface made it even less so. He could feel the darkness beginning to grip him. Never did the young dwarf think his travels would end here. There was still so much to see and so much he had wanted to do. His air was almost gone as his lungs began to sear with the liquid filling them, denying him of breath. Something deep inside of himself screamed out for help, and something older than even the Gods themselves answered. The plants around his throat, arms and legs were torn away from him with a quick blur of movement. He began to rise slowly at first, and then with increased vigor toward the rippling surface of the lake. With a burst of misty spray, his form was heaved onto the nearby land where he accidentally stumbled into one of the many hazardous natural traps that seemed to litter the voluminous forest. As his eyes began to flutter open, and every part of him heaved with deep, labored breaths, an animal’s shape stood before him. This, however, was no normal denizen of the forest. A spirit creature stood before him. The obnoxiously large beaver, seaweed still hanging from between his teeth, looked down at him and almost seemed to smile. From then on, the dwarf and his spirit companion were rarely seen apart.

The young woman moaned in pleasure. A smile crested the lips of the Drow above her as his eyes were already scanning the room for an escape route. He could picture it now, the young lady’s tears as she awoke to find her ring finger devoid of it’s name sake. The ring would rest easily though, along with the several others that adorned the chain around his neck. Symbols of previous conquests. These women were so foolish and deserved the pain of explaining the missing symbols of marriage to their husbands. It had seemed like ages since he was exiled from his underground home. Not that he had missed it. Not that he had a choice even if he had. He was an exile, and honestly, he liked it that way. Only when he first came to the surface did he have a bit of trouble. Maelstrom Ponds, as he would learn they were called, were one of the more interesting and deadly traps that lay in the forest he had exited the underground into. Were it not for the intervention of a dwarf shaman, and his spirit companion, he may not have lived to lay in this woman’s bed now. The dwarf had saved him and led him to the capital city of Telvasin, where he may indulge himself in as many pretty, young, married women as he could lay with. Unknown to the young Drow though, his actions had not gone unnoticed, and as he reached to remove this latest conquest’s ring before taking his leave, the door crashed open. Guards bearing the mark of Tel’a’zathmir, the untitled king of Telvasin, rushed to place their weapons at the warlock’s throat before he could summon the powers of the dark things that he had long ago made his pact with. “Tel’a’zathmir summons you to his throne. I’m afraid the Lady Parasade’s ring will have to wait,” the head guard spoke in a commanding tone. “Can I get dressed first?” the Drow answered smugly before taking his hand away from Lord’s Parasade’s wive’s fingers. Gathering his clothes(and slyly sliding on his trophy necklace so that the guards wouldn’t notice) he took one last glance at the still shocked face of Lady Parasade. A brief smirk crossed his face again, and he winked at her. “I’ll see you again,” he mouthed to her before being led, at spear point, out into the driving rain of the storm toward the castle of Tel’a’zathmir.

Even the thickness of his scales didn’t soften the impact as the red hot brand etched itself deep into his face. Were he a lesser dragonborn, he would have screamed out in agony. Tears fell from his eyes as the scene replayed in his head. Azula, his young sister and ward, covered in their father’s blood. The pain in his chest tightened. Had there been any other choice, he would be comforting his sister now. Instead, their House would be dispossessed, but Azula would not have to face the possibly fatal interrogations into how their father had died and why she was covered in his blood. This way she at least had a chance. Had he not taken the blame and accepted the brand, who knows what fate would lie ahead for her…. Magistrate Leonne snapped his fingers loudly and said in a pompous and annoyed voice, “You there! Take the militia out and see if you can’t lead your men to some small victory over those damned goblins. The idea of them even being in the remote area of my village offends me.” The dragonborn came back to his senses and absently patted the small doll that Azula had given him before he left all those years ago. “Yes, sir.” he spoke as he turned towards the small militia he had come to command over the years. “Exit to the north and flank back around behind where Faldrin and Jet said they saw that last group. Signal when you arrive and we’ll distract them enough for you to strike from behind. They should lose morale and break back towards where I positioned the archers last night.” The soldiers obeyed. Their leader always seemed to have a knack for the strategy of war. As the last soldier exited the hall, the large dragonborn began to follow, before Magistrate Leonne’s voice called out lowly, but with no less self superiority, “I should expect you back in two hours time. Your abilities in combat tactics should make this a short fight, and there is much more I have need of Kinslayer.” The words trailed off behind the dragonborn as he exited the large mansion house. It would be a short fight indeed.

Evil things stirred in the Forest. They were the only things that stirred this night and every night since the storm. Large black orbs glared, unblinking at the small village. Blood and flesh and bone would be the spoils of victory. They cared for nothing else, save pleasing their master. Though it was not present, they could feel it pulse and rage deep to their dark core. They were a part of it, if only a very small part. The onyx eyes turned toward the multitudes of other eyes that stared back intently at the first and an emotion that could only be referred to as some sort of demented glee radiated through the thing’s body. Soon they would all be together. Soon the master’s plan could be brought into motion. Soon Echowind would be no more…

Echowind

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