CHAPTER FIVE

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     "This is preposterous Marcus, you can't actually believe what you are telling us?"

     "I know, Elder Drume, I know it sounds far fetched but-"

     "Far fetched! You act as though these dreams are real!"

     Marcus had never seen Elder Drume so frazzled. He expected the Elder must believe some of what he told him because the man wasn't one to lose his composure so quickly. Marcus couldn't blame him, he had faced them before. He recalled the Soulless; once living humans who at some point in their life traded their soul to the Great Dark for a chance at immortality. Before their death they became the first Bringers of the Great War. They were chosen for their strength and their fearlessness in the face of conflict, but more so for their gullibility and inability to care about another's life, especially if it came to protecting their own. Perfect soldiers, though naive enough to miss the catch. Once a Bringer was killed, they would be raised as Soulless - cursed to follow the orders from the Dark and spelled with a hunger for rotting flesh.

     Marcus' vision distorted as he recalled his recent dreams. He explained again to the Elders who the familiar face he kept seeing he recognized as the Earth Builder, a former Primordial. He had an inkling that it was this original being, charged with protecting the Earth Element, who would be the one to raise the Soulless.

     The Elders knew what kind of damage this Primordial could do, some towns in Valterra never did recover from the havoc he caused with the Great War. 

    "Primordials have been resurrected throughout the Ages, since the beginning of time, with the same purpose; to hold the balance of nature, to protect life, to guide their element to make life and to ensure the stability of future generations to come. Tell me again, Marcus, why did this one Earth Builder betray us?"

     "He was tainted, my Lord. Perhaps visited by the Great Dark itself." 

     However, Earth Builder he saw in his dreams had transformed from the man he had faced nearly two decades ago into something very different. He hadn't aged, but his eyes lacked a certain spark of life, they were cold, wretched and endless. His skin was pale and thick. He had no reason to doubt the possibility that the Earth Builder himself had now become one of the undead, he could still feel his hand push the blade through his chest.

     "And you're certain it is this same creature who has returned?" 

     Marcus knew it should be absolutely impossible for the Earth Builder to be the one to raise the Soulless because Marcus was the one who had killed him almost two decades ago. It was in fact his death which had brought an end to the Great War. 

     "Yes, my lords, but take heed, a drought will soon ensue, people everywhere will lose crops. Food will spoil. Wells dry up. Valterra itself will lose its ability to produce. Our atmosphere will drain of moisture. No rain, no rivers, no lakes or ponds. The oceans will turn acidic, the fish all die. That is what our Earth Build will bring. He is the Bringer of Dust. What could possibly survive that besides the Soulless, those wretched creatures who feed off dirt and remains?"

    The Elders sat in silent contemplation. Worry encapsulating their features. 

     "Elder Drume, you know what I am, you know what my initiate has the potential to become and what I have done to ensure his survival. I can assure you, I would like these dreams to be a prelude to as little as possible, but I am not about to risk the lives..."

     A hand lifted up cut him short. Elder Drume sat quietly for a moment before he spoke again. "I do believe you Chancellor," he conceded. He stood up, the Great Hall enveloped him, and he exchanged briefs nods with the other three Elders in attendance. A conversation without words. 

     "It is then agreed," he began. "You shall go collect your initiate and help him obtain what he needs to defeat the Earth Builder. You shall do so with haste and in secrecy." Marcus nodded. No one could find out what he was up to. The boy had to be hidden for a reason. If anyone truly knew what he was, just the thought alone from someone without a mind guard would send his essence straight to the Earth Builder who could then compel any raised Soulless to search him out until he was turned or killed. If Marcus could reach his initiate, get him to Bolster city and complete the ritual there may be a chance they could defeat the tainted Earth Builder before he raises the undead. 

         "Then you have leave to go," Elder Drume continued. "Be steadfast Master Thane, be vigilant. Do not sway in uncertainty, guide him to his Truth."

     "I will walk with the Light," promised Marcus as he made a bow. He then turned and made his way out the Great Hall, his mind already working through the details of his journey to come.





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