PRELUDE TO TALES OF THE AMULET

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Dusel rose from the bloodied sand and stumbled to his feet, staring at the dead scattered around him. Thousands of soldiers were strewn across the arid plain, their blood turning the sand crimson. Many were clad in thin-plated armor, and he couldn't tell if they were men or elves. The qui'sha, however, were distinguishable. Their helmets were elongated at the front, allowing room for their snouts. They wore different armor too; scaled with sharp points. They looked wicked in that armor. Although, they looked wicked without it. Weapons littered the battlefield, their metal gleaming with deadly magic.

Even after all these years, seeing the aftermath of war weighed him down with sorrow. This was not the first time he walked away as the sole survivor. It was becoming common place. Not because he was a coward. He fought valiantly, and died, often.

But death never lasted long with him.

He averted his gaze from the dead, searching the ground near him. His fanisar lay not far from where he had been slain. It was as long as he was tall, a dull-platinum color. The weapon was much like a channeling staff, used by mages, with a groove all along one of its sides. Of course, it could be used as such, but it was so much more.

Grabbing the weapon, Dusel pressed on two oval indentations near the staff's center. Crimson magic formed along the ends of the weapon, becoming glistening blades that transmuted into sharp metal.

He took the weapon in one hand and picked his way across the battlefield. Other parts of the plain were a mismatched mess of grass and sand, the result of Alliance transmuters. It was their plan to leave this place desolate after the battle.

A beam of light sped into the sky in front of him. It raced upward, but soon disappeared.

They did it! he cheered, grinning beneath his helmet. Finally, he's banished. Without him, the war can end. He hastened to where the light had appeared.

Dusel crossed more blood soaked battlefields. Unlike where he had fallen, not all were dead. Groans and pained cries filled the air. It was chaotic. Explosions of magic echoed in the distance. They were accompanied by shrilling roars, undoubtedly the cries of gangolins or tarrasques. Those beasts were commonplace in this theater of war. They were deadly, especially when enthralled by draconic mages. Dragons were the only magic wielders who could coerce such creatures. Though, some claimed that the elven conjurer, Hasernal, could control a gangolin.

Beyond the battlefield lay a city of considerable size, partially in ruin. It was where the light had beamed skyward. He knew the place where it had originated, the enemy's palace at the city's eastern edge.

Luckily, it wasn't too far away.

It took Dusel an hour to reach the palace, or at least what remained of it. The palace had sat on a mound, surrounded by beautiful gardens. But now, the palace grounds were desolate. Trees had been replaced by spires of rock, grass was now sand. And, none of the palace walls remained. In its place was an enormous crater.

Faint pale-blue light drew his attention from within the crater, and he saw Shem'rinal appearing from a misty cloud. He stood in the air, just above the bottom of the crater.

"What is he doing–" Dusel cut himself short as he noticed a glint of crimson beneath Shem'rinal. Impossible! It couldn't be the Amulet, could it? Scrambling, he dashed into the crater, skidding down its sides.

As he neared the crater's bottom he clearly saw what he feared the most. A white-metal amulet lay on the crater floor. It had seven curved prongs, each around a large ruby inlaid within an oval opening, much like an eye. Three draconic fingers spread from the bottom-most prongs, gripping a black sphere; the tethering stone. This was the weapon which turned the tide of this millennial long war.

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