Heart of Darkness

Acadēm-(A-ka-deem) One who is proficient in many types of magic, yet is aligned with one alone. (ex- Dark Acadēm one who is aligned with the element of shadow and the power of darkness)

The Summoning

Antien lifted the mug of the dark, frothy brew to his lips. He'd been sitting in the tavern for a few hours, watching as the usual customers came, bought their ale and left. Nothing had changed. He hadn't seen his friends from Tetzunia, the school, in a few years either. The Eplith'Norrezea, Selfinia; the winged centaur, Andaer; the mixed breed, Venia; all were great friends and comrades.

Antien began to guzzle his fifth tankard, when newcomer entered the musty old tavern. Silence reigned in that instant while all the usual drunkards stared at the dark cloaked man who entered the room, boots thudding against the floor as he limped. Like Antien, this man did not maintain the usual dress of the Victorian era. He wore a long black trench-coat, black leather gauntlets, and a three cornered hat which covered his eyes. The man lifted his hat and glared at the rooms occupants, who immediately turned away and resumed their conversations.

He limped to the counter, left foot thudding with every step. Sitting down beside Antien, he raised his arm and called the bartender. The bartender brought his drink then left, leaving the two men to sit beside one another in silence. The stranger turned and stared at Antien, his eyes blazing with dark fire. He raised his hand and slapped a black envelope upon the counter. "A summons from the Dark", he whispered in a voice that seemed to chill the air about him. Antien turned his head to face the man; but he was gone.

Antien reached for the letter upon the table, but jerked his hand away as soon as he had touched it. The letter was as cold as the frigid depths of the Eastern Sea, yet burned with the fires of Hell itself. Truly, this was a summons from the Dark-The Lord of All Things and of None, he called himself. No one has ever resisted his summons before; no one that have survived. Faster than lightning, Antien snatched the letter and stormed out of the tavern; the doors crumbling to dust as he passed.

Antien darted through the crowded cobblestone streets, trying to disappear among the crowds. But , his medieval style of dress made him stand out more than he would. An hour later, Antien flew up the stairs and crashed through his front door. He fell to the darkened floor, breathing heavily. Carefully, he removed the black parchment from the envelope. His dark eyes darted across the page, noting every drop of bloody ink.

'How could he find me so quickly', Antien wondered, while dropping the missive to the dusty floor. "I've got to get out of here, I can't stay any longer." He walked out his front door and down two flights of stairs. Stopping at the desk in the lobby, he spoke to the clerk. "I'm leaving now, and I do not intend to return."

"But sir!" the clerk interjected, "what about all your belongings, your books and research?"

"Leave it", the Dark Acadēm muttered. "I have no need of it any longer; you may keep whatever gold you find."

"Thank you sir," the clerk stuttered. Antien waved a hand towards the clerk as he left, reminding him of the tasks he must attend to. He had hardly thrown on his cloak before he had reached the edge of the township. He had reached the beginning of the Kage no Mori, the Forest of Shadow.

The dark missive glided across the dry grass upon an unseen wind. Slowly it was unfurled, revealing its contents to the world.

Antien, the Dark Acadēm;

You have been summoned upon the Royal Order of the Lord Dark,

Lord of All things and of None. You must be seen upon the threshold

Of the Dark Citadel, the Heart of Darkness,

before the third moon's cycle ends.

If you refuse this order, your soul will be sundered and cast upon the four winds

By Order of the Dark

The Baron of Dusk