A/N – Ok, this is my first attempt at an original. I do not want to give the plot away, but rest assured that this will be much more than just a short story. Any comments, good or bad, are very welcome. So read away!

The Legend of Korina

Prologue

Across the far-flung clouds and steeped tops of the mountainous region of Veralian, a sky of vivid reds and crushed oranges, crept around the corners of cumulous clouds. The dramatic rays of light, shone with such intensity that they reminded golden eyes of a banquet held in his honour all those unfathomable years ago. Large hunting birds soared in between the thinner wisps of cloud with nimble elegance, adding their graceful beauty to the already awe inspiring scenery. The impressive juts of mountainous rock outlined themselves in the shadowed magnificence of dark purple and brown… a perfect foil against the light streaming over their craggy sides.

This impressive evening view was what Mandrir Emiph had spent his whole life aiming to be a part of. His great long clock billowed with the gentle cool breeze. The rusty coloured light, glistened along the plain white fabric, sparkled down its length, dulling the hem of gold tipped nobility, and setting it in its proper place amongst the beauty of Mother Nature herself.

Yes… this was what he wanted! It was the perfect place to slow the cankering steps of an aging warrior. After a life filled with more action than was probably healthy, he was tired of living the lonely life of a wanderer, and now, with no more desires than to at last have a place to call home, he planned to spend the rest of his rapidly dwindling days, looking out at the most enigmatical scenery that man ever had the privilege to witness.

The breeze that stirred his cloak began to blow a little stronger, making his aged form hunch over at the shoulders. It was the only sign he would allow the world to see that he was now an old man. Only here on the desolate peaks of this mountain range, miles away from the nearest signs of civilization, would he even contemplate sharing this little bit of arthritic licence with himself. The fact that he was so far up the mountains that even a man in his twenties would struggle to catch his breath, wasn't even an issue. It was all about appearances. Honour, pride… they were all fundamental to him, all old friends, and they would always guide him well. In the long life he had been fortunate enough to possess, they were the only qualities that set him apart from the rest of the human throng, and he would rather be cursed to hell and back, than sacrifice a mind set that had been so long forged into his everyday mentality.

With the shifting of winds, came a lapse in temperature, and Mandrir could feel the fresh mountain air, freeze. The lack of warmth under such dramatic light unnerved him, as the once towering clouds started collapsing in on them selves. The vapour they contained, settled into a fine mist, and clung eerily under his feet. Unconsciously he shivered under its presence. It reminded him of… of… He chuckled to himself in distraction, and shook his head trying to free his mind from the ghosts of his past. She wasn't there… he was dreaming again, caught in the nightmare that most of his life had consisted of.

She was dead.

It had taken him so many years, cost so many lives, but eventually he had become master enough of the Korina stone to release all of its power. The legend had been set in the pious ink of the gods themselves, scorched into the holy parchment, and left to all eternity. The full power was unparalleled, and nothing could touch it, not even Serosia herself. Nothing could withstand it in its final stage and finally he had mastered it… or so he had thought.

The growing wind whistled around his ears, breaking the perfect silence he had revelled in only moments ago, and stamping its authority onto aging hearing with marked ferocity. Mandrir new instantly that this change was much more than normal meteorology. He had lived long enough to know the difference between nature's beauty, and the metallic twang of celestial magic. The taste, smell, and feel were all unnatural. The mountains stone itself, shifted uneasily beneath his feet, as its influence spilled over the ever darkening sky.

The power laced its way through with the wind, harmonizing itself with the rushing air currents, crawling over his skin, and worming its influence over his old limbs with an all too familiar ease. The simple but chilling tune, which accompanied its power, trickled around the weather torn rocks with sickening softness, and Mandrir clenched his teeth in defiance under the maelstrom, even though it felt as though every particle of air had been forcefully pushed out of his lungs. He staggered back, trying to cling onto anything for support, and cursed under his breath. This couldn't be happening! Not now! Not when there was nothing more he could do, than live out of his life in… well… peace, but there was no avoiding it any longer. This was going to be the final showdown, and he wasn't going to escape it with his life.

He had dedicated his whole existence to the task of finally laying the evil that had haunted him, and countless generations, to rest, but yet again he had failed. He had thought that the previous battle would be his last, but destiny just had to come along and stick his boot in, unintentionally torturing him even more with his laziness! It wasn't as if the other members of the halfworld ever received anything akin to what he did. He had served his purpose and served it well, and his transgression into mortality was long over due, why couldn't they just leave him the hell alone!

A wrinkled white hand found the perfect hold on frozen rock, and peace was completely overpowered. The steady stream of light, grew rapidly in brightness, and engulfed the fading sun. She lived… She lived and it was all his fault!

"Serosia! I know you're here, stop hiding behind your pathetic, first grade parlour magic and show yourself!"

The increasingly loud hum only rang out with even more persistence at this appeal, mocking him without disguise. Showing him how much he was to blame!

"What's the matter?" he scorned against the now almost intolerable pressure being exerted onto his aging limbs, "Or are you afraid to face a defenceless old man? The higher plain will be laughing at you even as we speak… such a pathetic failure!"

The wind shifted. Amidst the surrounding chaos, a small and fluid voice, danced on the wind, "The god's may do as they please Mandrir! You know I serve no-one but myself… just the same as you!"

The wind, transformed into a veritable hurricane, around his shoulders, and Mandrir's hand strained to keep its hold. "I still serve the gods Serosia… I was released of my own free will. My time, and hard work have been justly rewarded."

Mandrir felt his grip slipping, and just as he was about to give up hope, the blinding white light faded back to the reds of a summer evening sky. The wind died to an unnervingly relaxed breeze, and the elegant figure of a small lady, landed gently onto the rocks in front of him. The corners of her petite mouth, turned up to the heavens she abandoned, in a sarcastic smile, "Well look what we have here! The great Mandrir Emiph… the last of the old school, eternal servant of the gods, ruler of the halfworld… yaddy, yadda, yadda!" she chuckled, "You know from where I'm standing, you don't look so invincible anymore, mortality has taken it's toll on you."

"I think it has taken its toll on both of us my dear, or were you just trying to convince yourself that you are still an eternal twenty one?" He couldn't help laughing at the contrariness in her statement. The limbs of the once stunning woman his life had somehow continuously revolved around were now just as old and withered as his own.

"Mock me as much as you want! You will never live to see the sun rise again. You have nothing left to give, not even the power of Korina will be enough to help you now!"

Mandrir let his head drop. As much as he wanted to scorn the very idea of being weak in her presence, it was pointless lying, "You are right," he breathed into the folds of his ceremonial robe. The red insignia of the gods, (which he wore with almost overwhelming pride,) faded into the obscurity of darkness. His frail hand reached despondently into the affluent cloth, and his eyes closed. He whispered a single last prayer under his breath, as his aged fingers sought out the comforting smoothness of his, soon to be forgotten, symbol of power, "but I swear…" he continued, clasping the smoothed red gemstone resolutely in the fist of his hand, "that if I die…" His eyes lifted with murderous intent, "then I will take you with me!"

He screamed out the last part of this statement as arcs of bright red light shone out from the stone, making the withered hand surrounding it, glow a transparent pink. The beams flew out from every angle sparking with electrical power, making the stars twist in the sky and morphing the air around him into a flame of power. It licked its way over the numerous folds of fabric, rising in waves of fluidity around his body. His head snapped back, as his scream turned to one of anguish under the pure energy that filtered into every nerve and synapse of his being. It coursed along every vein, making tired old limbs burn with the power of his true ruling ancestry.

In the distance Serosia's demonic laugh could be heard ringing out against the mountains, "My, my how the mighty have fallen!" she chimed watching the light show with feigned disinterest, "This is going to be easier than I thought! You left me for dead when we fought last time, but rest assured… this time I will make sure of my victory!"

The wind increased once more, pushing out with full-ferocity against the inestimable measure of her magic. The explosion of light and power that accompanied it exploded with untamed earnestness onto the now darkened sky. It left Mandrir's display of power look like nothing more than a roman candle, against the atomic bomb of all creation, as it ripped its way through the scenery, tearing up anything in its path, ignoring any consequences that might spring from such destruction.

"Leave the earth out of this!" screamed the old man at the top of his lungs, "this is a halfworld issue. We should settle it there!"

"Not a chance!" The whites of her eyes lit up with untamed fury, and sparkled with wild insanity, as any front of normality collapsed along with the growing power, "But do not worry old man… I have no intention of destroying the earth… in fact it is quite the opposite! These snivelling lackeys are fundamental to my success. You know, the moment you die, the very last breath that your weak old body draws on this disgusting plan, that is when my plan for halfworld supremacy will begin. I will dance on your corpse with a glass of wine in my hand, and plan for a future, over which you will have absolutely no control!"

"What are you planning Serosia? You know very well that my death is irrelevant. You will never have the power of Korina, because you are evil, and it will never permit you to hold it! You're wasting your time… good will always prevail!"

The mountains now looked little more than the blur of a dissatisfied artists pallet, as all texture, and normal perspective faded out of vision. The towering influence of two fierce competitors going head to head, created its own geography. It was the classic showdown. Good versus evil… and as the powers collided for the fist time, in a state somewhere in between dimensions… it looked as though the fairytale ending would have to be put on hold.

The white knight, in his pure satin robes, was being completely overpowered by the wild banshee in red and black velvet. His body trapped by her all-consuming energy. He could not resist its hold over him. It flowed along the veins of his body, mixing with his own power, and draining him of any ability to fight.

Serosia was millimetres in front of him, a look of triumph and pleasure flashing in the deepest recesses of her dark red eyes. Her once fine eyebrows were raised slightly. Mandrir fought with the power running through his body, chuckling with all the judgment tenured to a madman.

"What's so funny oh great one?" she mimicked sarcastically, "I think your age has slowly pushed you over the edge, and into delirium!"

"Don't you realise what's going to happen when I die?" he spat, finding just enough control to speak. "You fool!"

She scowled and sent a wave of energy through his body. It burnt him from the inside out, evaporating the very air in his lungs, "Yes I know very well what will happen! I know that, no matter what I do, your job will always remain. That you are destined for a place in the afterlife, and that your spirit will be passed on in the form of a new halfworld member."

"Precisely…" he coughed uncontrollably. The word stripped his throat dry, and inflicted more pain than he had ever believed possible. "Look at you?" he continued, "How are you… an old… worn out… ex-halfworlder, going to be able to defeat a youthful… well guarded leader of men?"

Serosia's long white hair fell back as her chest pounded to the beat of a chilling laugh, "My dear, dear Mandrir, I plan on doing nothing with such a creature, because the legacy you speak of shall not exist! I do not plan on returning to the halfworld! So tell me warrior, what will happen to your spirit if you die right here on earth?"

Mandrir's eyes shot open in disbelief at his own stupidity. This couldn't be happening! If he died here, and she survived, it would all be over! The words hung with despondency as he whispered out, "In such a case the legacy will fall to…" he couldn't continue, and hung his head low in defeat.

Serosia couldn't contain her joy at his dawning realisation, "Yes, that's right… Your spirit will fall into the charge of some weak, unprotected human!" Her voice was almost lost in laughter. "I can see it right now! The guardian and protector of the halfworld… nothing more than a human child! Oh how much fun I will have, training that child… teaching it the power of Korina, manipulating the poor unfortunate to do my bidding for the next few millennia. How utterly fitting to have the halfworld destroyed by the one hand that is meant to protect it! With the help of his power I will regain my immortality, and reign over everything! How is that for divine justice hmm?"

Mandrir's once tame and controlled look was completely shattered by the revelation he was now faced with. Her power flowed through his veins in sickening control, sucking the last remnants of his, making him as weak as the old man that he refused to be… but she was right! There was nothing he could do… he had failed. The power he had experienced during their last momentous battle wasn't the stones ultimate power. He had been arrogant with his training, and after all those years of trying, his lifetimes work was still incomplete. He looked to the floor. He would never be able to stop her.

Tears of anguish fell down his face. If only he had stayed! If only he had remained a member of the halfworld, then he would still be as strong as ever, still training. He might even have realized that the power, he thought was unrivalled, was still not insurmountable. He had been a fool, and deserved to die. The rest of the world, however, did not deserve to share the same fate! He could do little to redeem him selfishness, but he had to try. It was his role as protector of the halfworld, not to let that happen.

In the depths of despair, something clicked into place. It was an undiminished mindset. It was everything that he felt, everything he had ever experienced, it was pure untainted, completely alien to his human form. It came in the beautiful vestige of hope renewed, and was something that he would never feel again. It was him, his entire life, his eternal work, and undying servitude. Her power running along with his blood, no longer mattered. He could find a way to use it! It was simple with the help of that mindset that catapulted his body out of the shackles of an old man, and made him feel as invincible as the gods themselves!

It was so easy! Why had he never felt anything akin to this before? He stared in wonder at the stone, as it flickered crimson. The fading light shimmered on its smooth surface, and in a moment of clarity surrounded by a whirlpool of confusion, time seemed to slow. What he was doing would not upset the balance, or win the war, but it would give his predecessor some much needed time.

He almost laughed out loud at the irony of it. Two of the most powerful halfworlders, gone in a flash of triumphant energy, taken away by the very hands that had feuded for so long, and placed in the least likely of all situations. The future would be rocky for sure, but now they would at least have hope. The earth and all its inhabitants would have a new protector, maybe not the chosen one he would have expected, but an innocent, and Serosia would not survive to see it.

He chuckled as the power running through him shifted momentum, pouring out from his body and encompassing itself in perfect precision inside the Korina stone. The energy marked its final hold over his body in a flurry of vengeance filled release, lighting up the sky, and allowing his movements to became his own. In one swift motion his hand reached up to grab a hand full of white hair. "Too bad you tried to control me Serosia!" he sneered, "If you had fought me fairly, then you would probably have won…"

"You bastard!" she shouted spitting and writhing in his hold, "You have not won! I am still stronger than you! Magic or not, you are dying even as we speak. Korina is the only thing keeping you alive, you are still as good as dead!"

Mandrir laughed, "I know, and I have accepted that I will never see another day! But tell me Serosia, have you? Here we are stuck on this planet. I only have enough energy to kill you, and without any power, neither of us is getting back to the halfworld. We are both dying out here on earth. It seems that fate has always connected us. We were born the same day, and we shall die together, perfect opposites… and just as my spirit will live on, so will yours. I pity the poor fool who ends up with your power, but at least now peace has a chance!"

A train of wracking coughs convulsed up his throat, accompanied by bloody spittle, but still his hands held firm, "Let us not die as enemies… shake my hand!"

Fear was very evidently etched into Serosia's face, but she soon snapped out of it, "You may well be dying, but I am far from finished, I give you ten more minutes at the most Mandrir, and then I will be free of you forever." Her hand reached out and latched firmly onto his, "Goodbye and good riddance protector, I hope you enjoy your slow and painful…"

She couldn't say anymore. An all too familiar glowing red light shone out from between their joined palms, exploding out into a rainbow of energy. It sparked around the pair of them, setting the darkness alive with the light of a million stars, "Oops," laughed Mandrir, as the power engulfed the lady standing before him. "Somebody's hands touched the Korina stone… see you in the afterlife!" he sneered, as the power burnt its way through her small body.

The smell of scorching flesh, spilled into the air, as the fallen member of the halfworld, blistered from the inside out. The energy had now invaded every corner of her stricken body, and turned the whites of her insane eyes a brilliant pink. The evil life was sucked out of the small frame it possessed, and as the energy started to break her body, one last sentence escaped her lips in vehement hatred, "My predecessor will take revenge for me!" she spat, "You have not won this!"

All further curses we lost as her cellular structure disintegrated into blackened ash, the white hot rays tearing through her flesh, leaving her entire existence as nothing but a chilling memory of the past. Korina finished its release in full glory, its backlash of power, blowing the old man it forsook, backwards into the mountain he had climbed not more than an hour ago. The coiling power subsided, recollecting itself inside the chiselled stone, and as the scenery blurred back into a normal perspective, Mandrir Emiph closed his eyes.

The clear blue moonlight fell softly over his features unnoticed. He was close to death now, and every breath was a struggle. His fingers shook uncontrollably as he played with the glass-like stone in his hand. "Yes," he said to nothing but the starlit sky, "and mine will take revenge for me."

He stood as he spoke, defiant until the very last, his haggard form stumbling its way towards the edge of the precipice. His body gave out half way there, falling with gravities natural force, to the floor. The momentum flung the Korina stone out of his relaxed grip, and over the edge. It fell with the incline of the mountain, sparkling against its blackened surroundings, and down into the craggy depths below.

Back on the stony precipice, overlooking the mountainous region of Veralian, a frail old mans chest rose for what would prove to be the last time. He could do nothing but watch the stars in silent contemplation, as his once brilliant life glided into obscurity… waiting to find another to dictate it. "I'm sorry." Passed his lips, in a half strained sob… and as the wind rustled gently against crisp white robes, flinging away the tears of countless years of suppressed emotions, Mandrir Emiph was no more.

A/N - That's it, just a little taster, of what's to come… please let me know what you think *^_^*