The climactic finale between the Red King and Beren the Yellow ended in a thunderous clash of blades and fists. The young warrior won is bout, though the victory would be short-lived as the armored king gave a cryptic warning of their immediate future. Beren and his friends would be allowed to rest for now, for another battle awaited them.
Three days passed before Beren awoke from his rest, Mei Fong and Jade Tiger alternated between themselves to watch over him. The tower monastery where the final portions of the Chromo Gyamdre had become silent since the finals, only the elvish staff remained to attend to their basic needs. None of them saw the Chromatic Lords since their leave from the arena, it troubled Mei Fong, but there was nothing to be done.
Beren yawned. “Did I miss anything? Where’s breakfast?”
“Nothing important, in fact, no one at all. An attendant provided food a little while ago.” Mei Fong smiled. Her demeanor softened while caring the young warrior.
Beren looked dazed for a moment.
“What’s wrong?” She asked.
“Nothing, I’m just amazed how beautiful you look with a smile.”
A sword flashed and pierced the pillow beside Beren’s head, Mei Fong’s eyes turned murderous.
“Some things just never change,” Beren chuckled.
Mei loosened the blade and sheathed it. Jade Tiger arrived back into the room, his tabaxi’s feline face was stiff and fearful. You do love to live dangerously, he thought of his travel partner.
The light-hearted moment ended quickly when an elf attendant arrived at the threshold, he seemed no different from the many others the group seen within the tower. One could almost assume that they were all the same group of attendants, a small number to monitor and maintain the facilities. The elf bowed and instructed the trio were summoned by the Chromatic Lords. When pressed for answers, the elf did not answer.
Down the familiar wooden hallways with red painted beams and arches, frost covered windows every ten feet illuminated the way through the air was consistently warm. Possibly some ancient enchantment from the builder of the tower, the trio knew that there were various magics at work. The ability for the doors of the tower to shift and change locations, the concept of nearly infinite rooms and corridors. This was not a simple feat for a single mage, possibly even high mages or archwizards. Beren had heard the stories of monasteries, outposts, and keeps infused with remnant magic from the First Age. Perhaps this tower was one such facility.
The three arrived in a brand new room, there were eight chairs arranged around a circular dais. They noticed the five Chromatic Lords seated and silently awaited their arrival. The trio followed suit and sat in the empty seats, the air was thick and still as if the weight of the world resided within the room.
Once seated, the Red King rose and address the congregation. “First order of business, let us welcome Beren the Yellow to our ranks. May his light shine against the darkness.”
The other Chromatic Lords clapped but remained silent.
“The next order of business, our ancient enemy has finally arrived. The darkness follows in his wake, we shall meet him in battle and vanquish him once again,” the Red King continued.
“Wait, who’s our ancient enemy?” Beren raised his hand, like a young child or apprentice to a teacher.
The Red King looked at Beren for a moment, his burning glare could be felt from his horned helm. Before he could answer, a soft hand found purchase on Beren’s shoulders. When the young warrior looked up, he was met by a young elvish woman with silver hair, opal skin, and eyes of emeralds. On her forehead, an orange gem rested on her forehead, etched into her very flesh. She wore a silver and white robe, it wrapped her body and gave the impression that the robe and she were one being floating through the physical realm. The other Chromatic Lords rose from their seats and all of them kneeled with their heads down. Beren, Mei, and Jade Tiger looked at each other perplexed. The elf smiled, amused by their innocence.
“The enemy, young Beren of the Golden Spear, was once a mighty warrior and king but fell into the corruption of the darkness. Consumed by a vile ambition, filled with hate, and drowned in an endless sorrow, he was defeated long ago by warriors of light. He retreated to the worlds beyond, exiled the places between realities.” The elf explained.
“But now he has returned,” the Red King added. The crimson, armored warrior rose to meet the elf maiden.
“If we do not defeat him, the devastation will be great and terrible.” The fabled, Azure Knight rose and looked toward Beren. The knight had a soft and woman’s voice, which surprised Beren.
“It has been our charge, to protect the world from his return and train the future in preparation for his arrival.” The Emerald Giant added. The green behemoth towered all of the other Chromatic Lords, but there was sincerity in his voice, Mei could tell.
“So, about the nature of the mantles?” Jade Tiger inquired.
“A forgotten practice from the First Age, a means to preserve years of experience and skills and pass them onto the next generation.” Black Crow replied. There was a hint of disdain in his voice, almost disgusted with the truth.
“The mantles are the memories, skills, and gathered inner ki, focused into a tangible form of energy. Bestowed onto the worthy, even weapons of former masters possess a hint of their will and spirit. A warrior’s cause can transcend death, it is the duty of the student to follow their own path while carrying the torch set by their predecessors.” The Silver Serpent rose and shifted between the other lords and toward Jade Tiger.
“My master left this mantle for me to find again, I’ve proven my worth to you all. This foe that we must face, what else can you tell me?” Beren appealed.
The Chromatic Lords fell silent and turned back to the elf maiden. She nodded and walked into the center of the circle, a soft glow emanated from her, a gentle lantern with an already well-lit room.
“Have you ever heard the tale of the Fallen King?”
The trio looked at each other and returned with confused looks. The elf’s features sunk, a deep sorrow swelled while she recanted the infamous tale of a once proud king corrupted by the darkness. When she finished, the three recognized the parts they heard in stories and legends of yore. Mei Fong and Jade Tiger grew tense, unsure of such a fairytale existed or not. Beren remained silent for several moments before he left his seat and address the group.
“I was given a fortune years ago on my pilgrimage, a kind old-lady told me of a fight against a lost shadow. The fortune-teller mentioned a prismatic group of warriors – champions of light, she said. She also foresaw that only one of these warriors would survive, a dying light in the dark.” Beren revealed.
The room remained silent for another moment before Mei Fong rose and held Beren’s shoulder.
“I will fight with you,” she professed.
Beren looked at her, worried but relented once he saw her determined eyes. Jade Tiger rose as well and nodded at the bewildered warrior, offering a toothy grin as his confirmation. In the presence of legendary heroes and powerful allies, Beren hoped that the old lady’s fortune was merely a possibility and not the fate that awaited them.
Beren took a deep breath and looked at the elf maiden and the Chromatic Lords, his eyes shed a golden light and his sash shined like a small sun. “I always wanted to fight an ancient darkness. When do we start?”
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