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The Purifiers

September 05, 2015

demoIn the Millennium of Purification, a group of Elves and Dwarves join forces to purge the world of the dark magicks they themselves once helped unleash. Is there a chance to make up for their sins of the past and restore order to the world? Find out in the serial fan fic: The Purifiers.

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September 05, 2015

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The Purifiers

Chapter 2: The Home Fires


Under the radiance of the nigh full moon and cascade of stars, E'Sarinn wields a battle axe in one hand and a spiked club in the other. The two weapons wield very different, but he uses them in perfect unison, utilizing their strengths and defending against their weaknesses. His weapons whip around in a flurry as his feet glide through the grass, but nary an opponent in sight. He fights an invisible foe in a ring forged of weapons, each one part of his personal arsenal.

A warm glow surrounds the battle axe. This holy weapon is ideal for striking down demons. During the war, a Dwarven Summoner made a name for himself by calling forth all manners of dark and wicked beings then unleashing them upon the Elven forces. Whoever suffered after was of no concern to him. E'Sarinn was part of the small unit sent to stop him. When they finally tracked down their target, they discovered they walked into a trap. Though their mission was considered a success in the end, E'Sarinn was the only survivor. The axe now in his hand is the primary reason he survived, and had belonged to the Elf who once stood to his right.

The spiked club doesn't hold any special powers. During apprenticeship, the Dwarves unleashed an Orc assassin into the training grounds to kill as many Elven recruits as it could. A suicide mission, but effective none the less. This spiked club was the assassin's weapon of choice and now serves as a reminder of the first notable accomplishment of E'Sarinn during the war. Each and every other weapon has a similar story. He plunges the club down hard into the ground, as if plunking deep into an adversary's skull. Bits of dirt flick into the air as the spike digs in and E'Sarinn gracefully avoids them all as he scoops up his next weapon.

As a companion to his battle axe he now wields a scythe. Normally a two-handed weapon, but he adjusts by wrapping his arm around the pole to counter the balance. Not a perfect solution and removes the range advantage, but war isn't perfect and a battle doesn't stop so an opponent can properly change weapons. Despite the awkward match up, he wields both with the elegance of a ballerina.

He slings the scythe outwards, uncoiling his arm as it thrusts. For a moment the pole arm has no master and soars through the air. At the same moment he throws the battle axe in the other direction. His hand grips the tail end of the pole, stopping the scythe only after it's reached full extension, focusing all his attention now on this single weapon. Behind him the axe hits the mark, sinking into the ground and rejoining its place within the ring.

With only one hand on the butt of the scythe, he spins his arm over his head as his body slinks down towards the ground, allowing the blade to whirl around him in a circle of death. As the weapon comes full circle he takes control of it for the first time with both hands. Now it's time to unleash his full expertise with the weapon.

Caw. Caw. A crow flies off from a nearby tree, its sleek black feathers soon becoming one with the night. E'Sarinn stops and slides his scythe into the ground, returning it from whence it came. He walks over to the tree and sits under its swaying branches. His skin glistens. How long has he been out here training? Hours? Days? Losing track of time is easy in this place. With a sip of nourishment from his water skin he rests his head against the hard and lumpy tree trunk.

An angelic voice sings in his ears. "You remembered."

He smiles and looks up. An Elven woman wearing a dress as white as milk dances through a field of white flower buds, her fingers brushing over their tips.  The gentle night breeze causes the buds to sway as if dancing with her. "How could I ever forget?"

She stops and crouches down, embracing one of the pale buds in her palm, cradling it as she takes a cheerful whiff. With a deep sigh her smile fades away. "It does not have a smell." She rises up and surveys the rest of the landscape. "Nothing here does."

E'Sarinn turns his head and stares down at the ground. "I know. I am sorry."

She giggles. "Do not be sorry. You came. That is what is important."

He looks at her again. Her smile is so innocent and carefree. He on the other hand cannot manage a smile. "I will never abandon you. Not after --"

"Stop." She shakes her head, still smiling. "You are still so serious all the time." She steps out of the field of flowers, blades of grass sliding between the toes of her bare feet. Her eyes peruse the array of weapons. "I see you brought your weapons. Have you been training this whole time?"

He nods. "Since we returned."

She places a hand under his chin and lifts his head to look directly at her. "I see you made it back in one piece so that must mean you defeated the Soul Eater. Enjoy what you have. You have to learn to relax now and again."

"We defeated him, yes." His body tenses and his voice raises. "But we almost failed. The mission before this we lost two members, and almost a third. This time ... I am just thankful we did not lose anyone else."

The Elven woman tucks her dress under her legs as she takes a seat beside him. "I thought you told me you had a strong team?"

"The members are strong, this is true." He shakes his head. "But they fight as individuals. Unless we can start acting as a team, then things will only get worse." He pauses as his hand clenches into a fist. "I fear we will not survive an encounter with more formidable forces."

"Is that why you started training for war again?"

"We are at war. Whether Dwarves or magic, the fighting does not end."

She pulls her legs up close to her body and rests her chin upon them. There is silence. Not the sounds of the breeze blowing through the leaves or the sound of crickets in the distance. Nothing at all. "Then maybe it is time you talk to Lord Wilhelm about it."

He takes a deep breath and then nods. "He did put the team together, and we have a meeting with him later today. Maybe he can put us on the right track."

She places a hand over his. "Everything will be better, you will see. You are not in this alone. Just remember why you are doing this in the first place."

"I have been fighting for so long ... I am not sure I know anything else any more."

"You will always remember why you are fighting. All you have to do is look inside your heart." She places a finger softly on his cheek and guides his head to the side.

He sees a sprawling city lush with life. A couple walks holding hands. Elven and Dwarven children play together in the road. "I ... do not understand." He turns to face the Elven woman, but she's vanished. His eyes go wide. "I'Sana?" His hand reaches out and grabs only air. "I --" Everything around him fades into darkness.


E'Sarinn groans, his hand still stretched out above him. Everything is blurry. He rubs his eyes as the sun's brilliance shines through the open window. He doesn't move and lies in bed a moment longer, not yet ready to face this world. There's cooing coming from the direction of the window. He sits up just in time to see two all white doves fly off towards the morning light.

With a deep sigh he lifts himself from his bed and walks over to the window. From the sanctity of his room he looks out over the rooftops. Fragrances from below captivate his senses as the morning fires burn and prepare for breakfast. This is the city of Eyescend. Is this what she tried to show him in his dream? He closes the window and locks it.

Heading over to the basin he splashes some water on his face and freshens up. As he grabs a towel he looks up and catches his pale reflection staring back at him. A side effect of the trance, his color should return in a half an hour or so. That should be well before his meeting with Lord Wilhelm and the others.

He gets dressed, and then grabs his twin swords resting beside the bed and fastens them paired to his left hip. The dagger under his pillow he slides into his right boot. Opening his weapons locker he grabs his scythe. During his trance he didn't get to finish his training with it, so taking it with him now only seems fair. Being in the safety of Eyescend, he decides it's best to travel light and closes the weapons locker. As he goes to leave, he pauses. Taking the throwing axe stashed behind the door and tucking it away behind his back, he exits.

As he steps onto the bustling street, he can pick up the scent of his neighbor's breakfast through an open window. Without thinking he sniffs the air and pauses to search for its source. S'Aronis, as if sensing his presence, turns her attention directly to him. Even with Elven features the signs of age are starting to show on her elderly face, especially when she smiles. "Morning, Weapon Master E'Sarinn."

"I am not a master, just --" He stops and then just nods. "Good morning."

She approaches the window and leans on the sill. "Something I can do you for? You are looking a little under the weather. I have got something that can fix you right up."

He shakes his head. "I am fine. Just a long night. I only stopped because ... the aroma. Is that salmon, but with --"

She laughs and grins. "Dwarven spices? Indeed."

"The blending of scents is ... strange, but intriguing."

She motions with her head inside. "Wanna try some? Also got some sop with Gnome wine."

E'Sarinn smiles. "A most generous offer, but I must decline. I have a meeting I must attend."

"Your loss sweetie, I assure you it is divine."

He chuckles. "Of that I have little doubt, but I am not hungry. It is just ..." He falls silent as he looks at the Elves and Dwarves walking in the city. "Traditional Elven breakfast and Dwarven seasoning, a year ago I would have never imagined such a combination possible."

"Sweetie, a year ago I did not know if any of us would even still be alive."

"I know." He turns back to S'Aronis. "But this is not the first truce Elves and Dwarves agreed upon. I sometimes wonder if we can make this one last."

She looks up towards the sky. "Eyescend, what does it mean again?"

He looks down towards the ground and mutters the answer. "Dream's Fall."

"Elves and Dwarves have already shown the world any dream can fall and descend into an utter nightmare." She sets her gaze upon E'Sarinn once again and smiles softly. "That is why it is up to us to make it last, to give everyone a second chance at a dream other than war."

He shifts his eyes up to meet hers, but no smile to be found on his sullen expression. "I am not sure we deserve a second chance, not after all the sins we have committed."

She nods. "You are probably right. Those like you and I do not. But, I do not think you fight for us. Those who never fought, those who have yet to even be born, do they not deserve a chance for a future better than ours? It is our responsibility to make it work, for their sakes. You in your way." She motions into her kitchen with a hand. "Me in mine."

E'Sarinn bows his head. "Thank you."

"Any time, sweetie. Now you run along to your meeting. You do not want to be late now."

After saying their farewells, E'Sarinn makes his way through the city and to the mansion of Lord Wilhelm. Upon his arrival he is reunited with the other six members of the team before being lead to the grand hall. There they stand before the mighty Titan, who is currently sitting in his chair on the other side of the room.

"Welcome, my Purifiers." Upon hearing Lord Wilhelm's words, all seven members kneel. "I read your reports from the last mission. My sources failed to realize how influential Schlom had become. You have my apologies. Never did I imagine such a sizeable force would be awaiting your arrival."

Rock grins. "Just made it funner."

The right corner of Lord Wilhelm's mouth hints at a smirk. "Perhaps. Your talent to rise over any obstacle continues to impress." His eyes shift over to E'Sarinn as they catch the Elf's head turning slightly away. He focuses his attention on the group as a whole once again. "The fact Schlom was in the midst of plotting an assault on Eyescend troubles. By the day these monsters grow more daring."

Q'Uetel keeps his head lowered as he interrupts. "I concur. For too long we have allowed these interlopers to push deeper into our territory. Every day they defile the lands we once called home. The time is ripe for us to put an end to their transgressions."

Lord Wilhelm takes a deep breath. "Agreed, but they must wait. Only by focusing all our energies on one enemy at a time may we hope to prevail."

Q'Uetel lifts his head and stares Lord Wilhelm dead in the eye. "But magic is not our foe!"

Maintaining his composure Lord Wilhelm bows his head ever so slightly. "Nay, not all magic. Yet dark schools of the arcane wrought by our own machinations continue to plague us. A land may be lost and won a thousand times over, 'tis nothing of importance. This looming darkness, on the other hand, threatens our very essence."

The face of Q'Uetel tightens. He bites his lower lips and his hand on the ground tightens into a fist.

Lord Wilhelm waits, watching Q'Uetel, but sees he will not pursue the matter further at this time. "In other news, 'tis with great rejoice I report repairs to Mancer complete. He and K'Ulnar shall return to your group. Furthermore, the seeking of suitable candidates as replacements for your two fallen members progresses well. Soon, my Purifiers, you shall be returned to full aptitude."

The eyes of Lord Wilhelm return to E'Sarinn whose head is still lowered with an expression far too serious. Though glancing at the Elf, he doesn't allow his attention to stay focused there and shifts his eyes to sweep over all the others as well. He sighs. "I must contemplate recent events. Return in two days time. By then the replacements will be finalized and a new mission shall await. Rest and avail yourself of this time while it remains. My home shall remain open if any need council. Until then, dismissed."

As the others stand, E'Sarinn remains kneeled and head bowed. "Sir, I have need of your ear."

Lord Wilhelm nods. "If that is your request." Once the others have exited the room he closes his eyes and breathes in through the nose, then exhales through the mouth. Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth. Then a white, luminous gel appears near the stump on his right thigh. He continues breathing as the Ectoplasm shapes itself into the rest of his missing leg. He opens his eyes and turns his full attention to the lone Elf. "E'Sarinn, let us walk."

Standing to his feet, his one real leg trembling slightly, Lord Wilhelm puts his hands behind his back and heads down a hall. Without further word, E'Sarinn rises to his feet and follows. The two walk in silence. Lord Wilhelm moves with a limp, keeping a slower than average pace. E'Sarinn maintains a steady distance of two paces behind, the tall Elf not even reaching the height of the mighty Titan's waist.

Lord Wilhelm finally motions an open palm to his side. "Do not just follow. Walk by my side."

"Yes, sir." E'Sarinn speeds up his pace just enough to catch up, and then slows down again to match pace with the Titan.

"Now speak and unburden yourself. Your woes seem greater than usual."

E'Sarinn stays silent as he tries to formulate his concerns into words. Then he takes a deep breath. "Sir, it is the team. They are all talented individuals, but that is the problem. They are all individuals. Division continues to threaten our objectives. Last mission we could not even agree on which path to take to reach the castle. If we had, perhaps we could have prevented some of the unnecessary bloodshed we found upon our late arrival. Our inner conflict proves as dangerous as any dark magic. We need a leader, someone who can bring everyone together and make this work. Is it not time you finally name one, sir?"

"A valid concern, but ..." Lord Wilhelm shakes his head. "Naming a leader is something I cannot do. I am sorry."

"But you are the head of this order. It is within your power."

Lord Wilhelm sighs. "Yes, 'tis within my power. Yet, if I bestow leadership then nothing will ever be resolved."

"Sir, this is not the time for riddles!" E'Sarinn pauses and takes a couple of deep breaths. In a calmer voice he continues. "We are tearing ourselves apart. We have already lost two members because we could not work together. We almost lost another. During this last fight Q'Uetel hit Rock with a Call Lightning spell, and I am not entirely sure it was an accident. How will us killing each other resolve anything?"

The Titan's demeanor never changed, not even during his walking companion's outburst. "'Twas not meant as a riddle." The Titan stops and looks over the hallway railing and out into the garden. A female Titan tends to the flowers, and a young Titan girl plays near her. Lord Wilhelm smiles. Then he turns his attention back to E'Sarinn. "Dost thou know why the Elf-Dwarf War began?"

E'Sarinn nods. "The Dwarves alone held the secrets of rune magic, and they lorded it over us. Elves resented the fact and tried to get them to share their secrets through subjugation. Tensions grew until finally the Riot of --"

Lord Wilhelm raises a hand. "I do not seek a lesson of how it shall be written in the history books. I want to know if thou truly understand its roots."

E'Sarinn looks down at the ground for a time, then up once again at the towering Titan. "Sir, I am afraid I do not understand."

Lord Wilhelm bows his head. "Then allow me to explain. During the Age of Chaos, Elves stood side by side with Dragons and Titans in the war with Those Who Shant Be Named. Save for the gods, only our three people arose from the ashes to a new age. Your people invaluable to the triumph, yet still young. So the task to educate and care for Elf fell upon Titan and Dragon, akin to parent and child. Elves learned well and developed into a grand civilization. We realized 'twas time to step back so that you may truly flourish." He opens his arms wide. "The reigns of the world handed over to Elves. You lived up to our legacy making us very proud."

"Then the Dwarves arose." Lord Wilhelm gives a pause before continuing. "Building a civilization that could rival the Elves, yet no legacy thrust upon them. Instead they developed into something new, something different, something ... exciting. Titan and Dragon lauded the success. This is the seed of the war. Elves jealous, feeling Dwarves shown far too much attention. Dwarves prideful, feeling Elves unjustly handed the world when it should be rightfully Dwarven. As a result, both races tore the land apart." He shakes his head. "Nay, Titan and Dragons played too large a role already with the Dragons already paying dearly for their intervention."

E'Sarinn interrupts. "That was the Dwarves' doing."

"That incident, true. But dost thou think the Elves are free from blame? Or dost thou not know the tale of how I lost my leg?" His voice remains calm and peaceful, never being raised or showing any signs of loss.

E'Sarinn averts his gaze. "You lost it during an Elven attack. We laid siege to a town of Dwarven civilians. You tried to reason with us, but we would not listen. When the attack started, you put yourself in harms way to get as many innocents out as possible. You lost your leg fighting for what was right."

"Never such a tragedy again do I wish to see. If I name a leader, the team would repeat history. Those who believe they more fit holding resentment 'til they rebel. Nothing would ever change."

"Sir, we are already tearing ourselves apart. In order to stop more bloodshed we need a leader."

"I know, yet in order for leadership to work it must first be earned."

E'Sarinn gazes up at the Lord Wilhelm, searching the Titan's eyes. He speaks with a soft voice. "Have I not earned it?"

Lord Wilhelm looks up towards the sky. "I am sorry. Clearly thou hast not. Had you, then there would be no need to ask."

"Then what more must I do? Tell me and I swear it shall be done. There is no task beneath me if it means proving myself to you."

Lord Wilhelm looks at him with a smile. "Oh sweet child, thou hast already proven thyself to me. I know thou art capable, yet 'tis not I that needs convincing."

"Then to whom?"

"Not to myself or any other Titan. The only ones you need prove anything to are the ones you wish to lead."

E'Sarinn grunts. "I have tried talking to them. It is of no use. The Dwarves refuse the idea of an Elf in charge. The Elves refuse a Dwarf in charge. We are stalemated." He closes his eyes and takes a slow, deep breath. "The situation is hopeless."

Lord Wilhelm's voice remains steady and calm. "Words will never be enough, but a situation is never hopeless 'til you give up. Do not do so now."

E'Sarinn looks up at Lord Wilhelm, his pupils shifting back and forth scanning the Titan's eyes. "Then tell me, what do I do?"

Lord Wilhelm lightly places one of his enormous hands on the shoulder of E'Sarinn. "That, I fear, is something you shall need to figure out for yourself."

"I do not know what step to take next. I am lost. Sir, please, tell me something."

Lord Wilhelm stares at the ceiling. He takes a long pause before saying, "I am sorry, but Titans have interfered too much already." He then looks down to the much shorter Elf. "'Tis time you find a path your own."

Both stand quietly for a long time, a silence only interrupted when Lord Wilhelm stumbles and braces a hand against the wall. E'Sarinn rushes to his side, though logic suggests he couldn't hope to support the giant's massive weight no matter how hard he tried. "Sir?"

Lord Wilhelm can hear the anxiety in his companion's voice. "Do not worry. Walking like this takes a toll. Trouble yourself not." He stands tall again.

E'Sarinn can see the Titan's face glistening. "I am still not sure I understand and I cannot say this is the answer I sought, but I believe this is the best I am going to get. Thank you, sir."

"You may not understand yet, but you listened to my words and think them over even now. That is all I ever ask."

"Sir, I thank you for hearing my concerns. I will take up no more of your time. You may rest now and I will see myself out." E'Sarinn crosses his arms in front of his chest, elbows down towards the hips with wrists interlocked near the heart. His right hand open, fingers extended and his palm held against his left chest. His left wrist rests atop the right, open handed with fingers extended, but this time his thumb rests against the right side of his chest with his palm out to the side. He bows at the waist, a deep bow of respect, yet never takes his eyes off the Titan. Then he turns and walks out.

Lord Wilhelm looks at the ground. "That boy, always thinking he's so alone." Then his Ectoplasm leg wobbles. What once was solid turns to rubber and the Titan falls over, landing on a table and knocking over the vase that rested upon it. A small puddle of water spreads across the floor with a few flowers strewn about the mess, including one that landed in Lord Wilhelm's hair. He picks himself up enough for his back to lean against the wall.

Rushing in through a nearby door is the Titan girl from the garden. "Daddy? Daddy!" She rushes over to him. "Art thou okay?"

He smiles as he strokes her hair behind her ear with the tips of his fingers. "Of course. I merely sought a better position to give thou a hug." He wraps his arms around her.

Walking in behind the girl is the older female that had been with her. She looks at Lord Wilhelm on the ground and shakes her head. "My idiot husband, never could accept thine limits."

With his back still perched against the wall, he takes the flower from his hair and hands it to his daughter. "For thou, my dear." The little girl's eyes go wide as she smiles, and he kisses her on the forehead. He then looks to his wife. "If I accepted limits, then never would I have won thy hand."

She gives a wry smile. "Come now, let us get thou up from there." She crouches down beside him, taking one of his arms around her shoulder and helps him up, supporting the bulk of his weight. "So how did thy little Purifier meeting go?"

Lord Wilhelm sighs. "They are in trouble, and I do not know if I can save them."

She helps him over to a nearby chair. "And what of E'Sarinn? I saw you both talking and I know thou thinks highly of him. Perhaps he can help."

Lord Wilhelm nods. "He has the potential, but ..." He shakes his head. "He waits for someone to show him the way."

"Then perhaps thou can. I know, I know, not directly. But something more subtle, something to help guide him down the right path."

Lord Wilhelm looks in the direction E'Sarinn exited. He then nods. "Perhaps there is something I can do, yet risky. If it does not help them, then I fear it shall tear what few bonds remain asunder."

"Ah husband, thou only see two opposing paths. Sometimes they are the same. A child first falls before learning to walk. Falling allows us to learn and pick ourselves up stronger than before."

Lord Wilhelm looks up to see her face. He smiles. "Thou art wise." He nods. "My Purifiers are strong. I must trust them."