“Lord Seraphim? The final guest has arrived.”
“Excellent. Send him in.” The blue-skinned Deva turns to face the entryway as his assistant opens the door to the chamber.
“May I present Lord Darin Deneith of the clan Deneith.” A noble gentleman steps into the room, clad in the finest vestments. He quickly spies Seraphim and walks quickly toward him, extending out a hand of friendship.
“Lord Deneith, my friend, it has been too long.” The Deva extends a hand out to greet the nobleman.
As he approaches, Darin Deneith grabs his hand and shakes it heartily. “Lord Seraphim. It has been some time, my friend.” He pats the Deva on the shoulder. “How long has it been? Six years? Seven?”
“Eight years. Yet, as much as it joys me to see you again, I suspect that you come to me for more than just to visit an old friend.” Seraphim looks closely at his old friend.
“Well, yes, actually…”
Seraphim quickly interrupts. “I understand. Allow me to inform you that you are not the first to come to me. Others also seek my assistance in these dark days.”
The Deva nods. “Yes. I had hoped that we may all discuss the issue hospitably. There are many ways for this situation to end, my friend, but if you give me a chance, I hope we can come to the best solution peacefully.”
Darin Deneith sighs heavily. “I…”
Seraphim pulls him towards the entryway. “Proceed to the great hall, my old friend. There, we may all discuss this and come to the appropriate conclusion.” He looks at Darin calmly, pausing. “If we are going to resolve this properly, this is the only way it can be done.”
Lord Deneith shakes his head slowly. “Very well. We’ll try it your way. But I promise nothing.”
The Deva smiles wryly. “Excellent. I will join you shortly.”
Seraphim enters the old fortress’ temple, slowly approaching the majestic woman staring upon the stained glass window. “My Lady Io’Cantra. You understand the situation I have before me?” Seraphim steps closer to the mysterious Io’Cantra as she slowly turns in his direction.
“I do, Lord Seraphim. We understood that this decision would come to you. That is why I have come to you now.” Her words softly emanate from beneath her silvered veil. “My… people have great interest in the events that unfold even as we speak.”
“And what course do your people suggest? This fighting between the different Dragonmarked clans appears without virtue or justice. The clans mercilessly slaughter the those with aberrant marks with no regard for each other.”
Io’Cantra takes a step out of the moonlight, advancing slowly towards him. “I came because we knew that what happens here today reflects throughout the ages. The words spoken, the choices made, the truths revealed, all reflect in the Draconic Prophecy.”
Seraphim looks at her, concerned. “The Draconic Prophecy? But… how?”
“I cannot tell you now, young one. Prophecy can never be certain until it is history.” She stares him in the eyes, piercing the soul of countless lifetimes. The Deva shudders. “I will stand by your side and provide what insight I can this night. After that, though, you proceed on your own.”
Seraphim looks at her affirmatively but says nothing.
“We shall go together and hear them out, yes?” A slow smile appears beneath the veil. “Tonight, Lord Seraphim, you make what might be the greatest decision of your life. Perhaps of many of your lives.” Io’Cantra quickly heads toward the door.
“Of course, my good… lady.” He grasps the handle and pulls the door open, inviting his mysterious guest through.
A gaunt figure paces back and forth in the hall, muttering to himself under his breath. His grim accomplice approaches, concerned. She pulls back her black hair and looks to him. “Oh, Halas. We’ve been waiting for hours. How long will we wait for the Deva to come hear our request?”
He stops, slowly turning towards her. “What we are doing is extremely important, my dear Lady. Lord Seraphim posses the power and influence to help us become a player in this world. With him, we can go from being animals hunted by the Dragonmarked clans to a clan of our very own, with power over millions.” As the words pass his lips, he cracks a grim smile. “We will wait for him, my dear, no matter the cost.”
“Please, Halas… He’s practically in bed with the clans. Most of their families have members who have fought wars, hunted monsters, and adventured with him.” She steps around him lightly, almost dancing.
“It does not matter, my dear Lady. No matter the relationship, no matter the situation, Lord Seraphim always pursues the cause of justice. When we explain our plight, he will be forced to…”
A slam of the entryway door stops Halas in mid-sentence. Lord Darin Deneith quickly enters. The two lock eyes, staring intently at each other.
“Halas Tarkanan! How did you get here?”
Halas looks across the room at his nemesis. “Darin Deneith. I should have guessed the clans would send you as their lackey.”
“That’s Lord Deneith, you slime.”
“Simple enough. I expect no less in return; you may address me as Lord Tarkanan. Further, you may address my beautiful companion as the Lady of Plague.”
Darin steps forward and spits in his direction. “Lord and Lady…. Ha! A perverse joke if I’ve ever heard one.” He quickly reaches for his blade, advancing on Halas Tarkanan. Halas reaches for his weapon, meeting Darin’s advance.
Halas Tarkanan and Darin Deneith immediately turn to the entryway as Seraphim charges in, followed quickly by Io’Cantra.
“Both of you, lower your blades and sit! We are here to discuss this like civilized men.”
Darin and Halas stare at each other for a moment before silently consenting. The Lady of the Plague sits beside Halas Tarkanan. Seraphim takes his place between them while Io’Cantra stands behind him, quietly.
“You have both come to me seeking my assistance in this feud between your peoples. Lord Tarkanan, you tell me of great injustice done against those like yourself, those who have exhibited the aberrant Dragonmarks. You want me to aid you in combatting the oppressive forces of the Dragonmarked clans.” He looks sternly at Halas, who nods an approval. “Lord Deneith, you alerted me to a great danger developing in the world, represented by the rise of Dragonmarks outside the great families of the clans. You told me of their unbridled power and capability to shatter the civilized world of Khorvaire. You hope I will assist you in wiping the aberration from the world.” Seraphim looks at Darin, who slowly nods.
Halas stands up. “They hunt us because we are powerful. They hunt us because we are unpredictable. They hunt us because we are different.” He slams his hands on the table. “Because we do not follow their rules, their society, they try to eliminate us completely. They treat us like animals!”
Darin shakes his head and looks to Seraphim. “My friend. I swear to you that these Dragonmarks are dangerous. The people that they manifest in are often unstable, even mad. The power that these Dragonmarks grant is practically limitless. Whereas the clans help control the power of the Marks, those with aberrant marks are free to cause chaos and ruin wherever they go. We must stop them before they have that opportunity.”
“Stop us? We haven’t even started! You revel in the senseless slaughter of people like us!”
Darin quickly stands, agitated. “I revel in senseless slaughter? Your kind has lead to the death of countless many. Your… people have no respect for order or society…”
“Silence!” The Deva stands, looking to both Halas and Darin. “You bicker like children, with no intent nor direction.” He pauses, collecting himself. “But of these details I do not understand. I had been informed that these aberrant Dragonmarks occurred randomly, without warning or indication. I do not see how you can possibly expect to eliminate this perceived threat. What is it you intend, Lord Deneith? Extermination? Mass murder? Genocide?” He pauses. “Of who? Who do you target? Who do you kill?”
Darin Deneith stands quickly. “You do not understand, my old friend. These Dragonmarks… they manifest randomly but often with great power. With the power comes madness. They never receive the education or training of the Dragonmarked clans. They quickly turn their powers to evil, inflicting pain and suffering upon the innocent people of Khorvaire.” He pauses. “These aberrant Dragonmarks are a sign of evil.” He looks to Halas Tarkanan and then back to Seraphim. “The only cure… is death.”
Halas’ female accomplice howls. “You call us the animals? You, who hunt us for sport? You, who cut us down in the night? You call us animals because our powers fall outside your understanding? Because we exhibit abilities beyond your comprehension?” she shrieks.
Halas Tarkanan grabs her and settles her into her chair. After a moment, when she calms, he turns back to Darin Deneith. “I only hope to organize those like me together under one clan, just as your people have. I only hope to bring us together, to provide the stability and order you claim we lack. Yet, when I do, you hunt us down like petty criminals. I cannot help but wonder who the monster is, my dear Lord…”
Seraphim slams a fist on the table. “Enough! I can see that this will not end peaceably. I only hope that the destiny of our world continues better than this discussion.” Darin and Halas sit down slowly as Seraphim continues. “I cannot understand the unbridled enmity between your two peoples. It is unnatural and will lead to nothing short of annihilation. However… you have both come to me seeking my aid.” He pauses, sighing deeply.
Io’Cantra leans forward and whispers into this ear: “Only you can take the next step. You must.”
Seraphim looks woefully at his old friend and his new visitors. From both, he sees nothing but animosity and hate. Looking to Darin, he begins to speak: “Oh, my friend, you have placed me in the most terrifying of situations. For months now I have watched your people hunt down and murder people, innocent people, justifying it in the name of protecting Khorvaire. People with even the smallest aberrant Dragonmark have been have been targeted in the name of freedom, of security.” Lord Deneith lowers his head.
Seraphim turns to Halas Tarkanan. “Yet, I cannot honestly see you as unfettered by villainy. I have heard stories of the atrocities committed by people with aberrant Dragonmarks. I have tried to dismiss them but I realize that with every unbounded rumor lies a brief component of truth. You may paint yourself the hero of thousands but I realize that you and your cause may have different motivations.” Lord Tarkanan looks to the Lady of the Plague, slowly lowering his head as Seraphim continues.
“You have taken your dispute, the simplest of matters, and blown it out of proportion. You have turned your own societies upside down with this madness and hate.” He pauses. “I will not subscribe to either of your interpretations of these events. The situation that unfolds here will soon dissolve to abject madness and both of you will have nobody but yourselves to blame.” Seraphim quickly turns and walks towards the exit. “You have my leave to depart.”
Seraphim looks out the window of his private room. A quiet knock at the door alerts him to the presence of Io’Cantra. Turning slowly, he motions for her to enter.
Io’Cantra steps to the center of the chamber. “Lord Seraphim. I must leave shortly so I must inquire as to what your final decision will be. Will you side with the established clans? Or will the aberrant Marks guide your future?”
Seraphim sighs. “I cannot say at this time. I fear what my old friend Deneith has become: hateful of things he does not seem to understand.” He takes a few steps towards Io’Cantra. “However, Tarkanan and his woman seem just as untrustworthy as the time I first heard of them.”
Io’Cantra steps a little bit closer. “Lord Seraphim. I understand your trepidation. However, these days are essential to the Draconic Prophecy. I must know what your choice will be.”
Seraphim looks at Io’Cantra. “It is clear that the violence of the Dragonmarked clans will only continue to escalate. They have turned fear and mistrust into weapons to be used against those that they cannot control or manipulate.” A distant rumble of thunder comes from outside the fortress. “You must have known that I would not allow this to stand. Eventually, I will be forced to stand against my old comrades. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon, I will take arms against Lord Deneith and the rest of the Dragonmarked families.”
A slight smile comes to Io’Cantra’s face. “Perhaps, or perhaps not. You can never predict the eventuality of the Draconic Prophecy. However…” Io’Cantra pauses, considering. “No matter. It is time that I leave.”
“I hope your journey finds you safely back to your home, Lady Io’Cantra.” Seraphim lowers his head respectfully.
“You have been a fine host. Trust your instincts, Seraphim. You have lifetimes of wisdom at your command; do not disregard it when the situation becomes dire.” Wisps of smoke begin swirling around her. The smoke condenses around Io’Cantra, obscuring her from view. Then, as quickly as the smoke appeared, it disappears, taking Lady Io’Cantra with it.
“If only it where easy for us as it were for your kind, my good Lady Io’Cantra.”