It was a sunny day. The sky held few clouds. The day was warm, and the air dry. The green grass beneath his feet was healthy, and morning’s dew had gone. Balton Runge smiled a sad, reminiscent smile. Indeed, he thought standing next to the decaying Wall of Malibjah, today is a good day to die.
Balton leaned against the Wall of Malibjah. He remembered supervising the construction of the wall. The grassy plains surrounding him had once been a swamp. That was a long time ago. The wall was now cracked and beaten, though still strong. The swamp had evaporated and the smell had vanished years ago.
The people he loved passed him as they went through the great double gates into Mt. Dourin, which the Wall of Malibjah fortified. As they passed, they watched him with great sorrow. He recalled their names. A few had the courage to say their farewells.
Eventually, the last of his people had passed through the doors. He heard the machinery seal the massive gates tight. Balton wished he could go with them but an army of Aelith approached in the distance.
The area before him was an exposed pasture. There was no barrier behind which he could hide. He would fight in the open. As the army appeared over the horizon, he estimated their ranks to number about six or seven thousand, more than he had expected. A few lieutenants in front were on horseback. A dozen drummers lead the bulk of the army, setting a pace. A single figure floated through the air, above the lieutenants. His long, flowing black robes seemed to suck in the light surrounding him. His fine, silver and oak staff had a round, bulging emerald glinting on top.
Grim faced, Balton brought his sword and shield to bear. “A Dealer. They sent a bloody Dealer to take out one insignificant village that has shown no signs of offering resistance.” Balton let out a small grunt of annoyance, “…figures.”
The Dealer raised his staff. The drummers stopped. The march halted. Balton brought up his tower shield. There was a moment of absolute, terrifying silence. The Death-Dealer’s green emerald quickly filled with a bright blue light. A man riding in front yelled something Balton heard as, “Achaz.” The Dealer’s staff shot out a ball of blue light far into the sky. A silent blue explosion ripped through a nearby cloud, signaling the Aelithian archers. Arrows filled the sky like a plague of locusts.
As the death bolts journeyed towards Balton, he ducked under his shield. The arrows that hit his shield bounced harmlessly off. Balton continued crouching under his shield, shocked that they actually thought this might work. The hail of shafted missiles suddenly stopped. Balton emerged from under his shield to see what would come next. To his surprise, the Dealer stood next to him. Apparently the arrows weren’t meant to kill Balton at all. They were simply a diversion.
“You’re the last of your kind, Sir Runge.”
Balton stared curiously at the pale, hooded figure before him and noticed that the left hand had no flesh. “Darin Miklae,” Balton spoke, hardly believing what he saw.
“Ah, I was wondering if you would remember me,” Darin Miklae spoke calmly, though his body was rigid.
“What have they done to you?” Balton spoke, choking on his own words.
“I assure you that it was nothing I didn’t ask for,” Miklae said sternly. “Now, let’s talk about this situation.”
A single tear fell down Balton’s face, “What is there to say?”