The remains of the once-grand Deathold College rose from the ground, a small break in the monotony of the dead plains which stretched across the whole of Djarkel. Nearly pitch-black thunderclouds hovered above it, notably thicker above the rubble than above the path which the group of mages traveled. The mages themself could feel the dark power surrounding the area; it tainted their smell and taste with a metallic, burning tinge. Many an innocent life had been shed here, many an innocent soul ripped from death and forced into servitude; the land itself could tell you that. The grey dirt which covered the ground in most places seemed dejected, unmoving even when the wind howled as if in anguish, sending hats flying off of the mages' heads and making it impossible to keep a hood on. The skies seemed perilous in themselves, the clouds constantly moving, sweepign around, over, or under each other, sometimes intersecting to cause a precipitative nova in the sky. The black masses rolled over the dark horizon, allowing no break for sun to show through, and determining where the grey sky ended and the grey ground began would have been difficult where it not for the sky's constant roiling.
The group of mages finally made it to the blackened mass of charred stones and cracked bricks, the aftermath of their leader's destructive ability. Said leader, Archmage Talron, made his way to the center of the ruins, where pieces of a statue lat strewn around a plinth which bore no more than weathered stone feet. He sat upon the plinth and cast his gaze over those whom had followed him to this place. His eyes lingered longest on a single woman in the crowd; Pylia. The Chanter, the Apprentice. He felt bad that he would have to eventually leave her with the burden of this college on her shoulders. He let out a sigh, waited a moment, then began talking to his remaining students and faculty.
"We are no longer part of our old college; our old, beloved Aerta. We are those of Deathold now. Not that we will follow in their footsteps, but instead, we will begin anew. We will build back up and fight against the hoards of demons which are soon to come. The Demon Lord's days on Tiien are numbered, and we mages are who will cause his downfall." He paused, unsure if he should continue, but eventually did.
"Remember that we are all students in the school of life, and this is simply a difficult test. We will, eventually, rebuild and become what we once were; a proud, illustrious school, the best in Naersa. We are no longer Aertans. In fact, we were never Aertans. We were Arcanites, living with our beloved Bloods. And now, we must continue to live in harmony with our bloods. We must combine our effort and put forth so that we can once again flourish. What are mages without the Blood? We are mortal. But what are we with the Blood? Still mortal. It matters not what the people who once lived and practiced magic here once did, it matters that they, too, were mortal, and they too had hardships. This is simply one of their hardships which was passed along to us.
Long live the Arcane, Long live the Mageblood. Now rest. We have a large job ahead of us tomorrow."
Aaron stood, in a dream-like state, as the mages started talking to each other in hushed whispers. His thoughts drifted back to his dreams in the past, where he had been plagued with images of himself becoming the Archmage of Deathold. But now, he saw, he was becoming the Archmage of Deathold. His dreams were true, and they had simply lacked one detail. He sighed again and left the ruins the way he had come, walking through the crowd of mages which parted for him as he approached. He went a ways back on the road and took a seat in the well-trodden dirt of the road and cast his gaze to the heavens.
"We never stood a chance."
Chapter one: The Inferno-Act 1