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  Saturday, August 14, 2004 03:26 PM
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Fulcrum - Chapter 18 Story by: Anyee

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Rise Of Destruction by N3mEsIs

Chapter 1 - The Relic of the Ancients

Gazing over the smoldering ramparts and towers of the mighty city of Sescheron, Baal felt a sense of grim satisfaction. Fingering the shard of soul stone around his neck, the Lord of Destruction shifted his hind legs on his throne, pouring his malice into his minions, granting them the energy to fight, healing their wounds, driving them into frenzy. The banners surrounded the entrance of his tent obscuring him from the view of his minions parted, and a thin, withered old man was pushed into his presence by an armed overseer. The old hag scraped and groveled at the base of the steps of demon lord’s throne, whimpering. The overseer left without a word. Baal regarded the wretch with contempt.

“A necromancer…”he sneered. Baal’s spoke with the softest of tones, but it resounded like thunder in the man’s skull. “You would not be here, mortal…unless…you have something...something important...for me…”

“Y-yes , my lord.” stammered the man. His wispy hair and sunken cheek bones gave him more semblance to a skeleton than a man. Reaching out from behind him the man lifted a small statuette from behind him. Gazing around, the man suddenly noticed a large shadow at the ground beside the demon lord’s feet. Baal’s eyes widened with anticipation. Rearing from his hind legs on which he rested upon, the demon stood. The large shadow stirred, and raised its head, sensing its master’s elation. A horrific sight of vast flowing tentacles swathed around the Lord of Destruction. Green veins coursed down his limbs, and the soul stone swayed around his neck, glowing slightly. Moving towards the man with demonic speed, with each step his quadruple feet took made the ground tremble. Circling the man like a tiger would menace a deer cub, his gaze fixed upon the small statuette held in the man's visibly trembling arms.

“The relic of the ancients…” Baal breathed. The shadow had emerged from its corner. It was hideous. Four talons extended from its scaly, ridged hide, twice the length of human limbs, made for rending, tearing, stabbing and piercing. Four curved horns protruded from its head and jaws, giving it an aura of malicious majesty. The demon lord was so close that the man could feel its vile breath, hot and sour on his face and feel the heat of its intense energies swirl and emanate from it like a palpable aura of menacing, incinerating heat which suffocated him and singed his clammy skin. Stretching out for the statuette with gnarled, tendrilled hands, the mans trembling hands suddenly withdrew. Hissing sharply, the demon lord swayed, expression quickly changed to anger. Regaining somewhat of his last vestiges of strength, the man answered.

“The relic shall be yours…only if you promise me something.” Baal’s dilated black pupils eyed him with suspicion. With this relic, the Ancients of Arreat would be obsolete and would hinder his path no longer. The World stone would be at his mercy.

“The terms are not yours to make…” the demon lord searched the man’s soul, penetrating whatever magical wards he had summoned around his person with relative ease.

“Nilathak…” Nilathak stood there, transfixed by his gaze. The sound of battle resounded around the large tent, the demon lord oblivious to it.

“You will not touch Harrogath, nor go anywhere near it, if I give you this.” Nilathak gasped, painfully aware that this small figurine was the only reason why he was not a pool of slag and bloody remains on the floor. Baal seemed to consider this, fingering his glowing soul stone; his four legs paced the floor slowly like a gigantic arachnid. But he stopped suddenly, stared at Nilathak and laughed. Wind filled the tent and swirled around The Lord of Destruction, flaring out his grotesque visage of criss-crossing red and green patterned veins and appendages. Clapping his palms over his aged ears, Nilathak cringed and fell to the floor. The thunderstorm of laughter subsided; the tent regained its own shape. The demon lord bent down to the man, baring rows of jagged teeth. Snatching the statuette from Nilathak, he growled,

“Remove your filth from my presence.” An invisible force seemed to drag Nilathak away from Baal, through the banners. The banners pulled themselves together and shut in his face.
Gazing lovingly at the statuette, he stroked one finger down its lacquered side, relishing the future. Turning towards his Throne, he stroked the abomination, which rubbed its horned head on his leg. Yes…he thought, the future is promising indeed.

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