Last of Kin Prologue


By Scott Kevin Saunders Jr.

"Report," Arek's voice echoed throughout the dazzling chamber, reverberating off of the crystalline floor and carrying far out into the celestial void surrounding his twisting throne. From his perch, there was no place in the Universe where Arek's vision could not spread, no planet or star that was beyond his reach. This place served as his gateway to his malevolent army's activities; it had served the Sinistrals well for eons. Arek was busy admiring the quiet serenity of the astral surroundings as the tall, slender being at the foot of the carpeted steps cleared his throat before responding. Arek could sense his surprise, the erratic jumpiness of his energy - clearly, he had not been before so high an Overlord in quite some time, if ever.

"I bring word from High Sorcerer Daos, from the Labyrinths," His lighter voice carried as well as Arek's, the resonation from the chamber's layout so powerful that it distorted his words. "He has become active once more and seeks permission to begin the resurrection of his lieutenants with all due speed."

Arek ran one bony hand along the gem-encrusted arm of his throne, sighing with a bit of boredom. He had anticipated this for many days now, since he felt the High Sorcerer's wicked energies seething beneath the gnarled confines of the Labyrinth. Death's barrier proved too feeble to hold his wrathful spirit back for long - he'd only been in state for just over half a century, a record by his standards.

Despite the news, Arek felt as if he'd just acquired another headache, adding to the mountain forming and compounding within his mind. It had been difficult enough coordinating Sinistral objectives in other areas of the galaxy, where things were becoming particularly troublesome, and Arek knew the reasoning for Daos's request for the revival of his three lieutenants - he wanted another chance at Earth, at the human race that had thrice overthrown him.

He sat in silence briefly, pondering the news. Daos had also been a beacon of power in the grand scheme of things, a reliable High Sorcerer that had been a close confidant of Arek long before he was assigned to Earth. But the humans of that planet had somehow gotten under his skin, something Arek never expected with someone like Daos. His increasing recklessness in dealing with matters on Earth had cost the Sinistral armies significantly, each time losing more assets than the last.

Dual Blade...Erim's power...and most recently, Zalbak...

Even Arek's patience had limits, and after the recent Earth fiasco and the loss of their great fire god ally Zalbak, who Daos had coerced on his own without Arek's approval, the Sinistral Overlord had developed his own personal fury toward the High Sorcerer.

Arek straightened himself in his throne - Daos was still an asset, but an unstable one, to be sure, as were his three underlings. He was greatly reluctant to waste more of his army's resources in Daos's vendetta against the humans in a role that the High Sorcerer was clearly not suited for.

"Relay a message to the Labyrinths," He calmly said to the emissary at the foot of his throne, choosing his words carefully. "Daos is to report to me at once."

"As you wish..." The words of the messenger died in the darkness of the chamber as he vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving Arek alone with his thoughts.

Despite Daos's recent failures, Arek still had an eye on Earth and the potent energies it possessed. He had visited Earth briefly, when Daos had underwent his first operation in seizing the planet. Just being on the surface and basking in the magics that surrounded him in the natural environment had given him a unique sensation, one he had not been familiar with. He'd been completely engulfed in malleable energies, as if he was drowning in a cascading sea of them - the humans of Earth had been forged with that natural power from the beginning, causing Arek to take special interest in them as a race. If they ever attained mastery of such power, they would've had potential to rival even him.

Such was what Daos had found out - Dual Blade had been lured by the purity wielded by the human knight during the first invasion, and the blade had chosen the mortal creature over the High Sorcerer, something that had wounded Daos greatly and intrigued Arek even more. Surely, the fiery warrior was not the only of his kind, he had hypothesized after the fall of Doom Island. He suspected that his offspring would be equally as potent - Daos's subsequent failures had proven his theories correct. Members of the line of Maxim had been rallying points for their race, that constant glimmer of resistance. They had to be dealt with.

His mind began to ring - energy were beginning to crash together at the foot of his throne, where the emissary had once stood. These powers were more violent and unstable; gusts of wind erupted in the chamber as a huge robed form emerged from a collection of burning energies. Arek remained silent and calm.

"It is refreshing," A deep, throaty voice said. Arek recognized Daos's regal tone - it was oozing superiority. "The instant that one transcends from Death into Life is always so exhilarating."

"You've done so often enough," Arek replied without rotating his levitating throne to greet Daos. "That I suspect you're an expert on the subject."

"No kind words, then, Arek?" Daos nearly spat in defiance. "I never got to see your face after my second revival - I took offense to that, as well."

"I was busy with more important matters," The Sinistral Overlord said as he folded his hands and gazed upward at the passing stars. "My other High Sorcerers were succeeding where you had failed. You know the nature of my anger toward you, Daos."

"It was Zalbak's incompetence, not mine, that led to his downfall," Arek could sense Daos pacing back and forth in front of his throne, the energies around him vibrant and vivid. The Overlord's eyes began to shine, his patience with Daos running even thinner. "Had he possessed an ounce of creativity, those humans would've been dust."

"Of course, resorting to Zalbak was only after you, Gades, Amon, and Erim failed to destroy the aforementioned humans in the first place," Arek dryly replied. "I required his powers elsewhere, Daos."

"We can make do!!" He snapped. "Zalbak was not our only ally of the Flame, my lord."

"I despise wasting power on vengeance, Daos," Arek hissed. "I saw no merit within your recent return to Earth. I believe I have come to consensus on your presence there."

He could feel Daos freeze, his energies ceasing their cascading motions.

"What?! Are you denying my conquest of the humans?? They are MINE by right, Arek, and no Sinistral save for me shall conquer Earth!"

"I've heard this before, Daos," Arek said. "But calm yourself, for you are not totally out of my confidence. I do have a task for you, should you be willing to approach it with a clear head and no personal feelings. You must act efficiently and effectively, instead of the nonsense I've been told about your previous incursions."

Daos growled at Arek's words, but he grudgingly replied with an acknowledgement.

"Good. I still see a particular interest in Earth, but you will undertake proper steps to ensure the seizure of the planet. The line of the warrior who slew you in your initial attack on Earth still exists even after all these years. But..."

Arek reached his armored skeletal hand forward, and a tiny speck within the surrounding astral plane floated gently into his palm. It grew in size as he breathed magic into it, until it was a small rotating blue ball floating above his fingertips. As Arek watched, the bright, ocean color of the ball began to darken into a deep, midnight blue. He contorted his lips into a grin as he observed it.

"...the people of Earth grow weaker with time, less dependent on the blood of such heroes to govern their future. Technology and class advancement have become their way, conquest and imperialism their tools. They seek power and wealth for themselves now, just as we do. The majority of their kind cannot comprehend or control such potential in their mortal hands, and they are slowly dying, festering in their own greed and lust. The line of Maxim will become this way as will be vulnerable."

Daos appeared bored, resuming his anxious pacing.

"I have seen this mortal desire for greatness and control; it was what drove Earth-bound wizards and demons to serve us during the second incursion. It exists in every mortal race; why mention such a thing now?"

"So long as the blood of Maxim exists within the human race, there is potential for another Doom Island failure, as we've seen before. I need not remind you of the resourcefulness of those warriors - the army conjured by them could easily find a way to overthrow you again."

"Not this time!!" Daos bellowed, wild spouts of fire spewing as he flung out his arm. "Their stratagems will not avail them! If you grant me the necessary resources, I will transform Doom Island into so terrible a citadel that it will consume their puny technologies!"

Arek curled his free hand into a gnarled fist - Daos's pompousness was grating on him.

"Doom Island?" He nearly let out a small laugh, a rarity. "Doom Island is a relic, a useless satellite at this point. You should know this - it is too easily assailed and so conspicuous to a human's eye. I recommend a different approach, High Sorcerer."

"I could consider it..." Daos seemed intrigued enough. "Anything to have a chance at the warrior's line again..."

"Excellent, I had hoped you still possessed the wit and fire you had all those centuries ago before I set you on Earth," Arek replied, twisting the hand that supported the floating Earth orb. "If you succeed in wiping out the last of Maxim's descendants, then I shall give you the full reign you so greatly desire in conquering the humans."

"How gracious of you. I presume that I will be receiving the usual assistance from my lieutenants in this matter."

Arek paused a moment, then he responded.

"You presume incorrectly," He told him, causing another halt in the vibrant energy waves surrounding Daos. "Again, needless tools. Gades, Amon, and Erim had served their purposes for the time being - are you so unsure that you can see to this task yourself?"

Daos did appear uncertain, though Arek could guess the reason.

"I despise the idea of leaving my sister in the realm of Death," He admitted, proving Arek correct. "I wish her brought back, if in the future."

"It will be done in time," Arek assured him. "You have my word. But you are all that I require for this operation. I will be overseeing it personally this time, and no mistakes shall be made."

"It does not inspire trust, my lord," Daos laid the sarcasm on the title, irritating Arek but not moving him to strike back. "If you do not wish to give me the benefit of Gades, Amon, and Erim, may I request the use of their remaining servants?"

"Granted," Arek nonchalantly said. "I will advise you further on our approach in the coming days - rest assured, Daos, when this operation concludes, Earth's powers will be in our grasp at long last."

"I will be rejuvenating my power in the Labyrinth..." Daos turned his back on Arek, and the Overlord could already sense his physical form melting away into the teleportation magics. "Farewell...Arek..."

Arek was again alone, again contemplating. Daos would, of course, be at peak when Arek called upon him again, which pleased the Overlord. However, this time Arek would be in the background working the strings, making sure Daos didn't ruin his chances with such mindless bloodlust, as he'd done before.

Why are you so eager for Earth's power?

The voice pricked his senses, causing Arek to smile.

"Resourceful, aren't you?" He said into the black void. "Even after the curses I placed, you still manage to break through your prison. You impress me."

A different voice came, this one lighter and more heated than the first.

The human race will endure with or without Maxim's descendants. You'll see. You'll be tantalized by Earth's magics forever.

"Don't insult me, or I may displace you even further." Arek compressed his thoughts, and he was rewarded with two resounding screams, each containing pure physical and mental agony. He could tell that they were growing restless - centuries of imprisonment would do that to any soul. "You may be a curiosity, but you are still disposable."

The first voice spat at him as Arek leaned back in his throne.

Daos will not succeed - he hasn't before, and he won't now.

"I don't expect him to," Arek replied, giving his captives some pause. "He is merely fulfilling his final purpose - with his sacrifice, I will have the last warrior just as I have you, and Earth shall soon follow."

If we ever get out of here...

Arek manipulated his energies into a mental block, sealing up the cracks the voices had broken through their prison. Seconds later, he was rewarded with an enticing silence, more melodic than any tone. He breathed a steady sigh as he sent a mental signal to some of his outlying lieutenants - he still had much to plan for, not only on Earth, but in other Sinistral-occupied areas of the Universe as well. Power-mongering was never as easy and as straightforward as it ought to have been.

He whispered a small verbal jab at his prisoners, a satisfying sneer on his masked face.

"Believe me, you won't."

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