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Epilogue: Wyrmbreaker

The rakshasa lord stood at a window high in his citadel, staring out across the blasted lands of the Demon Wastes and towards the direction where Ashtakala, city of the Lords of Dust, could just barely be seen, a brooding shadow on the horizon. He was waiting for a report from one of the many servants he sent out among the mortals of the world to carry out his many plans, and as he waited, he reflected.

The rakshasa was old. He had been old already when the great wars came, and his mighty masters were thrown down by the dragons of Argonessen and their allies, the couatl of Xen’drik. The couatl were no more, having given their lives to create the force that mortals called the Silver Flame which held the mighty Overlords imprisoned, but the dragons… they still lived in their ancient strongholds, and some among them played an opposing game to that of the Lords of Dust. The rakshsasa lord bore them a particular enmity he’d carried across the gulf of time and through war and struggle, and for this he’d acquired the name by which he was spoken of still in hushed whispers.

He was Durastoran, considered by some the mightiest of all his kind, chief servant of the Overlord called the Shadow in the Flame, but he was also called Wyrmbreaker, a name he had earned many times over the millennia. His latest move had yet to come to the attention of his ancient foes, but he knew that in time it would, and they would oppose him as they had always done. He smiled at the thought, baring his long fangs. That was a confrontation he anticipated with relish.

Mortals tended to think of the Lords of Dust as a monolithic force – those few who knew of them at all – but it was not so. They were a loose alliance, each faction among them serving a different Overlord, and while some of the dark titans had been allied, others had been opposed in the days when they still ruled upon Eberron. There was a careful balance among the Lords and always had been, a dance to ensure that they all worked to unmake their master’s prisons, while at the same time seeking to ensure that when the new Age of Demons rose at last, their own master would be the one to stand at the pinnacle. The Wyrmbreaker was no different.

He had come close – so close – not long before, as he reckoned time. An earthquake had released the Shadow in the Flame into the land of Thrane, and for a time it seemed that he would raise a new empire with the Wyrmbreaker at his right hand. And yet he had failed because a human – a damnable, brief, insignificant human – called Tira Miron had opposed him, somehow in the purity of her righteousness becoming a living conduit for the Silver Flame itself and giving her own life to bind the Shadow once again. Thanks to her, the Lords of Dust had failed.

In the aftermath of that failure, the Wyrmbreaker had retreated to his citadel and cast his vision into the future. He studied the movements of the moons and stars, sought fragments of texts from that long-ago time when even he had been young, observed the movements of animals and mortals and even the long cycles of the planes, and at last words had been revealed to him. They spoke of a child of the Flame, with elder blood in her veins, who would find the Key and open the way, believing herself a servant of righteousness while in truth setting the stage for the Overlords’ return.

Bringing this about was only one plan among the many the Wyrmbreaker had devised in those days, but now, it was one close to bearing fruit.

The sound of footsteps echoed behind him, and Durastoran knew that his servant had arrived. “Report,” he said, his voice rumbling like thunder from a distant storm.


“Lord,” the other rakshasa said, “the first task is complete. The vault in the Mournland was open; the girl retrieved the first piece of the key. I spoke to her, and permitted her to believe that she and her companions had defeated me. Now they prepare to set forth to seek the other pieces. All has proceeded as you had foreseen.”

“Indeed,” the Wyrmbreaker rumbled. He turned to face the other rakshasa, a valued servant who was lesser in power than himself, but still one of the greatest of those who served the Shadow in the Flame. He was white-furred, like the Wyrmbreaker himself, a sign of the Ak’chazar caste – they were loners among their kind, well-suited for spending decades or centuries in disguise, away from the Demon Wastes, as this servant had done. At his master’s command he had waited in the shadows for centuries, guiding the Entarro bloodline until it produced the one they required – and then when she was born guiding her to ensure she would play the part written for her. “You have done well. Return to your duties and be vigilant. Our time of victory may draw near, but we will be opposed. We must not fail now.”

“Of course, lord.” The other rakshasa bowed, then hesitated. “There are minor complications I must warn you of. Before the map I fabricated to the vault reached Thyra’s hands, it was purchased by agents of the Emerald Claw, and they saw the Key and survived. The Lich Queen may be taking a hand in events.”

Durastoran waved a hand. “She is nothing,” he said. “She is powerful by the standards of mortals, but cannot stand in our path, any more than the parasites in Sarlona who think they play at world events when they are nothing but interlopers and pretenders. She is not a significant concern.”

“Of course not,” the other rakshasa agreed. “But there is… another. An elf priestess, from Aerenal. We foresaw those who would accompany our Child of Flame in her quest, at least in brief glimpses – but not her. She is new, an unseen factor. The Lich Queen does not concern me. The Undying Court… they do.”

In the long history of Eberron, there were many forces that had learned to find and read the Prophecy that was woven into the fabric of the world, but three that had mastered manipulating it. The dragons, who were arrogant enough to name it for themselves, the Lords of Dust, who spun schemes that covered millennia – and, youngest but not least, the Undying Court of Aerenal, whose members had transcended mortality and gained something close to the perspective of the Lords themselves. The Wyrmbreaker paused, considering this. Next to the dragons of the Chamber, there was no more formidable foe.

At last, he spoke. “The Court does not move swiftly,” he said. “Watch, and wait. Their enmity with the dragons is as great as their enmity with us; many times have I found setting them against one another to be a useful means of distracting them from our own aims. We will deal with them both, in time, and whether this year or in ten years or a thousand, our master will be free. I am pleased with your work, Tarazanthan. See to it you continue to serve well.”

The rakshasa who was also a professor at Morgrave University, who had guided Thyra Entarro in many guises to become the person who would serve the needs of the Lords of Dust, bowed his head. “As you say, so shall be. Our Master shall rise again.”

Tarazanthan vanished, returning to Sharn and his human disguise, leaving the Wyrmbreaker alone in darkness, and well satisfied. All was in motion as he had designed.

///

Well, with this epilogue, the first volume of Game of the Ancients comes to an end! This is a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a while and kept getting distracted from doing so (depending on where you’re reading this, some of you may have noticed that the prologue and chapter one were both posted in 2014, almost three years before the rest of the fic). It was a fulfilling feeling to finally get all the scenes that I’d had in my mind for years out onto the page; a big thank you to everyone who’s been following along with me, and any feedback is much appreciated!

The true big bad of the story stands revealed – Durastoran the Wyrmbreaker, one of the most dangerous villains in the entire Eberron setting (Erandis Vol, the Lich Queen, will serve as a secondary overarching villain, albeit mostly working through minions rather than directly). I made a deliberate choice to bookend the story with him, to show just how much things have been under his influence. As we see now, Thyra was only allowed to think she’d escaped the Lords of Dust’s control, and they’re still guiding her actions from afar. Of course, at some point, she and her companions are liable to work things out…

Characters hiding behind masks have been something of a recurring theme in this story. Len hides that she’s a changeling, Thyra hides the source of her magic, Yhani has plenty of secrets regarding her precise relationship to the Undying Court and reason for being in Khorvaire, ir’Sarrin pretends to be an upstanding Karrn noble while actually serving the Emerald Claw, etc. (and several of the characters have secrets that haven’t been fully explored yet…) Now, we can add Taras – or rather, Tarazanthan – to that list. I definitely wanted to foreshadow that he wasn’t all he appeared, but still wanted the reveal that he’s a rakshasa to be a significant one. He’s a somewhat interesting villain, one much more used to hanging around humans than his own kind, and getting a chance to explore him in greater detail is something I’m looking forward to in later fics. After all, he’s been taking an interest in Thyra since before she was born – he’s not going to stop now.

Game of the Ancients: Vol I is the first in a projected five-fic series that will take its characters across the world of Eberron (the others being, tentatively, titled and primarily set on Sarlona, Xen’Drik, Argonessen, and Aerenal respectively). I’m not sure when I’ll start posting the next one, but hopefully the wait won’t be too long. Thanks again to all my readers, and I hope you’ll join me next time! Sarlona awaits.

-MasterGhandalf


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