A bookseller places a display inside his shop with the next title in a long string of adventure romance novels written under the pen name of Antionette Lyonard. The title ‘Dark Rituals’ is written in an embossed script on the cover, standing out over a darkened scene with it’s shining silver letters.

A scene has been drawn with such careful detail to depict a human woman in the arms of a kaldorei illidari. The mountains of Argus surround them in their frightening razor peaks as they stand on a cliff’s edge above armies of gathered demons and Eredar.

Rather than engaged in any course of battle, the woman is bent back with a black dress revealing far too much thigh and a bodice ripped by the claws of the illidari.

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…to what manner of demon and nemesis was resting inside that fel prison.

Gwyneth’s fingers swiped lines through the thick dust upon the crystalline surface. It was too clouded to see within save for an outline of monstrous wings on the creature. Dirt and debris were caught up in its crafting, rendering the darkened figure far more sinister in the dim torchlight…

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…cried out in sudden, sharp pain radiating through her limbs. Small, jagged pieces of the fel crystal punctured her skin, embedding by a chaotic nova unleashed from imprisonment. Focus on the ache was short lived and cast away as a flash of acidic light stretched through the room.

She could hardly make out more than the horns and those sinewy wings upon such a monstrously tall demon, but there was no time to judge. No time to gaze in horrified awe of the creature. Gwyneth slammed her bleeding hands down upon the chalk lines she had crafted, reciting words of demonic wards and ritual. The torches flickered around her and snuffed out into darkness. A ghostly wind grew and howled through those stone chambers, filling her heart with fright of the blasphemy she was committing.

It has to be done, she reminded herself as fel circles sprang to life with violet light. The stakes were too high in the war against the Legion, and though she may find herself damned for her deeds, few would take the necessary measures to fight by the most powerful means.

The demon roared in protest, using that accursed tongue to counter against her spell. It fought against the bindings, threatened her for the atrocity she commit against him. Magic filled the air, but nothing so distinct as the arcane nor as pure as fire and ice. Corruption and an aura of immolation roiled through the halls, sapping life from small creatures that still skittered about, but it was not enough to tame the beast.

Those last sealing words were cut short as a hard blow struck her in the chest. This demon had moved in a blur The stone floor collided with her back, and in the glow of her own fel fire -poised to strike- there was no demon. Rather, the spectral sight of an elf stared back at her.

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“…you don’t understand!” Gwyneth had squared up to Dyo, prepared to fight though she could not match him in height. Although, it did nothing to diminish the ferocity of her spirit.

“You think…” He paused, tone dropping in volume though her ears were filled with that thick baritone. “That I do not understand sacrifice? Though I had given up those few tatters and remnants of a life to save this world, that I would never understand what it means? You’re a foolish girl.”

“At least I still fight because I feel something!” Her choked shouts echoed throughout the ravine, but with them went the last of her energy. The willingness to fight him died out, and in its wake the despair for a lost love filled the void. A beat of wings brushed dust into the air, and a pair of powerful arms caught her before she hit the ground. Wide eyes gazed upon him, a shock ran through her body as she found herself welcoming his embrace more than she knew.

“You are not the only one who feels something.” Dyo whisper, drawing nearer with each passing word until…

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…their fate loomed below in the masses of demons stirring for war. The final battle would be upon them too soon, and with it came the uncertainty for life the following day.

Soldiers prepared back at camp, taking what may have been their last swigs of a Stormhammer Dark ale or stuffing themselves to indigestion. Others sang and danced to chase away the fear or live every last moment until sleep would consume them, but Gwyneth watched from that solitary cliff. Nothing could soothe that pit in her stomach that filled with doubts, but a warm touch had silenced the nagging thoughts that spoke of death upon the morning. Although a simple touch was short lived until passion had locked her and the illidari together. Distant war drums, cadences, song, and dance muted the sounds of a bodice ripping with an insatiable hunger…

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…time was slipping away and with it Argus would fade.

Stormwind surrounded her now and all she had left was an aged necklace. To anyone else it was a simple piece of jewelry made of crude materials. Nothing more than a wooden moon and stars on a leather cord, but it was all she had of Dyo. The last token of the illidari that had sacrificed himself to save her, and though she would be forever grateful, it was if her soul had been cleaved in two. It had been a last resort

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“DYO!” Gwyneth screamed, half certain she was lost in a dream. Every hope she had held onto so dearly in the passing days coming true. Such things did not happen anywhere but fables and fairy tales. Such things did not happen to her. “DYO!” She cried once more when her legs had grown too weak to carry her.

A swift rush of fel energy sent his form racing toward her, dropping innocent bystanders going about their business to the cobbles. It felt like an everlasting hunt had finally come to its end as she fell into the illidari’s grasp.

Author Esreiella
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