Official Report
State Hospital South
Grove City, Idaho

Reesha. The name came to Kruhl from out of the darkness resounding through her mind with such intensity that she shivered. She still wafted through the blankness, numb and with almost no awareness of her surroundings. Then the name repeated itself and the darkness receded…

Pale torchlight splashed against the wall, bathing the stonework with splotches of angry reds and oranges. Kruhl King of Eirdon, paced the corridors his massive hands balled into fists.

He stopped, placing an open palm on a section of the wall. Less than a year ago, his workers at last completed Wurdanhom for which his father first laid the groundwork. The wall belonged to an older part of the keep constructed before he’d been born. It was his father Wurdan, who united the Canti, the Andeli, and the Gelba tribes under his banner and begun construction of the keep and castle walls, but he’d died before it was completed. Kruhl walked in the shadow of his father. Though his accomplishments surpassed those of Wurdan’s, he stood upon his predecessors shoulders and all he achieved was a mirror of what his father accomplished.

Kruhl united the remaining tribes against the growing threat of the Sorcerer Odalrik’s armies. Victory came at a steep price, less than a third of his forces survived, and Leoffa his bride to be was among the fallen.

He peered down at his open palm and clenched it shut. Her blood was on his hands. The Sorcerer Odalrik was most skilled in the art of illusion, making others see that which was not there. Waldere, though a powerful magic artifact proved useless against such power.

Though Kruhl trained himself against Odalrik’s trickery, on the night of her death he had not seen past the magic. He impaled Leoffa on his sword believing her to be the Sorcerer, and by the time he realized the truth it was too late. Tears stung his eyes, though it had been over five years, he still remembered the look of betrayal in her eyes.

Were it not for Reesha, Odalrik’s former apprentice, they might have all died. Years before she betrayed her master and allied herself with Kruhl. On that fateful night, she alone saw past the illusions, and struck at the Sorcerer dispelling the mirages and by doing so allowed Kruhl to regain his senses. United they overcame the last of his guards, and when they at last cornered Odalrik, Reesha summoned the spell of banishment to cast him into the Nether Realm.

The spell was a powerful one and had it not been for the protections of Resha’s magics they too would have been pulled into the maelstrom of converging energies. Even Leoffa’s fallen form disappeared into the portal.

Perhaps it would have been different if the Sorceress remained allied with him. There was unrest amongst the human slaves, and as yet Kruhl could not quell their dissent. After her former master’s death, Reesha betrayed Kruhl attempting to seize Odalrik’s domain for her own, but Kruhl defeated her, sparing her life because she’d been so instrumenta’ in stopping their enemy. His decision haunted him to that day as Reesha, though he’d not seen her in years, had been a thorn in his side ever since.

A group of rebellious slaves, discontent under Odalrik’s rein and doubly so under Kruhl’s propped Reesha up as their would-be champion. Despite her long absence, he did not doubt she was behind their movement. She preferred to work in the shadows, never revealing herself until certain she could come out on the winning side. With the dissent growing, he believed it only a matter of time before she showed herself again.

He roared and pounded a fist into the wall. The blow would have been powerful enough to down a human, but nowhere near his full strength. He brought his hand away, his knuckles throbbing in pain and flexed his hand. He hadn’t broken his fingers, but his hand would, no doubt, be sore for several days.

“Troubled, milord?” A feminine voice asked, and a weight pressed into his side.

It was Gylda, his bride to be, the lioness who would one day bear his children. He did not turn to face her, instead he lowered his eyes and shook his head. She rarely spoke to him these days. Not unless she wanted something from him.

“The uprisings grow more frequent,” he replied, unable to keep the anger from his voice.

“These humans are mercurial creatures, milord, when winter settles in they will forget all about their silly little uprisings,” she said pressing her breasts against his chest.

Again, Kruhl did not respond. Gylda, though full grown, was young and inexperienced and until becoming his betrothed spent little time around humans. She’d been raised in Angol where the Assar, their people, outnumbered humans by more than ten to one.

There in the isle of Eirdon humans were three times more populous than the Assar. His people were overlords just like in Angol, but there was cause for concern. Though he did not doubt his people’s physical superiority he was no fool, his warriors were too few to quelch a full-blown rebellion.

He glanced at his betrothed then. Her coat was an almost perfect snow white, and he studied her features breath caught in his throat. She was highborn like himself, but where he had been more or less raised upon the battlefield, her upbringing had been within a palace. Every need and want she’d ever had or imagined was tended to by servants and courtiers alike. An only daughter, of a powerful king, her father doted on her shamelessly. She was as willful as she was arrogant, and when she had come to live in Eirdon it had been a harsh adjustment. Though he was King, he saw no need for servants or sycophants. She developed a measure of self-reliance as a result, but it had been hard won and she resented him for it.

They came from very different worlds, and most of the time she barely hid her contempt for his unrefined barbarian ways. Yet, there was an attraction. Her soft curves would turn the head of any Assar male, and though he was well into his fourth decade his battle-honed body would catch the eye of many a female. Though often drawn to each other’s beds, they would never love one another, nor did he believe they would ever come to respect each other. Their upbringings would never allow for it.

“Come, milord,” she said purring as her fingers slid down his crotch, a smile stretching across her muzzled face.

She pulled on his arm, and he let her guide him down the corridor toward his bedchambers. Though his heart yearned for Leoffa, and likely would until the day he died, he could not resist his betrothed’s beauty.

That proved his undoing.

Once, inside the chambers, he caught a flash of steel, just before Gylda surged forward. Her weapon thrust at his chest. She moved quick and caught him off-guard, and he barely deflected the blow. His arm swept down, and she dived out of the way, coming around again, with the weapon, this time plunging it into his side. He roared as a stabbing-hot pain erupted, almost blinding him, he swiped out striking her across the chest and sent his bride to be sprawling into the opposite wall.

The warrior king reached for Waldere strapped across his back, but his hand froze in place. Kruhl grunted and heaved, his fingers grasping at the open air, but they remained suspended in place.

Pale green light flared across the room illuminating a slender form. She bore a long gnarled staff, atop which a jagged emerald luminesced. She wore no hood, and Kruhl felt his breath catch in his chest as his eyes took in her beautiful countenance. Though, he did not experience sexual attraction toward humans, he could appreciate their beauty in the same way he might that of a majestic buck, or a bright-plumed songbird. In the time he’d known her she fended off many would be suitors, but she’d shown no interest in their attempts to court her.

“Reesha,” he spoke the name, his blood running cold. Her face had not changed, as if she’d remained untouched by the ravages of time.

Gylda rose to her feet, a low moan escaping her muzzle. Reesha moved forward, and his betrothed shuffled behind her as if shielding herself from the other Assar. It was an odd display considering that Gylda towered over the diminutive sorceress, but Kruhl was no fool. Reesha possessed more power in her tiny human frame than any Assar could ever hope to conjure.

“Well,” Reesha spoke a sneer curling across her lips. “I step away for a few years, and look at the mess you make for yourself, Kruhl.”

Kruhl did not speak, instead, concentrating his energy on breaking through Reesha’s spell. Magic though powerful, was not without its weaknesses. Given enough time, one could overcome its effects.

She must have sensed what he was doing, the sorceress turned her head and called over her shoulder. Six humans, five male and one female emerged from the shadows, each equipped with a different weapon.

“You need not speak, Kruhl,” she paused after saying his name and scowled. “I will keep this short and simple. You have been a thoughtless and cruel overlord. Your human slaves are no longer content to live under your shadow. They have selected me to take your place and rule as a more benevolent queen. Your reign is over, Kruhl son of Wurdan.”

Broken free from her hold Kruhl roared, unsheathed Waldere and struck at the nearest of the warriors downing two with a single swing of the great sword. The warrior king rounded on the other three, but their weapons were ready, the two men surged forward, one with a curved sword of a type he did not recognize and the other bearing a spiked cudgel. He tossed the first aside without even glancing at him and drove his blade into the chest of the second. By the time he rounded on the woman, she struck, her long slender sword slicing open a gash in the side of his head, a strike which would have carved open his chest had he remained where he stood.

“Enough!” Reesha screamed out, the light from her staff flaring so brightly that Kruhl was blinded.

When his vision cleared, Reesha thrust her staff out sending him careening into the stone wall behind him. “There will be no escape!”

Again, he fought to break free so that he might summon the power of the sword against the sorceress, but she was too fast for him.

Reesha, held the staff out before her, her free hand weaving patterns in the open air. “Kruhl son of Wurdan, King of Eirdon, for your crimes you’ve committed against these my people I banish you from this realm and into the Nether Realm from which there is no return.”

Reesha’s staff flared one final time, the barbarian king’s stomach lurched and… a sweat drenched Kruhl awoke sitting bolt upright hands cupped over her soft human face.