Story

The history of the Earthen Realm is a long and varied one. So much has been lost as empires rose and fell through the ages; tyrants sought to shape history to their own design, and entire generations have vanished in the wake of great tragedies. Even what does still remain, gathered in so many scrolls and tomes pieced together from across the continents, tell uncertain stories with much still left to question.

Following the growth of the protagonist in an oriental world of martial arts, Blade & Soul’s unique storytelling and character setup set the game apart from all other MMORPGs. The story is built around characters with clearly defined individual characteristics like the wicked and charming Jinsoyun, eternal Master Hong, and kind-hearted Hajoon using intricately built cut scenes and quests for greater immersion.

With skilled writers, Blade & Soul features excellently written storylines behind every chapter from the prologue all the way to the latest act, all of which you can read here.

Prologue — Paradise Lost

Chapter 1: Awakenings

The Bamboo Guardsman arrived in the dead of night, rousing Captain Dochun from his slumber. There was a report of a rising column of flame spotted in the south sea, perhaps an hour or two out from shore. Judging from the panic on the young guard's face, Dochun expected news of a Blackram Marauder attack. Were the Blackram up to their old tricks? Or was some entirely new crisis erupting in the south sea? The guard described the area quite, specifically. It was near Heaven's Reach, the home of Dochun's old master. That is why Dochun insisted on investigating the area himself, and on going alone.

Twenty-five long years ago, Dochun had left Heaven's Reach. Despite Master Hong's pleadings, he left to become a soldier. He could not sit idly by as the world burned.

Dochun arrived at the water below Heaven's Reach, and he could scarcely believe his eyes. His master's home was engulfed in flames with fiery debris falling like rain. What had happened?

Chapter 2: Morning Time at Heaven's Reach

Jinyung couldn't believe it. Gilhong and Hajoon were late to rise as usual, but now even the newest student was proving to be just as lazy! Master Hong would never take her seriously if she couldn't control the students she was responsible for. Scolding, negotiating, bribing--nothing seemed to work. How could they be so irresponsible as to shrug off morning meditations and exercises? Didn't they know how lucky they were to be taught by Master Hong Sokyun himself, one of the legendary Four Guardians?

Chapter 3: Looking for Lusung

Ahead of the announced meeting, Yungmuk's usually stoic expression hardened into something resembling concern. What worried him more than his listless brothers and sisters was the prolonged illness of his master. He was Master Hong's right hand, and he was responsible for the safety of those underneath him. But what if something happened to Master Hong? Yungmuk wasn't ready for that kind of leadership.

Yungmuk reflected on the other students, letting his mind wander. Jinyung shared his anguish when others slacked off or shirked their training, but she didn't have the same conviction, the same passion, that he did. Lusung certainly had that passion, perhaps even more so. He trained the hardest and the longest. But he was aloof, and Yungmuk wasn't sure Lusung would prove much of a leader. Perhaps it would take all three of them to keep the Hongmoon School together should the unthinkable happen and Master Hong pass away. Yungmuk quickly drove the dark thought from his mind.

Chapter 4: Master Hong's Summons

Jinyung watched as a puzzled Cricket followed Master Hong into the main house. Fighting back a twinge of envy, Jinyung actually felt happy and hopeful. Master had decided to take on Cricket as a formal pupil! All the times washing dishes and fetching firewood were going to be worth it. Jinyung couldn't wait to watch Cricket work through the inaugural training session at the Duel Hall. This could be the start of something very special.

Chapter 5: Disciple of the Hongmoon School

Yungmuk was surprised when Cricket revealed the Martial Tome which Master Hong had bestowed. Many students were never given the book; for others, it took five years or more. For Cricket to receive it so soon... it may have been a sign. Yungmuk had worked eight years to become a formal disciple; Lusung had worked six. What was SO Special about the Hongmoon School's newest student? It bothered Yungmuk that he couldn't pin it down.

But beyond Cricket's rapid ascension, and even beyond Master's illness, Yungmuk was concerned about the school. There were so few students left, and no new students since Cricket. Was Master Hong losing his passion for teaching? Were the days of Hongmoon School numbered?

Chapter 6: Training Begins

"Focus!" Lusung yelled at Jinyung during their training session, his lip curling in what Jinyung perceived as anger. Lusung was always intense when he was training, so perhaps Jinyung was overreacting. But as their session continued, Jinyung had to stifle her own anger at her fellow student as he continued barking orders and practically snarling as he struck the training dummy, over and over.

After the session, however, Lusung flashed that smile of his and apologized for "being a tad forceful," as he called it. They chatted about how wild the wind had been over the past few days--enough to knock over their feast table--and about a new little hiding place Lusung had found on a nearby floating island. Jinyung never could stay mad at Lusung for long.

Chapter 7: The Proving Grounds

"I'll do it, I'll be the assassin this time," said Lusung, the slightest of grins on his face. Yungmuk couldn't help but grin in return, Facing down the "Masked Assassin" inside the Proving Grounds was a Hongmoon tradition for all new disciples, and Lusung seemed eager to play for part for Cricket. The Masked Assassin provided a fast, hard lesson in recovering Chi, an essential battlefield technique for any warrior.

Yungmuk gently pushed back on Lusung's request. "Master Hong would say that I should probably be the one to put on the mask," Yungmuk said. But Lusung was persistent, and Yungmuk quickly relented. Lusung could have his fun. Yungmuk did hope that Lusung wouldn't be too hard on Cricket. It was supposed to just be an exercise, after all.

Chapter 8: Twilight's Edge

Jinsoyun. Master Hong couldn't move. In fact, he could barely breathe. She was a ghost from his past. She was a nightmare.

Jinsoyun had grown considerably since he last saw her. Not in height, but in stature. Her eyes burned with pain and with decades of hate and resentment. But it was her aura of Dark Chi which truly broke Hong's heart. She was now an agent of the Dark Lord, along with her two assassins. Only through the power of the Dark Arts had she survived to stand before him. Master Hong clenched his staff tightly. This would be a battle to the death.

Act I — Into the Woods

Chapter 1: From the Water

Namsoyoo had been raised by Dochun since infancy. She used to call him "Father," but Dochun wouldn't allow it; eventually, "Papa" or "Uncle" became the acceptable nicknames. Regardless of the titles, Dochun raised Namsoyoo with all the love of a father. And yet, as time went on and Namsoyoo became a young woman, Dochun's heart became heavy, weighed down with a deep uncertainty. Namsoyoo never felt like a part of the village. She was a bird who resented her cage.


Could she ever be happy with village life? Dochun wasn't sure. But the stranger who came from the ocean, from a place far away, might spur Namsoyoo's wanderlust once more. The thought troubled Dochun, deeply.

Chapter 2: Captain Dochun


Dochun spied the stranger from across the beach, through the tangle of isolated battles raging between the Bamboo Guard and the Blackram Marauders. For someone who was dragged from the sea half-drowned and half-dead, the stranger showed tremendous skill against the pirates. Raw skill, but tremendous skill nonetheless. Certainly more than enough to handle a few sea dogs.

But what struck Dochun most were the techniques on display. The stranger's style was unmistakable. This was one of Master Hong Sokyun's pupils, just as Dochun had been long ago.

Chapter 3: Dodan the Hero

Dodan the Hero Dodan was definitely Bamboo Village's biggest troublemaker. It didn't help that he was the son of Captain Dochun, the head of the Bamboo Guard. The guards put up with his mischief to please their boss, but that didn't stop the rumors. Was Dochun's wayward son so uncontrollable that he was actually spying for the Blackram?

Dodan knew about the rumors. And despite his flash and arrogance, the gossip hurt him. Didn't they understand he was just trying to be a hero, to be the kind of man his father would be proud of? That's why he journeyed close to Blackram territory. And that's how he ended up a captive of the pirates.

Chapter 4: The Bamboo Blossom

Dodan remembered it so clearly, even so many years later. His father Dochun, who was the Stratus Empire's captain of the guard, came home late that night. Dodan crept to the doorway to find his father covered in blood and holding a bundle tightly to his chest. It was a baby! The little girl's face was white as snow, and she looked up at Dodan with the largest, clearest eyes he had ever seen.

Dodan asked his father what the infant's name was. Dochun hesitated, grimacing, and then finally said, "Namsoyoo. It's Namsoyoo." And from that day on, no matter where they went or which village they stopped in, Dodan and Namsoyoo were inseparable.

Chapter 5: The Recovery

Dochun visited Mayor Daygu's house, but the mayor wasn't there, Lately, it seemed Daygu was never quite around when you needed him. The recent Blackram activity was making everyone act a little strangely. The townspeople even suspected his own son, Dodan, of colluding with the enemy. Impossible, Dochun thought. Still, Dodan was frankly a headache for the village, even before the Blackram incursions. Who did Dochun have to blame but himself? Dodan was his child, and his responsibility.

Chapter 6: The Honorable Mayor

Be careful what you wish for. Dodan, ever the would-be hero, had pestered his father for weeks for an assignment that would prove his worth. But when he finally received the task, he practically fainted, Assist the Bamboo Guard at Foshi Pyres? That place was crawling with Jiangshi and who knows what else! Why did the Pyres have to be next to Moonshade Cemetery of all places?

Dodan agonized over his new "urgent mission." Secretly, he was terrified of the cemetery. But he couldn't let it show. He couldn't let Father or the villagers know he was weak. And to show Namsoyoo any weakness was completely out of the question.

Chapter 7: Endless Dusk

The lump on Yigan's forehead hurt plenty, but the damage to his pride stung even worse. He tried to remember what happened. He had been attacked from behind on the road, knocked out cold. When he woke up, the gunpowder he was transporting was gone as was Um Soji, that insufferable gravekeeper. Captain Dochun was not going to like this. That gunpowder was crucial to the Blackram operation, and Yigan had let himself be clobbered like a rookie, guardsman.

Chapter 8: Pirates and Thieves

The Dusk Adders were a group of bandits, a local branch of the Lumang Syndicate. While the Dusk Adders had been terrorizing the Everdusk region for years, the Lumang Syndicate was a realm-wide menace. Under their original leader, Yunsang, the Lumang Syndicate had noble aims--stealing from the rich to give to the poor. But after Yunsang disappeared on a quest to find his daughter, the Syndicate turned into a band of petty thieves, leaderless and lawless.

With the Blackram Marauders swarming the sea and the Dusk Adders controlling the forests, the Viridian Coast was a dangerous place. Local Stratus officials were either too preoccupied or too corrupted to care. The situation was at its worst when Dochun first arrived in Bamboo Village. He planned only to stay for a short time, but he realized the villagers needed his help, badly. Dochun almost singlehandedly created the Bamboo Guard, training Bamboo villagers to defend themselves and drive out the bandits. Dochun realized the villagers could not depend on the Stratus Empire to help them. He knew all too well the depraved depths to which the empire had plummeted.

Chapter 9: Caught off Guard

The Blackram Marauders controlled the oceans. This fearsome army of pirates were once just petty thieves, but as the Stratus Empire waned in power, an admiral named Chul Mugo emerged to unite the roving bands into a formidable coalition, Chul Mugo named his new group after his flagship, the Black Ram, and history was made,

The Blackram graduated from pillaging merchant vessels and raiding coastal villages to full-on espionage, smuggling, and slavery. Even worse, they forged uneasy alliances with some of the bandit groups on land, further expanding their reach and influence.

Admiral Chul Mugo was not a dumb man. When it came to his cutthroat mercenaries, he knew a leash held too tightly would break. As long as his groups paid regular tribute, they were free to operate, independently. And unlike the empire bureaucracies, Chul Mugo promoted men and women based on merit and not on family background or social standing. In a realm sick of corruption and the constant in-fighting between the Warring Factions, the Blackram Marauders attracted members from far and wide. Among them were two infamous outlaw brothers: Gwon and Wungsam.

Chapter 10: South Anchor's Away!

Wungsam shouted at his men until he was hoarse. On the heels of their failure to raid Bamboo Village, some warrior had beaten the Dusk Adders to a pulp, and now crucial Blackram intelligence was in the hands of the Bamboo Guard. Gwon's bid to become Admiral, not to mention Wungsam's own ambition, were at serious risk.

Wungsam's mood brightened considerably when he saw a full spread of food on the table in his quarters. At least somebody didn't screw up today, he thought. He hungrily devoured the meal, grabbing anything he could. Only when he woke up after a very sound sleep did he realize he had been drugged. Someone was going to pay!

Chapter 11: Gone Fishing

Lusung awoke to a bone-chilling energy sweeping over his body. He opened his eyes, but darkness was all he could see. His thoughts took him back to Sandstone Village. He had run from that rat bastard Yonkai and his soldiers. He had run from everything. But they caught him, tortured him, and threw him in a cave. After that, hate was the only thing keeping Lusung alive.

"Power is the only cure for injustice," said the darkness to Lusung. It taunted and encouraged him, over and over.

With his family dead, Lusung wandered outside of Sandstone, a lost soul. The darkness was his only companion. And when Lusung killed the first Yonkai Brigade soldier, it was the darkness who urged him on as his plunged the knife.

"Strength is power, Power is survival," said the darkness. Lusung knew the darkness had the power he needed. Willingly, he embraced it. Yonkai would pay for what he did, in blood. They would all pay.

Chapter 12: Deep in the Gloomdross

The image was seared into Dochun's mind, even after three long decades. He was in his third year at the Hongmoon School, and was traveling with Master Hong as part of an apprenticeship the master reserved for his most promising students. In a desolate forest, a day's walk from the nearest village, they found a bizarre, desiccated corpse. The body had been completely drained of chi; or rather, it was swirling with a twisted, evil mockery of chi: Dark Chi. And that meant someone had been practicing the Dark Arts.

Master Hong would not let Dochun near the corpse; alone, Hong burned the body after uttering a brief prayer. Their journey continued in silence. Dochun had never seen his master look so downcast.

Soon after the incident, Master Hong left for Moonwater Plains. Dochun remembered the clouds that day. They looked strangely foreboding.

Chapter 13: A Bridge Too Far Gone

Old Man Cho was a curiosity, that's for sure. Barely as tall as a tree stump, Cho's beard hung to his knees and his glasses were as thick as gnarlox hide. He didn't look like much. But in fact, he was a renowned martial arts practitioner, and one of the last true masters of the Dragon Pulse.

Streams of energy coursed through the Earthen Realm like invisible rivers--invisible, at least, to those who could not see. Masters of these "Dragon Pulses" could harness their power in order to travel vast distances in the blink of an eye. Such Dragon Pulse masters were exceedingly rare, and they were often loathe to share their secrets. Old Man Cho took particular pleasure in humiliating would-be students instead of teaching them anything useful. Cho was known across the continent as a bully and a crank, but Cho didn't mind. In fact, he reveled in it.

Chapter 14: Drinking Problems

Bomani had been Old Man Cho's "pupil" for weeks. Pupil? Hah! More like whipping boy. Now Cho had ordered Bomani into some foulsmelling cave. "Stand there, shut up, and wait," Cho said. How long had it been? Bomani had grown delirious. But for the chance to be able to Windwalk... to be able to ride the Dragon Pulses! That made it all worth it... right?

Cho said that Bomani would be challenged soon, that his skills and dedication would be put to the test. Even in his stupor, Bomani steeled himself for the conflict. Cho doubted Bomani. He called him a pretender. But Bomani would face down whatever threat that insane old man threw his way. He would prove worthy of the Dragon Pulses.

Chapter 15: Grin and Bear it

Master Hong doesn't raise fools, thought Old Man Cho as he snacked on some particularly delicious bear gall. This newest-- and last?-- student of his had a special energy, an aura he couldn't quite place. Most misguided dunderheads came to Old Man Cho for the so-called "secrets" of the Dragon Pulses. Hmph! But not Hong's child. This one had other motivations. This one was pure of heart as far as Cho could figure, despite the specter of the Black Rose...

Very few understood that to learn the art of Windwalking, the heart and soul needed training, not the body. Fortune-seekers, powermongers, glory-hunters--none of these could ride the Pulses, though they sure tried. Hong's student was a different animal, and for this Old Man Cho was both surprised and relieved.

Chapter 16: The Eight Masters

The Eight Masters was a group comprised of martial arts masters from across all different disciplines, locations, and clans. Their stated purpose: to find and join with the Four Guardians in order to stop the Dark Lord from invading and enslaving the Earthen Realm.

The Eight Masters claimed they could stop the Dark Lord even without the Four Guardians' help--that finding the Guardians was just a bonus--but in reality, they couldn't even stop Jinsoyun, the Dark Lord's agent. They needed to find the Four Guardians, and fast. But where had they disappeared to?

After years of searching, the Eight Masters finally found one of the Guardians--Master Hong, the Earthbreaker. They traveled to Heaven's Reach to find him and beseech him to help. But they arrived only too late--the Hongmoon School had already been slaughtered by Jinsoyun, and Master Hong was apparently dead.

With heavy hearts, the Eight Masters prepared to leave. One among them, the prophet Madun, swore that a hero, a warrior, would rise to aid them where Master Hong could not. But even then, the situation felt hopeless. The Four Guardians were now only three, and perhaps even fewer.

Chapter 17: The Test of the Eight

In the beginning, the Dark Realm's foul lord gazed upon the Earthen Realm's beauty and became hateful and jealous. Four legendary and immortal warriors--the Four Guardians--were given divine power and entrusted to safeguard the Earthen Realm from the Dark Lord's wrath. They were Jiwan, the Righteous Blade; Mushin, the Divine Fist; Iksanun, the Realmwalker; and Hong Sokyun, the Earthbreaker.

Such was the legend. But at a time when Dark Chi poisoned the air and Dark Realm fiends threatened the land, the Four Guardians were nowhere to be found. It was up to the Warring Factions--the Cerulean Order and the Crimson Legion--to put aside their differences if there was to be any hope for the Earthen Realm. Clans would need to come together, to choose the very best martial artists amongst them, in a desperate bid to locate the Guardians and put an end to the Dark Lord's invasion. These chosen men and women would become known as the Eight Masters.

Chapter 18: Shroom to Grow

Dark Chi is a twisted form of the life essence, Chi, which flows through all beings of the Earthen Realm. Those corrupted by Dark Chi eventually turned into one of the Dark Lord's mindless slaves, fiends without conscience or will. The only escape from this fate was death, and those corrupted with Dark Chi faced a terrible choice-- end their own lives, or become a thrall to the darkness.

Or so went the conventional thinking. A precious few believed they could be stronger than the Dark Chi, that they could bend it to their will. These foolhardy individuals developed the Dark Arts, embracing the darkness in order to augment their powers. All of these "masters" eventually succumbed to the darkness, but for a time, their power was beyond measure.

Chapter 19: Unearthed Plot

Pundihay couldn't explain it, but something just felt strange in Jadestone Village. Off. He looked out the window. The sky was downcast and gloomy, much more than usual for this time of year. But even more than that, a dark cloud had descended on the village, enveloping everything in a sickly haze.

That's when the first scream echoed,

Fear gripped Pundihay's heart. The screams and yells multiplied, and they mixed with unearthly, monstrous moans. Pundihay stood and raced to the door. For a moment, the fog parted, and he caught sight of an undead abomination, a Jiangshi, stalking the path. The beauty of Jadestone had been replaced with a hellish nightmare.

Chapter 20: Abandoned Post

Songstone Bridge was in utter ruins, but a faint gold-green energy danced around its ruined timbers on one side of the gorge separating the mainland from Songshu Isle. The sheer size of the gorge would make it impassable for most--but not for practitioners of the Dragon Pulse.

The Hongmoon survivor flew like a kite in the wind as the Dragon Pulse flowed over the gorge and onto Songshu Isle. No one could control the flow of an individual Dragon Pulse, really; one simply surrendered to the raw power in humble deference to the larger forces at work. Such trust was essential in the path to Dragon Pulse mastery, and perhaps in the path to personal enlightenment as well.

Chapter 21: Child's Slay

Despite losing his parents, the orphan boy Dondon was like a ray of sunshine that brightened Stillbrook Monastery. Carefree and curious to the point of mischief, Dondon was always getting into a new adventure. But lately, he had been sullen and silent, and was nowhere near the happy young boy who sung and did magic tricks for the monks.

Dondon was clearly frightened by something or someone. But what? He had witnessed something horrible during one of his little adventures, that much was clear. But he refused to tell anyone in the monastery what he had seen. Perhaps the stranger could coax the story out of Dondon where the overanxious monks had failed.

Chapter 22: The Informer

On the outside, Dochun tried to project his usual dignified demeanor But inside, his mind was racing. Bumbak was the spy? Dochun had never liked Bumbak, but for the guard to betray his village was something Dochun could never have imagined. Bumbak was a layabout, a shoddy guard who cut corners and slacked off. He wasn't a traitor!

The more Dochun thought about it, however, the more Bumbak's betrayal made sense. After all, Bumbak was the man on guard some months ago when Blackram Captain Gwon mysteriously "escaped" from his holding cell. Bumbak was the guard who kept leaving his post, sometimes for hours at a time. Dochun should have dismissed Bumbak years ago. Now they'd all have to deal with the fallout of that mistake.

Chapter 23: The Family Man

Dochun felt his blood run cold. First he had failed to recognize Bumbak as the spy. Now came the news he had dreaded ever since the first Blackram incursion: Namsoyoo had been abducted. He should never have left Bamboo Village to investigate Jadestone. It was all a ruse. He felt like a fool. An old, gullible fool.

As Dochun raced back home, his mind wandered back to the promise he had made to Namsoyoo's mother. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and yet it seemed also like yesterday. "I will protect your daughter with my life," he told her. How could he dishonor her memory by breaking that promise?

Chapter 24: Take a Message

Somunbu fidgeted as he tried to keep his composure. The Blackram had kidnapped Namsoyoo, and that changed everything. Namsoyoo was the village's "Bamboo Blossom," the kindest and sweetest girl this side of Everdusk. Whatever the Blackram scum were planning, their actions were unforgivable.

Even beyond Somunbu's initial shock, however, was the creeping dread of what would happen if Namsoyoo was hurt, or worse. Would it break the morale of the town? Could Captain Dochun rally the Guard after such a tragedy? Somunbu wasn't sure. And it was that uncertainty that cut him the most.

Chapter 25: Up in Arms

Somunbu's carrier crow idea had worked better than he dared to hope. Not only had he intercepted the exact location of where they were keeping Namsoyoo, he had also received the guard schedule. Now they could plan their assault when the least Blackram guards were on duty for maximum effect. The Blackram thought they were clever for using carrier crows instead of pigeons for their messages. They thought crows would never be suspected of transmitting messages. But Somunbu would make sure they would pay for their arrogance.

Chapter 26: The Rescue Party

Wungsam had proven... interesting. For a few nights, anyway. But the dumb gnarlox quickly became boring. Most of the Blackram men were like that--crass, uneducated, poor, and weak. Between the ignorant simpletons in Bamboo Village and the filthy thugs in the Blackram, Namsoyoo had never felt so lonely. Was there no one she could connect with?

For better or for worse, Namsoyoo did eventually find a man she could connect with: Gwon, Wungsam's brother and the captain of the Blackram South Fleet. Strangely enough, her first view of him was through a cage, after Papa had captured him. Despite his imprisonment, he was the most ruggedly handsome man she had ever seen. She became convinced that this man, the sworn enemy of her adoptive father, would be the one to rescue her from her bleak, boring life on the coast. The thought excited her, and her mind was made up. Gwon would be hers.

Chapter 27: Into the Fire

Dochun couldn't believe it. He wouldn't believe it. And yet the evidence was right there, etched in black ink. Namsoyoo's betrayal was as real as the dog-eared letter in his hand, which Dochun had read perhaps a hundred times. Bumbak the spy had written to Namsoyoo, thanking her for the part she played in the Blackram's invasion of Bamboo Village. She had betrayed them all. Dochun, and Bamboo Village, would never be the same.

The fire arrows which tore through the roofs had mostly been extinguished, and a convoy was already on its way from Jadestone with medicine and other supplies. But some kinds of damage can never be undone. Why did Namsoyoo do it? Where had Dochun failed the little girl with the smile that could light up a room? Dochun had to push such chaotic thoughts from his mind. His village needed him, as did his injured son. The stranger would pursue justice. For now, Dochun had to pursue peace.

Act II — A Fistful of Sand

Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land

General Han Sirang convulsed as the poison spread through his body. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply in an attempt to slow his heart rate, but he knew that he was just delaying the inevitable.

Without Han's leadership, the Tyrian Cult now had free rein to terrorize Oakshade Village. A chilling scream and a crash came from through the open window. With a grimace, Han Sirang instinctively reached for his sword. He collapsed immediately from the pain.

Han woke in a panic. Baymu put her palm to his cheek and promised that she would find a way to save him. He didn't believe her, but being in her arms was comfort enough.

Chapter 2: You and What Army?

Ah Rogan sighed as he stared at his pile of paperwork. Every day meant more requests from ambitious generals and corrupt bureaucrats. The local forces always claimed to have some sort of urgent emergency for the Royal Court, but this war seemed perfectly dull from Captain Rogan's desk.

Captain Rogan never thought of himself as an unreasonable man. After all, he was willing to grant a request if the right incentive presented itself. Because General Han never seemed to understand that, Rogan always placed his supply and reinforcement requests where they belonged: in the garbage.

Chapter 3: Who Left Him in Charge?

Gil was standing on high ground, recalling what happened at the Greenwood Thieves' Lair.

Boss So Yangsang's daughter, So Yeonhwa disappeared from time to time and his job was to follow her and clean up her mess. This was not new, he was used to it.

But this time, things were different.

She claimed she would return after proving herself worthy by stealing the most precious treasure of all: Mushin's Heirloom. For Gil, it was the perfect chance because he couldn't go find her himself as his body wasn't what it used to be.

It was obvious that she would never make it, however. Someone had to help. And... Gil knew just the right someone.

Chapter 4: The Cult and the Lone Warrior

Bengchan ran to the screaming children and gasped once he saw the shriveled corpse. He told the children to run home and play inside for the day. He would take care of all of this.

Bengchan adjusted his glasses as he leaned over the body. It was hard to believe that this husk was once a person. What evil could have done this?

Chapter 5: The Trail of Dead

Few things in the world could bring the old rivals Hansu and Sansu together, but they each wanted to see this warrior firsthand. Madun had prophesized that the warrior before them would be the one to stop Jinsoyun, to decide the fate of the Earthen Realm. Hansu and Sansu tried to hide their doubts as they encouraged the warrior.

Soon after, the two leaders of the Warring Factions ventured out into the arid Cinderlands. Time was running out, and there was still one rumor left to investigate...

Chapter 6: Desperate Priestesses

Baymu held firm. General Han tried asking, pleading, and even ordering her to evacuate the Hermitage. She shook her head as she lit the ceremonial candles--she couldn't leave as long as a soul needed saving.

She traced the minor nicks and scars on Han's face as she studied his desperate eyes. Baymu knew how he longed to be with her, and how he wouldn't be able to leave her behind. He never said the words, but she knew that he loved her.

Part of her wished she could abandon her duties and spend the rest of her Earthen days with him. Perhaps, she thought with a mournful smile, the next life would be kinder to their union than this one.

Chapter 7: The Dark Glimpse

Jihei instinctively turned away from the cavern, but she knew her duty. With each step, the Dark Chi grew thicker around her, burning her eyes and choking her lungs. She pushed through the wild demonic apparitions, reminding herself that she was the Bulwark's only hope.

Dark voices whispered to her that there was no hope, that she would be dead by the morning, that this whole world was doomed. A younger Earthseer let out a chilling wail and rushed at Jihei with a knife. The acolyte was crazed, possessed. Jihei did what she had to do.

As Jihei buried her cohorts and sent their spirits to rest, she let herself cry for a few moments. She was glad Baymu couldn't see her now. Baymu had always taught them one thing above all else: close kinship only breeds sorrow.

Chapter 8: Agents of the Stratus Empire

Sojun struggled to stay awake, to focus on anything in the small hut. The doctor said something to her, but she couldn't hear him over the pounding of her own blood in her eardrums. She screamed as her stomach turned.

Hours earlier, Sojun was kneeling in the Wraithbloom field, hidden behind a tree. She had been studying the Tyrian Cult for weeks and was finally ready to strike. With deft precision, she silently stalked the overseer and readied her weapon. Just as she came behind him, he threw Wraithbloom powder into her eyes. She screamed and waved her knife blindly as she stumbled through the field.

When she opened her eyes, she was surrounded by demons and the ghosts of her past. She flung her arms wildly to hit them, only for them to reappear and scream even louder. Sojun fell to her knees and collapsed into the soil.

Chapter 9: Where There is Smoke

Choi Jina got nervous. That's because Empress Dowager Tayhu had called her secretly to her place. A few years ago, after 20 years regency by the empress Dowager had ended, the emperor declared his rule, but the Empress Dowager was still holding power. The bureaucrats in the royal court were still reporting all national matters to the empress Dowager and obeyed her rather than a dummy emperor who only indulged himself in parties and pleasure.

Over the partition, Empress Tayhu's voice was heard. "I heard that you are investigating Phantom Herb smuggling in Gunwon City. You are doing a great service to us as the Inspector Chief." Choi Jina responded very politely. The empress started talking solemnly, "The reason I have called you here is because..."

Chapter 10: The Burning Fields

Yura glared at the warrior with an insatiable bloodlust. She had waited so long to kill this pathetic whelp. But once again, Jinsoyun held her back. The Mark of the Black Rose was already gradually and painfully killing the warrior, so why wait any longer?

Perhaps Jinsoyun was more sadistic that Yura could imagine. Even before they had all arrived at Heaven's Reach, Jinsoyun had waxed poetic about the beautiful cruelty of slowly killing someone with the Mark of the Black Rose. She said that it had been far too long, and that she looked forward to inflicting the Mark on one of Master Hong's students. Yura was impressed. Even Lady Blackrose liked to have a little fun.

Chapter 11: Doctor's Orders

Dokdan barely hid his revulsion upon seeing his new patient. However, as a doctor, he couldn't resist examining further. This wound was rare, powerful, and expertly inflicted. The warrior's chi twisted and festered inside their body, spreading poison with every breath. It was a miracle that the warrior was still alive, let alone standing in Dokdan's office. Still, Dokdan knew that not even he could heal this warrior completely.

The Mark was lethal. The warrior wouldn't last long.

Chapter 12: A History of Violence

Miryung rushed over as soon as she saw a figure approach Lusung's old home. The other villagers continuously threatened to tear the place down, thinking that would appease Yonkai. Miryung didn't know what she would do once she confronted the trespasser, but she knew she had to try to do the right thing.

Miryung steeled herself and approached the doorway to Lusung's home. She regarded the intruder's weapons and stifled a gasp. However, once the warrior turned, she sensed that this person meant well. The look Miryung received wasn't one of blind hatred; it was one of kindness.

Miryung still remembered seeing Lusung standing that in that exact spot, his face splattered with the blood of Yonkai's soldiers. Lusung wiped his face and whispered that he killed all the soldiers he could find, and that he would return one day to come after Yonkai himself. He made Miryung promise to take care of his parents' bodies. She agreed, though most days she wished she hadn't. But a promise was a promise. No one would further desecrate the bodies.

Chapter 13: Into the Mines

Miryung knew that the villagers would come for her. The only thing she regretted was not having the courage to move the bodies herself earlier. Miryung kept a stoic face as her neighbors grabbed and dragged her through town, screaming at her the entire way. They threw her to the Yonkai Brigade and blamed her for everything. Miryung didn't speak a word.

Enough was enough. No matter what happened to her now, Miryung knew that she did the right thing. Miryung felt at peace now that she knew Lusung's parents were finally free.

Chapter 14: The Sand and the Fury

Dokdan shouted at the warrior to stop, but it was already too late. The warrior had finally given into the Mark of the Black Rose and to the hatred festering within.

The warrior cut a path through the village, screaming about vengeance while furiously attacking the air. A few villagers tried to subdue the maddened warrior and were quickly battered into submission. The fervor only stopped when the warrior fell to the ground, letting out a scream of pain and anger and collapsing under the weight of the Dark Chi.

With his usual scowl, Dokdan healed and treated the injured villagers. Part of him thought that they deserved the punishment. However, reason finally came to Dokdan. He regretfully told the warrior to leave Sandstone Refuge and try to make amends with Colonel Yonkai. Fair or not, Yonkai held the village on the edge of his knife.

Chapter 15: Once Upon a Time in the Cinderlands

Most men wouldn't fight for a post in the arid Cinderlands, but Colonel Yonkai wasn't like most men. According to the legends, Mushin's Legacy was hidden somewhere in these sands, and Yonkai was determined to have it for himself.

The Legacy was said to hold the power of Mushin himself. Yonkai laughed as he daydreamed about the power promised by such a relic. He could conquer the four continents with that kind of power. He could even live out the rest of his days as Emperor. Surely he deserved it, and the people surely deserved him.

Yonkai crushed a handful of sand in his fist. So far, this operation had been a disaster. However, he smiled once he laid eyes on the warrior. Yonkai knew a good opportunity when he saw it. Perhaps the Legacy would not elude him for long.

Chapter 16: The Gunslinger

Soha scanned the horizon, never taking her eyes too far from the sight of her rifle. Most treasure hunters came to the Cinderlands searching for Mushin's Legacy, but Soha had been taught to seek more than the simple, fleeting joy of material possessions. For her, the wide expanses of the desert represented freedom

However, even the most independent of warriors needs money to survive. Food and shelter are rarely offered for free, and with the price of ammunition soaring, Soha had little choice but to accept a job offer from Colonel Yonkai. It came as little surprise that Yonkai wanted her to find Mushin's Legacy. Soha soon found herself searching for the same thing that had lured so many other treasure hunters to the Cinderlands.

Colonel Yonkai's reasons for hiring Soha were simple. He no longer trusted his own soldiers. Soha was a mercenary, an outsider free from the internal politics of the Yonkai Brigade, and a veteran treasure hunter with a successful track record. What the colonel didn't know was that Soha was also one of the best sharpshooters in the Realm, a gunslinger with deadly accuracy.

Chapter 17: Everything's Coming up Lotuses

As Soha observed the warrior's skills, she recognized the distinct style of Master Hong. She also recognized something deeper, hints of a burning anger fueled by sadness. The warrior was walking the path of revenge.

Soha was much too familiar with the all-consuming fire of vengeance. As a child, she watched helplessly as a group of hired agents broke into her home and murdered her parents. Soha barely escaped with her life. She soon discovered that her father, a decorated soldier and respected member of the Stratus Royal Court, had been betrayed by a fellow officer. From that moment on, Soha devoted herself to the rifle and the revolver, the same weapons her father had mastered in life, determined to stop at nothing to avenge the death of her parents.

Soha's resolve helped her become one of the most successful sharpshooters in the Stratus Empire. She finally tracked down her parents' killer, but found that he was surrounded by bodyguards and soldiers. Blinded by her drive for vengeance, Soha took on an entire platoon of fighters by herself, shooting anyone that stood between her and her father's betrayer. She was quickly defeated and left for dead, watching helplessly as the one who destroyed her family walked away unscathed. Just as the she thought the last of her dwindling energy was leaving her, she heard a voice call out to her, the voice of Master Hong.

Chapter 18: The Book Thieves

The desert was as hot as a furnace. Gil felt all his energy evaporate into the blinding sunlight. Even the simple act of rubbing his dry eyes and adjusting his glasses felt exhausting.

He saw something in the distance, a figure or perhaps only a mirage. It appeared to be the warrior, the one who had rescued Yunwa from the Tyrian Cult. Perhaps things weren't as dire as they seemed. There was more to the warrior than that which was immediately apparent. The question was: how long would the warrior survive?

Chapter 19: A Mirage in the Desert

Yunwa heard the door open, Gil must have finally caught up with her. She turned, but it wasn't Gil who entered the room. It was the warrior, the one who had blown her cover at the Sacrificial Chamber. Was the warrior after the Naryu Sarasva as well? Yunwa couldn't let anyone else get to her prize before her, but how could she handle a skilled warrior? Her father's words echoed in her head: "If one side has the advantage, initiative and surprise can level the playing field." Before the warrior could speak, Yunwa attacked.

The warrior quickly countered Yunwa's strikes, Yunwa backed away, clearly outmatched. "Don't fight a battle you can't win." That was another of her father's sayings, one that clearly made sense here. Thankfully, the warrior was willing to talk, apparently unphased by the assault.

As Yunwa caught her breath and faced the warrior, her father's voice returned yet again. "Work smarter, not harder, and never work alone." Perhaps this warrior wasn't a rival so much as a potential partner. The only thing better than defeating a rival was convincing a rival to work for you.

Chapter 20: The Three Sages

Ruins were all that remained of the illustrious Naryu Temple. Dokdan was one of the few who remembered the temple's former glory. In its prime, the courtyard of the Naryu Temple was filled with magistrates and peasants, priests and soldiers, people from every corner of the four continents that made up the Naryu Empire.

Dokdan was one of the Three Sages, those whom the Heavens had tasked with finding and mentoring great warriors to defend the people against the gathering darkness. He and his companions believed they found a worthy candidate in the form of a Naryu boy named Mushin. Impressed by his courage and devotion, they taught him secret techniques not known to mortal men and guided his training as he became the most formidable fighter in the Realm.

Hundreds of years had passed since the day the Three Sages chose Mushin as a defender of the people. Could they now atone for the mistakes of the past? Or was everything falling apart into ruin, crumbling into dust like the once great Naryu Temple? Dokdan sensed two people approaching, their auras shining like twin beams of light. Light represented hope, but where there was light there was always a shadow.

Chapter 21: Mushin's Army

Soha poured another drink as she waited for the warrior she met in the desert--the last, living disciple of Master Hong. Was Master Hong truly dead? How could anyone defeat the great Master Hong? Hong was one of the Four Guardians, a fighter so powerful that he was given the name "Earthbreaker." More importantly for Soha, Master Hong was the one who saved her life and set her on a new path.

In the warrior, Soha saw the same burning anger that had once consumed her. Soha took a drink, contemplating the tragic irony that Master Hong's last disciple was now so determined to walk the path of vengeance, the same destructive path that Master Hong had freed Soha from years ago. If they found Mushin's Legacy, would the warrior try to use it for revenge? Master Hong would never have allowed such power to be used for vengeance, even to defeat his own killer. He had shown Soha that vengeance was a blade that cut both ways. At best, it ends one life and ruins another.

Soha raised her cup in Master Hong's honor. She glanced at the three empty bottles on the table. Master Hong would not have approved of her lack of self-control. Perhaps she should cut back. Then again, perhaps she would start tomorrow.

Chapter 22: Wings of Mushin, Silver and Gold

"At its feet place gold and silver..." Yunwa tried to remember the exact words of Dokdan's riddle, frustrated that the next step of her search was so unclear, lost somewhere in the mysterious words of the sage. According to Yehara, gold and silver probably referred to a Golden Crest and a Silver Crest, but what were they and where could she find them?

"The Silver Crest? I think I can help with that." It was Gil. Sometimes Yunwa forgot that Gil had spent years traveling the Realm with her father. Behind his thick goggles and whimsical smile was a wealth of information. Perhaps she could find Mushin's Legacy after all.

Chapter 23: The Problem with Ploggles

As with all things, a pot could only be crafted when the basic elements worked together in harmony, a union of earth, water, wood, and fire coming together to create a vessel. That is why the potters of the Great Kiln prayed to the Heavens every year, recognizing that everything they crafted could only be created when the basic elements united themselves in proper balance.

Chunsam woke early. The day was still dark, as the sun had not yet risen to share its light and bake the earth. Like the rest of the potters of the Great Kiin, he was busy making preparations for the annual Kiln Festival. There was still much to do, and little time to do it.

Chapter 24: Lighting the Fire

When the warrior mentioned the Silver Crest, Pochung could barely hide his annoyance. Few knew about the sacred artifact and even fewer knew that it had been created at the Great Kiln so many years ago, forged by the potters for the great Mushin himself. The head potter could not simply reveal the secrets of his guild to a complete stranger.

Yet, the warrior listened with patience, displaying a steady determination and an almost nave innocence, Pochung sensed that there was more going on behind the stranger's innocent exterior. All people were like earthen vessels, carrying secrets within them. Perhaps Pochung could make use of this warrior. There was still much to be done in preparation for the Kiln Festival.

Chapter 25: An Overabundance of Spirits

Jakdan poured another cup of soju, Alcohol was the one of the few things that made this realm bearable. Jakdan drank alone, unable to tolerate the pride and insatiable greed of the people he encountered. Even the Kiln Festival had been ruined. What was once a ceremony of humble artisans praying to the Heavens with gratitude had degraded into little more than a tourist attraction. The once sacred traditions were now treated like novelties, parlor tricks to lure people to the Great Kiln where they would quickly be swarmed by potters selling their wares.

Jakdan guzzled another cupful and felt the familiar fire burn within him. There may have been some that honored the ancient traditions, but most were too consumed by greed or personal ambition. With selfishness came suffering. Perhaps that was the true reason that Jakdan drank with such reckless abandon. It was one of the only ways to escape the suffering he saw all around him.

Chapter 26: The Mu Family

When Yesana and Muyong were married, the entire village was overjoyed. Jang Jongwon attended the ceremony alongside everyone else, his smile masking his jealousy as he watched the happy couple laugh and revel.

Jang Jongwon fell for Yesana the first moment he saw her. He had tried to find the courage to share his feelings more times than he could remember, but never got the words out of his mouth. Eventually, Muyong arrived and proved to be more courageous when it came to courting Yesana. Jang Jongwon had squandered his opportunity, and now the love of his life was married to someone else.

Yesana's sister, Yehara, smiled and poured Jang Jongwon a drink. He nodded with gratitude and watched the couple mingle with their guests. He had to admit, in spite of his feelings, that the two did look striking together. Muyong was an educated man, a decorated military officer, and a member of the respected Mu family, supposedly linked to the great emperors of the past. Compared to him, Jang Jongwon was little more than a common peasant, the son of a poor country widow. Perhaps the best way to truly love Yesana was to bear the pain of his envy and accept the fact that she loved someone else.

Chapter 27: Sacrifices Must Be Made

The water was dark and unsettled, its surface reflecting a distorted mirror image of Yehara as she approached the lotus flower. There was a time when her tears would have mingled with the water of the lake, but that time had passed. Yehara had no more tears to shed.

Fifteen years had passed since the day when everything fell apart. Yehara had returned to Clear Sky Village with gifts for her sister and brother-in-law. She arrived at an empty house. A neighbor shared the news. Yehara's brother-in-law had been killed in battle, another victim of the Talus-Stratus War. Even more tragically, Yesana had been murdered by the Grimhorn Tribe while passing through the swamps outside of town.

The enormous lotus had grown even larger since Yehara's last visit. The villagers claimed it had been planted over the place where her sister was buried and Yehara had no reason to doubt them. For reasons she couldn't entirely explain, the flower reminded her of her sister. Its beauty stood in contrast to the dark waters and tangled overgrowth that surrounded it. Yehara closed her eyes and inhaled the bittersweet aroma. Mingled with the heavy sadness was a desperate sense of hope, a hope that she had clung to for fifteen years. There was something else the villagers had told her on that tragic day so long ago. Before she was killed, Yehara's sister had given birth to a daughter. The infant had never been found.

Chapter 28: The Cost of War

Muyong slipped the document into his pocket and watched as Yesana put their baby girl to bed, the two of them bathed in the soft moonlight that came in through the window. The infant had her mother's eyes and her father's stubbornness. How much would she have grown by the time he returned? Would he return? Would this be the final time he saw the two of them? Tomorrow, Muyong would go off to war, leaving his home for a world of uncertainty.

He met with his friend Chulu later that night near the statue of General Gubong. He handed over the document, his final will and testament. Chulu protested, but Muyong insisted, Muyong was the final male descendant of the Mu Family. His will contained information that many were willing to kill for, which is why he wanted his friend-- a battle-tested warrior--to safeguard the will as opposed to his wife.

"And what should I do if I'm conscripted?" asked Chulu. "You go off to war tomorrow. I may not be too far behind you."

"Well," replied Muyong. "I suppose we'll just have to win the war tomorrow, so that you can stay at home."

Chulu forced a chuckle. An hour later he left with the document in hand. Muyong stood alone for a while, taking in a final moonlit view of the village he and his wife had grown to love. He looked up at the statue of Gubong.

"General Gubong, please watch over us."

The stone General made no reply. Even under the soft light of the moon, the angular face of the great General Gubong looked harsh and cold.

Chapter 29: Shadows of the Past

Jakdan wouldn't listen. Instead, he did what he always did: he drank. Dokdan had come to the conclusion that they could put their hope in Hong Sokyun's last disciple, but Jakdan wasn't convinced.

Jakdan had seen too many supposedly honorable warriors succumb to the ravenous greed of the world. Hong's disciple carried a deeply rooted desire for vengeance, as well as the heavy burden of the Mark of the Black Rose. How could Dokdan be so convinced that such a warrior could be trusted? Had he forgotten the tragic mistake they had made so many years ago when they shared the secret techniques with a warrior they deemed worthy of the gift? In Jakdan's opinion, the warrior was too overwhelmed by a desire to avenge Hong Sokyun to actually honor the deceased master's teachings.

Jakdan got to the bottom of one bottle and opened a second. He looked up as the door to the chamber opened. The warrior in question approached. Here was the one who Hong and Dokdan had deemed worthy. But Jakdan still wasn't convinced.

Chapter 30: The Traitor Returns

Yehara heard a yell and the sounds of something breaking. Why did so many guests come to her inn to fight? She hurried down the hallway. She could sense the withering power of Dark Chi before she opened the door.

Inside, an intruder stood over the body of the warrior from the Hongmoon Clan. She struck before the intruder had time to turn, knocking him across the room. The intruder recovered. His eyes narrowed with surprise and anger. Dark energy emanated from his body. Yehara noticed that Yunwa was also on the ground, nearly unconscious from the intruder's attack.

Yehara sensed the counter attack before it came. The intruder was powerful, but far too slow. She evaded his barrage and threw him into the wall. Something rolled onto the floor. A small metal octagon came to a stop next to Yunwa. Yehara's eyes widened in disbelief. This device was Mushin's compass, an instrument built to track the blood of Mushin. The compass' small needle circled and stopped, pointing in the direction of Yunwa.

Chapter 31: The Wisdom of Wolves

Juwol fell to her knees as pain shot through her face. She could see Yunsang's towering form somewhere in her periphery. Soon her vision turned blurry and red. A torrent of blood rained to the ground. She reached to her face and was horrified to discover that her right eye was bleeding. She pressed her palm into her face, desperately trying to stop the flow of blood. She felt the last remnants of strength, pour out of her as everything turned red and then finally, black.

Juwol woke up covered in sweat, as if she had just been roused from a nightmare. She put her hand to her face. Her fingers found a rough eye patch where her eye had once been. She clenched her teeth in frustration. She couldn't decide which bothered her more, losing her eye or losing the battle.

A burning desire for vengeance mingled with the pain, Juwol had no choice but to accept her new reality. Her eye was gone, and Yunsang was gone as well.

Chapter 32: To Build A Compass

The stars were still visible through the branches of the Elderbark when Gieomul woke from his slumber. He had received a premonition. A stranger would come to the village and help him build a new compass, an instrument which could smell the blood of Mushin's heir.

The prospect of finally completing a new compass was a welcome one, but something troubled the old machinist. He knew that the stranger would be a flat tooth, an ignorant human. How could that be possible? Gieomul had lived long enough to see the consequences of human greed and apathy. Humans fought over land and riches while ignoring the poorest members of their pack. They destroyed the same environment that gave them life. They were almost always unbalanced and, on top of that, they didn't smell right.

Gieomul groaned and tried to go back to sleep. Perhaps he had no choice but to work with a flat tooth. The original Mushin Compass had fallen into dark hands. Evil forces were determined to find the last-living survivor of the Mu Family and acquire Mushin's Legacy. Gieomul couldn't allow that to happen, even if it meant working with a flat tooth.

Chapter 33: Through the Eye of the Needle

Anything that was from the Dark Realm could not enter the Divine Realm. The reverse was true as well. This became clear when Mushin stepped into the Dark Gate, sacrificing himself to seal the Dark Lord from within the Dark Realm. The great Guardian could cross the boundary from one realm to the next, but his heavenly power could not. The power remained on the Earthen Realm, sealed and hidden by the Three Sages, and accessible only by those with Mushin's blood, the royal family of Mu.

Gieomul leaned on his cane and contemplated these things. Was this the reason why the Jaofang had built the original compass for Mushin? Perhaps Mushin wanted to ensure that only someone with his blood would be able unlock the power, power that could be used to conquer the world or even destroy it. Or perhaps he had foreseen his own return to the Earthen Realm.

The old machinist shook his head. Why was he trying to unravel the motivations of a flat tooth? There was no rhyme or reason to the human mind, even the mind of a Guardian.

Chapter 34: The Enemy of My Enemy

Juwol locked her eye onto the odd little man before her as he glanced around nervously at the Yes Men that surrounded him. Gil would be her key to finding Yunsang. If nothing else, Gil could lead her to Yunwa, and Juwol could use Yunwa to lure Yunsang out of hiding. If Yunsang had a weakness, it was his willingness to do anything for his daughter.

To Juwol's surprise, Gil offered her a deal. He informed her that Yunwa had in her possession the Silver Crest, one of the keys to finding Mushin's Legacy. Gil promised to give the crest to Juwol, asking only that she spare Yunwa's life in return. Juwol allowed a slight smile to cross her face. Revenge could wait. If she could obtain the power of Mushin's Legacy, she and the Yes Men would be unstoppable.

Chapter 35: The Blood of Mushin

From his place amongst the shadows, Mushin could sense the gate opening. He saw hints of light in the distance, the light of the Earthen Realm. His time had come at last.

Mushin was finally released from the endless darkness that had imprisoned him. When he first set foot in the Earthen Realm, even the faintest of lights was blinding. Soon, his eyes adjusted and he recognized the familiar forms of his friends: Iksanun, Jiwan, and Hong Sokyun. The Four Guardians were reunited once again,

Even so, the darkness had changed Mushin. The transformation was so deep and deceptive that no one was able to detect it, not even the other Guardians. Everything that had once made him a divinely appointed Guardian, his power, his unique skills, even his royal Naryu blood had been lost and left behind when he stepped through the Dark Gate so many years ago. Now, there was only one that could access his former power, the last-living member of the Mu family, Mushin's sole remaining heir.

Chapter 36: Rags and Riches

Podan listened while Dokdan and Jakdan debated. They were discussing whether or not Hong Sokyun's disciple would be a worthy recipient of Mushin's Legacy.

Dokdan argued in favor of the warrior, although he admitted that the Mark of the Black Rose was a reason for concern. Jakdan, on the other hand, was opposed to the idea, bringing up the warrior's appetite for vengeance and the violent outbreak in Sandstone Refuge.

Podan listened in silence as both sages made their points. Finally, during a pause in the conversation, he offered his wisdom. "I'm hungry," he said. Dokdan and Jakdan turned to him questioningly. "The heavens will decide this matter," continued Podan, "In the meantime, let's get something to eat."

Chapter 37: Masks of Bone

The Bonemask had lived in the Cinderlands long before it was a desert. Dismissing the Bonemask as simple, barbaric savages, the Naryu drove them to the periphery.

The Bonemask demonstrated courage and fierce prowess in combat. When Mushin rose to prominence, he came to admire their spirit and ferocity. He took a new approach to the Bonemask and welcomed them as allies as opposed to enemies. Under his guidance, the Bonemask developed into an efficient army. They served Musnin with fierce loyalty, the first to follow him into battle when the demonic hordes of the Dark Realm attacked.

Mushin's great act of sacrifice closed the Dark Gate but left the Bonemask without a leader. They worshipped the fallen Guardian like a god, prophesying that a day would come when he would return to lead their people to a new place of prominence and prosperity. For centuries, the Bonemasks offered sacrifices in Mushin's honor. On this day, they would offer up a pair of human warriors: Juwol, the leader of the Yes Men; and a treasure hunter named Soha.

Chapter 38: The Gun, the Sword, and the Fan

Her search was finally over. Nearly everything Yehara had done over the past fifteen years, her study of the ancient Naryu language, her collection of ancient tomes, even her decision to build the Mirage in the middle of the Cinderlands, was all in one way or another driven by a singular overarching purpose. She had made a promise, both to herself and to her deceased sister. A promise to find her niece.

The final piece of the puzzle came to her in the form of Mushin's Compass. The needle had pointed to Yunwa. She was Mushin's Heir, the last-living member of the royal family of Mu. The intruder that Yehara had defeated was undoubtedly trying to kidnap her, knowing that she was the only one who could access Mushin's Legacy. To most of the world, it seemed, the girl was the key to fortune and power. To Yehara, however, Yunwa was simply her long-lost niece and the last-living reminder of her beloved sister, Yesana.

Yehara hurried through the desert. Her network of informants had informed her that Yunwa had been captured. Yehara would rescue the girl at any cost. She could not bear the thought of finally finding her niece only to lose her again.

Chapter 39: The Wings of Mushin

Jinsoyun spoke in her familiar, cold, deliberate tone, as if each word hinted at a threat. "You will find Mushin's heir," she told Lusung. "The heir must be killed. Only then will vengeance be complete." Lusung nodded in silence as Jinsoyun gave him Mushin's Compass. "Complete this task," she said, "and I will teach you secret arts, skills that no pupil of Master Hong has ever known."

Lusung watched the needle of the compass spin and stop. His direction was now clear. Even the secret arts promised by Jinsoyun paled in comparison to the nearly unstoppable force held within Mushin's Legacy. Why would he kill Mushin's heir and abandon the opportunity to unlock divine power? Lusung had already managed to betray Master Hong. The time had come to betray Jinsoyun.

Chapter 40: The Tomb and the Traitor

Great pieces of stone fell around them. The Three Sages watched as Mushin's Heir and the last of Hong Sokyun's disciples fled the tomb as it collapsed around them. In spite of their concerns, the disciple had put vengeance aside, sacrificing the opportunity to attain divine, power for the sake of saving a life. Hong's disciple was walking the true Path of Hongmoon, and the Three Sages had successfully completed the task that the Divine Realm had given to them.

As the rubble continued to fall and fill the air with dust, Dokdan, Jakdan, and Podan glanced at each other and shared uneasy smiles. They had helped guide two lost souls toward the light. Even so, they knew that deep shadows remained on the horizon, somewhere beyond the crumbling stones.

Chapter 41: Reunions and Revelations

Yehara opened her eyes. The air was heavy with smoke and the lingering smell of blood, Yonkai's soldiers littered the ground, their burnt corpses still smoldering. The Lady in Black had decimated them all with a single attack. She was now nowhere to be seen.

Soha and Juwol arrived beside Yehara, They rose to their feet slowly and caught their breath, three survivors in a cavern filled with corpses. A disturbance filled the air. Yehara turned in time to see Mushin's Wing descending, its massive wings fanning away the smoke and dust.

Two figures descended. One was the warrior, Master Hong's disciple. The other was Yunwa, the girl with wide, adventurous eyes, the same eyes that Yehara had seen once before. They were the eyes of her beloved sister, Yesana. The resemblance was undeniable. How had she not seen it before? Her heart pounded in her chest as she raced towards the girl that she had spent the last fifteen years looking for. Her search was finally over. Her sister could rest in peace. Yehara had found her niece.

Act III — The Beast Within

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 2: A Link to the Past and Present

Throughout his childhood, Ilsim was bullied for being both a bastard child and an orphan. But Ilsim was not truly fatherless, for Mayor Taywo had always been there for him.

When the other children teased Ilsim, it was Taywo who chased them away. When Ilsim was sad, Taywo held the boy tight. As Ilsim grew, he began to see in Mayor Taywo everything he wanted to be--a strong Lyn who protected his people, who fought for them against the tyranny of the indomitable Talus Dominion.

Yet despite Ilsim's noble aims, he harbored a deep resentment for the man he held responsible for the occupation of Brightstone, and the death of his mother. The one called Iksanun.

Chapter 3: The Great Escape

The Talus Garrison outside of Brightstone was originally constructed as an outpost in the Talus-Stratus war and served to protect the village from the Stratus army. However, 16 years ago it took on a different, more nefarious purpose.

The Talus army, led by their emissary, Lady Blackrose, invaded and occupied Brightstone Village under the guise of searching it for the Guardian Iksanun. But their true purpose soon became apparent: the capture of Brightstone's soulstone mine.

Up until the first citizens were conscripted to work the soulstone mines, Mayor Taywo instructed the villagers to offer no resistance. He had hoped to protect them from the wrath of the Talus. However, when the citizens of Brightstones realized that there was no redemption in sight, a plan was hatched. The only hope for freedom lay in revolution.

Chapter 4: A Quest Rekindled

Over the course of Iksanun's travels, the Realmwalker experienced many visions, images of what must someday be. Some of these visions were clear, while others lay shrouded in metaphor.

In recent years, however, there were two visions that stood out above all others. The first was much clearer. Iksanun foresaw that a student of Hong Sokyun would appear, branded with the Mark of the Black Rose. If Iksanun was interpreting his visions correctly, only this individual was capable of stemming the tide of darkness Jinsoyun hoped to unleash upon the world. The trouble was that was far as Iksanun knew--both the school of Hongmoon and its master were no more.

The second vision was that of a lone red flower standing defiantly against the great blue sky. Iksanun was certain that this flower was in some way vital to the success of the one who would challenge Jinsoyun; however, the meaning of the flower itself remained a mystery. That was, at least, until he quite literally stumbled upon it.

One day while Iksanun wandered in the Lycandi Foothills, he encountered a beautiful woman garbed in red. She lay bleeding and half-hidden in the brush, having crawled away from the site of some battle. Recognizing her at once, the Realmwalker did the only thing he could think of. He brought her to the safety of his home in the secluded village of Greenhollow.

Chapter 5: The Skyward Path

Shin Hai and her fellow Redguards crept quietly towards the clearing, their weapons drawn. Skyhaven intelligence reports had placed a unit of Talus soldiers in the area, and Shin Hai intended to see that they never left it.

Every victory against the Talus, no matter how small, dealt a blow against the machinations of the one who really controlled the Talus Dominion. If the Talus soldiers were made to believe that this war was unwinnable, perhaps they would lay down their arms, and the Skyhaven Resistance could finally return power to the people who so loved their country.

As the Redguards moved, a sensation of terrible foreboding came, over Shin Hai. It was the same feeling she had in the presence of the Emissary and her lackeys. Shin Hai whirled around to the sound of a shriek, cut inexplicably short. A fellow Redguard stared out in horror as blood gushed from her own throat. She clutched at her wound helplessly before collapsing and becoming perfectly still.

As Shin Hai raised her blade to defend herself, a dagger soared through the air towards her. Another Redguard lunged in front of Shin Hai to deflect the weapon, only to be struck in the heart, Shin Hai caught the girl as she fell, and stood there paralyzed. "Run!" the dying girl choked. And then she was gone. Pulled by an invisible force, the dagger tore itself from the body of the dead Redguard. It flew into the waiting arms of the woman in black leather, the Emissary's lieutenant, She gave a menacing smile and licked the blade clean. Shin Hai's veins turned to ice.

Chapter 7: Bark at the Moon

Many of the Beast Kin tribes of Moonwater Plains each held unique and varied faiths. The Lycandi worshipped the Mighty Lycan, a wolflike Sacred Beast and protector whom they regard as their progenitor and motherly goddess. The Hoglin tribe, to the contrary, had no organized religion, but believed in pragmatism, introspection, and cycle of rebirth.

The Ploggles had a number of contradicting faiths, from the worship of a handful of esoteric, elemental gods, to a complex pantheon of sacred beings such as the Golden Giganura, The Simyu tribe did not worship so much as revere their king and renowned sacred beast, Ogong. Above all they pursued perfection of the physical form and sought to assert their dominance through combat. Finally, the Snapjaw faith had its roots in mysticism. They placed their faith in a handful of wizened Sages who guided them in matters both strategic and spiritual.

In ancient times, when the Dark Lord last attempted to cross over to the Earthen Realm, humans and Beast Kin stood united against his terrible army. Likewise, for centuries thereafter, the Four Guardians and Sacred Beasts worked together to combat the armies of darkness.

But the Four Guardians were gone, and the Beast kin had experienced continual disappointment in the actions of humans. With faith in humans waning, the Beast Kin began to wonder if they would be best suited abandoning humanity entirely.

Chapter 8: Right Under Our Noses

Coming from the bloody world of Martial Society, the beauty and serenity of Hogshead Pastures was almost hypnotic. Hardworking farmers, far removed from the conflict and duplicity that seemed so abundant in the Eastern Continent, labored contentedly over their fields while pigs grunted in their pens.

The Hongmoon Warrior sowed seeds diligently, sweating in the dirt as naturally as the humble folk who made this land their home. A gentle wind swept over the calm land and rustled the grass, Could it be possible for one so burdened as the Warrior to let go of the past, to start a new life here? How easy it would be to lay down one's worries and regrets and embrace the simple things in life. Yet Jinsoyun was still out there. She was already responsible for so much death and suffering. How many more would die if the Warrior was to give up their quest? Alas, such thoughts are no more than wishful thinking, Until Jinsoyun was dead, there would be no rest for the sole survivor of the Hongmoon School.

Chapter 9: And Now For Something Completely Different

The secret to the Talus Dominion's newfound military might, the thing that had finally secured their independence in the face of such a powerful opponent as the Stratus Empire, were known as automatons. Automatons were technical masterworks formed from metal. These machines were granted motion by moving cogs and mechanical joints and then imbued with life--some might say sentience--by the soulstones which powered them,

Technology had come a long way over the last few decades. Skilled artisans could muster up mechanical toys and clockwork contraptions capable of motion. But none of these inventions could begin to compare with the dexterity, durability, and deadliness of automatons. Unquestioning and incapable of fear, automatons were undoubtedly the ultimate soldiers.

The creation of modern automatons was a union of science and mysticism. Skilled engineers crafted the physical frame of the automaton, deciding its form and function. Meanwhile, a charm such as those created by the Earthseers was required to channel the power of the soulstones, to give life to lifeless machines. While early automatons developed by Stratus scientists were relegated to farming and menial tasks before the Talus-Stratus war, it was the Talus who first thought to weaponize them. It was also the Talus who discovered how to grant the automatons intelligence,

The technological mastery of these astonishing machines was unparalleled in the world, with one exception: the ancient Naryu kingdom that once spanned the globe. It was only at tremendous effort and expense, and with years of experimentation, that scientists were finally able to rediscover the long-lost technology that had once brought the Earthen Realm to its knees.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Chapter 1: The Fall of Brightstone Village

Mayor Taywo watched as Iksanun faded into the distance, letting out a heavy sigh. Behind him, his daughter Kuwin weeped openly. It could not be helped. In the years since Iksanun came to live in Brightstone, he had become a part of the village. But now it was time to leave.

Iksanun had glimpsed visions of the future. He had seen that a great darkness yet hunted for him. If he stayed, he would only be putting the villagers at risk. Taywo closed his eyes and thought back to the day he had first met Iksanun.

The traveler clutched his side as he stumbled through the village.

He had almost made it to the entrance of Mayor Taywo's house when he collapsed. Mayor Taywo called for help, and several nearby villagers carried the traveler inside.

Taywo recognized the traveler almost at once. It was Iksanun the Realmwalker, a Guardian of old. His wound was deep. The Mayor's daughter did all she could to clean and bandage the wound, but it still radiated with malevolent energy. Over the course of several months under Kuwin's care, Iksanun finally recovered. The effort of purging the darkness from his body left him weak. He still lived, but would never be the same.

Act VI — The Cost of Revenge

Interlude — A Conspiracy Begins

Act V — A Lost Generation

Act VI — Shadows of the Ebondrake

Act VII — Shattered Empire

Act VIII — The Lost Continent

Act IX — Cruel Reunion

Act X — The Gathering Dark

Act XI — Balance of Power