Where the first rays of sunrise meet the land, there is a silver castle resting high up a mountain, threatening to pierce through clouds and reach the limit of the sky. The chanting of a hymn floats in the wind, gentle and beautiful.
Nakroth opens his eyes and wakes up from the dream. Cold, blue flames flicker from a candlestick on a nightstand beside the bed. The ceiling that Nakroth is gazing at, like the room itself, is dimly lit by this hellfire from the abyss.
Lifeless, Nakroth thinks, but of nothing in particular.
He allows himself to stay like this for a few more minutes before getting out of bed. Breastplate and cuisses… he wears everything in order with a great amount of care and concentration—he does not like it when things are out of his control. Yet today, perhaps because of his dream about the past, or perhaps simply because he has nothing to do at the moment, Nakroth stops in front of the mirror right before putting on his helmet.
The man in the reflection does not look at all the same as creatures native of the Inferi: he has a pair of scarlet eyes, delicate facial features, soft skin, and long, silver hair that cascades down his shoulders like a waterfall.
He looks like a Vedä. In fact, he used to be one of the Vedäs, living in the mountain range of Mount Orün, serving Ilumia in the Temple of Light. It is always easy for Nakroth to recall the image of the temple from his memory, even though he has long lost count of the years and decades since he has left it.
Staring into his own visage stirs a well of madness inside Nakroth. He was not one of them, and will never be. A life for a life, a soul for a soul; that is what Nakroth has always believed in, not laws that give murderers a second chance, not prisons that feed and clothe thieves and thugs.
That is mercy—and mercy means weakness.
Solemnly sliding on his intimidating helmet, Nakroth cuts off all recollections of the past and exits the room.
He did not expect to find Preyta in the office.
“You could’ve had someone inform me of your arrival,” Nakroth says as he closes the door behind him.
“It is not my intention to rush you, my lord.” Preyta bows. His dry, hollow voice cuts through the air like a saw.
“May I know what brings you here?”
“It’s lord Maloch. He wishes that we can work together in the gathering of souls, for the expansion of his army.”
Nakroth knows full well of Preyta’s power: how he can spread disease and pestilence in the snap of a finger, how he can easily produce a pile of corpses that otherwise takes one a whole month to accumulate, and how he can be a great tool for punishing those Nakroth has deemed sinned. Still, at the thought of the plague’s aimless and undifferentiated killing, Nakroth grows disgusted.
“I don’t think we’d make a great team.”
“You speak my mind, my lord,” Preyta sounds delighted by their rare agreement. “But lord Maloch seems to be very fond of you. He insists you have someone to help you accomplish this task.”
Help me or keep an eye on me? A sneer curls Nakroth’s lip beneath the helmet. He does not care whether Maloch trusts him or not. He did not come to the Inferi to impress him.
“Fine,” Nakroth says. “But we’ll do things my way: I have the right to choose the souls we need, and those we don’t.”
Indeed, Nakroth may not have come to the Inferi to impress anyone; yet he did come to the Inferi to overthrow the orders that the Temple of Light has established. Once the light is extinguished, the darkness will be the next to fall.
He will kill until there is only one true order remaining in the world: the only just and righteous order that he upholds.