It has been seven years since the rise of Carnia.
Since then, the world has been remade, shaped to better fit the whims of its overlord, Morbossus Gride, and his voracious hordes. The factions once known as the Omaki and the Behaku are gone, their war long forgotten.
Gride and his followers took the Earth by storm, ravaging everything with their infection and corrupting the lands. His palace overlooks the entire globe, his eyes are everywhere, his hands are everywhere, ready to snatch up those whose hearts and minds do not belong to Carnia.
He has tried to destroy all pieces of the old world, he has burned all the archives, has had all those who once controlled the world executed, and has twisted the laws to appeal solely to his deranged delights, but some pieces still remain. There is none alive who can forget one legend: Eveser Dimonis, The Light in The Darkness.
Legend has it that the dragon stood against Gride twice, and defeated him once before. The very old remember the first ferocious battle between the two titans, one that shook Mallakoza City to its core and very nearly dragged it to ruination! They remember the Great Dragon, in all his fiery glory, who struck down the monster, Dirge, and saved the world. But why then did he rise again? Why didn't the hero stop him again?
"Why didn't the hero stop him again?" Dirge repeated, becoming aggravated. His disgusting yellow eyes shot up from the small piece of paper he clutched in his talons at the trembling peasant who kneeled before his grand throne. He was high atop a tall set of stairs, sitting in a large throne decorated with all sorts of grim embellishments. "Do you find this funny?"
"No...Lord Gride," the peasant said quietly.
"Do you have some kind of severe mental disorder?" Dirge asked, standing up. He wore a long black cape around his neck, serrated on the edges to appear like a sinister wing. He wore a black shirt with long sleeves and bore an ornate marking upon his forehead. The peasant looked up then quickly glanced back down.
"No..." he muttered.
"Then what possessed you to have THIS printed?" Dirge crushed the paper in his claw. It burst into flames immediately!
"A...an overwhelming sense...of idiocy," the peasant said nervously. Dirge descended from atop his mighty throne and stood before the peasant.
"Your lack of foresight disturbs and irritates me," Dirge growled. "Begone."
He waved his skeletal claw at the peasant. The kneeling creature shuddered violently for a moment and Dirge walked into the center of his throneroom as the figure was engulfed in green fire.
"Grimlock!" Dirge called.
In a flash, there stood next to him a tall humanoid wearing a long cloak. He had a hood over his head, which masked his face save for his two piercing golden eyes that penetrated the shroud.
"My lord?" the creature asked, pulling back its hood to reveal a reptilian face. It had red skin, covered with black tattoos that ran down his neck and under his cloak. He had pointed teeth and a barbed tongue that slipped out of his mouth occasionally.
"Oh, dear friend," Dirge groaned. "You can't imagine how difficult this job can be!"
"I've controlled my own factions here and there; I think perhaps I have a grip on the subject..." Grimlock asked with a chuckle. "Stress getting to you?"
"You have no idea," Dirge said, rubbing the bridge of his metallic, skeletal nose exhaustedly.
"Aww come on, Lord Gride!" Grimlock smiled, slapping Dirge on the shoulder. Dirge glared at him. "You've got an entire planet under your bootheel! It must be invigorating to be Serga Carnivex once again hm?"
"I suppose it is a rather welcome change..." Dirge said, straightening himself out. "And I do love all the executions..."
"There we go," Grimlock said. "See? It's not all bad! And look on the bright side, Kane's finally approaching eligibility for his naming ceremony."
"So soon?" Dirge asked in surprise. "My god, time really does fly...seems like only yesterday I was turning him against his friends! And now look at the little guy, ready to get his Carnian name...what a prodigy..."
"It's quite a feat, Lord," Grimlock said with a small chuckle. He looked around for a moment, and then snapped his fingers in realization. "If you'll excuse me, Lord Gride, I have a...*ahem* guest, who needs to be attended to?"
Dirge chuckled heartily and waved his claw. "Go on, don't keep her waiting..."
"At your command, Serga," Grimlock said with a smirk. Instantaneously he disappeared in a small blue fireball. Dirge flung his cape over his shoulders and walked to the balcony, looking down onto the remains of Mallakoza City. The structures were in ruin and in their places stood large Carnian buildings, obelisks and statues of Dirge lined the streets, images of him standing proudly over the defeated bodies of numerous foes.
"I've tried to be nice to them, haven't I?" Dirge asked himself. "I've given them homes, protection, food and I certainly didn't kill them all when I had the opportunity! Why don't they like me?"
Dirge laughed and then flung his cloak behind him as he began walking back up to his throne.
"Another day in paradise..." said the black dragon as he opened his eyes sleepily. He rubbed his head against the pillow a few times then got to his paws and walked out of the small room. He made his way through the narrow hallways until he finally reached a larger room with a chandelier on the ceiling and a table in the center. There was a large figure sitting at the table, with long black hair and sharp black claws...
"Morning Dameon," Eve muttered sleepily. Dameon just grunted in response.
"We're out of bread," Dameon said quietly.
"Then we'll make some more," Eve suggested with a small smile.
"Why didn't I think of that?" Dameon rolled his eyes. "We're out of grain too."
"Oh..." Eve's smile faded. "Where did it all go?"
"You see, there's a neat little thing called 'hunger' and, now bear with me I know this is confusing, it HAPPENS TO PEOPLE," Dameon said. Eve remained emotionless. "No one ate more than they should have, Teya didn't even have any and Darrow still can't chew solid food, we're just...running low here..."
Dameon got up from the table and walked over the dragon.
"I'm sorry," Eve said. "I didn't mean to sound accusatory."
"No harm done," Dameon said with a small smile. "If anything I probably deserved it, I still owe you for all the things you did for me."
"Please," Eve laughed. "When you even come close I'll let you know..."
The two laughed.
"Don't tell me I missed one of the funny moments in this bleak future," a female voice came from the hallway. A steel silver dragoness stepped into the dining room, stretched, and then made her way up to the two males. "Morning boys."
"Cy," Dameon said with a nod.
"Morning," Eve said and kissed his mate. "How'd you sleep?"
"Better than usual, actually," she said with a smile. "For a few minutes it actually felt like sleep! Not just rest between attacks..."
"Well, you've got to appreciate the little things," Dameon said and smiled. "If we can glean anything from our 'situation' it might as well be that."
"So, shall we begin the day's harvest?" Cyllea asked. Dameon rubbed the back of his neck and Eve coughed disappointedly.
"About that..." Eve said. "According to Dameon...the fields are dead."
"What?" Cyllea sounded worried. "Are you sure?"
"Positive, unfortunately," Dameon muttered. "Just checked less than an hour ago, the seeds just didn't take."
"Damn!" Cyllea cursed. "That's not good..."
"You're telling us," Eve said. "It's alright though...it's alright; I think we can still pull through on the potatoes and the meat, at least until the next planting season."
"We can," Dameon began. "But dammit Eveser..."
"Dameon don't even start this again," Eve warned, glaring at his friend.
"We shouldn't have to!" Dameon growled. "We shouldn't have to live like this, in a world LIKE THIS...it's not right, god dammit! We're living in the palm of a psychopath!"
"What can we do about it?" Eve asked. "You remember what happened last time we tried to revolt? Hm? We almost lost Teya AND got twelve innocent people killed!"
"I'm not saying we need to repeat history, we just need to keep thinking! You're right, last time was a failure. We screwed up and some people died..."
"Died?! Executed, Dameon," Eve corrected. "In case you forgot, they weren't killed in the crossfire. They died AFTER our attack! Publically executed for treason..."
"I haven't forgotten," Dameon said quietly. "Look I'm not arguing with you, you thickheaded reptile...I'm just saying that we can't sit idly by and watch this world burn. You know I'm right."
Eveser sighed. Dameon WAS right...he knew it. But he had to face facts, dammit! They didn't have a snowball's chance in Hell to beat Dirge, not now.
He remembered the last time he had ever heard the Voice speak to him...
"Eveser Dimonis, Vessel of Bahamut," it had said. "Your purpose is now fulfilled. You have stopped Armageddon, although you may not see how just yet. I promise, one day, I will return to you. I will return with answers, with knowledge, and with hope...hope for the future, that all creatures may be free from this Hell. This I swear. For now you must hide. Bate your breath, bide your time, and wait. When the sun goes blind, I will find you."
"Wait! What does that mean?" he cried in his thoughts. "Come back! I need you!"
But it had gone. Left him when he needed it most.
After they had escaped from Dirge's palace, the group managed to find a small cave in which they could hide from the Carnians. They remained there for weeks, hiding from the occasional snarling broods of vicious beasts that searched for them. The monstrous forms of the demonic Carnians still haunted some of their dreams...
Then the patrols eventually slowed to a trickle, then stopped completely. The search was over; Dirge had conquered the entire world.
They left the caves, found a spot of grassland high atop a mountain, and there they stayed to this very day. They gathered supplies, built a home, even managed to design a small water-powered generator for electricity! It was a humble life, but it was far better than those of Carnian-managed societies...
People are treated like slaves, forced to live in huts, while the Carnians roam free through their towns and villages. Their lives are short, ending either as food or as sport for the monsters, which kill for practice and for fun. To be fair to Dirge, he knew how to run a civilization. The civilians NEVER even considered rebellion, ever...EVER...the risks far outweighed the rewards. And there was no disease, no starvation, no war...the society was actually kind of peaceful. For the Carnians themselves, Eve was sure it was a paradise!
"Yes...I know," Eve admitted finally. "I know. But you guys have to trust me, once the Voice comes back, I'm sure we'll be able to beat Dirge. In fact, I know we will!"
"The Voice?" Dameon asked. "Eve how can you even be sure that thing's real? You know it could arguably be a subconscious thought as opposed to an actual entity speaking?"
"Trust me, ok?" Eve said. "If it wasn't for that voice, we'd all be dead right now. It has to be some kind of entity; it knew things that I'm sure I had no idea about!"
"The odds of speaking to an entity of divine ability in this day and age without performing any kind of divination rights are absolutely astronomical!" Dameon ranted. "Listen, Eve...let's try to keep things sort of in the natural world for now. I don't think any of the gods are listening to us at this point..."
Eve nodded slowly. "For now...maybe you're right."
"Hey boys?" another female voice came from the opposite hallway. "I don't mean to throw you off topic...but someone has a very important message for us all..."
Dameon, Cyllea, and Eveser looked over. It was Holi who spoke, with Teya standing behind her and another figure standing behind her...
Holi stepped to the side, followed by Teya, who slithered out into the main room to let the figure out. It supported itself on a crutch and hobbled forwards into the chandelier light...
"Hey...guys...how...do I look?" the tiger said weakly as he straightened himself out and tipped his hat. Cyllea gasped sharply and then rushed forwards, wrapping her front paws tenderly around the Darrow's shoulders. Dameon and Eve were wide-eyed with awe, but soon shook the shock from their faces and scampered over to Darrow as quickly as they could!
Cyllea was weeping softly into his shoulder, holding him as tightly as she could, like a mother finding a lost child. Eve couldn't help but wrap his own front paws gingerly around the tiger, either. Even Dameon couldn't contain his smile!
"It's good to have ya back, stripes," Dameon said with a laugh. Eve and Cyllea finally released him, letting him make his way to the table and sit down wearily. He removed his hat, letting the light spear the shadows that had concealed his face.
The fur on the entire left side of his face was gone, burned off or cut away during the reconstruction. His skin was mottled and scarred, especially near his jaw. The skin of his cheek was missing, revealing his teeth from the canine to the very last molar.
"You look great," Eve said with a smile. "Better than you do most days..."
"I'll...keep that in...mind...friend," Darrow said with a small grin.
They didn't have much...but what they did have was more than they could have hoped for. They had eachother, and that meant love, companionship, trust, and happiness, through thick and thin...
...And so it begins...