The Return

The sky over Castle Rhune, one of the many havens of the Augmentors, ripped opened and a dark purple fog emerged. The very air crackled and fizzed while bolts of black lightning darted across the sky. The Augmentors looked above in terror.  Slowly, figures began to emerge from the eye of the storm. One by one the Augmentors made out the forms of Rhule and his followers. Steward and brother of Solar bellowed:

‘Solar, sister, come here. It is I, your brother and I have returned from my journey.’

The Augmentors’ terror turned to celebration and they were overjoyed at the return of the brave explorers. Solar swiftly made her way to castle Rhune, where a crowd had begun to congregate, ready to welcome the expedition. She longed to speak to her brother and tell him of all that had transpired in his absence.

As Solar entered the castle, she felt a chill about her as if all her vitality had been drained. Markik and Tundris, already there, ran up to her:

‘Something is wrong, my lady. Something is very wrong,’ said Tundris in panic.

‘What is it?’ Solar asked.

But before Tundris could answer, Rhule howled.

‘Solar, we must go. Rhule is different. He’s no longer the brother you once knew. We must-‘

‘No,’ said Solar. She was adamant to see her brother.

Rhule and the rest of his followers stood in the courtyard of the castle. Nothing could have prepared Solar for what she saw. They had changed. Their eyes were blacker than night and their faces were twisted, disfigured, even.

‘Hello, Solar, steward of the Realm.’ He held out a hand.

Rhule’s voice sounded deeper and menacing. It was a voice that Solar did not recognise. His followers, too looked threatening, as if ready to fight without hesitation.

‘Brother, what has happened to you, my Rhule?’

‘I am no longer your… brother. I am stronger now that I am free from this world.’

‘What do you mean?’ Solar asked, alarmed.

‘Bow before me, Solar, and call me Dark Rhule. I am your God now.’ Rhule let out a laugh that echoed through the castle’s halls. It was maddening and sent a shiver through those who heard it. ‘You see, we all took a vow that has freed us from Bello Realm’s teather. We left as explorers, but we return as conquerors. I now rule the Realm, sister.’

Solar was left speechless. The Augmentors fled in fear as Dark Rhule began to shoot streaks of purple energy around the castle, twisting and corrupting its walls. The castle began to take on new shapes, turning it into a new home for Dark Rhule and his followers. He once more roared:

‘Well, will you bow?’

Solar clenched her fists as tight as she could. ‘You do not speak to me as if I am your inferior. I am your sister and a steward of Bello Realm. You are my brother and my equal.’

‘I ask again, Solar, will you bow to me, the hero of the Augmentors?’

‘No, Rhule. You left here a hero, a protector. What you have done here today will not be forgiven. We may be blood, but my duty is to the Augmentors. I will not bow to you, not now, not ever. I will resist you and I will protect the ones I love, even if they are damaging others.’

‘Ha – so be it’

Dark Rhule lifted his arm and fired a burst of power at Solar, which connected and flung her out of the fortress. Markik and Tundris rushed to her aid and picked her up. They carried her back into the Amber Woods, careful to avoid more of Dark Rhule’s bursts. They hid in the wood until she had recovered. Bello Realm was in a state of dismay and it shook in terror.