“It’s over.” The grim man in the war-used helm surveyed the battlefield and the smoking ruin beyond it. “Tharngorm is thrown down and the Dark Lord is dead.”
“Finally,” the dark skinned man with the long bow grinned at his companions, “a chance to find out what life is like without him hanging over us.”
“We can learn to practice the arts of peace instead of war,” the tall woman crossed her arms. “I could learn embroidery. What about you, Inmmerhorn?” She threw that question at the bearded wizard who was stuffing his pipe with tobacco.
“Oh, I’ll probably stamp around putting out the remaining embers for a while then put my feet up until there’s another crisis.” He lit his pipe and started puffing away.
“But there won’t be any more crises, will there?” That was the obligatory naïf. “Not now he’s gone.”
“In my experience,” said Immerhorn, “there’s always another crisis, even if it’s only flooding rain.”
Later, months later, Immerhorn sat with the other remaining members of the Circle of the Desestri around their meeting table. The empty places were growing, this time it was Estar and Phirdeus who would never join them again. “Has anyone been able to find any traces of the Dark Lord at all?” Gastelus, their leader was the one who asked that question, standing in his place and leaning on hands flat of the table before him.
None of the other twelve spoke.
“Have there been signs and portents then? Gastelus looked around the room again.
“A falling star came to earth in southern Hiruum three months ago on the day of the equinox,” reported Mala, who had the greatest familiarity with the continent that lay south of the equator. “The King of the Yosora has ordered the royal smiths to make seme from it.” She caught her brethren’s looks of incomprehension and went on, “A seme is either a long dagger or a short sword, depending on its exact size.”
“It’s been centuries but we all know how the story goes next,” said Gastelus heavily. “One of them will be stolen and enchanted to be the Dark Blade. This time we need to find the Dark Lord before he rises. Then, perhaps, we can stop the cycle.”