Introduction Peace was a beautiful thing, extending its arms and accepting any that would simply embrace it. Peace was simple, it needed no armies to fight in its name, no politicians to speak for it. Peace would have been easy, had it not been for greed. The darkness known by this name that lived within all sentient beings drove them to conflict. Even when needs were met, greed was never happy. It demanded more and turned every individual away from the arms of peace. The true face of greed was always ugly. Always it caused us to be repulsed by it and ourselves. Greed was clever however, it masked itself with pretty things; gold, land, title, honor. Only when it was too late to turn back did greed reveal its true self. Its fickle and repulsive features that caused even the mightiest of souls to tremble in fear. Fear of their very selves. It was greed that sowed the seeds, but it was fear that broke peace. Fear was instinct, it was raw, primal, and entirely unstoppable. Fear forced his hand, quickened his step, and broke his judgement. It forced him into a corner and gave him two options, both with the same outcome. He saw no other course of action, for fear hid all from him. Fear made him cower before his own actions. Fear made him freeze, and fear made him act. The reality of his actions hit him only after the fear had passed. When the instinct left him, when he was allowed to think, there was only one recourse. Suicide. Only death awaited him at the end of every corner. Only death would give him release from his bounds. Only death would offer him peace. With his death it was triggered. The curse within him swelled and expanded, no longer contained within the prison of his body. The darkness was impenetrable and lightning fast. They ran, they had too, but none were fast enough. It caught them. It consumed them. It consumed everything. The more it consumed, the more it expanded. The street was devoured, then the block, then the city, and then; the heart of the nation. The darkness found it ironic that the mortals had dubbed it 'The Spark'. A name like that hinted to life, to a new beginning. Nothing came after the darkness. It was void, it consumed, and nothing would stop it. This world would be like all the others, soon, nothing would be left... Chapter One: The Spark A lone falcon swooped throughout the sky lazily. Through its eyes the stage was set. Scouting parties peered out towards the horizon. Each side knew of the death that awaited them just steps beyond their vision. The mighty Emerald river stood between the forces. Its waters soon to be painted crimson. The great width of this river would fool a simple traveler, but natives to the land new all too well. This point along its path was shallow. It held a mighty ford wide enough to allow an army to pass. The falcon watched the rippling waters for prey, at the edge of its vision it saw the mighty forests and the human scouts that dotted its edge. The water was silent, this point in the river offered little food, the creature moved on. It dashed above the mighty planes at the edge of Or'La'Desh, passing hastily over top of the massive Orc force that tirelessly marched towards its enemy. Many other races dotted the ranks of each side, the wishes of many had been bet on this battle. It was the proving ground for the ideals of both sides. It mattered not who would claim victory, great change would follow this battle. And when the dust settled, a kingdom would fall... *** *** Two weeks had pasted since the recall order. The numbers of the regiment had dropped from over two thousand to just over six hundred. Most of the advising officers had left. It was maddening. Without support from a web of medium to high ranking officers, the unit was falling apart. The mountain of paperwork that was once divvied up among a conglomerate of officials was now put upon a few heads. Last minute promotions were made, the balance of power had been broken. This was not leadership. This was not what she had wanted. The Lieutenant's last adviser had just walked out. An explosion of emotions due to the mounting pressure had placed the final straw upon his back. Solace was now wandering the camp, staring idly at the countryside that sat beyond the clanging of metal and the shouts of wartime preparation. Her scouts had estimated two days. The Orcs were marching and they had been forced to take the defensive. It was a drastic turning of the tables. The impossibility of it all was finally hitting her. The unit was falling apart, three quarters of it had left to the homeland, the heart of which had been consumed by some unknown force. The details were hastily relaid and all too inaccurate. Some unknown disaster? The Spark? Darkness that could not be lit? It was madness. Of course she had refused to leave, the mission was here, not at the capitol. The capitol was never in danger. Such inhibitions were foolish anyways. Solace had already been marked a traitor. The General of the Kitsune standing army had sentenced her to death, either on the field or upon return. Anger seethed through the very being of the Kitsune Lieutenant. That woman would learn the meaning of fear the next time they met. No one embarrassed Shogun Solace of the Mihlan clan and walked away unscathed, not even the Ebon Fang. Her pride alone would not allow her to lose to the Orcs. Victory would be hers, and when the battle was done, so would revenge. The Lieutenant had convinced herself. She would overcome any challenge her unit faced. This was a battle she could not lose. Solace turned on her heel and marched back to her tent. She had work to do.