Chapter 1

AT 999 (AZ 1371) - Winter
Beneath the Ruins of Arkadia, The Darklands

Narkissos of Karas was a distant memory, all but lost to the mists of time. It was part of the reason he took the name Caligo when he pledged himself to the Dragon's service as the Knight of Chaos. They were much alike, he and the Dragon, both consumed by the fires of hatred and vengeance. To think that someone who was once human would outlive a Dragon...
The Black Xotika who claimed the Dominion after the Dragon's death were wise in their own eyes but every bit as foolish as the human princes that came before them. Though the invasion of Notos was folly, Caligo would have enjoyed the chance to test his mettle against armies once more, but he soon came to discover that he was unable to cross the sea. Perhaps if he had been there, the Dominion's rule would extend as far as Zephyr by now, even beyond.
With the fall of the Dominion came an end to Caligo's service. There was nothing left for him in the Darklands and so he fell into a slumber. Though his sleep was troubled by visions of his lost past, he may well have remained dormant forever were it not for a voice calling in the dark.
"Arise, Caligo, Knight of Chaos. Your time to serve has come once more."
Caligo would have ignored the voice, but something compelled him to obey. He had sealed himself away in a tomb in the catacombs beneath the old capital. The haunts of the dead comforted him, no doubt because he was more dead than alive. He was certain he would not be disturbed there and yet someone was summoning him.
His eyes opened to darkness, but even in the absence of all light, he could still see as well as a mortal man by the light of the moon and stars. The heavy stone lid of the sarcophagus creaked and noisily grinded as it was pushed away. It was dropped to the ground with a great crash.
He was greeted by four great wolves peering into the sarcophagus. Their muzzles were bound fast with strips of leather and iron collars were on their necks. Their heads were pulled back and small clawed hands with stone knives slashed open their necks, showering Caligo in their blood.
Caligo was shaken to the very marrow of his bones as the thirst was stirred within him once more. Agony and ecstasy mingled together, overwhelming his senses. He howled as the blood continued to spray from the open necks of the wolves.
He no longer needed to use his mouth to drink. His very skin would greedily soak up the blood like a sponge. The more blood his body took in, the more his powers awakened within him. Each burst was like being born anew, exhilarating and traumatic all at once.
Once they were fully drained, the wolves were pulled away. Caligo rose up from the sarcophagus to see Kobaloi retreating from the bodies of the slain wolves. Standing before him were two women. They were neither human nor Xotika. He had never seen their like before.
The two women spoke as one.
"We welcome you on the day of your awakening, Caligo, Knight of Chaos. We offer ourselves to you as a sacrifice. Accept our blood and be restored to the fulness of your power."
Blood-maddened as he was, Caligo could think of nothing else. He did not not need any excuse or leave to drink from the two women. They offered him no resistance as he drained the life from them and even fell dead to the ground with disconcerting smiles on their faces, satisfied that they had fulfilled their purpose in life and death.
Thanks to their blood, the mists began to clear from Caligo's mind and the world came into focus. Waiting for him was man in black robes, but no common man, perhaps no man at all but rather some great dark power taking the form of a man.
"You have been refreshed by this offering, Knight of Chaos," the man said. "Soon your awakening will be complete. You are summoned to serve the Chaos Dominion once more."
"The Dominion is dead," Caligo replied dismissively. "Long ago... How long I cannot say..."
"Over three hundred years by men's reckoning. It is restored this day."
What little humanity remained in Caligo was staggered by the thought of three hundred years having passed, but as he was now, the passing of centuries were little more than passing from one season to the next. Still, it was a long time for the Dominion to remain dead. Who resurrected it and for what purpose? The man in the black robes was indeed a creature of great power. Was he the one claiming lordship over this new Dominion?
"And who are you supposed to be?" Caligo asked.
"I am called Dox the Dark Eternal," the man replied, "bearer of the will of the Black Lich."
There was much weight in the Dark Eternal's voice as he spoke the name of the Black Lich, but it meant nothing to Caligo.
"Should I know this name?"
"You will."
The Dark Eternal stretched out his hand and touched Caligo's forehead. Even a fraction of his power was enough to bring Caligo to his knees. His eyes clouded over black and it felt as if flesh and soul would be wholly consumed by the Darkness within. Though Caligo was a creature of the Darkness himself, it was like pitting a candle against a bonfire.
The Dark Eternal withdrew his hand and Caligo's vision began to clear.
Shaken and confused, Caligo demanded, "What... what are you?"
"I exist to guide the Dark Race to its perfection," the Dark Eternal replied. "I am but an instrument, as are you."
Caligo could not stand against the Dark Eternal, but even so, he did not bow his neck easily.
"If I refuse?"
The Dark Eternal was unmoved by his feeble display of defiance.
"You can choose to serve or you can be made to serve." he replied. "It makes no difference."
Caligo did not say anything, but nothing needed to be said.
The Dark Eternal beckoned and said, "Come and see your new master."
The Dark Eternal enveloped Caligo with his power and in an instant they were transported far from the catacombs. They appeared in the ancient dead tree palace of the Xotika. Waiting for them was a Black Xotika woman cradling an infant in her arms. The child looked mostly human, but more than appearances, the dark power exuding from him revealed his true nature. Caligo did not fail to notice that the nature of the child's power was much like that of the Dark Eternal.
"He will grow in power," the Dark Eternal said, "but he will need a sword to cut down his enemies. You will be that sword."
The child opened his eyes and looked at Caligo. Despite being an infant, the child's gaze was a knowing one. As Caligo met those piercing red eyes, he realized that he was indeed beholding his new master. He could not but obey.
"So be it," he said, kneeling before the child. "I am yours to command."