Story by Jeremy Sung and Brian Stevenson
Written by Jeremy Sung
Art by Nate Baertsch
Written by Jeremy Sung
Art by Nate Baertsch
Chapter 1: The Lost Gohlem
The landscape was silent. It was just before dawn, and very still in this brief moment between night and day. Suddenly there was a ripple in the air, a deafening crack, and then a blinding explosion of light and fury. When the dust settled there was a crater, jagged on the edges like the broken shell of an egg. At the center of the crater a hunched figure stirred and slowly rose. It was a Gohlem of Monkaa. However, this Gohlem was different. Tall and perfectly formed, he pulsed with the glow of raw power. This newly awakened Gohlem surveyed the land and skies around him, quickly discovering he was alone and that he had no idea where he was.
Nor did he have any idea who he was.
The Glowstone Gohlem had been walking for some time. How long he wasn't sure but he'd seen the suns of Monkaa rise and fall more than once. He had no idea where he was headed, only that he needed to move and that his feet seemed to know where to go even if his head did not. On his way he saw the wildlife of Monkaa locked in the endless cycle of predator and prey. He marveled at the great herds of Mud Leviathans bellowing from the muddy banks of a great river. He stood in awe at the prowling Wolfhawks soaring high, ever hungry for a stray pup. He knew to duck into cover when he heard the hissing shriek of a giant Sky Wyrm passing overhead, and to run for high ground when he felt the vibrations of a Sand Tiger moving below his feet. He could not explain or recall why he knew these survival tactics, but they were as instinctual to him as breathing or walking.
As he traveled the expanse of this majestic planet he wondered at the fact that he knew these beasts, how they hunted and how to avoid them, yet had no idea who he himself was or how he came to find himself in the deepest parts of the Monkaarian wilderness. Eventually his march led him to a rough shepherd's track, which in turn led to a stone cobbled road. He followed the road and eventually saw two figures in the distance. He recognized them as Gohlem like himself immediately and set off at a run. As he drew near he overheard them arguing.
"Told you! You listen to ol' Sooty and just keep walkin' already!" proclaimed one.
"But Sooty, me feet’re sore and the pack be heavy!" replied the other.
"Char, dear Gohlem, we've got to get dis load of ore to the next village an dat's what we're gonna do!" bellowed the one called Sooty.
The Glowstone Gohlem approached. Upon seeing him, the pair of Obsidian Gohlem immediately stopped bickering and fell to their knees. "Beggin' your pardon, Lord. We are just humble porters." they groveled.
"Lord?" asked the Glowstone Gohlem. "I'm no Lord, just… just a...pilgrim." he added, not sure why he chose that word.
"But you are marked with the emblem of the Vilhain, Lord," the older more upright of the two replied.
The Glowstone Gohlem looked down at his chest and noticed the skull-like emblem there. "This...this means Vil-hain?" he asked quietly.
"Aw, he's havin' us on, he is!" whispered the one called Char.
"Shut up!" barked Sooty. "Grant us mercy Lord Vilhain, take our meager goods if you must, but don't toy with us. Please let us live", he begged.
The Glowstone Gohlem was thoroughly confused but decided to bluff his way through. "So be it," he replied sternly. "You've done well to pass my test, loyal Gohlem. Carry on," he commanded. He collected a modest bag of provisions from their cart and walked towards a small village he could just make out in the distance.
"Thank you Lord! Thank you for your mercy!" they said as they got up.
The Glowstone Gohlem frowned as he walked away. That pair of Obsidian Gohlem were absolutely terrified of him. This Vilhain emblem clearly was a symbol of tyranny and terror. Why did he wear it? Who was he and what had he done in the past...?
He was so engrossed in this self-examination that he missed the shouted warnings from Sooty and Char as they receded into the distance. "Beware the Blood Walkers, Lord! Forge your weapons! Find shelter before dark...!"
Chapter 2: The Thing in the Dark.
Everything was broken.
It was midday and the Glowstone Gohlem had arrived at the ruins of a small Monkaarian village. His hope was to find some villagers, someone who could help him learn more about his whereabouts, if not his identity. Unfortunately, the village looked like a powerful tornado, or a pack of ravenous sand tigers had torn through it. Walls were caved in and collapsed and there were claw marks and slashes on most surfaces. There was no sign of life anywhere in this sacked hamlet that appeared to be a once bustling town. The Glowstone Gohlem edged past some broken beams into the ruins of a small house. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness within he spied a figure sitting motionless on the floor similar to the two Gohlem he had met recently.
"Hello...? Are you all right? Do you need help?” he asked.
The figure twitched slightly and slowly turned toward him. It was a Gohlem, or at least it resembled one. It shared the size, shape, and many the same features of what he would expect a Gohlem of Monkaa to exhibit, but it's body was shot through with bloody red cracks and it's eyes pulsed with a dead white light. Shrieking horribly it lunged at the Glowstone Gohlem. He noticed its claws bleed and reform into large blades like sickles.
Recoiling in shock and horror the Glowstone Gohlem instinctively fell into a defensive stance. His own hand glowed, and with a tingling sensation he could only describe as a small electric jolt, it formed itself into a large blade resembling the wing of a mighty falcon. Sharp and true he swung the blade and parried the attacks of the enraged creature. The hideous thing was howling and shrieking as it attacked, a flurry of rage and bloodlust with no control or restraint of any kind. Gradually the wild attacks drove the Glowstone Gohlem back and he found himself tangled in the debris littering the ruined home.
"ENOUGH!" he bellowed and his other hand morphed into a large war hammer. Shocked as he was at this new found ability to seemingly forge battle ready weapons out of his own limbs, he struck the thing a mighty blow knocking it back through what remained of the sidewall of the house and into the street.
As the monstrous creature rose up it began shrieking even more fiercely when the rays of the midday suns shone down upon it. The beast’s skin crackled and boiled, but this seemed only to enrage it further. It charged at the Glowstone Gohlem, who had now emerged from the ruins, and attacked once again. The brave Glowstone Gohlem had had enough. He steeled himself for a final blow and suddenly both weapons he wielded began glowing with power. Almost involuntarily they both reformed into long conical cannon like barrels. “By the Great Gear!” he exclaimed as the cannons began to well with energy. He thrust both towards the rampaging thing and blasted the crazed creature with twin beams of pure glowing light. The blood walker shrieked when struck by the beams and an even brighter blaze of light burst forth and generated an earth-shaking explosion launching both combatants into the ruins. Then silence.
"He’s comin' to, he is!"
The Glowstone Gohlem slowly opened his eyes to find himself staring up at the curious faces of Sooty and Char, the Obsidian Gohlem Porters he had met earlier.
"Easy there, Lord..." said Sooty.
"What happened? That creature!" the Glowstone Gohlem said as he sat upright.
"Easy, easy, you took care of it you did! Did I not tell you our Lord Vilhain would beat it, Char?" said Sooty with a wide and crooked grin.
"Ne’er thought I be happy to see Vilhain..." mumbled Char.
"I...I'm not a Vilhain. I don't know why I have this symbol. I don't know who I am..." confessed the Glowstone Gohlem.
"Hmmmm. A right mystery this one is, Char! I thought as much," said Sooty. "Been an age since we seen a Gohlem all glowey and shiny like you. Last time were the Toxic Glow Brutes, but the Gearo Lord of Light, Gearion banished them an eon ago. Your speech is too good to be one of them, and I ne’er met a Vilhain didn't give me a crack across the jaw soon as look at me..." he went on.
Gearo? Lord of Light? Thought the Glowstone Gohlem. These were familiar terms but he couldn’t remember why.
"The creature, you said I took care of it?" asked the Glowstone Gohlem.
"Aye! Sooty and me seen dat all! We followed after meetin’ on the road. We seen you wander this way. We knew dat Blood Walker was about. Did not want you to think we be pointin’ you to a trap!" said Char excitedly.
"It was a...Blood Walker?" asked the Glowstone Gohlem.
"Aye, dat all what we be callin’ them,” explained Char. “Terrible things. Hide durin' the day and come out after dark to attack any living thing.”
“Enough of them gather...well, you see what one can do," said Sooty gesturing to the ruins around them.
"Show me the body," said the Glowstone Gohlem quietly.
Sooty and Char led the Glowstone Gohlem back across the street to where the battle had taken place. There was a crater where the creature had made its last stand. The trio peered over the edge and what they saw struck them all speechless. There was a Gohlem lying curled at the bottom of the crater. Although it was not the bloody ruined creature the Glowstone Gohlem had fought.
It was a second Glowstone Gohlem.
Chapter 3: An Old Friend
The Glowstone Gohlem stared down into the crater at what seemed like a mirror image.
"Dat all be alive?" asked Char. Sooty had nothing to say.
"Let's get it out of there," said the Glowstone Gohlem. He climbed down into the crater to rescue his twin. As he dropped to the bottom of the crater the second Gohlem woke. It saw the Glowstone Gohlem and recoiled in fear. "Easy...easy. I'm a friend," said the Glowstone Gohlem.
"Fr...fah...fah...fah-rend...Friend" replied the frightened Gohlem.
The Glowstone Gohlem managed to lift the newborn Gohlem out of the crater. It saw Sooty and Char and shied back. "No, it's okay. Also friends" said the Glowstone Gohlem.
"Fah-rend-zah. Friends," the newborn Gohlem said, and smiled a wide innocent smile like one would witness from a child.
"Well grind my gears. He's brand new, he is," said Sooty.
"Dat all be cured? Not gonna go all blood and fangs and claws and dat all again is he?" asked a skeptical Char.
"No, I think he's fine," answered the Glowstone Gohlem with conviction. He thought a moment. "I have to go. Would you two take care of this new Gohlem?" he asked.
Sooty and Char looked surprised then grinned. "Sure enough, Lord! Always wanted to be a father, I did!" said Sooty proudly.
"Hey! Who says you all be the father?" asked Char.
As the two Obsidian Gohlem argued, The Glowstone Gohlem turned to the newborn Gohlem. "You will stay with them. They are friends. They will take care of you. Understand?"
The newborn Gohlem nodded, "Friends. I will stay. Take care."
The Glowstone Gohlem turned back to the Obsidians. "Not to worry, Lord! We will take care of this new one," said Sooty.
"Thank you my friends, I guess I'll be going now" answered the Glowstone Gohlem. "One last question for you two, where does this road go?" he asked pointing to the main road leading out of the ruined town.
"The old Gearo Highway? Goes halfway across Monkaa, but this will take you to the Gearo Citadel," said Sooty.
"Gearo?" asked the Glowstone Gohlem. “I’ve heard you use the term a few times today. I even caught myself calling out to The Great Gear in the heat of my battle with the Blood Walker. Who are the Gearo?”
"Fight the Vilhain they do. Protect the weak and all,” said Sooty.
“Aye,” answered Char. “Gearo. Protectors of Light. Great Gear. Enemies of Vilhain. You really be a mess you don’t have memory of dat all. Even broken rocks like us two know of dat all.”
"...Protect the weak..." said the Glowstone Gohlem quietly....
The Glowstone Gohlem encountered more of the common folk of Monkaa on his pilgrimage to the Gearo Citadel. Much like Sooty and Char, they were simple hardworking Gohlem. All too often he encountered the evidence of Blood Walkers; sacked villages, ruined caravans, and terrified survivors. He fought off lone Blood Walkers three times after that first encounter, and helped a tribe of Granite Gohlem defend their home from a small herd of the creatures.
In all of the encounters he did so using his instinctual fighting skills, and his still baffling ability to forge weapons of any shape and size out of his hands or any natural quarry he could lay them on. Whatever glowing power had allowed him to redeem that first creature had yet to recharge. However, in all of his travels, nothing and no one he met was able to shed any light on his identity or the mystery of his glowing form until he finally came within sight of the Gearo Citadel, or at least what was left of it.
The Glowstone Gohlem had expected conditions to improve as he neared the Citadel, but the opposite was true. The closer he got the more ruined the landscape became. Soon the Great Gearo Highway was so pitted and broken that he climbed as often as he walked. He was walking a particularly broken stretch of roadway when he came upon the largest herd of Bloodlust Walkers he had ever seen.
It was nearly dusk and the Glowstone Gohlem was looking for a cave or ruin to fortify for the night when he heard the telltale shriek of a Bloodlust Walker.
It was followed by more howls and shrieks and he was about to run when he heard another sound, a strong voice shouting battle cries. He climbed up onto an outcropping of rock and saw the surging herd of Bloodlust Walkers attacking a lone fighter on the other side of the highway.
He immediately leapt to aid the outnumbered warrior and as he fought his way closer was shocked to see that the warrior also appeared to be clad in Glowstone. He wore a tall helm and where the Glowstone Gohlem had a Vilhain Symbol, this warrior had a star centered within a gear. This formidable fighter was also forging weapons out of thin air. The skill and precision at which he wielded them mesmerized the Glowstone Gohlem. He himself was a sufficient swordsman and marksman, but this warrior was fighting as if the weapons could sense his very thoughts.
"Ho! Friend! Are you going to stand there with your jaw agape or are you going to come aid me against these beasts!" the warrior chided as he fought.
The Glowstone Gohlem raised his hands into the air. Two sharp axe blades formed where his hands once were and blasters grew out of his forearms. He dove into the fray and once more shouted the same battle cry from his first encounter. “BY THE GREAT GEAR!”
Their battle raged for what felt like hours. The tide of Bloodlust Walkers seemed endless and soon the two glowing warriors were surrounded. Despite their valiant efforts it was starting to seem that all might be lost.
"I guess this is it!" said the helmeted warrior to the Glowstone Gohlem after a Bloodlust Walker knocked him to one knee.
"Never!" shouted the Glowstone Gohlem and he reached for the warrior’s hand to help him up. As their hands clasped the light within each seemed to grow exponentially. The two weary warriors began to glow as brightly as the twin suns of Monkaa. Their light blazed forth and threw the Bloodlust Walkers back to flee in terror. When the light subsided the two warriors were left alone. They turned to face each other and proclaimed as one, "I remember."
"Palidar," said the Glowstone Gohlem. "Flaw," said the old Gearo Commander.
Chapter 4: The Riddle of the Glowstone
Flaw tried to suppress a grin as Palidar clapped him on the shoulder.
"I knew you'd make it, son!" exclaimed Palidar.
"Don't call me..." and then Flaw was laughing and embracing his mentor, hisfriend. "How long has it been? The memories are still murky..." said Flaw.
"I'm not sure either," answered Palidar, "until that last blaze of light, I had no memory of who I was or why I was headed this way. Only that I had to come here."
"I as well," said Flaw. "Empyreus... Umbreus... Brutok... Ambro... Fandar Sun... What of them?"
"I suppose if they survived they too would be drawn back here..." Palidar paused and regarded Flaw. "Well, you certainly look stronger with that glow about you," he chuckled.
"I feel stronger...and my heartstone...I think… No, I know… it's healed..." Flaw responded quietly.
"Now if only we could do the same for the Gearo Citadel..." said Palidar, sadly surveying the ruins around them. “Come, we are still miles from the gates and I’m not sure we can fight off another herd of those monsters any time soon. We need to reach the Great Hall.”
It took Palidar and Flaw another night and day to reach the ruined walls of the Gearo Citadel. When they arrived they were greeted by another surprise. The Citadel was full of Gohlem. Hundreds of Glowstone Gohlem filled the city streets. They toiled and labored to rebuild the broken walls and structures, but like the newborn Gohlem that Flaw had saved in the ruined village, they were new and simple. All of them save one. Palidar and Flaw recognized the spindly frame and bird-like movements immediately.
It was Ambro, Chamberlain of the Gearo.
However, while they recognized Ambro, he had no memory of them. It wasn't until Flaw and Palidar each clasped one of Ambro's hands that the memories came flooding back in a blaze of light. The three friends rejoiced and filled each other in on what little they knew about recent events. Flaw and Palidar told of their battles across the wilderness of the Monkaa, Palidar and Ambro were amazed to hear that Flaw had developed the ability to forge Monkaarian Armory weapons without having ever been blessed by a Forge Mage, while Ambro explained that he had awoken in the ruins of the Citadel, not knowing anything but a fierce need to rebuild. Ambro also explained how naive, newborn Glowstone Gohlem had been finding their way to the citadel one and two at a time to help him in his work.
"The main task now of course is to find Fandar Sun," explained Ambro. "I didn't know why at the time, but in addition to re-building, I was compelled to dig. No doubt Fandar is still buried in the Lifespring chamber..."
"And maybe if we find Fandar he can tell us what happened to Empyreus!" said Palidar.
So the trio set to digging and before long they had cleared the tunnel of debris and exposed the great door of the Lifespring chamber. With a final heave they tore open the ruined door and stepped through. What they saw was a sphere of light floating above the now empty Lifespring and suspended within was Fandar Sun, High Cleric of the Gearo. The trio approached, as they drew closer, the light around Fandar dimmed and he slowly floated to the floor.
"Welcome back my friends," the old Gearo said serenely as he smiled. Again there was much rejoicing, but Fandar quieted the warriors and said, "There will be time for this later, first we must find out what happened to Empyreus and Umbreus..."
"We thought you would be able to tell us that." said Flaw.
"Aye," said Palidar, "we have no knowledge of what happened."
"Ah, but you bear the light of Empyeus..." said Fandar. "Your new Glowstone forms are a gift from our missing liege. I saw Empyreus enter the Lifespring. The Crown of Light and the Lifespring joined their power within Empyreus and thus it was he went to face his shadow brother, Umbreus and the power of the Bloodlust, properly armed. That power was so fierce that I was driven into a protective slumber to aid Empyreus in containing it within his armored shell. Judging by the destruction, I failed in my task and their battle destroyed most of the Gearo Citadel" Fandar explained.
"So how can we find Empyreus, and what of Umbreus?" asked Ambro.
"...and Brutok," added Palidar.
Fandar looked into the empty Lifespring. “You three carry the last vestiges of the Lifespring power. Your new Glowstone shells are the solid living form of the Lifespring. If you are willing to return it and re-ignite the Lifespring, it may grant us a vision..."
“Then there is no question. Do it, Fandar!” Ambro said with conviction.
Palidar turned to Flaw, “If we do this, Son, it could mean going back to the way you were before. Is that a sacrifice you are willing to make?”
Flaw paused. Then he nodded, "Empyreus saved us from imminent destruction. He would do no less for us. If it means going back to being Flaw the broken, so be it."
The three warriors then stood around the Lifespring clasping arms. Fandar Sun went in to another meditative trance and wove a power circuit in the air around them. The glow of their armor intensified and the light rose from them to settle in the Lifespring. The air crackled and the liquid in the cistern bubbled back to life.
“Concentrate my dear Gearo, focus your energies, center your heartstones,” Fandar imparted, “For now we must turn our attention to the Lifespring, for it will grant us a vision of the final battle between Empyreus and Umbreus..."
Chapter 5: The Hero's Sacrifice
Flaw, Palidar, Ambro and Fandar Sun stood in the power circuit gathered around the Lifespring chamber as the light from the roiling, newly restored waters filled the room. Images began to form all around them and in their minds. Soon they were transported to the recent past...
Empyreus stepped into the Lifespring.
As the waters closed in around him he felt the Crown of Light on his brow pulse with awesome yet barely contained power. The two potent power sources began to mingle and meld and Empyreus thought he might burst from within from the intensity of this experience. His armor blazed with an intense glow and he felt renewed, stronger than ever. He grew taller and broader, matching the size and might of Umbreus and his Bloodlust armor. The power was so overwhelming that Fandar Sun aided his liege by going in to a meditative battle trance to keep the Lord of the Gearo grounded and from going mad. Empyreus in this new powersuit quickly headed for the great hall. He arrived in time to see Flaw strike the Lord of the Vilhain in the face and began to glow in fury as he watched Umbreus begin to choke the life from Flaw. Umbreus upon seeing his star brother bathed in this formidable new form turned and cried "No!" dropping Flaw to the floor.
In the blink of an eye Empyreus was locked in combat with his brother, matching the dark Bloodlust power with the incredible Lifespring glow of his new form. Each blow was perfectly matched. For every blast of boiling blood Umbreus thrust at Empyreus, he would counter with a blinding flash of pure concentrated light. For every ray of light the Gearo leader launched, Umbreus would cleave asunder with his blood-drenched sickle. The battle of these titans raged for hours. There was even a moment when it seemed Lord Empyreus Rex had gained the upper hand.
"This cannot end this way!" screamed Umbreus, and commanded his surviving Bloodlust Warriors to attack the Lord of the Gearo. Empyreus began opening light rifts that consumed the Bloodlust Warriors. He even thought he saw them change and begin to heal as they were bathed in light, but that could have simply been the madness of so much power taking control of his senses. Until he noticed Flaw rise and start to rally the newly transformed Glowstone soldiers. Empyreus hit Flaw with a beam of energy and the broken Gohlem formed into a perfect specimen of Monkaarian might. Punching, kicking, and blasting Bloodlust Warriors into rifts as quickly as Empyreus could open them.
In retaliation Umbreus hissed his rage and began opening shadow rifts. Time and space began to shatter and shred around the great hall as rifts opened and closed seemingly at random, tearing Bloodlust Warriors and newly formed Glowstone Gohlem from the battlefield and scattering them across Monkaa, or who knows where.
"If I can't have it, then I will destroy this world!" shrieked Umbreus, opening even greater shadow rifts, changing the very face and shape of the world they knew.
Empyreus worked frantically to spot the damage Umbreus was doing and could barely match the power mad despot’s chaotic attacks. Flaw was a marvel of speed and skill protecting his new Lord from the attacking Bloodlust drones. “We just may win this day, young Gohlem,” Empyreus smiled down at him.
Flaw only glanced up at Empyreus for a moment. So swift it was immeasurable by any unit of time. It was enough for Umbreus. He blasted the former Vilhain prison guard with a fiery ball of raw Bloodlust sending him towards a dark shadow rift. Empyreus had just enough time to tear open a rift of his own just before the brave little Gohlem was forced through. That was the window Umbreus was looking for. A second fiery ball struck Empyreus knocking him back and off his feet. He was quickly set upon by a pack of ravenous Bloodlust Warriors.
Suddenly a green blur burst forth from a tangle of fallen columns. The Mighty Brutok had rejoined the battle. He tackled Umbreus and gripped him in a fierce bear hug. "Open...rift...banish...him!" grunted the green titan.
Empyreus sliced through the last of his assailants, “He’s fractured space and time! I can only close the rift from within!" shouted Empyreus.
Umbreus shrieked even louder and sprouted jagged spikes, impaling Brutok. "DO...IT!" shouted the wounded warrior. “This is for my love… this is for Noiria!” the green giant sputtered at his former leader as he reared his head back and drove the spikes on his own helmet deep into Umbreus’ chest. Umbreus howled in agony as the blood from their wounds mingled. Flames and brimstone gushed from the Vilhain Lord’s wounds.
Empyreus concentrated and drew in all the rift energy in the chamber, creating a vortex around himself, Umbreus, and Brutok. Hard Glowstone shells closed around the unconscious forms of Palidar and Ambro and they were launched into the last of the closing smaller rifts. The walls of the great hall exploded. The once grand Gearo Citadel was nothing more than rubble. Time and space shuddered as the vortex forces expanded to engulf Brutok and the lords of both Light and Shadow. There was a final crisp snap of energy and the rift imploded. Then all was empty and silent.
Flaw, Palidar, Ambro and Fandar Sun were stunned into silence as the vision dimmed. "Are they dead?" asked Ambro.
"I don't think so," said Fandar. "Perhaps I can use the Lifespring to open a sight rift and find them.” Fandar approached the glowing pool, wove another power circuit and the four heroes peered into glowing image.
Across Monkaa the world had changed. The many rifts opened during the cataclysmic battle had not been confined to the Gearo Citadel, all across Monkaa random rifts had turned the world inside out and scattered the inhabitants. Mountains had been felled, valleys had become mighty rivers, deserts bloomed with life, jungles were frozen wastelands, desolate swamps where cities once thrived, and volcanoes burst from frozen tundra. Jagged peaks and giant trees sprouted from the oceans and crystalline valleys and tunnels opened up across the landscape. Violent pockets of light and dark energy seethed across the land and brought new life and sudden destruction seemingly at random. Newborn Gohlem of ever sort wandered aimlessly in nomadic tribes, while Bloodlust Warriors were reduced to savage Blood Walkers. Without Umbreus' iron will to guide them they descended into chaos and mindless ferocity. Nowhere in this vast survey of the world was any hint to the whereabouts of Empyreus, Umbreus and Brutok.
Fandar Sun sighed as the vision faded. "I'm afraid that Empyreus is nowhere to be found on Monkaa," he said sadly as the trio released their grip on one another.
"Then he is most assuredly dead..." whispered Ambro.
"No, I don't think so," answered Fandar. “It was a rift after all, that Empyreus used to banish Umbreus, and rifts always lead somewhere..."
"So the Lord of the Gearo may yet one day return," said Flaw reaching up to feel a burning sensation he felt upon his chest.
Flaw expected it was the pain of his old cracked Heartstone returning, but soon realized he still felt strong and whole. He glanced at Palidar, expecting to see his old grizzled, damaged, and worn armor, but the Gearo Commander was clad in bright silver armor that shone like new. Ambro stood straighter than ever and seemed filled with vigor.
Palidar smiled and pointed at Flaw, "Seems you finally made a choice, Son."
Flaw looked at the symbol on his chest and instead of the mark of the Vilhain, a bright new Gearo emblem was emblazoned there.
"I suppose I did," Flaw said and he stood taller and prouder than he ever had before.
"Yes," said Fandar, "you three will forever have a link to the Lifespring. Your hurts are healed and in dire times of need you will be able to channel this power and regain your Glowstone forms.
Suddenly the last broken remnants of the chamber door were kicked aside as a mighty warrior thundered in. He was tall and powerful, clad in gleaming gold armor astride a majestic Steel Vohrse. A retinue of shining Golden Gohlem followed this mighty figure. One of the Gold Gohlem grinned widely and loudly proclaimed, "All hail the Lord of the Gearo!"
“Hmmm, quite unexpected.” mused Fandar.
“By the Great Gear!” gasped Ambro.
"Empyreus?!?" shouted Flaw.
"That is not Empyreus..." said Palidar in awe.