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The Eternal Winter Saga

The Eternal Winter Saga

 By Matthew Knight and Gordon Burchell

Edited by Daniel Siceloff


Book I

The Realm Of Ereyth


Winter and Chaos shall rule the land.

The Gods now torn by Voraxia’s hand.

But to issue the call of evil’s demise…

With honor and steel, a True Knight shall rise.


-The Chronicles of Valorous Light


Chapter 1

The Great Kingdoms, A True Knight’s Quest begins

  IN THE far regions of the west was the kingdom of Edlundiver, built by humans in the days of old.  Ruled by King Leofoxin, this ancient kingdom of Humans persisted as one of the strongest forces in The Realm of Ereyth.  Together with the Valghar, many epic battles were won and their homeland defended against Voraxia’s minions.

Willowthorn, the Valghar Kingdom, resided to the east but was separated by the Great Sea.  The Valghar were an ancient race of Elven forest dwellers, whom remained extremely honorable and helpful to the humans, together comprising a strong alliance necessary for survival in these times of great turmoil.

There came a time when the people of Edlundiver received word from the Valghar that the red demons of the underworld had been released into Zoratherax, a region just west of Willowthorn.  It was said that these creatures were using their powers to summon the Leviathan up from the depths of the darkened seas.  The Leviathan, a gigantic sea serpent-like creature, possessed one sole purpose—to destroy in the name of Voraxia. The Valghar and Men agreed to send an alliance of troops to Zoratherax in attempt to defend Willowthorn and slay the Leviathan.  The Valghar would send their finest and fiercest archers and fighters; Edlundiver, a fleet of ships to assault the shores of Zoratherax with an army of swordsmen storming the frosty beaches to bring down the evil sea-creature.

To lead the troops into battle, a strong and powerful knight was chosen by King Leofoxin.  Gallius Varinor, the strongest and most powerful nobleman perpetually showing much honor to the king in past years, had helped save the fate of the kingdom numerous times.  This knight had a very mysterious and magical quality about him.  A warrior of valor and strength, he lived by divine morals and the True Knight’s Code Of Honor.  His amazing and graceful fighting skills accounted for his incredible strength and accuracy; none had witnessed Varinor’s defeat in battle. 

One evening, Gallius Varinor was summoned by King Leofoxin. The knight entered the great court and knelt before the king.

Varinor was a tall warrior with mysterious features and long dark hair.  He was known for wearing his traditional light chain-mail, a long black cloak, and armed with an ancient sword handed down to him from his forefathers.

“Your honor” he said, “How may I be of service?”

Gallius” replied the king, “The time has come to send our men to Zoratherax to fight alongside the Valghar once again. We have received news from King Val`tiar that the Leviathan will soon be returning to the Elven lands. If this creature destroys the legions of Willowthorn, our alliance will be broken and Edlundiver will be in great danger. As you know, we can not face the evil of this world alone.”

“Aye, my lord.” replied Varinor gravely. The young knight knew what the king had in mind.

“I have chosen you lad, to lead our troops into battle.” continued Leofoxin. “You have done many great deeds for our kingdom, and I trust you have the power and knowledge to accomplish such a task.”

Reluctantly, Varinor nodded, “I will not fail you my king. In the bloody flames of hell The Leviathan will die by the icy steel of Edlundiver!”

At this, Leofoxin smiled. He had always admired Varinor for his enthusiasm and poetic way of speaking, which had been apparent since he was a boy. “Indeed...” He replied, quite amused. “Well my son, I know in my heart that I have chosen a True Knight to lead us to victory.  Now listen, after the battle is won, you must go to Willowthorn.  There you will be supplied with all you will need to return home.  Now go…there are preparations to be made.”

“Thank you my lord.” Flattered and excited by the king’s words, yet burdened by a great sense of responsibility, Varinor bowed and left the court.

…Now, the fate of the Valghar and the future of Edlundiver would be decided by the alliance and their greatest knight.

Chapter 2

Blackened Shores, Leviathans Wrath

INTO THE SUNSET they sailed, destined for the coast of Zoratherax.  On the third day land still escaped sight, with the crew wondering if in fact they were even heading in the appropriate direction.

Standing on the deck of the great ship, Varinor approached the captain who was eyeing his map and looking out through his spyglass.  “Any sight of land captain?” asked the knight. “I’m afraid not sir,” replied the old seaman. “Somehow we must have gotten off course. We should have reached the coast of Zoratherax over a day ago.”

“Try to get us back on course comrade.” commanded Varinor. “I just hope we are not too late. The Valghar won’t hold out long without us. Inform me at once if there is any sight of land.” 

“Aye sir.” replied the captain.

Varinor sighed and began pacing the deck. He was trying to formulate a plan in his mind, although it seemed hopeless…

Suddenly there was a great, thunderous crashing sound from above. Varinor looked to the sky.  To his amazement a shiny, silver ribbon burst through the clouds and spanned across the horizon: the Rainbow of Steel! 

There were many legends that told of a magic silver rainbow created by Ereyth that guided lost ships to their destination.  The Rainbow of Steel would only appear if the ship’s cause was just in the eyes of the great God.  

It must be an omen sent from the heavens, thought the knight.  He gazed at this sign with amazement, knowing it was sent from Ereyth to guide the fleet to their destined Zoratherax.

“Follow the rainbow of steel! Onward to victory!” shouted Varinor. 

Upon this outcry, the ships immediately changed their direction and headed toward it.  After such a prolonged journey across open seas and following the transcendent rainbow, land was finally sighted to the far east.  The waters now turned black as they sailed closer, and smoke rose from the beach.

With the ships anchored, the troops embarked for the shore.  As the great knight approached the shore, he gazed at the land in ruins.  The Leviathan resembled a gigantic scaled worm with a dragon’s head.  Its scales glimmered in the salty foam as it slithered through waves of flames.  The beach now blazed an inferno.  Everywhere the Leviathan moved and everything it touched caught fire.  Bodies lay scattered about.  On the charred sand, small groups of demon-like creatures gathered before the Leviathan chanting: “All hail the serpent king!” 

As the troops stormed the shore, these haggard creatures were quickly disposed.  Flames touched the sky, as the Leviathan completely engulfed all around with fire. 

Nevertheless, the troops of Edlundiver forged ahead through flames to attack the beast.  In the core of this gigantic inferno they battled the Leviathan.  Swords slashed, and then Valgharian arrows flew as the archers of Willowthorn approached the desecrated beach.  But the creature still devoured soldiers one by one as they attacked.

As the battle progressed, the Valghar grew in numbers and showered the creature with a hail of arrows.  The Leviathan weakened and the flames began to die.  The Elves continued firing endlessly with blood spraying from the serpent king and dripping down its sparkling scales. 

Then, out of nowhere, the Leviathan let out a mighty scream and the earth began to shake.  An immense wave of epic proportions arose from the sea as if summoned by some form of sorcery.  It crashed into the shore, decimating the Elven archers.  The Leviathan shrieked once more and dove into the sea.

The knight remained there furious.  Every last soldier of Edlundiver rested in the stomach of the creature; every Valgharian archer of the alliance, slain by the diabolic tidal wave.  With anger in his heart, he gripped the blade. 

The earth shook again, the sky turned black, and all water in the ocean transformed into fire.  Suddenly, the beast rose before him dripping wet from the sea, and yet surrounded by monstrous flames.  The Leviathan screamed at the sky, and it too burst out into flames.  As the serpent coiled around Gallius Varinor and pulled him close, it stared at the knight through red eyes and grinned with a thousand teeth. 

Then the Leviathan spoke the words: “Awake red demons of the underworld.  Just one more call to make the serpent rise.  Receive them now into the fire realm.  The smoke will clear to reveal the death of all.”

From beneath his armor, the knight pulled out a silver talisman given to him by ancient ice-druids he once encountered in the great forest of Edlundiver.  As he held the talisman before the Leviathan, Varinor spoke in a bygone tongue.  It was then that he threw it into the creature’s mouth, graciously being accepted.  The knight then plunged his sword deep into the great monster.  Suddenly, great spikes of ice shot out from inside the creature and blood sprayed all around.  The Leviathan screamed in pain as the freezing spikes tore through its shiny scales like icy stalagmites. 

Varinor smirked as this was exactly his plan.  The talisman, which he threw inside the Leviathan, was an enchanted relic, handed down for centuries with extreme spellbinding powers.  Although uncertain of the reason it was given to him, it had saved the knight with its conclusive use. 

As the final spike burst through the giant worm’s head, it screamed one last time.  The surrounding flames now turned back into water as the great monster sank into the sea.  The Leviathan was dead.


Chapter 3

Gazrael, The Demonslayer of Willowthorn

THE KNIGHT stood wounded on the charred beach.  There was no ship for him to return home, for all had burnt in the ocean of fire and the soldiers of Edlundiver had perished by the wrath of Leviathan.  Varinor knew his only hope lay in seeking out the kingdom of Willowthorn.

After traveling for a short time, Gallius Varinor came to a long stretch of barren, snow-covered plains surrounded by a forest.  For a moment he stopped.  In the distance he saw what looked like the figure of a maiden standing on a hill.  The figure beckoned him closer.  Anxious, the knight hurried towards her.  Looming ever closer, he realized that she was a beautiful Valgharian maiden, clad in leather and furs…and armed with two large swords. 

As Varinor approached he felt entranced by her overwhelming beauty. The afternoon sun glimmered on her long, flowing, golden hair and reflected off the Elven steel around her waist.

“Hello there,” said the knight.  “Do you know the way to Willowthorn?” he asked.

“But of course”, she replied, “and I will see to it that you get there. I am Gazrael, Demonslayer of Willowthorn.  I roam these lands destroying all evil that may threaten the kingdom.  Our people are very grateful for your arrival and the slaying of the Leviathan.  I can see you are in need of rest, and the path to Willowthorn is best not traveled at night, which will be falling soon.  If you come with me, I will take you to my home just outside the forest of willows.  There we may rest together, as you will be my companion for the evening.”

Varinor gazed into her cold, gray eyes that burned with lust. He felt so entranced by her beauty, as he took the maiden’s hand and together they began the trek eastward.

The two walked for some time, admiring one another in conversation. 

“So you agreed to lead the troops into battle against the Leviathan...You must be quite a brave knight to take on such a perilous task.” said Gazrael, 

“Well my lady, as a True Knight of Edlundiver, it is my duty to serve my king and my homeland.  If this means facing grave danger in a far away land, then so be it.” replied Varinor.  “Besides, King Leofoxin has been like a father to me my whole life.  I could never refuse him.”

“I see.” said the warrior maiden.

Varinor felt his eyes being drawn towards her. Watching her swaying hips and her long hair blowing in the wind, he felt a great hunger burning in his loins, as he studied the curves of her voluptuous body and large, round breasts.

He leaned closer to her. “Why does such a fair maiden wander the land slaying demons, may I ask?”

Gazrael smiled and gave him a seductive look of desire.  “In recent months, there have been a large number of demons roaming the Elven lands.  These are the same evil beings that summoned the Leviathan.  King Val`tiar appointed a select few to help protect the kingdom by hunting and slaying these creatures.  I am one of the most qualified of these selected warriors.” She said proudly.

Varinor laughed. “Ha! most qualified eh?  Well demonslayer…” He stopped and turned, facing her. “I think you are very…very beautiful.” He said, gazing into her hypnotic eyes once more.  She pulled him close and they began kissing passionately.

  Suddenly, they stopped as something was heard far in the distance.  The noise grew louder and materialized into a pack of demon creatures charging right at them.

“We must destroy them,” warned Gazrael.  “Prepare to execute the evil demons of Eternal Winter!” she yelled in anger.

Together they charged at the pack and collided with great force. Varinor was quite accustomed to fighting demons, striking them down fast as few could harm him.  His cunning sword slashed with honor through this mass of creatures.  Gazrael was a fierce warrior as well.  She slew demons faster than anyone the knight had ever seen. Her double-bladed attack was merciless, instantly killing every demon she encountered.  Blood sprayed her snow-white face as she tore through them, so vigilant and true. 

In the icy sunlight the two guardians of justice raged with steel.  Gazrael now charged at the chief demon, incredibly superior to the rest in its immense stature.  She leaped in the air and with one quick strike, decapitated it.  Grabbing the head of the creature, Gazrael quickly drew a large circle of red around them with its dripping blood, along with some strange Elven runes that the knight failed to recognize.  Then, she stood in the middle of the circle, held the demon’s head up to the sky, and roared a victorious battle cry heard throughout the lands.

Gazrael turned to the knight who had just slain the last of the demon horde.  Embracing him in crimson snow and ice, she said, “Let us go my dear.  My home is not far.”

Together they walked to Gazrael’s small house in the forest where they spent the night together as promised.  There was much wine and conversation, which led to passionate love making, and it was on this memorable evening that Gallius Varinor swore his love to Gazrael.  When the knight departed to go onward to Willowthorn the following morning, he promised to return to Gazrael after he had spoken to the king upon the end of his journey.

Chapter 4

The Kingdom of Willowthorn, Breath of Ice

TOWARD WILLOWTHORN he traveled for seemingly days, finally coming to the road of which Gazrael spake.  All around him gigantic willow trees majestically towered, some appearing to exhibit faces within their bark.

The knight traveled further down the road until he reached the gates of Willowthorn.  When the guards learned of his Edlundiver heritage, he was immediately permitted entrance.

Willowthorn was a magical place, known for its mossy-green roads leading through the town and crystal clear streams running under stone bridges.  Beyond the village lay the enormous stone castle in which the Valghar king resided.  As Varinor walked though the village, he observed many of the houses laying in ruins and contemplated the cause of this turmoil. 

Extremely tired and in need of rest, Gallius spotted an inn on the outskirts of town.  As he entered what he feared might be only an abandoned building, a female servant stood facing him, apparently awaiting his arrival.  Varinor wasted no time and asked, “What is it that has left the buildings of Willowthorn in absolute chaos?”

“It is due to severe attacks from Khazakathal, the Ice Drake that flies through the night sky spreading terror across the land,” she explained.  “If Khazakathal is not stopped, the fate of Willowthorn shall be doomed.”

With that in mind, the knight took rest for the evening in the haven of the inn.

Meanwhile, inside the castle of stone the honorable King Val`tiar sat upon the Willowthrone.  Something had been troubling the king’s mind for weeks now; in his possession rested three of the four magical stones necessary for summoning the power of the ancient Elf-Lords.  These were The Sacred Stones Of The Valghar; the Stones of Darkness, Winter, and Fire.  The remaining component, the Stone of Ice, was confined deep inside the ice mountain to the North.  For ages the stone remained guarded day and night by the Ice Drake.  The sheer power of the conjured Elf-Lords could restore the kingdom to its former glory and destroy all evil capable of ever threatening the Valghar race.

“The stone must be retrieved,” commanded the Valghar king.  “A council shall be summoned.”  And so it was done.

Days later the council of Valgharian Clerics was brought forth and Varinor was summoned to the castle.  The eldest of the council spoke, being the authority to provide the ultimate decision of which the entire council had settled.  “The drake must be destroyed, and the Stone of Ice reclaimed.  This deed shall be accomplished by a powerful knight from Edlundiver who has been staying at the inn of our town for days now.  His name is Gallius Varinor.  He claims to be the one who slew the Leviathan and has journeyed his whole life throughout the Eternal Winter wastelands.  I believe he is the one destined to face Khazakathal and retrieve the Stone Of Ice. In return for this service, I shall send one our finest ships to escort him safely home to Edlundiver.  All of our fine archers perished by the wrath of Leviathan…so, you see, he is our only hope.”

“Aye, Bring forth the knight!” spoke King Val`tiar.

Silently, Varinor stepped forward.

“You are the Valghar’s last hope,” the king said, solely addressing Gallius Varinor.  “You are the only one who we believe, has the strength to slay the drake and return the stone.  Tomorrow at day break you shall leave the homelands and journey to the ice mountain in the North.  There inside lies the all powerful Stone of Ice, guarded by Khazakathal.”  The king raised a mighty weapon from the side of his throne.  “Take this sword, for it is the finest in the lands, forged by the mountain dwarves in the East.”

Varinor took the fine sword and began admiring it, handling it and testing its weight.  It was one of the finest weapons he had ever handled.

“Now, kneel and receive our blessing.” said the head cleric.

 Varinor knelt and the cleric placed his hands upon him. He began chanting in an ancient tongue, and the knight felt a magical presence embrace him. After a few moments the chanting ceased.

  “There…You will now be protected against Khazakathal’s magic.” said the cleric.  “May the power of Willowthorn and Eternal Winter be with you, my friend, for inside the mountain shall you face the Breath of Ice!”

The next day Varinor set off.  His Journey to the ice mountain was fairly short.  He had to travel through a forest, which opened up to more plains and finally, a vast mountain range. 

While travelling, he reminisced of his memorable evening with the beautiful maiden, Gazrael.  He loved her deeply, and was anxious to finish his quest and return to her.  Along the way he encountered a few more demon creatures, which were slain with ease.  Also, he met a Valgharian traveler, hunting in the woods who assured him he was heading in the right direction.

When the range of mountains was finally in sight, it was not difficult to tell which would be the lair of Khazakathal.  Amidst many snow-capped peaks, the largest mountain was made entirely of shining, clear-blue ice, with the mouth of a cave gaping at its base. Varinor finally approached it, and with a quick prayer to Ereyth, he entered with sword in hand.

As Varinor entered the cave, he was surrounded by freezing cold, blue fires burning all around.  These flames felt frigid and yet lit the cave with an illumination of blue light. A small path led the way deeper into the chasm.  He could hear things scattering around in the darkness ahead, as he moved through the caverns, dodging stalactites that fell from the ceiling.

Eventually, there were many different pathways, and travelling through the cave began to seem quite confusing.  Varinor came to a point where there was a split in the path. Trusting his instincts, he cautiously headed down the left path.  This road was wider, and had torches lining the walls that burned with more intense blue fire. There were bones and dead remains of some sort scattered around as well.

Varinor suddenly began to sense a presence behind him.  As he turned around, a door of some kind began to slowly open from the wall, revealing some kind of hidden tomb.  Emerging from the crypt was an undead vampire creature.  It had pale, white skin, and dead, black eyes.  Hissing and shrieking madly, it lunged at the knight; it’s protruding fangs only inches from Varinor’s face.  He instantly slashed the vile thing across the throat.  Blood stained the icy floor, and the vampire collapsed, vanishing at his feet.

“What an unholy place this is.” Varinor thought, as he continued on.

A little while further, the path began to open up.  Then, far in the distance he could see what looked like an icy globe shining as bright as the North Star on a pedestal:  The Stone of Ice.  The one item he was sent to retrieve.  Then, two icy-blue eyes began glowing before it.  Fires suddenly blazed around him, and the ice drake, Khazakathal appeared, guarding the sacred stone. 

“Greetings warrior… and what brave human soul dares to enter the lair of Khazakathal?” said the great beast.

“I am Gallius Varinor of Edlundiver. I have come to retrieve the Sacred Stone of the Valghar which you have stolen.  Give me the stone drake, or prepare to die.”

 “Ha, I think not.  The stone of Ice is mine.  You will regret your insolence, fool!”

Suddenly, Khazakathal opened his mighty jaws and unleashed his breath of ice upon Varinor.  Blue fire engulfed the knight.  This fire was an element new to him as it burned bitter cold.  He could feel it, freezing his inner soul as arctic air ran through his veins.  The drake’s breath stopped him not.  The cleric’s blessing protected him and instead, it only served to strengthen him.  Varinor inhaled the flames and felt a new, unaccustomed, power and strength run throughout his inner being.  Now, his sword began glowing.

The drake loomed into full view, its thick metallic-blue scales and gigantic talons refracting the light from Varinor’s sword.  It only stood three times as tall as the knight.  The drake looked as if it were made entirely of ice.

Khazakathal ferociously attacked, slashing the knight with talons of ice.  Varinor was in fact wounded, but with every blast of icy flame he sensed himself growing stronger.  The drake roared in bewilderment as Varinor refused to perish in its flames. 

The battle continued on.

But as Khazakathal was weakening, so did its breath of ice.  Without warning, the drake struck at Varinor with its mighty jaws and embraced him between its impaling teeth.  Varinor screamed in pain as the drake attempted to feast on his blood. 

Resorting to knightly reflexes Gallius lifted his sword, which now radiated with bluish light, and drove it through the skull of the creature.  The drake shrieked and threw him upon the ground.  Amazingly, Varinor emerged unharmed. He then jumped on top Khazakathal and buried his sword deep within the drake's chest.  Azure blood sprayed everywhere, and an icy cold fog released from inside the drake.  Without warning, Khazakathal began melting right before his very eyes.  In a matter of seconds the drake completely dissolved into a pool of icy water.  Khazakathal the Ice Drake lay slain.

Gallius Varinor picked up the stone, still glowing in the center of the cave.  It was so beautiful, entrancing him as he held it in his bare hands.  His quest was complete.  He now possessed the Stone of Ice, insuring the fate of the Valghar.

Since the effects from the drake’s breath had now worn off, the knight remained wounded.  With the stone in hand he headed back to Willowthorn.  Upon his arrival, the king received the Stone of Ice and the Elf-Lords were summoned.  Willowthorn would forever be protected by them.  It was requested that before his departure, Varinor take rest in the Forest of Willows as his wounds would be magically healed there.

Chapter 5

Faeries in the Willow Forest, Rivers of Twilight

            THAT EVENING, the knight returned to the forest and lay in a mossy bed of willows.  As he took rest, Varinor felt strong magic in the air.  As night would fall, his surroundings would change.

            Hours passed and the sun began to fade.  There in the darkness, the majestic forest seemed to come to life.  An aura of green light glistened all around.  The water that flowed in crystal-clear streams turned florescent green and lit up as well.  Images of ghostly-green shadows passed by and the alluring fairies of the Elven-wood fluttered overhead.  The knight experienced an intense feeling of enlightenment as he observed the glowing forest.

As he gazed, he wondered of the fascinating fairies that danced in the twilight.  They seemed to be calling him, beckoning him into the luminous fog.  Although Varinor had been mortally wounded from his battle with the Ice Dragon and scarcely able to walk, he arose and followed them deep into the forest whereupon he arrived at a radiant pool of light. 

Suddenly, all the fairies vanished but one.  The most beautiful fairy he had ever laid eyes upon remained.  “Follow me,” she whispered to Varinor.  She then dove into the glowing pool of light with great speed, in which he followed.

As soon as the knight entered the illumination, he found himself endlessly falling into a dark abyss…

Chapter 6

A New Dimension, Within The Castle Shadowgate

VARINOR AWOKE in a dark labyrinth with candles lining its stone walls.  Screams of the undead came from every corner.

Where am I?  What is this place? beckoned the knight.

Maniacal laughter answered his request: HA HA HA HA HA!!! YOU FOOL!!!  I led you into the darkest of all realms.  Khazakathal and the Leviathan were nothing compared to the horrors you will soon face here…   Your quest lies within The Castle Shadowgate.  So, bravest knight of the land, journey through the Shadowgate and find that now a new destiny awaits you.  Then will you truly understand the power of Voraxia and the magic of Eternal Winter!

Furious with rage, Varinor arose with the evil fairy’s voice echoing in his mind as he traveled amongst the stone halls.  Death cluttered the air with screams of unknown voices in agony.  Suddenly, the candles went out and a thousand yellow eyes viciously glowed before him in the darkness.

The creatures attacked!  Legions of creatures flew at him from overhead.  The knight fought back with all his might…but he was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers.  After a grueling struggle he lay wounded to the point of unconsciousness.

Upon his awakening, Varinor immediately realized that he was trapped in some form of dungeon—a dark chamber filled with corpses and walls lined with flames.  The creatures may have vanished, but the knight remained abandoned in the castle.

Light shined through a doorway, which appeared to lead out of the dungeon.  As Gallius Varinor made his way toward the light, a gigantic skeleton-warrior emerged from beneath the ground.  Bones clanked together as it extended itself to a height of nine feet and detached one of its ribs which transformed into a giant broad sword.  It attacked without hesitation.  The knight dodged and fell to the ground, barely missing the swing of the primordial weapon. 

Varinor quickly jumped to his feet and struck the foe from behind.  The skeleton-warrior collapsed, bones tumbling to the floor.  Then, it rebounded with another barrage.  It appeared indestructible.

The knight continued assaulting the skeleton in an endless battle throughout the dark chamber.  He beat at the undead warrior until managing to force it into the fire.  Igniting into an intense display of flames, it burned until an agonizing shriek resonated from the skeleton; its tortured soul was finally released and ascended to the sky in a rage of fire.  The remaining bones charred to ashes in the simmering blaze.

Varinor departed the dungeon and entered what he thought was an ancient tomb, adorned with scriptures carved into stone walls as well as paintings of mountains and all too familiar snow-covered landscapes.  Far in the distance the knight glimpsed the outline of a throne and proceeded to move in that direction. 

The throne was constructed of gold and steel with beautiful gemstones imbedded all along its sides.  Beside the throne stood two gargoyle statues resembling the demon creatures that had ambushed him upon his arrival here.  A long red carpet spanned from the room’s entrance to the foot of the throne.

Suddenly, a flash of light blinded Varinor.  A cloaked figure now sat before him in the throne—a man in a great black robe grasping an ancient staff.  No face shone from the darkness under the hood that returned the knight’s stare.

Fear not, my friend, spoke the figure, for I am Magigormis, The Great Shadowmage.  It is I who sent the fairy to the Valghar lands and lured you into the Shadowgate.  I am one of hundreds of Shadowmages who dwell within this castle.  BEHOLD!

Another radiation of light commenced and the room now overflowed with many shrouded forms.  An entire army of Shadowmages knelt before Gallius Varinor in a display of respect.

Once again, Magigormis spoke, What you look upon are ancient sorcerers damned for all eternity to roam this labyrinth.  Voraxia condemned us centuries ago to forever dwell in the Shadowgate—the deepest void of death, destruction, and evil concealed within a castle between dimensions—and in which you now stand.  This place is the only gateway between the Realms of Ereyth and Sarna.  Our release from this endless servitude rests with the destruction of the Nightmare Phantasm and the reunion of the great God and Godess.

What is this Nightmare Phantasm you speak of? asked Varinor.

“The Nightmare Phantasm, a hideous creature lurking in a fortress which resides in The Unknown Lands of Sarna, prevails as the master of the Shadowgate and lord of all things evil.  It is the sole reason for the corruption spreading throughout your world.  Magic alone cannot destroy the Phantasm; only the sorcery which we and other powerful mages of the realms possess, combined with the power of a specific enchanted weapon, wielded by a mortal hero will put an end to its domination.”  The Great Shadowmage paused, gazed upon the Shadowmages, and then back towards Varinor.  “Mortal, none of us are.  However, you, my dear friend, clearly exist as the supreme mortal of Eternal Winter.  Surely, our concerted effort should destroy the Phantasm, reunite the Gods and deliver providence to the world.  Together, I rest certain that we can abolish this malevolence.  Join us, it is the only way.  Should you not, the Shadowmages will forever suffer within these walls, and your world will become one frozen in never-ending terror.

The knight stepped forward, and Majigormis addressed this acceptance of his role.  Here, you will need this.  In his hands lay a dagger comprised of pure crystal-blue ice, which seemed to illuminate in the dark labyrinth.  You see, this dagger was forged through a magical winter spell long ago.  It now breathes with life and through its blade flows the spirit of Valorous Light… It will soon be of help to you

The Knight reached out to receive the Dagger of Ice.

Without warning, the walls began to shake.  Debris plummeted all about.  The Shadowmages immediately began chanting an ancient dialect, with a crescendo of a thousand voices coming together as one, and then disappeared into the darkness.

Then befell the sound of water rushing throughout the halls.  The door burst open and a ferocious wave struck Gallius like a raging river, sending him down the castle halls as he was unable to grasp a foothold.  Gasping for air, he finally surfaced and saw that the liquid in which he swam was not water but thick, dark blood.  At the end of the hall the surge flowed towards a hole, perhaps a giant drain.

A whirlpool encircling the drain sucked the knight down, eventually washing him up into a large pool.  Varinor splashed into a bloody lake filled with corpses, bones, and vermin.  All around him walked the dead, feasting on the remainders of anything left behind.

Upon his appearance, they lunged at him.  But the knight fought back, slashing these demons with the magical Ice Dagger.  Once the dagger struck, they shrieked in agony.  Then, a frost proceeded to cover their rotted bodies before bursting into a million rays of light, freeing them from the Castle Shadowgate’s evil hold.

In the midst of this darkness was some form of cell, or cage.  Varinor thought he could hear breathing emanating from within it.  Then, the black iron doors slowly rose and a creature issued forth. 

A gigantic Minotaur loomed forward, adorned with a bone necklace and gripping an arcane relic: a massive war-hammer.  Not until it had finished feasting upon the dead remains and walking zombies did the Minotaur turn to face the knight.  A resonating voice erupted: Who is this that dwells in my feeding pit?  You are unlike the others.

It is I, the Great Knight of Edlundiver!” exclaimed Gallius Varinor.  “Where is the Nightmare Phantasm?

HA HA HA HA HA!! Fool!!  Do you really think you are a match to face such evil?” beckoned the Minotaur.  “Besides, you will make it no further than me!

The Minotaur launched at the knight with its mighty war-hammer, knocking him to the ground.  Varinor managed to rise, striking back with the Ice Dagger and piercing the creature’s eye.

Roaring in pain the Minotaur charged at him, bashing stone pillars all around.  The knight then thrust his dagger into the beast, twisting the blade in its guts.  In retaliation the Minotaur clutched Varinor about the throat and forcefully threw him against the dungeon wall. 

Yet Gallius Varinor regained himself and stood again, firm in his determination.  Out of the corner of his eye he saw an opening in the wall, leading to a doorway out of this gory bog.  He thrust himself through this small hole and materialized over the lake of blood.  Kneeling, Varinor placed the magical Ice Dagger in the blood.  The room violently shook and blue lightning surged forth from the dagger into the blood, instantly freezing the lake and encasing the Minotaur.

In solid ice the creature would remain forever frozen.