To this day, I cannot tell you exactly what went wrong, and I’m an Elf. Elves and magic go together like…tree houses and chocolate chip cookies, and…well, never mind. In any case, I can tell you that the spell that got cast wasn’t Elfin magic, though my own Wizards wove it out.

No, this was…an abomination.

I will not apologize, nor make excuses for us.

Yes, had we been more watchful, we could have shut it down (I oversaw the process myself), and even after the spell was complete, had we been more decisive, it’s possible that we could have killed that which we had just created (or reanimated, or…whatever it was we had done), but the sorry truth is…we didn’t. We weren’t as vigilant as we should have been, and thousands ultimately paid the price.

It started off mundanely enough.

A group of elderly, stately looking Wizards in the finest of their finery, solemnly joined in a circle, swaying slightly as they chanted the words to a spell nearly as old as time itself, in a language even older than that.

It was beautiful, in its way. Stark and terrible in its beauty, and I was caught up in it, as I am when I see most things magical.

But less than a quarter of the way through the ceremony, just after we had reattached the fallen General’s head with a binding incantation, something…happened.

A gust of wind blew in, powerful enough to extinguish all our candles and the three fire pots as well, bringing with it screeches, screams and cries from the night.

Then came the thunder…A fierce, growling thunder.

Had the word occurred to me then, perhaps that would have been the catalyst, but alas, it did not…only later did it re-enter my mind, and by then of course, it was much too late.

The wind, the thunder and the sudden darkness though…these were all mere trifles.

Distractions.

The main event was what happened with the spell.

An oily tentacle rose in the midst of the room, composed of nothing but shadow and thought.

It coiled itself around the energies that was our spell…that had been, to that point, steadily feeding into the body of Gavin Hargreves, and slowly…ever so slowly and carefully was breathing life back into that corpse, and then….

The change.

The energies darkened and intensified.

No longer did they feed into the lifeless body in measured steps, but rather plunged, deep and sudden, that empty vessel taking the full measure of those energies in a single instant.

There was a crash and an Elven scream, then more than one, though how many, I could not say. I only know that when I regained my senses, my voice was but one of a chorus, and that although we could not name the reason for our fear, we also could not stop our own screaming.

In time, however, the limits of our own bodies took care of that, and one by one, our screams died in a series of hoarse, rasping coughs, and a short while after, the angry whine of those mystic energies faded as well.

I was about to breath a sigh of relief at that when one final growl of thunder rumbled, then went silent, and dear gods what took its place…

….a heartbeat.

A deep, slow…almost ponderous heartbeat that was loud enough for all of us to here there in the quiet after the maelstrom, and with every beat, I swear that each of us in the room jumped.

Jumped and flinched at the thought of…but no. There was no thought then, because it was only half formed.

The truth of it was that we couldn’t complete the thought.

It was that terrifying.

Then, our worst fears were realized when the body of Gavin Hargreves twitched once.

Again.

Then began sitting up on the stone table where we had lain him.

Somewhere screamed anew…I know not who, and three of my Wizards fled the room that instant.

I ordered the members of my House Guard I had with me to bar the doors as I gave chase, with my remaining Wizards just behind me.

Get the Wizards back here…reform the circle, then reenter the sealed chamber and put that thing down. That….whatever it is that we have created.

That was the plan that flitted fleetingly through my mind as I raced to calm my men, and in time, I did.

Calm them I mean.

Courage and nerve restored, we went back to the sealed chamber to end the matter, but of course, it was far too late for that, and the chamber was not nearly as sealed as it had been when we left it, which is to say, it wasn’t sealed at all.

The door, a sturdy brass and oaken thing, had been reduced to bits of kindling, and the half dozen guards I had posted outside…all slain, and tossed about the hall as though they were a mad giant’s forgotten playthings.

Six lifeless, broken Elven soldiers. The best of my personal guard, gone.

I wondered with dread how many more there would be before we contained this beast, and ran to rally more of my men, and that’s when the word occurred to me.

The word that had been following me in one form or another since I first tried to leave this cursed island.

Stormbind.

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