Sain readied himself for battle as he neared the tower of Pijarr God of Glaciers. Miles beneath the southern polar ice cap and inside the gullet of a whale, Sain knew this was his chance to become a legend. He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths, focusing his mind. When he opened his eyes, he was calm and prepared for the task ahead of him. Yet, as it always did before a battle or quest, the prophecy returned to Sain's mind.
Sain tried his best to dismiss these thoughts. Candra the Moon Goddess may have possessed the gift of prophecy, but she was known for being flighty and imprecise and her oracles' predictions were often inaccurate. Only being shown certain details by the Moon Goddess, the oracles' prophecies lacked context or perspective. Sain respected Candra's control over the tides but dismissed her prophecies as flights of fancy from a mercurial Deity. Regardless of the prophecy, Sain was determined to forge his own destiny and he knew in his heart he was destined to be a warrior whose name and deeds were sung by the bards for generations to come.
On the day Sain was born, one of the midwives assisting with the birth had been touched by Candra. The midwife's eyes rolled back in her head and her body convulsed. Before anyone in the room could ascertain what was wrong with her, the midwife shouted, "This child will bring ruin! Do not allow him to pick up a weapon, don armor, or lead men! Set him on a different path or the ire will fall, the shelf will crack, and the rock will sink!" Having delivered the prophecy, the midwife fell out of her trance and collapsed.
No one put much stock in the prophecy at first. Sain had been born into the Yharet clan. For generations, the members of the Yharet clan were warrior-smiths who served King Gharrat, ruler of the continent of Ghargute. Every child born to the clan was trained to forge and wield weapons of all sorts. The Yharet clan supplied Ghargute with weapons and armor and the clan's members numbered among King Gharrat's fiercest fighters and bravest warriors. Sain's birth marked the eleventh generation of the Yharet Clan, and he was the first child born to Lord Sova and Lady Sahtia.
Despite the prophecy, Sain was raised to be a warrior-smith. He spent his childhood and adolescence learning the art of blacksmithing as well as studying sailing, warfare, and survival techniques. He spent hours everyday training with the weapons he forged, honing himself into a warrior as fine as the edge of a sharpened blade.
Sain happened to turn sixteen the day before his clan was to join King Gharrat in a war against the Kingdom of Obbriva. A grand feast was held to honor those who would be going off to war and to celebrate Sain's coming of age. On that day many years ago, Sain expected to become a squire for his father. After years of training, he was excited to finally see combat and be given the chance to use the skills he'd learned, to test his mettle against actual opponents. Unfortunately for Sain, this was not how things would come to pass.
Just as Lord Sova presented Sain with his own labrys, a double-bladed axe, the favored weapon of the Yharet and the sigil of their clan, a great crashing could be heard outside the castle. The tide suddenly and unexpectedly came in, sending huge wave crashing against the flood walls that lined the coast. Pale light shone in through the windows of the castle's banquet hall and a moment later the Moon Goddess herself stood before them.
"You heard the prophecy I sent, why have you not heeded it?" Candra asked. "I will say it again, as much rides on you heeding my words. This child must not be allowed to become a warrior. I command that he be set upon a different path. Heed my words or suffer my wrath."
With her message delivered, Candra vanished. Lord Sova had no choice but to obey the Moon Goddess' decree. Like Sain, Sova was not sure if he believed the prophecy, but he could not risk angering Candra. She was a mighty Deity in her own right and the wife of one of the most powerful Deities, Ottbof the Sun God. Sova could not risk angering the Gods and so, he forbade Sain from ever becoming a warrior. Sova ordered Sain to cease all training and begin looking for a new life path. Sain begged his father to reconsider, but Sova's mind was made up.
Distraught and embarrassed, Sain fled the castle. He went deep into the woods and wept. When his tears were all spent, Sain raised his head and realized he was surrounded by fog. Sain looked around and saw two bright eyes. Their gaze pierced though the fog and landed on him. Sain knew who the eyes must belong to, and quickly bowed. "Goddess," he said. "Would you speak to me? What service or honors may I offer you?"
The fog convalesced into the shape of a woman and Mohdra, the Fog Goddess, appeared before Sain. "I have heard the prophecy my cousin has laid upon you," Mohdra said, and her voice seemed to reverberate throughout the surrounding fog. "I've come to offer you a different fate. Would you hear it?"
Bowing even lower, supplanting himself in front of the Goddess, Sain replied, "Yes, Matron. I would hear it."
On that night in the woods, Mohdra offered Sain the chance to be the warrior he knew in his heart he was born to become. All he had to do was renounce his family and swear to serve her. At first, Sain hesitated, afraid to give up everything he'd ever known. Finally, his desire for glory won out over his love for his family. Sain agreed to serve Mohdra and became the Fog Goddess' paladin.
Instantly, Mohdra transported Sain to an island on the other side of the world. She appointed Sain as the island's Lord, and named it Sain's Isle. The island was made up of rocks the pale color of bone. It was a small island, but its woods were full of wild game and fruit trees. The island jutted high out of the ocean, sparing the woodlands from the crash of the waves. Sain was presented with his own castle, complete with its own underground marina and treasury. These subterranean rooms opened onto a cave system that ran beneath the island. When the tide rolled out, it revealed the caves along the island's coast. The caves were large enough that ships could sail inside during low tide and then be protected within the island when the tide rolled in once again.
Soon Mohdra brought other men and women to the island, all humans who were loyal to her, and they became Sain's subjects. His people prospered and it wasn't long before Mohdra began sending him and his soldiers on quests. Plunder from these quests soon filled the treasury and Sain quickly made a name for himself in the lands to which Mohdra sent him. Sain led his soldiers in battle against man, monster, and beast alike and they always returned to the island victorious. Now, many years later, Sain was on the precipice of accomplishing his greatest quest yet. A quest Mohdra promised would bring him untold glory and fame throughout the world.
Sain's quest was to free a spirit that was being held by Pijarr the Glacier God. The spirit was trapped within a stone tablet, and that tablet was housed within a tower guarded by Pijarr's followers. The task before Sain was quite daunting. The tower was located in the heart of the southern polar ice cap, surrounded by nothing but ice and glaciers for miles. The land was assaulted by frigid temperatures and fierce winds. Further, the ice cap was ringed by many small islands, on which lived Pijarr's followers. The inhabitants of the islands were all renowned sailors and they used their boats to form blockades, ensuring that none could approach Pijarr's lands without the God's permission.
It was well known that Pijarr and Mohdra had been at odds for centuries, though only the other Deities knew the reason why. In this world of spirits, mortals like Sain were not privy to the affairs of the Gods. Because of his feud with Mohdra, Pijarr would never allow Sain to enter his lands. So, Mohdra had made other arrangements. The day before Sain set out on his quest, a strange man appeared on the island. His name was Ceirote and he'd been sent to aid Sain in his quest.
Ceirote gave Sain a vial of potion that would free the spirit from the stone tablet. Then he led him to the sea caves where Sain found a small boat waiting. Wind, wave, and mist spirits had been bound to the boat, allowing it to sail without a crew. Once Sain's men loaded the boat with supplies, he and Ceirote set off for the southern ice cap.
As the islands and blockade came into view on the horizon, Ceirote commanded the boat to stop. He pulled a small talisman out of his cloak and dropped it into the water. After a minute, a whale rose to the surface. Ceirote explained that the whale would transport Sain beneath the blockade. Pijarr's tower had been built with an internal aqueduct that brought water up from below the ice cap. The whale would transport Sain under the tower and he would use the aqueduct to gain access to the tower.
Ceirote smeared an odd gray paste all over Sain's body, explaining that it would help hide him from the notice of spirits or Pijarr himself. Sain then put on a set of furs, gloves, and his armor. He strapped on his labrys and made his way to where the whale waited in the water. Ceirote handed Sain a horn and told him that once he'd completed his quest, he was to blow the horn and he would be extracted from the tower. Sain secured the horn to his belt and leapt into the whale's open mouth. With Sain inside, the whale made its way toward the tower.
Sain felt the whale come to a stop and knew they had reached the tower. He made his way to the front of the whale as it positioned itself so that its nose stuck out of the water. The whale opened its mouth and Sain leapt up and grabbed onto a pipe. The aqueduct consisted of a wide column that ran up the center of the tower. Inside the column were pipes that brought water to the tower's various rooms. Climbing the pipes, Sain ascended the tower from within.
The longest pipes led to a pump room on the tower's penultimate floor. Sain snuck out of the pump room and making his way to the top floor, found the room where the stone tablet was kept. As he entered the room, Sain was surprised that there had been no guards posted outside. The walls of the room were decorated with ornate tapestries and its ceiling was completely made of glass. Sain spotted the stone tablet against the far wall. He had only taken a few steps into the room when a voice addressed him.
"A warrior of the Yharet clan. How unexpected."
Sain turned and saw a man sitting in a small alcove. The man had hard features and a dark, bushy mustache. He was dressed in a set of regal looking furs and a pair of swords hung from his belt. As the man stood, Sain heard a metallic rattling and knew from the sound that he was wearing chainmail underneath his furs. The man drew his swords and stepped between Sain and the stone tablet.
"I am Gasneal, first cleric of Pijarr Lord of the Southern Chill. You are trespassing on my Patron's lands. Surrender now or I will send your spirit to the Underworld."
In response, Sain drew his labrys and charged. As the two battled, Sain was amazed at the speed with which Gasneal fought. Sain had designed and forged his own labrys. One side of the axe head was razor sharp while the other was a blunted hammer, perfect for cracking armor and smashing swords. Unfortunately, Gasneal's connection to Pijarr allowed him to reinforce his blades, rendering the blunt end of Sain's labrys ineffective. Gasneal coated his blades with a layer of ice and then crossed one sword behind the other. His blades stayed firm as he blocked Sain's strikes and his speed allowed him to quickly counterattack.
After blocking Sain's first strike, Gasneal pivoted and thrust one of his swords at Sain's throat. Sain just managed to pull his head out of the way and the blade sliced into his cheek. Along with his speed, Gasneal's strikes were also incredibly accurate. Sain had crafted his own custom armor, made up of individual pieces. Each piece was strapped to an area of his body and then a plate fit into the underside to prevent an enemy from slicing through the straps. This style of armor left gaps at Sain's joints, allowing him freedom of movement. Yet, Gasneal was so accurate in his attacks that the gaps in Sain's armor were quickly becoming a hindrance. Time after time Gasneal's blades bit into the unprotected areas of Sain's body as he struggled to defend or counter.
After only a few minutes of fighting, Sain had received a dozen wounds, some of them deep and bleeding freely. Desperate, Sain closed the distance between himself and Gasneal. As one of Gasneal's blades cut into the outside of his leg, Sain stepped forward and headbutted his opponent. Next Sain brought the labrys' shaft up and slammed it into Gasneal's throat, knocking him back a step. Sain swung the bladed edge of his labrys and Gasneal managed to raise his sword just in time to defend against the strike. The force of the blow knocked the sword from Gasneal's hand, and he was forced to back up to avoid Sain's next swing.
As Sain tried to press his advantage, Gasneal called upon the power of his Patron. Gasneal inhaled the Glacier God's divine power and blew out a freezing gale. Sain was forced back by the icy wind and frost began to form on his body. Sain managed to turn his torso so that his right side took the brunt of the attack. The frigid gale covered most of his body in a layer of ice, which happened to freeze some of his wounds shut, but left hi immobilized except for his left arm. Gasneal thanked his Patron and then strode forward, raising his remaining sword.
Sain could feel the Underworld calling for him, but he was determined to accomplish his quest. He didn't need to live for his name and deeds to become legend, so long as he freed the spirit from the stone tablet. Sain pulled the vial of potion out of the pouch on his belt with his left hand and waited for Gasneal to get closer. As Gasneal prepared to bring his sword down in a killing blow, Sain threw the vial across the room.
The vial struck the stone tablet and shattered. At the same moment, Gasneal brought his sword down but was distracted by Sain's throw. The blade bit into Sain's shoulder but missed his vital organs. Sain expected to feel a surge of power as the spirit within the tablet was released. Instead, the potion began to eat away at the tablet and within seconds it crumbled. Gasneal stepped back in disbelief, his opponent momentarily forgotten.
Sain realized too late that he'd been deceived. The stone tablet did not contain a spirit. Pijarr, wishing to rise up the ranks of the pantheon, had agreed to protect the tablet for one thousand years. If he succeeded, his children would be raised up by Ottbof the Sun God. If he failed, then all would feel Ottbof's wrath.
Outside the tower, a huge fireball rocketed from the sky and smashed into the ice cap. The resulting explosion sent fissures running throughout the ice cap, and the heat caused the glaciers to melt. Huge chunks of ice were dislodged and fell into the ocean, creating a giant tsunami. The monstrous wave decimated the islands around the ice cap, traveling as far as the southern coasts of the other continents. As the sea level rose, coasts all over the world were flooded, killing thousands.
Cold horror washed over Sain's body as he realized he'd just fulfilled the prophecy. Ottbof's ire had come down from the sky, cracking the ice shelf, and sinking landmasses beneath tons of rushing water. Sain had completed his quest, and he would be remembered as the one who brought ruin to the world. He pulled out the horn Ceirote had given him and stared at it. Sain wondered if he deserved to live, having been the cause of so much death. He'd been so determined to create his own destiny. Now, having done so, he decided he must live with the consequences
As the ice around the tower fell away, the structure began to tilt. Soon it would fall into the chasm created by Ottbof's fireball. Gasneal was on his knees, praying for forgiveness from Pijarr and oblivious to Sain. Putting the horn to his lips, he managed to blow a long note. A large, strange bird with leathery wings and an exposed skull descended. The tower's windows had been destroyed by the fireball's shockwave, allowing the bird to fly right into the room. The bird scooped Sain up and carried him back toward his island, as the tower fell into the sea below.