The Endless Desert
#1
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The Endless Desert

The Endless Desert, located in the middle of Desolate Lands, is the largest desert in the continent. Stretching over 1600 km² wide, it is a barren area of landscape, with little precipitation, living conditions hostile for most plant and animal life, and endless distance of sand. As any permanent human settlement is not possible, there are concentration of monsters and mutants striving in certain parts within the area; making the desert a no-safe zone for travelers without an escort.

Attempting to cross the desert without an escort is trying to find a needle in a haystack: it is a moot point. The temperature rise and drops dramatically, depending on the season: on a hot day, it easily rise over the hundreds; on a cold day, it drops below zero. One should not foolishly attempt to cross the desert without some form of preparations. Any travelers with no knowledge of magic falls under a mysterious illusion: which prevents them from leaving the desert. It is a spell to stop travelers from finding the castle where the Ancient Dragon Guardian rests.

Referred as the Endless Illusion, there are multiple sinkholes spread around the desert. If one were to fall under the sinkhole, they will be transported to a random location in the desert, completely throwing off their tracks.

Notable Areas of Interest
The Neusch Castle was the ancient home to the Dragon Guardian, Dragore, for its deeds of protecting the world during the Crisis Era. However, after the Great Wars, Dragore abandoned its duties of protecting the land in disgust of how humans acted during the event. Centuries passed, the castle is under a protective barrier to prevent any outsiders from entering its domain—assuming the travelers managed to break the Endless Illusion.

The Cactus Spring Water is a singular, large pond is located on the edge of the desert. Based on appearances, the pond is sparkling blue; a waterfall that constantly runs and lastly, delicious fruits next to delicate trees for one’s hunger. However, in reality, the pond is actually radioactive liquids that build up over the years from the excessive nuclear waste eons ago.

A tribe of Cactus Monsters surrounds the pond, but to the eyes of the travelers, they look like ordinary cactus. In truth, they are a predator group; they would stalk travelers that are close to dying of thirst or hunger and sought their flesh once they succumbed to them.
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#2
Jacen and Sylvanas entered the endless sand, walking into the infinite sands with definite purpose and direction. Marching into there, leaving behind a bloody wreck of carnage burning behind them, several wagons overturned and onfire, blood everywhere.

"Did you really need to skewer that last one considering the arrows I had ripped out of him?" Sylvanas asked her master as they walked, uncaring to the destruction behind them, Jacen holding a blue gem in his hand as several black orbs circled around him.

"I just wanted to make sure I got them all. I'll need them for the next part." He replied without much attention, focusing on the gem in his hand, twisting and twirling it around.

"Think this'll be enough water for the trip?" She asked, suddenly concerned as she looked to her undead and discolored flesh. Afraid the heat might suddenly get to her. Jacen just chuckled, throwing the gem into the air. Nine others suddenly rose out of his robes and started to float around him, infusing with the black orbs and adsorbing them. A blue shield expelled outwards, covering the two.

"These gem's will adsorb the heat and the light to a more tolerable level around us. It'll make the trip much easier and much more comfortable." He explained to his companion, showing compassion without an ulterior motive. He placed a hand on his katana, which suddenly began to emit pulses of black energy, rings spreading outwards on the ground.

"And the rings?" Sylvanas asked looking down.

"These bursts of darkness sense out the area below us. The illusion that covers this desert can be beaten by simply using magic to feel out the area. I can sense what's real, and what isn't by this. Now the only thing left to do is to find that castle."
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#3
Two mutants were trailing Jacen and Sylvanas, but enough distance to avoid detection by them, especially after the carnage they left behind their tracks.

“New visitors in this endless desert, but man, did we found ourselves a bunch of troublemakers. Are you sure, since these people are monsters, we should be trailing behind them like this, Cher? What if they suddenly start turning to our direction.” 

“Relax your nerves, Nobyl.” Cher pointed out a hint of an incoming storm approaching. “The storm is about to kick up, which will influence the way the illusion reacts. For now, we just have to keep our distance to see what they are up too.” He tried to hear onto Jacen and Sylvanas’ conversation, but the winds tuned out their voices. “It seems like they are searching for something, judging from that one guy.” 

“What do you mean?”

“That man is beaming with confidence in the direction he’s taking, so he must have some powerful magic spells to see through the illusion, I think.” Cher smirked. “Let’s see how the two will performed once the storm kicks up…”
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#4
Jacen closed his eyes, focusing. The rings of dark magic became stronger and expanded further outwards with every pulse. As they got stronger, the gem on the katana began to glow more and more brightly.

With every pulse, Jacen was sensing out the energy around him. Looking for a very specific form of life energy. A dragon guardian.
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#5
Suddenly, an figure of an gigantic monster appeared before them, but it does not act or react. It was there, seemingly as a way to deter travelers from getting closer to the main location most people sought for: the castle. The storm kicks up rapidly, dusts of the sand spread everywhere to cloud their vision.

"That man... he has some special properties within him." Cher sweated. "How is he beating the illusions like this?"

"Maybe he's from Paradise? They're ton of people capable of wielding magic." Nobyl suggested. 

"No..." Cher looked on. "He's different from your average mage."
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#6
At the appearance of the figure, Jacen held his hand up, signalling to Sylvanas to stop her movements. The necromancer looked up to the figure, his eyes piercing through the storm to locate the energy generating the illusion, seeing with alien sight. He pulled out his katana and slammed the blade into the ground, a massive surge of dark fire appearing overhead and slamming into the ground, Jacen attempting to disengage the sandstorm for a moment. After casting the magic, he began to address the figure, even if it wasn't reacting.

"I am Jacen Godfrey Kaiser Petronov. I am son of the Withered Champion Drake Micheal Petronov, leader of the Withered Tribe in Destiny's Fall of the Paradise Region. I am one half-Withered, making me one-eighth Solarian. I am a murderer, thief, robber, and damned soul. I invoke my alien heritage to gain access to the Dragon Guardian Dragore, as I am not fully human I have some right to speak to the dragon. I wish to discuss my redemption." He stated, the ten blue gems floating around the two generating a more intense glow, projecting the necromancer's words in volume, producing an echo of what he was saying in Solarian, and imbuing the words with magic, all attempts to communicate with the figure.

Sylvanas, meanwhile, stood at her master's side, waiting to see what would happen next. You're not dealing with the average mage warrior anymore.
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#7
"Hmm, it is true that you are not truly human..." a voice is heard within the storm as the winds became more apparent. 

Suddenly, the winds stops after Jacen's declaration, revealing an large castle. It surrounded by a thick, powerful barrier that prevent humans from entering.

Mortal... this is the domain of the ancient dragon, the dragon that resent the concept of humanity and isolated itself from the world. You wish to enter its residency, prepared for anything. Your magic reeks in something foul, but let's see such stench can keep you alive for this long...

The figure vanished after an warning was heard.

====

"He did it..." Nobyl said

"He's definitely not an average mage. Did I hear that he's not even human?" Cher sweated.
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#8
Jacen stared up to the figure, black irises waiting in anticipation. The robbed Withered stood in patience, waiting for what was to come. His companion Sylvana stood in somber silence, merely looking for any threats. The pair of black robes billowed in the increasing wind, until that wind suddenly died. Sylvanas turned to see the revealed castle, while Jacen kept his eyes on the figure. When it vanished, he turned to the castle, heart heavy. He passed off one of the blue gems to Sylvanas, leaving nine floating around himself.

“Jacen, what are you-?” She asked, seeing the gem suddenly shoved into her hand. Her spectral red eyes looked into the stained black eyes of Jacen. Though they were partners, they rarely made eye contact, out of shame or disregard.

“The figure said I was not truly human, whether it was because of my alien heritage, or the black ink that drowns my soul.” Jacen replied. “That is why it revealed the castle to me. You, are human. A rotting corpse, but a human corpse. Though you kill for me Sylvanas, your undeath is a leash I hope that can be dropped at any moment. You spent your life on the side of right, where as I live in evil. The sins you create in this life are mine, not your’s. I won’t risk the dragon trying to destroy you. Leave the desert, and if I survive this, you will know where to find me.”

“Goodbye, Jacen.” Sylvanas looked to her master with a degree of sadness, and then simply nodded and began to walk away, protected by the gem in her hand. Jacen turned his head back to the castle, staring at it’s height and scale. Keeping his black hood raised to block out the sun, he started forward towards the entrance.

“Goodbye, partner.” He muttered.
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#9
“What’s going on? Why are those two splitting up?” Nobyl asked. “What should we do?”

“I’ll follow the mage, while you track down the young woman. Do not engage in a battle, we don’t know their capabilities, and considering that they spread carnage in their wake… keep that in mind.” Cher warned.


“Okay… you be careful.” 

“No worries—I want to see where this guy would go.” Cher and Nobyl went to their separate ways as well, one trailing behind Jacen and the other trailing behind Sylvanas.

----

The Neusch Castle was something worthy of praises in terms of appearance. Although it uses sands as its foundation, it was stunning beautiful. Vegetations grew around the sides of the buildings, hinting that the dragon uses magic to cause its growth. Its enormous size should not be underestimated—the door was gigantic, fitted for a dragon to enter its home.

As Jacen walked towards the entrance, the voice of the winds once again whispers its knowledge onto his ears. “Mortal, if you truly want to seek, opened the door now… but there is a chance for you to turn around and leave… once you enter… mercy shall not be given.”
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#10
The black mage put two hands on the door, face in an expression of concern. Black-blue eyes focused in on empty space, considering the warning. He pulled at the hood attached to his robes, freeing his head from them to breath.

"Truly want to seek what?" He asked aloud. "Redemption?" For a moment, his eyes turned from a black-blue to a pure dark blue, the same color as before his descent into murder. The color of the open sea, a color his father approved of. "Or power?" The blue faded into pure black, as the image of a black spectral dragon appeared behind him, the destiny of a dragon soul. The ability to strike down his father, the power to destroy all in his path. That two faded, just leaving Jacen and his decision.

"Either way I'll acquire one of them. I won't die today, even if the dragon refuses to give me mercy, I will survive this test." He said to himself, starting to push the door open, and entering the castle.

- - - - -

Slyvanas began to walk the way she had entered the desert, intending to return to the road they had diverged from, and holding onto the blue gem in her hand that protected her from the sun's heat and the sinkholes of the desert. Though this would bring her on the path of the two monsters following them, she wasn't paying enough attention at the moment to notice any such following as long as they were careful. She was more occupied with just getting on her way.

- - - - -

Jacen walked through the castle, a hand on his katana's handle, the other open and free. He walked with his hood down, knowing a disguise would likely be useless against a level of power this strong. The nine remaining blue gems floated around Jacen, augmenting his senses and his ability to detect energies. In addition those gems were acting as a conduit for his magic, enhancing his spell casting. Black hair shuffled as blue eyes scanned the area he was in. He wasn't here for treasure, wealth, fame, or even arcane devices. He was here for one simple reason. To find a massive dragon.
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"To the Ends of the Earth."
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