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He was tall, even for an elf.

Standing by one of the windows encircling the huge meeting room his captains and advisors had just left, he waited for them to appear in the courtyard below him, and watched as they mounted in discontent and rode off, in groups of three and four.

It was with sadness he watched them depart, the deep set blue of his eyes reflecting the sorrow he could not communicate at their last meeting moments ago. It had not been easy to pack off those who had stood with him through all the trials leading to this day, but this was an act he had to commit on his own. The continued presence of those who had up to this moment been nothing but help, would have caused not only their downfall, but possibly his. The die was cast, he had committed himself, and his was the privilege, and the responsibility.

Long after the last group had disappeared from his sight, he stood at the window, allowing himself the luxury of one final sweep around his Keep, his dream, his labour of love. He stood for hours, as the sun worked it’s inexorable way across the bowl of the sky, studying his creation, stone by stone. He remembered the fight for the land, the struggle to keep it; the badgering of the local authorities to allow him to work unimpeded, the hours and days and months living in the elements while the building grew around him.

Now, it had come to this.

The sun was heartbeats away from touching the western sea when he saw the first of the dark clouds beginning to form. The warmth of the late spring evening turned suddenly to chill, and more clouds piled atop each other until the massif stretched from horizon to horizon, rolling over and over on itself, roiling like a huge ebony comber towards the shore.

He chuckled to himself at the absurdity of it all.

He watched strange and grotesque shapes begin to take form within the nimbus, and his laughter broke free in pure enjoyment.

As suddenly as it had sprung up as though from some rainy day in Hell, the cloud engulfed the Keep, and still smiling, he found himself no longer alone.

The two standing in the empty meeting room could have been brothers, so striking was their similarity. Yet their differences were pronounced. Where the Master of the Keep radiated life and light, the companion drank it in, and left nothing behind.

The Master, still smiling, began a complex, languorous pattern of hand movements, and began concentrating his will.

"Oh come on Daffyd," smiled the Dark Elf, "it’s a tad late for efforts at the Art. You were, after all, offered a fair contest and you apparently decided discretion was indeed the better part." The dark elf moved lightly closer to the Master, keeping the hand movements within his direct line of sight all the while.

"It’s all over now Daffyd", he wheedled. "My Lord will be with us soon." He moved yet closer, eyes darting between the hypnotic patterns the Master was weaving and the almost luminous face of the man himself. "I, were I in your shoes, would not be anxious for the meeting."

The Master smiled a gentle smile, one tinged with a deep sadness as though for something beloved, and long lost.

" It’s all over now you know.." the Dark One began.

"Ahhh. Not quite yet though " said Daffyd, his hands continuing their languid weave. " There remains time for one more scene. F’Chel Rak is on his way, I presume?"

Blood rushed to the face of the Dark One, and he half turned his head as though to ward off a blow unseen but expected. "His name should not be uttered " he mumbled, " but My Lord will be with us soon. .". He leaned, as though to rest his elbow on the battlement, but keeping his eyes on Daffyd and finding the range seemed somewhat beyond him just at this moment. He half-slipped, and red-faced snarled " I would not be so anxious to meet him, were I in your shoes."

" Frankly, I can hardly wait " smiled Daffyd.

The air about the two seemed to gather in thickness, and a grey and somewhat turbid atmosphere grew until, with a fairly impressive explosion, there were three standing on the balcony. One’s head was bowed in terror, or reverence; one stood openly smiling; one was cloaked in a moving darkness which ate the sunshine from the day itself.

Daffyd, still smiling, looked into the darkness and flicked his fingers towards the voracious void.

"You should have known better F’Chel Rak." This in the tone one would use to tell a child it’s alright to leave the light off for sleep; that monsters are not so terrible. " You should be getting on home now. No fuss needed. ‘Way you go.."

The Dark One raised his eyes and gaped about, suddenly unsure.

And their world came to an unutterably abrupt end.