The Guards

by Silvestri

I watched from the periphery, my heart pounding like a distant drum in the midst of the swirling Desert sands. It was another day in The Caravan, a group of adventures chasing legends and riches. Not really a place for a woman unless she had the intention of being a merchant. At least, this is how society confined us. Men went on adventures while women like me were confined to the role of merchants, “weaving the fabric of commerce and prosperity.” Yet, in this realm of daring escapades and hidden treasures, I, Esmeralda, was an outlier—a passive observer of life within The Caravan’s nomadic embrace.


On one fateful day, as the more theatrical individuals may put it… I being one of them, the boundless desert yielded an anomaly that would alter The Caravan’s journey.

The relentless sun bore down upon the ancient dunes of a long forgotten sea, its scorching rays painting a vivid canvas of despair in the form of blistering heat. And it was then that they stumbled upon it, the members of the adventure party, their voices intermingling with the whispers of the ever-shifting sands.
It wasn’t a relic, nor a fabled treasure that they uncovered, but a specter of dread and enigma—a Dark Guard, concealed beneath the merciless sands, its long-forgotten secrets stirring as it was unearthed. They bore witness to a construct, an entity created by a powerful sorcerer of the House Al-Takween, a name revered for its insatiable thirst for arcane knowledge and power.


This Dark Guard, once imprisoned by a powerful lock that tethered it to the will of its creators, had now broken free. The fading memories of the late sorcerer had left it untethered, its multiple souls now vying for supremacy, a ceaseless struggle within its metallic form. Sort of like the bureaucratic mess of Myra, but more magical and much less villainous. In summary, but was an unpredictable being, one that defied logic and rationale. At least the logic and rationale of the non arcane mind.


The party, oblivious to the unpredictability of the entity before them, took the lifeless body of the Dark Guard back to The Caravan for closer inspection, drawn by the allure of forgotten secrets and latent power. The prospect of a new adventure loomed on the horizon, and the encampment buzzed with anticipation and unease. And as they ventured further into the heart of The Caravan with their newfound treasure I watched as an overwhelming feeling of dread overtook me. I took it upon myself to explain the origins of the Dark Guard and the enigmatic House Al-Takween, who had once held the key to controlling these constructs, but with the sorcerer’s demise, that control had been shattered.


Amidst the excited whispers and intrigued gazes of The Caravan’s inhabitants, the metallic guardian suddenly came to life, its awakening far from the grand revelation they had expected. The once lifeless construct sprang into action with a jarring abruptness, and as I narrated its turbulent history, The Caravan’s denizens witnessed the chaotic tempest that an unlocked Dark Guard represented.

The Dark Guard’s awakening was accompanied by its own descent into madness, as demonstrating the war of the souls within it.

One moment, it was a relentless killing machine, its metallic limbs flailing with deadly precision, seeking out targets with ruthless determination. As the very air around it hummed with malevolence, a dark aura surrounded its mechanical form. Then, in the blink of an eye, the Dark Guard’s demeanor would shift. It could become a tortured soul, trapped within its own mechanical prison, its voice pleading for forgiveness or crying out in torment. The cacophony of mournful cries contrasted starkly with the cold, mechanical exterior, creating an eerie dissonance that sent shivers down the spines of those who watched. At other times, the construct would lose all semblance of self-awareness, seemingly oblivious to its surroundings, as if the memories of its creation and the subsequent turmoil were locked away in a mental abyss. It would wander aimlessly, confused, and disoriented, its mechanical heart seemingly lost in a labyrinth of forgotten emotions and memories.

But just when The Caravan’s inhabitants believed they could predict its behavior, the Dark Guard would snap back into a violent frenzy. The chaotic maelstrom of emotions and identities continued unabated, a ceaseless battle within its metallic form. This unpredictable, dangerous chaos had become an entity of its own, and it stood as a chilling testament to the potent, untamed forces that House Al-Takween had once harnessed.

The Caravan, once an oasis of curiosity and wonder, had now become an arena of fear and awe, as the unlocked Dark Guard’s plight unfolded before the eyes of those who had dared to unlock the secrets buried beneath the desert sands. The encampment braced for a tumultuous conflict that would challenge their wits, their strength, and their understanding of the Soulforge.

But they could not let such a fearful machine tear through their ranks without a fight. The Caravan’s members stood united, facing the unpredictable nightmare of the unlocked Dark Guard.
In the midst of the fierce combat, the party had to adapt swiftly to the Dark Guard’s shifting states. There were instances when the entity seemed to momentarily regain its former humanity, its mechanical visage cracking like a mask to reveal glimpses of the souls trapped within. In these fleeting moments, dialogues were hastily exchanged, attempts to pacify the entity and offer it solace and understanding in the midst of its torment. It was an eerie and disconcerting experience as the entity’s emotional rollercoaster swayed from anger to sorrow, confusion to aggression.

Each time they approached a semblance of reason, it was accompanied by the dread of knowing that, in the next heartbeat, the Dark Guard could become a remorseless killing machine once more. The pendulum between violence and vulnerability swung ceaselessly, and with it, the caravan members’ determination wavered but never waned.

The battle seemed interminable, a grueling back-and-forth between the will of The Caravan and the dark forces that House Al-Takween had harnessed. Blood, sweat, and tears mingled with the desert sands, as the caravan members fought not only for their lives but for the very essence of the Dark Guard itself.
Ultimately, after what felt like an eternity, which to this day I am not sure if this is a testament to the inability of The Caravan or the ability of the Guardian, the chaotic machine was subdued. And with a triumphant yet somber sense of relief, they watched as the construct’s metallic shell fractured into a storm of shrapnel, and a resounding explosion reverberated through the encampment. The air was filled with a mesmerizing mist of liberated souls, no longer bound by the mechanical prison, as they ascended into the heavens, their ethereal presence casting an otherworldly glow over the desert.

The encampment, breathless and trembling, stood at the precipice of victory over the abyss. They had faced the impossible and emerged victorious, but they knew that the echoes of this encounter would linger for a long time to come, casting a shadow on the sands beneath their feet. The aftermath of the battle left the encampment in a state of exhausted contemplation, a surreal mixture of jubilation and trepidation. As the dust gradually settled and the echoes of the harrowing battle faded into the desert’s vast expanse, the members of The Caravan began to comprehend the gravity of the situation.

In the eerie silence that followed the great battle and as the sun dipped below the horizon and the encampment basked in the twilight’s eerie half-light, a somber realization began to seep into the collective consciousness. The very desert that had served as the stage for this grand battle was not just an incidental location; it had a deep connection to House Al-Takween’s enigmatic past.

Long ago, in a time now shrouded in legends and myths, this desert had been the final battlefield of House Al-Takween. It was here that the members of the House responsible for the Dark Guard met their demise, bringing an end to an era of magical exploration. The desert sands had witnessed this intense last stand, a battle where secrets and powers beyond compression would be forever locked away beneath the dunes.

For such a grand tale, I have always found its outcome quite odd. With such great power, not one person from the House famed for the preservation and discovery of knowledge seemed to preserve said knowledge. Nor did anyone independently seek these Dark Guard, despite their final resting place being so infamous… But ‌after witnessing the scene a single uncontrolled Dark Guard can create, I understood why they were better left beneath these sands.

And now, as The Caravan gathered amidst the remnants of the defeated Dark Guard, they became acutely aware of the profound and unsettling truth—the desert concealed more than just the remnants of a single construct. It wasn’t merely a solitary relic of their dark past; it was the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the shifting sands lay the dormant remnants of House Al-Takween’s arcane legacy.

The winds whispered secrets buried deep within the desert’s bosom, echoes of countless untold stories, and heralded a new chapter in the saga of The Caravan. The defeated Dark Guard was not an isolated foe; it was the first revelation of a more extensive cache of Dark Guard’s, ancient and restless, buried beneath the sands, waiting to be awakened.

As night fell and the desert’s eerie silence wrapped itself around the encampment, the caravan members realized that they stood on the precipice of an even greater, more perilous adventure, as House Al-Takween ‘s secrets stirred in the shadows, threatening to unleash a storm of arcane chaos that could reshape their world forever. The future was uncertain, and the encampment braced for a new journey into the heart of the desert’s enigmatic mysteries and eventually Myra .