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Black Thorne (bthorne_story.txt)

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Note: Found on the Web, not checked for accuracy.

HISTORY OF TUUL

     
     Tuul had been a peaceful world. That was centuries ago--a time when only
one race of people inhabited the planet. Their ruler was a great priest/shaman
who, as the legend goes, was blessed with all knowledge. The position was
passed down from father to eldest son through hundreds of generations...until
twin boys were born to Thoros, the ninety-ninth in the line of priests. The
path of succession was dubious--exhaustive tests of intellect revealed that
neither boy was superior to the other.
     
     One day, the two would-be-rulers and their father ventured out into the
desert - now known as the Sands of Sorrow--to determine the next ruler of
Tuul. The sons returned three days later, bearing with them two large gems:
one light, one dark. Their father was dead, they announced. His body had
transformed into the two gems they now held. His wisdom and knowledge were
contained in those gems and each of the of the sons had chosen one for their
own.
     
     The repercussions of this event would forever be felt throughout Tuul:
from that day forward, Tuul consisted of two distinct populations. Some chose
to follow the son who held the Lightstone; north of the desert, they
established a kingdom that would become known as Androth. Others followed the
guardian of the Darkstone, settling south of the desert in a region they
called Ka'dra'suul.
     
     Androth flourished--the people kept the revered Lightstone in a central
courtyard surrounded by gardens of exotic flora that flourished under the
stones vibrant energy.
     
     The Ka'dra'suul chose instead to bury their stone deep in the
catacombs
beneath the central keep of their great castle. Although the
Ka'dra'suul grew
in strength and numbers, they suffered physical as well as psychological
mutations. The Darkstone had been neglected by its people, and it responded by
molding the Ka'dra'suul into a cruel race of beings. Fortunately, the
two
peoples were separated by the great desert and thus had little contact with
one another.
     
     Eventually, the Ka'dra'suul's supply of Xandralite--the
soft, energy-
radiating metal used by both races for heat and light--was nearly exhausted.
The vampire Darkstone was effectively draining them of their life-giving fuel.
     
     A young warrior then arose among the people. Sarlac was his name and he
preached against Androthi to the north, claiming that they enjoyed an unfair
share of Tuul's blessed resources and that it was the duty of the
Ka'dra'suul
to set right this wrong. Sarlac was soon swept into power, ruling a great
castle he called his Shadow Keep, and led his people against the Androthi in
the north. Unprepared, the Androthi were quickly overrun and enslaved by
Sarlac's hordes. They were forced to work their own Xandralite mines under
armed guard; the results of their labor was shipped south to
Ka'dra'suul,
where it was used to feed the Darkstone.
         

KYLE BLACKTHORNE

     Two MPs dressed in olive drab uniforms strode across the dusty compound,
an orderly in fatigues following behind them. They headed for the isolated
concrete and steel bunker on the other side of the fenced-in camp where the
prisoner was currently held. The larger of the MP's--a sandy-haired,
freckle
faced sergeant--offered some advice to the newly arrived MP corporal.
     
     "The prisoner must be kept under the restraint at all times," the
sergeant cautioned them. "Captain Blackthorne is an extremely dangerous
man,
trained in all forms of armed and unarmed combat. Maximum caution must be
exercised at all times."
     
     The warning really wasn't necessary. The corporal already knew all
about
Blackthorne, despite the fact he'd been in the region only a couple days.
Blackthorne had turned mercenary early in his military career after receiving
a medical discharge from the Corps. He had since fought in a dozen or more
different military actions all over the world. Cold, shrewd, and calculating,
Blackthorne was said to be absolutely merciless. He was charged with the war
crimes and scheduled to stand court-martial tomorrow morning.
     
     "Some people say Captain Blackthorne is innocent," the corporal
told the
sergeant as they marched along. "They say he's been sold out--that the
charges
are false and all part of the peace agreement they're trying to hammer out
of
Moswali."
     
     The Warlord Moswali was the last stumbling block in a peace agreement
that the U.N. hoped to negotiate in this small, war-torn East African
country. By most accounts a thief and a cutthroat, Moswali had firm control of
the large territories and their populace. Without Moswali's cooperation,
establishing a peace treaty that would finally bring stability to his ravaged
country was nearly impossible. Moswali had a personal grudge with Blackthorne
dating back several years and, along with other concessions, had demanded the
Captain's court-martial.

     "I'm afraid that's not true corporal," the sergeant
reprimanded the
corporal. "Blackthorne's guilty--no doubt about it. He's a
vicious savage. He
should consider himself lucky we didn't turn him over to Moswali like he
demanded."

     Moswali had first insisted that Blackthorne be handed over to him for
trial at the Warlord's hands: a demand that even the merciless U.N.
commanders
could not see fit to honor. The deal struck that Blackthorne would stand
court-martial at the hands of his own troops. His eventual conviction and a
long sentence were nearly guaranteed.

     The corporal said no more. In the mere two days he'd been assigned to
his
post he'd already decided he didn't like this sergeant. Blackthorne
was known
as a rebel--a man the sergeant could not tolerate.

     Finally reaching the small, concrete bunker that served the prisoner's
holding cell, the party halted. Without preamble, the sergeant beat his hammy
fist on the heavy door.

     "Prisoner! To the door! Hands out!"

     A narrow opening was cut in the door about waste-height, used to pass
food trays back and forth and kept sealed with a padlocked bar. At the nod
from the sergeant, the corporal unlocked the bar and stepped back. A pair of
hands emerged from the opening, fists clenched, wrists held together. The
hands were large, strong, lined with cords and muscle.

     "Put the handcuffs on him corporal," ordered the Sergeant.

     Fumbling slightly with unfamiliar restraints, the corporal finally locked
them around the extended wrists. Cuffs secured, the sergeant ordered the
prisoner to move back to the rear of the cell while the door was unlocked and
opened. Carefully, the corporal stepped inside the bunker, baton at ready.

     Moving toward the doorway, Kyle crouched in the opening, peering across
the compound, the unfamiliar sunlight bright and painful to his eyes. The area
seemed clear; only a few men were around. On the far side of the camp a
helicopter prepared for take-off, the sound of its turning rotors
chop-chopping across the camp.

     Without further hesitation, Blackthorne made his break. Out the door
sprinting across the compound, he ignored the shouts behind him. Reaching the
helicopter, he took the crewman out with a fist to the jaw that sent the man
sprawling on the ground. A second crewman, aboard the craft near the open side
door tried to make his move but Blackthorne already had his hands on him.
Dragging him out of the chopper to throw him to the tarmac. Leaping aboard,
Blackthorne slammed and latched the door then scrambled forward to the
cockpit.

     The craft's pilot, taken by surprise, stared wide-eyed at the
intruder.

     "Captain Blackthorne?" he said, not really believing what he saw.

     "Out!" ordered Blackthorne.

     The chopper was amazingly swift and maneuverable in the capable hands of
its Captain. Blackthorne looked back in the distance as his enemies fired
another rocket. It was a futile attempt and Blackthorne knew it. He and his
craft were already out of range.

     Blackthorne landed the helicopter in an area obscured by brush, safely on
the other side of the border. He was amazed at how weak he'd become. He
checked himself for wounds but found none.

     What was wrong? He thought to himself.

     Slowly, he climbed out of the chopper. It took all his strength just to
open the door and step outside. Once outside, he immediately fell to his knees.


ALL WENT BLACK.


     Running, running, running. The dream was the same one Blackthorne had
experienced over and over since childhood. Kyle Blackthorne--a small
boy--running in terror as fast as he could, racing through dark halls made of
stone, vaulted ceilings rising overhead, walls decorated with hanging skulls
and tapestries. Light poured from countless chandeliers,  their hundreds of
candles casting but feeble, yellow light--a light that seemed swallowed up by
the great inky blackness surrounding all. In this dream he heard a voice--the
same familiar voice he knew he could trust.

     "This way Kyle. Hurry! Follow me!"

     The voice sounded nearby and distant at the same time. In the dream he
sought the source of the voice but he never saw the face. Always, though, he
chased after it, obeying its commands knowing that his life depended on
following its instructions.

     And again he found himself overlooking a large chimer where a man--tall
gray-haired, dressed in a splendid robe--faced off against a giant, shadowy
form. As Kyle watched, the two spoke for a moment, then the giant form stepped
from out from out of the shadows--a huge man with powerful arms and shoulders.
Laughing evilly, the stranger drew forth a great sword and, raising it over
his head, struck the older man down. Kyle, paralyzed by the scene unfolding
before his eyes, stood dumbstruck. But powerful hands took hold of his small
shoulders and, without warning, lifted him off his feet and hurled him into
the vast reaches of the darkness and could, tears pouring down his face as he
thought of the man struck down in the chamber. He knew it was his father...
Blackthorne awoke to find himself laying face down in the sand. His head
throbbed and he was disoriented. Slowly coming to his senses, he realized
he'd
had the dream again--one of the many odd dreams that had haunted him all his
life.

     He pulled himself to his feet and assessed his situation. It was getting
dark. How long had he been unconscious? How much ground had he UN forces
gained on him? He knew there was no chance that they would abandon their
search for him. He had to find his friends and fast.
Scrambling up to a nearby ridge, he saw the highway below that his allies had
frequently used. Maybe they still did. He went back to the helicopter to grab
some gear along with a rifle he found under the seat. He must get to safety,
Blackthorne thought to himself as he began the steep descent to the road
below. The Androthi depended upon him, he told himself. HE must free his
people from the cruel Ka'dra'suul.
With a sudden shock he realized he was reliving another of the mysterious
dreams that plagued him, but now it was becoming more real, more urgent than
his current predicament. He picked up his pace and tried to shake the strange
thoughts that plagued him. No matter how hard he tried, he could not.

     He saw himself standing in some sort of cave or mine. Others were
around--men working by dim light, sweating and trolling, mining strange
mineral from the walls of the cave. Others, the not actively at work, were
chained to walls of the cave. To his horror Blackthorne saw that some of the
cantles were no more than corpses and skeletons. Long ago picked clean of
their flesh, they were against the walls in upright positions. Kyle pitied
these people. Somehow he knew they were called the Androthi. 

     And again came that mysterious voice, ringing in his ears: "Kyle. Come
to
me. Your people have fallen slaves to the Warlord Sarlac and the evil power of
the Darkstone. You must free them. You are their only hope. You must seek me
out so that I may teach you the secrets of the Lightstone. My name is
Galadril. You know me. Find me."

     The Androthi prisoners welcomed him as a friend. Their language was
foreign yet familiar to his ears. They begged for help and he promised it to
them, not knowing exactly what that would mean. They ran though in terror.
Something was coming. "Ka'dra'suul!" they shouted as they
fled. Something
hulked into view. Blue-skinned, with long, curving tusks, it had obviously
once been a man but was not something else. The thing grinned at Kyle and then
cracked its evil-looking black whip.

     Blackthorne was still remembering that evil face when the sound of a
rapidly-approaching helicopter reminded him of his present situation.
They'd
caught up to him.

     "You had better get a hold of yourself Blackthorne," he told
himself,
ducking into a narrow crevice, trying to keep out of sight. His head continued
to ache but he knew if he didn't keep his mind on the problems facing him
he'd
have worse to worry about.

     He crouched in the eroded gully and watched as the U.N. camp's chopper
passed slowly overhead. If they spotted him and radioed back his position, he
would never escape.

     Apparently failing to spot Blackthorne through the darkness, the
helicopter passed over him without slowing. He breathed a sigh of relief.

     "The Golatrix complex," he told himself. "I must reach
it." Again he was
shocked to find his memories confused. He was a living dream--a dream from
long ago. He tried to concentrate on what lay before him but still the other
thoughts kept intruding, insisting that his precarious trek through the desert
was dwarfed in significance by the unusual thoughts that raced through his
head.

     He was crossing a vast desert in search of the Golatrix Complex.
Sweltering from the heat, he trudged on. He felt the presence of someone or
something but he saw nothing. Enemies lurked everywhere beyond the sand dunes
and windswept hills surrounding him. Ka'dra'suul was their name. Once
human,
they were now twisted and degenerate, their lives and souls warped by Sarlac.
Enslavers of the Androthi, Blackthorne hated them and they feared him.

     The Golatrix Complex--his goal--was a far-flung military outpost built
long ago by the Androthi but now abandoned. He did not know why he had to
reach this place, only that he must desperately attain his goal. Something he
needed-something important to the task at hand--lay inside, and he must
retrieve, Here, there was no voice to guide him. He was on his own.

     A shot rang out, a distant rifle firing from the other side of the
highway. The slug kicked up dirt in front of Blackthorne as it buried itself
in the ground near his feet.

     A sniper!

     Blackthorne threw himself on the ground, rolling and scrambling until he
got himself behind a low line of rocks just barely high enough to afford him
cover. Was this sniper a friendly force unable to recognize him in the
darkness? He quickly ruled out that possibility. He was sure that the sniper
was one of Moswali's men probably assigned specifically to hunt down and
capture Blackthorne, dead or alive. Pinned flat to the ground, his slightest
movement was answered by the crack of a rifle and a slug ricocheting off rocks
shielding him. The only thing he knew for sure was that the sniper was holed
in a narrow crevice on a mountain across the highway. Entrenched high above
him, the sniper could keep Blackthorne pinned down indefinitely.

     He pulled out the rifle and attached the infrared scope. The sniper's
shots continued to ricochet dangerously close to his position. The enemy
appeared as a shadowy figure through the rifles sight. Blackthorne fired two
quick shots.

     He continued to watch through the sight as the sniper stumbled and fell
forward on the mountain. He wasn't the first to fall victim to
Blackthorne's
sharp shooting prowess and he wouldn't be the last.

     Blackthorne hopper to his feet. There was little time left. There was no
way of knowing if the Warlord's sniper was in radio contact with
Moswali's
camp but the gunfire and air traffic over the hills would go unnoticed. He was
only a few hundred feet from the highway now.

     "I must find Onehand," Blackthorne told himself. "The Seer
dwelling deep
within the Karellian Swamps."

     Blackthorne again found himself slipping into one of his eerie visions.

     He was plodding through the swamp filled with dark, evil-smelling water,
surrounded by strangely twisted tress. No birds sang but skittering and
shuffling could be heard among the rushes and briars on the banks. The
degenerate Ka'dra'suul lurked here, in the great Karellian swamp.
Blackthorne
was seeking the refuge of a woman known only as the Seer Onehand. It was
Onehand who kept the secret Blackthorne needed to defeat the great evil that
lay beyond the swamp.

     Other things lurked here as well--things far worse than
Ka'dra'suul. The
great evil plaguing this world had also unleashed creatures from other
worlds--other dimensions--to stalk his desolate land. These creatures were
barely mortal and impervious to Blackthorne's weapons. He was wary of
them--and their stealthy approach.

     He never could recall if he'd found who he'd  been searching for.
The
name Onehand remained a haunting enigma.

     He tried to shake the feelings off, telling himself again and again that
they were only the fragments of half-remembered dreams--but inexplicably he
knew there was more to it than that.

     "Kyle!"

     A voice spoke to him in his head--the voice familiar to him from his
dreams. He ignored it, running on. He finally reached the side of a highway
and could see what looked like a jeep heading toward him. It was about a mile
away.

     "Kyle! It is time!" The voice came to him again.

     The vehicle closed quickly. Prepare yourself Kyle!" the voice
commanded.
"The time draws near."

     Blackthorne clutched at his head, trying to drive the voice out. He sat
by the roadway. Was he going mad? He had to block out the voice.

     The jeep thundered past him. Blackthorne held out his hand to stop the
vehicle but they didn't see him. Perhaps they couldn't see him. He
recognized
the occupants of the jeep as faces he had long fought alongside only a short
time ago.

     "Now!" vibrated the voice inside his head.

     Kyle Blackthorne suddenly found himself surrounded by cold and darkness,
hurtling through the vastness of space as stars whirled by at dizzying speeds.

     "Your time has arrived," came the voice again, this time nearer,
and more
familiar. "You are of age and well trained. IT is time to fulfill your
destiny."

     "Galadril?" asked Blackthorne.

     "It is I," answered the voice. "Your mentor and tutor from
years gone
by."

     "I remember," said Blackthorne. "You were the favorite of my
father, King
Vlaros."

     "And his advisor and sorcerer" added the voice. "Your
memories are
returning, I see."

     Blackthorne agreed. "I remember the murder of my father. I dreamt of
it
many times. He was slain by a man who stepped from the shadows," he said
turning slightly grim.

     "Yes, the evil lord Sarlac," said the voice that was Galadril.
"He still
reigns, Kyle, and our world is worse for it. IF not stopped soon he shall be
the end of us all. The world of Tuul--your world--needs you desperately. Too
many years have the Androthi lived under the yoke of Sarlac and his people,
the twisted Ka'dra'suul. Sarlac possesses the Darkstone and if allowed
to
continue his evil ways will eventually destroy our world and all that is good
in it. You must use the power of the Lightstone to bring an end to his reign.
To protect you, your father and I sent you to Earth. After Sarlac discovered
the Darkstone and began his rise to power, the Seer Onehand predicted that
Sarlac could not be stopped--that his destiny was to rule Tuul in twenty
years. At the end of that time this destiny could not be changed, but only
through the power of the Lightstone wielded the proper heir to the throne.
Hence we sent you to Earth, far from the treacherous eyes of Sarlac. To
further safeguard you, your memories were hidden from you. But it appears that
some have escaped over the years."

     "The dreams..." said Kyle.

     "Yes. The dreams were your old memories escaping their magical bounds.
But only some of them. Others were prophecies of things to come--of your
destiny."

     "What am I to do?"

     "Seek me out, young Kyle. You will soon return to that place from
which
you were sent, the Xandralite mines of Androth, now a prison camp run by the
evil Ka'dra'suul. I can not meet you there for reasons you will soon
learn. I
wait beyond the mines. Seek me out..."

     "How can Sarlac be stopped?" Blackthorne asked the voice.

     "With the power of the Lightstone," answered Galadril. "You
must use it
against Sarlac..."

     The voice faded away.

     The fate of Kyle Blackthorne now lies in your hands. Your mission is to
guide the resourceful warrior through the perilous regions of Tuul and find
Sarlac. Use Blackthorne's mercenary abilities, along with the weapons and
items you will acquire, to assist you in your quest.
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