An ancient scroll, yellowed and cracked with age. On it a tale untold for centuries.

...Among the first races was one whose history has been all but lost. In their own tongue, they were called the Chosen, because it seemed the gods walked among them more than the others. They were tall and fair, almost human in appearance, but not quite. Their mental powers were strong and varied. They learned to manipulate matter to the smallest level. Using this knowledge, they built fantastic spiraled cities - airy and open. When small wars broke out among the eldest races, the Chosen forged armor that was light yet unbreakable as long as the one it was fashioned for lived. They made swords of power, sentient swords of various designs. In times of peace, they played and learned more, creating art and music that was dark and beautiful.

But they greatest joy came from their ability to join minds, to share feelings without speech - without barriers or secrets - with each other - and with the Dragons. The flights of dark armored dragon riders owned the skies, from the backs of these powerful allies. Rider and dragon's minds were one, the pure joy of flying shared and indescribable.

Land was plentiful, the eldest races were long lived and had few offspring. Wars became rare as the races settled into lives of peaceful isolation. The Chosen called their realm Paradise for they truly felt it to be such.

Then the gods created the younger races - elfin, dwarven, and the others. The world became more crowded, again brief wars flared, but a balance was struck. Paradise endured, for none could stand against the Chosen. And they had no wish to own more than what was theirs. The younger races lived shorter lives, and had young more often. The youngest, the humans, soon overfilled their lands, seeming destined to fill all lands. The eldest and the elder races found themselves forced out of isolation. Some lived among the younger races, teaching and nurturing them, even letting them live in their ancient lands. But the Chosen would have none of it and clung to Paradise, not allowing it to be soiled.

Arts and learning were put aside. All effort was put to defense. The skies around Paradise were filled with screaming dragons and their riders. Each time a settlement was attempted too close, it was destroyed and the people driven off or killed. Negotiations proved fruitless, but the younger races were persistent.

The Chosen, once considered almost angelic, were now thought of as demons, their image and deeds used to describe all things evil. Even the gods became upset by the carnage and appeared at one particularly bloody victory banquet. Naked bodies of live captives had been strung upside down over low fires. Musicians caused different pitched screams by cutting various parts of selected victims. Any sliced away pieces were dropped into the flames. The Chosen had fallen, not yet knowing how far.

The gods demanded an end to the war, explaining all races should live in peace. That the time of the eldest races was coming to a close but they could live on by passing along what they had learned to others. All the Chosen could hear was that Paradise would be lost, yet some did not want to turn against the will of their gods. They looked to their High Lord to decide.

He watched the gods, and listened to his people. A proud, powerful being in his prime. Dressed in back mail, his black breast plate adorned with the image of a golden dragon in flight. Over his shoulder rose the hilt of his sentient sword, tuned to his mind alone. He spoke to the gods, his voice silencing the Chosen and carrying over the sounds of the crackling fires and tortured captives. He explained why his people would not mix, and could not fade away. Were they not the Chosen, beloved of the gods? Once these humans learned their place, all would be well again. The gods listened, some angry, some sad. A final chance to reconsider was given, more then the chosen deserved, but they were still loved for what they had been.

The High Lord thought, weighing the consequences. In his arrogance, he thought the gods were merely testing the resolve of his people, to examine their worthiness to remain and rule Paradise. Confident in his rightness, he chose what was best for his people. Rejecting the gods' request, he asked them to leave and interfere no more.

Sealing the fate of an entire race.

The gods conferred then one spoke for all. "You have grown arrogant, and that is our fault for loving you too much. But the time has come for your race to live among others to teach and learn. We will come to you no more, but can not allow you to continue. From this day forward, your kind will bear no more young. This generation will be the last. You are free to make war, to destroy and kill, or to save what you have learned and created by passing it on. Choose wisely."

Then they disappeared.

The Chosen gathered about their Lord. Tears flowed and mournful wails were heard. They pleaded the gods to return, but were ignored. Rather than heed the gods' advice, the Chosen turned their sadness to anger, and directed it against those they felt were to blame. The war raged with a vengeance, the number of dead uncountable.

The younger races learned from each defeat and gained help from elder races who were willing to share. Slowly the cities of Paradise fell. Such was the hatred felt for the Chosen, each city was destroyed without a trace left behind.

Without offspring, the numbers of the chosen dwindled until only one city remained. It was almost impregnable, but nothing could stand forever. The dragon's nests were no longer, their numbers also declined until the Chosen sent many of them away, to allow them to survive if they could. Seeing the end, the people, lead by their anguished leader, humbly begged the gods' forgiveness.

A once mighty race reduced to a few survivors, lost and without hope. One god finally appeared, torn by its love for these forsaken beings and the penalty set by the gods. The High Lord knelt at the god's feet and asked what could be done to save the last of the Chosen. The god spoke quietly, saying it was too late to save anything of the people in this life, but their souls could be saved if one of them would prove the race worthy.

Without hesitation, the High Lord offered himself. Having failed his people, they were still his responsibility. No arrogance, no pride, he was a ruler crushed by the knowledge of his complete failure, but still a ruler.

The god smiled and said it would be as he asked. The High Lord would carry the burden of his race by walking the world, surviving only by his wits and powers. He would learn the ways of others, and learn tolerance and acceptance. When the task was done, the gods would consider the fate of his race in the next life. He was given the chance to accept or decline.

The lord nodded quietly. He stripped off the black armor, and laid down his sword. A simple cloak covered his clothes, and he looked to his dragon's perch, feeling its mind closed to him for the first time. He asked how he would know when the task was done.

The god explained he would know when the torment faded from his mind. At that point there arose a low babble of cries and screams in the lord's mind. The voices of each person killed by the Chosen.

A look of pain and horror spread over the fair features of the lord. The god took pity and numbed all emotion in him, to preserve his sanity for what lay ahead. He was told he could no longer die from natural causes, but was not immortal. If he died before completing his task, his people would forever be unredeemed. Then the lord was taken to a land where the Chosen were not known by sight. The last city of Paradise was sealed by the gods, the remaining Chosen left to wait and pray. The war ended.

The fallen lord moved among the races, learning and teaching. On occasion, he would reach out to touch the mind of the survivors of his race to offer hope, but as the years passed, fewer were alive to answer. Finally he heard them no more, and knew he was the last. Still he wandered, discovering ways to quiet the crying voices in his mind. Thinking he had discovered the god's plan, now able to put one voice to rest at a time.

The centuries passed, and it is said he still walks among us, not knowing if the gods remember or care, but determined to save his long dead race.