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By Edward Bolme A tale of Moonlands

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Warrada walked through the battleground, her sinuous body swaying like a cobra with her easy, assured gait. Once Vash Naroom had fallen, Evu had happily led the Dark Twins to the secret entrance of the Great Library. Now it, too, had fallen, despite the best efforts of its caretakers. The ravages of chaos reigned all about. Scorch marks marred the grass; great trees, partially formed into carillions, lay uprooted and shattered; and the sticky black ooze of corrupted dreams dripped and pooled throughout the area. Warrada noted all of this as she moved, but most of all she listened with great satisfaction to the shards of animite that crunched underfoot, the broken dreams of the citizens of this ruined land.

Truly it was a beautiful scene. Her face broke into a smug smile, eyes half-lidded in confidence. She saw Hrada, lying in the center of a vast blast zone, just barely beginning to sit up. One hand tightly clutched his aching head.

As he teetered uncertainly, Warrada sidled up. "You are the Dark Ruler, brother," she murmured softly. "Get up. Now." A feeble, pained noise escaped Hrada's throat as he slowly complied. "And don't whine," she whispered as she moved past. "It makes you sound like a wimp."

She moved past the tree-dwellings that had once housed the caretakers of the Great Library; they now burned brightly, set ablaze either by chance or by deliberate act of the rampaging nightmare creatures.

Yes, she decided, this place is looking downright homey again. I may have to move back here. Needs more brambles, though, she thought. With a gesture, she caused a clot of brambles to erupt from the blackened earth at the base of a large tree. They grew rapidly and began to strangle the life from the great baloo.

In the distance she heard the hideous, warbling cry of glee of one of the nightmare creatures as it pursued a terrified refugee, but the noise did not distract her in the slightest. Such sounds were music to her ears.

She moved through the battle-ravaged area until at last she approached the prize she'd sought for so long. Great trees stood throughout the area, with massive wooden-bound books perched atop. So great were these trees that one had to climb ladders to read the tomes, and so huge were the books themselves, that even the largest Magi could lie down on one, pull a page over as a blanket, and sleep peacefully.

Warrada paused at the edge of the Great Library. Her heart thrilled within her. All this power, all this knowledge, now it was hers!

Hrada staggered up to her side, feet dragging, one hand clutching his aching head and the other holding the small of his back. He paused next to her unsteadily swaying. She turned to him and cocked her head to the side and raised one eyebrow. "Thank you, my dear brother," she said, batting her eyes, "it's just what I've always wanted."

"You're welcome," he mumbled, then he fainted face-first into the dirt.

Abruptly a hardened look crossed her features. "Now we can start plotting the conquest of the whole world," she said. Warrada chuckled quietly and menacingly, then sauntered for the nearest book, stepping on the unconscious form of her brother.

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