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AuthorA Lifetime Urge
Alec, the quick-witted and resourceful knight-commander of the "Gloria Aeterna" order of treasure-hunters, descended from a family of an officer of Empire's regular military. Being Grammith's childhood friend, the two knights walked a long and eventful path of maturation and education together. The spirit of rivalry, quite predictably sprung up in that sort of atmosphere, largely foreordained the further destinies of the two friends.

Having attended a course on art of war in a military school, upon graduating it, Alec forever obtained the title of the first one... after the best. His pride wounded, Alec feared to experience the same fate again and refused to enter the military academy. Yearning to prove his supremacy over Grammith in anything, he decided to dedicate his life to the mastery of a mercenary, and thus left the native lands of the Empire. Having earned dubious glory of a desperate adventurer, along with a very considerable wealth, Alec, by whim of chance, returned to his homeland where the shackles of the good old rivalry spirit longed for him ever since he departed.

Alec left the Empire behind when it was an immature state fighting for its right on the continent maps. He went on with his life, constantly obtaining reports on the events happening in the Empire, and occasionally participating in its campaigns as a hired sword. Nonetheless, great was his amazement by the vigorous life of the Empire, and especially its Capital. Alec found a place of befit without hardly any trouble.

His men, not quite welcomed in the Capital, occupied an entire niche of ancillary warriors to fit any lacking challenges in friendly practice events such as quick tournaments. Their camps, scattered around the Empire at a fair distance from the Capital, always attracted competition to training camps known widely as the contest sites. Alec's incredible arsenal of enchanted weapons constituted a major part of supply for the rent shops all over Empire, restocked by his tradesmen on a daily basis.

Many times did Grammith invite his childhood friend to join him in the military echelon by occupying an honourable position at the Court. But he could not imagine how deep Alec, the man who spent many years adventuring, devoting himself to increasing his glory and wealth, was still obsessed with the idea to overcome him. Accepting an offer of those likes would mean nothing more than stepping back into Grammith's shadow, and he kept refusing them every time.
Even after his return to civilization, where a man of his status could afford a luxurious home, all the hearth and comfort he could dream of, Alec carried on with his life in a field environment, dwelling in all camps of his treasure-hunting order in rotation. He often sallied into the wilderness, or even outside of Empire, accompanied only by his most trusted men, more frequently even on his own, on business of nobody else's awareness. At times of dwelling in the Empire, he often lived recluse in his tabernacle for several days, and his people, equally as the citizens of the Empire inhabiting the nearby lands knew for a fact that shattering his peace on such days could very well cost them life.

Such seclusions were grounded, for if anyone should see him in the course of one, he would quickly acquire a fame of a man far out of his mind.
On one such day Alec sat on a feather-bed in a corner of his tabernacle in Rogues' Wood. He raised a pendant hanging on his neck, held it out just in front of his face and peered into its depth, oblivious to his surrounding.
The pendant represented a dark amber-coloured sard of irregular shape close to oval, framed in a setting of an unknown metal, resembling nickel the most among the commonly spread. The gemstone was striated as if veins of life ran through it, and the setting, about half the gem's radius wide, was decorated with shamanistic marks on the outer edge making up a full circle.
Alec occasionally hopped up to his feet to pace out his tabernacle, and then sat back at the corner again. On the verge of delusion, he spoke to it, mumbled questions in a range of tones such as "Will you ever work?" "Why won't you work?", "Why won't you give me the power?"

A faintly familiar voice outside the tabernacle asking if Alec was at the camp clutched him out of his oblivion. Alec quickly hid the pendant under his cuirass and jumped to his feet restoring his self-command. "Is that the Feurlis character snooping around again?" he thought to himself. "I'm so sick of that pushful undead already!" He peeped out just to find himself face to face with Grammith. The Warlord, pretending to take no notice of his enraged expression, voiced an amiable greeting and walked into the middle of the tabernacle in a resolute tread. It appeared that Rayzar, the decorated Barbarian mercenary, had just recently arrived to pay a visit to the Empire after a glorious venture into the Northern steppes where hundreds of Horde orcs had fallen to his blades.
Eager to divert the heroes of the Empire from their ruthless struggle, Grammith invited both champions of their orders to take part in a memorial event from the past, disinclined to lose another occasion for it.
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