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Their footsteps echoed as they walked through the empty corridor. There were no signs of life within the palace. The place was spotless, flawless, as though it had only been built yesterday. It all felt decidedly eerie.

“I don’t like the look of this,” said Bevern, “It all seems too easy.”

“I know,” said Gaian, as he drew his sword, “We should stay alert, there might be something in wait for us.” Bevern copied his lead and drew his sword as well.

Tyght already had his staff ready, “Be that as it may, we should hurry. If the Emperor is preparing something for us it will give him less time to prepare.” He took the lead of the party and quickened their pace.

They entered a large banqueting hall with huge chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. After they had crossed halfway across the room the doors behind them slammed shut. They then heard a deep voice boom, “I have been waiting for you, ‘Warriors of Light’. I was wondering how long it would take you to get here.”

Bevern shouted, “Just you wait until we find you Calistan! You’ll pay for what you’ve done to the world!”

The Emperor chuckled, “I dare say I will. But after what the world has done to me it is a small price to pay. Still, today is a very important day. Much will be decided.”

Sianna cried out, “How could you allow all this suffering?!”

“That is a valid question, which deserves a valid answer. But not here, this is too impersonal. Come to the throne room, and then I shall reveal all to you there.” A door at the far end of the room slowly creaked open.

Bevern said, “OK, now I really don’t like the look of this!”

“Come on,” said Gaian, “The sooner we get there, the sooner all of this will be over, one way or another.” The party walked on through the banqueting hall and through the door.

The faced another long corridor, with numerous doors coming off of it. Bevern tried a few, but they were all locked. They then quickly ran down the corridor, a sense of urgency about them.

At the end of the corridor was a spiral staircase. They then heard the Emperor’s voice boom once again, “Climb the stairs to the top floor, and then walk straight ahead. I’ll be waiting for you...”

Bevern said, “Ever get the feeling that you’re walking into a trap.”

Tyght said, “There is nowhere else for us to go, and so if it is a trap then we are already caught. We should press on.” He took the lead once more, climbing the staircase two steps at a time.

They all ran up the stairs, twisting round and round and round. There were some small windows and they could see themselves getting higher and higher and higher. It seemed to take an age to reach the top.

At the top there was just a single corridor, with candles at the side. There was a red carpet with a gold trim along the corridor. Despite their urgency they all instinctively slowed down as they walked along the corridor. At the end they could see an ornate door, and they all knew that their fates were waiting for them behind it.

They reached the door, and it slowly opened by itself. The room on the other side was pitch black. It was Gaian who led the party inside, followed by Bevern, Sianna, and Tyght. Once inside the door slammed shut behind them.

They couldn’t see anything, but they could sense that the Emperor was in here with them. It was a few moments until he spoke. “Greetings, ‘Warriors of Light’. So, you have restored all four Elemental Crystals, defeated my army, and made it here. And all that you need to do now is to kill me, and then the world will be back to normal.” He was then illuminated, but there was no obvious light source. He was wearing dark heavy armour, and had long black hair. “It’s as simple as that, is it?”

“You destroyed the world,” said Bevern, the anger clear in his voice, “We’ve come to put things right again.”

“Put things right? And who are you to say what is right and what is wrong?”

“Are you mad?! Are you seriously trying to suggest that destroying the world is somehow right?! Why would you do such a thing? Why do you want to rule over the dead?”

“Rule? No, my friend, you are mistaken. I’ve had enough of ruling, of trying to guide my people and doing the right thing. No matter what I did things just didn’t work out. We always seem to fall short of our dreams. And your bloody Republic was always there, always taunting us. The world just couldn’t continue like that, it had to change.

“Then I found the Dark Crystal, and through it, the knowledge and secrets of this world. It became clear to me that everything we did was doomed to failure. And so there was only one way forward. To wipe everything clean, to cleanse the world. What you see as destruction I see as cleaning the world of its filth. It has become infested with life, leading only to agony and pain. Only by curing it of the infestation can the world truly be restored. And I will be the one to bring about its restoration! I will destroy all that has been built! I will obliterate mankind to history! And then, for the first time in thousands and thousands of years peace will rule throughout the world! An everlasting peace! And I, Emperor Calistan, will be the one to bring about that peace!!!”

Sianna said, “But what good is there in the peace that you seek if there is no one to experience it?”

“If a tree falls down in a forest where there are no people, does it make no sound? The fact that mankind will have gone does not matter, the peace will still be there. There will be no more pain, no more suffering. We will all be able to rest in a glorious and eternal peace.”

“But what if we don’t want that sort of peace? What if we want to live? Who are you to make these decisions for us?!”

“And who are you to force people to experience the pain of living?! No, someone has to be brave, to be bold enough to take this decision on behalf of the world. People can’t be trusted to decide something like this for themselves. They will only find ways to bring about more pain and suffering. No, there can be no more. NO MORE!!! It all has to end, and it has to end NOW!!! And you can not stop me! I have come this far and I will not turn back now, never! I must be strong to see my plan through to the end. All that I need to do is to eliminate you, and take the power of your Crystals. Then I will be able to cast the Doomsday spell, which will spread around the world in a matter of minutes, wiping out all living things. Do not think that you will be able to stop me. I may only have the power of one Crystal, but the power of one Dark Crystal is infinitely greater than any number of Elemental Crystals. There is nothing that you can do to stop me. As you can already see, I and my palace have not only survived the original apocalypse, but also your Ultima spell. This is all due to the Dark Crystal.”

Next to him a black Crystal became illuminated. The party could feel dread, fear, and hatred coming from it.

Gaian raised his sword, “You may wish to destroy this world, but we won’t let you. It is clear that you have gained great power, but so have we! We have no intention of going down without a fight!”

The Emperor smiled, “Then take your best shot.”

Gaian was taken aback by this. The Emperor stood before him, his arms open, and he was inviting him to attack him. This didn’t feel right, it had to be a trap. But what else were they going to do? What else could they do?

Then he turned to look at the Crystal. It was clearly the source of his power. If he could eliminate that, then the world would be saved. Without a second thought he raised his sword and charged at the Crystal.

He hit it with all the force that he could muster, but when his sword made contact, it was repelled by an even stronger force that threw him across the room.

The Emperor laughed, “You foolish, foolish man! The Dark Crystal has been in existence for even longer than the world itself! You didn’t seriously think that you could destroy it, could you? Still, you are a desperate people who will try at anything to try and disrupt my plans. Do you still wish to challenge me?”

Gaian got to his feet and walked back to the party, but before he could say anything, Bevern said, “Why you little...” He raised his sword and charged at the Emperor. But his sword simply passed straight through him, as though he were a ghost.

“You see,” said the Emperor, “We are all dead already! There is nothing to be done! All must now be destroyed so that we can finally find peace!” He raised his arms and pointed them at the party, “Today will be a glorious day! Give me the power of your Crystals!” The party all found themselves thrown to the ground, their energy seemingly being sapped from their bodies. The Emperor shouted, “And so begins the final purification of the world!!!”

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