Time: Unknown, sun is low in the east
Date: Year 1489, 8th Moon
|The inside of the Sanctuary of Rebirth.|
I opened my eyes to a completely different scenario from what I last remembered. What do I remember? As I lay there on the floor, blinking dazed eyes up at unfamiliar faces peering down at me, my mind comes up with some alarming images. Images that don't seem to match up with my current predicament. A forest, darkened by blood and corrupted life. The clash of steel ringing loudly with the sounds of magical castings. Various voices calling out, in fear, in anger, in righteous fury.
I shut my eyes again, overwhelmed. I swallow, feeling my heartbeat speed up to match my anxious thoughts. I am sure I died there in that clearing. Or at least, that's what it felt like anyway. A massive rift splitting the overcast sky, monstrous and twisted beasts spilling out. Despite how bravely we fought, those of us who realized, finally, what sort of monstrous cult we had joined, we had been overrun. The creatures, such as I've never seen before, had been unstoppable; unkillable. They climbed into our world as if they owned it. The most horrific thing was that our former comrades, those we had relied on, had betrayed us! They, those traitorous Aelfwar, they had come to some sort of agreement with one of the great dragons. How, how could we-they, do such a thing? If I had not opened my eyes to what was going on around me, if I had not protested the destruction of our beloved forest, I too would be party to such abominable deeds! Such thoughts and more flit through my mind in rapid succession, causing panic to well up in my breast.
Thank the Vigil I had realized the true horror of Prince Hylas's new allies in time. I would not want to be known as a traitor and an ally of the dragons in my death. I had been but a lowly apprentice, learning the ways of the shadow and the silent blades when the schism between Shyla and Hylas had occurred. I remember the day it happened; such a sad day in our history.
|Several refugees and citizens of Mathosia.|
Having established that I am indeed dead, or should be dead, I opened my eyes to glance around me, having calmed myself after reliving what I am sure was my last moments on Telara. Even just the thought causes a shiver to run through me. Sure to see either the mystical river I'd always heard mention about, or at the very least a body-strewn forest clearing, I was quite shocked anew at where I found myself now. Well, as shocked as I could be. Being a Rogue, I happen to have steady nerves.
The room I was lying in was large, well lit, and made of stone. The floor, now that I'd noticed it, was also stone and quite cold. Dozens of flickering candles framed the small terrace that I found myself on. Experimentally I lifted a hand and wiggled a few fingers in front of my eyes. Yep, that felt like my hand. I stared rather blankly at it, still not comprehending.
A face came into view behind my hand and I rested my appendage back at my side. Gently, unseen hands guided me into a sitting position. Before I could protest being manhandled, my eyes caught sight of something so pure and divine that I had to look away lest I feel undone. Immediately I knew what it was. How could I not, what with descriptions of the heavenly beings pasted in all the history books at the College.
|Messenger of the Vigil.|
A messenger of the Vigil. Just standing right there! Well, floating rather. The divine being sported a pair of incredibly large and beautiful gossamer wings. Occasionally the wings would slow and the messenger's feet would gently touch the stone floor, before being swept aloft again. I felt my face register surprised awe as if from a distance.
This can't be real. It must be a dream.
Or perhaps some sort of induced psychosis by those hated Aelfwar. Mayhap they had gotten ahold of my body and were trying to torture information out of me! Ha, good luck with that! I know next to nothing and wouldn't tell them anyway!
Maybe I'm just daydreaming while sitting in class at Quicksilver College and this whole thing was just one big confusing night terror. The woman at my side appears real enough. Thinking about it brought on an intense headache and I reflexively rubbed my temple.
A touch on my arm made me start and I glanced cautiously to the side, realizing the woman was speaking to me. In fact, she apparently had been speaking to me for some time and I just hadn't heard. I frowned and tried focusing more fully on the woman, but the winged messenger's majestic presence kept distracting me. It's not every day you get to meet such a holy creature.
"--eve it, you're amazing, just like I've always read about!"
Ah, apparently my hearing has finally caught up with me. I gave the woman the confused look her sentence deserved and she beamed at me like a proud mother. Oookay, that's awkward. Suddenly I felt another presence near me and I quickly jerked away, an almost instinctive reaction that I wasn't even aware I was performing until I had fallen to the side.
Another woman knelt at my other side and smiled warmly, holding her hands spread in front of her in a universal sign of no harm. I must be having problems with my senses if I hadn't seen the second woman approach. And my exaggerated response seemed rather odd as well.
|The Messenger speaks.|
"You have been resurrected. Brought back from the dead; by the Vigil. You are an Ascended now. Telara's new hope of ridding the land of that foul monstrosity Aedraxis and the Rifts he brought to to our world. You are our savior, Ascended!"
The new woman spoke slower, and louder, as if she knew I would have trouble hearing. I'm rather proud of myself. I took the information rather well, I think. Although maybe it was because I didn't believe her, at least at first. Of course soon after I had no choice but to believe.
It was not to say that I didn't believe I'd been resurrected. After all this world we live in is rich in magic. Magic thickens the air around us, the very earth we stand on, and it is a matter of one's inner strength and will to access that wonderful potential to resurrect a lost soul and bring them back to the material plane. No, what I found hard to believe was that the Vigil themselves had brought me back. Why would they concern themselves with one rather unimportant elf? What possible purpose could I serve?
It took me several tries before I was able to ask what happened while I had apparently been 'taking a dirt nap' as the saying goes. And what a fantastic tale it was too.
Apparently Aedraxis used an ancient magitech device built by some Ethian scientists to greatly weaken the Ward, unleashing Regulos's minions and the power of Death into our plane. That would explain the strange, violet colored sky I remember before my apparent demise. According to these priests (as I realized they must be by their garb and quiet mien) a massive Death Rift had been opened over Thedeor Fields, where my lady Shyla Starhearth had led our brave elves into combat alongside Prince Zareph in an effort to stop Aedraxis from destroying Mathosia.
|The summoning of the Shade.|
Zareph's army had never stood a chance. They had been decimated almost within an eyeblink of the Rift opening. I have to admit I couldn't keep a cry of dismay from escaping my numb lips at this news. That must mean Lady Shyla is slain! I shall avenge her!
Oh, they were still explaining. Right.
Not long after the one-sided battle had been ended, when all was quiet but for the moaning of the undead, a winged being garbed all in white had descended among the dead heroes.
Soon many more winged beings landed. Each one lifted aloft a fallen hero and carried him or her to this very terrace, where they had-unbelievably-breathed life back into them, restoring them to this plane.
Among them was my Lady Shyla. Thank the Vigil! Along with resurrection came many new gifts, the priests told me. Gifts that I now had complete access to at will.
I was now "Ascended", chosen of the gods. I had been given special and unique powers, gifted by the gods themselves. The gift of immortality being chief among them. Can you believe it? Me, a lowly rogue's apprentice; Ascended!
Of course I've heard of the prophecy of the gods, who hasn't? A grand tale indeed, if it was true. I guess I have to admit that it is, now that I am living proof. I've always faithfully followed and honored the words of the gods, never straying from the path. Tavril especially I believed in. She was the patron goddess of the Elves after all.
But surely I wasn't worthy enough for such a miraculous and wondrous gift? There must be others more suited to the task of "saving the world" than myself. I haven't even completed my training or graduated from the College yet for Vigil's sake! Seriously, this has to be a mistake. The more I think about it, the more I am full of doubt.
While I was having an inner chat with myself I became aware of a shining white light entering my mind. It bestowed calm and tranquility and without even realizing it, I had relaxed. I smiled, and glanced unerringly at the messenger, floating serenely before me. It was staring at me with sightless eyes.
I stood up and walked over, feeling it wished to speak with me. The words seemed to appear in my mind, spoken with an odd, dual echo, as if more than one voice was speaking at once, slightly out of synch.
"The gods have returned you to life. Your body has been restored and imbued with powerful and ancient souls to fight Regulos and his army. You must give up your old life and start anew. You stand between Telara and destruction."
I glanced around, still trying to understand all of this. Surely the Vigil doesn't mean just me. I am hardly hero material. Since waking here my memories seem vague and distant, as if shrouded in mist.
But I know for a fact that I was hardly the most exemplary representation of my race. I often skipped classes to go exploring the wood. I was loud, sarcastic, opinionated. I'd often been told I have no goals for the future or proper respect for my elders. The only one who could tolerate me was my master. I hope he has been chosen to be Ascended as well because I'm going to need a hell of a lot of guidance in this.
Nevertheless, the idea that I had been chosen to save the world, to finally be a part of something important, did have its appeal to me. Finally I could prove that I actually did have potential, that I was worthy of something. And the spark of justice flared up within me, as if waiting for just this opportunity. So I looked directly at the Vigil's messenger and said,
"I'll do what I can to stop this."
I just hope I can live up to such high expectations.
|An oasis in Shimmering Sands.|
My goals are simple: eradicate the evil that festers inside of Telara's beautiful borders and protect the innocent of the land. This is my home and I will ensure that the dragon gods do not succeed in their plans to destroy it. I am a High Elf, a noble and beloved child of Tavril, the goddess of the land. My people are strong of mind and spirit, swearing ourselves to the Vigil and to Telara. I call upon the gods for strength, agility and stamina. I am but one soldier among many newly resurrected Ascended, but I know that I am far from insignificant. I am a Guardian Ascended, brought back from death to be one of Telara's most potent and gifted protectors and I will do all that I can to honor the gift that the gods have bestowed upon me. I am Raeslyn Windrose, chosen of the Vigil, and this is my story.