Monday, October 01, 2012

[Raeslyn's Story] Chapter 2.0: Into the Future!

Location: Port Scion Bay, Silverwood Forests
Time: Mid morning
Date: Year 1509, 6th Moon

**Here is a video capture of the Prophecy that Raeslyn was told by the gods**
     All at once I gained awareness of myself, of solid ground beneath my feet, and of the feeling of reawakening, of breathing once again. My senses seemed skewed and I felt rather disoriented. Finding myself unexplainably conscious in strange locations seems to be a common pastime for me lately. First thing I did upon finding out I was back on the material plane-or at least, in an area with solid footing-was give a mighty stretch. My muscles felt all bunched up and painful, and it felt pretty darn good to stretch out all the kinks and soreness of what felt like the past few eons but was, in reality, just the past few days. Or at least, it felt like I'd only been connected with the Vigil for seconds.
     Yep, little old me had a one-on-one chat with the gods! I can't believe it. The sanctity, the holiness, of their vision took my breath away. I don't remember much of the sensations I felt while on their plane, but I do remember being so full of every positive emotion that I'd cried. I'm not ashamed to admit that I have emotions. The one thing that did stay with me, clear and sharp even now after leaving that place, wherever it was, was the warning they gave me. And it was a grim and dire warning indeed. Mayhap a prediction even. Gives me shivers just remembering the warning. It was cryptic, straightforward, and very brutal. In essence? I was the chosen one sent by the gods to stop a terrible apocalypse. Aedraxis and his screwing around with the rifts? That was nothing compared to what was coming. The dragons were going to break free, and Telara would forever fall into darkness...unless we Ascended stood up and did something to change it! It seemed to be a prophecy of the future. The Prophecy of the Rifts, they called it. I still remember that soft, golden voice, speaking with the voices of all five gods, giving me the guidance and strength I needed to face my destiny.

     Not that I like it. But I will not go back on my word to the gods, all those many years ago when I swore myself to the Covenant, and they need me; Telara needs me. I nodded, and turned to speak to Cyril, for surely he was still nearby. The warning took but seconds it felt, so we're still up by the Eye of Regulos no doubt. I'm sure they didn't leave me behind. I glanced around, and stumbled in shock. What the Fae is going on here?!
     I was not in the middle of that decayed and poisoned clearing, corrupted by death magic and that hideous Rift. No indeed. I was somewhere so far from that description that my mind decided to take a nap rather than deal with it. I was again standing on a raised stone dais, similar to when I had first been resurrected. Only this one was outside, backed up against a steep cliff. The dais, or archway, whatever it was, looked ancient. Lichen and moss climbed up the sides, and the top of the arches had crumbled and fallen in, giving way to nature's pull of gravity. This isn't right...

     It seemed little more than morning, the sun shining from the East, bright and warm. I could even hear birds and other wildlife in the distance. This can't be happening. I must still be in that other dimension of existence with the gods. That's the only explanation. I shook my head, muttered a few phrases in Elven, and than shut my eyes tight. I took a deep breath. Opened my eyes. And gasped. It was still the same. No way. I glanced around again, this time paying closer attention. I could see blue sparkling water in the near distance, and a rocky shoreline. From my line of sight I could even see a part of a large structure. It looked like a bridge. Hey wait a second...I recognized the architecture on that bridge. I bit my lip as I tried to place where I'd seen that kind of bridge before.

      No way. That was either a very close replica to the original, or it was, the Founder's Threshold, the famous bridge that led to the even more famous Port Scion. I felt tears prick my eyes as I realized what that meant. I was back in Silverwood. I wondered if this was a dream, even as happiness and contentment immediately flooded my mind and I felt myself relax for the first time since waking up in the Sanctuary of Rebirth. To be truthful, even before that. For the months leading up to my ill timed demise, I'd been tense, fearful, filled with all sorts of negative and conflicting emotions, and wanting to just crawl in a hole somewhere far from Silverwood and my Aelfwar family. But now that I am back in Silverwood, it felt like the most glorious of homecomings.

     Taking a deep breath, and then taking another and marveling at the absence of death and decay on the breeze, I carefully stepped off the dais, avoiding any stones and rubble in my path. Long, vivid green grasses waved languidly in the light breeze, and I felt my face light up with a smile. Absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, that feeling of lovely bliss didn't last much longer. When I stepped off the dais, two things became apparent to me. Wait, three after I noticed movement along the rocky shoreline. First, now that I had a better view of the bridge to Port Scion, I was horrified to see that it had been desecrated. Destroyed. The bridge ended in torn, twisted metal and stone about one third of the way along. Across the narrow channel that separated the Silverwood from the Marches, I could see an identical portion of the bridge, also shorn and mangled. Both edges barely extended past the shore, and even as I watched, stones and wood rained down into the water. Those horrific images took my complete attention for several long moments as I stared in morbid fascination. By all that is sacred on Telara, who had done this? What had they done!

     Port Scion was neutral ground for everyone. And everyone knew this. It became over time an incredibly busy and popular city, with many traders, merchants, mercenaries and various other citizenry coming and going freely every day. There had never been strife inside its walls, and it had stood as a center for advancement of society for years. It didn't even have a proper leadership, being overseen by Prince Zareph Mathos in a peaceful manner. What was going on here? What time period was I in now?

     I could have sworn I'd only been in the presence of the Vigil for a few fleeting seconds. Just long enough to impart that much needed warning and prophecy. But this? This was the work of years worth of enmity and distrust. The beautiful, marble walls of Port Scion itself were wrapped in dark coils of some kind of plant, and I was dismayed to realize that it was the same kind of plantlike material I'd seen around the Death Rift back in Mathosia. Oh no...

     When I could finally tear my eyes from that horrible sight, the second thing I noticed, this time with resignation and some exasperation, was a Messenger of the Vigil. Yep, you heard that right. The pure being, surrounded by holy light, floated serenely above the ground not ten yards from where I stood now. I frowned and cocked my head in an exaggerated expression of confusion. I could have sworn the being wasn't there when I'd first become aware of my surroundings. Although honestly I hadn't been paying that much attention. The Messenger was calmly watching me from its strange, eyeless mask, giving the impression that it cared not what I did, and found me somewhat amusing, if a bit predictable. Those creatures were definitely starting to irritate me, messengers of the gods or no!

     In a bit of a temper, and feeling a bit confused, I stomped over to the winged being and gazed up at it sharply. It turned so it was facing me and gazed down on me with a calm, polite expression. I glared.
     "Excuse me? Excuse me there, Lady Messenger person...thing? Mind telling me what the hell is going on? So far I'm not all impressed with your leading me around by the nose with your commands and fluffy words of advice. What happened here? Why am I suddenly in Silverwood when I distinctly remember being in Mathosia a few minutes ago? What happened to Port Scion? Last I remember it was a thriving trade city. I want some straight answers this time."
     I shook my gloved finger at the Messenger meaningfully. The holy being regarded me steadfastly, as if I hadn't even spoken. Well, if anything, my rant made my feel better. I took another deep breath, and crossed my arms.

     I felt the telltale golden aura of the gods envelope me, and a light, airy pressure on my mind. The familiar nudge had me opening my thoughts for communication, and the Messenger spoke, in the softest tones. The longer she/he/it spoke, the more alarmed I became.

     "You have been gone for two decades Ascended. Twenty years. Much has changed. Being Ascended is a great gift, but all power has its price. Orphiel and his Defiants, who you fought in Mathosia, have now replicated Ascension. Regulos, his avatar shattered, still reaches through the weakened Ward. You are a guardian of Telara. Your people and your gods need you now."

     I scowled at the Messenger as the soft words trailed away in my mind. Telara needs me? Than why would they keep me on their plane for twenty years? Twenty years! I can't believe it. Not only am I working for the Vigil as their personal instrument of justice, but now I feel like a puppet, plucked out of time whenever it suits them and then deposited back into the world again when they have problems too big to fix. I can't believe this!
     If I hadn't been gone such a ridiculous amount of time, I could have done something to prevent this! I could have stopped Orphiel. Or at least tried. And Port Scion? Something must have happened there, but what? Not to mention, the Ward is still broken, and Regulos is still trying to get his hands on the world. And these Defiant? It must be those heretics that played with Magitech. I feel so out of touch here. My mind is still stuck on the last few minutes of my time in Mathosia. Smashing Aedraxis's body with the Hammer of the Vigil. Carwin's death. Oh dear gods, Carwin. I shook my head. No time to think about that now. The soft voice began again in my mind as if reading my thoughts.
     "After you shattered the body of Aedraxis, Regulos was weakened for a time. The order you helped form grew stronger. They named themselves the Guardians, and by the Vigil's grace, worked to strengthen the gods' Ward against Regulos. But Regulos returned to Telara too soon. The city of Port Scion was lost and the Defiants betrayed the world once more. Many of your people have fallen."

     I drew back and raised an eyebrow. My people? Since when do I have a "people"? My kind maybe? The other Ascended. Well hell no, the Vigil is so not making them my responsibility. I have a hard enough time coping with being Ascended by myself, thank you very much. Not to mention, I didn't sign up for the whole saving the world gig to be a permanant job. Perhaps I should have read the fine print before agreeing, back in the Sanctuary, when the Messenger had first addressed me and asked me to serve the gods.

     The Messenger seemed to fade around the edges, and golden light sprung from the ground to cover its feet.

     "Hey! Wait a sec here! You barely explained anything! What am I doing here, specifically? What do you want me to do? Hello? You didn't even tell me what went wrong..." I trailed off and huffed with vexation as the Messenger of the Vigil faded from view, soon nothing more than a few motes of light. I glared at the location for a few moments, feeling sulky. Than I groaned and turned around. The archway I'd arrived in seemed to be tucked into a kind of nook, or shallow impression, up against the natural cliff wall that the Port Scion bridge had been built over. Facing outward from that, I saw several beings carefully moving along the rocky beach. Wonder who they were? Gazing upward at the ruined bridge, I pursed my lips.
     If they were survivors from the destruction of the bridge, they might need my help. I made a customary inspection of my person, checking to make sure all my weapons were accounted for and undamaged. I was missing two of my daggers; the ones I'd used to coat with poison and dispatch those Rift creatures, but that can't be helped. All seemed in order, so I took a step forward, wondering what was next.

     The soft grassy earth beneath my feet felt like the most heavenly of sensations and despite the grim warning still in the back of my mind, and the words that the Messenger had left me with, I felt myself relaxing and becoming more at ease. Tension seemed to slip away from me, tension I didn't even know I was feeling. I couldn't stop a soft laugh from bubbling out as I walked, eyes bright.

     I became more serious as I approached the shoreline and noticed a young woman in odd colored armor sitting with her legs tucked under her on a mossy boulder. I frowned. Wonder what she's doing just sitting here? Was she hurt? Only one way to find out. I walked up to her, keeping my hands free in case she wanted to give me trouble. In this new situation I found myself thrown into, I don't know yet who is friend and who is foe, or even the circumstances of this new time. This is Silverwood, true, but it is a Silverwood that I am not entirely familiar with.

     "Excuse me? Are you all right there? Do you need any assistance?" I offered quietly as I walked up to the sitting woman. I inspected her critically as I waited for a response. She had on a winged helm of soft pastel colors, and wore a strange shimmery armor of the same coloration. She wore stiffened gauntlets and carried a weapon on her back. But she looked for all the world like a sad, confused puppy. Rather odd.

     The woman blinked up at me dazedly, as if only just noticing me there. She opened her mouth, than shook her head and closed it again. Finally she turned to gaze out at the water, and I reflexively did too. I was surprised to notice what looked like floating bodies strewn across the bay like so much flotsam! I gasped and the woman must have heard me for she began speaking. "The city over there is Port Scion. It was the rock we built peace upon between the Guardians and the Defiant." I nodded. I knew that much already. Why must everyone repeat the obvious? My being light haired has nothing to do with my intelligence level. Still I kept quiet, sensing this was something she needed to say.

      "Alsbeth allowed Regulos to stretch his horrendous talons through the Ward. She stole the heart of Regulos from the vaults and unleashed a death rift over the city. King Zareph, who tried for so long to keep the peace, gave his life to close off the city and trap the evil inside." She kept speaking but I tuned her out, feeling shocked. Zareph, the Mathosian prince, dead? How could this have happened? How did things get so bad? And who is this Alsbeth? The name sounds vaguely familiar, but I'm not sure if I should recognize it or not.

     " we are at war with the Defiant and that is why I am wet." I blinked, becoming aware of the woman's voice again. Sure enough when I looked her over again I noticed her armor looked wet, and she was shivering. If I'd had anything of use, I'd have offered it to her, but I literally had the clothes on my back and my weapons. Hardly useful to a wet and cold woman in armor.

     "I'm alright, honest." Said the woman, as if sensing my thoughts and concern. She pointed behind me, and I turned to look, only to huff incredulously when I spotted yet another armor clad figure along the shoreline, this one a male. "Can you see if Alwin is okay, he looks like he may have been hurt." She rubbed her hands together and blew on them as she spoke. I eyed her doubtfully, wondering perhaps if I ought to go seek out help for her first. She shook her head, again stating she was fine, and I shrugged. Her own problem if she caught something out here. So after another careful look around, I headed off to a section of the bay that curved inward to where the bridge is, where the man "Alwin" was standing, staring up at the ruins of the bridge.

     I approached silently, as quiet as a cat, and stopped a few feet away. I cleared my throat to make my presence known and the man turned to regard me, smiling wearily.

     "Well, what's your story?" I asked, rather abruptly. The man blinked at me, than raised an eyebrow. "I just arrived here, so I'm kind of behind on the recent drama, if you'd like to fill me in. I can't help if I don't know what's wrong." I offered at his questioning glance. The man nodded, than turned to look behind me, presumably at the woman.

     "Well, as Sienna no doubt already told you, we fell from the great bridge when the Defiant blew it up. We were crossing to destroy their Arc of the Ascended, a foul device they've created to replicate Ascension. We couldn't let that happen. But the Defiant destroyed the bridge rather than face us in honorable combat. I can still see my comrades faces as the bridge fell beneath us. I will never forget this crime." His eyes hardened and he turned to look at the bridge again.

     I frowned, trying to piece this together. So the bridge was destroyed by the Defiant, in response to the Guardians threatening to destroy their greatest work. I can see their way of thinking, to an extent. Except that their work could be what creates the horror and catastrophe in my vision warning. It's hard to tell, everything seems so...loose, random. Chaotic. I'll need more personal experience with the Defiant of this time to accurately judge if they are the enemy that the Vigil thinks they are. From long association with my goddess Tavril, I know that the gods do not compromise on things and they tend to take a rather dim view of anyone disagreeing with them.

     "Say, who are you anyway? You're dressed strangely for a Guardian. You are a Guardian, aren't you? Where did you come from?" The man, Alwin, glanced around curiously, obviously wondering where I'd popped out of. Like I'd tell him that I'd just been transported to this spot by powerful divine beings after being given a message that apparently took 20 years to impart. Yeah, right.

     "Do you have an officer around? Someone in command, or in authority of those who marched across the bridge? Surely more than just you survived?" I asked to forestall anymore questions and to distract the man. Plus, I'd really like to actually talk to someone in the know around here; see what kind of help I can offer. Alwin's eyes widened, as if he'd only just realized that I was here for a reason. He grinned sheepishly and gestured with his chin off to the left. I sighed and looked. Sure enough there was yet another armor clad man, standing on a boulder jutting out from the beach. Hands on his hips, winged helm. He looked like a young lordling that was cross about something. Great, probably someone who received the position of authority either through accident or title. Just what I wanted. I nodded my thanks to Alwin, told him to keep up hope, and trudged across the uneven rocky shore toward the officer in question.

     Captain Glott, as the man was called, had a soft high voice, a long nose, and dark blue eyes. He was the epitome of Mathosian bloodlines. Reluctantly I explained how I'd arrived here and that I was an Ascended Guardian from the time of the Shade War, returned with a dire message for the Guardian leaders.

     "Can it be?" He asked, a bit too dramatically in my opinion. "The Ascended that stopped Aedraxis has returned? For 20 years we awaited the return of those who had shattered the body of Regulos's avatar, ending the Mathosian War. Now that you're here, we can begin righting the wrongs that have occurred since your disappearance." I gave him a level look. The way he said it made it seem like I'd just decided to skip town to avoid my responsibilities. It's not like I'd planned on getting kidnapped by the gods and force-fed images of the end of the world.
     Instead, I held back my irritation and asked, "Okay, what do we do first?"
     The man sized me up and seemed to consider, tapping his fingers on his sword hilt. "I led a Guardian force across the bridge to destroy their foul machines. The Defiant knew we'd beat them easily so they destroyed the bridge-with us on it. I know there are still men and women out there, stranded in those evil waters. If you could, I'd appreciate it if you could find a way to rescue as many of my men as possible. Inform Catelyn Silera of any lives saved. She is a High Elven healer stationed up the path, our liaison with Divine Landing."

     I felt like glaring. What, he couldn't get off his own butt and rescue his own men? He's standing here all fine and dandy and those brave soldiers are out there in that water, which looked to be corrupted by death magic. I eyed the water cautiously. I didn't really have desire to enter it, but for the lives of those Guardians, I had no choice. I stripped off my boots-no sense in them getting ruined, as well as most of my knives, daggers and gadgetry. I placed everything on top of my pack on a sizable rock by the water's edge and took a deep breath. Here goes.

     The water was cold and oily. Tendrils of dark colored mist seemed to rise off it in a never-ending wave, giving me the feeling of touching something tainted. I wrinkled my nose as the water became deeper and darker, and soon I was having to keep afloat. Swimming expertly, I made my way toward the bridge, where I remember seeing the stranded Guardians earlier. The first one I came across was face down in the water and clearly dead. I spent a few moments sending a prayer for his soul to the gods, before moving on in search of survivors, all the while muttering curses at Captain Glott. The second soldier I came across was a woman, and she stirred as I touched her. Relieved, I kept nudging her until she seemed aware enough to understand me.

     "You fell from the bridge. The shore is not too far off, do you think you can swim to safety on your own?" I asked slowly and precisely.  The woman glanced around absently, but finally nodded. She thanked me warmly before setting off hesitantly for shore. For the next half hour I swam around in that murky, filthy, death filled water looking for survivors. The water was incredibly cold and soon I was shivering. Finally I'd had enough and made for shore myself. Along the rocky beach the survivors I'd rescued lay, some huddled together, some just lying where they'd climbed out of the water. Thankfully Captain Glott seemed to be organizing a way to make a fire. I grabbed my things, put on my boots, and headed off up the path to where he'd indicated this Catelyn Silera would be.
     What I wanted more than anything right now was a nice warm fire and something to eat. I'd sell myself to Regulos for a hot bath right now...

     Carefully walking further up the beach, I followed a slight path that had been worn into the earth. The path led right under the archway of the doomed bridge and I couldn't help but gaze up at it as I walked underneath. Being beneath it made the hair stand up on my neck. Despite it's recent downfall, it was still a magnificent piece of craftsmanship. I regret not having seen it when it was whole. It is unfortunate that those Defiant destroyed it! So tragic that we cannot learn to unite against a common fore and set aside our squabbles and hatred of others who are different. I think I would like to learn more about the fall of Port Scion and how it happened. And who is this Alsbeth? I'll have to see what I can find about him or her.
     I found Catelyn Silera by the base of Founder's Threshold. She was a tall, willowy elf in sky blue robes, standing under a small elm tree. She was older in years, and had kind, knowing eyes. Healer's eyes. I approached confidently when I saw her smile warmly at me. She didn't look at all surprised to see me, actually. I related what I'd seen by the beach, and how I'd found Glott and his regiment. She listened intently and nodded, looking relieved.

     "When I saw the Defiant blow up the bridge I thought Captain Glott and his men were doomed. Thank you for saving them, Ascended. Might I add, it is an honor to be in your presence. It has been so long since such a powerful Ascended has graced our shores. The timing couldn't be better."

     I don't know why I was surprised. Everyone seemed to know about me before I even knew them back in Mathosia, so why should here be any different? Nevertheless, I drew back from her, not bothering to disguise my shock.

     "How did you know what I was? Gods, do I have a brand on my forehead or something? Do I glow or look different?" I felt better after saying that, and gave her a pouty look. Catelyn laughed softly.

     "We were told beforehand to expect a powerful Ascended from the past, one particular that had been quite gifted. And you are dressed so...strangely. I know you are not a member of the party at Divine Landing."

     Well, she had me there. I did realize that I stood out quite a bit from the mass of winged helms and strangely designed armor. It must be standard issue for Guardian soldiers now. If you ask me, they could have chosen a different color scheme.

     "I must confess, Ascended, that we need your help against this newest attack of the Defiant." I gave her a questioning glance. What, the Defiant again? Now what were they up to? She nodded at my unspoken question.

     "They have landed on the beach. They've razed our catapults so their machines can come in safely by sea. We have to stop them; there are buckets available down by the beach, but I fear we don't have the manpower to hold them off and put out the fires at the same time. But that is not the most pressing concerns. There are things stirring in the forest...evil things. You should go to Divine Landing and investigate." I hesitated. Sensing my hesitation, Catelyn continued speaking.
     "I've heard stories about you Ascended heroes for the past 20 years. You ended the Mathosian war. Your arrival heralds the defeat of the Defiant and the blossoming of our glory. You've been gone a long time, and a lot has changed."
     "Obviously," I muttered absently. "You speak of defeating the Defiant like they are something as abhorrent as the dragons. They are people too. They have a way of life, have lived on Telara for just as long as the Mathosians. Their world views and cultures may be different, but they seek to defend Telara just as we do, don't deny it."

     Catelyn gave me a searching look, considering. "We had a grudging peace with them, you know, after Regulos was defeated by you. They were left alone to study their foul Magitech. They even met peacefully with others in Port Scion. But his return and the continual invasion of the Planes have given our different world views mortal consequences. While we strive to restore the power of the Vigil to strengthen the Ward that protects Telara from Regulos and the Blood Storm, the Defiant attempt to save Telara with profane technologies. If they prevail, the Vigil will be weakened and the Blood Storm will devour us all. So you see, what choice have we?"

     Before I could respond, a commotion up on the bridge drew my attention. I tilted my head and shaded my eyes, but couldn't spot anything. However, I was curious as to what was going on, so bid Catelyn a hasty apology and ran around the base of the bridge to investigate.

No comments:

Post a Comment