Monday, July 30, 2012

[Raeslyn's Story] Chapter 1.3: Defiant Wars

The next morning was just as dreary and dark as the days before and the depressing atmosphere was really starting to grate on my elven spirit. I yawned and stretched, limbering up my muscles after spending a cold night on the ground. After eating some of the provisions I had stored in my pack I wandered over to where Borrin and Shyla were already up and about-if they had even slept that is. I listened quietly to one side as they discussed their military position and if they had been any news from some outpost called Valor Hold.      They talked extensively and disgustedly about the Defiant, who of course I only knew about by listening in to other conversations. Seeing me listening in, Borrin grinned and beckoned me over to join them. I was only too happy to oblige, feeling a bit out of the loop by myself. I settled down on the ground beside the dwarf and he turned to me and said, as if delivering a lecture,
    "When the tyrant Aedraxis rescinded the ban against Eth machines, he promised the Bahmi and Ethian people an Empire of their own if they helped him weaken the Ward against Regulos. Those Defiant cowards helped him open the rift without even considering the cost. Now they hide in the forest, swelling Aedraxis's numbers even now with their profane machines."

He shook his head grimly and I felt an answering fury inside of me well up. How dare these Defiant do this! Could they not see what their foul technology is doing to our world? Would they stop at nothing to gain power? Shyla nodded at Borrin, agreeing with his passionate statement and I balled my hand into a fist. Perhaps I could be of help in thinning the Defiant numbers? The forest couldn't be too far; I could see scraggly bare treetops from across the town, in the direction of the fire-streaked sky.  That was the direction I needed to head in anyway to confront Aedraxis. So I put the suggestion to Lady Shyla to see what she'd say and she was grateful for any aid.
    "Oh thank you Raeslyn! You're dedication to the cause is noted and the Vigil shines down on you. Head to the town's front gate and talk to Brother Jebiah. He's one of the main men in charge of the Guardians in that side of town and he could tell you more than I the status of what's going in the wood. I'm sure he would appreciate any aid you can give him. Gods bless."

I murmured a blessing to both Lady Shyla and Borrin, and turned, decisively picking up my things and gathering a few other items I might need. I had the feeling I'd be leaving the town and not coming back. Which saddened me. As despairing and serious as the town was, it was familiar territory now after roaming it for these past few days. It was something I could fixate on, a task I knew well. Now I'd be heading out into the unknown again.

Stationed on either side of the town gate were two men in the military colors that I'd come to associate with the Mathosian army. One was a dwarf and one a Mathosian. Interesting. I stepped up between them and inquired as to which one was Brother Jebiah. The dwarf spoke up, admitting to owning the name. I explained to him who I was and what I'd been doing, finishing that I'd been feeling restless in the inner parts of Ardenburgh once I'd managed to cull most of the thralls and Knights. I was wanting to be of more help and Borrin had mentioned something about Defiant trouble.

The short man nodded, eyes narrowed in hate. 
"Aye, Borrin Gammult speaks the truth. We had peaceful relations with the Southern races but than
Aedraxis lured them to his side with promises 'a power. If you could lend us a hand lassie, I'd be much obliged to ya." He explained to me the extent of the Defiant's treachery in the forest and I felt myself filling with righteous anger again. How dare they. Even after the tragedy of the rift, those betrayers of Telara still aid Aedraxis. There must be a reckoning.
     "I'll gladly exact a little Vigil justice on these heathens." I replied, itching to stick my daggers in those traitors. Shocking, that thought. Must be one of the more violent souls I share a body with. I smiled to myself. Yes, I've gotten quite used to my new...quirks by now. That didn't mean that I was entirely comfortable with it, or that something didn't take me my surprise still at times, but for the most part myself and the other souls worked as a team, in tandem.

     Brother Jebiah rubbed his chin, before snapping his fingers. "I got just the task for an eager young Ascended lass, that I do." I perked up, eager to be of help.

    "The abhorrence of those Defiant betrayers knows no bounds; they've stolen sourcestone to power their machines. Sourcestone is a result of the gods' creation of Telara. It is holy, and ours by right. Rip the sourcestone from their unholy devices and return it to me, where it can be of better use to our Guardian soldiers." I blinked, of conflicting thoughts on that. In my opinion, sourcestone should not be controlled or manipulated by any one side, and it did not "belong" to any one person by any right, regardless of their belief. It was a tool, like any other and should be used sensibly and reliably, whoever has access to it.  However, I do agree on one thing. The Defiant should never be allowed near sourcestone. They misuse it's divine powers to attack the rest of the Telarans and to create abominable constructs.
I narrowed my eyes, holding my daggers close and keeping a sharp eye out for any of these Defiant traitors. I needed to put a stop to their unholy magic and bring back those spheres so they could be used for good. Heading past the gate, I kept my daggers close as I searched for any Defiant invaders to get rid of. Movement among the trees alerted me to the presence of one such Defiant. Keeping focused, I crept forward, silently weaving among the undergrowth. The Defiant, a woman in a long red and gold patterned robe and carrying a gem-topped staff, was facing the other direction. Just my luck, she wouldn't even know what was coming. I stealthy crept along behind her, crouching behind a thin tree. There, I took a deep breath and steeled myself to the realization that I'd have to kill. I gripped my daggers tighter. It was my duty to do this.
 I leaped out from behind the tree, making not a sound. The woman saw me at the last second, but it was too late for her. Quick work of my daggers silenced her within moments. Once the threat was over with, I noticed that she had been standing next to some sort of tripod. Lightning crackled along the rods and a large orb sat on the top of it. Aha, that's what I needed. I wondered how I was to get this orb back to the gate, since it seemed heavy. But thankfully once I picked it up I realized it was actually quite light.

     I shoved the glowing orb in my bag, securing it with ties, and set off to hunt more of those Defiant. I was actually in luck on my next kill, for I found he was carrying a nicely crafted bow. I slung the weapon over my shoulder, inspecting the arrows for alignment. Satisfied, I even checked his pockets for coin. I smirked. I'm turning into the real mercenary here.

       I took down any Defiant I could see in the wood. And believe me, there were a lot more than there should have been. How could we have let them sneak between us like this? I grimaced as I slashed the throat of another Defiant, a warrior this time.  It was something I think I'll never get used to, despite the necessity. Finally I headed back to the gate with my prizes.  I was quite pleased that I was able to impress Brother Jebiah and Tam Daggerborne, who were still guarding the gate when I walked up. Jeez, you'd think they'd have found someone else to relieve them. I bet they were tired from standing so long. I know I was tired. My leg muscles burned from all the activity and my eyes ached from the strain of constantly being on the lookout for the enemy. I handed over the three orbs I found. Truthfully, that was the only amount that would fit in my bags. Those things are far too big for their own good. As I chewed on some dried meat I had left over, I noticed that Lord Daggerborne was eyeing me approvingly. I raised an eyebrow at him, wondering what he wanted. He grinned back at me.

     "It's glorious being Ascended, eh Raeslyn? I thought my days of slaying demons was over when the Rifts came, but the Vigil gave us one more chance for vengeance." He beamed at me, so obviously proud to be fighting in the Vigil's name. I nodded rather absently when he was finished, knowing that's what he expected. Personally, I followed my lady Tavril and carried out her will when required. I wasn't of the view that I had been brought back simply because of my ability to kill things. After all they'd have picked someone else besides me if that were the case. Right?

"You should head to Valor Hold. Speak to Cyril Kalmer there, he'll have need of you. We can hold off for now at this point. Thank you for your aid." Brother Jebiah said grudgingly. "That's where the real battle is."
     I closed my fist around my weapons. Soon I'd need to either procure new ones or find a sharpening stone. Constant use of my daggers on flesh and bone was dulling the edges. Back I went into the woods. This time, I avoided the Defiant when I could, wanting to only get to this Valor Hold. The sooner we removed Aedraxis from the picture, the better things would be. As I wove my way through the small copse of trees that lined Ardenburgh village, I realized that the fire-streaked sky was darkening and I was amazed to note that yet another day had passed. It seemed that time went by so quickly when I was focused on a task. As the sky darkened, torches sprang into existence beyond the trees, letting me know where Valor Hold was quite easily, just in case I couldn't find it. I smiled, relieved. Perhaps I could get some good rest in a real bed tonight. Hopefully. I've no clue as to the shape of Valor Hold's defenses, but they must be relatively secure to risk lighting torches at night, as torches are a beacon in darkness. I wove my way tiredly through the remaining wood, coming out to what I thought was just a clearing but actually turned out to be a wide open field. The field was quite large, extending off into the darkness and I realized this must be Thedeor Field, where the Mathosian army had clashed with Aedraxis's evil powers and lost. It gave me chills thinking about it. Immediately after leaving the tree line I was accosted by Guardian scouts, who took me past Valor Hold's defense line straight into the camp.

     At least they were better prepared for intruders, instead of just letting me walk up there. It wasn't hard to spot this Cyril Kalmer I was supposed to report to. He was big, a bear of a man, dressed in gleaming white armor. I would have pointed out that with that white armor and dark hair, he stood out like a lit beacon among the rest of the ordinary soldiers but he probably already knew that. You can't get to be general of an army if you were that dense...right? Right, let's not answer that.

     I reported on what I'd accomplished so far, adding that I'd appreciate a nice bed and a good supper. Cyril Kalmer was quite kind actually, despite his booming voice, and he completely understood how exhausted I was. And he didn't once mention that I was the savior or anything. Things were definitely looking up. I slept like the dead that night, no pun intended, and woke up feeling my usual, cheerfully sarcastic self.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

[Books and Artifacts] II: Ardenburgh Proclomations

The Passing of Jostir Mathos
The kingdom of Mathosia mourns the death of it's wise and benevolent
sovereign, Jostir Mathos. May he forever sit at Thedeor's side in the Halls of the
 Righteous. King Jostir leaves behind two sons: King Aedraxis Mathos, who was
crowned as our new exalted leader the eve of his father's passing and Prince
Zareph Mathos, who rules over the great eastern city of Port Scion.
The king also leaves behind a bastard son, Carwin Mathos.
All Hail King Aedraxis
People of Mathosia rejoice! In this dark hour, let your hearts be filled with the
coming of our new sovereign, Aedraxis Mathos. Though deeply saddened by
the loss of his father, King Jostir, Prince Aedraxis nobly took up the crown
the following evening in a grand ceremony. King Aedraxis proclaimed that
his reign shall bring forth a new, prosperous era for Mathosia. His desire
is for our kingdom to unbind itself from the constraints of the past,
so that we may embrace the future. All hail King Aedraxis, may he live
a thousand years!
A Royal Proclamation
A proclamation to the people of Mathosia from his most benevolent highness:
Be it resolved that I, King Aedraxis Mathos, do now make lawful the
practice of technomancy and the ownership of related equipment within
the kingdom of Mathosia. Additionally, any citizen found guilty of
speaking out against me or my methods shall be executed for treason.
My Mathosian Knights shall be granted the final ruling in all such
His Exalted Highness, King Aedraxis Mathos.
A People United
People of Mathosia, we have been led astray. The king promised us
prosperity, but what we got was devastation and oppression.
King Aedraxis would have us forsake the gods and instead turn to
planar demons and unholy technology. We cannot stand idly by and let our
great kingdom fall from grace. A united army of Telarans who would put
a stop to this madness once and for all is assembling at Thedeor Fields,
outside of the town of Ardenburgh. We welcome all who would join us there.
Together we shall become the Guardians of Mathosia.
Notice of Evacuation
To Whom It May Concern:
My family and I have taken all we can carry and we have left this gods-
forsaken land forever. There are undead creatures everywhere now,
and from this house I can see the very tear in the world itself that
our mad king has made. It is just too much for a man to bear.
If you are reading this, do yourself a favor and get out while you can.
Mathosia is damned.
These notices can be found on various houses throughout the town of Ardenburgh in the tutorial zone, Guardian side. Just click on the sparkling scrolls on the wall to read! I found them while exploring the zone and I thought they were quite an interesting look into the time right before we are resurrected as Ascended. I wrote them in what I thought was proper order, and it's kind of neat to see how the proclamations change over the years of Aedraxis's reign. It makes me want to write a story perhaps from the point of view of someone that lived during those times. *stores that thought away for later* For now, enjoy this brief little snippet of Telaran history.
References: Taken directly from the game of Rift and written here. Does not belong to me!

Friday, July 27, 2012

[Raeslyn's Story] Chapter 1.2: Ardenburgh

Location: Ardenburgh city center
Time: What seems to be late afternoon
Date: Year 1489, 8th moon
     When I got closer to the fountain, I noticed that a few of the defenders were giving me cautious looks, as if wondering what kind of threat I posed, and I realized that of course they weren't expecting reinforcements or aid of any kind so they had to be thinking I was perhaps one of the enemy.

     I smiled as I approached, hoping that would soften my unannounced arrival. However, it seemed it wasn't needed. An older looking dwarf who was hammering something on an anvil happened to turn his head and catch sight of me. His mouth formed an "O" of surprise and he gasped. This caused Lady Shyla to look as well and her look of weary relief caused me to relax my guard.

     "An Ascended! Thank the gods your here, we need your help desperately!" She called. Well nice to know I'm appreciated...I guess.
     "I've been waitin' to crack some skulls in." Said the dwarf as well, nodding at me. I grinned at his friendly tone of voice. Stepping up beside Lady Shyla, I suddenly felt quite awkward. She had to find me at least familiar and I was dreading explaining that I was one of the Aelfwar nobility who had turned away from her offer of aid to Mathosia. I know she must think it a grave betrayal of the Covenant, what we had done.
     But I had thought we Aelfwar were in the right! We've never allied ourselves with the other races before. We've always kept to ourselves, patrolled the byways of the world, and stayed distant from the petty wars of the lesser races. Instead of mentioning it though, Lady Shyla just smiled at me benevolently. Now that I'd found the defenders, I felt much more sure of myself. We needed to push back the tide of undead that had overrun the town and then move out onto Thedeor Field itself. Oh, that reminds me. Quickly I turned to the dwarf and handed him the Sourcestone-imbued sword shards that I'd collected off those knights. "Hey, I found these on knights of Aedraxis who ran across me; figured they'd be of some use to us and I didn't want to leave Sourcestone in their unholy hands." The dwarf fingered the shards.

     "Well well," he muttered thoughtfully. I bit back my impatient first words, and instead tapped my fingers on my sheathed dagger. Finally, he said, "Despite bein' the king of Lord's Hall, I know a thing or two about weapon craftin'. And Sourcestone is somethin' I've studied quite a bit young missy. Here, let's see if I can't work something out eh?" He laid the shards out on an anvil nearby as I blinked in awe. A dwarf king? I'd actually met a dwarf king? I stared openly as he worked over the shards, wondering how best to ask the myriad questions I had about dwarves and their culture. I've always loved learning about different peoples and I'd never had the chance to travel to the far off delves to visit the dwarves. As I stared, one sword fragment got caught in his beard and he started swearing in a thick dwarven dialect. I grinned. I liked this dwarf king. Shyla caught my eye and I pointedly glanced around. 
     "What happened here lady Shyla?" I asked grimly. The dwarf was the one who replied though.

     "Borrin Gammult's me name. When I heard Aedraxis had lifted the ban on the study of technomancy, I was horrified. The fool was going against the Vigil and everything the Mathosian Empire stood for. Than when I heard he had begun weakening the Ward with this technomancy, I knew I had to act, especially when Shyla and the High Elves joined with Prince Zareph to try to stop the mad king. I mobilized my entire dwarven army at Lord's Hall in Scarwood Reach and brought them here to stop the Tyrant." Borrin gave a gusty sigh and although he didn't show any outward sign of it, I heard the deep sorrow and self-blame in his voice when he said, "sadly, my men are all dead now. When Aedraxis summoned that death rift onto our plane over Thedeor Field everyone was slain, including my people. Now they roam these fields as soulless undead. I've had to kill my own people!" He glanced at me with a stricken expression and I felt renewed hatred towards Aedraxis. "But the Vigil brought us Ascended. Aye, I can sense yer one too lass. Now we have a new goal. Stop Aedraxis and end this madness or die tryin'. I'm a king without a people, but my hammer is dedicated to the service of the Ascended. Just the say the word, and I'm your man."

     I nodded because it seemed like the thing to do, although I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to think about a dwarf king seemingly pledging himself to my cause. Wasn't it supposed to be the other way around? I'm just one of many Ascended. No one special, right? Turning to Shyla, I tilted my head to look up at her. She was quite tall, even for an elf.

     "Lady Shyla, what can I do to help get rid of Aedraxis?" I asked politely. Well, politely for me

anyway. She may be the High Priestess of the High Elves, but I had my dignity. Shyla studied me a moment, before nodding. "We need to gain back the sanctified sphered that are being used to power the Ward at this location. Minions of Aedraxis, shadowy fiends, keep stealing them for their own uses. The more we get back, the better our defenses will be." That made sense, although I was looking for something a bit more aggressive. Eager to prove myself, I quickly got a description of the spheres and these so called minions that had them, I went about searching the village for them. Upon leaving the secured area around the fountain, it didn't take long to find the spheres. Of course, retrieving them proved to be another matter. Large shadowy creatures with eldritch-blue eyes were carting around golden objects that glowed with holy power. The creatures flew madly from house to charred house, snatching up spheres from holy altars and placing them on strange mechanical devices.

     The horrifying thing was that these machines were attached to people! Electrodes and wires snaked around the hapless individual. I had no problem with killing these abominations to get back the spheres. Crouched in the shadows unseen, I mentally grinned as I tensed myself. A flutter of anxiety went through me before I was able to fully concentrate on the task at hand. Except for the battle that resulted in my death, I'd not had much experience with actually killing someone. These creatures being abominations of the plane of death helped in that regard. The other souls inside seemed to surge up and surround my mind, honing my intent and thoughts until I was completely focused. When I had a moment to myself, I'd love to study myself and my Ascended souls. I stealthily crept along the building behind the wraith, a dagger in each hand. Earlier I'd coated the blades with a special poison I'd made myself. It felt good to know I was strong, capable; immortal.

     A thrill of anticipation hummed through me as I darted around the corner and leaped at the specter. The glowing sphere rested on a metal pedestal behind me. The creature was nearly transparent, flicking and shifting like oily black smoke. The specter fixed its amorphous eyes on me and suddenly it was right in my face. Reflexively I used the plane shifting trick, blinking through space to appear some distance behind it. It whirled around and I snickered. This was too much fun. I was really starting to enjoy my new role. I flipped a dagger around so I was holding it at a different angle and threw it straight at the specter. As ever, my dagger flew true and sank into the creature's eye. It made a hollow, soundless shriek and rushed at me again. I knew instinctively not to let it touch me and twisted out of the way, just barely missing being grabbed by a shadowy appendage. Turning to face it straight on, I raised an eyebrow in irritation. Just how was I to kill something made of smoke and magic? Perhaps the soul with knowledge of plane shifting could help out here. I searched through the memories and knowledge now available to me and came up with an attack that drew on my Ascended powers: Planar Strike
I just suddenly knew what to do and concentrated on my dagger. It began to glow the telltale color of Sourcestone magic and was only slightly shocked that it worked. I saw the specter warily eyeing my now glowing daggers. Good, it should be worried. I wasn't some poor sod who hadn't ever picked up anything more threatening than a fork. All those poor women and children who were all dead now. It made me furious thinking about it and I gripped my daggers harder. Amazingly they began to glow even brighter. Time to finish this. I darted in toward the specter, my newly enhanced abilities making me faster than normal. My daggers, enchanted with Vigil-given power, sank into the specter as if it was made of real flesh, puncturing deep. I guess the planar strike was actually pretty effective against those creatures. I sent a silent thanks to the gods even as the creature gave an unearthly wail and seemed to vanish into thin air. After I had vanquished the specter, it was quite an easy task to pluck the sphere out of its socket and set it gently in the bottom in my pack. After that, it was only a matter of finding more of those fiends and sending them back to whatever hellspawned plane they came from. I gathered as many spheres as I could carry and brought them back to the fountain.
     As I thought, lady Shyla was pleased with my success and set the spheres out so that they could be linked back up to the Ward with a blessing for the Vigil.
     "In the meantime," Shyla commented, focusing back on me, "We need to sever Regulos's hold on the land. In Silverwood as you know, we High Elves  grew wooden walls to keep the evil at bay." I nodded thoughtfully. Yes I remember that. It was one of out duties to the Covenant we swore a millennia ago. Calling on Tavril's power, we would weave trees together to create and impenetrable glade of magic that would repel whatever evil that happened into our wood. But that was countless years ago and the ability to perform that kind of magic was long lost when Tavril stopped walking among us and the Ward was placed around Telara.

     "There is scant wood in these northern lands, I know," Shyla continued, "but Borrin has forged a magical dagger out of the Sourcestone-imbued steel you recovered. If you can solicit Tavril to bless the dagger, the spirits of the forest will hopefully empower you to cleanse this town of Regulos's evil taint."
I blinked at her. She wanted me to perform such a rite? I felt honored. Shyla gestured behind me and I turned to notice Borrin the dwarf grinning at me and holding out a small, slim blade. It was quite the exquisite little dagger, finely crafted as all dwarven made weapons were. Borrin puffed out his chest proudly and held out the dagger for me to take. I glanced around at the crumbling, ash filled town. At the desperate guards, faces gray with exhaustion as they tried their best to defend this last position by the fountain. I saw Lady Shyla, now an Ascended like me, and Borrin, also Ascended. And I realized of course I had to do this. There were no one else. Borrin and Shyla were leaders, needed to keep the army together. There were no others to be spared. Everyone had a task they were required to do. As a chosen warrior blessed by the gods, I had the gifts do pretty much anything. I found myself shuffling my feet and straightened up, nodding at Shyla. She smiled softly at me, gratefulness shining in her eyes.

     Seeing a few treetops poking out above the burnt roofs of the town, I knew where I needed to go. I needed a place that was sacred to Tavril herself to perform the ritual and pray for her blessing. Tavril was of the land, so I needed a place that was closest to her. Dodging homicidal knights was becoming easier was I swiftly walked in the direction of the small grove and I even killed a few more specters along the way. I kept myself alert and my eyes peeled, not wanting to be ambushed or taken by surprise. Finally, the cobblestones of the town gave way to grass and brush and I felt myself sigh contentment as a sense of peace seemed to settle over me like a familiar cloak. I hadn't felt this kind of peace since my resurrection and I didn't realize how much I was missing the forests of Silverwood until now. Granted this wasn't a forest by any stretch of the word. But it was the closest thing to a copse of wood that I'd seen yet and I'd take it. I felt such a burden magically lift off me that I actually laughed, a musical sound in the quiet somber air. I felt so free! I even took off my leather boots and danced in the grass barefoot, letting the natural music of the earth and trees sing through me. We elves are very tied to nature and in tune with its very spirit. I felt the grove's life-force humming through my body, the sensation heightened by my Ascended powers. The energy renewed me, gave me new hope and purpose. By the will of the Vigil I would see Aedraxis defeated and Telara free of the malignant force choking it. This I vow. Then after I perform the Vigil's tasks in putting an end to Aedraxis and his threat, I will be free to venture wherever I please. I think I shall enjoy my newfound lease on life. 
I approached the small wooden altar respectfully, bowing low. The altar was spear shaped, with a small glowing disc on the front. It was made of cherry wood, ever sacred to the goddess, and had been carved masterfully with ancient runes of worship and faith. The ground around the altar was well trodden, attesting to the villagers' diligence toward the goddess.

     Tavril would be pleased I think. I knelt gracefully in front of the altar and bowed my head, readying myself for prayer. Suddenly before I could blink, I felt a strong, abrupt sensation of violence and evil. Quickly I opened my eyes, flicking strands of hair out of my face irritably.

From behind the altar stepped some sort of undead creature. It looked like it might once have been a citizen of the village, or even a soldier of the army sent to stop Aedraxis. But now it had been twisted and corrupted into something unrecognizable. I shuddered in horror at the sight of the creature. It sneered at me, its gray face and red eyes a testament to the atrocities Aedraxis continues to perform. Without warning, the creature silently charged at me.       I scrambled to my feet and dove out of the way, tucking my legs under me and coming quickly to an upright position not far away. I grabbed my daggers from their sheaths at my side and prepared. The deathbound creature snarled in fury and lunged at me again. It swiped with an old rusty cutlass that seemed to have melded with its hand. I backed out of reach cautiously and searched for a weakness.
      And there were plenty. Clearly lacking the mind and intelligence of a living man, the deathbound creature could not muster anything more than wild swinging of the cutlass, leaving itself wide open to attack. Slipping in under one such wild swing, I slashed the creature's chest open with one dagger, while slicing along the inner arm that held the weapon with the other dagger. The undead shrieked and seemed to turn to ash, collapsing to the ground.
  Taking out the tiny, feather-light dagger, I held it lengthwise in front of me and presented it to the altar, kneeling silently. I bowed my head and whispered words of love and respect to the goddess, asking for her glorious blessing on the humble blade, that I might smite her foes. In answer to my prayer, one of the winged messengers appeared above the altar, snow white wings gracefully holding it aloft. The messenger seemed to peer down at me with approval.
      A blinding white light came from the winged being, engulfing the entire glade. The white light became so bright it was almost hot, and I closed my eyes. I even saw the light behind my eyelids. Slowly, the light faded, leaving spots in front of my eyes when I blinked them open. The messenger was still floating above the altar, but thankfully was no longer glowing. Instead, the dagger I held aloft now had a pure white glow about it.

      Energy seemed to emanate from the blade in waves, washing over my hands and causing vibrations to thrum up my arms. This was real power. I gazed in awe at the dagger, before looking up to thank the Vigil. The messenger nodded at me, as if it understood what was in my heart. I was too choked to answer and felt tears prickle my eyes.

      This was magnificent, to feel the gods' love like this, personally. It wasn't anything I'd ever dreamed of even witnessing, let alone experiencing myself. I trembled with emotion as I clambered to my feet, clumsy for a rogue such as myself. I bowed my head to the messenger respectfully, before turning and leaving the glade, humbled and full of hope. At the edge of the glade I collected my leather boots where I'd left them and after I put them on I headed back into Ardenburgh. Determined, I set off down the street for the main portion of town, where I knew the most fighting had been concentrated.

      Sure enough that entire section of the city was crawling with deathbound thralls. I sneered in disgust, analyzing my options. A blur of motion alerted me to another's presence and I was pleasantly surprised to find someone else here fighting the undead creatures. He was a tall man in gray armor. He carried a large heavy shield with spikes on it and a one handed hammer.

       Every once in a while he would call out for the Vigil's blessing, and white hot light would surround his weapon, striking down his foes in seconds. I watched avidly, envious of his strength and physical power. I was small and slight of frame. Carrying such a heavy shield would break me. He turned to smash another creature in the face and caught sight of me staring. I blushed, feeling heat suffuse my cheeks. The tall man grinned at me.
    "Aha. I'm glad someone's come along! I was worried that I'd have to fight these creatures myself. Lend a hand will you?" His quiet but authoritative voice had me moving toward him without hesitation. I was amused at my own reaction. His tone of voice suggested he was used to leading armies. I wonder who he was? Remembering the elven dagger, I switched my own customary twin blades for its shining length, and readied myself for combat.

      The taller Mathosian eyed the dagger, raised an eyebrow at me, but didn't say anything. No doubt he was skeptical of how much use a small slip of a girl could be with her toy knife. Hmph, men. A deathbound thrall ran at me snarling and I instinctively thrust out my dagger, calling on Tavril. An interesting thing happened.

      A beam of light darted from the tip of the dagger and hit the creature in the chest. An expression of surprised outrage passed across its rotten face. The golden white light bounced off the creature and coalesced into a strange, tall, gangly tree spirit beside the creature.

      Myself, the man, and the creature, all gawked at the tree spirit. It was ghostly, nearly transparent and I had to make myself cross eyed just to see it properly. It was many different colors of green. It reached down and with no effort at all, seized the thrall by the throat and lifted it up. Than it faded. And the thrall faded too. There was a stunned silence. I looked at the Mathosian male and he stared back at me. Than he looked at my dagger.  "Just who are you anyway?" He demanded, sounding rather sulky. I grinned. He was probably offended that I'd done away with the thrall without even lifting a finger. I shrugged and said in an off hand voice,

    "Oh, nobody special. Just your everyday run of the mill Ascended." The man's eyes widened and he kept staring. I batted my eyelashes at him and asked, "And you are..?"

     The man stuttered a bit before saying his name was Carwin. Huh, why does that name sound familiar. I know I've heard it before, but I'm not sure where. Oh well. "Carwin" and I continued taking down the deathbound thralls. He smashed them in the face and I beamed my dagger at them. It worked pretty well. We made a good team.

      The sun began waning finally and the air became cooler. Realizing I'd better get back and report my success to Lady Shyla, I bid the odd man good bye and set off down the many streets. Thankfully Ardenburgh wasn't a big enough village that I was in danger of getting lost on its streets.
    It was now almost pitch black and torches had been lit all along the perimeter of our little defensive line, to keep the undead at bay and to alert us to their movements. I nodded at the guards as I walked past, coming up to stand next to Lady Shyla.

     She seemed as serene and calm as ever and I wondered if anything really bothered her. No that wasn't fair. She'd died, been brought back, and knew now that her beloved Prince Hylas had betrayed her. She was probably putting on a mask to keep up morale. Tiredly, I gave her a return smile and recounted my experience at the altar and the effects of Tavril's blessing on the undead. When I mentioned the man Carwin, she gasped softly in delight.
    "What? Who is he than?" I asked curiously. Her expression hinted that he must be someone well known. Why else would Lady Shyla show such a reaction to an ordinary warrior. Shyla beamed at me happily.
    "That man was Carwin Mathos. He's the youngest son of King Jostir Mathos, may his soul rest in peace. I had thought Carwin lost after the Death Rift formed. It gladdens me to hear that he is still alive and well. And even fighting the undead in his own way. Perhaps there is yet hope to end this madness."

I stared at her, stunned. Carwin Mathos? I had been fighting beside the Carwin Mathos? No wonder the name sounded familiar! By the gods! If only I'd known. I felt like such a fool now. And I had just readily left him out there in the town somewhere. I hope he had a safe place to rest for the night. I should have asked if he wanted to come back to the fountain with me. Shyla placed a hand on my shoulder and nodded at me.
    "You've honored your High Elven ancestors with what you did today, banishing those thralls. I heard the furious voice of the forest calling out across town. It is only a matter of time that the glory of the gods is restored and we expel Regulos's corruption completely. Such is the will of the Vigil."

      After being praised by Shyla and Borrin, I tiredly went to find a place to lay down and rest. I was so tired from the day's events that I only wanted to sleep. Finding a comfortable nook, I placed my pack under my head, kept my daggers in easy reach, and drifted off to sleep.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

[Books and Artifacts] I: City Record of Ardenburgh

Fifth Moon of the Year of the Tyrant
     King Aedraxis has set up a camp on the far side of Thedeor Fields. He has brought with him a legion of Eth and Bahmi conscripts to build him their strange machines. The king has set up massive technomantic pillars on the hill above the field as well. In all my years as mayor of Ardenburgh I have never seen such a sight.
     In the night we can hear King Aedraxis and his mages chanting under those pillars. I swear they are saying the name Regulos over and over. The town council and I are at a loss of what to do but we know that something isn't right. We sent word to Prince Zareph a few days ago asking for him to come here and put a stop to this. Hopefully he will arrive quickly.
                Maurice Sullivan, Mayor of Ardenburgh.
Refrence: This is a book that can be picked up and collected, located in the town of Ardenburgh in the Guardian's tutorial zone. The reason why I give it such importance is because it actually gives us a date, and not only that, but it gives us information on how dates are written on Telara! Instead of saying months, they say moons, and they always name the year after something significant that happened there. I've heard Year of the Tyrant (Aedraxis's reign), Year of Legends (the time before the Blood Storm that no one really remembers and when the gods walked the earth) the Year of the Dragons (the time when the Blood Storm attacked Telara) and Year of the Ascended (When the gods resurrected the Ascended/When the Defiant successfully sent back Ascended to the past). I guess that when they say "Year of", it's a loose term that describes the entire time frame that surrounds the particular event that it's named after, because the Tyrant ruled for longer than just a year and the Year of Legends lasted a whole lot longer than just one year. But I am happy to have stumbled upon this information! It helps me keep the timeline of Telara straight, since it's such a confusing thing at best. Another interesting thing I noted here is that Aedraxis was already here summoning his Death Rift and Regulos when Zareph showed up with his army stop him. I had imagined that Zareph and Aedraxis just sort of met together on the field, but Zareph was apparently called to Ardenburgh after being alerted to Aedraxis's movements. Interesting! I love finding these little kernels of lore and history that help develop the story of Rift better!

[Raeslyn's Story] Chapter 1.1: Stirrings of War

      I spent several days at the Sanctuary of Rebirth absorbing all the shocking information that the priests of the Vigil relayed to me. And there was a lot to absorb, I'll say that much. I'm a practical person. A realist, you might say. I tend to only think about the things in front of me, rather than philosophy, what the gods have in mind for us all, the end of the world. You know, that kind of thing. But now I have to kill the king, save the world, and stop the mythical Blood Storm. Just your average day as an Ascended apparently. I also took time to understand and retrain my newly resurrected body, complete with perks. I was now, once I'd settled back into my body more fully, much faster, much stronger, and much more aware of my surroundings. I had lightning fast reflexes and I suddenly knew many more tricks and abilities. These last two come compliments of the souls that share my body. Creepy right? The Vigil, in their all-seeing way, knew that in order to stop the Blood Storm I would need incredible power and skill. In short, I'd need an entire army. So they fused the souls of ancient and powerful men and women with my soul, making me, essentially, a better fighter. In a way, I'm very uncomfortable with it, but these other souls are just like a tool to me. As long as I don't directly focus on them or think about them overmuch, it's like they aren't even there. I can access their knowledge, skill and combat expertise, but they don't influence my own personality or thought process at all. At least, I don't think they do...And while I would have liked to be given a choice, or at least have a hand in my grand future, I find that I don't really mind being a chosen warrior for the Vigil. There are other Ascended here as well, newly risen from the now quite famous Battle at Thedeor Field. I shudder even thinking about it. All those souls, destroyed in an instant by that maniac Aedraxis. I knew there was something fishy when I'd heard the rumor, all the way over in Silverwood, that the old king had died suddenly and his son had taken up the crown upon the very same night. But Mathosian civil war wasn't my business at the time. As an Ascended, it's a different story. Time to kick some royal ass.
       To keep myself busy and to accustom myself to my new potential, I'd constructed practice battle dummies and other odds and ends within the cathedral. The devout of the Vigil want to make sure I'm capable of defeating any enemy I come across. They seem pretty confident that I'll be able to best anything, with experience. And I do need experience. Although I have all this knowledge of new abilities, powerful and unique attacks and traps, how to set arrows on fire and all kinds of nifty, death dealing tricks, I don't actually know how to do that. It's like the difference between reading the entire encyclopedia on the subject of war and than going out and waging war, if you know what I mean? So I've practiced some simple forms and attacks, gotten used to my new reflexes and speed, and I know I'm ready to go out there and raise some hell. Or rather, put it down. Ah, that priestess is staring at me with alarm, perhaps I should stop grinning now.
Once I had made up my mind to leave the Sanctuary and seek knowledge of the happenings of the outside world, I was ushered to a large, elaborate opening at one end of the Sanctuary. In place of a physical door, there was a fine, shimmering web across the open entrance. It rippled outward from some central point, cascading and overlapping like a sheer, magical sheet. I hadn't even noticed it until I'd almost walked right into it. Startled, I stepped back a pace and gawked. I'm a rogue. We don't deal in magic readily. Best leave that to the crazy and suicidal mages who trade good blades and proper armor for flimsy cloth and volatile spells. No thanks.

My, my, color me impressed. It seems that the Mathosians had learned many things about the properties of magic and it's near limitless power in the past years. Perhaps I had more than I thought to catch up on. Spending most of my time in the forests of Silverwood or at the Quicksilver College, located in Silverwood as well, I hadn't much had the chance to venture outside the forest limits.

     It was my sacred duty to protect the divine wood after all. Silverwood is the most sacred home of Tavril, containing many powerful and defensible places of note. So to see a spell of such magnitude being employed effortlessly and continuously really amazed me. And worried me truth be told. Will our audacity and thirst for power know no bounds? Where is the stopping point before we become as corrupt and damned as Regulos and his brood?

     As I stared blindly into the array of magic, thoughts elsewhere, I noticed another angelic being floating serenely to the left of the entrance. I glanced behind me curiously, wondering if it was the same one as I had met when I had first woken up here, up on the terrace. But of course in the gloom of the windowless fortress I couldn't see that far, even with my acute elven senses. Seconds before I stepped outside the sanctuary, the Vigil's Messenger whispered in my ear, "Remember this, Raeslyn. You are the Vigil's chosen, restored to life to fight Regulos and his unholy servant Aedraxis. Go with the grace of the Vigil."

     So I went. Stepping through that shimmery, hazy web of magic was almost like stepping through a spider web. It sort of clung to you even after you've moved past it. The net of magic felt cold and wet, although it left no dampness on my skin. I shivered once I reached the other side. And stood on the steps, staring around me. It was like entering another world, truly. One so different from my last memory. I had been on the outskirts of Silverwood, on my way to warn lady Shyla of the treachery of the Aelfwar when I'd been cut down. And I'd been resurrected in the heart of the Mathosian Empire, far to the north. The land looked like it had once been beautiful, but the scent of blood and death hung heavy on the wind. Occasionally a brightly colored ball of flame would shoot by overhead, hurled by some far distant projectile. Clouds of black smoke billowed up from over the hill and the cemetery that surrounded the cathedral of rebirth was swarming with undead monsters, brought to some evil semblance of life by the power of the death rift. These must be remnants of men and women who had died in misery and pain on Thedeor Field, the ones who's souls were rent so far beyond recognition that they couldn't be Ascended, or were twisted by Aedraxis's evil powers.

     I watched the death-touched creatures for a few moments from the relative safety of the sanctuary steps before taking a deep breath to keep myself together, because hey, we can't let the locals know that their great big hero is kinda concerned. I strode forward into the cemetery. The priests had told me that if I was to have a chance at defeating the endless army of Aedraxis and stopping his mad bid for power, I'd need to reunite with the other Ascended at Ardenburgh. It is a Mathosian border

village, hardly noted except that it was on the border of Mathosia and the southern lands. It was also near to the castle where the King of Mathosia usually ruled from. Movement drew my eye to a tall elf in blue robes fighting off one of the undead creatures by the rusted gate that led down to the village. I ran over to help, daggers in hand, just as she smote the undead creature with a flash of white light. The woman introduced herself as Fayne Doran, an Ascended like myself. But unlike myself, I was horrified to realize that Ascension had blinded her, although she assured me that as a Cleric, she had other, deeper vision that allowed her to see the world around her in a better light.

    "I cannot see your face, yet I know you well, Raeslyn," she said softly, which was a bit on the alarming side.
     Several of the rotting citizens attacked us as we stood there, but my Ascended abilities warned me ahead of time and I was able to easily dispatch them. And then an astonishing thing happened. A pure white spirit form rose out of the bodies of the rotting corpses and hovered in the air in front of me. The spirit thanked me profusely before dissipating. The steady assault of rotting corpses thinned as I worked my way down the hill into the outskirts of what had to be the village of Ardenburgh. I could scarcely call it a village though, such devastation had befallen it. The village had obviously been victim of the death rift as well.The priests at the Sanctuary had led me to believe that it would be an easy thing; go to the village, offer my newly acquired Ascended powers, and then off to confront the Tyrant, but that wasn't exactly how it went. 

      Whole houses were now nothing but charred remains, some still burning fiercely despite being days after the event. As I wandered further into town, beginning to lose hope of finding anyone alive, I came across more and more dead bodies attached to strange mechanical constructs. And patrolling the streets and alleys were large, plated men bearing the crest of Aedraxis. More than once I had to hide behind a stairwell to let a patrol march by. I admit, I was getting a bit anxious. What if the troops I was supposed to meet up with had been overrun by these knights or some other evil? What was I supposed to do then? Keep going? Confront Aedraxis and his army alone? Hardly something I was looking forward to.
     But when I saw one such "knight" attacking a hapless citizen, brutally and savagely beating her, I knew I had to do something. Using my skill as a rogue, I snuck up behind the larger man and quickly planted a dagger in his back. Unbothered, the man casually turned and backhanded me, throwing me some feet away to slam against a stone stairwell. The tight alleys did not make for good fighting conditions. I called upon the Vigil's power as I picked myself up off the ground, feeling renewed strength and clarity course through me. The knight just sneered at me, clearly not impressed. His folly. Faster than an eye blink, I had danced within reach, quickly landing three successive hits with my daggers before he could even retaliate. This did have some visible effect, as the knight grunted in pain and slouched forward. However, he did not fall and kept coming at me. Thinking quickly, I pulled on the knowledge of the other souls that shared my body, and was able to shift through half a dozen different levels of the planes in a space of seconds, appearing directly behind the knight. Before he could react, I jumped up and slashed deeply at the back of his neck, severing the spine. He immediately slumped to the ground, leaving me panting from the exertion.

     As I stood there recovering, I noticed that his weapon was rather out of place for such a lowly soldier. It was a broad sword, quite long. The metal it was made out of struck a chord of familiarity. It was a strange, shimmery blue color, with tiny stones set in the pommel. Finally I recognized it. This was a Sourcestone-made weapon! I couldn't believe it. Where had this knight gotten the weapon. Was he the only one wielding one, or were all these so-called knights carrying that precious and magical material?
I couldn't let them just wander around with Sourcestone-imbued blades so I picked up the sword. It was pretty heavy though and I really didn't have anywhere to put it. Using my Ascended strength, I smashed the weapon against the cobblestoned alley. The result was as I intended. The blade shattered into convenient sized fragments and I quickly scooped up a fair amount of the Sourcestone metal, placing it in a large pouch on my belt.

     Thrice more I was forced to either defend myself or a hapless citizen as I made my way through the eerily still byways of Ardenburgh. I was becoming increasingly exhausted as I walked. My body was still not quite up to the kind of exertions I had been putting it through, and I could feel my muscles aching. I had almost given up hope of finding any sign of a defensive position set up in the village like the priests had said there were, when I rounded a corner and there it was.The town square sprawled out in front of me, dominated by a large and simple fountain dedicated to Thontic. A wooden barricade and been hastily erected around the fountain. From within, I could make out the telltale shale-pink hair of my Lady, Shyla Starhearth. Oh, I was so very glad to see her! As well I saw various other people of differing race, even a dwarf. Feeling such a relief and a fresh surge of adrenaline, I made a beeline for the fountain.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

[Lore] I: Prophecy of the Ascended

Prophecy of the Ascended
An old spellbook.
Spoken by the sentinel Niyol Cliffswind as he lay dying after the events of the Blood Storm 1500 years ago. Passed down by the Elves through the generations and retold to ensure that it will never be forgotten. 

There will come a time when the Ward is fully sundered.
In that dark hour, even the gods will weep.
And from the ashes of a fallen kingdom,
The Ascended will rise.
These beings will be neither mortal nor god,
Neither alive nor dead,
Neither virtuous nor wicked.
The Ascended will be steadfast and mighty;
And henceforth, those who serve the dragons
Will know only fear and death.
A scroll in a pane of glass.

Reference: Taken directly from inside the game. I found it in a tome sitting on a table in the Sanctuary of Rebirth. The tome is open and sparkles, indicating it can be interacted with. Anyone can access and read the contents, which contains the prophecy of the Ascended. Apparently this means that the peoples who worshipped the gods anyway, knew of the prophecy for quite some time. Interesting. I wonder if it was something everyone know, or just the holy orders of the world?

[Raeslyn's Story] Chapter 1.0: Chosen

Setting: Sanctuary of Rebirth
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.
     I remember I had been told by my master to run, to warn Shyla of Hylas's treachery. Unwilling to leave my master, skilled assassin though he was, I had lingered. And had been cut down like the rest when the Life Rift had suddenly sprang into being out of the very fabric of our world. I felt the cold kiss of the blade as it slid in, the despair and anguish. I was so young! I had such a life...yes I am sure I must be dead. Perhaps this is the lifestream. Although I pictured it to be as a river, an ever-flowering mystical river where souls were swept along on their everlasting journey after death. Where peace and harmony reigned. Not this cold chamber with people staring at me. Not voices.

     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.