Thursday, January 31, 2013

[Lore] X: The Fae

The Fae In Silverwood
     Faeries, Fae, the Good Neighbors, the Wee Folk. Calling a Fae an unkind word might net the attention of the horrid little creatures. Natives of the Plane of Life, Fae are prime examples of the heartless caprice and duel nature of the wild. They have delicate, childlike bodies and Elfish features. Their skin seems to shimmer, their laughter is like an intoxicating drug and their eyes are liquid black. Despite their playful manner, the Fae love to cause mischief and sow chaos, manipulating mortals and leading them astray.
     Faeries and their ilk have infiltrated Telara at the direction of their fun-loving leader, Lord Twyl, who has sworn eternal allegiance to Greenscale of the Blood Storm. He and his Fae followers have been quite active in Silverwood especially, tearing a small chunk of the land itself away from this plane, where it has sank into the Plane of Life. It is now converted into the playground of Lord Twyl and his commanders, Maelow, Luggodhan and Atrophinius. Adventurers refer to this displaced piece of Silverwood as the Realm of the Fae. The land surrounding the tear in the Plane has also been corrupted and changed by the Fae, now featuring exotic and twisted plants, tall hedges and strange ivy. The forests of Silverwood are also overgrown with strange plants from the Plane of Life, seeded by the Fae when the mortals are not looking. Childish laughter and strange music drifts on the breeze throughout Silverwood and even the Elves act strange, lured by the promise of Fae Lord Twyl. It seems that the Fae have made Silverwood their new playground. Satyrs, treants, shamblers, boglings and faeries roam the wood, attacking travelers, causing mischief and upsetting the balance of the land. Lord Twyl has long been a favorite of Greenscale, corrupting lands and slaying those who are too weak to survive in his new, maddening realm.
     Strangely, it seems that in recent years, before the return of the Ascended, Fae Lord Twyl has retreated to his Realm and has not been seen outside it for some time. Why has he gone into hiding in his realm? Why does he not push on into Telara like he did so furiously before. It was Lord Twyl who corrupted the influence of Prince Hylas, who turned the Aelfwar from the path of Tavril and the Vigil. It was the Fae who corrupted the land, who changed the nature of Silverwood in their favor. So why has Lord Twyl suddenly seemed to have lost interest in his conquest? Lady Shyla of the Guardians is very worried about this and has promised quite the reward to any hero, Ascended or otherwise, who can venture into that maddened realm and bring back proof of Lord Twyl's machinations and ambitions, or even slay the fickle Fae Lord and put an end to his threat once and for all. The Realm of the Fae teems with magic. Even the air, sickly sweet and still, carries the feel of the Fae, and all who venture into it must be wary of the traps that the Fae set, all in the name of sport and wicked fun. They don't think with the same set of parameters and moral grounds that most of the races of Telara use. The Fae are an entirely unique species from another dimension. If killed on Telara, their physical bodies will die here but their souls will be sent back to the Plane of Life, where, if their planar energy is strong enough, they may manifest a new body. If not, they could find themselves raised up by a much stronger creature and controlled. Much like Lord Twyl control's his Fae court. It is unsure why the Fae allied so strongly with Greenscale. Were they tricked into it? Forced? Or did they see Greenscale as their best option at furthering their own goals? The Ascended will have to further investigate the motives and actions of the Fae to find out for sure what they are really up to and how to stop them. Even though Greenscale has yet to be awoken and freed, it is worrying the amount of power and influence he still holds over his minions, the Fae and now the Aelfwar.

    The Fae are not an inherently evil race of beings, per se. They are mischievious, wild, fickle, and chaotic, but their nature is not that of an evil being. They were corrupted on their home plane by Greenscale, driven into a mad wild frenzy to dominate and rise up over the rest of the plane, as Greenscale lives by the code of survival of the fittest. Since Greenscale is the most powerful planar being in the Plane of Life, he is able to exert his will over the other denizens of that plane, warping and changing their behavior over time until they eagerly seek to do his bidding. Such is what has happened to the Fae. Now they know no other way but to follow Greenscale's law of the wild.

References: I found this information while reading up on the story behind the Realm of the Fae and by doing quests in Silverwood. The information is unfinished and when I find more on the Fae and their presence in Silverwood I'll come back and finish this piece. None of the Lore I've written so far is complete and I hope I can add to it as I go along. None of this belongs to me, only to the lovely Trion, who created Rift the game.

Monday, January 28, 2013

[Raeslyn's Story] 2.12: Visions of Shyla Danced In My Head

     I headed down the road to the west at a steady jog, able to go long distances even before Ascension without trouble. Now I had no problem. I wasn't even breathing hard when I reached the Wayward Thicket. What a wonderful gift the gods bestowed on me!
     Dalin Erst was an older elf in long green robes who blended in almost perfectly with the greens and mossy colors of the nearby foliage. He was sitting in the grasses under a green canvas with a Guardian defender standing nearby at alert. The woman's eyes immediately zeroed in on me as I approached. She tensed minutely, before relaxing as she noticed the Vigil sigil necklace I had bought in Sanctum and adorned before leaving the city. The older elf reached over and picked up a large oaken staff that had been laying beside him. Using it, he levered himself to his feet and I could just picture the creaks his bones made as he stood and stretched. I shuddered. I wonder if I'd get old, or has Ascension locked my age where it is now?
  "The forest whispered to me that you would be coming, young seeker." Dalin's voice was soft and kind, but his eyes were full of fire and wisdom. I blinked. "You knew I'd come here? The forest whispered to you? But how--" Dalin waved off my words with a hand.
     "That is not important, young elf. Many have sought my council over the years and I shall help you as I helped them, for your task is a noble and righteous one and your heart follows the Vigil." I blushed and glanced down. I never know what to say to compliments. "But be forewarned!" Dalin said, voice sharper, and I instantly jerked my head up, eyeing him questioningly. "This vision quest will be fraught with danger, as all vision quests are. It is the nature of the forest to test those who come seeking. Others have failed, finding death or injury instead of answers. Prepare yourself." I bit my lip. Okay, that didn't sound very pleasant. Death? Well...I was Ascended after all, so I should be immune to death. I wonder if that meant I'd just not die....or if I'd die, and than be resurrected....that sounds painful. Oh gods, should I do this? Dalin stood there patiently, as if he sensed my inner turmoil, while I considered my options. On the one hand, I obviously needed more information on the Aelfwar and the Fae than what I already knew. I knew they were planning something big, but I had no idea what. I could torture it out a prisoner, but that is not Tavril's way, and I felt uncomfortable with deliberately causing cold blooded harm to another being. It was different in the heat of battle and defending one's life. On the other hand, I've been pretty lucky so far in avoiding any serous injury. I reallllllly didn't want to end up dead. Or undead...or whatever it would be for I rolled my eyes at myself. Now you're just being silly, Rae. In the end, I didn't really see that I had much choice, so I sighed and nodded, shoulders slumped in dread. Was it wrong of me to fear death? See, I have all these questions but I'd learned at Quicksilver College long ago that no one appreciates someone who questions the gods' will and vision. So I just wonder to myself.

     Dalin turned and shambled over to a round table he had set up under the canopy without a word or change in expression, as if he knew I'd accept all along. I stuck out my bottom lip for a moment, feeling sulky. I hate being predictable.

     "For this ritual you will undergo, we'll need the unfocused eyes of a Fae-bound creature at the exact moment of death, when the eyes see in to the beyond. We'll also need lockflower sprigs and gritshell pods, to grind up and make into a special potion of insight and induced unconsciousness."
     I wrinkled my nose. "That's disgusting, no way am I drinking anything like that!" I blurted out without thinking. Dalin chuckled in amusement. "Don't worry, you only need to drink the powders and herbs. The eyes you must hold in your palms after you drink." He grinned at me as he said this. Is he serious? He is, isn't he? I scowled. The things I do for my land and people.

     "So, do you have this stuff, or do we need to go hunting for it?" I demanded, irritated. Dalin hummed to himself in response and glanced around his little area.
     "You are in luck, young elf." he finally replied, turning back to me. Somehow I didn't feel very lucky to be experiencing this..."I have everything except the lockflowers. And they should only be a matter of fetching them from my saddlebags. I left my horse at Sanctum Watch though."
     "Let me guess, you want me to go get them for you?" I asked sarcastically, ready to take off. Dalin shook his head. "Oh no, that's quite alright, I'll send Valiora to go get them." I blinked. "Who?" He turned and nodded at the Guardian standing at alert nearby. At the sound of her name, the Guardian woman swiveled and tilted her head, studying us. Dalin shambled over to her and had a quiet conversation. I could tell from here she didn't want to go play fetch, but apparently he was either very charismatic and convincing, or she'd been given orders to obey him, for she trudged off with a glare at me like it was my fault. Hey, if there was any other way to find my answers that didn't involve eyeballs, I'd totally be all for it. Meanwhile, Dalin started pulling jars and flasks out of a bag sitting under the tree, setting them down on the table and mumbling to himself. Feeling ignored, I plopped down on a protruding tree root and set about sharpening my daggers.

     I stopped paying attention completely to what the old elf was doing so when he suddenly exclaimed loudly I nearly sliced my finger open in surprise. Ugh, how embarrassing. I glanced over to see that Dalin's bodyguard was back.

     "Ah! Smell these lockflower sprigs? The more pungent the ingredients, the more effective the brew. This will be one of my strongest meditative potions yet! Come here young elf, I've prepared all the reagents and distilled their essence. Now that the lockflower sprigs have been added, it is ready. This tonic will open your mind to the echoing whispers of the forest. However, I can only provide the means to enter a trance. I've not the preparations required to care for your body while you are in it, or how to deal with issues that might arise. Go back to Maris for that, I don't want blame for your death, young thing." I swear, every single time he said the words 'young elf' I felt like punching him. I'm not that young. I'm of age of maturity, for Vigil's sake! But I held my tongue and simply nodded.

     "Thank you sir, for preparing this for me. I really appreciate what you've done." I said carefully, inclining my head to him. "May the Vigil watch over you." Dalin waved a hand. "You better hope the Vigil watches over you instead, young elf. This isn't some jaunt in the park." I gritted my teeth. It's like he says it on purpose! I turned around, ready to leave, when Dalin cleared his throat and duh, I didn't take the potion. I sighed, turned around again, grabbed the potion from the elf's outstretched hand, murmured a hurried thanks, and dashed out of there. I took a short cut through the woods back to Sanctum Watch, using the physical exercise of climbing over and around trees and avoiding any dangers to help clear my mind on the way.

     Maris was pleased when I handed her the tonic and explained about what it should do. "Ah yes, this tonic is potent indeed. It's certain to open your eyes to the truth of what's going on here in Silverwood. Are you ready?" She gave me a serious, searching look. I hesitated, than shrugged.
     "I guess so. I have no choice after all. I need to know." Maris rubbed the flask between her fingers thoughtfully.
    "Yes." She glanced away into the forest. "You know, for centuries, Prince Hylas led the fight against the Wanton cults. Now it seems he is consumed by the conflict. He claims to protect Silverwood, yet I'm afraid he will end up destroying it instead." Her eyes drifted down to me and she blinked, looked sad and regretful. "Prince Hylas was a great man. Now...? You must be pure of heart and powerful of spirit to withstand the trauma of a vision Raeslyn. But I have faith in you." She handed the tonic to me and I held up, grimacing.

     "Bottoms up." I joked. I uncorked the flask and drank it all before I could think about it. It actually didn't taste that bad. Kind of like flower petals actually. Than it felt like someone kicked me in the stomach and head at the same time. With a groan, I sank to my knees, clutching my head. By the Vigil, that hurts! Vaguely, I heard Maris talking in a hurried tone. I was pushed into a sitting position. Someone placed my hands on my knees, palms up. For every second that passed, I felt like I was drifting farther away from my body and reality. Oh, I am so not doing this again. No way. I fought dizziness and disorientation. Something squishy was placed in my hands, but I had not the presence of mind to understand what it was. With a flash, I was elsewhere. I was standing on a grassy hill overlooking Silverwood. I blinked and glanced around. I felt strange; light and distanced, like I was watching myself through a mirror or something. Beside me stood a beautiful red doe with large shell ears. The Spirit Guide. She turned liquid gold eyes to me, and in the vision quest I saw more than just a deer. I saw a spirit so powerful that looking at it directly would strike you blind.

     "It is time to see what is and what may be. I will guide you along this path, Raeslyn Ascended, but you must have faith and your footsteps must be sure. Protect the Vigil's chosen and you will remerge unscathed" The Spirit Guide seemed to be waiting for something, so I felt myself nodding, although I couldn't feel myself nod....definitely not liking this. The Spirit Guide reached out, and even though she was about as high as my hip, she suddenly seemed much taller. She touched her nose to my forehead, and with a white flash, I was suddenly somewhere else. I stumbled back in shock.

  "Lady Shyla? Wha-?" I was again on a hill, but things looked different. Shyla Starhearth stood before me. She looked older, more careworn. And across from her was Prince Hylas. I stared in confusion. They appeared to be arguing. I stepped closer, wanting to understand.

     "You can't do this, Hylas! All of the Telara will hunt you down!" Shyla pleaded, so much compassion in her voice I wanted to weep for her.

     "It's too late." Hylas scoffed, glaring at her." You and your Guardians have forsaken the forest! Nature is life itself. I made my choice Shyla."

     My eyes darted between the two, feeling like I was eavesdropping on a conversation I had no right to hear. But the vision quest sent me here, so it must be important.

     There were tears in Shyla's eyes. "It's never too late! Rejoin the High Elf Council in Sanctum, Hylas! Welcome the Vigil back into your heart! Please, Hylas!"

     Hylas snorted, shaking his head before she'd even finished speaking. "The gods never lifted a finger to help me or Silverwood! I will defeat my enemies on my own. I have a new ally now. The power of Greenscale, Dragon of the Wilds, has sworn to champion my cause if I prove strong enough." Shyla stumbled back, face paling, and I felt myself mirroring her. By the Vigil, he had actually done it. He'd allied the Aelfwar with Greenscale! Couldn't he see?? The Blood Storm were destruction incarnate. They cared nothing for our world.

     "I'm sorry Shyla, I won't allow you to interfere with my work. This is where you end and my reign begins!" Hylas suddenly shouted, and I focused back on the exchange. That didn't sound good.

     Prince Hylas lifted his arm in the air abruptly, holding out two fingers. Then he dropped it to his side. Two large, heavily armored Aelfwar sprang out of the foliage, heading into the clearing with weapons drawn. Hylas nodded at them, before turning his back on Shyla and walking away. Shyla gazed after him with such a desolate expression. I glanced between her and the two charging Aelfwar.

     "Lady Shyla, look out!" I called, springing forward without thinking. I didn't think I'd be able to do anything, this being a vision and all, but Shyla startled, looking at me with wide eyes. I danced through the shadows to appear in front of her, effectively blocking the first strike.
     "The Vigil has answered my prayers! Thank you!" Shyla exclaimed, wiping quickly at her eyes. I pretended not to notice. Shyla quickly cast a spell of protection and focused her attention on the left attacker, so I shifted my focus to the one on the right. He was an agile one, dodging my dagger thrusts. I'm not as effective in frontal attacks as I am at sneaking through the shadows and stabbing things in the back, but I wasn't a slouch either. I feinted high and when the man fell for it, I twisted my left hand, changing the angle of my dagger mid swing and thrusting up through his ribcage before he could retaliate. The man gave a grunt of surprise as he slid sideways. I glared at his body. "Traitor," I muttered venomously. How dare he attack the High Priestess! My attention was drawn to Shyla finishing off her opponent with a powerful spell. She may look delicate, but she can pack a good punch when threatened. She glanced at me, sorrow and gratitude and hope and despair all reflected in her eyes. I opened my mouth to say something when the world fell away. I felt weightless, and my vision faded to black. Next thing I knew, I was blinking dazedly up at Maris, who's frowning visage was way too close for comfort. I ducked away from her and scrambled to my feet, swaying a moment.

     "That was the most.....never again!" I finally blurted out after the world stopped spinning. When I felt the urge to toss up breakfast subside, I relayed all I'd seen to Maris, who looked grim by the end.

     "That is grim news indeed. To imagine Hylas using the forest in hostility against the Guardians is appalling. If this is true, Telara is indeed in great peril. I cannot believe Hylas would consort with the Plane of Life, and attack his beloved Shyla. I pray to the Vigil that this vision does not come to pass. Tristan Alecourt, a good friend of mine, has experience with visions and prophecies like this. Maybe he can help us find a way to prevent this from happening."

     I nodded. "Good, I don't want to find out what would happen if I hadn't been there to protect Shyla. You should have seen her. I don't know if she would have defended herself without my interference. Where is this Tristan?"

     Maris pointed down the road. "Last I heard, Tristan was studying the Fae up at Highglades Lookout. Just follow the road down to Argent Glade but take the fork that leads north."

     I thanked Maris and headed out immediately, even though the sun was fading. I knew that this needed to be dealt with right away. No more delays. I passed quite a few military patrols on the road to Highglades, which led me to believe that the problems in the wood were escalating. I reached the fork in the road, where the Highglades bypass met the Argent Glade road, and headed up to the Lookout.

     The Lookout was pretty heavily guarded for an out of the way outpost. In the center of the camp was a large stone statue with floating rocks. Strong magic emanated from it. Very strong indeed if even I could sense it. Maybe this one of the Wardstone anchors around Silverwood. Oh and what do you know, there was a large, arched Porticum gate there too. I wasn't too trusting toward something that used the planes for transport, but it would come in handy for getting back quickly. I glanced around at the people performing various tasks about the camp. A few Mathosians stood together, having an animated discussion about something wooden on the ground, while two bored sentries swapped war stories. The only High Elf stood in the back, sporting bright orange hair and carrying a pretty tall staff. He was staring avidly at a tree, as if it held all the secrets in the world.

     I walked over. "Tristan Alecourt?" I asked of the elf  loudly. Who knew how distracted he was.

     "The rifts and tears are getting more numerous by the day. I fear our lovely forest won't even be recognizable in the near future!" Tristan said without turning his eyes from the tree.

     "Tristan Alecourt. Listen, I need your help."

     Tristan continued as if he hadn't heard me. Or maybe he had and just wanted someone to listen to his lecture. "This used to be a tranquil grove. We made offerings to Tavril here. But than those accursed Fae came and corrupted this place with their foul rituals to Greenscale. They grew a terrible hedge maze full of abominable creatures that attack at night! We sent in rangers to investigate, but none have reported back. We must put a stop to these faeries before Greenscale gains further influence in Silverwood, if it's not too late already."

     "That's why I'm here." I said pointedly. Tristan looked at me for the first time, interest shining in his eyes. "Well, not really." I admitted after a pause. I explained my vision and what it could mean.

     "Yes, you're right, your vision quest is related to our Fae infestation. If Hylas is somehow exerting control over the Fae now, that could be why they are suddenly attacking rampantly. We need to uncover the deception that has tempted House Aelfwar and fix the shame that was brought to my bloodline." I blinked, taken aback. He was Aelfwar too? I eyed him more closely, but didn't say anything.

     "Ok, so how do we break the Fae's ties to House Aelfwar?" I asked, a bit impatiently.

     "Well, we need to figure out what hold he has over them. The Fae have always been led by a Lord Twyl. If we can draw his attention, we might be able to discover a clue. But it's too dangerous to venture into the Hedgegrow Court, especially at night. Even for an Ascended." He added the last on as I opened my mouth to object. I frowned, than turned and eyed the towering walls of green that made up this "Hedgrow Court" at the base of the northern mountains. It was a giant, obscene eyesore that seemed to pulse with Planar energy as I looked at it. The walls of green seemed to extend for miles. How had no one discovered this in time? Were we all too busy with our own little problems, with the Defiant, with Aedraxis, that we had just let Hylas have free reign back here in Silverwood? It would seem so...

  "Okay, your logic is sound. May I rest here for the night?" I asked, more calmly. It seemed I wouldn't get any more done tonight anyway. Tristan nodded, than brightened. "I have a few spare supplies; blankets and such. Why don't you get settled and I'll explain to you more about what happened here and about Highglade." I groaned inwardly. Great, a history lesson. So not my thing.

     As I settled in for the night, I couldn't keep my eyes from wandering to that tower of pulsing green foliage. Tomorrow, I would tackle that maze and see if there was some way to tear it down. It had obviously been erected magically. There was no doubt it was a malignant presence in Silverwood and needed to be destroyed.

     I fell asleep soon after and didn't dream.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

[Books and Artifacts] IV: The Price of Progress

The Price of Progress
     Not all know what it is I do. It's better that they don't. I am among those who were selected to study the Guardian Ascended, to do whatever necessary to discern the nature of their Ascension and recreate it synthetically for our soldiers. The first time they brought me a subject, I got sick to my stomach. But then I got to work on his deconstruction. That was the last time I let my work bother me. He cried out miserably, demanding to know why it was he who had been chosen.
"Perhaps you should ask the Vigil," I responded, making some adjustments on the machine and avoiding his pleading gaze. "As for me, I would tell you it was all chance. You happened to fall into our nets. But you are the one who believes in divine purpose, Guardian, not me."
"This is not the will of the Vigil." He muttered. Then, "But why do this?"
I stopped my work, looked him directly in the eye, and said, "Because there is no other choice. You and your kind left us with no other choice. The world is ending. Consider it your last great act of heroism that you may have at last been part of preventing it." He seemed to consider my words.
Then he slowly shook his head. "This is heresy. We will all burn."
I paused for a long moment, then, as I powered up the device, I said "We may. But if we succeed, many others may not. That is our sacrifice."
His screams were terrible. At one time they would have shaken me. But when I remembered the cries of our dead and dying in Meridian, and the sound of the world breaking as Regulos ate out it's heart, I find it curiously easy to block out the memory of his cries.

     *And here's something else I found in the Life Factory of interest! It's not a book and it's not really a lore piece, but I liked it all the same, so I'll record it here.
 Protocols for Proper Ascended Regeneration 
  1. Never use a skull, pelvis, or any of the large bones to begin the regeneration process. Instead, choose a small bone so that if there is a slight mismatch with the subject's original skeleton, it does not end up a fatal problem. For example, a phalanx from the hand is ideal, for a finger of a slightly shorter or longer length will not cause the subject many health problems upon return to life.
  2. An exact balance of sourcestone must be achieved. There can be no substitutes or miscalculations in the measurements or the body will collapse and the soul will be lost.
  3. Do not eat or drink near the resurrection forges.
  4. A soul must rate a 50 on the Valis-Farwind scale to be worthy of regeneration.
Reference: The book "The Price of Progress" can be found on a crate behind you when you first spawn in the Defiant tutorial zone. There's no author or any indication of who the person writing the page could be. And it reads like the part of a diary. Obviously it belongs to one of the scientists. Maybe even Sylver? Who knows, I don't. I find it interesting that Regulos ate the heart of Telara. Does that mean he ate the big powerful Sourcestone core? As for the Protocols piece, I wonder what a "50 on the Valis-Farwind scale" actually means....they measure a soul? By what do they measure it? Skill, power? Potential? Personality? I'd LOVE to know!!! Anyway, both of these can be found in game and do NOT belong to me! They belong to awesome Rift and Trion!!! <3

Friday, January 18, 2013

[Karazhan's Story] 1.0: Ascended of a Different Variety

Author's Note: My Defiant's story! PS: As I was going through the Defiant starter area, what came to my mind was the image from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" where the world explodes and the song "it's a beautiful world" plays in the background...
Year: 1529
Location: An underground facility located a distance from the ruins of Meridian, the Defiant capital.

     I am a Kelari, a proud, inquisitive race from a distant homeland called the Ember Isles, a home we had carved out of the wild rock and untamed woods after leaving the forests of Tavra. My people are bold and determined; survivors. Like the rest of my people, I draw upon my own personal beliefs and abilities for magical aid, stamina and wisdom, augmented by pacts with native Spirits when needed. This makes us outcasts from our brethren, the High Elves, who blindly worship and follow the Vigil. To me, the Vigil is nothing more than a group of powerful Spirits. What makes them any different than any other powerful creature?. This world I call home, my world, is now threatened by a great and powerful foe. Regulos, the Destroyer, and the rest of the brood that has been known throughout history as the terrible Blood Storm. Although I am but one soldier in a legion of powerful immortal soldiers whose duty it is to keep Telara safe, I know that my part in Telara's history is far from insignificant. I am a Defiant Ascended, resurrected from death to be one of Telara's most potent protectors and allies, and I will do my part to ensure that Telara is kept safe from all the evil that would wish to conquer and destroy it. I am Karazhan Anthanos, and this is my story:

     Awareness. Pain! Excruciating agony shivers through my entire being. It takes over every other thought I might have had. I don't even stop to wonder why I am in pain. I just beg silently for it to end. I feel like I am being yanked apart piece by piece and then sewn back together, with a dull needle, slowly. It feels like I am being patched together like cloth. I feel like I could lose my mind to this agony. There are patches of cloth that I'm sure are of a different material. Not mine. Why is this happening? Why am I enduring this pain? Who am I? Will this pain ever end? Suddenly, it feels as if a section of this foreign cloth has been ripped out of me, violently torn away by some vast and unimaginable power. I imagine I can see great leathery wings and a voice like death cackling in my ear. The ragged and torn hole where the other used to be beckons. Feeling the rest of this patchwork begin to unravel because of the missing section, I automatically seek to fill it with my own essense, stretching until my whole world is narrowed down to a long black tunnel, which I find myself falling down against my will. Instinctively, the part of my mind that seems to still retain some of its awareness whispers that there is something wrong with this resurrection.
    The sounds of metal sliding over metal, the telltale crackle of magical workings. Those sounds reach me before any of my other senses can take in my surroundings. Strange jumbled memories and thoughts drift though my mind. I am dead. Or I was dead? I remember the feel of the blade, the cold embrace of death closing in. But now I am alive again. It's quite the experience to breathe again, to feel the weight of flesh, a corporeal body. Who am I? What am I? What in the hells is going on? I abruptly sit up, gasping in a great lungful of air. My memories instantly slam back into my head, filling my mind with images of my life. And my death. My eyes dart around wildly, taking everything in. What is going on here? I'm not slow witted, far from it. I understand immediately that I seem to have been resurrected. And yet, nothing here is familiar.

    Immediately, I begin cataloguing my surroundings. Knowledge is power, the scholars used to say. Around me I can hear eager and relieved voices, babbling things about Sourcestone and energy flow and a soul matrix. And one other word, repeated often. Ascended. All familiar terms of course. My time spent among the knowledge collectors and storytellers of my people and in study have given me quite a lot of knowledge of history and past events. But I do know that these are not the kind of words one speaks casually in a random conversation. Something strange is going on here. In fact, why am I even alive? I try to organize my scattered and confused thoughts, to focus on what I remember. There had been an attack of some sort. Yes, I remember hearing the cries of alarm and the scouts shouting warning. I remember rushing from my dwelling, staff in hand, prepared to defend my people. I remember being ambushed, an innocent traveler on the road to Scarwood...wait. I know for a fact these are not my memories. Or are they? I feel so confused and disoriented. But I can't be that confused. For a brief moment I thought I was someone else. A different being altogether. For one disorienting moment I have double vision, as if I were perceiving things through a different set of eyes. My mind went foggy and distant and I felt my awareness dim. No, I am Karazhan! So named because of my unique markings, "zhan" being a variation of a name meaning 'marked' in the Kelari dialect and "kara" meaning 'flower'. I forced my awareness back to the present. It felt like pushing through a spider's web. Like a force was fighting me for control of my own body. By the Spirits, what a terrifying feeling.

    Curiously, I seem to be situated on a circular platform, surrounded by a large enclosed device, like a cylinder. This strange round object, copied five times in a neat row beside me, sported odd blinking blue lights. Some sort of magitech devices. No doubt they have something to do with my resurrection. A brief moment where information I most certainly couldn't have known seemed to appear in my mind, and I shivered. I felt like I was sharing my head with multiple different people. I could suddenly feel my heartbeat speed up as memories of what I'd experienced before waking came back to me. Glancing down in alarm, I noticed that the distance to the ground seem different. Higher. This didn't help my disorientation any. Think, Kara, create a hypothesis. Try to reason this through. The familiar sense of performing an experiment calmed my nerves as I studied myself. The more I analyzed, the more I realized that, disturbing as it was, this was not my body. I had been placed in a different body. Somehow I knew this had something to do with that part of me that wasn't actually part of me being ripped away.

     Climbing rather hesitantly off the platform, I stumbled, unused to the height and proportional differences of this body. A morbid part of mind whispered that the body stiffens up and appears hard to move after death, but I shoved that thought away. If indeed I had been brought back from the dead, I'd rather not dwell on the aftereffects of it overmuch. Can you blame me? Waking up after dying to find yourself in someone else's body isn't exactly an everyday occurance.

     To my left stood a dark-skinned human and after I calmed myself from the initial shock of discovering him standing there, I studied the figure. I actually like to study and think things through rather than rushing right in, no questions asked. The Priestesses and clerics used to get quite impatient with me because of that, but just because I chose to keep quiet and think a situation through did not mean that I found it unworthy of my attention. Quite the opposite in fact. I loved knowledge very much, for its own sake, and I loved investigating and exploring new things. So I looked the man up and down slowly. Eth, I'd presume from the looks and the clothing. Another shock. I haven't actually seen an Eth in the flesh before. There'd been trading between the Isles and mainland of course, but I lived far away from such matters, attending my duties in one of the hundreds of temples constructed to honor the Spirits. The male wore a long white robe of some exotic material I'd not seen before. The man had black hair speckled with gray and a short gray beard that went well with his swarthy complexion. To add to this unreal picture, he appeared to be holding a clipboard and staring at me, his stance suggesting that he'd been waiting for me to wake up, very anxiously in fact. How strange.

     'What is going on here?' I wondered for what felt like the tenth time, a swift feeling of annoyance rushing through me. The room appeared rather dark, giving off the feel of being underground or at least in a man-made cavern, although various ethereal lamps and other odd trinkets supplied enough light to see what was going on. Not that that made it any easier to understand. To my mind, I couldn't even compare this to anything. I've lived in the lavish and beautiful city of Atia my entire life, rarely having need to step outside its borders except for traveling between cities, fetching supplies for myself or the Spirits, or stop the occasional cultist or evil magic-user from gaining power. My people have learned to be ruthless in order to survive in the harsh, unpredictable island climates. We rely on the power and magic supplied to us by our Spirit allies, having no need to learn the magitech techniques that the Eth are so fond off. I've never seen or heard tell of anything like this facility. The room was high vaulted and made entirely of stone as far as I could see. Up against the wall were tanks, each attached to at least a dozen tubes and wires. Men and women in white robes like the man staring at me scurried about the room. So completely foreign to the humid atmosphere, Spirit-carved design and simple elegance that was my home. It's a marvel that I seem to be taking it all in so calmly. Or perhaps I'm in shock.

     Movement drew my eyes immediately back to the bearded man, who appeared to be beckoning me over to him. To make sure it's actually me he's motioning to, I cautiously glanced around. I appeared to be the only one close to him and the only one standing on one of those odd discs. Still feeling wary but wanting to know what in the six planes is going on here, I stepped forward.
     A tank nearby suddenly let off a series of beeps and I crouched instinctively, glancing around wildly, hand reaching in reflex for my favored weapon, which usually hung in its harness across my back. I was acutely surprised to realize that I actually did have a weapon strapped to my back. I didn't draw it, but fingered the long smooth shaft of wood softly, reassured by it's mere presence. At least I wasn't completely helpless. Than I smirked. Of course I wasn't helpless, I had an entire rested well of magic inside me waiting to be unleashed should I have need of it. I reached out my spiritual senses just to be sure, testing my own inner magic and the inherent magic all around me as I watched the beeping machinery warily.

     A woman the same ethnic background as the man quickly bustled over to the tank in response to the beeping and scanned a small panel attached to the side. There was a moment of silence as both I and the man watched the woman curiously.

     "The Sourcestone matrix is excellently formed. This is going to be a strong one!" The woman's sudden and delighted exclamation startled me so badly I stumbled backward. The first words I'd heard spoken since my apparent resurrection, they bounced inside my newly sensitive ear drums painfully. I gave the woman a reproachful look, than hobbled forward, unable to keep my insatiable curiosity in check. I'm a sucker for new creations and sciences. My stiff legs and greater height proved to be a bit difficult to control but the soreness worked itself out by the time I'd come abreast of the tank. Say what you will about us Kelari, but we've ever had a curious nature.

     To my shock, I saw a body in the tank. It was male and dressed in an odd silvery and red cuirass that glittered with millions of tiny, blue, gem-like dots. Is he dead? Came my desensitized thought.. Again there was an odd shift in my mind. My vision became blurred and I felt something click in my mind. Somehow I suddenly knew that the small glittering dots on the man's armor were Sourcestone shards, harvested and refined for maximum planar augmentation. How I knew that, I've no idea. Now I really wanted to know what was going on. If these crazy Eth scientists think to use me in their twisted experiments, they'd better forget it. I often studied the books and scrolls in the city library, so I know all about the Eth and their past; the Eth Empire, the Convocation, their near destruction. I know that the Eth are capable of great inventions, but also of great horrors. And although I wouldn't mind being involved in a study of Magitech and other eldritch technologies, I'd rather not be the subject. Not to mention that I seem to have already been altered. To what effect, I don't know.

     I backed away from the tank hastily, cautiously eyeing the woman. Before I could open my mouth and demand an explanation, the man remembered my presence and turned, giving me a warm smile. His expression, when he looked at me, held emotions that just confused me more. Hope? Sorrow? Fear? I must obviously be missing something here.

     "Welcome, welcome back to life Zyanza my dear!" he exclaimed, rather loudly. I frowned and shook my head. 
     "That's not my name." I replied before the man could continue. He blinked, then glanced in confusion at his companion. The woman peered over at me, looked me up and down, then whispered something to the man, who shrugged, still looking confused. "What do you mean that's not your name child? We fished you out of the Soulstream. You specifically, to be the host of this sourcestone created body and embody the true power for our very own engineered Ascended!" He puffed up as he spoke, obviously proud of this accomplishment, while my mind reeled. Ascended? Engineered? A sinking feeling came over me as I started to understand what was going on here.

     "I think something must have gone wrong." I said softly, staring at my strange, darkened fingers. "My name is Karazhan Anthanos. I am a Kelari mage from the city of Atia on the Kelari Isles. I don't remember much of what happened before waking up this body, but I do remember that some powerful entity ripped something away from me that had been woven into my own essence. By your comment, I'd guess that that something was this Zyanza's soul." I heaved a great sigh and watched the man turn as pale as his robes. He again exchanged a glance with his colleague, before seeming to shake himself out of it. He pasted a smile on his face, although I could feel the worry radiating off him. Apparently my rebirth came will all manner of new abilities, including the ability to read others and to figure out situations faster. Feeling a calm that I knew couldn't be natural, I smiled back.

     "...Well, uh, welcome back to life, Karazhan." The man finally said, sketching a slight bow. "You weren't the one we'd chosen to be the host inhabitant of that body, as we'd formed the body to fit the soul it was intended for, but alas, we don't have time to rectify the situation, and from the readings, you are still a successful trial." I cocked an eyebrow, looking down at myself again. From the name he'd first called me, I'd have to guess that the body I was inhabiting was that of a Bahmi, as I'd taken a class on world culture during my clerical studies. Hence the height difference. I would probably be far more disturbed if he hadn't told me that the body was a construct designed to house souls. I'd really not like to be housed inside someone else's apparently dead body, especially when that someone else is now dead, or gone or whatever. A fully functioning, engineered body, imagine that! I glanced up as the man continued with his speech, obviously something he'd rehearsed before, because he spoke it without hesitation and seemed to relax as it went on, finding comfort in the familiar words.

     "I'm sure you're a little disoriented, Ascended and I wish there was time to acclimate you to the situation and to your new body, but there is no time to waste! Regulos's forces have discovered the factory already and are even now closing in on our location!" I gawked at the man as he finished his impassioned speech. Say what? He can't be serious? Regulos, here? It all seemed to fall into place suddenly. They created a scientifically engineered body, inhabited it with souls of their choosing (how they did that, I've no idea) and imbued the body with greatly enhanced gifts like strength, dexterity, heightened senses, and the potential for unlimited magical ability. Of course they would have a desperate need of such a creation in order to force themselves to do something that had never been conceived of or successful before! And Regulos was a pretty world-ending situation. I can't believe this! They've been careful not to mention it, but they want me to fight the dragon. I almost laughed.

    How could Regulos have gotten into Telara? A cold knot grew inside of me. If that was indeed what was happening here, they'd need all the help they could get! No wonder they'd brought me back, along with thousands of others I hope....Dread settled inside of me. I've read all about Regulos and the dreadful Blood Storm. Well, of course I can't sit idly by while he destroys my world again. I'd never be able to live with myself. And I'll admit that a large part of me was thrilled at the kind of danger and adventure this implied. I will gladly join this new army fighting against him, like the heroes of old. Just think of the new knowledge and history I could learn here! I became aware of a throbbing in my temple as I stood there, like pressure building inside my head. Okay, take it slowly. Apparently I've only just come back from the dead and one doesn't take that sort of thing lightly. A rustle of cloth nearby instantly had me on the defensive. I whirled to see the bearded man was regarding me with something like concern. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I glared at him from my considerable height. Bahmi were quite tall compared to the other mortal races of Telara. I could certainly get used to this newfound height advantage.

    "I want to know what's going on! Everything!" I demanded sharply. It occurred to me then that I'd lost the melodic tone and soft inflictions that was my natural voice. Another thing to try to come to grips with in this new reality.
     The bearded man, as if sensing my frustration, turned and pointed up at a balcony behind him that I hadn't noticed was there before. I followed his finger with my gaze and saw a tall, dark-skinned Elf standing at the balcony, looking down upon those in this room like some demented overlord. I realized after a stunned moment of staring that he was a Kelari! One of my people! I wonder how he came to be here. Was he one of these Ascended as well? He had an air of authority about him. Studying him silently, I became aware that something about him There was something wrong about this Kelari, but I just couldn't put my finger on it.

    "Go, speak to Sylver Valis." The white-robed man said by way of response. "He is the one who made your resurrection possible, as well as discovered the means to fuse souls with the Sourcestone to create your unique Ascended powers. He will bring you up to date on what is going on here and help you to fulfill your mission."
     "Ascended huh?" I mumbled to myself thoughtfully. Sylver Valis? I've  heard that name before, I'm sure of it...but where? Swallowing back a laugh at the absurdity of this whole scenario, I bowed my head in thanks to the robed man, who I never even got the name of, and headed toward a set of steps that led out of this chamber and supposedly would bring me more answers of what was actually going on here. If I'm to take seriously that Regulos has somehow found his back onto Telara than I want to know how exactly it happened!


     "Just look at you! A marvel of science. My finest work, if I do say so." Sylver Valis, who was apparently the head scientist around here and the one to thank for my current status, was beaming at me like a proud parent who's child has exceeded expectations. After his initial shock of finding out my unique predicament of being a Kelari in a Bahmi's body, he'd taken quite a liking to me.                 Considering all I've done so far is walk around, I can't see as I've earned such praise, but I wasn't about to mention that to this man. My creator? A shiver ran down my spine at that thought. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for this second chance at life, but I can't help wondering, what is the plan now? Is Regulos, the infamous dragon of Death, out there right now, destroying more parts of my beloved home? What happened to the Isles? Where exactly on Telara were we? Sylver either ignored my questions or changed the subject whenever I tried brining it up, and I was left feeling out of place and a bit helpless, a feeling I've always hated.

   I'd followed the corridor that led away from the "resurrection room" and had found myself in another room, much similar to the last, where Sylver Valis had been expecting my imminent arrival with much eagerness. As I'd walked up to him, I'd realized what was so off about him that I'd sensed earlier. Sylver Valis was nalthema. Meaning, he could not sense or make pacts with the Spirits in any way. Despite his maddening lack of answers to my questions, I felt compassion for the poor man. The lack of ability to communicate and live among the Spirits was a rare, but disheartening affliction among us and I felt a welling sympathy and kindness toward the scientist immediately. I respect that he'd gone on with his life, even managing to make a name for himself and help his people in such a massive way despite the lack of the Kelari gift that came naturally to every other island elf. It can't have been easy...I knew a boy once in the village I'd been born in, who'd been nalthema. He'd killed himself out of despair. 

     "As much as I would love to run tests on you, there is no time." Sylver speaking again. He looked downright regretful as he eyed me, perhaps curious as to what my insides looked like. I raised an elegant eyebrow as I looked down at him. "The end of the world waits for no man. Or woman, for that matter!" Sylver chuckled although his eyes stayed cold and fearful, and I couldn't help quirking a smile at him. Despite my reservations and confusion, I found myself liking this Sylver Valis. His cheerful demeanor seemed to rub off easily, succeeding in lifting my mood. I nodded at his words, although I wasn't exactly sure what was going on here. No one had actually told me anything definite other than it seems that Regulos is free again, somehow, but the relief that others knew what was going on and that I should get an explanation soon seemed to help me focus. If I had actually been resurrected in this new...existence for lack of a more appropriate word, to help fight evil, I will gladly do it. I've always felt like my life should have more purpose to it other than serving the great Spirits of the city and advancing my magical studies. Now I have my chance to do something heroic and brave and amazing. My only fear is of dying or failing. And a tiny part of me wondered if being in this body made me a nalthema too. No, don't dwell on that.
     "We must get you through Orphiel's Failsafe device and back to the past. We've not a moment to lose! We're counting on you, Karazhan!" He gestured further down the shadowy hallway. I hesitated and frowned. Failsafe device? Back to the past? I'm not ignorant or uneducated by any means, but his words implied time travel. My mind was struggling mightily to assimilate all this information being thrown at me at once. Not only had resurrection by other means than faith and powerful magic been achieved, but now I'm to believe that time travel is possible as well? I found myself shaking my head, expression stunned. It's not everyday that one finds themselves in a body not their own, in a foreign place among strangers, and being asked to do something about one of the deadliest legends of Telara. And being called a legend myself. The Ascended had been heralded by the Vigil as the saviors of the world for ages.

     "Go on with you," Sylver encouraged softly, seeing my hesitation. "Head out the main door, protected by our magitech. Seek out Dacia, she will know the best route to the Failsafe. Unfortunately, it's quite a ways from the factory, so you may encounter opposition from Regulos's forces along the way, but I have confidence in your success! We need you to succeed Karazhan; we're counting on you." Sylver gazed steadily at me, and despite those ridiculous goggles he had covering the upper half of his face, I felt his eyes boring into mine, encouraging me, willing me forward with all of his being. "You may not be who we anticipated, but fate obviously chose you specifically for a reason, young Kelari. We will need everything you can offer to win this war" He gazed at me seriously.

       And it suddenly occurred to me that I could sense what was off about the air through my magic. The magic that was natural to Telara normally felt's hard to explain but to me it's always felt tangy and potent, like a strong wine. Now it tasted metallic to my senses, like blood and death. Of course I wanted to know how this had all happened, because something this horrific and drastic doesn't just suddenly occur, and by the looks of this place, they'd been here for quite some time. All the many white robed scientists running about performing their duties had a kind of shell-shocked, permanently terrified aura about them. I have to admit, it was really starting to affect me. So, with my heart beating faster by the minute, I gave Sylver Valis one last, scrutinizing look, before setting off down the shadowy, Sourcestone-lit hallway.

     Snakes of tubing crawled up the stone walls, and the air felt dank and heavy, like that of a tomb. Maybe that wasn't the best analogy, actually, I thought wryly after a moment. I cannot believe this was happening to me. A brief flicker of concern and grief flashed through me at the thought of my friends and family, but I can't help them now, so no sense worrying about something I can't change. First, I needed to do what I could to help these people here. One person I may be, but even one person can make a difference. All the ancient books I've read about those heroes who trapped the dragons to begin with were proof of that. Ahead of me, the hallway widened into another room, this one identical to the last with gray flagstones, crumbling walls, and dozens of technological devices strewn across the floor like discarded toys. 'More like discarded experiments,' I thought wryly. Eth and their scientific curiosity. As I quickly stepped into the room, a sudden and violent shaking pitched me forward. Funny enough, I didn't even come close to losing my balance, instead adjusting my feet accordingly to deal with the violent tremors. As the ground calmed once again, I stared at my feet in amazement. That was a pretty agile feat for me. I hadn't exactly been known for my agility and footwork. More proof of my changed status. It was like I'd gained new awareness of my surroundings. Now that I think about it, I was seeing colors and depth much clearer and sharper now. I blinked. It was as if they'd restored years to my body as well as my soul. Amazing! But that shaking was definitely something to be concerned about. I had a bad feeling, like a feather light touch at the nape of my neck, and I continued onward. The corridor opened up into a stone chamber.

     Around the room, the red and white robed scientists all stopped and stared at me in amazement, as if I was the most spectacular sight they'd ever laid eyes on. One of them even gave an elaborate flourishing bow. I gave him an odd look as I strode for the opposite doorway. No one stopped me or asked me anything, so I either was going in the right direction, or they thought I was someone important and shouldn't be questioned. Either way, I kept my chin high and my focus forward.
     The light grew stronger as I exited that room, indicating that I was either coming close to outside, or that there were brighter lights up ahead. The ground shook several more times, more severely, and when I strained my ears, I could actually make out a faint booming sound following the tremors. It didn't take long to piece together that we literally were under attack. Oh gods, let it not actually be Regulos himself! What was I to do against something that vast and powerful and terrifying?? I wasn't stupid, I knew I'd been changed upon awakening. When I'd scanned myself magically I could see a matrix of Sourcestone woven tightly into the very essence of my body, like strong, inflexible wire mesh. Fused into the matrix were also several glowing orbs, which I was pretty sure were other souls. I guess that explained the memories that weren't mine. So I had been experimented with and created to be a kind of supersoldier or powerful entity, capable of much more than I had been before. But I highly doubt I could take on Regulos.

     I slowly made my way down the corridor, pausing and ducking down reflexively every time I heard a whistling noise followed by a shuddering crash that shook the whole edifice. Debris crumbled down every once in a while when the crashes were strong enough and I found myself praying to one of the greater Spirits that the tunnel wouldn't collapse on my fool head and crush my newfound life. I had a brief thought of what would happen to my soul if I did die here...again. I rounded a corner and was witness to another room. This one was much different than the room I had woken up to. And it was quite full of the most interesting magitech things. My eyes flicked around the room with a mixture of delight and sheer amazement. How on Telara did they make all this? I wonder...I'd heard about the scrolls and blueprints that were rumored to be hidden and sealed away forever by the Eth when their Empire fell...had these scientists uncovered those secrets? I'd read about machines like this, but never actually seen any! How exciting to be chosen for this. To be resurrected here.
     On one raised platform, connected to wires and Sourcestone tubes, stood a construct that looked remarkably like an equine. Except that it was made entirely out of metals and magic. Gears clicked and whirred inside its belly where there would normally be organs. In place of hooves were wide metal bands that sparkled with Sourcestone gems. It stood placidly, not making a move, but I knew, I just knew, it was alive. Not alive in an organic kind of way. But alive nonetheless.
     On a separate platform across the room, a young man was working on a small creature that looked like metal held together by a lattice of Sourcestone. Like a picket fence woven through with bluebells. And there were many other such work stations set up around the room. You could veritably taste the magitech in the air. It was exhilarating and I could hardly contain the urge to run over and participate in the experimentation, study, and processes required to make all these wonderful machines work.
     I had taken every opportunity to get my hands on information about the Eth and their magitech. Of course I would never be so arrogant as those foolish Eth kings, but I'd spent many a free moment going through dusty scrolls about the ancient ruins among the desert cliffs. And it seemed that my death had only enhanced that desire. It was a relief to know that I was still me. I still had my personality and desires and thoughts, despite my new powerful status as Ascended. I shook myself out of my thoughts as one of the men nearest to me turned and spotted me. His face took on an expression of elation and hope, making me distinctly uncomfortable under his scrutiny.
     "All our hopes go with you, Ascended!" The man cried solemnly, executing an elegant bow. I felt my face heat up. Ascended, hah. Me? Chosen of the gods? Despite my personal respect and acknowledgement of the gods, I knew my people would always be at odds with their views. After all it was the choice of my ancestors to leave the sacred forests and give up the blind faith they had in the gods I doubt that the Vigil would suddenly welcome heretics back into their arms, even if the world was ending. Honestly, I've ever had a fascination with the gods of Telara and the beliefs of the northern races. To me, it was just another form of Spirit pacts, except on a larger scale.

         I respected their faith and their way of life and I wish that things were different because to study under a follower of the Vigil or to have the opportunity to commune with the gods would be a special privilege. But because I am who I am, they would never look at me with anything other than disgust. I could never be one of their precious prophesied Ascended... Although if this Sylver Valis could resurrect me, perhaps he could recreate the process of Ascension that the Vigil's worshippers had prophesied. That would make quite a lot more sense. And an amazing tale to tell around the fire. I pondered that thought a moment. What would the gods think of an Ascended that did not belong to them? Would I even be called Ascended?

     Everyone had heard of the Ascended. Or rather, the prophecy (click on the word to read it.) predicting the arrival of the Ascended.
    Still considering this notion and scoffing at the idea that I could ever be considered by those same gods, I quickly strode through the construct room. I guess it didn't really matter right now anyway, the theology behind it all. Despite my disorientation and massive confusion about the entire situation, I felt a sense of urgency prodding me onward. The tone of Sylver's voice, the way the building shook as if attacked by an artillery weapon, the very atmosphere, spoke of something malevolent happening out in the world. And like it or not, I was a part of this. These people who I've never met were counting on me to be of aid. I knew that I was needed at some Failsafe thing, by Sylver's explanation, but what I was to do there was still lost on me.
     The last room I entered was much brighter than the rest of the building. The light was almost blinding after the time I'd spent in the dim interior of the factory. The Life Factory, it was apparently called. Ironic name, all things considered. The light seemed to be emanating from the opposite wall and after my eyes had taken a moment to adjust to the brilliance, I realized that this must be the exit. Somewhere out there was a foe so great that it had caused these men and women to shut themselves away from the world in the desperate hope that they could somehow create a being powerful enough to stop him. We were the last hope of Telara, and it was up to us Ascended to stop this from happening. I paused at this odd thought. How did I know that? I felt pressure in my head again, and a vague feeling of deja vu came over me. Images flickered behind my eyes, images of another life, of death and destruction and the rising of the Endless Court...I pushed it all down, concentrating on a beeping machine nearby until the feeling passed, then took a deep breath. I needed to get a handle on this...situation, I was in. Sharing a body with more than just my own soul was a disconcerting experience I wish I didn't have to deal with. Rather then think on it more, I focused on the room. Maybe I was in denial, I didn't care.

     Again, all the scientists in this room stopped what they were doing to stare at me with open-mouthed wonder. A few sketched hasty curtsies and bows and I forced myself to smile and nod back at them. If this was my new life now, it was best to make the most of it and get to know the people.
As I walked closer to the exit, noise filtered in and I found myself running without even thinking about it. Oh Spirits! I could hear screaming and crying and all manner of horrifying sounds. It seems I'd been created literally just in time. I'm coming! My mind screamed at me.
     "I'm coming, hold on!" I actually found myself shouting as I burst through the doorway. There was an odd shiver that ran across my skin as I stepped across the threshold, and I saw a shimmer of blue cascade across the air out of the corner of my eye but I immediately forgot all about that little curiosity when I beheld what was going on outside.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

[Author's Note]: Introducing Karazhan the Defiant!

     Well, here we are, a year later! Ok, so not a year exactly, but it's in the new year! I'm pretty excited to get this ball rolling on the Defiant side, can't you tell? :) For some time, as I've been writing Raeslyn's story, I was thinking boy, I'm missing out on a lot of interesting tidbits and cool things by only doing one half of the story. And I really like the Defiant faction as a people and their views on Sourcestone. But than I thought to I have the time to write two different stories on two different characters? And won't that get confusing, trying to keep their personalities separate and stuff? And what about questing in later content? I know that a lot of the zones merge, allowing both factions access to the same quests and locations. But then I thought meh! I'm gonna do it anyway! It's going to be fun and I'm just going to do what I want! It's my blog after all.

     So here is my introductory page to the Defiant half of Telara. My new Defiant character, who I've chosen to make a Bahmi Mage, is going to be quite different from our lovely little sarcastic Rae. For one thing...she's not even who she appears to be! *le gasp* Kara isn't actually a Bahmi, despite in the body of one! Kara is actually the result of a mistake in the process of creating a new Ascended in the Life Factory. The intended dominant soul had been destroyed suddenly while still in the Lifestream mere seconds from being placed inside the Sourcestone matrix that housed the souls inside the body. So instead of the intended soul being matched with the vessel that best housed it, a Kelari named Karazhan Solanta. This leads poor Kara to being quite confused when first awakening. Eventually though, like all Kelari, she adapts to her new form and her new place in the world, coming to look forward to killing the cults and the bad guys that want to destroy it. Kara is respectful, quiet, thoughtful...basically the opposite of Rae. But she does have a stubborn streak if riled, and has learned the hard way to be ruthless if you want to succeed, so she has less hang ups over decisions that most people would find questionable or immoral. She is Defiant for a reason after all. She wholeheartedly embraces the semantics and philosophy of the Defiant, just believing the Vigil is just an excuse to not have to think for yourself. Of course, just like Rae, her views change as she journeys through the world and encounters many different things.

     So my next entry on the blog will be Karazhan's first RP chapter, where we find her being reborn as a Defiant in the future, where it's apocalypse now! The system will be the same as before, but I will alternate between Kara and Rae each entry, divided by a Lore or Feature page, or whatever else I throw in there! When I get to a point where they are doing the same quests, I'll either have the two meet and pair up (an interesting and difficult endeavor to be sure!) Or alternate each girl for a zone. I haven't decided yet and we're a long ways off for that anyway. But I just thought I'd get this introductory letter out of the way before I went to bed for the night! I can't wait to dive into the Defiant story!

     I hope you've enjoyed the journey so far and thank you for reading! PS, if you've gotten this far and recognize the name "Karazhan" from that "other game" then you would be right! Karazhan was my favorite raid of all time in World of Warcraft and I spent many a fond...and frustrating...hour with my guild mates during the BC expac. :)