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.


  1. Shyla has got steel for a soul in my opinion to be able to stand the betrayal of her love and his retinue. I agree with the amusingness of Cyril acting fatherly to Shyla

  2. Why hello there "Anon". Mind if I call you Anon? You don't have any other lol! I agree that Shyla is very brave and determined. She doesn't give up, even when the love of her life ditched her so he could have more power. Although I think there's more going on there than meets the eye. A High Elf of his standing shouldn't just up and join the other side for no reason. It's rather strange. Also, I've learned a lot more about Shyla since I wrote this; I just need to get around to updating this piece with the new relevant info! *sigh* So much to do, so little time to do it in!