Friday, February 01, 2013

[Karazhan's Story] 1.1: Apocolypse Now!

     Outside, the sun blazed down upon a scene of desolation and despair. And I do not say this lightly. Looking out across the land, I knew fear. A spear of it stabbed down the back of my neck and I clenched my hands tightly. To look upon this was to look upon madness, I thought to myself. In the distance, the skies darkened ominously over a patch of mountainous terrain. A bit farther than that, I could make out the distant shape of a large single mountain that, incredibly enough, was actively spewing molten lava. Despite the sunlight, the air felt cold, unfriendly. Evil even. Which seems silly, one would think. How can you "feel" evil, after all? But I tell you true, I could veritably feel the malevolence in the air. I found myself in what looked to be a kind of valley, or bowl in a mountainous region.
     With cold dread, I wondered what exactly I was looking at. It took a few moments before relief set in, followed immediately by horror. For a second I had thought I was looking upon an entirely new world. The ground was covered in dark colored spines, the rocky walls of the basin jutted outward like the claws of some great nightmarish creature. Where am I? This looked like nothing I'd ever seen or read about. I paused thoughtfully. Could this be the end result of some mad battle with Regulos? Everywhere I looked, Death tainted the environment. I wondered, somewhat uneasily, where the great and terrible dragon god had made off to and hoped he wasn't anywhere nearby. Than I gave a strangled laugh. Here I am, calmly hoping that Regulos wasn't hiding around the nearest rocky pinnacle. Regulos. The Destroyer who was only spoken of in harsh whispers and mentioned in all the historical scrolls as an evil like no other. Not that getting worked up about the situation was going to help anyone anyway, but I marveled at my calm acceptance of everything so far and thanked my ancestors for a level head and sensible mind.
     A scream of despair from the left startled me and I turned and gasped in horror at the sight of some ghoulish, undead creature hacking away at some helpless woman. She reached out her arms, wailing for help, before the ghoul silenced her forever. Before I even realized I was moving, I found myself running in that direction, various spells at the forefront of my mind. Before I'd gotten far, however, I was jerked back by a hand on my arm. I turned to protest and saw that I was staring at another Bahmi! Compared to my own body, this woman was taller, and had strong muscle tone. She looked like someone to be reckoned with. That didn't stop me from feeling a bit betrayed.
     "Why are you stopping me?" I demanded, voice sharp. I gave her a searching look, before glancing back out at what looked to be a ruined town. The other woman's eyes held regret and sorrow as she shook her head and tightened her grip on my arm.
     "I'm afraid there's nothing we can do for them. Leaving our post to help those poor doomed citizens will just leave us open to attack and we can't afford to leave the Life Factory vulnerable." I glared at her, but turned to glance around again. Sure enough, I was behind what appeared to be a hastily constructed barrier of stakes and debris, creating a sort of bottleneck where the pass through the valley was thinnest and faced up against the chambered underground lab I'd just emerged from. A Life Factory, she'd called it. Well, the name makes sense, since they seem able to bring long dead souls back to life.
     "I am Dacia." The woman continued in a more gentle voice, letting go of my arm now that she saw I wasn't ready to dash off. "I saw you exit the Life Factory. I need to know, are you what Sylver has been striving to create all these years? Are you an Ascended?" She leaned in, eyes intense, full of hope and pain and determination. I looked back into her eyes and nodded. "Yes. I have been resurrected here, made more powerful then I've ever dreamed. I can feel the potential humming under my skin. I am called Karazhan." I replied honestly, keeping my voice low. I didn't mention that I was actually a different soul then they had originally planned on, that I was far from confident or comfortable with the new situation I'd been thrust into, since that wouldn't exactly help instill trust and confidence. I glanced away finally, catching sight of several injured men and women leaning up against the rock face of the valley wall. A beautiful, white robed woman bent over one of them, furiously casting spells and bandaging up bloody gashes. Despite her dark Ethian heritage, her face was grey with exhaustion. More men and women, garbed in silver and red armor, stood alert around the meager barricade. They faught off and killed any ghouls that ventured too close to their long spears, but stayed put behind the barricade. Though their eyes lingered painfully on the few unfortunate citizens that managed to be caught and butchered by the ghouls, they didn't stray from their post. I glanced behind me and up, noting the strange symbols carved into the stone wall that housed the only exit and entrance into the Life Factory. She was right, what they were doing in there was the difference between success and defeat against Regulos and his minions. These foul undead couldn't be allowed to destroy Sylver's work. We needed as many Ascended as we could get to challenge the dragon of death.
     "Thank the ancestors he was actually able to bring you to life, Ascended! You are sorely needed! We have managed to hold Regulos's forces off long enough to engineer you, but we are running out of time! It's time to prove you are worth all the people who died to give you life. Are you ready for that. You can fight, right?" She eyed me with concern. Of course I could. I had no choice, did I? I'd been plucked from the Soulstream, from everything I knew, from my homeland, and placed here at the very end of a very long battle that Telara never had a hope of winning in a body that wasn't even of the same race as I was. If there was any chance that I, with my newly acquired immortality, potential, and raw untapped ability to stop this from happening, I would do my best, or die trying. I would never let such filthy evil befoul my beloved world and snuff out any more lives. Before I could say anything along those lines, though, Dacia resumed speaking, her voice becoming a bit strangled and frantic.
     "You are the best of us, Ascended. We cannot defeat Regulos without you. We can't change the future without your intervention. With the unique way that your soul has been reconstructed and fused to your new body, only you can survive the trip through the Failsafe!" I tilted my head in confusion. The Failsafe, right. I'd forgotten about that. The so called time travel device.
     "You must go, Ascended. We can't help you or protect you, but you need to leave now and get to the Failsafe before Regulos figures out our plan! This is the last patch of Telara that Regulos hasn't swallowed yet. We have managed to hold out this long with the last of our Magitech weapons, but the Sourcestone we use to fuel them are running out and we don't have much time left. I regret not being able to send men with you, but I can't spare them and with your ability, fighting your way through shouldn't pose too much of a problem. Be safe, and may your ancestors give you strength." I turned and glanced in the direction that Dacia was nodding. Sure enough, I could just make out a path that led through the destroyed town and down a hill, out of sight. It was hardly a path. So much debris littered the path. It was also crawling with those rotting creatures, who were shambling along aimlessly like macabre, bloodthirsty puppets just waiting for their strings to be pulled. I didn't know what a Failsafe was, or what I had to do once I reached it, but I had a feeling that there wasn't time for details. The pertinent information here was that with it, Dacia said I could save Telara. I took a breath, glancing skyward for calm and control. And blinked in shock. Great, leathery creatures where circling in the air overhead, bat like wings churning smoke as they wheeled and dived out of sight, only to appear again. What sort of monstrosity were those? I shook my head. I couldn't let such things overwhelm me. I let my eyes slide back to Dacia, and she gave me a small, genuine smile and a nod. I nodded back.
     "Good luck, Ascended." She called softly, as I stepped forward. Cries and sounds of battle raged all around me, and I clenched my hands tight in order to keep myself from rushing to help. My assistance would do nothing but stem the tide for mere moments. As much as it pained me, these few lost lives were nothing compared to the entire planet. I unslung my staff from its clever harness on my back, swinging it expertly and testing its weight and balance. Perfectly crafted and perfectly balanced. I drew myself inward and focused on becoming centered. Interesting, I felt something inside of me that felt different...but part of me all the same. Some kind of power that was different, yet familiar. Still magic, but of a different vocation. I had been infused with many powerful magics that were foreign to me when I was brought back. I suddenly knew quite a few new spells that I hadn't learned before. That I hadn't thought I could know since as far as I knew, one could only focus on one clerical discipline at a time. But apparently being Ascended opened the doors to the other forms and elements of magic. Now I felt that I could actually cast a multitude of spells from different disciplines. Drawing upon this new magic felt different, like I had touched something personal that belonged to someone else. These other souls I'd been told about, perhaps? I reached out more delicately, and felt something else reach back. Intriguing, but I hadn't the time right now to experiment. I felt a thrill of excitement at my new potential. Tentatively touching my personal well of magic, I drew upon mana to test out a fire based spell, something I'm not normally skilled at. Immediately I felt the passionate force of fire leap at my command.

  I was so absorbed by this new discovery that I almost missed the fact that the energy I'd tapped into was spreading outward. My staff was now glowing with an inner light. I stared in awe, than turned and eyed the nearest undead, considering it's weak points. I felt glee at being able to finally do something, and having a goal. I narrowed my eyes in focus and flung my hand out, murmuring the keys to the spell and directing at the undead creature. The fiend gave an angry snarl and launched itself at me. I dodged to the side, blocking the creature's progress with my staff and keeping it from my person. Without thinking, I transferred my staff briefly to one hand and thrust out my free hand, spreading my fingers and whispering something incomprehensible that I somehow knew, instinctively.
     "Spirits grant me strength!" I cried as I released my pent up magic. The brilliant bolt of flame that struck the fiend startled me at first, before I realized that I had been the one to cast it. Just that small, simple spell gave me a measure of my true magical potential. I may not be the strongest in my craft, but I could certainly train to be with all this power inside. I had power unmatched. Such a vast well of it that I felt I wouldn't ever reach the bottom. A few seconds ticked by in which I back stepped out of reach swiftly, than the fiend howled in confused pain and flailed around. While the creature was distracted and wounded from the weapon it couldn't fight, I stepped in under it's defense and clouted it about the head. Swiftly, before it could recover, I cast another spell, pleased with how effective it was. The spell also struck the fiend successfully, knocking it back and causing its howl to be cut off as it fell. Thankfully, despite being an undead creature belonging to Regulos, it did not regenerate or show signs of having survived that.

     I eyed the creature sharply for a few more minutes to make sure it was really dead. I'd learned my lesson on turning my back on a seemingly defeated foe during an attack on the tribe one night. When I was satisfied that it wasn't getting up again, I left the rotting corpse behind me and turned to survey my surroundings. Burnt and crumbling half walls were all that was left of this small town. Destruction and death for its own sake was just pointless and sickening, but I knew that that's how Regulos was. He reveled in that which us mortals shied from. I shook my head and headed straight for the path that led over the hill at the far end of the pass. Every fiend that chose to attack me met its end at my feet.
      It wasn't hard to kill the fiends. They were shambling shells, without thought, skill, or cunning. Putting them down was a mercy. I was sure they were probably what was left of the citizens that used to live here and I wondered idly what had turned them to this. Such a horrific ordeal. I can only hope that there is nothing of the original soul inside those husks.

      Once I'd cleared the edge of the destroyed village, I stopped and stretched to relieve my stiff muscles. Despite the surreal atmosphere and the bizarre circumstances that brought me here, I was beginning to feel...not happy or satisfied, but accepting at least. What could I do after all to change the situation? And I feel it's my duty to help the beleaguered people of this new world. It helps to think of it as a new world altogether, than to know that I'm still on Telara in some war-torn and destroyed future where all my loved ones are long dead and we're at war with a being we can't hope to beat. Although I clung to the hope that I could somehow find my tribe again, someday. I had to hope they had survived, somewhere on this mad new world.

     Down the path I travelled. The valley gently sloped downward in a lazy way that gave a better view of the land beyond. Not that I was much reassured by what I saw. The situation looked just as grim from here as it did back at the factory. I also began noticing that the strange...vegetation for lack of a proper word that I had seen earlier was becoming more prominent, seeming to choke off all life that might have otherwise found a hold. It looked like long twisted tentacles had burst upward through the earth from some deep fissure. Often there was a long crack in the dry earth around the tentacle-plants as well. The tentacles themselves gave me shivers just looking at them. Sinister, evil, dark, malevolent. I figure it must be a reaction to Regulos's touch upon Telara. Even the very planet was being slowly corrupted. I tried not to dwell on it overmuch as I walked briskly down the path. Sight was limited due to the amount of haze and death magic coating the air, but thankfully the path was easy enough to spot.
     To my surprise there were people at the base of the slope. A large male Bahmi, and some others. One, a healer, was casting a healing spell over her comrade, while the Bahmi was busy sharpening a blood stained polearm.
     The male Bahmi glanced up sharply as I approached and gave me a good solid look with a raised eyebrow. "Ah good, the Ascended is here." He said matter of fact, as if stating a change in weather. I smiled a greeting and inclined my head. "Let's have a look at ya, than." He continued, giving me a more interested glance. I suppressed the urge to shuffle my feet, wondering if he had the ability to see that I had the soul of a Kelari inside this Bahmi shell. Than he grunted and seemed to dismiss me. "You look like every other Bahmi I've met. Smell like one too. They say there's something different in you. I'll believe it when I see it." I felt annoyed and disgruntled. That wasn't very hospitable of him. But I kept my tongue, not wanting to give the man the satisfaction. Besides, I had more important matters to attend to.
     The man winked then, and gave a large smile. "I am Koke Tegus. These here are my companions, Vexa Ix'thla (and here he gestured to the Elf) and Dorona Keris (to the Eth woman). I have been tasked by Asha Catari to defend this position and I'll be here till they drag out my stinking corpse." I couldn't help wrinkling my nose at that. Really, did he have to be so descriptive? And Catari...that name sounds familiar. I nodded at this and gave my own name. Koke tilted his head, no doubt puzzled as to why I had such an unusual name. But then he shrugged.
     "The fiends have driven us back to this small hold, and I'm counting on you to turn the tides." Continued Koke. "You'll have no choice but to fight em to get through."
     I pulled back a little, feeling a bit like I was missing part of the situation. Again. Not having the full story, or even a summary of events so far, or what exactly a Failsafe was, would be very convenient right now. Suddenly a wavering black shadowy thing with red eyes rushed at us from the left, the attack so sudden that I froze, eyes wide.
     "By the Sp--er, Ancestors, what is that!" I exclaimed in surprise as it honed in on our group. I'd decided to keep my secret of being Kelari to myself unless it was necessary to reveal, so acting like a proper Bahmi seemed to be in order and invoking the Spirits or mentioning Spirit pacts didn't seem like a Bahmi pastime. I stepped swiftly back from the shadowy thing.    

    Thankfully, a red laser shot out from a nearby Magitech device and struck the shadowy creature. Seconds before it could get its inky claws on the elf, it exploded. My eyes fell on the small, gray device that the laser had come from. Some kind of mechanised defense system, I would guess. I wonder how it worked? Such curious machines, these Eth had! I would love to learn how to make something like that!

     "That is one of the reasons we've been pinned down here and are unable to get reinforcements from Lastlight." Koke replied grimly. I swiveled back to stare at him. Before I could say something he continued, "Don't worry about us, you are the key to our salvation, Ascended. No matter how many lives are lost, you need to get to the Failsafe and fix this! To the Northeast and over this rise, is the destroyed town of Lastlight. That's where Asha Catari, the Defiant general, is located. She has more information on the Failsafe, and the status of the temporal flux than I do. Hurry, before Regulos finds this corner of the world and destroys Telara for good."
    This is all happening so fast, and there was such death and destruction. I shook my head firmly. I couldn't dwell on anything here, or it would drive me mad. Just focus on the mission at hand. I was an engineered Ascended, a powerful, non mortal being now, and I had the strength and power to change something in this world. I could do this. For the first time in my life, I felt like I really had a purpose, that I really had found my calling. Koke nodded at me, as if he could sense my determination. I turned and eyed the field beyond Koke's hold, trying to find the best way to this Lastlight. The quickest was straight through the enemy. Those black planar shadow creatures made me a bit leery, but I was stronger then I was before, and I knew I could best them. In fact, I was becoming stronger the longer I was awake and functioning in this body. It was my body now. It had been infused with so much sourcestone and planar power that I felt like my eyes and skin must glow with the planar infusion. And the addition of ancient souls being woven into the matrix of sourcestone just increased my own innate abilities and enhanced my spellpower.

     "I'll see if I can get the lady Catari to send reinforcements to help you here, Koke." I said softly, glancing back at them as I moved off. I wasn't sure, but I thought I could see a brief flare of admiration light up the man's eyes before he hid behind an expressionless mask. "May your ancestors watch over you." He replied. I dipped my head respectfully as I'd seen Dacia do.

     Two more planar creatures attacked the camp as I was leaving and I flinched away as the eldritch device burned them to a cinder before they could be a threat. At least nothing could get into the camp, but neither could they leave without being vulnerable to the swarm of planar beings. They were well and truly trapped there, with no suitable weapons except what they carried and no way to survive the trek to Lastlight by themselves. I'd have offered to protect them till Lastlight, but I had a feeling that would be too great for Koke's pride, not to mention I didn't think I'd be able to fight off so many attackers as well as keep them all alive at the same time. I wasn't a healer, although I did know a few healing spells. Nothing to brag about though. I can't begin to image the bravery and sacrifice it took for all these people to have survived this long. The death of Telara could be tasted in the air, and somehow these last defiant few were giving all they could to spite the dragon of destruction. It made something undefinable inside me swell with such emotion that wetness prickled my eyes and I gave a wry chuckle. I felt such pride and admiration for this lone faction, fighting a losing battle against such an ultimate evil. I was glad to be a part of them, to part of this force. The "Defiant" they called themselves. Defiant of what, perhaps? The gods? That would make sense since the gods had forbidden the use of magitech or sourcestone as a weapon or a tool. Defiant of the Blood Storm? Also feasible, as they were literally spitting in the dragon's face, even at this late hour. Whatever the case, I was with them till the end, whatever that may be.
     Steeling myself, I moved beyond the small black device that protected the little camp. I swept my eyes over the devastation before me, fighting to keep the disgust and fear off my face. Tall grasses waved in the slight breeze, along with sinister looking tendrils of planar plants and strange twisted tentacles that thrust out of great cracks in the earth. The black shadows combed over the area like ants. They seemed to be diligently searching for something. Bodies and remains were scattered around and I realized a battle must have been fought here, perhaps the last defenders, before they had been pushed back to the very steps of the life factor. This was madness. Explosions and voices drew my eye forward, beyond the long stretch of field. The valley dipped out of sight ahead, leading downward into a deeper impression. That's where Lastlight was. Time to kick some butt. Calling spells to the forefront of my mind in readiness, I stepped forward quickly. The sooner I reached Lastlight, the sooner I'd be able to get to this Failsafe and do whatever it was they wanted me to do.

     Movement drew my eye to the far left, where a man in strange dark robes was bent over a the twisted remains of some kind of magitech device. I nearly shouted out something to him, thinking he was a potential ally, but when he stood, he had dead, lifeless eyes and blood smeared along his front. He clutched something large and glowing and blue in one fist that he'd ripped out of the machine. It took me a moment to recognize sourcestone that had been refined and turned into fuel for the machine. This man must be one the cultists that had swore themselves to Regulos in the hopes of endless power and control over death. Disgusting. I couldn't just let him do who knows what with that sourcestone though. Glancing around I saw much more of the sourcestone littering the area, mostly around large magitech machines and constructs. It spilled over the ground like bright little beads. I stooped down and snatched up a chunk of it as I walked forward, keeping an eye out for anything that might attack me. Interestingly enough, the planar creatures seemed to want to keep their distance from me. As I stared at it, the strangest thing happened. My mind just went blank and I began to experience double vision. I began to feel lightheaded. Images floated through my thoughts, images of a beautiful desert city, of magical and immense magitech constructs, of laboratories and experiments and a quill scratching away in a journal. I shook my head, calling on my ancestors for clarity and the visions slowly faded. I came back to myself, clutching the sourcestone chunk so hard that my fingers were white. A feeling of sharp yearning shivered through me, as the part of me that wasn't "me", wanted so badly to fix these fallen constructs, to make them "alive" again. To destroy the cultists robbing the constructs of their heart and blood. It took quite a good deal of mental wrestling to gain control of myself again. By the gods these other souls were strong. It made me stronger and faster, but it also messed with my head. I gave myself a sharp mental warning that I was in control and I decided what we would do, not anyone else. I was the pilot of this ship. There seemed to be a relaxing in my mind, a tentative sense of agreement. An inquiry. Hmmm. That soul wanted me to snag some of that sourcestone up. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea. Less sourcestone for the enemy to get their hands on. The hold the other soul had relaxed at this and a tension left my shoulders.
     I stored the shining sourcestone chunk in one of my packs at my hip and strode forward, keeping an eye out for any more laying around as I pondered the souls inside me. I hadn't given it much thought before, how they would impact me or interact with my own sense of self, but it was apparent that the souls were equally as strong as I was. Just as long as they didn't rise up against me or something. Did this have something to do with my soul not being the one intended for this vessel's matrix? Or was it just that all us souls were equally strong and so would always vie for control of the constructed body? A thought which disturbed me on many levels. My lips quirked with amusement. It was convenient though, that one of the stronger of the souls was apparently an Eth, and no doubt one that knew their way around magitech technology and similar. It would no doubt come in handy.
    A slight hiss from behind me had me on the defensive and twisting to the side quickly. Oily black claws swiped the air I'd just been occupying and I had a moment to thank the great spirits that I now had exceptional hearing and reflexes.
     Looking at the Planar creature head-on was disorienting. It kept wavering in my vision like a mirage. It had no definitive shape and seemed more like a distorted shadow than any kind of recognizable being. It was obvious from the outset that it was not from Telara. Was not natural in any sense of the word. The creature darted toward me again, melting its form suddenly like spilled candle wax in my direction. I jerked backward and quickly unslung my staff, positioning it between myself and the Planar creature. It made that sinister hissing again, raising the hairs on the nape of my neck and I hissed back mockingly.
     I quickly went through the list of spells I knew that I felt secure in casting in my new form and wondered frantically which would work against a Planar creature. I'd been trained to fight all manner of beasts and people by sparring with the Warriors and battle Mages at the temple, like all Kelari children, but I'd no experience in fighting something from the Planes. Something told me I better get used to doing things that I had no experience in. Grimly I gripped my staff tighter and quickly swung it downward in a practiced arc. At the bottom of the arc, I murmured the spell phrase and jerked the staff forward. A flame bolt seared into the creature from the tip of my staff. The wood grew warm under my hand but I was used to this side effect.
     To my relief, the flames seemed to actually have an effect on the Planar creature. It made a hissing shriek, presumably in pain, and flailed about. I took another step back and planted the staff in the ground, conjuring another spell. The air around me crackled with dry energy and I felt my hair lift as if by a breeze. Sparks of static energy danced in the air around my staff, showing up as jagged forks of lightning. The lightning descended upon the Planar creature, crackling as it struck home.  I quickly sidestepped the minion's lunge, taking the time to concentrate on my next spell. Again I called up this particular spell, one of my favorite simply because of the visual aspect. Forks of lightning began fizzling around the tip of my staff and than a long fork of lightning arced upward and slammed into the planar creature, bathing it in blinding blue-white light. I felt a shiver of satisfaction at the sight. As much as fire magic did appeal to me, I did so love playing with the wild energy of lightning. The creature's glowing sourcestone eyes dimmed and it wavered toward me. I backed up further, panting. Casting spells might not be as physically draining as swinging a giant axe, per se, but it was still an exhausting endeavor, especially when I'm not used to combat and using my spells to attack. Suddenly the creature seemed to collapse into itself, folding downward like a popped balloon. evaporated.
     Startled, I jumped and glanced around warily, half dreading that the creature had been pretending and would jump out of the shadows and ambush me. When moments ticked by wherein nothing happened, I relaxed slightly.
     I wish I could say I was more prepared the next time I heard that soft, dry hiss, but I startled just as badly and only narrowly rolled out of the way in time. Thankfully all my training on in the deserts had honed my reflexes and I was grateful that I still had them. In fact, I'd say that my reflexes, instincts, and reactions were all much faster now. Of course, I knew by now that this wasn't actually my body Than the creature rushed me and I focused on the fight. I ducked to the side and rolled, grateful at the armor I'd been clad in that didn't hinder my movement in any way and seemed to actually enhance my every move. As I righted myself I twisted and flung out my hand, sending deadly air magic slamming into the planar monster, electrocuting it and flinging it back and away. The problem with the electrocute spell is that you have to keep concentrating on it to channel the air magic into a viable weapon. The longer you can keep the spell active, the more damage it does to your foe. But it also leaves you vulnerable and I had to end the spell quickly as the minion came lunging back at me. I blocked its shadowy claws with my staff and paused long enough to conjure and fling a fireball at it. Using the same tactics as I had when fighting the other one, I was able to whittle its health down and finally finish it off with a well placed flame bolt. Thank the Spirits these Planar minions weren't that intelligent.

     "Ha, take that, fiend!" I said, rather snidely, then giggled. Obviously stress must be getting to me.
    As the black hazy substance melted into the air, I turned and scanned the field carefully. I was making small progress through the field, having to walk carefully to avoid the sharp broken metal and the many dead bodies. I very carefully did not look at anything on the ground that wasn't round and shiny. Very carefully. I ran into my first cultist just as I had collected my third chunk of Sourcestone.
     "This world will be remade into a graveyard of death and despair!" Shrieked the cultist in a feverish, zealous voice. Cultists are always a bad lot. Mortals of Telara who have fallen under sway of the malevolent Blood Storm, they seemingly only live to serve their hellish masters. Or so I've always viewed them. I've not met a cultist that has proven otherwise. Their intelligence is low, insanity high, and fanaticism unusually disturbing. I would never describe a cultist as a worshipper of their patron. To worship is a sacred, holy phrase that shouldn't be degraded by the likes of those filth. The faith, trust, and loyalty that flows between one and their patron deity or Spirit allies is nothing like what the Cultists feel for their dragon gods. If anything, a pale mockery.
     This cultist in particular seemed pretty far gone down the path of a true fanatic. I wondered idly what he was before he had the misfortune and weak mind to fall into the trap of Regulos the Destroyer. Not wanting the man to suffer, despite his crimes and evil soul, I tensed. Quickly I threw my staff out and cast my spells in quick succession, one after the other. I was also curious to see if I could actually cast multiple spells at once and what affect it would have on me.

    Usually when I'd been casting spells for some time I felt incredibly exhausted afterward. The more casting I performed in a day, the more bone tired I became afterword and often had to rest for long periods. So far I hadn't suffered any spell-exhaustion and I felt a sort of thrill of excitement as all of my spells reacted as I wished and assaulted the cultist before he could even raise his rusty blade against me. I reflected inward to assess my inner magical reserve and was delighted to find that I appeared to have had no problem casting so many spells so quickly. I wonder what else I can do! 
     For the first time since arriving, I was actually eagerly looking forward to finding this Failsafe device. I couldn't wait to save the world, explore and research everything I could, and learn many more new spells and powerful abilities. I felt I had unlimited power that I hadn't even become aware of yet and I admit to looking forward to annihilating more of Regulos's army. To save the world of course, but also, just a small part of me couldn't wait to test out spells and incantations, to test my limits and explore my new potential. For once in my life, I knew my path, and I knew what I did would make a difference.
     I kept my staff at hand as I continued on through the field. I engaged any cultist or Planar minion who had the misfortune to wander too close to me. I did not go out seeking death, but I was quite prepared to defend myself. In that way, I was quite pleased to see that I was indeed clearing out a bit of the threat to Koke's Hold. Hopefully he can better defend his position now. Perhaps he can even send one of his companions for a request for aid, because I'm pretty sure the three of them won't stay safe there forever behind their meager magitech defenses.

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