A/N: Hello all! First of all for anyone coming here because they have my name on alert, I'm sorry that this isn't an update to BTFW but I promise I will update that...at some point! Honest! I just had this sitting here and it was bugging me and I was sad that there weren't more Rift stories so I just went ahead and uploaded it. Secondly, this isn't really an original story or "true" fanfiction. It is more of a narration of the experiences of one Ascended from Resurrection onward. It's told from the Defiant point of view and just follows the story provided in game but in my own story format version way. I hope it is at least interesting. If anyone is curious to read the original document, the link is : . . This story starts off right at the character creation part, "lvl 1" in the game. Here it is! I tried hard to get rid of spelling mistakes but forgive me if I missed any, I always upload this at like 3am.
I am a Bahmi, a proud, hospitable race from the Rhaza'de Canyons, my beloved homeland. My people are mystical and tribal and are quite adaptable to any situation. Like the rest of my people, I draw upon the aid of my ancestors and faith for magical aid, stamina and wisdom. 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 Zyanza T'athaka, 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 sown back together, with a dull needle, slowly. It feels like I am being patched together like cloth. Yes, I can endure this when I imagine myself as a piece of cloth, indifferent to the pain I am feeling. 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 never ever end?
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. Or at least, I assume I am, from the sensations I feel. It's quite the experience to breathe again, to feel the weight of flesh, a corporeal body. Who am I? I am Zyanza T'athaka, one of many initiate Mages among my tribe, the Pale Mongoose Tribe. Or at least, I think I am. But I had died, so who-or what-am I now?
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, and prepared to defend my people. I remember being ambushed, an innocent traveler on the road to Scarwood...wait. I know for a fact that is not my memory. Or was it? 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 Zyanza, so named because of my fierce temperament. 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 ancestors, what a terrifying feeling.
I open my eyes to the realization that I am actually standing. 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. A hospice of some sort than? Did someone actually manage to reach me in time? To heal my grievous wounds? Impossible-it had been just I and my elemental companion. I gasped at that thought. Or rather, memory, and felt myself shake my head. What is happening to me? I do not have a companion, planar or otherwise. I preferred to work alone. Why am I reliving the deaths of others as well as my own? Am I possessed perhaps? We Bahmi have always been quite skilled in spiritual matters; undergoing rites of passage and spirit quests and requesting aid from our ancestors, but I'd never heard of anything quite like this, what I was experiencing now. I felt like two different people. A brief moment of thought. I actually felt like multiple people! I could suddenly feel my heartbeat speed up. Possession perhaps? Something gone wrong with my resurrection? Perhaps the Cleric who brought me back would have answers. If it even was a Cleric, or even a Mage. A strange thrill surged through me as I considered the fact that my resurrection might have been an unnatural process, especially if my surroundings were anything to go by. The potential use for that kind of technology, and the power behind it, was staggering! I would love to be involved in that kind of research. Except I'm not sure what I thought about it being tested on me. Without permission I might add. First things first, I needed answers.
Climbing rather hesitantly off the platform, I stumbled, still unused to my body. The part of me that that had trained for years as a battle Mage and protector for my tribe 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?
To my left stood a dark-skinned human and after I calmed myself from the initial startle of discovering him standing there, I studied the figure. Eth, I'd presume from the looks and the clothing. The male wore a long white robe of some exotic material I'd not seen before. Which is saying something, considering I've seen most of the cloth imported around the world? 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 if annoyance rushing through me. I glanced around cautiously as my senses became more normalized and aware; trying to analyze this new alien environment I seem to have found myself in.
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 and around the desert countries my entire life, rarely having need to step outside the tribe's borders except to repel invaders, slay animals for the table, or stop the occasional cultist or evil magic-user from gaining power. 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 its mere presence. At least I wasn't completely helpless. Then 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 watched the beeping machinery warily.
A woman as 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 explanation 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 (which always set me apart from most of my tribe. In fact, if it wasn't for my untimely demise I'd probably have gone off to study under the eyes of the Eth after my last initiation.). My stiff legs 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 Bahmi, 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 material that glittered with millions of tiny, blue, gem-like dots. Is he dead? A rather desensitized thought I suppose... Again there was an odd shift in my mind. My vision became blurred and I felt something click in my mind. Somehow I 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 that merchants would bring to the Canyons for trade, 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 said then, causing my mind to latch onto something else entirely. He knew my name? How? I'm almost certain I've never met this man before. Then again, I'm also pretty sure I've never called on the rather unstable energies of the Plane of death to deal large swathes of devastation and misery. And yet for some reason, my memories insist I have done this exact thing. I shook my head, trying to dislodge the dizzying array of alien memories and feelings that kept assaulting me. Oh, the man was speaking again. I'd better pay attention if I wanted to understand what was going on here.
"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? And with the comment 'welcome back to life' my mind sprang up with a whole new set of questions. Of course I'd known that's what had happened. But now I'd just had irrefutable proof shoved at me and I wasn't sure I wanted to become anymore involved. Fighting Regulos and saving the world? If I thought that souls could dream in the afterlife I'd be convinced that this was all some absurd death-nightmare. But the Soulstream was just one endless river of night. Unconsciousness without end. To be pulled from the Soulstream once a soul has crossed over was to employ very dangerous and powerful magics indeed and usually required outside forces to help. I should know; I've faced situations that called on my performing this feat in battle.
Although I have heard rumors of other ways of bringing souls back to this plane. I had heard that the Eth had some machine that was surmised to be able to do this. Supposedly. But their technology was lost after the Convocation.
Looking around the stone room again confirmed to me that nothing was in the least familiar. It contrasted so sharply with my last memories that I finally acknowledged to myself that I must have died. And now I have been resurrected. By whom and for what purpose, I've yet to ascertain, although the man's comments leads me to suspect that it has something to do with the Blood Storm. How did I feel about that? Well, I felt a massive knot of emotions I'd rather not think about, so instead found my eyes slipping from the bearded man and again studying the room I was in, eyes dancing restlessly from one foreign and exotic machine to another. Some might call it denial, but as long as they don't say it to my face I've no mind. Arcane and technological devices lined the walls; the ever-present sound of grinding gears resounded from the various machines and the fizzle of eldritch magics occasionally lit up one of those odd holding tanks.
All this information, all these new sensations and memories and stimuli were beginning to give me a massive headache. I became aware of a pressure building in my mind and I rubbed my temple absently in an effort to relieve some of that pressure. A rustle of cloth nearby instantly had me on the defensive. I turned to see the bearded man was regarding me with something like concern. Feeling distrustful, suspicious and disoriented, I glared at him and crossed my arms.
"I want to know what's going on!" I demanded, feeling the urge to unleash a magical blast just to see what kind of reaction I'd get. I may be an adult Mage, rigorously trained in the art of discipline, focus and magical trials, but I am still young in the years of my people and I have little patience for riddles and obscure sentences from some stranger.
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 must be a Kelari. I wonder how he came to be here. He had an air of authority about him. Studying him silently, I became aware that something about him seemed...off. 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 Ascended. He will bring you up to date on what is going on here and help you to fulfill your mission."
"Made my resurrection possible?" I mumbled to myself. Ascended? Mission? There is that again...than the name actually registered with me. Sylver Valis? I've heard that name before, I'm sure of it...but where? Swallowing back a laugh that I'm sure would make me look like a crazed fool that needed to be locked up or exorcised; I gave the bearded man a narrow look of frustration. I huffed when he merely gave me a sympathetic look in response. Determined to figure out what was going on, I strode purposely down the corridor that the white-robed man assured me led to this Sylver Valis.
"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 whose child has exceeded expectations.
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's the catch? Why exactly was I brought back? As a test, to see if resurrection by magitech is actually possible? As a slave? I snorted at that last thought. Not if I can help it. From the looks I'd been getting since opening my eyes in this new world, I'd have to say that I'm being viewed as some kind of savior. Or solution to a problem at the very least.
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. I'd heard that for a Kelari, that was the ultimate disgrace and dishonor. The lack of ability to communicate and live among the Spirits was a rare, but disheartening affliction among their kind 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...
"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 from my height advantage. Bahmi are one of the tallest of the sentient races. "The end of the world waits for no man. Or woman, for that matter!" Sylver chuckled 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 had a direction and instructions to focus on was nearly overwhelming. 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 had been raised with a strong sense of duty and community and even though I'm in a new situation surrounded by strangers, my beliefs demanded I offer what aid I could.
"We must get you through Orphiel's Failsafe device and back to the past." He made a shooing motion and 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.
"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 Zyanza; 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, and willing me forward with all of his being. As if all his hopes went with me.
I took a deep breath, tasting something thick and tainted on my tongue. It tasted of death. This was crazy! And yet, I knew he spoke the truth. I could feel it. And I knew I was to play a significant part. My heartbeat sped up at the thrill of new discoveries and exploration, tempered by the grief that I'd no doubt lost my family and loved ones forever. I nodded solemnly at Sylver and turned slowly in the direction he'd indicated. Glancing around briefly, I saw that this room had a lot of odd mechanical devices in it much like the last. A new addition in the corner had my eyes widening in surprise. A cage made of red lasers contained a handful of men and woman in grubby gold and blue uniforms. Strange, I wonder why? In a separate corner, two men stood over a domed device that flashed with lights occasionally. On a platform attached to the domed device a holograph stood, facing the device. I glanced around once more, than shrugged. I had my directions and truth be told, I was rather grateful for them. As an initiate Mage still learning the ways of my calling, I was used to being given direction and instruction and the directive from Sylver gave me back a small sliver of the normality of home that I'm sorely missing here.
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 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.
"Crazy." I muttered to myself in the thick silence as I walked. The corridor was dimly lit by phosphorescent tubes that snaked along the walls near the ceiling. Every so often the tubes met a clear canister that contained a glowing blue liquid that I knew, somehow, was Sourcestone. I very carefully didn't wonder how I knew that information and felt a weight in my head and a sense of amusement. Yea, not thinking about it. The hallway lightened up ahead and when I rounded the corner cautiously, I 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.
Something strange quivered inside of me as my eyes flicked about the room, taking in the interesting gadgets that I was sure I'd not seen before, and yet had at least vague information about. And there were so many things too! It was like a manufacturing lab. Red robed men and women stood admiring, inspecting, poking, or admonishing a variety of magitech-run ...machines. That is the most accurate word my mind could come up with. We Bahmi, we are a practical race and we tend to live simplistic lives, devoting ourselves to our tribe, our ancestral magic that give our home enrichment, and to our culture, so to see so much magical metal entities, so different from the real, breathing creatures I'd been surrounded with all my life was a bit...disconcerting. Let me see if I can explain.
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 magic 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 couldn't help but stand at the entrance and watch with interest. Even without the strange sensations and memories inside of me, I had always had a natural curiosity for all things magical. The magitech the Eth discovered and harnessed was such an intricate and fascinating subject, although the surviving Eth people had kept their advanced technology secret after the Convocation had buried half their race along with their advanced culture for going too far. I had taken every opportunity to get my hands on information about the Eth and their magitech. Of course I would never be as arrogant as those foolish Eth kings, but I'd spent many a free moment going through dusty scrolls and unearthing ancient ruins among the desert cliffs. And it seemed that my death had only enhanced that desire. 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 never be accepted in their eyes or those of their followers. I do believe that the worshippers of the Vigil refer to us as abominations; horrible planar creatures who don't belong on Telara. Honestly, I've never dwelled much on the gods of Telara and the beliefs of the northern races. Personally, I prefer to leave the philosophical discussions to the Priests and Clerics, but that did not mean I refuse to believe in the gods altogether. I know they are there. I am aware of their divine presence. But precisely because I am who and what I am, they would never look on my person as a Chosen One. As one of the prophesied and precious Ascended. It seems absurd even thinking about it. 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 clan 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 predicting the arrival of the Ascended. During the Blood Storm Wars, when the tide had finally turned in Telara's favor, it's said that a prophet had come forth, saying that in a time of great peril and evil, the creator gods would send the Ascended Ones, immortal beings imbued with the strength and power of the gods to fight the rising storm and free Telara from the darkness that would come.
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. 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'm not sure what exactly I could do, one lone, half-trained Stormcaller barely finished with her rite of passage, Ascended or no, against an unknown and seemingly unstoppable foe, but those around me seemed to have confidence. I would not let another person down, I swear it.
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 woman named Dacia who Sylver insisted I needed to speak to. The murmuring about Ascended, hope, and changing the past had, by now, become common phrases to me so I didn't even flinch when the scientists in this room all stopped what they were doing to stare at me with open-mouthed wonder. A few sketched hasty curtsies and bows and I tried not to show any reaction, as I wasn't sure what reaction they were all looking for.
Reflexively calling on my ancestors for luck, I set off for the glowing exit. The closer I got to it, the more I noticed something odd. The doorway leading out had no door, or any other blocking mechanism that I could see. It was a square shaped hole in the wall. Not very defensible, in my opinion. I studied the layout closely as I neared, pausing to try to figure it out. There had to be something here...they wouldn't just leave a gaping opening like that for the enemy to exploit. And then I spotted a small urn-shaped object on the ground to one side of the entrance. It was rather inconspicuous looking and I wouldn't have noticed it at all if some disfigured...creature, had not thrown itself into the entrance. Bracing myself to fight off the creature and protect the scientists scattered around the room, I was a bit surprised when it burst into red-gold flames before it could get across the threshold. I straightened, eyed the staff that had suddenly appeared in my hand, than gave a more interested look to the entrance. Now that I knew where to look, I could see a shimmery ripple of energy moving across the entrance like clear water, or a breeze. It was almost non-existent but looking at the smoking remains of whatever that creature was convinced me that there was, in fact, something there.
The little urn-shaped object glowed redly in the shadows cast by the light spilling through the entrance and I followed the tubes that slithered outward from it, nodding with satisfaction as I was able to figure out how it worked. A Sourcestone-run defense weapon, hooked up to the entrance. It caused a field of energy to stretch over the opening, all but invisible to the naked eye, but deadly to those of evil intent. Ingenious really. I was rather impressed. The urn thing must be the generator fueling the energy field, run by Sourcestone.
Now that I'd figured it out, my mind wandered to the creature that had attacked. It was monstrous looking and had had an aura of death around it. I shuddered as I stared at the remains. Even before it had been "zapped" by the energy field, the fiend had looked dead. Charcoal gray skin stretched taunt over a skeletal frame that appeared vaguely humanoid in nature. Stringy black hair hung down over mad red eyes. It looked like what the stories described as an undead, but we haven't seen those since the Blood Storm Wars. It appears that this world was indeed in peril. I was really starting to doubt my ability to do anything about this kind of threat. Maybe if there were more Ascended, resurrected like me with extra power and potential, but I hadn't seen anyone out of place that might indicate a fellow Ascended. It made me feel very alone in this new world.
Taking a deep breath, I strode for the exit, hesitant yet eager to see what it looked like outside of the factory. That sense of adventure one gets when faced with something new to investigate. As I walked through the energy field stretched across the doorway, I felt a shiver of cold run over my body, but it parted like a spider's web, stretching and then breaking apart to the sides as I stepped through, arriving on the other side intact.
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 seeped 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, now that I think on it, but you 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. 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 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. Then 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.
Of the fiend that had attacked the factory, I was dismayed to see many more of. Beyond a shallow barricade guarded by gold and red armored defenders, the undead creatures were attacking anything that moved. I almost cried out as one rotting fiend leapt upon a fleeing woman, bearing her to the ground. I quickly turned my head before I could see the outcome and instead gazed down at my clenched hands. It was then that I noticed what I was wearing.
It might seem silly that I didn't see what I was wearing before hand, but I was understandably disoriented, confused and no doubt in shock. The last thing on my mind was fashion. But now I could see I was wearing stiff gauntlets of a velvety, thick material, along with a cuirass of silvery and exotic material, almost feathery light. The links were so finely crafted that it felt smooth and seamless to the touch. This was good because heavy armor always interfered with my ability to cast spells. I've never been quite sure why that was. The armor extended downward in a complimentary way and curved protectively around my legs, but left me plenty of movement. Now that I had become aware of my state of dress, I could feel it on me. The armor was flexible, silent, and sensible. It seemed to conform perfectly to my body shape, which means that they must have measured me to get it just right. I'm not sure if I'm okay with that thought. The entirety of the armor was studded with tiny blue gems which I knew were Sourcestone pieces. It looked almost identical to the suit that the body was wearing in that holding tank. I stowed that knowledge away to be analyzed later, wanting to focus on the current drama first. I took a few moments to test the armor, than shrugged. There was nothing I could find wrong with it, other than I seemed to have been adorned in it against my knowledge. But I suppose that's better than being resurrected naked. I couldn't help a slight chuckle at that. If only my clan elders could see me now.
As I had found earlier, I carried what can only be described as a ridiculously long staff, securely held in a sheath across my back. The handle jutted out near my ear, easily within reach. I smiled with genuine pleasure as I unsheathed the long, weathered staff and tested it. Fine quality, it was. The runes along the outside suggested Dwarven make. Thankfully, I have nothing personal against dwarves as a race, along with many of my people. And hey, they make great weapons, if nothing else.
A whistling sound had me glancing up sharply and I blinked in dismay as I saw a flaming missile soaring through the air. The trajectory was quite obvious, as was the mess it would make when it hit. I winced and felt an air of wry resignation. Resurrected by scientists and magitech, a marvel that had never before been performed, only to be struck down minutes later by an air strike from an enemy I didn't even know. Thinking quickly, I darted forward, wanting to avoid at all cost my untimely death...again. The whistling grew louder as I quickly drew on my inner well of magic and called up the most powerful defensive spell I could muster: a unique self-cast spell that was known as icy vortex. I murmured the words to the spell and traced the rune in the air, hoping desperately that it would be enough to shield me from the flaming projectile but having the sinking feeling it wouldn't be. I hadn't even reached my full potential as a Stormcaller yet, let alone finished my studies in the healing arts and my spells had always seemed weak compared to the elder Mages of my tribe.
I closed my eyes and sent a prayer to whatever ancestral spirit or being that happened to be listening, really wanting to not be squashed by a falling missile of some sort on my first day back from the dead. The ground shuddered upon impact and I staggered slightly, thrown off balance by the force at which the projectile hit the earth. It fell so close that I swear I felt the heat of it sear my face. A few seconds ticked by. I heard distressed calls from nearby. The telltale gentle voice of a healer. I was amazed I was still alive. Opening my eyes, I was amazed even further to realize that I wasn't even hurt! It took a few moments to sink it, but I finally realized that there must be something to this Ascended affair after all. I stared at my gloved hands, suddenly in awe of the power I wielded. Now I was beginning to understand a bit of why all the citizens around here looked on me with such hope and awe. The power inside me was incredible. It made me feel grateful and a little frightened. What if I couldn't control it?
Dacia was, thankfully, not hard to find. She was the only Bahmi woman behind the barricade line, and she was in charge of the defense. I felt my spirits lift to see another Bahmi here, of all places. I'd been afraid I was the only Bahmi among all these Eth and Kelari. I wonder what brought her so far from home. Eagerly I stepped forward, wanting to ask questions about our homeland and the various tribes. Hoping against hope that I might find my tribe again.
"Zyanza right? I expected you sooner!" Dacia's gruff voice drew me closer so I could hear better. "Did Sylver keep you standing around so he could marvel at his own cleverness? By my ancestors, you'd think that Kelari didn't realize our defenses were falling to Regulos by the minute!" Dacia's voice, while exasperated and cross, held a hint of affection when she mentioned Sylver. I nodded, reminded of my conversation with Sylver earlier.
"He just wanted to make sure everything was correct and in order with me." I replied, startled to find that I wanted to defend the Kelari scientist. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have this chance at life again. Call me quick to choose sides, but I felt loyal and grateful for his gift.
Dacia eyed me curiously, taking in my weapon and my attire. "A Mage eh? Good, we need more offensive fighters. I just hope you know how to kill with your spells. Well, we held Regulos back long enough to engineer you. Now it's time to prove you are worth all the people who died to do it. Are you ready for that? You can fight, right?" I opened my mouth to protest that I hadn't asked for people to die for me, and I hadn't asked to be a savior, but Dacia continued on. "You are the best of us, Zyanza. We need you to help us defend this spot and buy us some time to bring more like you back. We could benefit from your new powers in helping destroy those threatening the Life Factory." She gestured outward past the barricade and I looked as well. Those fiends were everywhere, like a macabre army.
I licked my dry lips and nodded smartly. "Yes I can fight. I will do the best I can to help eradicate those fiends." I answered politely, despite Dacia's rough comments. I knew she was just stressed from the situation and becoming insulted over her sharp tone wouldn't help the situation. "I'll start right away than, shall I?" I half stated, half asked. I hope I had a chance to speak to Dacia about the rest of our people afterward though. I was burning with so many questions.
I raised an eyebrow at the tall Bahmi woman and she nodded. I quickly unslung my staff from my back and gripped it tightly for reassurance, than took a deep breath. I'm no stranger to death and combat. There have been plenty of times in the past that my tribe has been threatened and I'd gone to help defend it. But I'd not actively gone out and sought to kill things before. I had had dreams of becoming a great hero like those of old, those shining and seemingly invincible Mages whose names are written in books. I guess not all stories are glorious shining moments. I shook my head and concentrated on the nearest fiend. This was my world, for now, and it was threatened by an evil force that everyone seems to think I can defeat. I'd try my best to not let them down. And hey, perhaps I can be the hero of this story after all.
I swung the staff expertly, testing out the weight and balance and felt a thrum of satisfaction. Perfectly crafted and perfectly balanced, was the weapon. Very nice. 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 Magecraft, but of a different vocation. I had been infused with many powerful magics that were foreign to me. 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 Mage 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. I felt a thrill of excitement at my new potential. Tentatively touching my personal well of magic, I drew upon manna to test out fire based spell. 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, then turned and eyed the nearest undead, considering its 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.
"Ancestors 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. 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 its 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 buildings were all that was left of what appeared to be a small village beyond the barricade. I felt an acute sadness, wondering about the last moments these poor villagers were witness to. 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 we mortals shied from.
It wasn't hard to find and 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 were 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 out the area in front of the barricade and put a stop to any would-be attacks that
The fiends might have tried on the defense line; 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. I clung to the hope that I could somehow find my tribe again, someday.
I wove my way back amid the barricades, nodding to the soldiers who stared with hopeful expressions at me. I'm just one person, I wanted to say. I can only do so much to help! I obviously have powers I don't even know about yet! I knew that I needed to eventually get to this Failsafe thing, but perhaps if I was lucky I could find another engineered Ascended like myself. Or even another Mage who knew how to harness and control all the potential Ascended energies and power that I had inside.
Dacia yelled something encouraging to her weary troops, then turned and gave me an approving look. "I grieve for those you had to put down. They were at one time our friends. But their souls were consumed by Regulos and now they would gladly take our lives for their new master. You best remember that. Still, that was an impressive display of power. You are all that they said you would be. I am convinced that you are worth all that we have been through."
I flicked my eyes to the ground, feeling somewhat unworthy of her praise. Despite the new potency and accuracy of my spells, I didn't feel any different. I didn't feel particularly heroic or impressive. I'm just a displaced Bahmi with no people, with gifts that I didn't ask for, but was grateful for all the same.
"Where do I go from here?" I asked gruffly to distract myself. I just wanted to focus on doing what I could to help. I wasn't used to individual praise. Among the Bahmi, one's actions reflected on the tribe as a whole, not on the individual.
"To Koke's Hold. That is the next safe point. When you reach there, gather some supplies. I just hope you find Koke in good health, as we've been unable to communicate with him for some time now. We are counting on you, Zyanza. There is nothing left of this world worth saving, but if you can go to the past..." Dacia's words stunned me. I guess I had heard it before, but now I was beginning to believe it. I was actually supposed to travel to the past. A past Telara. I wonder how far into the past? I wonder where I'll end up. What could have happened to leave Regulos in control of this world? Would I find my tribe again? Is this the only part of Telara left? I must have spoken that last part out loud, for Dacia spoke, seemingly answering my question.
"This is the only patch of Telara that Regulos hasn't swallowed yet and we have only held it so long because of our magitech defenses." Dacia said. I nodded slowly, considering. That would mean that the rest of Telara is...? I shook that thought away. It was just too surreal and horrific to contemplate. "When his minions took the Caul, they cut us off from most of our turrets. With the defense consoles up and running, we can hold off Regulos's minions and buy you more time to get to the time machine. If you could activate the consoles on your way, you should have more of a hope of reaching the device in time. My troops are trapped behind the barricade or I would have sent them. We're not as strong as you, Ascended."
I turned and again made my way through the barricade, an unidentifiable emotion swelling inside me. Looking back, I saw those desperate defenders protecting the factory I had woken in, protecting the science, the magic, and the people inside. Dacia's voice rang out over the noise of battle and falling missiles. "Hold the line. Let none of these abominations through! Give those foul beasts no mercy!" I whispered a quick ancestral blessing for those brave souls.
Facing forward, I began making my way through the debris and rubble. I could clearly see where the ground dipped downward. A worn cobbled path led beyond the dip in the valley and I figured that's where Koke's Hold was, as the sides of the valley we were in were too high to climb sensibly. Remembering Dacia's words about defense consoles and turrets, I cast my eyes about in the rubble of the small town, hoping to spy something that would match the description. My memories that weren't memories assured me that the consoles would be braced against something, large round discs connected to tubes of Sourcestone that powered laser weapons. Again I didn't look too closely at the source of my newfound knowledge, just accepted it for what it was.
The first defense console was easy to find. However, one of those rotting Telarans was crouched in front of it. Sensing movement, the creature stiffened and turned beady red eyes on me. Holding my staff at a severe angle so the tip nearly touched the ground, I called upon my innate Stormcaller spells, grateful at the extra effort I'd put toward learning battle spells. The spear bolt of flame welled up and I flung it at the fiend. Immediately, it keened in pain as the burning fire seared into its rotting flesh. Satisfied, I quickly murmured another spell I'd learned but had never used, fireball. Fire magic wasn't my strong suit but since my resurrection I knew I could successfully cast it. It was also a spell that required no effort or concentration and had an immediate effect of causing pain as well as a continuing burning of the body over several seconds. I was becoming surer of myself in my newfound magical prowess. As I'd anticipated, the spell was absorbed into the fiend, instantly causing it to shriek and writhe.
When the fiend had fallen to the ground, twitching, I turned my attention back to the console. It was almost as tall as I was, and twice as wide. Tubes indeed did snake out from both sides of the device, disappearing into the debris littering the ground. Spokes on the top of the console emitted a faint blue charge. I experimentally prodded one of the spokes and blue sparks shot from it, as if chastising me. I crossed my arms and glanced around. Of course there was no one who could help or advise me on this. It was the end of the world, after all. I snorted. Taking a chance, I reached down and connected two torn wires together, than flicked a small switch in the middle of the console. A new-old thought had me also hitting a sequence of buttons in a panel to the left.
I almost tripped over my staff, startled, when the machine gave a loud mechanic cough and began humming. As my heartbeat slowly returned to normal, I glared balefully at the machine. Well, at least it was working now. Blue light filled up a canister attached to the console and I watched silently as it seeped down through a tube that led to a small pedestal-looking device. To my amusement, I watched as a fiend who had been shambling by was suddenly incinerated by a red beam that shot from the pedestal thing. Magitech definitely made defending this place easier. Or any place for that matter.