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|Here's the updated and much improved version of my prologue and interim chapter then! Enjoy!|
The tidings of all epic journeys are weaved in the strands of destiny and time, and so this one begins...
Anarchy unfolded upon the young planet like the blossoming of a contagious disease. At the looming untimely end of all things the cycles were slowly drifting apart and the spine of creation groaned under the mighty weight of the spirit gods doing battle in the skies over Ysis. The earth shook, the seas boiled and the mountains fumed as all creatures alike cowered in awe of the divine wrath unleashed. Over and over the horizon lit in nauseating explosions of intense, swirling color, on the very brink of splitting and undoing everything.
High above in the dusty clouds, crimson veins of lightning split the ashen winds apart as the heavens erupted in a hellish blaze. Néstaphir stood fast, wounded but unyielding, a glowing beacon against the chaos ensuing around her.
“I will not cede,” she vowed in a serene voice, “and if this is the fate bestowed upon me then I shall face it.”
“You are a fool Néstaphir,” Ki’vaal countered, his booming voice reverberating all around her, shaking subsistence. The grey silhouette condensed into a shadow as her brother slowly took on distinct shape, molding his spirit into a human cast to match her own. A malevolent scarlet glow encircled his materializing frame like a poison cloud. An armored figure he now stood, towering over her, silky black hair flowing from his deathly white scalp, snake-like. Two wings dark as the night dripped from his bulging shoulders and thick, beastly ivory horns slowly coiled from his forehead. His vaporous face was blank but for that dark penetrating gaze staring straight through her. The very gaze that could suck the will to live out of anything animate. His eyes were pits and Néstaphir could feel herself falling.
Ki’vaal laughed cynically. “If this is indeed the path you have chosen sister, then so it shall end.” The devilish apparition lifted a single pallid hand and a furious bolt of raw white energy sprang forth, straight at Néstaphir.
“Never!” She cried and in the last instant threw her arms upwards as the bolt bounced off a pale ring that momentarily enclosed her like a protective skin. Before she could regain her focus again the demon charged at her, a toothed blade sprouting from its outstretched arm which swung backwards, mid-movement, ready to strike. Without thinking a heavy shield shaped around Néstaphir’s arm and she raised it barely in time to parry the fierce blow. Glaring sparks leaped all around as the shield cracked and shattered into broken shards, the sword’s edge slicing through the material and halting just inches from her skin. But in Néstaphir’s free hand a sword of her own had already molded and she hit back at Ki’vaal intuitively. The demon swerved and shot upwards, wings spread wide, as the tip of her steel found but the touch of hot air.
Néstaphir wheeled around, an own pair of downy wings budding from her back, and shot after her brother into the star-streaked void. In flight she shaped into a colossal, majestic bird of prey as her legs whisking backwards into a flowing tail feather and her arms melting into razor-like claws. She caught up with the unwary demon, sinking a single talon into its pulsating neck with fury. Ki’vaal gasped in shock and a viscous black blood bubbled from the fresh cut. He thrashed his wings about protectively and caught the bird hard, knocking it away from himself. Néstaphir tumbled in a wild spin, desperately trying to steady herself while concentrating on her brother.
Briefly the demon disintegrated into a swirling mass of dense grey mist, drifting and swaying in all direction, before gathering himself once more, bent with rage. Gradually, and with an enraged roar, he cast himself into an ominous dragon shape, furling mighty wings and flaring its smoky nostrils forebodingly. As it shaded, the dragon apparition’s scarlet scales glistened brightly with the reflection of the stars. Its thin serpentine neck craned sideways, glancing at the bashed giant bird through noxious ginger eyes. Another deafening bellow resounded as it unrolled and stretched to present itself gloriously at full span. It burst forwards with incredible agility and speed and this time Néstaphir found no means of protecting herself, suffering the full force of the impact. The dragon clasped itself tightly onto its helpless victim, tearing at its chest with powerful limbs and embedding rows of sharp teeth in a throbbing beaked face. Shiny white ribbons spilt, coiling and writhing vivaciously. Néstaphir screamed and dematerialized, sieving through the dragon’s claws and plummeting back down into the bed of clouds below like silky rain.
She landed, softly cushioned but gravely injured, as her spirit regrouped itself into her favored human cast. The dragon swooped down beside her, an exultant glare now evident in its eyes. It belched its approval as a pillar of fire climbed into space above. Ki’vaal placed a heavy foot on Néstaphir’s chest and she drew a pained breath from the burning air.
“The battle reaches its inevitable conclusion.” The hollow voice in her head was maddening and she could feel its bitter edge slowly draining her earthly shell. Yet she did not resist. The time had come, though this war would not end – not now.
Néstaphir trembled in her bed of clouds and two blood-stained tears rolled from her glassy eyes. The first tear was Ki’vaal’s doing, a tear of pure loathing and hatred with which she spilled the last of her strength and vigor. The second tear, however, was of composed peace and adamant will-power. With this tear Néstaphir leaked all her heart and fervor as she made peace with all things living and all things dead. Like frozen feathers the two crystalline tear drops spiraled from the sky, dispersing as they traveled downwards. At opposite ends of Ysis they struck, burying themselves deep into the earth.
And in one final act of purpose Néstaphir disbanded herself wholly from her twisted case and flung herself at Ki’vaal. Her elementary apparition penetrated her brother’s soaring figure and manifested itself deep within his soul, singeing pure evil with the bliss of good. A great sacrifice and unto the world a great gift: Life shackled death.
Ki’vaal shrieked in blind rage, bursting stars and quaking planets with his pain. A last radiant flash of light blinded the heavens and tore through the entombing clouds like tissue, cleaving the sea of hell that flooded all beyond sight. Every single particle in the sky suddenly came alive, shaking and quivering violently. Flickering shards of raw energy ricocheted off time and space, progressively radiating all around the epicenter of cosmic imbalance and amplifying to immeasurable proportions. As a sun they grew before bursting like a bubble, sending an almighty wave of shock through the solar system. The skies groaned and ultimately collapsed. Greedily they swallowed Ki’vaal’s body whole, forever trapping the twins, soul-bound, in a timeless rift between the worlds.
For the balance of Kamé had tipped and the universe had consumed them.
(from Annals of Ysis: Collected Works
Anon, 3rd Age: Cycle of Earth)
(translated from Téfa’al
Old Testament of the Otherworld
Anon, dated 300 A.R.)
A.R.: Ankaré Renesis – Before the Reawakening
Fifteen days and nights the storm had raged and now it peaked duly albeit brutally, marking the passing of the Cycle of Wind into the Cycle of Water. The trees swayed, battered, and the earth floundered in the floods of torrential rain. Howling gusts that swept down from the Kalabrian mountain range thrashed through the valleys, whipping across Lake Tahé, through the dripping foliage of the Everwoods, and tearing at the sorcerer’s hoary moon-lit robe.
The four crulls encircling him fletched their wicked yellow teeth and snarled. Their twisted stony faces pulled fiendish grimaces as they bobbed up and down excitedly, giddy with a sense of triumph. The foul things bore a vague resemblance to humans, their small stature reminding somewhat of a child, yet their dark grey skin and bony, gnarled features dispelled any false illusions. At the side of their faces a pair of thin pointy ears pulled backwards and long distorted noses stuck out from between their beady eyes that glistened in the darkness. They grinned sheepishly, ogling the precious parcel the man held by his chest.
With a sudden flash of lightning from the clouds above one of the fiends shot forwards, propelled by a rapid contraction of its sturdy legs. It thrashed wildly at the laden air with its jagged claws, as its jaw stretched wide revealing rows of small, pointy teeth. Instinctively the sorcerer reached under his rippling cloak with his free hand and pulled out a long, shimmering rod. A dancing zap of turquoise energy shot from the orb attached to its tip, momentarily freezing the falling raindrops in casts of flaming blue light, and pierced the flying crull just inches from the man’s face. The creature was thrust backwards with brute force, dropping to the ground limply. A smoldering black billow rose from the charcoaled corpse causing the other crulls to chirp nervously.
Slowly the sorcerer spun around, waving his staff in front of himself protectively. The fiends backed off a few paces, impressed by the powerful instrument in the man’s hand. He knew they wouldn’t hold back much longer though and seized the opportunity to dash into the undergrowth through the open gap. An emerald flush doused his frame as he floated across the wet reed, gradually picking up speed. His feet left the ground and he soared right through the crowded rickety branches, ignoring the whips and stings. Fiery beads of blood snaked along the fabric where thorns tore through his robe. He could hear the sound of madly screeching crulls behind him, muddled with the mighty roar of a mountain troll in the farther distance, and he pushed himself to go faster. With his power this drained he knew he could never take them all on at once.
Yet he could feel himself slowing down even now, weak and tired as he was, until ultimately his feet were dragging along the forest bed again. The sorcerer stopped and hunkered down, panting hard. He would not get away like this. His long, dripping hair draped his twitching face and he coughed dryly. The crull’s high-pitched wails were getting ever closer, until he could hear the rustling of leaves just paces away. There was only one last option.
Carefully the man laid the bundle of cloth he had been clinging to dearly on the ground and went about unfastening the fixture atop his staff. The orb came lose and rolled into his palm. He wrapped his fingers around the cool stone and it glowed beneath the alien touch. Resolutely he rose it high in the air, readying himself.
In that very instant two of the crulls came bursting from behind a shrub, springing at the man, as a nauseating squeal filled the air. With all his remaining strength the sorcerer flung the orb towards the ground. In an explosion of brilliant radiance it shattered into a million pieces at his feet and a great whoosh sucked at the air. A swirling cerulean mist surrounded him, dancing around his cloth and flowing through his tremulous body with animate glow. He relaxed his mind, concentrating the surge of raw energy, as he teleported the cloth bundle and himself as far away as possible.
The tempest winds whisked leaves, small plants and flakes of cloudy mud high into the air before flinging them back down again violently, where they thudded dully on the tiled roof of the little tavern and, along with the monotonous pitter-patter of rain and thunderous rumbling in the skies, almost drowned the sound of a fist banging on the thick wooden door.
Analia roused, unsure of what had woken her. There was another loud bang coming from downstairs, and this time she made sense of it. Quickly she slipped from underneath the sheets, flying down the steps in her long, flowing nightgown.
“What’s the meaning of this?” her husband growled from behind her, but she ignored him and paced her steps through the dining room and to the door. She took a quick peek out of the window and barely made out a bent figure standing on the tavern’s porch, cringing and shaking from the stormy weather. She did not have the heart to let it cower out there like that and resolutely opened the door. The figure stumbled in and with it a gush of rain that the pounding wind carried. A puddle of murky water trailed from its heavy boots and stretched itself out in the room. Analia quickly closed the door to shut out the mayhem outside and turned to face the stranger. The figure’s drenched hair hung like a curtain over its face and its dark robe wrapped it like a wet towel. It stood arched, wheezing heavily. Only slowly did it straighten and brush the hair to one side with its free hand. With the other, she now noticed, it was holding a white loincloth bundle, tightly by its chest.
“I’m sorry… to intrude upon you like this,” a manly voice finally cut the silence, still short of breath. A flash of lightning momentarily lit the room and Analia could barely distinguish the stranger’s aged hard and pained face, before it was shrouded in darkness once more. “I don’t have much time… afraid I can’t explain…”
“Explain what? Who are you?” she questioned staring at the man, her stern tone a frail screen to anxiety and confusion.
“You must take him… do this for me, please. You will understand.” He stretched out his arms and in them the bundle. “Please… take good care of him. I know you will.” His voice was heartfelt and sincere and it swept over Analia like a charm. She reached for the loincloth and held it close to her own body. It was heavy and warm.
“I…” She started, but in that instance the man vanished right in front of her. She couldn’t explain it, but one minute he was there, the next he wasn’t. It was as if he had disappeared into thin air. Dazed she looked around in every direction, but there was no sign of him. Only the muddy puddle on the floor remained, right in front of her the faint outline of a pair of footprints marked almost reassuringly within.
“What is it love?” Her husband’s voice rung from upstairs again and bounced eerily through the now vacant and deadly static room.
“I…I don’t know,” she stammered quietly. She doubted he could hear her. It didn’t matter.
Suddenly alert, Analia looked down at the bundle cradled in her arms. A shocking realization flustered her and she knew what it was she held, yet at the same time hoped she was wrong. Fingers shaking, she cautiously unwrapped the cloth. The gradual appearance of a tiny round head tied a knot in her throat all the same. The baby’s lids were shut and its fragile body still, though it breathed smoothly against the warm touch of her palm. Unexpectedly a miniature hand reached for hers, softly clutching her thumb. Two small round eyes opened, as piercing and bright as sparkling gemstones.
|On Dragon's Wing||The Wood King's Revolt|
|Murderer's Trial||Winter's Fate, Summer's Bane: Chapters 1 - 2|