Description: [Private Thread, Relik and GS only]
The Gunslinger - April 19, 2008 04:14 AM (GMT)
The darkness unraveled before his eyes, the fine sheet of blackness which had so recently consumed him relinquishing its icy hold. The shadows that had consumed him slowly dissipated, fading away into nothingness.
Around him were endless barrens, filled only with cracked, aged earth and inevitable shadows. The shadows seemed to be alive themselves; they turned this way and that, swirled to and fro, creating a void-filled abyss. Overhead, where the sun ought to have been, were only hundreds of clouds. Perhaps those clouds blotted out whatever sun hung over this valley of damnation, or perhaps there was no sun at all in this forsaken place.
A light wind began to stir on his right; which direction that was, be it north, south, east, or west, he could not judge. Shadows danced around that wind like a cold lover, and yet as soon as the wind had begun it was gone.
"What have I done?"
Demarkos stood in the wastelands, accompanied by a single other. Apart from them, there was no sign of life, were no signs that life had ever existed. If one was to visualize eternal damnation, this place would surely be its description. He swept his gaze across the endless barrens, encompassing all. And yet it was all the same, the cracked parched earth an indistinguishable replica of itself everywhere he looked.
He had been a fool, a fool to take the bait so easily. There were few times he had ever let his guard down, few times that he had ever let anger cloud his judgment. But this time that few was far too many.
He closed his eyes then, letting his thoughts drift off for a few moments before finally fixing them on one thing: communication. Every psychic had a link with those they had talked to previously, those they knew. And yet, as he reached out to Kaleb Zaleran's mind, reached out to create a link, to send a message, there was nothing. It wasn't like there was interference or he was too far away...it was just there was nothing. It was as if Kaleb Zaleran had never existed.
Wherever, whatever this place was, it was not on Redemption.
The thought itself terrified him. If they were not on Redemption, then where were they? He had heard little talk over other worlds, except from the occasional lunatic preacher, but this...this was real, something he had denied in his subconscious, something that he had denied had just stepped into the real. No, that was not what terrified him, what terrified him was there might be no way back. He hardly cared for his own life; death was inevitable, a constant that none could avoid, delay it as they might.
The problem lay with his company.
Raduk, the youth who he had demanded stay near him, so as he could keep an eye on the gem, Raduk was here with him. It wasn't the boy that troubled him, but the gem. From everything he had been told he had learned that the gem, or rather gems, were the key to everything. With them the Prism Towers could be activated and final victory against Lien achieved. But how was that going to be possible, if Raduk was trapped here with his gem, trapped in some madman's version of purgatory, perhaps a realm Ezekiel himself had created.
If there's a way in, there's a way out. It wasn't something he entirely believed, but it was a thought he would have to stick to. If he held no hope there would be no hope. First, though, to get out of this place, it would help to know where they actually were. He tried to force his memory back, tried to remember every tale of another realm, another plane of existence he had ever heard seemed to have disappeared from his memory like water in cupped hands.
'Knowledge cannot be handed to you, it cannot be taken with force. These are the laws of the realm you seek. What you do not earn, you cannot have, what you did not learn you will never know. All is one and one is all. Fear not death for it is the gate way. But you seek something more don't you, an answer that I cannot give.'
The memory came unbidden, but came all the same. That spirit-man had spoken of a realm, and how he sought it. Demarkos had waved it away, thought it nothing more than riddles then...but did it not make sense now? Could this be the realm the spirit-man had spoken of, could he have seen the future? A small part of Demarkos's brain was aware that he already knew, but that part was distant now, consumed by the oddity of this realm.
It was then that realization dawned. After that there had been flickering images of what had looked like the Gate of Respite in his mind, the atmosphere had been different but it was still the gate. If that was so, and if the rumors about the gate were true, then...
Then this was the Shadow Realm.
A chill ran up his spine at the words; he wasn't entirely unfamiliar with the Shadow Realm. Of course he was no scholar on it, but if this was indeed the Shadow Realm then this was where that dark dragon had come from...this was where Kaleb Kelrock had escaped to. I let that dragon rip him apart, and he escaped...to this? To die a slow, painful death in an unknown place. No one deserves to die alone.
He had been brooding for so long that he had nearly forgotten about Raduk. The youth was probably perplexed right now, as well as angry at the same time. If so, Demarkos couldn't blame him.
"I...this place, I've been thinking, and if my thoughts are right this is the Shadow Realm. Rumors have circulated about this place for a long while, although I never believed them to be true. I can't explain how I know exactly, but in Necronus I met a spirit-man who spoke of this...place. There were also images of Ascantha, the Gate of Respite. I don't believe in fate or destiny, but that spirit-man knew something." He paused; this surely sounded insane to Raduk, hell, it even sounded insane to him. "If what that spirit-man said is true, then the Gate of Respite is somehow connected. I think maybe it might be like an exit tunnel. If that's right we need to find the entrance." His voice faded as he again scanned the endless barrens; it seemed highly doubtful that there was anything out there, anything more than the barrens.
"I know I asked you to trust me before, and that probably wasn't such a good idea, seeing where it led us. But now we're stuck here, and if I'm right you're going to need my help to get back. If you killed me on the spot I could hardly blame you, but I need your trust, this one last time."
Relik - April 24, 2008 12:57 AM (GMT)
How strange. Peaceful. Emotions melted away, like wax to a flame as they soared through blackened space. Odd. Things were odd now. Awkward, untrue. Not real. But very real in the same right. Gone. Everything else was gone, melted away... His past emotions. He forgot. Gone too. Just... gone.
He suddenly felt his feet hit solid dirt. Hard and fast, slow and gentle. Like dropping from a tall cliff and descending from a heavenly chariot. He was on his feet. It felt add, the dribbling disappearance of emotion, color, everything that made reality real. This was alternate, unheard of, inexperienced before. This was absolutely insane.
He snapped back to the present, to 'reality.' He was standing. Odd. He was just standing. He was thrown to the dirt, but managed to say upright. But that was untrue because he had been gently lowered as if by large, muscular, caring arms. Like the arms of a father. Somebody had gently scooped him up and placed him here.
Why any father would do this he did not know.
Terror replaced the slowly disappearing emotions, it destroyed his sense of peace and serenity and replaced it with utter dread and horror. He suddenly felt claustrophobic in the wide space. The sky and ground seemed to be falling in towards him, suffocating him, grabbing at him. He could feel his very life force inside of him being choked like a man without oxygen, his essence was being suppressed and the volume of area that it was inside shrunk quickly, efficiently. As if the very life it threatened to kill gave no resistance.
But he resisted. It was like the very gentle father to placed him here was angry. Furious. Absolutely enraged, and his judgment was absolutely gone, there was no trace of it left. But he pushed. He bit fiercely, scratched like a cornered wild cat until it went away. But that it did not. He gave it a beating, he pushed it down, kicked it until it withdrew into its core, screaming and withering like a scared hound.
But his victory was hollow. This very father, the threatening being who had nearly stomped out his life in a moment was still there. It began to build up its energies, gently prodded his sharp mental barriers with a purple tendril. He could see it, seemingly at random it would extend one of its many coiling and spinning limbs out, give a gentle poke and quickly withdrew. It was testing him. Finding a weak point.
He would not allow one. As he stood there on the open, technically nonexistent-but-truer-than-anything-before world, cracked land, scarred soil, void of life he fought it. A battle raged inside. But now it was over. The aftermath was done, his emotions of serenity did not return. Instead he still felt fear, but most of it had been replaced by a huge sense of caution, battle mode still raged on inside. And that he was not ready for. He could never ever fight a battle like that again here. He would be unprepared here.
The end of the man's words came to him. "...Gate of Respite is somehow connected. I think maybe it might be like an exit tunnel. If that's right we need to find the entrance." He looked up from the pitch-dark dirt, at the man's chest. He was on his feet alright, but he was bent over, elbows on knees. He noticed on the dirt was a fair bit of black blood and what looked like bile. He coughed some blood, wiped the blood and bile from his neck and face, and finally stood straight.
He eyed the man now, at first wariness was on the youth's face, and the recognition. Slowly after that was grief, and once again, his emotions switched over, now to determination.
Ash... Ashbringer... General Ashbringer asked the boy to trust him again. Would the youth? Of course. He trusted the man before this, and the man got him in here. Now he would trust him to return the young Rider back to the real realm of existence. But now, after the second case of Amnesia in his life, he had no idea what reality was. But that, no, he remembered now, but still true reality eluded him.
"I will. You have my trust. We must begin our search." It seemed as if he was a third person in this. He was not involved. From here on out it did not include him, he was only a watched, a studier. But still, a decision maker.
The Gunslinger - May 1, 2008 10:08 PM (GMT)
Trust. Such blind faith this boy was putting in him, faith that Demarkos so seldomly had ever given himself. Hell, to be honest, there was only one person he had ever truly poured all of his trust and faith into, and that was Kaleb Zaleran. But even that had taken years, and this…the youth hadn’t even known him for twenty four hours, and he was showing Demarkos the kind of trust that a soldier showed to his field officer. It was amazing, a kind of gift that so few people had…but that kind of trust would get him killed. It’s just his arrogance…or let’s hope it is. Once he is betrayed, he will open his eyes to the world. Or so he hoped.
But where to go? This place, be it the Shadow Realm or some other plane of existence, showed no signs of life, no signs of anything but endless wastelands. Parched, cracked ground, dirt and dust in the air, and randomly a shadow dancing here and there. Choose a direction damnit, standing here and thinking isn’t going to get us anywhere.
A burst of dark energy startled him out of his thoughts; the same energy that had been present for the past few hours, the energy of Raduk’s gem. He glanced at it, there on the youth’s forehead. It looked no different than ever, but it sure as hell felt like it. Did Raduk know? Could he feel it, that taint? As he began to wonder just how true Raduk’s words were about being unaffected by it, the thoughts were expelled and another one took its place. The gem still…operated? here, and while that seemed fairly common sense that it would, then what about other things, like magic? What was preventing them from creating a dark portal, to jump across these barrens and see if there was anything on the other side? Preventing them from using a dark portal to escape this place?
Of course, there-in lie the problem. Demarkos had never seen a map of this place, or physically looked upon anything other than these barrens. And that was the true problem; while if you hadn’t actually teleported to a location on Redemption, if you had heard rather precise information about it, or viewed the place on the map; you could usually get there without having been there before. But here, here he knew nothing, and could only teleport as far as his eyes could see. They could always try and go farther, but the risks of that were incredible; there was no knowing when these barrens would end, or where they’d be transported to if they did a blind jump.
“I am glad I have your trust. Now we have to get out of here, and instead of walking across these barrens, we can cut some traveling time by using a dark portal to make a few mile jump. I can create the first portal, and you the second. After that we’ll walk for a ways, then do the same thing; I’d just do a chain of dark portals to get us across these barrens, but I don’t think wearing ourselves out is a very good idea, not when we have no knowledge of what lies ahead.”
Demarkos nodded to Raduk, then randomly choose a direction to go; might as well make the portal in front of him, because of Ezekiel had created this trap to be as efficient as possibly, he had probably landed them in the middle of the barrens. Of course, this is assuming there is something other than barrens.
His first attempt was to make contact with Redemption itself, and create a portal from this place to there. Despite his effort, however, it was just as when he had attempted to contact Kaleb Zaleran; nothing was there. Of course, that would be too easy.
Closing his eyes, Demarkos formed a mental picture of the barrens, about five miles ahead of them, in his mind. When the picture was done, he reached into the pool of darkness which housed his magic. With it he crafted a link between their current position and that spot, weaving threads of energy between the two places, connecting them together with an invisible thread. When that was completed a small speck of darkness appeared just in front of them, quickly growing larger until it was tall enough for them to pass through.
When Demarkos opened his eyes he and looked upon the portal he just stared for a minute, transfixed. The portal was growing larger and larger by the second, although he had already tied off the dark portal’s energy. Waves of darkness fed the portal relentlessly; the very air around them shimmered with power, power unlike any he had ever felt before. Within half a minute the portal was one hundred feet tall, and just as wide. The lust he was feeling was foreign to him, but this amount of magic, this amount of power…it was incredible, unheard of. Even the power of Oldatoro paled in comparison to this. Blue-black bolts of shadow lightning danced around the portal, accompanied by a fast growing sound. It was a noise Demarkos had never heard before, but it sounded as if this portal was growing too big, and the magical energies that sustained it could no longer be held in.
It sounded as if this portal was about to go rampant.
Grabbing Raduk by the shoulder, he pushed the youth forward and through the portal, then sprinted after him. For a slight moment he was nowhere, just a random speck of light in a world of darkness. A second later he appeared at the spot he had visualized, five miles from the portal.
The dark portal itself was now over one hundred and fifty feet tall and was letting loose a sound which rivaled that of the explosion he had witnessed earlier. Then, in the blink of an eye, the portal imploded on itself, it size decreasing so quickly that it just seemed to disappear.
For a moment there was silence.
The silence was broken by a tremendous roar, a sound so loud that Demarkos instantly fell to his knees and covered his bleeding eardrums with his hands; all thoughts disappeared in that instant. A sphere of dark energy released outwards from that single point, followed by a wave of wind that pushed him flat against the ground.
And finally it was over. His hands were covered in blood, he saw, as he pushed himself up from the ground shakily. His gaze drifted over to where the dark portal had exploded, and what he saw shook him. A perfect half-sphere, roughly two miles long he estimated, had appeared in what had previously been the ground. And now? There was nothing, if that was at all possible, like the creator had just completely forgotten to fill in that piece of land. Or like somebody else removed it. What was left could only be described as the void.
Demarkos didn’t know what had happened, what had gone wrong. And truthfully he didn’t want to know. Whatever this place was, it had an effect on his dark magic. Maybe it was just on dark portals, or maybe on everything. Whatever it was, he wasn’t prepared to test it out, if at all necessary.
“Let’s just…just walk. No more dark portals, no more magic,” he said quietly.
Relik - May 9, 2008 05:05 AM (GMT)
Raduk continued to walk with him. Eventually they stopped. What was the point? There was nothing in sight. If this place could trap them, corner them like it had, then why try walking? It was utterly useless. There was miles of nothing but cracked earth and dark sky, and walking was purely idiotic. But oh well. Hopefully this man knew what he was doing.
Defiance suddenly flamed up inside of him. Why was he here, following this man silently, waiting and trusting him to get a way out of here? This was even more idiotic, this was how you got yourself eternally fucked. If this man fucked him over there would be nothing to do but kill him and kill himself. Inwardly of course. His body would need to remain alright.
Except there was no logic in that. If he were to kill himself he would slice off his head and-- but he would just wish himself dead, surrender all of his power inside of himself and let his corpse walk free to rule the world. No. Wait... what?
Halfway through the other man's word's he realized he had completely zoned out; ignored everything else going on and focused on his conflicting thoughts. This was quite strange and out-of-the-ordinary for his usual one-track mind, perhaps it was this place?
"...create the first portal, and you the second. After that we’ll walk for a ways, then do the same thing; I’d just do a chain of dark portals to get us across these barrens, but I don’t think wearing ourselves out is a very good idea, not when we have no knowledge of what lies ahead.”
It was an answer to his previous thoughts. Yes. Portals would be good; much better than walking. So the man focused. Raduk watched on a higher plane as dark energies gathered around him, negative pricks of energy in the air gathered and melded through his being, passing through the man's light blue silhouette and gathering as a mass of dark purple, with trails falling toward where presumably the ending of transport would go.
But something was not right. They gathered too fast, and the input to output ratio was quickly going off balance. It seemed like he formed more particles than he had gathered, even just seconds after beginning to form it.
But now it was getting even worse. It was obvious he had tied off his collected power and energy to the thing, but it continued to grow. Suddenly a white shock blinded his 'sight' into the higher planes, he quickly flicked back to first-plane sight as the portal grew so immensely. So that's why the blinding. The portal just shot up, collecting power from seemingly out of nowhere. They were lucky it was just a basic spell--
The General grabbed his shoulder and thrust him forward. With the lack of thought and excess adrenaline he decided to jump, seemingly fly into the portal so that he could make speedy his get away. As soon as he was shot out the other side, twenty feet in the air did he know it was a bad idea.
As soon as they were out, the roaring stopped. For a moment at least. It then burst like a hundred cataclysmic spells concentrated on one small area, expanding and pushing harder than he had ever known dark energy to go. He was pushed even farther and higher into the sky, the resuming scream pounding his eardrums and chest so hard it felt like he too would burst. His blood pressure shot up that the sweat on his face and neck literally was blood, the miniature capillaries bursting at the massive pressure, though they saved his eardrums from massive failure.
He finally was thrown to the ground. He lay there, blood covering his entire face and neck, dripping from his ears, eyes, nose and mouth. It was wretched how much damage it had done to him; a creature of such sensitivity. He was on his back, his eyes opened to see dark skies. Perhaps a moon? No. Scarring on his retina.
He sat up, saw Ashbringer about twenty feet closer to the explosion. Or its scar...
Upon getting up and approaching the general, he saw what had happened. Or at least the aftermath. A huge crater sat in the rugged, cracked earth, absolutely gigantic. He wanted to go see, investigate. Perhaps there was something to learn.
But no. He trusted this man, and if he said to continue walking he would, despite his inner protests. He turned, nodded and grunted his affirmation and began walking alongside him once again, attempting to rub the sweat and mainly blood from his pale features.
The Gunslinger - May 12, 2008 11:47 PM (GMT)
If Demarkos looked bad, it was hard to describe what Raduk looked like. Blood covered the youth's face, made him look like he had just taken a dive into a river of blood. As he lay on the ground he looked more a corpse than anything. Demarkos briefly felt around his face, fearing he might look the same way, but he only felt blood just under his eyes, as well as around his ears and down the sides of his neck.
Shaking his head in awe, Demarkos made his way over to Raduk, extending an arm to help him up. The youth merely lay there, dazed, for almost five seconds before accepting the hand. With small effort, Demarkos pulled him upwards, the task made easier as Raduk helped the process along. When he was finally up, Demarkos staring him in the face, he got full wind of Raduk's injuries. Perhaps the internal damage wasn't as bad as what it looked to be, and while he was no medic he was sure Raduk would need to see a healer. Just our luck, since they seem to be in such abundance here.
Tearing his eyes from Raduk's face, Demarkos looked around, taking in their surroundings entirely. The empty, void pocket behind them, covering an arc of five miles. It would be a waste of time to traverse back around that; the only way to go was forward and hope for the best.
"Come on, we've got to get moving. There's no telling what other odd properties this place has, and I don't plan on staying around long enough to find out." With a quick nod at Raduk, Demarkos turned and began walking across the barrens. Raduk followed to his right, his form visible in Demarkos's peripheral vision. They walked for hours without any change of scenery; day and night here did not seem to exist. Where the light came from, without a sun, was anybody's guess. It wasn't exactly light here, not the kind of light that you felt and saw when the sun's rays hit the ground. Everything was a shade of grey, a light shade albeit, but there was no warmth.
Silence filled their passage; Raduk didn't talk much, and he liked that in a person. Say what you needed to say or just be quiet. It wasn't an awkward silence, but rather a peaceful one. Both men were on a mission, and both were determined to fulfill it.
On the third hour their scenery finally changed. They were still in the barrens, but on the distant horizon Demarkos could make out what he assumed to be plains. Grasslands...life in this place? The thought was odd, life in the Shadow Realm, but oddly comforting as well. He pointed this out to Raduk; not with words but by merely pointing and making a sound in his throat. The youth looked at him, then at where he was pointing, and nodded. Their march continued for another hour, until they finally come upon the edge of the barrens.
The grasslands weren't exactly grasslands; there was grass, yes, but even it seemed otherworldly. It was short and skinny, and had a dull grey color to it. Well, at least we're getting somewhere. Another odd thing, odd property of this realm was exhaustion. He had been walking for three hours, and wasn't tired at all, hadn't even begun sweating.
He turned to Raduk, just looking at the youth for a moment. His eyes became fixed on the gem; it looked to be pulsing weakly, very weakly, a dull red throb once every thirty seconds or so. "Well, we've made some progress; I say we keep going for another hour or two, and if we don't find anything by then we stop for the...night." He nodded and Demarkos took that as confirmation.
They continued walking for another hour; the silence began slowly turning into both boredom and unease. No sign of life yet, but if this realm had varying terrain that suggested it did. As his mind was beginning to draw pictures of the sorts of creatures that might dwell here the land suddenly gave way. He put one of his feet forward into nothing, and as it felt nothing he pulled it back and stumbled, more reaction than anything. Before them was a steep fall into a large basin. In the center of it, on a small mound was something much larger...and oval shaped thing, created of metal and other foreign things of the like he had never seen. He looked at Raduk, trying to get a grasp on what the youth was thinking, but instead his eyes were drawn back to the gem. It was pulsing quickly and strongly, almost every second now. What was going on? He tore his eyes away from the gem, and looked back at the metallic structure, then back at the gem. Could that...thing be some kind of gateway? It certainly seemed plausible, but first he'd have to share his connection with Raduk.
It was all assumption true, nothing more than a spark of hope. But it was a spark he held to; believe and it just might be true. Pass off the chance and it would never be.
"I think we've found our way out of here."
Relik - May 14, 2008 03:03 AM (GMT)
The general seemed quite concerned with his appearance. Perhaps it was the blood that soaked his face, drenching it in a lustrous, scarlet coating. Or maybe it was the fact that the separate entity behind the walls of his physical body was throbbing with power and restlessness, like a heartbeat pumped with adrenaline.
His eyes scanned the horizon as they began the next leg of their journey. So what was next? His best bet was that this was the only thing here for this entire realm; grey skies, grey dirt, empty horizon. It seemed to drain all hope out of his heart, make him yearn for a deep sigh, an outward expression of his dim emotions. But no, Ashbringer was here, and any sign of weakness or pain was unacceptable.
For some reason he did not attempt to wipe the blood from his face. He just didn't care. The dried, lighter color of the thick coat was a lighter red than it had been when it was a liquid, and now seemed to match the long, red hair on his head. But, he did not care. His outward appearance meant nothing at the moment; the only one to impress was the General and he knew what the young rider had been through. No reason to impress there.
The throbbing grew with each step, as if every bit of energy he spent it gained. It was absolutely ridiculous how much its essence's size and strength had grown since and because of the magical explosion. But he could slowly feel more of its energy being spent, as if it was being absorbed into itself, being spent on something it was generating and building on inside.
But he lost track of it when he finally saw something on the horizon. He made no sign he had seen it, knowing it would be better if the General thought he had been the first to see it. A leader must feel like a leader, in order to properly lead. Though it was a confusing way to put it, he stuck by the hypothesis and waited for the words.
Instead there was a pointing finger, a grunt. Raduk played along, squared him in the eyes, nodded and in turn made a small grunt. He knew where they were to go. Another while it would be to the grasses, and from there, who knew?
Along the way he did nothing but still watch the gem's progress. It was indeed growing in size and power, it's strength had exponentially grown and quickly disappeared since they had entered this place. It seemed as though this realm was giving it power and sucking it away again, but Raduk realized that unless there was an exposure of magic in the air, much like a spark to flammable liquid, that magic was sealed away, and would not explode like the Portal.
As he reached his hypothesis they arrived at the grasses. They too were gray, too gray to match that of the 'real' realm of existence. He had grown up in the forest, among the shrubbery and evergreens, and the vibrant colors of his younger days still sang strong in his memory. No, this was not normal grass. It was thin, skinny too. Definitely not normal. And why so short?
As they arrived here the gem changed. It's vibrant purple shifted to an even red, and its pulsing slowed. It was like a dying heart, its strength shrank away, though the insides of it didn't seem to be so hollow anymore. Like there was intense pressure inside...
The General told him of their further plans. He nodded. But he could tell something wasn't right. Ashbringer looked past his eyes and into his person... Raduk didn't close himself. No; distrust would follow if he shielded himself from the General. It was also good that the gem had slowed now. Less to worry about from General Ashbringer's perspective. But something wasn't right.
They continued to walk through the low, thin grasses. But he barely noticed. He was now taking on an offensive role inside of himself, switching places with the gem. He prodded its walls, now it had begun to grow again, not as big as before, but still it grew. And it once again became purple. It was like a single-celled organism, growing and changing through its stages until it... died? No. Gems like this never died. They only rested, waiting patiently for their next victim, their next bearer until they striked.
This disconcerted him. His thoughts were now for his own safety as he stopped testing the things defense and made sure his own were in place. The last thing he needed now was to be suddenly captured. Though a part of him ensured himself that it was mere paranoia, there was no reason to erect these walls. The gem was back to normal now, it was barely any bigger than usual, this was fine. The other thought persuaded him. He dropped most, not all, of his barriers, thinking himself only as a fool to be in such fear.
But suddenly it looked as if the General was about to fall into a deep void. Raduk took a step forward to catch him but the man was already back on two feet, looking into the deep, arced valley. Raduk observed too, the large sphere of metal, but whatever it was made of, it was not real metal. It glowed brightly on the higher planes, pulsing slowly as if it was a living breathing thing. Though surely it wasn't. He wished it were a gateway.
"I think we found our way out of here." Raduk met the man's eyes again, though they looked through. The boy suddenly had the urge to block his inner self, shut all of his doors. He complied with the consciousness, closing the doors to his essence, his inner beings and pretended to realize he hadn't done it on purpose.
"Indeed." Something strange happened in him. He felt something spike through his essence, pictures of wild wolves and dogs attacking and dying filled his mind, Achiem in his last breath, and then suddenly a third-person view of his own death. Though he caught only a glimpse, it seemed as though he killed himself...
The Gunslinger - May 21, 2008 09:11 PM (GMT)
It took Demarkos the greater part of half an hour to find a way down into the valley. When he finally found the way down; a series of narrow stairs cut into the rock, he motioned for Raduk to come. The boy was looking a bit...could he call it sick? The gem's throbbing had continued to go on, but it wasn't leaking out power, for which he was grateful. Instead it merely seemed attracted to that...thing on top of the hill.
He began the descent carefully, keeping his left hand out, ready to grab onto something if the stairs ever gave way. As he looked down at his feet he noticed something...something odd. His skin had begun turning a dull grey color. He stopped in mid-descent, his eyes transfixed on the visible skin around his right arm. What was happening? It's just this realm...nothing to worry about. As much as he kept telling himself that, his mind couldn't avoid the thought of Yevela Flats and the plague. He hadn't come into contact with any plagued victims there, at least to his knowledge...but what if? Well, can't do anything about it now.
He finished his climb to the bottom and waited for Raduk. The youth had been only a few steps behind, and was at his side within thirty seconds. The two companions then turned towards the small hill on which the portal-like structure stood. Demarkos carefully made his way across the grey plain, stopping once he was at the base of the hill. Now that he could see the structure up close, it startled him how advanced it looked. Some cities had begun create factories, such as the small ones around Pacalon and Oil Lake...but this...
Several symbols were inscribed deep within the metal. As Raduk came closer the symbols became brighter, a dull red light throbbing in their depths. Parts of the gateway, as he had dubbed it in his mind, were also missing. Where they had been, or were supposed to go rather, several thin threads of red and blue stuck out. At their ends was what appeared to be copper. Demarkos had never seen anything like it; was it failed technology from a time past, or something that would be appearing more and more over the next century? An interesting thought.
Rallik and Remus were lying flat on their stomachs at the top of the basin, watching the two figures around the portal. Rallik was bewildered; this was the brightest day of the year, was it not? This was when the portal was supposed to open, and the dark army watch guard over it? And yet all he saw were two people, humans he guessed, staring at the portal, which was still inactive.
"Well, it seems you were wrong. That dark army is nowhere in site, and I don't see this portal doing shit. We've been waiting here for a good hour, and it's well past noon. Let's get the fuck out of here and head back to your camp."
Remus glanced at him, a look of distaste on his face. "Be quiet; going back is the last thing we want to do. Something is different today, and there are others here. They might know something."
Rallik raised his eyebrows. "Know something? What the fuck do you expect them to know? By the way they're looking at that portal they're even more clueless than we are."
"You're an assassin you say, now use your eyes. There's a pulsing red light on top of that one's head," Remus whispered, pointing towards one of the figures. "Even from here I can feel its taint."
Now that Rallik looked at the man and focused, he could feel the taint, the evil radiating from the object. "So, what are you going to do?"
"Whatever I have to."
They had been standing silent for five minutes now, and Raduk had yet to make a move. The gem was still throbbing non-stop, but it also made no sign of doing anything. "Well, we might as well climb up this hill." It was only a half minute climb, but during that half minute his mind wandered, thinking of the plague and Yevela flats. Were there any survivors?
In fact there were survivors. Anyone with the plague was long gone or dead, but the few hundred thousand that had survived had banded together, constructing a safe zone from the ghouls. Gigantic fire pits surrounded their location, bonfires burning in them endlessly. The fuel? Anything the soldiers could get their hands on.
A message from Kaleb Zaleran himself had just been delivered to the survivors; more out to Alpha Site with everyone remaining. Most of the survivors were warriors, but a handful of mages had survived. The three hundred fifty thousand survivors were ready quickly, such was the efficiency of the Zaleran Army. Before midnight the only thing left moving on the Flats was the bonfires as the flames danced in the wind.
A small oval stood in the center of the hill, directly under the gateway. Nine symbols were inscribed in it; one of them was blinking rapidly. Nine symbols... Could it be? A connection between that Shadow Realm and the gems? Or just coincidence. Demarkos didn't know what to think.
But now it was Raduk's turn; destiny, fate, Karma, the wheel of time, god, whatever you called it, they all pointed towards Raduk and that oval. What would happen would happen, and this was something that would happen, although how it would turn out...they were placing such blind faith in this thing giving them a way back. But what else can we do but hope? We have to hope, without it we have nothing to hold onto, nothing but insanity.
And insanity wasn't much to hold on to.
Relikation - May 29, 2008 03:23 AM (GMT)
Amidst confusion and self-contempt he followed the small journey into the valley. He fought himself, killed himself now, on the inside. What was happening? He was a fool. He was completely idiotic, young, cocky for doing this. Taking on a gem of such great power into such a crazy, unpredictable soul. He was weak, innerly weak. How could he not have known?
But despite the suicidal thoughts he realized it was not too late. No, he still had time for redemption. He would not tell the Ashbringer though. He still had enough pride in him to not admit his weakness. Hell, he still held pride. He was just kicking himself for digging himself a hole that was so deep he could barely get himself out.
He could get himself out. Right? A small dot, a period of doubt filled him. But the more he thought about it the more he grew. His eyes looked but did not see, the dirty terrain, covered with scattered rocks and gray color. Non-existent color. Nothing existed anymore. Hell, his own being did not exist.
Right? Or no. Yes it did, he existed, he just wouldn't for long. For a while. Forever. If he just surrendered now eternal power would flow through his veins, he would never perish. Forever. That was the key word, at the moment only shadowed by surrender. Just surrender himself, give up, and nobody would get hurt. Just consumption.
He focused now. He dispelled his thoughts. This was not the time. He was to remain normal, fight this thing that was now him. They were nearly one being now. It was so close, he just had to fight it, he would later. Now he had to concentrate on the situation at hand.
They reached the base of the ancient sphere-top. He was beside Ashbringer, suddenly completely focus. A part of him compelled him to focus, concentrate on what was happening for... for what? For future gains? Perhaps. He would now focus.
It was metal. A dark, thick, dense metal. It was inscribed with ancient runes and symbols. Wonders worked within part of his head, unlocking old memories, old riddles and old characters. Something here had been seen before, whatever it was it was not the norm. It had great meaning. Well obviously, stated the common sense inside of him. With plains of nothing but dirt and then a huge, advanced structure such as this of course it was out of the norm.
As he looked closer they changed color. They glowed brighter red, few had purple corners. But where some seemed to be missing, where wiring of some sort. Red and blue, with more metal on the ends. This was quite odd. These ruins, or whatever they were, were definitely not normal.
He stood there, mesmerized by the images and memories that flooded his mind. Conversations and events were recollected carefully, every inch examined for similarities between the structure, the symbols, and the past. Ashbringer sed to move on. So they did. They walked up the hill quickly, Raduk still focused on the happenings.
There was another circular shape here now. A medium-sized oval, with nine symbols. Gemforge, images of gods and super-beings creating the very items that millions of lives had been lost over. Every symbol matched. Exactly. The Amethyst's brothers and sisters, all extremely powerful and deadly had their names etched here.
The Amethyst pulsed coolly within him as it's thoughts were reaffirmed. It was fate that Raduk had emerged with the gem. No, that fool Achiem was nothing of a bearer, a soul to conquer. But this Raduk... what a perfect host. Fate had planned it perfectly, and the gem was glad.
It began to charge within itself, charge its power, gaining for an attack, an offensive. A conquering.
The Gunslinger - May 29, 2008 04:06 AM (GMT)
The gem bearer stepped forward, taking his place on top of the oval. It was like an key going into an ancient socket; for a moment a creaking sound could be heard. The sound lasted just a moment, deep and high at the same time, and short enough to make you wonder if there even had been a sound.
And it was that sound that brought back memory and purpose.
He had known his task all along; just minutes after entering this realm he had thought of it, but something had gone...could he call it wrong? Memory, gone. His intents had been replaced, instead of the goal Zaleran had set for him, now he had this goal, the activation of the portal and the safety of Raduk. In truth it had always been the safety of Raduk, even back in Necronus, but he had never believed it would be this easy. Blind faith, trust like Demarkos had never witnessed.
And it made the betrayal cut that much deeper.
He had written to Zaleran back in Nazca, and received a response back in Necronus. Kaleb had given his instructions, and a plan that relied upon chance more than anything. But the trap had been sprung, and Demarkos had appeared in the Shadow Ream. It had worked perfectly; get the object, and make an escape through the Gate of Respite, via some kind of device on this side.
His mission had been to kill Raduk Jei, bearer of the Amethyst.
A red beam of light shot up from where Raduk was standing, directly upwards. Demarkos's eyes followed it; the beam connected with the top of the circular portal, it's light seeming to fuse with a rune inscribed on it. He noticed other similar markings, each with slight coloring, faded with age. Eight more markings. Nine...it has to be, this is no coincidence. The ancients made this.
In the center of the beam, halfway between Raduk and the top of the portal, a sphere began to form. It was small, but the beam was feeding it, increasing its size. This is it, the way out! Finally we will escape this damnable place.
General Demarkos, are we on schedule? The psychic message was faint, barely discernable. None-the-less, Demarkos could make it out, as well as tell who its sender was. Kaleb Zaleran...contact had been made. He shook himself inwardly; for a moment his mind had shifted back into the unknowing state.
Yes, the portal is opening as we speak, as for the gem it will be ours momentarily. I trust you'll have your side ready? Sending the message was odd; he could feel Kaleb Zaleran, but he felt a lifetime away, further away than from Akara to Ascantha, the distance a thousand times longer. There was no need to wait for a reply; Kaleb would get his part done.
He balled his right hand into a fist; dark essence began to swirl around it, a translucent black mist. He could feel this realm's power literally pouring into the shadow lance as he charged it, increasing its power exponentially. He wouldn't dare hold it too long, lest the same 'discharge' be left as with the dark portal...but he would hold it long enough to kill the youth in one blow. A quick, painless death.
Remus watched the two figures and the portal, quickly taking in everything. It looked as if they had activated it. He couldn't yet make out their faces, although they both looked to be in their middle ages, and both human. Just a bit closer...
Rallik watched Remus slowly climbing down the steep stairs that wound around the basin. The humans had activated the what appeared to be a portal. This is my chance to get out of this god damn place. He wasn't going to waste any time; there was no telling how long that portal would stay open.
It was ready. A feeling of sorrow filled Demarkos; who was he to play as Death?
"I'm sorry, boy. Forgive me."
He released the shadow lance.
Relikation - May 29, 2008 04:45 AM (GMT)
Raduk knew what was happening before the beam exploded from the pedestal. Dark intentions flooded the area, and not only on his side. They both were bloodthirsty. But only one was filled with hate. The gem now had completely taken over. Raduk's young, cheery, foolish soul was no more. An explosion rocked his body slightly from the inside. The old soul was no more. And the built-up attack was now ready.
This man must have been something of an idiot the Amethyst thought. Ekkoh, it would refer to itself as. Ekkoh was glad to have such a man as one to conquer on its quest to freedom. Well, it already had freedom. But even more so now that his man would perish. Ekkoh was happy to do it; such fools did not belong in this world.
The dark creature of a being could already tell the man was attacking. He felt pity. No, no pity would be felt for a creature such as this. The man dared to apologize. No apologies. Such a fool.
Ekkoh, within the body of the former Raduk Jei spun around. Its eyes were purple, the gem on its forehead was a beacon, blindingly bright on the higher planes. But on the lower, it was but a white spot. It glowed brilliantly, a vast spectrum or reds, blues and purples in the dark, gloomy void in which they began to fight.
As previously mentioned, Ekkoh's eyes were aglow with a purple light. Anger and joy filled its features simultaneously, enough to contort it as contempt mixed in. The being allowed the man to register that it was far too late as he unleashed the pent up energy on the youth's former body.
You think him a fool? Raduk Jei was a trustworthy boy, a good one at that. A bit overconfident, perhaps, but he had things going for him. Fate took his path, and fate will take yours. The voice rang heavy in the man's mind for a moment before the attack struck, it screamed in a hellborne voice within his head and all around the area. It could be heard anywhere in this alternate dimension. Raw power extended from it, deafeningly loud in the already-huge noise of the forming portal and the shadow lance.
Though he did not block or absorb the shadow lance he merely stood still, letting it reign down its horror upon him. He was not yet completely one with this body. It rose into the air a moment before the attack, and now floated two feet from the metal surface of the sphere-top. The attack sprung through it. Pain was there, of course. But it did not matter.
Ekkoh just stood. It laughed. Beginning as a smile it turned into a full out laugh of pure comic genius. How this man had pittied, felt sorrow for attacking such an innocent child. Ekkoh was a cruel being, forged for nothing but death and pain and fear. Now it would put its spectacular abilities to good use.
The Apocalypse which it had been mustering was on the verge of being unleashed. He just floated and laughed for a moment. It ceased slowly, allowing the dark being to take on last glance around this place, and into the General's surprised eyes.
But as it unblocked the mental walls something welled up inside. Another being pulsed within him, a vice-versa of only moments before. Raduk Jei had taken the beings advice. He had surrendered, played dead. It was bait. But he had been too late perhaps. Perhaps not.
He rammed into the gem's being with all the strength he could muster. The spell was already released. He took it by surprise, knocking it down within himself for one last moment as a living being. He looked at Ashbringer for the longest moment of eternity. "You are quite a fool." His words were filled with malice. No longer the deep, cruel voice of Ekkoh sounded though. It was Raduk's young, strong voice, striped with a venom deadly enough to kill a thousand listening souls. Malice was also an undertone in the the portrait of sound, final words of the rider as he passed away.
The gem was angry. But it did not kill Raduk now. The boy had done what was enough. The boy was now on his side. The boy donated life energies into the spell, strengthening and speeding its advance. Ekkoh was pleased. It was too easy. Too easy.
The spell burst from the soul. But even more power was added. Suddenly the gem on the body's forehead split three ways inside of it, forever scarring it. Raduk had merely tricked the being inside, once again, and nearly destroyed it. The release of its inner powers further fueled the attack once more, and the gem was now forever scarred.
The body was the center of the reign of dark, explosive, raw energy. White, blank light scoured the entireties of this area of the Shadow Realm, further scarring the landscape. The portal lay open as the apocalypse exploded.
Utter power was ushered forth. Screamed throughout the realm and into the real world in an angry voice, a voice of rage and contempt. A voice of poison. The mixed voice or Raduk Jei and Ekkoh. Raduk had fought a three-way battle. He had almost done the impossible - destroy the gem with raw, inner power. And he had also managed to fuel the attack against the General.
This was the picture he had seen in his mind not an hour before. His own death, caused by nobody but himself. Without his tactical input of power into the attack it would less controlled and focused. The gem would be pleased after this. Raduk had enabled it to do twice the damage the gem alone would have dealt.
Raduk was a youth of great importance in the world of Redemption. He had slayed a demon lord by his lonesome, and killed many of his enemies, further killing more with his last display of power. Raduk was a forest elf who had made major change in the world, had indirectly affected the outcome of the one of the greatest wars ever to be inflicted upon the world of Redemption. He died with only a single last thought.
The General and the Amethyst both had underestimated Raduk Jei, and both had payed for it. The rest of the world would too. The rest of the world would feel his pain.
My pain is constant and sharp.
And I do not hope for a better world for anyone...
In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others.
Dark Kaleb - May 30, 2008 11:00 PM (GMT)
"God dammit I said get that beam into place", Kaleb shouted from the top of his lungs as electricity sparked in all directions coming from the gate. Warriors were placing beams to support the massive arch once the gate opened. Kaleb expected a large amount of physical recoil upon re-entry. Lightning was shooting in all directions sparking to the ground and ripping into nearby buildings.
The dull black sky was swirling above them like a hurricane. Winds were increasing and the vague evils that were stirring were now coming into view. He knew he had to get the gate open and get it open fast, he just prayed that his plan had worked. Step one had been complete, Demarkos had linked up with Raduk Jei. Step two was finished slowly after that as Kaleb sent them into Ezekiels trap which stranded them in the shadow realm. A week prior to that Kaleb had briefed Demarkos on how to get out of the realm, a feat that only the gem would be able to do; at least from their end.
A lieutenant came up to Kaleb with his head held low to avoid the sparks, "Lord Zaleran, the nine symbols have activated. Our gem is bridging the gap between the shadow realm and our realm". The officer pointed to the gem that was placed on an altar in front of the gate. It pulsed vibrantly giving off different hues, step three had been complete; bringing the gems within range of each gate to allow Demarkos to slip through with the gem in hand and leave Raduk Jei to his death.
Dark energies swirled inwards like water draining through a horizontal hole. It grew exponentially leaving no shed of light uncaptured. A void of nothingness took hold of the gate and a familiar mind came into full view of Kalebs.
"General Ashbringer, have you completed your mission?", he spoke with his voice full of demand and anxiety. Demarko's mission was simple, kill Raduk Jei and retrieve the gem. He better not forget to get the gem on his way out.
The Gunslinger - June 2, 2008 05:37 PM (GMT)
Demarkos watched in horror as he released the shadow bolt. It was only then that he felt the power that Raduk had been building up inside of him. Only now did he feel it, but that was far too late. His mind raced as to how Raduk would have known of his betrayal, but he drew up blanks...unless the gem had already seized control.
Pulses of invisible shadow energy rocked the air, throwing him backwards and down onto the ground. He could feel the sharp stones dig into his back, but he ignored the pain entirely; his gaze was fixed on one thing: the portal. The red sphere in the center of the portal began to change colors, began to open up. Distantly he could here Kaleb's question in his mind, but he paid it little heed. The youth was going to release one of the most powerful spells Demarkos had ever felt...and he was standing right on top of the portal that led to the Gate of Respite...and Ascantha.
"NO!" He shouted, pushing himself up and sprinting towards Raduk. He had to grab the gem, otherwise it was all over, and their plan would be for naught. And Kaleb is on the other side, standing right by the gate. The thought spurred his steps faster...
But not fast enough.
The apocalypse erupted from the youth, a torrent of raw dark energy sweeping across the basin. Demarkos could feel the power; his body trembled in the horror and sheer ecstasy of it. But the spell here was no more than a ghost image of what was happening on the other side. The portal had sucked in the apocalypse's energies, relaying them instead to the other side of the gate. To Ascantha.
From hundreds of miles around the spectacle could be seen; a gigantic red pillar of light shooting upwards into the air, miles high. Most would later question whether or not it had been real though, for moments later it disappeared, the pillar of light consumed by death.
To anyone in Ascantha the sound would have been unbearable; blood leaked from citizens ears and they fell to the ground writhing in pain. The sound was only a harbinger of what came next, though. A sphere of darkness rose from the Gate of Respite, its size growing exponentially by the second. Wherever it touched it left nothing but broken ground, ground that could never be used or reworked. It covered a mile in any direction from the Gate; the Zaleran Fortress was entirely destroyed, along with the fortress grounds and several other districts of the city.
It was over as soon as it had begun, though. The sphere's departure was almost anti-climatic; it simply dissolved into the air. Magician or not, however, anyone could feel the raw power which had been let loose into the city.
Unfortunately this was just the beginning.
Remus's eyes widened as they glimpsed the face of one of the humans; could it be? Coincidence such as this was not likely, but...
"GO!" Rallik shouted, slamming into Remus; they had to get through the portal. Whatever spell the other human had released had destroyed him entirely, and it seemed that because of it the portal was collapsing on itself. Remus caught on quickly, and together they sprinted towards the portal. When they were just moments away his eyes caught the glow of a small amethyst lying abandoned on the ground; he reached down and grabbed it before leaping through the portal.
Demarkos pushed himself up; for a moment a sense of hopelessness had washed over him like a waterfall. He had failed. But seeing the two unknown figures burst out of nowhere, and one grab the gem had renewed determination within him; that gem belonged to the Zaleran Empire, and he would not lose it, no matter what.
Rallik stepped up out of the portal, if that was possible. Up and into a world of nightmares. For a mile in any direction was only black, broken ground. And magic, raw magic so heavy that one could almost touch it. Even so, this was Redemption. They had made it back.
Demarkos stumbled out of the portal; although he knew that the Gate of Respite lay horizontally, he had not truly expected to come out of it so. He was immediately presented with the sight of destruction but ignored it entirely; all that mattered now was that gem, and getting it back.
The two figures which he had seen leaping into the portal on the other side were just thirty feet away; he caught his footing and ran towards them. When he was only fifteen feet away the first of them turned; a man with long black hair and blue eyes, wielding a crossbow which was now pointed towards Demarkos's feet. It was loaded.
Inside the man's left pocket Demarkos could see the throb of the gem; it leaked a light hue of red, visible through the man's dark leather pants. He pointed at it and opened his mouth to speak. Then the second man turned around, and Demarkos lowered his hand.
It was Kaleb Kelrock.