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Thread: The Archeage Time Line

  1. #451
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Strange Owl Mail : "Do you feel stuck in your guild?"

    My owl mail box is getting so out of control as of late. With Conviction growing at leaps and bounds, you could talk about something as specific as “combat shoes,” someone will hear you, and someone will send you an owl mail saying they are selling obsidian boots with pvp gems the next day.

    I don’t know about you, but sometimes the ads feel so targeted to me personally, I find it rather creepy. You think of something, and your talking in guild about farming items for it, and then conveniently there it is a message in your mailbox saying they will sell you what you need for less than the Auction House. How do they do that? While I know they say guild mates don't share confidential information, how can you trust them? When guild members have to give statements to leaders about sharing guild secrets? Are they concealing more deceptive practices? What else aren’t they telling us? What are they covering up?

    Weekends have gotten just as bad lately. I got an owl mail from a really strange name, and before I knew what I was doing, I had already opened it. I normally wouldn’t do something like that. Who does?

    I read through it. It was so compelling I was afraid I might lose track of it--I imagine that’s probably a thing that happens pretty common—below is what I got in my mail, it was several messages long. The strange thing is I couldn't find an actual guild name in here that is recruiting. So I am not sure if this is some sort of guild recruitment or something else. See below:


    Do you feel stuck in your guild?
    [ Promoted By DEFINITELY a legitimate group ]
    Has the raid-all-day rat-race left you in last place? Burning the candle at both ends? Well, don't get "burnt out!" Take that candle and light a fire under your feet because it's time to get moving and make a change in your life for the better![1*]

    I am a well known healer [2*] and I want to change YOUR life. You! Yes, you. Specifically! This mail is being sent through hereafter channels using sophisticated spellcraft developed by our group. You have been chosen to receive this message based on your specific brain chemistry which has been identified as a match for members of our target audience.

    In fact, this message and any comments below cannot be read by those individuals who do not meet our exclusive criteria for candidacy! Those people qualify as unqualified candidates and are thus excluded, so you're in luck! Not only are you already approved at some capacity in one of our various groups, you may feel free to share negative vitriol regarding your current guild below with the other readers and do so with complete impunity. [3*]

    We are currently seeking qualified individuals such as yourself to take part in a variety of apprenticeships with alternative pay structures. [4*] We are a legitimate faction friendly group. I will repeat that. WE ARE A LEGITIMATE FACTION FRIENDLY GROUP. [5*]


    Despite what you may have heard:
    It has come to our attention that some guilds and the opposition are claiming that what we do is unlawful and immoral, yet we assure you, ONCE AGAIN, that this is a legitimate opportunity. Listen, we know you hate your guild and we are offering you big gains, so stop thinking so many contrarian questions and opinions about this legitimate offer because we can hear all of your thoughts. We don't necessarily think that these questions you have are stupid, but they're certainly coming from a very misinformed place. We have an A+ Rating from the Conviction Alliance Bureau. [6*]


    We are currently conducting various research and development in a variety of actual scientific fields. Including but not limited to:

    Psychic Advertising
    Psychic Control
    Brain Matter Research (Namely: Transplantation, Duplication, Transposition and Digital Replication)
    Corpse Reanimation
    Three Headed Dog Beast – Firran Hibrids
    Warborne Blood Ritual
    Harani Ouija
    Dwarven Toothpaste Development
    We are looking for candidates who can expect to live long and fulfilling lives graced with an everlastingly untapped fount of potential for growth [7*] as new positions open on a near daily and consistent basis.


    We heard that and no, not because somebody died. [8*]


    All members, regardless of ranking, shall also recieve poiton allowance and benefits [9*] as well as a 50% discount in the guild shop.[10*]

    Qualified individuals must be willing to comply with all criteria, as well as and not limited to future criteria not yet stated, developed, or conceived. Failure to do so will result in immediate disqualification of qualified individuals on the grounds of noncompliance with our regulations.


    Minimum Ancestrial level 7 and 2 years experience.
    Fear of spiders (required)
    Prior experience with possesions is preferable but not required as we are capable of providing you with such experience.
    Experience with full body dismemberment
    Experience with skeletal sterilization and articulation
    Mystical knowledge passed down from ancestry (not required but preferred)
    Hatred for all humanity (required)
    Capacity to remain calm in close proximity to large quantities of both freshly harvested blood and rancid blood (required)

    If you're interested in submitting an application, the process is easy!11 A simple diagram drawn in the blood of an infant followed by the Ritual Invocation will get you in touch with one of our representatives. The application is entirely confidential [12*] and you most assuredly will not die instantaneously. [13*]

    So what are you waiting for? The time for devoting your life to the Shadow Dragon Archer, our dark lord and master a new career and a new start, starts today!


    1. This statement has not been evaluated for validity by a qualified independent third-party. Individual experiences related to involvment in any of our programs may vary and a percentage of some individuals reported experiences in direct opposition to this statement. You should assure yourself that this is probably rare and that the percentage of negative experiences might be rather low. This is most certainly not the case, but by continuing to read this, you submit legally binding conformation that you agree to hold harmless all related entities. Also you agree that you believe otherwise, and stuff.

    2. This person is not actually a healer and the profession of healing islikely being used to conceal a dark past.

    3. This technology **DOES, IN FACT, ACTUALLY EXIST** but you probably should refrain from following that instruction because the likelihood that your guild leader is also among those in the target audience selected is actually quite high.

    4. Gold range from unpaid to as high as a daily rationed handful of mysterious nondescript consumables, they will be consumed in their entirety upon daily distribution, signed off by a supervisor and an additional witness.

    5. Lies.

    6. More Lies.

    7. Father of Darkness, the Criminal mastermind A.K.A. The Dragon Archer is our CEO.

    8. Most have technically since been reanimated.

    9. You won't.

    10. Restricted to Research Guilds in the assention levels of various alternate realities and dimensions and null and void at any location on this plane of existence.

    11. The process is actually, very, very difficult and dangerous you will very likely die.

    12. The powers of evil supersede the confidentiality clause in certain instances. We will be informing members of your guild, along with your mother, of your intent to join. This will likely break your mother's heart and cause her to uncontrollably weep for eternity. We do hope that these tears are not of blood, but this has happened in certain instances.

    13. By submitting application, you submit that should any Rites of the Invocation be performed incorrectly, you agree that you will in fact die and release us, our parent guilds and all related subsidiaries of any and all liability for you death in perpetuity. This includes instances where the summoner has performed the ritual while not in either the proper traditional red and also instances wherin it arbitrarily decide to evicerate the skin from your face and consume your soul through your mouth. Instances of this mostly occur when the individuals performing the ritual are wearing a costume of the color blue - just as a heads up.


    Has anyone else ever seen anything like this? Did you get this mail as well? I thought it was oddly timely because I was just thinking about how much I really did need to start seeing what else was out there. I mean, it does say that if I’m seeing it, I’ve already passed some kind of pre-screen and will be placed to do something at their facility...what have I got to lose?

    Now...where to find an infant?

  2. #452
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Charming leader isnt what he seems to be

    I could never really decide which idea was more unsettling to think about. Is it the primal, unhinged atrocities that mankind is capable of? Or is it the unnatural, unexplainable horrors that lie just beyond our comprehension?

    To be honest… I still don’t know.

    I’m in between a rock and a hard place right now. Let me elaborate:

    There was this guy that used to go to my raids. He was always incredibly popular, having the ultra-charismatic personality and funny conversations that just made all the girls swoon for him. This is not to mention that he stood at over 9,000 gear score. He also pretty much dominated every arena and attended most events. Despite this though, he was never a blatant jerk. He had an ego for sure, but never actively tried to put anybody else down. In other words, he was no stereotypical bully. This just made everybody love him even more.

    All of this culminated in him being able to rotate through relationships, seemingly dating any girl that he felt like at any particular moment. He ended up breaking up with all of them rather quickly, however.

    That was before.

    I’d known her since Conviction started. We’d always been close friends, but nothing beyond that. I mean, she was way out of my league. I guess I didn’t expect anything to happen between us. But just like every other pretty girl on Conviction, she eventually ended up with him.

    “Look, don’t worry about it.” She would tell me. “If he’s a loser, I’ll break it off instantly.”

    She would always smile and playfully roll her eyes when I raised my concerns. It made me feel warm but somewhat emasculated at the same time. It was like I was her little brother or something.

    She was too smart for this and I knew it. On the surface, he seemed ideal. But there was something off about him. Something that nobody else seemed to notice. Now, I didn’t speak to him much directly, but he always had this subtle look. This guy was crazy, and I knew it. He fit all the traits perfectly. I just hoped to that she would also realize this.

    She eventually did, breaking up with him after about one year. It was the longest relationship that he’d been in and also the first one where he’d been the one dumped.

    One day, she came to my place, eyes puffy and makeup smeared everywhere. It only took me a few moments to realize that she wasn’t crying because she was sad or angry. She was crying because she was terrified. She’d told me that she’d figured out something was terribly wrong with him after only four months. She’d found screenshots. Screenshots of his inventory filled with guild raid items. These ranged from Dragon weapons to a Dragon heart. When she brought this up to him, he just laughed it off and said that they were digitally generated screenshots the enemy guild generated.

    Now, obviously, that sounded fishy and she knew it. She tried to believe him but there was no way that she could. After that day, his behavior took a sharper turn into the unhinged. One time, she saw him turning in someone else's pack and he freaked out when asked about it. He took a piece of his gear and rage regraded it, destroying it, before storming into his room for a few minutes. When he came back out, he was smiling again, and acted like nothing had even happened. At that point, she was too scared to leave, especially since he had already confessed his love to her. She’d always been the kind of person to never take garbage, but I guess this crazy guy really got to her.

    This all led up to what had been the breaking point. She’d been suspecting him of working with an enemy guild. It’s not that she would’ve dared to confront him about it, but she was still somewhat curious. He’d been talking on voice chat at odd hours in the night, during times where he would force her to craft for him. She could never make out what he was saying, but it was always angry. He would also occasionally go out incredibly late, not telling her where and usually never coming back in the morning.

    She eventually found out what he was really doing, and it was a lot worse than what she thought...

  3. #453
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Guild Thief and a Shadow Demon

    She was planting crops late one night, when she caught something on nation chat. Three guild mates had their properties robbed. Unclear motives. The thief had gotten away, and the only thing they knew were the members online at the time, so they couldn’t pinpoint who it was exactly. But she knew it was him. He’d been on that morning. Her suspicion was pretty much confirmed when she got a whisper from him later that night, telling her that they needed to meet up in the forest, and that she needed to know something important.

    She agreed, and they set up a meeting location. However, she never went. This was her chance to get out of this. Instead, she sent the guild officers right to him. Problem is… the outcome wasn’t one that she hoped for. They never found him. No traces, nothing. Knowing that she was essentially screwed, she called the guild officers again and pretty much reported him straight up.

    The investigation lasted a while, but the guild couldn’t pin him for the crimes. He’d covered his tracks with such precision that it made it impossible to uncover the evidence. They stuck around and monitored him for a few months before dropping it entirely. This was just another cold case. They told her to contact them instantly if she ran into any trouble with him, but that they couldn’t do anything at that moment.

    After that, she tried to continue living normally, but there was no chance that she could. She had to watch her back now. While planting crops one day, she’d noticed that somebody had sat down across from her. She was busy planting, so she didn’t look up immediately. But when she did, she nearly burst into tears.

    It was him

    He sat there and stared at her for about a minute, before leaving abruptly. She said that the look in his eyes burnt her very soul. Obviously he couldn’t do anything to her any time soon, as the guild would be all over him. But when dealing with people this severely unhinged… you just never know. Plus, he probably had some kind of plan waiting for her in the future. That was the day before she came crying to me.

    I’ve decided to do something about this. So this is where another personal story comes into play, and I promise… they’ll be very much related.

    It was late at night. Me and a few buddies had gotten absolutely crazy at this tavern we met up in Ahnimar. There were a lot of dancing girls there, and lot of Jujube wine. Now roaming the streets, looking for something interesting to do. And what’s better to do than to seek out some spooks?

    We decided to just pick up an Ouija board and take it to this abandoned house in the local forest. Really basic, I know.

    We got there and started setting up the board. We must have messed around with it for ten minutes before we realized that it was absolute garbage. However… it was what we heard coming from the door that scared us. It was a cry. Sounded like a child’s. Most of us decided to get out of there right at that moment. However, my buddy wanted to stay.

    “What if it’s an abducted kid? There’s no way that I’m leaving that.” He told us.

    “Yeah, well what if it’s crazy trap?” Somebody else barked back.

    Eventually, they all scrambled, leaving us two to deal with it ourselves. I have a little sister, so even the slightest chance that there was a little kid down there caused my blood to boil. Besides, I was willing to bolt the second that I saw some evil dark spirits.

    The décor and image items in the house were questionable, which only furthered our suspicion that this was the deed of some sicko.

    We realized just how old this place was. No one had paid the taxes. There were cobwebs everywhere and the foundation was crumbing. In fact, we were genuinely afraid that the ground were going to break on us at any moment.

    The first indication that we messed up were the obscure-looking symbols carved into the floor and walls. The second and final one was that the thing making the noise was in fact not a child. As soon as I saw the monstrous entity huddled in the corner, I froze. It was ghostly, and looked to be about 8 feet tall if it were to fully stand up. Its entire body was shadowy, limbs were thick, with black veins bulging out like a roadmap. It had giant empty eye sockets on its face, accompanied by a large triangular mouth filled with dagger-like teeth.

    It turned around to face us, covered its eye sockets with two massive, shadow hands, and let out a child’s giggle. At that instant, I could already hear my buddy running away. I followed immediately, but could hear that insane atrocity just moments behind me. I felt a sharp sting across my back before finally surfacing from the door and running through the forest, back onto my street. We decided to never talk about it. Just leaving it alone would be a lot better than dwelling on it, right?

    Well, maybe for him. He didn’t get slashed by the thing. I went to my mirror and inspected the cut. It wasn’t extremely deep, but I was afraid of whatever possible infections that thing could’ve introduced to my system. I waited a week, but nothing seemed to pop up, so I started to breathe a little easier.

    However, that wasn’t the end of my demon problems. From that day on, I could see that thing following me out of the corner of my eye. When I try to look at it directly, it disappears, but I know for a fact that it's just hiding. I’m under the belief that since it drew blood from me, it has the ability to now track me. But who knows, it could be any number of explanations. All I know is that this is extremely bad news for me.

    The thing never seems to make an appearance in the day time, however. It’s always exclusively after midnight. I’ve also noticed that it seems to be afraid of light and crowds of people. Whenever I walk near lights, or have five or more people in my vicinity, I’ll never see it. Problem is, the more time that I spend alone in the darkness/moonlight, the closer and closer it seems to get to me.

    I’ve never used a candle as a kid, and I really don’t enjoy using one now, so you can see where my frustration comes from. This has been going on for a while now, and I’m not really sure what the fix is. I’ve gone as far as to read through the stories here for information regarding what the heck this thing is. I’ve even tried shooting at the thing with my bow when I see it, but I can rarely hit it, since it seems to disappear instantly. However, when I have managed to land a shot, I’ve noticed that it does seem to react. This is great, since I can assume that this demon can be hurt through physical means. Or maybe I should just refer to it as a creature from now on, who knows.

    But on top of all this, now I have to deal with the guild thief. I genuinely care about and enjoy being around my friend, so when she told me that she was thinking about moving to another guild, I realized that something needed to be done here.

    So, this is where things finally intersect. I have a plan that could potentially solve both my demon problem and the guild thief. I say potentially. This could also end in sheer disaster, but it’s worth a shot...

  4. #454
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Plan to deal with Guild Thief (Possibly from Omen)

    Now to add to all the drama going on. Omen is supposedly coming to Conviction. I caught the following on discord earlier today. I'm starting to wonder if the guild thief has ties to Omen...

    “So the rumor on kraken is that Fake crow came out and chased away Disaster and they allied with Pokémon . Then after not getting any pvp went to another server.

    “They said something along the lines of nations were in impending collapse, felt pity and went to another server”

    “Any truth to this juicy gossip?”

    “Anyone standing up to WeFewPokeaster?”

    “If you are unhappy with WeFewPokeaster send me a whisper! If you are in WeFewPokeaster and willing to do recon for the greater good send me a whisper here on discord. We are a serious force with serious means and methods”

    “All tips will be kept anonymous! Valuable tips that lead to gold will be paid out!”

    I’ve asked the guild officers for some nights off raiding. I’ve been avoiding the night raids like the plague recently, but this is necessary for my plan to go through. I have some property in a nearby housing area, so this is also pretty much the perfect place to conduct my plan. I have a lot of room to run around, I know the place like the back of my hand, and I’ll have access to the lights. I’ll be taking care of the farm alone as well (the person who was supposed to farm with me is sick right now), so all the conditions needed for the demon to appear are satisfied.

    Here’s the basic blueprint of how it’s going to go down:

    I’ll message the guild thief, saying that I have indisputable proof of all his murders. This is obviously a lie, but I need to draw him out somehow.

    He’ll doubt me for sure, but I know for a fact that he’ll be on edge. He won’t be able to stop thinking about it. He knows where my houses are, since I’ve seen and made brief eye contact with him while farming before. He’ll probably try intimidating me. I just a need a way to make sure that he comes after me while I’m in the housing area. The easiest way to do this would be to message him right as then, telling him that I’m planning to divulge his secrets to the guild officers that very night, and that there’s nothing he can do to stop me. I’ll probably even mock him a bit. Crazy people hate that, right?

    He’d know where I was, since he can check the guild roster. Telling him straight up to meet me at the housing area probably would probably give too much away. This needs to go off without a hitch.

    I would also remember to leave the property set to guild, allowing him to come in. At that point, he’ll probably start searching for me. This is where the plan really shifts into gear.

    I’ll be waiting in the back, stealthing. Once he finds himself deep inside, I’ll turn off all the lights. This is where I‘ll have to be quick. I can only imagine how fast this demon’s going to move. I’m expecting that he’ll have some consumables. Because of this, I’ll also make sure to have potions on me. Better safe than sorry, you know?

    However… that’s kind of where the plan ends for me. I may have to think a bit more ahead, but this is where it is for now. In a perfect world, the guild thief and the shadow demon will provoke and ultimately wipe each other out, while I stay on the sidelines. When explaining it to the guild, I’ll just say that he came in, and knocked me unconscious. When I woke up, I found both him and the demon dead on the floor. After a few guild interviews, I’ll probably be in the clear.

    Of course, I could just as easily end up dead. Now, you may think that this is a lot to go through, and that the chances of achieving the desired results are miniscule for me. That may be so. However, this demon following me around is really stressful. If this plan comes to fruition, I’ll be killing two birds with one stone.

    If you don’t get an update from me, well… you can probably guess what happened. But let’s be optimistic, shall we?

  5. #455
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Archeage Global Art Contest

    The Art Contest began on 12:01 AM PDT, May 1, 2018 and ends on 11:59 PM PDT, June 1, 2018. It has already been 7 days, and the art contest really got me thinking. I knew that the Conviction Art Gallery had permanent positions available for this event. The criminal mastermind dragon archer held the art Gallery in Rokhala Mountains. This contest drove me to madness.

    Madness isn’t usually loud like it’s portrayed on the forums, and discord. It’s not bright either — no supernova of unfettered emotion or physical deformity to hint at the rot inside. I didn’t bellow until my throat was raw or bloody my hands on my walls and mirrors. I didn’t splatter my paints across my skin or shred the half-finished canvases which mock my chosen identity.

    My wife even commented on how methodical I was when I gently placed each brush in their case, never to be opened again. It’s taken me this art contest to fully accept my failure. I should have realized it sooner, but I always managed to think of an excuse before.

    After the second day of the competition I felt I didn’t try hard enough. That’s a good one. It makes it sound like I could just flip a switch in my mind and force myself to become a master through sheer will power.

    After the fourth day it became I wasn’t taught well enough. Even better: shifting the blame onto someone else. If only my teachers had been more qualified — if only they’d devoted themselves to nurture my potential.

    After the sixth day I knew that I’m not good enough — the hardest pill to swallow. I set out to capture the intrinsic beauty of the human spirit and display it for the world to see, but there is no beauty in me to share. I didn’t scream and throw a fit. I didn’t think much of anything at all. I just let my body move through the familiar motions of life and hoped no one would notice there was nothing below the surface.

    I looked at the rewards; First place would get 30,000 credits, a global art contest flag, and a gold trophy furniture. I knew I would never win and it made me terribly sad.

    She asked why my eyes were watering, but I blamed it on the Conviction Discord chatter we were reading. She punched my arm playfully, calling me a big softy.

    “Aren’t you working on something tonight?” she asked.

    I blinked hard, not taking my eyes off the discord chat.

    “I remember you talking about that Art Contest. How’s that coming?”

    “It’s coming,” I lied. She tried to snuggle against me, but I slipped free and snuck off to the bathroom. It felt wrong to even let her touch me. She had this conception of who I was in her mind — just like I used to — but that person doesn’t exist. I’m a failure, a hack, a fraud. And that’s all I’d ever be. I stared at myself in the mirror, tracing the unfamiliar lines on my face. Poking at the bags under my eyes. Hating what I saw, and hating even more what I couldn’t see.

    I pretended to hold an obsidian weapon and put it against my head. I gripped the imaginary weapon, grinned my best phony smile, and pretended to stab myself in the head.

    “Honey, can you get me some charcoal stabilizer when you come back?” I heard from the living room.

    But I couldn’t take my eyes away from the mirror. My reflection showed a crater in the side of my skull where the imaginary weapon entered. Blood, fragmented bone, and fleshy gray lumps splattered across the walls, more gushing from the exit wound on the other side of my head.

    “Ooh and I need some regrade scrolls,” she added. “Thanks honey!”

    I traced my fingers over my temple, withdrawing them clean. My reflection still wore the phony smile, although it was barely visible now under the torrent of blood flooding down its face.

    “Two years, maybe less,” came a voice. I spun, startled, unable to find anyone in the empty bathroom. “First comes the sadness. Then the withdrawal. She will pretend she’s just going to visit her family for awhile, but you’ll know she really just can’t stand being around you.”

    My bloody reflection was talking to me. That’s normal. This is fine.

    “She’ll expect you to call and explain what’s going on, but you won’t. She’ll extend her trip, thinking you just need time to yourself. And you do, but just because you’re too much of a coward to do it while someone’s watching. The silence will become too loud, and before you know it…”

    The bloody figure pretended to hold an obsidian weapon, the phony smile flashing through the red.

    “You okay in there?” she called from the living room. “Mama wants her charcoal stabilizers!”

    “Okay,” I mumbled, replying to both.

    “Or…” the reflection said.

    “Or what?”

    “Or you become the best painter the world has ever known, your name spoken with reverence a thousand years after your death.”

    “Okay,” I mumbled, numb to the whole show. “Yeah. Let’s do that.”

    “This is where most people ask ‘what’s the catch?’” My reflection’s voice was coy.

    “Probably my soul or something, right? That’s okay. I’m not using it for anything.”

    “You don’t have to sell your soul. Any soul will do.”

    “Never mind I’ll get it myself,” she said. “Geez, I wish I’d married a pack runner instead.”

    “Think about it,” the reflection bubbled rapidly, spraying blood between his teeth as he did. “You won’t be able to enjoy your success without a soul. And your wife — she was going to leave you anyway. If anything, this would spare her a lifetime of regret and guilt over your death. You owe it to yourself — you owe it to both of you.”

    “I can’t give something that isn’t mine,” I replied, immediately hating myself for even entertaining the thought.

    “Anyone who loves without reservation exposes their soul. Paint her — not as she appears, but as she truly is. I’ll take care of the rest.”

    “What are you doing, giving birth in there?” she asked from right outside the door. The handle rattled. The door wasn’t locked. I leapt to stop her from entering — too slow. The door swung inward and there she stood: tank top over pajama bottoms, hair frizzy and wild, licking Nutella off her fingers. My heart was beating so fast, but as much as I loved her, I think my fear was even stronger.

    Back to the mirror, I stared into my reflection. No blood. No wound. Just a tired, aging face, equally terrifying in it’s own way.

    “Come on,” she wrapped her arms around me from behind. “Voice chat no fun without you blubbering over the dialog.”

    “I can’t,” I said, still staring into the mirror. “I have a painting to finish.”

    A feverish intensity imbued my work all night and into the next morning. A drowning man struggling for air could not have done so with more urgency than the flight of my desperate brush. No thoughts endured more than a second before they were replaced by the endless cycle of anticipation and release each stroke demanded. When my canvas was filled, I didn’t hesitate to slash the lines onto the walls on either side of my easel. Then the table — the dresser — my own body a vessel to carry the glory of her design.

    My brush was unconfined by any shape, but in its erratic patterns I felt myself carving something out of nothing — something that had never been seen by mortal eye before.

    In the subtleties of the blending colors I captured her wry humor and gentle grace. Her laughter exploded like shrapnel across the space, the light in her eyes reflected in my cascading colors. The way her heart broke when her pet nudged her goodbye — the anxious thrill of seeing her for the first time — even her love for me and her unspoken dread of the the great beyond, frozen for all the world to see.

    Paint beneath my fingernails, in my hair, blazoned across my body, a testament to the frenzied passion which had possessed me. Though working alone, I danced with her the whole night through. I have never seen her more plainly nor loved her more strongly than those forbidden hours, and not until morning’s light did I stop to understand what I had done.

    ‘Are you insane?’ That’s what I was expecting to hear. Any second the door would open and she would see the chaos I had the audacity to unfurl. She’d laugh at me, making a thousand playful guesses at the madness which leaked from my mind all night. We’d both laugh, then she’d say something like ‘I’m just happy to see you enjoying your work again,’ and offer to help me clean. That’s how kind she was: when I did something stupid she’d be there to help me fix it, no pointing accusation or blame.

    Maybe I really was insane. But either way, she couldn’t fix this one for me.

    She didn’t enter the room. Not in the kitchen making her coffee, not in the shower singing herself into lucidity. She never got up that morning. She said she wasn’t feeling herself, and I was too much of a coward to tell her why. If I’d taken a break in the night to check on her, I might have noticed the rot that had already started to set in. She managed to prop herself up on her elbows, leaving several layers of flaking skin on the pillow. Ashen cracked skin, yellowed eyes, balding patches where clumps of hair had already started to fall — my wife was still in my studio where I’d captured her. The woman struggling for breath was nothing but a stranger to me, and I left her without a word.

    I slept little and ate less. I sought only to paint, vainly trying to recapture the intimacy I’d felt with her the night before. There was a brief thrill as I marveled at the dexterity of my fingers, although they lacked the passion that haunted me before. I could trace every mental image I dared conjure and map them flawlessly onto the canvas, but they were dead things being carved into a dead world.

    It didn’t take long for me to sit back in exasperation. I had the technical skill to conquer any challenge, but it wasn’t an infernal magic which had possessed me the night before. I knew in that moment that there was nothing I could ever create that was more beautiful than the pandemonium of her soul. I heard that hollow thing call my name from the bedroom with a voice like wind through dry leaves, and I wept for what I’d done.

    “Give her soul back to her,” I begged the aging face in the mirror. “Take mine instead —”

    “What an ugly painting that would be,” the creature replied who now wore a suit of red dragon armor.

    “Then another — it doesn’t matter whose. I’ll give you as many as you like!”

    “Does another love you as she did? Have they exposed themselves as she has done?”

    I had no reply to give. Coward that I was, I merely returned to my painting. Lifeless hollow forms came marching through my work, each accompanied by the soundtrack of my wife’s body slowly deteriorating without its soul. Each time I looked at her there would be another piece missing: fingers decomposing and littering the mattress around her, cheeks worn so thin that I could see her blackened teeth and languid tongue even when her mouth was closed. I’d listen to her moan while I worked, always stealing longing glances at the portrait of her soul splashed across the room.

    I couldn’t take it anymore. I set fire to that place with her inside. And watching the smoke curl into the night sky, all that’s left is to hope her soul escaped its prison and is now soaring somewhere with its dignity returned.

    As for me, I returned to my work. Until the day I paint something so marvelous as to trick some poor innocent into loving me. Then I will paint what I see, and sell them until she is home again.

  6. #456
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Ancient Hiram Item Research leads to Startling Discovery

    The Hiram were a race of humans (not Elves, contrary to the appearance of Inoch's ears) who lived in the North of Auroria. Their lifespans were about 200 years, and they are also thought to have been the first race to become the Returned. People always told me story of Hiram or Returned coming from beyond and destroying everything in their path, however I never believed those stories and just though they were garbage. That though always passed though my head when ever I was scared and every time I had that though my fear would just disappear just as fast as it came. However, when you are in the middle of Conviction researching the weird things that have been appearing in the shadow forest and due to the fact that I am one of the best researchers on the server, I was forced to go and research about these things to stop these things from popping back up again.

    We had a great turn out for the expedition trials. So many guilds came out to get a place for their guild. I was lucky enough to be part of the twelve man expedition who was researching this. Most of the group is mostly married men who were sent here to help research this forest. However, there were a few exceptions. There was the follower of Salphira, who was a young cleric who wanted to see what researching strange things is about. There was the follower of Tahyang who was a warrior. who wanted to have a break from battling in The Great War and he was there to make sure everything doesn't fall to hell, and being our head of security (Even if he was the one warrior there), and lastly their was follower of Ollo who was also a powerful mage however he was sent here by his guild to get him interested in research. However, he just lays around reading. Either way all of these members are part of this expedition and we have to complete this research for the greater good of Conviction.

    We have been here for over 3 months and we can not figure out for Ancient's "Random stat assignment", Matter changing between phases, gravity, and the most dangerous random Life and death Zones (zones that will just either increase the amount of life in area or completely destroy it). We tried everything from looking at something to tearing it apart. However we haven't figured out anything, the only thing that we did figure out is that they will change back to their original state in a certain amount of time. I decided to walk into the canteen and see if anyone was there to have a casual conversation with someone, however I only saw two of our expedition looking at a piece of paper on the table. I walked over to see what they were looking at, the piece of paper was a map with a bunch of marks on the map.

    I asked, "What is this?"

    He said "Its a map of the area around the research camp."

    "Well why are you looking at it?"

    "Well I was talking to our mage and he said that he started marking the areas of the forest. He said he wanted to try and find the source of these types of changes in the forest"

    "The source?"

    "Yes, we believe that all of this is being staged by something in the middle of the forest and we believe that we found it"


    "Right here" She pointed at a small square that doesn't have any marking saying it has anything different about it, however it was surrounded by all of the weird anomaly.

    I asked "Are you sure?"

    She replied with "Well it isn't that way from camp so I do believe that this may be able go to and see what it is"

    Now at first really wasn't believing her on her theory due to the lack of evidence, but if there was a chance to finish this stupid research project I was going to take it.

    I ordered the followers of Salphira, Tahyang, Ollo and two other people with me to follow me in to the forest to where the map said it was. I started walking through the area where I noticed the unusual, where some monster spawns changed here and there, however it wasn't that bad. We had a ten minute walk before I noticed something interesting. I saw the player made forests had been cut with large sections of the forests being cut out into large circles with the ground being completely clear. We started looking around before we saw a strange looking rock with something on top. It looked like a small black orb that started glowing blue. I told everyone to stop and I just started looking at it with lots of interests. I told the mage to prepare a magic circle and be ready to defend us if anything came out of the trees or something.

    I told the Salphira follower to write all of this down : how the tree's were cut, large circle that are completely clear and the small black orb. However the Ollo follower seemed very angry about the situation

    He said "Are you kidding me, we came all this way to see the forest destroyed, large circles and a stupid orb siding on a rock ", I replied, " Well, this may be something entirely different from what we know, I mean if this thing has been creating all of these strange things that are happening in the forest we would have to know how its doing it"

    Then he replied with something I will never forgive him for "Well then, why don't we just destroy it and get rid of this junk and then I can go home."

    He started to walk over to the rock holding the orb and started to reach his hand out to grab the orb

    I screamed "NO!"

    However I was too late, the second his hand touched the orb it started to glow a bright red, he started screaming, and an archer wearing all red dragon plate appeared out of nowhere. Our expedition member dropped the orb onto the ground, it stopped glowing, and he also fell down to the ground before he passed out due to the pain. A I ran over to him to see his hand only having a small black dot on his hand. I ordered the two men to pick him up and carry it back to camp to make him see the cleric at base camp. However before I even said that I heard the follower of Tayhang tell me to look at the trees, that was when I noticed something weird. I saw the ground around the trees start to form into shadow humanoid creatures and then they started running towards us. I screamed for us to run back to camp. I picked up the orb and started running with the team back to camp. After five minutes we are able to make back to the camp when we lost the trail of those things that were chasing us. Now I had to deal with one of my team members being injured and then I have to try and explain to the guild how our expedition member had a black dot on his hand that wouldn't go away, however when I looked back at his hand I couldn't help but notice that the dot has increased in side to the size of dime on his hand. So I ordered the two men to carry him to the cleric to take a look at it and see what we can do about it.

    But none the less we found something new in the forest and I have to figure out what the heck it is and what it does. However their were more than one question circling my mind "What was going on with the trees, what were the circles about and what the heck was the orb that we found in the forest". Either way I had to figure it out what the heck that red armored creature was before I go back to the Conviction United Confederation Keeper's alliance or else our expedition would be banished. So no matter what I have to figure out what on earth this orb is and how it got there in the first place.

  7. #457
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2016

    It Told Me To Find The Seajoy Ship

    Hey, guys. I am one of the expedition that was researching the occurrences on Conviction. I admit I made a bad move when I reached for the orb. The mark it left on my hand has spread - though I won't reveal any more for obvious reasons.

    The dragon archer was at the Red Dragon yesterday with one of his archers hunting the flying beast with their machines. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can see where he is. Some sort of connection since the expedition... I feel like I can still hear the shadow creatures he summoned in the forest. Their presence seems to be getting closer. Let me explain.

    “Find the Seajoy Ship”

    I can not tell you when this first started happening exactly, but I'd say the first time I noticed was shortly after the expedition. I passed out after touching the orb and saw a vision of the Dragon archer standing above me. I live alone in a detached house on the outskirts of the housing area. My house isn't huge as there's just no need and, let's face it; I'm not exactly rolling in gold.

    “Head to Coral..”

    So, around that time I started noticing what sounded like footsteps upstairs while I would be downstairs or vice versa while I was upstairs. I initially chalked it up to my imagination running wild as I read many chilling stories on the Archeage Time Line in my spare time. After a few days, it grew worse; the footsteps turned into running. Unmistakably running. The footfall I would hear was not bulky like a man running but rather heavy footed like the noise the shadow creatures may make while sprinting through the house. Needless to say, I was getting pretty freaked out, and when I asked my guild about stuff like this, I found nothing more than hints in prior entries. These sounds continued for about a week until recently it started coming from the same floor I was on from time to time, though never in the same room. It was always adjacent to me or down the small hallway leading from the front of my door to my crafting stations. I'm starting to feel uneasy in my own home, and it's getting ridiculous. It never seems to happen if I have someone over but within an hour of all company leaving it will start again.

    I have searched endlessly for the history of Conviction expecting (and dreading) to find that one the members was murdered here or something along those lines, but my search turned up nothing at all. All the players seemed pretty normal, except for one who archer who started a family encased in red plate.

    “The Coral Plains...”

    I don't know if I was more relieved or anxious at my lack of discovery. Further searches turned up nothing at all.

    I write this now as earlier there was one final escalation in these strange, unsettling occurrences. An event that made the hairs on my arms and neck stand straight. I had been back from raiding for about an hour, and I had just finished crafting consumables (Nuia Novas, for those of you who are wondering). I was putting away the extra crafting supplies when I heard laughter from behind me. It wasn't echoey nor did it even sound menacing. I could have sworn it was like there was actually someone there. It did, however, freak me out. I froze on the spot. I was so still and quiet that the silence of my house was deafening - it was as though I could hear the air around me. I don't know exactly how long I stood there, and I didn't dare to so much as turn my head to check behind me. This petrified state was shattered in a split second as I heard the all too familiar sound of the footsteps running away and out of the door. They started from barely two foot away and darted impossibly fast out of the entrance and just... faded away. I spun around, suddenly panting uncontrollably. I'm still shaking as I type this. What the heck is happening?! I don't know how much longer I can take this. I'm starting to calm down, but the sounds of running shoes on the landing are just outside my room, and they won't stop!


    Please, if anyone has any suggestions as to what may be running my halls all day and all night tell me. I need answers, and I need to make this stop.

    Perhaps I can find answers at the Seajoy Ship in Coral Plains – Sanddeep. Odyssey is having some sort of gathering there this evening... that's what the voice was telling me.

  8. #458
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2016

    My Spirit Lives On

    After their defeat in the war, they gave their continent a new name; "Haranya." Although the family held the crown in their old lands and in the city of Ezna, they failed to claim it among the Harani people. After repeated failure to expand further East, the Empress formed a great empire in Perinoor.

    She was responsible for the unification of the Perinoor Empire, and its subsequent demise. Towards the end of her reign, it was discovered she worshiped demons, and it was due to their cruel desires that the war raged.

    There is an alternate dimension which is a world beyond the known world. The spirits of that realm take control of those in this world. In the hereafter, the Goddess Nui keeps them from entering the alternate dimensions, but her hold grows weaker and weaker, and occasionally a gateway is opened. The Goddess Nui is sealed away because she is the only one who can keep them at bay, but no one can predict how strong the spirits might become. Currently, efforts are being made to bring back the fallen by the Shadow Order and followers of the Dragon Archer...

    I died a while ago in a dimension similar to Conviction known as Salphira. You really lose track of the time when you’re dead. Before you ask, I was starving and running trade packs 22 hours a day. I was in a lot of pain, I couldn't get any sleep and no one would help me.. It also didn’t help that I had a history of other problems. I was done for. The room was chilly cold in the middle of the night.

    The next day I could feel hardly feel my hands. My eyes that used to burn had become numb and I felt myself begin to lose consciousness. I saw a man wearing red dragon plate standing by me. I quickly tried to seady myself before I took a tumble... I used my hands to steady myself. My vision went to black and then it slowly returned.

    “Did I pass out again?” I thought out loud, while glancing around. That’s when I tried to move, but I couldn't control my hands. I looked down to see my lifeless body and everything went dark.

    I woke up to see I was unmoved. Did I dream up dying? I walked over to the dark oak door, the weak wooden floorboards creaked underneath me. I placed my hand on the brass doorknob only for my hand to fall right through it.

    “What?” I was surprised. I tried again only for the same result, it was as if the door was an illusion. I decided to knock instead, hopefully, someone would let me out. Perhaps I put too much “oomph” into my knock as I just phased through the door and barrel-rolled down the rickety steps. The commotion caught the attention of my parents as they both hurried over to the staircase.

    “W-w-what is it? Dear” my father cowered behind my mother in her flowing white nightgown.

    “Don't be such a wuss, it must've been a wild animal”

    They returned to their room and I was left sitting on the floor in shock, were they shunning me? Or could they not see me?

    The next day I woke up again, this time I was floating upside down. When I noticed this I fell to the floor and broke my neck. That's when I figured it out, I would be dead from that if I was alive. It would explain that “dream” and why I moved through the door as if It didn't exist.

    About a month in, I was getting used to being dead. I went about my own business until I noticed a girl watching me from the house across the center. She fogged up her window before writing “Hi” in the window. I giggled a little bit and did the same, except adding a smiley face.

    “What is this..." a woman's voice spoke up. Could I hear the girl? No, the voice sounded older than the girl in the other home. A whimper began emanating from behind me. I turned around to see my mother, her handheld candle illuminating her horrified expression as she looked through me at the window that read “Hello!

    The next day she bought an army of priests to march around with sage while chanting meaningless things. The sage smelt awful so I just waited for them to leave in the kitchen.

    My mother and father sat down at the kitchen table on either side of me.

    “Did’ya hear, that girl said about our daughter” my mother was on the verge of tears.

    “I told you that she was no good, I bet she summoned the demons” my father seethed.

    “Aye” she replied.

    I couldn't listen to them talk about me anymore and casually floated up the stairs.

    Years later I watched my mother pass peacefully in her bed while my father wept at her side. She stood up and stared down at her body just as I did. She turned to me and was surprised to see me again. Tears welled up in my eyes.

    “Daughter,” she said before embracing me in a big hug.

    “Mom,” I replied and hugged her back. She ran her hand through my sheet-white hair.

    A trumpet rang throughout the home and a bright light illuminated us. But just as suddenly as it appeared, the light disappeared bringing my mother with it. I erupted into tears once again.

    Well, fast-forwarding, I watched the city be built up and fashion choices change. People began to truly express themselves and I realized how much I wanted to explore the world. How have I gone all this time without thinking of leaving the house?

    I floated down the stairs to reach the front door. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I took a step through the closed door and opened my eyes. I was back upstairs.

    “What?” I looked around and nothing has changed. “How did I end up back here” I ran all the way back, practically tripping to reach the door. I only ended up back upstairs, with each attempt only filling me with more dread. I gave up, this house with no patrons to toy with was my prison. Needless to say, it was boring.

    One day I heard laughing from the entry Hall and I floated down to investigate. A boy about my age had his arm around a blonde girl who looked less than excited to be here.

    “Oooh spooky” the boy joked

    “Stop it!” She slapped his arm and he laughed. I followed them upstairs where he pulled out a board with a bunch of letters on it. He placed a triangle on the board and gestured for the girl to lay her fingers on it. I figured out pretty quickly how to use the device

    “Are there any spirits here?” the boy asked the air.

    I floated above the board and moved the triangle over “Yes”

    The pair both opened their mouth in amazement and stared at each other.

    “How did you die?” He asked

    “S T A R V E...” I spelled.

    “OH MY GOD IT WANTS TO STARVE US” the girl screamed and bolted out screaming all the way.

    "Wait! I was only answering your question!" I called out, forgetting they can't hear me

    The boy quickly followed pursuit and I stood between him and the front door. I held my hand out and he stopped just before it. I was wondering why he stopped when I realized he could see me.

    “Are you the witch?” He asked me

    Possession was the talk of the town when I was alive but I never tried it before. I moved my hand over his heart and moved it into his chest. I could feel myself being sucked in like a vacuum cleaner and before I knew what even happened I recoiled back and sucked in air through my mouth. I had forgotten what it was like to breathe I felt blood flow through my arms once again. I felt alive.

    “Hello?” The girl peeked from behind the front door. The front door…

    I tripped trying to go through the front door, forgetting I can't fly anymore.

    “What's gotten into you?” She asked from behind me. I turned around to face her, her blonde hair flowed beautifully in the moonlight. I felt the blood rushing, realizing I was the proud owner of a male body now.

    “Can we go home? We have finals next week and I want to study” she asked.

    “Sure” I grasped my mouth when I heard my own deep voice.

    “What's up with you?” She giggled “are you still shaken up by the ghost that wanted to kill us?” She joked and mimicked a zombie for some reason, I'm a ghost, not a zombie.

    I followed her home and passed new buildings that I never saw when I was alive.

    When we reached her home she grabbed the doorknob and turned around. She kissed me for a long time.

    “Goodnight” she waved and stepped into the house.

    They got so many things wrong. According to the articles I was accused of Witchcraft. I guess you really have to be there to get history right, I didn't even die when they said I did, let alone be accused of witchcraft. I looked up my house and found my fake accusation was why the house was never sold, the rumors go that I put a curse on the building. Sounds of banging could be heard every night, that would be me practicing gymnastics (I’m not very good).

    After my research session, I walked home. I've never possessed someone before, but I guess you obtain some of their memories. I knew exactly where he lived.

    When I got home I was greeted by my “dad”

    “I knew you went to the witch house” he seethed from the kitchen table. He looked up at me and looked into my eyes, I know he saw me, I quickly looked away.

    “I'm really tired, sorry Fat-” I stopped myself because according to the boy's memories, saying "father" is out of character. “I-i uh mean pops!” I gave my best finger guns and went to my room. I looked into the mirror on the wall and saw my characteristic brown eyes when I distinctly remember he had green eyes.

    The dad entered the room.

    “Who are you?” He asked.

    “What do you mean? I'm your son of course!” I replied unconvincingly.

    “If you bothered to look through my son's memories, you'd know I work with spirits all the time.” He said. “Answer me truthfully please”

    “The one from the house.” I sighed.

    “You're a witch,” he said, surprised. “Why did you possess my son?”

    “It gets boring in that house, I wanted a way out,” I said, looking down at the ground, knowing I couldn’t stay.

    “I’ve worked with spirits like that all the time, I'll strike you a deal.” he smiled, “I’ll show you around tonight, but you must leave my son's body when were done or else his spirit will move on. Just know I can send you back to your prison at any time.”

    “Agreed,” I said, I didn’t want to kill the boy so the idea of getting to see a little more of the world before I had to leave was an easy deal.

    We walked through the built-up city. Learned about some of the histories I couldn’t view from my window, it’s not like its obvious what changed when all you have access to is a window.

    The dad explained some things. To which I asked if I could ask someone to send me a body. He agreed and that’s why I'm writing this. I’m sorry if the ending here seems a bit rushed, the boy is going to die if I don't hurry and his dad is already calling me. So if anyone wants to loan me their body, come to the Shadow Order and the followers of the Dragon archer.

  9. #459
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2016

    The Shadows Feed the Dragon

    Conviction is haunted by the Dragon archers shadows. Even now on Freedich if you stay in stealth you can see the shadow ones come in and feed a dragon. They are assisting a member of the Pokemon guild... The Dragon Archer's shadows... the ghosts, in my experience, are utterly unlike how people think they are. The first thing that needs to be dispelled is this: they are not all souls of the dead.

    They very much aren’t. And that like of thinking is dreadfully dangerous. I shall say it again. The dragon archer's shadows are not all souls of the dead.

    And I do not say that in a way wherein I deny the existence of the hereafter, Nuia, or an afterlife of some sort, that I can neither confirm nor deny.

    Not all of his shadows are the souls of the dead. Some only pretend they are. You must know that. You must understand it with every fiber of your being if you ever wish to survive Conviction.

    The Ouija board, as far as I am concerned, is the most dreadful invention of the modern era. Because it works too well. Now even more shadows have appeared on Conviction , serving the Dragon Archer's will.

    Imagine the way a predator works through the internet. They may find their target, message them, through text only, any pictures they send of themselves will be lies. And every sweet nothing they send, every positive comment or compliment, is on the inside something truly disgusting.

    They might say things that if you were to learn who they really were would be enough to make you vomit.

    Now imagine that something very similar could be living in your walls, something that has watched you for a very long time. Something that knows what you like, dislike, love, and hate.

    Something that wears the face of your dead loved ones like a horrid sock puppet. And everything they tell you through the magic board, as you rejoice for your lover, your mother, alive again, is said with a hidden insatiable grin.

    That is a ghost.

    And the only reason we fear them is because some of them aren’t good at it. It is the errors in their ways by which we see them.

    But spotting an error is perhaps the most frightening thing of all, because it shows you precisely how very nearly they came to getting you.

    Once, my guild mate had died while playing Archeage, and we stayed in the house with a member he left behind for a week, keeping him company through it all.

    There was a screenshot in the living room which I knew to despise. An old screenshot of the player. The screenshot never unnerved me in and of itself but there was a simple feeling I got off it that was well and truly frightening, such as I refused to be left alone with it.

    Over the course of the week, I noticed something that while everyone else noticed, no-one else really comprehended. The black and white photograph began to look a little bit like the player who passed on.

    And then it got a little bit more similar. Each night as we sat, I’d look up at it and notice that it seemed to resemble the player more and more. No one said anything, but he sat close to it, and used to take long looks at it each night, until he began falling asleep in front of the thing. I would never have managed that.

    Near the final day of the second week, the only people in the room were me and him and the screenshot. I took passing dreaded glances at it, to see that it had seemed to change once again, just barely perceptibly. The eyes were looking to mid distance, the hint of a faint smile on the lips. He kept his eyes on it, and I looked down.

    And he let out a yelp.

    As I looked up, the eyes were peering at us, and it was grinning.

    And the very worst of it was that it wasn’t an evil grin. It was the brightest, happiest, most generous and warm grin.

    He stood up and turned his head away as he toppled the screenshot from the mantle, and I heard the glass shatter.

    We took everyone from the house.

    Nothing much happened after that. We took our guild mate to stay with us, and the picture was done away with. Whether the eyes of the shadow followed us, I do not know.

    The thing that haunts me most, as I said, is that it is in their mistakes we see them laid bare.

    What would have become of us if the shadow hadn’t been stupid enough to do that?

  10. #460
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Gateway is Open

    In Ynystere, sometime in the night, screams erupted in the distance. Strange things had been happening at the Noble's hunting grounds to the South East after a traveler from Hadir Farm had arrived...

    They wafted on the ocean breeze from the Arcadian sea, but within minutes, they echoed throughout Caernord . Someone was wandering, clawing at the wooden frames and howling in pain. A healer leaped up and strode for the door, but one of the mages met him from the other side and herded him in.

    “Stay inside,” he instructed. The healer protested, but the mage silenced him with a hand. “It’s not safe out there.”

    I wanted to argue. I wanted to chastise the mage for his people’s callousness. But the elder's lectures resonated in my head: we are guests in this land, and witnesses to their culture. We are not evangelists or saviors. And we don’t come from a perfect world either.

    The mage saw the conflict in my eyes, and his expression softened a little.

    “We seem cruel,” he said to me, “but I promise, we love the ones we lose. The ones who go to the darkness - they take our hearts with them. But we cannot let them back.”

    “Why?” I demanded. “What’s the harm?”

    The woman’s insufferable moans flooded the area. She was just outside, slamming her body against the thatched wall. After a moment, she drifted to another building.

    “The shadows,” He explained, “it opens the sky. Pulls back the world. Shows you the next one. When the shadow forest reaches a certain growth, and the rain is heavy and the shadow mushrooms grow , when the worms feasts and the spider hunt, that’s when everything comes apart. He is fat with the mushroom’s darkness, and when she eats him, she carries it too.”

    He peeked outside the door and scanned the area, ensuring that the sick woman had gone away. Her weakened cries faded into the distance and vanished. Tears dribbled down and glinted in the moonlight that filtered through the holes in the roof. I imagined spiders squeezing through those holes and gliding down silken strings onto our heads.

    “Once you’re bitten, you can see to the other side," He said, "but not to the sacred place our elders go! You see where the shadows dwell. And they can see you too.” He looked at her. Her sorrow had morphed to morbid curiosity. “To us, that is death - to see what is supposed to be revealed only at the end.”

    “Anyone who’s bitten, do they all have to go...out there? I mean, what about children? What about babies?”

    His gaze dropped to the floor. I could tell he felt uncomfortable speaking about the victims at all.

    “The shadows don’t just see them. They try to come through, into our world. The person becomes a doorway.”

    A hideous shriek exploded in the distance, followed by deranged babbling and cackling. The woman’s terror had given way to a hysterical malice. I imagined a crazed witch, lurking around in the shadows and luring villagers off into the woods. The healer visibly shuddered.

    “They must go,” he said. “But sometimes the darkness grows so full of corpses that it vomits the dead back to us. We hide in our homes until they pass. It is our punishment. I pray you see no more, but I have a feeling that before you go, you’ll be punished too.”

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