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Thread: The Archeage Time Line

  1. #471
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    May 2016

    During the End of the World Concert

    Each day I would awaken and begin to construct lavish buildings in preparation for the Evolution of our world. Everyone had headed to the End of the World Concert, but I was dead tired. During the day I would be instructed to move vast quantities of materials from one location to another for organization. By the time night had fallen I would be exhausted. I knew I was captive because the shadows that came at nightfall.

    The darkness was denser in the corner of my room. A pair of eyes looked back at me, incandescent and ethereal, staring from the head of a person-shaped silhouette. A shadow among moonlight. This was surely not part of my training was it?

    I was immobile. It wasn't a lack of will, I couldn't move, as though I was pinioned by some imperceptible force. My blanket had slipped down, leaving my shoulders bare against my bed. The eyes never blinked.

    At last the figure moved, slowly and steadily toward me, crouched and creeping low to the ground. For a moment it moved like a Firran, so low that as it reached the foot of my bed, it was hidden. Without its gaze fixed on me, some sense of movement returned to my limbs, but before I could do more than take a shallow, gasping breath, a shadowy talon-fingered hand lifted over the edge and seized the fabric of my blanket. The Harani cotton slithered against my skin as it was drawn further down, exposing more of me to the cold night air.

    Since everyone had headed to the concert I knew there would be no one here to help me.

    Perhaps it was just a normal person using stealth. But there was something unusual about this shadow. It carried the horse head insignia of the dragon archer.

    The shadow rose over me, seeming to grow in size as it did. I was unable to move or make a sound as it loomed ever closer. In the distance i could hear the music playing from the concert.

    Whispers in my mind began to rise. “Obsidian...” until they overtook the sounds of the concert, and then my own thoughts.

    The figure lowered, its featureless face coming close to mine. There was a sound like inhalation, and I felt as though my breath was being drawn from my body. The sensation was somehow silvery, so cold that it chilled me to my fingertips.

    Thoughts and needs rushed into my mind. I knew I had to craft dark obsidian objects for the lord. Every time I thought of something else my mind would come back to obsidian. I tried to think of the shadow in front of me, but my thoughts quickly went back to crafting.

    Then it changed. He changed. The unearthly light of his eyes softened and dimmed, the shadow shape fell away like mist. In its place was a manifestation of such awe that the frigid terror in my chest transmuted into wonder...

  2. #472
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    May 2016

    After the Concert - Girl talk in a Tree house with Honey Mead

    "It's like that every time." I told my friend the next day, "Always in a different part of the room, always the same shadow shape and the same glowing eyes." I took a shaky breath, my hands on either side of my Bubble Tea. "If I don't wake up, I never see the shadow, just the man. Sometimes he looks different. it shifts sometimes. But he's always wonderful, and I always...I forget any reason to fight after he changes." I took a long sip, feeling raw and weary with nerves. "I don't know what to do."

    My friend, across the table from me, drank her Honey Mead with a troubled look. We were sitting at a table on the Celt Tree House in Rokhala Mountains, very near the river where the lord's fishermen worked. Above us, the sky shifted between sunlight and clouds in a lazy, changing dance between the towering fellowships in the distance.

    "Every night?" she asked.

    I shook my head. "No. At first it was only every now and then, and sometimes it's just the shadow, and the...dream." The dream of the world becoming merged. A dream of obsidian no longer being created. The age of Hiram and Erenor.

    I nodded. "But sometimes, it's just the eyes and the dark outline in the hallway or at the foot of my bed. One night, it was like it was on the ceiling."

    I took a deep breath. That night had been the worst. Hours of paralysis, and the eyes staring at me the entire time while the thing lurked like a spider in the high corner of my room.

    It was her lunch hour, so my friend wore her "Dawnsdrop" clothing, a flowery hat, a tight royal red corset, flowing black skirt, and fishnet stockings, but she was playing with her bracers which were adorned with the a cross charm as I spoke. She had a pale, heart shaped face and jet black hair styled into a partial up do.

    "How long has this been going on?" she asked.

    "Ever since I arrived," I said. My eyes felt watery. "I would think I'm just going insane, but the signs of it are always still there in the morning. When it makes me craft obsidian, or makes me regrade something until it breaks..."

    She looked startled. "Regrades something?"

    My laugh was hollow and mirthless. "I'm doing my part to keep the fabric and tailoring professions thriving."

    "That's a lot of gold," she said, and looked down. I felt strangely guilty. She had a protective nature, and casual references to unpleasant things she couldn't change happening to her friends bordered on cruel. Even so, her expression remained pensive. "Speaking of which," she said slowly, "Did you go to a cleric with this? Or a Templar, or a Soulsong or even a Hierophant?"

    I shifted in my seat, uncomfortable, "Yes, to a Cleric but I went to a Gypsy first, and I didn't tell either of them everything."

    "Have you told me everything?" she asked.

    "The broad strokes. I'm not hiding anything, exactly, but..."

    "Hey!" She said, still toying with her bracer adornments. "I understand why you went to the Gypsy first. I know you haven't always had a lot of faith in my...builds. Most people don't. But if you want me to figure out what this thing is and try to help, you need to tell me everything."

    I hesitated, feeling myself blush. "When he changes, or when it's a dream and I never see the shadow, it's...It's often like fantasies I've had. Like it's plucked straight from my own imagination." I took another sip, not meeting her eyes. "Hence why I first thought this might just be some complex delusion I've come up with on my own."

    "And why you didn't mention everything to the Gypsy," Skye murmured.

    "No. I couldn't really bring myself to tell them that. I was also vague about when I...How it reminded me of being on a full set of buffs."

    "During the... submission... to do whatever is asked?" She asked.

    "Yes," I said, massaging my left wrist. "It's just like I remember it. The waves of euphoria and relief. Exactly like it was after a successful regrade."

    "Does it make you want more?" she asked, watching me closely.

    "No. Yes." I ran a hand through my hair, and watched the color turn fiery in the sunlight. "Sort of. I never stopped wanting more, but no, it doesn't make me want to go rob a guild, or steal from my friends. But it does make part of me hope for the dreams, or whatever they are." I laughed shortly, "Or it would, if it wasn't usually so terrifying."

    I leaned back in my chair, relishing the safe warmth of the sunlight. "I mean it, it's not just how scary it looks. When I can feel it approaching, unable to move...I wouldn't wish that feeling of helplessness on my worst enemy."

    She shuddered, finished her Honey Mead and started on some Jujube juice as though bracing herself to continue. "On the subject of how it looks, you said you made a sketch."

    I nodded, and drew my large messenger bag onto my lap, lifting out a binder full of my work.

    "Is all of that new?" she asked, watching me flip through the plastic inserts that held my pieces.

    "Yes. Since this began, I've barely had a single day where I wasn't able to get lost in at least a sketch or two, and I've finished four paintings in the last two weeks."

    I drew out a piece without giving it more than a glance and handed it to her. "Admittedly, some of my work has gotten darker in the process," I added wryly.

    I knew the sketch by heart, even if I avoided looking at it after it was completed. I had done in entirely in charcoal, with a dozen different degrees of shading. The eyes were the only thing left white in the image, and the effect was very nearly as disturbing as the real thing.

    Even so, I hadn't anticipated her reaction. She went pale as she studied the sketch, as though by the same dark entrancement that held me in thrall every night. And when she lifted her eyes at last, she took a sharp, shallow breath, her eyes straying to a point over my shoulder.

    Something in her eyes made me feel cold, distressed and half-panicked. "What is it?" I whispered.

    Her gaze cut back to mine. She took a deep, steadying breath. "It's a spirit," she said, with an expression that was braced for disbelief. "A night demon." she shook her head. "Sometimes they call them incubi or succubi and they might more accurately be labeled storm spirits. The lore is full of confused etymology and strange gender disparities. This one has maintained its physical power through a set of red dragon plate..."

    I was past the point of disbelief. "What does it want?"

    "It might want to feed on your life force, your creative or positive energy," She replied. "Or it might want to grow its family."

    "Its family?"

    "It could be, or it could be a form of possession, a way to experience the pleasures of our world without having to let go of its power over that world. I'd suggest staying over at my place, but this isn't a question of where."

    I nearly asked how she could be so sure, but I felt too numb, and very much like I didn't want to know.

    Instead, I asked, "Is there something we can do?"

    After a moment's hesitation, She nodded. "There's something we can try."

  3. #473
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    May 2016

    A Spell to Stop the Shadows

    For days and nights I crafted obsidian items unable to control myself. The shadow in my mind instructed me to do it and I had to follow its orders. Other people from different worlds has begun showing up on the streets, their eyes filled with darkness and they could be seen huddling near crafting stations. My neighbors said they were once normal people who had gazed upon an archer in red plate who appeared in hero hall and fell under his spell.

    My friend has been staying with me, she was gathering components and preparing something in center of my crafting room. I had just finished another chest full of obsidian items when I heard her speak.

    "That should do it," she said, scrutinizing her work with her chalk in hand. My mind drew back to what she said earlier. That there might be hope to free myself from this dark command.

    I looked down at her. She had took off her Dawnsdrop armor to keep it from getting dirty and she was on her knees. She had finished drawing a design on the the center of the floor, it was surrounded by candles and jagged pieces of black obsidian, I was trying not to imagine what my mother would say if she could see me. I glanced at the obsidian and back at her.

    I resisted the impulse to ask her if she was sure this would work.

    We were in the center of an empty crafting room. Or, what would have been an empty crafting room were it not covered with chests filled to the brim with obsidian items.

    "This is a banishing ward," She said, and she handed me the charcoal sketch, tightly rolled, and a length of black, silk ribbon.

    "Alright," she said, circling me. "This is a spell for cleansing the space. It won't free you from influence entirely, but it should keep the shadow from entering your area. I need you to wrap the ribbon around the sketch, and repeat after me. As you do, imagine the figure in the dark, and picture it dissolving in your mind."

    She lit a stick of white leaves, and continued to pace around me as she recited words from memory.

    "Smoke of air, and fire, and earth, cleanse and clear this home and hearth. Drive away all harm and fear; only good may enter here."

    I repeated it faithfully, feeling remarkably silly and trying not to think about how my mother or the gypsy would react to this, my attempting to banish my own fears and nightmares with burning leaves and a nursery rhyme. All the same, I did as she said. I pictured it in my mind. Dissolving. Crumbling away...

    After it was done, I did feel better; safer, though also strangely emptier than before. As though I had been at the center of a storm for so long that I felt a pang of loss at the absence of thunder.

    By the time she left, the housing district was sparkling in the distance, and it didn't feel like it was possible for shadows to come to life or for nightmares to turn real.

    "Let me know if anything happens," she said, slipping back into her radiant Dawnsdrop gear.

    "I will," I promised. "But hopefully I won't."

    I lost myself for hours, trying to distract myself from even the thought of the shadows. Instead, I filled my mind with nothing but the thoughts of Conviction – Thunderwing becoming one, and the pleasure of the breeze dancing through the window, pausing only to close all of my curtains when it grew very dark.

    When my eyelids finally grew heavy, I washed quickly and tiredly, and adjusted the lighting in my crafting room. I had resorted to a keeping a light in every room, and I made sure every one of the stayed on. Even if my night time visitor was truly gone, I suspected that I would never quite stop thinking of them.

    When I fell into bed, my table lamp still glowing gently beside me and the crinkly cotton of my coverlet warm around my body, I feel into a deep, untroubled sleep.

  4. #474
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    May 2016

    World Shattered - On To KADUM

    A dull, steady pounding woke me. After a moment of drowsy confusion, I started into alertness, feeling as though ice water had flooded my veins. The pounding was coming from outside of my room. I rose from the bed, my muscles lethargic with dread, and approached my door.

    My entry was darker than it should be, the nightlight flickering desperately. All the lights, in fact, were flickering rhythm with the vibration of the pounding, which was clearly coming from my door. The raw force of it shook the wood and rattled the hinges.

    I whispered my friend.

    I glanced at the time. 3:00 am. No wonder she wasn't answering.

    A third whisper.

    She finally responded

    "What happened?"

    "It's here. It's banging on the door—."

    That was when everything exploded.

    Glass shattered everywhere, from the lamp beside me to every night light. I covered my face with a scream as sparks burst in blinding flashes from every corner, and dimmed, and left me in darkness.

    Total, utter darkness.

    I glanced at my weapon, but there was nothing to see. The glow from my weapon was gone, and the surface cracked when I touched it. Even the glow of my shield was lost to the darkness.

    I looked back, my breaths shallow with panic. It took me several moments to realize what I was seeing, for my eyes to adjust to the utter blackness around me.

    The figure stood there, barely discernible in the gloom.

    A fraction of an instant passed in which I wondered at the lack of his glowing eyes and moved to slam the door shut between us. The eyes flared into sight, not white this time, but red. They enthralled me instantly, freezing me in place. The voice that filled my mind was laden with quiet rage.

    How dare you? It asked.

    He rushed at me like a sudden wind. My feet left the floor, and I was thrust against the wall behind me. A hand like steel closed around my throat.

    The person before me was half the prince of my dreams and half the monster of my nightmares.

    His eyes were still red. His talon-fingered hands around my neck and wrist was like fire. Beneath the perfection of his chest, his body was half shaped and contorted by darkness. It was as though there was a black, twisting storm cloud where his legs ought to be.

    HOW DARE YOU? The voice demanded in a thunderous growl. After everything I've done for you!

    I gasped, desperate tears gathering in my eyes. "Please, please leave me alone!"

    NO! THIS WORLD WILL BE SHATTERED YOU WILL COME TO KADUM It roared, a raging furnace in my mind. He tightened his hand on my neck, locking my gaze with his. You lie to yourself! Your spell failed because you failed to wish me gone. Banish me and you banish the inspiration I provide. You need me."

    His red eyes narrowed, the burning heat of his grip eased, but in its place I felt a new sense of pressure, pinning me against the wall as though gravity had shifted for me alone. He let my wrist go, and it fell against the wall.

    You need me. Say it. He waved two fingers in the air, a slow, ruthless spell. It felt like the tendrils of his darkness seeped into every corner of my being, filling me, possessing me.

    "I need you!" I said, so terrified in the face of his rage, of the impossible height he held me at, that I learned for his more quiet dominance. I touched his chest, which was as beautiful as it had ever been. "Please. Please, I need you. I'm sorry."

    He let me fall, but gently. I dropped to my knees with a quiet thud.

    He lowered after me, a graceful, elegant descent, and his feet touched the ground in front of me.

    "Please," I said, "I'll be good." There was a sweetness to the shadows, underneath all the wonderful scents I associated with him. I look at the darkness with an intoxicated fixation, and I might have continued doing so forever while he watched me with eyes shifting in darkness, but after a little while, his hand claimed my wrist and lifted me up to him. I felt a faint surge of the opiate rush under my skin. The grace of his forgiveness, filling me with relief.

    His eyes had changed. They were the color of amethysts, and I was falling into their violet depths, even as my body rose with him, away from the wall and out the building into the moonlight sky.

    With that the world below me crumbled and we were traveling toward Kadum...

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