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Short Story Entry - A vessel, a purpose


LGAllastair
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The cold wind felt like a hundred sharp blades, cutting through the skin on my forehead, making me regret my choice of lighter clothing. My scarf was protecting my mouth and nose for now, but it was getting harder to breathe with each step I took through the soft snow, going up the mountain side. My armor became heavier with each step, I even considered removing parts of it, but I couldn’t afford the risk of being caught in the open with no armor. At this point I was forced to accept that I had severely underestimated the severity of the Winter in these parts. I had been through many Winters before, but each world reacted differently, I didn’t know what to expect anymore.

 

In my opinion the idea of this mission had been far fetched. Exploring an unknown forest that sits high up in the mountains, in the attempt to confirm rumours of a powerful ancient relic. Isn’t this what mortals have always done since the dawn of time? They make up tall tales about powerful relics that can do things beyond your wildest dreams, then when cornered as to the specifics, they claim that it’s “hidden deep down in a dark forest, atop of the highest mountain, guarded by an ancient tribe that will kill anyone on sight”. How convenient, isn’t it? No one in their right mind would ever gonna go looking for it, right? Well, some would, and I was that someone now. But if I didn’t do something about the cold I would probably not live enough to tell the story, just like the other three scouts that were with me a few hours ago, but that I had to leave behind, frozen in the snow.

 

Personally I had thought this world was done, like many others before it. We had savaged all we could and were ready to go within a week or so, then repeat it in another world, just one more job. However, this mission had been ordered by The Sovereign of Ascendence himself, and whatever he commands, poor Allastair does. I couldn’t say no to a secret exploration mission ordered by the leader himself. It was either this or suffer the consequences. If there is one thing immortality has shown me is that there are many things worse than death, and I had no intention of finding out just how far the imagination of The Sovereign would go.

 

Even with my horizon consisting of only a few meters due to the storm, I finally began to see something other than snow. I would pass by a frozen tree every couple minutes. “Just a few more steps, Allastair” I kept repeating to myself as I walked. The wind seemed to be progressively slowing down until I finally reached the edge of the forest. The thick tree line was like a wall, the gaps between each tree trunk were completely dark. The mountain blocked most of the sun leaving me with an ever fading twilight, slowly replaced by the long night approaching. The wind was more than enough motivation to push me past the tree line and into the forest, longing for their protection. Panting I leaned my back on one of the trees, gathering forces to continue deeper into the woods.

 

Now several meters inside the dark forest I took a moment to glance around, little could be seen, even though I felt as if a thousand eyes were observing me from within the darkness. Quickly I placed my backpack on the floor and took a knee, grabbing the torch in the hopes that it would be dry enough to be lit. As I grabbed it with my numb fingers I felt what seemed like the floor caving in underneath me, for a moment I contested the sensation, but had no time to process as the floor gave in completely sending me into a free fall. I was a few meters down into a hole, a trap. I must’ve hit my head, senses were fading slowly as tried to look up, seeing a humanoid figure looking down at me before my vision finally faded to black.

 

When I came to my senses, a pair of eyes stared down at me. My heart raced for a second, but those eyes, they saw right through me, as if they could see inside my soul. Locks of red hair falling on the beautiful face of this mysterious woman, touched by the orange torch light. I felt comfort and warmth emanating from her hand as she leaned it on my chest. I was in the forest, outside of the hole and lying on the floor. The mysterious redhead woman was chanting words in the language of the druids, one I had only spoken many lifetimes ago.

 

I barely had enough awareness to grab the hand that touched me. As I did, a sharp pain came upon my left hand, it had bandages all over it, blood stained them as I realized I was missing a couple fingers. The chanting stopped and the warm hand pulled away from my chest, the woman stood up and backed away. “You fell on a trap from the mountain men, they will come soon, we must hurry. I had to cut those frozen fingers off, not even my magic could heal them anymore.”

 

I sat up feeling much warmer than before, but also sore from the fall acknowledging my now mutilated hand. “The mountain men?” I asked, looking around for my belongings. “What is your name?” she asked with her silky smooth voice, she was beautiful and appeared to be in her twenties, dressed in leather and fur to protect herself from the cold. “Allastair Blackmoore, I am a scout.” She nodded “I am Kristanna, I live nearby. You were lucky I found you before the mountain men did”.

 

Feeling the weight of my sword and looking around I saw nothing but dark forest, the only source of light being the torch Kristanna held. “I assume you are talking about the tribe that lives here, that guards the ancient relic?”. She seemed confused for a moment before replying “Ancient relic? They worship a clay figurine, a piece of junk as far as I know. You’re not the first to come here because of the stories. This place is death, they leave me alone because they think the forest protects me and they are afraid of approaching my home, but out here we are vulnerable. Come on, walk with me.”

 

As I followed Kristanna through the woods I continued the conversation “And does the forest really protect your home? Or is it just another silly thing they believe in?” She nodded at me “It once did, but now… it is all different. First the plants changed, then the animals, they all became violent, mutated. Nothing grows here anymore, this land is cursed. I stayed in the hopes to reverse what was happening, but nothing I did could restore the forest. The last to be affected were the mountain men, they were peaceful but now they kill the surrounding tribes, and… feed on them, they have become cannibals.”

 

I nodded and replied to her “I know what’s happening, the land is not cursed, it is The Hunger that consu…” My explanation was interrupted as an arrow crossed the air right beside me. “They found us, run!” Kristanna shouted, but before she began moving a second arrow pierced through her torso, right under her rib cage, going in on her back and out the front. She gasped and fell to her knees, eyes open wide as she dealt with the pain. I drew my sword and looked around but I couldn’t see anything, we were a beacon of light in the middle of the dark forest. I grabbed the torch from Kristanna’s hands shoving it on the cold floor, the flames extinguished. Slowly the soft light coming through the top of the trees above was enough to guide me, the noise of arrows cutting the air or hitting nearby trees kept us on the edge as I assisted the wounded druid through the forest.

 

I could hear Kristanna chanting as before, and as she did a faint green light appeared on her wound, she pulled the arrow out with a grunt and continued to walk with me, now unassisted. “Over here, stop.” she commanded and ducked behind a huge fallen trunk, I followed. The noises of arrows suddenly stopped, but we could hear their movements through the vegetation around us. Kristanna picked up a staff that hanged from her back and planted it firmly on the ground. She looked at me with a smirk “We can’t run, are you ready for a fight?” I nodded with sword in hand “Always.”

 

As the first man jumped over us, completely missing our hiding spot, vines grew from the floor entwining his legs. He turned to see us and his throat was pierced by a swift strike of my sword. Screams echoed from the other mountain men and the fight broke out. Between vines growing, healing magic, swinging swords and flying arrows, we fought, running for our lives from one tree to another. But they were too many, and when both my legs were shot we were pinned. Kristanna fought bravely, protecting us with her magic as she could, but in the end an arrow went through her chest. She tried chanting words in her druid language, but nothing happened this time, she was drained and fell to her knees in front of me.

 

Her green eyes looked into mine, fearful and confused, the familiar eyes of a dying soul. I grabbed her hand “You fought bravely, I am certain immortality awaits you”. She couldn’t respond, simply falling to the floor. A club hit my head from behind and I lost my senses.

---------------------------

 

A blue light appeared, in front of it I could see the silhouette of a person, an elder. Was it a witch? I couldn’t tell. The cold I felt on the outside was now inside, a sensation of emptiness, fear and mystery like I had never experienced in my immortal existence. In my spirit form I tried to fly away, flapping wings with all I had, but it was as if the light pulled me towards it.  I turned away from the witch, was this the end of my immortal life? Her voice echoed inside my head “Take her, she is the vessel, your purpose.” I acknowledge her words, but was still frozen in place, unable to return to the mortal plane and pick a new vessel. The witch was suddenly in front of me, her eyes were covered in a black blindfold. Kristanna’s corpse was in her arms. The witch backed away with a grim on her lips, leaving Kristanna’s body floating in front of me, her voice in my head spoke once more “FInd purpose, Ascend, become The Sovereign”. I touched Kristanna’s hand with the tip of my wing and felt myself be sucked into her body.

 

I opened my eyes back in the forest, they felt different. I could see two men carrying me into some kind of rudimentary stretcher, beside me the body of my old vessel, mutilated hand over his chest. I felt power flowing through me, like never before. I had inhabited druids in my immortal existence, but this was unique. As I channeled my power I felt the men stumble and fall, the plants of the forest growing wildly over their screaming bodies. I closed my eyes and imagined myself away from this place. In a second my body teleported several feet away, behind other three confused men who had no idea where I had gone to. I smiled looking down at my new body “This power… we will do great things together, Kristanna” I thought before unleashing my wrath over the mountain men. I had a mission to accomplish and they were in my way.

 

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Guild Leader/ High Elder

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