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 Post subject: A light with no shadow
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:56 pm 
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...And when she died
I couldn't cry
The pride within my soul
You left me incomplete
All alone as the
Memories now unfold.


I Mother

I still remember what Thornback told me about my mother. She was beautiful and kind; there was a rumor in the camp that she was a deposed royal of some sort. He thought nothing but the best of her, despite her profession. He said that he could see into people's souls and knew she was pure. My father, on the other hand, was heartless. Thornback told me he only met the man once but saw nothing when he tried to gaze into the soul. Maybe he sold it, maybe he hid it somewhere but none of that really interested me. My father was responsible for the icing over of my mother. After she consorted with him, he left but Thornback saw a great change in her. Whatever spark drove her was gone.

My birth was painful to her which is unusual for high elves. Thornback didn't know the exact details of elven gestation or birth and, though it's slightly embarassing, neither do I. I know how to make the child, I'm just not entirely sure what happens after that...what was my point? Ah, yes, elven birth. Something between mammal's live birth and lizard's egg laying, from the little I understand. So, pain during childbirth was unusal. Yes, that was my point. Afterwards, like I said before, she was a different person. No longer would she try to stop a handler from beating an innocent child. No longer would she stare defiantly when they cracked their whips. She was broken. She was distant. She was all I had.

The other thing about elves, full-blooded ones, is that most are born with almost complete cognitive capacity and they grow quickly so that an elf who is only about two years old is already nearing a human teenager in terms of growth both mentally and physically. Then the physical growth slows and around the fifth year, an elf could pass for an adult human. Their growth then turns to a trickle and they stay looking like that for decades. Of couse, that's a fact elves don't like any other race to know. My camp was full of miserable, broken-souled elves who would live hundreds of more years but would never forget the first ten or fifteen years in captivity and, if they did not choose to end their lives, they were likely to become twisted and evil creatures themselves. Most elves out in the world are at least one hundred years old. Their parents or older relatives have taught them many things but two above all else: complete control of the lightning quick speed their mind moves at and the ability to reason out the motivation behind most any deed. The control is important because it is very hard to speak about one subject with another person when your mind bounces around fifteen other subjects; in fact, it is hard to speak at all. The reasoning is important because once a person knows they will live hundreds of years, they must accept that bad things will happen from time to time and must learn to forgive or, at the very least, persevere.

By the time I was two, I felt I could understand my mother's pain and grief. I could not understand why she chose to let me live, though. She remained almost completely indifferent to me. When I went to live with other laborers, she did not say goodbye, good luck or even wish me a good life. I labored for years, almost forgetting her because she had never done anything to deserve memory. I saw her occasionally and once I caught her watching me with a small frown. Sometimes she seemed to want to say something but I would never let her get close to me. I brushed those instances aside. My own survival was all that mattered. All of that changed, though, when my father came back to the camp.


Last edited by jodai on Fri May 08, 2009 6:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A light with no shadow
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:06 pm 
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There's nothing special about it
It's either there when you're born or not
Gifted with talent are no big deal
Welcome to the death of a century...


II Father


My dad showed up. My mom disappeared. I can only asssume those two events are related. Maybe she's dead. Maybe they're both dead. I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Let me think...I suppose the day he showed up is one of the only important days in that camp. I can remember it clearly. I had been alive for almost five years. I was not a senior to anyone I was working with, the lowest class of being. I was paired with someone who was much stronger and we were supposed to move bricks back and forth to build new barracks. I couldn't keep up. After dropping the first brick, I was chastened by the sting of a whip. After dropping the second, my partner threw in a few kicks of his own. On the third drop, I was pulled off to the center of our work area. The taskmaster was excited to work out some of his excess cruelty and traded his standard whip for the nine-tails. He struck and the pain was remarkable. He struck again, shrieking with laughter. He yelled in anger and was about to strike again when an elf robed in crimson caught his hand and tossed him to the side.

"Out of the way, mongrel."

Those were the first words I ever heard my father say. I was sure it was my father when he pulled me up to gaze into my soul. I know now that it was the same magic that Thornback uses. He did not find what he was looking for and he tossed me down, as cruel and heartless as any other person in the camp.

"Maybe we'll have better luck with his brother."

Those words still haunt me. That was the first and last time I ever saw my father. The very next day, I was in the healer's tent when my mother came to me, two ssarrs trailing her. The larger ssarr bent down and caught my eye, the same way that my father had so recently done. He rose and snorted, then turned and nodded to my mother. With tears in her eyes, she clasped me and held me in her arms.

So it went. The next day was the closest to happiness I ever experienced in the camp. My mother told me as much as she could of elven culture, of magic and all sorts of interesting tales of lands beyond our own. She introduced me to Thornback, the ssarr who read my soul and his wife, the kindest people I ever met and scariest-looking creatures I had ever seen. I saw her and my father once more, two nights later. He had summoned my mother to the main building of the camp, actual stone and brick instead of the canvas tents we all were used to. I saw him greet her, whisper in her ear and then they both entered the building. I haven't seen either one since.


Last edited by jodai on Fri May 08, 2009 6:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A light with no shadow
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:42 pm 
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Life was confusing because of my age
Should my eyes open for tomorrow’s gains?
I can't help the way I am
There's no trust and there's no end


III Lost and Found

For years, I tried to forget. Her smile and his. Sweetness and cruelty. I worked blindly and grew stronger and colder, distant from this cursed world I was forced to inhabit. Forgive me if I sound overdramatic but it was a very painful time in my life. Thornback tried to get me to work with him on an escape plan. I saw no point in it. There were wolves, orcs and necromancers all looking out for escapees and they would most likely kill first and ask questions later. I didn't believe we could escape and even if we did, where would we go? For fifteen years I worked and slept and the one might as well have been the other. I saw people grow cruel, slaves as vicious as the guards were. I was dead inside. Then Omni showed up.

The tiny creature was an elf/orc hybrid...a goblin. The bottom of the rung as far as races were concerned. The few in the camp were obnoxious, annoying little scamps and were mostly just whipping boys for the higher ups. Omni was different. There was an air about her, a sense of helplessness that anyone who wasn't too jaded could feel. From what she told me, one of the top wizards from the north was visiting the camp. This dark mage used Omni as a living focus; her mother was a powerful elven sorceress and her father was an honorable orc shaman. They met on the battlefield several times; they grew to respect each other and eventually grew to feel the pull of their forbidden love. The meeting of primal spirit magic and high elven nature magic came to fruition in Omni.

Elves are pitiless creatures and orcs are merciless. Neither parent lived much longer after Omni's birth. She was sold to the highest bidder, a man who did not know her true value. The wizard killed the man and took Omni; he had been using her for quite some time now and his magic was getting darker and more corrupt. She feared she would not live much longer. I knew I had to do something and Thornback had a plan already laid out. So, now it was just a matter of escaping a place that no one ever escapes and stealing an evil wizard's most valuable tool in the process.


Last edited by jodai on Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A light with no shadow
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:26 pm 
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A long time ago I never knew myself.
Then the memory of shame birthed its gift.


IV Escape

This is the part that's hard to talk about. The details escape me; the thing I most remember is a momentary thrill of victory. We managed to gather about twenty people, including Thornback and his wife and we managed to get Omni by smuggling her out under the guise of a visit to the latrines. Everything was going great except for one detail no one knew about. The sorcerer himself had set out traps; essentially, he had placed enchanted bear traps everywhere. When the first one snapped close on a young human, he was instantly incinerated and the dark purple fire that engulfed him acted as a flare for the rest of the guards standing watch...

We lost many more until the few kiltharr and drow among us began acting as guides in the night's darkness. Though the guards had rallied and rushed towards us, it seemed we would make the forest line and be able to lose them. Shortly before the forest, there was a plain valley. It was there that wolves of shadow began their attack on our slowly dwindling party. We had lost some to the traps and the wolves seemed intent on finishing us all before the guards could even show up. It was there that I first managed to release a torrent of light-based magical energy...but it was not pleasant. I was afraid, frightened that I had failed and led not only myself but the closest things I had to friends to their deaths...I also happened to be holding Omni's hand and guiding her through the valley when I used my magical powers...

There were at least ten shadow-wolves and the beam I conjured cut through all of them. The heat of the power I had brought in burned through my blood and I collapsed. From there, as I understand it, Thornback retrieved me and carried me into the forest. The guards, though blood-thirsty and savage, were cowardly when facing true power and I had just released something they had never seen, something that Thornback said lit up the whole valley for nearly a minute.

As we moved through the forest, I lapsed in and out of consciousness; sometimes, I was moving under my own power and sometimes I was being carried. I heard snatches of conversation, something about a magic tree and the light of the sun. When we finally came to a halt and rested, I remember waking up and asking where Omni was. The grim, sad look Thornback gave me was answer enough. I had lost the only person I had intended to save.


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 Post subject: Re: A light with no shadow
PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 6:35 pm 
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This question haunts my mind
Will we survive this night?
We're harboring the meek
Will we survive the sleep?


V Sunrise

We huddled in the darkness, some weeping at the loss of a loved one, some weeping at the joy of freedom but everyone had silent tears on their faces. I'd bet that some of them were from fear, too. Freedom is a terrifying prospect when one only knows captivity. As we sat there, everyone slowly realized that we would have to provide our own food and shelter. Voices rose and finally, Thornback stood to his feet and reminded everyone that it was almost guaranteed we had been tracked. We were not entirely safe until the sun rose. That hushed everyone and in the silence, I could think a little on what had just happened.

I stared over the little field outside of the cave we were currently calling home. I vaguely remember that there was no moon but the stars seemed closer than ever to earth, as if you could reach up and pluck one from the sky. The azure light they provided cast everything in an eerie bluish tint. The scene was beautiful, comforting, and I thought on a multitude of things, opening my mind to really wonder at the world around me. Before I knew it, the soft yellow light of dawn began creeping into the night sky. Our first night of freedom was over and we were to spend the next day on the move, getting as far away from the slave camp as we could manage.

I'll never understand exactly how we weren't found that night. I guess I could chalk it up to luck or fate or whatever else people think are responsible when, by every account, they should be dead and gone but simply aren't. I just remember the way the colors began appearing in the sky, first orange then pink which turned into red and yellow added in too. I'd like to imagine that there was some sort of phenomena that made that sunrise more beautiful than any other one I've seen since but I can only guess that the prospect of freedom tinted the world around me, made it much more appealing.


Last edited by jodai on Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A light with no shadow
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 8:06 pm 
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Many distant miles away
Past the shores of ever dark
There stays a magic man


VI Bramble's Village

Always by sunlight we traveled and always at night we huddled together, frightened and unsure of what exactly we were doing. I remember the day we found Brambles, or rather, he found us. It began as every day began, with a few of the more agile among us hunting down breakfast. Once a few rabbits and squirrels were gathered up and Thornback had a few kabobs cooked up, we all sat down to enjoy the meal when a shadow nearby us seemed to flicker and out stepped the man who would be my teacher. At the time, though, no one knew who he was and several makeshift weapons were immediately drawn and held to him. It was Thornback who recognized him and calmed everyone. He explained who Brambles was and introduced him by his proper name, Brahm Bellugosi. He was not only a powerful warlock but also a duke who owned several large tracts of land.

As he led us towards what would eventually be our home, I could feel the power flowing through him. I would later find that his power was the power of shadows but he was an edgewalker and could control Light or Dark powers when he focused his mind. At the time, I simply followed along and listened to him and Thornback speak of the past and the future. I looked forward to the future and felt excited, even more than when we escaped. We now had a plan, a place to go. The prospect of finally settling down brought joyous cries and murmurs of satisfaction to everyone. I thought briefly of Omni and was saddened that she wouldn't get to see this. It just didn't seem fair.

When we finally ended up at the village, I'm ashamed to say that I stopped thinking of Omni simply because there was so much to do. Other people were there, former slaves and political prisoners as well as people who were simply displaced and in need of a home. We were greeted warmly and I fell in with a pleasant group of elves who, like me, were not raised by strict elders. After the cruelties of the camp and the aimless wandering, it was nice to find a place that truly felt like home.


Last edited by jodai on Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A light with no shadow
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:37 am 
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Simply to thy ghost I cling.
Simply to thy ghost I reject.
Simply to thy ghost I give...


VII Shadowless

I finally truly felt free. Though Bramble's teaching was firm, it was never harsh. I was never whipped nor did he ever raise a hand to me. I worked hard as we built up our village. Each able bodied man was trained to use various weapons accordingly, as a potential warlock, I was given less instruction than most but I found I had a knack for the sword. My warlock training went well enough as I learned to defend myself with my inborn magic. I could read and put that skill to good use by candle light, sometimes completely tuning out the world as I read and reread the single book Bramble supplied me with. Nights would sometimes turn to days as I paged through the Chronicled Journeys of Dark and Light, 10th edition. That was a life that seemed monotonous compared to what I've done since then but to me, it was the best days of my life.

Bramble himself had several articles on the nature of good and evil as applied to darkness and light, the responsibilities of a magic user to society and several others that discussed the limits and origins of a warlock's power. Often times, I would read something interesting, discuss it with him and then reread it as if I could understand it any better. A short article by a warlock named Ociris particularly grabbed my attention. In it, he discussed how most lightcasters only use a very small amount of the power available to them. He hypothesized that if one were able to attain the proper mental, physical and spiritual alignment, the powers of the Southern Cross would be able to be tapped completely. The warlock that managed this feat would wield powers unlike any before him and the Southern Cross would dwell in that person at all times. They would shine at all times and their radiance would chase away shadows. Bramble and I discussed the meaning of Ociris' ideas; I contended that it was a literal interpretation of what he thought would happen while Bramble maintained that it was just speculative fiction filled with metaphors for what happens when any magic-user works his craft long enough. I still remember the odd tone his voice took one day though...

"Master, if I may use an analogy, warlocks are like a dam with a leak. Th leak starts small and lets in a little water, but it grows and grows until more water flows through. Soon, the dam wall breaks and the water flows freely without any hindrance!" I couldn't hide my excitement. I was sure this was the best way to explain my belief.

"That's it eh? Using your analogy, the power would tear you apart before you could ever use it at it's full potential," Bramble only smiled that patient smile of his. He was prodding me in a direction but I couldn't figure out where this was going.

"Maybe we are not like the dam but our minds are...I mean...it's possible to...uh.." I couldn't get the right words out and I stared helplessly at the old warlock as he stroked his soft white beard. A very serious look came over his face.

"What you are saying is if one could stand to be broken down, one could obtain immeasurable power. A trickle of water becomes a river that becomes an ocean...Well, Vius, if it were all true, what would you give to become shadowless?" I never got to answer that question. I still don't know how I would have. All I've done since that day is survive and relive the past. It's painful but I can't seem to stop...it's a sick compulsion, like picking at scabs.

The villages raid alarms went off and minutes later, we were fighting for our lives. An hour later, everyone I knew and cared about was dead. Shadow wolves and vicious armored warriors stomped through the camp, searching for something. I wanted to stay and fight but Bramble forced me to run. I did so for what seemed like days. When I finally stopped, I collapsed in pain, anger, sadness, confusion and exhaustion. I can not be sure if the last part of my story, the part I'm about to tell, really happened or if it was some kind of waking dream.


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 Post subject: Re: A light with no shadow
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:52 am 
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[Shadowless, cont.]
A clean, white sheet of paper floated to the ground. On it in crimson writing was some sort of doomsday vision.

It's storming broken glass, corpses left in piles
Ungracious bludgeoning that breaks the world for miles
Nothing can stop it, the day has come, from below it's catastrophic

Freezing, there's no healing families are dying

This world is shattered... all shattered

Life crushing turbulence, this wrath can't be denied
Wishing you could help your friends, standing where they died
Echoes haunting, a hollow planet, lacerations, dissected nation

Freezing, there's no healing everyone is dying

This world is shattered... all shattered


I read it once and then turned it over. The other side had a message hastily scrawled.

When I die, I cast a shadow
And I'll rise, I cast a shadow


Just as I finished reading it, the paper burst into flames. The fire leaped into the air and formed words.

Find a master. Don't cast a shadow.

The words floated in the air for a moment, crackling and popping as if it were any other fire in a hearth. Then, darkness took me. When I woke, I traveled as quickly as possible to the nearest town and found parchment and ink so I could record my story. Over a few days, I did just that. Then I found a very specific type of wizard and had a very specific type of enchantment put on this scroll. Now I tell you that if you are reading this, it means I am still alive. Otherwise, this very piece of parchment would have crumbled to bits. As long as I'm alive, this story and any copy of it will remain intact. The spell doesn't work in reverse...that would have been a foolish move! My point, though, is that there is hope. I haven't cast my shadow just yet...

[END]

Note: The words in italics before the chapter, as well as the doomsday prophecy and the note on the back, are lyrics from Pantera. Just so you know.


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