(Remember Us) Into the Land of Shadow

“You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Strawberry
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(Remember Us) Into the Land of Shadow

Post by Strawberry » Sat Apr 11, 2020 2:13 am

“You know this breaks all the rules right? Yours, mine, everything in between.”

“Fuck your rules, I’m not letting them go that easily.”

---

It began with a message, cryptic, threatening if one didn’t know better.

I know where your children are.

It continued with a meeting on a dark corner in the seediest shadows of Dockside. A streetlight intentionally shattered cloaked a girl bathed in black, face hidden by the cowl of her robes. Not so much as a glimpse of skin or a strand of hair gave away her identity.

It wasn’t a voice familiar to any of the four that met her there but they had each received the same message and after only the briefest discussion had agreed to gather there, armed and ready for the fight to get their children back.

“Where they are, mortals dare not to tread… what you will see cannot be unseen. But I will show you the way if you accept this.” Feminine, serious, there was no taunt or tease in her tone, only grave weight. There was no hesitation in a parent’s love and in that moment she knew she had made the correct choice in opening this Way.

A miasma of black shot through with purple threading opened a gate to a world on the brink. Cataclysm in motion, a world not to be. A place of overwhelming shadow on the furthest reach of the very Void that sought claim on her own soul. As she opened the yawning maw of the Void, she looked back, half expecting at least one of them to have fled. Instead, she looked back into the steadfast determination of four brought together by a single mission.

“Come.”

Their footsteps faded, the corner was left dark once more.
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Re: (Remember Us) Into the Land of Shadow

Post by Strawberry » Sat Apr 11, 2020 2:14 am

And lo, vile beasts did rise.

I knew this wouldn’t be easy. No matter the preparation put in, no matter how many times I tried my damnedest to clear the way ahead of time with and without help, it was no use. It was a moment in time, forced to repeat on loop until the Rejoining freed this place from the clutches of calamity itself. Denizens fled on foot and mount alike, running from the monsters that overtook them with ease and in doing so, changed them into ugly, twisted amalgamations of what once was.

“What is this place?” A voice behind me came, curious, awestruck.

Of the four, she was the tiger despite her seemingly gentle nature. I couldn’t help but smile. They had chosen a suitable composition for a trek like this.

The paladin in her gilded armor.

The rogue with his silent steps and deadly ranged weaponry.

The dark knight with her wickedly forged beast of a blade.

And the steadfast healer who bore a blade that she didn’t seem to intend to use.

“The end of days. Here reality is fraying at the seams. Elemental shadow runs rampant and as such, the unchecked energy has made twisted mockeries of the beasts here. Dread made manifest right before your eyes. Be on your guard.”

I left them there with that cryptic warning. Though I had promised guidance, this was not a fight I could fight for them, much as I may have wanted to. If they wanted their children back, they had to bear witness to this just as I had. It was enough to drive a man mad but they pressed on.

The paladin, the rogue, the knight, the healer.

Together they hacked and slashed and punched their way through the shadow and the flames, pushing ever forward across uneven terrain as buildings crumbled around them. It seemed to be steady going until they met the first doom.
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Re: (Remember Us) Into the Land of Shadow

Post by Strawberry » Sat Apr 11, 2020 2:14 am

The Great Beast

A twisted wyrm reminiscent of those that populated Rhydin in abundance, stripped of its wings and left to writhe and snap at the quartet. It was a sight to behold and it sought their end, calling down a deluge of fiery rain and poison gas. At one point, I thought they were done for as an entire building toppled over top of them.

Only narrowly did they escape only to find the Great Beast had broken free of the rubble. The dark knight rushed forward in what I can only attribute to a fit of rage and shoved her sword clean through its head, jaw to crown. But even its defeat couldn’t bring salvation to the dying land. The march of oblivion is a sure thing.

As day gave way to night, or dark became darker with the drift of a black sun drifting low, it scorched the land and boiled the seas. Earth buckled, fire raged, and the waters ran red with blood. They watched as the shadows of heroes before them tried to change the course of history, a ghastly clash of what had come before and failed. In a place like this, the only inevitable is everlasting dark.

And so came the next doom.

The Shepherd

If the Great Beast bent the land, the Shepherd came to break it. Its shrill shrieking called down upon them a plethora of terrors which seemed to split and spread like a virus run rampant. It too called upon fiery rain and brought with it fear the likes of which most mortals had never known. Thankfully for our brave heroes, they were no normal stock.

But fear has a way of weaseling its way into the very roots of existence. See, that’s half of what was wrong with this place. Not the unchecked shadow, but the fear of it. Fear makes people lash out even at those closest to them. The Shepherd fed on this fear until it was fat and swollen with energy. I watched as they tried their best to finish it off but every ounce of negative emotion that dripped off of them was absorbed until…

Pop.

The heroes were left stunned, wounded, drenched in the sticky vitae of what had been. The conjurer and the paladin were enough to get them back on their feet. See, they found that light fought back the shadow and cleansed them of their sickness. Which, before you get the wrong idea, isn’t to say that dark is innately bad. If anyone tells you this, they’re ignorant, stupid, and wrong.

Dark itself is a neutral entity, just as light is. They exist in an equitable balance. It is only when this balance is thrown off that either one becomes a negative force. This can happen to dark or light. Trust, I’ve seen worlds where light has overtaken the entirety of the worldscape and this has resulted in the death of a world just the same as this one when it was overtaken by shadow.

“This is far from the worst of it.” I stood before them as they tried to catch their breath. The path was treacherous from here, a good guide would see them through to the end. They looked at me like I had to be kidding but it was only when nobody laughed that they realized this was no joke. “Come, I’ll show you.”

A beckoning hand, a shuffle of feet amidst rubble. Four pairs of footsteps and one silent addition somewhere in the back. Perhaps some day I will ask him just how he manages to be so quiet. Likely not though. Save for one, it would be better if the rest never knew who I was. This was my good deed for my lifetime, a little self serving as it was.

“Just a little further…”
Last edited by Strawberry on Sat Apr 11, 2020 2:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: (Remember Us) Into the Land of Shadow

Post by Strawberry » Sat Apr 11, 2020 2:15 am

The landscape twisted further. No longer did it resemble a crumbling city. Rather, they could look out over a ruined world, a burning land where not an inch was left untouched by the shadowy tendrils that had strangled the very life out of it.

“The end of a world…” The man’s voice, the only one of the four. He had spoken little throughout their trial but this, this sparked recognition in him that I had not expected. He was one who had seen ruination such as this before. Perhaps he had even wrought it. I don’t know. Just the same, it was no silent assassin or undoused flame that had ruined this land but the very sin of arrogance that had brought it to its knees.

“This land fades. Here you find our end and your beginning. Where laws are written and the threads are woven anew. But even here corruption frays it all and it is here that you will find what you seek.”

Alas, there was but one thing standing in their way. It was there that I left them once more, staring down the face of one last trial, the third and final doom to infest this land.

Shadowsayer: The Chthonic Weaver

From the edge of the abyss came the last harbinger. The core of Shadow itself made manifest by the despair of those who had come before, it was destruction made poetry. It was a massive creature made of myriad faces and teeth upon teeth in those endless mouths. Theirs was a dangerous dance that dragged the entire length of a seemingly endless crag that crumbled beneath their feet leaving only the darkest depths of the Void to break their fall should they step unwisely. None had stood in its path before, but then again, none had stood between these four and their progeny and lived to tell the tale either.

How were those for odds?

As it edged inexorably closer, I was certain they would meet their end. Without some sort of sacrifice to the depths of the dark, never would the Weaver be sated.

The sacrifice came when they were on the brink of collapse. A child’s cry cut through the air and the tiger of a healer burst forward with a cry of her own. Shadowsayer saw its plan come to fruition, the cry having come from a cackling mouth upon its twisted face. The young mother hit her knees and couldn’t recover, try as she might, but she wasn’t alone and this was the difference between her and the Shadowsayer.

The gilded paladin lit the arena in a bloom of brilliant light, ethereal wings spreading out from her shoulders as if to shield the fallen healer and those that stood behind her. Shadowsayer hissed back from the light but remember what I said about there needing to be balance?

The dark knight hadn’t forgotten. Lockstep with the paladin, she slashed outward, her free hand coming up to sweep down from the heavens to bring with it a flare of red light that gave way to runebound darkness, enveloping them within its protective embrace. In it, I could see only the outline of the paladin’s wings and then a figure leaping through it all. Dash, dash, dash, he cut through the front most line of their collective and shoved forth every ounce of pent up kinetic energy he had left. The very air split with the dissection of the aether and one last pulse of red overwhelmed the Chthonic Weaver for the final time.

From chaos to ash, their action seemed to have little effect on the dying world. But that wasn’t their goal, now was it? No, their bounty lay just beyond the sludge of what was left of the Shadowsayer. Quite literally even.

Four children sleeping soundly in a nest made of black robes, unbothered by the display of light and violence that had concluded only moments before. Their parents looked at them and then each other in disbelief. Could it be so easy?

“Go on.” I urged, beckoning for them to follow. It couldn’t have been any more than fifty meters but to them it could have been miles, but my pace was passed up quickly by the sprint of all four whizzing by me and breakneck speed. They nearly collided in a bid to stop before barreling into the sleeping children who roused only once their parents neared. It was a joyous reunion that made me squirm uncomfortably at the tears that were shed. Quietly I opened their Way home and then took my leave.

My deed was done, I could rest.

---

“Where is your mask?”

“...Shit. The kid has it…”

“Have fun explaining that one…”
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