Rising Darkness Pt.1 - A Portent of Dread
October 31st, 34 A.D.P. Eleven days before the veil was sundered.
“For how long did you defend me in the glacier?”
It was done. The sweet, dewy scent of star-moss filled the room, bringing to mind long suppressed emotions of loss, and joy. Though her heart ached at the reality before her… another side of her was thrilled. Energetic. A theory proven true, and an old friend to be seen again.
She inhaled deeply, the humid smoke of the smoldering bundle entering into her lungs and filling her mind with insight, and power. A strange, warm tingling sensation causing her exposed skin to bristle and shudder.
In the mirror, a shadow. Humanoid… though, slender. Strong. No features, except the eyes of it--no… his--form. Cosmic blue and radiant. Every bit as wondrous as her very own. She had to pause for a moment, and insure it wasn’t her own reflection. But his eyes… they stared at her with hope, love, and compassion.
“Three days, five hours, four minutes.” he said. Yes, he, it was definite now. The voice was every bit as smooth and delectable as hers, but deep. Kind. Not jaded by the world as hers was. All was… right.
“We are bound by mind and soul. I couldn’t let a debt go unpaid, Sori.”
Sori… such a callus abbreviation of her name, but from him it was as sweet as rain. She hadn’t heard that in a long… long time. Gasping inward, she lifted her hands to the wooden mask concealing her face, and gradually pulled it down. It was him. She knew it was him. If she took her sights off of him for even a moment, she was afraid she’d lose him. But she didn’t… She set the sylvan horned mask down in her lap, and just… stared for a moment. It was him. It truly was. At long last… she was able to see him again. Something she had never thought possible before.
“Aquaragos?” her voice quivered, so overwhelmed with joy that she could hardly contain her stoic expression. Nay, she couldn’t. Not even half a second in, her face could do nothing but smile gently. Vision blurred from welling tears.
“It has been a long time, Sister.” she couldn’t see it, but the shape of his eyes and deformation of his cheeks seemed to indicate a return smile as well. “Sadly…” but it was cut short, his gaze turning from joyous, to sad in a mere instant. “I don’t have much time...”
“R-right.” She wiped tears from her eyes, sniffling inward to regain her composure. “Down to business.”
“As always, Sorvegosa.” he nodded.
She sniffled again, thinking of her first question. She only had five, and two were already gone in her trying to verify his identity. So she needed to be very, very careful. It takes a lot of power to contact the realm of the dead for even this short a time. “You’ve been trying to contact me indirectly for months now. Sense Hallow's End two years ago. Why?”
“The realm of death is in peril.” he said, a deep dread filling the melancholic cadence of his voice. “A drought consumes all, and one seeks to rise in its wake. One seeks to consume all souls.”
A drought? In the afterlife? Whatever could that mean? Emmy had to pause for a moment… thinking. So vague… Why so vague? This was her brother! Aquaragos the Spellstorm, Ice of the North Wind and- Prophet… of the Cosmos. A diviner. Had twelve years really affected her memory this much? Or was this the work of Deathwing’s Cataclysm? Damnit… she couldn’t ask this all. Vague speech was common amongst diviners. This was likely a prophecy he was tapping into. A vision he’d been receiving all this time, even in death.
She looked up abruptly, tracking her time. “One. Who? Who is this one?”
“An entity. A god, banished long ago by forces beyond comprehension. He… is beyond comprehension. Do not trust what you see, for reality is far more complex than what mortals were meant to perceive.”
Damn… vague once again. She had one left. One question. Looking up at her brother’s specter, his attention was beginning to waver, gaze growing more frantic. Wait, frantic? A chill rippled down the center of her spine as her emotions began to mimic his. A sharp, visible exhale. Visible… fog joining with the smoke filling the room. Was it cold?
Emmy’s gaze Jolted backward, the room had gotten darker without her notice. Candlelight dimming to a dull orange glow of smoldering embers. The smoke in the room began to roll in unnatural ways. As her eyes began to adjust, she noticed that they were in… shapes. Humanoid… levitating. Dark cloaks, transparent bodies. Wraiths!
Sharply she inhaled. The salt! How was the ward holding up? Her gaze ripped down, the circle. Yes, the circle was intact!
“Aquaragos! Quick! Before the spell fades!” she screamed. “What should I look out for!?”
His eyes shot back to meet hers, full of fear. “The Cunning ones.” he spoke frantically. “The Nathraz-”
A wail, loud, sorrowful. Her eardrums were throbbing from the impact as a deep… deep cold seeped into her body. She dropped to the fetal position and covered her ears in response, but the reaction came too late. When she opened her eyes again the whole world was black, then blurry and unfocused. She couldn’t hear anything above her own heartbeat, it’s thudding irregular and overworked. Already she was shivering… c-cold. Coooooold… she had- never felt this before. Not like this. Is this what death feels like?
She pushed herself from the hard, cobblestone floors piercing into her knees and elbows, body lagging behind her legs, hanging from her waist as lazily as an unfitted pauldron. Righting herself was hard, but the adrenaline, the will to survive was stronger than anything. She had to know what was going on. This conundrum had been plaguing her for far too long!
The blurriness in her vision faded as her focus was drawn once again to the outside of the circle. The Wraith was behind her now. Her eyes darted to the side, and there was another beside it. And another… and finally, behind them… an emancipated, transparent, elven shape. A banshee! She was surrounded now. Where did all these spirits come from? She barely had time to cover her ears before the banshee wailed again!
Though the spell had no effect this time, she found herself staggering backwards, a foot touching a coarse, sharp material. One that stung fiercely as it entered the calluses of her bare feet. Uh oh…
Wasting no time, Emmy lifted a hand “Shel’arros!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, weaving a runic sigil into being with the speed and dexterity of the most delicate fly. A sharp, crystalline boom emitted as the blast impacted the first wraith’s chest. With a wail, it’s form destabilized, and began to fade away. One down… two mo- three, five. All began to beeline towards the new opening in the ward. There was no way she could do this all by herself. Not with having been taken by surprise like this! WHY WEREN’T HER TOWER’S DEFENSES WORK-
Boom. Boomboom pop!
More wraith’s fell to an aerial volley of arcane energy. Emmy’s gaze shot up, to see that all of her enchanted books were flocking their way down to defend her position! Hope at last!
“AHHHHHaaaaAAhhhh!” a second banshee wailed, though this time it’s focus did not seem to be on Sorvegosa, but the books above her. She barely had time to finish her final wail before she too was struck down by an ever-increasing arcane volley. Nevertheless, a few books tore, and fell to the ground in a mess of dislodged parchment and twine. The remnants of their arcane essence seeping out, and dusting the ground.
It was over…
Panting heavily, she shivered, turning back to the mirror. There, her brother was still standing. His eyes were wide with terror. A pure reflection of the nuances of what he just witnessed. “Sorvegosa I’m… I’m sorry.”
“Aquaragos! Why are yo-” he ran, out of sight before she could even finish her statement. “Wait! Where are you going!”
She rushed to the mirror, placing her face flat against it as if trying to peer through a window. But it was to no avail. The only thing she could sense were footsteps. Big, slow… loud… moving toward her.
Blinking, she stepped back and looked on in horror.
In the mirror, she saw a leg. Large, digitrade, hooved, adorned with plate armor ebony in color. It’s trim was sharp, forming into large spikes at the tips, only complementing the hard angled details and skulls that adorned the brutal aesthetic of the armor. Just looking at it made her feel pain. Agony… dread seeping into her mind.
Eventually, the armor was covered by a large, open, clawed hand reaching forward towards the mirror. Towards her. She needed something heavy. Something hard. Right now! Without pulling her gaze away, she reached back behind and found exactly what she needed. A large book, mostly intact.
When the mirror was shattered, all that was left of the event that transpired was an empty frame, a mess of papers, and a lingering sense of dread. One thing was certain… she had just stumbled across something far more threatening than anything, anything, she had ever faced before.