Chapter 17: When Fate Collides

Once under Noxun rule, Veilantiff now stood a symbol of gloomy desolation. It remained shrouded in mystery, an abandoned village that once bustled with people at its prime. There were those that admired the village’s eagerness to trade and remain relevant, with several boats and ships docking at their port on an almost daily basis. No more.

Its existence made little sense, even more so than its overnight demise. Investigative groups ventured in to find no more than burned corpses, broken houses, and an unnerving absence of life. When pressed for more information, the groups cited having experienced an oppressive pressure — a feeling of dread and despair.

As the years passed, eerie lights and sightings of strange creatures fuelled rumours of hauntings in the village. And in time, even the Noxun strayed from their association with Veilantiff.

“Why am I here again?” asked Masura, sighing aloud.

Along the shores, a couple thousand kilometres northeast to the village, marked a path to Booneswick Forest — another oddity, not unlike Veilantiff, in the World of Transition. It represented tall trees in a windless environment, absent any other form of life. It wasn’t uncommon for frequent travellers to choose an alternative route to avoid the forest, despite its safety.

“I’ve heard that the silence is maddening,” remarked Aaron. “Is it normal to hear your heartbeat here, I wonder?”

Arce Speculatio placed merely a floor beneath the Vulcan-blessed forge of Arce Caelesti. Nine feminine sculptures decorated the circumference of its walls, each pointing to what appeared to be the statue of a golden-maned horse. Hung across its neck was a peculiar horn, strange in its emanation of aeter.

Familiar with its functionalities, Akshay Bahrain placed the horn atop a stone-cut table at the centre of the room. He accessed the minds of his comrades and synchronized it with his own, manipulating the horn to act as a fulcrum between the three Godvildian Lords.

Access Ability: Godly Hearing,” whispered Akshay. Aloud he said, “Let’s not take too long with this little activity of ours.”

“Don’t fret, Akshay,” said Masura. “I’m not particularly eager to have this prolong for longer than is necessary.”

“That’s no way to talk to an old friend, Masura,” said Aaron, chuckling as he did. “There’s a lot the Relictan have to answer for; I’d like to savour my time with them.”

Akshay admired the treasure that was Arce Caelesti, even more so the smaller treasures within it. Speculatio was merely a tiny example of Godvildian strength, an exceptional existence blessed by the Norse God, Heimdallr himself.

“Let’s begin then, shall we?” asked Akshay with a smile.

“On your command, Lord Bahrain,” replied his two other comrades.

***

After a prolonged silence, two pairs of eyes observed the peace of Argleton — a town under Godvildian reign, not far from Booneswick Forest. One stood dressed in enchanted robes and a monocle suited to his talents, while the other — heavily armoured and with a hammer more massive than the man himself.

They were opposites — short and round as opposed to tall and heavy, a magical genius as opposed to a master with the hammer. But despite the differences, the Relictan kind could hardly deny their sense of camaraderie, bound together by a singular goal.

“Why the need to stop here, Ulric?” asked the taller of the two. “This is unwanted attention.”

“It would be difficult to open the gate by myself, Rahu,” said Ulric. “I’ll need a catalyst for us to succeed.”

“Troublesome, but unavoidable,” said Rahu, gloomily. “Would you like me to descend?”

“No,” said Ulric, shaking his head. “There’s a faster, more efficient way to do this.”

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Without change in expression, Ulric commanded the earth beneath his feet. The soil moistened, changing composition to become more swamp-like. Rahu stepped away, cautious of the magic set in motion. As Ulric finished, the aeter-manipulated soil weakened, enough to swallow its caster whole. Rahu tilted his head, and later smiled as the earth returned to its former composition, leaving little trace of aeter interference.

Under the illusion of peace, Ulric moved with stealth and precision, liquefying the soil as he did. At a distance from his comrade, and near the borders of Argleton, the Relictan Lord surfaced for observation. Patient in his conquest, he spread his presence across the town, until not a corner remained.

Circulus Magia: Cultivate Parasite,” whispered Ulric, triggering his magic. “My gift, without discrimination.”

Combat-class, a word the World of Transition valued above all else. It defined either your affinity toward a particular element or your prowess with tools. To be loved by the gods, or banished into oblivion — a simple fact that mattered. In such a world, Ulric’s presence as a lord amongst Relictans puzzled most of those aware of his past.

Born with an affinity towards one of the weaker elements in nature, and with an even weaker constitution, Ulric faced a bottleneck hard to overcome. In his earlier years, he suffered from a lack of strength despite a gluttonous appetite.

“But I made a wager, didn’t I?” mused Ulric. “To walk away from Relictan traditions, to walk away from cannibalism.”

And then it occurred, an aberration among aberrations — the creation of a magic-class, unwitnessed since the era of Castor Argonaut.

As Ulric drifted into some of his older memories, the sequence activated upon the town of Argleton. Dormant bacteria spurred to life, cultivated by the essence of his spell. They emerged from the soil and with devastating effect, corrupting all that it touched. In despair, the townspeople dropped to their knees, gasping for breath. They scratched their throats, now dry, as the moisture drained from their bodies.

When Ulric decided to surface once more, there was little left of the town. Standing amidst a graveyard of his own making, the Relictan Lord embraced the result of his work. He then scratched the back of his head, and took a seat, awaiting what was to come. Slowly, the soul-fires emerged — from what remained of the bodies of those subject to rapid decomposition.

Shortly after, Ulric released his hold over the spell, sending the bacteria into slumber. Having ascertained the demise of Argleton, he looked over his shoulder and gestured for his comrade’s company.

“That did not take long,” said Rahu. “Just as you had promised.”

“The soul-fires are functioned to emerge after decomposition,” explained Ulric. “My magic is merely well-suited to accelerate the process.”

With a firm nod, Rahu extracted what appeared to be a small vial. He uncorked the container and pointed it toward the soul-fires while Ulric shepherded them with aeter-made blockades. Their purity crumbled in the presence of the vial — their shape eroding into something more fluid. Merciless in their pursuit, Rahu collected what remained of the soul-fires.

“An enchantment scripted to strip the soul-fires of their memories,” whispered Ulric, almost a thought. “With this, the people of Argleton will no longer be able to return to Aeterna; I wonder, what would that feel like exactly?”

“Your cruelty is something to fear, dear friend,” said Rahu, sighing aloud. “Even I wouldn’t go as far as ridding my victims of a chance at reincarnation.”

A strange light now emanated from the vial, hypnotic in its effect. Ulric shrugged, “Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t particularly bother me.”

***

Jacquelyn shivered at the thought of her destination. She called it nervous excitement, the result of venturing into an unknown. At the entrance, she stopped to study her map of the region — an area bound by erraticism. Despite appearances of frailty, the Relictan Lord was far from frightened of the task at hand.

“Why couldn’t Ulric handle this location?” grumbled Jacquelyn, yawning as she did. “He even took Rahu along for his little expedition; how bothersome.”

Veilantiff greeted its visitor with an unnatural stillness, allowing the latter to explore the village without issue. She navigated through the old streets, having memorized the map, and observed the olden architecture — now blackened and vile. The air was as the legends had mentioned, overpoweringly foul, and eager to corrupt. But, despite the impediments, the Relictan Lord soldiered through to reach what appeared to be the largest house in the village.

The Elder’s house; this should be perfect,” thought Jacquelyn. “I’ll need to complete my map before proceeding any further.”

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But something occurred before entry, a presence that stalled Jacquelyn’s progress. She paused and looked over her shoulder, curiously. Her eyes focused beyond the material world, identifying a presence that transcended well beyond normalcy. With a little effort, the Relictan Lord ascertained the approaching force to be Godvildian. Adding onto it, she managed to uncover the identity of the person as well. She turned away from the house and smiled.

“Fate is a funny thing, is it not?” whispered Jacquelyn, drowning into thought. “It spirals together many things; some manage to evolve in harmony, and most clash toward destruction. In this cycle of fate, as time continues to pass, we were bound to meet — the Godvildian Pillars, the Noxun Grandmasters, and the Relictan Lords. What will happen when we finally collide; are we to all perish, or is there hope yet for harmony? The idea frightens me, and yet I choose to embrace it.”

Jacquelyn felt an insurmountable pressure overwhelm her body, catching a glance of what she had sensed in the material world. Here stood a man even the Noxun Grandmasters feared, a man that stood atop a mountain, unrivalled.

“The reports were accurate, Akshay,” acknowledged the man. “I’ve discovered the Relictan Lord in Veilantiff. After assessment, I also confirm that she’s the only one in the village.”

“Are you disappointed?” asked Jacquelyn, overhearing what was communicated. “It’s great to meet you, Lord Masura Bloodseed, finally.”


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