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“Wakey wakey, sleeping beauty.” Said an amused voice as Erik regained consciousness, opening his eyes to find himself laying on the ground within his Lair. Thea and Makaela stood over him, glancing around he saw Nerick and a couple dozen xilfir surrounding someone.
Erik groaned as he tried to rise while holding his head, he felt like a mountain had hit him. “What?…how did I get here?” he asked in confusion.
“I got us, and these fools holding me at gunpoint, here.” Exclaimed the fox, Erik recognising the man’s voice from within the circle of dreadblades.
“Erik, what happened?” Thea asked, “Who’s this?”
“I…Ugh, my body still cannot handle too much draconic energy…As for, that, I don’t know.” He said as he straightened himself, walking over to the dark elves and pushing past them.
Finding the fox laying on the ground, hands behind his head as he rested laid back. An amused smile on his bearded face, a well-groomed but strangely too white beard, like a dark elf’s.
“Who…No, what are you?” Erik asked, still unable to comprehend what he was sensing from the being.
The fox smirked before sitting up, “Well let me introduce myself first, Erikathyr.” He stood up and turned to face him as Thea, Makaela and Nerick walked up behind Erik.
The fox gestured at himself with a friendly smile, “You don’t need to know my real name, but acquaintances call me Kyllix. As for what I am? Heh, I guess my kind has long been erased from this realm so not even you would know? I’m a Spirit Beast, more spirit than beast really. Either way, congratulations, drake.”
“Congratulations for what?” Erik asked in confusion, “And what in blasted hell is a Spirit Beast?”
Kyllix pointed at Erik, “Congratulations, you pass. Also, Spirit Beasts are a race similar to Beast people, or Bestia as you call them. Except, we’re connected to the Spirit Realm, the land of the dead.”
“Land of the dead?… Pass what?…” Makaela asked, each of them utterly confused still.
Kyllix sighed, “All questions huh? Well let me cut to the chase then, your world is in apocalyptic levels of danger, and I’m here to help.”
“Continue…” Erik snarled, annoyed at the nonsense this man was spouting, but unable to deny the raw power he was sensing within him.
Kyllix sneered at Erik’s annoyance, “Hell is rising, and it’s targeting the entirety of known existence. Not only this realm but everything else.”
“We sort of already know that?…” Nerick pointed out awkwardly.
“Heh, well let me tell you what you don’t know then.” Kyllix said with a chuckle, “This realm, specifically this planet you call home, Faetera…Is grounds for a massive summoning ritual that will exterminate every single living being upon it.” He said grimly, his eyes widening and his smile seeming more harrowing than friendly now.
“Wha-” Thea felt her speech briefly disappear from surprise.
“Summoning ritual? I’ll garner you mean a Devil King’s doing,” Erik guessed, retaining his calm. “To use up all living beings on Faetera? What in damnation are they summoning? And how the hell do you know all this?”
“I’m getting to that part, the juicy part. As for how I know…” Kyllix shrugged, “I’m immortal, let’s just say I know someone far and beyond even that.”
Erik grimaced, “Drop the bloody act, who are you really? You’re far from immortal! You’re…”
Kyllix’s smile faltered, turning cold as did his entire expression. “Indeed, I’m a God.” he solemnly said, causing all their eyes to widen. Seeing their expressions, he then laughed, “Oh you should really see your faces right now! Brilliant!” he exclaimed in amusement.
This only annoyed Erik further, “Fine, you’re a God…I cannot deny that. So then explain what you meant by passing, what are the Devils summoning, and what your intentions are from now on.”
Kyllix snickered some more before meeting Erik’s gaze, blue draconic slits met by his pale silver eyes. “I’ve been in the business of ending utter pandemonium from breaking out within the universe, there are more realms out there than you could ever imagine, all differing from one another in some way. And this realm, well…It’s a bit of a hot topic at the moment.”
“What do you mean?” Erik pressed for more, his annoyance being overtaken by his hunger for knowledge.
Kyllix smiled, amused by the drake’s newly gained attention. “I think it’s best I start from the beginning, you see, you’ve all already died. Well you, three times really, so one more than the rest here.”
“Died?” Makaela huffed in amusement, “I think I’d remember that.”
“No, you wouldn’t, because that wasn’t the you that is here now.” Kyllix said, shaking his head dramatically. And confusing them further. “Faetera was destroyed…twice before…No, actually let’s start further from that. Tell me, do you know what Hell is? What it truly is?” he asked,
But moved onto answering that same question immediately after.
“Hell is a void realm, an existence under the complete control of a single consciousness. A sole soul, whose body is the very earth, air and life of that realm.” He explained, “Well, this realm you lay within is similar. Except, the being behind it controls a collective of realms, of which yours and mine are a part of. You following thus far?”
Everybody but Nerick nodded, even Ivara.
Kyllix continued anyhow, “There were two versions of Faetera before this one, the entirety of this realm has existed three times in total. The second time it was devoured by my kind, a very powerful Spirit Beast, but mentally weak. They lost control, they turned dark, enveloping reality around them and turning Faetera into a void realm. Me and my own, defeated this creature. This realm was then retaken under our collective’s control once more, under the being we call the Avatar.
As for the first, it is very similar to the now. The first time Faetera existed, Spirit beasts controlled it in its entirety, but their empire of tyranny fell as Gods banded together to destroy it. This though, left this realm weakened to outside assault. A fresh fruit for the taking in Hell’s eyes, and take, it did. This was before even my time, I know little of what occurred and the Gods don’t exactly preach their failures.” He explained with a grim chuckle.
“Every time this realm switches hands though, its existence is changed, when the Avatar took it back it…” Kyllix paused to think for a moment, ”Hmm, how shall I put this? Its time started ticking from the very beginning. So each of you were created in accordance to this realm’s best chance at life. Think of it like a runic circle, certain runes together make something occur, certain events within this realm made this planet and its lifeforms occur.”
“Similar to the now…other than is Hell on the march again, how is it similar?” Erik asked, “Spirit Beasts were removed from our realm? With what methods? Gods hold no such power over the living.” He argued.
“No, no they don’t…Not these days anyhow.” Kyllix said, his expression turning dark as he gazed off elsewhere. “Gods, even new ones like myself, we have been limited by the Avatar upon what we can do. Only what it deems acceptable, is what we can do.”
“Then if Spirit Beasts are as powerful as you say, that beyond dragons and fae, they could still rule Faetera…How? What-” Erik began to ask, but finally after being nudged by Thea, noticed the God’s saddened expression.
Kyllix smiled coldly, “The God of Death of this realm, who was made accountable for the prime decisions all divine beings make here, plotted and successfully turned Dragon and Fae kind against the Spirit Beast empire. To the very last, they were executed, and everything was covered up. History went unwritten during that time.”
“The Dark Age…This was during the Second Age wasn’t it?” Erik asked, and Kyllix nodded. “And the so-called Avatar, deemed this acceptable?” he then asked.
“The Avatar is unlike the other voids, for one it actually cares for life within its domain. Yet, it still will always put its own survival over them. And I won’t argue with that, if the Avatar falls, we all fall.” Kyllix explained, “Which, brings me to the point of all this. Erikathyr, you were summoned back to life, to alter Faetera’s path towards destruction. Not through simply your own power, you cannot handle this alone.” Kyllix said, as he glanced around himself.
“As you probably already figured out, that is.” He then said, grinning in amusement at the dozen or so dreadblades aiming their bows at him.
Erik coughed to clear his throat, “Right…Apologies.” He said, then gesturing at the dark elves to lower their weapons.
“Oh worry not, if I was allowed to, I could level this entire planet.” Kyllix chuckled, “Anyway, there’s a reason further from walking you through the issue at hand, for why I came here.” He returned to facing Erik and his party, “Erikathyr, guardian and destroyer. Grim brought you back to life to teach the lower races, but that skeletal fool forgot about just how bloody stubborn you are, even for a drake.”
Erik then saw a glimmer within the God’s eyes, a brief spark of blue energy, he also felt those same eyes penetrate his being. The God was studying him, every single aspect of him, and nothing Erik could do would block out that power. He felt Kyllix’s eyes look right through and into his own soul.
“You lay chained to it,“ Kyllix then said causing more annoyance to Erik, ”Grim limited your power with this human vessel.”
Erik’s clawed hands clenched, he glanced down at himself, the change had retained but this was as far as he could get. Even when he thought he had found a spell to resurface his draconic linage, one where he did not need to sacrifice his life, it had failed.
“I bring you an offer, Erikathyr.” Kyllix said, opening his arms wide and dramatically.
Erik looked up, meeting the God’s eyes as he now lay engulfed in white flames.
“As you lay a minion of Death, I offer you otherwise.” The God said, his voice now booming with power. “Erikathyr, sell me your soul, and upon my name I promise you no limitations. I will unchain you, body and soul you will be free.“
The God and the drake gazed at one another, one with expectation and the other in deep thought.
“I…” Erik briefly said, unsure, “If I cannot trust one God, how can I trust another?” he then asked.
Kyllix’s grin widened, “Because I’m willing to do what Grim is too afraid to.” He said, as he raised his right hand forward, violet light flashing brightly over his palm and briefly blinding them. And once the light dissipated, they saw that a pure white crystal had appeared within Kyllix’s hand.
Erik’s eyes widened as he stared at the crystal, “A core…” he said, as he gazed at the complex golden light forming vein-like formations within.
“Not just any core, Erikathyr, this was your core.” Kyllix explained, “And it could be yours again.”
Erik took a step forward, the sight of it gaining his full attention. And in response Thea rushed ahead of him, raising her right arm up and blocking Erik from approaching the God further. “What’s the catch?” she asked, her fierce eyes meeting the God’s.
Kyllix chuckled in amusement, “I ask only one thing of you, drake, take my advice with utter seriousness. Stop being so bloody prideful, you have no such pride to speak of anymore. Stop pushing others that could help you away, be wary of them, but uses they still have. You already know you cannot face this alone, so gather your allies, and gather even more.”
Erik met the God’s eyes again, he knew exactly what they were speaking of, but how could he? How could he trust Alan? Why should he trust Shizuka?…He asked himself that question, over and over.
“Because, one day, they will save your life.” Kyllix answered it for him.
“Or take it.” Erik said grimly.
Kyllix’s grin widened, “Well that’s what makes it exciting, no?” he asked.
Erik sighed, “And dangerous.” he added.
Kyllix rolled his eyes, “Oh live a little.” he told the drake, his voice returning to normal as he forwarded the core to him once more. “Time’s ticking, Erik. I could be elsewhere, holding Hell’s main armies off, yet I’m here offering you freedom.” He said, waving his free hand by his side where several visions suddenly formed.
They weren’t illusions, Erik noted, but like clouds of mist and within scenes from elsewhere were being shown.
An army of black-clad demons, marching out of massive rifts and into a world of green. Among the green, cloaked figures lay in wait.
“My people, they fight without me, I should be there but instead I’m here.” Kyllix said, “Not that they need me all that much to hold off a few million demons.” He then added with a wide grin.
As the battle within the vision began, the first cloaked figure rushing into the army’s midst and summoning massive arms of shadow which decimated hundreds of demons within mere moments.
Kyllix dissipated the vision, “These battles are occurring all over, your realm is not the only one under attack but it is still most important to defend. The raw amount of magic within Faetera is far more than any other realm, Hell wants that power, and they will summon its ancient minion to take it. Hell’s firstborn, the Arch-Devil.”
“You defeated a Void, can’t you do the same with something summoned by one?” Makaela then asked.
Kyllix smirked as he met the dark elf’s narrowed gaze, “I had some serious help with that one. As for the Arch-Devil? I don’t know, Hell is different from the last Voids I’ve fought. It doesn’t focus its power, it uses it creatively and within its minions. I’ve fought and even befriended many a Devil, but the ones ruling Hell’s territory now are…different.”
“Different how?” Erik asked, “Xokith and Kurzan can’t be so different from Azruxan who I fought and defeated.”
“You’d be wrong if you thought that,” Kyllix warned, “Azruxan was a barbarian, without home or followers. That monstrous Devil had outcasts and beasts as his minions. Albeit that, his own raw power is nothing compared to the Devils I know. And even they…Do not compare to his elder brothers, Kurzan is Hell’s strong-Living strongest knight. And Xokith? That maniac is far more dangerous, you could say enlightened by Hell’s creativity. Both are deeply imbued with Hell’s energy.”
Erik caught on to the God’s brief correction in his own words, “Living?” he questioned.
Kyllix paused for a moment, a deep sadness briefly passing through his eyes. “Strength is not decided by physical or magical prowess alone, remember that.” He then said cryptically.
“This is personal for you, isn’t it?” Thea then suddenly asked, regretting it as the God’s dead cold gaze fell upon her. Erik pulled her back this time, meeting the God’s hateful gaze with his own as he held Thea behind him.
“Yes…You could say, my issue with Hell runs deeper than saving the universe.” Kyllix then said, glancing away from them as the hate within his eyes faded as suddenly as it came. “When the time comes, we’ll confront Hell together, but you Erik…Your role in this is greater.” He added, returning to look at Erik with what the drake now recognised as a well-crafted guise.
Erik had studied many creatures, and no one could switch between hate, calm and a wide grin as quickly as the one before him could.
Kyllix smiled, but Erik now saw through it. The hate he had briefly seen before, that was this God’s true face, its current face.
“What is my role?” Erik asked, putting the conversation back on track.
“Azruxan was nothing but a distraction, not even he knew that he was. No, your true foes are the Devils Azkel, Kurzan’s daughter and Brazath, Xokith’s son. And with Azruxan now dead, they will both be more attentive, more careful.” Kyllix explained, “Your role is to stop them, stop them before they summon the Arch Devil.”
“How?” Erik asked, but he didn’t care for the answer, only how it was answered.
Kyllix’s smile grew wider, amused by the conversational bait. “It doesn’t matter how, I’ll leave that up to you.”
Erik sighed, unsure whether to trust the God or not, yet his words rang true. He needed to learn to trust more, even if he still watched his own back. (“If he is right about Kurzan and Xokith being stronger than Azruxan…That fight was close, too close.”) Erik thought, “I accept your offer, divine, but as you just said…I will do as I please.” He then said meeting the God’s eyes again.
Kyllix suddenly appeared closer, pressing the core to Erik’s chest. “Good, good!” he exclaimed, “Now hold still, this will hurt.” He warned before suddenly pushing the core further, the crystal seemingly melting through Erik’s chest.
Erik’s eyes widened in pain as he grabbed hold of the God’s arm, trying to stop him to end the piercing agony, but found that no amount of his strength could compare to the being before him.
“Erik? Erik!” Thea shouted, holding the drake by his shoulders as he fell to his knees, she watched in horror as the God’s hand enter his chest. Scale and skin melting, flesh dissipating into red smoke as Kyllix’s hand forced its way through, white flames engulfing it.
Kyllix smiled wickedly, “That should do it.” He said, before letting go of the core and pulling his hand out. The God stepped away and watched as Erik fought the pain, holding back his screams as the hole in his chest slowly closed.
Until it fully regenerated, not even a scar visible over Erik’s chest. Where once a fist size hole lay.
Erik’s pain slowly lessened, catching his own breath and panic, he let go of Kyllix’s arm and lay his hands over his chest. He felt it, absorbing his mana, processing it. He felt the core working already, draining his body off mana and storing it within itself, as his body rushed to keep up.
Nerick awkwardly glanced over Thea and at Erik, “I mean…He still looks somewhat human? What will that do?” he asked.
“Oh no, cores do not empower you, instead they act as a conveyor for mana. This will allow him to make use of his insane levels of draconic energy without passing the hell out right after.” Kyllix explained.
“Oh…can I get one?” Nerick then asked.
(“No, master doesn’t need one!”) Ivara exclaimed angrily within Nerick’s mind.
Kyllix laughed, “You already do, it’s hissing at me right now.” he gestured at the moody wyvern. “Don’t worry little one, I doubt he’d try to replace you.”
Still, Ivara continued to hiss at him.
“What about my soul?” Erik then asked as he rose, Thea helping him back to his feet. “What about Grim’s chains?”
Kyllix smirked as he raised his right hand forward, an empty hourglass appearing above his open palm. “I swiped it while it wasn’t looking, don’t judge.” The God said with a chuckle. “Don’t worry, I’ll hold onto this myself. As long as I do, Grim has no power over you anymore.” He added before it disappeared from his hand.
“Tell me, how do you feel?” The God asked, seeing the golden energy rush through Erik’s skin as his body desperately tried to keep up with the core.
“Drained…” Erik responded weakly.
“It’ll pass, the core has been separated from your soul for too long. It needs to readjust to your mana, until then your body will have to keep up with its…stress tests shall we call them?” Kyllix explained as Erik stared down at his own hands, energy rushing through them as it had when he awakened his bloodline within this human vessel.
Except this time, he only felt tired, his consciousness retained.
“This concludes one business of mine, I’m afraid I have other things to take care of.” Kyllix said as he turned away.
“What will you do now?” Erik asked, clenching his hands into fists as he enjoyed the power rushing through him. He looked up and at the strange divine being.
“I planned on giving each of the three summoned a pep talk but, you’re fine as you are. And with you by his side, Alan will be too. That leaves me the third to check out.” Kyllix answered as he waved his right hand ahead of himself, reality tearing at his touch.
“A third? Who? Alan sold his and my soul to Grim, is it able to bring others back too?” Erik asked with interest.
Kyllix smirked as he glanced back, “No, bringing someone not within its control back, would go beyond the limitation the Avatar set upon Grim.” he said as a rift opened before him, “I guess the sooner you know, the better. The identity of the third summoned is…”
He spoke the name, causing Erik’s eyes to turn dark.
“Well, I’m off then. I bid you all good luck, adieu!” Kyllix exclaimed, bowing dramatically before the rift suddenly swallowed him and closed.
True South, Lost Territory
The land lay dead and barren, corruption worming its way through the dry earth as miasma and mist filled the air. The water at this southern shore of Druvia glowing a mild red as the hellish energies seeped into the sea.
From within the mist and over the water came a large wooden ship, torches alit but barely showing a few centimetres through the fog beyond. The ship made land, anchors being thrown off the sides as the ship’s sails rose. It stopped at the shore, dragging along the sand briefly.
A figure leapt off its front, landing within the murky shallows. Wearing a coat of fur and hood of hide, the burly giant twice as tall than any human had dark green skin, deep green eyes and two tusk-like fangs growing out of his lower jaw.
An Orc, and by the looks of his clothing and staff, a Shaman chieftain.
Suddenly two more hulking creatures landed on either side of her, just as tall and very muscular. One slender female with dark green skin and the other a burly male with a light brown. The male was bald with a scruffy black beard and the female had long braided brown hair.
The Shaman studied the corruption ahead.
“We’ve arrived, chief.” Said the female Orc as she scanned the mist.
“That we have Bula,” said the chief, “signal the others, we’ll set up camp here at the shore.” he ordered.
Bula elbowed the male Orc, “Raguk you heard the chief, signal the rest!” she growled at him.
“Ugh, right.” Raguk said in annoyance, turning back to face the ship as he kicked away at stray algae. He raised his fingers up to his lips and whistled for a few moments.
Suddenly a bonfire of bright green flames lit up at the ship’s crow’s nest, burning away at the miasma in the air and thinning the fog. Further away from the shore, dozens of others similar flames lit up, a fleet of ships awaiting off-shore.
The fog quickly dissipated, revealing the shore and hills ahead.
“This is it,” said Bula, “No more cold nights wondering if our young will make it to the morn, no more fearing roaming Jotunn or fending off against ice wyverns attacks. Chief Winug, this new world…”
Winug smiled wickedly as he lowered his hood, revealing a gaze of deep violet eyes. “This new world, we’ll make it ours.” He said, as he reached out towards the hills ahead, clenching his hand into a fist.
Suddenly frost formed over his skin, as the wind starting to pick up around them. Winug glanced around as each of the three Orcs grew spooked, confused at the sudden cold. They looked around but saw nothing.
Yet far off, over the hills nearby a figure stood watching them.
“This is problematic.” Said a chilling voice, as a cold breeze blew past her. A woman, seemingly human.
She wore a white-furred coat, her skin just as white and pale. She lowered her hood, revealing a chilling beauty beneath. Her hair, like crystal and a deep blue, her eyes a pale cyan. She gazed down at the Orcs, like small specs from this distance, watching the dozens of other ships making shore.
“Indeed it is, that chieftain is Hell’s pawn.” Said a haunting voice as the earth nearby rose, forming a skull. It spoke, “He is your first target, stop him.” Grim said.
The pale woman nodded, “I know my place, I will do as you say…Just don’t forget your own words, don’t forget your promise.” she said, looking down at the earthen skull.
The skull smiled, a haunting show of teeth, “My word is an unbreakable oath. Do as I say, and Faetera’s future is guaranteed. With comes your pride, with comes redemption.”
The pale woman turned to stare back at the Orcs, “What has this world come to?” she asked.
“Hell is at work.” Grim said, “This is why I chose you, where Alan is too afraid, and Erikathyr too blunt and stubborn. You, Blue Dragon, are wise.”
She sighed, “Those two fools…”
“Forget them, for now.” Grim told her, “You have work to be done, this world’s fate rests in your hands.”
Synopsis: The online game <